Doing it all the hard way...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cyclocross Equipment Failure

Short version: After the SSCXWC the bottom bracket on my single speed will turn no more.

Excessive pontification version:
For much of my life I made do with second rate stuff; actually, third rate stuff. When other kids rode Schwinn Stingrays, I had a purple bike from Montgomery Ward (I split the head tube landing off a jump). When other kids got Levi’s I had jeans from JC Penney that were made of polyester so they never faded. I remember rubbing the knees of my pants on the sidewalk trying to get them to fade. Not only did they never fade, my mother put patches on the knees.

As a teenager my fancy turned to backpacking and my dear mother taught me to sew and I began making some of my own gear. My stuff was ugly, but marginally functional. My father was, and remains, mechanically inept. Aside from an ancient hammer, a ten pound crescent wrench and two screw drivers, we had no tools. I’m not sure I ever saw my dad use the crescent wrench.

As I grew older I continued to scrounge equipment and make do with what I could afford. There were some areas where I refused to compromise. Rock climbing ropes were first quality and I cared for them and made them last. I didn’t have fancy cams, but made do with 1970 era stoppers and the like.

In my adult life, my bike equipment has been mid to upper end stuff. My wonderful wife has bestowed Park tools on me for birthdays and holidays. With better tools I have been able to maintain our bikes without spending a lot of money at bike shops.

This is my sixth season of Cyclocross. I have crashed and flatted and had all of the typical experiences. I haven’t had the broken derailleur or shifters that make us all cringe when we see them. Hank, my fellow equipment-o-phile broke his derailleur and his hanger a couple of races ago.

After SSCXWC I was cleaning my bike and the pedals were really hard to turn; as if there was too much preload. So much of my learning has been by trial and error that I assumed it was my mistake and removed the subject BB only to find it was frozen solid. I pried off the seal and the bearings appeared to be welded in place. No amount of solvent could remedy the situation. Although I didn’t check the time, I pronounced it dead at the scene.

I had a choice between ordering another crappy bottom bracket, or for 30% more, getting a bombproof one at cost through our sponsor bike shop. This will be my first, and I expect my last bike, where my BB retails for more than I paid for the frame.

1 comment:

bikelovejones said...

Did we have the same mom? I had the same poly-blend jeans (mine were from K-mart), and my mom taught me how to iron on my own knee-patches. (She also taught me to sew and crochet and by high school I'd whipped up a ton of mittens, caps and scarves.)

As for cheap parts, I am contemplating off-season upgrades on my hubs and, if I can swing it, the headset. Could be worth the cost if they last longer and run smoother.