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Technical FAQ: Chainrings and living the Zen/Zinn philosphy

Lennard Zinn answers readers' questions about swapping out chainrings, dealing with chain rub, and more in this week's Technical FAQ

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Campy EPS shifting problems

Dear Lennard,
I just had Campy Super Record EPS installed on my Specialized Roubaix. I am having trouble with shifting from the small ring to the big ring. What adjustment should I make? And when I shift to the smallest cog in the back with big ring in the front, there is some chain rub on the FD? Is that normal?

Dear Joe,
No it’s not normal; your front derailleur is out of adjustment. It is not moving far enough outboard, which is causing both of your problems. Here is how to adjust it:

1. Shift to the inner chainring and the largest cog.

2. Get into adjustment mode by pressing both mode buttons —one on each lever behind the thumb lever on the inboard side — for at least six seconds; the LED on the EPS interface (zip-tied to a front cable or rubber-banded around the head tube) will glow blue.

3. With the LED glowing blue, bump whichever front shift lever is necessary to move the front derailleur the direction you want. Hold that lever until the front derailleur’s inner cage plate is 0.5mm from the chain. Holding the left thumb lever down gradually drives the inner front derailleur cage plate away from the chain; holding the left finger lever inward gradually drives the inner front derailleur cage plate toward from the chain (I’m sure that this second one is the adjustment you need to make). That’s all there is to do; there are no limit screws or other front derailleur adjustments.

4. Touch the left mode button to memorize the setting; the LED will flash blue and then turn off after a few seconds. If it doesn’t turn off, hit any mode button again to make sure it is out of standby mode (LED off).
That ought to do it. Ride and enjoy.

Campy EPS with mechanical

Dear Lennard,
I’ve been a long-time Campy devotee and have 10-speed Record on three bikes. I want to install Record EPS but I hate the idea of spending so much money and abandoning a perfectly good Record group. So, can I keep my 10-speed drivetrain and mate it to EPS electronics (derailleurs, shifters, etc)?

Dear Doug,
What do you mean by drivetrain? The only thing you could use of your existing drivetrain is the crankset, and it will probably work OK, but not as well as an 11-speed crank. Everything else would either be electronic components or 11-speed ones, so you’ll need a new chain, cassette, front and rear derailleur, and shifters.

Replacing Dura Ace chainrings

Dear Lennard,
I have a Giant TCR SL 0 with Dura Ace 9000. The crankset it came with is 53-39. We are travelling to France soon with lots of climbing, so I want a compact crankset. I understand I can replace the front chain rings and leave the existing spider to change to a compact set. Do I have to change both front chainrings to 50/34? Or can I leave the 53 and change the 39 to a 30 giving me 53/30?

Dear Chris,
Dura-Ace 9000 uses the same bolt circle diameter for compact and traditional double chainring pairs, so your one crankarm fits all chainring sizes. However, these are the only sizes Shimano offers in that four-arm design: 50-34T/52-36T/52-38T/53-39T/54-42T/55-42T

No, you cannot mount any smaller than a 34-tooth ring on one; forget the 30T ring. But yes, you could instead pair up 34-53 chainrings; shifting would be less than awesome, but pro teams sometimes use this combination for super steep stages, like the Monte Zoncolan in the Giro d’Italia.

You can just get the 34T, rather than the set. QBP (big wholesaler) sells individual Dura-Ace FC-9000 chainrings; it sells 34T, 36T, 38T, 39T, 42T, 50T, two different 52T — one for 36/52T, and one for 38/52T, 53T (for 39-53T, of course), 54T, and 55T.

Osymetric chainring adapters?

Dear Lennard,
I have a Ridley Noah RS and attempted to install 54/42 Osymetric rings. Even with the included adapter, I can’t get enough height or distance between the front Force derailleur and the chainring. I contacted Thomas Craven at Osymetric and he said he was developing an adjustable adapter but as of yet there is no immediate solution.

Do you have any experience with this problem or this setup?

Dear Craig,
I know of no solution other than using a smaller chainring.

9-speed vs. 10-speed chains

Dear Lennard,
I am about to get a new road bike (Cannondale SuperSix EVO Ultegra Di2) with a 10-speed SRAM cassette and chain and compact cranks. I was under the impression the PC-991 SRAM chain was compatible with the 10-speed cassette. I still have a plethora of the PC-991 chains in their original packages. Since my LBS told me not to use them on the 10-speed, I need some expert assistance. BTW, I have always changed my chain yearly just, well, because.


Dear Michael,
The first “9” in “991” indicates that it’s a 9-speed chain. The 10-speed chain is the SRAM 1091 or 1071. I don’t know that you need “expert assistance,” you just need a 9-speed bike to use up all of those chains on, or you could put them up on eBay.

Clearing lawyer tabs

Dear Lennard,
I read your most recent article about lawyer tabs, where you mentioned Montague’s Clix. Following the link to Montague’s Clix, it said they were only for bikes originally supplied with Clix and could not be retrofitted.

How about the DT Swiss RWS (Ratchet Wheelmounting System) — does this product open far enough to clear the lawyer tabs?

Dear Jack,
The DT Swiss RWS is not a quick-release skewer. It is simply a screw, and the lever arm ratchets so you can position it to line up however you want once it’s tight. So there is certainly no time savings relative to a normal quick-release skewer, which you would still have to unscrew to clear the Nader hooks, just as you would the RWS.

Stripping paint from carbon

Dear Lennard,
Regarding your recent Tech FAQ, here is a product for stripping paint from carbon:

Dear Tom,
That’s cool! Thanks!

The Zen/Zinn philosophy

Dear Lennard,
A cycling buddy, Joe from Ohio, sent me the link to your interview with The Outspoken Cyclist. You should put that link in your column. It was good fun to hear how you got into the bicycle business, and I’m sure there are others out there who what would love to listen. Your journey reminds me one of my favorite sayings, that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. And of course, you are the living example of the Zen/Zinn philosophy, that the path is more important than the goal.

One funny. When I applied to five colleges back in 1972, Colorado College was the only one I didn’t get in to. I went to Pomona College with the intention of being a chemistry major, but the chemistry professor suggested I start with physics. I can’t recall why. But once I was in the physics groove, I just never saw any reason to move across the street. For me, that led into the microwave business. It’s been a good career, but your path sounds like a lot more fun.

P.S. Joe was on the show back on Feb 16. After retiring from HP as a computer engineer, he’s started a cycle touring company.

Dear Steve,
Well, in case you’re right and anybody is interested, now the link is in this column. Thanks.