Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Perfect bicycle components, Part 1

Have you ever tried to find the perfect little bit to put on your bike? Just some little fiddly thing. You're hoping that someone makes one that won't sully your nice ride. After all you aren't riding a SledgeHammer with sweet shocks and pegs.

But back to that little thing. Surely there is someone out there that makes that little thing and it isn't a piece of junk.

Such was my problem in the fall of 2007. My LeMond Poprad shipped with a crummy integrated seatpost collar-cable hanger. Problem was that the cable stop forced the brake cable to exit at an angle. Now, when you apply pressure on a bicycle's control cables, they try to seek the shortest distance between the lever and the component. So my rear brake performance had degraded to the point where I was having to crank the cantilever springs almost all the way to 11. The cable was busy sawing a groove in the cable hanger. "Well, what a stupid design!" I thought. Then I began my search for a good, decent rear brake cable hanger. My problem was I was in the wrong century to find one. 1988 or maybe 1992 would have been a good time to track one down.

Searching, searching, searching. It seemed that out in the real world, CX bikes came with the too-short Tektro hanger or a brazed-on cable stop across the seatstays. I won't even mention the cool solutions present on custom or high-end bikes.

I went through three cable hangers. They were all so short! I had to fiddle and fuss with that tiny segment of cable housing at the seatpost in an effort to make the curve as gentle as possible. The cursed cable hangers didn't help any since they forced the cable housing to make a nasty curve immediately behind the seatpost collar.

I FINALLY, after much Googling" discovered that Surly had just produced a rear cable hanger with a generous 70mm length (compared to about 30-40 for widely available components like the Tektro hanger). So I called a nearby shop that had so far come through for me with the good stuff that other, larger, CLOSER shops couldn't seem to get -- Cyclepath.

Well they did it again. Actually even better. See, Surly's hanger was apparently still too new to be immediately available. But Josh tuned me onto a little hanger, very similar to Surly's (but pre-dating it) that was made by Chris Kelly (www.kellybike.com) and called the "candy basket". Because, when you look at it, it kinda does look like a little basket.

It's so simple, yet it does its job so well. And so so hard to find.

My next question? Why do seatposts seem to be so heavy, junky, ugly, over-complicated, un-workably simple or some combination of those attributes??

Thomson has produced what is simply the most beautiful, strongest, "not-heavy" seatpost I've ever had/used/seen/examined.

But that's all for another post.

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