Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shimano SH-M225E shoes

After 5 years (or is it 8? I can't find any information on this model year anymore), it is time to retire my blue Shimano SH-M225 cycling shoes.

They have seen me through 25°F (-4°C) snow, ice and sleet; squishing past sodden swamps; rolling through meadows redolent with cow manure; up and down foothills and ridges of Mount Diablo, sticky with red clay; over thread-chewing rocks of Fairfax mountains, infested with horseflies; sliding past slippery, rolling pea gravel of Western Australia; chugging up giant, shifting dunes at Point Reyes; and plodding along in the dust, in 114°F (45.5°C) blazing summers. Great shoes.

It took the Crank Brothers Eggbeaters to kill them. (You won't have this problem with SPD™ pedals.)

Some time ago, I used Beater Blockers to protect the carbon sole from the bars / wings of the Eggbeater pedal. They worked, but after they broke I was unable to locate any replacements. The DIY shoe shields, made from steel soft drink cans, appeared to work, but after 1500 km (937 miles), they rapidly fall apart, quickly leading to damage to the carbon fiber sole.

A close up of the DIY shoe shield on the right shoe. On the aft side, the wings of the pedal have worn through the metal, and is beginning to wear through the carbon fiber sole.

The fore portion of the DIY shoe shield on the left shoe has disintegrated. The pedal body has worn half-way through the carbon fiber sole. In this position, the shoe restricts float at the bottom of the pedal stroke, resulting in excruciating pain in my left knee after 50 km (31 miles).

The friendly dealer tried to tempt me with the $$$ Shimano SH-M300 elite competition shoe, which can be thermoformed under heat and pressure (twice) to precisely conform to your feet, yielding a custom fit. He even added that the oven and pressure chamber are on-site  ^_^

Deciding that it sounded too reminiscent of the Singapore education system — that, and SG$409 (US$300) is too rich for my blood — I went for its saner sibling, the 2008 Shimano SH-M225E (size 46). At SG$244 (US$179), it seemed a more prudent choice.

Each Velcro™ strap can be trimmed off via two 10 mm cut-away sections. Rather than the standard "S" model, I went for the "E" variant as it features a roomier toe box for my long toes.

I wonder how the pretty, translucent soles will hold up.

Using the supplied Shimano special tool, the toe studs can be replaced. Tightening torque is 3.5 - 4 newton-meters (31 - 35 inch-pounds).

Do not use any spikes other than those that are specifically designed for the SH-M225 shoes.

Do not use the shoes while the spikes have been removed.

Plugs would be good for those eschewing spikes.

This time, the official Crank Brothers Shoe Shields are available.

Breaking out the hardware. The cleat bolts are made of stainless steel, and pretty, but they don't work as well as the black oxide Shimano bolts, which are much harder.

Premium cleats and shoe shields installed.

One of the ironies of the Eggbeater pedals is this: due to its micro platform, for all but the lightest riders, it requires extremely stiff shoe soles to support the feet. If not, the shoes — and feet — would flex all over the tiny pedals, and pain around the ball of the foot would inevitably result. Carbon fiber soles are very stiff; however, the design of the Eggbeater is such that the pedal wings / bars wear into carbon fiber sole, ruining them in short order.

Piece titled, Harrison Ford with Calista Flockhart.

The old with the new. (Big is not beautiful; and yes, I think Calista Flockhart is hawt.)

Let's see if the Crank Brothers Shoe Shields hold up.

The new SH-M225 comes with a ratcheting buckle. I am not too thrilled about this feature, as it introduces a lot of moving parts that may jam in sandy or extremely muddy conditions, necessitating cutting of the replaceable strap. Anecdotal accounts confirm this suspicion.

Thankfully, the buckle is also removable. Secured by a single Philips screw, it is tightened to 1.3 - 1.7 newton-meters (11 - 15 inch-pounds).

My other (preliminary) grouse about the new shoe are the Velcro™ strap loops:

Old Shimano SH-M225 strap ring
Material:   aluminum
Thickness:   2.9 mm

2008 Shimano SH-M225E strap ring
Material:   coated steel
Thickness:   2 mm

Here's to more adventures!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Feasts on pavement. Chews dirt. Demands seconds.*

       Image courtesy of Noel Chian.

