Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Curse you, Trek

I did a bit of bike shopping on the weekend. Ended up parting with the better part of $700 to replace stuff that is just plain worn out.

One of the items that went on the scrap heap was my bike computer. It ingested some rain recently, and has not been the same since. I allowed it to clock up 11,000km, and then got a new one.

The old one was a Sigma Sport model that cost me about $90 around 4 years ago. It had all the functions that I thought I could ever want, until the guy in the shop pointed me at an $80 Trek model that did all the same functions, but also added a cadence function and a thermometer. Funny that - two functions I have always dearly wanted, but never wanted to pay $500 for a computer that offered them.

Amazing how much prices for this sort of stuff have plunged in just 4 years. Back then, adding a cadence meter shot the price of a bike computer into the stratosphere. Now, they are as common as mud. You can still pay a lot for a really fancy bike computer, but at the cheap end, you get a huge amount of bang for your buck.

The problems started when I went to install it.

When I bought my last bike computer, I got the shop to fit it. They did a very neat job - much neater than I could have done as it turns out in retrospect.

Fitting the computer meant fiddling around with a variety of bits. I had to strap a cradle onto the handlebars - a pretty simple thing to do with two cable ties, except that I put it on upside down and managed to miss the rubber pad that is supposed to sit under the cradle to stop it slipping around on the handlebars.

Good thing I have a ready supply of cable ties in the shed.

Then I had to attach a magnet to a spoke, and then run a cable with a sensor on it down the fork to a spot just opposite the magnet - that's how speed is determined. The sensor counts the number of times the magnet goes past, and by knowing the wheel diameter, is able to compute things like speed and elapsed distance.

Except that I put the magnet on the front wheel (where the old one was) and this one required me to put it on the back wheel. The stupid bloody instructions say nothing about putting it on the back wheel. I presume they were written by an idiot who doesn't know his arse from his front, or who has never had experience with fitting other types of bike computers.

The way I discovered I had put it on the wrong wheel was when I spun the wheel and instead of getting a speed reading, I got a cadence reading. I had strapped the wrong sensor up next to that magnet.

So I had to cut off another bunch of cable ties and start again. Like I said, good thing I have 200 cable ties in the shed.

I finally worked out how to run the cable down to the back of the bike, and how to position the cadence sensor and the wheel sensor. That only took about an hour. The instructions said to attach the sensor to the "chain stay". What the fuck is the chain stay? I am not a bike mechanic. I know what a wheel looks like, and I know where to sit, and that greasy, mucky thing that goes around and around is the chain. But the chain stay?

That required me to go and spend $30 on a bike maintenance book, because the instructions were a steaming pile of shit in this regard. It may surprise the manufacturers and designers of bike bits, but some of their customers have no fucking idea what all the thingys on their bikes are.

Then I had to cable tie another magnet to a crank. I know what a crank is. It's the thing that creaks as I pedal. When I was a kid, I used to have a really bad habit of skinning my ankles on the crank. I still have scars on the inside of both ankles from removing a slab of skin again and again and again.

I managed to fit that magnet without too many problems - it only required a couple of cable ties. At that point, I thought about taking the bike for a shakedown run, but I was too mentally buggered from stuffing around all afternoon with cable ties and a pair of clippers (to remove all the wrongly positioned cable ties).

So the next morning, I hop on the bike for my ride to work.

I immediately find that the cable tie that is holding the magnet to the crank is rubbing against my shoe. It's not rubbing that badly - not enough to wear through it on the trip to work, or enough to give me a blister on my foot, but enough to be irritating.

Should have done that shakedown ride.

Good thing I have lots of cable ties in the shed (about 150 now). As soon as I got home, I had to cut that tie and restrap the magnet with a repositioned cable tie.

The Trek bike computer ships with 2 spare cable ties. They should ship it with 20 spares instead. Or have a big warning on the packet - "Get this fitted by your bike shop".

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