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Monthly Archives: September 2021

How to Remove a Frayed, Broken Shifter Cable End From A Shifter Body (It Takes Longer to Watch the Video)…

I should have done the video on “How To” remove a broken shift cable end. It would have lasted two minutes, if, and you’d be well on your way to wrapping your bar tape. If, however, you want a decently funny read in my normal wit, this is the post for you! If not, click on the video below and fix your shifter. It’s easy.

Unfortunately, you’re going to have to sit through this one if my written description and photos aren’t enough. This fella is boring. But his video has some decent tips in it and actually deals with modern shifters, not the shifters of old in which the cables stuck out the top of the hood – which were terribly ugly, by the way. I thank God Campagnolo figured out how to route the cables/housings on the handlebar!

Anyway, I digress. This is the video:

First, don’t panic. This is really simple. I removed my shifter because I had a single strand of wire sticking out of the cable hole and it wasn’t enough to grab with needle-nose pliers. I was petrified… and searching the interwebz for a new Ultegra 10-speed right side shifter. Guess what? There are none, other than a couple of old beat up sets on eBay. See, back in the good old days, if you broke a cable end off inside a shift lever, there was a 62.847% chance you were buying a new shifter. If the shop couldn’t fish the old end out, or if you’d shifted too many times so the end was lost inside the body, you were screwed. Absolutely pooched. Hang your head and pull out your credit card.

Then I started thinking about how I was going to justify a new eTap system to my wife… uh, no. I’d be better off trying to go back in time to justify a new bike to Attila the Hun. Going out on a limb, heh, I don’t think that’d go well… if I remember my history.

Then I scoured the web for how to fix my problem. A simple search won’t do because the first video that pops up will be a guy fixing one of the old-style shifters in the lucky, unlikely scenario in which you’ve got enough cable to fish the end out. The video above deals with newer, modern shifters.

So, I’d taken my shifter off to take it to the shop, hoping someone there might be able to work some magic. Under normal circumstances, this isn’t necessary, but you can’t just roll the hood cover up, either. You have to pop the top of the cover and lift the whole hood up so you have enough room.

On the inside of the shifter, you’ll have a little phillips head screw that gets removed (02) and set off to the side. Pull the access panel off (03). With that panel off, you’ll have access to the cable hole (04). Pull the end out (make sure you’re shifted to the smallest cog position for easiest access to the cable end).

Replace the panel. You’re done. It’s that easy.

Now, on those last two photos, looke through the cable port… if you see the grooves on the left photo, this is bad. Finish shifting to what would be the smallest cog (the little lever, not the big one). You want to see no grooves, as in the last photo.

Then go through the arduous process of putting all that $#!+ back together… but look at the bright side! In the old days, you’d be down one bike while your shifter was in the shop for three weeks while they tried to fix it, then ordered a new shifter so you’d wait for that, because they couldn’t fix it… then you’d still have to put all that $#!+ back together.

So, remember this little gem: while some things are made more difficult as they’re engineered, most things get better with newer generations. Modern shifters are a fantastic example. Rather than engineering them to be more difficult to extricate a cable end, thus ensuring Shimano would sell more shifters, they made it easier to get the little bastards out.

Anyway, happy riding, folks.

What a Day to Be Alive In Recovery! Also Known As Tuesday… Or Wednesday… Or…

There’s a light at the end of that tunnel, and it’s not a train, it’s the sun shining down, waiting for you to get there to bathe you in its warmth (and pump up your Vitamin D supply).

The only catch is we have Twelve hard steps between us and that sweet sunlight. We’ll get that suntan if we work for it, though.

It’s another beautiful day in recovery and I have opportunities. The only question is, “What will I do with my opportunities today?”

I know what I’m doing.

Ridin’, baby!

Then cut the grass, finish cutting down the trunk of a tree that fell over in a recent storm, then who knows… tomorrow will be an early birthday breakfast with our daughters on our eldest’s 18th birthday, then a bike ride, then a nap, then a birthday dinner at my sister’s house for my kiddo. And I’ll love every minute.

