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Mechanic’s Corner: Disc Brake Rotor Wear

We’re deep into the riding season, here in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. It’s time to consider the preventative maintenance that can keep your riding free of clicks, creaks and pops. In addition, wearable items are starting to see the effects of your daily mileage. To help maximize your Team Edition and Ride Prep Tool Kits, and any one of our premium bike repair stands, a couple of weeks back we took a look at the most common wear items today we’ll dive a little deeper. 

DISC BRAKE ROTOR MAINTENANCE

With the ever-increasing popularity of disc brakes (hydraulic and mechanical), one of the easiest bike maintenance procedures is to inspect disc brake rotors. This maintenance tip suggests a quick way to insure you are getting the best performance from your braking system.

WHY DO I NEED TO DO THIS?

Disc brake rotors endure a large amount of heat and friction on a regular basis. They can withstand large forces and are responsible for slowing our bikes down, which they do quite well. But as a result of these physical demands, it is a good idea to check them for wear regularly. Disc brake rotors will typically last through 2, maybe 3 pairs of brake pads (pad material and riding conditions influences this), but it’s never a bad idea to add a thickness check to any regular maintenance schedule. 

DISC BRAKE ROTOR MAINTENANCE – THICKNESS INSPECTION

Rotor inspection is easiest with the wheel removed because the minimum thickness standard is etched quite small on the rotor. This print is located on the outer surface and is presented something like  “Min. TH=1.5”. This is interpreted as “minimum thickness of 1.5mm”. Anything less than 1.5mm means it is time to replace (for this particular Shimano rotor). This measurement is not the standard for all rotors – for instance, Hayes is 1.52mm, Shimano is 1.5mm, Sram minimum disc brake rotor thickness is 1.55mm. However, these aren’t guidelines, but rather highlight the fact that there is no universal standard and looking closely at your specific rotors is crucial.  

Use your Feedback Sports Digital Calipers and measure the thickness at the braking surface, ensuring you have as much of the rotor braking surface within the calipers jaws (as seen). With such precise measurements, it’s good to check several points on the rotor, multiple times. 

If your rotors measure above the indicated minimum thickness then you’re in the clear. If your digital calipers measure below, contact your local bike shop (LBS) to purchase new ones. Your shop will have questions, so be sure to take note of your rotor size (140, 160, 180, 200, 203mm, etc.) , mounting style (centerlock or 6-bolt), and manufacturer of your disc brake caliper.

Since you’ve got the wheels out it is a good idea to double check your centerlock lockring or your rotor bolts for torque. The Team Edition Tool Kit includes the Bottom Bracket + Lockring Tool (which can manage standard and over-sized centerlock lockrings) and our Range Torque + Ratchet Wrench can handle 6-bolt, T25 torque specs.  If you’re replacing the rotors, be sure to face any writing on the rotor outward from the hub as pictured. 

Now that you’re confident you understand the mechanical status of your rotors, reinstall the wheels and get back to riding! Or replace them if needed, of course!

This simple check, and so many more to come, can be done with little mechanical experience. As we always say, with the right tools and a quality bike repair stand, anybody can service their bike. 

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Mechanic’s Corner: Q & A with David Gagnon of Specialized/Feedback Sports Cyclocross Team

In our Mechanic’s Corner series we’ve been shining the spotlight on the ones behind the scenes that make racing and riding happen for us, the mechanics. Earlier this week we announced that we would be the co-title sponsor of Maghalie Rochette and the CX Fever team. So let’s get to know her Mechanic, Coach, partner, and skilled baker, David Gagnon.

When did you start working as a bike mechanic and how did you get into it?

I raced triathlons when I was younger and quickly realized that having a bike that works properly is important. I liked working with my hands so I started doing small things on my bikes really young. When I was in university, we started a small bike shop where 3 of us really had to do every single task from building bikes to ordering and accounting, so I quickly learned the proper basics at that moment. That shop didn’t last long. It was a lot of work and we ended up closing after 3 years. From there I worked on my personal bikes but I never worked in a shop.

How did you transition into becoming a race mechanic? How long have you been working as a race mechanic at this point?

That really came out of necessity more than a transition. When Maghalie started racing cyclocross 7 years ago, there had to be someone for her in the pits and so I found myself working on her bikes and helping he out at the races more and more until it became clear that she was really good at this and that she would need full time support.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a race mechanic? What is the most stressful part, before, during, or after the race?

Honestly, it’s a great job. You have to be very adaptable and flexible with work conditions. You won’t always have the perfect light, the perfect environment and/or the perfect conditions to get the bikes ready, but if you are a bit creative and have the right tools, it becomes fun. For me, I see these different work conditions more as an opportunity to be creative and find solutions more than challenges. The biggest challenge for me is all the driving. Being from Canada, we often drive down to the US for a few weeks at a time and go from one race to another and a lot of times it means a ton of driving. Driving 40-60 hours per week can get hard on the body and mind sometimes.

