Tech Talk

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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Upgrading Components Series: Part 4 - Bottom Bracket and Crankset

In this installment of our ongoing series on upgrading components, I provide tips and trips related to the job of installing a new bottom bracket and crankset. I started this 2-part BB and Crank piece last week. I like to think of the crankset and the bottom bracket, as the heart of the bicycle. Your frame and wheels are important, but without a crankset and bottom bracket you wouldn’t be able to pedal your bicycle down the road. And, there’s a connection with how fast and hard your heart is working to power and turn the crankset.

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Upgrading Components Series: Part 3 - Bottom Bracket and Crankset

In this installment of our ongoing series on upgrading components, I provide tips, tricks and even one big consideration related to the job of installing a new bottom bracket and crankset. I like to think of the crankset and the bottom bracket, as the heart of the bicycle. Your frame and wheels are important, but without a crankset and bottom bracket you wouldn’t be able to pedal your bicycle down the road. And, there’s a connection with how fast and hard your heart is working to power and turn the crankset.

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Upgrading Components Series: Part 2 – Gearing Up to do the Upgrade

Backpedaling to last week's TT for a moment, Upgrading from a 10- to 11-Speed Cassette, you’ll remember that I went over how I helped a couple of friends figure out how to change their rear wheels from 10- to 11-speed cassettes. Both were eager to upgrade their road bikes with complete new Shimano 11-speed component groups they had purchased, but were stuck because their wheels didn’t accept the new 11-speed cassettes.

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Upgrading from a 10- to 11-Speed Cassette

Two teammates asked me to help them upgrade their bikes from 10- to 11-speed recently. They knew how to do most of the mechanical work but they were concerned that their rear wheel wouldn’t handle the 11-speed cassette, in effect making it impossible to upgrade. They’re not the only ones who’ve asked about this, which makes it a trending topic, to use social media speak. I thought I’d share how I helped them with this key part of the upgrade in case new 11-speed components are on your wish list. And, because it’s usually something you can handle yourself.

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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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