Friday, March 30, 2012

Buying a new crankset. Shimano XTR FC-M985

Here is a quick guide on how to figure out if your frame is compatible with Shimano's new XTR Cranksets.

Currently Shimano offers two variants of the crank. Trial and Race.

Race FC-M985
chain ring sizes: 40-28T/ 42-30T/ 44-30T (all double)
crank arm lengths: 170/175/180mm
Chain line: 48.8mm

Trial FC-M980
chain ring sizes 42-32-24T (triple) / 38-26T (double)
crank arm lengths: 165/170/175/180mm
Chain line: Triple: 50mm Double: 46.8mm

For the Hack Racer in you the ideal setup on a 26" wheeled bike is the Race crankset if it fits. The M985 is 3mm narrower in Q factor than the M980 (I do not know the exact Q factor as calling both Shimano Canada and Shimano USA could not get me an exact number). The Q factor is how wide the crank arms are from outside face to outside face. A narrow Q factor in theory increases pedaling efficiency as well as better knee angle tracing.

For my bike I was looking on replacing the Middleburn RS8 DUO crankset I had on it for several years. The RS8 was a good crankset but the downfall was the ISIS bottom bracket. 3 years ago Middleburn did not offer their external bearing version. So I was forced to choose between ISIS or square taper. I chose ISIS and went with an American Classic BB which has replaceable bearings. After replacing them every 2 months for 3 years I said enough was enough and decided to run a reliable crankset. 

With modern day double cranksets they get tricky because the axle is integrated. This means the width of the crankset can not be changed by selecting a different bottom bracket like in the past. Past being ISIS and Square taper, or even Octa-link. So now you need to measure exactly and purchase the correct crankset or else you are stuck.

Shimano actually acknowledges that the M985 may not fit on all frames. So they have this paper template. The only cavet is that you have to have the Bottom Bracket (SM-BB90-A) installed in your frame. Luckily I had a spare.

Take this template (click here for PDF version).

Print the PDF version of the document 100% size with no scaling. Then glue the printout to a stiff piece of bristo-board (the brown stiff paper back on note pads or cereal box or go to Staples). Then cut it out exact. Install the drive (right side) bottom bracket cup from a XTR or XT crankset. Stick the paper template into the bottom bracket and see if any bit of the paper will touch your frame.

Once you confirm, you can order what you need.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pictures from 2012 Taipei Bicycle Show

Some select pictures from the 2012 Taipei Bicycle show. I asked my friend Winston from to help me take some quick pics while he was manning the RETÜL booth.

RETÜL Booth with Friday Fitness
One day I will take up his offer to attend the taipei bicycle show in person. Hopefully with my very own CAD model of a full carbon mountain bike frame complete with layup specification and fibre orientation and thousands of hours of FEA completed. At the Taipei Bicycle Show it is not just bicycle companies like Trek, Giant, or specialized showing off their latest models for sale. There are also the companies behind the scenes who manufacture the actual carbon fibre sheets or strands who then sell to the factories that make the carbon fibre frames. If you have a design and enough capital you can start your very own bicycle company. One day my dream will materialize.

Monday, March 26, 2012 - Top bicycle fitter and coaching services in Asia

My good friend and fellow racer Winston has recently moved from Canada to Taiwan. In doing so he is setting up a new shop in Taipei specializing in:
  • Professional 3D Certified Bike Fitting
  • Personal Training
  • Coaching 
For those who have read about my past review of the RETÜL 3D fit system you will know that is it worth every penny and second spent.

If you are serious about speed and want the best. Contact Winston @ Friday Fitness

He is "the guy" for RETÜL in Taiwan and adjacent Asian countries.

Fully equipped with the first and only MÜVE Fit bike in Taiwan!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Extralite custom front wheel = Extra good! from Troy @ Fair Wheel Bikes

I'm always a fan of custom wheelsets. With custom wheelsets you can always choose exactly what you want. Whether it be color, weight, price, size, lacing pattern, brands, you name it, it's selectable. The only exception is for industry9 wheelsets where you can really pretty anodized aluminum spokes.

I don't know about you, but I find a lot of joy in selecting components for wheel builds. So unless you or I are a sponsored rider and told to use brand X and model Y. I feel we should ride exactly what we want to ride.

