Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => Audax => Topic started by: The French Tandem on August 10, 2017, 07:23:19 am

Title: [LEL17] Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 10, 2017, 07:23:19 am
Hi all,

Now that the dust has (a bit) settled, I would like to share a few thoughts about my LEL experience as a mechanic at Barnard Castle. I think this could be cast into recommendations for new riders on LEL 2021. Please feel free to comment or complete.

Of course, I'm perfectly aware that the majority of the riders don't need any of these recommendations, but from my place at the mechanics stand, I probably saw some of the most poorly prepared riders. I saw many problems that could have been avoided with better mechanical preparation. I don't mean at all that all the riders who showed up at the mechanics stand were poorly prepared. Some were just unlucky, but others had clearly inadequate bicycles, and with the continuous growth in the number of riders, we should probably expect to see a larger number of unprepared riders in the future.
 
So here we go:


1) Brake/shifter levers: All modern brake/shifter levers tend to chew out and destroy the gear cables, especially when exposed to rain and fine grit as you will encounter on the LEL route. This is true no matter you use Shimano, Campagnolo or Sram levers. We had to change cables on all three flavours of levers. Most of them were badly chewed right into the brake lever. The best solution is to use downtube or bar end shifters, but if you really prefer brake/shifter levers, make sure you have new cables fitted and properly lubricated just before LEL.

2) Cable routing: Changing a gear cable on a modern carbon fiber frame with internal cable routing takes many times longer than on a more traditional bicycle with external routing. Actually, internally routed cables are easier to change with the bottom bracket off the frame, but don't expect the basic mechanics stand at the controls to be able to take off your bottom bracket. Many of these bottom brackets are press fit and requires special tooling that you will find in a proper bicycle shop, but not in a control. It is still possible to change a cable without removing the bottom bracket, but it is a very long and tedious job. One of them took more than an hour of work for three volunteers. While the volunteers are working for a long time for one rider, they cannot care for all the others who are waiting behind. The message is: either use a bicycle with external gear cables, or, if you really insist on having internal cables: change them before the ride, and practice changing them yourself!

3) Tubeless tyres: These look really interesting due to their ability to self repair punctures with inner sealant, and their ability to run safely at a lower pressure. However, at the Barnard Castle control, we had to care for two riders with tubeless tyres that were beyond any hope of self repair. A tube was fitted in these tyres, but the job was quite tedious due to the tyres being very tightly fitted on the rim. Another rider came in with a wheel that presumably needed truing, as the bicycle was vibrating dangerously at high speed. Actually, his wheel was reasonably true, the problem was that all the sealant sealed itself for no obvious reason on one end of the tyre, acting as a big weight imbalance. I do not mean that you should not use tubeless tyres, but please take into account what might happens to you.

4) Bicycle parts for sale: Some controls, but not all, will have a basic set of bicycle parts for sale, like tubes, chains, cables, etc.  These parts should be seen as an emergency help only, we are not a regular bicycle shop. All riders are expected to carry with them everything they need to complete the ride. So if you ask us for one spare tube, we will happily sell you one, provided that we have one that fits your bicycle. If you ask for 4 or 5 tubes, as some riders did, we will politely tell you to go to the nearest bike shop. If your bicycle needs unusual parts (for example: specific brake pads for carbon rims), bring your own, don't expect to find spares for sale at controls.

5) Electronic shifting: Many riders were let down by the battery of their electronic shifters. These batteries are simply not designed to last for 1400 km in the cold and rainy LEL weather. If you bring your own charger, you may be able to charge your battery, provided a mains socket is available. If you have no charger, the volunteers will not be able to help you.

6) GPS devices: Do not expect the volunteers to be able to solve any problem with your device. If you need charging and have your own charger, you may be able to use a mains socket. If you have no charger, you will not be able to charge your device.

7) Chain oiling and tyres pumping: Riders are expected to show a minimum of self-sufficiency. If your chain needs oiling, or your tyres need pumping, we will happily lend you a bottle of lube or a proper track pump. Asking volunteers to do it for you is probably asking for too much. Volunteers are very busy at solving other problems. If you feel that you are too tired for using a pump by yourself, consider going to bed for an hour or two.

8) Low spoke count wheels: These wheels are clearly not suitable for a long distance event like LEL. If you  have only 16 spokes and break just one of them, chances are that your bicycle will be unrideable. With a more traditional wheel with 28, 32 or 36 spokes, you can break a spoke a keep riding to the next control. Moreover, low spoke count wheels often have special proprietary spokes, and unless you carry your own spare spokes, no one will be able to fix your wheel at the next control.


Alain
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Marmitegeoff on August 10, 2017, 07:50:56 am
Thank you for the pointers.  I would add if you are using special spokes aero direct pull then please consider carrying a couple of each length that you require taped to your bike.

I had 1 rider get a little irate that I could not true a low spoke count wheel when he had broken such a spoke.  I would suggest that 16 spokes is too few to have in a wheel for this event.  This particular wheel had fewer.

Geoff
1 of the mechanics at Spalding
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: chrisbainbridge on August 10, 2017, 08:29:16 am
I have no experience of gear or brake cables as i run hydraulic discs for many of the reasons stated.

I do think that you are being unfair to Di2.  This was not arctic weather.  The temperature was in the standard operating temperature for Di2 at all times.  Whilst Yad Moss was cold we did not have ice!

Di2  batteries are rated for 1700km  of normal use at these temperatures.  Batteries of course degrade with time and some of the first generation batteries are possibly at 50% capacity.  However if you do not bring a charger with you and some form of charging then you are an idiot.  The charger weighs a negligible amount and can be used with a 4 AA USB charger pack which could be left in a bag drop if required.  Di2 is almost certainly the very best mechanism for long distance riding as it completely obviates the need for cables, adjustments, etc.  However just like Garmins, mobile phones and other advances it has a learning curve.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: whosatthewheel on August 10, 2017, 08:30:58 am

1) Brake/shifter levers: All modern brake/shifter levers tend to chew out and destroy the gear cables, especially when exposed to rain and fine grit as you will encounter on the LEL route. This is true no matter you use Shimano, Campagnolo or Sram levers. We had to change cables on all three flavours of levers. Most of them were badly chewed right into the brake lever. The best solution is to use downtube or bar end shifters, but if you really prefer brake/shifter levers, make sure you have new cables fitted and properly lubricated just before LEL.


Alain

Are you really suggesting to go back to downtube shifters and bar end shifters?

There was a generation of Shimano STIs that indeed chewed gear cables, most notably the 5600 and to a lesser extent the 5700. The more recent ones seem immune from that problem. I have never owned SRAM and can't vouch for these (although they did seem to have other issues). Campagnolo shifters have never chewed gear cables as far as I am aware.

I have owned various Ergo, mach 2 and mach 3 versions and never had to replace a cable that I remember.

I would say if a cable can't cope with a thousand miles of riding, there was a problem in its installation in the first place..

Advising to go back to downtube shifters seem a bit excessive... I can't even think of any modern framset that has bosses for downtube shifters... it would be a case of ramaging the local recycling centre in search for something suitable.. probably one step too far
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Zed43 on August 10, 2017, 08:39:31 am
Regarding electronic shifting, I think the Di2 battery may last 1400km unless you have a wireless transmitter to record your gearshifts on your GPS.

Still, bringing the charger and a USB power pack and packing these on your bike (instead of in a dropbag) is good insurance. Don't forget to pack electronics in a waterproof bag (1 litre Ziploc is ideal).

I had a 20Ah power pack on the bike and another one in my Brampton dropbag. The one on the bike was enough to keep the Garmin, lights, Di2 and phone running  (I do keep my phone in flight mode most of the time though). Bringing a power pack makes you independent of the availability of wall sockets.

