Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Great Moments in Bicycle Mechanics, or, my Atlantis 3-speed

As a self-taught bicycle mechanic of middling ability I have learned from many mistakes, both mine and others', over the years. Oh those fond memories of carefully repacking the bottom bracket only to find a ball bearing left over, the tremendous stopping ability of a brake block carefully adjusted to grab the tire or, my favorite, the surprise of discovering that the left pedal is left-hand threaded after a wrestling session involving two guys, a big wrench and a pipe. Happily, that last one happened to a couple of friends of mine and not to me, and they eventually gave up and took it to the bike shop where the mechanic got if off, though not before asking what sort of gorilla had installed it. You'd think that eventually every iteration of error would have been made but, no, there's always new frontiers.

Last night I installed a Pletscher/ESGE two-legged kickstand on my Atlantis. I got tired of my best bike having the worst kickstand and really like these two-legged units. I meticulously installed it, measured, cut off some of each leg, reinstalled, re-measured, trimmed off a bit more. No, the obvious error of cutting the legs too short so they dangle helplessly from the bottom bracket 10mm off the ground wasn't my problem. I got them trimmed to the right length, carefully installed the kickstand, rode it around the driveway and packed up for the night.

So today I'm riding to work, taking the Atlantis because the big blue Chatsworth is having some fiddly clearance issues with the fenders, and I go to shift with my excellent Dura-Ace bar-ends and....nothing. The lever will hardly move. I stare down at the crankset as I ride along and realize that, yes, I have carefully and meticulously clamped my rear derailleur cable to the chainstay along with the kickstand! D'Oh!

I rode along. This wasn't a critical service item, no need to return home and drive. This must be what singlespeeds are like. I kept peddling. At least it's in a decent gear--a lot of the time I shift to the largest cog as I wallow through the yard from the back gate. I wonder if I can shift chainrings...yes, I can. Hey! It's a three-speed!

I pulled off at the Lake Josephine changing house to see if I could loosen the clamp and free the cable but the 6mm allen wrench on my cute little Crank Bros. multi-tool won't reach in there. I also have a small allen wrench set, but it stops at 5mm. I really must rethink my field service tools! I rode on to work and parked it, and will ride home tonight on what may be the world's only three-speed Atlantis before making the needed repairs.


amidnightrider said...

It's a perpetual learning curve, isn't it?

Rick said...

I'm a lifelong member of the 99% repair club too...it's that last 1% that always trips me up. It helps to have a good sense of humor!