Ride Report: John Wayne / Palouse Trail, Ellensburg to Othello

Joined
Jun 4, 2003
Messages
1,551
Location
98245
The ride did not go as planned, but it was still memorable. They don't make bikes as durable as they used to. This bike has Reynolds carbon wheels, one of their best in 2014 when it was new.
  • Some of you have read about the SRAM sticky brake levers. They used a nylon-abs like material for the brake pistons, that gradually expands in contact with brake fluid and jams up in the lever cylinders. The first time, I completely disassembled the levers and used emery paper to shrink the piston diameters so they moved freely again, then reassembled. The brakes worked fine for about a year and got sticky again. So I replaced the pistons with aftermarket metal ones - permanent fix.
  • The first time I serviced the bottom bracket (SRAM XX1), when I was putting it back together the crank arm bolt head sheared off at less than 30 ft. lbs. of torque - the spec is tighten to 38 ft. lbs. They make it from aluminum alloy, not steel, so consider it "single use" and buy a new bolt every time you service it. Why? It's maybe 5 grams lighter than a steel bolt.
  • 3 years ago, spoke nipples started breaking with spokes popping free. Turns out they use aluminum nipples, which is a no-no with carbon wheels because it causes a gradual (in my case 5 years) redox reaction that corrodes the nipple heads, causing them to crack and break. I rebuilt the wheels with brass spoke nipples.
  • 2 years ago, the freehub pawls sheared, stranding me in the desert near Moab. Freehubs with pawls of steel (haha) last forever, but these pawls were made of aluminum alloy. So the wheel can be 5 grams lighter but fail and strand you in the middle of the desert. They're warranted only for 2 years. Just long enough so the planned obsolescence doesn't backfire on the company.
  • Last year, the rear carbon rim delaminated. Reynolds, to their credit, sent me a new rim under their lifetime warranty and I rebuilt the wheel.
  • Yesterday the axle broke, stranding me in podunk halfway between Beverly & Othello, WA. What's this axle made of, you might ask? Some kind of alloy. I'll tell you what it's not made of: steel!
Sorry this is a rant, but I'm wondering... All but 1 of the above failures never would have happened if they used steel, brass or other properly strong material in key places. Instead, they use aluminum alloys which eventually fail, with weight savings so marginal it is only for marketing with no pragmatic use or benefit. I'm not calling out SRAM or Reynolds specifically because it seems all "high end" bike equipment is made like this.

On the other hand, I have a Santana tandem from 1999 which is all original with over 20,000 miles. Even the bearings are still smooth like new. I've serviced them but never had to replace them. Only tires and brake pads. Same with a '99 Trek road bike. Same with an '88 (I think) Trek 330. Etc. etc. That stuff just goes forever when you take care of it.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
655
Location
Idaho
Made in China I'm assuming? It's because they melt down the old bicycles with the tires still on them.
 

MRC01

Thread starter
Joined
Jun 4, 2003
Messages
1,551
Location
98245
I must say that these modern bikes are a joy to ride. Smooth, strong, light, efficient, etc. Definitely a step up from the old stuff.

The problem is that the weight weenie attitude is being used as a pretext to push planned obsolescence through the use of inferior materials that do not hold up over time. So you end up having to replace parts that used to last a lifetime (axles, freehub pawls, spoke nipples, etc.).

Normally this would be a small problem. What makes this a BIG problem is when it comes to failures due to metal fatigue, you may never know when the failure will occur. It may not be evident on visual inspection. Murphy's law says it will strike when you're out in the middle of nowhere on a big ride. So to prevent that you end up treating parts like wheel axles as "consumables" that you replace every year or two. Which is ridiculous!!
 

MRC01

Thread starter
Joined
Jun 4, 2003
Messages
1,551
Location
98245
BTW, along these lines, here's what the freehub pawls look like after less than 1 year of use. Sure I ride a lot and climb steep hills, but this is ridiculous. This wear isn't due to a bad freehub ratchet; it still looks like new. These weak alloy pawls can't harm the steel ratchet. If the pawls were made of steel, I bet they'd last forever. Or at least 5 years <sigh>
20220910_145745.jpg

20220910_145921.jpg
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
3,330
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
Coincidentally, I thinking just a few days ago how durable my childhood bikes (both Raleighs from England, rebadged as Eaton's Gliders) were, compared to my modern mountain bikes.

Single-speed, coaster brakes, and the only issues ever were flat tires.

The only maintenance I ever did was to flip up the little hatch and put a few drops of 3-in-1 oil in the rear hub, and to oil the chain.

With complexity and weight-reduction comes fragility.
 

