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!
How To Get Your Bikes Inside The House [And have your wife happy about it]
A funny thing happened over the weekend. I posted a picture of the “view from my desk” that included four of the six bikes in my office racked up and everyone on Facebook seemed to share a similar story…keeping our bikes inside the house.
That got me to thinking.
Most of the comments were from single men or couples that rode together. So how does the married guy (or gal) get their bikes inside the house when the other member of the partnership does not share the same obsession? Here are some tips to get your bikes out of the cold garage and inside of your house.
Disclaimer: Bike198 takes no responsibility for any arguments, domestic disturbances, house repairs or injury to self or bikes through the use of these suggestions. Use at your own risk.
How To Get Your Bikes Inside The House
Here are some tips you can start implementing to get your bikes inside the house in 7 days or less.
- Start With The Cleanest Bikes First – It is always easier to get a road bike or two in the house before you bring the muddy mountain bike through the kitchen. Try not to bite off more than you can chew at once. Start small and bring in the clean ones first.
- Get A Good Looking Stand – Get a stand that looks pretty good in the house and keeps the bikes off the floor. The Ultimate stand we reviewed helped get my rides in the house by keeping things looking good and organized.
- Make Your Bike A Work Of Art – Buy the craziest looking frames and parts to make your bike part of the ‘art’ inside the house. It is much easier to get a Wolfhound in the door than an 8000 Trek hard tail. Of course, this does mean you are going to have to spend more on bikes and parts…but which rider doesn’t want to do that?
- Find A Place Where The Bikes “Fit” – Look around your house. Is there an area of the house that seems to be “almost made” for the bikes? Move the stand and bikes into the house and then show your other half how perfectly they fit there. Follow that up with the line, “It is almost like it was made for this.”
- Bring In Friends for Backup – Post the picture on Facebook and bring over friends to back up your idea. Have them relay to your other half how great the bikes look in the house. You can also have them follow up with the “it is almost like” line but be careful and have them use their own words. This needs to look unplanned and random…not scripted.
- Make Up Maintenance Problems – If your wife or husband does not know much about bikes, you can always make up maintenance issues that justify getting the bikes in the house. “Honey, if I leave them in the garage, the fork oil will freeze and dry up the seals. You don’t want to have to spend more money on a new $1,000 fork do you?” But…use this one carefully. If your significant other has friends that ride, it could backfire quickly as she tells them how great she is for letting you put them inside and then they explain that your maintenance excuse is a bunch of BS.
- Play Dumb and Bribe – Move your bikes in during the middle of the night. When you wake up in the morning and she asks why the bikes are in the house, politely explain that they have been there for a long time…how did you not notice? You must be too stressed. At that point, hand her the massage you bought her.
- Make Life More Difficult in the Garage – This one is dangerous but known to work. If you can make your garage more cluttered and harder for her to get in and out of her car, you can slide in the “maybe we should just move the bikes inside so there is more room to move around in here” move. Be forewarned…you could lose your garage spot in the process if you both park inside.
- Illustrate Alternate Uses – Bikes in the house can also be used as coat racks and other more productive means than just decoration. Be sure to highlight that feature.
And there you have it…the top tips to getting your bikes inside the house and out of that cold garage. Are there any other ways you have gotten your bikes inside the house?
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.
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
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.
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
Weekend – Bull Mountain and Wrenching
It was a bike filled weekend as I hit a great southeast IMBA epic trail (Bull Mountain) on Saturday and got a ton of work done wrenching on bikes on Sunday. As I type this post on Sunday night, I have a huge feeling of bike stoke satisfaction as I look back on the weekend’s events. There was a ton of progression in both areas as I checked everything off my list. This was one of those bike filled weekends that can only be topped by going on a destination ride.
Saturday – Bull Mountain Ride
There are several riders in our core mountain biking group that are trying to get in some extra miles for a couple different reasons. Three of us (me included) are trying to get our legs ready for a really long ride at the end of July. The other two (the married couple that ride places you could only dream of) are trying to get ready for their annual Switzerland road riding trip that compounds elevation change.
