26″+ The best of all worlds?

dePhuse project-1.3 with Reggie and Ronnie wheels

dePhuse project-1.3 with Reggie and Ronnie wheels

There is no doubt that having the right bike for the task at hand is wise and I have been on a mission to make a fast trail bike. The trail in question is a 7.5mile circuit that follows the coast of a small local lake. Its more or less flat.

The total climb is less than 100ft but it is made up of five short, steep climbs that come in the first two miles. After that the rest is a cruise!

Not quite; if you are going to get a good time round this little loop you have to pedal non stop, you will discover there is no where to rest, its relentless and if its not presenting you with a short killer hill its another of the 20+ hairpins!

To get round here quickly you have to keep the power down, keep it flowing through the hairpins and attack the climbs. This means you need grip, lots of it. You dont need [much] suspension. you need strong legs and you need to be able to accelerate, lots. Breaking it down there is less than a minute between each significant effort.

When the body isnt enough to close the gap I start looking at the gear. What am I riding?

This bike is an Easton tubed hard tail street trials frame with a 1 x 9 drivetrain using XTR parts for the back wheel and shifters and RaceFace for the cranks and chain wheel. Its got RockShox Silver forks that have seen better days and need replacing up front. Untill recently I have been running Easton XC One wheels with appropriately chosen tyres for the prevailing conditions. The bike feels fast and in general has been.

What has been clear as the trails dry out and the tyres get slicker and harder is the bike reaches its limits very quickly, violently breaking traction at any opportunity! Hard cornering and powering up those short climbs the back end is skipping round but then half the circuit is smooth, flat and fast so the low rolling resistance is a distinct benefit. What needed tackling was the lack of traction without compromising the fast rolling tyres.

I decided to run an experiment; I got in touch with Mike at Onza for some Reggie and Ronnie drilled trials rims built on to some Tension Aerosilk hubs. They arrived yesterday!

Our new Cray Brothers rims from Onza

Our new Cray Brothers rims from Onza

I was so excited I didnt even bother weighing them [I’ll do it next week]. To insure I could make a fair comparison I swapped not only the cassette and disk from the Eastons but the tyres and tubes as well for the new wheels. I normally run these tyres at about 40psi on the Easton rims but in this case I went strait in at 20psi front and rear and went for a ride!

Two early morning runs, one in each direction were immediately impressive, the bike felt fast but dead! It was a lot more comfortable and the power transfer was amazing! Normally I would be standing in the pedals for most of the run but I found myself seated for 80% of the circuit and noticing the saddle was to low!

I had to go to work so uploaded the runs to Strava and got on with the day, thinking all the time. By the end of the day I had reached the conclusion I needed a little more air in the tyres to make it feel a little more lively and I need to put the saddle up a little so I could get the power down while seated. This done I headed out for another evening run.

I had increased the tyre pressures by 5psi and I think that was a bit much, Ill drop them to about 24 front and 22 rear. The seat can still go up a little but the main thing is a stack of PR’s. I got my fastest time ever on the circuit!

Whats the benefit?

  • 26″ wheels accelerate faster than any of the new 650b, 27.5 or 29″ wheels.
  • The wide rims from Onza allow us to increase the air volume of the tyre without increasing the size of the tyre and as such we can run a lower pressure.
  • Lower pressure tyres conform better to the ground so power transfer to the trail is improved.
  • Larger volume tyres absorb minor trail bumps better so the bike doesnt skip about.

So 26″+ bikes rock in Suffolk!

If you want to know more or have a ride get in touch!

 

 

Quick Release problems I have seen this week.

Warning! How to use the quick release

Warning! How to use the quick release

Recently there has been a lot of talk about problems with quick release levers used to hold the wheels in to most modern wheels.

Most of the discussion in the news has revolved around some badly designed and specified components fitted by manufacturers to their new bikes but this week I have seen two cases of QR Abuse that were clearly not the fault of the manufacturers.

The quick release lever has been around for long enough that most people who own a bike should have used one by now. They are, in the main, safe and secure and by far the most convenient way of securing the wheels to your bike.

When installed properly they will shrug off all attempts to dislodge the wheel but when you want to remove the wheel you can do it with one hand and no tools.

IMG_1188

Check your quick release faces backwards.

I serviced a cyclocross bike this week that had in my opinion, only one dangerous fault; The QR for the rear wheel had been installed facing forward [click the image for a closeup];

  1. Firstly a forward facing QR can catch in the bushes, especially on this cyclocross bike; a simple catch on a branch could flick it open releasing the back wheel!
  2. The second problem is that the tip of the lever is actually hard up against the frame [chain stay] which has prevented it from closing properly.
  3. The third problem comes when trying to open the QR. There is no way you could get your fingers behind it and that could lead to all kinds of frustration when its cold and muddy!

Always ensure your quick releases point backwards and that the lever is clear to close properly without catching anything. In the closed position you should be able to get a gloved hand in behind it to open it.

The Seatpost Clamp

Next; when out for a cycle I stopped to chat with two guys, I noticed the seat post clamp on one of the bikes was open and pointed it out to the rider. He seemed a little confused and on closer inspection I discovered why. I didnt have my camera with me at the time so I have re created the problem with an identical Hope Seatpost clamp on my road bike pictured below.

