1 Nov 2012

November 1st 2012

1st 41F, 5C, windy, overcast. Rain forecast until late afternoon. I'm going to work on the trike to see if I can get more chain clearance on the 28 tooth sprocket..

Count them: 10 Shimano (9 speed spacing) gears on 11 speed Campag Ergo levers. Shimergo.

The Tiagra 9 speed changer doesn't look as if it is struggling to reach the new bottom gear. The bolt-on gear hanger could be moved another 1/8" to 3/16" to the left if need be. It just needs enough chain clearance in top gear.

It works on the stand and while riding the trike around the lawn. With the impending rain I haven't been out for a proper ride yet.

Here's what was necessary to push both axles over to the right. There wasn't enough clearance for the chain to hop onto the 28T bottom gear. I fitted a left hand thread lockring from an old, adjustable bottom bracket.

The axle needed a washer at the shoulder to take up the end float. I turned a solid copper washer from a spark plug in the lathe to fit. The soft metal will hopefully help to avoid damaging the Trykit axle shoulder where the inner axle bearing normally sits. The bearing is still there but is now moved a couple of millimetres to the right.

The back of the cassette is stopped against the lockring on the Trykit 2WD body. A couple of remaining threads are still visible but not enough room for another 9 speed sprocket and spacer.

It is easy to see here (looking down) how little clearance there is for the chain as it rides up over bottom gear before settling into place in the sprocket teeth.

Since I already had a 28T sprocket from an old cassette there was no expenditure on the 10 gear conversion. Apart, of course, on the Ergo levers. I was buying the levers anyway because the indexed bar-end levers were too stiff and hurting my hands.

While the Trykit 2WD body is a unique case, which allows widely spaced sprockets, I hope the Shimergo details will interest people enough to try. Hopefully increased interest in Shimergo will begin to irritate the commercial idiots who won't play nicely together on cycle equipment standards. The three main players all have different standards which hinders mix and match of the best equipment from each. This seems to be entirely for commercial gain rather than offering the cyclist a real choice. The manufacturers show no loyalty to their customer base. I suppose the bottom line is that all three manufacturers can ride on the successes, or rather lack of, in pro racing.

While there is lots of money sloshing in the pro teams the vast majority of real cyclists pay big money in an endless copy-cat, catch-up race of their own. Prices rise constantly as we are expected to be grateful for trickle down technology from the high end, disposable kit. No doubt a great deal of today's kit is made in Chinese factories. Where the low wage regime seems to have little or no impact on the  equipment we mere mortals all buy.

What happens next? The clever Chinese engineers improve on the stuff they are making, and labelling, for the big names. The next thing you know the Chinese will become the big names and the present kit labellers will just fade away. We saw how the Japanese overtook established European players as if they were standing still. Now it's their turn to feel the pain.

The Chinese have plenty of experience at micro-electronics. So expect improvements and reductions in price in electronic gear changing. I still hope to see real plastic or ceramic chains before I give up cycling.

And, yes, I do know my chain needs cleaning. I have never got around to getting one of those clever chain cleaning machines. Nor do I do much trike cleaning anyway.

As of 10:30 11.00 11:30 it still hasn't rained! Though it is still dark grey and windy. I left later than usual to do some shopping. Blowing a gale so only 21 miles. The Nidd behaved itself today. As did the 10 gears. I had to play with the cable adjuster because I'd removed the rear changer and it didn't go back on in exactly the same place. While I can always climb any hill I meet 34 x 28T is still not low enough if a high cadence is required. Particularly if there is a headwind.

2nd 43F, 6C, gales, overcast, heavy showers. Grabbed a window of opportunity to get to the shops. Only 15 miles.

3rd 41-43F, 5-6C, overcast, windy, heavy showers. It should brighten later and the wind drop. I left after coffee. The Nidd comes and goes. The gears are complaining in the middle of the cassette. I don't think I have the bolt on hanger straight since I took it off to fit the 10th sprocket. The changer looks slightly twisted when I look down on the rear changer as I'm riding along. Only 16 miles.

Pm. Put the trike on the stand and corrected the twist in the rear changer via small adjustments to the bolt-on hanger. Gears nicely back to their original 9 speed accuracy and quiet running but with 10 gears. The step from 26 to 28 is worthless on the road. It doesn't feel any different as I change down. Checking the gear inches with an online gear calculator shows almost no change at around 20". If I wasn't such a lazy git and far more sensible I'd simply remove the 28T and return the trike axles to normal.

I had tucked the skirts into the rails on the B17 'Select'. To try and correct the very obvious lateral twist in the leather. The skirt has moved inwards towards the rails but the saddle's spine is still banana shaped in plan. The leather is incredibly soft. I could push the spine down by over half an inch without using any force. The whole thing is less stiff than some welder's gloves. It seems as if it is about to flatten out into a hammock! So I used the Books special spanner to add a little more tension. Not a good idea in practice as it exposed the saddle's spine to my softer parts. Without providing the vital support of the sagging leather in the now-missing sit bone areas.

