Bikes and Tech – Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Wed, 24 Jan 2018 00:08:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bikes and Tech – 32 32 Technical FAQ: All about tubulars Tue, 23 Jan 2018 14:16:07 +0000 This week, Lennard Zinn addresses questions about tubular tires for off-road riding and cyclocross racing.

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Tubular tire gluing options

Dear Lennard,
Got a question for you about tubular tire gluing. I’m planning on doing a gran fondo next year that involves many miles of tarmac and a few miles of very sketchy dirt, and I’m trying to decide what would be the best tire solution. My old-school brain tells me that a 28mm tubular would be the best performance option. But with the way we glue tubulars these days, if I got a flat it would almost surely mean a DNF, as pulling a well-glued tubular from a carbon rim in the field would be very difficult and overly time consuming. So, my question to you is this: do you know of a tire gluing method that would give the same level of adhesion that we used to get back in the 1970s and 1980s, when we would train on tubulars and regularly swap out tubular tires on the road?
— Bill

Dear Bill,
Well, you could select glue that doesn’t adhere as well. There are fewer glue options nowadays than in the 1970s and early 1980s, and I remember plenty of them that allowed easy tire removal. Remember Tubasti? That held decently but allowed relatively easy tire removal, and it is still available. I haven’t used it in decades and don’t know if its formula has changed. It also stayed tacky, so if you coated the base tape of your spare tubular with it, you could be fairly confident that it would stay on after a tire change. I think Vittoria Mastik 1 or Continental glue hold too well for easy tire removal and dry too hard to have on the spare tire.

The other thing you could do is use tubular gluing tape. Depending on how much adhesion you think you need (and one variable here is rim width; with today’s wider rims and disc brakes, tire adhesion is improved), you can pick the tape that best meets your adhesion needs and your quick-removal desires. And you can bring another roll of tape along with your spare tubular. It is slower than slapping on a pre-glued tubular, but once you remove the tape (often, the tape comes off with the tire, and if not, you can peel it off after the tire is off), you can put on a new layer of tape, stick on a new tubular, and you’re good to go.
— Lennard

Feedback on ’cross tips for rookies

Dear Lennard,

I have to take issue with this line in one of your recent columns:

Consider tubulars rather than tubeless tires for your race wheels. You will be able to run lower pressures without fear of burping air on corners.

I run Hutchinson Black Mamba tubeless on Shimano RS61 on my CX bike. No issues at any pressure. And I’ve even run them flat after putting an inch-long gash in the sidewall (some things are beyond mere sealant).

It’s fair to say that CX is a bit of harmless fun for me and the RS61s are cast offs from my road bike. But I do see lots of people flatting after picking up a thorn and I ride serenely by. I would have thought that insurance easily offset any small weight penalty.
— Stan

Dear Stan,
I understand your perspective, given that you have had stellar results with tubeless CX tires. However, that is not everybody’s experience, and I believe it generally has to do with the rim choice. Furthermore, there is a lot more to the performance difference between tubulars and tubeless CX tires than reliability.

I have been in and seen plenty of cyclocross races in which somebody on tubeless tires came in hard into a sharp corner and burped most of the air out of his or her tire in the turn. I believe that is often the result of using a standard rim with tubeless rim tape. I’ve done a lot of riding on tubeless CX tires at low pressures without ever burping one, but only on two types of rims: tubeless-specific (in my case, a couple of different models of Fulcrum “2-Way Fit”) rims and Stan’s NoTubes rims.

A tubeless-specific rim, like your Shimano RS61 wheels, has a ridge (the “hump”) along the inboard edge of each bead-seat shelf. A tubeless tire mounted on this type of rim is far less likely to burp air at low pressures than one mounted on a standard clincher rim. The hump essentially locks the bead from sliding inward, and it also forms a seal around three sides of the bead, not just two. A standard clincher rim sealed with tubeless sealing tape on it has no bead-retaining hump, is flatter in profile inside, and is slick, all of which tends to allow the beads of a tire at low pressure to slide inward under a high side load and lose air.

Stan’s NoTubes (it’s interesting your name is Stan and you’re a tubeless devotee) rim designs feature a very low internal rim wall — the Stan’s NoTubes Bead Socket Technology (BST), protected by five different patents and licensed to Velocity for some of its rims. I believe that I was never able to burp a tire on these rims because the tire sidewall comes into the top of the rim at a very low angle. On a standard rim with taller rim walls above the bead seats, the tire sidewalls stand up very straight before the tire bulges out above the rim. I think this allows the tire to fold over more easily (and hence be susceptible to burping) than the more rounded tire shape allows on a BST rim.

I also get your point about thorns, since a tubeless tire with sealant in it is largely impervious to them. That said, you can put some sealants (Caffélatex is one) inside of the latex inner tube in a tubular, and it will also be impervious to thorns. I have had personal experience running Caffélatex in tubulars at a race at the Boulder Reservoir where goat head thorns were everywhere, especially in the overflow parking areas; flats were the rule, not the exception, that day, but I didn’t have a single flat despite having goat heads all over both of my tires.

I see the main advantage of a tubeless tire as being the much lower rolling resistance due to the super soft, supple casing of cotton or silk tubulars. There has yet to be a tubeless CX tire that approaches a high-end CX tubular in this department. And when glued on properly, the tubular’s cornering performance cannot be matched by a tubeless tire.

Also, running a clincher tire (tubeless or not), at low pressure exposes the fragile rim walls to denting and bending (aluminum) or cracking (carbon). As for running when flat, I think tubulars will generally give you better security — because they’re glued on — than will any clincher other than perhaps a beadlocked tubeless tire like you have with those rims. And see my point above about ruining the clincher rim when you’re running it flat; a tubular rim is much more likely to survive being run flat than a clincher rim.

And yes, the weight of a tubular rim is also much lower than a clincher rim, and this is rotating weight out at the edges of a big hoop, which, in an event involving continuous acceleration, is far more costly due to the increase in rotational inertia than weight on other parts of the bike. Read the last response on the above link about the three Hummers.

I am quite certain that if you were to do some ’cross racing on high-end handmade cotton or silk tubulars on lightweight carbon rims, you would not be eager to go back to your tubeless tires. Of course, there can be a very wide price gulf between these two options, and given that CX “is a bit of harmless fun” for you, you may still prefer the tubeless tires on the old wheels from your road bike for that reason.
— Lennard

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The Week in Tech: Carbon Smuggler, i9 disc wheels, SRAM DUB and more Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:00:45 +0000 Here's the Week in Tech — all the gear news, tips, and announcements you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don't.

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Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news you need, and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t want.

Transition gives Smuggler some carbon love

Transition’s Smuggler has shed its holiday pounds and will be soon available in carbon. The carbon Smuggler frame weighs 6.5 pounds, which is 2.3 pounds lighter than the aluminum version.  The bike features Transition’s Speed Balanced Geometry, which translates to a slacker head tube angle and a rider-forward, central riding position between the front and rear contact points. A carbon Transition Smuggler frame costs $2,999, which is $1,000 more than the aluminum frame. A complete SRAM XO1 build costs $5,999. The Smuggler will be available this spring.


Industry Nine bets big on carbon road disc

I9 made a name for itself with its mountain bike components, but roadies can now join in the fun. The i9.35, i9.45, and i9.65 are all tubeless-ready and have a 21-millimeter wide rim. The model names represent the rim depth, with the 35 serving as a climbing wheel and the 65 as an aero wheel. All three wheels are built with a 24-spoke hub and come with a lifetime warranty. An i9.35 wheelset weighs 1,355 grams; the 45 weighs 1,495 grams; and the 65  registers at 1,555 grams. The 35 and 45 wheels are currently available, and the 65 will follow in February. A 35 wheelset costs $2,300, while the 45 will run $2,350, and the 65 costs $2,400.


SRAM Dub standardizes the standards?

SRAM’s DUB (Durable Unified Bottom bracket) system includes just one spindle size, 28.99-millimeters, scrapping the 24-millimeter and 30-millimeter sizes altogether. The single spindle size works in conjunction with an array of bottom bracket sizes, which in turn fit all standard frames. The change to one spindle size is intended to extend the life of the bottom bracket, but it also allowed SRAM to make its products lighter. SRAM says the 28.99-millimeter size  maximizes durability while cutting down on weight. The engineers at SRAM started with a 30 millimeter spindle and worked backward from there. DUB bottom brackets, minus the crankset, range from $38 to $50 depending on the model.


Showers Pass gets stoked on spring

The Spring Classic jacket from Showers Pass features a combination of a waterproof hardshell and softshell stretch fabric.  It’s intended to combat wet spring conditions, and it’s lighter than Showers Pass’s Elite 2.1 jacket — it weighs just 10.6-ounces in size medium. The jacket also packs down to fit easily in a jersey pocket.  3M Scotchlite reflective piping lines the front zipper, and there’s more reflective hits throughout. The front zipper is angled to reduce bunching and chafing at the neck. Two vents under each armpit offer plenty of quick ventilation. The Spring Classic is available in extra-small, small, medium, large, and XL, and costs $289.


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Technical FAQ: How much rest do older cyclists need? Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:03:07 +0000 This week, Lennard Zinn fields a question from a 74-year-old amateur cyclist regarding rest as it relates to the heart.

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Dear Lennard,
I read the book “The Haywire Heart” and would like to know how much rest is enough rest. Based on your experience and your age, which I assume is about 60, what is your rest formula?

I am 74 and started running when I was 39, completing 10 marathons, including Boston. I have been cycling for the last eight years and racing five of those years, with the exception of the Senior Games, where I have raced for seven years.

Most of the information and the symptoms described in the book point to me. I had a pacemaker (slow heart) put in about seven years ago, and it was replaced (battery life) this past February. In August, I was told I have AF (atrial fibrillation). I had an Electrocardiogram (EKG), which was not good. That was followed by a stress test which, was “OK,” and I have a follow-up visit to my cardiologists in March.

After reading your book, I have reduced my workout sessions. Now, I do jogging (treadmill, 30/40 minutes), weightlifting/maintenance for 1:15 and ride the trainer for one hour. I do each twice a week and rest one day a week. My cycling on a trainer was 1:30/1:45, three to four times a week unless I rode outside (30 to 50 miles, three or four times a week). Jogging twice a week and weights once a week. Some of the information in the book scares me and is the reason for my question.

My cardiologist probably does not know about an athletic heart or its symptoms. So, I hope to ask the right questions and hope that he will pursue the answers. On the stress test I did, the treadmill went fine, no abnormal heart rhythms, but I do not know what the pictures revealed (several 360-degree pictures were taken). I was told they were “OK,” whatever that means. Rest is something I had not paid attention to until I read your book. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, I would appreciate your input.
— John

Dear John,
This is not a question with a definitive answer, at least not yet in the world’s relatively recent understanding of the relationship between endurance training and racing and the incidence of heart arrhythmia. And you are right to ask your cardiologist; he knows you and is knowledgeable about your heart and what it needs.

