Category Archives: Maintenance

Bike maintenance is key activity in your love life with your trusty machine.

What to do with all those old rubber inner tubes??

Dear Roulers,

Alas, I’ve been busy at work and sick…sigh…again, resulting in this blog being sadly neglected….Booooooo!!!!!!!!.  However its a quiet Friday afternoon and all my co-workers have nicked off early so I’m doing some blogging.  This blog is a bit of hack job/outright theft of an article I read in the May 2017 version of Bicycle Times.  Hopefully the publisher’s lawyers won’t be pursuing me for copyright/IP theft :-).

No matter, this article resonated with MMT as he was wondering what the hell to do with all the old and crappy inner tubes he has.  The question being, if a tube has been patched 3 or 4 times, isn’t it time to let it go?  In this age of recycling shouldn’t there be another use for these things.  Well this arch-plagiarist thinks so. So here’s five really cool uses of old inner tubes.

   
Tie Down Straps
Go to a camping store and find some 1 inch buckles.  A 28mm tube should thread through fairly easily.  They are perfect for strapping things down to a rack, securing items to your handle bars or pretty much anything you might use a bungee cord for.
 Loops
These can be used to hold new inner tubes, holding tools together so they don’t rattle or even holding a flashlight on the handle bars.  Mountain bike tubes seems to work best.
   
Pant Cuff
This one requires a bit more work.  Find some velcro, super glue and a length of rubber.  Figure out the right length for securing your pants/jeans.  Alternately, you could sow the velcro on instead.
Protective Chain Cover
This is an awesome idea.  Thread your locking chain through the tube to stop it from scratching the bike frame or some other part.
 
Shoe Laces
This really surprised MMT.  Cut the length ways into strips of about 1 cm wide.  Follow the ribs of the tube so they are straight.  Cut them to length. Most laces are of the 55cm to 75cm variety.  Thread them through and tie them up.  You should be able to slip them on without untying them.

Now MMT did a smidge more research care of Google and found another set of interesting uses:

  • Fire starters: An inch-long bit wrapped around some kindling will start a fire, even in the rain.
  • Keep a bit of inner tube on your handlebars. Put it over the brake, locking your bike wheel, very useful when taking your bike on a train or bus.
  • Bits of inner tube make a great cushion between various attachments on your bike, much better than the insets that come with the items.
  • Wrap your D-Lock in inner tube to prevent damage to your bicycle’s paint.
  • Put inner tube on your rack. Your panniers will then fit perfectly and won’t rattle.
  • Inner tube make a great seal. It can be used to make lights waterproof.
  • Use as a seal round fuel or water bottles to stop them leaking

How about that for a list??

Until next time ride safe

Marv

When in London: Look Ma No Hands Cafe

 

Dear Roulers,

Here’s my first blog entry for 2016.  Back in October 2015, the Missus and I had a 4 week European Holiday that included a few days in London.  I spent more than a few hours visiting a list of bike shops and scooping up bargains were I could find them.  One of the best shops was a café that I used to frequent when I lived in London.  In fact, I can remember when it opened in 2010.  Tired of really crappy coffee offered by Starbucks, Costa and Café Nero, I was becoming quite desperate for a decent Australian style latte or flat white.

Fortunately, ‘Look Ma No Hands’ opened up and offered much better coffee crafted by staff that had a much better understanding of their expresso machine.  The shop had free wifi, a sunny aspect and a fledgling bicycle workshop.  Also, it showed old 70’s & 80’s TV coverage of the grand tours and monuments.  It was mainly frequented by students and bicycle couriers with the occasional suited trespasser like me.

20160107-LMNH-Map

So when I dragged my footsore wife from Old Street Tube Station to the there in late October 2015, it was with fond memories and quiet hope that it hadn’t changed much over.  I checked out the Café’s website and it seemed very promising.  Happily, reality for once matched the glamour and gloss of website.  The café was full of people viewing a crowd sourcing pitch for short film about how cycling was helping a young man  get the better of his clinical depression.

 20160107-LMNH-Cafe  20160107-LMNH-Wshop

The coffee was much better than I remembered it and we spent a lazy 45 minutes soaking up the vibe and trying on shop branded merchandise.  I purchased a short sleeve jersey and cap.  Both have been given a few test rides and have passed the ‘marv’ test with flying colours.  Its kind of cool to own a jersey that no one in Melbourne has or at least I haven’t seen on the back of another rouleur around my locale.

 20160107-LMNH-Jersey  20160107-LMNH-Cap

So to quote ‘Molly’ Meldrum and that irritating TV ad that’s on high rotation at the moment, when you are next in London ‘Do your self a favour’ and visit one of the great cycling cafes in the UK, Look Ma No Hands.

Until next time,

Marv

New Shoes, New Cleats….what could go wrong???

.
Godamnit……rookie error.

Last Wednesday, I managed to score the cycling equivalent of a home goal. Recently I’ve purchased a snazzy pair of Giro Rumbles, a light-weight lace up casual MTB shoe. Much to my surprise they didn’t come with cleats, rather fake bits of aluminium that were cleat shaped but were actually junk. I purchased new SPD cleats the other day and fitted them to the shoes on the weekend. So last Wednesday, I finally got around to trying them out on my morning commute to work.

