Sunday, September 8, 2013

Enduro Needle Bearing Install Fox Shocks

My stock (2011 Giant Anthem X 29er 3) DU bushing in my Fox Float RP2 Boostvalve lasted 2.5 seasons which isn't too bad I guess.  I've heard of serious all-mountain riders blowing through one or two DU bushings in a season with all that rock bashing and riding drops they do.

I'd say about 70% of my riding over the past two seasons has consisted of trails that have a lot of granite rock with a fair amount of pushing my suspension parts through full range.  I'm a cross country racer with bit of an indulgence for mild all-mountain style riding.

Two pics from the Fox website: Top, typical DU bushing set up, bottom; the new fox low friction bushings (now standard).

The Enduro needle bearing has needle bearings within a DU bushing sleeve with robust seals on either side: 

I purchased the Real World Cycling bearing press tools to make the job easy.  You can use a bench vice and match up the appropriate socket sizes from your socket wrench set as well, but the Real World Cycling tools are only $35.00 and you have them forever.  When your friends see your cool new needle bearings they can borrow your press tool to do theirs.

A trip to the hardware store and spending $2.00 bought me my DIY high-tech bearing press made from a 6 inch bolt, washers, and nuts.  In the pic below I'm using the blue pilot tool to push out the old DU bushing.  It took a bit of turning force to crack it and pushed out easy after that.

Here's the removed DU bushing pressed out and captured by the tool.

A quick clean of the shock eye.

Loading the Enduro needle bearing onto the needle bearing pilot tool which ensures perfect alignment.

The green tool is idiot proof with clear instructions for which end goes where..

Needle bearing installed

Putting in the other bits.. Mine came with three different sizes of sleeves to account for normal variances found.  The "++" size (recommended place to start) fit perfectly with no binding or knocking, and smooth rotation.

One more sleeve..

Ready to put the seals on

Double sided seals seem pretty well built. Lightly grease before sliding on.  Seals  come in different colours to match or clash however you like.  I like matching.

Use a torque wrench and tighten to factory spec.  
For my 2011 Anthem X 29er the spec is 8.8 - 10.7 Nm for the upper shock mount

My old bushing was toast and had developed a knock that was easily produced by lifting the bike by the seat.  No knock after Enduro needle bearing install.

I decided on the Enduro needle bearing after reading a lot of reviews.  Many people report better small bump compliance and a need to increase shock air pressure due to more easily flowing through shock travel.

I haven't ridden the rocks yet.  I've done one ride on mostly hard pack single track with lots of bumpy roots in some sections.  My shock appears to be traveling through the same range it usually does on this trail, but I did notice an edge taken off small bumps.  Right away I noticed greatly reduced friction when loading the suspension by pressing down on the seat, cycling the shock.  The first tiny bit of travel before hitting where your sag is set moves very freely and it's very easy to feel the change in shock resistance between the top of the stroke and where the sag setting activates the shock.

Apparently the new low friction bushings from Fox are also very slick and supposed to last a long time.  I don't know which system will be better.  Probably can't go wrong with either one.

I decided on the needle bearing because it looks like it can take more punishment.  I'll ride the Enduro bearing for the rest of this season then try the Fox low friction bushing next season.  I'll post my comparison findings here.

With my early findings I can recommend the Enduro needle bearing.  It does what it claims to do; increases small bump compliance, I didn't notice an earth shattering difference and so far haven't needed to increase my shock air pressure to compensate.  That might change once I challenge the shock more on the rocks.

With the Real World Cycling bearing tools the re & re procedure was drop dead easy and fast. I didn't have to remove the shock from my bike. Less than 10 minutes.  Could probably do it in 5 minutes now that I've done it once.

Friday, January 4, 2013

SPD Cleats review: BBB vs Shimano

When my Shimano cleats wore out I thought I'd save a few bucks and buy the BBB cleats.. Here's how that turned out:

New Shimano SH51 on top used BBB Click & Go on bottom

Used BBB left New Shimano right

Shimano SM SH51 4 deg float  $20.00 - $30.00 CDN

BBB Click & Go BPD-01 4 deg float   $15.00 - $25.00 CDN

Both are made from hardend Cro-Mo steel.

