Technical FAQ: Heart arrhythmias, tubeless problems, and BB creaks

Cardiac tests for cyclists

Dear Lennard,
I write because, at 53 years of age, I am becoming more of a serious cyclist than I’ve ever been. I know about your experience with arrhythmia, and it occurred to me that perhaps I should do what I can to avoid a similar (or worse) fate.

Therefore, I’ve decided to seek some medical advice/testing to see if I am healthy enough to continue riding hard. I currently have no arrhythmia and there is no history of cardiac issues in my family. However, I’d love to continue cycling and challenging myself on the bike for many more years, and this would seem a prudent step.

My question to you: can you recommend specific tests beyond a basic cardiac stress test?

I was sorry to hear about your experience with arrhythmia, but I believe that your experience will help many, many others over the years. Thanks for writing about your ordeal and being public about it.
— Steve

Dear Steve,
In addition to getting a cardiac stress test (performed on a treadmill or ergometer while hooked up to an EKG machine), I recommend getting an echocardiogram done. This test can tell you the size and shape of the heart and its internal chamber sizes, its pumping capacity, and the location and extent of any tissue damage. An echocardiogram can also calculate the volume of blood each of your ventricles pumps per unit time, how much of the blood inside each ventricle gets pushed out with each contraction (ejection fraction), and how well the heart relaxes between contractions.
— Lennard

Manufacturer warning label regarding tires

Dear Lennard,
While installing new Maxxis Padrone tires onto my 2008 Fulcrum 2-way Racing 1s last week, I noticed a warning label inside the rim that stated to use only Hutchinson tubeless tires. My first two sets of tires were Hutchinsons, but then I switched to Schwalbes and ran those for a few years without incident. I contacted the folks at Fulcrum and inquired about the warning, and they reiterated that I should only use Hutchinson tires on these wheels. My hunch is that the Hutchinsons were really the only tires on the market back when these wheels were designed and tested and that they haven’t gone back and re-tested any of the new tires on the market. Thoughts?

Interestingly, I think I ran into the same situation with the Maxxis tires: the sidewall states that minimum pressure is 105psi. That seemed a bit high for a tubeless tire (and kind of defeats the purpose), so I emailed them and their response was that minimum is indeed 105, but they’ve heard of riders running them in the mid-80s without incident, but that they, of course, can’t recommend that. Seems to me that these companies have some pretty good lawyers on staff these days.
— Tom

Dear Tom,
Joshua Riddle, press manager for Fulcrum and Campagnolo, says, “Tom is right regarding the tire situation in 2008. There really wasn’t much else available, and we developed and tested with Hutchinson. Not knowing at the time how other tires that were to come to market after the launch would perform, we could only vouch for Hutchinson, as we had experience only with their tires. In 2009, we had tested plenty of other tires and the same in 2010, so the literature, warning labels, and recommendations were all amended to reflect a wider array of tubeless tires for use with Campagnolo and Fulcrum 2 way fit wheels. At the moment, you can use the tires you prefer for both Campagnolo and Fulcrum 2 Way Fit wheels.”
― Lennard

Bottom bracket knocking

Dear Lennard,
I ride a 2013 carbon Masi Evoluzione with Campy Chorus 11. For a few seasons now, the bottom bracket area has developed a knocking sound that further Internet research has helped me diagnose as a discrepancy between the bike’s bottom bracket shell’s width and the tight tolerance of the UT bottom bracket’s Hirth joint. The “Rogue Mechanic” (see below) seems to have found a cure for BBs with threaded cups (adding spacers of various width to the NDS cup until the noise disappears), but in my case, I have press-fit cups. I’ve already changed bottom brackets twice (I’m on a Praxis now) and the knocking is getting worse.

It is the Praxis “threaded press-fit” model, where one cup with the internal sleeve is press-fit into the BB shell and the other cup is threaded into the sleeve (requires two bottom bracket tools). They provide a “wavy washer” like Campy as well as a non-drive side cup, sort of a soft o-ring that’s supposed to allow for bb width discrepancies, but on the road pedaling, it’s like nothing’s changed. There’s a guy out there, “Rogue Mechanic,” who’s done some research and came up with spacers to place between the non-drive side threaded cup and the bottom bracket shell, but that requires removing the whole bottom bracket assembly a good number of times before finding the right amount of spacers and, again, I’m not on a threaded system, but on a press-fit one, so I’m not sure if removing and replacing the press-fit cup several times makes sense.

