Tuesday, October 30, 2018

You Better Knock On Wood

It's been quite a week of bicycle maintenance so far here at BSNYC/RTMS/Tan Tenovo, LLC headquarters.  Yesterday of course I tackled the brakes on my WorkCycles, and today I went a few rounds with the Renovo Aerowood.  See, there's nothing quite as exquisite as riding amid the brilliant foliage of fall on an artisanally-hewn wooden Fred Chariot:


That is unless that Fred Chariot is creaking like a haunted pirate ship on the high seas, which is what the Renovo has been doing lately.  I'd already snugged up the seat mast to no avail (It had been the source of some creaking in the past), so this morning I moved onto the bottom bracket, hoping maybe it was a simple matter of snugging up the cups.  First I removed the cranks and made sure they were tight (they were), then I gave the whole bike a quasi-thorough going-over, even going so far as to adjust the bearing preload on the rear hub.  (They're crabon and they're like two grand, but they don't seem to hold an adjustment.)  Finally I buttoned everything back up and went for a ride, and I was hopeful until I hit the first hill and...


It's a lot easier to inspect a bike under the brilliant rays of the autumn sun than it is under the energy-saving lighting fixtures in my basement, so that's what I did.  And here's what I fixated on:


See?


Yes, I realize it's in shadow, but what you're looking at is a split in the wood where the left chainstay is bolted and bonded to the rear dropout.  Remember how I said early on I found some cosmetic cracks in the bike?  Well that's one of them, and here's what it looked like back in November 2017 when I first discovered it:


The short version is Renovo were going to build me a whole new frame and send it to me, but I declined as it hardly seemed worth the effort.  Here's what Ken from Renovo had to say at the time:

The chain stay is both bonded and bolted to the dropout, shouldn't be a problem. If the gap changes in width or you see other changes we'll get you a replacement immediately. If that happened on a customer's bike we would replace it immediately, as we were prepared to do for you. In any event it won't catastrophically fail.

Anyway, now Renovo is Re-no more, so I'm not going to follow up with them, and while I can't tell from the photos if it's in fact gotten worse it is a bit more vexing in light of this new creaking I can't seem to track down.  I suppose I'll go through the usual steps of swapping wheels and pedals and so forth, but even if this crack isn't the culprit I can't help wondering what else might be going on deep in the bowels of this ship.  Or, for all I know it's temperature-related--maybe the bike swells up in the summer when it's hot, but then it contracts when it's cold and the fittings start wriggling around a little bit, hence the creak suddenly manifesting itself in autumn.  Or maybe it's unreasonable to expect a quiet wooden bike, just in the same way it's unreasonable to expect a quiet wooden staircase. Or maybe it's just termites.

Clearly I need to consult with an arborist.

Or, you know, ride a bike made out of metal.

37 comments:

BillinRockHill said...

Podium?? This is the first time I have had a shot. Some great threads recently. Helments really get the gang going. And Statistics?? Woo Hoo.

O4fuxake said...


POOP

DECK

Chazu said...

Ferrous frames are your friends.

HDEB said...

Mysterious creaking is what makes a bike fun. A perfectly functioning bike is no fun : )

Anonymous said...

If bikes were supposed to be made of metal, then we would have had bikes before any of the "metal ages". I haven't seen any evidence of stone age man chasin' down a mastodon on a bike, even a fat one.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Three words:

Elmer's Wood Glue.

You're welcome.

Watch and Camera Guy said...

Podium?

Matt said...

Wow...so your Renovo puts out the sounds of seabirds along with it's quirky creaking! I'd think you would be SO relaxed by all that sound during a ride that you would fall asleep and thus careen right off into traffic. That Renovo is a very dangerous bike...no WONDER they went out of business!

trama said...

COOL BIKE


robo drill: choose all images of cars...

Seattle lone wolf said...

Probably not podium, but finishing in the lead group.

pbateman is an axe murderer, but never killed a tree with one said...

pbateman is number one

maybe the sound is actually the not so silent screams the bike is making as it passes its family on your rides through the woods you inSINsetive jerk

1904 Cadardi said...

Get yourself a nice titanium frame and install the seatpost, bottom bracket cups and headset. Make sure every mating surface is surgically clean. DO NOT use anti-seize paste. Guaranteed not to creak! Also not coming apart ever.

Carey Cummings said...

This is one of the few actual good uses for the Selfie Stick. Just put you smartphone of choice on video record mode, and do a few climbs, descents, etc. Play it back on a nice monitor with good sound, and find that creak!

JLRB said...

sometimes its not the bike, its the rider. try fish oil capsules three times daily. if that does not work try earbuds.

Not funny said...

If a Renova rides through the woods and no one hears it, does it actually creak?

[That's all messed up but hey I'm rushing here . . .]

E-Scaper Jones said...

Love the "a haunted pirate ship on the high seas"analogy! Twas gold,Snobby.gold,I tell ya.Me thinks a little wood dough (matching color of course)and a new coat of clear shellac will have u back exquisitly riding in the bright foliage of fall before the snow flies.

