Saturday, 25 May 2013

My Eccentric Bottom Bracket (EBB) slipped and it's my own damn fault

Put simply, I didn't follow some advice I'd been given. I'd added a very thin, I mean oh so very thin, layer of grease to the EBB shell before re-inserting the EBB on my Cannondale 29er trail and I paid for it.

I was 10km out on the trails and then my chain slipped. "Odd" I thought, but put it down to wet conditions and technical terrain requiring me to put a lot of torque through the cranks.

It happened again after a few km and then again and again and then it quite quickly got to the point that any level of high torque caused the chain to slip. So no more riding up hills for me and definitely no more trail riding either. Still, it was nice weather for a walk back to the car.

So what caused the EBB to slip?

Quite simply, I had added some grease in the shell and that was all that was needed for the EBB to move. So in future, I won't be adding any grease to the shell. Well in fact, in future I will be buying a Bushnell Eccentric Bottom Bracket and leaving the Cannondale version behind AND I won't be putting any grease in the shell. I've learnt my lesson, you should learn it too before it ruins any of your riding.

Bushnell Eccentric Bottom Bracket

This is how much grease I had added to the EBB shell. Trust me, don't add anything. Clean the shell so it shines and leave it at that.

Hope this post helps someone.

Monday, 20 May 2013

My thoughts on my Chris King 29er single speed wheels

Chris Bloody King wheels. The nerd in me is in love.

I've always wanted a set of Chris King wheels. I fell in love with Chris King components when I saw one of their headsets on a bike when I was first getting into riding. It looked like pure sexiness incarnate and sandwiched into a frame.

I've had a few of their headsets over the years and each time they've performed marvellously and I've never had any complaints. I've had an inset type too and that was great and looks the nuts. No love for the bike shop that fitted it with the wrong tool
however, but testament to the headset quality their monkey-wrenching didn't ruin the feel.

I have one of their bottom brackets too and again, they are sublime. I'm not sure what the reviews have said about them, but I've found it long lasting, light and it works well. Looks good too.

But, the wheels, well the hubs are where the real Chris King joy can be had.

Why did I buy Chris King wheels?

They are easily the most expensive wheels I've ever bought and they are easily more costly than an equivalent set of wheels from a competitor (DT Swiss being an obvious comparison), but they are Chris King.

So was it just the brand name? Well no, not at all. I would classify my purchasing habits as quality first and price second. I'm always looking for the absolute best components I can buy and I define best by the durability and reputation of the parts. So are Chris King parts better than DT parts? Probably or at least I personally have heard more good things about Chris King than I have DT. Did price affect my choice? Not really, I was lucky enough to have the money to spend as I saw fit.

So they have the reputation, but what is that reputation?

  • Engineering prowess
  • Angry bee noise
  • Hype
  • Expense
  • Status
That's my honest opinion of Chris King. DT hubs are probably just as good as Chris King, they are half the price and they would do the job, which is riding a single speed 29er around a local bike trail, perfectly well. Hell, even the hubs it replaced did a fine job.

But it's the emotional connection, the instant status when you can discuss Chris King wheels from an owners perspective to those who have yet to taste the "awesome".

It's perhaps pure marketing or luck on Chris King's behalf, but I've bought into the brand and, this is the most important part, it makes me happy.

Would I recommend them to someone else?

If you have the money, most definitely.

  • They are a work of art to look upon
  • They sound awesome whilst out on the trails
  • The engagement up and down hills is a wonder

If you don't have the money, then I'd look elsewhere. DT Swiss or even better, Hope. They do a fantastic wheelset for half the price of the Kings and Hope are another brand with legendary durability and they will probably be easier to maintain too.

Price is clearly the biggest barrier here.

What are they like to ride?

Beneficial. Confidence inspiring. Not as noisy as I'd thought.

Beneficial and Confidence inspiring
Riding up hills you feel the near instant engagement of the 72 points of engagement. It's the direct action from you applying pressure to the pedals that gives me the tingles. There's no major pedal movement before your power starts to turn the rear cog, it's just there straight away.