The most stressful part for me is the first 30-60 seconds of the race. There’s a lot of traffic and if a crash is going to really mess up the race, it’s most likely going to happen in the first few turns. Once they go by the pits once, I’m pretty stress free. Since most of time it’s just Maghalie and I at the races, getting the race bikes ready, building the setup at the races, and packing everything up isn’t really stressful. It’s actually relaxing 🙂

What are some of the most challenging last minute or on the fly repairs you’ve had to do?

Honestly, nothing very exciting here. We come to the races prepared with all our equipment working 100% and spares of everything and Maghalie runs 3 or 4 bikes per weekend so if for whatever reason one bike isn’t perfect, we can usually do without it and I can fix things stress free following the race.

Only one time I remember being a little worried. At Supercross Cup in NY a few years back, it was very, very windy and one of Maghalie’s bikes fell on the ground really hard 15mins before the start – the frame was broken. That got me a little stressed but we ended up using a friend’s bike that we fitted as best as we could in 15mins as a pit bike for Maghalie. That friend was over 6ft tall, and had a 58cm bike, wider bars, longer cranks & a different company shifting/braking system. So needless to say, it was quite the change for Maghalie when she had to come in the pits. It was super muddy so she had to come in every half lap. We made it work and Maghalie went on to win, and sweep her first ever UCI race weekend!

Do you have any pre-race rituals? What are they?

Nope, no rituals. Except cleaning the bikes, do a proper bolt check and double check tire pressure.

How do you balance being a coach as well as a mechanic?

It’s actually great cause I can see the race from the inside and adjust training a lot with equipment testing and such. I only work as a mechanic for Maghalie and a few close friends that sometimes need help at home or at the races so my job is mostly coaching. Working as a mechanic feels more like a hobby and a nice change sometimes 🙂

You work with Maghalie exclusively all season, what sort of unique challenges does that present throughout the season and how do you move past those?

Working only with Maghalie is great, it gives us a lot of breathing room and a realistic amount of work and logistics that leave us enough time that we don’t feel overwhelmed. We do end up spending a ton of time together driving, training, travelling, eating, etc. and that could be a challenge for a lot of people, but we get along pretty well and we actually feel very fortunate that we can both do what we love, together, for a living. There is no one else in the world I would do this with.

You and Maghalie would be what most consider to be a privateer program, what are some of the largest challenges you face as a mechanic/only staff? What are some of the benefits?

You know, it looks like that from the outside, but Maghalie’s family help us out a lot. Maghalie’s mom and dad come to a lot of races and they are always happy to help, whether it’s in the pits or with the logistics of travel. Magh’s dad is a big cycling fan and for him, to have the pit passes and be around that environment makes him really happy and excited.

In North America, cyclocross is a very tight knit world and when the races require a bit more manpower, we’re always very fortunate to have friends at the races helping us. I’m also good friends with a lot of mechanics from North American teams/riders and so we help each other out in the pits. I’ll catch for them when their rider comes in and they’ll do the same for me when Maghalie comes in. CX in North America is a small world and everybody is super helpful. I could go on for days talking about situation where Cannondale Cyclocrossworld carried Magh’s bikes from one race to another or when we drove other team’s mechanics at the airport or used their bike wash area, etc. It’s a big family.

In terms of the benefits of being just the two of us, well, there are a lot. We only book 1 hotel room. We travel in the same car. It’s very easy for us to make or change plans since we don’t have to fit in other people schedules.

Having experienced a lot of different countries and meeting a lot of other mechanics, what are some differences you notice between the way North American mechanics approach a repair and the way European mechanic’s do? Are there differences in the relationships they have with their riders compared to that of North American teams?

The first thing that comes to mind is swapping parts vs. fixing stuff. I feel like Euro Mechanics will spend a lot of time trying to fix things and be very creative making custom tools for custom parts that they custom fixed as where here we’re most likely going to just put a new derailleur on the bike instead of fixing it. I guess that also reflects on  the overall lifestyle and choices of Europe vs. North America.

In terms of the relationship between mechanics and riders, in Europe a lot of riders have their dad, brother, husband, father in law, etc. be their mechanic. It’s not uncommon here in North America to see the same thing, but in terms of team structure, the American teams will most likely provide a mechanic for the riders, where in Europe, the rider has to have his own mechanic, the team will most likely not supply one.

What is the number one thing home mechanics can do to keep their bike in excellent working condition?

Clean it. Lube it & Protect it with some sort of shine/polish often. And pay attention to the bike when you do so. That way you’ll go over the bike and parts very carefully every time you wash/lube/protect it and you’ll see quickly what there is to fix, change, etc.