Regarding my age, you are right; I am about 60 (I’ll hit that number in June), and I cannot know from personal experience what it is like to be 74 and wanting to train hard. My personal rest formula for dealing with arrhythmia is to have rest be the default, rather than more training. When in doubt, rest; you can’t hurt yourself much by resting, whereas the reverse may not be true.

Lots of research has focused on the amount of rest and recovery needed in order to optimize training loads (and avoid overtraining). There are many methods to detect recovery states, one of the primary ones being heart rate variability. When I was on the national cycling team back in the early 1980s, this was our main tool for determining overtraining or not — checking the resting heart rate (and body weight) first thing in the morning every day. This is a smartphone app I had for monitoring this five years ago when I still cared about optimizing my training before I developed my heart arrhythmia. In the face of your mind coming up with rationalizations for training hard anyway, you might listen to your little handheld computer telling you to back off if needed, rather than you telling yourself to do so based on an elevated morning resting heart rate and a drop in morning weight (indicating dehydration).

You can also take self-assessment questionnaires, which assess mood and other psychological factors, like the Profile of Mood States (POMS); these have been shown to be effective at detecting one’s recovery status. VeloNews will have a podcast on this topic soon with Trevor Connor, who knows a lot about it, hosted by Chris Case (one of my co-authors on “The Haywire Heart”).

While recovery from training is well-studied, it is not necessarily the same thing as the amount of rest required to avoid developing an arrhythmia, which I have never heard of being studied. Still, I believe that the above methods would be useful for optimizing your training without overcooking yourself, and they may also be beneficial for avoiding arrhythmias.

You didn’t say whether you are always in AFib, or whether you have paroxysmal AFib (meaning episodes of AFib that occur occasionally) or persistent AFib. Paroxysmal AFib episodes can last for a few seconds or a few days before the heart’s pacing returns to normal sinus rhythm, often on its own. This condition is fairly common among masters endurance athletes. Paroxysmal AFib and persistent AFib may be treated by “conversion” (cardioversion) back to sinus rhythm with an electric shock delivered via a pair of paddles while under anesthesia (or with drug therapy) if it goes on for many days or longer.

Since you said you were in sinus rhythm on the treadmill stress test, I imagine you are not in permanent AFib. Also, if you were always in AFib, your doctor probably would have put you on blood anticoagulants to prevent stroke, and I imagine you would have mentioned that. Since the heart is not functioning at optimal efficiency when the upper chambers (the atria) are fibrillating (disorganized, chaotic contractions over 300 bpm), AFib certainly decreases your cycling power output.

Sleep is the most important component of rest. If you have any doubt, I recommend you investigate whether you have sleep apnea, which can be done with a sleep test organized by a pulmonologist. Sleep apnea greatly increases the probability of an individual developing AFib, and it largely does that by straining your heart at night while reducing the amount of rest you get. If you are waking up without realizing it due to gasping for air to survive (waking this way 20,000 or more times per night is common in sleep apnea), you aren’t spending much, if any, time in REM sleep and thus aren’t getting good rest when you sleep.
― Lennard

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Kask’s new aero lid drops at TDU Mon, 15 Jan 2018 16:20:14 +0000 Kask launched a new aero helmet at the Santos Tour Down Under called Utopia.

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Kask isn’t shy about promising a lot. It has dubbed its new lid the Utopia, and with a slew of aero claims, Kask says it’s better than the best. You’ll see it on Team Sky riders at the Santos Tour Down Under this week.

According to Kask’s data, the Utopia will save a rider 6 watts at 50 kilometers per hour. (That’s about 30 miles per hour. It should be noted that many companies make aero claims based on a speed of 40 kilometers per hour, or 24 miles per hour. If you’re comparing aero claims between companies, be sure to keep this in mind.)

Those aero benefits come largely from an overall shape we’ve seen in other lids like Specialized’s Evade and Giro’s Vanquish. The Utopia also includes internal channeling that Kask says improves aerodynamics even more. These claims are based on wind tunnel testing and computer fluid dynamics (CFD) testing.

The vents are large but few, which Kask says should make the Utopia appropriate for year-round riding. And the shape of the helmet should reduce wind rush over the rider’s ears, making for a quieter ride.

On top of that, the helmet also includes padding made of a carbon yarn called Resistex. Benefits, according to Kask, include heat regulation, bacteria protection, and antistatic properties.

A size medium Utopia tips the scales at 235 grams and the helmet will be available in three sizes: small, medium, and large. No specific availability date or pricing has been announced, but Kask says the Utopia will be available “later in the year.”

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The Week in Tech: Stages two-sided power, Serotta returns, Trek to race discs Fri, 12 Jan 2018 12:23:47 +0000 Here's your week in tech — all of the gear news you need, none of the marketing gibberish you don't want.

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Here’s your week in tech — all of the gear news you need, none of the marketing gibberish you don’t want.

Stages on your left, Stages on your right

Stages Power’s left-right power meter, the LR, captures power from both the left and right crank arms. Stages claim the LR power meter device only adds 35 grams to the crank weight. Internal sensors measure cadence too. Stages Power also revealed the R power meter, which is a right-only power meter that can also be paired with Stages Power’s left-only power meters. All Stages Power meters are ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible and have a battery life of roughly 175 hours. Battery replacement is easy, as the power meters use simple 2032 coin batteries. The Stages Power LR for Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 costs $1,299 and the Ultegra R8000 version costs $999. The Stages Power R costs $749 for the Dura-Ace 9100 option and $649 for the Ultegra 8000 option.


Ben Serotta returns

Ben Serotta is back making bikes. The Duetti S1 frame is aluminum, fabricated in Taiwan. All models feature hydraulic disc brakes with thru-axle dropouts and customers can choose from 11 different sizes. Those interested in a more custom option made in North America can opt for the aModoMio C18. It’s made from a steel tubeset and like the Duetti, the aModoMio utilizes the company’s CC-DB1 carbon fork. The Duetti S1 starts at $4,695 and increases from there depending on the build. The aModoMio C18 is available in both disc brake and rim brake options and costs from $7,595 to $14,995.


Industry Nine gets beefy, stays light

Industry Nine has a new aluminum trail rim, the Trail270, which is an updated version of the Trail245. The wheel combines elements of the company’s downhill and enduro rims to create a stronger rim that doesn’t add significant weight. The Trail270 comes in 27.5 inch and 29er options, with either a 24-spoke rim or a 32-spoke configuration. The 24-spoke rim should give riders a more supple ride while shaving a few grams in the process. The rims are 27 millimeters wide, 2.5 millimeters wider than the previous generation. A 27.5-inch, 24-hole set weighs 1,480 grams, with the 32-hole set weighs 1,560 grams. The 29er rims weigh 1,560 grams and 1,650 grams for the 24-hole and 32-hole sets respectively. A 24-hole rim set costs $1,225 while the 32-hole rim set costs $1,245.


WolfTooth’s link pliers hide a few tricks

Wolf Tooth’s Master Link Combo pliers remove chain links and store two spare links. They also have a valve core remover/installer and the ability to hold valve locknuts. One of the handles doubles as a tire lever too. The aluminum tool weighs a scant 38 grams and is compatible with 9, 10, 11, and 12-speed chains, as well as most tubeless valve and presta tube locknuts. The pliers come in red or black and customers have a choice of five colors for the pivot bolt. The pliers cost $29.95.


Trek-Segafredo embraces discs

Trek-Segafredo riders will ride disc brakes 100 percent of the time on the team’s flagship Domane and Emonda bikes. The Domane is the bike of choice for the rough roads of northern Europe, while the Emonda is a climber’s machine made for brutal grand tour climbs. Riders will still ride rim brakes on Trek’s aero model, the Madone. The commitment to discs marks yet another chapter in the will-they-won’t-they saga of disc brakes at the WorldTour level. Last year, then-Quick-Step sprinter Marcel Kittel became the first rider to win a Tour de France stage on a disc-equipped bicycle.

Kinomap comes to the U.S.

Look out, Zwift. Kinomap is coming to town. Kinomap is a video sharing platform that offers live-action videos synchronized with corresponding maps. The site features approximately 70,000 miles of video courses. The video-sharing technology allows anyone to follow pre-existing routes on the app, as well as to upload their own video courses. Kinomap also added an additional feature in time for its U.S. release: multiplayer game sessions. Contestants can challenge each other by scheduling their multiplayer sessions directly from the Kinomap app. Popular routes on the app include oceanside rides in Big Sur, California and the Tuscan countryside. The app is available for IOS and Android platforms.


Liv lines up 11 women’s skills camps

Working with SRAM, Liv has set 11 dates for Liv Ladies AllRide mountain bike skills camps in 2018. In addition to riding instruction, the camps offer female riders a chance to learn about bike maintenance, repair, and set-up. Here are the dates:

March 17-18: Ocala, Florida
April 14-15: Sedona, Arizona
May 12-13: Bentonville, Arkansas
June 2-3: Bend, Oregon
June 23-24: Bend, Oregon
July 14-15: Big Sky, Montana
July 21-22: Grand Targhee, Wyoming
August 25-31: Destination: Italy
Sept 8-9: Lyndonville, Vermont
Sept 15-16: Brevard, North Carolina
Sept 19-20: Brevard, North Carolina (mid-week camp)


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Trek takes a high-tech approach to save cyclists’ lives Tue, 09 Jan 2018 20:08:38 +0000 Trek is partnering with Ford and Tome Software to develop a network of connected cars and cyclists to increase safety.

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Trek has long been a proponent of high-visibility safety measures for cyclists, like daytime running lights. Now, the Wisconsin company is taking a step toward a high-tech solution to safety.

Trek is working with Tome Software and Ford Motor Company, to develop a new AI-based bicycle-to-vehicle (B2V) communication system.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 9-12, the companies are showing off a new Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology, which the companies say has the potential to help create safer road infrastructure, augmenting existing B2V technology, which was announced in September.

The system connects vehicles to a larger communications system, which means cars can communicate with other vehicles, pedestrian devices, bicycles, roadside signs, and construction zones.

A cyclist would ride with B2V-enabled equipment, initially manufactured by Trek or Bontrager. Or, he or she could have a mobile app with C-V2X. The driver would then be alerted by their car when a cyclist is present in a potentially dangerous area.

The goal is to reduce the number of cyclists killed and injured on the road. Ford is supporting the collaboration between Trek and Tome to help develop an efficient and usable system for all road users.

“We want to ensure that while cyclists have the tools and knowledge to do what they can to create a safer experience,” Trek’s Electronic Product Manager Scott Kasin said, “they will now have the enhanced ability to communicate their presence directly to vehicles.”

