Friday, 7 March 2014

Vicks Vapourhub

Last year I did a little over 5 500 miles of cycling, most of it with laden panniers on my bike. I ride a B'Twin Triban 3 road bike, which (although the frame offers anchor points for a rack) was never really designed for heavy-mileage, weight-laden commutes over often bumpy and poorly-kept country lanes.

In very wet months I seem to be wearing a set of brake pads out in around four weeks, which is also testament to how hilly my commute is. I tend to wear a chain and cassette out in around 2 000 miles, so must replace it several times per year.

Very recently, I replaced the chain and cassette with brand-new Shimano kit. When it comes to the drive train, I do believe in sticking with trusted brand names. This was in the second to last week of February 2014. On Monday, 24th of February, the chain snapped. Yes, the new chain.

I was on a roundabout at the time and for a moment or two things were a bit hair-raising. The chain wound itself around the cassette, and dragged the derailleur along, shearing the derailleur off and destroying it. The rear wheel locked as the derailleur and chain mess got in the way, and I was left unable to ride at all.

When I finally got the bike home (having phoned for a recue lift) I set about fixing it. As luck would have it, recently I purchased an older Shimano Sora derailleur, so I fit that on the bike to replace the destroyed Sora derailleur. I carefully inspeacted the chain, but couldn't see any defects other than the sheared off bits where it failed. After having removed those segments, I replaced them with the bits I took off when I fitted the new chain originally, to ensure the chain won't be too short.

With that out of the way, I tested the bike and it seemed fine, so I resumed cycle commuting the very next morning, without any trouble.

My trouble-free cycling came to a rude end on the last day of February - having cycled less than 50 metres from work on that Friday afternoon, a spoke snapped on the rear wheel, and the wheel immediately buckled noticably.

I limped along to Evans cycles, hoping that they'd have spokes in stock, as they're a larger national chain.

I have Mavic Aksium wheels on my bike, and they're brilliant. They also use bladed spokes of their own design, and Evans, I discovered, doesn't stock those, but instead must order them in. Except they couldn't, as they had no stock.

Over the weekend I located the right spokes and ordered it from JeJamesCycles.co.uk. But that didn't solve my immediate problem of being able to cycle.

When I upgraded the wheels on my bike, the rear wheel was failing, and I gave it to a friend of mine, Simon. He cleaned it up and rebuilt it, and immediately offered it back to me to tie me over. Of course I accepted his kind offer and by Sunday evening the wheel was on the bike and I was ready to roll.

Earlier this week, Simon asked me how the wheel was performing. Apparently, he was a little concerned. See, when he re-built it, he didn't have any grease available, so he used Vicks! Let's hope the wheel degongests the roads as I cycle along!I guess that redefines Vicks VapourHUB?