Spin Doctor Tech Tip: Maintenance on the Fly

Spin Doctor

In a perfect world bikes would never get flat tires or need periodic repair. But the world is not perfect, and besides it’d get boring if there were no routes, roads or trails that challenged both rider and bike! Instead, dealing with the occasional mid-ride repair is part of the sport. But don’t fret, with a little know-how and the right tools you’ll be ready for just about any problem that comes your way. Here are some tips and tricks to assure you never (well, rarely, anyway) finish a ride by walking your bike back to the garage or local bike shop.

BEFORE YOU RIDE

It’s impossible to prevent all riding mishaps, but a little preparation goes a long way! Before each ride, complete a quick check of your bike and gear: squeeze the brakes and rock the bike back and forth to make sure the brake calipers are tight and that there is no play in the headset; check bolts for tightness (stem and seatpost in particular); look for any frayed brake or shifter cables; check pedals to make sure they are tightly fastened to the crankset (the right pedal tightens clockwise; the left pedal tightens counter-clockwise); lube your chain, then wipe away excess lubricant; check tires for wear, cuts, blisters or lodged glass; pump tires to the manufacturer-recommended pressure (you can find this info on the tire’s sidewall); if you use clipless pedals, check that your cleat bolts are securely fastened. If you notice anything wrong during your check, either fix it yourself or take your bike to your local Performance Bicycle store before your ride!

WHAT TO BRING ON EVERY RIDE

1. Seat Bag or Hydration Pack: To hold the gear below.

2. Tire Levers: Although if possible, install the tire using just your hands (since levers can pinch the tube).

3. Spare Tube: Patching tubes can be tricky.

4. Patch Kit: Your back-up plan.

5. Pump or C02 Inflation System: C02 systems are light and compact, but if you’re planning a long ride, take additional C02 cartridges or a back-up pump as well.

6. Multi-tool: These come in multiple shapes and sizes and configurations – know the bolt sizes on your bike and cleats and find a tool that has those (a tool with 4, 5 and 6mm Allen wrenches, plus flat and Philips head screwdrivers is a good start).

7. Spoke Wrench: These come on many multi-tools.

8. Chain Tool (also on many multi-tools): Broken mountain bike chains are not unusual, and even road chains occasionally snap. With a chain tool you can make a temporary fix to get you home. Don’t forget a replacement chain pin (Shimano) or a chain link connector (i.e. SRAM Power Link).

9. Tire Boot: A large cut in a tire’s sidewall can end your ride. Park Tool’s Tire Boot will adhere to the inside of the tire between the tire and tube to provide a temporary fix to a cut sidewall.

10. Cash: Call this the ultimate multi-tool – you can buy food and drinks, make a phone call if cell service doesn’t work, and even use a folded bill as substitute tire boot!

11. Other Essentials: Cell phone, ID card and any special medical alerts you may have.

FLATS HAPPEN

Whether you ride on the road or trail, you’re bound to get a flat tire once in a while. Make sure you’re comfortable changing a tube by yourself, so you don’t get stranded. Watch our handy How-To video below for a few tips (just remember that if you’re working on a bike with hydraulic disc brakes, never compress the brake levers with the disc removed, as this will push the caliper pistons inward and make it difficult to reinsert the disc).

And now a few IN-A-PINCH PRACTICES:

1. Got a flat and forgot your spare tube? Here are 2 emergency techniques to get you home:

Cut the tube at the puncture then tie it tightly back together. Stretch it into place, re-install the tire and inflate.

No tube, no pump? No worries! Pack your flat tire with as much grass and leaves as you can and pedal gingerly back to your car (this does work, for a little while)!

2. You ignored our suggestion to carry a tire boot and flatted when your tire sidewall got cut. What to do? Place a folded Power Bar wrapper or dollar bill, or a piece of plastic soda bottle between the tube and the cut, then carefully inflate the tire.

3. While shredding the righteous single track at Moab, you taco your front wheel and the tire is now rubbing on the fork. You’re not stuck yet! Remove the wheel from the bike and locate the apex of the bend. With the inflated tire still on the rim, strike the tire at the bend on a hard surface (that shouldn’t be hard to find in Moab). With care you can knock the wheel back into reasonable alignment (at least so it is not rubbing on the fork blades). If you have disc brakes, you are good to go. If you have rim brakes, disconnect them and carefully head back.

