my bicycle is a delicate flower

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Am I just a cranky old guy complaining, or do I have a point? You decide. I’ve had a new bike for four months. Cannondale Quick CX 4. I was riding it the other day, came to a quick stop, ended up losing my balance and fell over, dang it. I picked myself up and continued on my way. Then two things happened.

1.

I noticed that the bike saddle was loose. Next time I stopped it came off completely and would not fit back on except in a very temporary configuration. It wasn’t visibly damaged, but the “rails” had come out their holders. At home I tried to put the rails back into the saddle to no avail. On the phone with the bike shop they told me that once the bike saddle was “sprung” out of place, it was not repairable. I asked about the bike warranty and a repair-human told me there would be no warranty because I had “crashed.”

I became cranky.

Really? My fricking bike seat is so dainty that if my bike tips over it’s toast? Should I have a supply of saddles in a closet at home? Do they make bike seats so much crappier today than in the past or am I just lucky that this has never happened before?

Fortunately when I visited the store in person, the technician helping me was much more reasonable and gave me a replacement seat at no charge. He said the ones that come with new bikes are much like the crappy spare tires you get with cars.

2.

The other thing that occurred was more serious. I noticed the chain was rattling a little bit, intermittently. I figured my derailleur would need some adjustment when I got home. But a half-mile later I shifted gears and there was a horrendous crunching noise. I found my entire derailleur assembly twisted into a horrible shape and wrapped partway around a spoke. Drive train trashed. I later learned that if my bike ever falls over I need to check the derailleur hanger and see if the fall has bent it. Turns out it’s designed to bend so it take the pressure instead of the frame. And if I do bend that hanger I need to quit riding my bike and take it to a shop. “It’s one of the most common repairs we do,” says bike-repair human.

I felt cranky.

Have bikes become delicate flowers? On my upcoming two-day ride must I live in fear of my bike getting bumped and sustaining catastrophic damage? Maybe my ignorance of the concept of deliberately weakened derailleur hangers is no excuse. But it feels like a good one. 

All right. It is a rather light-weight bike compared to my last one. I paid for light weight. An aluminum frame can’t be as strong as steel. The repair human said that even lying the bike down on the derailleur side is chancy. Wish they would have told me how frail and sensitive my bike was before I had to spend those repair dollars.

If I lean my bike against a tree and someone knocks it over, my drive train and seat might both be ruined? Is that right? Cannondale calls this cycle a great road bike and “the perfect vehicle for dirt road adventuring, off-road shortcuts.” I would add, “As long as it doesn’t get bumped, tipped over, or laid on the ground the wrong way. Otherwise it’s perfect.”

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