How To Properly Glue A Tubular Tire

I am sure that many people have great techniques (as well as poor ones) on how to glue tubulars, but I thought I would provide my take on it.  I have glued well over 500 in my career thus far and not one has ever come back where it “rolled” off the rim.  I take this as a good technique proven over time because if it is one thing I can pretty much guarantee, it’s that someone who rolls one will definitely make sure the ‘gluer’ knows that it happened.  If you perfect the consistency of your method while gluing, then you will have predictable results that are positive.

That being said, let’s dig in.  If you are a bike shop mechanic and haven’t tried gluing, practice on a set of ones first and have them inspected about a week later by someone who has glued.  If the tire is quite difficult to pull off, then you’ve done it right.  Recently, I have come across several cases where a poor gluing was easily reflected in the difficulty (or ease) of pulling the old tire off.  Either the glue had been applied in spots on the rim or almost none at all in the center.  Let me express that you don’t have to have glued a ton of tubulars to get it right.  You just have to follow a method that is proven and makes sense.  If you are a cyclist that doesn’t have access to a shop, then follow this guide because you’ll know your wheels better because of it and you’ll always have the opportunity to be race-ready.  The process can be done in a day with the right tubulars or over several days for ultimate quality and aesthetics.

The first thing I do is to obviously remove the old tubular.  If it has been glued correctly, this will be the second hardest part.  Below you will see a series of photos detailing the removal.  I usually start by taking my index fingers and thumbs and rock the tire side to side in different places on the rim to try to peel the edges of the tire off.  If a particular section starts to peel well, I will focus there.  I take a plastic tire lever and run its edge along the part of the tire that is glued.  This kind of ‘cuts’ the glue to start the removal and ensures that the base tape does not rip off the rest of the tire.  Then, I begin to pry the edge of the lever under the center of the tire until it gives way to the opposite side.  Push either forwards or backwards along the rim flexing the lever upwards to peel more of the tire off.  Once you’ve done this for about a quarter of the radius of the rim, take the lever out and use your hands to peel the rest of the tire off.  Then, put the wheel in a truing stand if you have one for inspection.  Here are the photos of me removing a Vittoria Corsa Evo off of some Campagnolo Bora Ultimates.

After peeling the tire off, inspect it and compare the base tape to the new tubular being glued.  Many times, indentations around each rim hole for the spoke nipple will be seen.  Glue that is hastily applied will seep into these holes in the rim and create havoc for future truing and for broken spoke nipples to exit the rim in a spoke replacement.  Note any areas that are lacking in glue.  More importantly that this is to check the rim bed (the area where the tire contacts the rim) for leftover glue and any inconsistencies.  Check these two photos out:

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In the left photo, you can see that glue never really even made it to the right side of the rim and the indent in the center of the rim bed holds roughly the same thickness of glue as the left side.  From a better perspective, the right photo shows the area on the rim I found when peeling the tubular.  My best guess is that a layer of glue was on the tire and then a bead of glue was drawn onto the center of the rim bed before mounting it.  Don’t ever use this method.  That tire is not secure at all for racing — much less around the parking lot for a test ride.  I recommend at this point to mark non-glued tubulars on display models with a symbol on the valve extender with a silver Sharpie marker.

This is how to glue the new tubular.

Since there was little glue on the rim to start with, I elected to ‘paint’ over the existing glue using Vittoria Mastik One tubular glue.  It is rated the best — it holds the best (I have heard recently of using this in conjunction with gluing tape for cross tubulars and the methods I was described sounded great and sound).  The first step is to start spreading glue on the tubular since the base tape will soak up the first layer.  I like to focus on getting about 95% of the base tape covered in a nice layer of glue.  This means no thick spots or globs.  Use an acid brush (hardware stores — very cheap and perfect for the job) to steadily spread the glue in long sections several inches at a time with short strokes.  I usually spread a bead of glue (as pictured below) around a sixth to a quarter of the circumference at a time.  This helps to ensure that the glue doesn’t begin to thicken and dry or drip down onto the rubber of the tire.  While a little glue may touch the rubber, a lot is difficult to fix and results in poor treatment of the rubber to clean.  Take your time and be thorough.  Each coat takes about 10-15 minutes for a beginner and about 5-7 minutes once acquainted.  Check out the progress below.

