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Homemade disc wheels, frozen chain wax and helmet cleaning | GCN Tech Clinic

This week Alex Paton is joined by Manon Lloyd in the Tech Clinic. After a few weeks of no questions about chain waxing, we’re back in the running with not one but two questions about chain wax.

I live in Canada and my bottle of drip-on-chain wax freezes over in the winter. Is it still safe to use?

As a general rule, if your chain wax is frozen, it is still fine to use, provided it has been thawed slowly. The warnings that come with chain wax saying not to let it freeze are more of a precaution, as the wax will not adhere as well to the chain if applied when it is near freezing. If the wax appears to have separated due to severe temperature fluctuations, it’s probably time to buy a new bottle of wax.

To prevent this from becoming a problem, it is best to keep everything at a recommended minimum temperature of around 0ºC in your home. This keeps them nice and warm and ready to use when you need them.

How can the pros apparently easily reach 100 km/h on relatively shallow slopes, while I struggle to reach 80 km/h on steep descents?

It would be easier to point out the things that contribute to this difference in terminal descent rate. Almost everything from the setup to the race conditions contributes to the overall difference. One of the biggest factors that allows the pros to go so fast on descents is that they ride on closed roads. This means they can stay off the brakes in corners and push just a little harder.

There is also the physics where a group of riders will travel faster than a solo rider due to the aerodynamics of the group. If you ride in a group of more than 100 riders, this can quickly lead to significant speed gains.

The other element of the equation is that everything related to a professional’s setup is configured for speed and efficiency. They ride on aerodynamically optimized frames, wheels and clothing. This combined with an optimized body position means they can cut through the air more effectively, resulting in faster speeds.

What’s the obsession with a loud freehub?

The sound of a loud freehub is something that many of us associate with the characteristics of a high-performance bicycle. There are a few different factors that determine how your freehub sounds. Different mechanisms make different sounds, and the amount and type of grease you use to lubricate the internal mechanism of the freehub also affects how loud it is.

Whether you like a loud freehub or prefer a quiet one, the sound it makes and how that changes over time can be an indication of the health of your freehub. If it’s gotten a lot louder or quieter lately, it probably needs some TLC. Disassemble it, service it and put it back together with some fresh grease.

Is there a preferred equipment to store your bike in to extend the life of the derailleurs?

Derailleurs work using a spring and cable to operate the cage that moves the chain between sprockets or chainrings. If you leave your bicycle for a longer period of time, it is wise to think about the gear in which you leave it. When the bicycle is parked with the chain in the largest sprocket at the rear, the rear derailleur spring is in the most loaded position. . The same can be said if you leave the chain on the large chainring at the front.

If you want to store your bike with the least tension on your derailleurs, you want to be in the smallest cog on the cassette and the small chainring. There isn’t much evidence to show that storing your bike in a different gear will negatively impact the life of the derailleur. However, if you are looking for a best practice to follow, we recommend this.

As for this question, it is only important for mechanical, cable-driven groups. With electronic groupsets, the gear in which you leave the bicycle has no influence on the lifespan of the derailleur.

How often should you remove wax buildup on a cassette and what is the best way to do it?

One of the benefits of using a chain wax treatment is that it keeps the rest of the drivetrain fairly clean compared to an oil-based lubricant. This means that depending on the conditions you ride in, you should be able to wait a few months between cleaning the cassette.

When it comes to removing the built-up wax, the best way to do it is to remove the cassette from the rear wheel. This gives you better access to the cassette and also makes pouring hot water over the cassette a lot easier. By pouring the hot water over the cassette, the wax should return to a liquid form and run off the cassette, leaving you with a fresh and clean cassette to reinstall on your bike.

If I can’t afford a disc rear wheel for a triathlon, is it worth having an aero cover made?

There are a few brands that make covers that fit bicycle wheels and essentially act as an aero fairing. Unlike a deep section rim, there is less aero science to consider because a disc wheel does not pass wind and does not interact with the rim profile. This means that the standard tricky design considerations that come with a deep profile rim are irrelevant when it comes to a disc wheel.

If you want to participate in a flat time trial or triathlon, the advantage of installing an aero cover on the rear wheel will outweigh any disadvantages of the weight gain.

Should I remember to replace my brake calipers even if they are not necessarily worn out?

This question came from someone who has ridden over 70,000 miles on his bike and although he has had to replace many parts several times because they were worn out, the brake calipers have never been replaced. Unlike a bicycle’s drivetrain, wheels or bearings, brake calipers are not a consumable item and do not need to be replaced simply as a result of use. They are similar in this regard to derailleurs which, if properly maintained, can last the life of a bicycle.

The only time you should look at replacing the brake calipers is if they have fallen into disrepair due to corrosion, fatigue or damage. By keeping the brake calipers and especially the spring in the mechanism clean and dry, there is a good chance that your brake calipers will last a long time, even with 70,000 km on the odometer.

What is the best way to clean a bicycle helmet?

Your bicycle helmet can be subject to a lot of sweat and salt build-up and as a result, if not maintained, it can develop quite an odor. Keeping it clean is an easy task and can be done at the end of a long, hard ride or weekly.

If you clean your helmet at the end of the ride before the sweat has time to dry, you can just as easily wash it in the sink with some warm water and a little soap. If you can let it dry outside, your helmet will be clean and odor-free, ready for the next ride.

For smelly helmets or if your helmet is long overdue, it is best to remove the foam liner and machine wash it. While it may seem quicker and easier, it’s not worth the risk to put your entire helmet in the washing machine because the tumbling water and high temperature can damage it.

If you have any tech questions you’d like answered, head over to this week’s Tech Clinic video on the GCN Tech YouTube channel and add your question to the comments along with #ASKGCNTECH. Or leave your question in the comments below.

For more maintenance-related explanations, please see our dedicated how-to section on the GCN website.

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