Bicycle Tech / Tools / HACKS / TUBELESS TIRE REPAIR

How-To Bike Repairs

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Regular Maintenance

Component Selection

FINDING Lost Performance

Lubrication

Comfort Control

Special Tools

Bike Repairs

Tire Tech / TUBELESS REPAIR / Tire Selection

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Road Tires

CX Road

CX Trail

MTB Cross Country

MTB Singletracks

Fatties

Tire Tech

Most Important Bicycle Tip / CHECK Your CHAIN!

Your Best Friend is a Chain Gauge

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This chain has worn 50% of it's acceptable limit. This chain is on my MTB. I ride this MTB at Lynn Woods. In only 200 miles, this chain is 50% worn. MAX Usage for this chain is 500 miles. I will put (2) chains on this bike each year.


I ride my CX Bike on sand /gravel/dirt trails, I can get about 800 miles on a CX Bike before changing the chain. A Road Bike can get 2000 miles on a chain.


Point is: A chain always wears equally. You do not want the chain to break on a long ride. Once a single link breaks, you can expect the rest of the chain to start breaking links.  A 2 hour walk with your bike, instead of riding... Your choice...

Know Your CHAIN-LUBE

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There is only ONE Lube that works (Hint: It is not WAX)

Most of last year, my chains were getting to about 60% of normal life, and they break on the trails. After 20 years of riding, I knew very well how many miles a chain should get. I had (4) chains break with only 60%- 80% life.  Much shorter life than normal. Easy to figure out is was chain stretch, after I broke a chain I would measure it for wear.


Chains that only had a few hundred miles on them showed wear that was equivalent to a well worn chain. First suspect was the chain brand. Took a long time to figure out it was the Chain Lube.  Earlier that year, I started using WAX like most of the folks I ride with.


Yes, Chain Wax and Silicone Lube are great and keep your chain cleaner. But they do not do the job of lubing the chain for long term use.  


After looking into this, and many videos on you-Tube, the Pro's apply Wax much different than from a spray can like Pedro's.   First they use an Acetone bath to clean the chain, pressure clean it, then they melt a wax candle in a pot. Next step is put the clean chain in it, take out and let dry. Take a rag and clear off the extra wax.  Yes, that works for them and I am happy for them.


Short of having your own bike mechanic it is lot of work to remove your chain + clean it, then boil it in hot wax  after every ride.  Or you can use Spray Chain-Oil and go.


As far as the Spray Can variety of Wax I give spray wax 2 thumbs down. My chain is squeaking after the first 25 miles of any MTB dirt ride with wax lube... Straight chain oil does not squeak and the chain stays lubed for the duration of the ride. 


Lots of folks will still swear by the Wax...

For me, I am Not sure it is worth it.  Don't really care to break my chain on a ride where I am 50 miles from home. Went back to regular Chain-Oil and now I get 120% chain life on each chain...like it was before I switched.

Bike Upgrades / Hacks / Tips

180mm Rotor Upgrade: If you ride in New England and want to Stop...

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Upgrade your 160mm Rotor to a 180mm Rotor. All you need is a 180mm Rotor, and a caliper extender  kit. 

For under $50, the best braking improvement you can make. Not needed on CX or light duty bicycles. A 180 mm Rotor is only needed on the Front, unless you have a DH Bike.

BB7 Adjustment Quirk / Did your Brakes ever get Tighter in the middle of a Ride?

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I have found on the really rough trails, the out-side pad adjuster will sometimes get a little tighter. This O-Ring adds a little resistance to that movement and keeps the pad position as you set it.

Shocking Pressure

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Do you know (without looking) what your Shock Pressure should be?   What if you are on the trails, and think your pressure is low? 

 Write your Shock Pressure on your bike. You will always know what the best fork pressure should be.

SRAM Rear Derailleur Hack

Ever have your Rear Derailluer Skip Around?

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The Tension Screw (not shown) helps the Chain track the Cassette properly by putting a constant tension on it.

Sometimes the tension screw  just needs an adjustment to make the chain tracking better. If this screw is busted or bent, it will be impossible for the chain to track properly through the cassette.