The B2V software will be licensed to cycling and automotive companies in hopes of establishing an industry standard.

You can learn more about the details of the system here.

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Technical FAQ: Tips for cyclocross rookies Tue, 09 Jan 2018 14:54:13 +0000 This week, Lennard Zinn provides bike setup details for a cyclocross newbie.

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Questions from a ’cross newbie

Dear Lennard,
I had my first taste of ’cross in 2017 on a touring bike and now I’m hooked, so I purchased a Giant TCX SLR1 to do double duty as my commuter and race bike. The Australian race season in my city starts in April 2018, and I have some tech questions so I can prepare my bike. Perhaps you know some people who are riding the northern ’cross season and can pitch in with their current setups this season?

I’m looking to purchase a set of race wheels so that I can still commute during the week (on the stock Giant rims and road tires) and swap out to lighter race wheels (tubeless CX) for skills training and race day. I don’t want a lot of hassle and adjustment when I swap out.

My bike has the 12mm thru-axles, the front is 100mm) and the rear is 142mm, plus flat mount hydro brakes and an 11-speed SRAM Rival 1X.

1. Is the 12mm thru-axle a standard that includes disc/hub/cassette spacing so I can do a hot swap without caliper or derailleur adjustment?

2. Is it safe to shim a rotor mount on one wheelset to get spacing compatibility between both sets? If so, would you recommend 6-bolt or center-lock for the race wheelset?

3. Is it possible to adjust the hub position and hence caliper/cassette position on the hub axle?

4. Would there be much derailleur adjustment if I went from an 11-36 (commute) cassette to an 11-32 (race) cassette, or would you recommend keeping the same cassette type?

5. If I have a race wheelset and cassette, would you recommend a race chain to go with it? I tend to use KMC with quick links, so swapping is easy.

6. I was also going to get a spare hanger and my LBS said to get it installed and pre-bent before putting it in the toolbox. Any other hot tips for a CX newbie?

Thanks heaps. Also, your book is great! 
— Murray

Dear Murray,
I’m glad to hear you’re hooked on cyclocross and that you get to start your season right after ours ends. My answers are numbered to match yours.

1. Yes, you should be able to swap straight across with your thru-axle wheels, and the derailleur and brakes should line up the same as on the other wheelset. That said, the positions of the rotors may differ slightly. See No. 2.

2. Yes, you can shim the rotors to get both sets of wheels to plop into your bike with no brake rub. I have done this with both 6-bolt rotors and with center-lock ones, although it is easier with 6-bolt rotors. For 6-bolt rotors, you can use shims like these, although you can use separate disc-caliper-mounting shim washers at each hole, or you can even cut your own shims out of a beer can. You can mount 6-bolt rotors (and a shim or two if you wish) onto a center-lock hub with an adapter like this.

I find that if you just have a little bit of brake rub, you can avoid the shimming process completely and just true the rotors to line up the same in the brake. In that case, it is irrelevant whether you have 6-bolt or center-lock rotors. You need a tool like this, ideally with a dial gauge on and a truing fork or two to very precisely get it straight in exactly the plane you want to not have brake rub.

3. No, you cannot adjust the position of the hub on the axle.

4. The best performance will be if you have the same cassette on both wheels. That’s because the chain will have to be considerably longer for the 11-36 than for the 11-32, and you will probably also have to crank down further on the b-screw with the 11-36 as well to avoid chain noise from the upper jockey wheel pinching the chain against the cog. If you then slap an 11-32 on there, there will be more chain slack than need be, and the upper jockey wheel will probably be constrained to stay further away from the cassette than is ideal, so shifting will be more sluggish. The potential for a jumped chain will increase with all of that extra chain slack having to be taken up by the jockey wheels.

5. Yes, if you are not using the same size cassette on both wheels. See No. 4 above. If you had two different chains, you could improve the shifting and chain retention by running a shorter chain with the 11-32. I still anticipate that you’d want to also loosen the b-screw a bit as well, even though you don’t want to do any adjustments.

6. I suppose that’s a good idea, although I have rarely seen the need to bend a new derailleur hanger into proper alignment. Certainly having the extra derailleur hanger is a must. It’s not a terrible idea to have an extra rear derailleur as well.

Here are some other tips for you:
— Mark your seatpost height at the top of the seat binder and check to make sure it does not slide down with repeated jumping on and off of it.

— Tighten your saddle well so it doesn’t slide back or tip back with repeated jumping on and off of it. Mark the rails so you can tell if it has slid back. Unless you’re a really lightweight rider, avoid carbon saddle rails.

— If you have Crank Bros. or Time pedals, set your cleats on the narrower release angle to aid in getting out earlier as you come flying up to a barrier.

— Put steel shoe shields under your cleats so you don’t crack your carbon shoe soles where the rear spring digs into it right behind the cleat. This is especially important with Crank Bros., Look, or Time pedals.

— Consider tubulars rather than tubeless tires for your race wheels. You will be able to run lower pressures without fear of burping air on corners.

Have fun!
— Lennard

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The Week in Tech: Transition Sentinel sheds pounds, new SRAM brakes Fri, 05 Jan 2018 11:00:22 +0000 Transition offers a Sentinel trail bike in carbon fiber, Wahoo has a forearm-mounted heart rate monitor, and much more.

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Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t want.

Transition Bikes Sentinel gets a carbon diet

Transition’s Sentinel will shed a few pounds in 2018. The carbon edition of the Sentinel frame weighs 6.83 pounds, which is 2.5 pounds lighter than the alloy version. The alloy Sentinel introduced Transition’s Speed Balance Geometry (SBG), designed to bring the rider more forward into a central position between the front and rear tire contact points. A 40-millimeter stem and steep seat tube angles help achieve that balance and are supposed to aid in climbing traction and reduce seated sag when climbing. The new carbon frame costs $2,999, which is $1,000 more than the alloy version. A complete bike with an SRAM XO1 build costs $5.999.


SRAM four-piston stoppers at a friendly price

SRAM’s Guide brake family just got a bit bigger with the addition of the Guide T. The T’s four-piston brake caliper does not offer any new technological developments, though it is a less expensive entry into the four-piston arena. The lever and caliper cost $105 per brake ($210 for the pair). The brake weighs 280 grams when used with an 800-millimeter hose, according to SRAM, and is compatible with its drip-free Bleeding Edge technology. The Guide T costs about $30 less than the Guide R.


Wear your heart(rate) on your sleeve

Wahoo gets something off your chest with the TICKR Fit heart rate monitor. The forearm-mounted monitor has ANT+ and Bluetooth capability and comes with two adjustable band sizes to accommodate a wide range of body types. It is water and sweat-resistant and it has a USB-rechargeable battery. Wahoo claims the battery life can last in excess of 30 hours. The unit costs $80.


AbsoluteBlack OVAL chainrings available for Shimano cranks

AbsoluteBlack now offers 2x chainrings designed specifically for Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 and Ultegra 8000 road cranksets. Osymetric chainrings have garnered popularity thanks in large part to Chris Froome (Sky), who has used the chainrings on his Tour de France-winning bikes for years. The new chainrings feature an updated integrated ramp design, which is supposed to improve shifting performance. AbsoluteBlack is offering the chainrings in a variety of sizes: 34T, 36T, 38T, and 39T for the inner ring, and  50T, 52T, and 53T for the outer ring. An inner chainring costs $62 and an outer chainring costs $124.

Rocky Mountain 2018 model recall

Rocky Mountain Bicycles has recalled all of its 2018 Altitude, Instinct, and Pipeline bikes in both carbon and aluminum. Brake cable housing that was not secured properly during manufacturing can cause brake failure, posing a crash hazard. The recall covers over 3,000 bikes between the U.S. and Canada. The bikes were sold at Rocky Mountain bicycle dealers from June 2017 through November 2017 for between $2,600 and $7,300. Consumers should stop using the recalled bikes immediately and contact Rocky Mountain at 866-522-2803 or via email at Rocky Mountain Bicycles can be reached online at


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Van der Poel switches to Canyon bikes for 2018 Sun, 31 Dec 2017 23:00:23 +0000 Canyon will have three top-tier cyclocross riders all riding the Inflite CF SLX in 2018.

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Mathieu van der Poel will celebrate New Years aboard a new bike, Canyon’s Inflite CF SLX. Another former world champion, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, as well as British champ Nikki Brammier, will also ride Canyon.

Van der Poel has been nearly unstoppable this season. He won five World Cups and leads the series by a 250-point margin. Along with the bike change, van der Poel’s team, Beobank-Corendon, will become Corendon-Cirus in 2018.

In the summer, Van der Poel plans to race a full World Cup mountain bike schedule with the goal of competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the cross-country mountain bike race. Canyon has a two-year sponsorship agreement with Corendon-Circus.

Perhaps the Dutchman will get some pointers from Ferrand-Prévot, as she is the only rider in history to hold the world champion title in three disciplines simultaneously (cyclocross, road, cross-country mountain bike).

Racing for Canyon-SRAM, she is already familiar with the Inflite CF SLX. She finished fifth and fourth at the last two World Cups in Namur and Zolder.

Brammeier is the current British national cyclocross champion. She was second at the World Cup in Namur. She’s also working on new project called MUDIIITA. Her goal is to develop cyclocross talent in the United Kingdom.

VeloNews took the rig out for a first ride in Zonhoven, Belgium before the start of cyclocross season and found the bike quite nimble. We were impressed with the Inflite CF SLX’s quick handling and sturdy platform and found it a smooth ride over aggressive terrain.

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VeloNews awards 2017: Best gear of the year Fri, 22 Dec 2017 13:10:49 +0000 2017 was a great year in tech with new bikes, new accessories, and of course new scandals.

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Editor’s note: To close out 2017, we named our 30th annual VeloNews awards in the November/December issue of VeloNews magazine.

Road bike of the year: Cervelo R5 Disc

Remember when racers worried about disc-brake-equipped bikes being too heavy? Those are quaint, faraway memories now. Cervelo’s R5 is one of the lightest disc-equipped bikes on the market today (831 grams for the disc-equipped frame; the rim-brake frame actually weighs more, at 850 grams). It’s a joy in the mountains and shockingly capable in just about every other situation, making it the VeloNews bike of the year for 2017.

Read the full review >>

Innovation of the year: Specialized Diverge

Specialized Diverge

Specialized obviously did its gravel homework when designing the new Diverge racer. Its new, totally redesigned carbon Diverge features a lightweight frame, massive tire clearance, geometry built for stability, and a Future Shock head tube suspension system.

It has all the compliance and comfort you’d want for long races like Dirty Kanza. The frame is also light and responsive. It has a smart component spec and includes a dropper for added capability.