To get the extra miles in, we headed up to Bull Mountain. Bull Mountain is an IMBA epic trail located in the backwoods of north Georgia. Bull is known for its rooty, rutted out mess that just eats up suspension and provides technical climbing and descending that will work even the best heart rates. Lately, the horses have done their part of making the trail even more chopping than usual. The pure fact that Bull Mountain is not one of those “paved” local trails is what makes it so appealing. It is my closest source of big mountain riding as it is only 1 hour from my front doorstep.
The day couldn’t have been any better. I took the Turner 5 Spot up for a good thrashing in the woods and it didn’t disappoint. Fast, twisty, natural drop filled singletrack is where that bike calls home as it begs for you to give it all you can.
For this trip up, we had a group of 9 and it turned out to be one of those rides that you just can’t forget. For some reason, I felt incredible. With the right amount of hydration and nutrition, I was finding my grove and exactly where I could call home in my pacing as we continued on the 30 mile ride. Everything was about perfect…that is until…I went ass over tea kettle in the middle of a field. As you can see by the picture below…there was nothing around me as I attempted flight without my bike. I was looking at a stupid steep technical climb ahead of us instead of watching what I was doing, and the front end of the bike just left me. I ended up over the bars and in 2 foot tall grass. I guess there are worse things to fall into! I enjoyed my cushy fall and laughed at myself a bit before we continued on. That was definitely one of those…”way to go idiot” moments that you just have to laugh at.
By the end of the 30 miles at Bull, I felt great. I had gotten in a full day of technical riding and paced myself so that there was still some left in the tank. I might not ever be ready for the ride next week to its fullest…but I am making progression. Better yet…I had a fantastic weekend ride with friends that enjoy the same obsessions I do. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Data below is from the Garmin Edge 705 using GarminConnect.com
Photos are by Laurie @ MyLifeonabike.com – She did an incredible job given the low light, high humidity and point and shoot camera conditions!
Sunday – Wrenching and Washing
On Sunday morning, it occurred to me. After months and months of water restrictions, it was now legal to water your lawn, wash your car or wash your bikes on Sundays if your house was an odd number. I took this chance to get some much needed bike cleaning done and show my neighbors exactly how OCD I am about cycling. One by one, I drug every bike out of my house and gave it a wash down. In true online obsessed fashion, I Tweeted (@mtbby198) and updated Facebook (on my personal Facebook page) with the pictures below as I finished my quest in making every bike in the sable clean.
After they were all done and dry, I got some much needed wrenching done as well. Here is the list.
- Disassembled the Ventana El Terremoto (my personal bike) and got it ready to sell as a frame only (more to come on this later).
- Organized all of the TM parts to get them ready for the next build.
- Took the Hope Tech M4′s off the Ventana El Chucho – Review on both coming soon…
- Packed up the El Chucho to get it ready for shipment back to Ventana.
- Installed Avid Elixir CR’s on my wife’s Felt Virtue 4.
- Re-greased, re-lubed and did a once over on the rest of the stable.
It was a great weekend that got a lot accomplished. This was just a little insight into the weekends of 198. As you can see…I have it pretty good these days and I enjoy the hell out of every second of it. Hope you guys had a spin filled weekend…if not…hopefully you got to do something that puts a smile on your face and helps you forget that load of work that is waiting for you on Monday…oh wait…you are procrastinating Monday right now!
198 Climbing Bull Mountain
Turtle in the way at Bull Mountain
198 Falling in a field
Leaving Bull Mountain
Bull Mountain Elevation Summary
Bull Mountain Speed Summary
Bull Mountain Summary
Avid Elixir CR
Mountain Bike Parts
Washing the Turner 5 Spot
Clean Wolfhound Rigid SS
Weekend Wrenching – Pre-Ride Checklist
The Pre-Ride Checklist
It’s time! Finally! The weather has cooperated enough and you and your group are heading out on a weekend epic. This isn’t your regular Tuesday romp in the woods. This is going to be a ride to remember as you all suffer through some incredible mountain riding. These are rides that create memories. The views, the single track and the fellow riders are told in stories for years to come.
