*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

You pay either way.

When you need work done on a car or bike, it's often just cheaper to pay the shop.
That is how she looks now for most rides.  I can fit a handlebar bag off the accessory steerer, and a huge seatbag, as well as the frame bag that fits tools, a water bottle and sundries.  I even have a top tube bag I rarely use.

I just finished putting a new fork (Part I) on my road bike, and paid as much for the tools* as I did for the fork itself.  The shop cost would have been 3/4 of that in Canada, total (but 100%+ here in Japan).  Sure, now I have the tools and know-how, for a job I may not do again.  And sure, now I have taken off and serviced or replaced every component on my bike...  No, that's cool.

Why do this but bragging rights and experience points?  You ever dealt with the Japanese... ?  Things I like here and all (including the J-wife) but if you are a sadomasochist go to a Japanese 'professional' and say, 'my opinion...', or 'I have heard elsewhere...'; 'professionals' don't take kindly to second opinion, especially if it is correct.  Also the fork isn't available in Japan, and it's the only one I could determine has the same geometry to the one I replaced.  Of course, when I got the J-wife to phone for installation, I had this experience:
The shops gave me BS: pay us double installation since you did not order through us (you don't carry steel forks, fuckhead), and bring us your bike to look at before we commit to doing it (bag and it and schlep it across Tokyo twice?  And you might do it?  Fuck you!)
Why replace an unbroken fork?  As mentioned in other posts, I got a 2006 Lemond Croix de Fer years ago (fuck you, Lance) which has been a great bike for long rides on good pavement.  It has limitations that I have worked around, since it is not a bike I would buy now.  As I want to ride in comfort for long miles, don't need the external validation that owning and racing a 'dentist bike' provides, and need low gears for climbing Japanese mountains more than high gears to join rush hour in a peloton, I want a steel frame still, but also a steel fork, and a compact double with some big rings on the cassette.  This I may get when I go back to Canada, if I don't give up on long road rides among Ontario's fuck-witted drivers.  Or I may continue to alter this bike with a double crank, even though the rear fender clearance is not ideal.

So what about the fork?  Yes there was a weight penalty of a pound.  If you're worried about a pound and you're not an anorexic racer, try taking it off your gut.  If you are a sponsored racer, you have bigger troubles.  The carbon fork always made me nervous, and the clearance for anything more than a 25mm tire was shite.  Now I can run 32mm rear and 35mm+ front, though I'll stick with the 28s (unless I take up riding dubious rindo).  Why do so many bikes come with a carbon fork, even if the frame is steel or aluminum?  Marketing.  You'll be told it's lighter (it is by a pound, but doesn't matter), and more responsive (no,  twitchy), but the truth is they can build a carbon fork for nothing, and sell it up; a carbon frame is more expense for the builder.  If you have the money for a 'better' bike: titanium, so long as you don't mind whippy.  If you have the money, better components maybe, or a custom sized steel frame: though frame sizing can be addressed by switching stems and seatposts more cheaply.  Bikes, like anything: 'law of diminishing returns'.

The Lemond, I wanted to minimize its limitations as simply and cheaply as possible.
- I don't like the 'q-factor' (stance width) of a triple ring, but it is expensive to change for the benefit.  If I do, the White VBC is the way to go.
- It's hard to put fenders on, but removable fenders work, and a kludge to put one in the rear triangle also worked.  Removable fenders are preferable in Japan, where it goes in and out of a bag on trains.
- I've got the safer fork with more tire clearance.
- I love the Brooks Saddle I got half price, but needed a setback post to put it where it should be.
- I have no carbon on the bike except one headset spacer, which I can call ironic: frame and fork are steel, most components are aluminum.

How is a fork switched?  I won't go into all the details, which you can find online easily enough, but just supply the photo essay.  Suffice it to say: only do this if you have no good shop at hand, otherwise pay them to do it.

These are most of the tools, but substitute a dowel for the steel bar, for putting in the star-nut.

Old fork in situ.

Used one hose-clamp as a cutting guide: steel cuts slowly!

Some time later...


Filed roughly, and star-nut sunk.

That's not clearance.

Nor this.

This is!

Something's wrong...  No room for the brake.

Ohh... the crown race needs to come from the old fork.

Get more tools: a crown race puller and setter. Pull the crown race (the hardest part - the tool was less useful than a narrow-headed slot-headed screwdriver, which I snapped the head of...). Set the crown race.  Put the steerer through and adjust tension on the stem bolt until satisfied.  Line up the bars and fork.  Set stem bolts.

I meant to pull out the sealed bearings, clean and grease them, but these do not seem to come out with gentle prying from the cheap-ass Cane Creek Aheadset.  I'll use it to failure than replace.

Everything looks good on the fork.

Everything looks right, and moves right.  Now to find time to take a ride... Felt just like the old fork riding.  Well done.

*Tools, etc.:
- degreaser
- crown race puller
- crown race setter
- rubber mallet
- 30tpi steel saw
- hose clamps
- star nut
- Shimano long reach front caliper brake
**'That looks about right.'


  1. Nice bike and nice work! Professional in Japan? Never met one but I have met a buncha professional manual readers....I!!!!!!! can do that!!! Being good with your hands comes in handy in Japan.

    1. Thanks. The first picture was not my own bike, but pulled from online. The others are mine. I'll change it soon. Once it has a leather seat and an 'All City' fork in the first picture: that's mine.

  2. Glad you got it all back together. Hope the ride goes well.
    Some of those broken carbon pictures look pretty scary.