Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A case of the Mondays on Tuesday and the Case of the Too Short Mukluk Rear Brake Cable

Happy Mukluk!!!
Last Monday was a federal holiday so I got the day off therefore Tuesday became Monday.  It was a balmy 42 degrees on actual Monday in the morning so Winston and I headed down to Sylvan Island to do a little fat biking (different from other types of biking because it is).  We spent an hour zig zaging our way around the island until the sun started to "de-thaw" the trails creating about 1/2 inch of greasy mud which made it very slick.  We headed back to the car and I noticed the wind had picked up quit a bit. 

By 5:00 p.m. it was a full on rain storm turning to snow with 30 m.p.h. winds.  I looked at the weather and the temps were dropping to the single digits with 25-30 m.p.h. winds gusting to to 40 for the morning commute on Tuesday.  I packed my Ortlieb panniers and put a little extra air in the tires after this weekend's stomp on the banks of the Mississippi.  I did this in spite of being being ill.  I was planning on going to the clinic in the morning when I got to post and I figured that I would be sick whether I drove or pedaled.  Then I went to sleep. 

Tuesday (which had the feel of work Monday) morning came and sure enough it was single digits with a 30 m.p.h. wind as advertised.  I decided that I would go ahead and man u,p so I got dressed and left the house.  There was a little bit of snow, only a couple of inches at most.  However it turned out that it was a little dusting on the surface.  It was a perfect start to a Monday (actually Tuesday.....)and the word of the day was ICE. 

The challenge was to stay upright.  It would have been a perfect day for studded tires.  As I rode I noticed that right brake lever would not return to its starting position after I released it.  At one point the lever would not return so I pushed on it and the cable was forced out of the lever.  Based on the cold, wind, and ice I decided that I would have to fix it later.  At least I had another brake, I would just have to remember to start slowing a little sooner.  It is funny how conditioned a person can become,  I don't know how many times I pulled the rear brake with no response from the caliper. 

When I got to work I was coughing so hard that I actually threw up.  I called my wife for a ride home at the end of the day. 

Thursday night as I prepared to ride on Friday I decided to investigate what was causing the cable to stick.  In the warmth of my not so warm basement everything worked fine.  I adjusted some spring tension in the disc caliper.  Friday the cable did the same thing with the exception of popping out.  So I further investigated.  Here is what I found.

Problem #1

The cable routing on the earlier Mukluk frames have the cable on the downtube and coming up to the rear caliper (this was changed on recent models).  It creates something that looks like a P trap on a sink.  It was performing the same basic function.  I cut the cable ties and pointed the cable down.  I then blew through the other end and out came a significant amount of water.  Bam...the water was freezing and the caliper didn't have enough power to pull the cable back through.

Problem #2

It turns out that that with the routing and full length cable housing, a standard MTB brake cable is not long enough.  It didn't even come out of the end.  I did a little research and apparently some earlier Salsa blogs discuss this.  I guess you don't know unless you try.  I had already cut the frayed end of the cable off and put it aside for front use later so it was to short.

According to their blog which contains great seat up tips that I clearly didn't read:  "A standard length front and rear shifter cable is plenty long (usually 2000 – 2300mm), and a standard brake cable (usually 1700mm) is good enough for the front brake. Only the rear brake is a concern. Most cable manufacturers now offer a ‘mountain mechanical’ rear cable that is made for mechanical disc brakes (these are usually around 2500 to 2700mm). If you can’t nail down one of those, just go with a ‘tandem length’ rear brake cable. Buy two and keep the spare in your parts bin." 

Monday, I rode in with one brake.  Again it is hard to remember the brake lever is useless.  Hopefully today I will be able to pick one up because we are in the midst of a major snow storm and it would be nice to have another brake.  Yes, I would ride with just one if I have to.

I am going to get an extra cable to put it in a repair kit for the future.

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