There is only one thing standing in the way of an incredible ride and a frustrating day out on the trail…mechanicals. Follow this pre-ride checklist to make sure that you don’t have issues out on the trail. Take some time the night before to go thoroughly over the bike and bring a prepared steed to the trail.
Check Tire Pressure
This check needs to happen the night before and trailside before the ride. Air pressure is a funny animal. As the weather gets warmer, air expands and increases pressure. As air cools, it compresses and causes smaller air pressures in your tubes/tires. Check your air pressure to make sure it is at your desired setting. This is the perfect time to check for leaks or abnormalities in your tubes and tires. Change them the night before instead of finding the problem at the trailhead or even worse…while riding on the trail. If you need some help with determining what pressure level is ideal for your riding…check out this post.
Check Derailleur Alignment/Shifting
Nothing is more annoying on a ride than shifting that just won’t cooperate. Place your bike in the stand and go through the gears. Make sure that each gear change is crisp and that there is no clicking or jumping at any gear location. After you are sure you have it correct in the stand, take your mountain bike out on the road and test it under load. Especially with full suspension mountain bikes, your shifting can act differently under load than when in the stand. Make adjustments as needed with the barrel adjusters, and reset the cable if it just will not shift correctly. Be sure to clean the entire drivetrain of any debris and re-lube the chain.
Check Shock Pressures
Just like with your air pressure in your tires, air pressure in your fork and rear shock on your mountain bike change with the weather and over time. Double check all of your pressure settings and sag. Typically, you want to run around 25% sag on the rear suspension for a cross country ride. This is measured by stroke length using the supplied rubber o-ring on the rear shock shaft. I will normally check these pressures during pre-ride preparations and carry a shock pump with me on the trail.
Check ALL Bolts
Imagine you are blasting down your favorite section of blissful mountain biking singletrack. You get that tacky soil, Superman feeling and nothing can go wrong or slow you down. All of the sudden you hit a small jump or rock and the handlebars flip around! You can’t react in time and it’s over the bars for you! This could have all been avoided! Just check and make sure all of your bolts on your mountain bike are securely fastened the night before the ride. I recommend using a torque wrench for this but even hand tightening is better than doing nothing at all.
Double Check Saddle Height and Levelness
Is levelness a word? If it isn’t…it should be. Make sure that your saddle is at the correct height and that it is level. This will make your ride much more enjoyable and it will increase your efficiency on the trail.
Check All Axles
Check your quick releases or thru axles to make sure they are tight and secure. This one should be pretty self-explanatory!
Check Frame and Cables
Before every long ride, I do a once over of the entire frame and all of the cables to make sure that everything are in working order. Normally, I clean the bike first using Suzuki Wash so I can see the areas that may be stressed or cables that are frayed. Two things I do not normally carry with me on long rides are extra cables and a spare frame. Catastrophic failures in either area can end a great day on the trail quickly.
Check All Brakes and Brake Lines
Make sure your brakes are adjusted correctly and are ready for a full day of riding. With post mount disc brakes, it is extremely easy to adjust the calipers, so I normally readjust them before every long ride. IS mounted brakes are a little bit more involved by using washers to set the caliper positioning, so as long as they are not dragging…I leave them alone.
After The Bike Checklist
After I have gone over the entire bike, it is time to get everything together for the ride. What do I bring with me? Check out this post for a complete listing.
Getting everything ready the night before these mountain biking adventures makes my morning much more enjoyable. I am able to get my coffee, load the bike and head on my way. Trying to scramble the day of gets my morning started the wrong way and takes away from the overall experience. Is there anything else that you guys do the night before a long, epic mountain bike ride? (pray for the legs to get through it…)
17 Must Have Tools For The Do It Yourself Mountain Biker
For this entry in Weekend Wrenching, we are going to talk about tools. Every job can be made harder without the correct tools to do the job. Bicycle maintenance requires several specialized tools that will make your life much easier on and off the trail.
