Category Archives: Maintenance

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

The moral dilemma of the shop demo replacement bike

Dear Roulers,

It’s official I’m still waiting on my Villier, that’s in the workshop at Freedom Machine, waiting for that pesky Campagnolo rear derailleur.  For whatever reason, this part seems to be very difficult to track down.  It has been two weeks and I’m becoming very twitchy.  I assume it is some type of withdrawal symptom.  Which brings me to the major moral dilemma of my cycling life, whether to succumb to the forbidden fruit of the shop demo bike.

Trek Domane S5.2, demo bike care of Freedom Machine

Trek Domane S5.2, demo bike care of Freedom Machine

It was the second time I was offered the demo bike.  What didn’t realise was that it was serious roadbike, well over twice the cost of my Villier. OMG what a bike. It’s a matt black 2013 Trek  Domane 5.2 and it is beautiful.  It’s the first time I’ve ever ridden a full carbon fibre framed bike.  At first it’s a bit weird as its very light and super responsive in steering and acceleration.

I’ve always wondered whether the reviews I’ve read of high performance road bikes were a bit like snobby  wine reviews where the sommelier makes seemingly abstract and obscure claims about the relative merits of a wine.  For example

However the bike that was designed for Fabian Cancellara and the classics doesn’t disappoint.  Its absolutely true that the bike soaks up the lumps and bumps on the road. There is almost no vibration coming into the handle bars. It’s also much kinder on my back as the riding position is a bit more upright, as you would expect in an endurance focused bike.  I now understand all the fuss over the Shimano Ultegra.  The gear shifting was faultless.

The 38km I did on it today was relatively effortless and in word… smooth. So does this mean I’m now cheating on my Villier and fallen for a high spec Trek?  More importantly how do I scrape together $4000 to by one?

Until next time.

PS Before I forget I’ve completed 697km in 6 weeks, which means I’m 14% of my 5000km goal.

The correct number of bikes to own

Dear Roulers,

I’ve been having a terrible run of outs with mechanical failures.  My Villier still isn’t back from the workshop due to the non-arrival of parts from whoever the local Conagolo dealer is….bummer.  The yesterday on my afternoon commute home I discovered that the back wheel of Cannondale has a whopping big buckle.

I’ll be buggered if I can figure out how exactly, I did that.  The buckle was so bad that it felt like the hub may have been shot.  Either way I’m be experiencing my own personal walk of shame to the bike shop with yet another tale of woe.  20141020-GiantSedona-SMLHowever the upside is that I still do have a third string bike, my Giant Sedona, purchased in 1997, that bike is heading towards 20 years old. The only bits that I’ve replaced on it have been the saddle twice, the pedals for some shiny one sided SPD clip-ins, the bottle cage and grippy tyres for some slicks.  Its showing signs of age with scratches and rust marks, but it’s still going strong.

I took it out for a ride with my wife this morning and was able to keep up with her on her much newer Giant Defy.  It must have looked a bit odd to the passing pelotons. It’s amazing the difference in power you can put into the bottom bracket of rigid frame bike.  By comparison the head shok Cannondale seemed to be about 2 to 3km slower on the same ride last week. All I can say is thank God I ignored my wife and kept my third string bike. It simply reminds me of the often quoted Velominati law of bike ownership ->

 Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

On, I found a variation of the law provided by Corkgrips, who clearly has the same domestic “issues”, that I have:

While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned.  This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner….from Velominati’s Rules

Until next time, see you on the roads.

Man its been a huge week in sport…

Dear Roulers,

I’m channeling the spirit of Roy and HG and this sporting life when I say that too much sport is barely enough.  First a few congratulations to:

The Socceroos – OMG that game was absolutely riveting. I reckon Luongo may end up with a very large European contract shortly.

The Australian Cricket Team – even though it was a warm for the World Cup, anytime a team posts 270 after being 4-60, that’s a fair effort.

Then finally for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.  It was fantastic to see Cadel finish in the top 5.  Congratulations to Gianni MEERSMAN in the Elite Men’s Event and Rachel NEYLAN in the Elite Womens Event.

Finally I have to provide the final kudos to my wife who managed to finish the 66 km Peoples Ride on the Saturday, despite being sand blasted as we rode along 13th Beach on the way back to Geelong. That was really tough.

On the downside, I’m up for very expensive bill as the Campagnolo Mirage Rear Derailleur, on my Willier Laveredo,  some how sheared away from its arm, bending the hanger, wrapping itself around the outside of the cassette, breaking two spokes in the process. Fortunately this occurred after the People’s Ride and within walking distance of the place my wife and I were staying.  I took my broken bike to Freedom Machine Saturday afternoon.  Dan the mechanic reckoned he had only seen that happen once before….bugger.  This was a bit of a downer on an otherwise awesome day.


