Friday, April 30, 2010

Steak Night @ Viper

Steak Night @ Viper
Originally uploaded by wrench177

The original post-ride chips and jerky got serious last night. Stir-fried veggies, sauteed veggies, pan seared lump crab meat and some fat ass NY strips. Add a fine selection of beers and you have "Steak Night" in the Shed. It's going to be a little hard to top this one.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Customer Service- Alive and well at Carbon Drive Systems

I had to follow up on my last post.  A rep from Gates Carbon Drive Systems read my review and suggested I call them.  Well, I just got off the phone with Steve and my faith in humanity has been restored.  My call was taken immediately, I was never put on hold and was treated to exceptional customer service. 

Steve asked a couple questions about my drive, cog/chainring sizes and belt length.  He informed me that once the belt starts making those sounds, the carbon fibers have been compromised and the noise will only get worse, which is exactly what has happened.  I was also informed that the smaller cog combo likes higher tension due to reduced contact area.  Initial setup is very important and running the belt at a higher tension is much better than less tension. Good things to know.  Armed with this new information, and my cricket gauge, I look forward to installing the new belt.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I really love the Carbon drive and hope to get it sorted out.  Hopefully it'll be here in time for the Maximus this Sunday.  Talk about "trial-by fire".

Steve, thanks again for the exceptional service. It's great when a company stands behind their product and takes care of their customers.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gates Carbon Drive- A Review

The boys in Golden treated me great when it came time for a replacement frame. The new Spot is great and I'm loving the Paragon sliders.  My only gripe, the Gates Carbon Belt Drive.  I can't get the damn thing to work right.  The alignment looks dead on, the tension is high, but, when I really torque down on the cranks, it makes a popping or "snapping" sound.  The belt doesn't slip, I'm not throwing my knees into the stem or anything like that, but this sound is VERY nerve racking.  It always occurs when you really need your drive-train to work and work flawlessly, on a steep pitch on some insanely technical climb.  It is at this moment I need to focus on the task at hand, not worry about the snap, crackle, pop coming from my rear wheel.

Even at cost, converting to a belt drive is not cheap. It's a major investment that one "should" be able to rely on.  Now, in all fairness, the system is phenomenal 99.8% of the time. It's light, quite, requires almost no maintenance and provides instantaneous power to the rear wheel.  Several reviews mention this perceived power to the wheel and I was skeptical.  I found myself going back to a chain drive recently and noticed a lack of responsiveness when the chain was installed.  I ran the chain for a local 12 hour race and went back to the belt drive a few days later.  There is a noticeable difference between the two drives when it comes to crisp transfer of power.  The belt drive puts power to the wheel instantly and effectively.  Combined this with the reduced weight, lack of required maintenance and long life span and this should be the perfect system. Should be.

I've aligned, re-aligned and re-re-aligned the belt ad nauseam.  I've added tension to the point I heard the BB bearings cry "uncle".  Then, I'd re-align the cog once more.  Out on the trail things appear to be great until that first big, steep pitch that requires an all out effort, then "SNAP!".  That sound that sends chills up my spine.  WTF!  This is getting old.  Well, I'm pretty heavily invested in this drive, and really want to give it a fair shake, exhaust all avenues if you will, so, I drop another $40 bucks on the little "belt tension indicator" Gates sells (along with a smaller cog (for more money than I'm comfortable discussing right now)).  I re-install the belt and align, re-align and re-re-re align the cog a few thousand more times and then throw the tension gauge on there to see how far off I was with my own guesstimate gauge.  Well, I had a little too much tension in the belt (according to the Gates do-hicky) and back it off a smidge.  Considering the belt has already made the snapping sound at a higher tension, I'm not overly optimistic things will improve with reduced tension.  Still, I follow the directions and figure these big brained people know what they are doing.

Today's ride proved one thing, those guys, in their white lab coats and fancy computer models don't know shit about real world mountain biking on a single speed.

Edit: Gates Carbon Drive System is sending me a new belt as a warranty replacement.  Initial setup/tension may have been incorrect (my fault) and the good folks at Gates are not holding it against me.  They stand behind their product and were very helpful when I called....which they suggested I do after reading my review.  This level of customer service is impressive!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Time to kick the tires and light the fires.

While not "technically" the first race of the 2010 season (Snotcycle was numero uno), the Leesburg Bakers Dozen kicks off the racing season this weekend after a long, snowy winter.  I missed the registration (sold out in 58 minutes) while tubing with the kids.  Several other avenues never bore any fruit and I resigned myself to a supporting role this time around.  Then, about a week ago, Walsh asks if I ever found a spot and if not, would I like to join his three person co-ed team.  The epic winter conditions conspired to keep me off the bike and on my skis most of the winter.  So, naturally, I was very excited to be part of a team for this race.  I jumped aboard with both feet and can't wait until Saturday.  This race is usually more like a race within a festival.  Setup and camp the whole weekend if you like, kids races, the main event, bonfires and bluegrass are all on tap for this weekend.  The boy said he wants to race and he'll have plenty of competition from the Kegley boys (among others).  Me, I'm just happy I get to ride my bike and hang out with my friends.

Oh, and the Blue-Eyed Devil is writing again, with a vengeance!  Just doesn't get much better than this.