4. If you’ve broken a spoke, carefully remove it or, if necessary, wrap it around the nearest intact spoke on the same side of the wheel. Then true the wheel so it doesn’t drag on the frame or brake pads.

5. And finally here are a double speed and a single speed solution:

First, your rear derailleur gets destroyed on a rock. It has come apart and is unusable. Using a chain tool, you can rig your bike up as a single speed. Select a cog in the back that lines up with a ring on the crank. Usually the smaller rings in the front are better. Now cut the chain, drape it around the two rings you have selected, pull it tight and cut it again so the ends just reach. Reconnect it and pedal your new single speed the hipster way home.

Second, you are riding in the mountains and the rear gear cable snaps. The rear derailleur shifts to the highest gear so you and your bike grind to a halt. Are you stuck? Nope, screw in the “H” limit screw on the derailleur while turning the cranks. This will shift the rear derailleur to an easier gear. Continue tightening the screw until you have the easiest gear you can reach. Now pedal your semi-hipster, double-speed way back to the car.

Community Events: February Recap

Who says February is a slow time for cycling? Our shops were hard at work running clinics, supporting rides and otherwise getting more people excited about cycling in their communities. We’ve got over 100 stores all across the country, so let’s take a moment to find out what a few of them were up to last month. Remember, you can always check your local store page for regularly scheduled Spin Doctor clinics & group rides.

We thought that a good way to start this recap was with this shot of the Spin Doctor mechanics from our Colorado stores at SRAM Technical University in Colorado Springs. You can read more about their training in a previous blog post – but our guys were able to get some advanced hands-on training on SRAM suspension and component technology, and they’re excited to apply their advanced skills back in their home stores.

These next photos chronicle a special project in our Santa Rosa, CA store. The owner brought in this classic 1986 steel Fuji and wanted it rebuilt for the modern era.

As you can see, our team brought this vintage ride back to life with brand new Forte components, and we think that the combo looks awfully good!

Now this quarter-century old ride is ready to turn some heads at the next group ride or local crit!

Speaking of racing, our Woodland Hills, CA store volunteered to run some neutral support at the “Carson Crit” in Ontario, CA.

Our guys helped out the local racers, and also got a front row seat for a day of racing action.

This next event is slightly more laid back than the Carson Crit, but how could you not love a ride called the Tour De Cookie, in Tucson, AZ! The managers from our Speedway Tucson and Broadway Tucson stores led the charge in helping out with this great event (come on, bikes plus cookies is two of our favorite things).

But the Tour De Cookie is more than just a fun ride for people to eat cookies and ride bikes. This fourth annual event is also a fundraiser for Wheelchair Athletes and supports the kids try-athalon. Our Broadway Tucson store was one of the ten stops on the Tour. Our Performance team was there to support the riders, and Matt, one of our sales associates, brought along his entire family to help out.

Matt brought along reinforcements, since his family is involved with the Girl Scouts. Thanks to them, our store stop was well-stocked with Girl Scout cookies ready to give away to the riders! The riders each had a sheet attached to them and at each stop they got the spot number marked out and were allowed to take as many cookies as they wished.

At the end of the event the person that stopped at every stop with the shortest time won. But just to keep things fun, there was also an award for the last person, first female and best cookie stand.

Our store was the farthest away from the start/finish line, but they still had a huge amount of people stop by (having Girl Scout cookies on hand didn’t hurt)! So a special shout-out to Matt and his family for making our store’s stop such a success!

Our Peoria, AZ store was active last month in support of the 207 Miles Between Poverty and Hope Ride, a non-profit fundraiser dedicated to raising money for housing for those in need. Our store team was busy right up to the start of the 2 day event, and probably worked on about half of the bikes from the 32 riders!

The route of the ride stretched from Peoria all the way across the border into Mexico, and the riders raised over $31,000 with the efforts – great job guys!

Of course our stores also support many regular group rides right from their doors – like this picture from the first group road ride of the year at our Bonita, CA store. Check with your local store to find out more about local group rides.

Our store teams were also busy supporting indoor events last month, like our Columbus, OH store, who participated in the Endurance Sports Expo at the Athletic Club of Columbus. It was a great turnout, and over 400 people come through our booth to talk bikes – all under the elegant lighting of some fancy chandeliers.

Of course it didn’t hurt that our friends from Diamondback donated a bike for a giveaway! We had a ton of entries for the giveaway which generated a lot of excitement at the expo, as the winner would be riding the bike home that day!

