Monday, July 21, 2008

I Am Mighty!

Well, maybe that's a little overstated, but lately I've been bending axles on my road bike like it was built for a small child. My first reaction was that I must have hit a large pothole. In my years of mountain biking, I've never bent an axle. I stripped a freehub once, but no matter how gnarly the roots nor how big the drop offs, I haven't bent an axle. At least not noticeably.

I guessed that it must just be its road bike-ness and subsequent fragility combined with my own 200+ lb mass causing these failures. So after swapping a fresh new axle I set out to avoid all manner of rear wheel trauma. I avoided all road imperfections, shifted my weight to the front of the bike when crossing train tracks and even removed my cargo rack in favor of a sweaty backpack. It worked for about a week.

One day, however, it failed. I was making a left turn, when suddenly a kind soul driving from the oncoming direction, who I expected to cruise right through, stopped and waved me across. Not wanting to allow anyone to change his or her mind, I proceeded across in double time. As I did, I noticed two things. First I noticed I was still in a mighty tall gear, as the car's slowdown and stop was unexpected. I was now nearly stopped, in a high gear instead of carrying speed and turning behind the overly kind motorist. No problem. Stand and mash it! Halfway across the lane I noticed the second thing. Suddenly, the resistance to pedaling was much higher. The force needed to just keep moving lessened when I backed off on the force to the pedals. When I stopped halfway down the block I found that my rear tire was rubbing the inside of the left chainstay. Strangely, the nut had not slipped. The axle had simply bent. I guess that comes from having a half inch or more of axle protruding between the bearing and the frame. I hope to have better luck with a freehub style rear wheel with less axle protrusion.


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