The Smoothness Of Friction

Near the bank a frozen lake…

…a predator stalks its multi-hued prey:

There the period-correct potential victim stands, unaware of the mortal danger that lurks behind it:

Salivating, the predator anticipates sinking its claws into the bike’s tender midsection…until it notices something repulsive:

It’s a cheap, modern derailleur!

Yes, further to yesterday’s post, this morning I performed a derailleur transplant in an attempt to address my spoke-grazing issues:

I was concerned for a moment when I noted that the Altus also has protruding pulley bolts, which you can sort of see here:

Fortunately though they don’t make contact with the spokes, and with my drivetrain now consisting of Suntour, Shimano, and SRAM components spanning a period of over 30 years it’s a rolling testament to the fact that bicycle component interchangeability is still alive and well. In this sense, parts interoperability is kind of like the polar bear: everyone just assumes it’s practically extinct and uses its demise as an example of everything wrong with capitalism and the world, but actually it’s still doing okay despite everything…though also like polar bears you do have to go looking for it, it’s not just going to fall into your lap…which is also a good thing, since you really don’t want a polar bear just falling into your lap.

But yeah, $20-ish dollars for a new derailleur and everything’s running as smooth as warm sour cream. And it looks pretty good too!

Ore at least you don’t really notice it, anyway.

And yes, as a couple of readers noticed, this setup does require using the shifters in friction mode. However, I was already using friction mode with the original seven-speed setup. In fact, the indexing mode was so balky on these it’s amazing indexed shifting every caught on in the first place. Meanwhile, with the Hyperglide cassette it’s hard to mis-shift this thing even in friction mode, and increasingly I think that if shifting was indexed from the beginning and they came up with friction today it would be hailed as a major upgrade.

Meanwhile, in local news, a New York State Senator is done riding her bike:

This is a shame, and I believe strongly that we should work towards a city in which as many people as possible feel safe riding a bike, regardless of their own personal risk tolerance.

At the same time, something I think about often, and that I tried to get at in an Outside column awhile back, is that advocacy can fuel fear, and this can ultimately be self-defeating:

Riding bikes involves a certain element of danger—as do skiing or walking or taking a shower—but it’s not remotely a death sentence, and it’s far more likely to give you a new lease on life. So it’s a tragedy of a different sort if our well-intentioned outrage ends up being just another voice reminding people that bikes are “too dangerous.”

Nobody should feel pressured to ride a bike if they’re too scared. But the good news is that it’s not that dangerous, even in New York City, were the sheer number of people ensures there’s always something horrifying happening to somebody. Advocacy has a way of presenting all sorts of prerequisites before “normal” people can ride: more protected bike lanes, fewer cars, more protected bike parking… Absolutely we need all those things, but riding a bike will never be risk-free, and sometimes it’s important to address the largest obstacle, which is fear. This is something I try to do in my own contrary way by saying it’s okay not to wear a helmet. Ultimately it’s not the lack of amenities that’s holding bicycling back, it’s the fear, and if everyone got over that the other things would take care of themselves.

We live in a time when everyone demands reassurance from agencies and officials, and many seem willing to remain in a state of paralysis until they get it. But sometimes you’ve got to go ahead and grant it to yourself.

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