One important thing to note with layers of glue on the tire is that you want to build a little extra glue right around the valve where it meets the base tape.  This will help prevent damage from pumping it up as well as rough valve holes and a secure fitting when stretching onto the rim.  Like this.

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Next is the rim.  I apply glue the exact same way as the tire.  Do two coats on the tire and two coats on the rim.  Spread it evenly and take care to both cover rim edges around the spoke drillings and the areas between.  Spread 2-3 small half-dime size dots of glue between each spoke drilling approximately a quarter way around the rim at a time.  Start at the last place you dripped glue and spread upwards in directional slow strokes.  Angle the brush to drag excesses of glue along the rim to areas where application didn’t sufficiently cover.  The speed of this process is a lot of what experience will give you.  The more you do, the quicker and more efficient you will become.  The idea here is that you follow the steps precisely so that you get glue where it should be.   The aesthetics will come with time.  Tubulars that stay on the rim are always cooler than pretty ones that don’t.  Here is the glue process.

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You can see in the right the bead drops of glue and spreading them out in the left photo.  Let each layer dry completely to touch and then it will be time to mount the tire onto the rim.

Take the tire and apply a very very thin layer of glue over the middle 70% of the basetape.  This will aid in activating the glue on the rim and in allowing a bit of positioning.  Check the tread and make absolutely sure that you will be stretching it on the correct direction.  Nothing is more terrible than realizing you just put the tire on backwards. Check the tread one more time.

Insert the valve into the valve hole with only some ‘pliable pressure’ in the tire.  You should be able to stretch it with moderate effort.  Begin with a hand on each side of the valve and pull the tire away from the valve in the direction of the rim.  Check the base tape on each side to make sure it is being placed evenly along the rim.  Once you get to the final six inches of the tire, wedge the axle of the wheel against something and pinch the tire while pulling it onto the rim.  Some cases and combinations of tubulars and rims are exceptionally difficult and some are wonderfully easy.  Vittoria happens to be a tubular that rides incredibly well and stretches easily onto almost any rim.

I hope this helped clear up the process of the gluing.  I may extend the article soon and include some photos of actually stretching the tire.  Feel free to comment and suggest any methods that are well proven.  Thanks for reading!

– SNC

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Update and The Ridge

So, the Turbo wheel was sent back to Specialized for recalibration of the motor. When it came back, it was an entirely new wheel. While the defective motor was replaced, the newly installed one worked perfectly and has since been performing without flaw. It was a pretty quick turn around (about a week).

I’ll be back to posting on both some technical articles and a few on the biking culture in general. With the season slowing down a bit, I now have better time to devote. Also, concerning biking culture and news, I have been in the heart of the situation of cyclists being called terrorists in Washington D.C. and have been listening to many sides of the story as it has resurfaced a couple days ago on the Kojo Nnamdi show on NPR. Both sides have strong opinion and reasons for concern and I think it’s a good time to highlight some of it from a practical standpoint.

Also, the new Danny Macaskill video, “The Ridge” is quite amazing and you should watch it immediately.

Specialized Turbo S Troubleshooting and Diagnosis Pt.1

Welcome to Part 2 of 3 in my Specialized Turbo S Long Term Review.  I feel like this is some of the most essential information that I can apply in one place that will keep Turbo pedalelecs running beautifully.  However, I do feel that there is a “low-ceiling” limit to the depth that the Turbo can be maintained — even by an experienced and well-equipped shop.  In certain instances, the bike may have to be sent to the factory.  I am of the belief that this is being addressed and the bike will become even more modular and accessible.  That being said, there is a ton that will be covered here and includes several years of work and knowledge.  While I will be mostly highlighting troubled issues, the Turbo overall has been very trouble free and generally without issue.  This just compiles issues from many Turbos I have serviced since their release.

Onward.

 

So, I turned on my Turbo and started pedaling and the motor did not kick in as expected in Full Active and Eco modes.  What’s up with that?

I am starting with this problem because I think it has occurred more than any other issue.  There are a number of symptoms that cause it to happen and a number of solutions.  First, the battery is nearly dead.  Charge it up and try again.  The next thing I would try is to simply turn it off and turn it on again to try it.  This occurrence has spanned several Turbo S bikes on a rare occasion and has been remedied every time in the shop.  The next reason it might not turn on is that the battery may not have been installed properly or the pressure plate at the bottom of the battery “hanger” is not correctly adjusted.

