1, 2, or 3: How Many MTB Chainrings Do You Need?

We’ve gotten a lot of questions from our customers lately about all the different drivetrain options available for mountain bikes. To help answer your questions, we turned to our in-house expert: Mark (some of you might recognize Mark and his mustache from our videos).

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Mark knows a thing or two about mountain bikes

If you are in the market for a new mountain bike or a new drivetrain for an existing mountain bike, then the crankset and gearing options can seem overwhelming and a little confusing. Triple crankset, a double, or just rolling with a single ring…which is the right one for you? Why would you choose one chainring over three or two? Can more actually be less? Let’s take a look at the options and when it comes time to upgrade, you will have a better sense of what will work best for you and why.

For years the traditional mountain bike drivetrain consisted of a triple (3 chainrings) crankset paired with a cassette (or freewheel) that has grown from 6 to as many as 11 cogs. Fast forward to now and you still have the triple (3x) crankset option, but you also have double cranksets with 2 chainrings (2x) as well as single cranksets with just one chainring (1x). 

This FSA triple crankset offers plenty of gearing options

The TripleEarly mountain bikes used whatever components were available at the time, and at that time it was primarily touring components. The wide range of a triple crankset was also necessary because the bikes were quite heavy when compared to today’s standards and the low range was needed to get those klunkers up the hills. Over time cassette ratios were refined and the gearing on triple cranksets became more compact, with smaller jumps between the 3 chainrings. Most current triple mountain bike cranksets have gearing in the 22/32/42t, 24/32/42t, or 22/32/44t range. A triple crankset typically offers the broadest range of gears, and depending on your specific needs it may be the best option for you. Good examples for using a triple would be large changes in elevation on your trails, riding to the trailhead via the road, or the desire to have a low gear that you can “spin” up the hills with.

This double crankset from Shimano offers a wide spread of gearing and reduced weight

The DoubleBefore double cranksets were embraced by component manufacturers, many riders would ditch one of the chainrings from their triple cranksets. Some people removed the large chainring to gain some ground clearance and because they didn’t need the tall gear that it offered, while others would get rid of the small ring because their terrain wasn’t hilly enough to dictate a gear that low – or they were just strong enough to do without it. Either way it was a compromise and the rider was losing some of the wide range that a triple crankset offered. When 10-speed cassettes were introduced to mountain bike drivetrains, double crankset gearing was optimized and the gear range was expanded to rival that of a triple drivetrain. The 2×10 speed drivetrain offers reduced weight, optimized front shifting, and a minimal compromise on overall gear range. Now that there are options at most price levels, a 2x drivetrain would be a great choice for anyone looking to shed some weight from their bike without giving up much in terms of versatility.

SRAM’s XX1 and X01 systems feature only one chainring and an 11-speed cassette with a huge gearing range

The SingleJust as riders were removing a chainring from their triple cranks, some were going a step further and removing the inner and outer ring and just keeping the middle ring. The reasons were numerous – further weight reduction by getting rid of the front shifter and derailleur, simplifying the drivetrain, and reducing some of the redundancy that comes with multiple chainrings. But like the early 2x adopters, they were compromising the versatility of their mountain bikes. Folks without much elevation change could get by with it, but the reduction at the high and low end of the gear range was significant. Another challenge of a 1x drivetrain is chain retention. Without the front derailleur to help keep the chain in place you need some sort of chain device to manage chain drop. It can be as simple as a road or cross style “chain watcher” if your trails are fairly smooth, but faster, rougher trails require a full-on chainguide to keep the chain on the chainring. The Race Face Narrow Wide chainring design eliminates the need for a chainguide with 1x setup, but you are still left with what could be a less than desirable gear range.

