Thursday, May 8, 2008

Teresa-Ann's new (to her) bike

I have two beautiful step daughters, Luisa and Teresa Ann. Recently, both have showed interest in cycling, so I have obtained bikes for both. This post is about Teresa Ann's new bike. My wife approached me, and knowing I was in need of a spring project, she suggested I put together a bike for Teresa Ann. My first thought was to strip the Ultegra components of a 1999 Schwinn Peleton I have and put it on a smaller frame. However, by the time I figured the price of a new frame and fork, I discovered for a few dollars more I could have a bike put together by a LBS that specializes in putting together bikes. There I saw a complete bike put together for my price for the frame and fork alone. My wife was a little peeved, but she had to succumb to my logic and we bought the bike.

I would mention the bike shop, as the owners and I are on a first name basis, but one of this points of this blog is the problems with the bike. What really cemented the deal was the owner offered to buy a smaller frame, so the bike would better fit Teresa-Ann. I was first concerned that the owner would be losing money on the deal, until he told me some other customer came in a short time later and wanted a bike built up on the first frame. The bike we ended up with is gorgeous. It starts with a Soma frame. Soma is a San Francisco company that has some really nice frames made up in Tiawan. There are a lot of Tiawan frames out there made under the names of Surly, Zion and even Rivendale; you pretty much get what you pay for and the Soma's are on the higher end. The gruppo is pretty much used Ultegra with a TruVativ triple crank. The wheeset is Shimano's lower end SH-2200. The fork is a carbon Bontrager 110.

When I walked into the shop to pick up the bike I noticed the rear brake pads were mounted too high, and rubbing on the bead. The problem became immediately obvious; the frame required a long reach brake. Now, although both frames were made by Soma, the geometry of the two frames are different. The issue was, the owner was ready to hand the bike over as is, and he had to know of the problem.... Okay, maybe he didn't. Maybe he was so busy it just didn't register. He first offered to machine the brake arms so the bike could be ridden until a new caliper could be found. This was on Friday, so he said the brake would be ready on Monday.

Well Tuesday came and went and the brake was not fixed. The owner said he was having problems getting the long reach caliper. Further it was being ordered from Shimano and would be in in a couple of days. Well it didn't come in Wednesday, Thursday of Friday. And it didn't come in Monday-Thursday. I called again on Friday and was first told it was still not in, then the owner called back, saying the brake had came in the the bike was finally ready. My wife and I went in to pick up the bike, new long reach braked caliper and all.

As usual my first thing was to clean the bike from front to back. The drive train was fairly dirty and the chain just seemed off. Here's the reader digest on chains. First, to remove a chain you usually need a chain breaker or press to push out one of the pins. There are basically 4 muti-speed chain pin sizes; 7.3mm for 5-7 speed chains; 7.2 mm for 7-8 speed chains and 6.6 mm for 9 speed chains; and 6.1 mm for 10 speed chains.
Theses numbers are for KMC chains, model Z 50 (7.3), Z.51 (7.2), Z9 (6.6) and Z10 (6.1). There are a few variations, i.e the SRAM 8 speed chain is 7.0. Multi-speed chains are generally riveted together and unless you have a "connector" of sorts, you will weaken the chain by pressing out a pin and re-using the pin to put the chain back together. SRAM makes a re-usable connector called a Power-link, KMC makes a one time a connector called a Missing Link, and Shimano uses replaceable pins.

Saying all that, the chain was a KMC. I cleaned the chain and planned on using a SRAM Missing Link to put it back together. First I tried the the SRAM 9 spd; hmmm the chain is too fat. Then a tried the SRAM 8 spd; still, the chain is too fat. Okay, the KMC 8 spd is 7.2mm, the SRAM 8sp is 7mm, but this is for a 9 spd system; out comes the the caliper, 7.3! The difference in price is not lost on me. A KMC 9 speed chain runs about $14, the 8 speed is $9 and the 7 speed is $7. Hey, I admit the fat chain seemed to be working. Still, no one has actually put any time on the bike, so I'm sure the mismatch would have showed up sooner than later (It's amazing how well drivetrains work on a stand). When it come to multi-speed drivetrains I like to stay brand specific.

This bike has Shimano 9 speed shifters, Shimano 9 speed derailleurs, a Shimano 9 speed rear cluster and a Truvativ crankset. The best chain for this system would obviously be a Shimano 9 speed chain. The best prices I have seen are almost always the top of the line Dura Ace/XTR for about $25. That's what I had and that's what I used. I don't think the owner of my LBS purposely used a 7 speed chain (you can't tell the difference without a caliper), but the price difference is at least $7 and in my case, $19. What are you going to do? As usual the bike is not finished yet. The idea hit me that I could switch the Ultegra triple off the Schwinn and install a new compact double on the Schwinn. I found the crank on sale for $130 so it's a done deal.

No comments: