An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The other boys don't do crack. Why do you do crack? That's not RIGHT!

If you remember my N+1 post from some time back, you know that I have a mountain bike. It was cheap -- an no-badge eBay frame find that I nabbed for $2.35 plus $30 shipping. Oversized aluminum tubes, tig'd and painted, ready to rock, elevated chainstays... Reminiscent of the Nishiki Alien from the early '90s, minus the square down tube. The only new parts I had to hang on it were the stem and headset. Everything else I had as remnants from other bikes.

I keep this one at work most of the time so I don't have to transport it back and forth, and I ride it during my lunchbreaks on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I've made some comfort revisions to the handlebars, varied between being a single speed and a 1x7...

I've also had a lot of issues with the rear wheel, specifically flats. Lots of flats. I changed the tube, the rim strip, the tire, filed and Dremel'd the valve hole. No dice, still flat. The next step was a new rim.

Eric, my training partner, volunteered to let me use another rear wheel. So I brought it home along with the bike today to be sure the wheel would work -- solid nutted axle, wide range gear cluster. I have an old road rear derailluer on the bike, so it can't handle a normal wide range of gearing.

So as I was taking it out of the car at home, I noticed a dark jagged line on the down tube coming from the mid-tube weld. And another one on the seat tube at its mid-tube weld. I did the fingernail check, and sure enough, they're cracks. Big ones.

All this time that I was hearing creaking and thinking it was the bottom bracket, or the crankarms, it was probably these cracks growing. They're almost half-way around the tubes.

Steel or titanium, it would be likely repairable. Aluminum? No go. This frame is now dumpster fodder, a gigantic paperweight.

I've had 6 mountain bikes in my life. This is the third one that's cracked, the second aluminum one that's cracked. Of the others: One I gave away, one got left with an ex, the last was sold to a friend.

Lesson? Well, I could say that I've learned to not buy aluminum MTB's, but the first one I had that cracked was steel. Or maybe it's that I need to not buy no-name MTB's off eBay. But it's given me well past my money's worth, and no other bike has cost me so little.

I know one lesson is to inspect the frames more often, so I'm not alarmed to find a crack in my frame that's almost half way through a tube. That would be smart.

Or maybe the lesson is that I need to have more than one MTB... Yeah, that's it. Always have a back-up.

Happy Halloween!

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