I’m so sick of this noise I don’t even want to ride. What would you suggest, short of chucking all my Campy stuff (I’ve been a loyal customer for 25 years) and moving to SRAM?
— Franck

Dear Franck,
The “Rogue Mechanic” tip is not a good option, in my opinion. I also think it has nothing to do with your creak or knock, which I believe is entirely caused by your bearings moving around within your unthreaded carbon bottom bracket shell. In fact, I don’t think that there is any need for performing the “Rogue Mechanic” tip, and you could instead damage your nice ceramic bearings by side-loading them if you do what he suggests. I also don’t think that movement in your Hirth joint where the two bottom bracket stubs meet in the center is likely to occur, as long as you have the bolt tight. That joint is very well-engineered so that the tapered teeth just keep tightening up against each other. In fact, Hirth joints have been used in automotive and aircraft crankshafts for a long time, as they can transfer high torques very well.

Yes, if you push laterally on the face of a Campy Ultra Torque crank, you can compress the wave washer and get it to move laterally. However, when actually pedaling, you will not be applying that kind of side load. I think that if you were to interview thousands of Campy UT riders, you would not find them complaining about the chainring moving back and forth and rubbing the chain from side to side on the front derailleur cage plates — at least not any more than riders on other major crank brands do (everyone gets a little side-to-side chainring movement, and that is generally due to frame flex, crank flex, spider flex, and chainring flex, not to lateral movement of the bottom bracket spindle).

I am surprised that the Praxis thread-together bottom bracket did not at least improve it somewhat. I suspect it is somehow still not tightened up against the faces of the bottom bracket shell. Perhaps those bottom bracket faces are not parallel; “facing” them might improve things.

To fix your creak, according to Campagnolo North America technical service manager Dan Large, “the only options are to Loctite or epoxy the cups into the frame. Ensure that the rider has the bearings serviced regularly and change the grease in the cups. Alternatively, the grease can be substituted with a light coat of anti-seize on the outer surface of the bearing.”
― Lennard

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Technical FAQ: Di2 Synchro Shift and Garmin connection

Dear Lennard,
I have a cervical fusion, and, in order to keep riding, I have to sit very upright on the bike and can’t tip my head forward. I can’t look back to see what gear I am on and I’m constantly cross-chaining, since I rarely know what gear I’m in. Is there any way to get around this issue? I’d also like to be able to see what gear I’m in. I ride with a Garmin, and I understand there is a way I can see what gear I’m in on it, but I’ve never seen that on any of my data fields.

I have Ultegra Di2 (I’ve ridden two seasons on it) with a compact crank, a GS long-cage rear derailleur, and an 11-36 cassette (I used to have a Lindarets Road Link, but on your suggestion, I took it off, and it still works fine with the 36T cog).
— Neal

Dear Neal,
There sure is! With Shimano Di2 Synchro Shift, you could just shift with one shifter (your right one, unless you were to reconfigure which lever controls which derailleur), and it would perform not only rear shifts, but also front shifts, when appropriate, and it would prevent cross-chaining. And, yes, you can display on your Garmin what gear you’re in, as well as your Di2 battery level and which shift mode you’re in. You would need to get a new battery and a Shimano “D-Fly” Bluetooth transceiver for Di2.

The following are some instructions for using Synchro Shift and connecting a Garmin that I wrote for the chapter on electronic shifting in the sixth edition of “Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance,” which will be out December 16 but can be pre-ordered now.

I am quite certain that this is the most complete set of instructions available anywhere for connecting Di2 with Bluetooth and enabling Synchro Shift. The instructions are for mountain bikes, but the only difference in this case is that road bikes do not have a digital display and instead only have an upper junction box, aka, Junction A. Even though you can hook up a digital display to your road Di2 (and you can eliminate the D-Fly if you get a Bluetooth-enabled digital display) your Garmin will display everything that the digital display would, and more clearly.

Note that S2 shifting mode is the one you want, once you get your Di2 system paired via Bluetooth. S2, or full Synchro, only requires shift inputs from one shift lever, as mountain-bike Di2 systems have offered since their inception. (S1 is Semi Synchro, where every front shift is accompanied by a double shift in the rear, and M, or manual, where the right lever only controls the rear derailleur, and the left lever only controls the front derailleur.)