With the battery pressure plate, I have found it to be different on each bike and definitely has a “correct” pressure for the Turbo to function right.  On the bottom of the bike behind the bottom bracket is an access plate that is secured by small 2mm bolts.  Remove these and set aside in a magnetic parts tray so they don’t end up lost on the ground.  Once the anchor plate has been removed, look inside and you’ll see wires, a couple hex bolts, and the shell of the bottom bracket.  Locate the 5mm hex bolt right in the center anchored into a flat plate.  This is an adjustment bolt for moving the battery up and down within the battery dock.  It provides pressure against the battery so vibrations do not disrupt the connection at the opposite end of the down tube.  To be noted, one would likely expect the phrase, “Why not just crank that thing down and really lock it in there?”  Well, here’s why.  If the motor does not seem to be engaging as aforementioned, this same issue can occur if the battery is adjusted to tightly in the dock.  Just as the battery has a little “wiggle” room, so does the connection to the battery inside the frame at the top tube and head tube junction.  If you remove the battery and look at the top of the battery dock, you’ll see where it plugs in.  With your fingers or a scribe, you can definitely see gaskets on the side of the connection and its ability to move slightly up, down, left, or right with a small amount of push.  The general rule is to begin tightening the pressure plate while using your free hand to try and move the battery up and down in the frame.  If you hear any sharp noises when it contacts the top or bottom, continue tightening.  Once there is little movement (0.25-0.5mm), stop tightening and use the key to remove the battery.  If it is too tight, it will be difficult to get the battery out.  I have found that each Turbo is slightly different, which is a great reason to have the plate for adjustment.

Another item to check is the connections between the brake and the control unit and the connection to the wire coming out of the frame.  Also, as a measure of being thorough, there is an additional connection inside the frame at the head tube where the light plugs into a parallel connector with the control unit (Several times, fault signals on the battery will indicate the light and control unit both having an issue when it is mostly one or the other).  By checking these connections, I imply:  Are they tight and correctly aligned for the individual connector pins? Have you applied a tiny amount of dielectric grease to the threads of the connectors? Are the connections and wires constantly rattling or loose?  Try checking each of these regularly when servicing as a quick way of eliminating them in the event of an issue.

So, I turned on my Turbo and everything started up, but a flashing code reading “short circuit” is displaying on the control unit?  Is that bad?

Well, it’s not necessarily good, but can be fixed easily.  Sometimes, constant vibration, continued exposure to the elements, and leaving the rubber charging cap off of the Turbo for extended amounts of time can cause an interruption in the electrical system and send a red flag to the control unit.  It’s a feature designed to override the system much like a circuit breaker so no damage occurs to vital components.  By using the Turbo diagnostic tool plugged into the frame (with battery in) and into a laptop, you can run the diagnostic software and release the hold on the circuit with a convenient button on the screen.  This software is a very important tool in confirming that the motor, battery, control unit, and lights are working properly and displays a wealth of information and reports for keeping Turbos happy and healthy.

My Turbo has gone insane and decided to run at 28mph like a throttle as soon as I hit the pedal.  I don’t even need to pedal. Glad it’s spec’d with great disc brakes.  Does it need an exorcism?

