First look, first ride and first race on SRAM XX1
We finally got our XX1 drivetrain in here at Bike198. I’ve been dying to try it out after hearing all the ravings about it, missing a couple of the recent bike Expos, and not being able to ride it until now. Also came right on time, as one of bigger races of the year, the 6 hours of Warrior Creek is this weekend. As soon as the kit got here, I pulled the XX 2×10 drivetrain off the Trek Superfly 100 and threw on the brand new, shiny, and lighter XX1. I didn’t weigh all the components before the install as there are plenty of places online that have detailed exact weights down to the gram.
Ever since I tried 1×10 on my Trek Remedy, I knew that XX1 was going to be the perfect drivetrain for me. The 1×10 was missing “just that little bit” of gearing and needed a chain guide to prevent drops, and the XX1 fixes both of those problems with seemingly no compromises. With a 32T front ring, 32×10 on the fast end and 32×42 on the granny side gives me pretty much the same gearing as my old 2×10 setup. The only thing I really give up is the 39×11 fastest gear and I’ve never used that during any races. If I’m ever going that fast down something I can go a bit faster by stopping pedaling and tucking. One of the great things about XX1 as well is the interchangeable front ring. If we are going somewhere super hilly I can put a 30T on the front and have a nice granny gear, but if I’m going to be riding a lot on Florida, I can throw the 34T or even 36T on the front and go fast.
XX1 shifter came with all the housing and ferrules necessary for install
The drivetrain came with absolutely everything needed to install including the cable housing, ferrules, and even had grease applied at all the right spots. Made for a very easy install. I went ahead and pulled off my old cable housings and used them as a guide to cut the brand new ones. Swapping out the freehub on my NoTubes Crest wheelset was also simple. The old freehub popped right off and on with the new one. Easy peasy. The setup of the rear derailleur was a touch different than the 10 speed stuff as the B screw adjuster distances are a little bigger, but the SRAM manual is pretty clear about it, and the install was straightforward. What surprised me was how effective the front ring really is at holding the chain on. If you get pull up on the chain while it’s directly over one of the “grabber” teeth, it’s hard to pull the chain of the ring by hand. No wonder this drivetrain doesn’t need to come with a chain retention device.
XX1 crank and interchangeable front ring
I got to take the drivetrain for it’s first shakedown on our local trail system at Blankets creek in Woodstock, GA. The trails are a mix of fun intermediate easy riding, with a nice technical rocky trail, along with some fast and swoopy bermed sections. The drivetrain passed with absolute flying colors. The whole system sort of makes itself “invisible” on the bike. It’s a bit hard to describe, but it’s quiet, smooth, and just like the 1×10, just frees your mind from having to worry about front shifting. That in itself lets me enjoy the ride so much more. Just a couple of clicks with the my right thumb and I’m either flying or climbing with a high cadence.
Now that I’m truly in love with the drivetrain, I’ll be testing it further this weekend during the 6 hours of Warrior Creek. It’s looking to a beautiful weekend and the bike and myself will get a pretty good workout. It’s also crunch time for Cohutta 100 training and I’ll be getting a lot of seat time over the next 3 weeks in preparation, so the drivetrain is going to get put through it’s paces very quickly. I’ll report back on how it handled the races and how it’s doing with all the trail riding. After this first bit of racing, the drivetrain will move over to my Remedy to see how it handles Pisgah. Can’t wait!
XX1 rear derailleur and cassette. The giant 42T ring looks right at home on a 29er.
Things I wished I had known earlier…
It occured to me as I was talking to a few friends of mine that over the last few years of riding bikes and also getting into racing, I’ve learned quite a lot about bikes, riding them properly, exercise, racing and otherwise having a blast on 2 wheels. There are quite a few things that I would have been better off if I had known about them when I got started, or at least before I stared getting “more serious” about biking. They would have saved some rides, prevented injuries, and saved me some money, so I figured I should share them (in no particular order) and hopefully provide some advice to others. As always, I’m open to comments or additions, or arguments, so if you have any please feel free to share below.
1) If you are ANY sort of mechanically inclined, learn how to work on your own bicycle. You don’t have to do the things that require very special tools, but spend $250 on basic bike specific tools, a cheap repair stand, open youtube and get cracking. If you have to get your headset pressed in, destroyed one of your shifters, or need a wheel dished, absolutely take your bike into the LBS, support them, and get some work done, but for things such as cleaning/lubing, derailleur adjustments, simple wheel/rotor truing, re-cabling, part swapping/upgrading and basic fork/shock maintenance, you’ll be able to get by a youtube video. Not only will you save money in the long term, but almost more importantly, you’ll know what to do when you are 20 miles away from the car and you can’t get your bike to stop ghost shifting.
