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Tuesday, January 13

I'm kickin like a Canadianican Segall

The Fastest Bike in the World has always had an identity crisis. Ever since The Wonderboy started the Handlebar of the Month Club it has been quite fashionable to constantly swap the cockpit on your messenger bike to correspond with your mood or to reflect a recent acquisition from the local bike shop bin of handlebar death. I've tried drops, flats, risers, bullhorns, and everything in between. Such bar changes necessitated the purchase of a quill stem adapter in order to use the shit ton of stems I have with the shit ton of bars I've acquired. I've always wanted a clean look, but the combo of a threadless stem and threaded headset looked a lot like putting dubs on a mobile home. Then one day I found this on eBay (for $10 shipped I might add):

Yes old skool know it alls, this is a 120 mm Syncros 1" quill stem. Syncros, back before GT bought them out and dragged them down to their current second class, shit state status, The days before people said "Thomson who??" Back in the day Syncros was the shit, so much so that in their native land of Canadianica people stopped using the term "the shit" and started saying "the Syncros" instead, like "Hey, that hockey game last night was the Syncros", or "This pork filled donut is just aboot the Syncros, but it could use more bacon". Once Syncros was bought out by the soon to be doomed GT the Canadianicans went back to calling things "the shit" again, as in "What's up with our economy? America has really gotten us into the shit".

Look how wide that clamp is:

No removable face plates for us back then. No sissy boy quick bar changes for Joe Mountain Biker. Remove the grips (which were hairsprayed, painted, or safety wired on), pull off the brake lever, remove the shifter... let's face it, there was a certain level of commitment to stem length that the youngsters today will never understand. Note that you will never, ever, ever get even a low rise bar through the opening in this stem. I was lucky that my cruiser bars I dug outta a bin of death years ago were curved just so slightly enough to allow passage through the finicky stem. I wanna put a good picture of Thad or Peter in the little "frame" on the front, but finding a "good picture" of those two is like finding a good picture of a sphincter... the most you can hope for is that it will be out of focus and you still won't want to look at it.

While making the stem swap I was able to solve a problem that has plagued The Fastest Bike in the World for a large portion of the time that I've owned it. After my first few months of riding faster than anyone could ever imagine riding a bike something started to creak. This creak was more than a minor annoyance as it actually reduced the overall speed of the machine, not enough to bring it down to the level of the second fastest bike in the world, but I was nervous that it would lose it's number one ranking. Each time that I pedaled the bike with monster truck force it would respond with an audible barbaric YAWP draining power from me on more of a mental level than a physical one, but slowing me down all the same.

After a good rain the bike would cease to make it's annoying noise, and I would get a brief respite from the audible, power sucking hullabaloo, but once things dried up the bike would continue tormenting me. I tried rebuilding the bottom bracket, headset, and hubs... I looked for cracks in the frame and components, but for the most part I tried to ignored it. It affected my happiness at work, and I often times shortened my prework "training rides" as the noise sucked my will to live down to dangerous levels.

So when I went to mount the shit, I mean the Syncros stem, I got a good look inside the headset. When I shined my tiny LED light around I found the culprit. Apparently in the name of speed the previous owner had replaced an O-ring with a much lighter (as much as 50% lighter) U-ring. While the U-ring was probably lighter it was much less efficient at keeping the headset and stem/steerer junction dry and happy. I'm not even sure why anybody invented the ineffective U-ring, or even called it a "ring" as it has neither the characteristics or properties of an actual ring. With my new and appropriately named O-ring installed I have been riding around noise free for months, and with this improvement I am sure that this "season's" "training rides" will be more awesomer than ever.


Fjear, in the shape of a rubber O that can only be bought in quantities of no less than ten at your local Home Depot.

6 comments:

bentcrank said...

That's some funny syncros!!

But 50% lighter can make you faster. You just need to ride in the rain more often.

Peter Keiller said...

a lot of words for "i got a really olde stem and installed it"

balls.

indiefab said...

To do:
1. Bring joy to Indie's day.

Check

Anonymous said...

Hey Dick,
send me an email when you can. i have a question for you.
mike.cushionbury@rodale.com

cornfed said...

I like how the upside down, crooked Misfit is in the 'OLD' column.

dicky said...

You didn't even notice my penny or my safety pin in the NEW column.

Gotta go, important business with THE Mike Cushionbury demands my attention.