Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



Technical FAQ: Covering electronic shifting mishaps in the press

Technical writer Lennard Sinn discusses cleat positioning, electronic drivetrain mishaps and brake pad holders

Get access to everything we publish when you join VeloNews or Outside+.

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

Dear Lennard,
I have two questions for you and your column:

1. I was very saddened to hear about Bill Pederson’s passing. Ever since I saw his name in my heat-moldable Diadora insoles, I had been going to him for orthotics and cleat set up. He used his custom gauges to set me up with fixed cleats, and then more recently, based on his work with Joe Friel, move my cleats about 2cm closer to my heel (using separate screws). This obviously makes changing cleats and replacing shoes an undertaking that requires professional help. Can you recommend someone else who can do this for me? For reference, I live in New York City.

2. Last weekend, I did the Triple Bypass, and got caught in the thunderstorms. When I removed my cranks (2010 Campy Record 11) to pack my bike, I saw that the grease in the crank bearings had turned a dark grey. Should I try to flush and repack these bearings?  And if so, how would I do that?  If that requires a bearing puller, which one should I get? Finally, these bearings aren’t sealed – is it worth considering sealed replacements?
— Jon

Dear Jon,
I was also sad at the passing of Bill Peterson. He customized for me some of those Diadora shoes (which I loved, but the Diadora pedals not so much) and made me a bunch more orthotics over the years.

If you were to use Speedplay pedals, you wouldn’t need special shoe drilling. You’d just get the aluminum cleat extender base plate kit. You use them in place of the standard black plastic base plates to provide 1.5cm of additional rearward positioning (not your full 2cm, but close). They only work with Light Action, Zero and X Series pedals.

I, too, ride with my cleats far behind where the normal cleat holes allow with any pedal other than Speedplay. I use Zero pedals with the aluminum cleat extender base plates, and I not only love the ride, but I also can have the same setup on multiple shoes for a modest expense.

Otherwise, try D2 Shoes; Don Lamson will put the cleat mounting holes wherever you want them, as well as custom building the orthotics and the shoes for you.

As for the bearings, yes, it’s a good idea to re-pack those bearings. This is the tool to remove them. Here is how you remove the bearing shields, no matter what type of shield it is. Once the shield is off, you can do no further disassembly and then can do a relatively unsatisfactory job of cleaning the old grease out and packing in new grease; I say unsatisfactory, because the bearing retainer will be in the way of both operations. Here’s how you really clean a cartridge bearing, polish the ball bearings and the bearing surfaces, and repack the bearing with grease. This may seem laborious, but if you have ceramic bearings you’ve paid big bucks for, you may find it well worth your while.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
At least to hear Phil Liggett tell it, there have been a few embarrassing moments with electronic drivetrains so far at the Tour de France (one just at peak intensity of the stage-ending sprint).

I’m amazed that those apparent problems haven’t generated articles on the VeloNews website. Are Phil and Paul incorrect? Certainly there was no reticence to report Andy Schleck’s famous chain drop two years ago. Are the electronic shifters being given coddling treatment in the press?
— Jim

Dear Jim,
Since I didn’t watch every minute of the Tour coverage (albeit more hours in July than I care to admit), I don’t know which instances you might be referring to. Regarding the comment about Matt Goss, here’s what Shimano R&D director Wayne Stetina has to say: “It was confirmed there was never any shifting problem because Goss and GreenEdge never mentioned any problems to Hennie Stamsnijder, Shimano Europe’s sports marketing manager who visited all the Shimano teams regularly every week during the Tour.”
― Lennard

Feedback on previous columns:

Regarding brake pads from this column:

Dear Lennard,
Jagwire makes pads and pad holders that are compatible with Campy Skeleton brakes and are much cheaper, Torq hardware and all. The problem with them, however, is that all pads aren’t created equal — some are too loose. A bit of selective fitting may be required, but they save a pile of money.
— Bruce

Dear Lennard,
I’ve been running Jagwire holders with SwissStop pads on my Campagnolo Chorus Skeleton brakes for a little over a year with no problems. I think they look better and needless to say it is much easier to change pads.
— Tom

Dear Lennard,
BBB makes a Campy brake pad holder for skeleton brakes model #BBS-22CT and BBS-22C for older Campy brakes. Available at
— Bo

Dear Lennard,
Regarding your statement: “As long as you have the pad holder oriented so the closed end is pointed forward and you don’t push the bike backward while the brakes are engaged, there is no force acting on the pads that will pull them out of the pad holders in normal riding.”