The Tension Screw Fix

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Shown: New (Mongo) 10-32 Tension Screw 

vs 

Original (puny) 6-32 Tension Screw 


This FIX works on most SRAM Derailleurs.

Sram Rear Derailluer Hack

After my friend wrecked (3) expensive SRAM Short Cage Derailleurs, we took a closer look at the issue.  On all 3, the Tension Screw bent + stripped past the spring boss which provides the tension.


SRAM in pure marketing genius mode used a weak 6-32 aluminum screw  to do the job.  Designed to fail, they sell you a new derailleur.

 

Unless you try this Hack:

The above photo shows a 10-32 Tap doing it's job and cutting new threads. The photo to the Left shows a new 10-32 Stainless Steel screw installed. Above the 10-32 screw is the original 6-32 screw with it's stripped threads and warped screw body.


Carmen Saved $89.00 with this repair instead of buying a new derailleur. Now lets find the other 2 + fix-um up.

The Rider Cockpit

SRAM Twist-Grip Shifter / Ergonomic Hand-Grips / Climbing Bars

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SRAM Twist- Shifters: After breaking fingers a few times on Crashes, I have converted all my bikes over to Twist-Shifters. They also clean up the cockpit area a bit.  


Ergo-Grips: When you are doing regular rides of 4 - 6 hours, every little comfort helps. These let you take the pressure off of your wrists. On Down-Hill Bombs, you will also have my better control of the steering.


Bar Ends/ Climbing Bars:   When you stand on your pedals to get up that hill, you need to change your hand position to the climbing bars so you can stand.  Also important on those long rides where you can get a few different hand positions, and rest your wrists. 


Bonus: Nothing like a Bar End between Your Hand on a handlebar and that Tree you just steered into.

Garmin Bar-Fly GPS Mount

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This Mount is on the Tire Side of the handlebars. 


The Bar-Fly brand mounts (and others) are designed to Break-Away on impact to protect the Garmns mount from breaking....w it is Safely away from me.


The Bar-Fly brand mounts (and others) are designed to Break-Away on impact to protect the Garmins mount from breaking....

Forgotten Performance found in the Rim Width

TCS Tubeless / Tubeless Compatible System WTB i23 29" Rim

What is Rim Width?

Rim width affects how much tire is in contact with the road or trail surface.  All bicycles benefit from having a proper size rim width.


Why is Rim Width Important? 


A tire will achieve more surface contact and the tire surface becomes more square to the ground as Rim Width increases. Good for Trails, Bad for Roads.  


Road tires want as little contact with the road as possible.  A narrow rim helps reduce weight and it keeps the tire round to have just the center of the tire in contact with the ground.


MTB's like as much width as possible. Tubeless is also a great benefit,  and it reduces the rotational weight of the wheel assembly.


Your ride can be greatly affected by Rim Width.  A wide MTB tire (2.3 inches) on a narrow 19mm rim is an unstable tire combination. It will have bad cornering, over steering, and a loss of traction. Some MTB's have 21mm to 23mm rim width, which is still too narrow.  A 2.3 inch tire should have between 25mm and 30mm inside Rim Width for best tire performance.


Important Note: You can go too wide on a rim size. What will happen is the tire bead will not seat correctly, and the tire will pop off the rim, which is a very bad situation. 

Look for Max Rim Width information on some tires.


Road Bike Rim Width

Road Bikes have tires that range from 23mm to 32mm wide. Max Rim Width for a road bike is 19mm. A rounded tire profile is preferred. Road bikes want as little tire/road contact as possible to reduce road resistance.

CX Bike Rim Width

CX Bikes have tire sizes from 30mm to 42mm. Most CX bikes have braking + traction issues on dirt trails, so you want the tire to sit as square as possible on the trail.  MAX Rim Width is 23mm for CX tires 30mm to 35mm. If you are running 35mm to 42mm tires you can go up to 27mm inside width.

Mountain Bike Rim Width

Mountain Bike tire sizes run from 1.9" to 2.5".  Mountain bikes have greatly improved steering, braking, and handling performance with wider rims.  Proper rim width for these tires is 25mm to 29mm.