And that would have been impossible if I’d chosen to stay in the tunnel because I thought the steps were too hard, stupid, ridiculous, unnecessary, silly, etc., etc.. While there’s no question there are other ways to go about getting recovered, all of the options that end in peace, happiness and serenity involve the hard work of fixing oneself first.

Recovery from Addiction: The Pull To The Dark Vs. The Suntan In The Light

In my first months of recovery, there was a pull to the dark, to relapse, that resembled what I’d figure a tractor beam in Star Wars would be like. The pull was pernicious, though unlike a mythical tractor beam, it could be resisted with the proper amount of bleaching from the light – the source of the light was working the program and meetings.

Fear kept me straight. The fear of what was next if I gave in to the dark and drank again. For once that outweighed the fear of how boring and devoid of fun life would be without booze and drugs (as sick as that may sound to an outsider, that fear has pull – it’s inescapable for some). Thankfully, I stuck with it and stayed in the light.

Now, don’t take this next few paragraphs wrong; there thousands of wonderful times that made me grateful for choosing recovery between then and now. Too many to recount here. Those are what made working through the tough times worth it. The good times were why I kept coming back, and as I grew in recovery, the good times began to overtake the bad. That said, 28-years into recovery, the light is so pure and bright that it’s sometimes difficult to grasp why I ever struggled in the first place. Understanding this is rather simple, though; I didn’t know it could be this good.

I was sitting at my desk yesterday, preparing a job that will be starting soon. It’s a rather large job, with lots of “parts” to it. Good preparation will go a long way in making it successful, though. I’m all over that. So, there I am typing and a text comes in from my daughter down in college, asking if I wanted to come down and do lunch. You know how my heart leapt. Arrangements were made and I left a little early, arriving about 20 minutes before noon to her dorm.

It dawned on me on the way over that this may not be just a casual lunch, that my baby could be in trouble and in need of a shoulder… but I decided shortly after that dawning I wasn’t going to worry about any of that until the conversation went that way. As I pulled in, I called my daughter from a parking spot and she let me know she was on her way.

Now, for lunch, I’d assumed we would hit a spectacular burger joint we found a few weeks ago but when I asked where she wanted to go, she said she found a new place she wanted to check out called Poke Fish. I was less than enthused but tried to hide it, probably unsuccessfully. But off we went.

I’m going to skip all of the boring stuff…

We had sparkling conversation and the best lunch I’d ever eaten. It was that good. I had the salmon and spicy tuna – raw as it gets, on a bed of fried rice with cucumbers, carrots, seaweed (freaking spectacular), spring greens, jalapenos and spicy mayo. I can’t wait to go back! The important thing is that my worries were not accurate. My daughter and I, for the better part of 45 minutes, simply talked about how things were going for her, how she liked college, how she loved the marching band… and it was mostly fantastic for her on her own. There were troubles, of course, campus life is rife with those, but that she loves it was the main gist.

Now, there’s more to her story (that I know but probably shouldn’t know), but there was nothing to gain from bringing it up. It’s already been handled and I wanted my daughter to see that she could just call me up for whatever reason, including just to spend some time with her dear old dad, for whatever she needs. Including a free lunch and great conversation.

We headed back to her dorm, stopping off to pick up a care package her aunt had sent but was delivered to the wrong building, then it was back to her dorm to drop her off, and then back to the office.

I got a little misty as I pulled away from her dorm building… how blessed and fortunate I am to be able to have that experience. This is the good life. That hour with my kid made all of the steps and work involved in recovery worth the effort.

It’s clear, had I given in to the tractor beam pulling me to the dark and kept drinking all those years ago, I wouldn’t even have been on the right side of the grass to have had the experience described above. Because of recovery, I get to feel. And it is good.

Keep coming back. I’m living proof it works if you work it.

Making My Wife’s Gravel Bike Great with a Drivetrain Upgrade…

We last left this sordid tale with my wife’s gravel bike in limbo, waiting on a medium cage 9 speed Shimano Sora derailleur just as COVID-panic was just getting wound up to Eleven. It took almost a year for that derailleur to make it’s way to the shop, though I received the shifters after only a few weeks.

