Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Nerd Alert!


We were thrilled to receive our new Pauls spoke cutter today. This little puppy has been a missing component to our shop for a long time. It's so fustrating when someone needs a spoke that we don't have in stock. Spokes aren't something that you should have to wait a week for and now you won't have to at the Flat Tire Bike Shop. In one motion, our spoke cutter can thread and cut a spoke of any length and diameter. Come in and check it out!

Monday, April 1, 2013

A helping hand

I can't tell you how many times I've been interrupted while in the middle of taping bars.  The phone rings or I forget to grab the electrical tape.  Or, worst of all, trying to cut the end when it slips out of your hand and flops around and around, enravelling the work you are about to finish.  Then a few weeks ago I found an answer.  I was hanging out in my buddies garage and saw him grab a spanner wrench and use it to pinch the bar and hold his tape in place.  Where has this been all my life?  Now I use this trick every time I need to tape handlebars and I'm passing it on to you.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

There are a few ways to skin a cat.

A few mounts ago, I was at the bike shop talking with the guys about all of the new rear axles coming out and all of the parts we would need to have machined in order to accommodate them.  We had about 15 new Scott Sparks and a handful of Treks waiting for fittings.  We came to the realization that we were screwed and that we would never be able to keep up, so we needed to find a solution.  After a few sleepless nights, I came up something.  

Since the rear axle configuration is different from brand to brand and the industry has not yet adopted a standard, it made sense to think about fitting a bike from the front fork.   These measurements are more standardized; 9mm, 15mm, and 20mm.  So I started measuring every bike I could find and building a database of wheel bases and axle heights.  With that information in hand, I was able to draw my design.  My good friend, Ernie Wieber, looked over my design and put it into SolidWorks.  EW then handed the design over to a friend who used his laser cutter to make the parts.


A few weeks later we had our parts back.  Seeing them ready to be put together was amazing.  Imagine seeing pieces to a puzzle that you designed yourself.

A couple of my buddies at Grunion Customs, Kevin Grunion and John Ryder, were nice enough to let me assemble it at their shop.  

Keven knurling the adjustment rod on his lathe.

It was a little nerve racking for me, I hadn't welded since the shipyards in Alaska last summer.

It was really starting to come together.

All of the fabrication was finally done, I couldn't wait to get back to the shop and install it.

We decided to modify our old table in order to accomodate the new system.

After a few hours of measuring and cutting, we finally had it bolted in straight.  It was so much fun to see Kaolin on the first test ride.  Because of the rubber mounted main beam and heim joints on the adjustment rod, it had a certain amount of sway while still staying on the same plane.  This will give the rider a more natural feel.  With a comfortable rider it is possible to get a more realistic fit.  This is somethting that was previously impossible, unless the fitter was using a set of rollers and cameras.

There are a few problems with fitting a rider on a bike that way.  First of all, it's not easy for most people to ride on rollers.  Also, fitters are unable to make adjustments on the fly.  Lastly, the fitter is not able to physically touch the rider, which makes it difficult to accurately measure flexibility. 

As far as I know, the Flat Tire Bike Shop is the only shop that can offer a fit on any bike that is currently made.  Oh yeah!  And for you nay sayers...We can fit fat bikes and Lefty's as well.  Boom!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This is an indstry of tricks.

Bicycle mechanics work in an industry of tricks. Every little trick saves time and every little bit of time adds up to more services done. This is important in the shop or at a race.

This is a little trick I came up with for the Park BBT-10. 

You start by grinding both sides down evenly until the tool is 2mm wide.

Then you grind the top edge until it is square.

You still use the tool in the same way. But when you would normaly reach for a flat head screwdriver, you just turn the tool on its side and use it to flip up the plastick retention tab.

And voila! Just a little trick that saves you one step.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Nerd Alert!

Nerd Alert! I just set up my trueing stand with a Dial Gauge kit from Park. 
Do I need to true a wheel down to 1/1000? No, but it's cool to know that I can!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A whirlwind week of Beers, Bikes, and a little VooDoo

Last weekend Miranda and I flew to Portland for this year's Park Tool Summit. We flew in a couple days early to take in some of the sights. Portlanders do not mess around. Maple doughnuts come with bacon on top! What I thought would be a standard cup of coffee, ended up being some of the best coffee I have ever had. And Miranda had Pho soup she loved so much that she went back the next day for more. 

Here she is at VooDoo Doughnuts!

Everything is better with bacon.

Delicious and nutritious!

Roasted marshmallow milk stout at BaseCamp Brewery.

After two days of exploring, it was time to get down to business. I woke up early Monday to check in and get my schedule. First was Park Tools with a comprehensive class on proper installation of tubular tires and a new way of charting spoke tension. Then we had a short brake and it was off to Fox to talk about the new CTD platform. I was super excited for this class, because of my work with Nationwide Veloworks. Everyone on the team is on a CTD and I was able to find the answer to some of our recent problems. I stayed after class to get a few more tips and almost missed lunch. After a quick bite, I rushed to Mavic where we discussed the new braking surface and how to service their new freehub. I also learned the best truing techniques for their carbon cross spoke wheels. After 9 hours in the classroom, I ran up stairs to grab Miranda and we were on our way to the party. Right away we ran into my buddy Federico from the Slippery Pig Bike Shop in Phoenix, AZ. Talking to mechanics from all over the world and drinking free beer make for a great party. It's amazing to hear the different issues that come up for mechanics all over the world, even though we basically do the same job. The vendors at the event were giving away tons of cool swag. I was lucky enough to win two Crane Creek 110 headsets!

