2015 Turbo and Turbo X Preview / First Thoughts

The 2015 Turbos have arrived! I was psyched on Friday to see the truck roll up with four brand new Turbos and 1 new Turbo X (with a  suspension fork and knobbier tires).  We had been expecting them and I started the builds right away.  I documented the process of unpacking and setting up the bike and the pros and cons of that and exploration of the features as a quick first look.  I am sure we will be seeing them find homes shortly and will continually add summary progress in a troubleshooting article that will build with time.

They were the middle range motor/battery option which seemed to top out at around 21 mph with moderate effort.  Both models feature some great new tech options and builds upon prior years’ success.  They substituted their own branded stem on both models this year instead of the Crank Brothers model from prior years.  The key and battery lock look like a different make and the disc brakes are Formula C1 models.  Much of the rest of the bike is the same.  The Turbo X front light mounts on the handlebar, which I prefer over the Turbo mount at the crown of the fork.  The Rock Shox Paragon 50mm (regular QR) air fork with remote cable lockout is a nice touch on the Turbo X. It is also spec’d with Trigger tires, which I believe might be better suited to substitute Electrak tires.  The first nine photos are of the Turbo X and the rest are of the Turbo and its accessories.  The LCD controller looks the same and mounts in conjunction with the shifter and brake lever.

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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

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