Forwarding Address…

OK, it’s clear that the title (and original intent) of this blog is too limiting, and I’m no longer following either.

Check out my further adventures at Seeming Verb.

Faded love

I wanted to love the new Habanero frame.

I had some problems with my aluminum Giant frame after I had to replace the fork (the integrated headset was made out of old napkins, I think), and I found Habanero cycles, with titanium frames at excellent prices. I ordered the “Team Issue Nuevo” frame.

When it arrived, I took pictures of the whole unboxing and assembling process. It really is remarkably light, and the titanium has a beautiful industrial look. The bosses for the bottle cages are a bit too close to each other, so I had to use wire cages (the cool plastic ones didn’t work)… but if this is the worst complaint I had, it’s tiny. The bike built up nicely, and all of the bolt holes were properly threaded; adjusters are built into the downtube stops for the derailleur cables, and they threw in a bottom-bracket cable guide. I was ready to love this bike.

Except that the seatpost kept slipping.

Showing Habanero cycles integrated seatpost binders

As the picture (from the Habanero website) shows, the bike comes with integrated bits for a seatpost bolt. I tightened my seatpost into it… and after a few miles, the post had slipped. I adjusted the post, tightened a bit more, and it slipped again after riding. The slipping happened several times (each time I rode the bike), and I tightened it each time, until I finally tightened the bolt so much that the seatpost cracked; the weld was stronger than the seatpost material, and ripped a hole in the post (the post is doubled for a few centimeters at this point, so at first I didn’t realize the extent of the damage).

First picture of broken seat tube Second picture of broken seat tube

I emailed Habanero, asking if I was out of luck, and they’ve been most cooperative. I’ve sent the frame back, and they’re sending out another. But this isn’t the first time this has happened. These quotes are from email correspondence I’ve had with one of the principals at Habanero:

This has happened before, almost always because the seat post is a little too small. Even a 0.1mm too-small post is very hard to keep from slipping. By the time it’s 0.2mm too small, it’s almost impossible to get the binder tight enough to keep the post from sliding down. I’ve seen quite a few “27.2mm seat posts” that measured 27.0mm or less…. You can send the frame back to us, and we’ll simply remove the other portion of the clamp and clean up both sides (so it looks like there was never a clamp there to start with). It’s not a hard process and that will allow the use of a “slip-on clamp” (the same kind nearly all the other manufacturers use…

And later:

OK – I see what you’re dealing with.  That’s not the typical break (which is usually just the weld separating from the tube).

I’ve asked them to grind the new frame so I can use a standard seat clamp.

Now, the difference between a seatpost at 27.2mm and one at 27.0mm is less than .85%. I don’t know anything about materials standards, but that seems an awful close tolerance to me for the seatpost binder to be breaking, especially often enough that the folks at Habanero have some idea of how much variation it takes to happen. I will arrange to have the integrated seatpost bits ground off, and use a common clamp. Frankly, if this is the last frame I want to buy, I don’t want to risk having this happen again, and the integrated-binder-solution is simply too risky; the standard-clamp-solution seems much more likely to succeed over the course of decades. It is certainly possible that I would get another seatpost that is less than 1% out of specification… and what would I do then?

Learning clipless pedals

“Clipless” pedals are the ones where a cleat is attached to the bottom of your shoe, which snaps into the pedal. They don’t have the obvious “clip” assembly that was attached to platform pedals and strapped around the toe of a (usually not bicycle-specific) shoe, but the cleat thingie is a different sort of “clip”, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve had two people talk to me about not wanting to try clipless pedals because they were afraid they would fall over while they were learning to clip in and out. Here’s my response: You will fall over while you’re learning. It’s part of the process. But pedaling efficiency is so improved with clipless pedals, that it’s worth the falls.

I learned by leaning up against a wall and practicing the clip-in, clip-out, then riding on a lawn. I’ve also heard the suggestion that riders do it in a doorway where they can reach both doorposts; that might work. I’ve also gone down a few times while riding; I consider that part of the acceptable risk of the activity.

Look makes a Keo Easy pedal that is low-price, and set at a low tension to improve ease of clipping in and out; I have a set now. I suspect Shimano SPD makes a similar item.

