8.15.2006

Product Review? a few things that suck

Product Review: Product Bashing
let me make this quick

here are a few things that suck...

no it does not suck that my frame broke
I rode that bike for several years
I got some good miles out of that bike
there is a good chance that this frame will be warrantied
if that does not happen
I will think about my next move from there

no, here are a few things that suck
was spinning around town on my way home from work on the Surly Karate Monkey
my rigid single not my geared with front suspension monkey
that would be the skid mark brown bike
not the army green bike
both have very big 29 inch wheels
with disc brakes in front and v-brakes in the rear

but it is not the Monkey that sucks...

what sucks is riding home from work
leaving later than already late departure time
over spinning the monkey on the city streets
splitting lanes and timing lights
going up and down a few curbs taking some nice turns and not being shy about having some fun

turning onto a short steep block of a climb hear a crack or maybe a snap and feel a moment of resistence on my pedal stroke
immediately think that I have broken an axle
hmmmm..... a broken axle... that has not happened to me in a while
I am off the bike
spinning the rear wheel
and trying to spread the rear triangle
no spread of the rear triangle
but I feel a little resistence at a part of the chains roatation
after the broken rhythm I see without any need for close examination
it is a broken link on the chain
worse yet it is a broken power link

immediately I curse to myself
as I know that I am without a power link or any spare links
even if I have a few spare links or a power link in my pack
those links or that power link would not be as broad or as big as the SRAM single speed chain

I walk the bike over to a spot where I can try and figure out a repair

my pack unloads like dennis the menace's pockets
so much that I would never need
nothing that I really need
well...
I have some stuff that looks like it should work
but a few things fall short

the first thing to fall short is the SRAM Power link
it was not a broken chain
it was a disassembled Power Link
as I walked the bike I focused on the link that was out of place
watching to make sure if it feel off I knew where it dropped
the broken link was clearly the power link
the brasey gold stooded out against the clean nickel finish of the other links

I flipped the bike upside down
with the bike in a its primitive yet natural repair stand I took hold of the link
first thinking the link had come undone
thinking that it was as easy as forcing the link to lock in place
then only to learn that the power link was broken at the point where the cylinder should be fused to one of the links flat figure eight sides
then it was revealed to me
at the 12 Hours of Lodi Farms this year as I raced with Chris Redlack on a duo team it was not a matter of my link coming apart
it was a matter of the link falling apart
that sucks
so I took the logic of fool me once shame on you
fool me twice shame on me
or once bitten twice shy
either way I did not want three times to be a charm

so I pulled out my Alien tool for an old school chain shortening

I made a quick measure of the distance
matching up the links
figuring I was able to remove the minimum and be able to bind the chain
hoping that with the wheel pushed all the way forward I could fasten the chain and ride home
(if it works... it would not just take me home... chances are that is how it would just be)

so in that classic swiss army knife fashious I started to unfold the Alien multi-tool
men do love these little gadget like tools
as I worked through the many allen keys I selected the chain tool, was cautious around the sharp blade, and searched for the right size allen on the send half of the tool which was now on the ground after the dissasembly of the two halves

with the two pieces as one again I started to push the last ling apart
with the chain in my hands rather than on the bike the tool manipulated the task quite fluidly

then I got up to loosen the rear wheel
the standard single speed uses bolt on axles rather than quick release axles
so I pull out a Surly: Jethro Tool or something to that effect
a cool little tool that fits nice in the hand
pretty to the eye
pretty to a touch
has a bottle opener that I have never used
I grimace as I see this tool option over a standard box wrench with a longer handle granting more leverage

I move to the bike and try to work the tightly fastened nuts free
the amount of strength versus works in relation to the lack of leverage
the palm of my hand hurts
the tool is not as comfortable to use as it is to hold
I try one side
then the other
then the other again
questioning my direction here and there
then with a little more grit I am able to free one side
with one side free the other side is less of an issue

thinking I will have plenty of space I hap hazardly push the wheel forward
back to my knees I pull the now shorter chain
the two ends meet
but the overlap is not enough
I make sure the nuts are loose
I make sure the wheel is slid as far forward as the wheel will slide in the versitile horizontal dropouts
I try to make the ends meet
the chain is close
but not so close that I bother to try and connect the tool

I scavange my bag one last time then go for the cell phone
I call my wife to tell her I will be later than expected
then
I call my brother
my brother's house is closer than home
it makes more sense to work the bike like a scooter to his house
make the repair and ride home

lucky for me
not only is my brother home
but my brother has a brand new never been used SRAM chain
a SRAM single speed chain just like the one I had... only standard and not nickel plated
I accept it with promise of replacement
then head back to my temporarily lame monkey

since the bike is outside I head outside
before I even get into the repair I am so bothered by the mosquitos that I take the bug spray of the grill and tag each inch of uncovered skin
with the bolts not as tightly attached the Surly bottle opener works just fine as a wrench
then back to my squating to the knees position as I ignore the Power Link and go straight to the chain and the chain tool
I am staying old school
do not want to risk the Power Link again

