Friday, August 31, 2012

Campagnolo Ergoshifter Rebuild. It Can Be Done...

           Modern road brake lever shifter units are not cheap; in fact they are downright spendy. Head towards the upper range of any given companies offerings and the prices start to look like zip codes. So when we have a bike come in for repair that has a broken shifter, there are going to be tears. If that shifter happens to say Campagnolo we may need a cardiac crash cart.
So it was recently when a beautiful Colnago, lugged frame and dripping with Campy, came in for a full overhaul. All was going well until l strung new cables and found a dead shifter. The call was made to the owner and, to his credit, EMT's did not have to be called.
Torn apart (note broken index spring at top of 3rd column from right)
The good thing about Campy, actually there are a lot of good things about Campy, is that the shifter units are completely re-buildable. Shimano and Sram units can have certain parts replaced with success but I have never been totally happy with delving in too deep with them and even ones that have been factory overhauled never feel the same as a new one. However with the Campy units the end result is sometimes better than new.
Pulling one of these bad boys apart though is not something for the faint of heart and I get beads of sweat forming on my brow when I release the first spring. But, so far anyway, with some patience and some good technical drawings that l have acquired over the years, I have had great success with them and a rebuild with some new springs is a lot cheaper than a new shifter.
Back In Business...
So, if you have a set of Italian gear changers that need a service just give me a call. Hell I will even give your Rolex a spring clean too...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tire Sealant, Our Recommendations.

       Tire sealant has been around for a good many years now and has certainly improved greatly in that time. What started as a thick sludge suitable only for a lawn tractors or wheelbarrows has now progressed to a foaming lightweight liquid suitable for a race wheel tubular. When I was mountain biking regularly in England I had great success avoiding punctures by using a bottle of the green slime in each tube. When the tires wore out and were removed from the rims there had been so many punctures sealed that the tubes had welded themselves to the tires, made me a fan of the stuff for life. It is still sold today and is still Martian green and still works great in a tube setup.
        Basically all the sealants work in the same way. When the casing is breached air rushes out through the hole taking the sealant with it, as the sealant flows through the hole, particles in its formula seal the gap. Although the principle is the same throughout the range of products on the market we have found some of these potions are more successful than others at getting the job done.
        For a comfort on hybrid bike or even a fat tire mountain bike running regular tubes Slime is still hard to beat. It is easy to install in a Schrader tube and, with a little patience and a removable valve core, it can be used on skinny valves too. Although it can be put in road tubes I find that it does not work quite as well under high pressure. Although Slime is about the beat of the bunch when using a tube, making the switch to a tubeless system can offer up a whole new set of possibilities.
       When using a tubeless system, such as the one offered by Velocity or the similar Stan's method, we prefer to use the Cafe Latex brand of sealant and the Stan's sealant. When putting a tubeless mountain setup together we prefer the Stan's sealant. This stuff works great on big tires, it seals quickly almost any puncture from thorns to nails and helps seal any areas around the valve and along the beads. It will not seal a cut or slit, none of the brands will, and like other makes, it does lose its effectiveness over time. Any punctures sealed stay sealed but after around 3 months the mixture dries up considerably and ceases to work sealing new holes and needs replacing.
      When it comes to tubeless road systems we prefer the Cafe Latex brand. This stuff is great on high pressure skinnies and seals quickly and permanently any punctures. Like the Stan's it also helps seal values and beads however we do find that it tends to keep its effectiveness a little longer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Velocity Tubeless Road.

The good folks at Velocity have produced some great rims over the years and anyone that I have talked wheels to knows that I am a big fan. A little while ago there was a bit of a re think in the way road tires performed best, the general consensus was that a road tire of 700x23 performed best when mounted on a rim of around 19mm wide however the footprint of a 23 tire seems to favor a rim that is a little wider. The Velocity A23 is a good example and now we can mount it tubeless.  The tubeless system is very similar to the Stan’s mtb method. A special rim tape is used and a tubeless valve mounted in the rim finishes the job. You can use any sealant in there for added security, the Stan’s is good but we prefer the Caffe Latex brand. Once mounted this setup will give you as close to the ride of a tubular wheel as you can get without getting out the glue!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The New Crop Of Disc CycloX Bikes.

