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.
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.
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
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!
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 🙂
If you’d like to learn how to glue tubular tires from David, check out this post.
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.”
It’s mid summer, and all the miles on the bike are adding up – it’s time for some basic maintenance to your bike. Fortunately, some of the most common wear items and how to check them over are well within the grasp of even new mechanics. Mike Gavagan, seasoned technical veteran, will share some tips!
Tires and Sealant
The classic signs of service are excessive wear on the tread, cuts or tears, worn knobs, flat spots, or visible tire casing. When in doubt, replace the tire. And as you’ll no doubt notice, rear tires wear faster! Use the Dual-Sided Pick to pull out any debris from the tire – glass and small pieces of metal can sit in the tire, just waiting to be the source of your next flat.
If your tires are in good shape and you are running a tubeless tire system, it may be time to refresh your tubeless sealant. You can do this without breaking the seal/bead of the tire . Using your Valve Core Wrench, remove the presta valve core. Using a sealant injector to add 1-2 oz of sealant to your tire (check the manufacturer’s suggested volume). Inject the sealant at the 6 o’clock position. After the sealant has been injected rotate the tire to the 12 o’clock position and then remove the sealant injector. Trust me, you’ll avoid a lot of mess if you do this. Finally make sure the valve nut is finger tight.
If your tire has to be replaced or you want to visually inspect how much sealant is left in your tire, you’ll need to break the bead and remove at least one side from the rim. This is also a great time to clean out any old or dried sealant from inside the tire. This will allow your wheels to spin more balanced. When tubeless sealant dries, it forms a sealant ball, or simply dries to the inside of there tire like a thin skin. Using a set of Steel Core Tire Levers remove one side of the tire. If you are replacing the tire remove the old tire from the rim and install the new tire in the correct tread direction but not installing the tire completely.
Dump in the recommended sealant volume and install the tire bead back onto the rim. You will likely need a high volume floor pump, charger pump or a compressor to re-set the tire bead onto the rim. Pump it back up until the tire seats completely – don’t be alarmed if you hear a loud pop, and don’t exceed the tire’s maximum pressure. Once the bead is seated on both sides, you can then set your tires back to your preferred riding pressure.
Brake Pads and Rotors
Check to see that there is an adequate amount of brake pad left – this goes for disc brake and rim brake systems. Many rim brake pads will have a small line indicating their wear limit. If you are running disc brakes, you want to see about 2.5mm of brake pad material left. If the brake pads are worn past this point it’s a good idea to replace them. Also check to see if the pads are wearing evenly. If one is significantly more worn than the other, it could result in the pad backing contacting the rotor and generally poor braking, as well as damage to the rotors.
If your brake pads are worn down to the metal it is most definitely time to replace not only the brake pads but the rotors as well. More about this topic in our next post!
If you are experiencing poor shifting regardless of derailleur adjustments, excessive noise from your chain, or excessive chain slap, it’s probably time for a new chain and or cassette. If the cassette has excessive burring on the teeth of the cogs a brand new chain may not sync with old cassette and may slip or pop in certain gears. Shifting performance will also suffer. Other ways to look for wear on your drivetrain, is if the teeth of the cogs, or the teeth of your chain rings have a very sharp shark tooth profile on the loaded edge. If you notice this shark tooth profile then it is time to replace. Our chain tool is ready to do the job, even for new Sram AXS 12-speed drivetrains.
Visit Your Local Bike Shop
If you’re uncomfortable making any of these repairs, or unsure of if you should replace a part due to wear, always be sure to take your bike to your local bike shop. But having this information can at least help you be informed, and help you and your mechanic communicate.
Mike Gavagan is the owner and sole mechanic of Gav the Mechanic. Mike has years of retail service experience, but has also worked for numerous pro and amateur teams such as Drapac Cycling, Specialized S-Racing, Rally UHC, and Slipstream Sports.