The one thing I tell people is make sure your cleaning setup is easily accessible. Leave the pressure washer plugged in water, or keep a hose and a work stand out. That way, it takes a lot less time and you’re not discouraged by the fact that you have to setup before cleaning. You can just come back from a ride, throw your bike on the repair stand, start the hose or pressure washer, clean, lube protect and you’ll be able to keep a close eye on things that need replacement, fixing, etc.

Your Instagram is chock full of phenomenal food photos, specifically loaves of bread and pizza, could you give us one simple recipe for bread or pizza?

Hahaha. I love baking. Pizza & bread are probably my favorite food. Pizza is a very simple recipe that you can make on the BBQ or in the oven at home if you have a baking stone. It’s delicious and it can be healthy if you put good stuff on it. We have a sourdough culture that we use at home, so we need to do something everyday with it or throw away a bit of it, so we try to bake at least every other day.

Quick Pizza, could be done with sourdough too if you have a starter

Dough-

1-Anytime before 2PM, Sprinkle a bit of yeast (like a teaspoon or so) on 400G of +- room temperature water.
2- Add 500G of pizza four (00 type) if you have some or just any flour to the water, a pinch of salt and knead for +-5mins
3- Let it rise for 30-60mins, Go back and knead again a few turns.
4- Let it sit for another little bit, until it +-doubles in size.
5- Take it out of the bowl, fold in a ball one last time on the counter, line a bowl with Olive oil, throw the dough ball in that olive oil lined bowl. Put in the fridge until 1h to dinner.
6- Take it out, split the dough in as many pizzas as you want to make. let it rest on the counter +-30 minutes before stretching it to a pizza!

Sauce –

1- Can of San Marzano Tomatoes. Drain the juice from the can.
2- Put the tomatoes in a bowl, break them with your hands, add a bit of salt & basil to taste and there’s your sauce.

Put in whatever you want on top of that and you have a yourself a nice pizza. I really like just the classic Margherita with a top quality fresh mozzarella on top of that sauce. Never gets old and lets you appreciate the quality of the dough and sauce 🙂

Bon appétit.

 

If you’d like to learn how to glue tubular tires from David, check out this post. 

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Feedback Sports Goes World Cup

Feedback Sports has signed on as Co-Title Sponsor to form the 2019-20 Specialized/Feedback Sports Cyclocross Team. The team consists of seasoned professional cyclocross racer Maghalie Rochette, and her mechanic and coach David Gagnon.

“Feedback Sports products are designed to simplify cycling and are a reflection of our internal passions as racers and mechanics. Maghalie and David are true professionals and offer the level of scrutiny of our products we ask from our sponsored partners”, said Doug Hudson, Owner of Feedback Sports. “They mirror our passion for racing, balanced with a deep love of cycling and an infectious positive attitude. We are delighted to have Maghalie and David representing Feedback Sports in our first title sponsorship of a World Cup cyclocross program. It’s long been a dream of mine to have our logo on a World Cup Cyclocross jersey, and after 15 years, this is the right time and Maghalie and David are the right people. ”

Maghalie got her start professionally in 2014 with the LUNA Pro Team (now Clif Pro Team), primarily racing XCO mountain bike with an abbreviated cyclocross program. 2018 marked the beginning of CX Fever, her privateer campaign to target her truest passion of World Cup Cyclocross. During the 2018/2019 season Maghalie accomplished impressive North American results – making several podiums at key UCI events and taking home the Canadian National Title. While those results alone are a success for some, Rochette also captured her first Pan-American Championship.

Aside from her athletic achievements she’s a wonderful advocate for the sport, passionate wood worker, and cheese lover.

Maghalie commented “When we decided to build this team, David and I wrote down a list of the companies we dreamed to partner with. For us, the best partners are people that we like and that we want to work and spend time with. The best partners are also the ones who make the products we believe in. Feedback Sports fit exactly that profile. The whole team is passionate about cycling, and passionate about making quality products…they want to be the best at what they do and have fun while doing it, which is the same philosophy David and I have towards our racing endeavors. For us, there is a lot to learn from the way they run their company, and that’s inspiring. ”

She added,”We are extremely proud to have Feedback Sports as a co-title sponsor this year. I’m excited to be representing them in the races I’ll be doing. I like the company and I’m seriously proud to have their logos on my kit. Plus, I know that everyone in the company will be watching the races, because that’s how passionate they are about the sport, and to me, that’s super motivating. I have no doubt this will be a fun year working with them! Feedback Sports really has the CX Fever!”

