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Technical FAQ: Chains, stuck levers, and tires

Chain pin direction

Dear Lennard,
I got my “Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” book dirty today — making sure I was putting on my first 11-speed Shimano chain correctly (logo out, open end leading). The diagram that came with the new chain wasn’t completely clear, but your book was. I did, however, wonder about something really anal retentive, which is, from which side do you drive the connector pin?

I always end up doing it outside in because it’s the most convenient, but it leaves a little nub when I snap off the disposable part of the pin.


The nub doesn’t seem to cause any issues — I’ve never heard it rub on any of the cogs, but I was curious to ask what you do? And am I right that I should use the virgin open end that comes with the chain, shortening the chain on the closed end, as it were?

By the way, I think Peter should embrace the noisy freehub. Because of Chris King, I’ve always associated noisy freehubs with quality. I love that sound.
— Steve

Dear Steve,
Drive the pin from the outside in for Shimano. This is the better method with Shimano, because then the broken pin nub is facing out toward smaller cogs and is less likely to drag on any of them.

Campagnolo requires the connector pin to instead be driven outward from the inside out. As the removable part is separate and inserts into the hollow pin, you don’t have a broken-off pin end when you’re done. That is not in your book, but it is in “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,” since Campy doesn’t make MTB chains.

Interestingly, Shimano doesn’t specify using the virgin hole at the end of the chain, and Shimano tech guys have told me that it doesn’t matter; they say you can drive a pin out of a set of outer link plates and put a connector pin through those plates and the chain will be fine. I use the virgin hole anyway, since I’m used to doing it with Campy chains and since it won’t hurt and can only help.
― Lennard

Mixing chains and cassettes

Dear Lennard,
Can I use an 11-speed chain on a 10-speed cassette?
— James

Dear James,
Yes.
― Lennard

Stuck shifting lever

Dear Lennard,
I have a 2017 Canyon Inflite 8.0. The bike is great, but I have a problem with my front Shimano ST RS-505 lever. It is not returning to the original position when I go from the small to the large chainring. It’s changing gears, but it remains jammed after pressed. I’ve already tried to clean and lube the lever, but the issue remains the same. Do you have an idea how to solve this?
— Adil

Dear Adil,
Hmmm. Since that hydraulic brake/cable shift lever is so new, it seems unlikely that it needs some lube in there, but it sounds like you tried it anyway. I don’t know how you did it, but it’s worth a try to squirt some thin spray lube straight up inside at the pivots and shift mechanism with the thin tube that comes with the spray can.

It also seems unlikely that you did this, but if you by some chance are pushing the other lever at the same time you push the big lever, that can cause jamming.
― Lennard

Follow up to tubular tires

Dear Lennard,
I wanted to offer a few thoughts for the reader looking for advice on tubes in an emergency for the “road and dirt” fondo.

I think “an ounce of prevention” needs to form the base of his approach. Consider starting with a more durable tire; my preference is a higher end Tufo or the current incarnation of the Pave tire from Vittoria. Secondly, take the weight penalty and use some form of sealant. Whether it be Vittoria’s PitStop, one of Tufo’s own, or something else. At a minimum, the peace of mind of knowing a simple piece of flint or a thorn are far less likely to undo your ride should be worth the weight penalty.
— Stephen

Hey Lennard,
I’m writing in response to Bill’s question in the “all about tubulars” column.

At ’cross nats in Reno last weekend, we got to the course on Sunday and found that my daughter’s rear Challenge Grifo was flat. No idea why. I could find no gash, thorn or puncture. It would inflate but leak pretty quickly.

We had glued the tire with Effetto Mariposa’s Carogna tape and had brought a spare tire with Carogna tape and glue, so we could have changed the tire — but the race was in two hours, so the glue or tape job would not have had time to set up properly before she hit the start line. She could have raced her “B” wheels, but that would have meant running Limus mud tires on a dry course.

Instead, I tried removing the valve core on the Grifo and injecting 1.5-2 ounces of Orange Seal sealant. I wasn’t that precise about the measurement because of my pre-race panic. I’m happy to say that the tire held air all through her pre-ride and still had the same pressure when she went to the start line 90 minutes later. She finished the race with the same pressure. 

When I train on tubies on the road, I carry a spare tire with some glue already applied, but now I’m going to add a small bottle of the sealant for longer rides. That and a pump or CO2 cartridge will make me very confident I can finish most rides unless I have a catastrophe.

On a related note, I was at the start line for the 17-18 men and U23 female races, and the officials had a white plastic device they were using to measure tire width. I saw two kids get pulled aside during call-ups because their tires were too wide. Officials kindly advised both riders to take some air out of their tires, and both kids were eventually able to start on the same tires — but at significantly reduced pressures. As in, 5-6 little puffs of air had to come out before the measuring device could be squeezed onto the tires.

Both tires were Clement-branded, and they looked like tubeless setups; one was an MPX and the other was a PDX.

Lastly, the officials scanned all start-line AND pit bikes in the 17-18 and U-23 races with a tablet of some kind.
— Eric

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