Tool of the day…
The secret life of shock pumps
1. They have doppelgangers
According to internet folk lore they there are only two factories in the whole world making them. So if you come cross two different brands of shock pump that look the same, it’s best to go for the cheaper one.
2. They’re notoriously tight (air tight)
The valve-head is specially designed to stop air from escaping when you are connecting and disconnecting the pump. In fact that little pssst sound you hear when you disconnect the pump is air being discharged from the pump back into your suspension. So don’t be tempted to over-inflate your suspension.
3. Precision varies from pump to pump
Like the tail of ‘The Princess and the pea’ most riders aren’t going to notice a 5-10 psi difference so don’t lose any sleep over it. Though naturally the more fastidious riders will want to spend more on their pump for greater precision.
4. Accuracy varies over time
The membrane which detects the air pressure wears out over time. Moisture, oil and dirt also play their part in the degradation process. Best practice is to replace your shock pump every year or so to keep your suspension operating within the sweet spot.
Screw it all the way down to get a reading
This is important because you risk damaging the pump or your forks if the head of the pump isn’t adequately fixed to the air valve on your suspension.
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Some reasons to consider using 26 inch wheels on your homebuilt mountain bike.
29inch wheels have been the standard wheel size of choice for cross country riders for what seems like forever now. Even 27.5inch anomaly Nino Schurter upsized to 29” hoops for the 2016 rio olympics and so far he hasn’t switched back. Downhill riders have been a bit more hesitant to experiment with 29” wheels. Then out of the blue Santa Cruz Syndicate unveiled the V10 29er at the first race of the downhill season in Lourdes, France, prompting a 29” themed arms race in the pits of this years UCI world cup races.
So where does this leave the antiquated 26inch wheel size? Well apart from being great for pinging off roots and rocks, braking late into turns and generally riding your homemade bike like you stole it from a top secret military base somewhere in the Nevada Desert, in my humble opinion and the reason why I used 26in wheels on both of my bike building projects is because they drastically reduce the cost of your project. Look at it this way, there are still mountains of 26inch related <a href="http://Awin” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>new old stock sat in warehouses which may never see the light of day and even more used parts sat in sheds and garages just waiting for their true calling.
Cutting costs on wheels also has a knock on effect for the rest of your build because you’re also using older and therefore cheaper frames and forks. Some online retailers are offering as much as <a href="http://Forks“>50% off forks designed for 26” wheels.
So if you are thinking of building a bike but are put off by the price just remember a good 26 inch wheel is cheaper probably better than a bad 29inch wheel. (Probably).
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Single ring set ups also known as 1x drivetrains have become the norm with both Shimano and Sram offering <a href="http://Shimano-xt-1×11-drivetrain” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>dedicated 1x group sets. But for the dedicated homebuilder you can’t beat a good ghetto 1×10 set up. You get all the advantages that come from having a single ring set up ie, reduced weight, less dashboard clutter, reduced chain wear, greater ground clearance and enhanced reliability.
Apart from the chain and cassette the two most important components you need for a 1×10 set up are a clutch mech and a narrow/wide chain ring. The clutch mech ( a rear derailleur with a clutch) pulls the chain extra tight over the chain ring so it doesn’t bounce off when traversing rough terrain, but loosens the chain when shifting gear. Narrow/wide chainrings are single rings with alternating narrow and wide teeth which hold the chain on the chainring. They generally come in 30,32,34 and 36 tooth configurations, a 32 seems to work best for most riders on most terrains though.
The only major obstacle you might have to overcome is the issue of chain line. Generally it’s nothing a few washers can’t fix and there is a whole load of advice on the issue here .
If you’re still stuck just watch
It’s way cheaper.
Like most disciplines of cycling mountain biking isn’t cheap. But we put up with the financial hardship because buying a new bike isn’t just about the bike itself, it’s about where it will take us, who we will meet and how it will enrich our lives. Some of us ride to keep fit and chill with friends, others (like me) ride for solitude and escapism. Either way having the right bike is a worthwhile expense. When I rediscovered the sport after a 15 year hiatus I didn’t have much money. I had a workshop full of tools and various parts but a very limited understanding how to put a bike together from scratch. I did however have an internet connection and an eye for a bargain. So I set out to build my first custom mountain-bike for a fraction of the retail price.
It’s a great way of getting to know other mountain-bikers who are homebuilding.
Sites like Pinkbike, Ebay, Shpock and sellers pages on Facebook are a great way of tracking down the parts you need at a fraction of their retail price. Sure they might have a little cosmetic damage here and there but after a weeks riding they will be covered in mud anyway so who cares. The great thing about these sites though is they are full of other keen bikers and home mechanics who are more than happy to give you tips and advice and may even become future biking buddies.
Learn about bike mechanics.
The fundamental principles of bikes are very simple. It’s the subtle details that make bike mechanics tricky. Things like bottom bracket standards, wheels sizes, cable routing, setting chain length, trimming brake hoses are all best learned from having a go. Plus you will save a small fortune on repairs and servicing charges.
Build your dream bike
For me one of the best things about homebuilding is the ability to customise your bike to suit your riding style and your local trails. Perhaps you want a <a href="http://Awin“>short travel cross-country bike light enough for racing but robust enough to handle the big drops, rocks and roots of your local trails. With a clear enough idea of what you want from your custom bike anything is possible.
Major bragging rights
Once your custom project is complete you can be extra smug whilst riding around on your completely one off bike. There maybe bikes similar to it but there will not be another one quite like it elevating your creation to the realms of priceless art.