David Gagnon, Maghalie’s partner, mechanic, and coach is a large part of the team. Although we don’t get to see the work put in behind the racing scenes, David makes the same commitment throughout the season as Maghalie. He also has plenty of racing experience himself, formerly racing on the ITU triathlon circuit. He also has deep understanding of physiology, working as Head Coach and Co-Owner of the performance center PowerWatts Nord in Quebec, Canada. Beyond sport, David is also a food lover and is at home in the kitchen or over the grill.
David is excited to be part of the Feedback Sports team, stating “Feedback Sports is an example that it is possible to blend perfectly business, life, family and sport together. Their strong presence and support of the racing scene in the past decade shows how passionate they are about racing and for these reasons, we couldn’t be more proud to be associated with such a great company.”

“When people watch bike races, they see the bike and the rider. But when you look at everything that goes behind the race itself, you quickly realize that there is a lot more going on. Travelling to races, preparing the bikes, warming-up and cooling down from the race and storing your bikes back at home – Feedback Sports products are an essential part of what we need to make this team happen.”

“For us this year, Feedback Sports products are the unsung heroes and we’re incredibly excited to bring them to the front row with us.”

To learn more about Maghalie’s plans for the upcoming season, check out this Cyclocross Magazine interview. And because #crossiscoming, check out David’s top tips for gluing tubulars and see what Maghalie thinks about trainers vs rollers. 

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Mechanic’s Corner: Q&A with Eric Fostvedt of Specialized Racing

With racing season in full affect, it’s common to make the daily commitment to watch our favorite superstar cyclists do their thing. Whether it’s World Cup Downhill, XCO and Short Track, the Tour de France or your own regional series, the racing is heating up and it’s time to acknowledge some of the people that truly make it happen – the mechanics. Given our long-standing commitment to producing pro-level bike repair stands and premium tools, we have relationships with some of the finest mechanics around the world and we’d like to share some of their stories. Introducing Eric Fostvedt, mechanic extraordinaire and all around nice guy.

When did you start working as a bike mechanic and how did you get into it?

When I was sixteen I found a job at the Bicycle Village location in Boulder, CO.  I started out on the sales floor and thanks to the kind heart and patience of the mechanic there at the time, I was able to make my way to the back room and learn the basic bike mechanic skills that built the foundation of my career. 

I worked there until I left for University in Texas. When I returned to Boulder I went back to Bicycle Village and resumed work for another four years. In a fortunate turn, the same mechanic who had initiated my education set me up with a job at Excel Sports, also in Boulder. It was in that sophisticated shop where I fine-tuned my skills. Building hundreds of wheels, assembling premium bikes from the frame up, and doing all of this for a very discerning customer base highlighted the difference between good and great.   

How did you transition to race mechanic? How long have you been working as a race mechanic?

 My transition from bike shop life to the racing scene was challenging. I quit my job at Excel to take an opportunity out on the road. The first paycheck I received from a pro racing team was for driving the promotion truck for Toyota-United at the Tour of Georgia – my job was to hand out branded cowbells in the expo. Fortunately, that role transitioned to a day-rate, contract mechanic position. It’s important to note that the connections I made driving the promo truck set me up for my next two jobs. Unfortunately, my first attempt at being a race mechanic didn’t go so well, but I landed on my feet and found work with the Rock and Republic Team – directed by Frankie Andreu. I stayed on board for one season, and the following off season I applied to work with Slipstream Sports, a new start-up.

While Slipstream’s mechanic roster was full, they needed an Operations Manager and I jumped at the opportunity. I believed in Jonathan Vaughters’ vision and wanted to be a part of something unique. I spent three years as the Operations Manager while also doing some mechanic work at the bigger stage races – known as a “3rd mechanic”. It was an incredibly valuable experience. I gained knowledge on how a bigger budget professional road team operates. The outstanding efforts of the people behind the scenes never ceased to amaze me. As the team grew, I transitioned from the Operations Manager to the Head Mechanic position for their U23 team. I stayed with Slipstream Sports for six years in total and in 2012, I accepted the Head Mechanic role with Axel Merckx’s development team.

At the time Merckx’s program was known as Bontrager-Livestrong. The next seven years of my life were a blur of learning, challenges, and huge successes both personally and professionally.  Working with Axel was a dream come true. I have always considered myself a student of the sport, so there was definitely an element of admiration as I got to know Axel, his racing friends, and of course his father, “The Cannibal”, Eddy Merckx. Axel possesses a knowledge of the sport that few others in the world can even grasp. I did my best to act as a sponge, putting my own opinions aside to follow his lead. He’s an incredible leader, and quickly empowered me to grow and improve, I consider the opportunity to learn from Axel a gift.

I was also fortunate to have legendary mechanic Julien DeVries guiding me during my first three years with the program. I can safely say that I learned more from Julien than from all the other mechanics I’ve worked with, combined. He quickly taught me what it means to be a professional race mechanic. To this day, he remains a dear friend.