Xmas 2010 list

With links, where appropriate:

  1. Zinn, Lennard, Zinn and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (the new one is due out in November 2010). I have the Road Bike one; this is for mountain bikes.
  2. Nashbar Eco Premium Jersey, made from recycled polyester. Size large, not black.
  3. Diadora Aerospeed bike shoes at Nashbar… but only if the price is $50 or less. Size 45.
  4. Land’s End Turtleneck, Medium, Dark Charcoal. Can be more than one.
  5. Land’s End Mesh, Banded Polo, Black. Large. This one. Not any of the fancy ones, not colors or tips or stripes or whatever. I can use other colors for for non-work, but subfusc is better than bright – I am, after all, an urban Yankee.
  6. Nylon or waterproof wallet for bike rides.
  7. Pentel Hybrid Gel Pens, Medium, Blue ink
  8. Barnes & Noble gift cards. I can use ‘em on the Nook.
  9. Sneaker socks that don’t make you cringe.
  10. Apron, like the one I use in the kitchen, for bike repair. If the new one is real nice, I’ll put that one in the kitchen and use the old one for bike repair.
  11. Hammell, Thomas. 2009. Road Biking New Jersey. Globe Pequot
  12. Sprintech Handlebar Mirror, left only
  13. Helmet “Headliner”
  14. EITHER Fleece Toecovers or Neoprene Toecovers.

Change of plans

When I started this blog, I had thought I would be posting mostly about computers and technology. Since my difficulties with the Ubuntu 10.04 install, I’ve been less interested in those things, and, as I’ve been losing weight and getting healthier, I’ve been more enamored of the bicycle (viz. my last few posts).

I know myself, too, and I know I am subject to being taken over by a topic for a few months or years, and then moving on to something else. For a number of reasons, I feel like that is happening again.

There will be less emphasis on the “Computers”, henceforward, and more on the “other annoyances”. Since only about a dozen people have ever looked at this blog anyway, I know that changes like this won’t make a huge difference in the world.

I’ll also be using this space to post things that I’ll want access to later, and things I’ll want to link for friends and others.

Bike chain formula

Well, this is partly about the bike chain formula, and partly about the nifty titanium road bike frames for not-a-lot-of-money at Habanero Cycles. The Team Issue Nuevo frame comes in my size (not made-to-order, but close enough for the $300 difference). I’ve been in correspondence with Mark (see the “who’s who” at the bottom of the page), and I can “part out” my current bike onto their frame. Then I could just replace parts as they wear, and I’d never have to buy a new bike again; Mark wrote, “Your grandchildren will be riding it.”

However, there’s a difference in the chainstay length between this frame and my current frame, so I’d have to shorten a chain to the right length (you knew I’d get to the title of this post eventually, didn’t you?) (…and the chainstay is one of those two pieces of tubing that run from the pedal-crank housing to the rear axle; most bicycles have two of ‘em). So how long of a chain would you need? Well, Park Tool to the rescue. They’ve got a page for figuring chain lengths, with the “use the old chain as a guide” method, the “wrap it around and figure it out” method, the “this formula is close enough for most purposes” formula, and the “this is the real formula, but it’s so complicated, we hoped we wouldn’t have to put it here” formula (check out the page, and see if I’m kidding).

Well, this is a challenge to which I must rise… and it’s what spreadsheets are made for. I made a spreadsheet in OpenOffice.Org Calc, where if you know the three variables (chainstay length, number of teeth on largest front gear, number of teeth on largest rear gear), you plug the values into the greyed-out cells in the spreadsheet, and you get the chain length in inches. And I added tabs so that you can use the chainstay length in inches, centimeters, or millimeters. Get it here (right-click & “save as”).

(No, I won’t do it as an Excel file. First of all, I refuse to participate in Microsoft’s monopoly of the office desktop. Second, if you go get Openoffice.Org – it’s a free [as in free beer] office software suite, and it runs on most of the operating systems of any readers of this deservedly-neglected blog – you can save it as an Excel file, because in many ways, Openoffice.Org is more robust than MS Office. And, of course, if you go get Openoffice.Org, eventually, you might find that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars enriching Microsoft, because the free program does everything you want it to do.)

NOW I get it

In an earlier post, I wrote about my disappointment with the short screws included with the cleats (Look Delta) for my road bike pedals. Now I know why they’re short.

I just got & installed my Look Keo Easy pedals, which come with Keo cleats. These cleats – the replacements for the earlier Deltas, which are apparently no longer made – work fine with the 11mm screws.

(And I like the pedals. The clipout-action is very light, but they did not clipout on a straight lift. And they’re WAY light.)



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