Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Deadlines and Commitments

As is usual this time of year, parcel deliveries slow to a crawl. No headset or BB replacement parts yet, but the new front derailleur is here and ready to go, Universal Bikes issued the return authorization, and I have shipped the part back for a refund.

By the time I pull the crank to replace the BB, with the fork, headset, brakes and chain off, there's not going to be much left of my bike but parts. I was cleaning the brakes with hot water and Simple Green, and noticed the back SRAM Force brake has a clear coating on it - which has almost completely come off on mine. More troublesome, the center of the brake is obviously pitted, and right in the area of maximum stress.

Pitting in the center of the brake bridge
Clear, plastic coating protecting the aluminum structure is long gone.

I assume this is from sand and sweat? At any rate, the brake is now on it's way to failure. Metal cracks always start in pits, and propagate from pit to pit to complete failure. Aluminum is pretty susceptible to chemical erosion, but still,  I must have some pretty harsh sweat! It may not fail for years, or it may fail the next time I grab the brake hard, or it may fail tomorrow.

The clear plastic coating also incorporates the brake's Force logo
These SRAM Force brakes are wonderful, and have performed flawlessly, but come spring, I will be looking for a sale, and will replace them, or at least, the rear brake. The front brake is in perfect condition. I'm really kind of shocked I'm having a problem after less than 4 years. The brakes were the very first thing I upgraded on the bike, but still, shocking.

MagicShine MJ-808E  over MJ-808. I prefer the SSC P7 emitter's bluer 900 lumen light on the bottom to the yellowish hue of the 1000 lumen, CREE XM-L emitter. I think the CREE holds a narrower beam though, and may penetrate fog better, so am going to leave it up on the helmet for now.

I was tempted to do my video for what will now be an upcoming Techie Tuesday piece on optimal lighting, but since I haven't even done one ride with the dual MagicShine lights, it would have been premature. I bought both of these lights from GeoMan. The batteries are state-of-the-art, made in Germany, or now, the US.

The 6,000mAh battery packs I ordered are made from Panasonic's very best 3100mAh LION cells. If you can even find them on the web, they're around $25. That makes GeoMan's $85 price a real bargain. I want the best possible power-to-weight ratio, and these deliver in spades.

I'm also impressed that GeoMan only rates these packs at 6000, even though they are clearly 6200. Here's  a real American entrepreneur who sucked it up and scrambled for a top-notch battery pack builder when MagicShine's standard packs were catching fire.

You can buy MagicShine from Amazon now, but they're still selling the pyrotechnic battery packs, and have added nothing. GeoMan spent 2 yrs listening to his customers and scrambling to get things right. That's worth supporting. GeoMan is offering a 20% discount until December 5th, so an easy decision at the moment.

I got a cool $5 lens that does, indeed, spread the beam out horizontally, but haven't had it out on the trail, so will need to gain some experience with it too before commenting. The same lens technology would make a perfect side lens for a 270% rear lighting system up on the helmet.

Lots of good ideas, so why can't someone put them all together? Anyone know a company that can make a taillight to my specifications and mass produce it?

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