Thats what she said...

"On Wood"

"swells up in the summer when it's hot, but then it contracts when it's cold"

Bikeboy said...

Based on multiple earlier Renovo reviews, status reports, etc., I can't help but think that ANY problems you are experiencing, are probably related to that single bottle cage that's mounted on the wrong tube.

huskerdont said...

I was getting this creak and, very long story short (lots of parts cleaned and lubed and removed and swapped out), I couldn't figure it out. Then I found I had the same creak on another bike, so I figured it was the cycling shoes. But it happened with different shoes, so I thought it was the keys in my pocket. So I removed the keys, and it was still there; it turned out it was my knee.

Bikes of all materials creak, but now I don't have to give a rat's.

Mitch Kelleher said...

As someone with a couple of wood and fiberglass kayaks, my guess is that with some epoxy (get the good stuff: West Systems, MAS, Total Boat, not some hardware $3 junk) and some wood working how-to videos and you should be able to FIY.

With not seeing it up close to tell 100%, what I'd probably do is remove the drop out and tape off the slot where it slides in, widen the crack in the wood as much as possible with a knife or something, and put the epoxy into it as well as filling the bolt hole in the wood, then clamping it to press the crack closed. When cured, re-drill the hole for the bolt (probably using the other side of the chainstay as a guide for the pilot hole, if that's possible), sand it smooth, clean it with some alcohol, and add whatever kind of clear coat you want to protect it from UV.

Haywood Jablome said...

A few years back,when I was younger,I worked at a boatyard on the Great Lakes. (Lake Erie). Lots of wood boats. They need to be swelled, or just held in the boat sling for a few days for the wood to swell so as to not leak and sink to the depths of the much. Maybe your answer is in there somewhere. Go to a marina, and ask around. If everything isn't fiberglass and plastic around your area,these days. Arrrrggg,wait until pirate Wednesday though.

dop said...

Or, for all I know it's temperature-related--maybe the bike swells up in the summer when it's hot, but then it contracts when it's cold

Shrinkage?

Skidmark said...

Shimano qr skewers have cured a lot of creaks.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Skidmark,

That's a good point, have experienced firsthand. Will try next.

--Tan Tenovo

tt said...

I would've posted sooner, but I had to finish watching the video — 2:12:55 is just amazing!

What is the repair protocol? They offered a replacement, presumably because it came out of the factory faulty, but what if that crack developed years down the track? Are you meant to bin the entire frame? Or on a whole grander scale; what if as part of a sideshow strongman's act, he breaks the Renovo's top tube over his knee, could it be repaired? Even if the only practical way of doing it was grafting on a steel replacement tube?

Such repairs are possible with most other exotic material frames I can think of, and if they cost 10k you may want to bother yourself with fixing it.

However sweet the ride, if there's no "repair manual", might it be said that it was never meant to be ridden? You know, something for the idle rich to display next to all the other folk-art pieces they've acquired?

leroy said...

All I'm saying is my steel bike has a small creak from (I think) the bottom bracket in the cold weather. Went away when the weather got warm. Starting to come back now.

Dooth said...

The one time I heard a peep from my bike, even though it was a ping, ping, pinging sound, it felt like scratching on chalkboard. And I would make a face like the one in the painting by Munch, The Scream...turned out it was the front hub. I'm sure I kissed the mechanic; I was so happy.

bad boy of the south said...

Murphy's oil and gorilla glue.

Anonymous said...

My wooden staircase has been silent all summer but creaks like a sailing ship again now that the cold weather has returned... Knew I should have changed it for steel.

Anonymous said...

Or ride a cheap bike, like my Arrow e-bike.* I figure if it gets me from point A to point B, then whatever noises it makes on the way are no big concern to me.

* Throttle disabled to comply with NYC law...

Beck the biker said...

At least you're left with some artisanal firewood.

DaveD said...

Mr. Tenovo, Tan

I clicked on the video, then closed my eyes to better visualize the wood sled geometry at the critical, possibly creaking intersections. Apparently I dozed off, and upon awakening 2 hrs later,found everything still on autopilot, waiting for me to compose a comment. Should you desire to undertake frame repairs, I strongly recommend you seek out a copy of the old "Forest Products Laboratory" manuals on wood structure repair. You may need to whip up a batch of Resorcinol glue; mind the temperature of your workshop environment. Also, any scarf joints in a load-bearing frame member ought to be at least a 10:1 keyed taper for optimum bonding and strength, post repair. Throughbolts or fishplates may give additional peace-of-mind. Unfortunately, I don't think Lennard Zinn covers any of this in his bike repair book, so I guess you're on your own.

Grump said...

That ship thingy put me to sleep in 30 seconds...P.S. Fix your bike with a few small nails.

Anonymous said...

I read the comments from former co-workers. YIKES!

Stump said...

if you have to end its life, you should totally get some mushroom spore plugs and put it somewhere damp for a year

Olle Nilsson said...

Time to polish it up all pretty, mount it on the wall and hope it becomes a collector's item someday.

Anonymous said...

Ferrous Bueller you're my hero.