Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Right tool for the job.

An interesting blog comment arguement has been sparked over at bikeportland.org over the Jorg&Olif dutch bicycles.

For those that don't know, Jorg & Olif are a Canadian importer of Azor bikes. They're reasonably equipped, upright city bikes. Some people are balking at the price of a $1500 bike, that supposedly doesn't require maintenance, due to an internal hub, and fully enclosed chain. Well folks, nothing lasts forever. Not Rustproofed high tensile frames, not enclosed chains, Selle Royal Gel saddles, or stainless steel rims with 13 gauge spokes.

I could go on weighing the pros and cons of this bike against the price, but they did a pretty good job of it over on Bike Portland (all the specs are online too). All that being said. I want to ride one. For a month.

I imagine myself, (this time last year) hating my job and riding as hard as I could to get to and from it, in the worst conditions Vancouver could throw at me. Only, instead of using a tool I build myself for the job, I'm using a Jorg & Olif 3 speed OPA.

What would I break first?

I'm not fat. well, not too terribly fat. I think I'm hovering around 190lbs, which isn't unhealthy for my 6'1" frame. ..and I'm not a 'hack' rider either. I know how to flow a bike over difficult terrain. I just ride hard I guess.

The first thing to go would be something like a crank arm, pedal spindle, or lower headset cup. The thought of abusing one of these bicycles for my style of commuting has my face in a bit of a grin. Lets see what I have done in the last month to my Spicer:

Bars: Nitto RB019s are inexplicably bent DOWN on the left side only. I can only imagine this was from absorbing an impact while out of the saddle

Crank: Right Shimano 600 crank bent from a Jersey barrier impact when I miscalculated the gap on the right side of a stationary taxi

Rear Wheel (32h Ambrosio Excellence to high flange hub): I've had to true it about 2x now this past month. I'm trying to keep the tension around the wheel as linear as possible from spoke to spoke, but I'm compensating for S bends now, and its only going to get worse. Every hard stop I have to be careful to weight it correctly, or it will just detune itself, and I'll have to start again on the TS-2.

I'm not really sure how the Azor would fair in place of my current steed.

That being said, there is a right tool for every job. And a wrong one. And one that will work 'well enough'. The other night at Ratpack I saw someone flipping their wheel and using a crescent wrench on their 15mm track nuts. That made me cringe.

Strangely, I don't get that 'wrong tool' feeling when I see stuff like this:

Photo of Jeremiah at Peel sessions courtesy of sexysushi on flickr

Its not the 'wrong tool' so much as it is not the 'best' tool. And for some reason I'm glad it exists. It would be boring if EVERYONE who rode track bikes was interested in only perfecting their spin. There's got to be variation.

Like this monster for example:

Olli Erkkila has just unveiled his new 'winter fixie'. It is indeed the right tool for the job. If the job is happily spinning along over Finland's frozen tundra.. which it is. Bikes like this make me extremely happy. The owner made it for one purpose. You can bet he's out there right now, testing it in the 'wrong' conditions too.

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