The point of my story is simple, don’t turn your nose up at a job opportunity just because it doesn’t exactly fit what you want to do at that very moment. Sometimes the lessons learned and connections made handing out cowbells will serve you well.

This past April I made the jump from road to mountain, accepting a mechanic position with the Specialized Bicycles Factory XC Team. It was time for a new challenge, and a new focus on a different style of racing – that means fewer riders, but more adjustments on race days (suspension, tire selection, gear choices), and new venues. It’s started off well and I am grateful for the opportunity. The transition happened fast, and since joining I’ve already been promoted to Team Manager. This is a new role for me, and I’m sure I will draw on every experience I have had while working in the cycling industry. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a race mechanic? What is the most stressful part, before, during, or after the race?

The life of a race mechanic is full of challenges – sleepless nights, long travel days, managing personal relationships with riders and other staff – none of it is easy. It wasn’t long into my career that I realized the bikes are the easiest part of the job. I believe that a mechanic who denies that truth is on the road to a short career.

For me, the biggest challenge is preparation. It is the time spent planning, packing, and working long days in the service course that define how the coming races will go. When a mechanic has put in the work, everyone’s life is easier. A team which runs like a well-oiled machine will find great success, and from my perspective that begins with the mechanics. You simply cannot be an effective race mechanic if you’re playing catch-up. Of course, some situations are beyond control, so I would say that the second biggest challenge is calmly managing the unexpected, like when one of those lovely airlines loses a bike in transit. Flexibility and putting the team needs above oneself will lead to success.  Stress for a race mechanic is a given, managing that stress is crucial. I found that the moments of stress, and levels of it, were directly related to how prepared I felt about the given situation.

With proper preparation, humility, and willingness to accept and admit a mistake, life becomes much less stressful. My advice here is to work hard and put your best effort into every task, own your mistakes and learn from them, and finally and maybe most importantly, try to remain positive in the hard moments. The old adage of the grumpy race mechanic that the riders are scared to talk to has no place in this career – it’s no way to be an effective team member, much less help your riders find success.        

What are some of the most challenging last minute or on the fly repairs you’ve had to do? 

 Last minute repairs… that statement sends shivers down my spine. I hate things left to the last minute. Of course, some things are beyond control and must be managed on a limited time. I will answer this one with a story.  

I was at the U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2017. The riders had been called to staging and the final instructions were being given when the defending champion, Logan Owen arrived at the team car in a panic. “My shifters are dead!” he exclaimed. I put down my pre-race coffee and pastry (at LBL there are always pastries and I thought we were all set to begin a five hour slog through the Ardennes). Systematically, I began the process – confirmed the shifters weren’t working, changed the batteries on both derailleurs, got a powered response, but still nothing. I went through the pairing process, still nothing. Final thought – must be the shifter batteries (which rarely, if ever, go dead).   

Remove three micro-screws, replace the coin batteries, replace the screws. Easy, right? Sure, when you’re not standing minutes from the start of what we as a team considered one of the most important races on the calendar. This is when it’s important to take a deep breath, remain calm, and try not to let the athlete’s or director’s stress, or the pressure of being watched by an entire crowd of spectators affect your calm. I worked through the process, had Axel take his spare bike off the top of the car just in case we ran out of time and could not get the job done. In the heat of the moment I event fumbled one of the screws. Thanks, by the way, to the Belgian guy with the cigarette who kept an eye on it, picked it up and handed it to me with a classic “Belgie” wink. Logan made the start and had a great ride with no further issues.  He set up the move that helped his teammate win and it turned out to be a great day. 

But the critical point is that although I’d never seen these batteries die before, knowing the system allowed me to mentally run the process and deduce the problem, and find a solution. This begs the question, who carries coin batteries? The mechanic who’s prepared, that’s who.

On the fly repairs are an interesting beast. I’m with the UCI on this one and think that a mechanic hanging from the window of a car adjusting a derailleur, a brake, or even a saddle is an unnecessary risk. However, sometimes you do it simply because it’s what needs to be done. Calculated risks. I’ve changed derailleur batteries, adjusted derailleurs, change a radio, and even helped riders change shoes from the window of the follow car. I don’t recommend it, and if you can’t make the adjustment with one hand, while pushing the rider with the other, you should probably stop and fix it on the side of the road. I cringe when I see riders holding on to the car while the mechanic fiddles with their bike, they are one pothole away from catastrophe. If you have to work from the window; pull the mirror in, have the rider keep both hands on the bars and their eyes up the road, and be quick and calm.  

Have you ever had any riders that always seemed like they needed something fixed, changed, adjusted? For example Eddy Merckx was rumored to change his saddle position daily. (You may be in a unique position to speak on that example.)

