Pre Post-CoViD Island rides

I will not be getting into the darker period prior to my current recovery (which is going great now, thanks for asking).
I want to focus today on a new camera, engineering fails of camera clamps, sun and mountains. How I got me and my bike safely through air travel, you can read here.

The camera in question is the X3 by Insta360 and yes, both the naming strategies of their company and their camera models is less than ideal in my view. Whereas their cameras are actually very good for their intended use, and great fun to use (not sponsored or affiliated in any way).

While there is plenty of info on their cameras online, I want to issue a warning about the levers on the clamps that hold those cams to our bike frames (or, whatever else).
As I found out due to failure on location, those levers are sometimes fixed to the threaded bolt they are meant to turn, by a left-handed thread, and some glue. Yes, you read that right. And yes, I was stunned to find that out, with a lever detaching from the clamp while turning it right way…
Even with my most recent, less-than cheap (and now ‘retired’) clamp, the glue gave up, and so instead of fastening the brackets around my handlebar, the lefty-thread just unscrewed the lever from the threaded bolt, which left me stunned in the presence of such a sad design choice. Those levers need to be locked in place obviously, withstanding both left and right turns to safely open and close those clamps. And no one in their right mind would even assume this could not be the case! So before you buy, try to find out about this point of failure, it is my second model in one year!
I tossed the thing in the bin on the road across Tramuntana to Sa Calobra, and since that third morning on the island, I was only able to film handheld (and because I am not suicidal and like to have both hands on the bars, only ascends have been filmed 😉 .

The resulting clips show the extra exhaustion caused by going up hill with only one hand on the bar, but more importantly, beautiful scenery. Here you go.

Ascends from Sa Calobra to Puig Major and Valledemossa

And before the clamp failure, I went from Paguera to Puigpunyent via Galilea:

Chain lube options / now ultra sound waxing

I heard from sources I trust that they are running one chain on their gravel bike for 30.000km. With hardly any signs of wear on the chain, or the whole drive train.
Even for half that life-span, I would be intrigued, as it saves resources and also, cost!
A lightweight cassette being retailed for upwards of 250,- Euros lasting 30K Km…

This year I have finally taken the leap away from drip-on solutions like “Squirt Lube” to the immersion waxing method (see drip-on-post HERE if you’d like).

A seven-speed chain for a client, cooling amongst my spares.

The results are speaking for themselves right away.
Having two bikes converted two months ago to immersion waxed chains, I can say I have never had a more silent drive train. Also, it looks even more clean than with drip-on wax, after the initial overshot wax has fallen off. So far, so brilliant.

I meanwhile have two prepared chains per bike, and upgraded to an ultrasonic cleaner with a big enough basin and a heating function.
The cleaning of a used chain in mildly soapy water with this device is as quick as it is comfortable, especially when using an open tupper ware box (or similar) for the chain and soap, and immerse that container then into the water basin of the device – which stays completely clean itself then. At 80 degrees plus ultrasound, the dirt comes off in 3 rounds at 5 minutes each, easily.

The re-waxing happens the same way of course – a container for the re-usable fresh wax block gets immersed into the basin with the hot water inside, the clean chain and quick links get dropped in, and the ultra sound energy both heats up the system closer to 90 degrees and shakes the very fluid wax into all the dents and crevices around the rollers of the chain.
Take it all out and hang up to drip-dry into the wax container, and then fold the chain into a sealed plastic bag. I like to put labels on with kms ridden and cycles waxed, just to keep a tab and get my numbers correct at the end of the drive trains’ life.
And, we’re up and running again.

///

Some history, and method without an ultra sound cleaner:
Before that sophistication and really, simplification of the process, I had bought a cheap crock pot / slow cooker, white spirit, isopropanol alcohol and some containers. For the future, I hope more people are sharing their tools for a small fee or so, so neighbours can have chain-cook-outs together, maybe 🙂
First lesson here was, getting a pot with automatic temp control, so the wax sits nicely at 90 to 95 degrees Centigrade, so as to easily infiltrate all the tiny spaces within the fully degreased chain, while not fully boiling and evaporating.

