Tech Talk

Wheels That Work

I received a good question about a common bike part that can fail, from Mark Pryor of Alameda, California, who’s the co-founder of the Alameda Velo bike club. Mark wrote, “I’m proficient at breaking and loosening rear spokes. I never have problems with fronts; only rear wheels. I’m a 195-pound roadie who climbs a lot of the steep hills in the Bay Area and is mid-pack in events like the Death Ride. Maybe Jim can explain what's happening when bigger guys stand on climbs (steep or not) and what sort of forces stress wheels....

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Checking and Adding Tire Sealant

Now that the nice riding weather has returned to the northern hemisphere and spring events have sprung, I want to cover a good question for this time of year from a Minnesota roadie, Dale, who asked awhile ago: “They say that winter may end here in a few months. I switched to tubeless tires on my Trek Domane last season. Do I need to renew the sealant in them before I start riding again? If so, how do I accomplish that?”

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To Cross-Chain, or Not to Cross-Chain

Our topic this week comes from a great question by RoadBikeRider reader David Stihler who wrote, “I have heard many times that you can't/shouldn't cross-chain. I was just on another ride where a modern bike with Shimano Ultegra components kept getting hung up (not able to shift) because the rider cross-chained. I ride a triple Campagnolo drivetrain and cross-chain all the time and believe that most modern bikes can handle the stress if accidentally cross-chained and that it's not the no-no that it was a few years ago. Can you put this myth to rest (or not)?” 

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Crash Course, Part 1

Some recent nice weather took my thoughts back to a couple years ago about this time of year. I don’t know whether it was the sudden nice riding weather causing us to get careless, or plain bad luck, but a lot of us crashed one weekend. I took a tumble after front flatting on a fast descent. And my Boulder buddy, Will, also got taken out by a patch of gravel and hit the deck so hard he broke his Felt frame. Then, Francesca, who just joined our club rides, was knocked out of her race by a crash.

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Crash Course, Part 2

Some recent nice weather took my thoughts back to a couple years ago about this time of year. I don’t know whether it was the sudden nice riding weather causing us to get careless, or plain bad luck, but a lot of us crashed one weekend. I took a tumble after front flatting on a fast descent. And my Boulder buddy, Will, also got taken out by a patch of gravel and hit the deck so hard he broke his Felt frame. Then, Francesca, who just joined our club rides, was knocked out of her race by a crash. Today I’ll continue where I left off last week, providing additional post-crash first-aid tips for that all-important two-wheeled crash victim.

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How to Ride Home After Shifting Into Your Spokes

In a previous Tech Talk, I explained that shifting into the spokes and damaging your frame’s derailleur hanger was a very common accident. I also gave some examples of what could cause it to happen and explained what to do to fix the problem. This week, I thought I’d provide some slightly MacGyver-like tips for what you can do after shifting into your rear wheel so that you can ride home. It assumes that you carry an all-in-one tool that includes a chain tool (or a separate one). Your multi-tool should also have the right wrenches for working on your rear derailleur.

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Derailleur Hanger Evaluation and Repair

A recent text from a friend read “Help! I think I ruined my frame, Jim!” I called him straight away. He said he was just riding along, had gotten to a steep little pitch, and shifted into his easiest gear when he heard an awful crunch that locked his pedaling and forced him to step off his bike. Looking at his drivetrain for what could be the problem, he said he was horrified to see that his rear derailleur was now inside his rear wheel and only connected by the cable and housing and chain. It had been torn clean off his frame! Hence the text about his frame being ruined.

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Top Tips for Before, During and After Rainy Rides

Here in the Northern California RoadBikeRider headquarters, we’re finally having another rainy winter after years of drought. It’s referred to as El Niño – in case you aren’t here where that’s all the weather people talk about. It’s been years since I’ve ridden in the wet so much, and it reminded me of some technical tips I want to share. If it’s raining where you are, they’ll come in handy. Or save them for those spring showers on the way.

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Fixing a Loose Threadless Headset

One of the most common things to go out of adjustment on many modern road bicycles is the headset, which is the component that connects the fork to the frame so that you can turn to steer and balance your bike. On most bikes today we have headsets known as “threadless” because the parts that adjust the headset are a slip fit over the fork steerer, which is smooth, not threaded (you can’t see the steerer because it’s the topmost part of the fork and hidden inside the head tube of the frame).

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Setting Up Your Levers

This is the time of year when most roadies get in their training rides for their big goal events of 2016. As you increase mileage and intensity, you bump the risk of overuse injuries. These are frequently caused by bicycle fit issues. Reader Peter Heppleston from Edmonton, Canada, who says that “in the Great White North the long winter months give me way too much time to tinker with my position on the bike” offers an easy and clever way to check your lever alignment. Here’s his step-by-step instructions, with photos.

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About Aluminum Corrosion

Our last Tech Talk of 2015 provided 5 tips for Winterizing Your Ride, which, unless you live in the southern hemisphere should come in pretty handy about now. Even here in recently drought-plagued Northern California, we’re getting a lot of rain and cold already in 2016. In the introduction to that article, I wrote, “It’s easy for water to get inside frames, and it’s a common cause of rusting on steel frames (there are no such worries with aluminum, titanium or carbon frames).” To which Holland, Michigan, roadie Kerry Irons took exception.

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Winterize Your Ride

Even though the winter weather is fairly tame here in Santa Cruz, California, I know that in a good many other locales nothing – not snow, or freezing rain, or iced-over pavement, or hurricane gusts that leave normally clogged roads car-free – will stop some roadies from getting their rides in during the winter. For these hardy winter riders, I know that their bikes must take a beating. And even for those of us whose winter rides might include only some additional wetness, road grit, etc., winter is still a great time to do a little additional work to keep your bike running smoothly.

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