CARBON FRAME REPAIR
Newest Bike Trends
Performance Tuning your Fork
FINDING Lost Performance
MTB Cross Country
Build your own bike, the way you like it.
CX Carbon Bike Building
MTB Carbon Bike Building
Electric Bike Building
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. On most chains you may get an extra 100 miles past the 100% wear limit.
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, especially if it is one of my group rides. Once a single link breaks, you can expect the rest of the chain to start breaking links. Sometimes a link will break because of a twig, or a funny twist. Most of the time, a link will break because it is past it's life.
Check your Chain...or enjoy your 2 hour walk with your bike, instead of riding...
Brand new chains need to be cleaned before use.
Chains are assembled by machines and there is machine oils all over the new chain. The oils help keep the chain from rusting while in the package waiting for you to install it.
A new chain will need a solvent cleaning, and re-oiling when installed. The original machine oil is sticky and not meant for long term lubrication. It will also prevent the good chain oil from getting where it needs to be. Open a new chain and just touch it. It is sticky which is bad.
Make sure you match the length of the new chain to the length of the old chain. Most MTB's you will take 1 or 2 whole links out.
If you carry a spare chain on a long ride, make sure you pre-prep the chain. Solvent clean it, pre-oil it, adjust it to the proper size, and store it back in the original container.
Oil is not enough for your chain. Every 3 - 4 rides, you should remove your chain at the Quick-Link and solvent clean your chain. Clean more often for Sandy Trails, and less often for Road Riding.
Solvent cleaning means you strip away everything, oil, lube, and dirt. I use GUNK Original. Put the chain in a small container, spray it, scrub it with your brush, then wash it off. Must oil it as soon as you install it, or it will start to rust right away.
Also use Gunk to clean the rest of your bike. Especially the rims. I dip the corner of a rag into a small amount and it gets everything off.
ONE MORE NOTE about CHAINS:
I buy $25.00 mid-range chains. I mostly ride in conditions where even the best chain in the world would not make it to end of life.
Many times my chains are the victim of a funny twist, getting jammed between gears, or a large stick that does its trick.
Point is, Cheap Chains are best for my style of riding. The $60.00 chain is on my road bike.
This is the very Famous SINGLE SPEED CONVERSION FIX for an emergency repair on your ride.
For what ever reason your derailleur failed, this fix will get you out of the woods every time. I have broken a derailleur at least one time a year for the last 20 years. If you set up the gearing correctly, you may also be able to enjoy more riding as a fixed single-speed MTB. Recently after such a repair in Lynn Woods, I was able to hit 3 more miles of rugged Single Tracks before leaving the park.
After removing the derailleur assembly, you must remove the correct amount of chain links.
The Final resting position of the Chain MUST BE in a Straight Line from the front Chain-ring to the rear cog. If the chain is askew, it will skip around and this will not work. It is much easier taking links out, then putting them back in if you make the chain too short.
Plan this carefully, do it once, and you are riding again in 10 minutes.
PS: This is why we carry a good Chain Tool in our kits.
TRY THIS OUT AT HOME....!
If you have never done this before, I strongly recommend you try at home before you are stuck. You do not need to remove or disconnect your derailleur. Just remove your current chain from your bike. Un-thread it from your rear derailleur. Now affix the chain to the rear sprocket and front chain-ring you want to use, and hold the two chain ends together. Then estimate an extra few links and remove the link you want to make the new connection to. It should be hanging down loose, and when it jumps up to the correct sprocket it should be tight, and a little loose is OK. If the chain-ring seems to be binding, you took out too many links, and you will need to add one back in. Then go for a ride on your single speed. It is fun, try it out for a few miles. When you get home, install a new chain, or add a quick link to where you broke the chain you currently have.
So..... 2 times in the last month (Different bikes) I busted the Quick-Link on my chain. Today was on my CX Trail Bike.
This Busted link from today is shown. This is the second time the Quick-Link pulled-out and apart on a high torque application (Hill Climb in dirt)
The other one was my Hardtail MTB 3 weeks ago.
The FAILED Quick-Links are from SRAM, they come with the SRAM Chain. Both of these chains were Brand-New just 100 miles ago, so it did not make sense the Quick-Links are breaking.