Accessory of the year: Oakley Aro 5 helmet

Oakley Aro helmet
The Aro 5 has massive vents up front, but the rest of the helmet is enclosed and aerodynamic. Even the vents are an aero tool, sucking in air through the front and venting it through the back. Photo: Dan Cavallari |

Oakley hopes to bring its performance reputation into the helmet world with the release of its Aro helmet line. The first three offerings, the Aro 3, Aro 5, and Aro 7, address the three most significant road riding markets as Oakley sees it. All three feature a gossamer Boa retention system. The Aro 5 in particular impressed us.


Runner-up for accessory of the year: Bontrager Velocis helmet

Photo: Dan Cavallari |

One of the first companies to embrace Boa dials on helmets, Bontrager redesigned its Velocis helmet from the ground up and came away with a fast, secure, and attractive helmet. It comes in second to the Aro helmets only because its possible that the helmet retention system will interfere with the arms of your sunglasses.

Read the full review >>

Thoughtful update award: Mavic neutral support dropper posts

Mavic representatives couldn’t confirm what material the loop is made of, but it looks and feels similar to a Boa shoe cable, though slightly thicker. Photo: Dan Cavallari |

The indelible image of Chris Froome running up Mont Ventoux at the 2016 Tour de France has inspired changes for the 2017 race. Mavic’s fleet of neutral support bikes featured specially designed KS dropper posts. This enables riders to adjust saddle height when riding the unmistakable yellow Canyon Ultimate CF SL bikes. That’s the biggest change, but not the only one.


Lab coat award: CeramicSpeed UFO Drip chain lube

Part of the benefit of UFO Drip’s low-friction formula is its ability to reduce drivetrain wear over time. Photo: Dan Cavallari |

CeramicSpeed’s goal was to create the fastest chain lube a customer could use at home without having to send a chain in for treatment. So while UFO Drip isn’t quite as fast as a UFO-factory-treated chain from CeramicSpeed, the process of applying UFO Drip is also significantly simpler. It can be done at home, with few specific tools and knowledge beyond a good chain cleaner and some patience. But it isn’t cheap.


Debate of the year: Beauty is only skin(suit) deep

Geraint Thomas
Geraint Thomas stormed through the German rain to win Tour de France stage 1. Photo: Tim De Waele |

Who would have thought that the first controversy of the 2017 Tour de France would be a wardrobe flap?

Team Sky’s duds during the Stage 1 time trial caused an outcry. Detractors claim that dimples on the arms and shoulders of the skinsuits worn by Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas (who eventually won the stage), Michael Landa, and Vasil Kiryienka flout Article 1.3.033 of the UCI rules which states, “it is forbidden to wear non-essential items of clothing or items designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider.”


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Technical FAQ: Thru-axles, discs, and cranks Tue, 19 Dec 2017 14:51:44 +0000 This week, Lennard Zinn answers reader questions about thru-axles, disc brakes, and cranks.

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Following up on thru-axles

Dear Lennard,
You recently addressed the rationale for front wheel/fork thru-axles when using disc brakes in your column, “Thru-axles and frame stiffness.” I would just like to ask why most frames are transitioning to front and rear thru-axle setups. This requires complete new wheel sets, whereas just replacing the front fork and wheel with thru-axles would be less than half the cost. You made a most eloquent argument for the front wheel change, but why also the rear wheel to thru-axle?
— Matthew

Dear Matthew,
Indeed, in the thru-axle discussion here a couple weeks ago, the majority of the discussion was on the advantages of a front thru-axle. While perhaps less compelling, particularly on road bikes, thru-axles also have advantages over quick releases on the rear of the bike.

I have seen many disc-brake mountain bikes with quick releases where the left rear dropout had become so worn out that the wheel was constantly getting yanked back in the now-widened dropout slot, causing the tire to rub on the chainstay within a short riding distance. I have seen it on bikes with steel dropouts and aluminum dropouts. The stress created by application of the disc brake, combined with insufficient clamping force by the quick release, can really beat up the left dropout.

Analogous to the discussion of the front disc brake and fork dropout damage, when the brake clamps on the rear rotor, the fulcrum of the imaginary lever connecting the tire’s ground contact patch with the top of the tire now becomes at the top of the rotor, rather than at the center of the wheel, and the angular momentum of the rear wheel drives the axle back in the left dropout. Especially when combined with bouncing around on rough terrain along with one of those aluminum, cam-shaped quick-release levers, which generally are incapable of generating sufficient clamping force, the axle can move — in this case, back against the rear wall of the dropout. Do this enough thousand times while braking and riding hard, and you will have ground down the dropout to the point that the axle can wallow all around in there, changing the angle of the rear wheel in the dropout and allowing the tire to move over against the chainstay. A thru-axle completely eliminates the potential for this problem.

I wonder what you mean by your statement about cost. If you were to switch from rim brakes to disc brakes, you would have to get a new bike anyway, and whether the wheels are quick-release or thru-axle has a minor effect on the price. Or did you mean that you could just replace the fork and front wheel and front brake on an existing rim-brake bike and use a front disc brake with a rear rim brake? In that case (see the next question), you would avoid getting a new rear wheel, and the thru-axle discussion would not come into play, as you would still have a rim brake.

Your wish for a front thru-axle and a rear quick-release axle did come true briefly; there was one model year a couple of years ago where some disc-brake cyclocross bikes were coming that way, and there were many years where mountain bikes generally came with a front thru-axle and a rear quick-release axle. Now, most disc-brake bikes have front and rear thru-axles, and I would bet that will be the new normal for the foreseeable future.
― Lennard

Mixing cantilever and disc brakes

Dear Lennard,
I ride and enjoy my 2011 Specialized S-works Tricross, which is fitted with TRP cantilever brakes. I’ve been happy with the canti brakes for ’cross racing and trail riding, though I do recognize the benefits of disc brakes. However, I’m not planning on buying a new CX bike anytime soon. That brings me to my question: what would you think about replacing the front fork in order to run disc brakes? I’d keep the canti brake in the rear.

I’d like to try the Crusher in the Tushar ride in 2018 and have been reading rider opinions on bike selection and course conditions. Being very comfortable with my CX bike, I plan to stick with what is familiar. The description of the descents on washboard roads favors a MTB, so I thought the front disc brake would make the descents safer at speed (as well as allowing for a slightly larger tire up front).

Would you recommend this modification? If so, what are your thoughts/suggestions?
— Chris

Dear Chris,
I think that is a perfectly reasonable solution, for the reasons you cite. See my answer to the prior question for another reason.

The cheapest way to do this would be with a cable-actuated front disc brake, since you could use your existing left lever. That said, the braking performance of a hydraulic disc brake greatly exceeds that of cable-actuated discs. The latter solution would provide you with better braking at the expense of a lighter wallet and mismatched levers.
― Lennard

What’s that little plastic plate for?

Dear Lennard,
I put a Hollowtech II 9000 crankset on my Kent Eriksen bike last spring when I switched to SRAM eTAP and got it working with an 11-36 cogset — partly with your help to try it, against SRAM guidelines for their WiFly. In Sept and October, I rode the bike in Umbria and Abruzzo, Italy to good effect, considering I’m now 70, and I’ve been concerned about arrhythmias even well before reading “Haywire Heart.” The shifting was fine.

But here’s a more technical gear question that, again, the very small local shop mechanic couldn’t help me with. In taking the crank off the bike in Umbria or putting it back on in my garage here a week ago after changing the BB (it grinds), I seem to have broken that little plastic safety plate between the two bolts securing the left crank on the spindle.

I looked in the Zinn road book that I bought early this year (though now I see that it is the 4th edition, 2013) and found no mention of that plate. Drawings don’t show a plate there. Presumably, Hollowtech II came out later than press time for the 4th edition.

The many amateur YouTube how-to videos about the crankset have various advice about how tight to screw in various parts and whether that little plate needs to be there at all. One site called it a spacer. The part had a projection that maybe dropped into the hole that is in the spindle to keep the crank on there if the plastic pre-tension nut or the two bolts all failed.

How important is that plate? Will the crank slide off without it?
— Eric

Dear Eric,
That plate is only important if you ride with those pinch bolts insufficiently tight. If you tighten them to torque spec and check their torque periodically, the plastic safety plate will never come into play.

The plate has a little tab on it directed radially inward, and it is intended to drop into the little hole drilled radially into the side of the spindle a centimeter or so from its non-drive end. As the hole is drilled parallel to the drive-side crankarm, it is also a visual indicator; without looking at the opposite crank, you know the proper installation orientation of the left arm by putting that hole under the slot. The left arm then ends up at the correct 180 degrees to the right arm.

If your crankarm pinch bolts were loose, that tab on the plastic safety plate would keep the arm from sliding off for a little while; otherwise, the arm would come right off while you pedaled. If you were perceptive enough to notice that your crankarm was flopping around before your continued pedaling eroded away that plastic tab, you would save yourself the indignity and damage of having the crankarm come off while riding. If you were to ignore the wallowing around of the crank, however, it would eventually come off anyway, once that tab became worn.

The way to properly use that safety plate on installation and removal without losing it is to remove one of the pinch bolts so that the safety plate can pivot on the other bolt.
― Lennard

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Week in Tech: New Canyon, Sagan says Wahoo!, Rapha wool Fri, 15 Dec 2017 11:26:18 +0000 Canyon introduces new mountain bike, Sagan's Bora team rides with Wahoo Elemnt Bolt head units, and Rapha has a fancy new jacket.

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Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news you need with none of the marketing gibberish you don’t want.

Canyon hits the trails

Canyon’s updated Spectral trail bike sports 150 millimeters of travel up front and 140 millimeters of travel in the rear. It comes in three flavors: full carbon, carbon front and aluminum rear, and full aluminum.  27.5-inch wheels are wrapped in either 2.4-inch or 2.6-inch tires. Canyon has also developed a new integrated cable channel: The impact-resistant plastic cover fits into the frame to maintain a clean look that makes service simpler. Canyon has also developed two new bottle cage systems to work with the new lateral position of the shock, as well as a storage box that attaches to the frame. An integrated seat post clamp tops off a long list of nice touches. Pricing and models available for U.S. consumers are below.

U.S. Pricing:
Spectral AL 6.0 $2,499
Spectral CF 8.0 $3,499
Spectral CF 9.0 PRO $4,499
Spectral CF 9.0 SL $5,999
Spectral CF 9.0 EX LTD $6,999


Sagan says Wahoo!

Triple world champion Peter Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team will ride with Wahoo in 2018. The Georgia company will provide Sagan, Rafal Majka, and the rest of the team with Wahoo Elemnt Bolt head units and Tickr heart rate monitors. “I think the Wahoo bike computers stand out not only for the technology, performance and features, they offer but also for their cool design and user-friendliness,” said Sagan.

