Bike technology has become complicated. Gone are the days of simple external cable routing, a one-size-fits-all drivetrain, and a single round handlebar design connected to an easily adjustable stem. Now bikes have batteries, everything is integrated, and changing your handlebar height can take an engineering degree.
If you pride yourself on doing your own maintenance, it may be reaching the point where, like many of us, you no longer have the skills and tools needed to keep your bike functioning optimally without having to rely on your local mechanic.
That said, it’s not all bad and complicated news. There are some innovations that actually make things easier. Now you can adjust your gears with your phone. 1x systems reduce the need for a front derailleur and the days of gluing tubulars onto wheels are in the past for all but the diehards.
On today’s show, master mechanic and author of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, Lennard Zinn, shares with us his tips on how to maintain the modern bicycle from routing your own cables, to adjusting your handlebars, setting up a drive train, and to how to make sure you’ve put a tubeless tire on the right way. He knows all the tricks and shares many of them with the rest of us.
Joining Lennard, we’ll also hear from bike fitters Dr. Andy Pruitt and Larry Meyer. We also hear from another master mechanic, Glenn Swan, who after decades of working magic on customer’s bikes admits that some of the modern technology is making him wonder if it’s time to retire.
So, grab your tools—you’re going to need a lot of them—and let’s make you fast!
Rob Pickels 00:04
Hello, and welcome to Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance performance. I’m your host Rob Pickels here with Coach Connor. Let’s face it, bike technology has become complicated.
Rob Pickels 00:16
Gone are the simple days of external cable routing and easily adjustable stems. Now bikes have batteries and changing your handlebar height can take an engineering degree. With that said, it’s not all bad news. Some innovations have made bike maintenance easier. Now you can adjust your shifting with your phone and the forever troublesome front derailleur is going the way of the dodo.
Rob Pickels 00:39
On today’s show, we have master mechanic Lennard Zinn. He knows all the tricks and shares many of them in this episode. Joining Lennard will also hear from bike fitters Andy Pruitt and Larry Meyer and mechanic Glenn Swan, who after decades of working magic on customer’s bikes admits that some of the modern technology is making him wonder if it’s time to retire. So put away the tubular glue, pick up your drywall sanding sheets, and let’s make you fast.
Trevor Connor 01:08
While the basic principles are the same, there’s a big difference between coach and professional and age group athletes. Professional athletes are the elite, the 1% of the sport the best of the best. These athletes vote everyday to train and demand the most from themselves and for their coaches. In our newest release for the craft of coaching with Joe Friel, we explore the art and science behind coaching professional athletes. Check out the crap to coach in module 13 at fast talk labs.com today. Well lettered Welcome back to the show. It’s been a little bit since we’ve had you, but really excited to talk with you.
Lennard Zinn 01:43
Thank you, Trevor. Good to be here.
Trevor Connor 01:45
So always love it when you’re here. Because as you know, you are a master with bike mechanics. And I am probably an embarrassment to the bike world of whenever you see me ride on my bike. So I always learn a ton from you. But what we’re really interested in discussing with you is the nature of the modern bike. So actually what motivated me for this, I still have a 1993 b onkey, which we can talk about the comfort of the bike and some other issues with it. But I’m pretty sure if somebody completely disassembled that bike just took everything apart, and you handed it to me, I could reassemble that bike and under an hour, you could probably do it in under 30 minutes,
Rob Pickels 02:34
with a blindfold on at a darker
Trevor Connor 02:37
probably. If you completely disassembled a modern bike and handed it to me and came back 10 hours later, I would probably be in the corner breaking something swearing and cursing with a quarter assembled bike. modern bikes have gotten much more complicated. I do kind of wonder if we’re at the point where most people couldn’t do all the repairs on their own bike, you really do need to go to a mechanic now. But what we are hoping to discuss with you is some of the challenges of modern bikes and your tips and tricks on how to keep your bike functional. Great. I look forward to but lettered any initial thoughts on this where we’re going with modern bikes. Are they becoming as challenging as I think or am I just not keeping up with the time? Yeah, I
Rob Pickels 03:27
do think, Trevor that we need what is a modern bike for you. I will say let’s set the scene a little bit deeper here.
Trevor Connor 03:33
You’re waiting for me to say anything built after 19?
Rob Pickels 03:38
Anything with through axles.
Trevor Connor 03:40
I haven’t gotten there yet, or you haven’t gotten there. I’m just pointing out my most current bike is 2014. So we’re coming up on it being 10 years old. But there certainly has been a change through axles, electronic shifting, the whole headset has changed. So it’ll let her What is the challenge that people are facing overall, is it is it getting to that point?
Lennard Zinn 04:04
Well, it depends on if you’re talking about fully assembling it yourself. Or one of the issues that can be with changing stems and stuff with completely internal cable routing, and internal hose routing and all that that is starting to be beyond most but once it’s actually done and rideable. As far as adjustments and maintenance goes. In many ways, it’s actually easier I think, than adjusting and maintaining your old 1993 bike.
Trevor Connor 04:39
Interesting. So we’ll dive a little into this and I’m gonna mention, we only have so much time so we’re probably going to focus a little more on road and gravel bikes here. Mountain bikes are a completely different beast,
Rob Pickels 04:53
whatever. Periodically Leave me the mountain biker out of the conversation. Oh, you’re
Trevor Connor 04:58
here. I didn’t even know that I
Rob Pickels 04:59
know here. am sitting in the corner, just like your mountain bike.
Trevor Connor 05:03
Yep, well, my mountain bike is from 2009. So it’s even older. Before we dive into the different parts of the bike, let’s hear from Dr. Andy Pruitt and Larry Meyer, where their thoughts on modern bikes.
Dr. Andy Pruitt 05:14
They are complicated. I mean, when you have to upgrade your software wants to once in a while on your bike, you know that it’s a complicated, the original Specialized Venge, you had to turn it upside down and take a plate off of the bottom bracket to plug it in and charge it. So bikes are not simple. They’re not what Leonardo da Vinci imagined when he and when he supposedly invented the bicycle. So they are complicated. I think having a relationship with a, I even like to have a relationship with a specific bike mechanic, not just the shop, although that’s a great place to start. But I do think you need to have a place that they know you they get to know your bike, or bikes. So I’m all about having a competent, true professional mechanic that you rely on.
Larry Meyer 06:00
I agree, I think it’s so important to have a really good mechanic that you count on. Just because even with gravel bikes, you know, things are just getting complicated. Tt bikes, I mean, integrated headsets, the stack just goes on and on and on. So you really have to know your stuff. And you know, when you get across a bike fitter that doesn’t quite have the experience, the bike fit is going to be longer, it’s going to be confusing. Because if they’re confused with just the parts, and the complications that can go along with that, then it’s gonna be a long time.
Dr. Andy Pruitt 06:33
So that randomness so if you’re for time draw, you mentioned how complicated they were, I think doing timesolv fits on a on a fit bike on a fit jig, where you’re not having to change out all the bars and all that stuff, you can accomplish the fit, and then have the bike built. Yeah, I do those dimensions.
Trevor Connor 06:52
So let’s start with one of the big changes in the last probably 10 years is internal cable housing. Yes.