As my Shimano cleats started to wear, releasing my foot from the pedal became a challenge.  I fell over sideways a few times as I couldn't release in time.  Smashed my knee on a rock leaving a nice bulge of swolleness that felt great the rest of the ride.

I should have bought new cleats when I first noticed the increased difficulty in clicking out instead of trying to squeeze every last kilometre out of this wear-replace part.

The shop was out of the Shimano cleats and I didn't want to wait a week for new ones to come in on order.. memories of the knee-rock relationship provoked me into an impulse buy for the BBB cleats that were in stock.

Bonus, the BBB cleats were around $5.00 cheaper than the Shimano and they looked about the same.  Of course they looked about the same.. they're for the same pedal silly.

New cleats feel so good.  Smooooth float, crisp engagement and easy release.  Instead of cursing my hard to release pedals, I reconciled our differences, let the knee thing go and started the SPD romance again.

About a month later my foot released from the pedal on a pedal strike.  Pedal strikes happen when riding rocky trails, you try to avoid it but, meh.. it happens.  I usually don't experience a cleat release on pedal strikes though.  I didn't think much of it and left it as a one time thing.

Over the next month pedal strikes with a foot flying off the pedal became so prevalent I was back to cursing my Shimano pedals.

I'm currently using the M540, considered the workhorse of the Shimano pedal line up.  Not overly heavy or remarkably light (346g), they are very durable and quite inexpensive ($90) compared to XT ($150, 343g)  and XTR ($250, 310g).  With sealed bearings these pedals are a true forgetaboutit part.  They last through years of abuse and still work great under all conditions except mud.  The pedals fail miserably in mud.  But this is a cleat review not a pedal review so back the cleats..

The worst was when I had a right then left foot strike - foot fly-off in the middle of a rock garden.  That was fun. Both feet detached bashing through rocks.  I got my feet back in and made it through, but I had a few choice words for my pedals.

My cleats were only a couple months old so I didn't consider cleat wear to be the issue.  I'm used to getting two or three seasons out of SPD cleats.. Shimano cleats that is.  After a mucky ride I was cleaning crap out from my cleats and noticed the cleats looked pretty trashed.

I was surprised.  Maybe they wore fast because I've been riding rocky trails more than before.  Hopping off for unridable sections means more time wearing your cleat on a hard surface.

No, that can't be it because this year I can actually ride more technical rock than walk.  A couple years ago when I walked a lot of rock trails this cleat on rock wear idea would have made sense.  Even when I was walking rock more, I had never experienced cleat wear within a month and a half that resulted pedal strike shoe releases.

BBB Click & Go cleats wear a heck of a lot faster than Shimano SM SH51 cleats.

When my Shimano cleats wore, release became more difficult.

When the BBB cleats wore, pedal strike cleat release became very prevalent.

I think if you're riding mostly dirt trails and are not doing much hike a bike over rocks either one of these cleats should work just fine and last a reasonable amount of time.

With the experience that I had though, I won't be buying the BBB cleats again.

I bought new Shimano cleats which restored smooth float and click in click out ease exactly the same way the new BBB's did.  When new both cleats feel great and work about the same.

The pedal strike cleat release disappeared with the new Shimano cleats.

Looking closely at the cleats there are some minor dimensional differences between the two cleats.  I imagine this changes the cleat - pedal interface dynamic as the cleat wears with wear-performance characteristics being different between the two cleats.

In terms of overal durability the Shimano cleats win hands down.  The $5.00 savings on the BBB purchase isn't a savings at all as it looks like the Shimano cleats last at least twice as long.

Both function equally when not worn and perform poorly when worn.

The Shimano SM SH51 cleats are the clear winner as they far out last the BBB's.

I might switch brands for pedals this year to favor better mud performance.  The new Look S-Track look interesting..

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cars & Bikes: Winnipeg Cycle Chick pens another beauty

Out of all the local bloggers on cycling I confess I like Winnipeg Cycle Chick the best.  I'm even a bit jealous of her prolific prose.  Jealousy is a wasted emotion though so better to appreciate talent when you see it.