       When the rules changed to allow disc brakes into cyclo x events I was a little underwhelmed at the initial offerings available for the season. It was not unexpected, the rule change was talked about for many months in earnest and I assumed that manufacturers would have been ready to roll with disc equipped bikes from the get go. I was wrong.
       It seems that everybody needed a year to get their respective asses into gear and, it seems, 2013 is the year for great disc cross rigs.
       One such bike is the new Raleigh RXC Pro Disc.
Shown above in full race spec. Including carbon rims and Shimano Di2 group. However we also are able to build the full carbon frame and monocoque fork up in any custom configuration.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Velocity Rims and Hubs

I have been building wheels for many years now and over those years I have used rims, spokes and hubs from every manufacturer that has produced them, from Mavic to Zipp, Wheelsmith to Sapim and Chris King to DT.Swiss. Some of these companies have remained favorites, others, not so much and some have just plain priced themselves out of the market.       
One company though has remained a constant favorite here at Cycle Depot, Velocity. This little Australian company has never disappointed, offering a superb product, whether it be hub or rim, at a good price. I use more Deep V rims from Velocity per year than all the other brands combined and, out of all the wheels I build, close to 80% of them have a Velocity Hub or rim. Now there is more good news. Apparently I am not alone in my affection for all things Velocity. It seems a good many wheel builders feel the same way, so much so that America has become the largest market for their product and, to meet that demand in a more timely fashion, Velocity has just recently brought their manufacturing facility to the U.S., Florida to be precise.
So instead of the 'made in Australia' stickers they will now sport ‘made in the U.S.A.’ This will also help with the price, as shipping from the land down under is not cheap. While I do not expect the products to go down in price, I do not expect them to go up either.
Check them out at;

Friday, August 17, 2012

New Titanium Manufacturing Process.

       A huge leap forward in bicycle frame manufacturing happened, very quietly, in the English countryside recently. "Charge Bikes”, a builder of some very nice frames and arguably the best titanium cyclo x bike frame on the market at present, has teamed up with the European Aeronautics Defense and Space center and come up with a completely new manufacturing process for titanium.
      Basically the process uses a sophisticated 3D modeling program to create a layer by layer printed guide, which is then used to print onto powdered titanium. Each of these layers is fused into the powdered titanium, gradually building up the part. With this method they are able to produce designs that could not be produced by any other method.
      The video below shows the process in action producing some shaped, hollow, dropouts, for use on their new 'Freezer' cylo x bike. The possibilities are truly endless and I can see countless parts being manufactured this way. Another benefit is the lack of waste material. Traditionally, when we manufacture a part, we start with a block and whittle it away until we end up with the shape we need. Even casting, which is a little less wasteful, still has quite a bit of cleaning up and filing to complete. With this new ‘printing’ method only the powder that is printed and required is used.
       Check out the video and visit

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Drive Train Woes.

                Never a week goes by without at least a half dozen bikes with shifting issues. Most of the time it is an easy fix, a slack cable or a tweak of the limit screws, (see a previous post). Sometimes a bent derailleur hanger is the culprit and, occasionally, it is a simple case of 'it is worn out’!
                If we have checked all the above and it still has not fixed the problem, then chain, cassette and chain-ring wear is likely' the problem. Checking chain wear is a relatively simple procedure, there are quite a few chain checkers on the market, none of which are necessary or even reliable, the best way to check a chain is to lay it lengthwise on a bench and measure it over 3ft using an ordinary yard stick that measures 3 feet in inches. Line the center of a chain pin on the 1 inch mark and pull it taught; now look at the 36 inch mark, a chain pin should be centered on it. A new chain has its pins exactly a half inch on center, if it is not, then, how far off is it. Here is my rule of thumb on chain wear.