Plus-Bike Rim Width

At the moment, 27.5 / Plus Bikes seem to have just (2) Tire sizes. 2.8" and 3.0" wide.  I have both 45mm and 50mm wide rims with 3.0 tires.  Honestly 3.0 tires are so good for traction and handling, I can not tell the difference between the 45mm and 50mm rims.  So, I would say, save some weight and go with the 45mm rims.

Fat Bike Rim Width

Rims on Fat Bikes range from 63mm to 83mm . Tire sizes range from 4.0 inches to 5.0 inches. Once again, with the huge width of the tires on Fat Bikes, Fat Bikes will never have traction problems.  The Tires will always have Weight Problems. The Tires will always have surface contact resistance problems. But some folks Love-Them... so that is what really matters.

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Finding Lost Power... In Your CHAIN

The 3 Ring Circus

Lets chat about Friction Loss in the Chain. 


Most new mountain bikes have the very popular 1x 10 and 1x 11 gear-sets.  

Yes, they look cool, and you are saving the space on your handle-bar from having a chain-ring shifter.


What do you gain in a 1x system? Maybe the feeling simpler is better?

As far as performance goes, things maybe  worse because what you are losing.  


The Many Ways You Lose:


1) Power Loss: If you are using a 1x system on your MTB, you can be losing up to 15% of your power while climbing.  When the chain alignment is askew, you are creating friction instead of power.  (see Video)  Chain alignment is critical for minimal power loss.  A Triple Ring allows the chain to have proper alignment for most of the gear range.  A mountain bike rider in great shape can produce over 400 watts of power on a climb. A 15% loss on that is 60 watts of power LOST into wearing out your chain and making heat, instead of helping you climb.


2) Down-Hill Control is sacrificed on a 1x system.  Most 1x systems use a 28t to a 36t front rings. Anything bigger and you lose climbing ability.  On Down-Hills you can easily hit 20, 25, to 30 MPH on the trails.  Problem is the max-speed your gear-set can handle is about 16 MPH.  Any speeds faster than that, the gear-set makes the pedals useless.   So you are on a down-hill bomb with only Brakes for your control.  With a 48t on the front, you now have much more control on your descent. All my bikes have Triple Rings and I can tell you it is great to have a lot of gear choices with a 24t-34t-48t ring-set on the front.


3) Climbing Ability = More Weight:  To me it just does not make sense.  In a 1x system, if you want more climbing ability, you must add bigger gears and more weight. Large skips in tooth steps between gears too...  With a Triple Ring set-up The biggest rear gear you will ever need is a 36t if you have a 24t up front.  Look at all the weight I saved, and a much better intra-gear selection. 50 Tooth cassettes are very $$expensive$$ too.


4) Thick-Thin Chain-Ring skip:  When I was riding 1x systems I found the thick-thin single-speed chain-rings can sometimes skip when there is a lot of dirt on the chain.  A few trips through the mud, dirt, and gunk on the chain, I have seen the front chain-ring struggle to keep get the chain on the thick teeth when you have severe chain angles. The dirt in the links vs the thicker teeth is not a good combination.  Triple Ring systems have narrow teeth that will allow better  chain-angle  guidance.


5) Chain Tension Issues: In a 1x system the rear derailleur's cage position is at both extremes through-out it's gear range.  When selected for the highest gear, there is also very little chain tension which means the chain will slap around. This can sometimes pop the chain off the front chain ring.  This will happen when your bike is going it's fastest, like on a down-hill.  Great time to lose your chain. You can put a chain tensioner on it, but that is extra weight for no performance gain. A Triple Ring, or even a Double Ring lets you have many gear choices and the front derailleur also acts to keep your chain on the gear.


6) Chain Life:  You have a spare tube, tool kits and everything you need in case you get stuck.  Do you ride with an extra chain too?  If you are using a 1x system, you should be.  Chain wear on a 1x system is much faster than a Triple Ring system.  With many bikes and many thousands of miles I ride each year, I have to change chains at least 2 times on some of my bikes each season.  Getting as many miles as possible is important at $25+ a chain. On my bikes I get 130% chain wear before the chain brakes.  On the 1x system I was getting about 80% max usage from each chain.  Being deep in the woods when a chain reaches it's end-of-life can be a bummer. I have had a chain brake on me 3 times before getting out of the woods in one outing. 


