Chains & Tires & Tubes, Oh My!

I think it’s almost time for me to start-up my own Tandem Studio if only to allow me to retire 10-years earlier.  I figure between some marginal income from sales and getting my own stuff at cost I’d come out ahead of the game!

Well, as noted in last week’s spring cleaning article, I found my spare parts inventories had dropped to their replenishment points (not exactly a Kanban, but it works) and started surfing the web looking for deals.  Also as noted, I was surprised to see how expensive chains had gotten, particularly 10 speed chains and to a certain extent event 9 speed models.

Seems like the last time I stocked up I found a bunch of Shimano DuraAce 9 speed chains on sale at Performance Bike in late 2008 for about $22.00 each and snapped those baby’s up, along with some teflon coated derailleur and brake cables for something like $5.00 each.  Not so anymore.  I found some Ultegra 9 speed chains for $25 which seemed like a pretty good deal in today’s market, but better quality 10 speed chains were in the stratosphere.

Ka-ching… we got bling!  I ended up giving in to my own vanity by snagging up 4 sets of KMC’s X-10 Ti Nitrate-coated chains (yes, the gold ones) and 4 sets of the KMC 9 SL Ti Nitrate chains for the Calfee’s drive and sync chain needs over the next couple years.  Amazingly, these ended up being some of the more affordable 10 speed chains that I could find.  No so much for the 9 speed chains, but once I was committed… oh well. They look real purdy and, more importantly, the X-10 models are 5.88mm wide.

I mentioned a while back that when we found ourselves in a pinch for a fresh 10 speed chain and stopped at the local REI store all they had was a lone, Shimano 105 CN-5600 10 speed chain.  While I assumed it would be narrow enough for our Shimano 10 speed XT cassettes, turns out that it was just a scootch too wide at 6.1mm.  On the bright side, it works like a champ with our 9 speed XT cassettes.  Silly me, I guess I didn’t realize Shimano had  slipped in the ‘super narrow’ category of chains.  So, if you haven’t checked, be sure to check the fine print when shopping for replacement chains.  With tandems running 10 speed, narrow seems to be the better choice.

Moving on to tires, while I have three (3) 700×25 tan sidewall Vredestein Fortezza tires on hand, and four (4) lightly used 700×23 black sidewall Fortezza tires, we were down to just two (2) of the 700×25 black sidewall Fortezza tires and all of my usual, affordable sources were showing out-of-stock for the past several months.  I decided to give the “email me when they are back in stock” feature a try at three different Etailers (who all seem to be somehow connected) and forgot about it.  Well, woo hoo if I didn’t get an Email from one of them last week. And not only were they in stock, they were offering the $54.99 MSRP Fortezzas for $29.74 ea instead of their more typical $34.99.  So, I snagged 6 of those bad boys which also qualified for free shipping.

Tubes were a bit more straight forward, the usual 10 pack. However, the last time I stocked up Performance had them on sale for $19.99 and the best deal I could find this time around was $24.00.  Inner tubes aren’t a sexy item in my book, so whatever’s the least expensive will always meet my needs.  In fact, the only tubes I’ve ever had trouble with were brand name tubes from the big names in tires; go figure.

The Calfee is also sporting a fresh set of Kool Stop brake blocks ($8.99/pr on sale) as Campy’s OEM brake blocks are now about twice that much and certainly not any better than Kool Stops.   Oh yeah, and we’ve also got a rebuild kit coming for my 20+ year old Park TS-2 truing stand: way overdue.

So, with the exception of one other “special project” I’m playing with on the Calfee that I’ll discuss in another entry this weekend, I think we’re about set for the next two years.  Dang, this stuff really is getting expensive.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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