Not quite.  In the early days, Specialized might have taken this approach, but with the “Innovate or Die” theme currently in trend, we now know it’s quite real. This issue has only occurred once, yet is important enough to catalog and solve for any future happenings.  In my prior post, I detailed the symptoms of the bike while it was secured in the bike stand.  I took the opportunity to  remove and clean some of the components on the bike and the frame (After slowly and carefully removing the kickstand, I have realized that unless it is absolutely necessary, don’t ever remove it.  It is tedious because of the frame angles to loosen and tighten the 8mm hex bolt and I found that it didn’t improve access to the electronics and pressure plate under the bottom bracket.  It is a very sturdy dual kickstand that stays tight and balances great.). That being said, I removed the bottom bracket (EVO386) with a socket and outboard cup adaptor and found plenty of access points into the frame to see the wires running to the motor and seatpost LED and the hex bolt adjustment for the pressure plate (5mm) and the lock mechanism with it’s integration into the battery release.  I wiped the battery dock and the battery with isopropyl alcohol.  The terminal connections were also cleaned with isopropyl and a swab.  With some time open in the service schedule, I also decided to remove the external frame charger / battery dock connection unit from the top end of the down tube to make sure all of the connections looked secure and free of debris and moisture.  Thanks to a well-sealed compartment, everything looked great.  I took notes as well on the direction, colors, and pairing of wires that interfaced with the unit.  Red and black paired wires run directly from this to the bottom bracket shell, under the EVO386 BB, and through the non-drive chainstay to the external port near the rear wheel.  A shorter set of these two wires also connects the battery dock connection to the external charge port.  Two sets of blue and brown wires run from the unit to the headtube and into the brake / control interface and also to the bottom bracket shell and into the seat tube to connect into the wires running from the saddle’s integrated LED through the seatpost. One triple set of wires (blue/brown/green) run from the external charge port in the frame to the top of the battery dock where the battery connects to the system.  Lastly, an orange wire runs from the front light to the connection with the control interface (wired in parallel).  As a side note, this is why the diagnostic on the battery will show both the light and control interface having an issue when it could potentially only be one of them.  Good things lights are pretty easy to check.

Once I had satisfied my curiosity of understanding the Turbo S better, I moved on to reinstalling the parts and activating the wheel like before.  I let it run continually for over five minutes with no discernible change.  Continuous operation, only to be paused by giving the brake a solid squeeze.  If the wheel was touched, the throttle would pick up again.  This was also true for pressure on the pedals.  In these situations, I was lucky to have another in the store to help eliminate components.  Taking a brand new rear wheel from the second Turbo (after testing to make sure it was operational), I installed it into the first and powered the system.  No activation of Full Active or Eco modes, but No Power worked as expected and Regen mode seemed more difficult than normal as mentioned with the original wheel.  This is the only area that I am not quite sure what to think of yet.  That’s what the techs at Specialized are for. Continuing with the diagnosis, I also swapped the battery with no effect.  Reinstalling the original wheels and batteries to each Turbo, I then swapped the control interfaces.  This also did not yield any effect.  With the original wheel, the throttle accelerated as before (One thing I might try today is to try both battery, control interface, and new rear wheel from the second Turbo into the first.).  The last thing I did was to put the wheel from the service Turbo into the new Turbo.  It accelerated to 28mph.  Thus, my conclusion (though I will wait for confirmation from Specialized) is that the wheel needs to be recalibrated–specifically the motor.  If this is the case, it will go back to the factory for a quick turnaround and then I’ll have an update on a future post about the issue’s resolution.  This was a great opportunity to fully inspect the bike from top to bottom, inside and out.

I am going to continue this post through the weekend with some other minor issues and fixes that will keep the Turbo S running smooth and fast, but figured that it’d be good to start posting the article for any feedback or questions.

Here are photos of the above parts:

 

 

More to follow!  – SNC

What’s in the stand today?

This is what I was working on today….

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Specs are as follows:

Specialized SWORKS Shiv frameset with integrated aero brakeset, seatpost, and Sitero saddle.  This was a stock build I had etched up a few months back and it had been sitting on our Specialized wall with some grandeur.  It’s spec’d with a Dura-Ace 9000 groupset with time trial shifters.  Zipp Beyond Black stem was swapped for the standard stock stem setup in order to run a Zipp Vuka Bull base bar with TRP carbon brake levers and Fizik matte black tape.  The wheelset currently is a nice set of CXP80 Cosmics, but likely will be switched to Zipp 808s.  It’s a really great aero build that will be the epitome of stealth and craftsmanship.  Since I built it accordingly before, it’s been easy to set in the new cockpit and all that is left is to route the new cables and tune.  Other pressing projects intervened this build today including a Di2 upgrade on a Caad 10 Synapse frameset, a SWORKS lululemon Amira with Ultegra Di2, and an SWORKS hardtail Stumpjumper that needed a final bleed and hose replacement for Formula brakes front and rear.  That was also a great build last week that I should have a finals slideshow for tomorrow evening or Sunday.  Internal hydraulic routing and XX1 group with a nice tubeless setup.  Anyways, I’ve had a long week and got a lot of great projects out to happy riders and need some rest.  I’ll have a short article on some tech stuff that has been important to the industry lately tomorrow.  Thanks for checking things out!

