Bringing Home The Beast
Last Friday the weather was fine, and the winds light, so I knocked off early to head up to Ashington to collect the Frankenbike. At around 3m long, it won’t fit into the car, so the only option was to ride it home.
And that’s just what I did - I rode there on the Brompton, fitted the front brake, loaded the Brompton and my tools in the front, and rode the 14 miles home:
Riding the bike in traffic is certainly an experience - on the one hand totally safe as drivers stare pop-eyed in amazement and steer well clear, while on the other hand, several drivers were so busy staring that they forgot about the other traffic around them.
Pretty soon into the journey I noticed that there was something amiss. It was getting harder and harder to pedal. By the time I was about five miles from home, I was pretty sure that the bottom bracket was seizing, and the last couple of miles can only be described as “tough going”.
By the time I got home, my parents had arrived, and like the Pied Piper, I also attracted a lot of attention from the neighbours:
On Saturday afternoon, dad & I had a look at that bottom bracket to see if we could figure out what was wrong. Can you spot the deliberate mistake?
That bearing cup should be sticking out of the bottom bracket, not recessed into it! How on earth had I managed that?
It turns out that I’d been checking the axle for fit, and had forgotten to put one of the sets of bearings in. So I’d ridden 14 miles with a metal-on-metal axle. As soon as the grease had got shoved out of the way, it got decidedly sticky!
Fixing this was pretty easy (no damage done, despite my best efforts), and along the way I discovered that these cup & axle bottom brackets have an intriguing feature - there’s a right way and a wrong way to put the axle in, as the taper on one end is about 4mm different to the other. Get it the wrong way round, and the chainring fouls the frame.
Seeing as I had the bike in bits, I also replaced the rear mech - I’d originally used an early 1990s Shimano 105 that I’d had, but the shifting wasn’t the best, and I was finding it a real pain to adjust. Fortunately I happened to have a brand new Ultegra one just laying around, so I fitted that instead and it works a treat.
Later in the afternoon, I rode the Frankenbike down to Tynemouth to see Ben at Whiptail. They seemed surprised that I’d fitted titanium parts to this beast. But as I pointed out, the plywood box is technically an engineering grade composite material, so I was just using components to match.