You don’t have to be a full mechanic, but learning the simple stuff will go a long way
2) When you go on “epic” rides, carry spares and a basic first aid kit. I know that inside we are all weight weenies and we want the lightest setup possible, but if you are going out for a big day on the bike, especially if you are riding with a group, it’s going to pay off to have some very simple spares. Things you wouldn’t normally think about carrying, but they can absolutely save you or your buddies day. I’m not talking about the basics like a tube and pump, but here some of the items I now take with me and boy have they helped:
- - Extra derailleur hanger
- - Derailleur cable (it weighs almost nothing and can save you or a friend’s day)
- - 2 SRAM quick links (carry one extra, they weigh nothing)
- - One extra bolt of each kind (3,4,5mm, cleat bolt, stem bolt, seat post bolt, etc)
- - Leatherman Freestyle (pliers + knife)
- - Electrical tape, Duct tape, White Athletic Tape (2-3 ft of each wrapped around my pump)
- - Along with your regular tire pump, carry a shock pump, especially if you ride a full suspension bike
If it’s an epic ride, carry your spares, it will be worth it!
3) Get a basic bike fit and cross train. Especially when you up your mileage and start riding more than a couple of times a week, make sure that you aren’t going to cause yourself any injuries. If you have the money and desire, a Professional Fit like 55 Nine Performance is absolutely awesome, but if you don’t, at least spend a few minutes measuring yourself and make sure your seat and bars are close to being in the correct spot. Competitive Cyclist has a great free fit calculator that is easy to use. Also, don’t just bike. Make sure you prepare your body for mountain biking, especially for longer rides. There are great exercises you can do to make sure that you are using all of your leg muscles (I’ve detailed them in the past here) and also, core work is very important. Again, you can spend some money and do structured programs that are intended for people that at more serious, but you can just hit some squats, lunges, push ups, planks, and pull ups on a regular basis and you’ll be much better off than not doing anything.
4) Ride TO the trail. I know that this will really depend on how far away you live from the trail and how much riding you want to get in, but this has been a big eye opener for me in the last few months. I’ve been struggling to get enough ride time in for training purposes and was crying the blues about spending time in the car to go mountain biking. Then I realized that I’ve got trails 15 miles from my door. Add into that 10-12 miles or riding on the trail itself, and I just rocked out a great 40-45 mile 3-4 hour day and I was able to leave from my front door. No wasted time! Just grab a blinkie to throw on the back of your bike, and enjoy not only getting more exercise, but also doing some “rambling” while you are out and about. Hit a few pieces of dirt, go down that stair case, jump off some of those curbs on the way. It’s way more awesome than sitting on traffic on the way to the trail.
5) I really struggle with this one, as I have a BAD case of “shiny new thing” syndrome, but be happy with the bike that you have and ride the hell out of it. When stuff breaks, upgrade. The bike companies are in the business of making you want that new part. But don’t waste your time and money upgrading that 1×10 setup to 1×11. Sure it’s going to be nice and shiny, but as much as you think you will, you won’t get that much money out of your used part on the open market. And that 1×10 works awesome, and it’s going to continue being awesome. Just wait until it’s time to replace those worn out parts and then, yup, then go blow your hard earned money on that shiny new smelling 1×11, oh I want it!!!!
This Turner is now 4 years old, but still a BLAST to ride!
Video: How to properly build a mountain bike
One of my favorite things to do is wrench away in the garage. Even if my bikes are not in need of maintenance, after a long day, I like to pull out the stand and clean up the bike, check torque specs and do general tuneups. It’s calming and insures that my rides are always at their peak performance.
One of the greatest wrenching sessions is the build up of a new bike. Whether all of the parts were picked out separately or it was spec’ed from the factory, there is something special about watching a bike come to life and then hit the trail. This might sound cliche and cheesy, but there is a relationship born throughout the build process that brings me closer to the bike and the aventures it will see over the course of ownership.
A friend of Bike198′s passed along this video that really shows what goes into a proper bike build up…but more importantly it shows love and passion the builder shows each and every bike that hits his stand. It really is a labor of love that shows when the rider hits the trail for the first time. Sit back and relax…you might even get some new ideas…
The One Thing That Every Rider Actually Needs
Whether you are new to the scene or a veteran of the road or trail, there is absolutely one thing you need to have with you on every ride…a basic understanding of routine maintenance on your bike.
Over the years, I have seen a lot of riders go through the same motions. Everything on the bike seems to be working perfectly, but one day, one shift goes out of place or a brake starts squealing. Instead of trying to fix the issue themselves, it is off to the local bike shop for repair work and the dreaded lead time associated with that. Now, this same rider is missing out on riding (if they only have one bike) and they are spending a lot of time/money trying to get the issue resolved. I believe I know why this happens…
There are a lot of cyclists that have anxiety when it comes to working on mountain and road bikes.
It is paralyzing. They do not want to mess something up so rather than trying to fix the issue themselves…they have someone else do it. Modern day bikes look really complicated on the outside with suspension linkage, swooped carbon frame tubes and logos on every component. Also, not everyone is naturally mechanically inclined that rides, but that is ok. You do not have to be mechanically inclined to work on a bike once you take a look at what your bike really is on the inside.
What is a bike really?