While I remembered it, I slackened off the tension on the Nidd a little. Just to try and get some/any movement. In anticipation of a longer ride tomorrow I replaced the Nidd with the Select. A little and often is less likely for the Nidd to damage my ability to ride at all! I can tell that I have been riding the Nidd even when I sit in my comfortable computer chair. My sit bone areas are still sore next day!

Just in case you weren't bored enough already I have been examining the possibility of 11 speed Shimergo again. There isn't room for  11 sprockets x  (9 speed spacing) on the Trykit body. Though a 10 speed Shimano cassette is rather narrower. I might then just have room to add a granny gear on the back of a more modest road cassette. It certainly looks doable going by Sheldon Brown's figures and the articles on Shimergo on various sites including the CTC and Chuck Glider.
Why bother? Just for the fun of it!

I have also come up with an incredibly simple idea for altering cable pull ratios. It would allow me to very accurately match the Ergo lever's pull per click to a tenth of a millimetre. Any sprocket spacing would become usable without introducing any cable friction or modifying the trike. Light, extra spring tension is easily added in series with the changer if desired.

Low cable friction is essential to the Ergo's operation. Any drag and the gear change levers simply lock out against each other. Weight increase with my device would be a few grammes at most and would be unnoticeable on the machine without very careful examination.

11 speeds requires increased accuracy in placing the chain precisely over the sprockets. My idea can be easily built out of scrap in only a few minutes. Without any more tools than a simple drill and something with which to measure. It could even be made infinitely variable if desired. Even the Sram rear changers could be easily accommodated. I wonder whether the 9sp Tiagra rear changer can cope with 11 speeds? I'm still hoping I can use a 9 speed chain to keep costs down. :-)

This sprayer attempted to climb the steep hill in the background. It looked very dramatic with its arms spread right out and leaning right back! I hopped off to try and catch it but he gave up too soon and turned quickly away. Leaving a large muddy track carved up the hillside. 

It would be nice to be able to use a compact double instead of a triple. 50x34 seems to be carved in granite for road use! Why for GS? 34 x anything "roadie" in the way of cassettes is just not low enough for most (real) people. Least of all an old fart on a heavy trike with a load of shopping on board. There are MTB doubles with weird tooth numbers. Most look and sound like a triple without the outer ring! What are the manufacturers thinking? Are they terrified people won't think they are sexy any more if they offer proper climbing gears? Not he-man racing enough for their over-endowed, weekend warrior, main customer base? Is there anybody on the planet who can actually turn 53/11 without a serious and illegal habit?

I remember I set up my first proper racing bike with a 44 inner ring x 20 bottom sprocket! 59.4". It's a wonder I enjoyed climbing hills so much! I used to seek out the steepest hills I could find. 1-in-4 was my favourite incline. Turning round to come back down was often more difficult than climbing the bløødy hill! My outside ring was 58T. No gear overlap! Back then you had to have a Campag Record chainset with a 3 tooth difference between inner and outer or nobody would speak to you at the cycle clubs. I was lectured endlessly for not having a 'proper' leather saddle too! Black Unica Nitors were certainly not welcome. They were also damned uncomfortable on longer rides so they may have had a point! :-)

BikeCalc.com - Cadence/Gear/Ratio/Wheel size calculator

Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator

4th 41F, 5C, clearing to sunny periods. Mostly dry but windy. My legs were achy and tired today but I pressed on regardless. The B17 saddle wasn't all that comfortable so I'll have to slacken it off again. The gears were fine today. The usual solitary cyclists were out training. Most were going the opposite way, downhill with a tail wind. As usual, Muggins was doing it the hard way! A few joggers were out in the lanes. Isolated behind their headphones.

I still managed 39 miles in the autumn sunshine. No new pictures though. There are a lot of rather nervous, thrush-sized birds flitting in large flocks from tree to tree. They never stay still long enough for me to get a proper look. Probably Fieldfares. Or Redwings. They all just look like grey blobs against the grey sky to me.

5th 39F, 4C, windy, overcast, raining steadily. As it is persisting down I shall leave it until later. To see if it clears up as promised. I have emailed the online dealer about the twisted and floppy Brooks B17 'Select'. It is  tragedy that anything so beautiful and so quickly comfortable should throw a wobbly. The response was that I should increase the tension. I replied that I had, without obvious gain.

The main problem is the sagging of the leather in the sit bone areas. This exposes the back rail by default. Tensioning, even slightly, just raises the spine of the saddle relative to the seat area. Making it uncomfortable in the middle. The irony is that a harder saddle, which breaks in more slowly, eventually offers more support where it should. The suffering often required in reaching leather nirvana is another matter altogether. Worst case scenario is returning the 'Select' for dealer examination. Leaving the Nidd alone to its evil devices. I had better rework the 'Professional' now. For a bit of light relief! :-) Rain stopped play. Another rest day. Null points.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

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