In S2 mode for road, as Shimano has programmed it (which you can reconfigure in the E-Tube Project app), it will shift down from the big-front-chainring/smallest-rear-cog combination through each successively larger rear cog until it gets to the second-largest rear cog. Then, when you ask for yet another lower gear with the shift button on the right lever, it will shift to the inner chainring and will concurrently do a double-shift in the rear back to the fourth-largest rear cog. Continuing to ask for lower gears will then take through those biggest cogs until you end up on the small-chainring/largest-cog combination, your lowest gear.

When you go back the other direction and ask it for progressively higher gears, it will go to smaller and smaller cogs until it gets to a few from the smallest. Then it will shift the chain up from the inner chainring to the big chainring, and, concurrently, it will shift in the rear back two cogs larger.

Hardware required for wired and wireless connectivity

Until 2016, downloading Di2 firmware, reconfiguring shifting, or performing diagnostic checks of the system all required a wired connection to a Windows PC (and not to a Mac; those remain unsupported). Now, however, Shimano’s wireless E-Tube Project app (free on the App Store or on Google Play) for iPhones, Android phones, and tablet computers affords much of the same functionality. The smartphone app allows customizing shifting and updating firmware; the tablet app offers those functions and can also check for system errors and perform the system pre-set. Furthermore, the Di2 system can interact with many Garmin and other ANT/ANT+ cycling computers, displaying battery level and current gear combination, as well as offering switching between shifting modes.

Thing is, you must have all of the appropriate hardware to get wireless connectivity. Fortunately, other than the first two generations of road Di2, all Shimano Di2 systems are backward-compatible, so you can upgrade some items to get this functionality while still using your existing shifters and derailleurs. Furthermore, all XT Di2 components are interchangeable with XTR Di2 ones.

To enable Bluetooth and ANT+ compatibility, the battery must be either the BT-DN110 (cylindrical, for installation inside of a seatpost, steering tube, or Shimano battery case — or the BT-DN100 original-shape external battery; the older versions of these batteries (SM-BTR2 and SM-BTR1) have insufficient memory for Bluetooth connectivity. You also need a transceiver in the system; this can be either a digital display with a Bluetooth chip, namely the XTR SC-M9051 (not the SC-M9050) or the XT SC-MT800, or a “D-Fly” inline unit — either the EW-WU101 (both ports on the same end) or the EW-WU111 (one port on either end). With a D-Fly inline transceiver, you also need an additional short e-tube wire.

If you want to update, check, or reconfigure your Di2 system and don’t want the expense or trouble of obtaining wireless connectivity, you can download the E-Tube Project software from and plug a Windows computer into your bike’s Di2 system with Shimano’s SM-PCE1 PC interface device and accompanying USB cable. It plugs right into the charging port on Junction A or on the digital display. You can then update firmware, diagnose and correct problems in the system, and customize shifting options on your computer screen. Without the interface device, you can still do firmware updates using the E-Tube Project software by plugging into your Junction A charger port with your USB charger connected to a Windows PC.

ANT+ connection with a cycling computer

What’s possible in communication between cycling computers and Di2 is rapidly changing. As of 2017, there are two levels of compatibility with Di2: either just displaying battery level and current gear combination on the computer, or displaying Synchronized Shift setting (in addition to battery percentage and gearing).

The instructions below apply to connecting popular Garmin computers to Di2; other Di2-enabled ANT+ computers have similar features. Garmin models going back a few years and at many price points, like the Edge 510, 810, 520, 820, and 1000, the Forerunner 735, 920, and 935, and the Fenix 5, can all display Di2 shifting status and battery percentage. Garmins that also support Shimano’s Di2 Synchronized Shift capability are limited as of this writing to the more recent Edge 520, 820, and 1000 models. Note that Di2 connectivity is not supported on older Garmin models without updated Garmin firmware.

Setting up Di2 display on Garmin:
1. Select the icon of a crossed wrench and screwdriver on the home screen. The settings menu will appear. On some (older) models, you can also access settings from any training page by touching the screen; an overlay will come up with the settings icon, as well as the home, left and right scroll, navigation search, and wireless connection icons on it To select a Garmin icon, touch it on the screen.

2. Go to the ANT+ sensor list from the settings menu. Depending on computer model, either select: (a) “Bike Profiles” and select a bike stored in memory, or (b) select “Sensors.” Alternatively, on some (older) models, if you brought up the overlay on a training page instead of initially going to the home screen, get to the “Bike Sensors” list by selecting the wireless-connection icon (it looks like a dot broadcasting to the left and right). On some (newer) models, you can directly access the sensor list from any page by pulling down with your finger from the top of the screen; it pulls down a curtain with backlight and connection options; select “Connecting to Sensors.”

