Mountain Gear

Tech FAQ: Lennard Zinn on Headsets, Sidi Shoes

How do you protect the carbon soles on your spiffy new Sidis?

Dear Lennard,
I imagine you’ve received your fair share of headset questions around Cannondale’s 1.5-inch design, but here is another, albeit hopefully new, question for the list.

Can a FSA Orbit Z internal headset be adapted to Cannondale’s 1.5-inch headtube on a Trail SL 29 3? A general web search and Problem Solver’s website gave up nothing.

LZDear Nick,
No, you can’t adapt that headset to fit.

Regarding Sidi Dragon 2:
Dear Lennard,
Regarding the Sidi Dragon 2 mountain bike shoes you just reviewed: I got a pair of those last week and have not cleated them up yet. I noticed in the manual that they “suggest” the use of a (not provided) spacer to protect the carbon soles from the Crank Brothers pedal surface. I do not recall your pedal system but was curious how necessary the protective spacer really is for the sake of the shoe. In other words I want to wear my killer blue shoes and don’t feel like hunting down an extra piece to make it happen. I saw Excel has them for $10, so I went ahead and got the stainless plates to protect that pretty carbon.

Dear TR,
I also use Crank Brothers pedals, and I’ve used them for a couple of years with the Sidi Dominator 6 shoes that are pretty much identical with the exception of the twist closure and the shiny, colored upper.

My pedals created dents in the carbon on the leading and trailing edges of the cleats, but the performance was still fine, so I didn’t use the backing plates on either pair of the Dragon 2 shoes, either. Now both pairs have big dents in the carbon from the pedal spring loops, but, again, pedaling and clipping in and out are fine.

I’ve never used the backing plates and have been leery of them, as I’ve received complaints from people who have them about them snagging the pedals and making entry more difficult. In ‘cross, anything hindering clipping in fast is a bummer, so I have taken the conservative route and left the shoes alone. But I don’t like the dents in the carbon soles…

Let me know how they work for you, especially over time.

Regarding getting more low gears on a SRAM 2X10 system:
Dear Lennard,
One cheaper option for Greg is to put on the 2x Shimano SLX crank.  I have the triple version, but I noticed they make a double, substituting a 36 for the 32, and a bash guard for the 42t ring.  With his 11/36 SRAM cassette, he would still have an 88 inch top gear, plenty big for the dirt. All he would need is the SLX crankset and matching derailleur, although I would be tempted to try the SRAM derailleur first.

Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Lennard Zinn.

Technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder (, a former U.S. national team rider and author of numerous books on bikes and bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides “Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” – now available also on DVD, and “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,” as well as “Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes” and “Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists.”

Zinn’s regular column is devoted to addressing readers’ technical questions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn.

Follow Lennard on Twitter.