On the day before Trevor's big birthday ride, I was uncharacteristically prepared. I'd swapped out Friday's flat and replaced both tires with a test set, tweaked my suspension settings, and three days earlier I'd managed a good bleed on the Reverb post that had been giving me some trouble. It was now working perfectly. If I was a cigar smoker, I would have lit one immediately.
The last thing was to go through the vent valve procedure on the post because it was getting a little spongy. I'd done this before and, aside from dealing with removing the seat post clamp to get access to the valve, and then putting it all back together, it was a piece of cake to do and produced great results. I used the Reverb's vent valve tool as instructed, pressing into the valve mechanism and allowing that pressure to push the post down until a hard stop. This all went smoothly and the post was once again nice and firm at full extension.
Feeling heroic, I fiddled with the fasteners and reinstalled my saddle before testing the uppie-downie function, just to be sure. Unfortunately it appeared that function was no longer available. I removed the 1x Remote from the bar and pulled the seatpost out, fastening it to my saddle with a toestrap for the procedure. I am getting very proficient at these bleeds, which are much less fussy than a brake, and it went smoothly. I first bled the line by pushing fluid from the syringe attached to the post, to the syringe attached to the lever repeatedly, until all bubbles were banished. Then I closed the bleeding edge fitting at the lever, leaving the syringe attached, before removing the syringe from the post and replacing the fitting. Finally, I bled the lever by reopening the bleeding edge fitting, pulling the plunger and carefully creating back pressure with the syringe, again repeating until bubbles were done bubbling, and then finished with a gentle squeeze to push the lever back to ready. I reassembled everything and voilà... it remained immobile. I tried a couple more bleeds with similar results.*
*Mountain biking is tough on products and every product can break or have defects, but I have generally had good experiences with Reverb dropper posts. It remains to be seen if my Reverb issue is user error, but I wouldn't doubt it.
Trevor's ride was the next day but I didn't have any more time to work on the post that evening. The only appropriate option I had for the ride was the Norco Sight VLT eMTB I've been testing, which would have been fine aside from the steep 45 minute hike-a-bike part way through the ride. Lugging a 57lb bike up a mountain didn't seem that appealing, nor did the heckling that would ensue for being the only e-rider on a big group ride. Still, I didn't think I had options that would save me from that fate before the 0900 start time. By the time I went to bed, I'd talked myself into seeing if I could swap a post off another bike, first thing in the morning, to save the ride.
I got up early and started measuring seatposts. I couldn't remember the post diameter of the Kona Honzo ESD* but my caliper confirmed it was a 31.6 just like my Yeti SB150. I had about 25 mins to remove both seat posts and then install the Trans-X from the Kona onto the Yeti. This likely would be a sub ten-minute job for most good mechanics, but for me it felt like it would take a miracle to finish in 30.
*Yes, the Honzo ESD was an option but I had decided the Sight VLT would be the lesser of two evils because this was going to be a long and challenging descent and I wanted to be hound doggin' with the rest of the crew on a duallie, and because I'd installed some very light XC wheels on the Honzo for testing and I wasn't sure they would be up for a double black descent. I have several more excuses if you've got the time.
And then things started to go sideways immediately. I had no way to attach the Shimano dropper lever on the Honzo to the Yeti's handlebar or the SRAM Code lever. A little digging uncovered an excellent Bike Yoke lever that was matchmaker compatible. I removed the post from the Honzo, undoing the 5 bolted cable guides as quickly as I could, and then measured the housing against the Reverb line. Too short! I dug up some housing and cut it to length and then got to work on the internal cable routing of the Yeti.
In a perfect world, I would have attached the new line to the old line and pulled the new one through as the old one was pulled out. This works great if you are replacing hydraulic with hydraulic, particularly using the Rockshox barb connector tool (which I seem to have lost) but not as well going from hydraulic to cable. I've taped cables together in the past with some success but the hydraulic fluid on the line was going to make that impossible. Thankfully the Yeti has a trap door for this very purpose. A couple of bolts was all I need to gain access to the nether regions of the SB150 to steer the cable housing upward toward the seat tube's opening.
Now if it sounds like this process was calm and measured, I am unintentionally deceiving you. Trevor is a bit of a tardiness Nazi, and the clock was moving fast. I still had no idea if I would successfully perform this task in the allotted time and I was beginning to sweat, likely a symptom of what I felt was an undeserved and unearned hangover, but a hangover nonetheless. In short, I was a mess.
After some fishing and twisting, I got the new housing into place. The cable looked a little dodgy as well so I needed to remove it from the fitting at the bottom of the Trans X post. Unfortunately it was sticky and seemed to have corroded in place. I used a hex wrench to press the cable end out of the fitting while supporting the mechanism against the work bench. When it let go, my hand slipped, knocking some critical parts off the workbench and onto the floor. I was beginning to panic and I had no time for mistakes. I quickly found one bolt from the Yeti's trapdoor and eventually found the second, but the door itself, the easiest piece to find, was nowhere to be seen. I looked under every tire and rag and scoured the shop without luck. Without considering what I could use in place of the cover,* but knowing the ride would be a little wet and somewhat mucky, I pressed on. I oiled the new cable and attached it to the bottom of the post, pulled it into place and then slid the post into the frame.
*a cork? some rags? a baked potato? a stuffed penguin?
At this point I was feverishly grabbing for the appropriate tools and then throwing them onto the growing pile on the workbench, meaning when I next needed the 3mm hex, I had to reach for a different one or a multi tool rather than dig into the haystack of tools and parts on the bench, which had been spotless 15 minutes earlier. I was getting slower rather than faster.
I then bolted the Bike Yoke lever to the Code brake lever and pulled the cable tight before fastening it to the actuator. Miraculously the post worked, or at least it worked as well as it had on the Honzo, meaning it needed a little help to reach full extension each time,* but I was overjoyed by this result.
*I have since lubed the shaft and increased the air pressure on the post and it's extending fine, but going down with a little too much effort
And then I remembered the missing trapdoor. I looked in the same places again with a similar result and then did that again. Just as I was about to concede that I was, finally, losing my mind, I tipped the bike toward me and noticed the black plastic cover perched atop two horizontally-oriented spokes on my rear wheel, behind the hub. If it had taken another minute to notice, it likely would have fallen out as I scrambled to slap pieces of Gorilla tape over the hole near the bottom bracket. I hastily bolted it into place and assembled my gear.
I decided not to change into my riding gear before I left, reasoning that arriving without being dressed for the ride was better than showing up even later. Despite the slow left lane drivers (oh how I despise thee!), I arrived at our muster location a mere five minutes behind schedule (but I was remarkably the last to arrive). Unfortunately, my nerves were completely shot from my frantic install job and my mild hangover. Eventually I calmed down enough to enjoy the day and the ride turned out even better than expected, thanks to excellent company, a mostly functional dropper, and having the right bazooka for the knife fight.
Thanks for getting older Tbone!