Press "Enter" to skip to content

Month: April 2013

0.64 Pounds of Dried Mud

One benefit to weighing my bike after assembly is that I have a baseline for doing things like… determining how much mud stuck to it while riding. During today’s 5.5 hour ride comprised of many dirt roads I ended up collecting quite a bit of mud on the frame (mostly on the downtube), which came out to 0.64 pounds after it dried.

Today’s route can be seen here on Strava. This was a good ride, and was possible thanks to the flexibility of my current workplace. I was able to work half a day yesterday (Sunday) while it was raining to wrap up some scripting stuff I’d been doing, and then took the afternoon off today to ride. This let me meet my weekend training plan ride requirement: a bunch more hours of riding in heart rate zone 2. Except this time and contrary to the plan I added in some bigger / sustained hills, but made a point of keeping my heard rate as close to the prescription as possible.

It asked said to “Get at least 50% of ride time in heart rate zone 2. Avoid 3-5 zones”, and I think I did that. Total moving time was 5:53:27 (81.91 miles), with 4:17:12 of that in Zone 2, and only 00:13:12 above that when I’d accidentally cross over to Zone 3.

I’m really liking the Salsa El Mariachi Ti that Trail’s Edge was able to get for me. It felt great on all the washboard and single track I ended up on, and with today’s mud I’m really thankful for the the full length cable housing routed along the top tube, which was one feature that had really sold me on the design.

I still have to sort out my stem choice, but I rode with the 100mm stem today I feel surprisingly good. There were a few times where I felt like I was holding myself up by my hands, but it might actually be a pretty good fit…

Leave a Comment

Defective Thomson Stem Screw

On Friday I found myself in a tough spot. I had a brand new bike, but a bit of measuring and maths had shown that there was 30mm more reach than on my other bikes. I was about to head out on a 3 hour ride, and I had a 5.5 hour ride scheduled for Sunday. The bike might be fine this way, but it also might be terribly uncomfortable at the end of those three hours. The best solution for this was to get a 70mm long 0° degree stem, as this would move the bars rearward about 30mm, and would then match the other bikes. But, how do I get a stem of that sizing before Sunday, when I’ve already got a busy Friday evening and Saturday, can’t make it to many shops, and most shops won’t stock stems of this size? If I’m sore after Friday’s 3 hour ride, what do I do?

After thinking it over I ended up just ordering a Thomson (my preferred stem brand) from Amazon and having it shipped overnight. This commanded a bit of a premium, but I decided it’d be worth it to be sure I’d have a stem that would make the fit match existing bikes and also be one one I’d want to keep. (Zach over at Rochester Bike Shop had let me borrow a 75mm x 7.5° for testing, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make that one fit as nicely, and it definitely wasn’t a permanent fix, so I’d still have to order a Thomson eventually…)

Friday’s ride went quite well, and I found that the extra 30mm of reach may not be too much, and had quite a great time riding around Stony with some friends. I’m not sure if it was new tires, tubeless, the Fox fork, or being a bit further forward, but I was really liking how the bike held on to the trail. Post-ride I had a bit of newfound upper back soreness, but as it wasn’t anything terrible I was on the fence about switching to the shorter stem that was to arrive on Saturday. Maybe I just needed to adapt to it… Still, the stem arrived and I was happy to have options.

This evening I measured the bike a bunch of different ways, comparing it to my others, and decided that for Monday’s 5.5 hour ride† I should try the new shorter stem. That’s when I ran into a problem. When taking the faceplate off of the new stem I couldn’t get a tool to fit in one of the screws, as the head of one screw hadn’t been manufactured properly and 3mm hex tool wouldn’t slide in. I also found the screws to be questionable, as every other Thomson stem I can remember uses 4mm-fastener cap head screws and not the 3mm dome ones that this stem came with. Amazon (direct/Prime) is usually a pretty reputable seller, but I can’t help but wonder if something is up with this stem.

As can be seen above (or in either of these photos: 1, 2) the head of the screw on the right is just… not right. For those who are familiar with Thomson X4 stems you may find these to look a bit… different. I can’t help but wonder if this is a counterfit stem, although I imagine it may simply be one from an early production run. I’ve emailed Thomson asking if they can address this or if they’d like me to take it up with Amazon, so hopefully they’ll get back to me soon.

In the mean time I’ll just keep riding with the 100mm stem. I’m really liking the bike thus far and am really glad that Mike (and Aaron and Dan and Paul…) at Trail’s Edge were able to get this bike for me. They seem to be quite hard to come by, and I’m really liking how it feels. I just want to be sure I’ve got the fit spot on before I do too long of rides and end up either really uncomfortable or injure myself. Getting this stem may just sort that out.

