The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Protect your derailleur hanger

From time to time we see a bike with catastrophic damage to the rear derailleur and rear wheel caused when the derailleur got caught in the spokes of the wheel while it was moving. Most commonly this is caused by prior damage to the derailleur and is COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE! Frequently we see telltale scuff marks on the outside of the derailleur itself, suggesting that it has been through some earlier trauma.

Here's how it usually goes:

1) The rear derailleur gets bumped, bending the derailleur hanger slightly in towards the rear wheel.

2) At some point the rider shifts towards the larger cogs (easier gears), at which point the derailleur cage gets caught in the spokes of the spinning wheel.

3) Terrible things happen.

The derailleur hanger is the small tab which connects the derailleur to the bike frame. On most modern bikes these are replaceable, meant to be a sacrificial part. Because they're meant to be the weakest part of that system (to avoid damage to the more expensive derailleur or frame), it takes surprisingly little force to bend them. Something as minor as tipping the bike over onto the right side can do it. Or maybe you didn't quite make it through that closing door on your way out of the bike shop, and the door bumped your derailleur. Or perhaps you were a little ungentle while loading the bike into your car. Needless to say, actually crashing the bike on that side can bend the hanger.

But the major damage often comes later, when you continue to ride a bike with a bent hanger. So be forewarned: it's much cheaper to replace a bent hanger than your derailleur and rear wheel.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Double Barrel comes to the Midwest

Ever heard of the Cane Creek Double Barrel? It's only the most adjustable, best-performing rear shock on the market. and it's coming to the Midwest! Shockspital is now a certified Double Barrel service and warranty center, joining just a handful of shops around the U.S. that are thus qualified.

And though the CCDB only comes in sizes 7.5" and bigger, any of you with a bike that can handle a long-travel shock should be excited about this product. Keep in mind that you'll need to devote some time to dialing it in to your preferences. While most rear shocks offer two or three types of damper adjustment, the CCDB offers four: high- and low-speed compression AND high- and low-speed rebound. And if you want the new Double Barrel CS, you also get a climb switch similar to the pedal platform option found on other companies' shocks.

For the more weigh-conscious rider, there is the Double Barrel Air, boasting all the same adjustability of the CCDB but using a lightweight air spring in place of the coil.

Of course this level of performance comes at a price--the Double Barrel is a bit of an investment. But fortunately for you prospective buyers out there, Shockspital is also an authorized Demo Center. This means you can try before you buy! Check out the Double Barrel website to see if your bike can handle this shock. If it can, give us a shout to line up a demo shock. We're still in the process of putting together our demo fleet, so contact us before it gets warm out to ensure we have the right size for your bike come spring.

Minnesotans/Wisconsinites in the audience should consider this the hands-down best choice of equipment for your Spirit Mountain bike. Hell yeah!

Double Barrel small part? Yes, we have that in stock.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Confessions of a Recent Fatbike Convert

When I joined the Freewheel team last summer, I knew that it would be especially hard for me to resist the allure of fat bike season once winter came. Now that I was working at one of the nation’s top fat bike retailers, I was surrounded by them, in more varieties than ever—our shop carries Trek’s new Farley, Salsa’s aluminum and titanium Mukluks, the super-wide Surly Moonlander, and the breathtakingly light Borealis Yampa and Salsa Beargrease carbon models. (“A carbon fat bike?” marvels every single person who enters our store.) And, of course, the stalwart Surly Pugsley, which kicked things off back in 2005 as the first retail fat bike.

Less than a decade later, the skyrocketing popularity of fat bikes is well-documented and nowhere more visible than the Twin Cities, where fat bike manufacturers are headquartered and hundreds of them roll out of our three Freewheel locations every season. Plenty of people even bought them during the summer, heading for the MTB trails. We are reaching Peak Fatbike, not just among trail enthusiasts, but with everyday commuters, as more brands make them and they become more affordable. (You know a trend has moved from the fringe to the mainstream when the local news covers it and Wal-Mart gets in on the act.)

I’ve been a winter bike commuter for years, and I still believe that nothing will get you through a Minnesota winter like a dependable old frame with studded tires, fenders, and platform pedals. But if you want more stability and relish the thought of an off-road adventure on your way home from work, you should consider a fat bike.