Day two started off with Shimano's new 9000 series Dura Ace. There were so many changes to the system, I was stoked about all the improvements. We must have spent the first hour and a half on the front derailer set up alone. Next on the list was SRAM where we learned about the new Red Groupo. We also went over a basic rebuild of a Rock Shox Reeba. I was a little disappointed that they didn't talk about the new 1/11 since that was the reason I signed up for the class in the first place. After SRAM I got a little food,  then finished up the Summit with Crane Creek. We learned about rebuilding a Double Barrel shock and went over a new system of proper head set selection. It is truly impressive how many head set combinations are out there these days. The next morning, Miranda and I got up at 3:00am to fly home.

As soon as we landed I was on my way to work. The first thing I saw when I walked through the door was one of the Nationwide/Veloworx bikes having an issue with it's Fox CTD. It felt great to know exactly how to fix it and be able show off my new skills. I spent the afternoon prepping a few bikes for the upcoming 24hrs in the Old Pueblo. I had two days to sleep in my own bed and it was off to the Old Pueblo!

For this race I wasn't working with Nationwide. I was there to help my good friend and boss, Kaolin Cummens, with his attempt at Solo Single Speed. And another good friend of mine, Kevin Grunion, who was going for Two Man.

The race started off without a hitch. Kaolin ran hard and the bike hand-off was perfect. Kaolin was in the lead for the first two laps. We did a quick gear change on the third lap, switching to one tooth easier in an effort to accommodate the strong head wind. We knew we had a problem on the forth lap when Kaolin came in 10 minutes late. Kevin came through the pits on his lap and told us he saw Kaolin on course messing with his seat. I quickly got our spare post and seat ready for when he came in. We waited and waited and finally he rolled through. Two weeks prior Kaolin had a bad crash in the Single Speed AZ Race where he hyper-extended his ankle. After extensive rehab he was cleared to race again, but the injury still affected him enough to take him out of the race. Once we decided it would be best for Kaolin not to go on, all of my efforts were focused on Kevin and his teammate. Going into the night, Kevin's team was in 20th place. But they rode hard and by morning they were in 12th. They managed a very solid finish in 10th place!  Here's Kevin on his last lap.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Today I want to show all of you one of my favorite tools, the Park BTS-1 bottom bracket, tapping and facing tool.  The reason it is such an important part of proper bike assembly is because it makes both sides of your bottom bracket perfectly parallel.  Anytime you have two barrings running in parallel, they need to be on the same plane or they will be working against etch other.  If this happens, they will either wear out prematurely or create drag, which no one wants.

Step One is to put your bike in a work stand, of course.  It's important to have a stable platform to work with.

Step Two is to identify the left and right sides of the tool which is designated by a LH and RH on the tap.  Now you would think that the left handed thread would go on the left side, but it is the opposite.

Step Three is to cover the cutting tool with fluid and flood the bottom bracket shell.  I like to use Cris King cutting oil.  Don't be worried about putting on too much, cutting dies are super expensive and the oil is cheep.  So lube it up good.

Step Four.  Carefully start threading the tap into the bottom bracket shell by a few threads.  Once both taps are started, turn them at the same time in the appropriate direction until you feel some resistance.  From this point on you should turn them no more then a half turn, then back a quarter to clear out the threads.  Remember to keep adding cutting fluid every full rotation or so.  Once you have the tool started a few full turns on both sides you can alternate from side to side.  Keep going until the tap is recessed into the shell.

Step Five.  Now we can start facing.  Pull the handle completely out of bottom bracket leaving the tap tool inside.  The tap will now act as a guide for the facing mill.  Install the facing mill cutter on the handle, then reinsert the handle into the taps.  Add fluid to the cutter, then apply steady pressure to the center of both handles and rotate only in a clockwise direction.  If you turn counter-clockwise it will dull the tool.  Only apply enough pressure to get a good 360 cut, if you press too hard you will gouge the shell.  A little chattering is ok, its only cosmetic and won't affect the function.  Repeat this step on the other side.


At first, you will just be removing paint.

 Almost there, just a little more.

Final Step.  Remove the tool from both sides of the frame at the same time, then clean off the tool and re-oil before storage.  Now you can clean out the frame and wipe it down. It's important to remove all remaining metal.  The final touch is to wipe a little grease on the new threads with you finger.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how this tool works, it's always fun for me to use it. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jan 12, 2013.  The first race in the New Year.  Twelve hours of Papago is a fun event held in an odd location under an over pass in downtown Tempe, AZ.  It looked like the kind of place you would dump a body or score some drugs.  But on this day it was filled with hundreds of mountain bikers getting ready for a 12 hour endurance race.

