Tech Talk

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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Basic Carbon Bicycle Care Tips

The idea to provide tips for keeping your carbon bicycle safe and looking good came from a question my new Spokesman Bicycles teammate, Chris, asked on our Wednesday torture session. To help Chris and you keep your carbon bicycles and components safe and beautiful over the years, I’ve put together a few tips below that fall under 9 main categories. I’ll start by explaining how Chris made his chip disappear, because he did a swell job.

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Upgrading Components Series: Part 9 - Fine-Tune & Hit The Road!

This is the final installment of our upgrading components series. If you’ve successfully completed the previous 8 steps, your upgraded 11-speed thoroughbred is almost ready to rule the road. All that’s left is fine-tuning the brakes and derailleurs, checking your work, a test ride to ensure your adjustments are spot-on and any final tweaks. Let’s get started. 

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Upgrading Components Series: Part 8 - Fitting the Cables

Recapping how far we’ve come in the previous 7 installments of this series: all the new 11-speed parts are on your road rocket. All that’s left is hooking the levers to the brakes and derailleurs by sizing, routing, connecting, stretching, tightening and capping the cable and housings. Next week will be the final check and tune-up, and you’ll be riding in style! My first rule of cables and housings is to stick with the ones provided by the manufacturer of your components, i.e. Shimano, Campagnolo or SRAM.

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Upgrading Components Series: Part 6 - Installing Brakes

At this point in an upgrade, when you have the wheels, bottom bracket, crankset, pedals, handlebars and levers installed, you get to choose whether to install the brakes or derailleurs next. I’m going to cover the brakes first because there are fewer steps so it’s faster and ticks one more big thing off your build punchlist. Note: for this series we’re assuming you are building a road bike with rim brakes, not disc brakes.

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Upgrading Components Series: Part 5 - Installing Levers

So far, in this on-going series with tips for upgrading a road bicycle with new components, we’ve covered basic workshop setup and we’ve installed the bottom bracket and crankset. The pedals should be back on the bike, too. From this point, assembling the bicycle is about getting the braking and shifting components installed and adjusted. This starts with installing your levers in order to optimize their fit and performance. So that’s what we’re tackling this week.

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