Tech Talk

Checking the Condition of Wheel Bearings

This week’s subject was suggested by a reader with the handle “SJ,” who asked, “How often should wheel hub bearings be degreased and re-greased?” It’s a great question because it’s tricky to evaluate the condition of wheel bearings and to know what to do about issues, too. Wheels can still seem to roll and spin perfectly fine even when there’s no grease in the bearings – or worse, the bearings are dry and binding so bad that you can barely turn the axle by hand when the wheel is off the bike.

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10 Bike Washing Don’ts and Do’s

Winter riding can wear and tear bicycles quickly because of the grit and crud that gets all over the frame and components. Also, excessive moisture can remove essential lube from the drivetrain, which accelerates chain, cassette, chainring, derailleur pulley and front derailleur cage wear, too. This is why it’s best to clean bikes immediately after inclement winter rides or at least before riding them again. Here’s a quick rundown of don’t and do’s for a good job (“don’ts” are first in the title because they’re the things that can cause bigger problems).

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Lubing Brake and Derailleur 'Pivots'

Last week we went over don’ts and do’s for bike washing. The final don’t was to not forget to relube after cleaning the bike. I said “be sure to lube the brake and derailleur pivots.” To this advice a reader named Michael wrote, “What type of lube do you recommend for the brake and derailleur pivots? I ride mostly dry pavement and use Pro Gold ProLink on my chain. Should I use the same stuff or a different type of lube?” That’s an excellent question.

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Should You Trash Your Rim Brakes?

If this week’s Tech Talk title caught your attention, it was supposed to. But I didn’t really make it up – I pretty much stole it. I paraphrased the title of the online Outside magazine article that ran recently, Why You Should Throw Your Rim Brakes in the Trash. The author basically says that discs on road bikes are so much better than rim brakes that you... well, you already know what he wants you to do with your rim brakes.

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Basic Clipless Pedal Care

Thanks for the tips and humorous comments about my Tech Talk column last week on fixing tired shoes. (Rest assured that those gnarly old S-Works shoes shown in the photos aren’t my only pair – they were just the perfect examples with lots of problems to explain how to fix. I especially wanted to show the frayed Boa closure.) This week, as a follow-up, let’s look at the other half of the system, clipless pedals. They’re what lock the shoes in place and ensure an efficient pedal stroke. Here are basic tips for inspecting pedals for problems and caring for them.

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Fix Those Tired Shoes

Last week’s Question of the Week, “Do you do regular maintenance to your bike(s) this time of year?” coincided with some repairs I needed to do. They aren’t on my bicycle, though. They’re on my circa 2008 Specialized S-Works shoes. It got me thinking that the off-season is a great time to catch up on maintenance like this that is super important for riding, yet easily forgotten or ignored since it’s not specifically on the bike. When planning your pre-season mechanical schedule, be sure to include everything related to your cycling.

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RBR Readers' Bicycle Winterizing Tips

In last week’s Tech Talk, I provided five tips for winterizing your bicycle. Perhaps because you’re in the holiday gift-giving mode, six of you then chimed in adding your valuable tips. Thanks for sharing your expertise. Let’s look at your recommendations and I’ll add a few related winterizing stories and tips.

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A 'New' Wheel/Tire Size to Consider?

A recent reader suggestion for a Question of the Week about 650B wheel sizes caught us by surprise because neither publisher John Marsh nor I thought that enough RBR readers would own bikes with 650B wheels – or even necessarily know what a 650B wheel is – to have an interest in the question. But (and this is what we hope sets us apart a little bit), both John and I thought it was an interesting technical topic, because the 650B wheel size goes back to at least the 1940s (mostly popular in Europe) and is finally becoming more common. So, we agreed that it's worth taking a look at.

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Wireless Shifting for Everyone?

Back in early September, a few weeks before cycling’s biggest new product introduction every year at the Interbike International Expo, I wrote, “As we do every fall before the show, John Marsh and I have been predicting what we might see, and a funny thing happened. We both expressed concern that it might be an uninspiring show, like the last couple we’ve attended.” This proved to be the case. While we found plenty to write about, we didn’t spot any game-changing new must-have products. So our interest was piqued by a recent email from Paul Gallagher, inventor of the Xshifter.

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Dealing with a “Loose” Wheel, Part 3

Last week in Part 2 of this series, we covered the basic tools and setup for working on a wheel on which the spokes have lost their tension. This week, we’ll finally commence retensioning and truing the wheel. Let’s get going! Luckily, when wheels lose spoke tension uniformly, the wheels usually stay relatively round and true. So, while the spokes need tightening, you shouldn’t have to worry about fixing major imperfections in the wheel’s trueness. Instead your focus will be on tightening the spokes. As long as you tighten them uniformly, the wheel will remain relatively round and true.

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Dealing with a “Loose” Wheel, Part 2

Last week in Part 1, we learned about Pennsylvania RBR reader Randy’s rear Shimano wheel, which was rubbing the brake pads on each pedal stroke because the spokes had loosened. This week, I’ll explain how anyone with some basic mechanical aptitude can go about fixing a loose wheel like Randy’s. What do I mean by “basic mechanical aptitude?” Essentially, that you’ve diagnosed and fixed enough things on your bicycle or your car or around your home that you have developed the ability to analyze and understand how something works.

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