Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Verdict

no mas?

As I had written in the previous post, my road bike had sustained an injury in the way of cracks in the head tube.

the crack

On Saturday, I took the bike to a local bike shop, one that has quite a good reputation, to seek professional opinion about this damage. I did read up quite a bit online about cracked aluminum frames and it looked mostly hopeless, but still I didn't want to retire it without having it looked at by an expert. Maybe there is a chance they know an aluminum welder who can fix it?

Well, the verdict was that there was pretty much nothing they could do other than to sell me a new frame. They asked me if I was the original owner of the bike (I wasn't), so perhaps the manufacturer can replace it it or sell me a new one at cost if I had bought it as new. The final piece of advice was "not to ride it anymore".

I actually rode the bike there and back. The ride home was one of mixed feelings. The weather was super nice, perfect bike weather, so it felt very pleasant, but I was quite sad that this may be the last ever ride on this bike.

I spent the weekend mostly indoors. Ironically, the weather was what I'd been waiting for the last few weeks, so I would've definitely gone for a ride had the bike not been decommissioned. Instead of actually riding, I did so vicariously through watching the Paris Roubaix super early Sunday morning. After the weekend, I felt quite unhealthy from the lack of exercise and keeping irregular hours. On Monday night, I had the worst stomach ache I've had as far as I can remember. I don't think the lack of physical exercise was the only factor that caused it, but I had been feeling kind of unhealthy and in need of some physical activity. For me, because I work at home, I tend to lead a very sedentary life and riding around town for errands on the other bike isn't quite enough exercise for me. That other bike KT (Kao's Trek) is a road bike with Milano bars set up for upright position, so I could put drop bars on it again, but then I wouldn't have the town bike which is much better for short utilitarian rides.

It's such a waste to have this bike that I had dialed in and it was just the beginning of the season to go out for long rides. Well, I don't know about long rides, but at the least, I felt the need for it as it provided me with my only prefered way to exercise. So, I made a quick trip to the local hardware store and fixed the bike!

the treatment

Well, it's a temporary fix for sure. I have no illusion that I will be able to keep on riding it this way for too long. But at least, I will have it to ride a couple of times a week. Maybe it will last until I move to Japan. The other change I made was to switch the pedals (yet again) to platform pedals, just so that in the event that the headtube cracked, I wouldn't be clicked into the pedals and be able to react quicker. The clamps are quite strong, so I think it will keep it from further damage. Anyway, I will keep an eye on the crack with each ride and if it seems to have gotten bigger, then I will stop riding it.

This is just something I'm doing on my own accord and I wouldn't recommend anyone to do the same if they had the same problem though.

The things I've learned from this are two things. One is that aluminum bikes may not be as reliable as I had thought. I had two aluminum bikes prior to this and I had no problem with them. One I sold to a friend and one I got stolen, but they seemed almost bomb proof (especially the mountain bike) and worked perfectly while they were in my possession. The other thing is that buying a used bike online without looking at it first is risky business. After having had my mountain bike stolen, I knew I wanted a faster bike I could ride longer distances with, but such bikes are quite expensive new, so I went to Ebay to scout used bikes there. I am no expert at Ebay, so I probably didn't look carefully enough at what I was bidding on. I bid on a few bikes and when I finally won the bidding for this bike, I was just so happy that I was able to buy a bike of this quality for probably third or quarter of what it would cost new. It wasn't quite perfect when I got it and when I had the bottom bracket replaced, the mechanic at the shop told me the bike looked like it's been crashed. That was a bit scary and the bike did make mysterious noises which seemed to come from the lower end of the frame, but I never suspected any damage around the head tube. I'm not sure if I just didn't notice it or if there was damage which was hidden under the paint until recently, but either way, I think it was not me that caused the crack. I think it was already damaged when I got it and just got aggravated more as I rode it.

Anyway, so I think I've learned my lesson and I will do neither of these things next time.

In fact, I'd been looking at what options there are in Japan. I saw one place that can build custom steel frames as low as 80000yen (about $860). That sounds pretty good to me. I would have to look into it more, but now I'm actually excited about getting a new frame.

I think just as we humans cannot take good health for granted, you can't take a bicycle's health for granted either. I think some may last longer than others (steel longer than aluminum), but while you have a good working bike, you should really enjoy it.

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