Sent from my SM-A520F using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 10, 2017, 08:42:56 am
Few people know that the gear changer nipples on STIs and Ergos are different sizes. Put the wrong one in, and you'll struggle to get them out.

 Andreas Keil rode Di2 in 2013, he didn't this year.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: grams on August 10, 2017, 08:48:17 am
I experienced a chewed cable on a 5800 shifter (thankfully before LEL), and I know others that have too. The cable can't have been more than a few months old.

Regarding internal cable routing, the key here is a piece of plastic sheath (https://youtu.be/QZaGL83RMFI?t=109) that you thread over the old cable, pull through the frame, then do the reverse with the new cable. I'm not sure where you can buy this, mine came with the frame.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 10, 2017, 08:52:05 am
Campag Ergo also has a tendency to fatigue gear cables within the lever, though I've not had experience with 11sp Ergo (and don't want to).

I suggest replacing STI/Ergo cables annually on high mileage bikes to avoid broken cables.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mattc on August 10, 2017, 08:53:01 am
Excellent post Alain!  :thumbsup:


Of course riders are free to choose their equipment, but info like this puts them in the best position to make an informed choice.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Tomsk on August 10, 2017, 09:26:22 am
Are you really suggesting to go back to downtube shifters and bar end shifters?

I really like the 7sp 105 down-tube levers on my [rather old] geared Audax bike, though bar-end shifters would perhaps be my choice on a new machine [as on my tourer]. But then I have slightly arthritic hands and appreciate the chance to keep them moving frequently. And, you can tell by feel what gear you're in - very useful at night.

Having failed to replace a gear cable on another's bike, on another ride and spent a fair bit of time fiddling around in the shed with my STI levers, I really like the ease of changing dt gear cables, plus having the friction only option: with a change of chain I could run any rear wheel bought/borrowed/cannibalised en-route.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: whosatthewheel on August 10, 2017, 09:38:13 am
My point is that we are in 2017... I know you can still buy Dura Ace downtube shifters, although I think they are indexed for 9 or 10 speed, can't remember. The choice of frames with bosses is pretty much down to zero... maybe Surly make something that weighs 3 kg and takes DT shifters? Not many people still have a bike with DT shifters (I do have one with 52 x 42 and a 23 freewheel at the back...) and those that do, might have an overall less reliable bike. I would definitively "risk" using STIs... maybe even go as far as investing 2 pounds in a new cable ahead of the event, safe in the knowledge that IT WILL last a thousand miles...

I thought discussions like this one had been buried by 1992  ;D
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mattc on August 10, 2017, 09:42:55 am
I would definitively "risk" using STIs... maybe even go as far as investing 2 pounds in a new cable ahead of the event, safe in the knowledge that IT WILL last a thousand miles...

I thought discussions like this one had been buried by 1992  ;D

This is exactly what was advised at the start of the thread. Here ya go:

if you really prefer brake/shifter levers, make sure you have new cables fitted and properly lubricated just before LEL.


I'm not really sure why you're turning this into an argument  :-\
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Somnolent on August 10, 2017, 09:50:03 am
3) Tubeless tyres: These look really interesting due to their ability to self repair punctures with inner sealant, and their ability to run safely at a lower pressure. However, at the Barnard Castle control, we had to care for two riders with tubeless tyres that were beyond any hope of self repair. A tube was fitted in these tyres, but the job was quite tedious due to the tyres being very tightly fitted on the rim. Another rider came in with a wheel that presumably needed truing, as the bicycle was vibrating dangerously at high speed. Actually, his wheel was reasonably true, the problem was that all the sealant sealed itself for no obvious reason on one end of the tyre, acting as a big weight imbalance. I do not mean that you should not use tubeless tyres, but please take into account what might happens to you.

Interesting...
My tubeless tyre / rim combination is not so hard to fit (needs a lever rather than just thumbs but no huge problem) but OTH it is very unlikely to be able to get the bead seated without an Airshot (or the Schwalbe copy "Tire Booster" or one of the new pumps with a reservoir).   I'd have liked to see more of those at controls, but in the absence it was not a huge problem for me to fit and complete the event with tubes that I put in myself.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: hulver on August 10, 2017, 10:00:39 am
Hi all,

Now that the dust has (a bit) settled, I would like to share a few thoughts about my LEL experience as a mechanic at Barnard Castle. I think this could be cast into recommendations for new riders on LEL 2021. Please feel free to comment or complete.

*snip a lot of good advice*

As one of the mechanics at Pocklington, I'd second most of this (although I'm not sure about getting rid of STIs) I'd certainly say get your gear and brake cables changed before any long ride. It's difficult to tell when they're wearing out, and if they snap it's a nightmare to get the old bits out of the shifter (ask yorkie). Change them, and then give them a few weeks to stretch so they can be adjusted before you go on the ride.

Make sure your adjusters work.

Take some spare spokes of the right size for your wheels. All your wheels, drive side and non-drive side. That should only require 3 spokes at most, although two of each spare would be good.

Don't use old tyres on the ride. Put fresh rubber on, and ride it for a while before the ride. Take a spare tyre with you, and another in one of your drop bags in case you use your spare.

Most of the work I did was changing tubes & tyres and adjusting gears. Several wheels with snapped spokes we could do nothing for because we didn't have the right sized spoke.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 10, 2017, 10:04:24 am
I had 1 rider get a little irate that I could not true a low spoke count wheel when he had broken such a spoke.  I would suggest that 16 spokes is too few to have in a wheel for this event.  This particular wheel had fewer.

Thank you Geoff! I just added a comment about this sort of wheels.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 10, 2017, 10:12:20 am
I do think that you are being unfair to Di2.  This was not arctic weather.  The temperature was in the standard operating temperature for Di2 at all times.  Whilst Yad Moss was cold we did not have ice!

Di2  batteries are rated for 1700km  of normal use at these temperatures.  Batteries of course degrade with time and some of the first generation batteries are possibly at 50% capacity.  However if you do not bring a charger with you and some form of charging then you are an idiot.  The charger weighs a negligible amount and can be used with a 4 AA USB charger pack which could be left in a bag drop if required.  Di2 is almost certainly the very best mechanism for long distance riding as it completely obviates the need for cables, adjustments, etc.  However just like Garmins, mobile phones and other advances it has a learning curve.

I'm sorry if you feel that I'm unfair. I have never used Di2 myself. I just met two riders at BC who had low Di2 batteries and no charger. I don't know how many riders suffered from the same problem at other controls.  Even if you bring your own charger, the ever growing need to charge phones, GPS and Di2 tend to exceed the number of available mains sockets at controls.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: billyam998 on August 10, 2017, 10:19:01 am
Regarding electronic shifting, I think the Di2 battery may last 1400km unless you have a wireless transmitter to record your gearshifts on your GPS.

Still, bringing the charger and a USB power pack and packing these on your bike (instead of in a dropbag) is good insurance. Don't forget to pack electronics in a waterproof bag (1 litre Ziploc is ideal).

I had a 20Ah power pack on the bike and another one in my Brampton dropbag. The one on the bike was enough to keep the Garmin, lights, Di2 and phone running  (I do keep my phone in flight mode most of the time though). Bringing a power pack makes you independent of the availability of wall sockets.

Sent from my SM-A520F using Tapatalk

My seat tube DI2 battery (with bluetooth transmitter) lasted the whole event easily - despite my clumsy shifting, still showing 40% charge. I had power packs in my drop bags (I only fully drained one of them) - keeping garmin going and, one on the bike, apart from a quick boost for my phone at great easton, I didn't need to seek out a socket for the rest of the ride.  There was a lot of discussion regarding power sources etc before the ride, for people to turn up and, expect charging facility to be freely available is in my mind rather inept, as are a lot of the other ridiculous requests - glad I wasn't around when someone demanded their tyres be pumped up
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: arallsopp on August 10, 2017, 10:22:14 am
Thanks for posting this. Puts us all in a good position to judge the compromises / advantages / relative safety of various choices we may be able to make. Even if its just back of the mind, "Next time I change X..."