Then came the 1×11 mountain bike drivetrain. Pioneered by SRAM, the 1×11 drivetrain offered the widest gear range for a cassette (10-42t), a narrow/wide chainring tooth profile to manage chain retention, and a rear derailleur with a clutch mechanism that also assisted with chain management by keeping more tension on the chain. This ushered in a 1x option for people actually riding in the mountains and significantly reduced the weight, friction, and noise of the drivetrain. The one caveat at present with the 1×11 drivetrain is cost – the technology is new and hasn’t trickled down to the lower price levels. If you aren’t overly concerned with the cost, there is a viable option for riders seeking a 1x drivetrain who don’t want to limit where they can ride.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how the mountain bike drivetrain has evolved over time, the available options, and why you might choose one over another.  If you ride in extremely hilly terrain a 3x drivetrain may serve you well without breaking the bank. If you are a stronger rider who wants better front shifting performance and less weight, you may opt for a 2x drivetrain. Or if you want the ultimate in light weight, less clutter, and smooth shifting check out a 1×11 drivetrain. Thanks for reading and enjoy the ride!

6 Cycling Gloves for Cold Weather Rides

Now that cold weather has rolled in across much of the country, cyclists everywhere turn to that most common of riding refrains: “My fingers are frozen!” The best way to avoid chilly digits on your ride is to wear long-fingered gloves, so we turned to our clothing team for recommendations of our best and most popular cold weather riding gloves. Of course what you choose to wear will depend on the forecast and your cold tolerance, just like our clothing suggestions for riding in cold weather – but read on below for a few great frost-fighting options (and don’t forget to get your bike ready for cold weather rides too).

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1. Smartwool Liner Gloves: Sometimes all you need is a lightweight liner glove to bring you through the cooler season in comfortable warmth, but these gloves are multi-purpose since they are also perfect as an extra insulating layer under your favorite gloves or mittens (and as a barrier if you are using chemical warmers layered inside your gloves).

2. Fox Women’s Digit Gloves: Mountain bike riders have an advantage in cooler weather since they already wear long finger gloves, but don’t be afraid to break out your ‘mountain bike’ gloves on a chilly road ride – just pick a pair that aren’t super-lightweight, like this stylish option from Fox.

3. Pearl Izumi Cyclone Gloves: Pearl Izumi’s most popular, cool weather cycling gloves offer great fit and protection, while adding reflectivity for safety and Comfort Bridge Gel padding for comfort. Elite Softshell is a highly functional stretch fabric that offers windproof, waterproof, thermal and breathable protection for cold weather performance.

4. Louis Garneau Super Prestige Gloves: Ergonomically designed to maximize hand comfort in cold conditions with windproof, waterproof and thermal fabrics, pre-curved fingers and gel padding in the palm. The ‘lobster’ design provides more warmth than full-fingered cycling gloves and better mobility than mittens, but on these gloves you can actually fold back the ‘lobster’ covering to turn them into standard 5-finger gloves.

5. Castelli Diluvio Gloves: Take the warmth of mittens and combine it with the weatherproof properties of neoprene and you have Castelli’s Diluvio gloves. Thermo-sealed, 3mm neoprene construction thwarts wind and rain, plus it’s insulated for amazing heat retention. Thin, flexible design fits easily over your hands and gripper palm improves handlebar control.

6. Belgian Gloves: Only recommended if you are cycling ‘hardman’ like Jens Voigt or Tom Boonen.

What Do You Carry When You Ride?

Ever wonder what cyclists carry in their pockets, saddlebags, and hydration packs? We polled some folks around the office, asking to see what they carried to get out of a jam, and found some interesting stuff.

Which kind of begs the question: what do you carry when you ride?

And don’t forget that tubes, multitools, mini-pumps, Co2 cartridges, black size medium Giro Air Attack Shield helmets, and saddlebags make great stocking stuffers.

 

Commuter Kit (carried in messenger bag): Tire lever, multitool, patch kit, spare tube, pump

Commuter Kit (carried in messenger bag): Tire lever, multitool, patch kit, spare tube, pump

XC riding: Spare tube, Co2 inflator and multitool combo

XC riding (strapped to seatpost): Spare tube, Co2 inflator and multitool combo

Super-light road kit (carried in jersey pocket): mini pump, rear flashy light, tire levers, Ikea hex wrenches, tube, dollar bill

Super-light road kit (carried in jersey pocket): mini pump, rear flashy light, tire levers, hex wrenches that came with Ikea shelves, tube, dollar bill

Touring kit (in saddlebag): Multitool, SRAM masterlink, rear light, tire levers, tube, Gerber mutlitool, (not pictured: frame pump)

