Monday, March 7, 2011

Gears revamped

I had been researching options for upgrading my gearing to be better prepared for the Aids Life Cycle and found someone though the forums willing to help. That's when I found Andrew, a fellow member. He came through with the gearing components!

I turned the trip to Monterey/Salinas where he lives into a vacation with my wife. Andy sounded nice over the phone but was even more fun in person. He hooked me up with the following components this afternoon:

- 2 16" Catrike front wheels
- wrapped with Schwalbe tires
- Rear SRAM 3x7 hub
- mounted on a 20" rear wheel
- Internal gear hub shifter
- Front derailleur mount
- 2 twist shifters

That was the agreed list but he threw in a couple other components:
- 8-speed cassette
- Rear SRAM LX derailleur

After Andrew shared with me his overwhelming collection of 7 bent trikes all stored in his garage and 2 bent bikes from his home office, we still had energy to work on my trike. We started with the crankset swapping a single speed one for a 3 chain ring setup. It came off his old KMX X-Class.

Next we went on to installing the new 9-speed cassette onto the hub. When I say "we," I mean "he." Andrew helped a ton with all this. I'm very grateful for his help. Couldn't have one it easily w/o him. He taught me a few things today.

I was able to help with the next part and that was feeding the chain back through after Andy shortened it for me. We're still not sure why there's so much slack we pulled off at least 12 links! Maybe it was too long to begin with.

I learned an important lesson about derailleurs. Any explained exactly how to make the proper adjustments to it. It wasn't rocket science, but I'm glad I had someone to teach me in person.

Without the chain on the derailleur, the chain should be 1 or 2 links longer than snug while on the largest two cogs. I'm guessing it's a 28T rear and a 42T front. Once reattached to the derailleur, the chain should be the perfect length. Thanks for the tip!

He found that the current SRAM 3.0 derailleur was loose and was nice enough to give me a replacement. Unfortunately it isn't compatible with my current twist shifters. So what did he do? He gave me new shifters! We couldn't install them yet b/c we needed longer cables.

Since the trike doesn't fit in the car for the ride back to the hotel, we had to pull the wheel off again to squeeze it in. It has a few more components that keep it secure to the frame and here they are in order. It holds the axle to the dropouts.

It's never good to get too much of a good thing all at once which is why I'm so excited that my upgrade will come in phases:

PHASE 1: (completed today)
- An 8-sp cassette replaces my 7-sp freewheel.

- I loose my granny 34T cog, but the 22T front chainring makes up for it.

- The single 40T chain ring was replaced with a mountain 3. My lowest chain ring for hill climbing is 22T while the largest 42T will be used for downhill racing. One drawback of this is the new crankarms are 170mm. I like my current 155's. Spinning won't be as comfortable but at least I'll have more leverage.

- Unfortunately Phase 1 comes at the expense of my rear brake. No more rear brake - at all. This means no more drifting into turns. It'll be a lot less fun, but at least I can climb hills and speed down them much more easily. Most trikes don't come with rear brakes to begin with, so this bonus that KMX offered on their Tornado lineup isn't too big of a loss. The rear brake is what the KMX line was known for, so I'm a bit sad to see it go. The extra components more than make up for it though. It's worth it.

- The rear mag wheel is replaced by the standard spoked wheel. The spoked one is so much better built. I'm having a lot more confidence in this one in reliability and safety than the BMX mag.

- Making the rear 3x7 hub work. Technically it's a 3x8 since we swapped the 7-sp cassette for the 8-sp one. The internal gear hub doesn't currently work b/c the cable needed for the switch to engage it is not long enough. Once I get a new cable and install it, the trike's gear range will be tripled. Yup, my current 3x8= 24-sp trike will become a 72-sp. That's crazy. I'll get more high end gears and low end gears. I don't care much for the middle. Who needs 72 gears?? 21 would be plenty, but the current setup doesn't give me the range I need to successfully complete the Aids Life Cycle ride safely and comfortably.

- Lighten up the front end. I need to buy new bearings to make the Catrike 16" spoked wheels fit on the KMX. Until then, I'll have to continue using the heavy plastic wheels. I should do a quick weigh-in to compare the difference in weight btw the two types of wheels. I'll report later.


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