Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zen And The Art Of Bicycle Neglect

I started biking (again) in 1995. My first mountain bike was a 95 Giant 870 ATX which I still have and ride on occasion.



For something I held (and hold) so dear to my heart I treated it brutally. Over the years I've ridden it into the ground only to dig it up and trash it again. My friends and I used to race right down the middle of Difficult Run. The water gradually got deeper and we would reluctantly float away from their bikes as the frames clung to the bottom of the creek. I remember the time the hub bearings seized while I was riding around the monuments with my girlfriend (wife). This of course was the result of too many creek races. One time the drive side crank sheared off while I was booking down 16th street on the way to work. The chain bounced and skidded on the pavement while I was left going full speed through traffic, my right foot aloft with a crank arm and chainrings dangling, still clipped into my shoe.

I digress.

Through these experiences I've learned to take better care of my bikes.  I don't ride them into the ground anymore but I come pretty close. There is always that question, "How hard and far can I push this component  before it brakes and I'm left walking?". That question was on my mind as I cleaned my horribly impacted chain this morning in the 40 degree sunshine. It was pathetic, the drivetrain looked and felt like someone melted black crayons into it while I was pedaling down the beach. I'm glad my neighbors didn't come out while the embarrassing de-funking was taking place.

As I de-funked I noticed that my 36t chainring was beginning to shark-fin which meant that besides the teeth wearing down the chain had stretched. In the past I wouldn't have given this much thought. I probably would have let it go for another few seasons until it snapped or got so bad that  my friends made fun of me.

Nowadays I'm trying to find that sweet spot between gear longevity and ride quality.  Sure I could probably push these components another season or two, but what kind of seasons would those be? There would  be lots of extra friction and shifting issues, and then I would have to replace more parts all at once as the drive train components would wear down together. Getting as much as I can out of a piece of gear is the goal but no longer will I compromise the ride as an experience to get it.

1 comment:

Trevor Woodford said...

The art is replacing the component just before it fails. Always easier said than done..