The 'bents are always a bit of a law unto themselves. Nothing necessarily fits quite the way you'd hope, but I am finding a slow fluency towards better choices.



Again, the main rule is ride it all first, a lot, then get it all checked, replace and service whatever needs loving, then ride it a bit more before the day.

Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: billyam998 on August 10, 2017, 10:26:12 am
I do think that you are being unfair to Di2.  This was not arctic weather.  The temperature was in the standard operating temperature for Di2 at all times.  Whilst Yad Moss was cold we did not have ice!

Di2  batteries are rated for 1700km  of normal use at these temperatures.  Batteries of course degrade with time and some of the first generation batteries are possibly at 50% capacity.  However if you do not bring a charger with you and some form of charging then you are an idiot.  The charger weighs a negligible amount and can be used with a 4 AA USB charger pack which could be left in a bag drop if required.  Di2 is almost certainly the very best mechanism for long distance riding as it completely obviates the need for cables, adjustments, etc.  However just like Garmins, mobile phones and other advances it has a learning curve.

I'm sorry if you feel that I'm unfair. I have never used Di2 myself. I just met two riders at BC who had low Di2 batteries and no charger. I don't know how many riders suffered from the same problem at other controls.  Even if you bring your own charger, the ever growing need to charge phones, GPS and Di2 tend to exceed the number of available mains sockets at controls.
I think your view is based on limited exposure to Di2, I prior to my most recent bike was hardcore campag and, swore never to change, however, the fact that changing at the end of long rides was becoming an increasingly difficult task meant I had to alter my thinking. The Di2 has many advantages once you have got your head around it all. Battery life really should not be an issue and, even if it is, the charger and, a decent power pack are light/compact enough to carry with you - I did, but didn't need them. Before you pour scorn on it you should at least seek out a more balanced view gained from exposure to it in differing circumstances.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: jiberjaber on August 10, 2017, 10:30:12 am
I do think that you are being unfair to Di2.  This was not arctic weather.  The temperature was in the standard operating temperature for Di2 at all times.  Whilst Yad Moss was cold we did not have ice!

Di2  batteries are rated for 1700km  of normal use at these temperatures.  Batteries of course degrade with time and some of the first generation batteries are possibly at 50% capacity.  However if you do not bring a charger with you and some form of charging then you are an idiot.  The charger weighs a negligible amount and can be used with a 4 AA USB charger pack which could be left in a bag drop if required.  Di2 is almost certainly the very best mechanism for long distance riding as it completely obviates the need for cables, adjustments, etc.  However just like Garmins, mobile phones and other advances it has a learning curve.

I'm sorry if you feel that I'm unfair. I have never used Di2 myself. I just met two riders at BC who had low Di2 batteries and no charger. I don't know how many riders suffered from the same problem at other controls.  Even if you bring your own charger, the ever growing need to charge phones, GPS and Di2 tend to exceed the number of available mains sockets at controls.

It would be good to have a quantitative view on DI2 usage.  Mine was fine through the event, as a precaution, I gave it 30 mins charge on the way back at Spalding which took it from 40 to 100%   I think broad statements like the initial post, whilst well meaning perhaps, make it sound like it's a none starter for long distance riding... when in reality it is not the case.  You could easily make the case if the number of broken mechanical gear cables were taken relative to riders that everyone should have been on fixed (there was also a few freewheel failures as well :) ).

Bikes are not a case of fit and forget when it comes to maintenance, which I think is the key message here :)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 10, 2017, 10:37:43 am
Are you really suggesting to go back to downtube shifters and bar end shifters?
...
 I can't even think of any modern framset that has bosses for downtube shifters

If reliability is your no 1 decision criteria, my answer is yes. I think Ergo / STI levers are an excellent thing for criterium racers who need to shift very often and very quickly without moving their hands from the bar. But for audax, do we really need that?

I agree with your point regarding the availability of frames for downtube shifters, but I have bar end shifters on my audax bike and on our tandem, and never felt the need for anything better. Actually, I fitted the bar end shifters on the tandem after I got fed up of changing chewed out cables from our previous 9sp Ergo levers.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 10, 2017, 10:46:46 am
Bikes are not a case of fit and forget when it comes to maintenance, which I think is the key message here :)

And maybe that if you are going to use relatively unusual/tricky to repair kit, you need to make sure that you have the appropriate spares, tools, knowledge and skills to resolve problems that may arise with it, rather than expecting an unpaid volunteer who has had about 4 hours sleep in the past 3 days to sort it out.  CrinklyUncle's new bike uses di2.  He started with fully charged batteries, carried a charger and knew how to tweak the gears himself so did so when it was necessary.  The only reason I clocked that he has Di2 was a comment in passing somewhere, after the event, about him lending the charger to someone else...

I found it interesting that a couple of times I heard volunteers who were supporting Alain (who did man the workstands in BC almost permanently) comment that they were a bit nervous to work on a bike because it was a particularly expensive one. They took the responsibility extremely seriously, and were committed, if they possibly could, to getting people back out on the road and round the ride whatever machine they were on.

Btw - despite his _excellent_ English, Alain is in fact French (clue's in the name) so is posting in a foreign language.  Perhaps people could look look for the helpful intention in his post rather than interpreting it as 'pouring scorn' on a particular technology?  Actually, I should go and find the similar post from 4 years ago by a volunteer who spent the entire event spannering to see how it compares...
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mattc on August 10, 2017, 10:47:34 am
My granddad smoked like a chimney and lived to 107.

Just sayin ...

[ EDIT: this is not in response to Crinkly's post!!! ]
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 10, 2017, 10:54:48 am
I'm intrigued - what are you just sayin'?
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: GPS on August 10, 2017, 11:08:45 am
Alain describes sealant solidifying in one part of a tubeless tyre.

In my experience it's probably caused by someone trying to seal and seat a tubeless tyre with a CO2 canister. The sudden rush of cold air freezes the sealant which then stays solid and is completely useless for sealing the any punctures !

Air shot inflation (as mentioned up thread) or a compressor are the quickest ways to seal a tubeless tyre reliably - but I wouldn't expect such things to be available at an LEL or PBP control. Self sufficiency and being prepared dictate that a tube should always be carried in case of unsealable punctures in tubeless tyres.

There were more than a few riders who just weren't prepared.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: T42 on August 10, 2017, 11:21:25 am
Interesting post, Alain.

FWIW I have found that Ultegra 6800 chews cables a lot faster than my 6-yr-old 105.  I've had one RD cable snap and an FD cable chew through the pestilential little leader on the outer, both inside the shifter.  I never had a break with my old 3x9 105, 1999 vintage.

Re low spoke-count wheels:  2x11-speed bikes use severely dished wheels with minimal spoke counts.  My Trek uses an asymmetric rim to compensate.  These wheels are so, well, weird that fitting a high spoke-count replacement from another manufacturer feels dodgy.  I didn't do LEL but I did do PBP on the Trek-supplied 24-spoke wheel and it was fine, but I'm only 70 kg and my luggage was ~6 kg: I reckon that an 80- or 90-kg rider with a heavy saddlebag would have been pushing it.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: whosatthewheel on August 10, 2017, 12:17:15 pm

If reliability is your no 1 decision criteria, my answer is yes. I think Ergo / STI levers are an excellent thing for criterium racers who need to shift very often and very quickly without moving their hands from the bar. But for audax, do we really need that?

We probably don't, but it is an extra level of customisation over a standard bike. I would agree with you if STI were an upgrade, but they come as standard on all bikes with drop bars AFAIK.

Personally I've never used bar ends and I am not sure of their practicality if I need to go up a sprocket whilst I am going up a steep incline... I always thought they are OK for flat riding, less so to go uphill, but I might be completely wrong.

