Thursday, May 10, 2012

A First For Humanity

So you know that problem where something goes wrong with your bike/car/dog/flowerpot and you take it to the expert mechanic and not only has the problem fixed itself during transport, you cannot replicate it to the mechanic?

That's been happening to me for THREE YEARS with my freakin' front derailleur.  I would be shifting away happily and suddenly, the cable would become razor-wire tight and the shifter would lock up, my pedals would refuse to turn back and my chain would leap to its highest gears, leaving me stranded in a super-high gear.

This is why I pulled out of the 2010 Mad River Century- after spending about 15 miles locked up in the highest gears with no mechanic in sight and the rolling hills starting.

Yesterday at bike class, I actually managed to make this problem happen twice, in a row, in the presence of a mechanic!  Yeah!

The instructor-mechanic started out telling me what all the other mechanics had told me- I was overshifting, it was mental, and there was nothing we could do on the bike.  Which, actually, on my current set up, is kind of true.

But here's why.

On the Trek 1.5 models, they put a compact chain ring (just two rings) on the bike.  The frame is a low-end-high-end bike- it's straddling the line between the cushy "plush" category and the wanna-be racer category.  It has holes for attaching stuff like panniers and racks to the frame, but it didn't have the granny gears (the third chain ring) that a real touring bike would have.

But the front shifter is BUILT for a triple chain ring!

So for all these three years, my shifters were trying to shift into that imaginary third chain ring that doesn't exist.  It would enter a state of entropy.  It was attempting to move onto Shrodinger's chain ring.

The cure?  I'm so getting a new bike.  And all the shops in town are steering me into serious, road-only road bikes, where the shifters are built for the chain rings the bike has.

But the problem was REAL, and it wasn't ENTIRELY my fault, and I made it happen in the presence of a mechanic who was FLUMMOXED until we figured out why it happened!  We just can't make it stop happening, as long as I'm trying to ride a cushy ride against racing types.  Just you wait, especially M on his fancy new Specialized Allez.  Enjoy your speed while it lasts.  Because when I get my new bike, I'm going to ride it SO MUCH, SO FAST that I can eat as many Honey Stingers Waffles as I want!

Oh, and maybe keep up with you guys at last.  


Reverend Ref + said...

But the front shifter is BUILT for a triple chain ring!

No way to retrofit the bike with a double chain ring?

The Vagabond Priest said...

You could either change out the shifters to a different shifter (about $300) or change the chain ring to a triple crank (probably under $100). If the bike fit me really well, I'd probably change the shifters, but the bike just doesn't fit well. So I'm going to a women's fit.