The Golden Wrench

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

Sunday, March 6, 2011

SRAM Technical University

A few weeks back, 4 of Freewheel's ace mechanics attended the SRAM Technical University to learn a few things about Avid brakes, Rock Shox forks, and some of the new SRAM shifting technology.

We all piled in our trusty Subaru Outback and headed west towards Colorado Springs. 13.5 hours later, we had arrived. Woke up Tuesday morning to a spectacular view of the mountains, and an excited state of wonder, looking forward to learning more skills to serve you fine folks better!

First day was the Avid brakes. We learned alot about the proper way to set-up the brakes for a better feel at the lever. We also learned the proper bleeding procedure to make the brakes feel amazing. (We even have a fancy new bleed kit to make things a little easier.) Alot of interesting technology goes into these brakes. The way you can adjust the levers, and the brake master cylinder to improve performance and feel. We also learned about their old brake systems and the changes they made to make them even better! And the nice thing about SRAM is, they are willing to take responsibility for their mistakes. Then they re-engineer the product. Now that's commitment.

Wednesday and Thursday were dedicated to Rock Shox suspension forks, and rear shocks. Now the stuff gets really cool! We started by tearing down and re-building a Tora front fork. Even at the "low end" there is some real technology associated with this fork. The way they engineer the air system is quite simple, but very effective at making the fork work properly for each rider and each trail condition.

When we re-built a Monarch rear shock, I admit I was a bit nervous about tearing into an air sprung rear shock. But, after about 2 minutes my fears were laid to rest. It was quite simple to maintain and overhaul! Not many people think they need to maintain their suspension systems, but after miles of abuse on the trail, things can easily wear out without routine maintenance. It's kind of like an oil change for your car. The longer it goes without service, the more likely it is that serious problems and performance issues will arise.

We also had the privilege of working on some of the high-end Lyric and Boxxer world cup forks. The Lyric was simply amazing! The 2-step air system is super cool!
The Boxxer world cup fork is quite a sight. It looks very similar to a motocross fork, just a bit downsized. Man, this fork is super sweet! The new solo air system, improved damping, and it's still pretty light for a DH fork!

We all learned alot, and had a good time doing it. We had the fortunate opportunity to meet new shop people from all over the country, and talk directly to the people who can influence what we see in the future of bike parts and technology. It's good to know we have the full support of a company dedicated to best in performance and customer service. SRAM is still the best with customer service. If you have a problem with any of their components, they want to know about it, and they will do everything in their power to help you.

We also talked briefly about the new and dramatically improved 2X10 system. The way the front chainrings are designed makes the shifting almost instant. No more waiting a half pedal revolution just to shift from the big ring on down. The new Apex road group is pretty interesting as well. It's made to compete with the Shimano 105 group. A lower price point without sacrificing performance. And it's all black!

Thank you David and Chuck at SRAM for sharing your knowledge and sense of humor. I know we all had a blast learning about your product. Also, thanks for the beer and wings! Next time you're in town, the beers are on me!

Remember to get those forks and shocks in for a oil change, or complete overhaul before the spring rush! We are fully qualified to work on all makes and models! Don't be the guy on the trail holding up the group! The mountain lion may just catch up to you first! A properly tuned suspension system makes your bike faster!