Sunday, August 28, 2022

Focus Paralane: Dura-Ace 12 Speed Assembly Begins

With most of the new 12 speed components in place, I am now ready to upgrade the Focus Paralane from 11 speed to 12 speed! Check out the Focus Paralane - 12 Speed page for all the juicy details of the 12 speed components.

2x11 speed Focus Paralane, before disassembling it for the upgrade. Mudguards and accessories have been removed. Weighs 7.6 kg in this bare configuration with pedals.

Ended up stripping nearly everything off the frame, except for the stem and handlebar.

Took the chance to clean and polish the frameset with wax as well.

Here is the new Dura-Ace 12 speed groupset! Do you know what is missing?

Most of the components of the 12 speed groupset are here, except for the crankset which is not yet available.

As I have experienced many times before, from assembling so many bikes from scratch, you only get to know the details of each bike when you build it up yourself. There are many small details and issues that only reveal itself during the build.

For a start, when I was assembling the new rear brake calipers onto the bike, I noticed that the rear caliper adapter did not fit. This adapter is needed when installing a rear 160 mm brake rotor. One of the bolts was too long and would bottom out on the inside of the brake caliper.

After I looked at the Dealer's Manual for the new brake calipers, I found that there are actually two different bolts. The front bolt is different as it does not have the T-shaped tip and is shorter. I could not use the bolt that came with the brake caliper adapter, as it was the wrong length for the frame.

Same for the front brake caliper, there is a new version of the bolt without the T-shaped tip.

A table showing how to choose your bolt length, based on the thickness of the frame brake mounting thickness.

This applies when mounting the brake caliper directly to the frame, for 140 mm rotor. Since I was using 160 mm rotor, I needed an adapter.

This bolt fixes the rear adapter to the rear caliper. It is the same as the bolt that fixes the front adapter to the front caliper.

I realized that the only difference between the old and new bolt is the T-shaped head. All I needed to do was to remove the T-shaped head from an existing bolt, and it will be shortened to become the new bolt.

One way is to grind off the tip of the bolt, to remove the T-shaped tip.

The bolt is held in place with a table clamp and some nuts, before cutting off the tip.

Later on, I realized that it was easier to just clamp the tip of the bolt, and break it off by bending the bolt back and forth. Much cleaner than grinding off the tip.

New shorter bolt, made by removing the T-shaped tip.

Routing the brake hoses through the frame was relatively easy, as there are big exit holes on the downtube for the cable routing. Best of all, there are no Di2 wires between the shifters and the rear of the frame, so it simplifies the handlebar cable routing greatly.

After trimming the hydraulic hoses, these are the lengths and weight that are removed.

A new press fit bottom bracket SM-BB92 will be installed.

With this awesome new press fit tool by Toopre, I no longer dread working on press fit bottom brackets!

Since the new Dura-Ace R9200 crankset is not available yet, I will continue to use the R9100 crankset first. The pros are still using this combination so it should not be an issue.

Dura-Ace R9250 front derailleur aligned to the chain rings.

Di2 wire runs neatly to the hole on the seat tube, and is connected directly to the Di2 battery.

Rear derailleur R9250 goes on without issue as well. Using the included adjustment tool to set the ideal distance between the guide pulley and the cassette sprocket.

When in adjustment mode, the LED on the rear derailleur lights up. Somehow it shows as rainbow coloured when reflected from the gear sprockets.

Using the new 12 speed chain, which was originally designed for the 12 speed MTB drivetrain.

It was quite a bit of work to prepare the 12 speed chain for the new drivetrain, as I am also using a wax lube for this new chain. Similarly to the previous ritual, the chain has to be thoroughly degreased in a multi-step process, before the wax lube is applied.

Once the chain has been degreased, I installed it on the bike to set the correct chain length. Since the chain is now completely clean, it is easy and fuss-free to remove it from the bike to measure the exact weight with the extra links removed. The final chain length has 6 links removed from the original 116 links.

A total of 110 links are used, for a weight of 235 grams.

In the next post, the first phase of this bike assembly will be completed.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Cervelo Aspero: Bike Servicing after Dusty Gravel Ride

This dusty gravel ride was actually done last year in 2021, just that I didn't get around to writing about it until now. For those who do not know, the trail around Pandan Reservoir is made of light gravel, with small stones that are doable for most bikes.

Using a gravel bike is nice, but it is actually not necessary. Road bikes with wider tires (> 28 mm) are fine as well as I have tested with my Focus Paralane. That said, it is a good place to test out gravel bikes with some fast riding, as it is an unbroken stretch of gravel that you can ride round and round.

Approximate distance for one round is about 6 km, which is easily done on a bike but takes some effort if you are jogging.

One quirk of this gravel trail is the dusty conditions. When the trail is dry, it actually generates quite a bit of dust as you ride over it. The result is a bike that is entirely coated in a fine layer of dust, as you will see below.

