Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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BikeRadar
FSA Gravity 2015 components

FSA’s Gravity line of downhill/freeride components has been revamped and refreshed, and we’ve gotten our hands on some samples from the forthcoming range ahead of its release.

Gravity Rise OS CSI and Rise OS handlebars

Handlebars: handlebars

FSA has had a carbon fibre bar in its Gravity range for a good few years now – well, we say carbon, but it's actually a hybrid carbon/alloy component. That's because there’s a double-butted aluminium core to which a uni-directional carbon weave skin is applied, the idea being that you get the best of both worlds in terms of the materials' properties.

The £89.95 Gravity Rise OS CSI comes in 740mm and 800mm widths and a 15mm rise, and features useful but subtle trimming and alignment marks.

The nine-degree backsweep is more radical that of Renthal’s Fatbar, for example, but is the same as many other brands, including Nukeproof and ENVE. The six-degree upsweep figure is quite extreme though, so these bars should have a unique feel. The claimed weight of 295g would make these rather hefty, so we popped the bars on our scales and sure enough they came out at a competitive 254g – so that’s probably a misprint on FSA’s front.

For those on more of a budget – or those who are still scared of carbon – there’s an all-alloy handlebar for £79.95. The Gravity OS Riser has an identical shape to its part-carbon counterpart but is available in 25mm and 40mm rise options. It's also available in semi-skimmed 740mm or full fat 800mm widths. We weighed the 800mm version at 303g.

The graphics on both bars are inoffensive and won’t clash with your kit.

Gravity stems

Stems: stems

FSA also sent over two of its latest stems for us to test. The first is a 45mm version of the popular Gravity alloy stem. Apart from some updated graphics, it looks identical to the company’s Gravity Light stem from three years back. That’s not a bad thing; it's still a decent looking, well-made unit at a reasonable weight (ours weighed 139g).

It uses 4mm bolts all round and comes with a thread-lock type solution applied to the bolt threads, which is a nice touch. The stem has a six-degree rise and is also available in 60mm, 75mm and 90mm options. It'll retail for £54.95

The second stem is FSA's latest Gravity direct-mount stem. Once again, it’s a part we’ve seen before, wearing new graphics for 2015. It’s 45mm long and mounts directly to the top crown of a RockShox Boxxer fork to give a stack height of just 8.5mm. It tipped our scales at 119g and will cost £44.95.

Gravity seatpost

Seatpost: seatpost

We’ve also got FSA’s latest Gravity seatpost. It’s an inline design, 350mm long, made from 3D forged and CNC machined alloy. The head of the post uses a twin-bolt system for quick and easy adjustment. Just like on FSA’s stems, the threads of the M5 bolts on the Gravity seatpost arrive ready-threadlocked.

Our 31.6mm sample weighed 259g. It’s also available in 30.9 and 27.2mm sizes. Expect to pay £79.95.

Gravity chain device

FSA gravity 2015 components: fsa gravity 2015 components

Finishing up there’s FSA’s £139.95 Gravity chain device. This is also a component we’ve seen before – it was previously sold as part of the company’s Gravity Light lineup. The guide works only with a single-ring setup and a ring size of either 36 or 38t.

A sealed bearing pulley should make for smooth rolling, while single-bolt adjustment for both the upper and lower guides makes installation simpler. ISCG and ISCG05 versions will be available but if your frame is without mounts then fear not – the device includes a bottom bracket mounted adaptor. 

There may not be anything ground-breaking about any of these components, but the fact FSA has chosen to give these proven parts a new lease of life is testament to their original design. As usual we'll be putting these bits through their paces and will follow up with full reviews.








10/21/2014 5:30:00 PM
BikeRadar
Home Wrench: general store items

Welcome to the third edition of Home Wrench, a column that covers the tools, tricks and idiosyncrasies of mechanics. This isn’t a ‘how to’ guide – we have lots of those already – but rather a collection of musings touching on our love for not just bikes, but for the items that help to keep them purring.

We’re just as guilty as the rest of the cycling media of often only reviewing or testing a product if it's branded a bike product. But there's a plethora of consumable items that can be bought from your local hardware store, pharmacy or supermarket, that are very useful to have around your home workshop. It's likely that your local bike shop uses them too. If you don’t already, keep these items on hand as they often come into use when working on bikes. 

It’s worth mentioning that while there are plenty of consumable items you can buy from outside the bike industry, I still choose to use greases, lubes and cleaning agents from the known cycle guys. My experience is that the more generic stuff usually just isn’t as good. 

Electrical tape

Where to buy it: hardware store

Electrical tape is used to finish off handlebar tape neatly. nitto or 3m is best as it sticks, lasts and doesn't get gooey:

Electrical tape is useful to finish off bar tape like a pro and mark seat post height before removing the post. The finishing tape included with most bar tape is best for the bin, or to be used over the top of a neat electrical tape wrap.

I use tape from 3M or Nitto, cheaper stuff tends to become a gooey mess overtime.  

Isopropyl alcohol

Where to buy it: (supermarket or pharmacy)

Sold in most drug stores, this is the stuff recommended by most major disc brake manufacturers as the right cleaner. No, it’s not as hard-core as a brake cleaner, but it won’t dry out your piston seals, effect paint or your lung health either. Don’t drink it. 

Paper towel

Where to buy it: supermarket

Something covered in the last Home Wrench article. Paper towel is perfect for when you need to ensure cleanliness. Another great use for paper towel is to quickly create a clean working base on your bench for a place to open bearings or rebuild a suspension fork. 

