Technical Q&A with Lennard Zinn – Chain wear and too many stickers

Dear Lennard,Your maintenance book has been a great help to me in building my firsttwo bikes. I've noticed from your book that you've recommended changingthe chain approximately every 1500 miles. Of course, I read this afterI put 4k on my current drivetrain! I have a Campy record 10-speed groupwith 13-26 in the back. I use dry lube. It still shifts great and wearlooks very low. There hasn't been any skipping at all.Could you please clarify for me about this issue; Are you suggestingthat the same cassette be kept and the chain switched out every 1500 miles?I've read conflicting suggestions on

By Lennard Zinn

Dear Lennard,
Your maintenance book has been a great help to me in building my firsttwo bikes. I’ve noticed from your book that you’ve recommended changingthe chain approximately every 1500 miles. Of course, I read this afterI put 4k on my current drivetrain! I have a Campy record 10-speed groupwith 13-26 in the back. I use dry lube. It still shifts great and wearlooks very low. There hasn’t been any skipping at all.Could you please clarify for me about this issue; Are you suggestingthat the same cassette be kept and the chain switched out every 1500 miles?I’ve read conflicting suggestions on this, such as both the chain and cassettebe switched in unison to avoid problems. I go 1500 miles in about two months,so this can be an expensive proposition!
BobDear Bob,
The cogs will not have to be replaced for many thousands of miles,if you replace your chain this frequently. If not, you may end up havingto replace cogs, chain and perhaps chainrings. They will wear in together,so you won’t notice a problem, unless you have numerous cogsets or wheelsets,in which case some will skip and some will not, if you switch wheels infrequently.Check for chain elongation as described in the book, and change it ifa 12-inch section is now up to 12-1/8-inch. I would bet that it is andwould suggest changing that chain now. If it doesn’t skip, you are homefree. If it does, you can put your old chain back on and wear the wholesystem down until you are ready to replace everything.There are people who do just let their entire system wear down together,and some of them have accused me of trying to get them to spend money needlesslyby replacing the chain before it becomes very worn. I would not treat mycar this way and expect it to be dependable. I like my bike’s drivetrainto work like new, so replacing worn parts seems like a no-brainer.Also, note that a smaller rider will get many more miles out of a chainthan will a big rider. And chain wear is accelerated in the presence oflots of dirt and grit or poor lubrication habits.
LennardCan I keep what works for me?
Dear Lennard,
I have a cyclo-cross bike that is Shimano 105 (pretty much everythingis 105), but I hate the shift levers. My road bike uses Campy, and I waswondering if it is possible to put Campy 9 speed levers on with a 105 rearderailleur and cassette?
Dear Steve,
We have covered this a lot, but I get slight variations on this samequestion so frequently, I will answer it again.Yes, you can do it, but to make it work, you have to adjust for thedifference in cable pull between the two systems. That means either attachingthe cable onto the opposite side of the cable-fixing bolt on the Shimanoderailleur, or using the “Shimagnolo” adapter from VeloParts.
Dear Lennard,
I have a cosmetic issue with an otherwise outstanding road bike madeby a “Big” manufacturer: There are too many ‘brand’ logos. Now I do notmind people knowing who made this fine machine, but nine logos (andlarge ones at that) seem a bit much. The frame material is carbon fiberand it seems to have a clear coat of some kind over the decals so theydo not just peel off.
Do you know of a non-damaging way to take off some of them?
TomDear Tom,
There is no way to get those off without chipping/scratching off theclear coat. And then it would look bad without a new clear coat. By thetime you were done, you would wish you had either had it completely repaintedor had just left it.
LennardAnother theory on producing white carbon
Dear Lennard,
Carbon can be coated with nickel by CVD (chemical vapor deposition),which results in a metallic blue/gray color of the fiber, or nickel andaluminum (I’m not sure what the resultant color is, probably silver). So,it’s possible that they are coating with aluminum or titanium oxide orsome other metal or metallic compound for a white coating on the fiber.The nickel coating is done to modify the conductive properties of the fibers,and doesn’t have much, if any, effect on the structural properties, sousing the technology in a bike would only be about the cooler look.The other possibility in this vein is “Texalium”, as your other readermentioned, which is aluminum-coated glass fiber made by Hexcel Composites,and which is used in hockey stick blades and other sporting goods. Mostproducts made with Texalium use the brand name, however.
Standard (uncoated) glass fibers are transparent when laminated withresin, so it can’t be just plain glass fiber. Coating glass fibers withaluminum also doesn’t noticeably improve their structural properties, soit would still only be about cosmetics. Not that there’s anything wrongwith that.Thanks for all the advice & info over the years, and thanks especiallyfor your books, which are simply the best information source around forbike wrenching.
AndrewSome more feedback on wheels:First, regarding the braking on ceramic rims, another response fromMavicLennard and Martin,
