21 Nov 2015

21st November 2015 The trials and tribulations of Ergo.

Saturday 21st 37F, 3C, breezy, cold, very heavy overcast, raining. A clearing up is expected and it did stop raining by 9am. A snowstorm is possible overnight/tomorrow. Up to 8" of snow with 45+mph winds probably causing drifting.

It took an hour of frustrating fiddling to release the old nipple from the ratchet wheel of the Ergo lever. The same problem occurs every time. The gear cable breaks just above the ratchet wheel leaving stiff, straggly ends. These prevent the nipple from dropping out of the ratchet wheel because there is so much friction. It needs a very fine, but stiff wire to go down the cable route to push the nipple out enough to get hold of it. There is no room for long nosed pliers so I used a sharp awl to stab the visible part of the lead nipple so I could lever it out.

My cord arrangement to allow some middle gears with the broken cable tied off just below the seat clamp. Fishing and climbing knots come in handy for all sorts of things.

Campagnolo's designer obviously thought their Ergo levers would have the cables replaced by professional bike mechanics. Doing so as often as considered necessary and long before the inner cable frays. The moment the gear change becomes hesitant or stiff it really is worth changing the inner cable.

The outer sleeve, which follows the 'bars, uses longitudinal reinforcement over a fine plastic tube. All of which sits without a ferrule in a hole in the plastic lever housing. So there is really too little resistance and the plastic outer sleeve gradually moves away from the reinforcing wires. Leaving a bundle of these completely unconnected outer wires to feed back into the plastic hole. Which is all but impossible with the lever in place along with any obscuring bar tape. So the inner cable has to be completely withdrawn, the lever and tape have to come off and a length of outer snipped back to a clean end. A race mechanic would change the bar tape regularly along with cables and outers since expense hardly matters while reliability and appearance are everything.

The amateur [moi] is likely to be far less fastidious and will only swap cables when something finally goes wrong. That said, the inner cable lasts at least a couple of years of my abuse before it starts to fray. This is a remarkable performance for such complex, 11 speed racing levers. From my own direct experience the gear change performs perfectly over many thousands of miles. I also change gear constantly to maintain a high but steady cadence. Trying to keep my pedal revs between 95 and 100 often higher may require a gear change at one or two second intervals on undulating roads. Having 11 speeds at the rear makes matching my cadence to incline and road speed far easier. 

Climbing a steep and overgrown firebreak in the deep, dark woods.
A couple of hours later I had the inner cable replaced, the outer trimmed back and the bar tape renewed. The latter was looking faded and very scruffy anyway.

I wonder whether I shouldn't run the outer through a conduit of hose following the usual route under the tape. This would allow me to pull the outers off the bars for trimming without removing the built-up layers of bar tape. The problem is finding the correct diameter of "conduit" to allow easy removal of the outer but without extra bulk.

I'm now off on a short shopping trip to test the results of my struggles. There is extra friction somewhere not letting it change up properly. I tried stripping the cable off the lever by pulling on the bare cable but it made no difference. I'll have another look at it tomorrow. The nipple may not have seated properly and could be jamming in the lever housing. Only 10 miles.

Sunday 22nd 32F, 0C, blowing a northerly gale, several inches of overnight snow, heavy overcast.  The Danish news is reporting heavy snow, fallen trees and power lines and blocked motorways. There is a warning against unnecessary travel in Sj√¶lland. So, a normal Sunday for most drivers, then. Titter ye not! It was true! Cars were passing at 30 second intervals on their way to fetch fresh bread rolls. I kept hopping onto the verge to avoid their slushy spray. Despite the earlier efforts of the snow plows several more inches had built up making my progress difficult. I kept to the thickest stuff for more grip.

Plans to walk to the woods were curtailed by my face stinging badly while literally leaning on the wind. The wind chill factor was probably around -26-30F so an unexpected resurgence of common sense took hold. Besides, I couldn't see where I was going! I have added a single, un-retouched image of the conditions for your awed admiration of my selfless bravery. Suit yourselves. You had to be there. Not glued to your computer chair!

It was almost a whiteout until I wiped the mist from inside my yellow safety glasses. As they wrapped around better than any of my yellow cycling glasses it seemed like a good idea at the time. I must have forgotten that the only safe thing about them is the guaranteed auto-steaming facility regardless of temperature and conditions. Having cleared the glasses, the whiteout was  not much reduced. Mostly due to drifting in the fierce gusts, visibility was only just a hundred yards. Less than half that if any clarity was desired. My jacket and hat were well plastered in snow as I returned after my three quarters of an hour adventure. I was expecting warm praise for my unstinting efforts to amuse but the reception committee was as chilly as a North Korean border guard. I have even been threatened with extended shed tidying duties for failure to grow up! Where's the fun in either option? No ride. Null points. DNS.
Click on any image for an enlargement.

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