This Space for Rent

Annoying bicycle maintenance episode of the day

I wanted to clean the mlcm and see if I could fit 45mm fenders under the fork (executive summary: no. Nonexecutive summary: yes, but the fork blades pinch wide fenders a little bit, which makes the front extension flare up unattractively. See the executive summary for what that means), and so I flipped it upside down so I could clean the grub off from the upper inside reaches of the blades. Once I finished that (about a 30 minute job if you include the fender fitting) I turned the thing rightside up, at which point the stupid blingy Chris King headset announced that it wanted some attention by the simple expedient of simply locking up and refusing to let the fork turn.

Oh, that’s a feature. So, after half an hour of making certain that nothing else had jammed the headset when I had the bicycle belly up to the bar, I ended up pulling the front end apart, then prying open the upper headset race, flushing it with wd-40, flushing it again, then (after drying it) packing the thing full of teflon-loaded grease (allegedly waterproof; it’s a bicycle specific product for bottom brackets, headsets, and other components that tend to have an intimate relationship with h2o, but the bicycle world is full of products that tend to overpromote themselves) putting everything back together and fussing all of the front end components back into place until the front end didn’t either (a) wobble back and forth when I applied the front brake and did the lean test or (b) refuse to turn from side to side.

Now, it had been about 2 years (1 year 10 months) since I put the headset in, and since it was an ebay special I can’t be certain that the seller was telling the truth when they claimed they’d repacked the bearings before selling, but that’s neither here nor there; No, the annoying thing is that this morning the front end of the bicycle was cheerfully going *flop* if I leaned it over too hard, but after 30-odd minutes of upside down it was suddenly just not working :-(

It does tell me that if I get around to making my own frame, it’s going to have internal routing and quick-releases for the cables and wiring, and I’m going to have the dynamo wiring plugged into a socket on the downtube, not just ziptied all the way back to the rear fender.

But I’m going to have to sew a lot more handlebar bags before I get to that point.


Schmidt now – just new for the 2012 model year – have a dynamo hub (“SL” models, extensively described on the Peter White site) that connects through the fork. (well, the right fork blade.) The current plan is to have the Experiment in over the winter to see if this can be retrofitted, since I keep killing the hub connectors. (I think I’m removing them gently, but apparently not.)

Might be something to keep in mind when you get to build that bike. :)

(Surprised that the headset locked when inverted; that doesn’t so much seem like a grease problem as a separation between the top and bottom races problem.)

Graydon Fri Oct 28 18:17:41 2011

The SL series dynohubs are very nice, but the price of the custom dropouts is terrifying; $60 for a pair of dropouts is way past what I’m able to afford these days (and it doesn’t help that you pay a US$80 premium for the SL feature in the hub.) The attachment lugs on the SON hubs are pretty dumb, though; I’ve wondered if I’d be better off just making up a little SON to Shimano adapter widget that would let me just wire the bicycle with a female Shimano plug, and which would keep the two delicate individual wires that the SON attachment uses safely attached to the SON hub.

David Parsons Fri Oct 28 22:04:14 2011

I get the impression you’re supposed to unplug at the headlight and detach the wire from however it’s mounted on the fork – which would be a reason not to use zip ties as I currently do – in preference to removing the spade connectors at the hub on the SON hubs, yeah. It would in principle be pretty easy to add a plug somewhere, but a waterproof plug would not be quite so simple.

Although the more I think about it the more I wonder if this is someone at Schmidt’s notion of reliability run amok.

Graydon Fri Oct 28 22:51:56 2011

Really? I guess it’s a good idea that I never looked too hard at the sheet of instructions that came with my SON, because my head would have exploded from the outright stupidity of the idea.

Waterproof plugs aren’t strictly necessary, either, unless the plan is to do cyclocross with dyno lighting; most of the dynamo lights I know of don’t use waterproof plugs themselves, but rely on having the wiring tucked out of the way under the light to keep the bulk of the rain away from them. And I’ve found that even over long periods of excessive rain it works well enough to keep me lit up, even if enough crud gets kicked up to gum up the on/off switch on the light.

David Parsons Sat Oct 29 12:00:01 2011

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