When you break down the bike to it’s core components, it is essentially cables and bolts…nothing more. While everything might look complicated on the outside, the reality is that a bike is not really all that complicated as long as you stay out of suspension rebuilds (which is also far less complicated than it seems), component rebuilds like wheels and hydraulics. The rest of the bike is nothing but a couple of shifting components drawn together by cables and parts simply bolted up to the frame. Those components are then drawn together with sprockets that drive the chain line. When you start to look at the bicycle in those terms instead of what it looks like on the outside, it is a lot more manageable.
When you simplify the components, you also start to realize that there isn’t anything you can royally screw up. What is the worst that can happen if you don’t install a derailleur cable correctly? You are out 5 bucks and you end up taking the bike to the local bike shop anyway? What if you don’t even need to replace the cable and it is just a barrel adjuster (adjusts the tension of the shifting cable)? You can’t screw anything up there!
Why you really need to have basic bike maintenance skills…
While decreased downtime and saving money are great, there is a fundamental reason that every rider should have basic bike maintenance skills.
If you ever plan on riding alone, you need to know how to fix and adjust simple functions on your bike so you are not stuck out on the road or in the middle of the woods. If you have shifting that goes bad, a derailleur that gets hit, road debris that knocks components out of adjustment…anything that you are not expecting, you need to be able to pull off and use a multi-tool to insure you are not walking for miles. You need to be able to fix or repair to the point you can ride as a responsible rider.
Part of what is fantastic about cycling is the ability to get out and explore the mountains or roads that many people do not get to see. This often means extremely low traffic and lack of cell phone coverage. What are you doing to do if something goes wrong and there is no one around to help? With basic knowledge of how your bike works and how to fix things if the worst should happen, you will be able to turn what could have been a terrible situation into a minor annoyance.
How do you get started?
There are a lot of places online that can get you started with tutorials (like our installing suspension fork, adjusting derailleur and brake tutorials). You can also go by your local bike shop and ask for any resources or advice from the mechanics. If you have a really friendly shop or a great relationship with them, you might even get some free tips from the mechanics.
You will also most likely need a simple repair stand in your garage and some simple tools. A simple screwdriver set, set of cable cutters and hex head wrench set will get you by for 90% of what you need to do. There are other specialty tools you can throw into the mix later, but that will get you off and rolling with almost everything. Then you just need to keep an open mind and the willingness to try. It will end up being much easier than you think.
You can also check out these posts for more help.
Oddball Tips for Buying a Good Bike Repair Stand
A few months ago I had the chance to research and review a number of bike repair stands and noted which ones strongly held even the larger size mountain bikes. This was all for my websites where I was trying to review and develop a list of some of the more popular repair stands on the market.
In reading the oodles of reviews out there, I developed a pretty good feel on which were the better repair stands and why. I ended up with a few useful and what I’m calling oddball tips that I think are worth noting for anyone who is getting into doing their own bike repairs and looking to invest a decent repair stand.
I’ll list them in order of importance:
1. Go for the stands with a 99% positive review rating or higher.
That may sound like a high benchmark but it isn’t as far as repair stands are concerned. If you start reading reviews on almost any bike stand, you will find an abnormal amount of rave reviews.
The negative reviews are few and far between, even for the ones that are obviously not that hot or even a bit wobbly. My personal theory on this is that a repair stand goes a long ways to make your bike maintenance easier. Users are getting some benefit from almost any bike stand they buy, and this makes it hard to criticize the stand you just purchased.
It was more common to see reviews where people were not 100% okay with what they bought, but were still looking on the positive side and letting you know the good points. After evaluating a number of them, I learned and would advise this to be one of the warning signs to watch for…
If the reviewers are trying to be nice but are obviously a little dissatisfied with their purchase, I would avoid that particular product. There are enough excellent quality bike stands on the market that do have 99-100% rave review rating. You do not need to settle in this case and you don’t have to pay a fortune to get a good one either.
2. Stable and functional should be your main priorities, even if you create your own
The top qualities you should look for in any bike repair stand are stability and functionality. It should hold your bike rock solid at the height you need or it defeats the whole purpose in using one in the first place.
This is something you need to be careful of if you are thinking of making your own or buying a low quality and cheap work stand. For as many people raving about their store bought stands, there are equal numbers showing pictures and giving instructions on their home made creations. I’ve seen some wild works of art out there, all made to hold a bike in place and some have done a pretty impressive job.
Creating your own stand is doable for some. It will save you money, but it’s not for everyone and you will need to be careful that it is stable and functional. If you are buying, be weary of the real cheap stands. They are usually not stable. If your bike is a large mountain bike, read the reviews carefully, as some stands work well for most but wobble a little for the larger bikes.
198 wrote a review last year about the Pro-Elite bike repair stand which is a good example of a stable and functional stand. Having a wide tripod base will keep your stand stable both inside or outside on uneven ground. Portability is another benefit you get with the store bought stand which brings me to my next wise man tip.
3. Truth is More Important Than Facts
That’s my best Zen quote attempt. When checking out the product description of your bike stand, it will tell you the various features and accessories and how much it weighs…etc. That is all fine, but you can also keep it simple by just asking yourself what you need it for, and don’t get too caught up on all the details.
If you are a racer then you need a good racing stand that will hold your light frame and perhaps be portable enough to bring to the track.
