Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's Make A Deal!

Last night I paid a visit to Munson to buy some more parts for my franken-cross bike. While there, I had Munson inspect the frame and headset. All was well until he noticed that the races (ball bearings) protrude a couple millimeters above the top tube. That's not good. Upon further examination, we discovered that there were not only small gouges along the opening, but the tube itself wasn't quite round.

Munson did his best to un-mitmon the thing. With a lot finagling of parts interspersed with sighs and other munson-esque exasperations, he finally concluded that the frame's headtube was simply messed up.

Then, like Monty Hall, Munson laid out the options for me: Keep it as-is, apply lots of force to get the headset in place and deal with potentially shoddy results. Or to take what's behind curtains 1, 2 or 3.

First, let's recap. I procured this never-been-ridden Scattante XRL cyclocross frame & carbon fork from Mike Miles for $50. As many of you know, Scattante is the in-house Performance Bike brand. The XRL is a cheap, basic frame; perfect for said Cross Noob. It lists at $499 retail, but is on-sale at $249. The frame has probably been on sale since they began stamping these things in China, but shhhh! let's keep that a secret among us. Anyway, Mike's savvy purchasing skills negotiated the price down even lower, to $100. I'm quite certain Performance didn't lose money on the sale, so they were happy. Miles was happy. I was happy. You see? Everybody's happy!

But after Munson's assessment, I was no longer happy. Then Miles was no longer happy when I called him about possibly sending it back to Performance.

Miles originally offered to give me the frame months ago. He had long since abandoned the project bike and didn't want the burden of lugging it around. Even more, giving it away relieved him of the liability that one day some cross noob would come back to him and say, "about that $50 frame you sold me..."

But I have this to say about riding on other people's stuff for free. I just can't do it. I imagine it's like wearing someone else's clothes. After months of usage, you'd return to the owner and say, 'are you gonna want this shirt back, 'cause in case you're wondering, it now has yellow pit stains that no amount of lye and a wire brush can take out.'

And so it's the same with bicycles. You can use it, abuse it, stain it, even throw it in the dumpster Fredcube-style when you've exhausted it. The point is that you don't have to question its ownership anymore.

That's why I'll either offer to pay for the bicycle/parts in cash or provide a quasi-bartering service as payment, such as pointing out that bike mechanics are like rats jumping from a sinking ship when Shim wheels his filthy bike in for maintenance. But in fairness to Shim, at least his 'ride isn't as jacked as Limpach's Madone when it's rolled in for an overhaul.

Back to last night. Appearing nonplussed, Munson stood patiently waiting for my answer. Oh yeah! Let's Make a Deal! Well, Monty, err Munson, I'll take what's behind curtain #1.

Curtain 1: reveals TrekStore Chris drinking a beer while filing down the Scattante's headtube's burrs after hours. Meanwhile, TrekStore Lucas is also drinking a beer while whacking the downtube's exterior with a mallet to get that really nice ISO-9000 compliant fit.

Curtain 2: reveals a donkey wearing a sash with the crocheted words, "IT IS WHAT IT IS"

Curtain 3: reveals an expenses NOT paid FedEx round trip to Performance Bike for more than the frame's worth in value.

While curtain #2 was tempting, I'm happy with #1.

What kind of beer would you like for your services Chris & Lucas?


  1. it wasn't what it wasn't going to be

  2. find the appropriate loctite for surface contact larger than 1" in diameter, and put it between the cups and headtube after you bang it back into shape. install the fork and walk away until the loctite cures (24 hours if i recall correctly). i fixed a pretty bad mb-1 headtube this way, and it's going strong after many miles in snow and offroad.

  3. there is a kind that is made not only for bonding, but for filing in small gaps between the surfaces. find a headset that has bearings you'll be able to find in the future (as removal will require a torch to heat it up enough to release the bond). tange makes a 20 dollar number.

  4. So did the top bearing get sealed? Did you find a rubber grommet? I was more worried about that than the

    If the bearings fit to where the bike steers ok, then the bike will be fine. You'll probably forget about it during your first cross race when you're more worried about not throwing up.