-SNC

Pinarello Dogma Think 2 65HM1K Limited Edition World Champion Frameset

One of the guys I work with arrived early this afternoon to a surprise that his frameset had arrived earlier than expected from Italy.  As one of the most interesting people to work with in the industry I have met, I waited for his reaction to opening the box, eagerly handing scissors to cut the packaging.   It had been three months of waiting.  This is the first one to hit the United States.  It’s a limited edition Pinarello Dogma Think 2 65HM1K World Champion Edition frameset.  As far as I am concerned, there are lighter framesets out there and maybe even more elaborate paint jobs, but combine the two and you have this Dogma.  I installed the headset bearing, races, and spacers and ziptied the steerer tube so we could set it up for some photos.

For those of you reading who have never ridden a Pinarello Dogma (particularly I mention the Dogma due to its reputation above the other frames in Pinarello’s lineup, all of which, of course are also very good framesets), I would like you to envision the coolest tech gadget or hobby or passion you have and think of what the absolute best version of that in the entire world would be.  Got it?  This is one of the best designed bicycle frames in the entire world.  I was really happy to be there at the right time to see it.  The asymmetric carbon frame is made by a company called Torayca.  Their use of Pinarello’s designed 65HM1K carbon fiber with Nanoalloy construction alloys them to create extremely responsive feel and strength in their frames.  For instance, carbon fiber ribbing stretches down the downtube near the bottom bracket on just the drive side to reinforce the unequal power distribution in the frame between right-side thrust (drive) + pull on chain and the left-side thrust (non-drive) + pull on chain.  Classic breaks on many carbon frames of the past have been implemented into the design to be reinforced in these areas as well, creating something truly race worthy or simply as the ultimate thrill of flying down descents and roads with less fatigue, better performance, and comfort all the way through.

It’s a beautiful frame in both form and function.  If you find an opportunity to ride one, do it.  Let’s put it this way, “I really hate my Pinarello.  It really just doesn’t ride well and I’ve had so many problems with it”  … said no one ever in my experience…

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Park Tool Summit 2013 In Review

I was able to attend six of the eight classes offered at the 2013 Park Tool Summit.  They were the following: Campagnolo, Cane Creek, FSA, Fox, Mavic, and Shimano.  I am going to cover each one and what I thought were the best points to take and apply in the shop. Right below is a slide show of photos I took (sorry for fair quality with cell phone) before the summaries of each class.

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Campagnolo:

The same instructor, who deals with just about every Campy warranty and issue in the US department, was informative and innovative considering that a pallet of half the working material was still somewhere between the headquarters and the summit.  Inside views of the Romanian factories and the home factory in Vicenza, Italy.  Before recently, Campy was high on security and secrecy to protect larger companies from gaining insight on their special technologies and process.  Now, however, they have adopted a much more transparent view of both the parts diagrams and breakdowns and the environment itself in which the parts are produced.  Because of the demand for such quantities of these quality components, special precise training was exacted for the employees of their two Romanian parts manufacturing facilities dubbed Mechrom 1 and Mechrom 2.  Most of the final assembly of parts is done in these facilities.  They have a great traceability program to ensure that the products and parts are accounted for and distributed correctly.  For instance, every wheel built has a dot matrix code attached that contains information as to the individual that built the wheel and the exact final tension specs, ensuring the rider that the product is as perfect as possible.

Also, various innovations have been discovered and engineered by Campy that have spread to other industries because of the care and accuracy they hold their standards to.  NASA aerospace chassis designs, the formula for casting magnesium (a very very light material), and the first magnesium wheelset are but a few of them.

Great focus on chain design was taught.  Every chain created undergoes over 1200 lbs of force to “pre-stretch” them so they last longer and run smoother than any other chain.  No rider can exert this type of force which entails literally zero broken chain other than if the installer does not install it correctly.  Also, as a side note, installing a “quick link” voids the warranty as they believe only their chain pins meticulously pressed in will be strong enough to support it.  In addition, they recommend installing the chain in the smallest chainring and smallest cog to get the right amount of tension.

Cane Creek:

It was obvious for this seminar that Cane Creek is highly focused on connecting riders together and sharing their experiences for the best ride possible.  They seem to have an attitude of figuring out how to make each rider’s bike settings and technologies work best for that individual by developments in things like changing the angle of the fork and detail tuning their new Double Barrel rear shock.