3. Select “Di2” on the sensors list. If “Di2” is not one of the icons displayed, then your Garmin firmware is too old. Download “Garmin Express” online and create a login; from there, update your firmware. With updated Garmin firmware, return to step 1.

4. Select “Enable” on the “Shimano Di2” screen.

5. Select “Search” or “Connect.” Once connected, it will display, “Shimano Di2 found.” In order that the Garmin can find your Di2 system, unplug and re-plug in both wires to the D-Fly transceiver or all three wires to the digital display. If it doesn’t connect, push the mode button for about a second on your digital Di2 handlebar display until a flashing “c” appears, or Junction A until the two LEDs flash red and green. If the “c” doesn’t appear on your SC-M9051 or SC-MT800 digital display (i.e., if it passes on to adjustment mode or post-crash re-coupling mode), you must first update your SC-M9051’s or SC-MT800’s firmware with a wired connection to a PC (many of these units were shipped with the Bluetooth chip but without the firmware to make it work). If it still doesn’t find Di2, restart the Garmin and try pairing it again. Once the Garmin is paired with Di2, continue with step 6 to create a screen on which to view the Di2 functions while riding.

6. Select the settings icon. It’s the wrench/screwdriver icon. Again, find it by: a) returning to the home page, or, b) pulling up the overlay on a training page.

7. Select “Activity Profiles.”

8. Select one of the profiles.

9. Select “Training Pages” or “Data Screens.”

10. Select a page that is currently shown as “Off.”

11. Select “Enable” or “Enabled.” This turns the page on.

12. Increase, decrease, or maintain the number of fields on the page. Select “+” or “-” to change the number of fields, then select the check mark in the lower right corner. To leave the number of fields unchanged, simply touch the check mark.

13. Change fields to display Di2 information. Touch any field to open the “Select a (Data Field) Category” page, scroll (using the arrows) to “Gears” and select it; this will bring up options like “Di2 Battery Level,” “Front Gear,” “Gear Ratio,” “Gears,” and “Rear Gear,” and, with newer models, “Di2 Shift Mode,” “Gear Battery,” and “Gear Combo” will also appear. Fill as many fields as you want with Di2 fields. I recommend having at least two fields, namely “Gears,” which shows graphically which front and rear gears the chain is on, and one displaying battery percentage. With newer Garmins, also create a “Di2 Shift Mode” field to show whether you are in M (Manual), S1 or S2 (pre-programmed Synchro Shift modes), or in a custom Synchro Shift mode (which you create with your smartphone or tablet in the E-Tube Project app or on a Windows PC connected via the SM-PCE1 interface device).

14. Select the check mark at the bottom of the Garmin screen. You’re done. You now have a screen you can loop to when riding that shows what’s going on with your Di2 system. If (when) your Garmin doesn’t find your Di2 system when you turn it on to head out for a ride, you will have to go through steps 1-5 to pair them.

Using the E-Tube Project wireless app

As with ANT+ cycling computers, you’ll need either a Bluetooth-enabled digital display, or a D-Fly inline unit (either an EW-WU101 or EW-WU111) wired into your system.

1. Download E-Tube Project and open it. Find it for smartphones and tablets on iTunes or Google Play.

2. Select the Bluetooth LE connection box and push the Di2 mode button on the bike’s digital display or Junction A. Push the mode button for perhaps a second — not long enough to bring up adjustment mode. A flashing “c” should appear on your digital Di2 handlebar display, or the two LEDs on Junction A will alternate flashing green and red. If the “c” doesn’t appear on your SC-M9051 or SC-MT800 digital display (i.e., if it passes on to adjustment mode — see 6-8 — or post-crash re-coupling mode — see 6-9c), you must first update your SC-M9051’s or SC-MT800’s firmware with a wired connection to a PC (many of these units were shipped with the Bluetooth chip but without the firmware to make it work). Once the connection is made, a box with the part number of your Di2 transceiver will pop up on the phone or tablet screen; select it.

3. Update the firmware of your Di2 transceiver. This will start automatically. During the process, it will ask you to change the default “000000” ID code of your Di2 transceiver; go ahead and do this. It requests “half-width alphanumeric characters,” whatever those are; just pick another 6-digit number. At some point, the firmware update will stop before it’s complete and will give you an error message. Don’t worry; it’s not you. It’s also possible that you will be able to connect this time, and you won’t get the error message until you try to connect the next time. In that case, you won’t have to do the following step until you log onto the app next time. BTW, the tutorial on the app is not a video, with the short green bar showing how far it has (not) loaded; rather scroll to the right to view it page by page.

