The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Recently we did some work on the bike of an area mountain bike racer. He had recently done a local mountain bike race in Inver Grove Heights, and his nondescript mountain bike was exceedingly muddy afterwards. This area mountain bike racer was nice enough to clean it up for us, but it seems that he wasn't happy with the gnawing sounds coming out of his nondescript mountain bike. Apparently it was worth the while of this area mountain bike racer to bring his nondescript mountain bike (which was creaking and squeaking like a Conestoga wagon) in to get some Golden Wrenching.

Incidentally, this particular area mountain bike racer had won this particular local mountain bike race by a particularly wide margin. We wanted to find out how, so naturally, we looked at his nondescript mountain bike.

As Tyson tore into the nondescript mountain bike belonging to this area mountain bike racer, he discovered and documented some (and it pains me to report it) "mechanical indiscretions." Now the reader will notice that I have very charitably refrained from calling Mr. Moore (Oops! I meant "this area mountain bike racer!") a "cheater" or a "weasel" or a "mountebank" or a "charlatan" or a "scoundrel" or a "canteloupe" or a "Swede" or an "orangutan" or a "continent" or a "dinner plate" or a "wristwatch of impeccable craftsmanship," but certainly some of these epithets crossed my mind in relation to the abovementioned area mountain bike racer.

Let's have it out: clearly he had maliciously modified his bike for what may be considered an unfair advantage over his hapless competition. One of these "modifications," a derailleur pulley shaved down for extra aerodynamic advantage, he even boasted of on his own blog! The nerve!

In addition to the shaved-down derailleur pulley (saving probably eight grams of crucial rotating weight, plus eliminating the rotation), this area mountain biker was also using ultralight brake pads which consisted of only the metal backing plate. In other words, he was willing to risk life and limb in order to save about ten grams of braking material. Is this truly the cost of winning, and if so, is winning to be done at all cost?

The final straw was revealed when we removed the crank arms from the nondescript mountain bike and discovered that, in direct violation of literally several ethical somethings, he had lightened up his bottom bracket by removing several of the bearings. Certainly one could find wiser ways to save a few grams!

There are a lot of gaps in this smile.

I dunno. Maybe these fast guys just think differently, but this seems to be taking things a bit too far. We are thinking about having a sit-down intervention with this fellow before he starts sawing out his down tube, ventilating his handlebars, or drilling holes in his chain rings.