I used to think that until I tried to apply the front brake one day and got nothing. I don’t recall if it was one or both pads that had slipped out of my Ultegra SL 6600 caliper. I’ve never had any problem with the rear but my front retaining screws have been reinstalled.
— Phil

Dear Phil,
I can’t imagine what happened there. I’ve been running without pad retaining screws on all three of my road bikes and both of my cyclocross bikes for years and have never even had a pad slip, much less come out. Sounds like a prudent solution you’ve come to.

― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I haven’t had the trouble of switching out the pads for Campy brakes since I have been applying a little grease on the pad holder and back of pad, then extracting in fitting the pads with thin, adjustable pliers. It takes about three-to-five minutes, total. I take care not to get grease on the braking surface of pad and store them in the plastic blister pack they come in.
— Rick

Dear Lennard,
I put a drop of White Lightning clean ride lube on my pads and they slide in and out smoothly. I’ve seen no damage to Campy, SwissStop or Zipp pads.
— Gordon

Regarding bike weight from this column:

Dear Lennard,
I live, bicycle commute, and do lengthy weekend rides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In a recent article, you mentioned that decreasing overall bicycle weight from a hefty bicycle to a lightweight for general purposes would equate to roughly six percent of improvement in efficiency if the rider exerts the same power and so forth.

I’m 30 years old, a lean guy, and I have been riding late 1980s and early 1990s steel frames with Columbus tubes made by the Eddy Merckx factory that have more recent components. I am in a cycling club where carbon is king and there is no peer pressure nor ridicule for my penchant for vintage frame sets.

Often, I admit, my pals wonder aloud if I would be leaps and bounds faster for Strava segments and all that jazz if I were on a carbon bike. I think your article can finally give me an answer and I won’t need to rent a carbon number. Thanks!

I also find that changing my gear ratios and wheel sets with better ball bearings does more for me than dropping a kilo of weight or pedaling uphill with only one water bottle instead of two.

Thanks for the direct answer to the fella who wrote to you about bicycle weight. I think it settles something that often gets asked of me. I’ll tell guys that a local climb that takes an hour-forty to summit I could potentially do in 90-something minutes. For the moment, I’m happy with my Corsa Extra and MX Leader by Merckx, and a Columbus SL number by Bottechia.
— Scott

Regarding bike fits:

Dear Lennard,
I want to suggest an alternative for comparing bikes for riders with a good digital camera and some Photoshop experience (or a friend with those):

1. Set up a spot where you can rest your bikes level and straight up, with a dark or contrasting background. For example, I put my bikes on the seats of two outdoor chairs (one seat for front wheel, one for rear) in front of my back fence.

2. Get back as far as you can and photograph the bike and wheels tightly cropped with a telephoto lens (or use a zoom on tele setting). The telephoto and distance help minimize perspective distortion. Try to get the camera lens at the same level as the BB center, dead on, so that the camera is looking straight through the BB (you can actually see this on my Campy BBs).

3. Photograph all your bikes this way, download the images into Photoshop, and use the paintbrush tool to place colored dots (different color for each bike) at critical points on the frame, saddle and bars. Mark the BB center for sure.

4. Combine all the images in one file, each on its own layer. Pick your favorite bike as a benchmark, set it’s transparency to zero, turn off all the other layers except one (the bike you want to compare). Adjust the layer transparency of the comparison bike and move the layer until the BB center marks you made overlap. Do the same for each bike, i.e. align it with your benchmark bike.

5. By selectively turning layers on and off, and adjusting their transparency, you can quickly compare any two or three bikes at the same time. This is the digital equivalent of printing photos of all you bikes on transparency film and layering them together two or three at a time.

I know this sounds like a pain, but once you figure out a set up, you can compare bikes in just a few minutes. I have done this for friends, and they are surprised at how different their bikes are. You can also see things like BB drop and fork rake very easily. I can send you some samples.

Need someone with Photoshop skills? Just ask anyone under 21 that worked on their high school newspaper or yearbook. You’d be shocked how many kids can do this now…
— Michael