Thursday, January 7, 2010
There is an element of counter-culture to singlespeeds. Riding a singlespeed goes against the convention that more is gooderer. Whatever.
Whether intended or coincidental, some might consider riding ss a way to stick it to "The Man".
That man being Shimano of course.
I have a love / hate relationship with the big S.
On the one hand I hate how they seemingly make arbitrary changes to standards making your current gear obsolete and incompatible. Leaving you to your own devices searching for UN73 bottom brackets.
I hate how so much of their stuff is disposable. Ever try and rebuild a STI shifter?
It works so fooking good!
On the road I've ridden Campagnolo for the past decade ( my geared road bike). I was drawn in by the mystique and the promise of rebuild-ability. Things I love about Campy.
But Shimano still shifts smoother.
There was a time when you'd be hard pressed to build a mountain bike without Shimano on it. Not so hard anymore. You've got the other big S(ram) now, who have their hands in just about every aspect of cycling. But everyone will always follow Shimano's lead.
With a singlespeed, it's really not too hard to avoid either of the S's. There are so many choices for the non-shifty bits on your bike theses days, it's almost like the CNC anodized crazed 90's in selection with a little less chance of the manufacture disconnecting the phone line and folding up the tent.
So what does this have to do with me?
The Swift is now sporting a set of Shimano Hollowtech II XT cranks. I haven't had any Shimano on my primary singlespeed in a couple of years.
I had a set of Hollowtechs on my Salsa back in '05-'06. They were noticeably stiffer than anything I had ever ridden before. But the bearings life was pathetic. 4-6 months was about the best I ever got out of them. I even tried upgrading to Phils bearings with the whole Phils bearing puller / presser apparatus, but they didn't really last that much longer. Word on the street was if you had your bb shell faced you'd get a good long life out of the external bearings. Well I don't have a bb facer, and never took too much stock in that theory; every modern frame builder "claimed" to face and chase the shell before shipping.
But now with the Singular, and it's Phil Wood EBB insert we'll be able to test that theory. I don't think you can find a more precise hunk of steel than the beautiful piece of work created by Mr. Wood.
Hopefully my cynicism will be proven to be unfounded, because other than bearing life, "The Man" really has it figured out with these cranks.
I tried "labeling" this post. I think I might need to make up some stuff to attract the counter culture types who are sticking it to the man though. Not sure what counter culture I'm looking for, maybe S&M goat roper vampires for Jesus?