If you are a regular home mechanic, then you need something stable and functional, that ideally can be folded up and put away after you are done with it.
If you are a super serious going-to-crank-on-your-bike-in-your-garage-all-day mechanic, or perhaps you run a small bike shop, then you need a heavy duty stand, with great reviews, that you park in one spot.
Go for a well reviewed stand that fulfills your needs and falls within your budget, and you’ll likely be happy with what you buy without worrying too much about the all the specifics.
4. Middle of the road price tags are often the best deals
Bike repair stands are all over the board in terms of pricing. You can get them super cheap, and you can buy some that are worth more than double the price of your bike (which just feels wrong to me). However as much as we all like to gripe about the pricing, they do cost and if you are going to invest in one, remember it is a one time investment if you buy wisely.
I often found the best deals were the stands that were middle of the road in terms of pricing. Cheap may be unstable, and super expensive is not always that much better.
The Park Tool PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand is popular example of a good middle of the road price tag that I did a comprehensive review on. The pricing was over the $100 mark which is fairly normal but it’s a good deal for what you’re getting. There are many stands that are well over the $200 or $300 that are not necessarily better and as mentioned above, cheap can be risky.
To sum it all up, if you are buying or creating this rather handy tool. stick to your needs and remember that stability and functionality should be king. Read up on a few bicycle repair stand reviews before you buy, which will give you a good idea of what is working for most and you’ll likely be happy with what you end up with.
The article is a guest post from Sam Shucks. Sam writes reviews on GearReviewsOnline.com.
Tutorial: Cleaning Your Mountain Bike After A Muddy Ride
Riding your mountain bike in a lot of mud can be a bad thing on many fronts but during this time of year, it is inevitable as you try to get as much time on dirt as you can. Riding in muddy conditions can not only hurt the trail, but it can cause serious damage to your bike and components as particles of sand and dirt get into areas of your bike and act like sandpaper as it wears out your components, pivots and other moving parts of your mountain bike. The following tutorial is the process I go through after every muddy ride on my bike. As you saw in a recent article about forest service road riding, I had the perfect opportunity to dive into this with an extremely dirty Niner M.C.R. 9.
It All Starts With The Wash
As soon as I can after the ride, I wash my bike. The more you move it around or try to ride it with all of that dirt caked on…the more damage you are going to cause over time. I have tried just about every cleaner imaginable to work on my bikes with and by far the best has to be Suzuki Motorcycle Wash. Made for motorcycle washing (obviously), it is safe for use on rubber and plastics and it doesn’t strip decals and stickers. All you have to do is rinse off the mud, spray on the wash and then rinse off your bike. No scrubbing is necessary as your bike looks completely new after you rinse it off. Even your tires are clean of any mud residue and I guarantee you will be asked at the trail head if you bought a new bike. I do not know what they put in this stuff…but it is magic. (The before and after shot above is by using that process…zero scrubbing)
While you are washing your bike, try not to apply high pressure water to pivots, bearings and other moving parts areas of your bike as that can cause damage over time by forcing water into unreachable areas.
The Headset and Steerer Tube
One of the most vulnerable areas to mud on your entire bike is the head tube area. As the front tire kicks mud and water underneath your bike, it shoots it directly into your headset from under the frame. This is the first area I tackle after the wash process.
Even after a very complete wash, there will be sand and dirt particles that find their way into the headset bearings and crown race of the fork. Over time, these particles will prematurely wear down the bearings in your headset. High quality headsets, like the Chris King installed on this bike, do a better job of sealing the bearings away from the elements, but as you can see from this picture…there is still dirt present that can cause damage. The cheaper your headset, the more dirt you will probably see upon diss-assembly.
You need to wipe off the access dirt and grime and re-grease the bearings and crown race surfaces. I use Park Tool Polylube 1000 to re-grease all of my bike surfaces and this same bottle has lasted me about 2 years now. A little bit goes a long way.
The Bottom Bracket and Cranks
The second area I attack during the cleaning process is the bottom bracket and crank area of the bike. Much like the headset, the bottom bracket bearings are drastically affected by dirt and water. The bottom bracket even gets the added abuse of being submerged in water every now and then on creek crossings.
As you can see by the pictures, even this high quality, very well sealed Chris King bottom bracket still has dirt on the bearings. At this point, you need to remove all washers, wipe down all surfaces and re-grease all contact points with your Park Tool Polylube 1000.
The crank surfaces and spindle are going to show the same dirt, so remove all spacers, wipe down and re-grease these areas as well. Once everything is clean and re-greased, reinstall the cranks and make sure you do not hear any crunching while spinning.
Re-Lube: Pulleys and Seals
Luckily, on a mountain bike, most of your derailleurs and seals will need get pretty clean through the wash process. However, to make sure they last and do not cause damage to other components by being too dry, it is necessary to re-lube these components as well.
For this process, I use Tri-Flow. By coating the bearings on the derailleur pulleys and front and rear shock seals, you are decreasing friction, cleaning and insuring smother action all at the same time. Periodically, I apply Tri-Flow just as part of my routine maintenance even when the bike is clean to keep performance at its best.