Can you buy a bike with bar end shifters or it is an "upgrade"? I've looked at Thorn, which is probably as old school as it gets and they seem to fit STIs to their Audax bikes
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 10, 2017, 12:37:42 pm
Vorsprung's advice after the 2013 event...

https://audaxing.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/common-mechanical-problems-on-london-edinburgh-london/
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 10, 2017, 12:43:22 pm
I would agree with you if STI were an upgrade, but they come as standard on all bikes with drop bars AFAIK.

Yes, you are right, and I am very saddened by this situation. I have to admit that the last time I bought a complete bicycle, it was, some 25 years ago! Nowadays, I only buy frames and build them up by myself.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: whosatthewheel on August 10, 2017, 12:50:04 pm

Yes, you are right, and I am very saddened by this situation. I have to admit that the last time I bought a complete bicycle, it was, some 25 years ago! Nowadays, I only buy frames and build them up by myself.

I do too, but not many do and to be honest it is not cost effective. The sum of the parts far exceeds the cost of a bike even before you factor in various sales and discounts.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: LeeW on August 10, 2017, 01:19:07 pm
My advice for riders in 2021 is pretty much the same as that I gave to riders before 2017.  I am happy to report that many riders did take my advice and I saw fewer failures in 2017 compared to 2013 despite the 50% more riders.

My main advice is this:
Avoid using weight weenie low spoke-count wheelsets.  (in fact any super-lightweight components should be avoided, many weight weenie super light components compromise durability for lightweight and thus are more prone to breaking)
Every rider should carry with them some spare spokes, however this is doubly important if you are running wheels with non-standard spokes.  Had to replace one rear wheel this year due to a broken non-standard spoke.  Also if your wheels have weird non-standard nipples then you should take the tool with you.
If you are running a frame with a replaceable derailleur hanger then you should take a spare with you, thankfully many riders this year did, I replaced 2 bent hangers where the rider had a spare on them.  Hangers are normally specific to the frame so very unlikely to be found at a local bike shop.  Hangers are designed to be weak so they bend/break off before the frame is damaged.
As per my advice after 2013, all riders should check the condition of their gear cables inside the STI shiftier for any fraying.  Only had two cables broken inside shifters this year (down from 4-5 in 2013).
All riders should carry a spare folding tyre however this is double important if you are running some weird obscure size which is not readily available at local shops (yes, Stuart with the 451 wheel!)

At Louth one person did present with a flat Di2 battery however he was able to lend of a charger off another rider and charge it.  It was an internal battery so we had to put the bike next to the socket which was a tad awkward.  As per my advice from 2013, anyone running electric gears should take the charger with them, even if the manufacturer claims the battery will last long enough!  Even better is a means of powering said charger without needing a mains socket (such as a power-bank).

Thankfully no-one presented with a broken internally routed cable, however if anyone had, I would not have spent hours replacing it, I would have just run a full length of housing from the shiftier to the derailleur and zip-tie it to the frame (I had a workshop roll of housing).  They can then internally route it themselves after the event.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Alex B on August 10, 2017, 01:32:36 pm
Regarding electronic shifting, I think the Di2 battery may last 1400km unless you have a wireless transmitter to record your gearshifts on your GPS.

I have such a transmitter and my Di2 battery (new in February; latest firmware) showed 60% charge after LEL. Maybe I don't change gear enough?
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: whosatthewheel on August 10, 2017, 01:38:13 pm

All riders should carry a spare folding tyre however this is double important if you are running some weird obscure size which is not readily available at local shops (yes, Stuart with the 451 wheel!)

All very good advice, especially so if running tubeless. It can be hard to "go tubeless" on the road and an inner tube could be hard to fit or it could get punctured by some sharp bits inside the tyre (residues from previous sealed punctures) After a bit of searching I have found my ideal spare tyre... I carry an "open tubular" type of tyre, like a Vittoria Corsa, which can be rolled flat and takes much less space than a conventional folding clincher
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mzjo on August 10, 2017, 01:55:37 pm
Would a compressor not be a useful thing to reduce fatigue of mechanics/riders on breakdown stands? I am sure that if I was volunteering and had it in my power I would bring a small one (and the modern trend to larger section tyres means that very high pressures are less of a requirement).

Reading all the comments on mechanicals (nice to learn from the pain of others  ;D)I am left with a feeling that there must be some riders who assume that any bike with any modern equipment should do the ride with no further input on their part and that there is automatically no better way to do it (thinking of comments on STI/Di2) when really they should be thinking a lot more of the potential consequences of their decisions. I have a horror of internal and under tape cable routing - even if I have it on my bikes, I would consider the options before risking needing to change cables in the middle of the night in the rain with a deadline to meet. (Of course the Gitane would be my first choice, internal routing with guide in the tube, no trouble - but then it is over 25 years old - nuff said).

Does one have to be a member of AUK to be a volunteer (mechanic preferably in my case but all included) on LEL? I have come to the sad reflection that I will never be up to riding it but volunteering for the next edition could be on (and I will have retired  :) ).
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 10, 2017, 02:06:56 pm
Does one have to be a member of AUK to be a volunteer (mechanic preferably in my case but all included) on LEL?

Nope :)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Somnolent on August 10, 2017, 02:12:06 pm
Air shot inflation (as mentioned up thread) or a compressor are the quickest ways to seal a tubeless tyre reliably - but I wouldn't expect such things to be available at an LEL or PBP control. Self sufficiency and being prepared dictate that a tube should always be carried in case of unsealable punctures in tubeless tyres.

I agree wholeheartedly with the second sentence above.  But that sentiment is not at all incompatible with wider availability of airshot cyclinders at controls- for the convenience of those who prefer to revert to running tubeless as soon as they can.  I suspect that road tubeless will be very much more common in 2021.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: whosatthewheel on August 10, 2017, 02:34:27 pm
Air shot inflation (as mentioned up thread) or a compressor are the quickest ways to seal a tubeless tyre reliably - but I wouldn't expect such things to be available at an LEL or PBP control. Self sufficiency and being prepared dictate that a tube should always be carried in case of unsealable punctures in tubeless tyres.

I agree wholeheartedly with the second sentence above.  But that sentiment is not at all incompatible with wider availability of airshot cyclinders at controls- for the convenience of those who prefer to revert to running tubeless as soon as they can.  I suspect that road tubeless will be very much more common in 2021.

Mavic seem to be making a big push for it with UST and the much awaited Open PRO UST rim... ultimately for as long as Continental, Michelin and Vittoria stay out of the game, it will not be mainstream.

The videos I have seen from Mavic UST tyres + rim combo seem to make the all process finally foolproof.. fingers crossed
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Somnolent on August 10, 2017, 02:37:34 pm
And on a related note...
I'm only just getting round to stripping out the tubes I put in at the roadside on LEL to go back to tubeless.   There was about a 1/4 pint of water in the hollow section of each rim which drained out of valve hole when I removed the tube!    I know it was wet at times on LEL, the tubeless tape seals off the inner end of the spoke holes (and my rims are not eyeletted) but the quantity really surprised me.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: DCLane on August 10, 2017, 02:51:17 pm
I've learnt from a previous ride  ::-) to change all the gear and brake cables before an event such as LEL. In addition the bike had a new chain and bottom bracket although with new tyres. I was using low spoke count wheels (16/20) but these again were new and my son had run a second pair in all conditions for a year. In the saddle back was a spare mech hanger, chain links, cables, etc.