The waxing itself is actually fun and rather quick.
The necessary one-time degreasing part is the less enjoyable solution, but tolerable.
We are talking 30.000 km here, after which the chain might need to be swapped for a new one, and thus only then degreasing will be done again.
It takes me three full rinse cycles in white spirit, to get a new chain grease-free.
The used fluid I collect in a bottle to bring to recycling, of course. Cannot get into water ways!
Then another two to three rinses with Isopropanol alcohol, which is a breeze (do not inhale too much, though ;).
Then let dry fully, and get the wax heated up, stir for a bit, and hang to cool.
Include any quick-links should you use those. Wipperman Connex is lovely, can be opened and closed without tools and lasts many closing cycles.

Up the hill, with a camera and telemetric data

Just for fun.
And for the future possibly with more camera angles – using cameras brings ideas for fitting bikes to people better 😉

This is an aluminium bike, the only carbon fibre parts being the fork and the saddle, composed out of four different “groups” of Shimanos’ offerings.
Brakes, wheels, bottom bracket are all sourced elsewhere, I installed special gearing outside of manufacturers’ specifications, and am running 32mm wide 700C tyres and a 36cm wide drop bar. Coming to a total of 7.6kg at present.

With this new gearing, I feel confident even on 17% gradients on loose terrain, while feeling still confident descending at relatively high speeds (high in relation to my nervous system).
Here is the short version of my most recent ascent, starting in the gnarly bit:


Here is the full version, should ever feel so inclined:

Bottom bracket spin test. Say nothing.

They actually are tricky to really make assumptions about the real friction.
As we do not know how the grease inside behaves under load, when getting warmer, and so forth.

What we can certainly say though, is that this frames’ bottom bracket shell has been properly faced to have clean, smooth and perpendicular surfaces for the bearing cups to snug up against, allowing the spindle to experience the least possible friction from misalignment.
So, these “race” bearings, with oil instead of grease, no- contact seals and being of the best quality available, show us certainly this, at least.

Power meters, souplesse and feel

I have received an email from a dear fellow cyclist (his Youtube here) residing in Thailand, as to what my take is on powermeters. Specifically, if they are apt to teach us better pedalling and if we put an equal amount of torque into both left and right crank arms.
Full disclosure: I do not have much first hand experience with different systems. But I have some ideas about them I am willing to share. Also, I will include a link to a youtuber who is deep into the matter.

My first power meter was a heart rate monitor. It has nothing to do with “souplesse” of course, but I keep circling back to using those to get a better feel of “felt exhaustion” in relation to the actual state of my heart and “rpm”.

While I did extensive research (as I tend to do), I since only opted for a single sided system in form of Stages Power (not affiliated or endorsed), which seemed to be a practical because it can easily be interchanged between any crank set of the same spec (i.e. spindle and crank length).
The data output correlates significantly with the heart rate monitor, but is of course much more imminent as torque put into the crank is measured many times per second and displayed on the head unit immediately. And the heart takes a little longer to react to exertion and resting periods.
I do like this system a lot, especially to show me more directly where I am headed (full on blowing up soon, or, possibly a sustainable effort) on ascends and into headwinds.

As for souplesse or at least, balancing power input between left and right foot, I believe a well tuned dual sided system can help. I would probably check into a pedal-axle system because it can be easily transferred between bikes, despite the fact that an increase in stance (“Q-factor”) can have some effect on comfort on the bike, and might take some getting used to.

What I tend to rely on more though, both for souplesse and balance on the bike, is “feel” (yes, an overused word indeed). As I state in my “ich” (German only) section on this website, I profess in feel for three decades now, and come to believe it is somewhat a declining form of approach, while being able to provide not only great insights, but also joy.
In the right circumstances (shoes tied equally, bike fits well, no imminent outside threats like rabid dogs or, car drivers) it does result in a state similar to meditation, at least for me.
Especially on free rollers, any imbalance becomes very obvious in form of the bike drifting to one side and the feel of the hands on the bars.

While there are many techniques to get more in touch with “feel”, this would be a bit much for this one blog post.
But if I know where and what to look for from a mere mechanical perspective, I can find differences rather easily.
Knee injuries do help ironically, and dealing with some tendon inflammation on the outter side of mine gave me even more insights over the years, and good solutions on top.

The contact points are, where it is at. It is rather hard to feel “a knee” in motion if focussing on it alone, but going with the reference points of my feet exerting pressure within my shoes and the movement of my hip joints, I was able to rather easily and quickly reign in the sideways motion of my knees during the pedal stroke.

A similar approach helped me to have more power and endurance during my first stay on Mallorca in 2022 (see the last Strava cut down the page), where I focussed on how my feet felt within the shoes while trying to a) pedal more equally and b) to put power into the crank for a wider angle within the rotation.