I measure the desired length of the chain
pinching the link where I want to make the break
I sit back on the stairs not having to focus my eyes on the chain
feeling confident that I have measured things correctly
and that I am pinching the right spot

again the chain breaks with the use of the Alien Multi-tool with grace and speed
the block that broke into two sets of tools is rejoined into one
as an allen key is needed to turn the barrel screen that pushes the pin through the chain
the two pieces act as one pretty nicely
yet I a still craving a standard Park chain tool or even my Crank Brothers Multi tool
even the Crank Brother's tool has a lock so you do not push the pin too far
I check and test and have to try again a few times until I have pushed the pin far enough out to allow me to remove the extra unwanted line of links

I feed the chain through the frame and over the single bmx cog in the back
then I take the slack over to the front chain ring
my hands dance in opposite directions then come together
here I start to feel like I need a third hand

the two tools as one were somewhat cumbersome as I tried to link the two pieces
the chain did not seat as nicely into the tool as the tool fit into the tool
the chain did not line up as clean and as straight as I felt comfortable with
so I tried and tried to line the chain into the tool
and then start to rotate the half of the tool that fits into the allen bolt of a barrel that will push the pin that rejoins the chain as one semi-circular piece

the tool was proving that hybrids are rarely better then specialty tools
but, the Crank Brothers is a multi-tool and it serves the purpose just fine

the frustration really extended when I tried to loosen the stiff link
the standard chain tool has a dual purpose
the little know trick of the spreading of the links
well... not with this tool
old school goes further old school making a little triangle with the links and working it back and forth

so...
the repair sucks worse than the break
although the mechanica sucks
well.... it really sucks as it appears to be defective equipment
but the repair really sucks
as it not only takes longer than it should
but it is also a more frustrating process than it should be

a straight screw driver works better than a curved one
that is why they do not make curved ones that fit safely in your back pocket

eventually the repair is finished
time to finish my ride home
with red and white flashing lights already blinking on my backpack
I turn on the velcro attached battery operated light that I bought from the Princeton Lights booth at the 24 Hours of Big Bear
thirty bucks well spent
or was it twenty bucks
either way they gave into my haggling
we both won
I got a great light and they got my money
still above cost

the rest of the ride was uneventful
the set up did not feel clean
had to loosen the barrel at the break lever to get the pads off the rim

then rolled home
opted to head through Adams Morgan again rather than towards Cleveland Park from Georgetown
figured I could go around the hill instead of down one then up one

got home
said good night to the boys
had a laugh as Dean and Grant competed to get Brutus in the bed
eventually is was more about the competition of calling the dog
and having what the other wanted
rather than having the dog in the bed
extra elation came each time Brutus jumped from bed to bed
five year old dean won brutus for longer durations as he was enjoying petting the dogs and brutus was enjoying being pet

now it is time to go to bed
wanted to work some images
but do not want to risk starting a project that may keep up up later into the night

I can get my pleasure with creating a puzzle with blocks instead of photographs
already built up a little star wars village downstairs
am thinking of some wooden blocks and some thomas the train
my brother's older son is coming over
want to have a little something for them to start the day
I already know that the star wars toys have been mentioned between the boys

maybe the little people and thomas the train will entertain younger grant
already set up in the living room
will put the train in the other room so it takes two hurricanes instead of one to destroy my projects


hmmm.
what was that list of things that suck?
-SRAM power links
-the chain tool on the alien multi tool
-the surly jethro tool
that may be it

oh....
monkey nuts suck as well
but
only someone with a geared karate monkey would know that
but anyone with a geared karate monkey will tell you that monkey nuts suck

you suck monkey nuts

accidently posted this on my roscoe tribute site
a site that has not gotten the attention that it needs
especially since brutus is going through some changes





3 comments:

gwadzilla said...

this morning I pulled out a box wrench
made sure the chain was tight
made sure the wheel was lined up straight
made sure the brakes were not rubbing the rim
and
made sure the bolts were tight
as the Surly can opener does not make a good tool for the job

I wonder if it actually works to open a bottle?

Frank Brigandi said...

Bad - Topeak alien tool is useless....terrible..

GOOD - Park chain tool, yeah a goody, carry it everywhere agreed.....
BAD - Monkey nuts could use some caressing by the surley Gnomes, or willy wonka for sure...

Good - stiff link?...horizontally bend chain back and forth, after all it is a flexile design and the bending will loosen the outer links enough to get you going for sure, sometimes your hands work better than a tool.....

Anonymous said...

I love the power link, never had a problem with them. and using a chain tool is said (by leonard zinn and others) to create a weak spot in the chain.

but, glad I had a chain you could use

use could try the shimano system instead and find out if their link is more durable. the nice thing about the SRAM is that the power-link is reversible- but doesn't seem to hold up to your stress.

marc