It Shouldn’t Be This Hard

As promised, I went over to the Performance store Saturday to see what could be done about my backordered wheel. I had already decided to cancel the order and substitute a different one. But when I told a sales person what I had in mind, he was doubtful.

“It was a ‘red phone’ order,” he said. “But you paid for it in the store. Usually, you don’t pay until the order ships.”

I patiently repeated to him what I wanted to do. He decided to get on the red phone himself and work it out. And he did. In minutes, I had a canceled order, a new wheel (Mavic Open Sport — I’ll write about it sometime in the future), and some money back on the gift card that I had used to purchase the wheel in the first place.

“Thanks,” I told him. “This worked out better than I expected.”

He asked me if the service people could pull the cassette off the old wheel and put it on the new one. I got the bike out of the car, and wheeled it back to the service department.

The mechanic was a cheerful, talkative fellow. I expected a lot of work backed up on a Saturday, but he took care of me immediately. He got the bike on a stand, took off the wheel, and took the cassette off in a jiffy.

“Oh, oh,” he said.

There went a perfectly good morning.

A slender pin that holds the cogs of the cassette together had worn through its hole, right at the edge of the cassette. It wouldn’t hold the cogs together anymore, and the cog it went through was ruined, anyway.

“This cassette is ruined,” he said.

“Well, okay, I’ll buy a replacement,” I said. “Nine speed, 11-28.”

He nodded, and went into the back room. I knew they wouldn’t have one in stock. If they did, that would be too simple. Some minutes later, he came out, walked past me, and went to the display case for bike components.

“I already checked,” I said. “The closest thing is a 10-speed.”

He called the other Performance store in town. Nada.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I can order one for you.”

“You know, I’d rather try my luck at other shops,” I said. “Thanks anyway.”

I put the bike back in the car and headed for Bicycle Sport Shop. In my experience, they carry a pretty extensive inventory, and I figured they would be my best bet. But the girl at the service desk came back empty-handed.

“I’ve got an 11-25,” she said.

“I need the 28, or I can’t get up hills,” I replied.

Jack and Adams’ is right across the street. A mechanic there thought they did have what I needed. But he was wrong.

Down the street a couple of blocks is Austin Tri-Cyclist. Looking at the high-end time trial bikes there, and all the highly sculpted physical specimens that made up their clientele, I knew this would be hopeless.

“A 28?” asked the clerk.

“That’s not the kind of thing you guys would carry, is it?” I asked.

“Uh, not hardly,” he said.

Okay, oh-for-four. I headed back to my neighborhood, to ATX Bikes. To their credit, they came closer than the other shops to having what I needed, with a much larger selection of cassettes. But still not the one I needed.

“We’ll order it for you,” said a mechanic. “You’ll have it Tuesday.”

“You’re on,” I said.

It appears the 9-speed cassette is headed the way of the dinosaur. I was surprised by the number of 11-speed cassettes all the shops had. Really, do that many bikers ride 11s now? When they came out, I thought they were gimmicky. Still do. But then again, I will never own a high-end bike that needs an 11-speed cassette, so what do I know?

I do know that a lot of folks run the kind of components I do. Nothing fancy, but they get the job done for us. However, it seems that when we need to get our humble gear serviced or replaced, we take a back seat to the current bling items.

In the future, I’ll try to anticipate my needs in time to get a local shop to order the necessary parts. But in the event of a catastrophic failure like the one I had Saturday, I know I’ll be cooling my heels for awhile.

In the meantime, I broke out the mountain bike for the first time in a year or so, and spent a shorter-than-usual Sunday morning ride bashing it around the neighborhood streets.


  1. Tim says

    Racing ruins the breed. 11 speed cassette…what’s next, electronic shifting?

    try online…I’ll bet you can find a 9 speed in your gear range

  2. Jeff A says

    I do a lot of buying at; they usually have what I’m looking for, and at a fairly reasonable price.

  3. Paul in Vancouver WA, USA says

    I still ride 8 spd and shift with friction. As mentioned above, Universal Cycles is my preferred source. Currently I can only get 8spd cassettes new in lower quality versions, but I buy NOS or lighly used ones when I can get them cheap.

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