I was still on the fence about fat bikes when I winterized my single-speed Surly Steamroller in November. Then Freewheel held its Winter Bike Expo, and I spent two days watching Pugsleys, Moonlanders, Beargreases, and Mukluks roll out of our Midtown location and onto the course we’d set up on the Greenway. Maybe I lingered a little too long next to the Dillinger tires and W√∂lvhammer boots, or just saw too many ecstatic, rosy-cheeked customers return from their demo rides, but I eventually drank the metaphorical Kool-Aid by demoing a Pugsley on the course. I knew it was going to be fun, but nothing compares to the sensation of actually clearing a four-foot ramp or bombing down a big hill—using a bike to do something previously reserved for snowboarders. I was instantly hooked, and the Expo gave hundreds of others that conversion experience along with me. I purchased a Pugsley in “Real Blew” later that week.

Cyclists often describe the appeal of winter biking by invoking the intrepid spirit of arctic explorers and astronauts, striking out into inhospitable environments decked head-to-toe in funny-looking clothing, wearing big boots and facemasks. People who make fun of us or call us crazy for riding through winter probably haven’t felt the ways that riding in these conditions amplifies the usual mental and physical benefits of cycling: your heart beats faster, your body gets warmer, and you get out of the house, undaunted by the snow and cold. Fat bikes take these sensations to the next level by giving you added confidence on various terrain and the knowledge that you can hop that pile of snow at the next intersection if have (or want) to. You’re getting a great workout, combating Seasonal Affective Disorder, raising your body temperature far higher than you would driving or taking the bus, and having a blast in a climate most people flee by staying indoors or leaving the state altogether. You’re a superhuman James Cook/Neil Armstrong badass.

Of course, riding a fat bike doesn’t make you invincible, and there are some peculiarities to the machine that take some getting used to. For one, you’re not going to go as fast on pavement as you would on any other bike, especially if you keep your tires inflated at the extremely low (5-10 psi) recommend pressure. You’ll also probably be in the low gears for most of your ride, but that’s great news for your cardio workout! Fat tires sometimes have less traction than you’d expect, and can wash out on the mashed-potato slush that fills the streets after the plows have come through. Studded Dillinger tires can help with this and bestow upon your bike something approaching invincibility.

So, do you absolutely need a fat bike? Probably not. Do you want one? Definitely probably. My winterized Steamroller will get me from point A to B, but on the days when I have time to kill before or after work, or on weekends when I want to hit the trails, I’m glad I’ve got my Pugsley. A few weeks ago, grappling with cabin fever, I left for work a couple hours early and rode down to the East River Flats. I followed a trail that cross-country skiers had packed relatively firm, occasionally venturing out onto the ice, stopping every now and then to take in the scenery and be grateful that I had such ready access to the country’s mightiest river and the quiet that I relish so much during a winter ride. I was a couple miles downtown and just down the hill from the U of M campus, but it felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. My cabin fever was gone; I felt physically and mentally restored. That’s a feeling you can’t put a price on, but it’s got to be worth at least as much as my Puglsey.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Getting Squishy with Giant Mendez

In 2013 I added a little bit of spring to my step and squish to my bike stable. I'm here to spread the good word about full suspension and how it's changed my riding.

I've always loved an opportunity to play in the mud, and a few years ago after getting my first Surly Troll I reveled in its versatility (more on that in another post). I could bike it around town, do groceries, or take it to some of my favorite off road spots like Theo Wirth or the Minnesota River Bottoms

A few years went by and although I was completely satisfied with the ride qualities of my fully rigid steel bike, I wanted to be able to do more! I wanted to be able to take on some serious features or play on a pump track! 

At the end of 2013 I had been doing my research and was considering purchasing a Trek Lush SL and was going to wait a bit to pull the trigger. I soon found out that in 2014 Trek was going to phase out their 26" wheeled model of that bike, and because of my stature (5'0") I was concerned about not being able to flick my bike around as I prefer to. I had to make a decision quick and I've gotta say, I'm not sad about what I had to do...

