In a comment on my Newbie assessment of the Shimano line of road bike components, Michael mentioned purchasing some components online to save money and that lead me to respond about an interesting problem that I created trying to “fix” my mountain bike rear derailleur.
Dammit folks, when I say I’m a noob, I pretty well mean it – I knew nothing. My first real mountain bike was an ’83 Murray ten speed and I bought a cheap Sears 10 speed mountain bike (for something like $150 – new) so I could ride with my wife in ’97 or ’98. The brake handles were plastic, that’s how cheap that bike was – maybe you could call it carbon plastic to make it sound sexy or something. Those were the only bikes I’d owned as an adult – and I gave the Sears one to a newly recovering kid that I met one night about five or six years ago who didn’t have a driver’s license or a way to get to work.
So when I bought my ’08 Trek from a guy in our running club (after owning a $20 garage sale Huffy for two weeks or so), and found out how nice it was to ride a real bike, I started cruising the net. I must have read close to every one of Sheldon Brown’s articles on bikes – heck I read everything I could in my spare time… So after buying the bike and getting it home, and reading all of those articles, I went to work on the front and rear derailleurs because they weren’t shifting quite right. I spent about an out getting them dialed in perfectly – this is supposed to take ten minutes folks. In any event, after a lot of tinkering, I got them just right. A couple of weeks later, I fixed my wife’s rear derailleur the same way because it was sluggish going to the lower gears (bigger sprockets) – and that only took me about 15 minutes, with test rides… I was well on my way.
Fast forward two months and my cassette starts giving me fits (or so I thought – I won’t even get into that, I’ve gotta get ready to go running in five minutes). I take the wheel off and take that to the shop to get a new cassette thrown on (because they sold me the wrong cassette puller for my bike). Get the new one on, boogie home and throw it on my bike… Unfortunately, for some reason the rear derailleur got knocked out of whack and it wouldn’t progress properly through the gears. Now because I’ve already tuned that one up perfectly and got my wife’s to work perfectly, I just went and got my tools and went to work…
An hour and a half later, in the midst of getting absolutely pummeled by mosquitoes and I can’t get into first or seventh gear (biggest and smallest) and I can’t figure out why. I’m about 30 seconds from throwing something through a window – which I actually do know how to fix, when I just threw my hands in the air, locked the bike in the garage and walked away. The next day I printed off Sheldon’s “How to set a derailleur for dumb S#!T’s” article and take it out to my bike, reading through each step…and finally God has mercy on me and I’m done.
Now I’ve since learned that you can mess with the set screws a little on the front derailleur once the tension is right, but that the rear set screws are not to be trifled with lightly (uh, oops).
God bless America, I wish I had more time to put into this, alas I’ve gotta go run. I hope this gives someone a chuckle – I sure as hell am worked up all over again… Man, you just have to laugh.