Tuesday, March 10

The Shittiest Wheel in the World, and new interest in old post

Back in 2004 I blew out the rim on my messenger bike after a night of alleycat racing. I had pumped up the tires to 120 PSI for speed, but apparently the rim (which had previous been touched by brake pads) wasn't up to the task. I went ahead and borrowed the wheel off my road bike as a temporary fix, and waited for the next swap meet to replace it.

I bought this wheel for what I thought was the bargain price of $10 or $20 (I can't remember, but it was dirt cheap and shiny). It has a Campy hub, a Campy rim, and aero bladed spokes, so I assumed I was purchasing a quality previously owned wheel.

Over the years I have broken more spokes on this wheel than I care to remember right at the J-bend. The breakage usually happened at work, so I would roll by my local bike shop on the way home and pick a new spoke up. After it started to seem like a trend I started buying them in greater quantities, and I even wrote the spoke length on the side of the rim so we wouldn't have to measure it every time.

I also ended up becoming a semi-professional spoke replacer. Of course I had to get rid of the sticky velox rim tape, then I threw away the snap on Mavic rim strip that was oh-so-hard to remove, and eventually replaced it with the cheap, stretchy (easily pulled outta the way without full removal) department store style rim strip.

I also learned the hard way that a ten minute spoke replacement can become a twenty minute spoke replacement if you drop a nipple in between the rim walls. Once you do that you've got your own homemade Cracker Barrel brain teaser puzzle to entertain you while you shake the rim, spin it, twist it, and try to coax the nipple to come out from it's aluminum refuge. Eventually I remembered a tip I saw somewhere at some point in my life that I thought was pointless, but with my untrustworthy wheel, quite useful.

Take and old broken spoke (assuming you're replacing one you should have this already) and bend it all up to make a handle.

Thread an old nipple on the end backwards and as far as it will go, exposing some thread when it's completely jammed on the wrong way.

Then thread the new nipple on backwards (lightly), and stick it in the appropriate hole on the rim.

Now you can thread the nipple on using your half-assed tool, and you won't drop the nipple into the rim, unless you want to play the Cracker Barrel game, then by all means go ahead and try to do it with your fingers. I suggest you lose your nipple in the deepest section rim possible to add to the challenge.

One of the things that is supposed to make being a bike messenger so great is that you never take your work home. This is a bold faced lie, and as far as I'm concerned the biggest reason most career messengers end up on fixed gears. Quite simply put, it's just less shit that can go wrong. I spent way to much time in my first five or six years fiddling with gears, replacing brake pads and what not when I shoulda been drinking PBR's and getting tattoos.

Some of you might remember my idea to start a company that could tune rigid forks to suit each individual's needs. I called it SHOVE Industries (a little play on PUSH Industries, a company that custom tunes squishy bits FOR A PROFIT), and even though I had a catchy name I never actually had someone send me their rigid fork for some custom tunage. That post is almost a year old, so imagine my surprise when I got the following comment:

I only wish I would have come across this sooner! :D

To be honest, I always thought someone would start PULL Industries before Shove!

Good Stuff,

Darren Murphy
PUSH Industries

PULL Industries?? Was that where I messed up? Did I just go with the wrong comapny name? I'm gonna have to see how Mike Piazza feels about becoming my new marketing guy since evidently I suck.

BTW: What might Darren have done if he had come across this sooner? Is he talking lawsuit or multi million dollar buy out? I guess we'll never know....


Boots said...

Yo! You could skip all that "work" in the beginning, and take a spoke thats broken, grind it to a sharp point on one end, then stick it into the business end of the nipple youre inserting and that way you just pull it out after insertion.

OPTION 2: take one(1) new spoke, just barely grind down the threads, probably the first couple, so the diameter is smaller, then take the new nipple and "screw" the spoke into it, insert into rim, start new spoke, then unthread old spoke at the back end...done.

just a couple tricks I learned out in the CO building wheels for CX racers.

Peter Keiller said...

broken spokes is the price you pay for not being a REAL messenger.
everyone knows that a REAL messenger uses Araya Disc Wheels...

Big Bikes said...

Of course if you're replacing a spoke for someone you don't like and you lose the nipple in the rim, you can always just squeeze a bunch of rubber cement in there and shake until you don't hear no more rattling. Let it set up and voila! No more noisy errant nipple.

And then if you really, really don't like them, jam a hot dog in their seat tube.

dicky said...

Boots: Of course you could do that, but my method is like a billion times better.

BB: I've heard of that one before, and I almost resorted to that method on my Rolf Dolomites.

Pete-unh: Whatever park bike wannabe.

Boots said...

a billion..."thats a bold statement" brotha!