Lezyne’s box o’ gold

Pegboard looking a little blah these days? Lezyne’s toolkit can spice things up with a collection of tools plated with 18K gold. The six tools come in a wood box; three are gold-plated entirely, and three feature gold accents. The gold bits are the Saber Levers, an alloy bottle cage, a waterproof aluminum case for the patch kit, a mini-pump, CO2 inflator, and SV-11 multi-tool. For a mere $350 it can be yours.


Rapha’s high-zoot commute

Rapha has partnered with luxury Italian brand Loro Piana to create a new wool soft shell for your daily commute. The jacket is 93% wool, 5% silk, and 2% elastane. The water-repellant finish and taped seams should keep you protected in wet weather. The pocket configuration has been redesigned to provide storage around the back and an internal pocket to keep valuables safe. Underarm zippers allow for ventilation and a built-in shoulder pad protects the jacket from bag strap abrasions. Reflective piping increases your visibility too. Rapha said the jacket was designed to be worn with layers underneath, so you won’t find a race cut here. It’ll cost you $500, so don’t crash while wearing it.


Specialized issues Allez fork recall

Specialized has issued a letter calling for riders to stop riding and retailers to stop selling the 2018 model Allez, Allez Elite, and Allez Sport bikes. The letter was issued in preparation for a recall of the bike’s forks. “After careful examination, we’ve concluded that some model year 2018 Allez, Allez Elite, and Allez Sport model bikes may contain a manufacturing defect in the fork crown which potentially affects safety. Therefore, we’ve decided to prepare for a recall which will involve replacing the existing fork with a new fork,” a statement from Specialized said. “By this letter, we’re asking riders to stop riding, and our dealers to stop selling, affected bicycles. Even though to our knowledge, no one has been injured and no regulatory agency has brought this to our attention.” The statement continued that riders who have purchased the certain model bikes will get priority before retailers.


Tanja Erath wins Zwift academy, will join Canyon/Sram

Germany’s Tanja Erath won the 2017 Zwift Academy challenge and thus earned a pro contract with Canyon-SRAM for the 2018 season. She beat over 2,100 competitors from around the world. This is the second year Zwift and Canyon/SRAM have partnered for the competition that awards the winner with a WorldTour contract. Leah Thorvilson won last year. Erath is a nurse, former triathlete, and fixed-gear criterium racer.


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Technical FAQ: How to control two brakes with one hand Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:37:30 +0000 Lots of readers write in with their thoughts about how you can set up a disc-brake bike for one-handed riding.

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After last week’s column, there were lots of suggestions on how to control two hydraulic (or cable) brakes with a single lever. So, this week’s Technical FAQ column is devoted to these reader letters:

Dear Lennard,
Just a quick suggestion for Efe looking to deal with braking with one hand. I have the same problem. I am left-handed, and I do all my shifting and braking using my left hand.

You can see from the picture that I have taken the right STI lever and placed it on the end of the left drop so that the brake lever is almost touching the left brake lever. This allows me to have independent braking, both front and back, allowing me to fully use each brake.

I also have Ultegra Di2, which allows me to modify what each lever does. In my case, both levers shift the rear derailleur, allowing shifting from both the drops and the hoods. To shift the front derailleur my mechanic stripped down a climbing shifter and we attached the stripped down shifter to the left STI lever just above the brake lever. The right side is just a dummy hood, which is completely stripped down.

This system has worked on this bike for 30,000km. The only thing I suggest (like you see in the picture) is to place a sandwich bag on the bottom lever to stop ingress of sweat from hands into the body of the lever. My lever failed after about 10,000km after which I started using the sandwich bag and haven’t had a problem since.

I too am a paracyclist and this setup seems to work for me. Hopefully this could help Efe’s friend.
— Stephan

Dear Lennard,
In response to the question how to set up double brakes on a bicycle with drop bars, I have a couple different theories how to accomplish adequate braking using one hand.

Using mechanical brakes, use a brake splitter where one cable enters and two exit. Think of the old Odyssey Gyro setup used on BMX bikes. The trick will be figuring out where to mount it on a road bike. Of course this would not produce the front/rear bias that Efe was seeking, but it may be a relatively simple solution.

Assuming hydraulic disc brakes are preferred, a single lever set up would require, as you stated, a larger master cylinder to accommodate the increased fluid volume required to operate two calipers. If we pull from automotive tech, it is safe to say the right machine shop could make two separate master cylinders that could be connected together. One would be the rear master cylinder the other the front, each configured to provide the desired front rear braking bias. This is a common set up in racecars.

The next option for a hydraulic system would be to use proportioning valves installed after the master cylinder; this would give a fixed front/rear bias depending on what percent of fluid flows to the front vs. the rear once it leaves the master cylinder. Of course, this setup would also require custom machine work to create the master cylinder and proportioning valves.

In any case, finding the correct braking bias that would cover the most common situations would be the trickiest part of the equation. The center of mass on a bicycle is constantly changing based on rider position, so what works while seated wouldn’t necessarily work as well while standing. If it were me, I would lean toward the side of caution and shoot for a brake bias of F60/R40.
— Carl

Dear Lennard,
Your letter on December 5 about double brakes for a Paralympic cyclist lacked the most obvious answer.

The solution already exists in the automobile industry, where one pedal controls brakes on four or more wheels. The short story is that a balancing system/valve makes the front brake the primary brake and the rear brake function like a secondary brake. The automobile systems are of course more sophisticated and have “split points” to rebalance for harder braking situations. But that is because it is ten to thirty times the mass and 1,000 times more energy to decelerate a motor vehicle than a bike. A simpler lightweight system would be desirable and likely all the Paralympic cyclist needs for his bike.

Possibly all one needs for a simple double brake on a bicycle is the right ratio of large rotor in front and small rotor in back, such as 180/140 or 203/140.

Another simple system on a bicycle might also have a smaller hydraulic port for the rear hose, which will also reduce the force applied to the rear brake.

My reputable reference is a Society of Automotive Engineers PowerPoint they titled “Brake Systems 101.”

Maybe this is how the automobile industry can finally pay back cycling for its invention of the Bowden Cable.

Preferably, a professional engineer with computer-aided design equipment would incorporate calculations to get the ideal pressure balance needed for a bicycle over a broader range of weight/mass. Otherwise, you are in Graeme Obree-like experimental territory. But Campy claims that a single pivot in the rear brake is enough to provide both hands with the feeling that equal pressure is applied by both hands and provides superior braking control.
— Frank

Dear Lennard,
One possible solution to get two hydraulic brakes operated by one lever would be to use a cable-actuated lever and a cable-to-hydraulic converter. You could probably come up with a cable arrangement with a single cable in the lever that gets split to two cables at the actuator. You could adjust brake balance by using separate barrel adjusters to each side of the hydraulic converter. It would take a little fiddling to do the one to two split (basically a “Y” cable) but I can think of a couple of ways to accomplish it with just a little messing around to create a small metal bracket with three cable stops on it (one input and two output).
— David

Dear Lennard,
Perhaps slotting the brake pad material on the rear brake?
— Peter

Dear Lennard,
In response to the question and answer on the braking for the Paralympic cyclist, one solution would be one lever and 2 pistons of differential size to give different amount of braking power front and back.
— Mark

Dear Lennard,
Was just reading about the athlete that needs all the controls to his left hand.

I have done this for a customer with similar issues.

Attached [see above] is my latest iteration (Ver 3.0) of all left-hand controls on a Surly Moloko bar on an S-Works Diverge.

I would think if they used an ergo drop bar, with a flat area, it would be possible to mount the Guide brakes in a similar manner as I have done in the pictures.

Because the Guide brakes are all in-line, it is possible to “stack” the brakes and use the index finger for one brake and the middle finger for the other, up to the rider as to which one is which, of course. Using the RSC version, allows for complete tuning of the brakes.

I will deliver the bike this Friday; test riding the bike at the shop, it works much better than I was expecting. My customer will have full control of the bike with one hand. Front brake, rear brake, dropper post and shifting.
— Jeff Ghiselin – Owner
Stray Dog Bicycles
2340 Sunset Blvd #160
Rocklin, CA

Dear Lennard,
It’s a setup I have never tried, but it might be possible to combine this cable-actuated brake doubler and this cable-to-hydraulic adapter to get the desired result.
— Phil

Dear Lennard,
Just use a [Shimano] Saint lever. It normally pushes 4 pistons in a single caliper, so pushing 4 in two calipers should be fine. I would do XTR Race calipers, or road calipers, since I think they have the smallest volume.

As a side note, I have seen a guy with no hands and one foot riding double black trails at Whistler (Ride Don’t Slide). He had cups made to insert his forearms, and articulated the brakes with dropping the elbow. Fascinating, and motivating.
— Ralph

Dear Lennard,
I was reading your article regarding the braking system for a Paralympic Cyclist. When Efe spoke about a possible single lever dual disc brake setup, I got to thinking. Has anybody (brake manufacturer) considered a setup where one of the brake lines has an orifice in it to increase the required Force to actuate the piston (F=PxA)? Or perhaps, design a dual brake setup where one of the brake lines has a smaller ID than the other. Then when a single lever setup is used, the lever force would apply a greater force on the larger diameter line assuming that the pistons on both brakes were of the same diameter. If two brake lines of equal diameter were used, perhaps a dial-in-adjust flow restrictor could be designed into the inlet of one of the brake lines to allow for brake modulation setup.
— Shawn

Dear Lennard,
I read your piece today regarding a brake work around for a handicapped rider. I recently completed a similar project for a rider with one arm. The rider in question has only his left hand since birth. We fitted a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 left shifter programmed to operate the rear derailleur. Front shifting is accomplished by fitting a Shimano climbing switch accessible with the same hand programmed to operate the front mechanism.

The braking was a challenge as my customer wanted hydraulic disc brakes. After much research and consultation with Shimano, SRAM, TRP, and others, we determined that the fluid volume in the master cylinder in the single lever is not sufficient to operate two calipers. Our fix was to use a cable-style lever. A cable runs to a cable doubling device which allows the single input cable to operate two separate cables running to each wheel. We then used TRP’s HY-RD brake calipers, which have hydraulic cylinders on each caliper but are actuated by cables.

The setup works perfectly and the client is very happy with it.

— Justin Karbel
Dave’s Cycle
Cos Cob, CT

Dear Lennard,
A potential solution for this special-needs cyclist could be made possible with the Problem Solver cable doubler, if they were willing to use conventional rim brakes or cable discs. I have heard of this being done successfully by a variety of cyclists with special needs.