Fortunately, this massive delay didn’t deter me from upgrading my wife’s gravel bike to 9 speeds as I had an Ultegra road derailleur that I’d taken off my 5200. I slapped the old derailleur on my wife’s bike and viola!

At issue was the first generation 8 speed Shimano Claris system that came on her bike originally. “Junk” is an excellent term for that system. Newer generations are much improved, but that first iteration was crap. There’s nothing nice I can say about it. The newest generation of 9 speed Sora, however, is fantastic. Think Dura Ace shifting quality on a heavy component set. Sora is so much better it made sense to upgrade the system and wait for the matching derailleur – even though that old Ultegra derailleur took some finagling to get it to work on a modern bike (the B-Limit Screw needed to be about double the normal length to get the derailleur pulley wheels in the proper position over the cogs).

Shifting with that setup, even with that tired, old derailleur, was vastly improved for my wife.

My gravel bike…
My wife’s gravel bike

I picked up the new derailleur a few weeks ago and with gravel season fast approaching, it was time to finish what I’d started more than a year ago. As I’ve been tinkering on my Trek’s derailleurs for so long, installing a brand new rear derailleur was so simple, I almost chuckled when I finished fifteen minutes after retrieving the hex wrenches from my tool bag. The setup was a snap and the shifting is so crisp and sweet, my wife’s is just as good as my gravel bike, if not a little better.

After all that we’ve been through with that bike – two warrantied cranksets, a warrantied cracked rim, crappy shifting, bent chainrings from the factory… I’ve finally got that bike performing like a well-lubed super-steed.

In the end, I think that bike ended up with the right person, because had it gone to someone (married to someone) less involved, it simply would have sucked for as long as that person owned it. Instead, because my wife fell in love with the bike, caring for the thing landed in my lap. I was never going to leave well enough alone and accept the massive flaws the bike came with. While it’s still a heavy, entry-level rig, it’s a vastly better bike than when we brought it home and, when it’s all said and done, I suppose that’s a good thing. That bike might have ruined someone else’s enjoyment of the sport. It simply presented a challenge to me.

Just Like That, My Classic Trek Is Ready for DALMAC… And a Great Test Run with My Buddy, Chucker

I’ve always tried to get my Trek 5200, my first race bike, to be as good as my Specialized Venge. I’ve done everything I could to make it as light and fast as I could afford. It is, today, as close as I’ve ever had it to that ideal… it’s been a labor of love, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it (as difficult as it’s been at times).

This last mess really pressed what mechanical skills and knowledge I’ve got. This one even got me to expand on that base… it’s been a while since I dug into the files to do some serious research.

When it was all done, I addressed a lot of issues that needed attention, though. Things I couldn’t see when I built the Trek from the ground up.

Even installing new chain rings can have on affect on chain line, shifting, derailleur setting (front), and overall performance (I went from aftermarket to Shimano 105 chainrings).

And so last night I made some final checks to make sure everything was operating properly before rolling out to meet my buddy, Chuck for our normal Monday evening ride.

I know the front derailleur is probably adjusted a little tight, relying on a lot of tension on the cable from the barrel adjuster, but it operates perfectly. That reality makes it a little tough to tinker with anymore. Every gear, minimal trim…

So with calling that good enough, I rolled out. I had my eyes set on really giving it some power to make sure my skipping problem really was solved.

I was on the gas in a hurry. Today’s weather is going to be a $#!+show so I knew I wouldn’t have to preserve my legs… I’ll ride the couch tonight. The Trek responded well and I immediately jumped to 20-mph. The legs were feeling some of their pre-DALMAC glory so much that being on the gas actually felt good.

I was right on time, pulling into Chuck’s subdivision. He was rounding the corner to the exit street as I was turning onto it from the main road. I did an about face and we rolled it to the first intersection where we had to wait a few seconds for traffic to clear.