Lennard Zinn 07:01
So internal cables, if you don’t have to do anything with them, they’re fine. They’re amazing, because they just stay internal and nothing needs to be replaced or fixed. Or, or, or you don’t need a different stem length or bar width or height or any of those sorts of things. So the complication comes in if you’ve got to route it yourself. And so within the frame, there actually is a tool that’s quite inexpensive as tools go to do internal routing both in the frame and in the stem and bar, and it’s called the pike Park IR dot now it’s was IR one now it’s ir 1.3, we’re up to each generation has a new thing that they’ve discovered you need to have, one of the things in the new ir 1.3 Is that is that it has a connector that sticks in into an end of a housing or a hose. And, and it’s double ended like that, so you can so if you’re replacing your brake hose or your cable housing, you can shove that into the old one, and then shove it into the new one. So that and then just pull the new one through with the old one, which before what you had to do was basically pull out the old cable run a new cable in or if it was a hose, cut off the other end of the hose, run a cable through it, then slide the slide the hose or the cable housing onto that cable, but the IR 1.3 If you’re putting it in completely raw frame, like there was a time when the very first internal cable routing, there was an internal tube inside the bike and you could just stick in a cable and it would go through the tube that those days are gone. There’s it’s just empty in there. And so, so the this tool is a bunch of different shift cables that have different ends on one end is a magnet. And the other end is either bra cable or it’s a BB that screws into a hydraulic hose. Or it’s a little thing that clips into the end of a Shimano Di to electronic wire or it grabs the end of a fatter wire or fatter hose. And you have the big magnet that you can first guide the first magnet through meet, then push in another one from the magnet on the on the other end of that other wire and you stick that in and then and then the two meet inside and then you can pull them both out and then whichever one so it’s if you’re putting in cable housing, you just have raw, you pull out the one so it’s now in the frame that has the the raw end of the cable on it and you just slide the housing on to it. You They also do that with a hydraulic hose, but you may contaminate the inside of the hose with what’s on the cable so, so you can then screw in that use the one that screws in the BB, and you pull through the hydraulic hose or you pull through a DI two wire. And similarly, with arrow bars, I mean, like fully carbon aerobar system with wires and everything going fully internal in that I mean, it’s would just be impossible to just feed that through yourself. And then this tool does it, there is actually another trick that I use when all else fails, or I don’t have a this ir 1.3. And that’s a vacuum cleaner. So really, yeah, I’ve never tried this. So you just take string, it’s got you know, not like stiff string, but pretty flexible, soft cotton string, and you push it in one hole, and then the hole that you want it to come out at, you put the end of the vacuum over it, you know, usually with maybe the edge part for the vacuum, and you suck that string out. And then on the end of the string, the little cable ends that you crimp on to the end of your cable. So I take one of those and I get a cup shaped thing I clipped the closed end off, I slide that one end of it on to the string and crimp it on. And then I slide the other end onto the end of a cable, crimp it onto that and then I can pull the cable through and then once I’ve got the cable through, then I can feed housing over it or hydraulic hose over it or whatever I need to
Rob Pickels 11:34
that’s a great idea. Yeah, the crimping onto the string Leonard, that’s the real deep pro tip because you were talking about the park internal routing IR tool, we’re up to three. Now. That little doohickey that you can bought and two hoses together with a little connector, that thing is invaluable because I have spent so much time trying to electrical tape hoses together trying to do anything to bind a hose so that when you pull the old one, it pulls the new one with it, these little tools can really make what’s a difficult process a heck of a lot easier.
Trevor Connor 12:10
This is one of the things I’ve learned about bike mechanics, I’m sure there’s gonna be the rest of the conversation of there’s just these little things that makes such a world of difference. Because I can tell you every time I’ve done the cable housing, or at least for years when I was doing the internal cable house and my solution was I just had to take the the cable, feed it through the frame. And keep doing that until I finally saw the end near the whole
Lennard Zinn 12:36
kink on the end and try and
Trevor Connor 12:39
sit there with a tweezers and try to pull it out take 20 minutes dental picks work pretty well just Yeah, so I actually bought some dental picks to use for that. But I tried the string ones. So I had this idea. But all I did. So there’s that little thing that’s that’s huge as I tied the string to the cable. Yeah, when I tried to pull it through the string just came right off the table. So that idea of crimping it is beautiful. And that pulls it through. To go back
Rob Pickels 13:08
real quick and talk about how internal routing through stems affects changing out stem lengths and angles. I think that a real pro tip here is make sure that you’re really dialed on your bike fit and your bike fit coordinates before you engage with a bike like this. If you’re buying a new modern super bike that has everything super internally routed, make sure that you’re comfortable on your old bike, or get a bike fit on your old bike and transfer those measurements or even get a bike fit with a fitter that uses a fit bike that is infinitely adjustable and transfer those coordinates to the new bike because that really is something that you just want to do once you don’t want to be going through a trial and error. wider bars, narrower bars longer stem shorter stem someone and so are
Lennard Zinn 13:55
a lot of times people don’t get professional bike fits because they are expensive 250 to 500 bucks or so. But if you’re then paying somebody to multiple times, reroute your internal cables in order to keep adjusting your stem length as your angle or whatever as you discover the problems with your bike then that starts to be pretty irrelevant.
Trevor Connor 14:21
So you bring up a really important point a lot of people don’t consider and I my brother bought this really expensive, specialized about five, six years ago that he was excited about. But he likes to travel with his bike and discovered with all this internal wiring going through his stem and everything. When it came time to put the bike in a bike case he couldn’t. Yeah. And so you have to realize this might look amazing and it’s great that you know your stem is lined up perfectly with your frame and all looks beautiful. But then you got to get a plane you have an issue. If you want to adjust as you said, if you change your hand handlebar height or need to put a longer stem on a you have to go to a shop to do that be, you’re gonna have to redo all the housing. So that ability to adjust on the fly, it’s a lot harder. So
Lennard Zinn 15:11
yeah, and like I mentioned, the ROB, The taller you are, the more problems you have with getting a bike and in a bike case for flying. And so a smaller person might be able to just leave the leave the stem and bar as is rotate the handlebar and stick it in the case but, but a bigger person, it’s just not going to work and they have to get take their handlebar off or, or their stem off, or both. And then you’ve opened up a can of worms. And then if you try and avoid it, or in just doing that you end up kinking cable or a hose or whatever. And then you you know, the whole purpose of your trip is gone when you arrive and bike won’t work. So and you know, and in travel also with disc brakes, you have this vulnerability of bending the rotors during transit. But if you want to take them off, then there’s big tools involved and you got to bring along and more time.
Rob Pickels 16:06
Yeah, one thing to point out on the travel side, I think that the case that you have can really make a difference, especially with some modern bikes. And we actually we had somebody that who reached out to us, Trevor one week or two ago asking this question, serendipitously, I don’t even know that they knew this episode was planned. And that’s I think that if you have to travel with a bike, and you can’t really change the handlebar position, this icon cases are some of the better ones out there because they allow you to pack the bike with the handlebars on. They have positives and negatives for other attributes too. But that is something that’s relatively unique. As far as I know to that brand. It’s not something that truly or anyone else is doing.
Lennard Zinn 16:45
Yeah. And it’s Xi con, it’s CCI o Chalian. Word for ski she really con is near Ozzie Iago, where it’s great cross country skiing. And those guys are all skiers. And that’s what that is about.
