08-31-09 - New Bike 2.0

I redid a bunch of stuff on my new bike and I'm much happier with it now. It doesn't look nearly as cool, but it rides better and is more functional for me. I went back to plain old drop bars. I don't really care about being in the drops, but I need the shorter reach to the brakes, and I like having the curve of the drops to brace against for hard braking. I also swapped the stem to a shorter, taller stem, to bring the bars up and back to me now. I've always scoffed at people with tall stems like the Nitto Technomic (or worse, upward-angled stems) because it basically means you fucked up and bought a frame that was too small for you. Yup, that's what I did, I'm a tard, though the frame isn't actually too small, it's just too low and long. One thing that many people don't account for is that because of the angle of the head tube, when you raise the stem, you also shorten the reach. To get your bars higher and keep the horizontal reach the same, you would actually want to switch to a longer reach stem. There's also a weird thing going on in my case because my head tube seems to be 74 degrees and most stems are 73, so the stem is actually angled down a bit.

Sadly it doesn't look nearly so elegant and clean now that it's actually functional :


Some more little random building/tweaking stuff I learned for my own reference :

I don't like the standard advised way of putting on brakes. The standard advice is to hold the brake at the desired separation with one hand and then tighten down the cable bolt with the other. This is incredibly hard to do without slipping, and if you slip you get too much slack which makes the brake pads too far apart (proper brake pad installation has them just barely off the rim). Instead, do this : first back out the barrel tension adjuster about 10 times around (a lot). Now, hold the brake all the way closed, tight against the rim. Tighten the cable bolt. At this point the brake is way too tight, so screw the tension adjust back in until it's relaxed to the point that the the wheel runs free. I find this much easier and gives a very nicely adjusted brake.

Brake cable clatter. My bike runs almost perfectly silent, it's magic, it's like a ghost slipping by in the night. Because of that I hear lots of little noises that you might normally ignore and they bug me and I fix them. One of the last little bits of noise was the brake cable instead inside the brake lever bodies rattling around. To fix this, just wrap the brake cable end in a bit of electrical tape before feeding into into the lever to prevent the metal-on-metal contact. This is *very* hard to do after the brake cable is installed, so just do it first as a preventative measure when installing new brake cables. (not sure if this is a good idea on STI levers; I did this on old-school aero brake levers).

Loose spokes. Apparently my wheelset was shipped to me with the spokes rather on the loose side. I read a few other posts around the net that indicate this is pretty common, the commercial wheelbuilders tend to make the wheels at rather low tension. If you're a small rider this may be okay, but for a big heavy oaf like myself, the wheels flex which causes the spokes to knock on each other and make a rhythmic "ping" as they go around. (you can isolate the sound to this problem if it happens even when you don't pedal, and it only happens when the bike is under load). To fix, just tighten your spokes. I haven't found any good information about how tight spokes should be or how you're supposed to tell that they're tight enough.

Saddle rails. There's some weird shit with saddles and seatposts. Unlike almost every other bike part, they seem to just be made really sloppily. The actual spacing seems to vary between 42 mm and 44 mm. Looking at some new saddle rails you'll even see that they vary in separation from back to front. Apparently you're just supposed to force them to the width you need and tighten the clamps and it works okay. A bigger problem is that old saddle rails are 7 mm in diameter and new ones are 9 mm ("oversized" like everything these days for lighter weight and more strength). For the most part old rails will work in new seatposts, but new rails may have trouble fitting in some old seatposts. The advised fix to that is just to widen the old seatpost clamp with a metal file. Ugly. (on a semi-related note : there are a whole lot of seat post sizes ; my three bikes are 25.0, 27.0, and 27.2 so I can't swap any parts, yay).

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old rants