4. Delete your Di2 transceiver on your tablet or smartphone. Yes, really. If you don’t do this, the app will try to connect to your Di2 transceiver with the old, “000000” password and will display a spinning wheel of death without connecting. So, select “Bluetooth” in your phone or tablet settings menu. Your Di2 transceiver’s part number should appear on the list of your devices; click on its information box and select “Forget This Device.”

5. Select the Bluetooth LE connection box in the app. It will display a box with the part number of your Di2 transceiver; select that for the app to connect to. Now you should be connected again, with your new password.

6. Update firmware for all components. Ones that are up to date will be grayed out and will say “latest.”

7. Play as you wish. Now you can customize which shift buttons do what and which Synchro Shift protocols you can toggle between and how and at what points the derailleurs perform double shifts.

8. Disconnect the app. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP, and it’s not obvious in the app. Click on the little three bars in the upper right of the phone screen to bring up the main menu, and select “Bluetooth Disconnected.” Right? It should say, “Disconnect Bluetooth” or words to that effect, but it doesn’t. This will disconnect your phone or tablet and save whatever changes you have made during your session.  But if you don’t do this, your Di2 components will continue to either be connected or to continue trying to connect to your phone or tablet. The symptom will be that the derailleurs will not respond to the shift buttons, and the charger will flash a fault light when plugged in; meanwhile, the Di2 battery will drain rapidly (the Bluetooth LE connection draws a lot of power), while not being able to be charged.

NOTE: A similar possibility for neglecting the most important step (saving changes and disconnecting) exists with the wired PC connection to E-Tube Project. In the main menu, the last rectangular option box was always “Complete Setup” in years past. But now with the advent of the wireless connectivity, an additional “Bluetooth LE” option box has appeared in the column; this has pushed the “Complete Setup” box to the next page, and you have to know to scroll to it. Now you know.

On a system without a digital display, once the firmware is updated so that the bike’s Di2 system is fully Bluetooth-enabled, it is Synchro-Shift enabled as well. Junction A not only controls which shifting mode the bike is in (with double-clicks of the mode button), but it also now displays it.

When you hold down a shift button (or a pair of them) to display the battery charge status, the battery LED first shows the battery status (see 6-1c), and then both LEDs show the shifting mode. If the battery LED glows green and the “+-” LED glows red, with neither of them flashing, the bike is in Manual shift mode. Two blinks of these green and red LEDs means S1 shift mode is operational, and 3 green/red blinks means the bike is in S2 shifting mode.

A paired ANT+ cycling computer that is recent enough to support Synchro Shift will also display the shift mode. And, in the phone/tablet app or in the wired PC software, you can put custom shifting patterns of your design into those S1 and S2 slots.

I hope you’re able to get this all set up. You would then not only be able to see what gear you’re in while you’re riding, but, as long as you only shift with the one shifter, you would avoid cross chaining, even without the Garmin on your bike to see what gear you’re in. All you do is simply ask it for an easier gear or a harder gear by pushing the downshift or upshift button on your right lever; it will do the rest.
― Lennard

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Technical FAQ: Do bigger shoes make for faster riders?

Dear Lennard,
I can’t help but notice that some of the taller riders, Chris Froome among them, seem to have unusually big/long feet and shoes. This is not limited to Froome or even riders tall in stature, and it appears to be disproportional. My question is, from a biomechanics and physics standpoint, does this offer riders greater leverage and power with the increased length? If so, would this encourage riders to wear larger shoes than they would off of the bike, given the improvements in stiffness and weight of carbon soles. Finally, should the UCI regulate shoe size “fudging?” (I know that last question might raise the ire of some readers.) Again, I am not signaling out Chris Froome; to me the phenomenon across the peloton raised the question in my head.
— Joe

Dear Joe,
I don’t think there is a way in the world that it could be an advantage to ride with a longer shoe than your foot size would demand.

First off, I think that controlling a longer lever (i.e., from the heel to the pedal cleat) with the calf muscles is mostly wasted energy. The power to propel a bicycle primarily comes from the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Developing those muscles makes sense. However, developing bigger calf muscles in order to flip a longer shoe downward would result in a net loss in speed, in my opinion, by adding more weight to the lower leg (which moves faster, in a bigger circle, than the upper-leg muscles), thus costing energy with minimal propulsion gains.