  5. Yo-Yo, u r top [sic], Biker Bob

    Erik: Geez, where were you when Munson was preforming the last rites on the Scattante? I could have used a second opinion.

    I have a bottle of Loctite Red, but it says for projects up to 1". I don't know of a locktite product with a recommended usage > 1 inch. I suppose this will still work; otherwise do you know of which?

    Munson: I talked to TrekStore Chris yesterday. Yeah, I'm going with a 12 pack of Belgium, a file and a mallet. Oh, and stuffing one of Miracle Max's chocolate coated pills down the mouth of the head tube for good measure.

  6. ...and red/blue/green/(insert appropriate color here) Locktite

  7. Oh, so they haven't seen the bike yet? Well, what I meant when I asked about the seal, is that it seemed like the upper bearing was either the wrong size (too tall) or there was supposed to be some sort of sealing spacer (rubber band, plastic ring, etc) that would fit in between the headset cap and the top of the headtube itself. I guess when you take it in, the shop guys will figure something out. Cause filing down the top would just make matters worse. Just have them look over how it might fit together before they start filing. They may have a good solution (like Erik pointed out) that I don't know about.

    Good luck!

  8. Just so that we're all on the same page, I haven't actually seen this bike and am not saying that a file and mallet are going to be needed. I do enjoy some New Belgium though.

  9. Munson - forgot to mention that I talked to Performance Bike yesterday. They're sending an entirely new replacement headset to me - no questions asked.

    ahem, as the headset was free of charge, I feel the compulsion to say:

    Single_speeder's no longer a lurker, everybody. Welcome!

    What page are you on anyway. My Zinn and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance Cliff Notes doesn't reference page numbers. In fact, I'm questioning the whole file and mallet solution now.

    (For the record, I imagined the file and mallet thingy was Munson's idea. Um, my bad. [sic] Ibid

  10. hey brady, red loctite should work well -- that's actually what i used on emily's mb-1 and hasn't failed yet. her headset was so loose the bottom cup would just fall right out -- i banged it back in until it was the right dimension at at least one point and then went for the red loctite (and lots of it).

    make sure to watch where it runs, the loctite from above dripped a bit and we needed to wipe out the lower cup race before installing bearings (loctite is probably not what you want for a smooth rolling headset!).

    so yes, while I know there is something better than red loctite, it seemed to work ok for me. I recommend their stronger version, but I think whatever you have around will help/work well enough (esp. considering you are working on a budget, as I was).

    Another solution for a 1 1/8 situation that has ovalization is a steelset from chris king -- it goes deeper. Not economically feasible here, but just something to think about. Certain headsets go deeper-but-not-quite-steelset's-1.5"-deep, and they could help as well by giving you more area to find a snug fit after facing.


  11. Another clarification should be made - this bike has an integrated headset. So any banging or filing is being done to the actual races, as they are, um, integrated. I've always vowed to stay away from integrated headsets, which is why I referred Brady to the bike shop. Cause a file the wrong way, or a mallet in the wrong place, and your whole frame is worthless.

    That is.....unless.....

    I wonder if it would be possible (if the new integrated headset parts don't solve the issue) to just file off the integrated part and install a regular headset??? I think that would take some careful measuring of the inner diameter of the head tube to see if a regular headset would work.

    That could perhaps be curtain #4?

  12. i see.


    integrated headsets are like most proprietary parts, being that they suck and make repair work a PITA. That's a very poor design decision, especially on a cross bike which is going to see some abuse.

    but enough from me, i'll let chris king do the ripping.

    sorry to hear that though, i thought you were going to have a real good time banging the frame around.

  13. I have nothing to add to this line of questioning except when I have to sell against a competitor whose product is cheaper than ours.

    My question is:

    How much does it cost when it's free?

  14. I'm sorry I didn't see this earlier. Everything can be fixed with enough liveStrong bracelets. Wedge them in there real good. Not only will you be smoove rollin' on no time, you'll show how much you think cancer is bad.