Re: [OM] Snail Mail

Subject: Re: [OM] Snail Mail
From: Ken Norton <ken@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:06:15 -0900
> I got so annoyed with someone’s squealing Mafacs on one tour, that at a lunch 
> stop, I got out my adjustable wrench and toed them in while the owner wasn’t 
> watching. :-)

My Cannondale mountain bike was seriously tricked out and had a
mishmash of amazing and random bits and pieces from various
manufacturers. Depending on what the day and hour, the brakes and
derailleurs could have been any mixture and series of SR-Suntour,
Shimano, or after-market hand-milled stuff. I eventually settled in
with most items being Shimano XT from at least three different
generations. (yet some SR-Suntour bits remain)

But the funny thing is how much tweaking we did to our bikes to get
that last ounce of performance out of them. Of all the various brakes
I had on it, the ones that gave me the very best modulation and
control were a customized set of SR-Suntours (springs were replaced
and the center-pull loop reengineered) with custom grooved pads. I
would take a Dremel cutting disk to a brand new set of pads and cut
V-shape grooves in them to self clean water, mud, or snow away. The
wear rate was extreme as I removed about half the surface area and my
toe-in was very aggressive. Those SR-Suntours squalled like a herd of
hogs if the contact area exceeded 50%.

My friend nick-named my bike "Dante's Inferno" because of the screams
from the tortured souls that lived inside the brakes.

Every single serious club ride required me to make at least one
adjustment to correct for pad wear. That might seem extreme, but we
were extremely fast riders on extremely tight dirt-pack trails and our
rims were usually pretty warm to the touch. Our typical ride was 10-15
miles outbound and then return. I'd make an adjustment when we were
gathering in the parking lot and then another when we stopped to turn
around. So, figure about 45 minutes of riding between adjustments.
(our trip average speed was 21mph out-and-back for 30 miles total).
New pads every month or so. New tires about as often.

When I upgraded my wheels, I went to a really narrow rim and
eventually changed out to the then latest-greatest, extremely strong
Shimanos with really long brake pads. They required no major toe-in
and were really grippy, but had no modulation. They solved some
problems, but caused others. I changed riding styles to adapt to the
brakes. There weren't nearly as good as my demon brakes, but they were
a whole lot more consistent and I could go an entire season without
changing pads. The back brake would lock up a lot easier, which made
for some fun tail-happy cornering, but sent me into the trees a few

Speaking of bicycling, it floors me how many people bicycle all winter
long up here. Massive tires, studs, and disk-brakes.

AG Schnozz
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