Full Suspension Pivots
In this case, I was out riding a hard tail so there are not pivots to inspect. When riding a full suspension mountain bike in muddy conditions, you need to fully inspect all pivots once the bike is clean and re-grease with the manufacturers recommended brand/solution. As dirt breaks down bearings and bushings, you could find yourself in a very expensive fix if you do not watch the condition of these parts of your mountain bike. If needed, disassemble, clean and re-grease these components.
Drivetrain – Cassette, Chain and Chain Rings
Mud and dirt play havoc on your drivetrain. In many cases, it will be necessary to replace these components after a ride in really bad conditions. While you are riding in mud, you are forcing dirt into the chain and then running that chain over these components. During the ride, you will start to notice chain suck (chain sticking to the rings and going up into the frame) as chain lube deteriorates during the ride. This same dirt start to wear away at aluminum chain rings and cassettes sometimes to the point they are worthless after a ride.
After you have washed your bike, de-grease your chain and completely re-lube. You will also need to inspect all components of the drivetrain for excessive wear and replace any parts that are beyond repair. If you are planning on a ride that is going to be in conditions that are bad, do not install any new components in this area until after the ride is complete to prevent damaging new gear.
Final Inspections: The Rest of the Bike
After all of that is complete, I remove the seat post and wheels to clean the contact points on the frame of any remaining dirt and re-grease this areas. Just to make sure, freewheel your rear hub and listen to the engagement to make sure no mud or water entered the rear hub body. If you hear anything out of place, disassemble, clean and re-grease.
As you can see by this process, there is a lot of work to be done after you get done with a muddy mountain bike ride to insure you do not continue to damage your bike and components. By taking these necessary steps, you can prevent any further damage and make sure all components are performing at their best for your next ride.
Products Mentioned In This Article
Tri-Flow | Park Tool Polylube 1000 | Suzuki Motorcycle Wash | Chris King Components
Review: Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Bicycle Repair Stand
Having a secure and easy to use bicycle repair stand can make the difference between a hassle free, painless repair and a frustrating trip to the garage. Whether you are changing out tires or building up a bike from the frame, having a repair stand is one of those essential “non-trail related” products that every cyclist should have regardless of wrenching ability.
Feedback Sports sent over their top of the line Pro-Elite bike repair stand for review on Bike198.com. This red ano bike stand is geared towards portability while also providing a stable stand with all of the available options and the ability to support a wide range of bikes. Over the course of this review, we used the repair stand in numerous locales with everything ranging from 16 pound road bikes all the way up to 40 pound AM and DH rigs on the road and at the trailhead to get an idea how this repair stand performs in just about every situation imaginable…so let’s take a jump in and see how it did.
Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Bike Repair Stand
The Pro-Elite is the go-to repair stand for mechanics on the road. This heavy-duty portable repair stand features our quick release clamp head and the rubber jaws can accommodate up to 2.6″ tubing. Stable on almost any surface, this bike stand can support 85 lbs. and has an adjustable work height from 42″- 71″. Anodized aluminum tubing will not rust.
Patented Quick Release Clamp
Innovative Secure-Lock features ratchet-action closing and push-button release. Tri-Knob allows fine tuning of clamp jaw pressure. Quickly get bikes in and out of the repair stand.
360° rotation of the clamp head allows you to work on the bike in any position.
No tools required for easy set-up and tear down. Quickly folds into a compact unit.
Strong, easy to open tripod design allows wrenching on flat or uneven surfaces. Stand holds up to 85 lbs.
- Anodized Red Aluminum
- Weight 12.6 LBS . ( 5.7 KG)
- Clamp Height 42″ – 71″ (1067 MM – 1803 MM)
- Clamp Opening Accommodates Seat Tubes Up To 2.6″ (66 MM)
- Base Diameter 54″ (1372 MM)
- Jaw Width 3.25″ (82.5 MM)
- Folded Size 5″ X 8″ X 45″ (127 X 203 X 1161 MM)
- Load Capacity 85 LBS. (38.6 KG)
- 3-Year Warranty
- MSRP: $259.99 with Tote Bag
Review: Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Bike Repair Stand
At first glance, the Pro-Elite bike repair stand looks like a high quality unit. The red ano coating is even and all of the components are laid out nicely. The aluminum design makes the stand easy to move around (especially with the included tote bag) and the 12-13 pound weight makes it manageable even for small women cyclists. Once removed from the bag, the bike repair stand extends out via two large clamps and a rotating dial to fold up and tighten down the arm. The ano finish creates a slick surface that makes the entire process quick and stick free.
The arm on the Feedback Sports Pro-Elite uses their patented quick release clamping mechanism that is extremely easy to use and adjust. All you have to do is put the seat post in the opening, push the clamp shut and then tighten it down with the large rotating dial on the end. When you are ready to release the bike, hit the release button and the seat post is free. This quick release mechanism was a nice addition when dealing with road bikes and other lighter rigs, but it really became a bonus with heavier mountain bikes as it decreased the time you have to bike repair stand there balancing the bike for clamping and removal. If you have ever worked on a bike in the 33 lbs. plus range…you know how important and energy saving it can be to get the bike in and out quickly.