Ouch just received the quote back…about $380…damn you beautiful expensive Italian running gear 🙂

Clincher vs Tubular Smackdown

Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve been having bike model/part upgrade envy for a few months. On my usual ride along Port Phillip Bay, I’ve been seeing lots of new road bikes. This combined with my growing obsession with road bikes with disc brakes has made me very twitchy. So rather than fork out thousands for a new carbon fibre cyclo-cross number eg GT, Giant, Trek etc…, I’ve locked onto the idea of buying a set of second hand carbon fibre rims. However, even this relatively simple decision has had me oscillating wildly on the key issue of clincher vs tubular tyres. For nearly 33 years of life I’ve been happily riding around on clinchers blissfully unaware that any other alternative existed. In a word….bugger 🙂

So here’s the Marv 101 on Clincher vs Tubular Tyres.

A clincher is what most of the cycling community would consider a ‘normal wheel’. It has a separate tyre and inner tube. The tyre has what is called a ‘bead’ ie a reinforced lip, running around the inside edge. This presses the tyre on to the rim as it’s inflated by the inner tube.

A tubular is a tire that is stitched around an inner tube. The tyre is glued to the rim bed using either special tub glue or double sided tape.

So onto the beauty contest.

Aspect Assessment The winner is..
Puncture Puncture are one area where tubular tyres are a clear winner. Tubular tires run higher tire pressure than clincher tires and tend to be less prone to pinch flats and punctures. From a safety perspective, apunctured clincher is highly likely to come off the rim where as a flatted tub will stay in place, glued to the rim. This is the primary reason that tubs are still favored for racing by professionals. Tubular
Versatility The versatility of clincher wheels makes them the go-to choice for the majority of cyclists, from regular sportive riders to weekend club riders. For example, a set of clincher wheels can, with a simple tire change, cover everything from a gravel ride, to summer crit, and then cyclo cross. Clincher
Maintenance From what I’ve read, the merits of ‘on the side of road’ maintenance’, tubular gluing is only marginally more difficult than trying to get off and on a tight fitting tyre. However what is beyond argument is that its cheaper to fix a clincher and that its much easier to carry spare tubes with you on the road. Clincher
Braking Braking from high speed puts a lot of heat into a bike wheel rim. On a long descent, this can raise the temperature of the air inside a clincher, increasing its pressure and blowing the tire off the rim. Or, it can soften the cement or glue holding a tubular tire to the rim; in the worst case, the tire may creep around the rim or even roll upside down, leaving the cyclist riding on the base tape. Neither is a good outcome. None – It’s a tie
Weight Even the lightest clincher wheels are usually a couple hundred grams heavier than their tubular counterparts as tubulars don’t require the heavier hook bead rim construction of a clincher.,Rotating mass, especially at the perimeter, is more valuable weight than static mass (like frame weight) and thus wheels can be a good place to save weight, especially on hillier courses. Tubular
Aerodynamics Tires and rims are narrow enough that the biggest aerodynamic variables tend to relate to tire width and how smooth the tire transitions to the rim.In general, clinchers on the newer wider rim profiles offer the smoothest transitions as they don’t have the interference of a tubulars base tape. Clincher
Rolling Resistance It’s a difficult question to resolve, since there are so many variables involved.,The best evidence suggests that a road clincher rolls slightly faster than a directly comparable tubular and the reason is that the cement, tape, or glue holding the tub to the rim is soft and compressible but not very elastic. It allows the tub to flatten against the rim at the point passing over the ground but slows its return, so some of the energy absorbed as the tire compresses is lost to slow recovery. Clincher
Durability/Reusability Tire durability and wear is about the same between equivalent level clincher and tubular tires for the same reasons why traction is similar – brand technology is usually shared in both styles. Clinchers do have the advantage of being able to have a staple or small nail removed from the casing and being ridden again while a tubular can be more difficult to repair if the casing is cut. Clincher..just
Cost The best quality tubular tires will cost $35-$50 more than the best clinchers. Clincher

The winner is:
Clinchers…I think.
If you want maximum performance through the lowest weight, most aero profile and smoothest ride for racing and events I would still look at the tubular version of many carbon aero wheels.  However if, like me, you are looking for one wheel set to race and train on, the overall performance of clinchers wheels is closer than ever to their tubular counterparts.