February 26, 2016 § 35 Comments
Used to be, you could strip the bolt on your seat post without any special tools. You wanted to adjust the seat so you took an Allen wrench and loosened the bolt, put the saddle at just the right place to give you patellar tendinitis, and cranked down the bolt until it got tighter, then tighter, then you gave it one last crank “to keep ‘er from slipping” and ping! The bolt would spin freely in the bolt-hole thingy, completely stripped.
Then you would cuss and yell and kick something gently and go rummage around in your tool box and not find another bolt and then go down to the bike shop where Uncle Phil would sell you a new bolt, never saying a word but looking at you like, “Wow, you are a 14-carat maroon with chocolate fudge on top.”
You could pick the generic bolt for $4.95 or the Campy bolt for $8.95, so you always chose the Campy one, went home, and then tightened away but this time you were so afraid of stripping it that you didn’t get it tight enough and so you did your next few rides with the seat post slipping and you kept stopping to move it and everyone would be pissed off at having to wait until after about five stops you’d get it magically right so that the seat height was right and the bolt was tight.
All you needed to create this bleeding migraine headache was a little 4mm Allen key.
I said goodbye to all that when I got an integrated seat post with my fully carbon Giant TCR frame back in 2013, which was made of 100% full carbon. The seat post was part of the frame and to set the seat height you just sawed the thing off until it was right. If you cut it too short you were in the market for a new frame, but once you got it cut right it never jiggled up or down and there were no bolts to strip. When I say “you cut it” what I mean is “Manslaughter cut it.”
Then, I said hello to all that when I got my new all carbon Cannondale bike, which is also 100% carbon. It has an old-fashioned seat post with a bolt that you can strip the shit out of, but Smasher had warned me not to dare to even try to tighten it.
“Yo, Wanky,” he said, “you got to use a torque wrench for that.”
“A torque wrench.”
“It’s a wrench that lets you measure the torque on the bolt.”
I gave him my don’t-get-technical-with-me look followed by my monkey-examining-a-semiconductor-look. “What are you saying?” I asked.
“Your 100% carbon frame that is made of full carbon isn’t like your old 95% steel frame made of 95% steel and 5% manganese, chrome, nickel, molybdenum, and niobium. You used to be able to tighten the shit out of your steel frame and only strip the bolt, but with full carbon frames that are 100% made of genuine all-carbon, if you over-tighten the bolts you crack the frame and then you have to go buy a new frame or give it to Fireman to fix for $43, which is fine except that when he slaps on a few sheets of carbon and duct tape things can go sideways when you’re whizzing downhill at 50.”
“What are you saying?”
“You need a torque wrench.”
“What is that?”
“It’s a wrench that measures torque so you don’t over-tighten or under-tighten things.”
“Like Old No. 72?” I asked.
Smasher rolled his eyes in despair. “Yeah, just like that, only completely different.”
“Where can I buy one?”
“You don’t really want to buy one.”
“How come? You just said I’d crack my frame without it.”
“Yeah, but you’re the kind of guy who can really hurt himself with tools. You know how you used to create a week’s worth of hell and misery with a fifty-cent Allen wrench?”
“A torque wrench set costs $40 and has about thirty sockets. That’s a year’s worth of misery and a couple of new frames at least.”
“Forty bucks?” I said. “You can get a Snap-On wrench for $40?”
“Whoa, Wanky. I never said nothin’ about Snap-On. That’s $40 for a Made in Chinese Slave Kitchen special. But you don’t need Snap-On. It’s above your pay grade, trust me.”
So we fought for a couple of hours about whether I needed a Chinese Slave Kitchen set with fifty pieces, a driver, and a cool box for $40 or a Snap-On handle and a single 4mm socket for $400.
“Dude,” he said. “You’re never going to use either one, but at least if you have the Slave Kitchen Special you can have more sockets and break more shit.”
“I only need the 4mm socket.”
“I only have one 4mm seat post bolt.”
“You’re a nut job. Look, I’ll loan you my Snap-On and my Slave Kitchen Special. Try them out for a week and tell me which one you like best.”
“Sorry, I never borrow tools.”
“You’re not borrowing. You’re testing.”
“I can tell you right now that Old No. 72 won’t want to be anywhere the Slave Kitchen Special.”
“Whatever. Just try it out.”
So I took the two items home and got to work on my seat post, which was perfectly positioned at the perfect height and perfectly snug, not slipping even a tiny amount. After five minutes of diligent work I had stripped the shit out of the seat post bolt. So I called Boozy P. “Dude,” I said, “I stripped my seat post bolt and may have cracked my new frame.”
“You idiot,” he said. “I told you not to work on your bike.”
“Yeah, but I got some new tools.”
“You idiot,” he said, “I told you not to own any tools.”
“I couldn’t help myself.”
“Seat post was too high?”
“It was perfect.”
“Was it slipping, then?”
“Snug as a bunny’s butt.”
“Then what the hell were you doing?”
I got ready to tell him, but then he cut me off. “Bring the bike by,” he said. “I don’t want to know.”
(P.S. New Cannondale Evo Super Six, size 56 mm frame with less than 500 miles on it, in almost mint condition, is now for sale for $150 bucks. Message me for details. No refunds.)
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