7) Wrecking your Whole Drive-Train: Just to be clear, there is a lot of stress on the other components in your 1x system. Your Derailleur is stretched, the guide-wheels are grinding, and there is a lot of noise when you are in the big gears... 

More than in the other gears.  That noise is your drive-train wearing down, and the energy you are losing.


WANT PROOF?? Go to your biggest gear, and pedal backwards... see if you drop your chain. If you do, you need to read this entire page again.

Chain and Drive train Off-Angle Strain Demo

Used a 2x system to show the exaggerated chain angle, I do not own any 1x systems anymore.

Your Rear Cassette: How Big can you Go...?

Your Rear Cassette Size depends on your Front Chain-Ring Size

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On most Bikes you can run a 36 Tooth Rear Cassette (Shown) and you will not need to modify your derailleur. If your Front Chain Ring is 48 Teeth or Smaller, you are ready to go. 


Going to a Larger Cassette ( IE: 40 - 42t ), now you start to impact the Max size of your front chain-ring. Most folks run a single chain-ring up front, so it is an easy adjustment to make.


All of my bikes have Triple Chain-rings. Why...?  Because I need the gear range.  I can take any of my bikes from the roughest hill climb on a rugged trail, or hit 20 MPH cruising speed on the roads between the parks.


Even in the parks, I am often in my large chain ring on downhills and flat lands.  Having a big chain-ring allows more control of the bike on the fast downhills.

$400 China Carbon Frame Build (2015)

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$400 / 2.9 Pounds / 18 Inch / MTB Frame

First, there is no buyers remorse, this Frame Rocks.  It just needed some love.  The first few hundred miles of use, I only went on rough trails a few times. 

But when I did, the back rotor would be rubbing the pads by the end of the ride.  After a few times of this, I figured out the Axle Skewer slipped.      

The Rear Axle alignment would change when on very rugged trails. The QR Axle Skewers were not holding tight enough to the frame. The reason is because the Metal Alloy could not bite into the carbon Drop-Out.

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Carbon Material is Harder than you may think...

The Carbon Fiber is so strong, the Metal Alloy Axle Skewer could not bite into the Carbon material.     


Took my Dremel Tool and carved out a QR bolt seat on both the Cassette Side and the Brake Side Axle Drop-Outs.


Shown: Carbon Drop-Out after 1000 Miles of Use. Still no sign of the Axle Skewer biting into the Carbon. Just tooling marks from the Dremel. Note: The Derailleur Hanger has plenty of Teeth Marks from the Axle Skewer.

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All Better Now...

Does not look Pretty, but sure did the job.  The Axle stays in alignment even on the hardest trail rides since the modification. While the Derailleur  Hanger did not have an Axle - Skewer Slip Issue... I already had the Dremel out..so I could not resist.


Currently with over 3200 miles on this frame. It is SOLID. Very happy with this frame, but it did need it's minor adjustments.

Broke this "Thingy" off too

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After the first 1000 miles and a year after purchase, the Top-Pull Cable hanger busted off the Seat Tube.     


I was able to get this Cable-Helper and created a new Cable Hanger. Has been fine ever since.

Fully Rigid Mountain Bike (Carbon Build)

Why a Fully Rigid?

I have wanted a Fully Rigid Mountain Bike for a few years.  My main squeeze on the trails has been my 29'er TI-Hardtail. I do not know anyone that rides a fully rigid, but still wanted one.


After recently getting hooked on the speed of Cyclo-Cross bikes on the trails, I found the CX bikes have a lot of trail restrictions. I wanted a fast fully rigid bike that can zoom down the rugged Single-tracks we have here in New England. 


By shedding the weight of the front suspension fork, I took 3.8 pounds of weight off the front-end by using a 1.1 pound Carbon Fork. Without any suspension, I am putting a lot of trust in the traction and trail tracking in the Tires. Tire selection is very important consideration on a fully rigid.  


This bike is a very capable machine. Initially I was playing with the crank-set to find the right gear for me. Went as high as a 46, and this bike with these 2.3" MTB tires did a constant 19mph on the road. But with a 11x36 on the back, could not climb much.