One thing to keep in mind: In my early days of mountain bike maintenance, I didn’t go out and buy the most expensive tools I could find. I bought the store brand tools until I saved up enough to get some more expensive versions from Park or Pedros. This comes in handy later in your mountain bike maintenance career because you can use your “first set” as a mobile tool set that stays in a small tool box.
#1 – Bike Repair Stand
Mountain bikes…for the most part…are very awkward to work on. In many cases, you have to have the wheels off or you need the bike up at shoulder level to get the work done easily. This is where the bike stand comes into play. A bike stand will hold your mountain bike so that it is easily accessible for any repair or build. Normally, you hold your frame by the seat post with the clamp that is at the top of the stand. This allows you to move the bike around as you work. I bike stand will make life much easier as you become more proficient at your bicycle maintenance.
Over the years, I have used the Ultimate stands because I feel that they are more stable. Park Tools also makes a great stand that a lot of riders like.
#2 – Floor Pump
You will not be able to live life as a mountain biker without a good floor pump with a properly working pressure gauge. You will start to take tires on and off (some people more than others) and tire pressure is crucial to how the bike rides. A good floor pump will end up going with you everywhere.
Find a pump that you are comfortable with and one that you can read the air pressure gauge easily. Almost all floor pumps go to much higher pressures than you will ever use, so make sure you can see the pressure that you use easily.
#3 – Y Hex Wrench
This should be one of the first tools you ever own as a mountain bike maintenance beginner. This Y shaped he wrench contains three of the most common sizes found on mountain bikes today (4mm, 5mm and 6mm). I keep several of these laying around and even one in my pack while riding. It is a nice, convenient way to have the 3 most common sized hex wrenches at your disposal.
#4 – Hex Wrench Set
The Y Hex Wrench will get you through a lot of repairs and tunes, but nothing replaces a good set of hex wrenches. The Y Wrench can actually get in the way in tight situations, so have a good set of hex wrenches laying around.
Almost all of the bolts on your bike will be hex heads.
You should already have one of these in your pack when you ride, but this is a good reminder. A multi-tool is a must have for any mountain biker. It can keep you riding on the trail or provide you with a tool you just can’t seem to find on those bike maintenance days. With a wide range of hex heads, screwdrivers and most of the time…a chain tool, this compact set is a perfect compliment to any tool collection.
#6 – Chain Tool
Most multi-tool’s come with a chain tool, but it is much easier to use a dedicated chain tool when possible. This cheap little tool will save you time and fingers while you are working at repairing that chain in the stand.
#7 – Chain Whip
This funny looking tool is specific to rear cassettes on any bike. It will hold your cassette still to allow you to remove the lock ring from the cassette to do drive train maintenance and replacement. Replacing drive train parts is one area that you should seriously consider doing yourself, and the tools associated with these change outs are a must have.
#8 – Lock Ring Removal Tool
The Lock Ring Removal Tool and the Chain Whip go hand in hand. The lock ring on your cassette that tightens the cassette down onto the hub body requires a specialized tool due to its unique pattern. You use this tool along with the chain whip to remove your cassette from the rear hub.
#9 – Cable Cutters
A good set of cable cutters will make your life much easier when replacing housing or cables on your mountain bike. Can you do this with a non-specialized tool? Yes…but you will not be as efficient and your cuts will not be as clean. A nice side effect of a good cable cutter is the ability to round out the housing after you are finished with the cut. A good set of cable cutters also insures a straight and accurate cut on cable. This will make feeding the cable through the housing much easier.
#10 – Bottom Bracket Tool
Almost every mountain bike on the market today comes with external bottom brackets (x-type). These bottom brackets house the bearings external to the frames bottom bracket shell. This makes them easy to remove and replace. The bottom bracket bearings are a wear item on your mountain bike. They also require this specialized tool for removal and installation. You will scratch the bottom bracket shell when using this tool…that is normal.
#11 – Pedal Wrench
A great pedal wrench was always one of those tools that I was certain I didn’t need. Couldn’t you just use some other wrench to remove the pedals? Yes…but it is a pain! The nice advantage of a pedal wrench is its thin profile. This allows you to get the pedals off easily and quickly without any real effort. The handle is also much longer than a conventional wrench to give you more leverage and get your hands farther away from the bike to make removal and installation easier.