The Upper Links are marked as 9-SPD. They are used links, but I would use them again. I keep these extra links in my tool kit for on-trail repairs. These used links have gotten me out of the woods more times than I can count.
I am now in the process of going through all my bikes and removing the SRAM Quick-Links. I hate having my ride interrupted because a stuid deign on a vital part.
Look at the SRAM Quick-links (Bottom) and Generic 9-Speed Quick-Links on Top.
The Generic-Brand links are superior to the SRAM design.
The entire Generic Roller is sitting on the thin-link area making it difficult to pull the Pin through on a high-torque application. Also makes a stable and secure pin.
The SRAM Pin, I am not surprised it has been pulling through....
If using a SRAM chain, do yourself a favor... Throw away the quick-link and use a generic one.
SRAM lost the recipe for making good Quick-Links.
Most of 2016, 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. It 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. My first suspect was the chain brand. Sprung for a $40 chain. Then on one of my longer rides with the new super chain, I heard my chain squeaking.
Squeaking like an un-lubed chain. Did not take long to figure out after that it was the Chain Lube. Seems the limit with spray-can wax lube is about 4 hours of riding, or near 25 miles on a MTB. 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 differently than we do. From a spray can like Pedro's. The Pro's: First they use an Acetone bath to clean the chain, pressure clean it in a bath, while 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.
The most popular argument against chain oil is rust. I spray before and after a ride. I have >8 bikes. I can not possible ride them all. None of the bikes have rusted chains. 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.
Carbon Frame Repairs
Fixing Your Carbon Frame is a lot easier than you may have thought. $20 at an automotive store and your bike is fixed before you know it.
Just like the old-days of Automotive Repair... We always Gravity Bled our Brakes. Same thing works for your Bicycle. Keep in mind Gravity is the key...!
Every bike I have built all started as fixed gear. Eventually each bike matured up to a multi-ring gear set. This video show the reasons why multiple chainrings are a serious consideration on your steel horse.
Lets chat about Friction Loss in the Chain.
The newest 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. Bike MFG's save money on production costs, while charging you more for the newest trend.
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 5 - 15% of your power while climbing. When the chain alignment is askew, you are creating friction instead of power. (see Video) Proper 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. You are 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 1x 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 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 with 50 tooth gear sets... 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.
PRO: The every-other thick-teeth lock the chain onto the ring to help prevent bounce-out. Where the chain jumps off the chain ring. These are chainrings that have a thick tooth followed by a thin tooth.
Con: A few trips through the mud, dirt, you get gunk on the chain. The chain struggles to keep seated on the chainrings thick teeth. Also tracking gets worse with skewed 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 pop your chain off the ring. 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.
On this bike, I reused the front fork. This folk was on the last bike for almost 6000 miles. This steer tube was cut for the last bike. When I put it on this bike (different frame) I did not have any options for the steer tube height.
Enter the In-Line Stem adapter.
There are many types available. Most are under $20.00. It was a necessary purchase for this bike. The handlebars were just too low. I tried using a riser bar, and a short stem, did not even come close to what I needed. This bike was kicking butt before, but now with the riders weight shifted to the back of the bike, it will be a Brutal Trail Machine...!
Just attach to the top of your current steer tube. Increments in height adjustment is done using the 1/2" spacers (provided). Adjust from 1/2" to 3.5" rise.
I opted for the 2.5" height increase. As a rugged CX Trail Bike, I needed to unload the front end of the bike from my ride weight. By lifting the bars, I shift more of my weight to the rear wheel allowing me to have better obstacle hoping and acceleration.
This fork has over 6000 grueling miles on it. I think it has another 6000 miles left in it. Carbon tubes, but has an alloy crown, alloy steer-tube, and alloy dropouts. I have not seen any other fully rigid fork I would rather have on my bikes. I do not think I would feel safe with a fork that has a carbon fiber steer tube or crown.
It is advertised with a weight limit: 220 lbs. I contacted the factory to ask about this. They said it is Rider Weight.
I then asked if trail type/use is a factor. They said as rugged as you want to go under the rider weight limit.
