Monday, June 8, 2009

Adios Stem Cap Switch

The accursed lighting system continues to cause difficulties.

From the start, I have been perhaps unreasonably excited about using a Bicycle Quarterly-style stem-cap switch. The idea is that you use a regular threaded headset and fork—but instead of using a quill stem, you braze in an extra tube into the steer tube, which extends a bit above the threaded portion. To this you clamp a stem. Why do all this? So that the steer tube is hollow and empty, which allows you to stick a switch in there, toggled by via a specially manufactured stem cap, and run wiring from it to front and rear lights.

It's a smart idea, and it's certainly different. I'm not sure I decided I wanted it for the former or latter reason. Well, in the last few days it has come to seem a needless complication. For two reasons:
  1. When the Edelux headlight came out, I was not very eager to read about it. I had just bought its halogen predecssor, after all, and didn't want to hear all the ways that the new light had rendered mine obsolete. Well, in the last week I've realized it would be silly to go to all the trouble of wiring up my "obsolete" light. So I got an Edelux. Which, as I now learned, has an auto-sensor on/off switch, which also controls a taillight. Which makes the whole remote-control stem cap switch somewhat unnecessary.
  2. My other "obsolete" piece of equipment, the SON28 generator hub, needs to be set in the dropouts so that the electrical terminals are on the drive side. My Mariposa rack places the light on the non-drive side. So foregoing the stem cap switch would result in awkward cable routing to and from the light. But the SON20R, which is press-fit rather than screwed together, can be mounted "backwards" in the dropout. So I guess I'll get one of those too, and have a very neatly-organized lighting system.
I suppose I'll sell the SON28 and the E6 on eBay. I'm not sure how much I'll get for them. At least I got a bit of use out of them last year on randonneur rides! A lesson for those on frame waiting lists: put off your lighting purchases!

All this also means I'll be using a normal quill stem rather than the combinated threaded/clamp setup. This may mean I can make use of another one of my silly purchases. I bought the above-photographed Rene Herse stem cap (the only item from that shop I will ever own, I figure) thinking it might be useful in the stem-cap lighting system. Well, it wasn't. But, ironically, it may be in my quill setup, which will likely be similar to this beautiful stem by Mitch Pryor.

Allow me to conclude this post by noting that Dan Polito is, thank goodness, a very patient person. I've sent him far too many emails in the last few days, and he hasn't complained.

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