UPDATE: Thomson replied to my email this morning indicating that it is a legit stem, that they changed style last year, and that they’ll send me some replacement screws.

† I was able to arrange things with work where I put in half a day and got a bunch of scripting done from home on a rainy Sunday. This should let me work half a day on Monday and hopefully get out for a nice ride.

Leave a Comment

New Bike: 2013 Salsa El Mariachi Ti

Today I finished assembling my new bike, a complete 2013 Salsa El Mariachi Ti, size medium, that I purchased from Trail’s Edge. For quite some time I’ve wandered a dedicated, geared hard tail 29er, and so back in September 2012 I ordered this one. It was originally slated to ship in mid-December 2012, but (apparently due to Salsa’s growing popularity) it slipped until this past week (April 2013). Regardless, I’m happy to have it.

This was purchased as a complete bike and received it in the box so I could put it together myself. This worked out well because I both like assembling my own bicycles, and it allowed me to swap out the parts I was immediately wanting to change, like the saddle, handle bars, grips, and tires. I end up spending around 12 hours on the initial assembly of a bike this way, but then I’m comfortable with how it went together and how it’d been tuned, and when something goes awry I’m ready to take care of it.

The only problem I had during this assembly was with the tubeless setup on the rear wheel. I’d originally intended to use a Specialized Fast Trak Control tire, but I had enough difficulty getting it installed that I headed over to Rochester Bike Shop mid-assembly and picked up a Kenda Small Block Eight and used it instead. During the install I found the Specialized Fast Track on the Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Arch EX rim was such a tight fit that it was very difficult to get the tire fitted, and then it wouldn’t seat. Using my High Volume Inflater I attempted to overinflate the tire to get it to set, but before it did that the other side blew off the rim with an incredible bang, with enough force to bend and crimp the tubeless valve inside the head of the inflater. Thankfully the rim wasn’t damaged, so after getting the new valve and tire everything went together just fine.

I’m happy with how the bike came out thus far, with two exceptions, one minor and one major. The minor exception is that I don’t like the red logo on the side of the stem. It’s not terrible looking as there is some red at the bottom of the fork, but the bike now needs something red on the rear end to balance the color. This may get replaced, though, as the major problem is one of reach. While I’ve got the seat/crank area setup properly, the Salsa Bend 2 bar is not a drop-in replacement for the Ragley Carnegie’s Bar that I prefer.

The Bend 2 is both a little wider and doesn’t sweep back as far as the Carnegie’s Bar, and when measuring from the nose of the saddle to the bolts in the grip (same saddle and grips on both bikes) the El Mariachi Ti has 45mm more reach (saddle to grip) than either my steel El Mariachi or Titus Racer X 29er. It’s only a smidge longer than on the Mukluk 2, so I will give it a go for this weekend (scheduled for 8.5 hours of riding total) and see how it feels. I’ve thought that I’m perhaps a bit too upright on either the Titus or steel El Mariachi, but they’ve also felt fine for many, many hours of riding. Since the Carnegie’s Bar is no longer made and nearly impossible to find for sale I may have to investigate a stem change and trimming the bars if the current setup doesn’t work out. At least that should take care of the red color imbalance.

As with many tubeless setups the tire loses air for a while until a few rides can get the sealant wholly distributed, and this caused me one problem. When I got home from work today I found that the rear tire had lost its air, causing the bike to fall over in the stand. In doing so the top tube brushed a table leg, putting a small scuff in the finish. This is probably nothing compared to damage which the bike will incur from kicked up sticks and rocks, but it’s a bit frustrating for that to have happened before I even got it on a trail.

Finishing off the bike I topped the Niner YAWYD with a cap from Southern Tier Brewing Company. This black bottle cap with a shovel and traditional wood mashing paddle fits very nicely on the bike, and is a (admittedly non-Michigan) brand that I really enjoy. I’ve taken the bike for a ride around local neighborhoods to bed in the brakes and get the Garmin Edge 500 to auto-calculate a rear wheel size, so it’s ready to ride this weekend. This proved that the Elegant Cadence Magnet that I’d posted about earlier works great, even using a lower profile magnet than the one pictured before. It’s much nicer than a magnet sticking off the back side of the pedal, secured with adhesive and a cable tie.

So far I’m really happy with this bike, and I expect this to continue as I ride it more. There’s a little bit of fit tweaking like with any new bike, but I think I’ve got it pretty close, and hopefully it’ll work well for the foreseeable feature, allowing me to successfully complete a number of long rides. Weighing in at 26.16 pounds (as pictured here, including the Garmin) it’s also one of the lightest bikes I’ve ever owned.