Shane Miller aka GPLama on Youtube (external link!).

Back in the game

Or rather, up the hills. Which I find more and more appealing, and a true source of teachable moments.
Especially off-tarmac and on compacted paths or even the proverbial gravel, balance is trained because well needed, on my racer with only 32mm wide tires.
Add a steep gradient (in parts peaking at over 20%), and you have good reason to learn as much “souplesse” (or, “the art of perfect pedalling”, i.e. constant power to the cranks) as you possibly can.

Getting out of the saddle is not an option, because 32mm rubber will just not deal with your power peaking on those paths. But even when you try that (and fail), you learn how to very quickly click out of your pedals to avoid some of that gravel making its way into your skin.

I really, really am impressed by Blade Runner….



Admittedly, I am just really, really happy that my power numbers – f-it, who cares for those – my health and fitness has mostly recovered to the point where it all went to zero, right after my private bike camp on Mallorca in the Fall of 2022.

And again, numbers are only there to surprise me, not for me to chase after – so, know that only 89 riders had ridden up that segment at the time I randomly discovered this lovely, lonely alternative to the treaded and dreaded tarmac alternative.

“Worldwide”. Right 😛

Future proofing my style

I have not posted in a while.
My injuries due to the crash in October of 2022 took about as long to heal as the doctors predicted, which was entirely longer than I wanted them to. In my mind, I was good to go after about one-fifths of their estimate. Sigh.

Another possibility got me thinking, and time to think I had plenty.
What if that crash had happened not on my city commuter, but on one of my “nice” bikes?
What if frame or fork had taken serious damage, beyond repair, and no replacement possible?

Founder of this brand liked Blade Runner. As do I.

The threaded bottom bracket is back en vogue now, after out-of-spec bb-shells causing creaking noises for about 15 years.
While that is welcome by me (and adds to the list of the marketing bs we are constantly exposed to), that was not to be foreseen.
The hookless rim has just been outed as having been merely a means to cut cost (see an engineers take on newly filed international patents here), and they are bringing hooks back, baby (i.e. they patented a way to manufacture the hooked rims cheaper now).

My point is, I like to have options. Mainly to entertain a certain style of bike, to have a choice.
If and when they might be going to bring back rim brake frames and hubs and well, rims, as a lightweight and capable alternative to disc brakes (“whew, see the 622mm rotors we got now? Great heat dissipation, less warping and also less system weight – and enough power to slide out a 28mm front tire at 100+ PSI on tarmac, with only two fingers on the lever”), I can not foresee. (Got curious? I knew you would – see my take on being force-fed disc brakes here, if you dare).

Hence, I am now prepared. I bought (at a price that make your eyes water, but with joy) one of the last available cantilever rim brake frames, and future proofed it as good as I know how.

Wrapped in two layers of vacuum bag, all drop outs protected with dummy axles, and the derailleur hanger protected by a broken drum stick via zip ties (the vacuum really ties the frame together!), good padding of fork legs and steerer because the fork is tape-suspended inside the main triangle, and all frame openings served with a copious amount of silica gel packs to keep humidity well controlled for a decade (or for how ever long my current frame will last me).

Disc Brakes. Why, and for whom.

(German below)

– An attempt to enable an educated decision on choice of braking system –
(and why I still prefer rim brakes for lightweight and maintainable bikes with narrow tires)

First up: Everyone should know what they want and/or need, and then decide.
No system has only advantages or disadvantages – the facts and purpose should be considered. Simple.
Also, rim brakes are not suddenly dangerous. But hear me out.

Observation
Disc brakes are suitable for people with
– a healthy “I do not really care, there are more important topics in life” attitude
– waning hand strength due to physical inhibitions
– heavy bikes, and such with motors of some kind
– half knowledge, contrived from brand marketing, social media shills and more
– need for recognition and low self esteem (“pros have them”, “everybody has them”, “expensive and/or the latest, must be better”, …)

My collection regarding disc brakes on velos:
– can flip a bike into a somersault with just one finger on the front brake
(well tuned rim brakes need about two fingers for that :-P)

– provide more stopping power in relation to the same hand input
(That varies greatly with brake track in question and material of brake cartridge used:
An aluminium rim/brake track with correct choice of cartridge has comparable
stopping power to a disc brake system, especially in dry conditions.
In wet conditions, disc brakes “bite” harder. But with thin tires, the rubber loses grip on the (now wet, remember?) asphalt as well…so you slide out quicker, or, cannot really use the power they provide.
Longer descends tend to overheat the discs, which can lead to loss of braking power.
Pistons tend to get stuck then as well, which can lead to locking of brakes.
Overheated discs tend to warp, which can lead to scraping sounds.