Rob Pickels 16:57
I learned something new today,
Trevor Connor 16:59
I thought it was psi on reference sounded kind of cool. One last thing I want to bring up about cable housing that a lot of people aren’t aware of. I don’t care how nice a bike you have. And I guess we’re gonna get into electronic shifting in a minute where this is less relevant. But if you’re still using, the classic form of shifting, you will find that you’re shifting gets tougher and tougher, it gets harder to shift gears, it isn’t as good when you’re shifting down the cassette. Sometimes the derailleur just won’t move. And I’ve seen people sit there and try to figure out what’s going on with their derailleur, what’s going on with the drive train. And my experience is most of the time it’s your cable housing is getting gunked up and the cable just can’t move as well in the cable housing. And I will say before I had internal housing, when it was really easy to replace your housing. I was probably three four times a year just redoing the cable and redoing the housing to keep my shiftings smooth. So I do think
Rob Pickels 17:57
the one the modern bike that has full length cable housing, you run into issues like that less frequently because there’s only really one two points of entry, you know, but I suppose there can still be where along the line
Lennard Zinn 18:10
well there’s also the often problem of the head of the cable getting eaten inside the lever by Shimano lever just tearing up the and fraying in the inside of the lever and then you got this got to get that stuck piece of cable out of the inside of the lever and feed new in and and really, yes, you’re avoiding by having internal housing you’re avoiding getting it kinked in the middle of its section, for instance, but the access for where the stuff gets in is always at the end anyway, which is out it’s still outside of the bike.
Rob Pickels 18:50
Let me ask I got a question. This has nothing to do with our outline, Leonard, I’ve only ever been able to thread a brand new cable through housing. And there have been times where I have threaded cable through the housing made a mistake whatever had to had to kind of back things out to redo it still a brand new cable, but now it’s actually been cut to length. Do you have any tips for running something so that it doesn’t fray? Because that’s what seems to be the problem. I cut the cable and I try to send it back through the housing and one of those little cable threads gets caught and it starts unraveling the whole thing. Well, I
Lennard Zinn 19:28
think it all comes down to the cable cutter. Yes, it’s got to be one of the ones that’s like parrots beak where that there were it’s enclosing the thing from both sides as it cuts so then you can just cut it real clean and slide it through. If you use a like a dike, side cutter, it flattens it out and then you’re asking for trouble. There’s the tip right there. I
Trevor Connor 19:51
can tell you from experience. Last couple years I was getting worse and worse and worse at cutting my cable house and I was like what’s going on? I used to be really good at Yes. And then realize I’ve been using the same tool for a long time went and bought a new tool that was sharp. And suddenly I could cut the housing really well.
Rob Pickels 20:08
And I have I have The Park Tool. And this isn’t sponsored by Park at all. I just a lot of people use Park tools, I have the Park Tool for cutting housing. Is that the same tool that you use in the cable? Or do you use a totally separate kind of like roundish for the cable itself?
Lennard Zinn 20:24
Yeah, I mean, quite frankly, I use a just a different cutter for housing than for them for cable.
Rob Pickels 20:31
Nuff about cables, let’s throw cables in the garbage.
Trevor Connor 20:33
We started to talk about stems and bars. And yeah, agreed. And there’s been a lot of changes there, we already brought up the fact that now a lot of bikes, the cable housing runs through your bars through your stem, you never see it at all. So what are Lennar the challenges now of the more modern stems and bars when it comes to repair work to maintaining and also positioning
Lennard Zinn 21:00
Well, I mean, we’ve covered most of it with the internal hoses and cables. But the other one is, the bolts are always smaller and smaller. And the torque is more critical more and more important, you know, get the torque right that you really do use a torque wrench or you’re familiar enough with you know, like in my case, I feel like my feel is as good as a torque wrench that I know exactly. On which like to do five Newton meters where I’m choked up on the ranch so that I can’t put any more than five newton meters of torque on it. I don’t grab it the end of the ranch you know, I have it right near the bend and but really to have enough torque that it doesn’t twist, you know, you don’t hit a pothole and your handlebar drops down, but that you don’t over tighten it. And that’s even more critical if you’re traveling and you have to take your bar off or your stem off and then you strip a bowl when you get there. And
Rob Pickels 21:58
a quick disclaimer, all listeners remember you are not Leonard’s in your hand and risk might not be as calibrated as you should probably use the torque wrench.
Trevor Connor 22:09
Yeah, it is one of the best investments you can make. I mean, they’re not cheap, they’re probably cheaper than I bought mine. But to be able to say I want this to be at 10 meters. And then the torque wrench basically stops tightening when you get to 10 Newton meters. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen teammates or had the experience myself where you overtight and you snap a bolt. And then they got to go the shop and have them drill it out. Or seeing friends and races where they didn’t tighten enough and all of a sudden their handlebars have gone all the way down.
Rob Pickels 22:41
Yeah, in something to point out here. I think that carbon paste can be really useful. Instead of just tightening things down. Oh gosh, my handlebars slipped when I hit the bump on the gravel course I should tighten my stem more. If your stem is it’s back and you’re getting some slippage. It shouldn’t happen. But it does, then I think that a nice application of a carbon specific pace that has a little bit of a grid inside of there can actually help that grip of the handlebar in the STEM interface a lot.
Trevor Connor 23:08
So handlebars, what are your thoughts on pros and cons of these and what about aluminum versus carbon fiber and Eddie anything that we should be aware of that makes them harder to work with easier to work with?
Lennard Zinn 23:23
Well, I’d say one of the most important things which happens with both carbon and aluminum is more and more of them are shaped in the upper section, their flattened arrow shape. And if you happen to the way your hold your hands on the bar happens to find that particular orientation comfortable when it’s also the bars rotated to the point where your levers are right where you’d like them and and the drops are where you like them all is good but if you happen to be somebody who wants the bar rotated a little more up to get your levers higher or get the whole feel of your hand on the lever be different but then it compromises the heli your hands on the upper part of the bar or vice versa where you tip it down more and then the sharp edge of the upper part of the bar is is digging in where you know you get carpal tunnel syndrome or something like that. I mean, in my opinion yes, I understand the aerodynamic benefits and the aesthetic benefits of a shaped bar like that but but as far as ease of working on the bike if you’re if your motivation is having your bike be easy to work on habit be around bar, whether it’s carbon or aluminum. Now otherwise, you know the other things are that if you you can easily break a carbon bar just tipping your bike over. And it’s happened to me many times and I’ve seen it happen and lots of other people literally bike falls over in somebody’s office and it breaks the bar. So anytime you have an impact to a carbon bar and that’s something that you just absolute They do not want to have break while you’re writing No. And so anytime you have an impact or carbon bar that you know you at least on tape it and and look and see if you see any damage and you know you can take a coin or, or a pen and wrap on it and see if you the coin test to listen to the to the sound of the of the carbon and you can distinguish of those D laminated areas that are invisible to the outside. But, but that’s the downside of a carbon bars with an aluminum bar. Yeah, obviously, if you if you damage it, and you, you create a kink in it, you need to replace it, but it’s more visible and obvious. And anytime you crash hard on a bar, whether it’s aluminum or carbon, you oughta replace it.
Trevor Connor 25:52
I had that experience myself. And I still think this is one of Chris’s cases favorite moments ever. Where I had crashed on my bike, and it was the only time I ever used carbon fiber bars. And I didn’t replace it. And Chris and I were doing a race up Flagstaff and two minutes into the race. The bar snapped
Lennard Zinn 26:12
really be there was going up hill. I was
Trevor Connor 26:15
very happy it was going up hill. But the great part was I had the handlebar tape wrapped tight enough that it kind of held it on. So you can see the handlebars kind of bent upwards. And then it completely snapped. But I could keep riding. So I kept the race going with my handlebars snapped and Chris thought it was the funniest thing in the world. You should have
Rob Pickels 26:36
ripped that off, thrown it away and been that much lighter on the climb. I’m just saying if you’re were true racer, Trevor, you would have used that to your advantage. But you couldn’t do it because the cable housing was it was it internally routed Trevor.