Could he also mount a rear derailleur fingertip shifter on the left side of his bars?
— Louis

Dear Lennard,
Regarding the gentleman with the hand strength deficiency, I would strongly recommend against splitting the hydraulic fluid from one lever among two calipers. Any attempt to split the braking force over two brakes will reduce the effectiveness of the front brake, which is the critical brake for maximum deceleration. To quote Sheldon Brown: “The fastest that you can stop any bike of normal wheelbase is to apply the front brake so hard that the rear wheel is just about to lift off the ground. In this situation, the rear wheel cannot contribute to stopping power, since it has no traction.”

A setup with braking force split 50/50 front/rear would lock up the back wheel long before locking up the front wheel, and the stopping distance would be longer than the same bike with only a front brake for someone with limited hand strength.

I would recommend leaving the left brake lever connected to only the front brake, and installing a bar-top lever on the left side connected to the rear brake (purely as a backup in case the front brake fails or the front tire flats). Disc brakes would be a good idea if heat management is a concern, since he won’t be able to easily alternate brakes to give rims a chance to cool.
— Brendan

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Week in Tech: New gravel options, the Canyon effect, and more Fri, 08 Dec 2017 13:42:33 +0000 Seven Cycles rolls out a new gravel bike, and so does Open in collaboration with Yeti. Plus, Lightweight's new disc-brake wheels.

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Here’s your Week in Tech — all the gear news you need, none of the marketing gibberish you don’t want.

Seven offers enormous gravel upgrade

Seven Cycles is offering an upgrade to its thru-axle, disc, SL, and SLX frames that can reduce the weight by up to 20 percent. The XX upgrade is based on 11 design features that Seven claims will have no negative impact on performance. Upgrades include asymmetric dropouts and chainstays, an internal seat post binder, and more aggressive bottom bracket machining. The XX upgrade is available as a $995 add-on to any of Seven’s SL or SLX disc brake, titanium frames.


Lightweight gets in the disc game

The Meilenstein Disc is Lightweight’s first disc wheelset and it’s crazy light — with a corresponding crazy price tag. The 48-millimeter deep carbon wheels weigh 1,380 grams for a pair of clinchers or 1,245 grams for a pair of tubulars. The rim width of the Meilenstein Discs has increased from 20mm to 24mm compared with other Meilenstein wheels. The increased rim width accommodates 25-32mm tires. Lightweight’s specially designed pentagon-shaped hub is laced to the rim using just 20 spokes. The company claims the disc wheels are 10 percent stiffer than the previous generation. The clincher wheelset costs about $5,400, while the tubular wheelset is about $4,600.


Open and Yeti join gravel forces

Yeti Cycles and Open Cycles have collaborated to release a limited run of Open’s NEW U.P. GravelPlus frameset in the iconic Yeti turquoise. The U.P. — which stands for Unbeaten Path — is an all-carbon gravel bike that can handle tires up to 27.5 x 2.1 inches. VeloNews tested the Open U.P. earlier this year and it scored well due to its versatility. The frame comes with three MultiStops for 1x, 2x, and Di2 cable routing. The collaboration is limited: Only 50 turquoise frames are being produced. You can score yours for $3,200.


In a chamois far, far away…

BioRacer has partnered with Disney to develop multiple Star Wars-themed jerseys and bibs. The collaboration includes five series: Iconic Sleeves, Allover Print, Art Collection, Logo Shirts, and Planets. The Iconic Sleeves series comes in five jerseys with colorful short sleeves adorned with the face of popular characters like Yoda, C-3PO, or Darth Vader. The Allover Print series includes two prints: a Death Star pattern and several iconic spaceship patterns. The multicolored Art Collection invites its wearers to pick a character: Boba Fett, Storm Trooper, or Darth Vader. The Logo series displays the iconic logo of the saga across the torso while the last series showcases the colors of different planets. The Logo and Planets series are also available in women’s cuts.


Canyon effect in full swing

Pirelli Pzero bikeIntense Cycles and Pirelli tires both announced that consumers can now buy products directly. Pirelli’s e-commerce site is currently only available to those in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and the UK. U.S. consumers will have to wait for direct sales; in the meantime, they can find Pirelli tires at select retailers. Intense Cycles’ direct sales program is called the Rider Direct Network, which includes a network of bike shops that offer the same consumer-direct price at the local bike shop.

Read more on Pirelli >>

Read more on Intense Cycles >>

Bell Helmets sponsors college cycling programs

Bell Helmets has partnered with four collegiate cycling programs for the 2018 season, including the University of Colorado, Boulder, Piedmont College, Lees-McRae, and UC Santa Cruz. CU Boulder won both road and mountain bike national championships in 2017. Each team will sport Bell’s lightweight Z20 helmet, aerodynamic Star Pro helmet, and Javelin time trial helmet. Each respective college will have its helmets custom-painted with team colors.


Rolf Prima partners with RAAM

Rolf Prima and Race Across America (RAAM) announced a multi-year partnership that designates Rolf Prima as the official wheel of RAAM. Rolf Prima performs all its engineering, design, testing, and wheel building in its Eugene, Oregon facility. RAAM is a 3,000-mile, coast-to-coast race across the U.S. that starts in Oceanside, California and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland. The 2018 RAAM will be the 37th edition.


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Strava users rode 4.54 billion miles in 2017 Thu, 07 Dec 2017 21:37:12 +0000 Strava tabulates its millions of rides from 2017. Californians recorded the most activities, and Vermonters have the hilliest routes.

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Strava’s Year In Sport Report is out, and it appears we’ve all ridden a lot of miles in 2017. The report breaks down the where, when, and how of each Strava user’s activities worldwide.

Within the data deep-dive, a few key figures stand out:

– Americans rode 709 million miles in 36.5 million rides
– People worldwide rode 4.54 billion miles in 203 million rides
– Americans climbed 32 billion feet
– Riders worldwide ascended 227 billion feet worldwide
– Morning people make up 43 percent of athletes who train weekly
– Commuters aren’t just weekday riders — they upload 43 percent more weekend activities
– Romain Bardet’s stage win at the Tour de France in Pau, France was the ride given the most kudos: 22,736 thumbs-up from cycling fans worldwide

Apparently we all think about beer while riding. Beer was mentioned in activity titles 102,033 times.

Strava also breaks down commuting data and carbon offsets. According to its calculations, commuting reduced carbon emissions by 1 billion pounds in 2017, up from 810 million pounds in 2016. For example, in the United States, the average commute is eight miles and about 34 minutes.

Congratulations are in order for California, which took the crown as the most active state with 7,949,234 activities. Colorado came in second with 2,106,918 activities.

Among the U.S. states, Vermonters have the hilliest routes, averaging 1,361 feet of climbing for each ride. What they might lack in climbs, Kansans make up for in average speed, topping the rest of Americans with a 20.1mph average for 2017 rides. Floridians take the longest rides, averaging 23.5 miles, and Arizonans ride the longest in terms of time, averaging one hour, 54 minutes.

The full report is available here >>

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Technical FAQ: Cassette spiders, sealant, and double brakes Tue, 05 Dec 2017 14:34:39 +0000 This week, Lennard Zinn addresses questions pertaining to cassette spiders, the amount of sealant needed, and assembling double brakes.

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Cogs and spiders

Dear Lennard,
I was wondering if having more cassette cogs mounted on a spider increases shifting performance. For example, an 11-speed Ultegra cassette has five cogs on two spiders, whereas an 11-speed 105 cassette has only three cogs on one spider.
— Chris

Dear Chris,
Maybe there is a shifting performance improvement, but I doubt it’s noticeable. The main benefit of the cogs mounted on spiders is in dropping grams; having more of the cogs on aluminum spiders decreases weight by replacing the majority of the cog’s steel (or titanium) mass with aluminum spider arms.

I would guess that the thick aluminum spider, to which the outer steel toothed ring is riveted (and it is only a thin ring with teeth on it, rather than an entire, stand-alone cog), is probably stiffer than separate single, flat, steel cogs, especially as the cog sizes increase. I’ve never measured the stiffness difference and don’t know of any independent tests of this, so I have no scientific evidence on which to base this opinion.
― Lennard

Sealant minimums

Dear Lennard,
While I understand that instructions from manufacturers call for half a bottle of sealant to be used on tubeless tires, I’m wondering in a weight geek kind of way what’s the minimum amount that one could get away with. It looks like something like a teaspoon would be needed to plug a given leak, but of course that teaspoon would have to be in the right place at the right time. So, what’s the minimum?
— Andrew

Dear Andrew,
How much sealant is required completely depends on the tire’s porousness and its fit to the rim, as well as the size of the tire.

If it’s a tubeless ready tire as opposed to a UST tire, tire standards do not require it to have airtight sidewalls (which UST tires must have), and it can take a lot more sealant to fill all of its pinholes. And if air can get around the rim/tire interface, then it will take considerable sealant to fill these leaks, as they are not on the top of the tire, where the sealant is naturally thrown to. And obviously, a 29×2.4-inch MTB tire is going to require more sealant than will a 700x25C one of similar air permeability.

From a weight-weenie perspective, if you also have an interest in reducing the amount of time devoted to screwing around with getting your tires to seal, I think it makes a lot more sense to put in the recommended amount of sealant, seal it up, and then remove the excess. You can take out the valve core and push out most of the sealant once it has completely sealed up. That should still leave a little bit sloshing around in there to fill thorn punctures.
― Lennard

Double brakes

Dear Lennard,

I’ve met a Paralympic cyclist who can use only his left hand. He still has a right hand, but as far as I understand, his right-hand fingers can only pull very weakly, so he cannot shift or brake with them. He joined some races using a standard road bike, operating the rear brakes and front derailleur using a left-hand shifter, effectively serving as a 2-speed bike.

We’re planning to solve the shifting problem using Synchro Shift, assigning the rear shifting buttons to the left and having the system operate the front derailleur automatically. However, we still don’t know how to operate both brakes using one hand. I’m aware of dual lever setups on one side, but the Paralympic Committee disallows his participation using a flat bar bike for his class of disability. Therefore, we concentrated our thoughts on operating two brakes with one hand. His left hand is not particularly strong, so we think hydraulic brakes are the way to go.

The No. 1 problem that comes to my mind will be the increase in lever stroke, as we’ll need to fill two calipers instead of one with just one lever. After the brakes are full, the total force on the bike would be the same until rear wheel lockup, at which point the bike would be quite close to flipping over anyway. Do you think the lever stroke will be enough to operate both calipers, or will it be hitting the handlebars? How can we mitigate the free stroke? For example, would slightly overfilling the system work? Or maybe using the brake calipers of another brand that has smaller pistons?

 Another problem is that in order to actuate the brakes using one lever, there are series and parallel applications for different setups. Which one is better in your opinion in terms of reliability and ease of brake balance adjustment?

Lastly, can you suggest any other option for adjusting the brake balance? We’d like to have it easily adjusted without having to swap parts or re-bleed the system, but that may prove difficult.

