Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Little Update on the Bike

I recently received a comment from Jeff on my review of the Dynamic Crosstown 7 bicycle. (Amazingly, SiteMeter tells me that page is consistently my best draw, followed by my visit to Mellow Johnny's. Go figure...) Jeff was influenced in part by my review to take the plunge on a shaft driven bike, and he has outclassed me entirely by setting up a whole website to detail his experiences. His complete honesty has shamed me somewhat and caused me to realize that I'm a little guilty of something we might call "wishing away buyer's regret." That is, having plunked down a fair chunk of change for the bike, I'm determined to like it, facts supporting or no. Jeff has been undeterred by the size of his investment and freely given vent to both frustration and praise for his bike. Why would I not learn a little from him and share the good, the bad, and the ugly? Besides, I'm approaching 4000km (2400 mi) on the bike, and it's been almost a year since I bought it, and that's far enough for a pretty good assessment of long-term issues. 
First of all, the drive-line. Now that I have the gear greasing figured out, it's pretty much transparent. I just don't notice it. I can ride 500-600 km between shots of grease, and this is not an issue for me. In fact, it's a big advantage. I really don't miss chain maintenance. At all. (If you read Jeff's site, you'll find he's greasing every 75 mi or so, which to me seems way too often.)
My main drive-line complaint comes intermittently on hot days when I get a "tunk" sound once per pedal revolution when my left crank is straight up and down. Faster cadences make it louder than slow. Light pressure and very hard pressure make it go away, and if the temperature is below 90°F, I don't hear it.  It's always over 90°F in the summer in Austin, and I only get about half the time. Although it's only a minor annoyance, I wish I knew what it was.
Build quality. It's a little late for me to talk about build quality since I already mentioned the state of the wheels on receipt, but I did purchase a Park TM-1 spoke tension meter and tuned up the wheels. This is a necessary item of maintenance anyway, and I probably should have done it 2000km ago, but it feels like a new ride now, and I'll make this a regular date with the bike in the future. Regarding build quality, everything else is holding up well, and no other defects have come to light.
One last unspoken complaint relates to getting the driveline. This may seem a little obscure to all but the few Dynamic-owner readers that I have here, so feel free to skip on by if you want. Early in my setup, I was having trouble with grinding gears that turned out to be a problem of sorting out the proper kind of grease to use. During the process, though, I found I could make a big improvement to the feel of the drive line by adjusting the number of spacers on the rear axle. These are thin shim-stock washers that go between the hub and the drop-out to properly align the bevel gear with the drive shaft. The bike came with three fitted, and I improved the feel of the drive line noticeably by removing two of them. Later, the teflon-based grease solved the rest of the grinding problem, but I recently put them back in, just for kicks, to see what would happen, and I had to pull over and take them back off because the drive train became rough and the friction increased. I'm guessing that my gear set has probably worn in to its current arrangement and that putting them back in a long time ago wouldn't have had the same effect. Again, this is minor, and probably only of note to anyone else searching the net for information on shaft drives.
So I set out to try to complain a little bit about my bike, but I've ended up dismissing all of my complaints as minor. The fact remains, I like the bike, and I don't (honestly now) regret choosing it over a more conventional one, even after 4000km through Texas heat.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Hey Tim - greetings from Cleveland. I pity your warm weather woes. I lived in Charleston, SC for a number of years. Nice place to visit but the heat didn't agree with me. I admire that you still get out and ride even with the high temps. We ought to revisit this topic in six months or so. I have some pictures you'd laugh at.

Regarding my greasing schedule; I agree with you that I apply grease too often. I sometimes believe that may be due in part to a hill I have to climb on my way home. I wonder if a flatter terrain would allow for more distance between greasings (funny sentence if taken out of context...?)

Speaking of which, specifially what grease are you using that has Teflon? I recently pedalled nearly 250 miles before I felt it was time for another shot and I'm using a lithium-based grease. I believe the key to success with these bikes is finding the right grease & greasing schedule.

I ought to look into one of the spoke tensiometers - I think you are onto something there.

This weekend I am installing a replacement hub gear provided by Patrick of Dynamic Bicycles to address my circlip failure problems (see Have you had any problems with your hub gear coming loose?

Anyway, thanks for mentioning me in your blog. I tried to post a reply here earlier but for some reason had trouble posting.

Best wishes.