#12 – Chain Ring Nut Wrench
Chain rings are another wear item on your mountain bike. This little wrench keeps the rear of the chain rings bolts still while you unscrew the hex side of the bolt. Its low profile allows you to get in behind the rings for easy installation and removal.
#13 – Tire Levers
This seems like an easy assumption, but choosing the right tire levers can mean the difference between easily installed tires and bloody knuckles. Pick out a set of STRONG tire levers. I use the Maxxis levers and they have worked perfectly. A previous set of Park’s caused me a lot of issues…they just were not wide or strong enough.
#14 – Adjustable Wrench
An adjustable wrench will help you use other tools in your mountain bike maintenance arsonal like the lock nut removal tool. It is always a good idea to have one of these laying around at all times.
#15 – T-25 Torx Wrench
The bolts that secure the rotors on your mountain bike are held in with T-30 Torx heads. Many brakes actually come with one of these wrenches, so keep it handy and try not to lose it. It will come in handy when you are swapping out rotors or wheels. Be careful not to strip out these bolts during removal and installation.
#16 – Screwdrivers
You will need medium sized flat blade and phillips head screw drivers throughout your bike maintenance career. You will use these to do routine maintenance tasks like derailleur adjustment, so keep one set around the bike maintenance area at all times.
#17 – Shock Pump
This specialized pump will control the air pressure in your suspension components. Almost all full suspension mountain bikes come with air suspension. Most bikes and components provide you with one of these pumps with purchase, so keep it in a safe place. I would also recommend carrying one of these with you on the trail.
So there you have it! Your 17 must have tools for any bike maintenance wrencher! Start building up your collection now so when we start to go over each area of the bike…you are ready. Try to shop around for the deals on tools because at any point in time…someone is having a sale.
Here are a couple of stores that have a great inventory to get you started…
Weekend Wrenching – Setting Up Your Workspace
As with any home project, an organized workspace is vital for successful weekend wrenching sessions and general bike maintenance. It is also your first step on the way to being bike self sufficient. Can you imagine the day that you are able to do all of your bike maintenance and tuning on your own? Maybe you already do…or maybe that seems impossible, but with a proper workspace…you are on your way to becoming that wrench you always wanted to be.
The honest truth…not everyone has mechanical ability. That is ok. For most of your bike maintenance needs, only a basic ability to operate normal tools is required. In your house or garage, you need a place to store and organize these tools. On top of that, you need an area that is easy to work in.
Why Do I Need A Specific Bike Maintenance Area?
Bikes…for the most part…are clumsy to work on. You have to remove wheels and components that the bike requires to stand upright. You will also have specialized tools and stands that take up some room. With a dedicated area to work on bikes (that might mean moving the car out of the garage while you are working), you will be much more successful in your attempts to work on your bike correctly.
You also need an area to store these specialized tools where they are safe and easily accessible. A lot of bike maintenance requires you to have multiple tools at your disposal at once, so the easier it is to reach the tools you need…the better.
Ideally, you need to have enough square footage for a bike stand, a stool/chair and a flat work bench/table. For most of your tuning and inspections, the bike will be in the stand. This allows you to access all areas of the bike easily, and you can do most of it seated for greater comfort.
What If I Want A Full Out Bike Shop?
So you have the room and money to really do it right…
Take a trip to your local bike shop and see how they have their bike maintenance area set up. Here are some “add-ons” that you might see and want to incorporate into your bike maintenance area.
- Marble Slab – For cleaning chains and other greasy components.
- Wash Tank – Again…cleaning those items that you wouldn’t put in your wife’s favorite kitchen sink (I have done this one…)
- Bolted Down Bike Stands – Most consumer bike stands are portable. Some of the pro-level stands from Ultimate and Park actually bolt into the ground for increased stability.
- Peg Board Backing – Nothing keeps everything more organized and accessible than peg board!