Tried a 32 on the front, and climbing was great, not the super steep stuff, but it was very slow on the road. Barely past 13mph. With a 36 front ring, I found a great balance of high end road speed and good climbing ability.  I have now installed a 42 on the rear to help that out a little bit.   


The Final Configuration: After messing around with Fixed gear, and a 2x system, went to a 3x system and totally love this bike now. It will climb the steepest of hills and maintain a pace of 20 mph on the road. 

Front: 24/34/46 

Rear: 11/40


If a MTB Bike is fast on the road, it usually means it will be fast on Hard-Packed trails.  Which this bike is. This bike ripped up a constant 18.5mph on a 3 mile straight dirt trail. 36x11 gear setting. It also tracks twisty single-tracks like it is on rails. 


To answer the initial question... Why a Fully Rigid? Because they are fast, fast, fast. The feel of a fully rigid is also a great experience. There is a learning curve to get the rhythm  down. Once you learn to glide the over the bumps instead of riding on them, you will really be impressed.


Having a MTB that weighs in at 23 pounds is pretty good too.


Tech:  

Frame: Carbon 2.3 Pounds 18inch MTB

Fork: Exotic 29er Carbon Fork / Alloy Crown (I do not trust Carbon Crowns)

Rims: WTB KOM 29i 29er (weighs same as carbon) 

WTB Weirwolf 2.5 Tubeless (front)

WTB Trail Boss 2.3 Tubeless (rear)

11x40t x 24/34/46t w/SRAM 1:1 long-cage

BB7 Brake-Set

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Why a GPS? What does it do for My Ride?

Garmin GPS + Smartphone GPS Apps

Question:  What does a GPS do for me?

Is it an expensive gadget without any real purpose? 

Answer: NO 


My best example is a few years ago when I spent 35 days total (several trips) in Denver for work. Took one of my extra MTB’s on Southwest (Bike flew for free) and there I was at the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains. 


I have never been there before. I had no guide, and no clue where to ride. One thing for sure… the Rockies are HUGE and would not want to get lost. I did have 5 free hours each day before work and an itch to see as much as I can.  


Got on www.RidewithGPS.com and mapped out a new ride for each day I was out there.  I went to the Foot Hills, the Mesa’s, the Canyon’s, the Gulch’s, the Creeks, the Deserts, and the Mountains.  


In all, I rode 300+ miles on my trips out there.  (see the TRIPS Page on this website) I was able to see every trail I plotted out, never got lost, yet I had no clue where I was going. In the woods, in the Mountains… everything was where it was supposed to be.  


All because I was able to load my Routes with a Full TOPO MAP onto my Garmin 810 GPS and it was as easy as following a green line on the screen. GPS works everywhere. Smart-Phone GPS will have black-out areas, and low location resolution. 


A GPS will locate you to within 20 feet. A smart Phone depending on where you are could be as much as 200-300 foot location resolution.  But in some places it works much better. 


The Garmin 810 runs for up to 8 hours. High resolution Maps, every stream pond and dry creek is displayed as you ride.  My other choice was a folded paper map in my pocket.

I plotted this Trail Route on the RidewithGPS website. Plot your route, then load it on your device.

I plotted this Trail Route on the RidewithGPS website. Plot your route, then load it on your device.

A 2.3" Tire that Measures at 2.4"

WTB Breakout 2.3" Tire mounted on a 29mm (Inside Width) Rim results in a 2.4" tire.

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The WTB Breakout is a 2.3 Inch Tire if you measure it at the width of the Sidewalls.  However, the  Knob to Knob width is 2.4 Inches.


Issue: Frame is a bit narrow. Giant Knobs will either hit the Chain-Stay on the Left or the Derailleur on the Right.


Solution: Readjust the Wheel Center-line Off-Set.  While this wheel was installed, I was able to adjust the spoke tension to Off-Set the Tire/Rim center-line.  By turning each adjuster an equal (1) full turn on all spokes (1/2 turn at a time) in the same direction is a good way to accomplish this.


CON: Works Great as long as the Wheel stays TRUE. A little rim damage/warping... enough to hit the chain-stay... way out on the trails some where... and your Stuck.