For me it was about preparation - with no major issues as a result.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: eddum on August 10, 2017, 03:04:45 pm

My bike only has one cable.... I had it changed prior to LEL  ;D
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Bagman on August 10, 2017, 04:21:04 pm
My Di2 battery life was fine but I had a problem with the rear mech. 
Failed twice and left me with just being able to change the front chain ring. 
This was one of the reasons I was DNF on my way back. 
Rear mech has now gone off to Shimano for hopefully a replacement under warranty.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Von Broad on August 10, 2017, 08:44:01 pm
It all came flooding back once again. And I don't need to express what I encountered because it's all been said by other contributors to this thread. Spokes, gears, tubes and tyres. And more spokes.

What I'd like to see is a paragraph included in the LEL 2021 website summarizing all the major points mentioned here, stressing the importance of preparation with special attention paid to bringing non-standard parts that are vulnerable to breakage - especially spokes. You'd have a job to find every spoke size in the very best of bike shops never mind on a bike stand run by a volunteer.

All this is easily resolved though.

What I really like to see [and it's said tongue-in-cheek but only kind of] is for the LEL 2021 to do away with the volunteer bike mechanics altogether. As much as I enjoy doing it, I wonder if there is a danger of engendering a sense of entitlement and laziness [in some]. I know of at least one controller who has never been keen on the extent to which LEL provides provisions for bike repairs and maintenance. In the purest sense it's not audax. Either prepare thoroughly and give yourself as much chance as possible........ or find out the hard way. That's harsh and drastic. Especially on the guy whose dura-ace rear hub cracked. Or the Italian guy on a tandem with a gashed rear tyre who was rescued at 1.30 in the morning by a few lads in the park and ride. But it would certainly make for a more interesting ride. And a bigger sense of achievement if you made it round too. :)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 10, 2017, 09:04:32 pm
If you are running a frame with a replaceable derailleur hanger then you should take a spare with you, thankfully many riders this year did, I replaced 2 bent hangers where the rider had a spare on them.  Hangers are normally specific to the frame so very unlikely to be found at a local bike shop.  Hangers are designed to be weak so they bend/break off before the frame is damaged.

Another important point, thank you!  One rider that we saw at Barney had fallen on the drive side. The derailleur was clearly out of alignment, but the rider had no spare hanger. We managed to shim the derailleur with a piece of aluminium foil under the derailleur bolt. The result was not perfect, but good enough to put the rider back on the road with working gears.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: CrinklyLion on August 10, 2017, 09:13:56 pm
What I really like to see [and it's said tongue-in-cheek but only kind of] is for the LEL 2021 to do away with the volunteer bike mechanics altogether. As much as I enjoy doing it, I wonder if there is a danger of engendering a sense of entitlement and laziness [in some].

The problem with that is that volunteers like to help.  They want to support riders to get round.  They enjoy exceeding expectations.  The crank held together with zipties is a great story, and people like being a part of those great stories.  What they don't like, quite rightly in my opinion, is being taken for granted.

It's like I've commented elsewhere - volunteer management is really tricky because you can't make them do stuff.   You kind of can't stop them from doing stuff either :)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 11, 2017, 07:50:56 am
The crank held together with zipties is a great story, and people like being a part of those great stories. 

You mean this one?

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4400/36098611430_ba8c9247cd_m.jpg)

You are right, Jim and I really enjoyed helping this guy. I really hope he made it to London. Anyone have seen seem him on the finish line?

By the way, I resisted to the temptation of adding "Don't use hollowtech cranks" into my recommendations list, as I might be accused of being an old stubborn git  ;)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: GPS on August 11, 2017, 08:51:08 am
The crank held together with zipties is a great story, and people like being a part of those great stories. 

You mean this one?

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4400/36098611430_ba8c9247cd_m.jpg)

You are right, Jim and I really enjoyed helping this guy. I really hope he made it to London. Anyone have seen seem him on the finish line?

By the way, I resisted to the temptation of adding "Don't use hollowtech cranks" into my recommendations list, as I might be accused of being an old stubborn git  ;)

What exactly broke on that ? I can't work out where the breakage was ...
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: yorkie on August 11, 2017, 10:06:31 am
The crank held together with zipties is a great story, and people like being a part of those great stories. 

You mean this one?

(https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4400/36098611430_ba8c9247cd_m.jpg)

You are right, Jim and I really enjoyed helping this guy. I really hope he made it to London. Anyone have seen seem him on the finish line?

By the way, I resisted to the temptation of adding "Don't use hollowtech cranks" into my recommendations list, as I might be accused of being an old stubborn git  ;)

What exactly broke on that ? I can't work out where the breakage was ...
The outer part (nearest the camera) from the spider down to and including the pedal became detached from the inner part, which includes the chain ring bolts, leaving the pedal flapping about. The break was about 2 inches from the pedal, on the rear of the crank arm, then ran up either side of the arm to the area of the spider. I believe Shimano crank arms are hollow, formed of a U shaped front, including the pedal drilling, and a plate welded to the back, which includes the drilling for the chain ring bolts. The break was along the weld lines.
The cable ties held the two parts together.

We added several more cable ties at Pocklington as the originals were starting to stretch, allowing the pedal end of the crank to move around again.

Sent from my Mobile Phone using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: wilkyboy on August 11, 2017, 10:23:58 am
As per my advice after 2013, all riders should check the condition of their gear cables inside the STI shiftier for any fraying.  Only had two cables broken inside shifters this year (down from 4-5 in 2013).

I went to check my gear cables before the ride.  Discovered I didn't have any.  Rode on regardless ... ;)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: tedshred on August 11, 2017, 10:34:04 am
Ziptied cranksman turned up at Great Easton with plenty of time in hand.  The repair had finally given way somewhere near Spalding but he had managed to find an LBS that supplied him with a new hollowtech crankset.

In the way of things, he seemed to be enjoying the additional edge it had given his ride - then again he was in the services.  He was also annoyingly lucid and fresh for someone who had gone through all that extra stuff on the way.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mmmmartin on August 11, 2017, 10:51:11 am
I really hope he made it to London. Anyone have seen seem him on the finish line?
Yes, I volunteered at Loughton, saw him at the start, think also at Moffat (not sure) and chatted to him at the end, the chap in The Rifles cycling shirt. He showed me the crank at the end. And yes, he was annoyingly cheerful. Might be the military training and self discipline.

The overarching point in this case is that he was fast enough to have time in hand to have this sorted.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 11, 2017, 11:32:09 am
We added several more cable ties at Pocklington as the originals were starting to stretch, allowing the pedal end of the crank to move around again.

When he showed up at Barney, he already had cable ties from a previous control that were overstretched by the climb over Yad Moss. We put fresh ties on his crankset, and when he left, I told him he would probably be okay until London as long as he keeps spinning lightly on a low gear. We knew very well that "spinning lightly" through the forthcoming Howardian Hills was at best a theoretical idea, so I'm glad to see that our ties made it to Pocklington!
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Duckfoot1606 on August 11, 2017, 11:40:22 am
The humble cable tie proves its worth again 👍, must be one of the most versatile "get you out of the deep and smelly" fixes known to man

A
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: LeeW on August 11, 2017, 12:38:20 pm
Never even saw him at Louth so must have been fine, I had loads of ties and also some spare cranks which were not used.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: vorsprung on August 11, 2017, 01:34:51 pm
Ah! you are Alain from Barnard Castle?  I was the idiot who though changing the LH gear cable would fix the front shifter problem.  It didn't!

Unfortunately I had to pack at Thirsk due to a broken seatpost

Thanks again for your help/advice
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 11, 2017, 02:51:15 pm
Ah! you are Alain from Barnard Castle?  I was the idiot who though changing the LH gear cable would fix the front shifter problem.  It didn't!

That was me!  I might have been a bit rude with you. At that moment, I was too tired to explain any complicated reasoning in English. That's why I asked Peter to do it for me. It was nothing personal against you!
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: phil d on August 11, 2017, 05:55:17 pm
von Broad is too polite to mention me by name, but yes, I do think that the advertised provision of mechanics services throughout the event has made riders careless of the consequence of equipment failure.  I didn't spend a great deal of time on the mechanics section at St Ives, but I saw some fairly shocking examples of poor preparation (overseas as well as British riders).  And open annoyance that there were some things we couldn't fix.