Once in the stand, the bike is secure and easy to maneuver to accomodate just about any repair. The 3 arm base provided a stable platform, but just like with any portable (not bolted to the ground) repair stand, you do have to be careful not to pull it over during hard wrenching. With the bike weight that high above the ground, even stable stands like the Pro-Elite can tip over if you are not careful. We did find that the Pro-Elite did a great job of finding footing on varying terrain…especially at the trailhead. With rubber feet at the end of the arms at the base, we were able to find solid ground to do our repairs at every stop.
One area of the Pro-Elite stand that we find does need a little bit of improvement is the post extension clamp that secures the stand height. While the clamp does a great job of holding the stand at the desired height (when adjusted correctly), there were times when the stand would want to telescope down under heavier loads and the only way to adjust the tension on the clamp was to grab a flathead screwdriver. When you already have a bike in the stand, that was a little bit of an annoyance. In future generations, I would like to see a manual, finger adjust on that clamp to make tension adjustments for that clamp easier on the fly.
Overall: Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Bike Repair Stand
The Feedback Sports Pro-Elite did everything I want a stand to accomplish. It is lightweight, durable and allows me to work on a wide range of bikes quickly and easily and after numerous trips and wrenching sessions, the Pro-Elite looks just as new as the day we took it out of the bag. For a portable bike repair stand, it provides a very stable base and the quick release clamping mechanism makes working on heavier bike much easier.
Positive: Pro-Elite Bike Repair Stand
- Easy to use clamping mechanism with quick release
- Light enough for all users to carry
- Durable construction and ano finish
- Large, easy to use clamps and rotating dials
- Tote bag makes for easy packing and moving
- Plenty of adjustability and stability for a wide range of bikes
Negative: Pro-Elite Bike Repair Stand
- Price: 260 retail is a lot for a stand (can find it discounted online and there are other models available…this is the top of the line from Feedback)
- Telescoping clamp needs finger adjust for tension for on the fly adjustment
If you are looking for a solid bike repair stand that is going to last you a long time and you can take everywhere, the Pro-Elite is probably exactly what you are looking for. It has become our full time stand for most wrenching in and out of the garage.
Buy your own Pro-Elite stand by clicking here.
Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Bike Repair Stand
Pro-Elite Arm and Clamp
Pro-Elite Arm Tightening
Pro-Elite Push Button Release
FeedBack Sports Pro-Elite Folded
Pro-Elite Post Lever
Seatpost Clamped on Pro-Elite
Pro-Elite Stand Extended
DT Swiss Wheels, Crankset Installation and Race Coverage
This is a quick checkin to let you know what is going on around the Bike198.com camp lately as we continue to expand the other disciplines of the site.
DT Swiss Wheelset – Electric Red and White
Chris over at Built To Last Wheels hooked up the Road.Bike198.com site with an electric red and white road wheelset for review. This 1580g DT Swiss wheelset is hand built around the new 36 point DT Swiss 240s hubs and the new RR465 rims. You can check out more pictures over here: DT Swiss Wheelset First Look
If you need a quality, hand built wheelset for your mountain, road or cyclocross bike, I highly recommend you check out Built To Last Wheels. When it comes to wheelsets, the builder is more important than the components so check them out when you get a second.
How To Install Cranks and Bottom Brackets
Headstrong356 has been hard at work creating tutorials and how-to’s over at Community.Bike198.com. His latest takes you step by step through the crank and bottom bracket install process with troubleshooting information to get rid of those annoying on trail issues. You can check out his tutorial here: Cranksets and Bottom Brackets or you can request a tutorial here: Requests Are Being Taken.
2010 Tour de France Coverage
The 2010 Tour de France has gotten off to an exciting start. With multiple wrecks, treacherous conditions and unexpected sprint wins (Cavendish picked up his first yesterday), this years Tour is shaking out to be one of the most exciting races to date. You can find all of Bike198.com’s tour coverage here: 2010 Tour de France
Bike Maintenance Tutorials, Community and Your iPhone
The online community here at Bike198 is a strong one. With 6 figure visits per month and increasing expansion into other aspects of cycling, we are poising ourselves for continued growth to keep the ability to churn out the tips and reviews for you guys. It has been a fantastic ride so far, and we are looking forward to what the future brings as we continue to hit the dirt, pavement and anywhere else pedal induced forward motion is allowed. Thank you for the continued support as this project continues to hammer forward. Here are a couple of things we have going to keep you up-to-date and informed as easily as possible, so check these features out when you get a quick second.
Bike198 On Your iPhone
Mobile browsing is now activated for your iPhone viewing on Bike198 and we also have an app in development that will help you consume our content much easier on the most popular cell phone on the planet. To make things even easier…our forum software provider released a FREE iPhone application that allows you to interact on the forum quickly and easily all through a very clean and fast interface on your iPhone. All you have to do is input the url of the forum (http://community.bike198.com/) and your user name and password. Then you are off and rockin’ inside the forum with full access to all of the features. (Android app is coming soon from those guys…so stay tuned for that release)
Register to become a member of Community.Bike198
Download the IP.Board iPhone App
Tutorials On Community.Bike198
Headstrong356 on the boards has offered to write-up tutorials on different biking related subjects as they relate to maintenance and repair. If you have anything you have been trying to figure out to do on your bike or just would like to see a great list of tutorials as a resource for bikers, hit up the thread below with your suggestions and he will get to cracking on them. Thanks for chipping in!
