Tech Talk

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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Dealing with a “Loose” Wheel, Part 1

This week’s topic (the first of a 2-parter) evolved from an RBR Premium Member’s email. (We gladly offer our direct, personal advice to our Premium Members.) Randy from Pennsylvania wrote about a fairly common wheel issue: "When I ride out of the saddle on hills, my wheels laterally flex and rub on my brake pads." To introduce the subject, I’ll share his emails and my replies today and next week, and explain how you might be able to fix the problem should you wish to tackle it yourself. 

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Your Additional Chain-Drop and Front Derailleur Issues

As promised in last week’s episode, this Tech Talk covers a few additional chain-drop, chainline and front derailleur issues raised by readers in our Comments section. As a reminder, a few weeks back, in Issue 732 of RBR Newsletter, I wrote about helping a friend diagnose and solve his chain-drop issue. We’ve received some excellent comments on these topics in the weeks since. So, I’ll share a few of the most insightful ones and add a few more tips.

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Paceline-Safety Responsibility Follow-Up

It was great receiving so much feedback to our paceline safety (and whose responsibility is it, anyway?) story last week. Thanks! You raised some interesting points and even made us laugh, with a hilarious Seinfeld snippet on YouTube titled "George and the Pigeons." Worth watching if you missed it. High five to David Pybus for posting that! I’ll respond with a few more thoughts on your comments today. Then, next week, I’ll reply with tips for those who brought up additional chain drop and front derailleur issues, since that’s a hot topic, too.

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More on Chain Drop, Chainline; Paceline-Safety Responsibility

Before we get into this week’s main subject – paceline safety responsibility – I want to share a couple of helpful comments that came in about last week’s column on diagnosing chains that fall of the chainrings. Readers Chuck and Frank added that front derailleur adjustment issues can cause chains to fall off, including a bent derailleur cage and improper limit screw adjustment that lets the derailleur throw the chain one way or the other. Let’s look at these issues: 

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Diagnosing a Chain That Falls Off the Chainring

We’re always on the lookout for interesting problems to share with you in the hopes we can head off trouble before it happens – and/or provide tips for diagnosing and dealing with glitches. The issue for you this week is a drivetrain miscue that came up on my club’s last Saturday ride. We had returned to town and stopped to say our goodbyes, and while still standing over his Trek, one of the guys backpedaled and his chain promptly came off the chainring and jammed in the front derailleur. He said something like, “that always happens and it drives me nuts.”

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Be a Vampire Killer

With all due respect to Roman Polanski’s classic 1967 spoof "The Fearless Vampire Killers," I want you to get in the habit of hunting for, finding and terminating your bicycle vampires. These two-wheel ghouls constantly suck your energy by making your bicycle harder to pedal. And, like the fanged variety, they’re apt to appear at any time and can be hard to find. In fact, it’s rare that you’d ever notice a vampire while riding or even rolling your bike.

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Interbike-Eve Musings, 2016

Interbike is one of the two most important international trade bicycle shows every year. The two-wheel extravaganza returns to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas September 21-23. As we do every fall before the show, John Marsh and I have been discussing and 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.

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Nice White Lightning and Finish Line Bike Care Products

A couple of weeks back, we provided carbon bicycle-care tips, and the issue of cleaning and polishing matte/satin carbon finishes came up. We received a helping hand on the subject from Daniel Rowe at Finish Line USA, which also owns White Lightning bicycle care products. Dan said that they recently introduced a White Lightning product called Matte Finisher that’s uniquely designed for that application. He said he’d send some for us to try. But he went one better and included a few other handy White Lightning and Finish Line bike care goodies. I thought I’d provide some quick reviews.

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Is a Custom or “Brand” Wheelset Right for You?

When wheel shopping, a question that often comes up is whether to get a brand or a custom wheelset? By "brand" I mean a wheelset designed and built by a bicycle company. By custom, I mean hoops built by an experienced professional wheel builder at a bicycle shop or an independent builder. Since this is often one of the most difficult decisions when buying a new wheelset, I’d like to help by looking at some of the key pros and cons of both approaches.

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Follow-up on Carbon Care; Interesting New Product

Almost as soon as last week’s Tech Talk on Basic Carbon Bicycle Care Tips went live, I received a related question from a New Hampshire roadie named David. It made me realize there was one more important aspect to cover for many of today’s carbon wonders. I’m providing that Q & A first. And then I’ll tell you about an interesting new product. The Shoka Bell is so interesting to me, and possibly game-changing, that I wanted to share this noisemaker-and-more.

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More on Matte Carbon Care and Avoiding the No. 1 Bike Touring Mistake

In last week’s column about cleaning and polishing carbon bicycles with matte finishes, we asked you  for bicycle-specific products (since the only ones I provided came from the automobile industry). Kudos to Michael Metzger from Burke, Virginia, who was the first to tell me about White Lightning’s Matte Finisher (photo). Mike’s comment was followed by an email from Daniel Rowe from Finish Line USA, which also owns White Lightning bicycle care products. 

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