⅟₁₆ inch past = Fine, absolute minimal wear. If you are one of those people who like to slap on new chains every five minutes, then now would be a good time. I, personally, am not a follower of that cult.
⅟₈ inch past = Still fine, lots of wear left, however you are probably past the point of just renewing a chain.
⅟₄ inch past = Time to renew the chain, cassette and chain rings.

As the chain wears and the rollers start to migrate away from each other they wear the teeth of your cassette cogs and rings to suit their new dimension. Once the chain has reached that ⅟₄ inch mark it has done a lot of reshaping and a new chain will have no chance of adapting to the new tooth profile and the old chain will be having a hard time hanging on to the teeth in your favorite gear combinations, the ones that are worn the most, under heavy pressure. So, end result, suck it up and open up the check book…
Just recently we had a Time Trial bike in for the very problem of slipping under pressure. This particular bike had lots of underlying issues as well and ended up taking a good deal of my Sunday afternoon, however, I will not bore you with them now. The bike did bring up an issue which surfaces from time to time though, especially among club riders and weekend racers who are prone to swapping wheels and cassettes from bike to bike. After I had addressed each of the underlying problems and adjusted the derailleurs the thing still gave me a fit shifting in certain gear combinations. The chain was showing minimal wear so I persevered with trying to fine tune it, to no avail. On closer inspection I found a Connex chain, which suggested a renewal at some point, a Sram cassette of a different vintage and chain rings of a Shimano system, which was probably original equipment After talking to the owner of the bike I learned that the cassette was recently borrowed from a friend, the chain was possibly renewed by the previous owner of the bike before it was sold and the crank and rings were, indeed, original.
The moral of this story is; keep track of your drive-train components. Swapping things around on bikes that wear at different rates causes mismatched parts. Modern, high end, gear systems are finicky, hell they barely get along with each other at the best of times and, they definitely prefer to stick to the components they know. Grab the chain off one bike and the cassette from another and there’s gonna be trouble, with a capital T…

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Tubes From Michelin.

          The good folks at Michelin recently added a new tube to the line-up and this is not just another round piece of rubber but a completely new, very profiled design with a square shape to the top and raised sections. It is designed, apparently, so that instead of the rubber being pulled apart it is compressed. This makes a big difference in the event of a puncture, the pressure works with the tube to help seal the hole. Add some sealant to the design and you are good to go, in theory. In practice I have not had much feedback yet but it sounds like a good idea for a trail tube to me.
          Check out the video for a more detailed explanation.

Aero-Bars. Making the Leap.

           Anyone who rides a road or Drop Bar bicycle regularly has, at one time or another, thought of bolting on a set of aero-bars. For some it is an idea born on a ride but dismissed before the brake pads have cooled. For others, it is tried and met with lackluster results and, for a few, a turning point in comfort and performance.
The following guidelines and advice is for those of you thinking of taking the aero plunge or who have a set of bars on their bike and are not sure how to set them up. Before we begin I will say that there are a couple of ways to approach aero set-up. For a' Time Trial' professional or specialist it is going to be very different from the way we fit and position bars for the casual or club rider. It is the latter that I shall concentrate on here.
Firstly, I often see bars that people have positioned after reading a magazine or following strict parameters used by Time Tail experts. Unless you are training exclusively for the TT discipline, do not set your bars this way. The aim should be for you to transition from drops to aero without a drastic change to your upper body position. One of the biggest problems is the elbow and hip height. This is often quoted in articles as a golden rule. It kinda' is if you're Bradley Wiggins however, for us mere mortals, it is not so important. If, after installing the bars and setting them up you find that your hips are in line with your elbows, then great. But, if your natural road bike position is comfortable in a higher front end do not change that to achieve a lineup of hips and elbows. You will lose more than you will gain.
        So where to start, well bar choice is important, there are hundreds of bars and designs on the market and all of them have their merits. But and it is a big but, most of them are not going to work for you and here is why; Adjustability. You need a bar with a wide range of adjustment and also, you still need to be able to ride using the drops and, I bet you like to ride the bar tops and hoods once in a while, that means the arm rests need to flip up when not in use. We like the profile Design bars for these reasons.
You will want to set the cups behind the handlebars and set the angles to comfortably cradle your forearms in their natural position, do not draw in your shoulders and arms to match the cups, this will restrict your airflow.
        The length of the aero-bars should be set so that when using them your head, neck and back position remain more or less the same as when you are in the drops. Lastly, try to set the angle of the extensions somewhat neutral. Bars that tilt up steeply from the elbow to the hands put unnecessary pressure on the spine and neck, keeping them level or even tilted down, will remove that issue.
The extensions on most bars will usually end up being just a little past the furthest point of you brake levers.0

