Readers in Britain may know what I mean by Trigger’s broom. It’s from a sit. com. where a character, Trigger, claimed to have had the same brush for 25 years. Everyone was amazed at his economy and he had received a medal for it. Then he admitted that in that time it had had 17 new heads and 14 new handles. From this Triggers broom has become a metaphor.
Mountain bikes are just like Triggers broom. I bought my first full suspension bike, a Marin Rift Zone, in 1997 and kept it for 18 years. In that time it had 3 new frames, 3 swinging arms, 3 shock absorbers, 3 sets of forks and countless wheels, tyres, transmissions and brake parts. In it’s defence, although I’d replaced the handlebars, the handlebar stem was definitely original!
My Boardman FS Pro is 2 and a half years old and is gong through a similar cycle of replacements. I’ve had a split rear tyre, a rear gear mech wrapped around the cassette, a few teeth broken from the cassette by an innocuous looking twig, 2 rear mech hangers and new brake pads. So most of my costs have been through accidents, not wear. Recently, though, I found play in the rear suspension bearings and bought a full set of replacements. First I fitted the pair of main pivot bearings above the bottom bracket. Then the smaller ones at the other end of the swinging arm near the rear wheel. Yesterday I replaced the lower bearings on the black link behind the shock absorber. There’s still a tiny amount of play from the bottom shock bushes and I’ll replace those soon.
Today I could have made the excuse that I needed to test the new bearings but instead I reflected on recent rides over the now hard baked surfaces. The different conditions have brought up some defficiencies in the rear suspension which were not apparent in softer, muddy conditions. Over repeated small bumps I have felt the rear end skipping and losing grip. I had similar issues with the front fork a while ago which I covered in previous posts. I eventually pinned that down to the damping being too firm so today I went to some familiar terrain and repeated the same section several times, adjusting the damper each time. I had started off with the dial set half way round at 6 clicks out of 12 but backing off to the first click has made a big improvement. You can feel the texture of the ground better since I imagine that the suspension unit is returning more quickly with less restriction from the damper and getting ready for the next bump.
If you like mechanical things mountain biking is a great sport. Your performance alone will never be enough. You need to get the bike on your side by having everything set perfectly. Then you can maximise your performance.
So with everything set perfectly, or at least as good as I could get it, I needed to test it out. I was at the Healey Nab trail head where on my last ride I’d set a third fastest lap by any rider on the “Top Loop”. I set off down and gave it some. I didn’t feel as if things were flowing too well. It was as if the ground was fighting me back. After the gradual downhill I turned for the shorter, steeper climb back to the top. I was working hard but thought when I reached a rockier part about half way up that I may have tried to go too quick. I seemed to stall but got it moving again. I sprinted to the finish but had no real idea if I’d beaten my last attepmt. I was in third place but second place was only 1 second ahead of me at 1 minute 40 seconds compared to my 1 minute 41.
I got home to the glorious news that I’d managed 1 minute 30 seconds. Only 7 seconds behind first place. And I bet he’s got a 30 year advantage on me! I almost swept clean.
Please feel free to leave a comment or “like” my post. Andrew.