2 days ago
Saturday, January 28, 2012
So it turns out that there are bikes out there that don't meet the strict standard quality bar at bikesdirect.com. These bikes are sold at bikeisland.com. Such was the fate of this "Mercier" mini, which according to the ad at bikeisland.com, was complete but just didn't have the headset installed. For $250, shipped, I couldn't maintain my loyalty to my legions of friends at the LBSs.
Don't mistake this as an endorsement of either of these price-diver websites. There's a reason these bikes are so cheap. The internet is full of forum posts about how low-quality these bikes are. At the end of the day, this is really a buyer-beware scenario. If you are good mechanic and can deal with repairing super cheap parts, that are often not manufactured to be serviceable, then these super cheap deals may pan out for you. Especially if you are fixie/SS type: you can get a workable deal here.
Anyway. It turns out that the reason the headset wasn't installed on this bike is because the crown race couldn't be installed on the fork. The reason the crown race couldn't be installed is because there was a big burry turd on steerer tube. Glen mentioned something about a lathe and how it wasn't turned properly or that he'd need to properly turn it on a lathe to fix it or something. I wasn't paying close attention. But upon reflection, I'm thinking Glen is just making a stronger case for Pat to "store" his lathe in Glen's (really really dry) garage.
Onward! Glen fussed with the burr, as I looked for stuff. And by the time I had found the stuff I was looking for -- which turned out to be spilled across his work bench -- he had the crown race pounded on and was putting the headset together.
The headset of course is a super cheap number, with a knurled thread thing that you have to adjust with channel-locks (not the proper Var tool) to really appreciate. Of course Glen has the proper tool so he dialed it right in and I expect that it will be dialed in many months from now. And of course the bearings were ovalized in their little holders and had to be finessed into the bottom of the headset, otherwise they'de herniate out the sides.
Finally -- since the bike didn't come with installed forks/headset, the handlebar people didn't get the memo: "don't wrap the bars cause this one is a special case." So the bars were all wired up to the brakes and wrapped and the quill stem (traditional, w/ non-removable face plate) was at the bottom of the box. Luckily, Glen had the super turd stem + threadless adapter post on hand. Lucky me.
So there it is. If I had been putting this bike together, I would've hit the wall way back there at the "burr stage." And I would've been either broken something trying to deburr it, or just hauled the whole mess to Glen. I'm smart as I get older. I had this thing shipped directly to Glen in order to save a step. Fist pump.
Next up: ride it hard. Abuse it. Ponder changes to saddle (something more aero of course), brakes (canti posts are in order), bars (likely O-8 Space Bars), tires (anything would be better than these weird plastic turds).
Finally, the capper: it's a wheelie machine. As Glen says, all you have to do is look up and you're popping a wheelie. Sweet.