Taking suggestions on Tutorials | Community.Bike198.com
Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
The New Bike Break-In Ride: What Should I Bring?
Nothing beats a break-in ride. You have either picked up your new mountain bike from a local bike shop or you built it up yourself in your garage and it is time to get it out on the trail. Those shinny new components and frames can only stay tied up for so long before we start to go insane! Now…there is nothing that kills a break-in ride worse than something going wrong out on a trail without the proper tools or gear. Do you really want to spoil that first ride with a part that isn’t adjusted correctly or a mechanical that ends the ride early? I didn’t think so. Here is a list that should keep the break-in ride more about the ride and less about the bike.
The Break-In Ride: What MTB Gear To Bring With You
After you rip off the reflectors, pack up this gear and hit the trail.
- Tire Lever, Pump and Spare Tube – While you should be bringing this with you on every ride, the chances of something going wrong is the highest after an install. New tires can be pinched in with tubes without you even seeing it, so having the extra gear on board insures that a flat doesn’t end the day.
- Shock Pump – While you might have known your exact pressures on your last mountain bike, it is more than likely that your new suspension is going to behave differently under different pressures. After a little bit of trail time, you will know what adjustments you need to make with air pressure in the fork and rear shock.
- Multi-Tool - A multi-tool is another necessary item for all rides, but your break-in ride is a crucial time to carry as many tools efficiently as you can. Derailleurs might need small adjustments, bolts might need tightening…anything can go wrong on the trail that were not happening in the stand. When you put a mountain bike under load on the trail, the forces put a different stress on components and the frame. Being able to make trail side adjustments will keep the ride rolling without a creak.
While you are on the trail, you need to be watching out for loose bolts, shifting issues due to new cables (you typically won’t see too much cable stretch on the first ride, but the cables can “set” causing your derailleurs to go out of adjustment), suspension settings not correct and any creaks or noises that are not part of normal riding.
Carrying a little extra weight with you on the initial break-in ride can mean the difference between walking and riding. Otherwise…get out and cover up that shine with fresh dirt…
5 Bike Maintenance Skills Every Rider Should Have
There is going to come a time on the trail that you are going to have to work on your own mountain bike. It is inevitable. Things break…especially when you run them into hard, stagnant objects…so some basic bike maintenance skills are a requirement for riding these days (unless you enjoy walking miles back to the car).
There are those riders that would rather not wrench away on their own sleds and enjoy the process of working with a local bike shop. I completely respect that and the support that brings to local businesses, but there are some basic skills you need to carry with you on the trail to keep the stoke rolling should the unexpected happen. Here is a list of basic skills you need to know as you hit the hill.
5 Bike Maintenance Skills Every Rider Should Have
Ok…here they are. The top 5 bike maintenance skills you should have before you put rubber against dirt. If you guys can think of any more…hit up the comments section below.
#1 – How To Change A Flat
Bike maintenance 101 starts with “how to fix a flat”. Always carry a set of good tire levers (I use the ones from Maxxis), a tube and a decent pump (I use the Road Morph from Topeak). Some tires are easier to get off the rim than others, so a really good set of tire levers is a must for the tighter fits. There area a lot of compact pumps on the market, but after using most of them, I have found it is much easier to use a pump with more stroke to fill the tires faster. It saves a lot of time and energy.
Hint: Have both 26″ and 29″ wheel mountain bikes? Carry only 26″ tubes. You can use them in 29 inch tires without issue.
#2 – How To Fix A Chain
Just about every multi-tool has a chain tool built in. For those cases where you get a stiff link or break a chain, you will need to know how to use it to get your mountain bike back up and running. With the aid of a Powerlink from SRAM, you can make your life much easier on the trail should your one source of forward movement go bad.
#3 – How To Straighten A Wheel
Before you gasp at the thought of wheel truing, I am not talking about full out instructions like you can find in this wheel truing article. Sometimes you will get a wheel out of wack on the trail (usually due to a crash) and you will need to straighten it out the best you can to get rolling back to the trail head.
To straighten a wheel on the trail, I like to use the tree or ground method. Basically, take the wheel and force it straight by slamming it against the ground or on a tree. With a little coaxing, you can get your wheel straight enough to get you home.
#4 – How To Adjust Your Suspension Air Pressure
Conditions change, gear changes and sometimes…for some odd reason…air leaves suspension components. Always carry a shock pump in your hydration pack and know which pressures you need to run in your suspension for the ideal ride. You will be surprised how much a ride can become frustrating with no air or not the right amount of air in your suspension components.