Crinkley is right, we do want to help.  That happens on any audax ride and is to be applauded.  I have happily given help to, and received help from, other riders on events.  But I don't believe creating an expectation that there will be repair stations every 70 - 100 km is right.

Riders should properly prepare for such a challenge.  Fresh cables, fresh tyres and tubes at the very least.  Wheels should be chosen with British minor roads in mind, with enough spokes that if one goes it is not too critical, tension checked before the start.  And has been said up thread, for anything that is not bog-standard (like aero spokes, Di2 gearing) suitable spares should be carried.

It's like first aid - we should be prepared to patch up minor injuries / malfunctions.  Anything significant is for the paramedics / specialist bike shop.  And having now mentioned first aid........ no, I must shut up now!

Whatever happened to the core audax principle of self-sufficiency?
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: vorsprung on August 11, 2017, 06:50:27 pm
Ah! you are Alain from Barnard Castle?  I was the idiot who though changing the LH gear cable would fix the front shifter problem.  It didn't!

That was me!  I might have been a bit rude with you. At that moment, I was too tired to explain any complicated reasoning in English. That's why I asked Peter to do it for me. It was nothing personal against you!

I didn't think you were rude.  And I understand about being tired out, I did the mechanic thing at Brampton last time.  Hope to see you on the road sometime :)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mattc on August 11, 2017, 06:58:37 pm
It's like first aid - we should be prepared to patch up minor injuries / malfunctions.  Anything significant is for the paramedics / specialist bike shop.  And having now mentioned first aid........ no, I must shut up now!

Whatever happened to the core audax principle of self-sufficiency?
Well ... if I ride in 2021, I shall be sure to pack my own defib, oxygen tanks & blood test kit as a minimum


 ;)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 11, 2017, 07:27:25 pm
We took back the surplus supplies to Paul Hewitt today. He was fettling a £9,000 Cervelo TT bike, and we had a few words about the event. He'd like to have had a bit more notice to do the job more professionally, but was glad that the local bike shop had got some good trade out of the event.

He doesn't rate the Campag electronic gear, he reckons the Shimano Di2 is a well-sorted mature technology, and that the SRAM setup is good once you've read the instructions thoroughly. Shimano gear cables jam in Campag levers, and Campag cables will work in both, so only having Campag gear cables is the way to go.

On a more general note, I mentioned that a friend had ordered a bike. He was puzzled why they'd specified 10 speed Ultegra. We agreed that there wasn't any real advantage to 11 speed, but Paul knows that it's more and more difficult to get spares support for 'legacy' equipment. It might be useful to advise LEL 2021 riders what the most-supported bike setup would be. Wheels are a prime example, traditional 32 or 36 spoke are always easy to deal with.

Thanks for whoever trued up my wheel at Brampton. I sent a Campag and Shimano spare up. I overpriced them, and my intention was to be phoned-up to save a ride at a discount, but never actually articulated that Heather.. I had to consider if I'd ever see the wheel again, and how much a replacement would cost. I remembered LEL 2003, when I discovered at the last minute that Heather's back wheel was on the way out. Paul Hewitt had a wheel that had been on a Cycling Plus test bike, and we used that. In 2007 we met an Italian chancer called Riccardo Gravina, and we ended up lending him a tent, and then that same back wheel. The freehub never recovered, but that wheel is still true.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: thing1 on August 12, 2017, 12:54:06 am
Regarding electronic shifting, I think the Di2 battery may last 1400km unless you have a wireless transmitter to record your gearshifts on your GPS.

I have such a transmitter and my Di2 battery (new in February; latest firmware) showed 60% charge after LEL. Maybe I don't change gear enough?

The original  Shimano SM-EWW01 D-Fly had a bug in the firmware which caused it to run down the main Di2 battery at about double the expected rate -- after installing it I could only eek out about 1000km between charges. (On the plus side, the D-fly means my garmin lets me know exactly how quick it's draining said battery)

Upgrading D-Fly firmware to v3.0.5 or later fixes the issue -- See Release notes (http://e-tubeproject.shimano.com/firmware/template/?type=road-bikes&series=&model=SM-EWW01):

Apr 22, 2016   3.0.5      Reduction of electric power consumption
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mr ben on August 13, 2017, 08:50:22 pm
We took back the surplus supplies to Paul Hewitt today. He was fettling a £9,000 Cervelo TT bike, and we had a few words about the event. He'd like to have had a bit more notice to do the job more professionally, but was glad that the local bike shop had got some good trade out of the event.

Slightly tangential...I rode on a Hewitt tourer (Cheviot) and it did everything I asked of it, as usual.  I have a pleasant image of cockroaches riding around on them after the apocalypse... :D
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: ElyDave on August 13, 2017, 09:34:35 pm
It's like first aid - we should be prepared to patch up minor injuries / malfunctions.  Anything significant is for the paramedics / specialist bike shop.  And having now mentioned first aid........ no, I must shut up now!

Whatever happened to the core audax principle of self-sufficiency?
Well ... if I ride in 2021, I shall be sure to pack my own defib, oxygen tanks & blood test kit as a minimum


 ;)

I always carry my own blood test kit, but paramedics prefer to use theirs for some reason
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Somnolent on August 20, 2017, 07:30:08 pm
Just as a matter of interest - any reports of problems with hydraulic brakes?
It's a technology I've been shying away from - but maybe with no good reason?
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 20, 2017, 07:53:11 pm
No problems with hydraulic brakes at Barnard Castle. From the small and non-statistically representative sample that we have seen in BC, I  would tend to say that disc brakes are overall a rather positive thing. Many worn out rim brake pads, but no problems with disc brakes.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Zed43 on August 21, 2017, 09:01:49 am
I noticed on day four that my front brake did not have its usual "hitting a brick wall" stopping power when used at the max; the day before I had more stopping power without using the brake to its limit. Contaminated disc or pads? When I got home I scrubbed both pads and disc and it's better now, though squealing awfully. As I was already past Spalding and front+rear still provided good enough braking I decided not to bother a mechanic and just push on.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: yorkie on August 21, 2017, 09:21:28 am


No problems with hydraulic brakes at Barnard Castle. From the small and non-statistically representative sample that we have seen in BC, I  would tend to say that disc brakes are overall a rather positive thing. Many worn out rim brake pads, but no problems with disc brakes.

The only disk brake related problem I saw at Pocklington was a gentleman who needed to use the workshop stand to hold his bike whilst he changed his rear hydraulic disk brake pads. It was dark and the main assistance I provided was to hold a torch and pass the occasional Allen key or screwdriver whilst he changed the pads himself. One of the easier jobs that week!

Sent from my Mobile Phone using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: hulver on August 21, 2017, 10:09:28 am
Just as a matter of interest - any reports of problems with hydraulic brakes?
It's a technology I've been shying away from - but maybe with no good reason?
Yes, I saw one chap who had a stuck piston in one of his calipers. We both worked for a while to try and free it up, eventually getting it moving again by clamping the working side down and pressing the brake lever until the stuck side moved again. I'm not sure how well it was working after that, but he put it all back together again and got moving, so moderately I would say.

I didn't see many brake problems at all really, just that one and somebody with worn out pads who had carved a chasm in their rim getting to us for new ones.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Redlight on August 21, 2017, 09:48:40 pm
Wheels should be chosen with British minor roads in mind,

Fair point - although if I'd known in advance how poor the roads into Edinburgh were I'd have opted for the kind of wheels and tyres that you see on US beach bikes ...plus full suspension!