Betty looking fierce
With a light aluminum frame, Shimano SLX/XT mixed group, respectable SLX hydros, 120mm of travel front and rear thanks to Fox Evolution Series paired suspensions dialed for a lighter weight rider, this bike was a far cry from my steel single speed. The super hot matte and gloss black paint job didn't hurt either; this bike was perfection to me.

Before I got a chance to properly ride the bike I've named Betty I had to take a very relevant business trip to Trek where I got an opportunity to test ride the big sister, or 29er version of the Lush SL. After spending a few days on some of the most amazing trails I've ever had the benefit of riding I really feel like I'd gotten a handle on the Lush SL 29er.

Big wheels, no big dealzzzz
I can understand the appeal of a 29er after spending extended time on one. They are super fast, they roll over just about anything, and the wheelbase feels longer and stable. These are all nice things, but I couldn't get over the "monster truck" feel of the front end. My second day riding the bike I dropped the stem a spacer and it felt better, and I felt if I had more time with it I would have been better off dropping it another 10mm and it would have been perfect. A concern of mine that got blown to bits was that this bike's handling would be cumbersome as I am accustomed to much smaller wheels but with the tapered head tube and proper G2 geometry all I had to do was tell the front end where to go and it would GO!  ALSO, bonus, in 2014 this bicycle comes with a dropper post! Hitting some of the crazier features with a remote hydraulic dropper post made all of the difference in confidence for me. I see the appeal of a newer rider enjoying the stability this bike has to offer, and it is awesome crushing over everything in the woods.

This bike also features ABP, Trek's solution to suspension lockup when you pull your brake so I could retain control and not feel like I was being bucked off my bike. The Lush SL also features Fox's Climb/Trail/Descend switch to adjust the stiffness of front and rear suspension while riding different kinds of trails. I stayed in climb and trail most of the time, hopefully come spring I'll be able to take my bike to some places where I can use the descend feature. 

On the more technical side, Trek makes suspension setup easy. Adjusting from going rigid to full suspension was simple and nowhere near as scary as I imagined with their suspension setup calculator. All of the knobs and dials can be kind of daunting at first but fortunately with that tool and my lovely men in Shockspital I got it dialed perfectly. 

When all is said and done I would 100% recommend the Lush SL (and the Superfly 100 AL, the gender-neutral companion) to anyone coming in looking to get set up with a full-suspension mountain bike. If you choose the extra suspension to get more rad or even just to not feel like someone completely beat you up the next day, they are fabulous machines to take your off-roading to the next level. Whether you're coming from rigid or hardtail, you can't go wrong with a little bit of extra squish. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cannondale Lefty/Headshok damper upgrades

At Shockspital we see a lot of Lefty and Headshok forks of various ages and in various states of disrepair. Among other things, we go through a lot of replacement dampers in the process of keeping these forks on the road (trail). But on the bright side, these repairs are an opportunity for a damper upgrade!

Lefty PBR damper upgrade
As long as your fork is 2005 or newer, upgrading the damper can be as easy as a 10-minute swap. Though it's usually a good idea to have us service the telescope bearings as long we we're at it. Worst-case scenario, if the inner leg is damaged (which prevents the air spring from working properly), we can change that out, too.

Lefty XLR remote lockout damper
So you could revitalize your older Lefty Max with a modern PBR or XLR damper, complete with the lastest updates! Cannondale occasionally makes minor improvements to their damper systems, and the only way to keep on top of that is to install the latest version of the dampers.

Get the latest updates!
The frosting is that a new damper comes with a new 1-year warranty from Cannondale. And, if you're upgrading the same damper type (old PBR to a newer PBR), Cannondale offers great trade-in pricing on your old damper.

Same goes for Fatty/Ultra Headshok forks--if it's 2005 or newer we can in most cases install a modern DLR80 cartridge, for external lockout and rebound adjustability.

Give us a shout to find out which upgrades your fork is eligible for. Get the most out of your Lefty!