Also, the longer the shoe, the higher the saddle has to be to get the same knee and hip angles at the bottom of the stroke; the longer shoe makes the effective leg length longer. A higher saddle results in more aerodynamic drag and a higher center of mass, resulting in more power required to maintain the same speed and reduced cornering and bike-handling effectiveness.

Most of the custom bikes I build are for extremely tall riders. As you might imagine, they generally have big feet. I try to create the opposite setup with them from the one you are proposing. Based on my personal experience as a tall rider with big feet, I always recommend that riders with big feet push their cleats back on the shoes as far as they can.

Mountain-bike shoes allow the cleats to go farther back than do most road shoes. On MTB shoes, this means using the further back pair of threaded holes in the shoe plate and sliding the plate back as far as it will go in the two sole slots.

On road shoes, there is only so much you can do, unless your shoes have slots on the three mounting holes. In my case, I use Speedplay Zero pedals with the “Cleat Extender Base Plate Kit” under my cleats. I slide the extender plates back as far as I can on the shoe, and then I mount the cleats using the rearward set of holes. This results in my cleats being 14mm further back than the furthest I could get them back without the plates.

The far-back cleat allows me to run a lower saddle, thus getting lower to reduce wind drag and improving handling. Having the cleat so far back also greatly reduces “hot foot” pain under the metatarsals; this is how I take advantage of the rigidity of modern carbon shoe soles — distributing the pressure of pedaling over the entire foot, rather than concentrating it under the ball of the foot. I also have a painful condition (developed from years of cycling and cross-country skiing?) called “Morton’s neuroma” between my metatarsals, and the far-back cleat is part of the solution that allows me to ride pain-free.

I think it is merely coincidental that Chris Froome happens to have big feet (and hence big shoes) and wins the Tour and Vuelta. Rather than being an advantage he capitalizes on, it may be something he overcomes. I think the UCI should not devote any resources into catching “shoe fudging” and instead direct more resources into its testing for hidden motors.
― Lennard

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Technical FAQ: Flying with discs; more gearing queries

Dear Lennard,
I just got a great new bike with hydro brakes and a nice clean routing of the hydro hose through the fork. Now I’m itching to travel with it. My current bike bag requires that I remove the fork for travel. Problem is, the hydro line to the front brake is internally routed through the fork, so I can’t simply unbolt the caliper from the mount and then remove the fork from the frame. Seems like I have two options: (1) unwrap the bar tape and take the lever off the handlebars to keep it with the fork; or (2) unhook the hydro line from the caliper, slide it out from inside the fork, unbolt the caliper, re-attach the hydro line to the caliper, and then remove the fork. I’d prefer not to go through the hassle of removing and re-wrapping bar tape, but option (2) has me scared that I’ll get dot fluid everywhere and air in my lines, requiring me to do a hotel-room bleed when I reassemble. Yikes! Maybe I’m missing the easy solution here. What’s your best suggestion for us desperate hydro brake travelers?
— Brad

Dear Brad,
I don’t see any easy solution for you.

The most obvious one is to get a different bike bag or bike case that allows you to leave the fork installed. Unless yours in an enormous bike, there are lots of options here.

If you can’t or don’t want to do that, I’d recommend traveling with a different bike or set it up with an external front brake hose before you travel.

In any case (pun intended), I recommend that you remove the rotors from the wheels for travel. That makes the obvious case (pun intended again) for CenterLock rotors and hubs, rather than 6-bolt ones, so you are spending more time riding and less time screwing around with a dozen rotor bolts.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I’m just wondering if I can run a new DA 9100 11-30 cassette on my 9000 Dura-Ace drivetrain. I am currently running an 11-28; will I need a new chain or any other adjustment to move up only two teeth?
— Frank

Dear Frank,
As I have said before, this depends on the geometry of the derailleur hanger on your bike, but I am willing to bet that this combination will work on most bikes that have Dura-Ace 9000 on them. Yes, you will need another chain link and will probably need to tighten the b-screw to keep the derailleur quiet on the biggest cog.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I came across this piece you wrote.

I am building up a new bike right now, and I am everything but an expert, so I was hoping for your input.

I am planning to buy this 3T Orbis C35 wheelset, which is Shimano/SRAM compatible.

However, I would like to match it with a Campagnolo Potenza groupset.