(for the record, I had my front wheel trued and rear wheel rebuilt before the ride. I had no mechanical problems)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Chamford Sideplate on August 22, 2017, 09:40:26 am
Fair point - although if I'd known in advance how poor the roads into Edinburgh were I'd have opted for the kind of wheels and tyres that you see on US beach bikes ...plus full suspension!
We rode a 400 last weekend that returned to Edinburgh along that same road. It was the worst surface of the day and that's saying something. The stretch just before Mountain Cross is ridiculous.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: whosatthewheel on August 22, 2017, 12:02:35 pm
I'll throw this in the mix... just for the sake of an argument... it baffles me that so many riders have so many problems with their bikes in an event, which at the end of the day is less than a thousand miles of tarmac with light to inexistent luggage, Di2 Batteries aside.

So 1500 riders times 1400 km = 2.1 million km

To put it in perspective... the Ride London Surrey Whatever has 20,000 entrants  times 160 = 3.2 million km... the Marmotte has around 1.3 million km (arguably more demanding terrain for brakes, chains, spokes etc..)  and yet there appears to be no mass reports of failures...

Could it be that us Audaxers like to spend as little as possible in maintenance?  ;D
I certainly have witnessed riders with tyres showing the canvas ahead of a 400 km event and of course seen many bikes which had been lovingly recycled from a skip
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Whitedown Man on August 22, 2017, 12:05:36 pm
The two rides aren't entirely equivalent:

LEL: bikes being ridden 1,400km since last opportunity for maintenance / mechanical checks

RLS: bikes being ridden 160km since last opportunity for maintenance / mechanical checks
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: jsabine on August 22, 2017, 12:54:27 pm
Also, here we're getting - in part - the perspective of some of those who worked on bikes that had broken.

I bet if we had folk who'd been mechanics on Ride London posting here, they'd also have tales of woe.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Redlight on August 22, 2017, 01:40:10 pm
Also, I suspect that many of the bikes on Ride London had not been ridden that much (compared with the average AUK's mileage) in the months ahead of the event.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Kim on August 22, 2017, 01:49:22 pm
I'm guessing the average AUKs weren't the ones needing the services of a mechanic on LEL, thobut.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: whosatthewheel on August 22, 2017, 02:44:09 pm
I'm guessing the average AUKs weren't the ones needing the services of a mechanic on LEL, thobut.

Bloody foreigners... they come here with their broken bikes pretending to get them fixed free of charge...  ;D
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: redfalo on August 22, 2017, 07:06:55 pm
I think Alain talks a lot of sense. Moreover, the volunteer mechanics are  among the unsung heros of the LEL.

Here are some shots of Team BC at work:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4428/36739740545_c950bdf43a_c.jpg)

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4361/36600593491_ee561bab5e_c.jpg)

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4435/36739740105_13f4c14d86_c.jpg)

I was particularly impressed by this level of preparation:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4403/36600593121_cd96e35e71_c.jpg)

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4428/36739739675_5503c8f446_c.jpg)

Moreover, I can back up the statement that STi levers are eating up gear cables like they are going out of fashion. After less than 5000k, the rear cable on my Mercian started to fray, 10 miles or so north of Thirsk on the way back. Beforehand, I had asked the shop that built be bike to check the cables and replace if necessary, and they thought that they were still ok. Oh well. At least I was carrying a spare and Colin at Thirsk replaced it within 20 min.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4381/36569898492_f4b8337c83_c.jpg)

Relative to my experience on PBP 2015, this was a bit of an improvement. Back then, I only made it to Loudeac on the way out, before I had to get my gear cable changed (on 10 Speed 105).  :facepalm:

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4411/35774548044_08fc25021c_c.jpg)

From now on, I'll replace the rear one every 4000 or so km.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Von Broad on August 22, 2017, 08:26:03 pm
Having been a mechanic on [only] two LEL's, I'd be very happy to stick by a judgement based on those two enjoyable experiences :

So there we were waiting for the riders to come in at St Ives [first control], and I remember saying to Clive and his son Max, "see these early fast riders coming in now - they won't be coming anywhere near us. Know why? Because for them, it's an unnecessary waste of time, and they are not the sort of riders that mess about wasting time".

Course there are always exceptions and the unexpected unfurls - like the German chap whose dura-ace hub bust and vorspung's seat-post snapping - it's the nature of a mechanical vehicle with so many moving parts that are subject to wear. These things can happen. But generally speaking, faster, experienced riders do not piss about hanging around with bike mechanics. I know who the experienced AUKers are. And I don't see much of them. I see them come into the control, I see them eat and I see them leave.

Get further down the pecking order and it's a different story.....of ALL nationalities!!

Nice thing about LEL is that is requires no qualification. And that's an attractive platform for cyclists that want to have a crack at it, chance their arm and leap into the unknown. But that potential lack of experience can bring it's own problems for riders, and they're the ones that suffer because of it.

Personally I wouldn't necessarily change anything, but I would really emphasize on the web-site for 2021 all the points that have been made in this thread about spares etc. And stressing 'Look, it's up to you.... but if you come mechanically unprepared, you might have to wait ages to get anything fixed, the mechanic might be really busy if you suddenly need them, and you're going to be wasting your own valuable time - and time you most definitely have not got'.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: rogerzilla on August 22, 2017, 08:43:02 pm
As well as spokes, I would carry a spare seatbolt (if your frame has seat lugs).  These can snap without warning after happily doing their job for years, and then you have a big problem as the saddle plummets to top tube level and swings about so you can't even use it like a BMX rider.  It's not a viable spare for mechanics to keep because they come in a few different lengths.  I've had a couple go pop over the years.

I assume the mechanics can remove a Hyperglide cassette to change a RH rear wheel spoke but, if you have something obscure on the back, like a Shimano or 4-prong freewheel (singlespeeders?) it might be a good idea to take a remover that fits.  Unfortunately, they are never lightweight.

On the subject of whether a bike can be expected to run for 1400km without attention, of course it can - but you have some riders who don't pay enough attention to maintenance and others that go for light weight and speed at the expense of durability.  A full-on road race bike is really designed for a 100-150 mile day ride before the team mechanic gets his hands on it again.  Most of the time he'll just wipe it over and re-tape the bars, but it does get checked.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mattc on August 23, 2017, 10:30:00 am
As well as spokes, I would carry a spare seatbolt (if your frame has seat lugs).  These can snap without warning after happily doing their job for years,

<snip>
On the subject of whether a bike can be expected to run for 1400km without attention, of course it can - but you have some riders who don't pay enough attention to maintenance and others that go for light weight and speed at the expense of durability.
Statistically, with 1500 bikes covering those 1400km, a few are bound to have problems, even if well maintained. Your seatbolt is a good example, but there will be a few other failures on components whose mean-time-between-failures is 10,000km.

Of course it's still sensible to spec your bike to make these failures unlikely, and replace consumables fairly close to the off.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Mr Larrington on August 23, 2017, 11:42:05 am
There were times when I had an overwhelming urge to add the word "stash" to Alain's disgrams, with an arrow pointing to the end of the bars ;D
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 23, 2017, 02:25:36 pm
The two rides aren't entirely equivalent:

LEL: bikes being ridden 1,400km since last opportunity for maintenance / mechanical checks

RLS: bikes being ridden 160km since last opportunity for maintenance / mechanical checks

I totally agree, and will add one point: LEL is 1400km, with a good part under rain and on roads full of dust/grit. Regarding this, I saw a clear difference between the bikes with full mudguards and all the others. Bikes with full mudguards were definitely cleaner, and less subject to all dirt-related problems: clogged chains and derailleurs, poorly working brakes, and stiff cables due to the dirt packing into the cable housings.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Duckfoot1606 on August 23, 2017, 02:33:54 pm

[/quote]

I totally agree, and will add one point: LEL is 1400km, with a good part under rain and on roads full of dust/grit. Regarding this, I saw a clear difference between the bikes with full mudguards and all the others. Bikes with full mudguards were definitely cleaner, and less subject to all dirt-related problems: clogged chains and derailleurs, poorly working brakes, and stiff cables due to the dirt packing into the cable housings.
[/quote]

Function overcomes form every time, in the long haul 😀
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: rogerzilla on August 23, 2017, 09:43:31 pm
Received wisdom is that rim wear is higher with mudguards because the gritty water drips onto the wheel instead of being thrown off.  This may have been one of Jobst Brandt's theories, though, California not being a place where there is much practical experience of "fenders".