Here’s the moment when our winner was announced and came bounding out of the crowd – needless to say, he was excited. Our team met a lot of new people, and even recruited many new faces to attend their in-store clinic the following weekend.

Speaking of clinics, last month’s Basic Bike Maintenance Clinic was a busy one across all of our stores.  Attendees got a quick lesson on the basics for keeping their bikes in prime condition, plus were treated to a special discount on our Spin Doctor tools just for attending. The shot above is from the clinic in our San Antonio, TX store.

Here’s the crowd in our Oceanside, CA store.

Attentive clinic-goers in our Chandler, AZ store.

There was a big crowd for the clinic in our Long Beach, CA store.

And here in our Oxnard, CA store.

Our Columbus, OH store was standing room only during their clinic.

While our Boise, ID store had more of a comfortably seated crowd.

Of course our stores also put on more specialized clinics for smaller groups, such as this bike maintenance clinic for a local Cub Scout group at our Oceanside, CA store.

Or this interesting Safe and Confident Urban Commuting Clinic in our Seattle, WA store – moderated by local cycling advocate David Smith of BicycleDriver.com.

Indoor cycling classes are also going strong in many of our stores, including this group in our Novi, MI store. In front on the right is sales manager Roger, leading the class.

Our  Speedway Tucson, AZ store has also got a strong group going with their indoor cycling class, lead by Brandon from our store team. Two of the three participants in this class were new to road biking, but Brandon pushed their limits. They had a great workout and are looking forward to more cyclists joining the sessions in the coming weeks.

Finally, we thought we’d share some pictures from a trail-building event that took place near our home office here in North Carolina.

Cisco and Jaime from our Raleigh, NC store pitched in to help build a new trail at the popular Lake Crabtree trail network.

Spin Doctor Old Tools Quiz – Answers

Spin DoctorEarlier this week we posted a visual “old tools” quiz here on our blog – we had many responses, but here are the official answers from our head Spin Doctor, Gaynor. So how did you do?

Tool #1:

VAR 17 Spoke Nippers cut spoke ends that extend beyond the head of the nipple.

Tool #2:

Replacement ends for the VAR 370 headset race remover.

Tool #3:

Crank remover for cranks with stripped dust cap threads.

Tool #4:

Chain pliers. Cradle on the left holds chain & the pin on the right pushes the rivet out.

Tool #5:

Pliers for holding direct pull spokes (it keeps them from turning). 

Tool #6:

VAR freewheel vise.

Tool #7:

VAR, Campy and Shimano fork crown race removers. These grip the race from below the fork crown, and are then struck with a hammer to remove. 

Tool #8:

Alignment gauge for machined frame alignment table.   

Spin Doctor Old Tools Quiz

Spin DoctorOur head Spin Doctor, Gaynor, likes to create challenges to test the Spin Doctor mechanics in our stores. Last week he created this tricky “old tools” identification quiz, although perhaps “old” is the wrong word – let’s just call them “seldom-used”. In any case, we thought you might like to play along at home, so here are 8 images to test your obscure bike tool knowledge.

Post your answers (or guesses) in the comments below. We’ll even give you some hints to get started: Tool #2 is actually parts of a tool (think steering) and Tool #5 is not a 4th hand cable puller (think wheel). Good luck!

Tool #1:

Tool #2:

Tool #3:

Tool #4:

Tool #5:

Tool #6:

Tool #7:

Tool #8:

Spin Doctor Mechanic Profile: SRAM Technical University

All of our Spin Doctor mechanics keep up-to-date with the latest in bicycle repair and maintenance – earlier this month, a group of Spin Doctor mechanics from our Colorado stores attended an excellent refresher class at SRAM Technical University (STU) in Colorado Springs. At STU, our Spin Doctors received in-depth hands-on training from SRAM instructors on the latest SRAM products and maintenance techniques.

Here’s a group shot of our graduating team of Spin Doctors – we don’t want to brag, but their instructors did mention several times that it was the best bunch of students they’d had in a long time!

As you can see, STU looks like a science classroom, and the training was just as rigorous. It was a great experience for all of our Spin Doctors, as they learned to overhaul and maintain 3 suspension forks, one rear shock and Avid XX disc brakes.

Here’s Mark, a Spin Doctor in our Greenwood Village store, learning the finer points of Avid XX brake maintenance. Having your disc brakes properly set up is key to performance and feel out on the trail – disc brakes nowadays are quite robust, but a little maintenance and fine-tuning can make a big difference.

