lots of bike stuff

Want to know what I did today?  I took pictures of a $900 bicycle stem.  You see this guy?  Imagine an $885 better version.

I don’t know how many people know this, but I work for an online retailer of high performance specialty bicycle components.  One of the owners of the company I actually work for started it as a side project about a year ago, and though it’s not a huge operation, it’s a decent second source of income for him and it can sometimes take up a significant amount of our work time.  Though I do little more than product input into our e-commerce website and ship orders, I’ve learned a hell of a lot about bikes.  In fact, I’ve somehow become something of a snob about it.  I guess that comes with the territory of selling $150 skewers (the long pegs you put through your wheels to clamp them onto the bike).  If I see a bike and it doesn’t have a carbon fiber stem top cap that weighs 5g or less, I scoff.

Then I get onto my road bike, with stock components all around, and can’t believe how good it feels to ride it.  It glides like it’s on butter.  When I’m riding it, instead of wishing I had 18-spoke carbon tubular rims on it, I scoff at the people that would spend the two grand on a set of those.  My cheep-by-comparison aluminum clincher rims with their unaerodynamically shallow depth ride better than I could ever ask for.

Granted, if I ever actually rode one of those baller $10,000 all-carbon bikes, I’m sure I’d be singing a different song.  Maybe I’ll just avoid riding one of those for my entire life so that I’ll always appreciate what I have.

Anyway, despite my ravings about it’s awesomeness, my road bike sucks in weather.  I’d never take it out in any kind of precipitation, and it’s tires are slippery (as if they were riding on butter?) so any moisture/ice on the ground is liable to kill me while I’m cornering.  Anytime it snows, I have to stay off of it for a minimum of a week until some of the ice has melted, and the paths and sidewalks aren’t so wet.  Typically during that time I ride my 10-year-old mountain bike which is durable enough to take all the beating and weather I can put it through, and crappy enough that I don’t care if it literally explodes while I’m riding it (idk why it’d do that…).

Unfortunately, though, it’s been going through a tough time these last few months.  The shifters were starting to crack, which is unsurprising since they’re entirely plastic and they often take heavy abuse.  The cable tension started making them slip out of place, allowing the derailer to shift the chain from cog-to-cog, making smooth riding very difficult.  I’d have sore hands after any length ride because I’d have to hold the shifters so tightly to keep them from slipping out of position.

So the natural solution: tear the shifters off the bike.  This caused a chain reaction that resulted in me deciding that the bike should be a single speed.  Without shifters, the derailer isn’t going anywhere, so the chain is always going to stay on the same ring (hence single speed).  This makes the entire cassette (except for the single ring the chain ends up on) just dead-weight (and since I’ve become a weight weenie by association, I won’t allow a single unnecessary gram to be on my bike).  Might as well lop the derailer off while we’re at it.  Then in the front, the middle chain ring has a bent tooth that causes the chain to slip off, so we’ll get rid of that one.  The small chain ring on a mountain bike is so damn small it’s useless unless you’re climbing 45° inclines, so that’s gone.  Front derailer: gone.  All associated cables: gone.

Unfortunately, half way through working towards this, I realized that bikes were made with very specialized tools, and therefore need very specialized tools to take them back apart.  All the tools that I need would end up costing me more than all of the materials I had to buy to make the conversion.  Eff that noise, bra.  So now my bike is laying in pieces (but not the pieces I want it to be in) and all of the parts I took off of it are too destroyed to put back on.  So now it’s single speed or bust.

Since I work with some actual bike enthusiasts (not just posers like me), naturally they have all of the necessary tools and should bring them in for me in the next few days.

Um… that’s all.

There’s no moral to this story.  Any of it.

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