Friday, July 26, 2013

I Sniff Your Chain: The Olfactory Man's Guide to Chain Lube

Are you an olfactory sort of person? Take this brief quiz to find out:

1. I open the milk jug for an illicit swig when Mom is not looking. My first move is to give it the old sniff-test to make sure it's not too far down the road towards cottage cheese. (true/false)

2. "Oh see and look: a pair of socks. I think that I will wear them with my tennies. Wait--are they clean?" *sniff* Oh yes, this is what I do. (true/false)

3. Is it raining? Is it going to rain? Has it rained recently? I know this by smell. (true/false)

4. Something is wrong with my car. I know this because it is emitting: a) bad sounds; b) bad vibes; c) bad persons; d) "Bad Bad Leroy Brown;" e) bad odors.


6. I've got a nose. Having a nose is one of those things I'm good at. (true/false)

If you answered any of the above questions at all, you might be an olfactory person, and consequently, this post is for you.

Have you ever wondered how to tell what a chain has been lubed with? Here's a fail-safe way to distinguish among several of the top brands of chain lube using nothing but your olfactory bulb.

Here is Thad. Thad has literally got a picture of sprocket teeth coming out of his head. Thad is modeling a lovely yellow bottle of Dumonde Tech Lite. Fitting, because Thad is a culinary-trained grillmeister, and Dumonde Tech Lite smells kind of like blue cheese. More precisely, it smells like Roquefort cheese, which comes from moldy old caves in France, and features the same Brevibacterium linens that makes your feet stink and attracts mosquitoes. Are you a foodie? Here is your chain lube!

Here is Pete. Pete is wearing a shirt with his name on it. He's been working out, as you can see. In his right (or left, whatever) hand, he holds a bottle of Finish Line Dry. Finish Line Dry was the original dry chain lube developed in the War of 1812 when the battleship "Old Ironsides" battled Mothra on the banks of Lake Gogebic. The hulking steamer was simply making too much racket as she lurched sturdily toward the ever-alert mothlike creature, so they came up with Finish Line Dry... anyways, it smells subtly of patriotism mixed with a hint of nail polish remover. It is extremely low-odor for those with sensitive beaks.

Here is Mario. Mario is standing near the Greenway, and fittingly, holds a bottle of Finish Line Wet lube, the official lube of the Greenway from November through March. It is pretty much the only lube that can hold up to a Minnesota winter's salt and slop. It smells like virtue and strength; Minnesota resolve to ride our bicycles even when the rest of the world laughs us to scorn. Actually, it kind of smells like a lawn freshly mowed where you accidentally got into the herb garden with the weed eater, especially if you grow peppermint. Mixed with Band-Aids.

This is Medium Tyson. He is ecstatically holding a bottle of T-9. He is ecstatic because the bottle is tightly sealed: T-9 smells kind of like a freshly loaded diaper if the child has eaten sushi, plus a little hint of paraffin. Boeing developed T-9 to build airplanes out of, but building airplanes out of waxy liquid proved impractical. So they implemented Plan B: stink up bike shops with it!

This is Karl. Karl's mechanical savvy is legendary, and so is the lube he is holding. Tri-Flow has been around for decades and is a great lube for rainy days and Mondays. And speaking of rainy days and Mondays, Tri-Flow probably has the cheeriest and most identifiable scent of any lube we've tried: it smells like bananas. Seriously, monkeys will drop everything and chase you bodily out of the woods if you lube your chain with Tri-Flow. But don't go writing to the Tri-Flow people for recipes: it is evidently not very tasty despite its amazing smell.

This is Brian. Brian is a registered Iowegian, and true corn-fed Iowegians know that regular WD-40 doesn't belong on a bike any more than a toaster belongs in the bathtub. But they (WD-40, not Iowegians) have recently put forth some products that are intended for bicycle use. "Hot diggety" we all said in unison when we heard the joyous news. The bottles showed up and we crowded around them like gypsies at a yard sale, and then we looked for a chain to lube with... WD-40! I know, it's crazy talk! But then we got whiff of the stuff. "Axe Body Spray," said Brian, crinkling his nose disdainfully. "Frat boys." said Dave, evidently drawing from a deep well of life experiences. "The shoe department at K-Mart," I quipped, trying to look on the bright side. This stuff is strong, and the scent lingers tenaciously. If you use it, we will know. We put it on the bikes of "special" customers for a while until our responsible service manager hid it somewhere, lest we get into trouble.