The condition you are describing is certainly not unusual in that particularapplication. Ceramic rims have a couple of big advantages over machinedsidewall rims. Braking is dramatically improved due to the grippy coatingand since the pads don’t touch the aluminum surface directly they can enjoya longer life when properly maintained. The vibration you are feeling can be traced to a few things here.The squeal or shudder under braking may be related to brakes that are wornand vibrating, or brake posts that are misaligned. Most likely here isthe style of bike these wheels are rolling in. Cross and touring bikestypically have fork blades and seat stays appropriate to the use but arethinner and lighter than their mtb cousins. A cantilever brake’s stoppingpower may overpower these lighter frame tubes and squeal under the vibration.A condition further aggravated by the grippy ceramic coating.You may be able to reduce some noise by ensuring damaged/worn partsare replaced. If everything is in good shape you could try harder compoundbrake shoes or toeing the pads more. This of course may reduce some brakingpower.
Bill Douglas
Mavic USAAnd regarding tied and soldered heavy-duty wheels (see “Beefywheels for a beefy guy“):
Dear Lennard,
I am a good wheel buster. I’m currently 6 foot 6 inches tall and weigh215 pounds. When I raced (ending 10 years ago) I never got below 185, myframe is just too large, even at 4 percent body fat. I could trash wheelsregularly, then and now. I ride about 2400 miles a year these days, butcan trash a weak wheel (particularly the rear) in one or two rides withthe right conditions. I usually ride tied and soldered rear wheels as Ihave had the best luck with them.The first set of wheels I got with my current bike (a late ’97 SpectrumTI Super) were built by Spectrum major-domo Tom Kellogg, and included atied and soldered rear wheel–32x 14/15 DT’s, Open Pro rim. The rear lasted4 years, and required one minor tune-up. It finally failed when the spokeholes pulled out of the rim, but I never broke a spoke, and I never hadany other failure until then. I then had a couple of local shop-built wheelsover the next two years, and had two rebuilds and another rim failure,more typical of my previous “untied” history. I tied and soldered one ofthese wheels myself, only to have the ’97 Campy Record hub fail internally(not one of Campy’s finer products), so there’s no telling what might havehappened if the hub survived. The last local wheel was not tied and soldered,and the spoke holes (Open Pro) pulled out. It took a lot of maintenancebefore it failed, though. I’m now riding a rear wheel built by Al Budrisof Monterey County in CA, and it’s tied and soldered. It’s new but I expectit to be problem free. We used an Open Pro CD as a stronger upgrade, givenall the bad luck I’ve had with spoke hole pull outs. Al is a protégéof the late Spence Wolfe, who was a wheel building institution on the WestCoast for generations. I’ve had Al’s tied and soldered wheels before, andthey always last.The builder may be as important as the build formula. I’m still ridingKellogg’s front wheel (not tied and soldered). I trued it slightly forthe first time a couple of months ago. Tom builds many wheels for the track,and knows the craft extremely well. Al Budris’ work is similar. His wheelslast far longer than the typical shop built wheel I’ve encountered, buthe is no longer a wheelbuilder, being currently a busy VP at Veltec Sports.Both seem firmly convinced that tied and soldered contribute greatly towheel life, especially for heavy riders. I am reluctant to try any of thespiffy manufactured wheels that are popular now because of my destructivewheel history and my size. No one seems to build for the big boys.Another thing that helps wheel and tire life: 25C tires. 2 mm and 20grams is a remarkably small price to pay for tire reliability, particularlyif not racing.
I can relate to the 01/06/04 Technical Q&A query from Ryan aboutwheels for heavyweight riders (see “Beefywheels for a beefy guy“), and want to second the reply from PaulAieta of DT Swiss. After some unsatisfactory wreckage starting with a stockrear wheel and going through several well-intentioned schemes, I soughtthe expertise of the former Wheelsmith (now Mike’s Bikes) gurus here inPalo Alto. The wheel they prescribed and built has held up extremely well,even holding dead true much longer than my lighter-weight buddies’ nicewheels. Handling is terrific – it feels like a different bike. The setupin this case (hardtail mtb) is: Mavic D521 36-hole rim, XT disc hub, 14gauge Wheelsmith ss spokes. Parts (retail) and labor total was about $235at the time, not an exotic cost at all. The key points deserve re-emphasis:start with the right rim for the job, and consider a high spoke count tohelp absorb the stresses of pedaling. A small weight penalty is well worthit for the performance and durability solution gained.On the road side, I had been very impressed with a set of Mavic KsyriumSSC SLs, great handling and dead true for 2,000 miles until a few daysago when cracks appeared on the inner face of the rear rim, emanating fromsome of the spoke holes. The shop says this is quite rare in their experience,and I am awaiting a warranty replacement from Mavic. It should be notedthat this rim is so strong that even with seven nipples starting to pullout of the rim, it was barely out of true.Another note: of course the fork has a lot to do with how a bike handles.Heavy riders might do OK with an ordinary front wheel in terms of durability,but if hard cornering feels squirrelly one should also look at the fork’stwistiness around the stem axis (hold the wheel between your feet and kneesand turn the handlebar).

VeloNews technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder (, a former U.S. national team rider and author of several books on bikes and bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides “ Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” and “Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance.”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. Zinn’s column appears here each Tuesday.