Trevor Connor 26:52
So but yeah, you don’t want to be in the middle of the sprint.
Lennard Zinn 26:55
And now we’re in the middle of coming down and descent you hit a pothole and your handlebar and breaks off or both ends break off.
Trevor Connor 27:04
Yes. And that was the really fun part because we’re racing up Flagstaff, which meant I had to descend with the broken
Rob Pickels 27:10
hair, or at least you knew it was broken. So
Trevor Connor 27:13
any other thoughts on stems and bars, and I think we covered a bit by MIT. The one thing that probably scares me the most about current bikes is that completely integrated STEM, where you basically have to use what’s built by the manufacturer. Because I like to be able to set stem length. I like to be able to adjust it up and down. And it seems like and rotate barrell to
Lennard Zinn 27:37
like they’re talking about and you can’t do any of that
Rob Pickels 27:39
in terms of how often are you changing your stem length or height or your handlebars? Are you race by race terrain by terrain? Do you set it differently here than you do in Toronto?
Trevor Connor 27:50
It’s old age by old age, bag problem year over year. So in my bag goes out handlebars come up. There you go. And you can’t do that.
Rob Pickels 27:59
Well, I was gonna say you could just flip them rotate them. So they’re all the way up. But you can’t do that either.
Trevor Connor 28:04
Let’s hear again for Glen Swan with a few thoughts on the new stem designs.
Glenn Swan 28:09
If my customer asks me to help them fit their bike, my hands are tied. It’s going to cost all kinds of money to change the reach to the bars to in effect, change the stem. And those sorts of things are expensive as all get out. So these people buy bikes online, they don’t have a chance to ride it and they’re kind of stuck with whatever it was that they bought. So I find the integrated handlebar and stem assemblies, even without the cables running through them to be problematic as far as making people comfortable and efficient and effective on their bikes. They look cool. Not a great idea.
Rob Pickels 28:57
Tis the season for knee pain as the summer sunshine inspires us to ramp up our writing mileage. Our knees don’t always keep up. If you got knee pain, we have the solution for you. Bastok labs members can follow our knee health pathway featuring our Director of Sports Medicine, Dr. Andy Pruitt. See the introduction to the knee health pathway app Bastok labs.com.
Trevor Connor 29:23
So let’s shift gears literally here and talk about something I know nothing about because all of my bikes are from 2014 electronic shifting. Is this a whole new can of worms when it comes to maintaining your own bike or you kind of hinted at this is it does it actually make maintaining your bike easier?
Lennard Zinn 29:43
Yeah, in my opinion, it does make maintaining your bike easier if you crash on it. It’s a lot more expensive to replace. There’s no question about that. But most people really high percentage of people who are good writers have real trouble adjusting their cable tension on a standard cable x waited derailleur and they, you know, I never know how to do this and then bring it you know, it’s like, well, somebody that’s used to it maybe has a hard time understanding why that’s so complicated, but it’s, it’s relatively straightforward. People struggle with it. And there is always adjustment needed because over time, the cables stretch and the housings compress and the derailleur is no longer longer lined up perfectly with the, with the cogs so you, you do have to adjust them over time and electronic derailleur as long as you don’t crash on a bend the derailleur hanger or something like that. Once it’s adjusted, it stays in adjustment. And that’s an awesome thing about it. And and if you were to get a say a we’ll change and erase and the cassette is in slightly different position and the shifting isn’t working right now on modern modern 12 speed Shimano Di two this is no longer case but with 11 speed Shimano da two and with Tram, tram electronic all generations latest and oldest, you can adjust it while you’re riding, you push a little button to go into adjustment mode and then you push the shift button whichever way you need to move the derailleur to get it lined up and then you push the mode button again and go back out of adjustment mode and then you’re it’s adjusted perfectly and that certainly never possible. I’m going to the mountain bike yes, you could twist the adjuster on the shifter on the handlebar with a road bike, there was nothing you could do if you had to get off the bike and turn the adjuster barrel. So and then then the jockey wheels are just the same. So there’s no more No more maintenance or anything different with the jockey wheels than with the cable adjusted cable actuated derailleur so in my opinion, you know, you have fewer problems down the road less maintenance to do with electronic,
Rob Pickels 31:53
I will say to another benefit of electronic to throw back to travel like we had discussed earlier. With two fewer cables on your bike, your handlebars can rotate into a position that works in your case a heck of a lot easier. You’re not fighting cables to find that perfect position in there, where they’re not going to get damaged or scratch your frame.
Lennard Zinn 32:14
Yes, that’s true. Or even better yet, if you use the wireless surround wireless system, there is no cable or the new Shimano 12 Speed di to where there’s no, the wires are only between the battery and the 2d railers there’s no wire up to the handlebars anymore,
Rob Pickels 32:31
but you still have those hydraulic hoses. Yep. One area for me though, Trevor, where electronic shifting is worse than cables is. I have forgotten to recharge my battery on more than one occasion. And it’s been okay on some rides because my rear derailleur died and I’m running a SCRAM wireless system. So I was able to move the front derailleur battery to the back boulder east of Boulder anyways relatively flat. So it’s not a big deal. If you’re stuck in one chain ring Well, and,
Lennard Zinn 33:05
and I, all my bikes have that system and I just have every bike has a spare tram battery and the spare tire bag and then it because it happens all the time, you can’t see the little, the little indicator light. When you’re riding the bike, it’s hidden under the chain, stay on can’t see it, if it’s it when it tells you if it’s green, yellow, red, whatever. And you forget anyway because you have to charge it so infrequently. You don’t think about it and you head out and then you’re it doesn’t shift. But as long as you got spare batteries like 40 or 50 bucks.
Trevor Connor 33:36
Well, this, this was always my concern, because when a lot of my friends started going to the electronic shifting, I would raise I go I don’t want to use it in a race because I’ve worried about being in the middle of a race and battery going dead and then I can’t shift and I go, Oh, that never happens. It’s never happened to me. And then you wait and they go. Well, there was this one time.
Lennard Zinn 33:56
And then he read about you know, Peter set nine, the unbound gravel or whatever, you know, there’s always incidences where it does happen. Yes,
Rob Pickels 34:06
the other thing I’ve done is because with this ram system, you have to take the battery off the bike to charge it. So I put the battery on the charger, put my bike on the car driven door I written and didn’t and and the battery was 100% charged, it just wasn’t attached to my bike anymore.
Trevor Connor 34:21
That’s a good. What else do we need to know? And this is where I just have to ask the questions. As I said, I’ve never actually used it. What are the other ins and outs of maintaining your electronic system? What about damages to the cables, things like that, does that happen? Or is it all so internal that you just don’t worry,
Lennard Zinn 34:40
since they’re not under tension, and they’re so internal? Pretty much it does doesn’t happen? I mean, it’s I can envision a situation where you could kink it right at the rear derailleur for instance, or maybe some I don’t know, maybe somehow the front derailleur but it really the whole thing is loose and it can move. And yeah, it’s not really an issue.
Rob Pickels 35:04
You know, one thing to consider Trevor, and maybe this broadens the conversation from electronic shifting into drive train. But I do feel like modern shifters and derailleurs are a bit more finicky, they have to be a little bit more exact in their adjustment, because that spacing is getting so close between the cogs in the rear.