       Click on the image for more info.

53 x 13, up Mount Faber, via Morse Road and Pender Road. He didn't shift  ^_^

The animal.

Some days, he comes up here on his fixie too  :-P

This is why he is called NicIz2HardKore.

Update:  Nic has been declared the King of Singlespeed for the 2008 Tampines 100 km MTB Race! All hail the king!

* = title taken from BMW's ad for its aptly named Enduro bike line.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Crank Brothers Eggbeater servicing II

A follow up to an earlier post, Crank Brothers Eggbeater servicing.

Another quarter, another round of Eggbeater servicing.
Left to right: SL, 3Ti, and 4Ti.
The stainless steel M5 (thread) 8 mm (socket diameter) nylon locking nuts are replacements. At 10 cents each, it's a no-brainer for added security.

How to unscrew the spindle nut when the pedal is not attached to a crank arm. On the crank arm side, an 8 mm hex bit (6 mm for some) holds the spindle, while on the pedal body end, an 8 mm socket unscrews the nut. All the spindle tips are threaded in the regular fashion. I.e. counter-clockwise unscrews. It shouldn't take much force to remove the nut as it is only torqued to 30 inch-pounds.

From here, the rest of the steps are identical to the earlier post, Crank Brothers Eggbeater servicing. What the rest of this post consists of, are general observations between the 3 pairs of pedals, as well as maintenance steps which go beyond the first post.

Spindles, left to right: 4Ti, 3Ti, SL.
The 2 on the left, as their namesakes imply, are made of 6AL-4V titanium, while the SL is made of forged 420 stainless steel. The gold finish is a nitride coating. It is interesting to note that the 3Ti spindle only received a partial nitride coating. A later incarnation of the Eggbeater, the 4Ti spindle is 4mm shorter than the rest, yielding a lower Q-factor. These shorter spindles, of both the titanium and stainless steel variants, are now available.

The SL spindle is rather hefty and inspires confidence. As for the titanium spindles, Crank Brothers recommends a maximum rider weight of 85 kg (185 lb). IMHO, if you are anywhere near 80 kg (176 lb), and carry a Camelbak or a backpack, I would stick to the SL.

Then again, eunuchs could be the next fashionable (repressed / harassed) minority for the jaded-languorous-and-disaffected masses to protest, petition, and picket for when their organic, sustainably-sourced, non-fat, no whipped cream, soy milk lattes (brewed from coffee beans lovingly massaged between the thighs of young ex-Soviet virgins) run out at home-owned cafes... So what do I know? Maybe it will kick-start a new trend. After the 2008 Olympics are over, indignant, self-righteous, overly-bored, whiny Luddite protesters do need something to snatch. Condoms are as good as any. Go for it.  :-P

Interestingly, the 4Ti and SL Eggbeaters come with Enduro cartridge bearings, which have removable seals, while the 3Ti pedals come with Kako cartridge bearings, with permanent shields. Both types of cartridge bearings possess the same dimensions.

Eggbeater spindle cartridge bearings

Outer diameter:  6 mm
Inner diameter:  13 mm

metal-backed silicon dust seals

Kako - Japan
pressed fit metal dust shield

Slipping a pin from the inside of the Enduro bearing easily pops the seals off. The Kako bearing can only gaze on in envy. AA battery present for a sense of scale.

The silicone seals must not be washed with degreaser as it wrinkles them. Use dishwashing liquid instead.

The cartridge bearing is fully metal, including the cage, so it is safe to use degreaser on it. An old toothbrush speeds things up.

After everything is dry, a grease gun makes short work of repacking the bearing with grease. I like FinishLine's Premium Grease. Phil Wood's Waterproof Grease or Enduro's Super-Web Grease are also great choices.


What follows goes beyond the pedal rebuild process. Crank Brothers explicitly cautions against this:

Do not try to disassemble the Body Assembly because special tools are required for re-assembly.

Please do not attempt the following if you are not confident of putting the pedal back together again. Instructions are not provided. If you can't figure it out, then you should not be attempting this.

Eggbeater stripped. It is amazing how simple it is.

