Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Speedplay the company - douchebags

Most people who know me know what a big fan I am of Speedplay pedals - I own 3 pairs of Zeros, 1 pair of Light Actions and 2 pairs of Frogs.  I have always recommended them to others.   But that is about to come to an end.

The reason for this is Speedplay's attitude of a schoolyard bully who threatens anyone who does anything which doesn't meet their approval.

They go out of their way to harass anyone who sells any product that remotely touches their own, regardless of whether or not they have any legal basis in doing so or not.     Someone selling a rebuild kit on Ebay? Speedplay's lawyers send them a threatening letter.    Post rebuild instruction on a discussion forum?   Speedplay's lawyers send them a threatening letter.  See a pattern here?

Take this as an example:

Apparently, someone in the top management of Speedplay has a very small penis (probably impotent as well), and takes out his frustrations on their loyal customer base.  Or what would have been their loyal customer base, had Speedplay not tried to stick their tiny, flaccid corporate penis into other people's business.

Now, I can understand a company choosing to protect its brand name, and asking vendors selling after-market products to not use their name in the product.   I can also understand a company not providing warranty support for any after-market modifications made to their product - after all, they cannot control what has been done.

However, for a company to use its lawyers to browbeat their customers into not discussing any modification of their product is the lowest form of bullying I can think of.  This is fundamentally equivalent to a car manufacturer threatening to sue you for sharing instructions on how to change the oil yourself, or a wheel manufacturer threatening to sue you for changing out a broken spoke by yourself.   There is no legal basis for this, just a bunch of conceited, self-impressed assholes throwing their weight around.

So for starters, I am going to recommend BeBop pedals as an alternative to Speedplay.

Second, just for the sake of sharing knowledge, I would like to post up some notes I came across on the Internet on how to service Speedplay pedals.   I haven't tried it, and so I cannot state whether or not this would work, but am putting it up here for discussion - if anyone has any experience with this re-build, do post your experience here.

Obviously, if you try doing what is written below, your pedals will snap, you will hurt yourself, possibly fatally, and zombies will eat your brain.   So dont try this at home.  This is just for the sake of academic discussion, ok?

Anyway, here goes:

The needle bearings on all models of Speedplay road bike pedals are NOT fused or glued in any way and are very easy to change out. Instructions below.

The only differences between the X1 and X2 are spindle material and body color. You can rebuild your X1’s with X2 bodies with NO problems. They are the exact same except for color. No need to spend $100+ to rebuild your pedals.

I have measured the internals of all of the models listed below using a micrometer and found that they are all identical and cross-compatible. The bodies, cleats and bowties are different, but inside they are all the same.

X1 & X2.
Zero Ti, Stainless & Chromoly.
Light Action Ti & Stainless

You can interchange bodies and spindles between all pedals listed above. Note: Ti spindles are 2mm shorter. You can use Ward Ti spindles on any of the models listed above.

X5 (aka X3) and Light Action Chromoly are completely different inside and not compatible with the other pedals listed above.

To do a full rebuild requires the following items which can be found at any bearing/hardware supply company:

2 each - HK1010 Needle Bearings. Measurements: OD=14mm BORE=10mm WIDTH=10mm.

2 each - Bearing 136 also known as 686z, 686zz, 686 z, 686 zz. Measurements: OD=13mm BORE=6mm WIDTH=5mm

2 each - Bearing 137 also known as 137z, 137zz, mr137, mr137z, mr137zz, mr 137, mr 137 z, mr 137 zz. Measurements: OD=13mm BORE=7mm WIDTH =4mm

2 each - Inner Retaining Ring BORE=1/2" WIDTH=0.03"

2 each - Rubber O-Ring. ID=5/16" OD=7/16" WIDTH=1/16"

For those of you wanting to lighten up your pedals with aluminum or titanium screws the screw size is:

Bowtie Screws - M4 x 0.7 x 17mm recessed flat head in Stainless Steel. 17mm is the total length of the screw top-to-bottom. 16mm is much easier to find and there should be no problems using the shorter screws for this application. Some flat head screws have a head that is too tall and can protrude from the top of the bowtie. Make sure you get low head screws.

Spindle Screws - M4 x 0.7 x 8mm button head in Furnace Black Steel. 8mm is the length of the threads below the head.

To replace the bearings unscrew the grease port screw. Using a pick pry off the dust cap. Older pedals will not have the grease port or port screw. Next, remove the spindle screw by using a torx bit or allen wrench (depending on the type of screw) and either a 6mm or 8mm Hex in the Spindle or a 15mm wrench on the Spindle flats (depending on your spindle type). 