— Efe

Dear Efe,
No, I think the lever will hit the handlebar before stopping the bike. It will help to turn the adjuster screw on the lever to eliminate the free stroke and then do a super good bleed, but I think it will still be iffy. And overfilling won’t do it; you need a bigger piston and master cylinder to provide the additional volume of fluid you seek.

I don’t know what you can do about balance between the two. They both should move the same, so if you’re OK with having the same braking force front and rear, then that much balance is probably what you’ll get. I don’t know how you could get one brake to be more powerful than the other one, besides using two different rotor sizes.
― Lennard

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The Week in Tech: Bikepacking beast, rim reflectors, Kask for women Fri, 01 Dec 2017 11:55:36 +0000 Bombtrack has a burly new bikepacking rig; a new company wants to make rims reflective; Iris Slappendel designs Kask kit.

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Here’s the Week in Tech — all the gear news you need and none of the marketing gibberish you don’t want.

Next-level bikepacking

This might be the mother of all bikepacking rigs. Bombtrack’s Beyond+ Advantage features massive 29+ wheels on WTB i45 rims and a 10-50t cassette with SRAM’s Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. A drop handlebar allows multiple hand position options and comfort. The Beyond+ comes with a dropper post to give you added clearance when descending. The bike costs $3,100 and consumers can email Bombtrack for more info.

Reflective, all the way around

Flectr’s adhesive rim reflectors throw light 360 degrees on two of the most conspicuous moving parts on the bike — wheels. The two-piece product wraps around the rim from both sides and overlaps onto the rim vertex creating gap-free reflection, unlike normal reflectors that attach to the spokes. Flectr claims the reflectors will bond with every rim material and shape. It says they’re immune to dirt and other weather conditions. The Flectr 360 is currently still in the Kickstarter phase with a $20 pledge for a single set. Flectr expects to ship in February.


Kask’s women’s line gets pro-stylish

Kask has partnered with former Dutch national road champion Iris Slappendel to develop a new women’s specific kit called “Protect Your Style.” The apparel line builds on the ‘KASK For Women’ initiative. “I design cycling clothes that are fashionable, so you have more fun on your bike,” said Slappendel. “When designing the Protect Your Style range I was influenced by bold colors and geometric lines, it was great fun experimenting on where they would fit best and I’m really happy with how the items have turned out, they work really well together.” The kit, which will be labeled with Kask’s house brand KOO, will include a Protone special edition helmet, jersey, cap, and socks. All the items in the “Protect Your Style” kit will be available in small, medium or large; the jersey is also available in XS and XL. The kit will be available for purchase in mid-December.

Grease easy

Muc-Off ‘s grease gun should keep your fingers clean in the shop. The grease gun screws onto Muc-Off’s Bio Grease bottles and allows for a more precise application. The kit costs $34 and includes the new grease gun along with a small tube of grease.


3T parent company THM expands to U.S.

THM, the parent company of 3T, is building its North American presence with a new U.S.-based branch that will be located in Aliso Viejo, California. THM North America will carry out all U.S. and Canada orders for the German manufacturer. THM claims to offer some of the lightest components and its entire range is designed, developed, tested, and produced in Germany. Orders will be fulfilled by 3T U.S. distributor Vittoria Industries North America (VINA).

Classic gloves that come with a gift

Elevengear has done a limited run of Classissima deerskin cycling gloves and it is offering a free gift to go along with the $85 U.S.-made mitts. You can choose from a “Poseur” cycling cap, a pair of “FondoPro” socks, or an “Anaerobia” cap to match these short-fingered leather gloves. Just add them to your cart with glove purchase and the price will zero out. Also note that quantities are limited — Elevengear only has 100 pairs of these handmade gloves.


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Technical FAQ: Thru-axles and frame stiffness Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:41:07 +0000 This week, Lennard Zinn addresses questions pertaining to thru-axles and carbon fiber frames.

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Why thru-axles?

Dear Lennard,
I’ve been riding for years and have raced road, track, tandem, and mountain bike.

I’ve never had a problem with my forks or wheels. Why is the industry shifting to thru-axles? It seems like marketing, but there must be an engineering reason behind this.
— Bill

Dear Bill,
There are two arguments for thru-axles; one has to do with safety and the other has to do with performance.

I’m sure you understand why we have the universal presence of wheel-retention tabs on fork ends for bikes with quick-release skewers and rim brakes; they are there to prevent the front wheel from falling out. They are often called “lawyer tabs,” in reference to the huge lawsuits that have been won by plaintiffs whose front wheel had fallen out, even if they had not tightened the quick release properly.

With disc brakes, those safety issues with front-wheel retention are compounded, and thru-axles are a solution to them. When the front disc brake is applied, the fulcrum of an imaginary lever connecting the contact point with the ground and one on the top of the tire moves from being at the hub axle — the center of the wheel — to the point on the rotor where the brake pads are clamping it. This means that there is now a torque about that point that is trying to force the front axle almost straight down, out of the ends of the fork ends, if their slots are vertical.

On mountain bikes, there have been incidents where, despite lawyer tabs on the forks, the wheel was forced out of the fork under hard braking. This is because a suspension fork’s magnesium outer legs are soft, and hard braking with the QR even slightly loose files the fork ends down between the clamping faces on the ends of the axle and the clamping faces of the quick-release skewer. It should be somewhat apparent that this filing of the faces of the fork ends will not be uniform; rather, it will tend to file the lower part of the fork end thinner than the upper end. This means that, even if the skewer is tight enough when the axle is fully seated in the fork ends, it will be too loose as soon as the axle moves down in the fork ends at all. This up-and-down axle movement also grinds down the soft lawyer tabs, and they can be knocked off completely when the axle comes forcefully down the slot, thus releasing the wheel.

Some disc brake-fork manufacturers initially addressed this concern by angling the slots in the fork ends forward, rather than down. The torque produced upon hard braking about the point on the rotor where the brake pads were clamping it would now be forcing the hub axle down against the lower side of the slot in the fork end, rather than straight down the (vertical) slot in the fork end.

A much more foolproof solution to this issue, however, is a thru-axle. Once you screw in the axle and clamp it down, it is irrelevant what the disc brake does; it will not dislodge the wheel.

The performance improvement comes from added rigidity to the fork. The thru-axle ties both fork legs together. With a suspension fork, you are no longer relying on the stiffness of the fork brake to prevent independent movement of the two legs and hence fork binding. A thru-axle is also the only way an upside-down fork, like a Manitou Dorado or a Maverick (or a motorcycle fork), will work. And with a rigid fork, the thru-axle, crown, and legs together form a rigid box, resulting in more precise steering control, thanks to a reduction in lateral fork flex.

Now that all QR forks have lawyer tabs anyway, there is no longer a significant speed of wheel change issue between that and a quick-lever type of thru-axle.
― Lennard

Carbon fiber frame properties

Dear Lennard,
Two related questions:

1. How much vertical compliance does a carbon fiber frame actually offer? I realize this is dependent on stay design, rider weight, tire psi, road condition, etc., but generally speaking, is it possible for the average amateur cyclist to feel appreciable vertical compliance with carbon (versus, say, aluminum)?

My belief is that it might be felt by a rider weighing 90 kilograms (198 pounds) riding a road bike running 700×23 tires at 100psi, but that there is no way any vertical compliance from the frame can be felt when a rider at 65 kilos (143 pounds) is running 29″ x 2.25″ tires at 25psi on a hardtail mountain bike — the tires will provide the initial compliance and then would have to max out at their expansion limit before the frame even begins to comply (before which, presumably, the tire would have blown out anyway.)

2. More or less orthogonal to the answer of the first question, does carbon lose its ability to dampen vibrations (and, perhaps, offer vertical compliance) over time? I’m not referring to catastrophic failure here, but rather I’m wondering if material fatigue will eventually result in a carbon frame with apparent structural integrity losing its damping capabilities. Or can we just ride these things with full damping capability until they become obsolete?
— Jeff

Dear Jeff,
1. A frame’s vertical compliance is of course dependent on the frame design, the carbon layup, the tube diameters, and the quality of construction (how much resin beyond what is required to bond all of the layers together has been squeezed out). Beyond that, you are absolutely right that your bike’s first line of suspension is the tires. If you have big, soft tires, the frame’s vertical compliance will be so tiny relative to that of the tires that you will not be able to tell the difference between the vertical compliance of frames of similar quality. With skinny tires pumped up hard, you can probably notice a compliance difference between frames with a significant difference in vertical stiffness.

2. Carbon fiber composites do not tend to fatigue. So as long as you don’t damage the layup with impacts bigger than it can absorb without delamination or cracking, your frame’s stiffness and damping characteristics will not tend to change over time.
― Lennard

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WorldTour mechanics: Wizards of the wrench Fri, 24 Nov 2017 19:22:01 +0000 WorldTour wrenches pack their mental toolboxes with equal parts patience and adrenaline, and as many languages as possible.

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Less than 24 hours before the start of the 2017 Tour de France prologue, the BMC Racing team bus hums with last-minute bike checks and a back-log of tune-ups. On one side of the service course, a young mechanic urgently preps Richie Porte’s Teammachine SLR01 for the training ride slated to roll out soon. On the other side, Belgian Jurgen Landrie hoists a Timemachine into his stand, prepping it for the time trial. New cables and housing, shifting adjustments. Cameras click on all sides as fans bustle about, and journalists sniff out stories. We’re all there to take in the circus.

It’s threatening to rain. Landrie doesn’t seem to notice or care, and it’s a safe bet he wouldn’t make much of a fuss if the rain finally started falling. He has his tools; he has a raincoat. And there’s a job to do.

“You have to really go into details,” Landrie says of prepping the bikes for the Tour’s opening time trial. “You only have one shot. If it’s a road race and it’s 200 kilometers, normally nothing can happen. But a TT is completely different.”

With new bike technology coming at pro mechanics incessantly, those details become finer, more nuanced, and more crucial to master. Today’s bikes represent the boldest experiments bike designers have yet dreamt of to make riders go faster while remaining within UCI design constraints. With those bold designs come unprecedented complexities, both in the build and maintenance of each bike.

WorldTour mechanics know this and prepare for it — and the best ones are excited about it. That’s what makes a successful wrench: The ability to adapt, work through problems, figure things out. They are, in a sense, a class of engineer all their own — not to mention translator and sometimes first-responder. Aside from the riders themselves, experienced mechanics are perhaps the team’s most significant asset. That kind of experience doesn’t come easy.

Jurgen Landrie. Photo: Dan Cavallari |

“THIS IS PART OF my life, this little toolbox,” says Landrie of his blue Park Tool case. “There’s nothing special, nothing that has an emotional value. You have to keep updating your tools. And don’t carry too much, because you have to walk around for a few weeks with a too-heavy toolbox.”

