Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday News And Views

A Side Benefit Of All This Rain....

Rain is a big topic of conversation around the Mid-West, but with all that standing water that you see everywhere around here you also get a lot of mosquitoes. I'll tell ya what, you better not ride slow through the woods these days, or the insects will drain you of a couple spare pints.

I was out at Cedar Bend Wednesday, stopped to adjust the axle on the Cielo, and I couldn't see what I was working on for the swarming varmints that rose up off the ground to attack me. This is the worst infestation since 1993, by my account. It's really bad out there! Fortunately, they don't bite me, for whatever reasons, but they sure pester me otherwise. 

An Old Fashioned Hole Diggin'! I had a plumbing problem here. It was having to do with the water line into the house from the main. I had a big hole dug by the plumbers and they fixed it right quick, to the tune of just south of four figures. Yeah.....ouch! But, try living without running water, ya know what I mean? It's funny, but when they shut down the water, you find yourself becoming acutely conscious of how often you use the water. It is a lot more than you think. Trust me! I was home when the job was being done, and I had to leave to use a restroom! (Not to mention the half dozen other times I stopped short of doing something because the water was shut off.)

How Do You Like Your Tension To Be Achieved?  I've been contemplating single speed chain tensioning systems of late, and recently, the issues with the different styles have hit home with me. Here is a brief synopsis of where I stand on the issue. You may have a religious fervor built up for/against any one of the following, I simply just want something that works. Here's my take:

-Track Ends/Horizontal Drop Outs: Simple. However, add in disc brakes and high torque loads due to mountain biking and you have a different set of things happening. Add in wheel removal. Ooops! Suddenly things got complicated again. Chain tugs solve a lot of issues here. Maybe built in screw type tensioners. Yes- nice and clean, but you need to carry a wrench specific to that, usually. Then you have to remove a disc adapter bolt from the adapter and use a bolt on rear hub. Three wrenches just to remove a wheel. Takes awhile too. Okay, dead reliable when riding, but, there's trouble when flat tires happen, or gearing changes are necessary. As for me, I'm not a big fan of this type.

-Paragon Sliders And Copy-Cats: Sliders! The answer to the disc brake conundrum. No bolt on rear hub necessary. Swappable drop outs for single speed "purity" or geared use. Sounds all good until you have to change gearing, or tire size, (only affects set up if you run the shortest chain stay setting). Then you have to re-align the rear wheel, and you better have built in chain tensioners, (which Paragon does have), but then you need a wrench for that dang jamb nut, and hopefully the screw tensioners are not frozen in place by weather/dirt/what have you. Then when you are done, you might get the slider fixing bolts tight enough in the field with your multi-wrench, or maybe not- then the slider slips. Bummer! Oh! And all this assumes the builder got the dang things on straight and with actual usable range. (I have seen several custom bikes that fail this, by the way) In the end, I still need two to three wrenches to adjust on the dang thing, and you "might" get the bolts tight enough with a field service tool. Not good enough for me. Oh! And I dislike the cantilevered look too. My peccadillo there, I guess. 

What Do I Like? I like a certain system and it isn't widely used. Other types of this system are used widely, but I like this particular version the best. The Split Shell EBB. Why? Because I can drop my wheel out and in with a simple QR. No fussing with alignment, disc brakes, and no chance that the wheel will slip. Plus, it looks like a bicycle's drop out, because, is, sans the derailluer hangar anyway. So, then you have the adjustment thing. Easy-peezy. Loosen two bolts, use same wrench to stick into adjustment hole in EBB. Rotate crank against wrench to achieve proper tension, tighten two bolts. Done. Split shells don't freeze up. They don't creak. I can field service a split shell EBB with one 5mm wrench if I use a Shimano two piece crank! That's taking everything apart, greasing it, (assuming I even would need to do this), and putting it back together again.