One surprising note to mention in regards to their very successful headset sizing system (S.H.I.S) is that almost all headsets on the market have been narrowed down to 6 top bearings and 4 bottom bearings, making the system even easier.  As far as changing the angle of the fork mentioned earlier, bowl-shaped cups hold the bearings that are placed in eccentric matching cups in the headset for several different angles that they include as one set, so you can try different combinations for better climbing or better descents, etc.  Also, even with this new system, Cane Creek has a headset fit finder with a database of over 10,000 bikes already and adding new ones each day when submitted by mechanics and other in the industry.  This is awesome as it compiles so much data from so many companies and locates it in one place, leaving the guessing game far behind.

The biggest highlight for me was a detailed summary of their 110 headset.  From cutout diagrams, you could see the multiple seals keeping the bearings sealed up nicely and backing up the 110 year warranty.  Essentially, it is waterproof and to me, rivals the Chris King headset that is also popular by name and by its own sealed system.  I mainly think it is just good to have a choice of two almost indestructible headsets.  Plus, regardless of which one it goes with, they will quickly replace it if you somehow are able to destroy it.

The Double Barrel rear shock is a great product to explore as well and has so many options for fine tuning without problematic issues that usually arise with other rear shocks with leaking, etc.  Seal replacement was very easy and clear to understand and the hands-on experience of doing so really “sealed” in the information.

FSA:

FSA (Full Speed Ahead) was all about ensuring that their products get better and better and flaws and defects get smaller and smaller with genuine rider honesty of feedback and a willingness and commitment of the company to fix any problem.  They were the first company to develop a carbon crank with longevity.  Their SLK series has been continually refined with each season of testing as well as their Gravity line for downhill bikes.  Being that they are located near Whistler and other major downhill areas, the testing grounds put the equipment and research through extreme trials to bring us what we have today.  One cool addition for customer service was a placement of an office on the East Coast to help eliminate the waiting period of time zones to contact representatives.  This creates a faster turn around and closer connection of rider to mechanic to rep.

They also have a headset that was developed much like the one I mentioned earlier with Cane Creek, but their point of interest was to develop one that had fewer parts and a more robust interface that could be depended on in harsh conditions.  Great length was also taken to “creaks” and “clicks” in integrated bottom brackets, so naturally I wanted to turn a keen ear since I wrote an earlier article on bottom brackets and issues that arise.  Several things like the correct materials for installing bearings and retaining them with loctites and compounds that wasn’t as clear before as to how essential it is to choose the correct one.  Moving from so many different types of crank spindles and bottom brackets has led them to the development of their BB386 spindle and bearings that is the same size for all of their cranks.  They make different qualities of these, but all of the are the same so compatibility is a non-issue.

Fox:

Fox seemed to hold a different approach than any other class.  They split theirs into three separate mini-classes with hands-on working at each.  The groups rotated and gained insight on several areas from bushing and seal replacement on forks to lockout tuning and rebound damper adjustment.  The most useful in a business sense that they now offered is the bushing and seal replacement.  Developing a new tool with Barnett’s Institute, it allows bushing replacement on any fork including Fox and passes the ability to do some services at the shop level rather than always sending it to Fox to have work done.  This means that I can get a rider back out on the trail faster and that makes a happier rider.

After the first day of learning, I got to speak with the Fox rep at the social hour following the day.  He showed me a suspension unit that is installed on the new Raptor off-road truck.  I lifted it and it was quite heavy as trucks are far less concerned with being light rather than strong.  It led to something that I wouldn’t have expected.  He said that most people think that the bike fork technology and suspensions are derived from their larger parts on off-road trucks and ATVs, etc.  He said that this was quite the opposite.  The bike technology was hardest to innovate because it not only had to be really strong, but also light enough to ride and that this technology was what actually trickled up to ATV suspensions and then to off-road vehicle suspensions.  Pretty cool.  They also seemed to be having the most fun out of the other companies.

Mavic:

Mavic was, personally, a beautiful sight to see.  Slick blacked-out wheels and carbon spokes all over the place with matching yellow hinting everywhere was the realm of high-end wheels and superior technology.  Not only were several points of misconceptions I had cleared up, but it was also confirmation of several things I had been doing right.

