Look before you wipe

November 5, 2014 § 23 Comments

Generally, bike maintenance is a sign of weakness. Anyone who has enough time to work on his own bike is clearly not training hard enough. The only thing worse than a well-maintained bike is a clean one. Clean bikes are much worse than perfectly functioning ones, because they prove not only that you weren’t out training at 8:00 PM, but rather than rub down your S.O. you preferred to rub down your ride.

When we hit the descent down Yerba Buena yesterday on the Nosco Ride, I noticed that my front wheel was out of true. It was kind of a bummer, because these were practically new Mavic Open Pro 32-whole aluminum rims and they only had about 32,000 miles on them, including two BWR’s and hundreds of off-road miles. It really angered me because I specifically bought these rims because of their supposed durability. I hate it when I pay good money for a product and they fall to shit when they’re still pretty much fresh out of the box.

Of course, in addition to the crime of bike maintenance there is the greater evil of stopping a ride en route to jiggle with a mechanical. Are the wheels still rolling? Are you still seated on the bike? Air in the tires? Then it can wait for later, and don’t whine to me about your derailleur having fallen off. Back in the day they didn’t even have derailleurs, and it was good enough for them.

The wheel wobble got pretty bad, so I went to my next mid-ride diagnostic test: How likely am I to die? If death probability > 50%, I will usually take it to the shop the next day. If death probability < 50%, we can wait until it breaks, which it probably won’t any time soon or at least until the ride finishes.

I sort of kept an eye on the wobble as I hurtled down the next 50-mph descent on Mulholland. Funny how when a wheel’s not running true it looks like it’s about to fall apart, but doesn’t. So I used my final diagnostic test: Is the rim hitting the brake pad? No? Pedal harder. Yes? Reach down and open the little brake-opener-thingy, then pedal harder.

On the final descent down Latigo and the full-gas run-in to Dos Vientos Community Park, the stupid wheel took on a life of its own. It was flappier than an old breast. This is when you need to hunker down and really hammer. All of those rim, hub, and spoke parts are made of steel and aluminum and hard stuff and they are made to last, plus it’s all practically new and, if it does break, it’s probably under warranty maybe.

Of course everything ended perfectly fine. I have been doing this a long time and know how to deal with mechanicals. In a few weeks I planned to take it into the shop, where they’d try to adjust the spoke tension and say some crap like, “The nipples are corroded from being left outdoors and never maintained and the wheel can’t be trued and you need a new wheel.” I knew the drill.

The next day I put the bike up on the repair stand. I have a repair stand so that when my friends come over and drink all my beer they can look out on the balcony and see that there is the potential for bike repair and take their minds off the poisonous homebrew they’re drinking. With an old pair of underwear I wiped down the bike, and when I got to wiping the front hub, this is what I saw (note stylishly retro faux-rust on the quick release which is very pro):

Duct tape and some bondo and Fireman says I'll be good to go.

Duct tape and some bondo and Fireman says I’ll be good to go.

Of course this is nothing major and I’ve already called my pal Fireman, who can fix anything. He says that he can make it as good as new, and if not it’s probably a warranty issue since the hubs have only been in use since 2009. They’ve only had two sets of wheels built on them, have been overhauled a mere three times, and have less than 75,000 miles on them, so if Chris King doesn’t want to warranty them and cover the cost to have the wheels rebuilt I should probably sue them in small claims court for products liability, fraud, breach of implied warranty, defamation, and violation of my civil rights.

Anyway … anybody out there have a spare front wheel?


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§ 23 Responses to Look before you wipe

  • BigBug says:

    I have a sweet set of tubular ‘cross wheels. Will only cost you two bottles of unlabeled stout.

  • Bill Stone says:

    I was going to attend but I refuse to participate in any event in which Lance is permitted to ride. And I am sure any money raised is so tainted that it can only bring harm to a sick person. Shame on you for not taking a stand on this.

  • channel_zero says:

    I think I know the answer to this, but you don’t carry a spoke wrench? I know, the added grams means the end of Stravabator KOM, but…

    Open the brake and loosen a few opposing spokes eh?

  • DangerStu says:

    The most pro hub I’ve ever seen, congrats!

  • A-Trav says:

    JB Weld will fix that. But I’ve got an old Bontrager wheel you can use while the JBW is setting up.

  • Hwy. 39 says:

    I think you need to brew a new beer:

    Busted Flange Brown Ale, it’s untrue that it’s all spoken for.

  • No one of consequence says:

    So the OP wasn’t the problem, but you sullied a fine French product before admitting it was a Chris King failure. Stupid Americain.
    – The Badger

  • Don W. says:

    I had the same thing happen to my CK front hub a few months ago. Mine failed catastrophically and I had to remove my front brake completely in order to ride it home. CK provided a new hub shell at no cost, but I had to pay to have the wheel rebuilt and I bought a new rim at the same time. Mine had around 20k+ miles on it, had been off road a lot, including this year’s BWR. The difference is that mine was radial laced, and I suspected that was the issue. Your’s is the third I’ve known of that failed (all black BTW). CK’s r45 hubs are not as bombproof as their MTB hubs, I guess. I don’t care, they are still awesome, as long as they don’t kill me.

    • fsethd says:

      I don’t care if they catastrophically fail and kill me as long as they make that cool Chris King whirring sound.

  • Winemaker says:

    32 hole Campy low flange rear, 28 hole front. 3X. DT straight 15 gauge. SSC’s, … plus whatever tire stirs your drink-just glue it on. Built four sets a long time ago with a tensiometer, Still riding fine, although I need a 23, er, 25, er 28 sometimes….and that compact 7 speed freewheel gets a lot of funny looks, as does Betsy.

  • JPrumm says:

    My mt bike broke last week. But Trek has a great warranty and the new frame will be here on Monday.

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