Touring kit (in saddlebag): Multitool, SRAM masterlink, rear light, tire levers, tube, Gerber mutlitool, (not pictured: frame pump)

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Trail Riding (carried in hydration pack): food, Go Pro + tripod, Co2 inflator, hatchet, shock pump, zip ties, multitool, tire levers, pump, spare tube

Road Kit (carried in jersey pocket): Tube, Co2 cartridge and chuck, spare Co2 cartridge, mutlitool

Road Kit (carried in jersey pocket): Tube, Co2 cartridge and chuck, spare Co2 cartridge, multitool

The Ultimate Trail Building Kit (carried in hydration pack): Hatchet, pump, shovel, chain saw, shears, pruners, strap, tube, food, bug spray, branch cutter

The Ultimate Trail Building Kit (carried in hydration pack): Hatchet, pump, saw, shovel, chain saw, shears, pruners, strap, tube, food, bug spray, branch cutter

Product Profiles: The Scattante CFR LE and Scattante CFR Race

The Scattante CFR Race

The Scattante CFR Race

The Scattante CFR Race

When the guys over in the bike division heard about the new Ultegra 6800 group, they realized they had to build a bike around it. And it couldn’t just be any bike. No, it had to be something extra special– like no other bike we’d ever done before. It took a few iterations, and lots of emailing back and forth with our suppliers, but we did it, and the result is exceptional. Behold: the Scattante CFR Race. This incredible new bike features our pro-level ScMT carbon fiber frameset, an Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain, and a compliment of high end components from Deda, Selle San Marco, and Fulcrum.

The Scattante CFR Race features the same Scattante Monocoque Technology (ScMT) that was used in the CFR Black bike. ScMT carbon fiber technology is incredibly stiff and lightweight, but also nice and compliant in all the right spots for a buttery smooth ride. It’s stiff yet springy, and is incredibly responsive to pedal input. It’s got plenty of compliance to make it both comfortable and surprisingly agile and easy to handle.

For components, we outfitted the CFR Race with mechanical Ultegra 11-speed. The all-new Ultegra features improved front end shifting thanks to a redesigned derailleur pivot arm, Shimano’s new distinctive crank arm design, and, of course, the addition of an 11th cog. Rounding out the package is a full Deda cockpit, and a set of Fulcrum wheels.

If you’re the type of cyclist who takes your riding seriously and are looking for an 11-speed upgrade that delivers pro-level performance, it’s tough to beat the Scattante CFR Race.

Hurry though…these bikes won’t last long.

11-speed Ultegra 6800 takes performance to a new level

11-speed Ultegra 6800 takes performance to a new level

The distinctive 4-arm crank design sets Ultegra 6800 apart from the crowd

The distinctive 4-arm crank design sets Ultegra 6800 apart from the crowd

Improved lever ergonomics take cues from Shimano's Di2 systems

Improved lever ergonomics take cues from Shimano’s Di2 systems

Deda provided components for the cockpit on the CFR Race

Deda provided components for the cockpit on the CFR Race

Fulcrum wheels are lightweight and fast

Fulcrum wheels are lightweight and fast

ScMT carbon technology gives the CFR Race a ride feel like no other carbon blend out there

ScMT carbon technology gives the CFR Race a ride feel like no other carbon blend out there

The Scattante CFR LE

The Scattante CFR LE

The Scattante CFR LE

But we don’t just have one new bike on the docket. The CFR Race is more geared toward the racers out there, but we don’t want you to think we forgot about the long distance riders, right? That’s why we’re also rolling out the Scattante CFR LE.  So what’s the story with the Scattante CFR LE? The Scattante CFR LE (Limited Edition) road bike is a new road bike that is built for all-day comfort and amazing performance.  We took the same Scattante Monocoque Technology (ScMT) carbon fiber construction technique that we used in the CFR Black and CFR Race,  but reworked the geometry to make it a little more relaxed and forgiving. ScMT carbon fiber technology is incredibly stiff and lightweight, but allows us to adjust the compliance in all the right spots for a buttery smooth ride. The fork is custom tuned for quick, predictable handling. The bike is all-dressed up for the holidays with a 10-speed Shimano 105 drivetrain, FSA compact crank and some Kenda Kadence tires.