Does that work?
— Alex

Dear Alex,
Yes it does. Of course, you have to use a Shimano/SRAM-compatible 11-speed cassette on the wheel; the Campy cassette will not fit. The drivetrain will shift fine on that cassette.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
For my many 10-speed Shimano wheels I’m told I can convert the freehub to Campagnolo, buy a Campagnolo cassette, and I’m good to go with any Shimano 11-speed.

What about the wheel dish difference? Any problems there?
— Greg

Dear Greg,
Not on a Shimano brand wheel you can’t! That said, the people who told you are right for most brands; most wheel makers offer freehub bodies for either Shimano/SRAM cassettes or for Campagnolo cassettes. Generally, re-dishing is not necessary. The Campy 11-speed cassette is wider than a Shimano 10-speed one, but it generally sits closer to the spokes and to the dropout on each end.
― Lennard

Regarding cleaning disc-brake pads

Dear Lennard,
In the August 1 edition of your Technical FAQ, you suggested sanding down pads as the best method of cleaning. I used a tip I found on YouTube from “High Carb Rider” quite some time back and it works remarkably well, much better for me than the sanding method. Here are the steps:

1. Remove pads
2. Use dishwashing liquid (I have Dawn to far and away be the best) and put a couple of drops on each pad on the brake surface
3. Rub the pads braking surfaces against each other for a bit. it’s not so much about the time as it is the feeling of the gritty surfaces become smoother as they rub against each other
4. Rinse pads until all traces of dirt and soap are gone
5. If the pads still look dirty, you may have to do steps 3-4 again
6. Dry them off and reinstall them
7. Take a short ride that allows you to get going fast enough (15+ mph or faster), and do a few hard stops to help get the pads bedded back to the rotors
8. You should be good to go!
The only time this didn’t work for me is when I got brake fluid on the pads.

Here is the video. I trimmed off a few minutes at the beginning to get to the point.
— Scott

Regarding budget rear-derailleur-hanger alignment strategies

Dear Lennard,
The thread pitch on a CO2 cartridge is the same as the thread pitch on hangers. In a pinch, you could thread a CO2 cartridge in there and tug a bent hanger back into place, if there’s no other options.
— Joseph

Dear Lennard,
I take Steve’s tip one step further. I remove my rear derailleur and then screw an old wheel into the derailleur hanger. I use a tape measure to measure the distance between the two rims and make sure it’s the same all the way around. No eye-balling required!
— Anthony

More strategies for increasing gear range

You had a reader who wanted to increase his gearing range to 42 teeth with Shimano Di2.

It is possible to drill a hole, which will allow a 40-tooth cassette. This video is for Ultegra mechanical, but it may work with a Di2 system. That would get him a bit closer. We had a few riders using this derailleur and a 40-tooth cassette on a trip to the Dolomites, and it worked great!

Another idea is to use a SRAM Force long cage derailleur, I have that on my CX1 with a 11-42 cassette.
— Marc

Dear Marc,
Thanks for that. I believe you are talking about this derailleur in your second option, not this one. Note that a SRAM Force1 rear derailleur can handle large cogs with a single chainring, but it does not have the capacity to also take up the chain slack required to handle multiple chainrings.
― Lennard

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Technical FAQ: Mixing Campy hydro with SRAM, gear ranges, and more

Campagnolo hydro 1x options

Dear Lennard,
With Campagnolo hydro now out, I am keen to use it for my cyclocross setup. What is the best approach for a 1x drivetrain?
— Campagnolo shifters with a SRAM 11 speed clutch rear derailleur and a 1x narrow/wide front chainring (would this shifting combo work?)
— Campagnolo rear derailleur and shifters set up with 1x narrow/wide front chain ring and chain catcher
— Neither/try something else?

Dear Andrew,
I have tried mixing Campy 10-speed levers with SRAM 10-speed derailleurs, and, as I wrote in this column long ago, it works OK but not perfectly throughout the entire range. I would have considered that combination good enough to use on the road but not good enough that I would have been willing to race cyclocross on it, other than for an occasional race or two in dry conditions. I have not tried mixing Campy and SRAM 11-speed shifters and derailleurs, though.

I would either do your second suggestion of a Campy 1x drivetrain with an X-Sync-type fat-thin-fat-tooth 1x chainring and a good chain catcher over the top, or I’d use the straight SRAM 1x drivetrain. I would accompany that with a good chain catcher over the top if using it in freezing mud.