So there you have it, folks. This will get you started for when you go around sniffing people's chains!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

50 Years of Park Tool

Recently a few of us mechanical type Freewheel Golden Wrench bike fixer people attended Park Tool's 50th Anniversary event. For half a century Park Tool has been doing nothing but making bicycle support goodies: no brief stints in NAPCAR; no contracts with NASA; no farm equipment; no joining the circus; no martial weapons (although, if I were attacked by a moose, I should like to have a PW-3 handy). You will be relieved to discover that they still make their iconic pizza cutters, one of which graced my own kitchen table when I was a lad.

What makes Park Tool so rad? 

From our perspective as bike fixer types, they feel like family. They are bike shop people through and through. They started making tools back in 1963 because the current tools on the market just weren't good enough for the fancy new bikes that were coming out back then. Have you ever tried to fix a space station with tools you bought at the grocery store? That's what Howard and Art felt like when they were trying to adjust Campagnolo hubs. All you could get at the time were wrenches that had been precision engineered for delicate operations such as scratching your back or whacking the carburetor on your tractor. 

So they made their own tools. And at some point in the 1980's they quit the bike shops and started making tools full time. It's been full on since then with hardly a glitch. Consistency? If you own a Park repair stand from any time in the history of the company, it was welded by the same guy who is still welding them today.

Here's a point of trivia: At some point they took time out of their busy schedules and invented the color blue. Thanks, Park Tool!

At any rate, they tell their story best, and it's a dandy.

There's a Discovery Trek (with the chain falling off) and some choice Paramounts on that rack.

They had some Stingrays in the lobby, let me tell you what!

Much of our evening was spent in the presence of Calvin Jones, the indefatigable mascot of Park Tool, and a bike shop guy if you've ever met one. He gave us a tour of their new facility in Oakdale on the condition that we didn't take pictures of secret stuff. We inadvertently took some pictures of secret stuff, but we can't put them on the blog. Sorry, Calvin, if you read this. It was Pete.

When you stared at these, you saw a hexagon of pink spots floating around for about an hour.

At any rate, Calvin's tour took us through their production area, their new warehouse, and their demo shop area, where we saw some familiar and some unfamiliar tools, including ones that haven't quite been released yet. After some hearty jibber-jabber, it was time for some foooooood. If you ever acquire a time machine and you are wondering what to do with it, I highly recommend crashing this party and sampling the mashed potato bar. It was one of those magical moments in my culinary experience.

Oh yes, it was very nice.

Having stuffed our boilers with choice dainties, we were in excellent spirits to listen to the program. It consisted of a fascinating video of the founders of the company telling their story, followed by several well-wishers from the greater bike industry wishing them well. Eric Hawkins, son of founder Howard Hawkins, wrapped up with a toast to the future.

Art Engstrom, co-founder

Industry luminary, whose name escapes me

Luscious piece of birthday cake
No, it is not frosted with Poly-Lube 1000.

Congratulations, Park Tool, for 50 years of making our job better!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring is at Space Camp

If you're like me (and you are, at least if A. you have gums, and B. you are bilaterally symmetrical), you're experiencing some serious anticipation anxieties about whether Spring is actually going to Spring, or if we're going to have to implement plan "B." You may be wondering what plan "B" could possibly be: let's just say that it involves a great deal of whining and finger-pointing. Frankly, as early as Spring showed up last year, I can't blame a fella for sleeping in this year, but I'm starting to wonder if Spring is maybe going to skip the Midwest this year and go to Space Camp instead.

So here we are: the Ides of March is at hand, and there's so much snow in my yard that the Leprechauns are not even going to be able to make it out of their burrows, let alone see their shadows. I doubt if they will even come out in time to hide hard-boiled eggs behind my furniture.

The freeze-thaw cycle makes treacherous man-traps out of shady spots on the bike paths. Those big, brown puddles that collect on the side of the road are perfect hiding places for landlocked sea-serpents that want to gnaw your shins.

I see you there, mister sea serpent...

Yes, yes. We're Midwesterners. We know all this. That's why we have special bikes for such seasons: featuring full-wrap fenders; studded tires; a good, thick patina of crusty grime; and "high-performance orange" decorations on exposed ferrous surfaces. And we have a highly effective game plan if we encounter sea serpents in the big brown puddles. It is so effective that I've never met a single person who was at any time eaten by a sea serpent, which proves everything.

