Small Annoyances

Further to yesterday’s post and my column about fixing flats, I fixed that flat:

And yes, I’ll concede that in this particular case a tubeless set-up would have easily taken care of it:


Meanwhile, I don’t pay close attention to the newest and latest in crabon bike blobbery, so I didn’t realize just how absurd internal cable routing had become:

Yes, thanks to this bike industry aversion to exposed cables (coupled with wonderful advances such as hydraulic disc brakes and electronic shifting), a simple stem swap now involves a visit to the bike shop and $300 worth of labor:

But it’s worth it for all those watts you save due to the decrease in wind resistance.

As I noted in my Twitter kvetching, the simple bicycle headset has now gone from something you tightened once and that allowed fast and simple bar height adjustment forevermore to an integrated nightmare. (And that’s not even addressing those revolutionary new “auto-centering” headsets.) Of course the trade-off is worth it for the increased stiffness of today’s oversized models…except it turns out we didn’t need the increased stiffness after all so now you have to buy a special stem to get rid of it:

Between the cost of the stem swap and the cost of the stem you’ve now spent over $500 to get the same performance out of your crabon “module” as you do out of a bike equipped with a quill stem in a one-inch headtube.

By the way, Cane Creek’s cutting-edge “ee” line also includes a titanium crank that costs over a grand:

Scoff if you will, but they’re totally worth it because they “relieve joint fatigue” and leave your “ankles feeling fresh:”

I admit I have never tried titanium cranks. However, I’ve ridden pretty much everything else, from one-piece steel to outboard-bearing crabon. While the passage above also indicates that crabon cranks are somehow “chattery,” I have never experienced this. In fact, besides obvious stuff like length and “Q-factor,” which you might notice, I have been unable to discern any difference whatsoever in “feel” between any decent crank, most likely because it does not exist on a level that is detectable by humans. Granted, I admit I’m not prepared to spend $1,000 to prove that this also extends to cranks made from titanium, but I’ve got a high degree of confidence it’s the case. (Now’s where you tell me about the titanium bottom bracket spindle you had in the ’80s that flexed so much you got chain rub if you so much as turned a pedal, and that snapped on you after three months.)

There are a lot of ways to piss your money away on bike stuff, but if you’re truly interested in in maximum expenditure for minimal return on investment, go buy yourself a really expensive aftermarket crank, they offer no benefit whatsoever.

But yes, it’s great to see Cane Creek now offers an entire line of components that will make your stiff race bike ride like a Rivendell with a Brooks saddle:

The seatpost costs $219 in aluminum and $319 in crabon, which means that once you factor in the bottom bracket and spider and chainring a complete Cane Creek plush-ification upgrade will cost at least as much as…a new Rivendell frame.

Funny how that works.

Speaking of which, they’ve got Sam Hillbornes in stock over at Old Man Petersen’s House of Ferrous Velocipedes. No internally routed headset cables, unfortunately. However, if you want to make cockpit swaps a pain in the ass for yourself or your mechanic, you can always use a single-bolt stem and wrap the bars with lots of cloth, twine and shellac.

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