We had a rare and slight tailwind heading west and I was feeling really good, so I put the hammer down a little bit, raising our normal 16-17-mph, easygoing pace to 22. I held the front for two miles and gave it to Chuck who held the pace. We had us a little ride going. Chuck took the next two miles, leaving me a half-mile on Morrish road coming out of a quick one-mile subdivision… and that’s when I saw him, flashing light, just about to turn on Hill road – the same way we’d turn. He was riding pretty upright… I was betting eBike.

We were already up to 22 when he turned and I instituted full-on hunter/killer chase down mode. I hopped the pace up to 24 as we approached the intersection, waited for the four-way stop intersection to clear and making our turn. I’d made up some distance but I wanted to pick that bike off within the next mile. Down in the drops and with a slight tailwind, I dropped the hammer and had it up to 26-mph on the pool table-smooth pavement. I could feel the lactic acid building in my legs as we flirted with 27 (43-km/h). We were closing the gap fast. At a quarter-mile I could tell he was on an eBike for sure, and he was going down.

It was a fairly cool bike, too. Relaxed, upright geometry, large battery pack, fat tires (looked like 26″ as we were going by)… he saw us coming in his mirror and moved to the gravel shoulder, unnecessarily. We blew by him at 25-mph as if he were riding a beach cruiser. I dropped the speed back to a more reasonable 22-mph to the next intersection. Chuck took over next and we stayed on the gas for another mile before turning into our two-loop subdivision. I offered that, if Chuck wanted to dial it back to normal, I’d be good with that – or we could keep it up.

I was hoping for “dial it back”. And that’s what he chose.

The next four miles, two laps around the subdivision was fun and easy. We had flashes of fast, though. Entering the subdivision for the second loop, we’ve got a slight hill about 75 yards up the road and I wanted to give the little ring a good run to see if it skipped. I still have the yips over the skipping and I’ve got to dispel this heinous $#!+ and put it in the past. I dropped seamlessly to the small ring and two up on the cassette to keep the same cadence and got, hesitantly, out of the saddle. As the hill started, I increased the wattage till I knew it should be skipping… then gave it more on the next pedal stroke, and more… and I just went up the hill. On the last stroke to the crest, I really gave it some juice – measured at first, then increasingly dropped the hammer. Nothing. No skip, not even a hesitation or change in pitch at the chain/chainring. I was pretty sure that was it. I sat down and shifted to the big ring again, then down two in the back, a smile on my face. I’m glad that freaking saga is over.

Three miles later, we were into another subdivision with a bigger hill in front of us and I decided to hit that one with a little more gusto – not quite normal “let’s sprint up this sucker”, but I didn’t worry about being ginger with it, either. Down to the little ring, up one in the back as the hill started up… out of the saddle… power down, side to side with a little sway… and nothing. Just straight up the hill. With that, I knew she was ready for DALMAC. I can take The Wall, no problem.

The next five miles were a weight off my shoulders. I love my 5200.

We had smoked chicken nachos for dinner and afterward, as Monday Night Football was firing up (and how about Gladys Knight?! She’s amazing by any normal standards, but at 77? Wow. The National Anthem was a little too much “pop/blues” for my liking [I’m a traditional fellow as the Anthem goes], but she did a fine job of it and definitely put her stamp on the rendition), I was looking for something to work on as I didn’t have anything left to do on the Trek… so I turned my attention to my wife’s gravel bike… I had a new Sora medium cage derailleur waiting to go on the bike. And so I went at it. More on that later. It went perfectly.

Sunday Funday: The Goldilocks Ride of the Week

Saturday’s ride was fun and the weather was beautiful, if a bit on the windy side. Mike, Diane and I did a 57-miler at a moderate, enjoyable pace. Bowling season started Friday night, so I was exceedingly tired and my plant/slide leg was a cramp waiting to happen as I hadn’t thrown a bowling ball in a year-and-a-half. It was great to be back, though.

