Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Several clever tips for finishing cables came in which I like so much I want to share them, and then I’ll pass along a couple of technical questions I hope you can help with.
1. Chris Burkhardt pointed out that he “uses Yokozuna reusable cable ends. They have a tiny collet that holds them on. They stay put in all conditions I’ve ridden in. I expect them to outlast my bike. https://www.somafabshop.com/shop/yokozuna-reusable-cable-ends-1-pair-2836?page=3&category=968#attr=279,996
My thoughts: Thanks Chris, those are very cool, only about $8 a pair, and they even come in a variety of colors!
2. Larry J Parker wrote, “I like the super glue trick. I give the cable end a dip in chain cleaner or alcohol, rinse it with a little water and then a dab of super glue, the moisture is good for the super glue. I also like the dispensers with the squeeze triggers on the side. A consistent spot of glue, and consistently available, unlike some of the tubes that get contaminated and useless after a couple of uses.”
My thoughts: Appreciate the tips on using super glue, Larry! I got frustrated trying to use it long ago and gave up on it. It’s great to know that it’s now available in trigger dispensers.
3. Pete Surdo offered another great tool use tip. He explained, “I like soldering. But I also use hot glue with success. Don’t use the trigger, but rather the hole in the nozzle of a small glue gun is just big enough to plunge the cable end into and slide back out with a small sleeve of glue on it. The glue comes off with a fingernail for rethreading!”
My thoughts: I never tried using a glue gun like that Pete. Thank you!
The first one came in back in February but I only just saw it. The second question is a couple of weeks old. I have a few ideas which I’ll put below the questions. But I’m hoping you’ll weigh in too, sharing your experience and expertise on these topics to help out.
A Question about Shifting in the Cold from Rob MacLeod
“Hi Jim, I am not sure where you live and ride (daily!) but here in Utah in winter, I have a problem with gear shifting in cold temperatures. I am talking in the -20 to -5C ( -4 to 23 F) range, and yes, living in the mountains of Utah, this is pretty common during my commutes to work.
The problem seems to be the worst for the front mech and can cause it to stick on the big ring no matter how much slack is in the cable. But rear shifting is also pretty slow at times. Is there a suitable lubricant, or what other tricks do you suggest? I am using a gravel bike with Shimano GRX for commuting and while I try to keep it clean, you can imagine the roads are pretty sloppy around here in winter, especially this winter with record snow (hooray!)”
I live and ride in Santa Cruz, California Rob. The temps here never drop as low as yours. But I did live and bike a lot in New Hampshire and Vermont. The thing is though that back then we had either down tube or handlebar-end shifters and cables and housing.
Down tube setups have barely any housing to restrict the cables and bar end systems only add a little more housing and some of it was designed to spray lube right through the housing. So I can’t recall any difference shifting in the winter versus the summer.
It’s summer now so you can’t do this test. But during the winter if you have an indoor trainer you could do a comparison of shifting when it’s warm versus shifting when it’s cold. If there’s a difference then maybe it’s related to the cold changing how the shift levers, cables or derailleurs function.
I wouldn’t expect the lube to be affected but STI levers have been known to get “sticky” over time. So that’s one thing that might be worth checking though I haven’t heard specifically of any issues with GRX STI shifters.
Since you mentioned the front derailleur sticking on the big ring along with the sloppy riding conditions, the problem might be corrosion or grit in the front derailleur itself. You did say you try to keep it clean but maybe it’s dry and binding and needs lubrication to allow it to move freely again.
You said the rear derailleur is slow too. That makes me think that maybe it’s the chain that’s causing your issues. If it’s in need of lube it could shift poorly too.
Those are a few ideas. Readers, if you’ve experienced shifting slow downs in the cold and have some possible solutions for Rob and his GRX shifting please leave a comment.
Bill Steward’s Question is about E-bike Batteries
“This is unrelated to your article today, but about electric bike batteries. When there is a fire, what happens? Do they burst into flame, or just get really hot and cause other stuff to burn? I have a Catrike with Bosch motor and several batteries. I’m getting ready to revamp my charging station. I have 2 batteries for that and several other tool batteries. Do I need to install a sprinkler head or what? Thanks for any information you can give!!”
You’re asking a safety question Bill, which I’m not qualified to answer. But, you don’t have to search much to learn that there are risks to e-bike batteries.
In a Bicycle Retailer article (a trade publication) from January, 2023 covering e-bikes in New York City, it was reported:
“Lithium-ion battery fire safety has become a serious topic for the city after incidents have steadily risen in the past few years. Through mid-November last year, FDNY said there were 191 fires and 140 injuries and six deaths from lithium-ion fires in the city.”
Here’s a link to the full story: https://bicycleretailer.com/industry-news/2023/01/26/nyc-council-members-bill-would-ban-e-bikes-e-scooters. By searching the site for “e-bike batteries” you can read a lot more about the issues.
Bicycling Magazine did a more in-depth feature about the issue back in 2019. Included are some scary videos showing what happens when lithium ion batteries ignite. https://tinyurl.com/2pkutkm9
I own a 2016 Specialized Levo e-bike and there was a recall on the batteries. I was notified by Specialized of the recall and learned from reading some of the correspondence that they do not recommend ever leaving a charging battery unattended. I didn’t know that until I read it.
Here’s a story about a Consumer Product Safety Commision forum held last month to address e-bike safety concerns: https://bicycleretailer.com/industry-news/2023/07/26/cpsc-holds-lithium-ion-battery-safety-forum-thursday.
And since you specifically asked how to “revamp my charging station,” here’s a document by the Human Powered Solutions organization with recommendations for bike shops to follow in storing and charging e-bikes: https://www.bicycleretailer.com/sites/default/files/downloads/article/battery-protocols-v1.6.pdf.
Hopefully something here will help you Bill. Readers, if you’re versed in e-bike battery safety please help Bill out by commenting.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. A pro mechanic & cycling writer for more than 40 years, he’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Tune in to Jim’s popular YouTube channel for wheel building & bike repair how-to’s. Jim’s also known for his cycling streak that ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.