Technical FAQ: EPS adjustment, chain lube, and quick release skewers

This week, Lennard Zinn fields questions about a variety of subjects, including stories of broken quick release skewers

Adjusting Campy EPS

Dear Lennard,
I wonder if you could help with adjusting my Super Record EPS. The bike shop had re-zeroed it several times, but I continue to have trouble with the rear derailleur skipping both up and down in the larger cogs. The chain actually always runs quietly — it’s just occasional skipping. Any suggestions?
— Jonathan

Dear Jonathan,
If it skips in both directions at the same adjustment, I’d start by checking the chain length and cog wear before doing anything else. Use a good chain gauge to ensure that the chain is within spec, and either use a Rohloff HG-check tool on the cogs, or try riding it on a new cogset. Then I’d check alignment of the derailleur hanger. If I’m understanding your symptoms correctly, it seems very weird if your chain and/or cogs are not overly worn and everything is in alignment. I ride a Campagnolo EPS-equipped bike several times a week and have never experienced that.

Have you tried, while riding, to hold the mode button down on the right lever until the LED on the EPS interface glows pink (about seven seconds)? And then, if on the last shift it skipped to a larger cog, you gave the upshift thumb button one quick push, and then you pushed the right mode button again so the pink LED switched off? And, vice versa, if it skipped to a smaller cog, you gave the downshift finger lever one quick push, and then you pushed the right mode button again so the pink LED switched off? This always works for me, and I do it as many times as needed until the chains run silently and shifts perfectly.

If, however, yours will shift too far toward larger cogs and also too far toward smaller cogs at the same adjustment, I would look very carefully at the teeth of the cogs and at the chain plates to see if any of either are bent. I’d also try a different wheel or at least a different cogset. If nothing is bent and it behaves the same on a different cogset, then I have no suggestions for you other than checking every detail of alignment on the frame — chainline, derailleur hanger alignment, and dropout alignment relative to the centerline.
― Lennard

Chain lube testing follow-up

Dear Lennard,
I had noticed much improved longevity of chains lubed with ProLink ProGold; after using it for several years I learned that Lennard had also seen and written of a similar experience. After the first VeloLab chain lube test (where Prolink ProGold didn’t fare all that well for low resistance), it occurred to me that perhaps the means that the chains were lubed in the test is impacting the results. ProGold uses a lot of carrier. My theory is that when you drip it onto chain rollers that soon the carrier evaporates while the oil stays put. But in the chain test article they submerged the chain into the lube. Here it would seem like a larger amount of carrier would be a detriment — as you pull the chain out of the bath the carrier would have a greater chance of also taking away some of the same oil intended to stay put. Just a thought. So shouldn’t the lubes that are intended to be dripped on be tested the way that the manufacturer suggested?

And the other thing I noticed — the lubes were heated to 100 degrees. I don’t know of anyone who heats their chain lube prior to application (paraffin is the exception). So by doing so aren’t you also possibly giving an advantage to the wax and Teflon infused lubes — softening up those solid ingredients and allowing them to better penetrate. Here again, how about real world application methods versus lab science that isn’t reality? Just a thought.
— Terry

Dear Terry,
I followed up with a bunch of my chains that had been lubricated over a long period of usage by dripping it on, not by submerging. As you can see, it didn’t improve things.

Below is a more general answer to your question.
― Lennard

Answer from Friction Facts:

When we originally developed the chain lube test protocol, the submersion in the lubricant and heating was performed to ensure equal penetration for all lubricant samples, since manually dripping the lubricant on the chain by hand seemed, at the time, to be very subjective from an experimental sense. It was understood that the submersion method was not the typical method to apply chain lube, yet it was performed to maintain experimental control across samples.

As more experimentation and formal testing is performed, the testing protocol is maturing. We’ve learned that lubricants penetrate very well with the typical drip method. Even higher viscosity oils penetrate easily to the inner pins as the chain spins. The penetration is due to the pumping action seen in each of the links during cycles of tension and no tension, and of course, articulation of the links in general works the lube.

