Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gear talk: Bladders and Shifters

Just picked up a new 100 oz Camelbak "Un-bottle."  This is the third one I've owned and by far the best.  These things are crazy versatile and can be attached to almost anything.  With 3 liters ready to go, I rarely have to refill even on the hottest days.  On tours, I usually fill it just once for the day.  The biggest improvement of this latest generation of bladders is the 1/4 turn sealing design of the lid.  The old models used to get gummed up and take a full-on Kung fu grip to open.  Un-bottle = Da bomb.


Friction: Friend and Foe

All of my bikes/trikes currently have Shimano Dura Ace bar end shifters.  Way back in the days of yester-yore, these were the gold standard, the absolute best shifters around.  Always precise, reliable, lasted forever.  Well, something is totally rotten in the state of Shimanostan.  (Locals pronounce is "ShimanoSTAHN.")  All of my shifters, to one degree or another, have failed to index properly.  The indexing ring that has the little stops inside the housing is made of cheap plastic, so it wears quickly and can break completely.  The saving grace of this design is the ability to switch to friction mode and abandon the indexing.  And so it has come to pass that I have embraced the friction.  Rather than fruitlessly trying to dial in an index shift that can't be freakin' dialed in, I said, Screw it! and began adapting to a style of shifting that many people prefer.   The immediate benefit is that I no longer have to worry about derailleur adjustment--at all.  Get the initial max and min settings in and forget it.  Awesome.  I've gotten pretty good at hitting the right gears over time, too.  I miss a little here and there, have to "trim" the setting, as they say, but mostly I land right where I need to.  To be honest, I think I still prefer a good, solid index shift, but this is fine.  You can't always be with the shifter you love, but you can learn to love the shifter you have!

Friction.  Without it, we'd all be slippery pools of goo sliding around the floor.  We couldn't begin our rides or stop our plunging selves as we pitch down mountain grades.  Fool the friction caused by the wind and you might find yourself zipping along at 82 mph like that Canadian monster Whittingham.  We fight friction; we need friction.  Learn to love it because you can't do without it.


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