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Tales from the workshop: time to talk about TEGI

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Photographs: Jon Denham

It’s time to talk about TEGI.
The condition afflicts only a handful of individuals within the cycling community, but the trained eye can recognise the symptoms at a glance.
It starts with what seems like a brilliant idea: a fail-safe plan to improve performance, achieved at a fraction of the usual cost. Soon, however, complication creeps in. For the amateur, regardless of his enthusiasm, an accomplice is required: someone experienced and prepared to assist – for a fee.

Before long, both parties are embroiled in a task that has taken over their lives. Hours are spent phoning dealers and exploring obscure corners of the internet. When the “necessary” has been sourced, the job can finally begin, but the work is arduous, often continuing into the early hours of the morning. Positive results are usually achieved, but not without significant investment of time and resource, and the assistance of a professional is a must.
It’s time to talk about Traumatic Electronic Groupset Installation.
Where to start? There was the tutorial bike build and bike-fitting day I promised to a new client who was expecting his warranty replacement frame to arrive. He explained that the new frame had been delayed, so I juggled my diary and rescheduled, but on the day of the build we were still sitting around, drinking coffee at 11am. When the frame finally arrived, it turned out that the holes provided for the electronic cabling and charger port were too small, so I ended up on my hands and knees in front of the client with a Dremel 4000 and my cordless drill, doing the frame maker’s job for them.
This meant that by the time we had spoken to the distributor and received the all-clear to modify the frame, we’d reached the early afternoon, with only a battery pack and installation of the internal cabling to show for our efforts. I eventually finished the build and carried out the bike fit, and the client left with his new toy at 12.50am – and that’s not a typo, by the way.
Another complication of TEGI, frequently overlooked, is that it exists in two quite different strains: Di2 and EPS.
I discussed in great detail with a client a “project”  to convert a Cervélo frame from mechanical to electronic transmission and found a third party to carry out the structural modifications to the frame and make good all the paintwork. They did a good job, even fitting draw cords for the internal cabling to make my life “easier”, but when the frame arrived, all the cords had been run for Shimano’s Di2 system, not Campagnolo’s EPS. Instead of four individual threads emerging from the seat tube, there was only one. The result? We had to rip them all out and start from scratch.
After a fair bit of wrestling, and with the invaluable assistance of my partner Chrystal, I removed all the cables from the exit holes, only to find that the bottle cage bosses in the seat tube were about 1mm longer than we needed them to be, which prevented the power-pack from reaching its intended location.
I had to pull out all the cables and then work out how to resolve the riv-nut issue. Carefully drilling off the head from each bottle boss is normal practice, but when they’re mounted on the seat-tube it’s hard to gain access, so that in itself took ages to sort out. By the time all these obstacles had been overcome, we had a frame with its power-pack and cabling installed, but the clock had been ticking and five-and-a-half hours had “flown by”. The project was eventually completed and the client is thrilled with the end result, but it did mean that I didn’t knock off until 11pm that night.
So why do it? How do innocent cyclists and mechanics experienced enough to know what they are letting themselves in for become caught up with TEGI? The truth is that satisfaction more than accounts for the complication. The rider finishes with his longed-for electronic transmission, and the mechanic is reassured that no challenge is so complicated that it cannot be overcome. If you think you might be affected by TEGI, contact Dr D.

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