I can attest to the fact that Eddy is never content with his position! I was lucky enough to build him many bikes throughout my years working with Axel’s team.  Our service course in Belgium was in the old Merckx Bicycle factory, which is attached to their family home. Just about every trip I took to Belgium, began and ended with work on Eddy’s bikes. It was always an honor, and he regularly thanked me with the finest Belgian beers. 

I have had many riders over the years who always needed something adjusted. I won’t name them out of respect for my friendships with them, but I have assigned many riders nicknames such as “Mr. 1mm” (always asking for 1mm saddle height adjustments) and Buttercup (because he was a ‘princess and the pea’ regarding saddles). I have found that at the end of the day, the rider’s comfort and confidence with their equipment is of primary importance. When a mechanic is able to go along with what may seem like a ridiculous request, and find a way to work with each rider, life is better for everyone. If you are one of those riders, don’t forget that your mechanic only has so much capacity and you should recognize their efforts with an honest “thank you”, a cold drink, an ice cream, or the ever popular…cash. Shouting “Thanks!” over your shoulder as you walk away doesn’t mirror their efforts – make it count.  

Most bike racers are not known for their mechanical aptitude. Have you ever worked with a rider that could hold their own when it came to mechanic work, or even replaced you as the team mechanic?

These are the unicorns, but I have found a few throughout my career. The vast majority though are far from competent mechanics. It makes sense when you consider that race mechanics are at the truck or in the service course working on bikes, while the riders are out training. But. my beloved friends and former riders Ryan Eastman and Tao Geoghegan Hart are pretty solid with a wrench and receive honorable mentions here.      

What type of riders do you prefer working with? Those that appreciate the fine details you put into your work or those that just swing their leg over the bike and ride it?

Of course, it is nice to be appreciated, but this is a bit of a catch 22. The guys that just swing their leg over and go off and race are always nice because they rarely present extra work. The riders who appreciate the mechanic’s attention to detail commonly require more work, because they do notice those precise details. Personally, I have found it most rewarding to work with athletes who really understand what goes into the job because it results in a much deeper appreciation of the work investment. It is always nice when you make an extra effort for a rider, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.   

What are some of the wildest quirks that you’ve had to work around? Any riders ever need their computer mount at a perfect 1.5 degree angle or have their hoods positioned in a crazy way, etc.?

The most challenging quirks come from time trial specialists. This special breed of humans are so exacting in their preparations and their pursuit for marginal gains that they can drive a mechanic to insanity. Fortunately for me I’m a genuine aero nerd. Time in the wind tunnel, perfectly trimmed cable housing, or a more creative way to route wires on a time trial machine has found a welcome place in my world.

The wild quirk that I will never fully accept is moto, or UK brake setup. There is a far too large group of riders who prefer their brakes to be setup as they would be on a motorcycle. I understand why, but I reserve the right to think this is, at best silly and at worst, dangerous. Especially in a road race where it is not uncommon for a domestique to hand his bike off to a team leader in an emergency. I have almost gone over the bars a number of times having grabbed the wrong brake during a test ride or pre-race coffee run.

Any pro tips for the home mechanic? What is the best thing they can do daily to keep their bike in tip top condition? Most overlooked repair or maintenance?

This one is simple, both in understanding and execution. I will sound like a broken record, but WASH YOUR BIKE! A clean bike is a happy bike. The more often you do it, the easier it is.  Built up grease, dirt, oil, sand, muck, spit, sweat, drink mix; all of these things greatly reduces the lifespan of vital parts.

Almost every bike shop in the world offers a clinic, many free of charge, to teach this relatively simple skill. I will happily show anyone who asks how to professionally wash a bike in under ten minutes. The required equipment can be found in most homes; a sponge, a pipe brush or old toothbrush, a stiff bristled brush, some dish soap, and a hose. Add some degreaser and chain lube to that list and you’re set. There are a number of eco friendly degreasers and chain lubes available on the market, I am partial to the products from Finish Line. They make a great run of bicycle care products; get those and their nice brush set, and your bike will be happier. Remember to be mindful of where you are spraying pressured water (if you use high pressure). A little effort with a sponge will always be better than a high-pressure water stream for longevity of your bikes moving parts. 

Most overlooked maintenance? Tire care. I suggest checking your tires often. Look for cuts and abrasions that could lead to failure or puncture.  Check your pressures, a tubular tire will bleed out roughly 3 psi an hour, a clincher far less, but still need to be checked at least every four to five days. Consider your tire pressure as well. Most road riders will find the best performance between 70 and 105 psi, depending on rider weight, tire selection, road condition and weather. On the XC mountain bike side, anywhere from 20 to 27 psi will provide the best combination of traction and efficiency. Finally, a quick pre-ride bolt check is always a good idea. Respect manufacturer torque specs, and don’t forget to carry a small multi tool in your ride kit.  