I’ve got a few parts leftover that I probably won’t use (Salsa Back Country Lock-On Grips, WTB Pure V saddle, too-short Salsa Pro Moto 1 Seatpost, Salsa Pro Moto 1 Carbon Flat handlebar, Continental Trail King 2.2 tires) on this bike, but they’ll be good things to add to the spares pile. I’ve also got a SRAM X7 S1400 2×10 crankset without bottom bracket (it was stock on the El Mariachi Ti, I replaced it with the X0 that I picked up a few months back), but as it is 104 BCD I can see myself using it on another bike as a single speed or 1×9 crankset.

A bunch of photos of the bike, including stock photos and some of the parts added to the base build can be found in this album: Salsa El Mariachi Ti. Photos of the complete bike can be found here.

Here’s the exact components on it, as of this evening:

Frame: 2013 Salsa El Mariachi Ti (Medium / 17″)

Fork: Fox Racing Shox OE, CTD w/ Open Bath Damper

Headset: Cane Creek 40 ZS44/EC44

Bottom Bracket: Truvativ GXP (XR / Black)

Crankset: Truvativ 2011 2×10 X0 GXP (00.6115.422.070, Blue)

Rims: Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Arch EX 29er (Blue Accents)

Tires: Front: Schwalbe Racing Ralph HS 425 (29″ x 2.25″, New Style, TL-Ready), Rear: Kenda Small Block Eight (29″ x 2.1″, DTC, non-SCT, K1047)

Hubs: Front: Shimano HB-M788, Rear: Shimano FH-M785

Spokes: DT Swiss Competition (Black)

Handlebar: Salsa Bend 2 (23°)

Stem: Salsa Pro Moto 1 (100mm)

Seatpost: Thomson Elite (Straight, 27.2mm x 410mm)

Seatpost Collar: Salsa Lip-Lock (32.0mm)

Saddle: Specialized Phenom Comp (143mm, Grey / Black Underside)

Grips: Ergon GP1 BioKork (Large)

Shifters: SRAM X9 2×10 Trigger

Front Derailleur: SRAM X7 High Direct Mount

Rear Derailleur: SRAM X0 Medium Cage (Blue)

Cassette: SRAM PG 1070 (11-36)

Chain: SRAM PC 1051

Pedals: Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 (Blue)

Brakes: Shimano XT, Levers: BL-M785, Calipers: BR-M785, Front Rotor: SM-RT67-M (180mm), Rear Rotor: SM-RT67 (160mm)

Bottle Cages: King Cage Iris

Other Accessories: Mirracycle Original Incredibell, Niner YAWYD Top Cap, Planet Bike Superflash Stealth, Scotch 2228 (Chainstay Wrap), Race Face Crank Boots, UHMW Tape for Cable Rub and Heel Rub, Garmin GPS Mount.

Leave a Comment

Adobe Creative Suite Weirdness on OS X after Manual Backup

I’d been having a problem on my main OS X machine where, every time Adobe Acrobat would try to do a security update I’d receive a cryptic error message stating that I’d modified the installation and therefore the update wouldn’t work. During use of Creative Suite products (mostly Illustrator) I’d occasional see odd quirks, like slow(-er than expected) application launching or updates that seemed to run more than once.

After some digging I eventually found that the root of the problem was a backup of my Applications folder that I’d created when I reinstalled the OS post-SSD failure.

In recovering from this failure I figured that a clean OS install would be nice, so I moved /Applications off to a corner of my disk (/Volumes/Cruft/Storage/Applications.old if I recall correctly) and let it sit, just in case I forgot to copy or reinstall something and was later wanting for it. It appears that these .app bundles (the special folders suffixed .app, such as Adobe were still being seen as valid programs, and sometimes run instead of the intended ones in the root of the drive. This resulted in updates working strangely, slow launching as they weren’t read from the SSD, and the other quirkyness that I’d seen.

Having been a number of months since I created the …/Applications.old backup and not needing anything in there I deleted it, and all was better. Adobe Acrobat updated once more, and since then everything has worked as expected.

So, if you’re having problems with Adobe application updates failing weirdly on OS X, look around for other copies of the application bundles. Maybe this is your problem as well…

Leave a Comment

IKEA FIXA Metric + Standard Tape Measure

IKEA, purveyors of useful (and usually) imported items has one item that I think will be of particular use to those interested in the mechanical side of cycling: FIXA Tape Measure (item 402.375.57), a metric and standard tape measure which retails for $1.29 in US stores.

Bicycle measurements, especially frame dimensions, seem to be randomly specified in metric or standard units. To accommodate this and support measuring tire circumferences I bought a Stanley metric tape measure via eBay from Canada, but I thought it’ll be really nice to have this dual-unit one. Now I do, and it’s cheap enough that I don’t mind throwing it in a tool bag with other items, leaving it there to get scratched and nicked up, nor loaning it to someone and potentially losing it.