When do we get to ride our nice bikes? Not for a couple of weeks yet, I'm afraid. We have to wait for the snow to melt down and expose the mounds of trash that got there all on its own. Then we have to wait till a good rain washes the sand off of the corners. Then wait for the big brown puddles to make their way down to the Gulf of Mexico, where they will be enslaved and sold to tourists for many pesos.Then we have to sit and wait till the road salt has had a chance to wake up the Leprechauns, who will emerge groggily from their dens, predict that Spring is at Space Camp, and then fly south for the winter in their infamous vee-formations.

While you're waiting, we're waiting too.  Late Spring means light Spring rush at the bike shop. While our workload is still light, you can bring in your elite fleet of summer bikes for super-quick Spring service. How quick is super-quick? As quick as a 1986 Camaro with a louvered rear window (pictured above), parked outside of Space Camp (not pictured above), that's how quick!

Make your road bike feel showroom fresh with new tires, new cables, bar tape, and a chain. Get your mountain bike ready to go with new grips, fresh tires, and clean suspension oil. Estimates are always free, as are smiles, advice, and bike parking while you shop. When it finally gets warm, you will be glad you're not sitting in line at the bike shop, dratting Leprechauns and waiting a week or more to get your bike ready to roll.

As soon as Spring gets back from Space Camp, all bets are off.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shockspital movement

Just a heads-up that Shockspital World HQ is now based out of the Freewheel Bike West Bank location. We still have a lab at the beloved Midtown location (and out at Freewheel-Eden Prairie), but local walk-in customers are now encouraged to stop by the West Bank, where there is actually parking (for your car)!

Improved access is but one of the reasons we decided to shift things around. Easier shipping/receiving for the benefit of our mail-in customers is another. Stop by our new Lab to see the rest!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Headshok upgrade double-header!

Shockspital-West Bank got a pair of Headshok Fatty Ultra forks in the other day, so Troy (from WB) and Tyson (from Shockspital's Midtown HQ) teamed up to get 'em running like new.

Unfortunately, both dampers were damaged to the point that they would no longer hold oil, even with fresh seals. Lucky for us (and the customer!), Cannondale offers a damper exchange program (with certain restrictions) that makes replacing the entire damper a financially viable option. Here's the guts of the old DLR80 damper:

As is typical with this type of failure, damper oil had run down through the bearings and completely flushed out all the grease. In these cases we like to do a full service on the telescope to get everything clean before applying fresh grease. Here's the telescope all taken apart:

When the protective boot covering the telescope gets saturated with damper oil it tends to harden up and crack, so we replace that, as well:

Here you can see the needle bearing retainers covered in grease and ready for reassembly:

Here's Troy coaxing the race retaining clip back into place:

...and in goes the brand-new damper....

....and the knobs go back on and we're done!

Both forks now have an up-to-date DLR damper (with new one-year warranty) and smooth bearings. Like new. Nice!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Goodies from Park Tool (INF-1, CRP-2)

So what's the biggest difference between our shop here at Freewheel and the shop that you have set-up in your basement?  Most likely the following:

1) Less beer.
2) A collection of expert, professional mechanics.
3) Shop quality tools.

As mechanics tools are our lifeblood, having the proper well-made tools can make all the difference so whenever possible we avail ourselves of the best there is.  It is with this in mind that you can understand our - kid on Christmas morning - excitement when our friends across the river at Park Tool release their new catalog of goodies every year.  This year we managed to get our hands on a couple of new items that we are smitten with so we figured that we would share them with you.

Swivel Head: Silver-Presta, Black-Schrader
Park Tool Shop Inflator (INF-1) During the busy parts of spring and summer we fill tires with air constantly, which means there isn't a tool in the shop that gets used more often.  While it isn't the most glamorous tool having a good inflator in the shop can make or break your day so we are constantly in search of the best inflation tool on the planet.  While we have tried many, very few meet our needs or last long enough to be considered "Shop Quality", the INF-1 is here to change all that.  The usual failing point of inflators is when it takes a nose-dive from it's perch on the work stand and lands squarely on the pressure gauge.  While the inflator usually continues to fill tires after that, without knowing the pressure it is next to useless.  Another gripe with the majority of inflators out there is that you either have to make a choice between the presta and schrader head or you have to use an adapter both of which are a major drag.