– the whole system is 400g-500g heavier than rim brake systems
(Taking into account all parts, which, next to rotor, caliper, hoses, grips is also
the reinforcement of fork legs/frame stays, hubs and the higher spoke count,
to take the high load of the braking forces at a rather small diameter.

– less aero
(Rim brakes are positioned in “dirty air”, in turbulence caused by the tire, which hits
the air first, and are therefore negligable. Rotors are air cooled and have vents, and
are located outside of the wheel in the wind.
And a radial spoke pattern (without crossing) is impossible to use, for the brake forces
need to travel through hub via spokes to rim and tire, and the spokes would simply
sheer off.

– loss of front wheel symmetry
Due to the rotor needing space on the non-drive side, the symmetry of the spoke angles
towards the hub is lost, which needs to be compensated for with uneven spoke tension
left to right, resulting in a less stable front wheel.

– Pros know how to brake. Really. Most of us (me included) do not.
Meaning, they know the limits of their tires, and sometimes go beyond them.
Even if disc brakes “bite more” in the wet, it is the contact patch of rubber on tarmac
which really slows us down after all. So, if I hardly ever use the full potential of whichever
brake system, why does it matter to have more bite, all of a sudden?

– Disc brake systems are more costly to maintain.
(The word of “brake track failure” on rim brake wheels I have heard, but I have never
seen a worn track, have you? As you will have to change rims or even wheels over time
with any brake system due to stress loads just rolling along, I have not found this
point to matter.

World tour mechanic on the topic (starts min 3:29)

Chris Froome on the topic (starts min 8:37)

June 2022 – I will gladly update fresh findings and arguments in the future.

////////

///////// German, thanks, google 😉 ////////

– Ein Versuch, eine fundierte Wahl des Bremssystems zu ermöglichen –
(und warum ich bei leichten und wartungsfreundlichen RĂ€dern mit schmalen Reifen immer noch Felgenbremsen bevorzuge)

ZunÀchst einmal: Jeder sollte wissen, was er will und/oder braucht, und dann entscheiden.
Kein System hat nur Vor- oder Nachteile – die Fakten und der Zweck sollten berĂŒcksichtigt werden, ganz einfach.
Auch sind Felgenbremsen nicht plötzlich unwirksam oder gar gefÀhrlich. Aber eines nach dem anderen:.

Beobachtung:
Scheibenbremsen sind geeignet fĂŒr Menschen mit
– einer gesunden „Ist mir eigentlich egal, es gibt wichtigere Themen im Leben“-Einstellung
– nachlassender Handkraft aufgrund körperlicher EinschrĂ€nkungen
– schweren FahrrĂ€dern und solchen mit irgendwelchen Motoren
– Halbwissen, gesammelt aus Markenmarketing, Social-Media-Kenntnissen und Ă€hnlichem
– BedĂŒrfnis nach Anerkennung und geringem SelbstwertgefĂŒhl („Rennsport-Pros fahren auch Discs“, „jeder hat sie“, „teuer und/oder das Neueste, muss besser sein“, 
)

Und hier nun meine Sammlung zum Thema Scheibenbremse am (Renn-)Velo:
– kann ein Fahrrad mit nur einem Finger an der Vorderradbremse in einen Salto zwingen
(gut abgestimmte Felgenbremsen brauchen dafĂŒr etwa zwei Finger :-P)

– bieten mehr Bremskraft in Relation zur gleichen Handkraft
(das ist je nach Bremsflanke und Material der verwendeten Bremsgummis sehr unterschiedlich allerdings:
Die Bremsleistung mit Alufelge/Alu-Bremsflanke bei richtiger Wahl der Gummimischung
ist mit der eines Scheibenbremssystems vergleichbar, insbesondere bei trockenen Bedingungen.
Bei NĂ€sse „beißen“ Scheibenbremsen theoretisch hĂ€rter zur, aber die Bodenhaftung ist letztlich, was zur Verzögerung des Rades fĂŒhrt – und mit schmalen Rennreifen ist da nicht viel (Bodenhaftung…).
LĂ€ngere Abfahrten neigen dazu, die Scheiben zu ĂŒberhitzen, was zu einem Verlust der Bremsleistung fĂŒhren kann.
Auch die Brems-Kolben neigen dann zum Festsitzen, was zum Blockieren der Bremse fĂŒhren kann.
Überhitzte Scheiben neigen zum Verziehen, was zu SchleifgerĂ€uschen fĂŒhren kann.

