Friday, August 10, 2012

Learning curve pt V: the esteemed initiation rite of bending your rear derailleur hanger

Yes, road bicycling is an elite sport, but mountain biking is, perhaps, even more so. That's because each part of the mountain bike is a consumable. If you ride a mountain bike, you tend to churn through expensive precision-machined, high-tech, space-age material components like... uh... need a clever analogy here... can't think of anything that isn't a cliché... like... like... Chuck Norris goes through the digits of infinity. I don't know.

For instance, this summer I've already replaced
  • four brake pads
  • two brake pistons
  • one brake hose assembly
  • two brake discs
  • one inner tube 
  • two tyres 
  • one brake lever retaining washer
  • one brake lever lock ring. 

Fortunately, I haven't needed to replace any carbon fibré parts yet. I did order a replacement handlebar for the presumably old carbon/alu handlebar, but I ordered a relatively cheap aluminium one. Just in case. There seems to be nothing wrong with the old handlebar, so far, but Zinn And The Art Of Mountain Bike Maintenance tells me that you should replace the stem and the handlebar every couple of years. The stem I decided to replace because the old one is oddly long. Also I'm hoping that a shorter stem will drastically improve my capability to do manuals, which currently is nearly non-existent.

Anyway, this morning, as I rode to work, I felt like a winner after finally having the courage to ride a "tricky" part, consisting of a root, bridge over a ditch, and a large fallen tree trunk, all in the distance of some three meters. Shortly after, I turned down a path, heard a noise from the rear wheel, stopped and found out that my rear derailleur was all bent: 

 Apparently, a smallish twig got caught in there somewhere and managed to bend the hanger. Shows how sturdy the space age materials are. Anyway, you've got to have at least one bent rear derailleur hanger war story in order to qualify as a real mountain biker, and now I do. OTB, hydration pack, bent hanger... that's 3 out of 30, I guess. Still got a lot of stripes to earn. 

Luckily my proficiency in the art of googling for bicycle components during worktime makes up for my inexperience in mountain biking, so I quickly found out that there is a shop in Helsinki that has derailleur hangers for old Scott MTB's in stock. I went there on my lunch break, because obviously, mountain bike maintenance is more important than either working or nutrition. 

So, it turns out that the rear derailleur hanger is just another consumable when it comes to mountain biking. And not too cheap one either (some 20 units of currency, even in the online stores). There isn't a part on the mountain bike that isn't a consumable. The frame is a consumable. If you have a 10 year old frame, people are surprised that it still is rideable. I'm a consumable. You're a consumable. If I correctly understand modern science, everything is transient, except possibly memes. Although I'd like to see how "Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?", for example, manifests itself when all matter has vanished from the universe.  

Although the part seemed relatively expensive, and dammit, I should have gotten a spare one to keep in by backpack, I was pleasantly surprised that the rear derailleur hanger is the other part of the mountain bike that is idiot-proof to replace (the other one being the cassette). I took this picture only to get to point out that I do own a Pedro's Chain Keeper now:

Hey, that's one point. Now it's 4 out of 30.