As I cycled to work, I couldn’t remember whether I had closed the garage door. I looped around to check. Being back from holidays and a bit sleep derived, I thought a policy of ‘better safe than sorry’ was wise. So I pull up to a roundabout, give way to traffic, go to click out, when I discover I can’t. I think my exact word was “shiiittttttt!!!!” as I fell over in slow motion. I hate it when that happens. I feel so stupid for what was an easily preventable accident. This is where I committed my rookie error by not testing the click-in and more importantly click out.

To make matters worse, whilst the right foot cleat has released, I couldn’t get the left foot cleat to clear. So I’m stuck to the bike and sprawled out on the road. A 30-something female power walker comes over and asks me if I’m ok. Apart from losing some skin on and jarring my right knee nothing seems too badly damaged. I thank her for her consideration and assure her that I’m ok. Finally the left cleat releases and I’m able to stand up. My ego on the other hand has taken a crushing blow.

So what happened?
In short form, the cleats bolts loosened and this enabled the cleat plate to pivot round to an angle that was greater than amount of ‘twist’ I can manage on the ball of my foot. The cleats were able to move because I hadn’t done the screws up tight enough. Looking at the photos below you can see how much the cleat has pivoted around, out of position.

 20151111-VR70  20151111-Rumble
 My usual Shimano SPD shoes with cleat in correct position  My new GIRO Rumbles with cleat out of position

A simple click in and out test would have detected this problem. Like I said rookie error. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Oh BTW the Herald Sun reckons Chris Froome is coming to Victoria to compete in the Herald Sun Jayco Tour this year.

Until next time

Marv

Product Review: Campagnolo Zonda Clincher Wheelset

 

Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve almost recovered from the dizzy flu and the national disgrace of our male cricket team. This meant, I’ve finally spent some quality time on my bike and the new Campagnolo Zonda clincher wheels, I purchased in mid-July. As my readership would know, I’ve been suffering from severe upgraditis triggered by SBS cycling coverage. I’ve previously swapped out my pedals and shoes.

Marv's Wilier with Zondas fitted.

Marv’s Wilier with Zondas fitted.

After much ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ I decided that I really needed new wheels. As an aside much of what is written about wheel weight borders on twaddle. However, Leonard Zinn at Velonews seems to have a good grasp of the physics. For the record, lighter means faster…period and in wheels, heavier rims means they are harder to accelerate. So I swapped out the Fulcrum 7s for Campy Zondas. In theory, I should have reduced the overall weight of the bike by 300g.

I bought the wheels last month from Cecil Walker’s Elizabeth St for $750. As, the wag in the bike shop said, ‘Mate, you’re swapping fake Campy’s for real ones’. I didn’t have the courage to attempt the fitting of a new cassette and the bike needed a service. So I forked out the $250 difference on Wiggle price. Unfortunately, the maintenance order I put at the front desk must have been communicated via ‘chinese whispers’ and the mechanic didn’t fit the Gatorskin tyres that I wanted. I changed over the tyres later.

After 4 weeks of riding, I can say they were a good purchase. Initially, I had the tyres over inflated, so the combination of the new rigid rims and new tyres, gave a very harsh ride. The handling experience felt very jitterly. I was feeling amplified road conditions transmitted up the seat post, out of the rear frame geometry. It was only when the bike was travelling over smooth bitumen did the ride improve. Initially, I was thinking that I had wasted my money and was a bit grumpy.

Happily as the Gatorskin tyre pressure decreased, the ride quality improved. I’m inclined now to inflate the tyre to 5-7 kPA lower than suggested by the manufacturer. In the last week, I’ve felt that bike is much quicker. The times on my Garmin seem to evidence this.

 

Here’s the tech specs:

 20150814-Zondas-BR Front wheel weight: 670g
Rear wheel weight: 880g Campagnolo hub
Rim height: 26mm (front), 30mm (rear)
Rim width: 20.5mm
Spoke count: 16 (front), 21 (rear)
Compatibility: 9/10/11 speed.

Here’s what I think the pros and cons of the wheelset are:

Pros:

  • Quite light 1550g or there abouts.
  • Very robust, the moulded rim looks and has so far been indestructible.
  • The sealed rim doesn’t require a rim strip.
  • There was visible build quality difference between the Fulcrum 7s and Zondas.
  • They seem to accelerate well and thanks to the hubs spin very smoothly.
  • The front rim is slightly shallower than the rear, this seems to provide more responsive, windproof steering.
  • The G3 spoke pattern on the rear wheel is IMHO aesthetically pleasing and seems to keep the rear wheel very stiff.
  • The paint scheme also matched the silver, black and red scheme of my Wilier’s frame.

Cons:

  • Harsh ride if your tyres are over-inflated.
  • If you break a spoke, you’ll need to have it fixed by your bike shop mechanic. The sealed rim means the use of magnet to re-thread a spoke.
  • The spokes are proprietary, can only be sourced from Campy re-sellers.
  • Being Campy, replacement parts are pricey, particularly compared to the Shimano.

And for what its worth, if you need further proof, via wisdom of online reviews

Wiggle buyers rate them – 4.8 / 5
BikeRadar gave them – 4/5
Chain Reaction buyers them – 4.8 / 5

I’m giving them 4 Marvs.

Until next time,

Marv