Replaceable Parts.
The INF-1 is here to change all that.  With a solid body this thing truly feels like a tool that is going to last for a decade of shop abuse (and can double as a self-defense weapon).  It has a presta/schrader swivel head, so you only need one tool in your hand no matter the valve on the tire.  When you do manage to drop this thing on the face and shatter the gauge it is fully (and easily rebuild-able) and if you wreck the head, you can replace that too!  The only gripe that we have is that it takes it sweet time to fill-up a tire, but based on the (so far) decreased number of blow-outs, maybe this is saving us from ourselves.  If you have an air compressor at home and are looking for a major upgrade, look no further.  This is available today and runs $140.99.       

Park Tool Adjustable Crown Race Puller (CRP-2); As you can probably figure out from the name (CRP-2) this is Park Tool's second crack at a crown race puller.  While it is often overlooked the crown race puller is a very important tool in the shop.  In the days when many of us first started wrenching fork crowns were made of steel and crown races were robust so a razor blade, screwdriver flat blade and hammer was all that was needed to get an old crown race off.  But in the era of lightweight headsets and carbon fiber forks and steerer tubes, its has become a delicate process.  The CRP-2 is a great re-boot of the original CRP-1 and adds some much needed updates.  The first advantage of the CRP-2 is that they have moved from two adjustable pieces to three individual planks for the delicate task of getting between the crown race and the crown of the fork.  This allows for even distribution of pressure once the removal process begins.  The same tool works for 1”, 1-1/8”, 1-1/4” and 1.5 forks (suspension or rigid) and crown races with outside diameters up to 64mm and can handle steering columns up to 430mm.  Apparently the small tabs will wear out with time and will need replacement, but to be honest so did the tabs on the CRP-1 so it won't be too big of an adjustment.   
CRP-2 and Well Loved CRP-1 Side by Side.
These aren't available yet for purchase but are on track for mid-month availability so if you want one let us know and we can get it on order for you.  In the mean-time here are some pictures of it in use;

Fitting over the crown race.

CRP-2 and CRP-1

Fitting under the Crown Race


That's all for now! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

New Surly Rabbit Hole, Where Will It Fit?

Over the past two weeks our friends at Surly and QBP have begun shipping us all of the components required to build up a Surly Krampus (on a side note what do you call multiple Krampus bikes, Krampii, Krampusses?).  Once we managed to build up Krampus wheel using the Surly Rabbit Hole rim one of our first questions was - what else can we cram this awesome wheel into?

Here are some answers:

1) Surly Pugsley - Yes and hell yes.  This thing looks awesome in there and I imagine for those folks looking for summer wheels (and 29er) this would be a really good option (and we'd love to build them up for you this summer).

2) Salsa Mukluk - In the front, yes, in the rear, it depends.  If you have an older Mukluk (before this year) then it is a little bit tighter than we would like with clearance to the bottom bracket.  With the brand new Mukluk's sporting the alternator dropouts you can make it work if you set the alternators all the way to the back.  Also if you aren't running a 1 speed front - forget about using that granny ring.   

3) Surly Moonlander - Much to our disappointment, no.  While you can physically fit these into the wheel, the 28mm offset required for for Moonlander front and rear wheels, makes this a no-go.  Due to the width of the rim, building it with a 28mm offset would make it a little bit too flimsy with some horrible spoke angles to get it to work.  While I'm certain that someone will try this and get it to work, I will let them spend the money to test it our and end up with a ruined rim (and missing teeth).

4) Suspension forks (other then the Lefty) - Yes, there are 7,000 different  forks and we have seen them all, but I can't imagine one with a crown wide enough for this monster to fit into.

5) Lefty Fork - Yes, I know some people who would love to get that done for you.

Here are some pictures from the experimenting. 
Perfectly fit in a Pugsley

Rubbing on the Moonlander rear triangle.

Bad-ass Pug.
Rubs on the Moonlander fork.

Any Questions?