Forget your power-XC, aggressive All-Mountain or Riding-round-in-circles-while-dressed-in-silly-clothes, these last ten days have opened my eyes to a style of riding that is entirely attrition based. That sad collection of broken parts represents a litany of trail-based disasters which has stripped me of a whole load of cash, and rendered the barn mostly devoid of spare bikes.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the high co-efficient of Mech based products to general MTB detritus, but these are symptomatic of a far more serious cause. Before I explain what, let me explain how. First take the ST4 and add a spiteful branch to a fast spinning wheel. Stick hits mech, arrests wheel, rotational energy transferred to drilling the stick into a catastrophe of sheered brakeaway bolts, bent mechs and sacrificial hangers taking one for the frame.
I wasn’t unduly concerned with a flurry of Internet activity procuring fast delivered spares, so ensuring my participation on a ride three days later. This sanguine approach to the rough and tumble of bike ownership soured a little as the clever and expensive air can became a very stupid pogo stick. Without the sophisticated platform damping, a single pivot suspension system returns to the bongy age of early double springers. And that gets old very quickly – it’s only when something breaks, you realise how damn good it was.
What I hadn’t realised was how damn bad it would be getting the bugger out from various close fitting linkages. Weary puzzlement soon gave may to the kind of annoyed grunting and twitching for the big hammer normally associated with an embarrassed trip to the bike shop. But the shock came out undamaged as did a swathe of small and unexpected parts. My life was suddenly full of ball bearings, mashed cases and unidentified broken bitswhere sealed bearing once were. Orange agreed that their promise of “guaranteed for life” probably covered me for Warranty with only 400 miles and 4 months under-wheel.*
Both the repaired shock and a bag full of bearings arrived free of charge over the next few days, but still the bike is nothing more than a pile of bits. Because I own neither a bearing press, nor the skill/bravery to proxy something using a vice and a socket set. “Interference” fit is something my close friends tell me isn’t a long word meaning “smash them out with a hammer and while it’s in your hand, you may as well use that tool to fit the new ones”.
So it’s down to the bike shop, and I’ve asked Nick to take a few other minor indiscretions into mechanical consideration. For a start the brakes don’t stop. Well they do for about ten minutes so lulling one into a false sense of security, before the levers bang the bars and your options are limited to nutting a tree or abandoning ship. The front mech has taken the destruction of its’ mechanical brother rather badly and now has an action so stiff it speaks of Shimano Viagra. It’d be easier to list what is still working…er let me see…. er, no that’s broken…. hmm that’s pretty shagged…right…not much then.
But even after all this angst, I was able to unleash the power of my bike acquisition strategy by dusting down the not-ridden-very-often Pace which proved good to go. Well good-ish, I spent about an hour chasing a knocking noise around the rear triangle only to finally realise the headset was loose. The bike lasted exactly two and a bit rides unbroken, being much fun to ride downhill and only a bit too humpy on the ups. It survived 45ks in the Forest, a good pummelling on some Malvern super-dry trails, and then nearly an hour back in the FoD.
Before an unholy trinity of bad gear choice, a slightly bent chain and a huge sodding – if unseen – root, left with my that familiar lack of drive. And then I realised that Fate has taken against me, although enquiring of a Singlespeeding mate with squeeky breaks why he didn’t just get a proper bike may have poked that particular vengeful God in the goolies. The Butterfly Effect applies here – “Take the piss out of someone elses bike and ruination of your own will be visited within the hour“.
My fiscal misery continued when a close examination of the once expensive parts showed the cheese-dropout ™ hadn’t failed quite quick enough to save ANOTHER new mech. Amazingly this bit of metallic Gorgonzola somehow is worth* twice the£15 forked out for a bit of pressed steel to fix the ST4.
I am left with the roadbike and my Trailstar. I dare not ride either of them because bad things come in threes and if they don’t break I undoubtedly will. Many years ago a friend of mine reckoned “You could get a similar experience to MTBing by running around a forest setting fire to ten pound notes“. A wise man that fella, and he’s a Fulham supporter – two things you don’t normally find in the same sentence.
So there we have it; God hates me, I have found solace in the philosophy of a Fulham supporter, and have spent an average of twenty quid a day to push broken bikes along some lovely dusty trails. I’m off to burn a bunch of cash as a sorrowful sacrifice while taking my therapy from a bottle. I may be some time.
* They also admitted in passing that the cause might be a bent swingarm. “If it happens again send the whole thing back and we’ll sort it out” / “Is it okay if I set fire to it first?”
** Depending on your value of worth. As the buyer, I was struggling.