Lennard Zinn 35:23
Yes, that’s true. And it’s also in my opinion, easier to adjust with electronic derailleurs. Because each step in the adjustment, you know, you go into adjustment mode. So, the latest systems, yes, you can adjust them with your phone, which Gen Z people are going to have no problem with, you don’t even need to, but all of them, you can still adjust on the bike as well, you don’t have to use the phone. But, you know, it used to be that with the Shimano system, you had a junction a up at the handlebar with 11 speed and 10 speed, and you go into adjustment mode there and then you bump the shift buttons. Now there’s no more junction A, the adjustment button is on the rear derailleur. So you have to be off the bike, you hold the button down until it goes into adjustment mode. And then and then whether it’s the front or the rear derailleur, then you bump the buttons to move that one way or the other. But the adjustment bumps are very, very small and you can get exactly where you want to be. And if you’re using the phone app, then it actually will tell you numerically, you know, you’re out of like 16 position points, you’re now moved to position four position negative for whatever it is. And so you can get those lined up very well. And you know, this latest T type transmission that Sam has there’s the cage is now shaped differently so that so the jaw, bottom jockey wheel is lined up with the chain ring, whereas the top jockey wheels lined up with the cog, which that was one way that bikes were hard to adjust because of that asymmetry front and rear. And now that that’s eliminated, which
Trevor Connor 37:09
makes is that anymore, with the the asymmetry on the
Lennard Zinn 37:13
Yeah, the new T type. There’s a twist in the jockey wheel cage and the lower jockey wheel is not lined up with the upper jockey wheel. So the upper jockey wheel lines up with the cog, the lower jockey wheel lines up with the chain ring that are so the chain angles are better. And the shifting is crisper. And yeah,
Trevor Connor 37:29
I will say the only contribution I have to this conversation is is great new invention where they have a rear wheel that’s got a small cog on one side and a big cog on the other side. And when you get to a hill, it could turn it around off and flip it around.
Lennard Zinn 37:44
Then you have to invent the quick release when you can’t do it in the cold because you can’t turn the wing nuts. Now you’re
Trevor Connor 37:51
talking crazy talk. I’m not there yet. Let’s hear for glad Swan about some of the challenges of electronic shifting.
Glenn Swan 37:58
I just read an article this morning about somebody who has actually gone back to friction shifters. And it depends on on your perspective, if you’re a bike racer, and you need instant, super accurate shifting, and cost is no object. Electronic shifting is great. But if you are the person who has to pay for every time your bike goes into the bike shop, or who is not going to buy a new bike every couple of years and thus is going to deal with things that become obsolete quickly. I’m not a big fan of some of the the new stuff. For my customers who are recreational riders, it’s important to know that the pleasure of writing is mostly from passing through space, looking at countryside, feeling yourself move, and all of the electronics all of the the cool cosmetics don’t really make any difference in the pleasure of riding through the countryside.
Trevor Connor 39:04
So let’s talk a little bit about some of the modern elements of the drive train. And you mentioned lettered in our conversation for the show something I don’t even know what you’re talking about, which is flat top chains. It’s a hairstyles Trevor you should try it out.
Lennard Zinn 39:23
Yeah, so there are now two flat top chains both from Stram. The T type one is on the mountain bike, but the the one that preceded it is on the road bike came in with what’s called a access access RAM access 12 Speed shifting and the idea of the flat top chain it’s it when you look at it from the side. Each outer link plate is flat on the top and as normal curvature on the bottom so it’s no longer symmetrical. It used to be all the chain plates were symmetrical. And the reason for that is that now the chains have gotten so thin Then the material has gotten so thin, and chain breakage as the chains get thinner and thinner, it is more of a risk. And the protrusion of the chain pan is less and less and less because there’s just isn’t enough room between the cogs. And so this way, making a flat top chain, they could make the amount of metal in each link be greater just by it’s no longer reversible chain, it only goes on one way with the flat top on the top. But there was another thing that they did to increase chain strength which complicates life. And that is they changed the size of the chain roller. So the chain roller on the road access flattop chain is bigger than chain rollers have always been on every single
Trevor Connor 40:50
what is the chain roller for people who would know. So a chain
Lennard Zinn 40:54
a chain works by each outer link, when they punch the hole for the pin on each end, they punch it in such a way that pushes in a like little tube a little bushing. And the inner link also is done that same way where there’s it’s pushed in, that’s a little bushing. So the outer link is flat, the inner link is the one that has the bushing pushed toward the inside. And then the roller is the thing that actually sits on your in the valley of your car or your chainring teeth and it rolls on those bushings. And that’s the area that when you lubricate a chain, that’s the area you’re interested in, is getting lube inside of that roll or between it and it’s bushing. Otherwise, all the other rest of that lube that’s on your chain all over the outside and everything is doing no good for you. It’s just collecting dirt. But that’s
Trevor Connor 41:44
I was gonna say it actually worse than no good because dirt will collect on it and then work its way into.
Lennard Zinn 41:51
Yeah, so if the roller is bigger, so the chain, it’s still on a one inch standard. So the distance between each pair of pins is still one half inch, one full length is one inch, same way it’s always been. But now with a bigger roller, if one of the one of the ways of maintaining a chain is to know when it’s elongated. And it’s also called Chain stretch. But chains actually don’t stretch. But what happens is, as that roll or wears on the inside, and the bushings that it’s right riding on where on the outside, there’s more and more slack in the chain, the chain becomes more flexible laterally can twist it back and forth laterally, but but if you hang it next to a new chain, it’s longer. And as that happens, if you let it get beyond a certain point, then it changes the shape of the teeth on your chain rings and your cogs and and then if you put a new chain on, then it will skip because the teeth valleys are wider, and the teeth themselves are narrower. So you want to replace your chain chains are now expensive. You know, when I was racing in the late 70s, early 80s, we were paying four bucks each for a chain. And now you know can be easily 100 bucks. And especially if you get you know optimized chains that are dipped in Miracle wax and that sort of thing. So you don’t want to replace them too soon because they’re expensive. But you also don’t want to wait too long because the cassettes are way more expensive than the chains. And with a there’s a chain gauges are now a fairly ubiquitous tool that you check your chain length with. And generally most of them work by there’s a there’s a little tooth a little hook on one end, that you hook over a chain roller, and then that then it’s a long bar that has another hook on the other end. And you push that into the chain and if it drops in past a certain point the chain is stretch. Well, since that one hook is say you’re looking at your chain in front of you and you have the chain tool is going to go to your left. So you saw that first hook is hooking on the left side of a roller and then the other end, the gauge end is pushing down against the right side of an of a roller many links down the way if those rollers are now a different size, there’s no sense this measurement this measurement is meaningless because what you’re interested in is actually a difference the distance between the pins on the chain not actually that distance you or or the distance of the leading edge of one roller to the leading edge of another roller. So there is a Pedro’s tool and a Shimano tool and I think maybe even park has has a tool now to where where there’s three three prongs on the chain tool. So the first one index is the same way this did but the next one indexes it now again if you’re swinging the tool to your left, so the first prong goes on the left side of one roller but then the next prong goes in against The right side of another roller and then the opposite the prong way down at the end goes against the right side of another roller. So now that’s the distance that you’re looking at, is that length. And that length, then would be the same on because the chain gauge is the same on on a flat top road chain. But anyway, you can always use a ruler, if you’re really good eyeballs, you know, use a ruler, that’s, but you want to use a long enough ruler and a long enough section of chain that you can really see. See the stretch over the elongation or distance.