Beautiful morning with cloudy weather

After riding a couple of rounds, we returned home and I found that the bike was very dusty. Unlike gravel trails that are more rocky, this trail with fine gravel throws up a lot of dust that sticks to the bike. This means that a good wash is necessary to clean off the dust.

Similarly to the previous time when I rode the Aspero through wet mud, I decided to remove most of the components from the bike to do a thorough cleaning.

Frame is covered in a layer of white dust. Comes off easily with a wet cloth as the frame has a gloss paint job.

A good cleaning is necessary as it is just too dusty. Better than mud though.

GRX derailleur and wheels are covered in white dust as well.

Upon removing the wheels, the dust pattern can be seen clearly. It looks almost like the dry dust was sprayed on the frame like a liquid. Quite fascinating to see.

For the frame, it is relatively easy to wipe off the dust due to the gloss paint job. However, the wheels and tires are much harder to wipe and clean, which is why I decided to give it a proper wash.

Prior to this, I have not really done a good water washing of the wheels before, as I didn't need to. It would be the first time I am washing the hubs under running water, so I hope the sealing is good!

WTB Venture 47 gravel tires on Hunt 650B carbon disc wheels are fantastic. I run them tubeless which makes it even better.

Spraying water on the tires and using a hard bristled brush to scrub the debris out from the tire tread.

Letting the water run down the cassette, and scrubbing with a brush is surprisingly effective at removing grease and dust.

11-42T cassette is super clean after washing! Looks as though I used the Ultrasonic Cleaner.

Waxed the frame to make it shine!

After the wheelset was dry, I decided to service the freehub as well, since the wheels were already off the bike and it was now clean. It is the best time to do some maintenance before putting them back on the bike. No maintenance has been done on these Hunt wheels ever since I got them more than 2.5 years ago, still running well but good to take a look.

36 ratchet teeth in the freehub. Still looks quite clean inside.

6 pawls arranged in 2 sets of 3, for an engagement angle of 5 degrees.

Special sauce to keep the freehub pawls running smoothly. This is the same container of grease that has been in use since 10 years ago!

After wiping the pawls to clean away the old grease, the new grease can be added. Notice that the cassette is still attached to the freehub body, as the whole axle comes out from the hub.

Coating all the ratchet teeth in a thin layer of grease. This is more than enough for smooth operation.

With clean ratchet and pawls, plus plenty of freehub grease, the freehub now runs smoothly and more quietly. Worth doing once in a while to freshen things up.

The problem with me doing bike maintenance is that one thing leads to another, and soon I'm pretty much overhauling most of the bike components.

While cleaning the brakes, I noticed that the brake pads are pretty thin compared to a new set. Well, this is again a good time to replace the brake pads, since the wheels are off anyway.

Used vs new L03 resin brake pads, looks very different to me!

Old brake pad is about halfway done. Still some usage left, but I decided to just replace it now. Been in use since I built up this bike 2 years ago.

A pad spreader is useful to push back the brake caliper pistons when you change to a new brake pad. Else just use a clean flat tool which will do the job as well.

As new brake pads are thicker than the outgoing one, the pistons need to be pushed back slightly to allow the rotor to fit between the new pads.

That was quite a lot of work to service the bike. Not all of them were due to the dusty gravel ride, but it was a good time to clean and do maintenance on the whole bike, since it has been some time since I did a good overhaul.

One other change that I did to the bike was to replace the chain. The old chain was worn out as measured by the chain checker, so I replaced it with a new chain to avoid wearing out the cassette and chain ring

This time, instead of just putting on a stock new chain, I decided to try waxing the chain. For a completely breakdown of the chain waxing process, check out this other post!

Tungsten All Weather Wax Lube and Chain Preparation

I have been reading a lot on bicycle chain lubrication, and it is quite fascinating to learn how the different chain lubes have such big effects on the chain efficiency and durability.

For my "dry" weather bikes, such as the Cervelo Aspero gravel bike and the other folding bikes, I have been using the Prolink chain lube since a long time ago. Not sure why I chose it, but it has worked well so far.

As for the wet weather bikes, such as the chain drive version of the Fabike C3 and the most recent Focus Paralane, I have been using the KMC EPT chain, which is extremely rust resistant. For that chain, I used Finish Line wet lube, which is water resistant and does not get washed away by rain. However, the wet lube does pick up quite a bit of dirt that makes the chain dirty easily.

From Zero Friction Cycling, I came across this new type of drip on wax lube, which is almost as efficient as the full molten wax dip, and yet is easier to apply as it is a drip on type.

Which is why I decided to get this Tungsten All Weather Wax Lube to test it out for myself and see if it is really as good as it says.

Here it is! Let's give it a try and see how it goes.

Apparently good for all types of riding!

Uses tungsten disulphide to reduce friction. Made in the UK.

