Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sometimes it's the little things.

I'd planned with Bicycle Tim and Benny to go for a ride on Saturday morning and for some reason was really looking forward to riding the Bianchi. After commuting on the Crosscheck all week the red racer makes a nice change of pace, so I was up early, switching the lightweight tyres for something more durable before I put the bike in the car for the quick trip into town.

Once there and unloaded, it only took a dozen pedal strokes to realise something was badly wrong with the gears. The right brifter was all, well mushy, and the gears at first changed sluggishly and then jammed. Bugger. It didn't take long to figure out the rear gear cable had snapped.

I've heard of this happening, but I've never experienced it myself: the cable had broken inside the shifter about an inch from the nipple and my attempts to change gears had only succeeded in winding the frayed remains further inside the mechanism. It looked to me like my plans for a ride were over.

Hoping Tim might arrive shortly with a spare cable (he did!) I unwrapped the double thickness of bar tape and took the lever off. There followed an hour or fiddling with improvised tools before I was finally able to coax the cable end out. Five minutes later, I was good to go, and we had an extremely pleasant 60km ride with a coffee stop in Cygnet. 

It was a bastard of a repair job and would have been almost impossible to do by the roadside, almost but not quite enough to drive a man back into the arms of simple, old fashioned and ever-reliable friction shifting. How close must this cable have been to failing during the entire Oppy? It had literally two or three more shifts left in it, finally giving way in the next 200 metres I rode. How lucky was I not to DNF because of a dozen strands of cheap wire?  Here's a photo of what is possibly the smallest thing that nearly ruined a Saturday for me:

Guess who will be making a point of inspecting and changing his cables more regularly now? And carrying a spare!

1690km so far this year.


Anonymous said...

Lucky we didn't do the extra 40,
Though you could have done it in the big ring.

Anonymous said...

You will need to replace the cable regularly - for some reason this happens with some shifters and can totally wreck the shifter if you are unlucky. You should be able to recognise the symptons now - don't let it brake again. Have yuo checked the dish of the rear wheel yet?

Benny said...

Woke up all sweaty last night. You've placed brifters into that luddites nightmare realm of 'urgh, gears'. Googled 'Paul Thumbies' then went back to sleep.

David Killick said...

Thanks Andy, I am beginning to get the cable replacing message. It was a bugger to fix, there wasn't much of a margin between a stuffed lever and it being repairable.

Haven't fixed the back wheel (or the dropout) yet. I looked down on Saturday and felt ashamed :-)

Benny, you need gears, will make you go up hills slower.