Above, Tim, a Spin Doctor in our Colorado Springs store, fine-tunes his brake-bleeding skill. In addition to disc brakes, our team also got the chance to tear down and re-build both front and rear shocks. The engineering that goes into modern shocks is impressive, but this is an area for maintenance that most folks neglect until it’s too late! Like other moving parts on your bike, suspension systems should be overhauled on a recurring basis, to replace worn parts before they become an issue out on the trail.

The trip to STU was a fantastic experience for our Colorado Spin Doctor team, and they can’t wait to apply their fine-tuned skills in their home stores – although, as you can see below, they will miss the stunning view of Pikes Peak out the door of STU!

 If you need some work done on your disc brakes or suspension (if you can’t think of the last time, then you probably do), or need anything else on your bike checked out, drop by your local Performance Bicycle store and let one of our Spin Doctors diagnose the problem. Our Spin Doctor mechanics are all highly trained and experienced, and ready to work on any make or model bike – from an entry-level road bike to your brand new full-suspension 29er.

Spin Doctor Tech Tip – Replacing Your Bicycle Chain

Spin DoctorAside from your tires, the most critical and commonly replaced part on your bike is the chain. A worn chain reduces shifting quality and can dramatically shorten the life of your drive train. A worn chain lengthens as the internal bushings in each link wear. The now longer chain puts more pressure on each tooth on your cassette cogs and each tooth on your chainrings, so the teeth wear more quickly. The problem is simple, but so is the solution. If you periodically replace your chain, your expensive drive train parts will last longer and, with a little care, a lot longer. You’ll save money and the gears will shift better – a new Shimano Dura-Ace 10 speed chain retails for $69.99, but a Dura-Ace cassette retails for $264.99 and a new 53 tooth chainring costs nearly as much! Clearly, timely replacement of your chain will save you in the long run.

But, when should you change your chain? If we are keeping it simple, then replace your road chain every 1,500 to 2,000 miles or your mountain chain every 5-6 months. But these are only general guidelines – you are probably not the average rider. For instance, if you meticulously maintain your chain – keep it clean and lightly lubricated – and never ride when the streets are wet, weigh 135 pounds, and always sit and smoothly spin a low gear, your chain will last a lot longer than your 250 pound buddy who grinds a massive gear, rides everyday in a typhoon and doesn’t even know how to spell maintenance.

Clearly the rules do not work for every rider. The good news is that you can easily measure chain wear, and only replace your chain when it is necessary- when it’s worn. The easiest way is to use a chain wear gauge like the Spin Doctor Chain Wear Indicator. To use this tool, put pressure on a pedal so that the top of the chain is drawn taut, then drop the tool in place and read the results.

Spin Doctor Universal Chain Tool & Chain Wear Indicator

Don’t have a chain wear indicator handy? There is another way and all it takes is a 12 inch ruler. All modern chains have rivets every ½” and you are going to measure from one rivet to another one 12” away. Once again draw the top of the chain taut then align the end of the ruler (the zero inch mark) with the center of a rivet. Now note where the ruler’s 12 inch mark aligns.

  • If it is dead center on a rivet, the chain is as good as new.
  • If the rivet is less than a 1/16″ ahead of the 12” mark, then the chain is showing some wear but is still serviceable (this is equal to 1.58mm or .5% wear).
  • If the rivet is 3/32” ahead, start thinking about a replacement. Replacing it now prolongs the usable life of the cassette and chain rings (this is equal to 2.38mm or approximately: .75% or 2.29mm of wear).
  • If the rivet is 1/8″ ahead, replace the chain immediately and you may need to replace the cassette (this is equal to 3.175mm or approximately: 1% or 3.05mm of wear).

If you measure your chain and determine that’s it is time to replace your chain, it’s actually a relatively easy task to take care of on your own. The only tool that you need is a chain tool, like our Spin Doctor Universal Chain Tool, and your brand new chain. But instead of writing out the steps to replace a bicycle chain, we’re going to show you in one of our handy Spin Doctor How-To Videos:

If you need more help with your bicycle repair needs, head to your local Performance Bicycle store and set up a visit with your local Spin Doctor.  Don’t live near one of our stores and need some technical advice? Get in touch with our Spin Doctor Tech Support team by email or phone – they are always ready to help with your technical questions.

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