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Race-Day Warm-up with Amanda Nauman

Though we all know that warm-legs are fast legs… it’s can be hard to know where to begin. You might wonder, “Should I use a bike trainer or rollers?” How hard should I go before a race?”, “For how long?”, “Should I do intervals?”, “Why is my skinsuit so tight?”, “Is my number pinned properly?”.  While we can’t really help you with the last two questions, we did find some experts to share what works for them in terms of the first four.

We asked our friends, David Sheek (Carmichael Training Systems Coach) and Amanda Nauman (known to friends and the cycling community as “Amanda Panda”) of Team SDG – Muscle Monster for some general preparation tips and a warm-up plan to help anyone maximize their race-day potential.

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~From Amanda and Dave~

Our friends at Feedback Sports have really stepped up the game with a solid range of traveling goodies that are also amazing products to have in any garage. Whether traveling to Europe or chasing events around the United States, Feedback has made it easier to be prepared at home and on the road. A few of our favorites are the Team Edition Tool Kit, Omnium Portable Trainer, and Sprint Work Stand which all fit into the bottom of our cases for travel.

Being Prepared: Pre-Event Warm-up

A pre-event warm-up is designed to increase muscle core temperature, start the body’s cooling processes, and activate energy systems. Here’s a step-by-step guide to activating your body for a great performance using the Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer.

Warm-up

It’s pretty common for a warm-up routine to be 45-60 minutes. You need to spend some time at lactate threshold and throw in a few high-intensity efforts to activate the processes related to producing and processing lactate, but you want to do as little as possible to achieve those goals. A generic warm-up includes 15-25 minutes of spinning, 5-10 minutes at LT, and two 1-2 minute VO2 max efforts. Variations of that will typically get the job done. A long warm-up is likely to generate more heat so weather and other variables are taken into consideration.

The nature of your event also plays a role in your warm-up. If your event is going to start out relatively slow, like a road race, then you can minimize the warm-up activities. If the event is going to start hard, like a cyclocross race, then it’s important to activate your energy systems and lactate processing systems.

Variations on the Weather

There is a fine line between activating your body for a great performance and hurting your performance through overheating in your warm-up. After warming up some higher energy systems, your muscle temperature and core temperature are elevated and primed to race. In warmer temperatures it is recommended to cool down for about 10 minutes before going to the start line to avoid any chances of overheating. In cooler temperatures it is recommended to add clothing layers and maintain that elevated core temperature en route to the start line.

Go to the Start Line

If you’re going to be standing on the start line for a long time before you start, as is often the case with cyclocross races, you’re going to be standing still. In this scenario, try to go to the line wearing enough clothing or layers to stay warm. Plan to hand your clothing off to someone with a few minutes to the whistle.

The focus on staying warm during and after a riders’ warm-up routine pays off because you will be ready for action right from the start. Keeping your core temperature at an optimal level enables you to start faster, get to the front of the race, and stay there.

Taking the proper steps to activate all your energy systems through a proper warm-up, all starts with the right trainer routine. It’s difficult to find an event that allows for sufficient open road to correctly hit the warm-up zones that your preparation requires. Traveling with the Feedback Sports Omnium Over-Drive guarantees the freedom to create and execute a routine around an ideal warm-up that will set you up physically and mentally for success.

TimeCTS ZoneRating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) 10-Point Scale
10 minEndurance Miles (EM)4-5
2 minTempo6
2 minEM4-5
2 minTempo6
2 minEM4-5
2 minSteady State (SS)7-8
2 minEM4-5
2 minSS7-8
2 minEM4-5
1 minClimbing Repeat (CR)8
2 minEM4-5
30 secPower Interval (PI)9
2 minEM4-5
30 secPI9
5-10minEM4-5
Off Trainer – Head to Startline
10 min Active Cooling2-4

*Amanda is currently rocking the cyclocross and gravel scene. She and David clearly know a thing or two about race-day preparation. Thanks for the tips, David and Amanda!  We’ll see you (and your Feedback Sports Race Day Essentials) at the Cyclocross Nationals in Kentucky! #pandapower

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Feedback Sports Maintenance App Compatible w/Strava

bicycle repair & maintenance app from feedback sports

Feedback Sports Maintenance App
Now Compatible w/ Strava

Feedback Sports celebrates the 3rd birthday for it’s bicycle maintenance app at this year’s              Sea Otter Classic and they’ve invited Strava to the party.

This free maintenance app was initially designed to log and track all the service/upgrades performed on your bike(s). If you have sticky notes and random receipts stuffed in drawers to help you keep track of when you last did what to which bike, you would appreciate this app. Keeping track of tires, chains, sealant, lube, components, etc. can feel like a full time job. Factor in multiple bikes and it only gets more complicated. The Feedback maintenance app takes care of that. And now, it’s compatible with Strava.