The CFR LE is the perfect road bike for the distance guys and weekend group riders. It deliver’s excellent performance that’s perfect for charity rides, fast weekend group rides, or gran fondos. And don’t worry, it’s a great value, but it can hang with even the most expensive bikes on the course.

It’s a value you won’t believe…but these bikes won’t last long, so get yours today.

ScMT technology gives the frame and fork an unparalleled ride

ScMT technology gives the frame and fork an unparalleled ride

Shimano 105 component provide excellent shifting performance

Shimano 105 component provide excellent shifting performance

The frame delivers race-ready performance that is a joy to ride

The frame delivers race-ready performance that is a joy to ride

4 Ways to Make Your Indoor Training Better With Your Smartphone

A few weeks ago we wrote about our strategies for indoor training, including ways to cope with the fact that you’re riding your bike indoors. But if you really want to get the most out of your indoor training (and spice up your solo sufferfests), check out some of the new technology available to track, plan and interact with your trainer rides, all from the comfort of your smartphone or tablet.

1. Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer

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Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer

First up is the Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer, recognizable for its use of a “wheel-off” design (since you remove your rear wheel and mount your bike directly on a trainer-mounted cassette). Its super flywheel design with electronic resistance is engineered to replicate the inertia of an actual rider on the road, give the smoothest indoor riding on the market, and run extremely quiet. But we’re here to talk tech, and the KICKR Power Trainer has that in spades. Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ technologies wirelessly connect to your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Garmin Edge and let you control resistance levels, structure interval workouts, and simulate real-world courses using your favorite App (including the free Wahoo Fitness App and many other popular cycling Apps and 3rd party software). You even get truly accurate power measurement, since the wheel-off design allows for direct, lab accurate power measurement at the hub which is consistent and calibrated throughout every grueling mile.

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Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer in use

But that’s not all for the KICKR Power Trainer, as their newest trick is Strava app integration through the new Wahoo Segments app. The Segments app lets you ride any Strava segment indoors – you can compete in head-to-head matchups against any rider, on any Strava segment, anywhere in the world! The Segments app controls resistance to match the elevation profile of each course, meaning the KICKR Power Trainer realistically simulates the grade of each Strava segment’s climb in real-time. Resistance adjustments are instant, making it easy to replicate everything from a flat or rolling hill course, to the coast down a hill after a hard climb. When you’re finished you can then upload your workout to your Strava profile as an indoor workout.

2. Elite My E-Training App

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Elite Qubo Fluid + Trainer integrates with the My E-Training App

The folks at Elite trainers have taken a different approach with their e-training technology, but the good news is that all you need to get going is your Elite trainer, the My E-Training App (there is a small annual fee for this service), an ANT+ Wahoo Dongle (for your iPhone), any ANT+ speed/cadence sensor, and any ANT+ heart rate strap (if you want to track heart rate data). Since many of you already have some, if not all, of these pieces, you can be up and running with Elite’s sophisticated e-training tech in short order.

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My E-Training App from Elite

It’s like having a virtual coach that travels with you whatever your destination – you’ll be able to track power, pedal cadence, heart rate, speed, time and distance directly from your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch with the My E-Training App. You can establish your anaerobic threshold, create personalized monthly indoor training programs, or even create races from all over the world with Google Maps. And of course all of your training data can be saved, shared and exported to chart the course of your training and improvement.

3. Kinetic inRide Watt Meter

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Kinetic inRide Watt Meter pod attached to a Kinetic fluid trainer

If you are interested in the benefits of a wattage-based training program and you’ve got a Kinetic fluid trainer, then the new Kinetic inRide Watt Meter is a perfect add-on to your training. This watt meter pairs a heart rate monitor and power sensor pod (included in the kit) with the new Kinetic inRide iPhone App to measure wattage with any Kinetic fluid trainer using the Bluetooth Smart communication protocol from your iPhone or iPad.