– das ganze Brems-System ist 400g-500g schwerer als Felgenbremssysteme
(Unter BerĂŒcksichtigung aller Teile, die neben Rotor, Bremssattel, Hydro-SchlĂ€uchen, Griffen auch die VerstĂ€rkung von Gabelbeinen/Rahmenstreben, Naben und die höhere Speichenzahl einrechnen muss, um die hohe Belastung der BremskrĂ€fte bei eher kleinem Durchmesser aufzunehmen.

– weniger Aero
(Felgenbremsen befinden sich in „schmutziger Luft“, in Turbulenzen, die durch den zuerst auf die Luft treffenden Reifen verursacht werden sind daher vernachlĂ€ssigbar. Rotoren sind luftgekĂŒhlt und haben BelĂŒftungsöffnungen und befinden sich außerhalb des Rades im Wind, dadurch haben sie aerodynamisch eine höhere Bremswirkung.
Und ein radiales Speichenmuster (ohne Kreuzung) ist fĂŒr die hohen BremskrĂ€fte nicht zu verwenden, da diese durch Nabe ĂŒber Speichen zu Felge und Reifen gelangen mĂŒssen – radiale Speichen wĂŒrden dabei einfach abscheren. Damit ist auch die Einspeichung durch die nun notwendigen Kreuzungspunkte weniger aerodynamisch.

– Verlust der Vorderradsymmetrie
Bedingt durch den Platzbedarf des Rotors auf der Nicht-Antriebsseite, geht die Symmetrie der Speichenwinkel Richtung Nabe verloren, was durch ungleichmĂ€ĂŸige Speichenspannung ausgeglichen werden muss von links nach rechts, was zu einem weniger stabilen Vorderrad fĂŒhrt.

– Profis wissen, wie man bremst. Wirklich bremst. Die meisten von uns (mich eingeschlossen) tun das nicht.
Das heißt, Pros kennen die Grenzen ihrer Reifen wie niemand sonst – so können wenn ĂŒberhaupt sie von einem spĂ€ten Anbremspunkt in Kurven mit Sekundenbruchteilen als Vorteil rechnen.
Aber auch wenn Scheibenbremsen bei NĂ€sse „mehr zubeißen“, ist es die KontaktflĂ€che von Gummi auf Asphalt, die uns wirklich entschleunigt. Also, wenn ich kaum jemals das volle Potenzial von Felgenbremsen nutze, warum ist es plötzlich wichtig, noch mehr Biss zu haben?

– Scheibenbremssysteme sind teurer in der Wartung durch schneller Abnutzung und teurere Komponenten (Rotoren und Brems-Pads).
Im Gegenzug dazu habe ich das Wort „Bremsflankenbruch“ bei FelgenbremsrĂ€dern gehört, aber noch nie eine abgenutzte Felge gesehen – sonst irgendjemand? Im Laufe der Zeit mĂŒssen RĂ€der sowieso wegen ermĂŒdeter Speichen oder Naben erneuert werden, meist lange bevor Felgen “durchgebremst” worden sind.

Welttournee-Mechaniker zum Thema (ab Min. 3:29)

Chris Froome zum Thema (ab Minute 8:37)

Juni 2022 – Neue Erkenntnisse und Argumente werde ich in Zukunft gerne aktualisieren



A collarbone snapped

This is allegedly the most common injury when unintentionally dismounting a bicycle at speed.
It is certainly fun to use the gps data from the bike computer and strava flyby, to create a real time analysis of what happened. Time well spent while bones and tissue heals up.

Pictures of Mallorca

Cliff Port D’Andratx
Cliff Port D’Andratx
Cliff Port D’Andratx
Port D’Andratx way back there
Alaro
Away from Alaro to Col d’Orient
Palma in background
Port de Soller, correct
North coast, Soller to Valldemossa
MA-10 still.
Valldemossa, just one “e”
MA-10, coast road still.
MA-10.
Divine. MA-10 inwards to South.
Jup.
North-East of the island.
Campanet on horizon.
The far South West.