- Air Compressor – No floor pumps here! Air and air tools at your disposal!
- Duplicates Of Most Tools - Why have one when you can have two?!
So there you have it! Find a place in your garage, basement or formal dining room to get some bike maintenance done. Once you really start to get the hang of working on your own mountain bike, you will be really glad you took this first step to mountain bike self sufficiency!
Wrenched – The Bike Maintenance Video
I mentioned in my “Wrenching = Meditation” article that I was in the middle of reviewing a mountain bike maintenance video. That video is “Wrenched” and here are my thoughts.
As I have said numerous times, every rider should have some working knowledge of their bike so they can perform routine maintenance and repairs. Many of these simple tasks may be the difference between walking and riding back to the trailhead. The problem lies in the delivery of this crucial information. There are not that many resources that teach you the proper techniques for working on your bikes. If you are anything like me…then you are a huge fan of videos and one-on-one instruction. I am a visual learner, and through these mediums, I can learn something much faster than through a book. There are some great bike maintenance books on the market, but a video really brings together everything I need to absorb the information.
What is Wrenched?
Shawn Brunner of Ryde Productions put together Wreched as an instructional video for beginners to really learn the in’s and out’s of their bike. Shawn has worked at Roswell Bikes in Georgia since the late 90′s and during this time, he has organized many local repair classes. As these classes started to get filled on a regular basis, he realized that a video would reach a much broader audience. After some shooting and post production, Wrenched was born.
WRENCHED puts the tools in your hands. Both beginner and experienced bicycle enthusiasts alike will become familiar with all aspects of the bike, whether you ride a road bike, mountain bike or comfort/hybrid bike. From tube changes to headset adjustments, Wrenched is the first all-encompassing bicycle maintenance DVD of its kind.
Watch it all at once or just watch the sections you need. You’ll come away with the tools you need to keep you safe on the road or trail while saving you time and money.
Get empowered. Get WRENCHED.
What is in Wrenched?
- Tools of the Trade
- Parts of the Bike
- Flat Repair
- Cable Replacement
- Lubing Cables
- Gear Ratios
- Adjusting Brakes
- Repairing Chains
- Adjusting Headset
As you can see…there is a basic overview of the bike. With this knowledge, any rider should be able to tackle the common issues that you will find while riding. This video is also a great source to use as a checklist for the components that you need to look over on your bike.
I will always hammer home how important it is for every rider to have a resource like this one.
Where Can I Buy Wrenched?
You can pick one up at Roswell Bikes and a couple of other LBS’s in Georgia…or right here.
Wrenched: Comprehensive Bicycle Maintenance
What Does the Future Hold for Shawn and Ryde Productions?
Future film plans for RYDE Productions LLC include-Completion of the WRENCHED series with an Intermediate to Expert DVD and a Wheel Building DVD for master mechanics. Shawn might also be producing mini-videos for his sponsors to feature on their websites.
The main focus though is currently on getting Fresh Bike Service up and running. I have outlined some of the different Services that he will be offering his customers.
- Bike Repair and Service – Road, Mountain, Comfort/Hybrid, and Kids Bikes
- Corporate Team Building Events – Bikes Built and Donated to Charity Groups
- Maintenance Classes and Safety Seminars –One on One Training, Group Classes, etc.
- Demo Program Focusing on High End Manufacturers (Working out details with these sponsors – Full Cycles and Yeti Cycles, Fox Shox, DT Swiss, Maxxis, and Pedro’s)
- Public and Private Sector Bicycle Fleet Maintenance – Police, Schools and Universities,
- Airport Parking, Recreation Departments, the Park Service, etc.
- Race and Charity Event Support for Riders, Teams, and/or Event Organizers
- Sales, Assembly, Installation, and Delivery of Parts/Bikes for Customers
Incredible idea…Shawn has a winner with Wrenched. This is something that every rider should have in their catalog. I have also attached a review that Mountain Biking Magazine did of the DVD in May.
Pick up your copy and start riding smarter and safer…
Wrenched: Comprehensive Bicycle Maintenance