Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How to spend a Wednesday Afternoon

An interesting afternoon, not the way that I expected it to turn out but, hey, I can't complain (OK, maybe a little). What happened?

I've now done three commute rides on the Poprad and have been enjoying the bike very much. But there have been some irritating things:
  • the brakes really scream, especially when wet
  • can't shift into the big ring anymore (this happened on my first ride)
  • riding on the hoods is really, really uncomfortable. It feels as if they get further and further out the longer I ride
None of this feels right and so after I finished teaching for the day I called Montlake Cycles to ask questions and to find out if they had time to take a look at things and to make adjustments. "Sure, come on down!" So, I rode straight down and rolled into the shop. 

Me: "I've got some problems here, can someone look at them for me?"
Mech: "Sure. This will take about 40 minutes. Is that OK?"
Me: "Whatever it takes."
Mech: Pulls out a bottle of Rubbing Alcohol to clean off the brake rotors, spins the wheels, and discovers that the pads are not properly aligned. Apparently I have been riding with the brakes ON! Has me holding brake levers closed as he backs the pads off, explains how they work, and then resets them. Cleans the rotors with the alcohol and says "They may make some noise at first but then should be quieter. Did anyone tell you about what to do with these?"
Me: "No.  Cool, and thanks for the explainer. There is a problem shifting into the big ring as well."
Mech: "Are you aware of cable stretch and that you probably have to lube the chain?"
Me: "Yeah, but I bought this bike on Friday and I have only ridden it about 90 miles."
Mech: "Oh!" Starts looking at the front derailleur and readjusts the set screw. Spins the crank and shifts smoothly onto the big ring. 
Mech: Look at bike, very hard. "You want your handle bars at that angle?"
Me: (surprised) "No, it is pretty uncomfortable. I ride on the hoods and the longer I ride the further out things feel. There is a lot of creaking when I torque on the bars when climbing too."
Mech: "It looks like these bolts have not been tightened all the way." Unscrews them, rotates the bars up a little, tightens them down again, and asks me to sit on the bike to feel the new position. 
Me: "That is much better! Can you adjust the interrupter brake levers too?"
Mech: "Sure thing." Adjusts and tightens the bolts. 

This takes about 1.5 hours and one Clif Bar mostly because the Mech is really thorough, it taking his time, and seems genuinely interested in making sure I know what is happening. While all of this is going on Mr. Two Bicycles comes in with two bikes to have some work done on them. One is an all carbon road bike (pretty cool and light) and the other is a 2007 Poprad. He has had it for a year and loves it—it has become his main bike these days. No real problems although he has had a new set of wheels from Bontrager because the originals kept on coming out of true. Two Bicycles suggests that I put road slicks on to improve traction. Mech agrees with this recommendation. 

Rode home in the sun and the bike felt better already. Not a lot of time to walk the dog before heading out for the AR Wednesday group run—Bryant School Loop. Fun stuff.

Word to the wise. Make sure that your bike goes through a thorough final inspection BEFORE you accept it. Though I am really happy with the bike and also the fact that I had access to these necessary adjustments it is also the case that the bike should not have left the shop with these problems in the first instance and I should not have had to bring it back so soon. 

Addendum 10/13/08: Commuted today, my first ride since last Wednesday. The bike flew. :-)


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