Unfortunately the 2 bottles arrived with some lube on the outside of the bottles. Seems like the cap was  not really screwed on tight, allowing some leakage during transportatation.

However, Tru Tension responded immediately when I sent them feedback on the bottle leakage. Kudos to them, they sent over new bottles of chain lube, no leakage this time. Now I have lots of chain lube to last a long time...

Label on the bottle

Need to shake the bottle vigorously to mix all contents evenly. After that, need to leave it on the chain for 5 minutes before wiping off excess.

The problem with using wax lubes is that the chain has to be completely degreased before the wax lube can be applied. This is a very tedious process, as many steps need to be done to strip away the factory grease completely. Thanks to the detailed instructions from Zero Friction Cycling, I was able to do it myself.

Here is the chain to be degreased, it will be installed onto the Cervelo Aspero gravel bike as the chain is due for replacement. The bent spoke is to fish out the chain from the bottles later on.

Chemicals needed to degrease the chain, in preparation for the wax lube. Turpentine to degrease it, and isopropyl alcohol to remove any remaining residue.

Dedicated bottles and funnels for this job. 

Glass containers to store used turpentine and isopropyl alcohol for later disposal.

For a start, fill up the bottle with 250 ml of turpentine, and soak the chain inside for 15 mins during the 1st round.

Factory grease coming off the chain, clouding the turpentine.

To complete the first step of the degreasing process, shake the chain inside the turpentine bottle for 2 minutes, for a total of 3 rounds. That's 750 ml of turpentine for 1 chain.

Next, the degreased chain needs to be cleaned of any film due to the turpentine, so that the wax lube or any other lube can bond to the metal tightly. Isopropyl alcohol is recommended for this.

For isopropyl alcohol, also 3 rounds of shaking, with 250 ml each. 

Once these cleaning steps are completed, the chain is almost ready! Quite a lot of work for one chain, but it only needs to be done once at the start of each new chain.

On a side note, it is not realistic or practical to attempt this cleaning on a used chain, as so many rounds of turpentine cleaning is needed to degrease the dirty chain completely. It will be too much effort for too little result, so it should always be done on a new chain only.

Last step is to dry the chain, so that the remaining alcohol is removed from the inside of the cleaned chain. You can hang it out to dry, or accelerate the process using a hairdryer.

Using a hairdryer to dry the chain, after degreasing it thoroughly.

Completely degreased, clean and dry!

A degreased chain feels weird in the hand, as the links feel very loose with no friction or stickiness due to the oil or grease. Feels like a metal necklace.

A degreased chain should be lubed within 12 hours, as there is no grease to protect it from rust You can also wrap it in a cloth or seal it in a bag as recommended by Zero Friction Cycling, but not longer than a few days.

Chain installed on the cassette and bike, ready for wax lubrication.

When the drivetrain is running on the degreased chain, it is very noisy, and a lot of friction can be felt. This is because there is completely no lubrication between the chain parts, except whatever plating and surface treatment that comes with the chain.

Applying the wax lube, drop by drop on each roller. Key is to let the wax penetrate the inside of the roller. Outside of the chain does not need any lubrication.

Leave it for a few minutes for the lube to penetrate the inside of the chain, and let it dry. Then, wipe off the excess as shown here.

From start of degreasing to completing the chain lubrication on the bike takes about 1 hour for me. It really takes quite a bit of effort, but hopefully it saves me time down the road.

On the Cervelo Aspero gravel bike, the biggest problem with chain lubrication for me is actually gravel dust. When riding around Pandan Reservoir, the bike will be coated in a fine layer of white dust. When I rode there previously, the chain because completely black because the dust stuck to the chain and chain lube.

With a dry wax lube, the idea is that dust will not stick to the chain so easily, and so the drivetrain will remain clean for longer. Only way to find out is to test it out!

First impression of the waxed chain is that it rides really smoothly! Ignoring the chain cleanliness or durability, the improved chain efficiency can be felt. Also, I don't hear any gritty or crunching sounds when the chain picks up dirt and grinds it into the drivetrain. The dry wax layer basically prevents most dirt from even sticking to it.

After riding in gravel, the whole bike was covered in white gravel dust. However, the chain still looks clean without much black marks.

Chain is still clean, even though the rest of the bike is covered in white dust.

Chain and cassette remains clean, even though the GRX rear derailleur is covered in dirt and dust.

Based on many subsequent rides, the waxed chain really stays clean despite riding through some dusty areas. Not sure how it would fare on a wet ride, but I suspect it would do pretty well too.

I am very pleased with this Tungsten All Weather Wax Lube, as it ensures that the drivetrain remains clean for a far longer time. The chain no longer turns black after just one ride.

Then, when it is time to clean and lubricate the chain again, what I need to do is just wipe off the dirt, and apply the drip on wax lube again. Good as new!