Mavic has a philosophy that their wheels are made as a system from the center of the hub all the way to the ground — including the tire.  This is why all of their wheels are sold with tires installed.  From flashy animations of hub overhaul procedures to French dialogue speaking of dedication to ultimate advancement in technology, they covered essential procedures for replacing carbon spokes in two different wheels (R-SYS and Cosmic Carbone).  Plus, the guys teaching the class were the guys that fix the wheels or rebuild them when we send one back for service.  It was like finally meeting the guys who had done all the great work I see coming back in shipments and on display in the shop and getting a flavor of their standards and tips.

One thing that really stuck out that I didn’t know before was that they use mineral oil inside the freehub body with a bottom seal.  Mineral oil, they said, wasn’t some magical liquid, but just that it was exactly the right “weight” to stay inside and give the freehub years longer of usage and, in its absence, is why some riders have described a high-pitched squeal at times on fast descents.

Shimano:

While much of the material that was covered in the presentation part of the class was what I had recently just finished training on, it was still reinforcing and provided confidence in the hands-on tuning of the new Dura-Ace 9000 drive-train.  With its sleek machined appearance and unbelievably improved smooth performance, I have to contend that all three major companies (Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM) have narrowed the gap between each other and the game is at its highest level ever.

The new and improved cables and casing also surprised me to its superior feel and had me thinking they snagged the designer for the Gore Ride-On cables that were just discontinued.  Coming now in seven colors, the PTFE coating is uniquely applied so wear doesn’t affect performance nearly as much as before, allowing riders to use them for longer with better results.  The motto, “friction is the enemy,” really rang true here and great effort was placed into decreasing it and its effect on rider fatigue.

Summary:

All in all, as stated above, the technologies are getting more and more efficient and precise with faster rides and sexier designs.  It’s going to be really exciting to see how far they can go in the next couple years.

– SNC

Park Tool Summit 2013

Well, tomorrow is the first day of the 2013 Park Tool Summit.  This is a big convention of hungry coffee-loving mechanics and enthusiasts brought together by the biggest bicycle tool company in the US.  I attended one in Philadelphia about two years ago and am really looking forward to all of the tech knowledge and hands-on working that some of the major component manufacturers lead and discuss.  I am attending the following courses: Campagnolo, Cane Creek, Mavic, FSA, Shimano, and Fox.  From top-end wheels to overhauling complex suspension forks, it’s sure to be a blast.  I plan on taking many notes and recording the seminars with audio that I’ll post for those interested.  Prepare for a lengthy post on all of what I see there and learn.

While I will not be able to attend every class,  I intend to gain the knowledge from other mechanics my shop is sending there and pass it on to you.  May my attention be focused and my hands adept.  Being that I will probably have to share the knowledge ASAP, I may post small bits throughout the convention from my tablet.  Stay tuned.  There’s a ton of great things happening in the industry this year.

Winter Gear Review

Hey folks.  In this time of year, the cold has swept many of us indoors to polish up our bikes or put them into trainers.  However, even as we mutter to ourselves small encouragement that the warmth will return, we can definitely ride in super cold temps and conditions and feel quite epic as the miles get logged.  It’s a completely different ballgame than warm weather riding and requires both adjustments to wardrobe and bike tuning.  In this first part, I am going to go over some tips and technique for “winterizing your bike.”  It will keep the trusty steed happy and healthy.

One area that I covered before in a prior post was the bottom bracket.  One good trick is to wrap Teflon tape around the BB cups.  This provides added protection when the rain, snow, and muck come calling.  It’s like having a nice new seal that not only keeps the BB quieter from creaks and clicks, but also is added protection for the BB itself and the inside of your frame.  While aluminum and carbon won’t rust like steel, I have plenty or horror stories of disintegrated BB cups and literal cups of water hanging out inside the frame.  Below is a photo of a roll of Teflon tape and a photo of what the BB looks like when left unchecked.