If, at this point, the screw is stuck do not overtorque it or you will risk stripping out the head. The loctite is seizing the screw. Disclaimer: The following method is not approved by Speedplay and any carelessness can result in injury. You will need to heat the screw to melt the loctite. To do so get a hex bit screw driver and hex bit with the proper torx or allen head for the screw. A hex bit is a small bit the that slides into a quick-change screw driver. Do a Google search for 'hex bit if you don't know or go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Torx_drivers.jpg Place just the hex bit into the screw holding the pedal with the screw straight up. Now with a blow torch or good heat gun heat up the end of the bit (furthest point away from the pedal)until it is red hot making sure you do not heat the pedal body. Wait for about 30 seconds to allow the heat from the bit to transfer into the screw melting the loctite. Then slide the hex bit screw driver onto the bit and unscrew. If heated thoroughly the screw will unscrew with minimal effort.

With the screw removed you can now slide the entire body assembly off. The old o-ring should be on the spindle. Remove and discard. Wipe the spindle clean and set aside. Using a retaining ring tool compress the ring and pull straight out. Now using a punch or screw driver carefully tap out the 2 bearings. Discard the old retaining ring and bearings. 

Flip the pedal body around to the side with the needle bearing. On the outside lip of the bearing is a thin wire retaining ring. Most all early models do not have this retaining ring. If your dust cap does not have a grease port screw, it probably does not have the retaining ring. Take a pick and pry up one side of the retaining ring. Then with a pair of pliers pull it out. If it is damaged don't worry. You can usually bend it back and tap it in. If not it is not a 'necessary' piece and you can use your pedals without it. No problem. Flip the pedal over and you will see 2 slots behind the needle bearing. Take a small flat blade screw driver and insert into one of the slots and tap with a rubber mallet. The needle bearing will pop right off. Note that the old bearing will now be damaged and is not re-useable. Wipe the inside clean. 

To reassemble first place the new o-ring onto the spindle about 1/3 of the way. Now take the new needle bearing and slide it in as far as you can by hand. Make sure the lettering is on the outside as each side is slightly different. Then carefully tap it with a rubber mallet until it is flush with the pedal body. Take the old needle bearing and place it on the new bearing and tap with a rubber mallet until it is completely seated. Discard the old needle bearing. Take the metal retaining ring and tap it into the slot. Now take the pedal body and slide in the 2 bearings making sure you slide in the thinner bearing first. Make sure the bearings are seated all the way in before installing the retaining ring. The ring should clip into the groove in the pedal body. Take the body assembly and slide it back onto the spindle making sure the o-ring seats properly. Take the spindle screw and dab a little blue loctite onto the threads and screw it in. Do not use green or red loctite as you will not be able to remove the screw in the future. Tighten to 3.5nm torque which is equal to 30in/lb or 2.5ft/lb. Install the dust cap and grease the pedal with a grease gun. Screw in the grease port screw and you're done!! The pedals will feel slightly stiff to start with but will loosen up after a few miles. New or freshly greased pedals may leak grease for the first few rides which is completely normal.

Now, as it turns out, I have a very good friend who is a cyclist and a partner at a law firm where Speedplay's lawyers would likely give their left nut to be working, but where they have no odds of even having their resumes accepted for review.  He has agreed to come up with an appropriate response and escalation to any bullying tactics Speedplay might try - pro bono too (he didn't like their attitude either).   I am willing to bet that he and his firm can eat up Speedplay's company lawyers - and Speedplay itself - for breakfast.   So, with that in mind and since I don't particularly like Speedplay's bullying tactics, I am going to call them out on this one.

Bring it on, bitches.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More cycling pretentiousness

Before I start my actual blog, I'd like to send a big FUCK YOU to the entire team at Blogger, and an extra special FUCK YOU to the particular idiot who decided that it would be fun to change the default language based on IP and not provide any way to set the language back to English - even for logged-in users who already have a default, English account.  

If someone in the Blogger office has a conscience, they will find this Einstein and give him a swift kick in the nuts.   And for that, I will thank them.

And now, back to our programming.    The rage has been unleashed and seeks to consume more.

And just at the right time, this little gem has come to my attention:

It starts out on a particularly ambitious note:
[The Traditional Cyclist] lives a low footprint lifestyle in the first place, by consuming less of everything. Although this may be the case by circumstance rather than intent - we can't be sure, and there are undoubtedly some enlightened, simple-living masters in that community - it is nevertheless the case that the traditional biker is a lower environmental impact citizen, than the rest of us

Say what now?   Is "living a low footprint/low consumption lifestyle" the new way of describing "being so damn poor that they cannot afford a lot"?      In that same vein of revisionism, it is good to know that what we have hitherto thought of as people who eke out a hand-to-mouth existence are actually enlightened, simple-living masters.    

So apparently, when you or I assume that the poor are forced by circumstances to live a simply life with only the bare essentials, we are actually mistaken - according to the author, it is a lifestyle choice.  Makes a lot of sense, really.   It all started innocuously enough with the "slovenly look" becoming fashionable.  Food-stained faded white became the new black.  That led to Wigga culture - where it was the cool thing for spoiled suburbanites to emulate the tough conditions that a lot of inner city youth have to grow up in. This is but a natural extension of that thinking.   Poor is truly the new rich.