MRC01

Thread starter
Joined
Jun 4, 2003
Messages
1,551
Location
98245
Coincidentally, I thinking just a few days ago how durable my childhood bikes (both Raleighs from England, rebadged as Eaton's Gliders) were, compared to my modern mountain bikes. ...
Funny you say that. That's exactly what the guy's 11 year old kid said comparing his BMX to my mountain bike, before they drove me back to Ellensburg with my broken bike. I had to agree!

That said, I try to look back without rose colored glasses. Working in the bike shop in the 1980s, I fixed plenty of broken axles, headsets and spokes. Coaster brakes would heat up and disintegrate under sustained heavy braking. A steel frame (Huffy) actually broke in half while I was riding it - the front down-tube separated from the bottom bracket.
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
3,330
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
Funny you say that. That's exactly what the guy's 11 year old kid said comparing his BMX to my mountain bike, before they drove me back to Ellensburg with my broken bike. I had to agree!

That said, I try to look back without rose colored glasses. Working in the bike shop in the 1980s, I fixed plenty of broken axles, headsets and spokes. Coaster brakes would heat up and disintegrate under sustained heavy braking. A steel frame (Huffy) actually broke in half while I was riding it - the front down-tube separated from the bottom bracket.
I had the first Glider for almost three years, until it was stolen. I outgrew the second one after about two years.

Although it seemed like I rode a lot as a child, its quite like each bike only accumulated 500 or so miles.

In contrast, my 3-season daily driver, a 2002 Rocky Mountain Fusion, must have well over 50,000 km (30,000 miles) on it by now.
 
Joined
Mar 4, 2017
Messages
23,977
Location
...
Funny you say that. That's exactly what the guy's 11 year old kid said comparing his BMX to my mountain bike, before they drove me back to Ellensburg with my broken bike. I had to agree!

That said, I try to look back without rose colored glasses. Working in the bike shop in the 1980s, I fixed plenty of broken axles, headsets and spokes. Coaster brakes would heat up and disintegrate under sustained heavy braking. A steel frame (Huffy) actually broke in half while I was riding it - the front down-tube separated from the bottom bracket.


During my childhood years I had a couple of friends that broke their pedal cranks. We used to call it pot metal back then.
 

MRC01

Thread starter
Joined
Jun 4, 2003
Messages
1,551
Location
98245
During my childhood years I had a couple of friends that broke their pedal cranks. We used to call it pot metal back then.
Oh, that's still a thing but only with Shimano's "top of the line" cranks. Another modern case of lightweight over durability.



The 20+ year old Ultegra cranks on our tandem are still original, made from a single piece of metal. They'll last forever.
The modern Ultegra cranks on my road bike have this new flawed design. If they fail I'll "upgrade" to Shimano 105 which is still a single piece of metal.
 
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
4,625
Location
California
Coincidentally, I thinking just a few days ago how durable my childhood bikes (both Raleighs from England, rebadged as Eaton's Gliders) were, compared to my modern mountain bikes.

Single-speed, coaster brakes, and the only issues ever were flat tires.

The only maintenance I ever did was to flip up the little hatch and put a few drops of 3-in-1 oil in the rear hub, and to oil the chain.

With complexity and weight-reduction comes fragility.
I remember the following from riding my bikes as a kid up to about age 12 in the late '80s: I wore tires and rim brake pads out like crazy due to doing power slides, curb-jumping, and off-road riding. My 3-speed internally geared hubs were indestructible and maintenance-free. Crank arms with cotter pins came constantly loose. The coaster brakes were great until the chain broke, which I managed a few times. Maintenance consisted of a little oil, adjusting rim brakes, adjusting headsets, tightening crank arms, and adjusting wheel bearings.

Were those bikes really more durable than comparable bikes now? I believe they were more durable in some regards. Simplicity rules. But I was a kid and I did not ride the same bike for more than 2 years. When you are a kid two years is an eternity so when I remember riding a particular bike for a long time I know my view is skewed.
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
3,330
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
I remember the following from riding my bikes as a kid up to about age 12 in the late '80s: I wore tires and rim brake pads out like crazy due to doing power slides, curb-jumping, and off-road riding. My 3-speed internally geared hubs were indestructible and maintenance-free. Crank arms with cotter pins came constantly loose. The coaster brakes were great until the chain broke, which I managed a few times. Maintenance consisted of a little oil, adjusting rim brakes, adjusting headsets, tightening crank arms, and adjusting wheel bearings.

Were those bikes really more durable than comparable bikes now? I believe they were more durable in some regards. Simplicity rules. But I was a kid and I did not ride the same bike for more than 2 years. When you are a kid two years is an eternity so when I remember riding a particular bike for a long time I know my view is skewed.
Those cottered cranks were not good. I haven't seen one in ages now.
 
Top