Trevor Connor 45:33
But now you’re talking about something that I do understand. So this hasn’t changed too much. And that’s always been my philosophy. Yeah, chains are getting more expensive. But if you’ve got a nice SRAM read cassette, that’s three $400 on your bike, and you wait too long to replace your chain. That cassette is now dead. Yes. Where if you’d replace your chain more frequently that because that’s going to last a real long time. Yeah, you
Lennard Zinn 45:57
always want to err on the side of replacing your chain too much. Too little.
Trevor Connor 46:02
Yeah, my approach. Personally, I have a crappy winter bike, my race bike when I was racing a lot more frequently, I would replace the chain before it needed to be replaced. I just put the chain aside and the winter that go on my winter bike where I didn’t care as much
Rob Pickels 46:18
on this drive, train conversation and chain where Leonard, are you seeing any differences in drive train longevity based on modern lubricants that are being used on bikes? Well, the
Lennard Zinn 46:32
answer is yes. But I wouldn’t say it based on modern, that there is pretty much no question in my mind that you get the longest wear with something that’s very, very old, namely paraffin. But if you’re going to use it, you have to be really committed, you have to completely clean your chain. So that that means getting all of the old grease out of it and it’s just not, you know, scrubbing it with a chain cleaner or shaking it up in a jar of kerosene or something you you actually have to do a number of steps to get it all out with first a solvent than denatured alcohol than water and then once the chain is completely clean, and then you soak it in, in molten paraffin and molten paraffin again, you have to you know, you can’t just put that on a stove you got to have a double boiler so you don’t put it on fire or something. But then once it’s on there, the chain no question lasts way longer and it’s one of the benefits of a lubricant that lasts longer is there’s less wear because it’s that’s why it lasts longer. The to go hand in hand lower friction and greater durability.
Chris Case 47:48
Today’s episode of fast Talk is brought to you by alter exploration created by me fast talk labs co founder Chris case, alter exploration crafts, challenging transformative cycling journeys in some of the world’s most stunning destinations. A mantra is a powerful tool used to focus your mind on a particular goal and create calm during challenging situations. Our mantra transformation begins with comfort ends. This mantra isn’t meant to be intimidating. On the contrary, it should be invigorating. For many people, everyday life is filled with convenience, monotony, and lack of time spent in nature. Alter exploration facilitates the exact opposite, challenging, invigorating, life altering experiences in the natural world. alters journeys aren’t so much a vacation as an exploration of you and the destination. At the end of every day, be preoccupied as much by the transformative experience, as by the satisfaction of exhaustion, life altered, learn more about my favorite adventure destinations and start dreaming at Alter exploration.com.
Trevor Connor 48:55
So I think the last thing that we want to talk about are wheels and brakes. So disc brakes. I’m not sure we can call that a modern invention anymore. But what are the challenges of maintaining disc brakes?
Lennard Zinn 49:08
Well, one of the biggest challenges I would say is that you can’t really see the pads because it’s hidden down in the caliper. And then as soon as you’ve written the bike a little bit, it’s all covered with dirt and dust and everything in there and you can’t really see the pads and pads need to be replaced. And so I would actually venture to say because now the first disc brakes, you actually had to have the wheel off and everything in order to change the pads. Now they all are pretty much top loaded. So you can just you can just get out them with the wheel in and no big deal. And I would argue that they’re easier to change than then pushing the pads out of the little holders in rim brake brakes or if you use the cheaper type that’s the whole brake pad and stud and everything on a rim brake bike then you gotta readjust the, the angle on the toe in and everything. So compared to that, it’s, it’s way easier but, but determining when it’s time to replace the pad, I would say is trickier. You got to be more aware and on the ball and check in for it. And then, you know, people are really worried about brake bleeding, you know, like, well, you know, the first disc brakes were cable actuated ones versus display for road bikes, for instance, and mountain bikes, and those, those are super dependent on cable tension, because as the pads wore like any rim brake as the pads where you need to tighten the cable on, and since the spacing is so small in there, that was really critical. But the beauty of the hydraulic system is that itself fills behind the brings more, more fluid from the reservoir fills in behind the, the pistons. And so as the pads were just like on your car, you don’t, you don’t notice until you start grinding your pads into the road or you don’t notice the pad wear on your car, your brake pedal feels the same. And it’s the same on a hydraulic system on a bike. So that’s the beauty of it. So there’s actually less adjustment to do. And generally, for road bikes, it’s pretty, you can go a really, really long time between bleeding brake bleeds, you know, it’s different if you’re racing downhill mountain bikes, you know, and mud and whatever. But on a road bike in Colorado conditions, you’re gonna be, you’re gonna go a long time. People are concerned about it worried about it? And yes, you do need different tools, once you’re used to it. That’s really pretty straightforward and quick, but but for the average person, you would would do it so rarely, that every time you’d have to look in my book again, figure out how to do it. Because Because you wouldn’t remember because it’s been so long, because you don’t need to do it very well. That’s my
Trevor Connor 52:03
question. Because breaks are so important. Is that a better thing to just, if you’re doing every month I get it. But if it’s so infrequent, or you just better take it to the shop and saying can you believe this for me?
Lennard Zinn 52:14
Well, I think it depends on your mentality. I mean, you you can definitely tell when it’s bled right or not. So it’s that’s not a question like, if you do it wrong, you know, your brakes are won’t work, or they’re super mushy, because you still got air and I’m so so you can tell if you’ve botched it on and or they’ll squeal like crazy because you got hydraulic fluid on the rotor and on the pads. And if you’re the investment and the little syringes and the fluid is pretty small, really and but it’s just Yes, if you don’t do it frequently, you’re gonna have to review the process every single time. And whether that’s worth it to you relative to scheduling ahead of time with a busy bike shop to get your bike in there and have it done in time. I mean, that’s the trade off, you know is, is if you do it yourself, you know, you at least know when you’re going to do it and you know, have it when you need it.
Rob Pickels 53:09
Leonard it’s funny you were talking about more traditional braking systems and you mentioned toe in and I had some horrifically bad flashbacks when you said that because, you know my background is in cyclocross, you know, in cyclocross for a long time used cantilever brakes, nevermind the the fork flex and the cable flex and all of that introduction, just trying to get cyclocross breaks that worked and didn’t squeal or whatever else was actually on carbon rim exactly was so difficult and there was almost this black magic, I felt like I had a hole if I take a piece of paper and I fold it over this many times and I put it here then that helps me angle my pad. And that stuff is relatively telling
Lennard Zinn 53:49
the pad Where’s after two more weeks. Exactly.
Rob Pickels 53:53
And I do think that disc brakes can be a little bit more, you know, that initial setup, hey, for whatever reason, you had your caliper off your fork or off your frame, you have to make sure that it’s well centered back on the rotor so that you’re not dragging a pad. But the other thing I do think one area that’s maybe a little bit tougher, and Leonard, you alluded to this, if you do contaminate rotors or pads then that can be a big hurdle to deal with and I know I’ve personally brought some rotors back with some alcohol, you can clean off a lot of the contaminant there. You know, brake pads, if they’re just a little bit glazed over, in my opinion here in Colorado, we have such dry dusty conditions that sometimes my brake pads will get glazed and a little bit of a light sanding can really bring that power back. But if you get a real contaminant on that pan, I don’t know that there’s anything you can do to bring it back to life. You might be better off replacing,
Lennard Zinn 54:45
yeah, but you know, really the trick to it. The reason just a light sanding won’t work with sandpaper is because you keep pushing the same crap back into it, because it’s on the sandpaper. So that the thing to use is drywall sanding mesh. So it’s like a Windows screen and it’s abrasive. And so then you just take your pad and you rub it back and forth on that and the junk that’s on the pad drops through the screen and doesn’t go back into the pad. So even a really contaminated pad you can rehabilitate with with drywall sanding screen
Rob Pickels 55:22
as I fill out my shopping list literally right now what grit do you use for something like that? Leonard?