Tandem drivetrain setups

Dear Lennard,
I’ve tried to keep up with your previous pieces about the possibilities — and potential pitfalls — of using Di2 systems on a tandem. I’m aware of some of the earlier problems/incompatibilities in combining road and mountain components, but I wanted to see if it is yet possible to combine road shifters (i.e., Ultegra ST-R8050 or ST-R785) with a mountain rear derailleur (i.e., XT M-8050-GS) and, ideally, a road front derailleur (i.e., Ultegra FD-R8050)? The ultimate goal would be to run 50/34 (or 52/36) chainrings with an 11-42 cassette.

I suspect that Campy’s EPS system (and their general lack of wide-range gearing options) would not allow such a setup. Does SRAM offer any eTap combinations which would work similarly?

P.S. — I’m assuming that running a standard, triple chainring tandem setup is not possible with current electronic shifting systems.
— John

Dear John,
No, you still can’t use Di2 road shifters with the combination of an MTB Di2 rear derailleur and road Di2 front derailleur. You can use Di2 road shifters with a MTB Di2 front and rear derailleur, but that limits your chainring sizes to very low tooth counts for a road tandem.

Campy EPS offers no more range. SRAM eTap will go to 11-36, as you saw in last week’s column.

A triple crank is possible only with MTB Di2 derailleurs.

Feedback about frame size and gearing range

Dear Lennard,
Reading the Tech Tuesday today about the guy with the Eriksen, who is successfully running an 11-36 cassette with SRAM eTap. It looks like his Eriksen has a replaceable hanger that is the long option. I’m not sure if Eriksen uses Paragon Machine Works hangers or makes their own, but PMW does offer a long and a short hanger option. The long hanger is long enough and the tab for the B-tension screw is at a sufficient angle that it’s usually no problem to run larger cassettes than recommended by either SRAM or Shimano.

Because of this longer hanger, readers who also want to duplicate Eric’s gearing choices may not have the same success if their hanger length is on the short side and/or if the B-tension tab’s angle is not as extreme. Your readers might like to know that Shimano’s range of dimensions for hangers has quite a bit of variance that may or may not allow this combination to work well or at all.

Dear Mike,
I believe you are correct on the dropout. That looks like a Paragon DR0022, which is the same dropout we use on our titanium custom frames. The length difference on the hanger is subtle, and I can’t say for sure that you are correct about it being the longer one. If it is about 1 1/4 inches from skewer to mounting bolt, then it is long. If it is about 1 inch, it’s the short one. The center of the axle to the center of the derailleur bolt is 1.188 inches on the long hanger and 1.040 inches on the short hanger. So the difference is only 0.148 inches, or 3.8mm.

The one on my bike in this post is the long hanger on a Paragon DR0022 dropout, which I know helps it work with the 11-32 cassette and a short-cage rear derailleur.

Of course, you can always add a Wolf Tooth RoadLink (formerly Lindarets, hence both the goat and wolf-head logos on it) to get away with a bigger cassette on a given drivetrain.

Dear Lennard,
“The longer stem makes for less reactivity to steering inputs (the same length of push of the hand rotates the fork less), so the chances of overreacting to a crash in the peloton are slightly reduced.”

Thanks for pointing this out! I get so tired of arguments with those who think the reverse is true.

Feedback on converting a 10-speed freehub body to an 11-speed

Dear Lennard,
I got an XT freehub machined by a lathe guy who also did a 5800 cassette and smoothed off the protruding rim from the back of it. It cost me a bottle of decent red wine, but it was straightforward if you have a big chuck for the freehub and an internal expansion head for the cassette.

It was to convert a 10-speed freehub to 11-speed. I would then only recommend large cassettes, 11-28 and up, as the bigger the largest sprockets, the more spoke clearance you get. As a cyclocross rider, that suits me fine.

Feedback on Campy rear derailleur going into the spokes

Dear Lennard,
I might have some insight into what happened.

I recently upgraded from 10-speed campy to 11-speed (Revolution) on my 2014 Cervelo R3 and kept my 2009 Zipp 303s. The new 11-speed derailleur sits much closer to the wheel than the 10-speed version did. In fact, in first gear the cage was just lightly touching the spokes using the 2x 0.25mm axle washers in the cassette body (the number recommended by Zipp). I had to use a total of four washers to keep the cage far enough away, but it’s still too close to my liking. When I move the same cassette over to an old set of Eurus wheels, there is ample clearance. Maybe a similar situation to what happened to Franco and with some wheel flex, the derailleur got caught in the spokes.

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