The chick did a piece on a cycling courier that was hit and run by an SUV driver.

Bikes and cars on the road together is a contentious issue so the post generated many responses including a couple from myself posting as Cris.

While the issue causes stress and often makes us weary re-hashing the same old - same old, Andrea T├ętrault (AKA Winnipeg Cycle Chick), hit's a home run telling the story of a car-bike collision but without the typical contemptuousness conveyed by anti-car or anti-bike perspectives.

It's worth a read as are the reader comments, some of which do express divisiveness, which the Cycle Chick would like to see disappear as it's the human divisiveness that causes the problem

Here's the link to the post This is Glen

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rocking The Ridge 2012 Manitoba Provincial MTB Championships

Bottom of fast straight down section (photo cred: Dave Bell) just before this killer climb video lovingly named "Welcome to hell".

Well I finally did it.. I won a race at Falcon Ridge Trails, Falcon Lake MB.  To make the win a little more sweet the race was the provincial championships.  

View 2012 Manitoba provincial mountain bike championships course Falcon Ridge Trails, Falcon Lake MB in a larger map

I've come in last place or very close to last place in previous races out here.  For Manitoba this is our most technical course and would still hold its own against challenging courses out of province.

Two years ago after coming in near dead last again in a race out here I vowed to win at Falcon.  Someone accross the parking lot heard me say that and quipped, "what.. in Citizen category?. ha ha!"

For those who don't know, Citizen category is an introductory category with reduced distance and technical challenge that is for those who have never raced before and are interested trying mountain bike racing without jumping to a full-blown race category and buying the $100ish race license.

Training on the race course

That comment, meant in jest I'm sure, fueled the fire that much more.  After multiple tanks of gas transporting my environmentally friendly mountain bike 300ish kilometers back and fourth from Winnipeg to Falcon Lake nearly every weekend I finally developed the skill to ride everything at Falcon.  Well.. everything on XC race courses.. there are still a few features I haven't ridden yet.. but I'll get those this year before the snow flies.

If I were to use a swear jar I would have busted at least a dozen Culligan refills worth swearing up a storm for all the times I jammed a knee into a rock, handle bar into a tree, or failed a technical section.  Being a major chicken didn't help either.  You can't be half committed and choke when trying to clean stuff out here.

Overcoming fear was and still is my greatest challenge. 

I love racing at Falcon.  This years course was the best ever.  I'll disclose that is a little self-serving as I put a lot of hours into cleaning up the trails, taking out rocks, roots, and branches that seemed to always be in the way of a good (and safe) line. I'm not the only one though, Dave Dorning and Seema Saini put in over 60 hours of work designing and grooming the course.  Rob Brigdon, Paul Seire, Robert Champagne, Bill Algeo, and a bunch of other people I've forgotten or didn't know about have also put a lot of work into making these trails better, with Bill Benson being the original trail blazer out here.. but for sure.. this course was in the best shape ever.

There are also sections of trail that the Gords Cycle Club have built out here that are more of an all-mountain technical challenge that deserve mention.

I think Falcon over-all is our best or tied for our best mountain bike trail system in the province.  We should have more races out here and do more development.  I know I'll keep working on the trails.

For those who feel the trails are too technical to race on.. it's true that for the entry level rider many lines are too hard.. we need to develop more "B" lines and need to clean up more of the rocks that ruin a perfectly good line.  Consider this though.. If a fear hindered X-rodie sport level rider like me can progress from dead last to winning out here, anyone can do it. With more trail and rider development, and the annual 24 Hours of Falcon race, and hopefully annual cup races, the trails out here will only get better. Riding well at Falcon will help someone ride well pretty much anywhere!. . .

Training on the race course. Click here for video clip
Anyway.. back to the race..

Within the first few pedal strokes of my warm up lap I knew it was going to be a good day.  I had fresh legs and good "snap". I owe part of this to my recovery taper, but also to Bryan Cobb, massage therapist who worked over my quads a couple times before provincials. Brian made a huge difference in my performance for this race. Visit Bryan's website Muscle Pain Clinic

The section known as the A-B line had been a problem for me this year.  I rode it in training last year without trouble.  This spring I entered too hot and my line was pretty sketchy.. holding on for dear life I made it through but was spooked and didn't try again the whole year. It gave me some solace hearing that others had the same experience but overcame the fear and cleaned it again.