He makes no mention of the toolbox inside his mind, the one that really makes the difference between a mechanic and a WorldTour mechanic.

“I really support every kind of evolution,” says Landrie, who has been a pro mechanic for over a decade, transitioning to the WorldTour from the velodrome, where he wrenched for the Belgian national team. “I’m open to being involved in testing. It’s very nice to see the things we do now — they show up with numbers to show, ‘Okay, this is better, this is worse, this doesn’t make any change.’ The data doesn’t really make it easier, but it makes things more interesting. It’s not just a bike. There’s passion in it.”

Landrie grew up in Oudenaarde, Belgium, where the Tour of Flanders currently finishes. He raced as a pro for a while, using the iconic cobbled climbs around his home as his training ground. His family, all cycling fans, supported him, and while his pro career was short-lived, the passion for the sport still burned.

“I remember as a kid I was a big fan of cycling. But [instead of the riders], I knew all the parts and gear from the team, what they were using, the shoes, the sunglasses, and helmets — all the details. I already had a big interest,” he says.

That’s how it begins for so many pro wrenches on the WorldTour: A childhood passion turns into something unexpected after the path changes from racing a bike to working on it.

Just ask Orica-Scott mechanic Craig Geater, another grown-up kid who turned racing aspirations into a career working on race machines.

“I wasn’t anything special,” Geater says of his racing days. He’d seen the Tour de France and other races in New Zealand, where he grew up. He decided to go to Europe even though he wasn’t a great rider; he just wanted to experience it. “I went to Belgium and raced for a little bit and I realized I was way out of my league.”

As a poor racer without any support, Geater was left to maintain his own bikes. He worked in bike shops to fund his cycling habit. “I just got interested in the equipment I was using. I read all the magazines to see what was new, and that got me hooked,” he says. By chance, Geater was asked to help out the Linda McCartney Racing team back in 1998, and in his own words, he was just “lucky and available.”

Not long after, he was traveling the world for a living.

Craig Geater. Photo: Tim De Waele |

IN ALMOST 20 YEARS as a pro mechanic, Geater’s been around long enough to see just about everything, especially among fans. Cycling fans have unimaginably close access to riders and equipment, so mechanics are always on the lookout for lurkers with sticky fingers. But sometimes the fans get bold in other ways. Geater recounts a recent story in which he was
helping retrieve bottles on a Tour de France climb. He returned to the team car to find a new passenger.

“An Australian guy had hopped in the car and asked for a ride to the top of the hill,” he says. “He was kitted out and didn’t have a bike. He was already in the car… so I gave him a ride.”

Having worked for Team RadioShack, and been one of Lance Armstrong’s mechanics, Geater can tell you stories about celebrity visitors, too. He’s quick to mention Eddie Jones, coach of the Australian National Rugby team.

Then, as an afterthought, he lists the B-team of celebrities: Sheryl Crow, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams. “We’ve also had [former president of France] Nicolas Sarkozy,” he says. “They go in the car during the stages, and they’re so excited that they ask a lot of questions and forget we’re trying to listen to the race radio.”

It’s all part of the fun, but it’s also a major stress. Mechanics, as Geater says, are always on edge. It’s the fans, the driving, the schedule, the weather, and the sum total of long days and weeks of the same routine, repeated over and over again.

When asked about his toughest days as a wrench, Geater doesn’t have to think very long.

“The Criterium International, when it was in the north of France,” he says. “It was always crappy weather, crappy hotels, and then you’d get hit with the daylight savings hours on the last day.”

There’s also the personality challenges. Teams are big and multi-cultural, so language barriers creep up often. “We have a lot of different nationalities, and you’ll have five different languages on one team,” Geater says. “So we sort of develop our own language.” He’s quick to dispel the notion that he’s a polyglot himself. Just as quickly, he admits that isn’t necessarily true.

“I live in Italy now so I speak minimal Italian; I understand French okay and can speak a little of it, and I can speak a little bit of Flemish from my time in Belgium. And I can understand a little bit of Spanish,” he says.

Language aside, riders have their own unique relationships with gear. Some just want to get on the bike and pedal, while others are more meticulous, checking and re-checking. Geater says Levi Leipheimer would adjust his saddle one millimeter at a time, but never before the start at the team bus. He’d do it in the neutral zone and ask to have his saddle adjusted there.

“If you broke a bolt or something, you knew you were really in the shit,” Geater says.

Luke Durbridge is equally meticulous. It’s a good thing, Geater says, but “sometimes when you see him coming you almost want to walk the other way.” Laurent Jalabert was keen to look at any gear that would give him an advantage on the road. Simon Gerrans is the same way today, always asking why things work the way they do. And Lance Armstrong had his own tape measure to check the set-up between bikes. No other tape measure would do.

“He was fussy, but he wasn’t a pain in the ass. He just wanted it done properly,” Geater says.

BESIDE THE GLEAMING PAINT job on Greg Van Avermaet’s bike, next to Richie Porte’s much smaller and unassuming Teammachine, the mechanics tweak saddles and stems. Then the riders roll out. There’s a brief moment — not quite a respite — in which each wrench breathes out and assesses what needs to be done next. The riders are off but the job continues.

“You start to feel it in the last couple of days,” Geater says. “You always get overtired and go into auto mode. Every day is like Groundhog Day: We do the exact same thing every day.”

And that, he says, is the toughest part of the job. The trucks are bigger and more difficult to drive than they used to be. There are more bikes to tend to, more equipment to manage. Years ago, no mechanic would have dreamed of needing a laptop computer to make shifting adjustments. BMC’s Landrie embraces that change and gets excited about it, and Geater says it has actually made life easier. But the sheer volume of things to be done has grown exponentially.

On stage 1 of the Tour, back in Germany, the rain comes and the drama that plays out is beyond any mechanic’s control. There is carnage. All those details — the careful preparations and meticulous adjustments made to each bike — go out the window. Or rather, they hit the pavement and slide. No bother. Each mechanic simply goes about preparing for the next day, and the day after that. The work, the weather, the tedium, the victories and failures, all still lie ahead.

You’ll hear no complaint from the service course. “I like every part of the job,” Landrie says. “It’s a life.”

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Technical FAQ: Road discs and bottom brackets Wed, 22 Nov 2017 14:15:49 +0000 This week, Lennard Zinn addresses questions about road disc brake options and a follow-up regarding creaky bottom brackets.

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Rim brakes with disc-brake wheels?

Dear Lennard,
I have a 2012 Cervelo S5 and a Felt B2 Tri bike. I have scrimped and saved enough to get a new pair of wheels that I want, the new 404 NSWs (I run Clinchers). I do plan on getting a new bike in the next few years and would like these wheels to be part of the new system. When I was looking to buy the wheels, I was asked if I use disc brakes. Can I get a disc-ready wheel to use with my old calipers and convert the wheels to disc when I get a new bike with disc brakes, or do I need to stay with caliper wheels with my old caliper bike? I can’t afford to buy two sets of wheels and I am trying to be smart about the purchase.

— David

Dear David,
The short answer is no. There are lots of reasons for this.

1. The rear hub spacing is different. The “axle overlock dimension” from the face of one axle end cap to that of the other is 130mm on a rim-brake wheel and 135mm on a disc-brake quick release (QR) wheel. You would have to pry apart your dropouts on your rim-brake bikes to fit a disc-brake wheel. And that is with a QR disc wheel, which are going away; see the next item.

2. If you wait a couple of years and buy a disc-brake bike, it will almost certainly have thru-axles front and rear, not QR skewers. So, not only would the hub spacing be different from the current 135mm for a QR disc-brake wheel (142mm X 12mm is the current road thru-axle spec), but the attachment system will be completely different as well. Even if the length difference did not exist, the wheels would not be interchangeable.

3. The rims for disc-brake wheels are not designed to handle rim brakes. For carbon clincher rims to not overheat during rim braking to the point that the resin holding the carbon matrix together softens, the rim needs to have a resin with a super-high melting point. While disc rims may use such a resin with a high Tg (glass-transition temperature), they do not have to since they need not be designed to withstand heat from braking. So, if you apply a rim brake hard at high speed to a disc-brake rim, you just might experience having the rim walls fold out flat like a limp taco shell, exploding your tire. Furthermore, many disc-brake rims have decals and topography from the mold that would interfere with rim brakes.

If you want wheels now and a new bike years down the road, just get the 404 NSW wheels you were planning on and not the disc equivalent, namely the 404 Firecrest Disc.
― Lennard

Hydro brake levers on an aero bar

Dear Lennard,
I have a bike with hydro disc brakes and an aero bar. I would like to have at least one brake in hand when I’m riding in the aero position. Is there a way to control a single hydraulic brake from two different levers, one on the aero bar and one on the base bar?
— Jim

Dear Jim,
I know of none currently available, nor of any in the works. However, if you want to switch out your hydraulic disc brakes for mechanical disc brakes, you will probably be able to get a two-lever system to operate each brake next spring from TRP.

This is what TRP USA’s managing director Lance Larrabee says about it:

“We don’t have a two-lever to one-caliper system, but we do have one-lever to two-caliper hydraulic brakes. We are working on a new mechanical system for two levers to one brake aimed at kids and the city market; that could be adapted to performance bikes. That option should be announced to the public in spring 2018.”

― Lennard

Feedback on Campagnolo press-fit bottom brackets

Dear Lennard,
In response to the reader having problems with a Campagnolo Chorus UT crank and a press-fit BB: I, as well as numerous other riders, have had the same problem. There was a lot of creaking and I could visibly see the crank moving under load. Frankly, it was driving me insane to the point where I didn’t know if I should throw out my Campy Record 11 crank or the top-of-the-line carbon frame.

I tried epoxy — several types of very expensive epoxy, actually. But needless to say, no epoxy was able to withstand the pedaling forces in a joint between the BB shell and UT-crank, which is inherently wrong.

Fortunately, I heard of a small Belgian company called C-Bear. After installing one of their BB shells, the problem was solved. In five years, I have not heard a creak.

What I did was press two (non-threaded) sleeves into the OSBB of my Specialized S-Works frame. These are then held in place by two normal, threaded Ultra-Torque (aluminum) cups.

You can see the product here.

As you can see from some of the pictures on the C-Bear homepage, the Lotto-Soudal team used C-Bear bottom bracket inserts in its Ridley press-fit bottom brackets with Campagnolo cranks. I also believe Astana did the same when they were combining S-Works frames with Campagnolo cranks.

In my opinion, the combination of (most) press-fit BBs and Campagnolo cranks/BB is inherently unstable, since the UT bearing is by definition sitting outside the frame. This is different than, for instance, a SRAM press-fit BB, where the bearings are sitting inside the frame. In fact, I have two bikes running like this without problems.
— Henrik

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