So I Upgraded The Gearing On My Redline Monocog
To sum up, I bought the bike with the intention of getting back on the trails. Somewhere along the line, my taste in cycling has moved more towards street riding and commuting. Wanting to make the best of the situation, I started converting the Monocog to a street worthy machine. I’ve been happy with the bicycle, with the exception of it’s off-road gearing – too slow for riding around town. The ultimate goal was to upgrade the drivetrain to make it work better on the street.
The original set-up had a 32T chainring (up front) and a 20T cog (at the wheel), which gave it a 1.6 gear ratio (please forgive me if I butcher the science of bicycle gearing – my intent is to articulate a general basis of comparison). My first, and cheapest, solution was to switch out the cog from the 20T to a 15T. Click here to read about that. This brought the bike to a 2.13 gear ratio, which worked fine but I could tell I needed more.
Just recently, I decided to upgrade the chainring from a 32T to a 36T. This would bring my gear ratio to a 2.4 – just enough to make the ride interesting, without killing me on my commute to work.
Getting The Part (Sorry, but this is long. If you don’t want to read a rant, skip to the install):
I decided to support my local economy and do this upgrade with my nearby bike shop (which will remain unnamed for reasons that will be explained as you read on). I rolled the Monocog right to the service department so that there wouldn’t be a mistake about what part I needed. Changing out a single-speed chainring would have been an easy upgrade, but I was willing to let the shop do it – again, to support my local bike store.
After standing around for several minutes (they weren’t busy, but preoccupied with their repairs) one of them eventually made eye contact and, I guess, felt obligated to ask if I needed help. After explaining to the guy my intent, he was more than happy to check in the back for an available part. As expected, there wasn’t one available and he would have to special order it. He gave me a verbal quote for the price of the part and I gave him my name and phone number. He told me it would take a week to get the part in. I wasn’t in a rush, so I was more than fine with that timeline.
A week went by. No phone call.
I called them a few times. Although very helpful, none of the employees were able to locate my part. They all kept referring me the person in charge of ordering – who wasn’t available when I called. At the end of the second week, I went by the store and inquired about my part. Again, after standing around for a few minutes, I was eventually helped. They checked and no part. Not wanting me to leave empty handed, he gave me a business card with the name of the parts ordering person and the best time to call.
I managed to eventually get hold of him by the end of the third week. He looked, but couldn’t find the part. He checked his order log, and found no record of the order. He apologized and said he could re-order it for me. At that point, I still wasn’t in a rush, so I told him to order it.
Because it was such a hassle, I talked myself out of letting them install it. All of a sudden, I wasn’t so gung-ho about supporting my local bike shop.
Towards the end of the fourth week, my 36T chainring finally came in. When I went to pick up the part, another person – who was completely unaware of everything I went through – brought me my part. Although it wasn’t his fault, I felt completely deflated when he just handed it to me and walked off. I guess I was expecting another apology or appreciation for my patience. To add insult to ego injury, I noticed the price was $10 more than my verbal quote. I wanted to set it down and just leave at this point.
But, I’m a man of my word. They committed to special ordering that part, and I committed to purchase it. It took longer than expected, but they completed their end of the deal – I felt obligated to complete mine. However, I will not be supporting this store with any future transactions that involve special ordering.
Installing the new chainring was pretty easy with just 4 bolts holding the old one on. Since I was going with a larger gear, I had to put on a longer chain. This is where the install got interesting.
I’ve used a chain tool several times over the years, but I have to admit, I’ve never been trained on how to properly use one. This being a topic for another post, I’ll give you the quick version of the story. As I was reconnecting the links, I discovered that I had done it wrong. In my attempt to undo my mistake, I bent the tip to my chain tool. Bad went to worse, and I ended up tearing up my chain – my quick install came to a halt. I decided to pack everything up, take it in and just get it done quickly.
Not wanting to return to the shop where I bought the chainring, I decided to take my bike to the Plano Performance Bike (Note, I am mentioning them by name – it was THAT great of an experience.) instead. I got there a few minutes before they opened, but they were happy to let me in. The service guy Henry, not only salvaged my chain, but he also showed me the proper way to use my chain tool. I even got a replacement tip for it.
Overall, I am completely happy with my upgrade. The Monocog is now a perfect street-ready machine – well worth all the hassle.
The unnamed bike shop did manage to get the part – eventually. Although somewhat friendly, they did fail with their follow-through and customer service.
In contrast, Performance Bike is now my favorite bike shop with their outstanding customer service. They’ve restored my faith in local bike shops.