But wait, as the voice-over said, there is more.

He is also likely to be softer spoken (although, of course, we can't be sure about this) than others higher up on the economic food chain and possibly more compassionate (although again we can’t be entirely sure about this). Whatever the case, we only have the right to preach this ethic to the new biker.

Not content with the initial bit of romanticization, the author decide to give it his all, relying on his deep knowledge of ssocio-economic wisdom gleaned from either Soviet-era Communist propaganda, Amitabh Bacchan movies from the 70s, or both.    Apparently, one of the defining characteristics of being poor is that you are softer spoken and more compassionate than those who are economically better off.

Now, I am not sure which came first - the poverty or the compassion.  Or conversely, whether being cruel-hearted is a pre-requisite to being well off, or whether being well-off is a pre-requisite to being mean.   But I am so glad to learn that all only takes a fistful of dollars to change the nature of a man.  

Even the author seems to find this crock of bullshit a little hard to swallow (this may be a mixed metaphor but it is strikingly appropriate), given the degree to which he waffling here.

Not content with building an entire temple of bullcrap on a foundation that is more absurd than Paris Hilton wearing white at her wedding, the author then invites us to join him in this monument to smugness.

I'd like to digress and talk about porn stars for a second.   Now presumably, no one comes to Hollywood with the dream of doing the nasty with Randy Spears.   I am pretty certain that Jenna had visions of starring in the re-make of "The Sound of Music" or some such family classic when she left her farm in Kentucky and came out west looking for fame.   But to go from there to starring in the less-popular-remake "Saving Ryan's Privates" was not a one-step process.   It likely started with her being tempted into doing some risque modeling, maybe even working as an exotic dancer... and from there, it was a slow but slippery slope downhill.

And it is precisely this approach that the author tries next, displaying a degree of smarts that I had not suspected so far.

1.  I have no claim to being environmentally more sensitive merely because I ride a bike. [...]

2.  I will obey traffic rules (and make every attempt to lead by exemplary example in doing so)[...]

Who can argue with this?    You and I read this, nod and go "uh huh, that sort of makes sense".   We have been tempted, and our guard has come down.

However, at this point, in his excitement to get the money shot and shoot his "wisdom" all over us, the author kinda lost the plot a little with his progression.

3. [...]There is therefore, a great deal of embedded energy, and consequently embedded environmental damage, in my fancy bike - and I remain humble as a result of this.

4.  I ride my bike for pleasure and to stay fit, besides perhaps a few other reasons.

5. I am NOT cooler than the regular, non-biker guy just because I ride a fancy bike.  I am also funny looking when in biking regalia.

The porn analogy was going in a very disturbing direction, so let's get away from it and go with something different:  this is kinda like that Seinfeld episode where Elaine goes out on a first date and at the end, as she is expecting a goodbye peck on the check, IT makes an appearance.  

So just as we are digesting wtf these random snippets have to do with anything, and how my fancy bike with Chris King headset, SRAM Yellow drivetrain and bling bling carbon wheels makes me humble, and how much humbler I would be with a Cervelo S3 fully kitted out with Campy Super-record and Lightweight wheels, the author then proceeds to club us with this:

6.  [...]I will also try to work towards giving up my SUV over time, and living at peace with myself for doing so. 

7.  To be a “true” biker I MUST subscribe to an overall ethic of sustainability and leaner living[...]

And to be a true Douchebag De La Bicicleta, I MUST make the sweeping and simplistic assumption that all the millions of people who ride cycles for fun are also smug, presumptuous posers who have confused "riding a bicycle" with "being an insufferable prat."

Quick poll - how many keen riders, who ride 150-200km per week or more do you see spouting this sort of BS?  That's right, none.   On average, how many kilometers do you think members of the Clan Douchebag De La Bicicleta ride?     Yup, that's right - not a lot.

Yes folks - what you are seeing here is Fail on many different levels.

[...]But, to do so we must be united in subscribing to a common ethic and an ideal, and in achieving a true biker outlook

It is "cyclist", not "biker".  If you are going to be a smug, sanctimonious prat, atleast be a non-ignorant, smug, sanctimonious prat.

What say, chaps?

I say only Lord-Haw-Haw wannabe douchebags  say things like "what say, chaps" - a phrase that no one has uttered in England without getting justifiably beaten for atleast 40 years.

I would like to make it clear that the Guads ARE environmentally conscious and have nothing but the deepest respect for people who make actual, tangible contributions to the cause of conservation - be it donating money to a good cause, or making changes - no matter how small - in their lifestyle in order to be more environmentally friendly.   All of that is good.

However, the Guads do NOT recognize "being a smug twatwaffle on the Internet" as a contribution to the environment and shall mock and snark at all such cases.  

Clan Douchebag De La Bicicleta, the Guads are coming for every single one of you.