Troy Watson may have been a name you've heard of before. Especially if you frequent Road Bike Review or Weight Weenies. Troy is also behind Ligero Wheelworks, where he had his own custom hubs made to his specifications. They were really cool because both the front and rear hubs were optimized to have wide flanges to increase stiffness of the wheel by bracing angle. He also used Phil Wood bearings for both front and rear hubs. In the rear hub he used White Industries rear hub internals and was optimized for triplet lacing. To say he knows his stuff is an understatement.

In 2011 he joined Fair Wheel Bikes, a top end shop in USA specializing in the best of the best of cycling goods and all the wheels coming out of there are now hand built by Troy.

In the build I asked Troy to make for me I took into several considerations:
  1. Weight
  2. Durability/Reliability
  3. Cost
The specification of the front wheel I dreamed of was:
  • Extralite HyperFront QR15 configuration, 32h
  • Stan's NoTubes Alpine 32h rim
  • Sapim CX ray spokes
  • Alloy nipples
  • Stan's Yellow Tape
The reason why I chose these parts was to fully optimize for a QR15 setup on my 2011 Rocky Mountain Team RSL build up. QR15 forks and wheelsets typically cost the rider a weight penalty to get the extra stiffness. Normally I would skip on going QR15 as you need to optimize your headtube and fork steerer interface before you can take advantage of QR15. In the case of my 2011 Rocky Mountain Team RSL frame it sports a tapered head tube for which I matched it with a 2011 Fox F100 RLC tapered fork.

The extralite front hub I believe is the lightest front hub available to the mass market. With 32 holes the durability and reliability of the overall wheel should not be a concern. Especially for cross country application. Sapim CX-Rays in my opinion offer the best performance for the money. You can go lighter with Sapim SuperSpoke or even Pillar Titanium spokes, but the cost and performance of the Sapim can't be matched. The DTswiss aerolite spoke offers the same level of performance as the Sapim CX-ray but at an extra cost above the Sapim.

Giving Troy these build spec and some dialogue via email he said it would be an ideal build. So the go ahead of was given to build the wheel.

Troy optimized the spoke weights by customizing their length. Troy explains it,

"The spokes are not really much lighter but technically they are. What I do is take a cx-ray that has 9mm of thread and 10mm of 2mm round section above it and recut the threads up higher. I normally do about 6mm so you are loosing 6mm of thickest part of the spoke. It doesn't add up to much but it is a little. It will take a cx-ray from being about 4.7g each to 4.3-4.4g each. It is mainly a neat thing to tell other weight weenies that you had done."

Fair Wheel Bikes has the Phil Wood Spoke and threading machine. Which is the only way to cut a spoke. If someone is telling you that they took a dremel and used a die to cut new threads walk away immediately. The only way someone should cut a spoke and rethread it is by rolling the threads.

Rolling the threads means the threads are cold worked which increases thread strength. This is done by rolling the threads on two flat dies rather than using a cylindrical die and shearing away material.

This video that Troy made demonstrates how the Phil Wood Spoke Cutting and Threading Machine works.

This ladies and gentlemen is one of the reasons why you go to a top end wheel builder rather than your lcoal bike store. How many of you can tell me that your local bike store has a $3900 USD spoke cutting and threading machine?

Troy first uses a jig to define the lacing pattern of the wheel he is going to build with the hub mounted. For the Extralite Hyperfront hub you are limited as the non-braking side of the hub is designed to be radially laced to increase lateral stiffness and the braking side must be in a cross pattern to counter the load from the disc brake rotor. The lacing pattern was set by Troy Watson to be radial non drive (aka non brake side) side and 3 cross x 16 on the brake side.

I wish I had a jig like this because it allows you to carefully place the rim and work from above. Final truing of the wheel is then done on a Park Master Truing stand (I missed the chance to buy one a few years back when Troy was selling a spare he had), it is the best truing stand ever made commercially and is no longer offered by Park Tools.

The final weight of the front wheel:

In the past I have gone through many different wheel builders in the USA. Each time I had a very pleasant experience. This time I chose Fair Wheel Bikes because I have had Troy build for me in the past and he is now at Fair Wheel Bikes. Fair Wheel Bikes has all parts on hand which means zero wait time. Labour is included in the total price of the build, which is the sum of all the individual parts of the wheel I chose. There is no way I could replicate the skill and knowledge that Troy has. His attention to detail is truly amazing. Emails and phone calls are always promptly responded.