#5 – How To Adjust Your Derailleur/Shifting
There are going to be times that you either slam your derailleur against a foreign object or your shifting cables start to go bad. Knowing how your barrel adjusters function can keep you from experiencing inaccurate shifts on the trail that can cause your chain to jump from cog to cog.
There are also cases where you will need to adjust the limit screws to lock your derailleur into a couple of gears when you bend derailleur hangers or break a component. Knowing how to make these adjustments can mean the difference between walking or riding. It is always better to have one gear than none.
Detailed shifting adjustment instructions can be found here.
Armed with those 5 skills, you should be able to salvage bad days on the trail and get back to spinning. Otherwise…enjoy walking in shoes that are going to kill your feet!
Want to know what you should have with you on the trail? Check out this article on the must bring items you should have on every ride.
Wheel Building: Truing A Bike Wheel
This article was originally posted by headstrong356 on the Bike198.com forums.
On your bike there are several key components that really make your bike perform on the trail. Wheels are one of these components. Wheels are amazingly strong for the few spokes keeping it together, but not indestructible. All wheels concentrate on taking vertical loads from things like jumps and bumps but are vulnerable to side loads which in turn knock it out of true. Sometimes it can be disastrous with the wheel looking like a taco shell, but other times really minor and have a wobble from side to side noticeable when viewed from above the wheel.
You can save your wheels as long as it has no more than an inch (2cm) of movement to each side. If there is more you are more than likely going to have to build the hub up to a new rim or buy a new wheel all together. Assuming you’re on the trail, regardless if the wheel is beyond the point of return, try to make it as true as possible and capable of returning back to your house or trail head. If your riding rim brakes make sure it can go between the brake blocks. As undoing the brakes to allow the wheel to spin again is not a good idea. Chances are after 10 minutes of careful riding you’ll be wiped-out remembering you undid the brakes a while back. If you have disc brakes you have it easy, just make sure it can pass within the space allowed by the fork or frame.
How To True A Bike Wheel
Now to get down to business, how do you true the wheel? It is simply a matter of balancing the force of the spoke pull on the left side to that of the ride side, causing the rim to make a true circle. By tightening a spoke the rim is pull toward that spoke and moved away by loosening. The spokes are tightened by turning the nipples counterclockwise and loosening by turning clockwise. The nipples are the little bits with flat faces that connects the spokes to the rim. They adjust the length of the spoke by spinning them and in turn the force each spoke applies on the rim. The spoke wrench grasps the faces of the nipple to turn it, like any wrench and bolt. It may take some time to remember this and can make for worsened wheels if you forget. It may help to write it down to and put it in your workshop or whatever you carry on the trail. I even knew a guy who engraved tighten on the place where force is applied when tightening on the spoke wrench he used. Which reminds me, to do this task the right way get a spoke wrench or multi-tool with the right size of spoke head as there are various sizes.
Step one: If you don’t have rim brakes you’ll have to find another way to map out the center point where the rim should be. You could use a wheel jig if you have one at home. If you don’t have rim brakes or don’t have a jig use the following placed on each side of the rim on the frame or fork: post-it-note, zip tie, pipe cleaner (kid craft type) or tape something up like cards. Use them as your reference point to notice the wobble and were the center should be (ideally the rim should be in the center).
Step two: Spin the wheel and stop it at the biggest bulge of movement. Find the spoke at the center of the bulge.
Step three: If the spoke leads to the side of the hub opposite to the bulge tighten the spoke and loosen the two on each side. If the spoke leads to the same side as the bulge loosen that spoke and tighten the ones beside it. Proceed with small quarter or half turns and take notice of the movement caused. When the bulge section is in the right place according to the reference point or centered, return to step two. If all the noticeable bulges are gone but you would really like to fine tune move the reference points in. If you are using a jig you can simply twist a knob located around the reference walls to move them in. If you’re using brake blocks tighten the cable of the system. If using something I suggested above, move it manually.
And there you have it a basic, but very important skill in the world of mountain biking and biking in general.
Notes: If you’re on the trail and have broken a spoke, use the spokes around the broken one to compensate until you can get a new one. After truing the wheel it is a good idea to flex the spokes to relieve some tension as the spokes may become twisted. This should result in a ping like noise. After flexing both side repeat step two.
Hope this helps… if notice any things I could add or change let me know (both spelling and wording). After all the easier it is to follow the better. I’ll be posting up more tutorials if time allows, suggestions are open.
Some Additional Wheel Truing Tips from fipogg
Few useful info I have found while learning theory over the internet and by personal experience while trueing my first wheels:
- Apply some light oil to the nipples before you begin to tighten the spokes.
- Ask your preferred bike shop for the correct spoke and nipple size in case you need to replace a broken one or you would like to build a whole new wheel on your own (Like me). Have your rim brand and model, the hub brand and model and the number of spokes. This is required information.
- On your rear wheel, the spokes on the freewheel side are tighter than those on the non freewheel side.
- If you are going serious about truing your own wheels at home, get a truing stand, a good spoke wrench and a spoke tension meter. The latter has helped me a lot build long lasting wheels.
Last but not least, have patience. Truing is a real trial and error time consuming task.
Image by alex_ferguson