IMG_1196The problem isnt the fact that its a Hope clamp, the rider had bought the bike like that and could not understand how to adjust the height of his seat post. The clamp had been done up tight by screwing it in using the lever as a handle untill it was tight enough to hold the seat post in place but it had now ceased itself in that position and no amount of jiggling it was going to undo it.

When I tried to turn it I discovered it was totally locked in place. The only way to release this seat post clamp was to get some grips on the nut end of the mechanism and ease it off while turning the handle on the other end back and forth. It made a bit of a mess of the clamps nut but we can replace that for a few pennies. In case you are wondering, here is the before and after;

The Hope seat clamp done up wrong

The Hope seat clamp done up wrong

The Hope seat clamp correctly closed

The Hope seat clamp correctly closed

Before You Ride; Simple checks you can do for your own safety.

IMG_1170

Is your bike safe?

Its more than just a good idea to check your bike before you ride; Your comfort and safety depend on how well you look after your bike!

Follow these tips before you ride to ensure you have a safe journey;

  1. Stand back and look at your bike.
    1. Does it look right?
    2. Is anything hanging off?
  2. Come in closer and visually inspect your bike, start at the front and work your way back looking at the contact points;
    1. Tyres; are they in reasonable condition and pumped up?
    2. Steering; stand with the front wheel between your legs and hold on to the bars with both hands; apply moderate force, can you spin the bars without the wheel moving? If there is any movement seek advice before riding.
    3. Brakes; check the action of both front and back brakes. They should have about the same amount of travel and stop the wheel before the lever gets to the bar.
    4. Saddle; are the bolts or seat post clamp holding the saddle to the post tight and is the post tight in the frame? Is the height right? Its safer to have the saddle too low rather than too high but there is a sweet spot between the two where the riding is easiest.
    5. Pedals and Cranks; holding a pedal turn the crank back to where the pedal is at the top, then try bending the pedal in and out of the frame, do this on both sides. Does it move, rattle, squeak? If it does seek advice before riding.
    6. Chain; is the chain in place and does it allow the cranks to turn smoothly when you spin a pedal backwards? Often a chain that needs servicing will stick to the crank gear or jam up when you turn it backwards rather than running smoothly.
    7. Racks, mudguards and accessories; These should all be securely fitted and functional. If your not using those mounts for the lights you lost last year, remove them!
    8. Gears; If you have them do they work? This is usually best tested when riding and as this is the last check you can hop on and gently ride. Find a quiet space and work your way up and down the gears. A well adjusted gear set should change cleanly between gears at any speed, if yours isn’t you should service them before you head out.
  3. Personal Safety; It is commonly accepted that the bare minimum is a crash helmet. Assuming you are going to wear this can I suggest adding some eye protection and gloves?
  4. Be Seen; Having a safe bike is half the battle, the other half is ensuring you are seen. Being another statistic is not cool. Wear high-vis clothing, use lights, ride bold and own the road.
  5. Your ride survival kit;
    What do you carry with you on a ride? For every rider this is different; if you don’t mind walking home then your free to ride without any kind of survival kit but for most of us a few basics packed into a seat bag or in the bottom of the basket are essential. These are some of the essential things I carry;

    1. Pump
    2. A spare tube
    3. Tyre lever
    4. Multi tool
    5. Change for coffee
    6. Phone

Here are a few pictures to help you identify some issues [click the image for a close up];

Image 1; Brake balance

Image 1; Brake balance

In Image 1 note how the V-Brakes are not evenly balanced. In this case we discovered there was no spring tension in the right side lever of the V, we took the pair off, de greased them and centred the adjustment on the springs before re fitting.

Image 2; Saging Gear Cable

Image 2; Saging Gear Cable

In Image 2 can you see how the gear cable droops away from the frame? In all cases, even when the gear selected is at the bottom of the travel the cables should have just enough tension in them to hold their shape and not dangle like this. It could be badly adjusted, stretched or it could be the derailleur is ceased.

Image 3; Frayed Gear Cable

Image 3; Frayed Gear Cable

You will see in Image 3 how the other end of the cable was all frayed where it met the derailleur. We replaced the entire cable but not before removing, de greasing and re oiling the derailleur.

Image 4, Worn Brake Blocks

Image 4, Worn Brake Blocks

Note the level of wear on the brake blocks in Image 4. They are borderline but as this rider knows how to change them we elected to leave them on and they will change them at their own discretion.

Image 5, Are these scratches cosmetic?

Image 5, Are these scratches cosmetic?

It is not unusual to scratch your bike but deep gouges like this on the brake lever in Image 5 can indicate a bike that has had hard life and deeper issues. In this case we didnt find anything to worry about.

Image 6, Is your QR like this?

Image 6, Is your QR like this?

 

Here is an interesting one [Image 6] and in my opinion the only serious problem with this bike; The quick release on the rear wheel looks normal but it has been closed facing forward causing three potential problems.

  1. Firstly a forward facing QR can catch in the bushes, especially on this cyclocross bike; a simple catch on a branch could flick it open releasing the back wheel!
  2. The second problem is that the tip lever is actually hard up against the frame [chain stay] which has prevented it from closing properly.
  3. The third problem comes when trying to open the QR. There is no way you could get your fingers behind it and that could lead to all kinds of frustration when its cold and muddy!

Always ensure your quick releases point backwards and that the lever is clear to close properly without catching anything. In the closed position you should be able to get a gloved hand in behind it to open it.