Changing Your Cleats

The easy way of making sure your new cleats match up with the position of your old ones, and this is very important, is to use masking tape on the outside edge of the cleat in different places, or better yet scribe with an awl, or pen around the whole outside edge. I use both tape and an awl. But before your loosen things up, get on your bike and clip in both shoes while leaning up against something.

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Pivot Points

I learned this from Scott Flanders many yrs. ago, and for those of you who know him, know that he is meticulous about his race bike being race ready at all times. At both the front and rear derailleurs there are points where, if you work the shift lever can see where a part will move against another part that won't. That is the pivot point, and it makes sense to give that point just 1 drop of light weight lubricant once in a while. The rear derailleur has 4 points, and the front also 4 points. I use the smallest plastic bottle of Triflow I can find. I inserted one of those spray tubes into the top, that way I can see that I'm using just a drop. Then wipe off the any excess.

Tire Care

This is the most over looked areas on our bikes, and a lot of the times it shows on a lot of our rides involving flat tires. As far as I'm concerned, you get what you pay for when buying them. I ride Continental Grand Prix 4000. Last year, I managed to put 2,300 miles on a rear tire, before changing it out. These have a Kevlar protection that seems to help prevent glass and other objects you might run over. Their price has gone up a little from last year, and now sell for about 55 bucks. There are also other brands on the market, and all the top of the line tires are in the 45-55 dollar range.

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Bike Stand

I gave some information on this last year, and thought it needed mentioning again. I've had a bike stand for a very long time now, and before that I relied on leaning my machine against an outside wall, or even tipping it upside down on the grass to do periodical maintenance. If this sounds familiar to some of you and I know it does, it's time to "pony up" and buy a stand.

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Wheel Care

After a wet ride, do you happen to notice that whenever you apply the brakes you hear a sort of grinding sound coming from the brake pads? That's because your rear and front wheels pick up a lot of fine grit, and when you brake it gets embedded in the brake pads and leads to rim wear. So to protect those expensive rims here's some simple maintenance. As soon as you can, remove the wheels and take a piece of sandpaper in the 120-180 grit range and sand the face of the pads that make contact with the rim. Just a few passes will remove this grit and give you a lot longer wheel life.

Sluggish Shifters

Bob McEnaney gave me an idea for another t.o.t.w. on last Sat. ride. When we were riding side by side, he said his bike wasn't shifting very well. I suggested that we stop and turn his rear derailleur adjuster half a turn counter clockwise. That did the trick! The problem is that shifter cables stretch out, especially if it is new. One way to avoid some of that is to pre-stress the new cable once it is on the bike. Grab the cable with your fingers at the chain stays and pull it away from the stays. That will stretch it out a little, but you will probably have to use the barrel adjuster for a fine adjustment later on when the cable stretches out again. Usually that will be the end of the stretching out. Just remember counter clockwise, and just a half turn at a time.

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Chain Maintenance

I always check my chain for excess stretch at around 2,000 miles. I laid out my old one, and laid the new one along the side of it to see how much the old one had stretched out. You should lay them together to make sure you break the new one at the same length as the old. The old one was 3/16th of an inch longer. This might not seem like a lot but, it is when you start talking about the extra wear it can put on your front chainrings and your cogset in the rear. I currently have over 20,000 mi. on my chainrings and my cassette. A new chain every 2,000 mi is cheap compared to what you will pay for the other drivetrain components. That 2,000. mi is based on aggressive riding, so if your riding is more laid back you might be able to get 3,000 mi. Of course with the new 11 speeds the chain plates are thinner, and you know what that means.

Keep Those Tires Aired Up

Always air up your tires before every ride. Tires can loose up to 7 lbs. of pressure in 24 hrs. On the side wall of your tires you can find suggested psi info. You can safely add 10 lbs. to this number without any worry but, will give you a little harsher ride. I ride Continentals 4000 tire and always inflate my rear to 120, and front to 110. Having the correct psi will give you less rolling resistance while eliminating pinch flats from hitting something sharp and hard especially if you are a heavier rider.

How to Check Carbon Frames for Damage

From VeloNews' Lennard Zinn:
"Inspect all tubes for cracks, gouges, buckles, dents, and paint stretching or cracking, especially near the joints where stress is highest. With a carbon frame, use the "coin test" to check for damage to underlying carbon layers. Tap on the tube with a quarter in the questionable areas and compare it with the sound on other tubes, in surrounding areas, and on the opposite side. If you have delamination or cracking in underlying carbon layers, especially in central areas away from the joints, you'll be able to hear the difference; the damaged fibers deaden the nice "clack" sound you hear when tapping on an undamaged tube. If in doubt, take it to an expert for advice. Carbon structures that look good on the outside shouldn't get softer unless the layers start delaminating, and the coin test may be able to detect such areas."

What is in Your Saddle Bag

Everyone carries a saddle bag right? In yours you should have 2 tubes, 2 CO2 cartridges (16 gram) unless you carry a frame pump. A patch kit, tire irons, 10 bucks preferably in case you need to bribe a driver for a ride home. This $10 bill can also be used as a boot for the inside of your tire casing if you get a cut to big for a patch. But most importantly, is the need to have some form of ID and a contact # in case of an emergency. Hopefully you will never need the last item.

Removing a Stuck Seat Post

Here is an interesting article in Velo News regarding Stuck Seat Posts. If you fail to do some maintainance of cleaning and loosening at least once a year, you might become stuck with this same problem which could be big. Every year at the end of the season I take mine out, clean it, and add a light coat of high quality grease to the post. I also put a fine bead of silicone where the post itself meets the seat tube. This will help prevent water from running down the post into the tube itself. Simple but, effective. I have never had a problem.