In future chain lube tests, the drip method at room temperature will be used to simulate more closely the real-world application. Waxes and greases will still be submerged or worked in by hand as the drip method is not applicable.

— Jason Smith
Founder, Friction Facts

Lawyer tabs

Dear Lennard,
Some time back, you answered some questions about lawyer tabs. I just happened to read them. Now, while I’ve also wondered “why not just create a long-throw QR” a very significant possible reason just occurred to me.

If you used a long throw QR — wouldn’t you essentially be designing back in the very type of potential failure that the lawyer tabs are designed to prevent? Lawyer tabs are there to prevent you from losing a wheel because you either forgot to close your QR, or didn’t close it tightly enough. So if you design a QR that opens way big, and left it open through human error, you’d have the same situation as the old-style QR, and no lawyer tabs, right?

On the other hand, since I think the lawyer tabs are overdesign and overregulation, maybe I should keep my mouth shut, lest somebody in Washington get fancy ideas, again.
— Mark

Dear Mark,
Yes, that could happen, if the rider didn’t close the skewer. But even in that case, the skewer springs might not push the cam and nut symmetrically so that one still hung up on a lawyer tab. Just having those tabs sticking out probably still greatly increases the chances of one snagging something. And if the rider didn’t tighten the skewer enough, or closed it poorly so that the lever opened a bit while riding, the lawyer tabs would help.
― Lennard

More on hub quick release skewer life

Dear Lennard,
I once broke a skewer. It was a cheaper, no-name skewer made of carbon steel. It was no more than two years old. Admittedly, I would tighten it pretty good, but I’m no brute. It broke at the cam end where the carbon steel rod attaches. The skewer rod was necked down at the point of failure with marks of stretching and stress. It looked exactly like test samples from a yield test. It unfortunately broke as I was putting the wheel back on after fixing a flat out on the road, stranding me. I now use high quality skewers with titanium or stainless rods.
— Jim

Dear Lennard,
Definitely change them before they wear to the point that your wheel comes off your wheel fork mount on the top of your car, while traveling down the highway at 65 mph.

Although, in retrospect (nobody was hurt), the entertainment value of a bicycle wheel bouncing across 3 lanes of traffic, a grassy media, and another three lanes of traffic, before rolling down the hill, into the creek, is pretty high!
— Christopher

Dear Lennard,
The tell tale is when the lever doesn’t go over the cam top and eases up. I saw in the shop an American Classic QR actually gradually “open” when closed “theoretically” all the way.

It can and does happen, although not that often. The cam can wear flat!
— Chuck

Dear Lennard,
Regarding skewer wear — I had an old titanium rear skewer lose the ability to firmly hold the wheel in the dropouts under strong efforts, mainly on hills. No matter how hard I — or SRAM neutral support — tightened it, a really hard effort could yank the wheel out of position so that it rubbed the frame. The SRAM guy and I both guessed (and it’s just a guess) that the threading on the non-cam side was slightly worn or stripped so that the nut was popping across one or two threads, thus loosening the skewer — fortunately a lot less dangerous on the rear wheel.

Unfortunately I first encountered this on stage 1 of a stage race. And the neutral support mechanic figured I hadn’t closed the QR properly, so he reset my wheel, gave me a shove, and then the car passed me before I caught the pack … and then it happened again. And again. Game over.
— Tom

And from Campagnolo:

I inquired to our engineering people; they say that there is no way to understand if a QR is wearing out (because there is no real wearing on a Campagnolo internal cam QR). From our test there isn’t a real life cycle with the QR; of course you have to inspect to see if there is sign of crack, corrosion, or damage such as bending from some hard impact (as you should with your whole bike before you ride it) and not use it if there is something wrong, but even after the most heavy test we have never had cases when a QR breaks itself by fatigue.

We cannot comment on the quality of other manufacturers quick releases.

— Daniel Large
North America Technical Service
Campagnolo North America Inc.