Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Equipment Malfunctions

I wrote a couple of days ago about my FSA K Force crank failure. This failure has cause a host of other problems that nearly spiraled out of control.

Here is the string of events that the FSA failure has led to:

1. Upon braking my crank could not ride home. Missed 12.5 miles of riding.

2. On monday I didn't ride to work because I had to drive other pieces to make it possible for me to use The Mule, my commuter bike, while FSA figures out what to do with the broken crank. Missed miles, 25.

3. Tuesday, I rode my new Lapierre into work without any fenders because I figured that I could get The Mule ready to ride home that night. I had understood that rain was on the way. All I needed to do was install my old square taper Campy Record crankset and then the Forte shifters and derailleurs. I had been riding The Mule as a singlespeed. I have had this Forte 10 speed groupo since before Christmas. As an employee of Performance bike I get a swell deal on anything that says "Forte" on it. There were some initial positive review for this new product and I decided to give it a try. I took a long lunch and installed everything. It was not going on too smoothly though. In fact, I could not get the rear derailleur to shift well at all. I never even got to the left shifter. I rode home on the Lapierre after a 12 hour day at the shop, pissed. The Lapierre still had no fenders and it was raining.

4. While riding home, slowly I might add so that the water spray didn't shoot directly up into my face or that I might not become so soaked that my phone also got wet, I noticed that the shifting was not shifting to the smaller cogs on my cassette very well. I stopped a couple of times, in the rain still, to perform minor adjustments, thinking that cables must of stretched or that something else cable related had happenend. I didn't put too much thought into it. Then about 2/3 the way home the rear derailleur just stopped shifting at all. I checked a couple of things and discovered the the housing section at the rear of the bike had somehow gotten all boogered up and was not allowing the cable to pass through freely--or at all. I pedaled home even more pissed off. I was mad enough that I told Bridget not to talk to me until I had gotten some food in me. It was around 9:45 when I arrived home and I had not eaten any food since 1pm. When you include walking all over the place in the shop and then the ride home, that is just too long.

5. Today I get to work and with Neil help discover and affirm that it is true, the Forte shifters are total crap. In the rear, it shifts fine going up to larger cogs, but about halfway back down, it starts to lag in shifting. Sometimes it won't shift at all. We try different cassettes, but no dice. Plus the levers combined with the Avid BB7 road disc brakes feel ultra mushy. A very very poor feel at the lever, even though power was good. Basically that crap had to come off. More work to do.

6. Realizing last night that the Forte drivetrain might be crap, I rummaged though my old parts boxes. I had my fingers cross that I could find one particular piece of treasure...Finally, a bit of luck! For the first 2 or 3 years of cross racing I used a 9 speed dura ace barend shifter mounted to a Kelly TakeOff. If you don't know what this is, do a google search. Here is a pic from the Kelly website

I put the Kelly with the 9 speed shifter then a 9 speed ultegra cassette and then it immediately started to shift better....but not perfect. I let it sit for a bit and came back to it later to dial it in. Umm, no. wouldn't dial at all beyond an unsatisfactory point. Time to ditch the Forte derailleur and toss them along side the Forte Shifters. I put on a Shimano Ultegra and immediately--Perfect shifting.

7. I didn't get to ride into work or home today because I had to bring the original boxes and packaging of the Forte drivetrain as well as different cassettes, shifters. I wouldn't not have had room to bring them all. Plus I really didn't want to ride a Lapierre back to work with no fenders and no shifting capability. Nor did I want to ride a clean Specialized S-Works. Miles missed today, 25.

BUT...The Mule now works stellar. It is set up with a 42 tooth single chainring up front with a 12-27 cassette in the back. Wheels were swapped out from the White Bros. Eno and Velocity wheelset I had to a simple generic, but probably very durable, Shimano XT with Mavic rims. It looks good. It shifts good. It brakes good. It is still the perfect commuter. But man what a journey the past few days have been with it after breaking the crankset. None of the drivetrain swaps would have happened at this point were it not for the breakage. I was going to wait until the weather dried out. Oh least I know now not to recommend the Forte stuff to others.

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