Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Putting mechanic skills to the test!

This past week I've been putting my claimed skills as a mechanic to the test. Two of my friends (and teammates, oh and also both TN State TT champions) were going to be riding new TT bikes this year, and they both needed to get them set up! So I got my (short) ride in Saturday morning and started an all day (and night... and two more days) bike work binge.

Matt showed up with his new ride, a Fuji Norcom Straight. The last Fuji I really looked at in person was the D6, which never really impressed me. The Norcom on the other hand looks like a nicely thought out whip. The only two things that struck me as suspect are the stem and the brakes. The complaint I have with the stem is that it's pretty proprietary... very, very few non-oval 760 stem's will work with it (Andy Coggan seemed to have found an older Thomson stem that worked with his, so other's must exist, but sourcing one may be difficult to say the least.) and while Oval offers 80° to 130° options (by 10° increments) you only get +/- 8° rise, It's not necessarily a deal breaker, but personally I like to be able to use whatever stem I want. (One of my complaints with my own Ventus bars) It also makes fitting the thing interesting, as I doubt many of us have multiple length 760's just sitting around. The other issue is with the TTV TRP aero brakes, specifically the rear one. Personally, I don't hate the direct mount brakes... or at least, I don't hate them any more than I hate most aero brakes (something like the excellent Tririg Omega excluded of course) however, the rear brake cable exit routing is a total bone headed design. Why have the cable exit RIGHT INTO the crank. Here's what I found as a way around the near impossible (if you do it the intended way) to avoid cable to chainring rub.

There are really two (acceptable... at least that I've seen) solutions to the problem. The first is to route the exiting cable back up (away from the second entry hole) at which point you will have a dangling cable but it should be out of the way. The other solution is to use a zip tie to hold it flush against the caliper arm. This is a little "ghetto" but will certainly keep it in place.

We replaced the stock Oval bar (an ugly round base bar) with a sleek Profile Design Ozero, got him on it and started getting a solid look at his bike fit.

looking pro, although the Scott/Fuji combo doesn't work ;)

I think it turned out pretty well. Of course, looming in the background even as we finished setting up Matt's Fuji was Jimmy's box of parts and Speed Concept frame. Don't think I'm going to sugar coat this for you... I dread the original Speed Concepts rear brake setup. It nearly drove me insane getting it right on my own 1st Gen SC, and I wasn't sure I could emotionally handle going through that again! Nonetheless, I signed up for the job, and so I would not be deterred.

Let me clarify, as people seem to think just because I bemoan the SC's rear brake that I don't think it works effectively. That's incorrect... I actually think the SC's rear brake stops pretty well for a bb mounted center pull, when it's set up correctly. That is the issue I have with it. It is simply not a bike that was designed with your average weekend racer in mind, despite that being it's target. I'm fine with having the absolute top end bikes (like the 9 series in this case) being straight from the pro's team bus... you should be able to buy it if you want... but make the "average buyer" bike (the 7 series, as it was most likely the one priced for most recreational triathletes/tt'ers in mind) a little more user friendly when a skilled mechanic isn't going to be at beckon 24/7. That's why the majority of 7 series SC's I see stop very well on the front and barely stop the wheel from free spinning on the back.
/ Rant

And so it begins.

Anyways, it takes a little cussing and a more than a little bit of time, but I got through the setup in about half the time it took to do my own 7 series (although trying to route Nokon liner through the frame ate up most of that extra time) and, after a slight mishap with a derailleur hanger bolt and clipping the chain too short, (woops, I admit I forgot all about the bike having a long cage derailleur on it) it was time for some finishing touches.

Finally, all together and ready to race!

Custom cut aerobar cushions. Is that service or what?

Then we got Jimmy actually on the bike and started moving him around. I'm still a neophyte (at best) when it comes to fitting, but I think we got him set up pretty smooth. Much better than his position on borrowed bikes (Did I mention he won the State TT in a horrible position... he's going to be fast as F* soon.)

And now... I need to finish working on my own bike to be ready for this weekends Taco Mama TT in Alabama. It's 20 miles and my first race this year, so I'm hoping it will go smoothly. It'll also be the first race I do on my own SC. I've still got to get the pads dialed in on mine sometime before Saturday! Also, unlike Jimmy and Matt, I don't put out a billion watts, so I have to be just a little bit more slippery in the wind to make up the difference.

When nobody makes them as narrow as you want... break out the dremel. 

Sponsor dat fork!

Thanks so much for checking out the blog this week! I had a lot of fun making it!
Next week, a race report!

- Christopher Morelock

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