For Sunday’s ride, with the Trek fixed and my wife still battling allergies (and likely heading home early), I prepped the Trek for duty. We had a decent turnout, too. Matt, Mike, Diane & Jeff on Diane’s tandem, Chucker, Jay, my wife and I… and we picked up Phill & Greg on the road. The weather report for the previous four days had Sunday as a washout – even Saturday afternoon when I posted the ride, I had to add the caveat “weather permitting”. Well, as ride time approached, the forecast improved considerably with rain holding off till well into the afternoon/evening. It was going to be cloudy, but with barely a breeze and perfect temps for cycling [upper 60s to mid 70s, or 20 to 23 C]). I rode over to Mikes to pick him up but later found he’d gone the long way to avoid traffic… I picked up four extra miles.

We rolled out easy at first, Mike and I up front and kicking the tires on cycling topics of the day. After a mile or so, we started picking up the pace and the tandem took over once we rolled over the two-mile mark. We picked up Phill on the road a short time later, pushing a decent pace (around 21-mph). Then we caught Greg and Jeff & Diane engaged chase mode. We went from 19 to 21-mph to 21 to 23-mph (33 to 37 km/h) and every time we started making headway, Greg would pull away. Before I knew it we were up to 25-27-mph and still not gaining on him. My wife was first off the back, then Mike and Phill… I drifted back to pull everyone back together as the tandem and Matt caught Greg.

He’d been messing with us (we had a huge laugh about this later on – I had a feeling as it was unfolding).

From there, it was a normal “follow the tandem” ride. On the gas on the flats and downhill parts, rest up the hills. We talked and laughed… it was like a lunch get-together among friends, but on bikes, burning calories instead of consuming them. Pressed to choose a word, “fantastic” would do.

It’s days like this that make me realize just how fortunate we are to be able to simply pedal off and find quiet roads to cruise whenever we want. While we have our fair share of jerks, they’re really few and far between.

My wife, not feeling up to bigger miles, turned for home at an opportune time while the rest of us pressed on, heading west. We had a lot of laughs along the way – and that’s exactly as it should be on a Sunday Funday.

As we headed for home, the sky started darkening and it looked for a minute like we might get caught out.

Nothing materialized, though. It turned out to be a pleasant day all around. I went for the Durand sign, breaking the speed limit by a considerable amount (7-mph over) as I crossed the line, just to see if I could lay full power down on the Trek. The bike (and drivetrain) took it just as it should. We took a two-mile detour to get around a 4-lane train track that’s taken more of us out than I can count on two hands and a foot. It comes in at an odd angle so, if you’re going to safely cross them, on a three-lane road you have to go all the way over to the left edge of the oncoming lane and cross all the way to the right side of the proper lane so you don’t catch a wheel in the space between the tracks and asphalt. Diane also wanted the miles – she figured she’d need the extra two to get 50. I’m almost always for more miles, so it sounded great to me.

Five miles from home we passed my wife on the side of the road, talking to Brad. I motioned everyone by me and told them I’d ride home with her. The homestretch is a fairly busy road – especially with three miles left to our house, so “safety in numbers”. I joined the conversation for a bit and then we rolled out for home at a liesurely but decent pace.

Of course, I pulled into the driveway with 49.9 miles and that simply wouldn’t do, so I had to head out and get my two-tenths to get me over 50.

All’s well that ends well.

Later, at our annual Volunteer Appreciation dinner, Matt, Mike, Greg and I all had a chuckle over Greg’s baiting of the tandem, but we also talked about what a fantastic ride it was. It wasn’t too fast, definitely wasn’t too slow… it was simply perfect.

A Goldilocks ride.

The Case for Having A Complete Shimano Drivetrain From Front to Back (For the First Time)

When I bought my Trek 5200, used, it came with an Ultegra 9-speed Triple drivetrain. The local shop carried SRAM chains and cassettes, so that’s what I had on day one… through day 3,400. In that time, the shifters broke so I went with MicroSHIFT 3×9 shifters as I couldn’t get Shimano replacements.

Then I had the opportunity to upgrade my Specialized Venge to Ultegra components so I scrapped the triple and 9-speed drivetrain for the original 105 drivetrain… a 2 x 10-speed.