Friday, August 10, 2012

Praxis Chain Rings.

       Some time ago we became involved with a company called Praxis. A friend and avid rider told us about this new chain ring manufacturer that was using forged presses to create  the ultimate, profiled ring. We looked them up and became dealers.
        Their products are very impressive and the feedback received from riders is positive too. Basically they cold forge the alloy using a huge 2 story press delivering a blow of some 1000 tons of pressure. The result is a chain ring that is extremely durable and light at the same time. I do not know if you have looked closely at a chain ring before but, they have lots of divots and scoops on the teeth and on the sides. These features are called ramps and pins. They basically create areas around the ring where it is easier for the chain to jump from one ring to the next. Praxis has taken this to the next level and every tooth has a slightly different profile to its neighbor. Also they have matched rings together in a way never before done as well. They have perfectly timed transitions with departure points on one matched to pickup points on another.
Look Cool Too...
         Anyway, take a look for yourselves. They are adding products to their range all the time and have rings that can retro fit to most of your setups, so you can bolt the rings onto existing crank sets..

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adjusting Front Derailleurs.

        Had an email from a guy yesterday telling of his recent success tuning his rear derailleur, following my recent post on the topic. However, his bike also has a front derailleur...
        So, with sincere apologies for neglecting the front end, here is how to whip those doubles and triples into shape.
        The procedures and adjustments are very similar to the rear but, we do have one rather important extra step. Unlike the rear, there is not just one single point of simple attachment. We have to set the height and angle using our own judgment.
        So, what we are looking for is clearance of the cage of the derailleur as it swings over the chain rings, while still keeping it low. A gap of about 1mm between the top of the big ring and the bottom of the outer cage plate is ideal; manually pivot the cage out to get a look at the gap.
        Next we need to set the angle. As you look down onto the chain rings the cage of the derailleur needs to run parallel with the rings.
       Now you have your derailleur mounted correctly we can set the limit screws. We start on the low limit screw first.
Change gear at the rear so the chain is on the lowest gear, biggest cog. Without a cable attached to the front derailleur, adjust the Low limit screw until there is clearance of about 1mm between the chain and the inner cage plate.
       Change gear at the rear to the high gear, small cog. Here is where it gets a little tricky. You now have to manually swing the front derailleur out while turning the crank to shift into the high gear, big ring. It might take you a couple of tries, the spring on the derailleur is pretty tough. Once you get it pushed out to its stop, adjust the High limit screw to get clearance between the chain and outer cage plate of 1mm, when you are happy, release hold of the derailleur and cycle the chain back to the small ring. Attach the cable making sure that the shifter is set on the low gear or number 1.
       Try it out. If you have a slack in the cable, just take it out using quarter turns on the barrel adjuster, until it works perfectly.     

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tip for the Day.

     There are lots of choices when it comes to picking new cables for your bike. Galvanized, stainless, slick, we mainly use the Stainless Steel slick from Jagwire. These guys are pre-stretched and perform very well. Some time ago it became popular to coat the cables with a 'Teflon Coating'. While on the face of it this sounds like a terrific idea, like many things it falls way short in reality. Here's why: 
    The Teflon is a coating, it is put on the finished cable, it is nice and slick and I'm sure that if you wanted to, you could fry a rasher of bacon on it, all be it a very skinny one, but that coating does not like to be pulled and rubbed through housing and it starts to peel off, now we have strips of coating clogging up inside the housing and binding up the cables. 
     If someone brings in a bike with shifting problems and it has coated cables we clip them and run slick stainless with new housing. Problem Solved.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hello, I'd Like A Service Kit For...

