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1200 Mile Update: Azor Secret Service, Service, Service

Posted Dec 13 2008 10:07pm

Previous sections of my long-term review of an Azor Secret Service are here:

  1. Delivery Notes and First Impressions
  2. Quick Update

In the few months I have had it so far, I have traveled roughly 1200 miles now on my Azor Secret Service bicycle. I’m past due for an update, and I do have a few things to report.

Service, Please

Let’s start with the most important part, and the reason for the title of this post: service! And by service, I really mean “things I should know how to fix but don’t, because I’m not much of a bicycle mechanic, so I take it into a shop instead.” Of course, there are a lot of bike owners, like me, and perhaps even more so in this category, which bills itself as a bicycle for everyday commuting, wearing regular clothes, being a main form of transportation, and so forth. Anyway, I have had to take my bike in three times since I bought it.

Feeling “tired”

My first service incident occurred when I was riding back from Tour De Fat with my wife, and got a flat on my rear tire, somehow. Not bad, really, to have been biking in this town and not get a flat every week, I would say. We have enough glass and construction debris on the sides of the roads to give every cyclist in town a flat every single day. Now, I don’t, as I said, have much in the way of bicycle mechanic skill, so I wasn’t about to try something like patching the tire in place, as some would recommend, when you have an internal hub. Now, it was our great fortune that by the time the flat tire had gotten so low that I actually noticed, I was no further than 100 yards from great local bike shop Tsunami Cycles on South Congress! Amazing luck. Not only was I able to get my flat fixed in a very timely fashion, but I also got a great dinner out of the deal, and I also got the chain tension adjusted, because i figured it was time (and hill climbing had suddenly begun to get a big harder).

What the hell is that noise?

Only a couple of weeks later, I was biking to work and started notice that, every once in a while, I would hear a horrifying clunking sound, a sound you really don’t want to hear on any mechanical object - the sound of metal scraping on metal. I stopped, looked very carefully at everything, and didn’t see anything at all that would be the cause, so I went on to work. I’m not sure why parking my bike for eight hours would have made any difference, but as I started to head home, the noise became even louder, and I could feel it with each pedal stroke. This made me… nervous. Elliott and I looked over the bike again, and still couldn’t determine what the noise was from. Very frustrating. I decided to leave the bike and take it in for service first thing in the morning. It’s a good thing our building houses security and is well lit. Otherwise, I’m sure that would have been a bad idea. The next day, when I brought my bike in to Tsunami again, I found out what the noise was, and it was quite surprising - It was the brakes! Apparently, the force of roller brakes can eventually make things loosen up a bit in there, and then the cooling fin starts to slide against the frame a bit and, well there you go. Whew. At least it was nothing all that serious, the noise notwithstanding.

There's the culprit

There is the culprit...

Calm down, you’re all tense

Things were rolling along just fine for several weeks, and then the last item I mentioned two sections above started happening again, except this time a bit differently. I began having a little more trouble than usual climbing hills, which I ignored for a few days and tried to pass off as just fatigue on my part. A week or so after that, more symptoms began to develop. Most noticeably, third gear just stopped working. Now this was a big deal! I generally am in third, fourth, or fifth gear on any flat surface, depending on my energy level, and it’s hard to get through the gears when you have to skip one. Additionally, fourth wasn’t working too well either. Fifth was still all right, but having to go between second and fifth wasn’t too fun. The day shifting got bad enough that I finally decided to take action was fortuitous, as I was already headed to Eastside Pedal Pushers to take photos for the review that Elliott wrote of their shop. Naturally, I gave them the Azor to work on as well, and walked back to the office. These guys were also quite fast, and had my bike done by the end of the day - and yes, it was the chain tension again. I’m not sure how often chain tension should actually be adjusted, but it does seem to be needed somewhat frequently on this bicycle, and I’m almost tempted to learn how to adjust it myself! Shocking.

All’s well that ends well?

So that’s it! One flat tire, two chain tension adjustments, and a brake adjustment. Not really anything serious, so far. It’s a well made bicycle. As I left Eastside Pedal Pushers that day a few weeks ago, I joked with them that this bike just might outlive me. Pretty good investment, especially compared to that other form of transportation.

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