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Heart rate monitor & power sensor pod pair with the Kinetic inRide iPhone App

A highly accurate power curve allows precise wattage readings at exact speeds – firmware in the inRide Sensor Pod measures speed and cadence at the tire, translating it to wattage, and finally, that data and the heart rate data are collected and displayed on your paired iPhone or iPad. When you’re done, you can upload your postworkout file to a favorite website or email files to a remote coach – the Kinetic inRide Watt Meter is a great tool for the aspiring cyclist in training.

Kinetic inRide Watt Meter
Ride data is displayed on your paired iPhone or iPad (mount not included)

4. CycleOps VirtualTraining App

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CycleOps VirtualTraining App

The folks over at CycleOps have come up their own VirtualTraining App, for desktop or tablet, that lets you control your training on CycleOps trainers, Wahoo trainers, power meters or with any ANT+ speed/cadence sensor (for a monthly subscription fee). If you’re connected to a trainer that lets you control the resistance (like the Wahoo KICKR Power Trainer), you can manage the resistance level to match a virtual route or pre-set training ride. The Virtual training software even integrates GPS and Google Earth technology to synchronize route mapping and videos with actual outdoor terrain, while adjusting the load generation of the resistance unit to reflect actual changes in terrain along the route. It even supports consumer-generated real life video content, so you’ll be able to share courses with other cyclists from around the world!

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CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer

If you have a trainer where you can’t adjust the resistance level remotely, like the CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer, you can still use the VirtualTraining App (in conjunction with an ANT+ speed/cadence sensor and ANT+ heart rate strap) to record all of your training data from connected ANT+ or BlueTooth Smart sensors and then upload to the VirtualTraining portal for detail analysis.

Product Profile: Access Stealth Trail 29er Mountain Bike

The Access Stealth Trail

The Access Stealth Trail

The Access Stealth Trail 29er is an all-new hardtail mountain bike that resulted from a lunch ride conversation about making a hardtail 29er that would deliver the most bang for the buck. The more the bike guys tinkered with the design, the better it got, until they ended up with a bike that’s perfect for everything from weekend XC racing to letting you tackle a new line on your favorite trail. No matter if you’re already a 29” convert, or are looking to upgrade from 26”, this is a bike that delivers up the goods when it comes to performance and fun.

The Stealth Trail frame is made of lightweight aluminum. The oversized downtube and top tube/head tube/down tube intersection is designed for lateral stiffness and stability under rider torque. The wishbone shaped chain stays better resist deflection from pedaling forces and further reduce trail vibration; a leading culprit of premature muscle fatigue and loss of traction. Finally, don’t overlook the fact that the Stealth Trail is a 29er. There’s no denying that the rock crawling, root crushing power of a larger 29″ wheel. Making the largest of obstacles the smallest of matters is a defining trait of these bikes. By offering decreased rolling resistance, increased traction when cornering and improved ground clearance, a 29er is sure to sway even the staunchest skeptic.

Rounding out the great package is a Rock Shox Recon 29er fork with 100mm of travel, and a mix of Shimano SLX/XT components for smooth, easy and accurate 2×10 shifting (*note, the pictured photo sample bike has an FSA Comet crankset, the production version is equipped with a Shimano Deore crankset) . Finally, a set of Stans NOTUBES ZTR Arch EX wheels wrapped up in Kenda Small Block Eight tires give you the perfect set up for high-speed XC riding.

The Access Stealth Trail 29er is only available for a limited time, so don’t wait.

Shimano Shifters and Avid brake levers deliver exceptional performance

Shimano Shifters and Avid brake levers deliver exceptional performance

Shimano SLX and XT components deliver top-of-the-line shifting performance

Shimano SLX and XT components deliver top-of-the-line shifting

Lightweight and durable alloy frame has the perfect mix of stiffness and compliance for trail riding

Lightweight and durable alloy frame has the perfect mix of stiffness and compliance for trail riding

Wordless Wednesday

summer_rides

Product Preview: Scattante CX 350

The Scattante CX350

The Scattante CX350

The Scattante CX 350 is a brand-new workhorse cyclocross bike that our guys over in the bikes division dreamed up. The CX 350 is designed from the ground up to be a do-it-all kind of bike. It features a stiff, durable alloy frame, reliable, premium Shimano components, and mechanical disc brakes for all-weather stopping power. The bike also features full eyelets, for mounting fenders or a rack.