Left to right:
(pedal) body
(pedal) wings
spindle sleeve
spindle sleeve o-rings (2)
(threaded) dust cap
dust cap o-ring
spindle cartridge bearing
spindle nut

14 parts.

Dust cap O-ring
Internal diameter:  12.8 mm
Width:  1 mm

Note: there is an earlier version of the Eggbeater with non-threaded dust caps. Unfortunately, I have no information on this.

The pedal body (big chunk of metal on the extreme left) has an ingus composite bushing and a reinforced lip seal pressed into it. Both are supplied in the Pedal Rebuild Kit.

As the SL Eggbeater is my workhorse, the spindle sleeve on it fared the worst. The broad upper and lower bands of wear, caused by the pedal wings when ever I clip in or clip out, did not pose any problems during disassembly. The narrow, middle bands in the middle, etched by the spring, did. The harder, 300 series stainless steel, spring wore deeply into the sleeve, rendering removal of the sleeve a frustrating operation.

O-ring groove diameters

Outboard end (wider):  10 mm
Inboard end (narrower):  9.6 mm

This, IMHO, is the Achilles' heel of the Eggbeater. The O-rings on the spindle sleeves get chewed up. Water, grit, Mas Selamat bin Kastari, and dust then sneak in, contaminating the grease which lubricate and protect the spindle bushings, as well as soaking the cartridge bearing. Thus, leading to a premature rebuild.

Despite apparent appearances, the 2 O-rings on the sleeve are not identical.

Upper O-ring
Internal diameter:  10.3 mm
Width:  1 mm

Lower O-ring
Internal diameter:  9.3 mm
Width:  0.9 mm

Swap them around and it would be next to impossible to reassemble the pedal.

Pedals serviced.

Note the composite dust cap on the SL pedal (left). It doesn't seal against the elements as well as the alloy dust caps with O-rings. Handicapping what is essentially a very robust pedal (more robust than the titanium variants) is silly, IMHO.

Another weak point of the Eggbeaters is that the left (or non-drive side) pedal spindle tip is not reverse-threaded like the spindle. This essentially means that, should the cartridge bearing ever seize, the spindle nut would unscrew during pedaling and the pedal body would detach from the spindle — possibly leading to a loss of control. This compromise in reliability is a real concern for tourers.

That said, I still love the Eggbeaters for their mud-shedding design, mechanical simplicity, light weight, and — possibly — thief-deterring micro-platform. I.e. most people would find it a daunting endeavor to hop on to a bike with Eggbeaters on sneakers (or worse, flip-flops) and take off sprinting  :-P

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sunday Breakfast Ride

Time for another bout of ribbing, trash talk, general tomfoolery social ride.

6:30 AM:  Fort Road / western terminus of East Coast Park Service Road.

         Hmm... just where is that Char Siew Pao?

Oops! You have to give me another 10 minutes, guys! I think I forgot to lock my car!

NicIz2HardKore was late too. When we called him at 6:50 AM, he just woke up. So, we gave him 10 minutes to spring out of bed and time-trial his spandex-clad, over-muscled butt from Marine Parade to Fort Road.

On the "very slow" ride westwards — Damn it! Eve is getting fitter. If she gets any faster, I'm getting an Africa Twin (pic) or a R1200 GS Adventure (pic) — Nic and I conspired to lure her on a detour up Mount Faber, but she smelled a rat and took off onto the Telok Blangah Viaduct / Keppel Way.

         Smile, girls!

Like Tom Wolfe's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern — with no one left to victimize but ourselves — we trudged up Mount Faber anyway.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.
         (Albert Einstein)

NicIz2HardKore's latest addition to his stable: a Bridgestone fixie. Mere mortals need not apply.

44 x 15

Someone else regularly rides a 53 x 14 fixie up this hill to train.

NicIz2HardKore is currently training to qualify donning this jersey.

A minimalist rear light. But, dude, if you ride faster than the traffic, that would mean you won't need no rear lights, no?   :-P

With neither front nor rear dérailleur; only one speed; and no freehub or freewheel, the bike is lighter. Thus, you climb easier.

Hon Shin tries it out.

         I must believe! I must believe!

Grub time!

Thanks for playing!


Friday, April 04, 2008

The real reason why some cyclists can't touch their toes

         Well... shouldn't.