“The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshipper or lover. The daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart.” – Einstein
Liam the Bike mechanic is talking us through the intricacies of tuning cycle gears.
He points to the tiny inhibitor screws on the gear derailleur (thing that changes gears on the back wheel of a bike….yes..I had to look up my notes) and explains that loosening or tightening these screws affects the movement of the mechanism across the gear cogs. (forgive my lack of detail, I got the gist)
He demonstrates by tightening one small screw and moving the pedals, clicking gears up and down….he points to the hesitation and resistance in the gear shift – to me, it looks taut and the chain jumps snappily from cog to cog .
Then he loosens the screw massively and the gear shift flops idly, chain rolling without precision onto cog after cog and back down.
The trick, he tells us, is to find good tension.
My fellow bike maintenance attendee asks: how would we know what good tension is?
He says: You can kind of feel it in the gearshift, but the best way is just to listen….
He tightens the screw again and shifts gears…. we can hear the taut metal-on-metal battle in the gear shift – a scraping, teeth-edging sound.
As he loosens it, we hear a kind of flobby, slack-chained noise.
And as he brings the tension back to the middle we hear….. nothing… nothing but the whirl of the chain and click click click as it pops up the gears and back….it sounds kind of beautiful.
Optimum tension means the bike runs smoothly and the chain doesn’t knacker the cogs or vice versa.
Optimum tension is not taut and rigid.
Optimum tension is not laid back and loose.