On this fine morning, Kaolin and I were up at 4:00 am to get to the venue. He was racing on a coed quad team for Nationwide and I, of course, was their mechanic.  I couldn't believe how cold it was when we got there.  Twenty-four degrees.  If you're not from southern Arizona, you're probably laughing right now.  But 24 degrees is frigid by Arizona standards.

While we were setting up for the race, a rider who was warming up rode by our tent when his freehub locked up.  This wasn't someone that was on our team and we actually had never even met him before.  But Kaolin and I dropped what we were doing and rebuilt his freehub on the spot.  We also decided to remove a spacer that was improperly installed in his cassette and re tune the bike.  This one of my favorite things about endurance racing.  Everyone helps one another, even if the person you help might end up beating you.

As the day went on, it was your typical AZ 12 hour race, except for the cold weather.  The day consisted of many dirty chains and a few minor tweaks.  We were lucky enough to have our pit right at the finish line.  It was so much fun listening to music and watching the racers run through the timing tent.

I have been to thousands of mountain bike races in my life and seen some spectacular finishes, but nothing compared to the last lap of the Open Quad.  Nationwide and Bicycle Haus had been battling it out all day and it came down to the final lap.  Haus was in the lead buy just a few minutes and everyone was watching in the change out area when they both came in at almost the same time.  Rick Bucker from Haus made the handover first with Matt Barolt right on his heels.  The entire croud was watching as they sprinted by us and back onto the course.  Rick is a Cat 3 road racer and a monster at the crits while Matt is an ex-desert moto cross racer who is one of the best technical riders I have ever seen.  No one knew who would prevail; the big motor or the skilled handler.  Everyone was gathered around the finish line staring into the darkness looking for a hint of one of their lights, when all of a sudden a single light appeared.  It was Matt and Nationwide had taken the lead from Bike Haus!

I tried to take pictures to share with you, but nothing turned out.  Here is how we did.

Nationwide Duo One - Duo 12 Hour - 3rd Place
Nationwide/Veloworx LABBW - Duo 12 Hour - 6th Place
Nationwide SHNT - Quad 12 Hour - 1st
Nationwide/Veloworx Do-Nut-Count Us Out - Quad 12 Hour - 13th
Leah McCabe - Solo Womens - 1st
Nationwide - Quad CoEd 12 Hour - 2nd

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dawn To Dusk - Dec 1, 2012

Dawn to Dusk was my second event with Nationwide.  At this time, I was much more familiar with the team.  They had all just received new Scott bikes, which led to the race going off without a hitch.  All I had to worry about this day was the usual break-in maintenance.

Nationwide team members Paul and Matty rolling through the pitt.

Nationwide/Velowork PCTB - Quad Male - 2nd
Nationwide/Sunday Cycles Duo - Duo Gears - 5th
Nationwide/Veloworx GCJD - Quad Gears - 7th
Nationwide/Veloworx + Landis B - Quad Gears - 13th
Dick and Kitty Racing Team - Duo Mixed Single Speed - 1st

Shout out to Spencer and Rhino for placing 5th in Duo Single Speed on fat bikes!

Monday, January 14, 2013

My first race with Nationwide Insurance/Veloworx was the 24 Hours of Fury held at McDowell Mountain Park on Nov 3, 2012.

The Nationwide team is great to work with, becuase they are always motivating each other.  They are the kind of guys that are super fast, but never let that get in the way of having fun.  I was stoked to work with this tight-knit group and the Bitty Bitty guys at the fury.

The race was a lot of fun without any major setbacks, except Henry Svenvlad's broken collarbone and a Niner RDO issue.  Henry's injury kept one of our teams out of the race and as you may know, the RDO is a huge pain in the ass to cable!  It requires just about the complete removal of the swing arm, which is not a great design for 24 hour racing.  Even with these setbacks, we did really well and had an amazing time.

This is how it all shook out for my teams.

Nationwide Insurance J and T - 12 Hour Duo - 1st Place
Nationwide/Velo SMJJ - 12 Hour Quad - 2nd Place
Nationwide - 12 Hour CoEd - 3rd Place
Steve Thompson - 24 Hour Solo Single Speed Male - 2nd
Bitty's/Nationwide - 24 Hour 5 Person - 2nd Place
Kim - 12 Hour Solo Single Speed Female - 2nd Place

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Riding bikes has always been a part of my like in one way or another.  A couple of years ago I quit my job in the coffee industry and went to work at Flat Tire Bike Shop in my home town of Cave Creek, AZ.  Knowing full well that my life long friend, Kaolin Cummens, would soon take it over.  Since I made the switch, I've been like a sponge soaking up all things new and old in the bike industry.  The last time I worked in a bike shop nine speed just came out and downhill bikes had four inches of travel.

Although I do race now and then, I'm not what you would call an elite racer.  Turning wrenches for the pros gives me the same feeling I had when I was a kid hanging out in the pits.  I get that same adrenalin pumping feeling when my guys are at the starting line or when they come running in with a broken chain and their opponent just minutes behind them.  I love being a part of the high energy environment.  It's that love for the sport that keeps me up for an entire 24 hour race knowing that if I don't do my job, all of the hard work that my team has put in will amount to nothing.