I hadn’t used a Shimano chain or cassette since I upgraded the Trek. I also opted for aftermarket chainrings that were sold as SRAM. They looked good and were quite light. I figured it would be good, SRAM chainrings, chain and cassette.

Well, after all of my recent difficulties with my system skipping under power in the baby ring (little ring up front, most gears in the back), I started investigating drivetrains and I saw something, I believe it was from Shimano, that said it’s best to use their components exclusively from front to back because the components are made to work together for the best shifting experience possible. I wasn’t going to switch all of that stuff to SRAM, so I put an Ultegra cassette and chain on the Trek… and the LBS owner suggested the skipping was likely due to simply needing a new chainring*, I looked for and found two 105 chainrings that matched my crank (110 BCD, 50/34) at Jenson USA, ordered them and got them installed once they arrived.

So, with those two chainrings, for the first time ever I’ve got a full line from front to back – 105 everything, except the chain and cassette which are both Ultegra.

So, you may be wondering, what about the aforementioned Specialized Venge? That bike came with a FSA crank and FSA chainrings. To this day it’s never had a full line of Shimano from front to back (though I’m reconsidering this after my experience with the Trek):

For the Venge, that’s Day 2,922 down to Day 1… The chainrings were never Shimano, and the cassettes and chains were usually SRAM.

So, now that I’ve got a full Shimano drivetrain on the Trek, how does it ride? Keeping in mind that new parts help considerably, and there are a few on the Trek (chain, cassette, rear derailleur – even 105 brakes), the Trek has never behaved so well. Every shift is quick and crisp, and the system is exceedingly quiet. Quiet is fast. I’ve never had it so well – and that skipping issue is fixed. I took the bike out yesterday for a 57-mile ride and put it through the paces, climbing out of the saddle in the little ring and several different gears on the cassette. This isn’t to say the bike was all that bad with a mashup of parts from different manufacturers (at least till that baby chainring started going), but the difference with a full line of Shimano drivetrain parts is surprising. Now I understand Shimano’s recommendation.

*Now, for the asterisk above… the owner of our local bike shop made was able to say I needed a new chainring because I am meticulous about maintaining my cassettes and chains. It couldn’t have been either of those, so after all of my farting around, which I’d kicked around with him to verify my thinking, and the drivetrain was still skipping, the only thing left that could be wrong was the chainring. Normally, with a skipping issue you’re going to start with the chain and cassette.

My First 5K Medal Origins

I came up with the idea for the “My First 5K Medal” while running a local 5K.  I was running the “Run for all Ages” in Wakefield, Mass. and a friend …

My First 5K Medal Origins

Andy and I go way back, blogging wise. Please take a second to check out his new idea…

DALMAC, Or Any Multi-Day Bike Tour For That Matter, Is About More Than Just Riding A Bike

In my DALMAC write-ups I didn’t delve too deeply into the most important aspect of doing that ride. On that particular weekend, you’ve got 2,000 cyclists stretched across Michigan’s north and south country roads with one goal: Make it to Mackinaw City. Our group, a main core of seven cyclists this year, is a mash-up of cyclists from all over that, to describe us apart from cycling, would look like you picked us out of a hat. The main core of the group has shifted over the years but a few main riders keep the group together. We’ve got a podiatrist from the west side of the state, a few retirees, a construction management guy, a woman who works for the Canadian government (she couldn’t make it this year because COVID – they’ve got Canada locked up tighter than Madonna’s chastity belt – wait, maybe that’s a bad example…), a bike shop owner, an HVAC technician, a farmer, an IT tech who heads a major university’s staff… we’re all over the map.

You put us in a pace-line, though, and you know instantly the one thing we all have in common; we’re cyclists.

Todd met Sue on the road, who we picked up out on the road because we were fast enough to keep their interests up. Mike was a straggler who was picked up on the road roughly about when I joined the gang. Dave was a part of the core group for quite a while. Phill and Brad, too. Chad knew Doug… JoAnn knew Dave and Cricket and Cheryl knew JoAnn… Chuck, Mike and Matt are the nucleus of the group.