      A good part of my, or I should say Pam's day is spent sourcing parts. I am not talking about the usual everyday stuff but rather the one off wotnots and thingamabobs that are peculiar to certain brands or models.
      The two chief problem areas are;
1. Bushing kits for full suspension mtb's
2. Seal kits for older suspension forks.
      Believe me when I say there are plenty more components, even new ones, that getting spare parts for is akin to replacing a thrust unit on a space shuttle, which is probably why NASA quit flying them.
      Let's take a simple task of bushing replacement in a frame. Now when a company builds a full suspension mountain bike there will be at least two joints on it that will be required to pivot. No matter the design, something, somewhere is going to have to move up and down. This is not a big deal but whilst we need to have the movement up and down we do not want any from side to side and also, we want the pivot to be smooth and not grinding. To achieve both these aims bushing are used, either little brass units or nylon or a mixture of both on a machined bolt or link pin. The thing with bushings though, they wear out. That is where I come in. Simple you say and yes, it should be.
       A conversation with a bike companies parts department usually goes something like this;

Me;                 Hello my good man, I would like a bushing replacement kit for a "DillyWotsit 6000" please

Parts Guy;       Oooh, I'm sorry sir we stopped making those 2 years ago.

Me;                 But the bike is only 3 years old.

Parts Guy;       Like I said we stopped making them 2 years ago. We make the "DillyWotsit 9000" now.

Me;                 Cool, will the bushings on that fit the 6000?

Parts Guy;       Not a chance, but we can sell you the whole frame...

Me;                 Thank you for your time.

      And believe me it can be much more painful than that. We recently had a K2 mountain bike in for bushings, it took us two days to figure out who now owned the company before we could work out who to call. Only to be told that when they bought the company the spare parts inventory was zero. Not a few or some but squat. We made our own.
        It is not just companies that have been sold or swallowed up by others that we encounter problems, it seems that the norm these days is to faze out re-stocking spares on models that are four or more years old. They just assume by then that you will be buying a new bike. I would love to sell you a new ride every year and, some folks with the budget and a weakness for the new and shiny, do just that. But, I have a feeling that if you were told that your 3 grand race rig is toast for the lack of a 30 dollar service kit, you are going to be pissed, probably enough to switch brands. It amazes me that manufacturers do not see that. Hell, maybe they do.
        Another big ticket item on the bike that suffers from the same problem is, suspension forks. I will add a caveat here and exclude RockShox and Fox. Both these companies have bent over backwards to help me out over the years and I have never had to scrap a fork from these guys for the want of replacement parts. If only some of the others were more accommodating.
        So, there you have it, a little rant from the workshop. If there is anything you could take from this post it would be; If you are in the market for a full squishy mtb, look carefully at the linkage. If it is a weird intricate design, maybe stock up on a couple of bushing kits at the time of purchase.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The New 2013 Diamondback "Mason 29er"

       It sounds ridiculous to be talking about next years bikes when we have plenty of 2012 left yet, however this is about the time of year when all the bike companies start their show and tell segment. Also, lots of these offerings will start to be available before the end of the year so as to get a jump on next year.
      One of the new bikes that has caught my eye is the "Mason" all mountain 29er from Diamondback. There are lots of 29ers out there now and they have been following the same standard geometry type. Not a bad thing, 29ers are great. However we are now starting to see some new ideas and ways of thinking about  frame design in the big wheel market and the Mason is one of them. Up to now we have been following the same frame geometry rules to design 29ers as we have been using to build 26ers, I guess it has taken the designers a while to figure out where they can take the 29er.
      The Mason has a really loose 66.5 degree head angle and they have managed to get the centre of gravity down low as well. All in all a innovative design resulting in a really fun bike that is fun to ride up as well as hurtle down.
       Take a look at the video below and check out the full spec at;