Sunday, March 27, 2011

Classing Up The Joint

Most of my wrenching time is spent taking stuff off my own bikes and putting it back on. They're like Lego blocks for (quasi) grownups. But today, I was lucky enough to put wrench to a friend's quite-snazzy ride:
Yup, that's a little Trek fitty-something-hundred, carbon fiber (gasp!), very much like the one some Texas dude used to win a bunch of yellow shirts in France.

But like that Texas dude's book, this post is Not About the Bike. It's about the special steps one must take as a mechanic when working on equipment of this caliber. This is not the stuff of pipe wrenches, bigger hammers, and even bigger hammers. One must proceed with the proper mindset, a delicate touch, and precision instrumentation. 

First, always maintain a clean, well-organized workbench:
A place for everything, and everything in its place... at least before the tornado hit.

Next, make sure you're wearing the appropriate attire:

Park Tools Mechanic's Sneakers (MS-1), in (what else?) Park Tool Blue. 

The uppers use fiber with aluminum inserts for lateral stiffness, while the dual-density elastomer lowers provide vertical compliance.

Need to make a run to the bike shop for parts and it's too far to ride? You can't just use any sort of vehicle:
Park Tools Internal Combustion Bike Transport (ICBT-1), in (what else?) Park Tool Blue.

Finally, make sure to wear gloves. You're doing surgery here, not banging pots and pans together:
The proctologist will see you now, Mr. Dura Ace.

Aside to my retro-Luddite pals... yup, that's a last-generation square taper Dura Ace crankset with matching bottom bracket (not shown). And yup, I called dibs on it if it's ever for sale. And nope, you can't have my friend's phone number to try to get it first.

For those who haven't dozed off from snark overload, my mission was to put one of those new two-piece/hollow spindle Shimano compact cranksets on this little pre-Madone. I won't bore you further on how to do that (just go to the Park Tool website like I did -- that link plus a BBT-9 and you're golden), but I will say that it was a) shockingly easy, and b) seemed like a nice bit of kit. I can't warm up to the new Shimano crank aesthetic (which looks like a kid's drawing of an elephant to me, especially when you compare it to the classic lines on that nifty Dura Ace above), but on fit and function, I'm impressed.

Okay, class dismissed. I gotta go get that carbon out of my garage before all the steel in there rejects it like a bad organ transplant.


Anonymous said...

as another cranky old fart, I'm also a fan of the more clean lines of that era Dura-Ace (or even the Campy Nuovo Record stuff). I'm a little suspicious of the thick chainrings found on the new high end Shimano stuff, if only because I figure it costs a fortune to replace. My belief is that consumable items ought not to be too expensive or light. Save the money for the stuff that lasts!

I will mention that I was expecting to see a Torque Wrench or two in this blog post. When circumstances forced me to buy modern hardware, all of the little torque values stenciled on the parts convinced me to pick up the two Park torque wrenches (TW-1 and TW-2, I believe). Still haven't used them, but I'm ready for whenever I have to start messing with the carbon cranks and such!


Steve-the-Lapsed-Luddite in Peoria

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

Shh, Steve! Don't let on that I didn't have a torque wrench! The bike's owner reads this stuff! :-)

Seriously, everything I put a wrench to was a metal-on-metal interface (unless you count raising the saddle to expose enough seatpost for the workstand -- and even that was a nice alloy Syncros). Between that and the quite-normal torque specs in the Shimano instructions, I felt confident that my well-honed Human Torque Detector was up to the job.

Now, if someone brings me a carbon bar or stem to install, I'm backing away and calling my lawyer...