Monday, September 7, 2009

Stupidity Quotient

There is this New Thing, and I have Invented It.

It is called the Stupidity Quotient. It is a bit like the Intelligence Quotient, only the opposite. I have an abundantly high one. Mine's about 174. I examined all the bits and pieces and decided that I would need a super-narrow chain and rushed pell-mell to see Josh, who was out. Josh is a boy of 19 and he tells me stuff I don't know about MTBs, which subject he studies diligently. He works in the bike shop, except when he doesn't, and then I prove my high SQ to myself by spending money on things I don't understand. I got them home and was baffled by these new-fangled pin thingies. Therefore I emailed Mr Knight:

My tandem has some cranks and nearly some chains and I got two cheapy seats and I am getting exciteder than my wife is getting. I got two 10-speed narrow chains but they look like as if it will be impossible to split them once joined. Any experience in this matter? - R

Mr Knight emailed back:

Are they new chains? And Shimano ones with the push in pins? If so, you can break them again but you must use a new pin every time you rejoin them; the pins are dead cheap and easily available. However, I do not like the Shimano system and steer clear of them for this reason. I use SRAM chains because they come with a neat little joining do hicky which can be opened repeatedly. - Bob

Having a high Stupidity Qotient I had got on with the job without knowing what I was doing, and therefore was in the embarrassing posish. of having to email back:

The chains have been abandoned. Stuck back in their boxes. Yes, they have little pins, but I am a marvellous angel with chains, removing them and waxing them monthly, and having to buy new pins is against the waxing religion. Each cost me $32 and they will now be stored for when the world collapses, which it definitely won't do because the New Zealand Treasury have forecast a modest recovery. I used three chains from bikes obtained from the dump. I measure all chains coming from the dump, and every now and then one measures exactly 12 inches for a foots-worth of chain and I clean and wax it for making tandems. I had three. And I was much pleased to find they fitted past the crank on the synch side. - R

As a matter of fact I am not the only one with a high SQ: whoever designed a handlebar clamp for a BMX and made the inner bit 7/8 of an inch instead of the otherwise standard one-inch has a high SQ, though I am yet more stupid for not having examined it beforehand to see if this was going to be the case. One should never underestimate the stupidity quotient of any person charged with designing bicycle components. If they can dream up a slightly incompatible part, then I assure you they will. The other day came a phone call from a friend whose son had broken spokes in his back wheel and could he come round to remove the cluster. Which he did. Without the wheel. Which he had forgotten. Which was a nuisance.
'Tell you what, lend me your tool and I'll go and fix it at home.'
I now have a firm policy, friend or not. No tool gets lent by me to any other creature, human or inhuman, friend or foe, Rotarian or interesting person. There is a reason for this, and since every single reader of this blog is utterly certain to know what the reason is, we needn't discuss it further. He went away, and returned with wheel and son, son being under an injunction to watch & learn from proceedings or he (father) would not help with the repair. I examined the wheel. It had the one cluster for which I have no removing tool.
'Can't help you,' I said, fingering my Suntour tool which would nearly fit and which, unattended, he would probably have coaxed into place with a hammer. - It was a millimetre too tight. - And the son's wheel was an old piece of - er - was worth a good deal less than a Suntour block remover.
'Can't help you unless I weld the block solid, and then you won't be able to use it again.'
'He needs it for school tomorrow. I'll just phone home and see if I've got a spare block.'
He had, so I welded it and took it off with a chain whip, and then, because he had wandered off inside discussing the local hospital with my wife, I started to sort through the spokes he had brought. There were 36 of the right length, neatly labelled '700c 36 3-cross small flange' inexplicably in my handwriting on a card attached to them with a rubber band, and there were 16 assorted other spokes of which half had no thread and the remainder were the wrong length. I fitted four spokes, reducing the bundle of 700c spokes to 32. While I was tightening them, the father wandered back.
'I'll do that, if you like,' he very kindly offered.
And then he collected his son, who had been watching from a different room several doors away, and my Stupidity Quotient is so high that when he said the words 'thank' and 'you', they sounded to me exactly like 'Well we'll be off then'.


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