Lennard Zinn 55:28
To 20 to 20 Okay,
Rob Pickels 55:30
I’ll have it this afternoon
Trevor Connor 55:32
and retro grouch hot tip here to determine when to replace your pads. As soon as you have sparks flying through your rotors for a metal on metal, you have about four or five, right?
Rob Pickels 55:44
When you when you’ve lit your parafin chain lube on fire with the blazing sparks, then you know,
Trevor Connor 55:52
you’re getting close. You got a couple of rides.
Rob Pickels 55:56
You’re getting close. We laugh about this, I have seen more than one person’s bike that I have helped that have been to the metal backing in disc brakes and we laugh about it but it is a very common thing that happens and people need to watch out for it.
Trevor Connor 56:13
I was behind a friend who is more of a retro grouch than me. We were coming down a hill. This is back and rim brakes. And literally just watched the sparks fly off of his rim because he was metal on metal.
Rob Pickels 56:27
I heard a story though, Leonard, did you tell this story? Somebody with their traditional brakes cartridge brake pads had put the brakes in backward. So the moment they hit their brake, it ejected the pads out.
Lennard Zinn 56:43
Now No, I knew a guy in Colorado Springs who did that Yeah, he’d you know back in the day of campaigning all and over record are super record bike and, and the pad holders are open on one end, and they don’t have a retaining screw. And which
Rob Pickels 56:57
works great in the right orientation. Yeah,
Lennard Zinn 57:00
put the band backwards. And he goes down a steep hill and there’s a stop sign at the bottom and car crossing. And he slams on his brakes and he feels two things hit his calves from behind and sees two other things shoot out in front of him. He’s got no brakes.
Trevor Connor 57:16
What did he crash? What’d he do?
Lennard Zinn 57:18
He did not crash he scared the shit out of himself. And he dragged his feet and you know, ground his shoes down and stuff. But he managed to swerve he didn’t he went through the intersection. But he didn’t hit any cars. Wow.
Trevor Connor 57:32
Wow. All right, we got one last thing to talk about. And as the retro grouch, I’m gonna say this is a great invention. The fact that I never have to glue a tubular again in my life. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. How do you know you’re a real cyclist though, Trevor?
Trevor Connor 57:49
Because I hate tubulars. I’ve done them enough to know I hate
Rob Pickels 57:52
Okay, okay, you Yeah, there you go. You didn’t understand
Lennard Zinn 57:55
why cyclists shaved their legs so they don’t have brim glue stuck in their hairs.
Trevor Connor 58:01
So let’s talk tubeless they are great. But I admit I’m still fairly new to them. And I do find them challenging how to seat them, right? How to make sure you put enough of the glue or whatever you call it in there to keep it sealed. And I will embarrassingly, I admit my first set of tubeless ever I bought two days before a bike race. I went to the bike race. So it was bike race from lions den to Niederlande. Fortunately, all uphill. And I didn’t know, I actually didn’t even know the wheels were tubeless. And they came with tires on them. So I just pumped them up. There was no fluid in them. And I did that, believe it or not, I got to the end of the race with them keeping most of their air. But when I was descending from Niederlande, they just lost it
Rob Pickels 58:51
all bomber bomber. So
Trevor Connor 58:52
what are the tips and tricks for tubeless?
Lennard Zinn 58:57
Okay, well, I sort of the overarching thing is having sealant in them that’s liquid, that if you let it harden up in there, then you don’t really have a viable system. We do not have tires for bikes that are like car tires, where car tires are tubeless. And you can leave them on there for a year. And they’ll generally have the same pressure a year later. And that’s not the case with bike tires, whether you have seeland in them or not. They’re not going to they’re not going to hold their that way. And yes, you know, originally when the US tea system came out, universal system to Bliss, there was 100% Check on every single tire that was what was required it had to hold air without any sealant. And so every single tire was inflated on a rim at the factory and submerged in a big tank of water and if any air bubbles came out the tire was discarded. And in order to make 100% of them. Were work, you got to put a lot of thick layer of rubber on the inside, and they were too heavy and too inflexible and people didn’t like them. So now what we have is all these other things called, you know, various manufactured acronyms for tubeless, ready to Bliss, something TL TR to Bliss. Number two with bliss after stuff like that, that are not a guarantee that this tire holds air, and they require that there be sealant in there because air will bleed out otherwise, and the sealant, seating the tire, you know, there has been improvement in that in that the tire people in the rim, people are finally getting to be on the same page. But for many, many years, you know, decades, that what was called the ETRTO, European Tire and Rim Trade Organization. Those people were not communicating with each other and tire fit was always an issue. And finally, the ISO latest meeting a year ago or something that tires have to fit certain specs, and they’re they’re only allowed to go on certain rim widths. And the rims have very fixed specs, and you don’t have these outliers. Like you know, Stan’s used to have a thing where they actually changed the bead seat diameter and the height of the height of the rim walls above the bead seat. And stuff like that just winging it, you know, and other manufacturers maybe followed maybe didn’t but and now you have hookless systems which are like the the rims on your car, which don’t have a bead hook, there’s no hook to dig into the tire to grab it above the bead, it’s, it’s a ramp that the tire slides up, and then drops over a little drop. But that’s more amenable to the manufacturing process of carbon rim and to the way carbon works where it works great intention and terrible and compression. So those things all mean that seeding the tire, it’s got to be done right? You got to have sealants in it, and you got to have high enough pressure. So ideally, you’d have an air compressor. But if you don’t have an air compressor, you have to have one of these pumps that has a separate big old chamber that you pump that chamber up first, then there’s this big reservoir that then you can blast a big blast, because a hand pump won’t generally get a tire to seat. And then once it’s seated, you coat it with a soap suds. And you just in your hand holding it wheel flat, you just look for wherever it’s bubbling, and you just keep tipping it and swinging it and whatever to move sealant to those areas until you no longer have any, any air leakage as you can see through the soap bubbles. And then you have to ride it frequently. And pump it frequently that if you leave the bike sitting, it loses air over time. And if you let it lose too much air, then it the bead is no longer seated, air rushes in, hardens up all your sealant, you get a big lump of sealant at the bottom of the tire that now unbalances the tire and there’s no sealant to fill anything and you kind of got to pull it off and start over. And so tubeless really isn’t appropriate for a bike that doesn’t get used much or for a person that doesn’t pay attention to their bike in the interim, like if you don’t use it, but you do pump it frequently and spin the tires. Not too many people do that. So you basically got to ride the ride the bike,
Trevor Connor 1:03:36
how frequently because so I have tubeless on my race wheels, and I’m not doing as much racing, so I might go a month without using them. Is that inappropriate?