Jeff Nitta (Vice President of Feedback Sports) explains, “Up until this point, push notifications for maintenance reminders were based on time and dates but the number one request from users was to have mileage based reminders.  The most logical solution to this request was to make our app compatible with Strava.”

Now you can link your Strava account for mileage based tracking and maintenance reminders.

  • Want to lube your chain every 100 miles?
  • How many miles ago did you have your suspension fork serviced?
  • How long do your components/tires last?

Your Strava mileage data will trigger push notifications to your phone for all of these common bike maintenance activities.  Annnnnnd it’s free.  Has anyone mentioned this? Get your bikes dialed.  Your bike shop will thank you when you actually have an answer for “When was the last time you maintained your bike?” and/or “what did you do?”

*Available on Android and IOS.

 

Build, maintain, repair and ride with confidence. #feedbacksports 

 

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Bike Maintenance: 10 Essential Tips

House of spin

Spring is HERE!!  We love this article/video from Skratch Labs and House of Spin that bring you 10 bike maintenance ‘must do’s’!  Whether you’ve been slaving away on the trainer all winter, or you’re pulling that bike out of the shed for the first time, these tips and tricks will get you back out there in no time.

 1. Degrease your drivetrain.

Start by degreasing your drivetrain.  There are many commercial products available.  Pro tip: cut an old water bottle in half to hold degreaser and keep it in the bottle cage for easy access.  Use a small brush to apply to all sides of the chain, chainrings, cassette and derailleurs.  Rinse off degreaser.

Products used: Morgan Blue (degreaser solution), Shimano (crankset, cassette and derailleurs), Zipp (wheels), KMC (chain), Feedback Sports (Sprint work stand), Elite Cycling (bottle cages), Ritte Cycles (bike frameset)

2. Wash your frame & wheels.

Wash your frame and wheels.  Put together a cleaning kit of a bucket, soap, and brushes. Nylon brushes work fine, but horsehair versions prevent grease and dirt from accumulating on the brush.  Pro tip: use a nylon chainguide so you can wash the frame and wheels separately.

Products used: Morgan Blue (chain keeper), Park Tools (brush), Tampico (brushes), Ritte Cycles (bike frameset), Elite Cycling (bottle cages), Victory Circle Graphic (top tube sticker)

3. Inspect the frame for damage.

Inspect the frame for any cracks, dents or damage that may have occurred last season and gone unnoticed over the winter.  Be sure to check often overlooked areas like underneath the downtube, bottom bracket and seatstays.  Check cable rub at the headtube, and apply frame protector stickers as necessary.

Products used: Wheels Manufacturing (bottom bracket), Ritte Cycles (bike frameset), Elite Cycling (bottle cages)

Click here for the rest of the article and happy cleaning!

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Summertime with Feedback Sports

It’s SUMMER!!  We think we can count on warm temps and snow-free trails in Colorado (knock on wood). At least for the next 6-8 weeks.  And we’ll take it, because that means RIDING BIKES! We all know that when the temperatures of soar, so does the motivation to ride and race. Feedback Sports offers the perfect variety of products to help you get ready for everything Summer has to throw at you on the bike!

summertime boy on bike
Ahhhhh.  We love you, Summer.

You may be of the…hardier stock and have been riding your bike all winter long, or perhaps you’ve been hibernating.  Either way, our wash and work stands are the perfect addition to any cyclist’s workshop. We proudly support four World Tour cycling teams;  Tinkoff, Trek SegafredoLotto Soudal, and IAM Cycling.  When it comes to prepping the fastest teams in the world, the stand of choice in the pits happens to be our Sprint stand. It’s sturdy and fast (plus it folds up small–which helps save space in the team bus). Check out our full selection of stands and find the right one for you!

And speaking of race-prep… the Omnium has been winning over racers across every discipline of cycling (except perhaps E-bikes). This fork mount portable trainer means no more messing with the back wheel before a race.  It also offers internal progressive resistance (while still weighing under 14 pounds) and folds down small into it’s own tote-bag. From pro-triathletes (Gwen Jorgensen, Tyler Butterfield, Lauren Barnett, etc) to pro DH racers (Riding Addiction, Yeti/Fox) to our pro road friends at Drapac…the Omnium is taking the racing scene by storm.  Check it out and see what it can do for your training and racing this summer!

And last, but certainly not least: let’s talk about all the wonderful summertime cycling events.  What are your favorites?  Cruiser rides? Benefit rides? Bike to Work Day? Triathlons? MTB races? BMX? Well, guess what? We happen to love all of these!! Check out our event calendar and you might just see us and/or our gray tent in your neck of the woods…or out on the trails.
summer kick off collage Foothills