Here's a video clip of Dave Dorning, Rob Brigdon, and Ron Kaulins riding the "A" line, and I demonstrate the "B" line.  I'm the guy riding in the background.. I start first, but the B line is longer and slower so I come out last. Someone needed to demo the B line and it had to me because on this day I was too chicken to do the A line..Video 

I knew I would make it today with race adrenaline pumping, but wanted to get it over with before the race started.  I cleaned it twice and felt satisfied.  I thought I had a realistic chance of winning gold but had some tough competition to fight off.  My main competitor was out with an injured ankle so that was a downer not being able to race against him.

Hard starts usually work for me but lately had been causing me to blow up.  This race has some long technical sections where passing is difficult so I thought it was best to enter those sections first if possible, so I gassed it at the start and had a good lead on the pack heading into the technical.

After racing against the same people for a while you get to know their sounds.  I could hear the breathing patterns of Paul Seier and Jason Howden on my wheel, but nobody else.  Without looking I knew I was in a three way race with these two, but only sort of.  Paul was racing 50+ and was doing two laps.  Jason and myself were in a three lap race, and Jason was in the age category down from me, 30+.  So really we were each in first place for our respective categories.  I didn't hear any other bike or breathing noises back there so took some comfort in knowing we had a half decent lead.

I also knew that there were two more laps and anything could happen.  Anything happened and Jason took a spill on some baby-head rocks.. he was ok but his seat broke off and the race was over for him.  That sucks because it was going to be a good battle with Jason..

I slowed a bit on my second lap to reduce risk of blowing up or taking a bad line.  I couldn't see or hear anyone behind me so I knew I had at least 20 seconds on the next guy behind me.. A good buffer to win if I could keep the gap.

I felt the onset of cramping but it wasn't that bad yet.  If I backed off on climbs I should be able to make it. I also had some pickle juice with me.  A recent study suggested pickle juice may be effective at stopping cramps.  No really.. here's an article on the study.

I downed the pickle juice and holly crap!  That is the most revolting substance I have ever imbibed. It was putrid. Disgusting. So I drank the rest of it. It made me hack and gag.  I thought I was going to hurl.  I'm sure the rider behind me thought the same thing.  Did it work?  I don't know..  I didn't cramp but I also backed off on effort a little.  Was it the backing off or the vile juice?  Maybe a bit of both.  I would usually have to back off a lot more to prevent cramping.  I was able to to continue at 8/10 effort.

I had to clean the A-B line one more time before the finish line.  I took a bad line.  The same line that spooked me earlier in the year.  This time was different though. Instead of panicking my brain and body seemed to respond automatically and I corrected my line without a problem and rolled it out. As riders get to know each others sounds, race officials get know riders and where they usually finish. When I crossed the finish line the commissar asked, "are you finished?"  asked with an "are you sure you're finished?" tone..  "Yes, that's three laps", I said.  Sheesh.. Looks like I have to podium in more races to clean up my record :-).

L-R Dave Dorning (race organizer), Rob Friesen (Silver), me, Garry Bistyak (Bronze) men's sport 40-49

Paul Seier and I. Both won Gold.  This felt extra good as I coach Paul :-)
As usual I look stiff as a board in a photo and Paul is relaxed and cool..

I'll add an unapologetic shout out to Team Woodcock..
Rob Brigdon won bronze in Open Elite with a couple flat tires, Jackson Locken won Gold in Senior Sport, I won gold in Master B sport (age 40-49).. ahem.. I also won overall in men's sport beating the 20 and 30 somethings :-), and Dave Dorning was the race organizer. Dave gave up racing provincials to put on the race

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Blog: Manitoba Mountain Bike Trails

I have a lot of our beloved MTB trails recorded with GPS.

Here's a new blog where I'm posting them.

Feel free to leave a link to your GPS'd trails as well

Manitoba Mountain Bike Trails