Were there any burst rims on LEL?  I would have expected a few unless everyone diligently measured the remaining thickness, or looked for the wear indicators, before the start.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Kim on August 24, 2017, 12:46:21 am
Rim wear is higher with mudguards because they make it a lot more pleasant to ride your bike when it's pish.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: The French Tandem on August 24, 2017, 06:51:27 am
Received wisdom is that rim wear is higher with mudguards because the gritty water drips onto the wheel instead of being thrown off.  This may have been one of Jobst Brandt's theories, though, California not being a place where there is much practical experience of "fenders".

I'm not sure about that.  The front mudguard actually protects the bottom bracket/chain/rear wheel area from the spray coming from the front wheel.

Were there any burst rims on LEL?  I would have expected a few unless everyone diligently measured the remaining thickness, or looked for the wear indicators, before the start.

I have seen none. My guess is that most modern wheels get destroyed by poor spoke tensioning, failed tiny bearings, or failed freewheel mechanism, long before the rim has any chance to burst.

Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: redfalo on August 24, 2017, 06:56:59 am
Received wisdom is that rim wear is higher with mudguards because the gritty water drips onto the wheel instead of being thrown off.

I have to keep this in mind for my round-the-world DIY
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Exit Stage Left on August 24, 2017, 07:29:46 am
Disc brakes remove the question of rim wear. What were the issues with them?
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: mattc on August 24, 2017, 08:09:02 am
Rim wear is higher with mudguards because they make it a lot more pleasant to ride your bike when it's pish.
;D

Probably true in fact.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: madcow on August 24, 2017, 01:19:50 pm
I have seen none. My guess is that most modern wheels get destroyed by poor spoke tensioning, failed tiny bearings, or failed freewheel mechanism, long before the rim has any chance to burst.

LEL finished off the wheel bearings in my Hope front wheel. It's in the LBS today getting new ones fitted.
Rims (Mavic Open) pro are still O.K .
It had done 2 X PBP , 5 x SR and a few other rides as well , so not complaining.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Kim on August 24, 2017, 01:58:47 pm
That's presumably the average AUK principle again.  The cyclists who tend to wear out rims have the sense to make sure they're not going to explode on LEL.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Somnolent on August 24, 2017, 07:05:11 pm
That's presumably the average AUK principle again.  The cyclists who tend to wear out rims have the sense to make sure they're not going to explode on LEL.

True - and if only we were also gifted with x-ray vision to be able to detect incipient failure of tiny bearings....
My freehub has had to go back to Hope to get the broken bits out  :(
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: grams on August 24, 2017, 07:29:16 pm
True - and if only we were also gifted with x-ray vision to be able to detect incipient failure of tiny bearings....
My freehub has had to go back to Hope to get the broken bits out  :(

Isn't the "Made in UK" lettering on the outside?
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: madcow on August 25, 2017, 10:05:09 am
That's presumably the average AUK principle again.  The cyclists who tend to wear out rims have the sense to make sure they're not going to explode on LEL.

True - and if only we were also gifted with x-ray vision to be able to detect incipient failure of tiny bearings....
My freehub has had to go back to Hope to get the broken bits out  :(

With Hope freehubs the noise,or lack of usually gives some indication of the condition of the pawls.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: vorsprung on August 25, 2017, 03:41:08 pm
That's presumably the average AUK principle again.  The cyclists who tend to wear out rims have the sense to make sure they're not going to explode on LEL.

True - and if only we were also gifted with x-ray vision to be able to detect incipient failure of tiny bearings....
My freehub has had to go back to Hope to get the broken bits out  :(

Er, I am not a bike whisperer by any measure but to see if the bearings are good or bad you don't need to disassemble a freehub

Remove the wheel, remove the skewer and hold the hollow axle then rotate the wheel as if pedalling.  It should feel silky smooth.  If there is any roughness replace the bearings.

Accessing if the pawls (the bit that does the freewheel) are working is different for different makes but basically Hope/Campag should be noisey when free wheeling - quietness is usually bad.  On Shimano the first sign of pawl problems is a lack of immediate enguagement.  Again, if you notice this get the hub serviced.  On Shimano usually the easiest thing to do is completely replace the freehub body.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: LeeW on August 26, 2017, 09:12:11 pm
Were there any burst rims on LEL?  I would have expected a few unless everyone diligently measured the remaining thickness, or looked for the wear indicators, before the start.

Yes, there was one at Louth northbound, rider had a bust spoke and adjacent spoke had started to pull through the rim so it was toast, rider took a new wheel.
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: idiotboy on August 30, 2017, 08:42:18 pm
 I was one of those riders who needed your help at Brampton.
After having endured a lot of rain of my way south ,I needed to lube my chain. I was totally knackered from the strong winds etc..I asked for some lube, and to add insult , asked the mechanic if he wouldn't mind applying it!     I could see that despite being tired , he checked himself (and telling me to piss off)  adeptly applied the oil, describing the process as he applied it ( I must say that I learnt a few tips!).
An example/inspiration of exemplary public service, Many thanks
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Somnolent on September 01, 2017, 12:22:04 am
Er, I am not a bike whisperer by any measure but to see if the bearings are good or bad you don't need to disassemble a freehub
Absolutely.
Remove the wheel, remove the skewer and hold the hollow axle then rotate the wheel as if pedalling.  It should feel silky smooth. 
Yup - silky smooth immediately before the event.
Accessing if the pawls (the bit that does the freewheel) are working is different for different makes but basically Hope/Campag should be noisey when free wheeling - quietness is usually bad.  On Shimano the first sign of pawl problems is a lack of immediate enguagement.  Again, if you notice this get the hub serviced.  On Shimano usually the easiest thing to do is completely replace the freehub body.
Pawls & springs were still fine after.

What happened was that the two halves of the bearing casing separated, allowing lots of tiny balls to escape.
If you were to represent the cross section of the bearing in normal condition as:
[ o ]                 [ o ]
what it ended up with was:
[                           ]
 o                       o
   ]                    [
                           oooo
                               oo

Fortunately Hope stuff is sufficiently over-engineered that the inner bearing held together and kept things sufficiently in line to the finish, albeit with some strange grinding noises, as the outer spacer also collapsed inwards allowing the cassette lock-ring into occasional contact with the dropout.

Unfortunately susbsequent disassembly revealed there was not enough of the outer part of the bearing casing to drift out of the freehub shell - but Hope lived up to their legendary reputation for customer service and have now provided me with a new unit.   :)
Title: Re: Mechanic's advices for the next LEL
Post by: Redlight on September 01, 2017, 12:49:43 pm
After having endured a lot of rain of my way south ,I needed to lube my chain. I was totally knackered from the strong winds etc..I asked for some lube, and to add insult , asked the mechanic if he wouldn't mind applying it!     I could see that despite being tired , he checked himself (and telling me to piss off)  adeptly applied the oil, describing the process as he applied it

I had a similar problem on PBP in 2003 when my chain started squealing like a tortured mouse on the road between Mortagne and Villaines. I wheeled it over to the mechanics at the control and asked if I could use their pot of dry lube.  The answer was a resounding "Non", followed by (if I understood the French correctly, something like "You should go and eat and leave us to do that."  :)

(I imagine at that early stage in the ride, they weren't that busy...)