Lennard Zinn 1:03:44
I think that’s too long. Yeah. Yeah, I think I think you need to figure on riding at least once every week and a half probably I would think the lesson
Rob Pickels 1:03:52
here is to ride more, Trevor. Yesterday is no I think when we’re talking about tubeless to a lot of people do struggle, they’re in their garage. They’re covered in sealant, they’re trying to get this darn tire on the rim. It’s probably one of the most frustrating things in the world. A couple tips that I have and Leonard I’m sure that you have even deeper ones. I want to hear those too. You know, if you have a compressor great if you have one of these special blaster pumps Great. Regardless of what pump you have to take out the valve core and just blow air straight through the valve stem oftentimes can increase the volume or the rate of air that’s going in that can help seat another thing that I’ve seen too is oftentimes you’ll be mounting the tire onto the rim and the bead of the tire will actually be sitting on the wrong side of the valve stem and so oftentimes you’re blowing air just straight into the atmosphere is not even going inside the tire. So double check for that. You know extra rim tape. Have you ever beefed up the rim that a little bit with another wind of tape has that helped out Leonard?
Lennard Zinn 1:04:54
Yeah, but again, that’s supposed to be a thing of the past. Rims made lighter than 2022 should be uniform, completely uniform and in size and the tire should be uniform in size to fit. But But yes, if you put another layer of the airproof tubeless rim strip, you can often get a tire to seat that wouldn’t otherwise, but you made it harder to mount it on the rim, because you’ve met now made the valley taller to
Rob Pickels 1:05:22
exactly and what you just brought up, I thought of as you were just talking, oftentimes, the newer modern rims and tires are very difficult to just mount and get the bead over the wall of the rim. And, you know, the tip there is to really go back and make sure that the rest of the beat is sitting in that low valley in the wheel, double check and triple check it make sure that it’s in there, because that really is the secret to getting that tire on all the way around. Because it seems as though with these modern wheels and rim strips, you don’t necessarily want to be using tire levers to pry that up in over carbon rims can break but I’ve also put a hole in this tubeless rim tape and now you got to take everything back off redo the rim tape,
Lennard Zinn 1:06:07
it’s fairly easy to damage the bead of the tire as well and have a whole nother place that you got to get sealant to that’s now on the inboard side where the sealant doesn’t want to go to. So the thing that you weren’t saying that’s inherent in what you said is in order to have the opposite side of the tire dropped into the rim Valley, when you’re putting a tire on you have to finish putting the last bit of tire bead on at the valve. You know, people generally for some reason, tend to go the other way where they started the valve stem, and they go around the opposite side. But the beads by the valve are now sitting up on the rim ledge rather than down in the valley. So the circumference that you’re pushing it around is bigger than if you start on the opposite side of the valve and you make sure those beads are dropped into the center of the valley and you go all the way around to finish at the valve stem, then you’re going around a minimum circumference and if you’re putting on a tube tire, then the advantage is also if you get some tube caught under the edge of the bead, when you’re doing the last bit, then by finishing the valve stem, a lot of times you can get that to suck up by just by pushing up on the valve stem and you suck that little bit enter to back out from under the bead. That’s another reason why it’s good that this whole new ISO standards came out because because it’s also critical, the width of the two beads and the depth and width of the rim Valley. And those are now also written in stone in the ISO standards so that there is enough room that if your tire bead is too fat, for both of them to fall into the into the rim Valley, then you it’s harder to mount the tire or if the rim Valley is too narrow. So those are now standardized. You know the other thing that helps has some sort of lubricant on the bead but not getting it on your thumb. So when you’re pushing it over the last part, if it’s if the bead is wet or has some sealant on it or something, it’ll tend to slide over better. But then of course, the challenge is to not have it on the side of the tire and on your thumb so that you got some traction when you’re pushing the last bit of a tire over
Trevor Connor 1:08:21
before we launch into our take home. So let’s hear one more time for Glen Swan and some of the new innovations that he really likes as a mechanic.
Glenn Swan 1:08:29
I was a little slow to accept disc brakes. But the freedom they give us to use different wheel sizes, different tire sizes, I think that’s been a real plus. And maybe I’m going back a little farther than you’re expecting as far as evolution of the bike. But the Threadless headsets and stems with removable faceplates has made the process of fitting much much easier because we don’t have to do anything with breaks or any of the cables in order to play with reach stem length, or STEM handlebar height. So I’d say those are two things that are definitely pluses. I guess the third one would be that the tapered steerer tube on forks has been a plus. Since that lower crown race that Lord headset is the point of very, very high stress on a bike and cornering or hard braking. You can actually feel a difference in how solid the front end of the bike feels with the larger diameter right at the fork crown. So I’d call that another step in the right direction. But I’m hard pressed to think of other things that are have been improvements. You look at all the different seat posts shapes and you The cable routings obviously, a lot of them, I see as cool looking, but not positive. Not anything that makes life better for either riders, or certainly, we oppressed mechanics.
Trevor Connor 1:10:16
Well, guys, I hate to say it, we’re an hour 20. And this has been a great conversation, you’ve given us a lot of really good tips, but I think it is time to switch to our take homes are one minutes,
Lennard Zinn 1:10:27
one of my biggest takeaways would be what I mentioned about sanding your disc brake pads with a drywall sanding mesh, and cleaning the rotors with alcohol, that those can eliminate a lot of squealing problems that are often the bane of disc brake users. Another is keeping up on your chain length and replacing a chain before it’s too late before you ruin your cassette. For me,
Rob Pickels 1:10:55
I’m gonna go totally big picture here. I think that whether or not something’s difficult to maintain, is just kind of relative to what the person is used to. I think that we as a group are noticing a lot of these changes. Because we’ve watched these changes over time, we’ve seen how bikes have evolved, so to say, but I bet you a lot of modern riders listening to this are like this is the way I’ve only ever known it, you know, and it really sets that relative nature. If you are a handy person, if you like to learn if you like to figure things out, then there are amazing resources out there for anyone to maintain any part of their bike and Leonard is you know, in author, the author when it comes to learning that. So I’m glad that he has, you know the time to spend with us. But the other side of this too is, hey, if something is outside your ability, if you’re not sure if it’s a critical component, there are amazing bike mechanics in the world. And definitely people should take their bike to a shop and get that pro level service. Just keep in mind, it might take a couple of weeks before they can get to it.
Trevor Connor 1:11:57
My big take home is similar, which is, as you heard here, there’s all these little tricks, all these little tips that can make it a lot easier. And also be really important. They can be the difference between spending two hours, cursing everything in sight, trying to fix something, and taking 15 minutes and doing it right. And even more importantly, some of these tips. If you don’t follow them, you could be out in the road in the middle of nowhere and have an epic failure of your bike. And then you’re in trouble. So if you’re going to do this work yourself, take the time as Rob was saying use these resources letter Do you still have the definitive book to learn how to do it? I will admit as we’re just talking about all the little details of tubeless I am running tubeless I’m about to fly to a race, I still haven’t learned how to do them, right. The message I got there as I think for this race, I’m going to take it to the shop and have them do it right and I’ll learn over the winter, how to do it myself and buy
Rob Pickels 1:13:01
the right tools. That’s my biggest tip. If you’re gonna do it, make sure you got the right tools, especially those super cool cable cutters.
Trevor Connor 1:13:08
Well, thanks for joining us a real pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you.
Rob Pickels 1:13:12
That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual. As always, we love your feedback. Tweet at us @fasttalklabs or join the conversation at forums.fasttalklabs.com. Learn from our experts at fasttalklabs.com. Or help keep us independent by supporting us on Patreon for Lennard Zinn, Andy Pruitt, Larry Meyer, Glenn Swan, and Trevor Connor. I’m Rob Pickels and thanks for listening!