The Golden Wrench

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Importance of Quality Parts

When people describe a cyclists body-type, there are several different categories that you can fit into; climbers (featherweights), sprinters, clydesdales and super-clydesdales.  If you are having a hard time picturing what a clydesdale is, picture the gigantic horses pulling the Budweiser wagon.  At 6'6", 250 pounds I would fit into the super-duper clydesdale (or SDC) category (look, I barely fit into the camera frame!). 

As an SDC I haven't met many bike parts that I haven't been able to break, and when I say break I mean completely obliterate.  Here is a short list of bike parts that I have been able to destroy;

  • Bottom bracket spindles (broken clean-off).
  • Crank arms (drive side and non-drive side).
  • Saddles (crush the rails like a tin can). 
  • Pedal spindles. 
  • Cleats (yes plural cracked two this year before switching brands). 
  • Wheels..... oh so many wheels. 
  • Handlebars.
  • Hub axles. 
  • Chains. 
  • And of course bike frames (Peacock Groove knows my destruction well)
Actually I had to learn how to fix bikes just to keep myself on the road.

Until last Friday there was one bike part that remained solid as a rock, the seat post.  I mean come-on it is one piece of large diameter metal inserting into another large diameter piece of metal!

On Friday I took my Surly Moonlander out for a ride at River Bottoms with my buddy Bob.  Now of course as a SDC, even the 24" Moonlander is a little bit small for me so I had to switch out the stock 350mm seat post for an old 400mm post that I had laying around in my basement.  With a mechanics salary I have to try to save money where I can so I figure, cheap seat-post what could go wrong?  One big bump and I found out.
The descent.

While trying my best to descend the hill just past the Lyndale Ave. Parking lot my body got thrown backwards and I felt the seat disappear from under my butt.

Somehow I stayed upright and as I rolled to a stop I heard Bob say "woah, what the?"  After I climbed off the bike I quickly saw what the... The seat post folded like a cheap suit.

I frantically checked over every inch of the (almost brand new) Moonlander for damage to the seat-tube but to the unbelievable credit of Surly, the Moonlander tubing escaped unscathed.  Those things are built like tanks.  I wish I could say the same for my $15 seat post.  
The result.

After spending 15 minutes trying and failing  to bend the seatpost back into shape, I finally realized that I was going to have to ride the 13 miles back home standing up. 

That sucked.

The next day with some very sore quads I decided to order a proper seat post from Thompson.
When talking to customers about what parts they want to put onto their bikes, I often get the question of why does this part or that part cost what it does?  Sometimes the answer is because you are paying for a lighter part, but in most cases it comes down to one issue; build quality, and when you have the chance, always pick quality made parts.  

Hopefully my bad decision can serve as a lesson for other folks, save your quads, buy quality.