Once the trails here are opened up I will follow up with a review on what it is like to ride a work of art.

Fair Wheel Bikes custom wheel program

Example of what Troy can do.

New Old Stock - 1995 Clark Kent Pineapple Front hub made into a Front road wheel

Whatever you dream of, Troy and Fair Wheel Bikes can build it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Don't pay full price... Surf for deals and Haggle

I'm sure there has got to be someone who follows my blog who is in the cycling industry or own even a store. So this might offend them.

Bottom line: Money in my pocket is better than money in your pocket.

This statement is what I believe to be the cardinal rule for a consumer. It doesn't matter if you have got millions or just pennies. Don't settle for paying high management expense ratios on mutual funds. Just find the stocks the mutual funds hold and buy them yourself in your discount brokerage account. Don't pay full price for a car. Call 10 dealerships with the exact trim level and color and ask what is their best price.

This holds true for cycling goods. Cycling for many is a hobby or leisure activity. You want to maximize bang for the buck.

It's too bad that the amazon app doesn't exist for blackberry phones running OS7+. I'm surprised to find that is making such a big push into cycling. It will dramatically change the business model of bike stores and distributors.'s pricing is amazing to say the least. For example Shimano XTR FC-M985 28/40T crankset stocked and shipped by themselves is $438.51 USD. Next closest price is JensonUSA @ $445.00. JensonUSA and other online discount retailers in the past always
had the best price.

Now if only would follow along. That would decimate the Canadian distributors and lift the strangle hold they have on local bike stores. Allowing the local bike store to at least come close to USA local bike store pricing. 

this is a repost from:


Specialized warns dealers of new price-checking app

By Adam Newman

Specialized is warning local bike shops that a new app from could seriously undercut their business. In a letter to dealers from Specialized's founder and president Mike Sinyard warns that the app, which allows customers to scan a bar code and find an item for sale online and make the purchase from their phone - often cheaper than in the store - would effectively turn a local bike shop into a fitting room for online retailers.

The cycling storefront includes "featured brands" Mavic, Crank Bros., Yakima, Thule, Diamondback, and Schwinn. Shimano and Pearl Izumi are other major brands sold through Amazon.
In the letter, Sinyard tells dealers that by ordering, stocking, and servicing these brands, they are supporting's sales while undercutting their own. Specialized even produced a video demonstrating exactly how the app is used.

As a sign of's commitment to cycling sales, it recently hired Paul Calandrella away from Specialized and named him Senior Vendor Manager for Cycling.

On of the major brands also sold on Amazon, Easton-Bell Sports - maker of Bell and Giro helmets and apparel - recently brought a lawsuit against Specialized, alleging that the Specialized was encouraging dealers not to stock Bell and Giro products. That lawsuit has since been withdrawn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Old Stock - 1995 Clark Kent Pineapple Front hub

New Tip of the week. Be Different! Be Unique.

Forget about the cookie cutter factory pre-built wheels from Mavic or Shimano.

What I have managed to find is a New Old Stock (NOS) 1995 Clark Kent Pineapple Front hub. Remember back in the early days of mountain biking with tie dye neon color schemes and anodized parts? Everyone was making components also. These hubs were marketed by Clark Kent based out of Colorado. They were machined in Colorado in the early-mid 90's by Royal Bicycle Works.

The hub I have comes from a forum member with the name pkryz or pkrzystyniak on MTBR and Retro Bike. pkryz claimed that his father gave him the remaining stock of the hubs. This would mean that his father ran Royal Bicycle works in the mid 90s. pkryz was selling off this stock back starting in 2004. I purchased my hub in 2008 from a forum member on Retro Bike.

The intention of this unique hub was to do a snow flake pattern where the spokes are twisted.

The hubs are a perfect definition of the saying "form over function" design. "Sometimes things are done because they look cool."

Here is a brief history of Clark Kent Hubs

Here is my particular hub. No longer a tree ornament or in someone's closet collecting dust.

As you can see it is by no means a light front hub. It is even heavier than a Chris King Classic 100mm hub. Don't forget that Chris King only really started shipping hubs in higher volume at around the 1992 time frame. The front wheel that this Clark Kent Pineapple will be taking over on my road bike has a Chris King hubset from 1993!