Some will say, "yeah, but it changes your relationship to your saddle if you rotate the EBB." So, you never move when you sit down on your saddle forward or rearward? Not even a millimeter? Right! Well, if you don't, you ain't mountain biking, Buddy! That's all I have to say about that. The difference is so minuscule as to be a non-factor in terms of single speed mountain biking.

As far as I am concerned, a split shell EBB is the way to set up a 29"er SS bike. Everything else pales in comparison.


mw said...

i sure like the track ends on my blue bike. disk mounted at the noon o'clock portion of the rotor allows for the wheel to pull straight back. super simple. no tugs necessary for me. but yeah, need tools for rear wheel changes.

Guitar Ted said...

@mw: When track ends work like that, it is very nice. Your bike is a bit higher end than a lot of the 29"ers I've seen using the track end idea, and most of those are not as dialed as yours is.

Beautiful bike that you have there, by the way.

mw said...

thanks GT. it was/is a dream come true. and part of that dream was during the 152 of your first death ride.

the pauls drops on my pink SS are similiar but clunkier. same position on the disk brake, which is nice. but those cut tensioners get bend just from the pressure of hill climbing.

Nick said...

Are split shell EBB's less prone to creaking than the wedge type? I have a Fisher Ferrous with a wedge and it can get very noisy. It is easy to maintain and tire changes are much easier than on the Karate Monkey.

MG said...

those are valid arguments, and i think you have a good point on the EBB. i have had absolutely no problems with either of my Bushnell EBBs in my older El Mariachis. My green one is three years old, and has never slipped, creaked or done anything weird. Not only that, but I'll contend that, with no cut in the BB shell, it's frame is significantly stronger than any split EBB out there. That's just my opinion, but I've seen enough bent/over-torqued EBB fasteners to suggest that I'm right.

As for track ends, MW's Soulcraft proves it can be done "right". That said, the number of folks (as GT points out) doing it right is very few. If only those folks could get it right! But we'd still have to run bolted on wheels to get it to not slip, so it's an option that has been usurped by superior technology, in my opinion.

What I like today, is Salsa's Alternator dropout, which gives a ton of adjustment, easy alignment, no hassle with disc brake setup (and post mounts for the disc brake too), and solid, reliable chain tension retention. It also allows the chainstays to be run ultra-short, for those that desire that setup. It's progress, IMHO.

Captain Bob said...

I have had zero problems with my ebb on my Selma. I did have isses with track ends and paragon sliders in the past for the same reasons you mentioned.I have have to think the split shell would work just as good.

Head Honcho said...

ha! I couldn't agree more Mark. The split shell I had on the Hunter was the epitome of reliability and simplicity. And your thoughts regarding saddle/crank position....hammer, meet nail.

cornfed said...

I used to be a horizontal lover with a setup much like MW's Soulcraft. However I've become a huge fan of the sliders. Paragon has thumb screw tensioners now which is the best. No tools necessary except for a 5mm to work the slider bolts.
Best is I can run 35x15,16,17,18,19,and 20 all without breaking my chain with a 2.4 knobby (26" here), allowing me to go from cross/gravel gear to Pisgah/Colorado mtb gearing easily.

Granted all can have their issues, but so far this setup has been the best for me. YMMV.

grannygear said...

"What I like today, is Salsa's Alternator dropout, which gives a ton of adjustment, easy alignment, no hassle with disc brake setup (and post mounts for the disc brake too), and solid, reliable chain tension retention. It also allows the chainstays to be run ultra-short, for those that desire that setup. It's progress, IMHO."

I like the original Hey Swingers a bit more than the Alternators (looks wise) but if it lets you run short CS length, then why did Salsa not do that? Too darn long IMO.


BreViVelo said...

I've got a split shell BB on my Aussie made Kotzur 29er Brevivelo. Never moved or squeaked a bit - tightened occasionally with regular check over.
Used paragons with some success but needed more vigilance. Track style dropouts are great till discs are involved then it takes patience or careful design. Does chainstay mounting avoid this problem?