1 Comment

Pub Pedals

To make non-bike-shoe riding easier I picked up a pair of Windwood Decksters a couple of years ago, but I never really used them because my primary use for flat shoes on clipless pedals was doing trail work and the Decksters were prone to popping off when twisting one’s foot, like when riding on trails. Instead when taking my bike out for trail work I’d just deal with riding in boots on Eggbeaters or wear bike shoes.

With a recent successfully-funded Kickstarter campaign Pub Pedals — a slip-on platform for Crank Brothers Eggbeaters — came to be. Nick had purchased a pair from the original campaign and after they arrived I saw how high quality they were and that they’d meet a need of mine, so I ordered a pair. Today they arrived, and after some basic testing I’m quite happy with them. I still have to actually try them out for basic riding on trails, but I expect them to work quite well.

I first tried them on some older Eggbeater SL pedals that are on my Mukluk 2 and they installed pretty easily, but weren’t loose enough to come off easily. I then tried them on the newer Eggbeater 3s that are on most of my bikes and they were sufficiently difficult to install that I sent a note to Nick asking if his fit. They did, so I tried mine again and was able to cajole them in place by wearing gloves and spreading the cages a bit with my hands. Eventually they fit in place, snugly enough that I see almost no chance of them coming off during even fairly aggressive trail riding. (I’d probably slip off the pedals before I could apply enough force that they’d push off of the pedals.)

Come next time I’m out doing trail work, provided there’s no need to carry long tools, I strongly suspect I’ll be giving these a go. Or, maybe I’ll slip them on next time I’m looking at taking a ride up to Sherwood for some dinner and beer… After all, they are Pub Pedals.

1 Comment

Evaporated Tungsten Deposits

A few days ago when I entered the garage I heard a noticeable 60 Hz buzz. Since this part of the house contains only fluorescent lighting I was a little confused at what it could be. The noise seemed to be coming from one of the incandescent bulbs on the ceiling; one which was giving off a strangely dim and off-color light. Switching the lights off then back on finished off the failing bulb, and it burned out in a typical flash.

I’m not completely sure what was occurring, but with quite a bit of darkening (likely condensed metal vapor) on the inside of the bulb and the odd colored light I strongly suspect that a gap had formed in the filament but was arcing, then on next power cycle the filament blew itself apart.

This bulb is one of two 300W incandescents that I use to illuminate the garage. I’ve considered putting in some bright, all-temperature fluorescent lighting, but doing that would be considerably more expensive than occasionally installing ceramic sockets and spending $5 every couple of years on a bulb.


Bent Surly Chainring

About a year ago I purchased a spare Surly 34t chainring from someone on the MMBA Forum, just like the one I’d originally fitted to the El Mariachi after building it up as a single speed. I somewhat regretted the purchase, but figured that one day I’d find a use for it.

Today was that day.

While riding from Great Baraboo out to Metro Beach (Lake Erie Metropark), just after crossing Gratiot I pedaled and noticed that my bike was producing an odd skip. At first I thought that perhaps the jockey wheels on the derailleur were binding and causing the chain not to thread through, but eventually I noticed that the chainring was a bit bent. I dealt with the skipping and finished up the ride, then investigation at home showed that the chainring was bent a bit towards the bash guard, causing the chain to not settle on the ring at part of the pedal stroke, leading to the skipping feeling as it finally dropped in place.

Thankfully I had the spare chainring so I was able to swap that one on and have the bike ready for riding tomorrow.

This past Saturday while out on a longer ride to Richmond and back one of my chainring bolts came a bit loose and was occasionally brushing the N-Gear Jump Stop that I use to keep the chain on the bike when used as a 1×9. I tightened it up last night and confirmed that the chainring was straight (read: it hadn’t bent while one bolt was loose) and figured everything to be good. I can’t help but suspect the two are related, but as the ring wasn’t bent last night and bolts were still tight when I removed the ring today, I’m not sure how this happened. It’s also bent between the bolt holes, which implies that the bolts were snug when it happened.

My friend Roger reported bending a Surly ring on a bike with tight bolts, so maybe it’s possible for them to get loaded in just the right way for it to be a problem. I’m considering getting a Roger-recommended On-One Stainless Chainring as they look to be much more robust than the Surly rings, but for now I’ll just stick with the replacement Surly. The Salsa Ring Dinger bash guard that I’m using as an outer chain guide is also a bit beat up and slightly bent (outward) so when I get the On-One ring I’ll probably replace that with a nice BBG Bashguard.

At least things are back to working again.

Leave a Comment