Cable ties

Where to buy it: hardware store

Cable ties (AKA zip ties) are a staple in the mountain bike world, but less common on road bikes. Either way, these plastic things are handy to keep around for guiding cable housing, mounting computers or just measuring suspension sag.

I always keep a selection of sizes, but my favourite is the 2.5mm (width) x 200mm (length) size, which is slim and long enough to fit through and around just anything on a bike. When you’re done, trim the edge perfectly flush, otherwise you may cut yourself on it at a later date. 

Threadlocker

Where to buy it: hardware store

Threadlocker is a light adhesive for threaded parts. keep a small bottle around, plenty of repairs will reccomend it:

Effectively a light adhesive and anti-seize for threaded parts, it’s common to see Threadlocker recommended when working with brakes, suspension pivot bolts or other items that have a tendency to work themselves loose.

While there are many different grades of the thread locking goodness, the blue (medium strength) and red (high strength) from Loctite are the most common. If you’re unsure which to own, start with a small bottle of blue. 

Duct/cloth tape

Where to buy it: hardware store

Super handy to have around regardless of a bike, this stuff can be used in a pinch to temporarily repair a tyre cut or ripped saddle, or stop a valve from rattling in a rim. 

Cleaning brushes

Where to buy them: supermarket, hardware or auto-repair store

Bicycle cleaning brushes are readily available through bike stores, however, auto-repair stores will likely offer similar things for cars:

The soft bristled brushes sold by some bike maintenance brands are very good, but you can pick up similar items elsewhere for less.

For cleaning the frame, find brushes designed for car washing with ultra soft bristles. For wheels, you want something with a stiffer bristle, such as those used for dishes. For getting between sprockets, it’s still hard to beat the likes of Park Tool or Muc-Off bicycle specific brushes. 

Furniture polish/cleaner

Where to buy it: supermarket

In australia and the uk we have this furniture polish that works a treat for bringing a shine to a dirty frame, it's not too different to some car polishes...:

I’ve used Mr Sheen, an Australian furniture cleaner and polish in bike shops for years. It does a great job of cleaning your frame and leaving a nice shine that prevents further dirt sticking.

As this stuff will affect your brakes, it’s best to avoid the aerosol version. Stick with a trigger action bottle and be careful where you spray it.

While this product is available in Australia and the UK, I’m unaware of an equivalent in the US. Instead, bicycle products such as Pedro's Bike Lust and Finish Line Showroom Polish will do an even better job, just at a higher price. Car polishes are another option, although it's common for these to be equally priced to the bicycle branded stuff.

Emery cloth (or sandpaper)

Where to buy it: hardware store

Perfect for rubbing down squealing disc brake pads, finishing the edges of something you’ve just cut, fixing a burred chainring or just roughing up a tube before patching it.

You don’t want too fine a grit – a grit of 120 or below will do the job well. I cut little pieces, as I need them, that way the rest of sheet stays clean.

Talcum powder

Where to buy it: supermarket or pharmacy

Talcum powder will help stop your inner tube sticking to your tyre. a bigger issue off-road, but this alone can help prevent pinch flats:

If you’re running inner tubes, consider a little talcum (baby) powder in your tyres. It will prevent the inner tube sticking to the inside of your tyre and may just thwart the dreaded pinch flat. 

Rags

Where to buy them: hardware store (or already in your closet!)

Obvious what this one is for, but always keep a fresh supply around. You can buy a bag of pre-cut rags from a hardware store, but old T-shirts or towels obviously work a treat too. It's best to stick with cotton, because other materials tend to smudge more than collect the grime. 

WD-40

Where to buy it: hardware store

Perhaps the most controversial item in a cycling workshop. wd-40 is still handy to have around, just don't use it as a chainlube (even wd-40 makes a product for that purpose!)... :

The multi-use ‘lubricant’ that likely exists on every garage shelf – and should only be needed if working on an older bike. While it’s not the very best at any one purpose, and I don’t consider it a lubricant suitable for bicycle use, it can help with stubborn bolts and freeing rusty components. All that being said, I now use Finish Line’s Chill Zone for these purposes. 

Thread seal tape

Where to buy it: hardware store

Also known as plumbers’ tape or Teflon tape, it’s designed to create a watertight seal on plumbing and gas joints. This tape is perfect for use on threads of loose fitting tubeless valves, leaking valve extenders and creaking threaded bottom brackets.

Disposable gloves

Where to buy it: (Supermarket, hardware or auto-repair store)

Disposable gloves will keep your hands silky and smooth. while a little more expensive, nitrile gloves are best :

Some chemicals in a workshop aren’t good for you or your skin. Disposable gloves are recommended whenever you’re working with degreasers, brake fluid or suspension fluid – or just want to keep your hands clean.  

While they're a little more expensive, I use disposable Nitrile gloves because they offer better grip and durability. Don’t get a size too big, or you’ll constantly snag them.

Our Australian editor, Dave Rome, is a self confessed 'tool nerd' – this column exists as a small shout-out to his fellow eager garage dwellers. Before turning to the media, Dave worked in numerous shops and as tech support in wholesale. With a personal cycle-focused tool collection accumulated over the past 12 years, and having found other like minded tinkerers along the way, he's got plenty of little tricks and tips to share. You can follow Dave on Twitter at @dave_rome.








10/21/2014 3:00:00 PM
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