Tech Talk

Fixing a Loose Threadless Headset

One of the most common things to go out of adjustment on many modern road bicycles is the headset, which is the component that connects the fork to the frame so that you can turn to steer and balance your bike. On most bikes today we have headsets known as “threadless” because the parts that adjust the headset are a slip fit over the fork steerer, which is smooth, not threaded (you can’t see the steerer because it’s the topmost part of the fork and hidden inside the head tube of the frame).

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Setting Up Your Levers

This is the time of year when most roadies get in their training rides for their big goal events of 2016. As you increase mileage and intensity, you bump the risk of overuse injuries. These are frequently caused by bicycle fit issues. Reader Peter Heppleston from Edmonton, Canada, who says that “in the Great White North the long winter months give me way too much time to tinker with my position on the bike” offers an easy and clever way to check your lever alignment. Here’s his step-by-step instructions, with photos.

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About Aluminum Corrosion

Our last Tech Talk of 2015 provided 5 tips for Winterizing Your Ride, which, unless you live in the southern hemisphere should come in pretty handy about now. Even here in recently drought-plagued Northern California, we’re getting a lot of rain and cold already in 2016. In the introduction to that article, I wrote, “It’s easy for water to get inside frames, and it’s a common cause of rusting on steel frames (there are no such worries with aluminum, titanium or carbon frames).” To which Holland, Michigan, roadie Kerry Irons took exception.

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Winterize Your Ride

Even though the winter weather is fairly tame here in Santa Cruz, California, I know that in a good many other locales nothing – not snow, or freezing rain, or iced-over pavement, or hurricane gusts that leave normally clogged roads car-free – will stop some roadies from getting their rides in during the winter. For these hardy winter riders, I know that their bikes must take a beating. And even for those of us whose winter rides might include only some additional wetness, road grit, etc., winter is still a great time to do a little additional work to keep your bike running smoothly.

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The Best New Road Clincher Tire?

Before I get to the punch line hinted to in the title, a little personal tire history is in order. You’ll see how it’s related in a bit. Since I first tried them, back in the late 1990s, I’ve been exclusively riding on Continental Grand Prix 4000 clincher road tires on my everyday bike - my Litespeed Vortex. The GP 4000 tires I use are marked 700 x 23c, yet actually measure 24.35mm wide, so they are wider than the label states - almost 25mm, which is the width I have preferred going back to my first road riding.

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Getting a Broken Shift Cable Out of the Lever

Brake levers that double as shift levers were a huge advance in shifting when they first appeared. Finally, we didn’t have to move our hands down to shift from levers located on the ends of the handlebars, or off the bars to shift levers mounted on the frame. This made it much easier to always be in the right gear, which saves energy. And it also allowed racers to shift more quickly. Unfortunately, as wonderful to use as they are, some of these shifters do have an Achilles heel. Enter RoadBikeRider reader Dennis, who explains and asks for help.

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The Dish on Discs

One of my goals at Interbike was looking at the current state of disc brakes because, as we’ve reported, they’re showing up far and wide on road bikes -- even now being allowed in the pro peloton should a team choose to spec them. Here’s a little news about discs, some related products and a few thoughts on the current pros and cons. And recently Shimano announced a new Flat Mount disc caliper standard last year, but it took a while for it to be rolled out. It was on lots of 2016 bikes in Las Vegas and has now even been adopted by SRAM.

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A Few Bicycle Storage & Display Solutions

While looking for interesting new products to seek out and see in person at the Interbike bicycle show next week in Las Vegas, I stumbled upon a new (to me) bicycle storage device that’s also one of the nicest display stands I’ve seen (keep reading). That got me thinking about ways to store and keep your bike safe indoors. It’s important not to store or keep your road rocket parked outside because the weather will attack it and eventually damage every part in some way.

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Your Great Comments On Rim Wear

tech talk bThis week, I’m sharing a couple of great reader comments about last week’s topic, avoiding and dealing with rim wear. There was so much buzz about the Why Not Lights? article that you might have missed these thoughtful tips that relate to more than just rims. On the subject of rim wear, “Karlobozic” wrote, “I pump my tires up about 30-50% more than I normally ride when putting a new one on. If the rim doesn't fail at that pressure it is unlikely to fail at the riding pressure. That way you see if the tire will bubble too, which most often happens while the tire is still new.”

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Evaluating And Avoiding Rim Wear

We change course this week to an issue that almost any roadie can run into if they log enough miles: rim wear. There’s an “almost” in that sentence because disc-brake equipped roadsters have hit the shops in force, and you might already be enjoying their advantages. One of the best being zero rim wear from braking. If you’ve switched to a machine with disc brakes, you’re dismissed and can hit the road -- or gravel!

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Simple Carbon Care Tips

After I shared seven horror stories about carbon bicycles and components failing in last week’s Tech Talk, fellow Bicycling Magazine alumnus and longtime Adventure Cyclist technical editor John Schubert wrote on Facebook (tagging me, so that I would see it), “My friend Jim Langley loves his carbon fiber bikes, but he manages to convince me that I don't want one,” citing my tale of the carbon-piercing telephone-pole splinter. Here, I was trying to warn roadies away from things that might wreck their carbon, and I apparently gave John another reason not to want to try a carbon bike!

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Tales of Carbon Calamities

In last week's Tech Talk I answered a question about whether you need to routinely replace carbon frames, forks and components. I said that worn and, especially, damaged carbon should be replaced. Otherwise, I said you could keep riding yours – unless you were worried about it, in which case I recommended getting new carbon for your own peace of mind. After writing that, some funny examples of broken carbon on my bikes and that I’ve seen on other riders’ machines came to mind – though they weren’t so funny when they happened.

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