Secondly, under the BB area of the bike is usually a cable guide that attaches to the frame with a small screw or plug.  If your cables are routed this way, it’s a great idea to install small plastic tubes through the guide for your cable to run through.  These plastic tubes are easily attainable at your LBS and most of the time, they’ll just give you them for free.  As an added protector, I add grease inside these tubes as it will not melt away or dry like oil or Tri-Flow will eventually.  It keeps the cable running smoothly, which keeps your gear running smoothly.  Replacing a broken or frayed cable in sub-freezing temperature is a nightmare, even for a mechanic.  Another great shield for cables is to buy an actual cable kit rather than stock cables.  Many of these kits are only marginally more expensive and provide tubing for each point on the frame where the cable is exposed.  It will stop grime and dirt from sneaking into the cable housing as quickly.  The ultimate in these systems is the Gore RideOn cable sets that are completely sealed in Teflon tubing from end to end.  Unfortunately, due to some untold reason, they are discontinuing the product.  It is head over heels more expensive (about $140-160 for the whole brake and derailleur set), but I’ve seen daily commuters ride these without flaw for years at a time through some of the worst conditions this area sees.  Below is a photo of the cable tubing and a photo of a bottom bracket cable guide.

Another tip that you can do at home very easily is wipe down your tires after every couple rides.  Some Windex or Simple Green works great and you’ll have many more miles of riding on each set.  Also, take a “pokey tool” (something pointy and sharp) and carefully pop little pieces of glass and rock that get imbedded in the surface rubber of the tire.  Once the tires are wiped down, these are easy to spot and will prevent them from working deeper and causing a flat tube.  You’ll also be much more aware of any defects or larger cuts before discovering them by a flat tube on the trail.  My all-time favorite winter riding tire is the Specialized All-Condition Armadillo Elite 700×25.  With a Kevlar lining built into the tire, I can ride over hill and dale with confidence that sticks and glass and potholes won’t be able to puncture.  They can last several thousand miles and the folding version of the tire has a great feel on the trail.

A synthetic or leather bar tape (for road bikes) will also be an advantage to your cold weather trips as it doesn’t tear or wear nearly as fast as basic cork and gel tapes.  Fizik makes a great “suede” tape that will last and last through winter riding and also keeps my hands a bit warmer.

For the cyclists with enough time on their hands, I highly recommend waxing your frame once or twice a year.  Just like the beautiful shine looks on your car, your bike will both look great and water and dirt will have far less chance to stay stuck on the frame.  You can also wax the components.  The crank, in particular shines up well and I’ve noticed mine stays clean for far longer with less maintenance than without it.  Considering some bicycle cranks range in price from $100-1000, I like to keep that investment as long as possible.  However, I do not recommend using wax-based lubricants during the winter.  Teflon lubricants will work just as well (if not better) and come in a variety of “thicknesses.”  Rock and Roll Gold has been a stalwart protector of my chain for years and it keeps it both lubricated and clean.  With wax-based lubricants, the chain stays lubricated for longer, but has a better chance of spreading the wax all over the bike (which is difficult to clean and can corrode some anodized parts) and trapping dirt. This is a highly debated topic, as some cyclists will claim the opposite.  Out of all the bikes I have worked on (many many many), the bikes with wax-based lubes require much more time to clean and maintain while regular application of Teflon lube on bikes is quick, easy, and very clean.

A little more labor intensive care that will reap large benefits is taking fine steel wool to the metal braking surface of your wheels every two weeks of riding.  In addition to removing grime and brake dust buildup, it gives the pads a better “bite” on the rim, stopping you more effectively and without squealing.  Wiping brake pads as well will aid this and a small piece of fine sandpaper can revamp the surface of the pad and remove small bits of rock and metal that get imbedded in the pad just like I mentioned with tires.  Those little metal pieces wear away at the rim and cause poor braking, squealing, and fine grooves in the rim metal.  If you ride often during the winter season, salmon colored pads are made to aid in these conditions and are a specialized compound.  KoolStop makes a great pair of thin line pads that will allow mud and dirt to shed more effectively and feature the salmon colored compound.

Last but not least, if you’re planning on hauling your bike on a car rack in poor weather, I highly recommend a product called a Chain Johnny. It’s a great invention that covers and protects the drive-train of your bike.  Even though it’s from a company that makes wax-based lubes, I think it’s one of the smartest investments to keep your parts from corroding with all of the salt VDOT piles on the roads before and after snowstorms.

If you know of any other useful “winterizing” bike tips, feel free to contact me or post a comment and I will try to include it in the article or expand upon it.  Thanks for reading.  Next stop, “winterizing” yourself for riding.

– SNC