Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Cipo’s bikes, truing rotors and freeing seized BBs

LZ fields questions on Mario's bikes, disc brake rotors, seized bottom brackets and power meter drag

Q. Lennard,
What are those Cipollini bikes I see in the Giro? Does Mario Cipollini own a bike company? Where are they made? Are they sold in the USA? I have never seen one here.
— Phil

The Cipollini bicycles used by the Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli team in the Giro do use Mario Cipollini’s name and image to market them. He has had a hand in their design, and he may share some ownership in the company with Federico Zecchetto of the Giordana and DMT brands. There is a dealer listed in Xalapa Veracruz, 
Mexico. As far as I know, that’s the only MCipollini bicycle dealer in all of the Americas.

Zecchetto’s son, Philipe, runs the company. It says “Made in Italy” on the link bar on the site, and the first photo that comes up says that they are monocoque frames developed by Italian engineers. I don’t know where actual production happens, but the company would be relatively rare if it were not producing in Asia, despite the photos of Italian craftsmen. I did hear that the first time trial frames for the team did not meet UCI technical regulations, and the company cut new molds, at considerable extra expense. I can’t verify the accuracy of that.

As you can see when you look at the design of the websites of MCipollini , Giordana, and DMT, the same hand seems to be behind all of them. Zecchetto, an important patron of both men’s and women’s cycling in Italy, owns DMT by himself and owns A.P.G. srl, the holding company behind Giordana, along with Giorgio Andretta, the founder of Giordana and owner of Gita Sporting Goods, Ltd., the U.S. distributor of Giordana, DMT, Pinarello, and Eddy Merckx. Zecchetto apparently owns MCipollini in some sort of partnership with Mario Cipollini himself.

I do not know why the logo seems to have changed recently from Cipollini to MCipollini, either. The bikes I saw at the Giro and on which the ISD-Neri team rode last year just say Cipollini on them, but the website seems to show only bikes with MCipollini written on them. Mario Cipollini consults with both the Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli men’s pro team and the MCipollini-Giordana women’s team of reigning Olympic champion Nicole Cook and reportedly designed the florescent yellow, white and black clothing and bikes of both teams.

When ISD decided to partner with Lampre for team sponsorship in 2011, MCipollini stepped up from being strictly the former ISD-Neri team’s bike sponsor to a cash sponsor as well in order to keep Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti, reportedly a personal friend of Mario Cipollini, on the team. With the addition of Farnese Vini as a title sponsor to the team, I believe MCipollini has reverted to being only a technical sponsor. The team had the oldest rider in the Giro, Andrea Noe, until he did not finish stage 14 from Lienz, Austria to the summit of Monte Zoncolan.
— Lennard

Q. Lennard,
First let me say that while I do occasionally race my bike, I do not use a power meter, and am more than satisfied with my 105 build. However, I know several people who do use power meters, and I had a question about their effect on the bike as a whole. Beyond adding about $1,000 to the cost of the bike, do they sap power from the cranks?

They say that you can “change the result by measuring it.” Moreover, I’ve found that the more stuff you add to the drivetrain of the bike, the more resistance you encounter — a chainguide on a mountain bike, or even a 3-speed internally geared hub can make a noticeable difference to the power you can transfer to the rear wheel.

The point is, does a power meter “soak up” some of the power you put into the pedals? Why or why not?
— Will

A. Will,
Well, power meters add weight to the bike, but otherwise they do not add drag to the system.

Power meters generally just measure the strain on a single component (with strain gauges) that is already under strain anyway (like the twist in a hub shell or bottom bracket spindle or the flex in a crank spider arm), and transmitting the information wirelessly does not add any drag to the system. If they were not battery powered and took energy from the motion of the bicycle, like the pumps that pressurize and heat the cabin in an airplane, then, yes, you’d have a legitimate concern.
— Lennard

Q. Lennard,

In the good old days of mountain biking, I could get my brakes adjusted the way I like them (really sensitive, so that if I touched the lever the pads touched the rim) by making sure my wheels were true. Easy enough, once I got the hang of truing.

I have used discs for six years and I cannot do that without sacrificing lever action if the rotors are not perfectly true.

I have used both: all steel and aluminum carrier/steel surface rotors and I am always vexed by the fact that there is no clearly prescribed or obvious, controlled way to true them.

Are disc brake rotors “truable”? In other words, can I true away that slight wobble that makes my disk brakes rub the pads only once every revolution? If so, what is the best way to do that?
— Manuel in Guatemala

A. Manuel,

Of course rotors are truable! With a Morningstar ROC Tech and Drumstix!
— Lennard

Q. Lennard,
I am at the end of my rope here and hoping you may take the time to consider and reply to my e-mail. I have a titanium frame I dearly love. I recently went to replace the BB. It is a Shimano BB6500. The drive side will not release and unscrew.

I have used the proper tools, long levers, etc., but have succeeded in only snapping some heads off of ratchets. The BB has been in for approximately 10 years. I now know that is not a good idea. I took it to a bike shop and they could not budge it either. I very much want to keep the frame and I am hoping you may be able to give me some ideas. I was told the ti can fuse to the BB? Is there anything I can try at this point?
— Tom

A. Tom,
Well, you could use an impact wrench on that BB tool. It’s a standard socket, but it is air powered and puts an impact into each attempt to turn it, which can loosen the thing up.

I’m not sure why it’s seized. The threads could have galled, and aluminum and titanium threaded together can certainly gall. Galling is common with threads made of stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, magnesium, and other alloys which self-generate a protective oxide surface film. As tightening pressure builds between thread surfaces, protective oxides crack or scrape off, and the contacting areas shear or lock together. They stick together more as this clogging-shearing-locking action continues. Galling can lead to seizing — the actual freezing together of the threads. Continued tightening can snap the bolt off or tear off its threads.

The other thing that could have happened is that the Ti shell could have stretched around the cup if it was threaded undersized. If properly lubricated, it would have stretched over the cup, rather than galling the threads on initial installation, and then shrunk down so tightly that unscrewing would gall the threads, locking the parts together. Hope that didn’t happen.

Your last resort is to grind some slots through that cup with a Dremel tool, collapse it in on itself, and then pull it out.
— Lennard