Category Archives: Maintenance

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

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.

Marv’s Law of Bicycle Punctures

Carrying on from previous posts about irritating punctures, I’ve compiled a list of clauses which I’m now proposing as my law describing the likelihood of getting a puncture.  Some people may think I’m getting a head of myself here but, sad to say I’m basing this on empirical observations of my own stupidity.

Clause (i) If you are going to get a puncture, it will be at most inconvenient time, when you are late for work, a dinner date or an important and you will not have brought a spare tube or puncture kit.

Clause (ii) It is inevitable that you will have more punctures on your back wheel, as this carries your weight.  Consequently, if you are like me, heavier you will have more punctures.

Clause (iii) It more likely that you will have rear puncture when you haven’t cleaned your rear running gear and/or are wearing new clothing.  Grease will find its way into places and clothing that can’t be easily cleaned.

Clause (iv) It is more likely that you will get a puncture when it rains as more debris is washed onto the roads and wet tyres are more susceptible to damage.

Clause (v) It is more likely that you will get a puncture and then have the weather turn bad with heavy showers making your machine’s parts that much harder to handle.

Clause (vi) It is more likely that you will get a puncture when you are riding alone when there is no one to help you.

Clause (vii) It is more likely that you will get a puncture, if you are stupid enough to boast about never getting one.  This is hubris which greatly angers your fellow cyclists and Velos the Greek god of bicycling. You will be smited by his wrath 🙂


Marv’s city commute checklist

The Breakaway

I’ve been riding to work on and off for 6 months now and built up a bit of list the gear I’ve found most useful. I’m sure there are literally hundreds of similar lists on the Internet, but this one works for me and possibly for you ;-).

The Leadout

Its probably a bit lame, but anyooohooo I’ve split the list into categories to ease the discussion.

The Peloton

Bike – I’m using my Canondale F4 as my commuter bike after I swapped out the dirt tires for a set of semi-slicks. The difference rolling friction was worth the $120 I paid for the tires.

Helmet – I’m using 2010 Specialised helment that I bought at Freedom Machine in Port Melbourne. I’ve come to realise it was a smart purchase as its really easy to mount a strong 450 lumen light on. The flat edge at the back is perfect for Velcro-ing the battery against.

Transit Items

  • Water – (in bottles or hydration pack)
  • Eye protection – (sunglasses or clear lenses) – I have a pair of yellow lenses for low light and polarised ones for bright light.
  • Medical info/emergency contact card – in case it all goes horribly wrong.
  • Lock – at some point I’m going to write and article about locks. I’ve been seeing heaps of reviews and youtube clips of people using portable angle grinders…..shudder 🙁
  • Fenders – I’ve been the using the new DeFender™ XC11, its light weight and a real improvement on the older model.
  • Cycling computer/GPS – or you could be a cheap skate and use something like Endomondo on your phone.
  • Heart rate monitor – I quite like the Suunto watches for this.
    Cash for a taxi – in case it all goes horribly wrong.
  • Headlight – I’ve got three at the moment, a pair of 220 lumens for blinking mode and a helmet mounted 450 lumen spot light.
  • Taillight (with blinking option) – I’ve mounted a pair of 120 lumen blinkers. I want motorists to see me.

Repair Items

  • Spare tube or tubes (and/or patch kit)
  • Pump
  • Tire levers
  • Cycling multi-tool – complete with hex keys.


  • Backpack, waistpack or hydration pack – useful for wallet, keys, phone and work pass.
  • Messenger (sling) bag – I’ve been using a Henty Wingman. Made in Tassie they are the business, if you a corporate suit wearing type.


  • Portable Rainjacket – a must in Melbourne, preferably light weight gortex.
  • Insulation layer – I quite like merino as it reduces the hot sweat smell
  • Visibility vest – you would be buts not to wear one of these around CBD of Melbourne.
  • Padded shorts or tights
  • Wicking jersey or top – I quite like the drifit material tops.
  • Gloves
  • Bike-specific footwear – I’ve been wearing Shimano boots with SPD cleats.
  • Buff or Cycling cap


  • Chamois cream/skin lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Deodorant
  • Cologne
  • Shampoo
    Tooth paste and brush
  • Thongs/flip-flop – for the shower
  • Hair brush and gel