Since I have not the slightest idea on how to lace this Clark Kent Pineapple hub. I emailed many popular professional wheel builders who frequent MTBR/Road Bike Review/Weight Weenies. Only 1 wheel builder accepted. Troy Watson owner of Ligero Wheels. He currently is at Fair Wheel Bikes. The idea was to make use of this hub for my road bike. A 2006 Cervelo Soloist. Road bikes are 100mm spacing for the front fork just like mountain bikes. However hubs without disc rotor mounting are pretty much obsolete to the mountain bike community. You rarely see people on V-brakes anymore on the trails. The fact that road bikes are still on 100mm and also do not utilize disc brakes means I could still pay homage to the old school days of mid 90s mountain biking.

This Pineapple front hub has 32 spoke holes. I believe that Clark Kent only ever made 32 hole versions. 8 holes on each flange (outer, middle, middle, outer).

This is what Troy had to say after finishing the wheel:

I built the front wheel a total of 3 times trying different spoke patterns. I thought I was going to be able to lace it like two 16 spoke 1x wheels but it did not work out. The way I calculated the spoke lengths on the final build was figuring the lengths for 3x then taking into account how much the spokes would be pulled in and out and adding to the length to compensate. The tensions are actually the same or very, very close between the inner and outer flanges because of the way the spokes are interleaved. When you look at the wheel from the front you can see what the designer was thinking of. The spokes form to small triangles with a larger single triangle sitting on top. If the spokes were rigid members it may have actually made the wheels stiffer but because spokes are tensioned wires it did nothing but make for a unique looking wheel.

The final spec on the wheel was:
Mavic Open Pro 32h Rim
DT-Swiss black alloy nipples 32x
Sapim CX-ray Straight Pull and J-Bend
Clark Kent Pineapple Silver 32 hole Hub

To date I have perhaps logged about 10,000 km on this wheel. Tension seems to be even still, the rim still rolls straight and true.

Hooray for 90s Mountain Biking at it's best. 20th century technology rehashed in the late 21st as a road bike hub. Complete opposite from what Clark Kent had originally anticipated it to do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Part 4: Antiseize

Use antiseize for the following:
  • threaded bottom bracket cups
  • centreloc shimano brake rotor lock ring
  • cassette lock ring
  • can be used to aid press fit assemblies to help installation

An anti-seize lubricant used on a bolt helps to develop greater clamp load for the same torque compared to an unlubricated bolt. An additional benefit is greater uniformity in clamp load among a series of bolts. The relationship between torque and clamp load is expressed in the following equation:
T = K x F x D
T = Torque (N·m,, lb.ft)
K = Torque coefficient or nut factor, determine experimentally
F = Clamp load (N, lb.)
D = Nominal diameter of bolt (mm, in.)

Torque coefficient, k:
SAE grade 5, class2, phosphate coated steel nuts & bolts = 0.16
SAE grade 5, class2, phosphate coated steel nuts & bolts, solvent cleaned, not lubricated = 0.19
*assume 0.35 for titanium and 1.2 for aluminum

reference Loctite C5-A tech spec

Monday, March 12, 2012

Disinfect your cycling clothing before the 2012 season starts! Dettol

Do you suffer from adult diaper rash from cycling? Chafing? Use a laundromat or public washing machine in your apartment? You need to read this.

Other than mentioning that you need to keep up on your personal hygiene. You also need to be careful with your clothing so they are actually clean.

Take all your riding gear and throw it in the wash again. When washing in the rinse cycle add in this:

DETTOL® Disinfectant Liquid| Surface Disinfection

This is especially important for mountain biking gear. And if you use a laundry mat. Athletic clothing is supposed to be washed in warm or cold water. But warm or cold water is not hot enough to kill bacteria or virus. Tide/Sunlight etc can't kill the bacteria or virus. Bleech can, but bleech harms your clothes.

When mountain biking you sometimes go through areas of soil that can be contaminated with very powerful bad bacteria. I had a small cut on my finger prior to going out for a ride once and it would not heal as the infection wouldn't go away. I had to go to the doctor for oral antibiotics and topical antibiotics. This area was fresh cut single track with a weird rotting smell...

So add Dettol in 40ml of dettol antiseptic liquid to rinse cycle. (the same spot you add in fabric softener). Or use a downy ball.

If your washing machine has extra rise cycle. Use that to thoroughly rinse the dettol away.