Have one of these installed on (3) of my mountain bikes. The 27.5+, the 29er with 120mm fork, and the 29er with 140mm fork. This is cable latched, very easy to install and has (3) positions. Very reliable and no maintenance. Unlike hydraulic droppers, this one won't fail and collapse ending your ride. Near $140 and no seat noise or seat wiggle when riding.
This seat-post was a disaster when I got it. It did not work at all. Some of the moving parts inside of it were too tight tolerance. Had a few other design issues too. I did re-engineer the entire seat post to get it to perform the way it should. Over-all it has about 0.5" to 0.75 inches of travel over low frequency bumps. I can feel it working, and I have noticed a smoothness for the cracks in the roads.
NEW TECH INSIDE: Instead of a spring, this seat post has a 4" long column of squishy rubber. As it compresses, the rate of compression changes and springs back softly. It does not act like a Pogo Stick like many metal spring units.
It works great now. Out of the Box it was crap. Too many modifications need to be made to get it working.
The Flex Seat.
The thin carbon casting flexes in the center of the seat position. It has about 3/4 of an inch of center seat flex travel. Does not sag, it is always flat until you hit a bump for the flex action to cushion.
This is the first bike I have used one on. It does work, it is strong. It is very lite. I am not sure if it helps my ride.
I know I don't hate it. If it helps with the bumps, then that is great. I have found I slide around on this seat a lot. Not sure at this moment if that helps my riding, or hinders it. Went on a long 35 mile ride, was kinda wishing the seat had a pad on it for that ride.
Under-seat Dropper for my Fully Rigid. Just because I don't have suspension, does not mean I can do without a dropper. Just need to think ahead a little when the lever is under the seat, instead of on the handlebars.
This dropper would be better for shorter people, look at the length of the main tuber sticking out of the seat tube.
This dropper has a much lower drop profile than the KS dropper. The main tube is in direct contact with the seat tube. Pay close attention to this, or you may get the wrong length dropper for your bike.
Under Seat Dropper: No need to run a cable or have batteries in your dropper. On a CX bike, you will not use it very often, but will be very thankful when you do.
If you have ever busted-off your Cable-End Boss from the seat tube of your bike, this will solve that issue for you.
This is a popular fix on Carbon Frame bikes, the Cable Bosses seem to break-off on those frame a lot.
See the DEMO Video on the BIKE-BUILD Page
Removing the rear cassette saved over 1 pound on the rear wheel rotational weight.
All the FUN + Challenge of a Single-Speed but with the ability to climb (instead of walk) and get some speed instead of pumping.
While you can just re-use your original derailleur, I did not re-use mine.
Instead I installed a new Medium-Cage derailleur.
27 pounds with tubed 29" wheelset.
1.90 inch Kenda-Klaws
18" Alloy MTB Frame
36x20 / 20x20
Plan to upgrade to:
The bike is too-slow
Posting this new trend that Shimano is trying to push. I think there are many reasons why this is stupid, including that it weighs 8 pounds, has limited gear range, and it shifts slowly. I also think in cold weather the oil will thicken enough you can't pedal. But stupid people with computers loves to change things....
I have always used Avid BB7, after a few Hydro failures and will never go back.
An honest comparison between new and current Trail Forks.
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 you will want one in the back too.
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 you set.
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 Twist- Shifters: Have you ever got your fingers caught in between the lever shifters on a mountain bike during a crash? After breaking fingers a few times I have converted all my bikes over to Twist-Shifters. They also clean up the cockpit area a bit. No little levers poking out at ya, and see how clean the handlebars look.
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. These properly position your wrist for better steering and braking.
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.
This Mount is on the Tire Side of the handlebars. Not on the inside of the bars. In a crash, you will most likely break the Garmin Mount with your knee.
The Bar-Fly brand mounts (and others) are designed to Break-Away on impact to protect the Garmin's foot-mount from breaking....
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. Tubeless is also a great benefit to performance, it reduces the rotational weight of the wheel assembly.
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. A 27mm wide rim can increase the amount of tire contact with the trail. Want more traction, go wider. Want a faster trail tire, keep a rounder tire with a narrower 23mm rim.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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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