For the most part, we’re fairly evenly matched. When we’re pointed north on Labor Day weekend, something magical happens. Political differences, economic status, gender… all of the crap they use to group people and keep them divided is left in the parking lot of the MSU campus and we roll out, headed north with the sole goal of helping each other get to Mackinaw City, 377 miles away (500 miles away for some, every five years), as quickly as possible.

Along the way, we ride together, we eat together, help each other with mechanical problems, laugh together, and we don’t worry about much more than how fast we’ll get up the wall at the end of Day Three and what kind of ice cream we’re having after dinner – and when it’s all said and done, we even help some of our friends get home. My wife and I regularly give a couple of friends a lift.

For a weekend, people from a broad spectrum, wealthy and meager, cats and dogs, republicans and democrats, men and women, we act like good and decent people should for four (or five) days; we concentrate on that which is most important: having fun together.

Each and every year, at some point while heading home with my wife, I have to work through the sad realization that the weekend is over and it’s back to normal for everyone. After feeling through that, I eventually come to the happy awareness that we’ll be doing it again next year and that the memories we made this year will keep me warm through the winter and motivated to train through the spring and summer… so come next Labor Day weekend, I’ll be ready to go again, to go play with my friends on the country roads and along the lake shore of Pure Michigan. Come join us. Wheels roll at 8am.

Somebody get me Tim Allen…

Not Exactly Vindication On My Trek’s Chain Line Fix; Don’t Shim the Cassette, Baby! Part THREE. Trouble in Paradise… Followed by… erm… Paradise in Paradise!

So, I’ve come a long way to find out my problem wasn’t so much in the chain line, though that was definitely some of the issue with the shifting on my Trek. It’s a lot more complex than that, though.

I’ve had to re-write this post three times… because every time I thought I found a solution, the bastard would skip on me in the little ring once I got to laying down real power to it.

I thought it was the chain line… shimming the cassette did help, but that was to cover a different, smaller, harder to find problem. My low limit set screw wasn’t set right so the pulley wheel wasn’t… erm… low enough. Fixing the rear derailleur set screw took out the need for the extra shim behind the cassette. The fix also helped considerably with the skipping, but it didn’t completely remedy the situation, either.

Whilst on the third day of DALMAC and conversing with the owner of the LBS, he put it succinctly, “Let me get this straight. This only happens in the little ring? You just need a new chainring.”

I wanted it to be a mistake I’d made. That would be simpler. Clean. Easier. Just fix what I’d done wrong, and bam! Good to go.

That night I ordered a big and little 50/34 chainring. I didn’t mess around, either. I bought Shimano 105 chainrings. Now my drivetrain is complete Shimano from stem to stern. 105 everything except the chain and cassette which are Ultegra.

And oh my, is it beautiful.

I took the bike out for a test last evening just before dusk (and I mean just) and I could tell within a pedal stroke, the bike was, if not completely fixed, vastly improved. The 105 chainrings are smooth when contrasted against the aftermarket SRAM chainrings I had on the Trek previously.

Now, I don’t have a decent hill within 15 miles of my house so I’ve had to make due when I test the tenacity of my drivetrain… I don my cycling shoes, wheel my bike out to the front yard, get the bike into the small ring in the driveway and turn onto the grass. Then I pull the brakes. I can simulate a 20% grade easy by turning the crank with the brakes pulled (carefully modulated so I don’t stop dead and fall over, which is why this was done on the grass in the first place, just in case… that the grass provides a little more resistance was just a bonus).

Not a skip, and I did pull the brakes hard enough I almost fell over. It took me a month of farting around to nail this down, but in the end it really just came down to needing a new small chainring. Now, in fairness, as little as I use the baby ring, I couldn’t believe I’d need a new one already. And then there was missing the setup on the low limit screw slightly. And a barrel adjustment problem in transit on the car rack… but whatever, it’s done! It’s paradise in paradise, now!