No matter what you’re looking for in a bike, the CX 350 is the bike that can do it. It’s ready out of the box to ride ‘cross if that’s what you’re into. Have some fire roads in your area? Head out and explore, confident that the knobby tires and disc brakes will give you plenty of traction and control. Or you can change out the knobby tires for some road tires and head out for a road ride. Need to get to work? Mount a rack on it, attach some lights and you’ll get there in no time.

There’s a million ways to ride the Scattante CX 350—but only a limited time to get one.

Stay tuned for more bike profiles, coming soon.

Shimano shifting components deliver crisp, snappy shifting

Shimano shifting components deliver crisp, snappy shifting

Mechanical disc brakes give the SCX350 all-weather stopping power

Mechanical disc brakes give the CX350 all-weather stopping power

A 46/34 cross crankset gives you plenty of gearing for any course or terrain

A 46/34 cross crankset gives you plenty of gearing for any course or terrain

The alloy frame is durable, lightweight, and completely versatile

The alloy frame is durable, lightweight, and completely versatile

Top 5 Essentials For Riding In The Rain

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While most cyclists prefer to stay indoors when it rains, there are a hardy few who venture out when the weather is miserable. There are, of course, sometimes when riding in the rain is unavoidable—you just kind of get caught in it. But as anyone who has ridden in the rain can attest to, it imparts its own kind of pleasure. It’s cold, it’s wet, and it’s miserable, but it also comes with a feeling of toughness and the kind of pride that can only come with facing down the elements.

It’s even more enjoyable if you’re properly prepared. Here are our Top 5 Essentials For Riding In The Rain.

1. Rain Jacket: There are many options when it comes to choosing a rain jacket, and the right one will depend on the conditions. A lightweight, packable rain jacket will easily fit into a jersey pocket, but generally these jackets are only water-resistant and don’t breathe particularly well. On the flip side, a good water-proof rain jacket like the Shower’s Pass Double Century EX or the Performance Borough rain jacket will keep you dry in even the worst downpours and breathe well to prevent moisture from building up inside, but they are bulky and will not easily fit into a jersey pocket or hydration pack.

The Performance Borough rain jacket will keep you dry in even the worst weather

2. Fenders: Fenders are essential for riding in the rain, especially if you’ll be riding with a group. There are few things more irritation than being behind a rider who has a rooster tail of road spray shooting up into your face from his rear wheel. Don’t be that guy. There are several options to choose from when it comes to fenders, from traditional eyelet mounted options, clip on options, or the venerable “beaver tail”.

The SKS Raceblade fenders will help protect you and other riders from road spray, and are designed to fit road bikes without fender eyelets

3. Lights: Even if it’s daylight out, you should ride with lights—for the same reason cars turn their lights on in the rain. The sky is darker, rain can obscure your outline, and drivers are already distracted. Using lights will make you more visible, and help you stay safe.

The Blackburn Flea 2.0 USB is a favorite around the office for it’s small size, bright light, and long battery life

4. Cycling Cap: A cycling cap, worn underneath your helmet, will help keep the rain from running into your eyes while you ride, and help shield your face from the rain. Plus, few things make you feel tougher and like you are seconds away from winning Paris-Roubaix than pedaling along in the rain and seeing the drips fall off the brim of your cap.

A cycling cap (always worn under a helmet) will help keep the wind and rain out of your eyes

5. Chain Lubricant: When you get home, the first thing you should do—before you even hop in the shower—is wipe your chain dry and apply a fresh coat of lubricant. This will prevent your chain from corroding and forming rust from staying wet. You should also apply a small amount of lubricant to your derailleur springs and brake pivot points.

A good lubricant, like Tri-Flow, will help protect your chain and other hardware from rust and corrosion when they get wet.

11 Essential Tools For The Home Mechanic

There’s a million bike tools out there, some obscure and are only used in the rarest of circumstances, but some are daily or weekly necessities for anyone who wants to do their own bike maintenance.

Here’s our list of the 11 Must-Have Tools for every home mechanic. With the tools on this list and a little know how, 90% of repairs on any bike can be accomplished.

