Oh Not Again
I’ve had problems with Solida cranks before. Not that I don’t like them, or have it in for them, they are pretty nice looking cranks and are as lightweight as the best of them. Yet, they must be cheaply made, because I’ve come across three of them now that have ended up in the bin. The first one developed a crack on the drive side arm; the second, well, let’s just say it crumbled to pieces; this, the third, had something of a different problem, a hidden issue. That all reminds me of the great scene in Monty Python’s Holy Grail:
The Plot of the Horizon Kills the Galaxy
The crankset was installed on a recent purchase, which was a 1982 Dawes Horizon. For all of you unfamiliar with classic British bikes, the Horizon was the cheaper alternative to the Dawes Galaxy, the most famous British tourer. You could say it was the inferior sister to the rather smug and haughty Galaxy, and was always in its shadow, forgotten about, ignored. Damn that Galaxy! You could write a thriller about the Horizon plotting to kill the Galaxy as it lurked in the background, watching its sibling getting all the attention. Ok, I’m getting a bit off track here. This Solida crank was functioning fine on the Horizon, but was absolutely filthy.
Did You Guess the Problem, By the Way?
The only way to clean the crank was to remove it from the bike, because you have to believe me, it was so bunged up with greasy dirt it couldn’t have been cleaned on the bike. Do you know the kind of greasy dirt I mean? It’s the stuff that can’t been cleaned off with a hose or a spray. It’s clogs up everything, and just smears when you rub it. Now, things began fine: I took off the dust cap and crank bolt off easily and without any strain. But then, something strange happened. On turning the crank puller tool, the crank just, well.. fell off. No torque was needed to remove it whatsoever. None.
What Happened Next
I should have realised it then, but I just thought it was my lucky day, there was no hernia-inducing effort to get this crank off. I cleaned the drive side thoroughly, taking off the chain rings, polishing the metal, and let me say that it took me a good hour to get this thing looking clean. But now came the undoing of all my good work: the crank wouldn’t tighten back on the bottom bracket spindle. I was looking at it absolutely bewildered, like I must have been losing my mind, like someone who’s just seen something they cannot believe. I was standing there saying to myself “how is that?!” But there was still hope. I got myself fixated on the spindle, “Yes! It’s the spindle”, I said, wildly hopeful. “It’s not the crank. The spindle is worn!”.
I was Wrong
Looking back, I thought I was quite stupid not to have seen the problem. Yet, it is quite a trick this crank played on me. You could even say it was devious. The square hole for the crank bolt, if you look closely, really closely, is no longer square. It has worn into a slightly irregular shape, and so the spindle rattles in it, wobbles even when the bolt is tightened with massive torque. Have you ever come across that? I haven’t before, and I must have installed hundred of cranks. So, hats off to Solida once again, for defeating me with an unfixable problem. Damn you!