I have a buddy that's recently gotten in to mountain biking. In addition to buying a new Trek and trying to ride as much as he can, he's also become somewhat of an evangelist trying to get a bunch of his co-workers involved in the sport.
A week or so ago, he asked me if he could borrow a bike for one of his co-workers to ride after work. Not thinking too much about it, I agreed and loaned him the Voodoo. The Voodoo is my geared full suspension 29er and with me riding my SS predominantly it doesn't get ridden too often so I figured what the heck?
It's funny that after someone has been riding for a while they tend to forget what it was like to be a beginner. Not knowing how to use clips, not knowing how to shift smoothly and not realizing just how hard mountain biking can be both on the body and on your equipment.
Evidently, my buddy's co-worker is a completely new rider and hadn't been on a bike since he was a kid with his BMX bike. This means that although he knew how to ride a bike, he didn't know how to ride a bike with gears....uphill....in the dirt. A classic example of someone suffering from NRSS (new rider shifting syndrome)
New riders, hills and nice bikes aren't made to play well with each other because when my buddy returned my bike, he mentioned that there was a "little bit of creaking" coming from the bottom bracket. I didn't think too much about it and actually brought the bike to Chabot that week for our Thursday rides.
Immediately upon starting up the Brandon climb, I noticed the "little bit of creaking" he mentioned....it was probably closer to loading up the coffee grinder with a handful of stainless steel nuts and bolts....holy cow what a racket this thing was making.
Over the weekend I decided to tear down the bike, clean, lube and tighten all the pivot bolts and connectors. Service the bottom bracket and see what else needed to be done. It turns out I was in for some work. The bike was filthy which was no surprise. What was a surprise was the fact that there were actually several links in the chain that were twisted and on the verge of failing. The middle ring of the crankset actually had 2 teeth completely broken off and the bottom bracket had quite a bit of fine dust and dirt in it.
The dust and the dirt were probably the main culprits of the creaking and are no one's fault. It's the dry season around here and all the trails are loose, fine dust over hardpack. The chain and the missing teeth on the crankset though are most likely the victims of NRSS. NRSS usually has two major and oft-seen symptoms: Shifting while under load, and Failing to softpedal during shifts.
Sufferers of NRSS tend to have an inability to look ahead or up the trail. They are usually surprised by hills and as a result, will wait until they are unable to turn the current gear before pushing the shift button while under full load. This of course puts a HUGE amount of stress on the crank, the chain and the derailleur.
It appears that my bike was a victim of NRSS to an extreme and as a result, required major reconstructive surgery. Since everything was torn down anyway and the bike and it's components are about 3 years old, I decided to replace the bottom bracket with a new upgraded XTR model. The chain and the middle ring of the crankset were both going to require replacement surgery and the rear derailleur received a complete soaking, cleaning and reattachment.
Tonight, I'll reassemble everything and restore her to her previous silky smooth riding status.....never to be loaned out to anyone suffering from NRSS again!