Using the Spin Doctor Pro G3 work stand and Spin Doctor Team 33 Tool Kit makes this repair job easier

Using the Spin Doctor Pro G3 work stand and Spin Doctor Team 33 Tool Kit makes this repair job easier

1.    Work Stand: A work stand is simply a stand that gets the bike off the floor and holds it in position, making it much easier to work on the bike—especially when servicing the drivetrain or giving your bike a thorough cleaning. Most stands will fold up for easy storage.

2.   Hex Wrench Set: Almost every  bolt on a bike uses a hex wrench. Having a full set of hex wrenches—including a long handled 10mm wrench—will mean that there’s almost nothing you can’t adjust on your bike (*note to Campagnolo and SRAM riders: for home maintenance you’ll also need a Torx T25 wrench). And make repairs easier on yourself by using a set of full-sized wrenches. Leave the mutlitool in the saddlebag.

3.   Torque Wrench: If you have a carbon fiber frame, fork, or seatpost, you’ll need a torque wrench. All carbon parts have a maximum torque allowance (how tight the bolts can be tightened). Exceeding the torque recommendation on a seatbolt clamp, stem or derailleur clamp risks damaging the parts or crushing the carbon, while under-tightening can cause the stem, handlebars or seatpost to slip or move while riding. Using a torque wrench will help you safely install the parts. Click here to learn more about installing a seatpost, or here to learn how to install a stem.

4.   10/11-Speed Chain Tool: A chain tool is essential for installing or removing a chain. With the industry move to 11-speed drivetrains, we recommend buying an 11-speed chain tool. 11-speed tools can be used on 8/9/10-speed chains, but not the other way around. This will save you from having to buy a new tool if you upgrade or get a new bike in the future. Click here to learn more about replacing a bike chain.

5.   Cable Cutters: Because of how they are made, bike cables and housing shouldn’t be cut with just any old wire cutters. Bike-specific cable cutters can cut cable without fraying the ends, and cut housing without crushing it. Frayed cables and crushed housing are a recipe for poor performance and will mean you need to replace your cables more often. Click here to learn more about replacing and installing cables.

6.   Pedal Wrench: Some pedal types require a 15mm pedal wrench to install, while others only need an 8mm hex wrench. If your pedals do not have a hex-socket on the end of the spindle, you’ll need a pedal wrench to install and remove pedals.

7.   Cassette Tool: Cassette tools let you loosen and tighten the lock ring on your cassette. You’ll need one of these to install, remove, or clean your cassette. Shimano and SRAM share the same lock ring spline pattern, while Campagnolo uses a different pattern—so make sure you buy the right one for your drivetrain. Click here to learn more about installing a cassette.

8.   Chain Whip: To remove a cassette you’ll need a chain whip. It simply wraps around the cassette, and stops the freehub from spinning while you loosen the lockring.

9.   Tire Levers: Tire levers are an essential tool for installing or removing a clincher tire. We recommend having two sets: one that goes with you on a ride and stays with your gear, and one that you keep at home. That way you’ll never forget to bring them along. Click here to learn how to change a bike tube.

10. Pump: A floor pump is a must have for every cyclist. Tires should be re-inflated roughly once every 3-4 days to avoid damaging the tires and wheels. Investing in a quality pump will help you get more enjoyment out of your ride and prolong the life of your equipment. Click on one of the links learn more about finding the right tire pressure for your road bike or mountain bike.

11.  Grease and Chain Lube: Grease is your bicycle’s best friend. No matter what kind of bolt, no matter where it’s going, it will be greased before being installed. That goes for stem bolts, derailleur fixing bolts, pedal spindles, cleat screws, etc… Failing to grease a bolt before installation will result in stuck bolts with rounded out bolt heads– and then you’re really in a bind. After every week of regular riding or after pulling your bike out of storage, lubricate your chain to keep your bike running smoothly and happily. And don’t cross the streams. Grease is for bolts and alloy seatposts, lube is for chains. Don’t try to mix and match, the results will be messy and poor. Click here to learn more about cleaning your bike chain.

What else do you think our list is missing? What are the tools you find yourself using on a regular basis?

A few of the essential tools for any home mechanic

A few of the essential tools for any home mechanic

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