It's also great when you need to change your lead foot, because again the power is there as soon as you need it. I also found it helped me perform better tail whips too.

Not as noisy as I'd thought
For some reason I was expecting this hub to basically be like a can crushed against my tire and making a racket. But actually, it's quite quiet. Sure you can hear it, but the trail buzz and air / wind resistance blocks out most of it.

Where did I buy them from?

I had mine custom built from Clee Cycles in the UK. They were awesome. Helped with a few questions and the build was fantastic. The price was great too. Check their custom wheel building section out on their website Clee Cycles custom wheel builds.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Cannondale Trail SL 29ER 3 SS eccentric bottom bracket adjustment

First things first; to save anyone else the pain. If you want to adjust your EBB on your (lovely) Cannondale Trail SL 29ER, then you're going to need a set of small circlip pliers.

Now, I've always had a Park Tools set in my toolbox, but that was for the old self extracting bolts on Shimano and other branded cranks, but they were 2.2mm in diameter and that's way too big for the EBB. So if anything, spending today researching circlip pliers has taught me a thing or two.

What do you need to adjust the EBB?

Firstly. Go and buy a set of 44 11 J0 circlip pliers. There's probably no way you'll have a set of these in your mountain bike tool kit.

I bought the Knipex brand because they look like a good quality tool, but there's plenty of other brands available. They're even available through Amazon.

The tools you'll need to adjust the EBB

Here are the tools you'll need (in order they'll be used):

How to adjust the Cannondale EBB

The easy part
  1. Undo drive side 8mm crank bolt
  2. Using crank puller, remove cranks
  3. Undo 3mm silver allen key bolt on drive side
  4. Insert circlip pliers and remove circlip
  5. Remove washer
  6. Unscrew 4mm allen key bolt and take out
    1. Make sure you don't lose the circlip and bolt washer
  7. If you wish you can remove the bottom bracket too
It's likely the EBB wedges will be stuck (the hard part)
  1. Put a small flat headed screw driver / torx through the bolt 4mm hole and tap out the other wedge
  2. Repeat on the other side
    1. I had to bash mine pretty hard, but it did come out
    2. Spray with a threading solvent if it's really stuck and leave overnight
  3. The EBB will then slide out
Clean it up and put it back in
  1. Take it out, clean it up
  2. Clean the EBB shell so it's spotless (no need to add any grease)
  3. Put the EBB back in
  4. Do the 4mm bolt back up, but not all the way
  5. Add the washer and the circlip back in
  6. Put the bottom bracket back in
Now to adjust the EBB for desired chain tension
  1. Put the drive side crank back on (pushing it on by hand is fine at the moment)
  2. Hook the chain back around the chain ring and rear cog
  3. Adjust the bottom bracket position so that the chain is nearly taught (a bit of slack is encouraged)
  4. Poke a long 4mm allen key through your chainset and do up the 4mm bolt a little more
Final adjustments
  1. Remove the crank and do up the 4mm bolt to the recommended torque
  2. Add the 3mm bolt back in
  3. Tighten up the bottom bracket fully (you did clean and grease it right?)
  4. Add the cranks back on and tighten up the bolts
  5. Check to make sure the chain is still taught
  6. Fin
Overall this took me about an hour and I took my time to clean all of the parts and re-grease where needed too. It's important that you don't put too much grease, or any solvents / lubes etc in the EBB shell. Otherwise it will slip.


Here's the Cannondale EBB from the right (drive) side. You can easily see the circlip in the bore recess.

And here it is from the left side:

This is the EBB once it's out (and cleaned)

This is the bottom bracket that comes with the bike (UK)

Hope this has helped. I certainly wish I had read something like this before trying it!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

10 thoughts on how to survive a sportive

I'm still quite new to sportives; I've done maybe a handful. My first was a hilly 60 miles and from then on it's been 100 mile rides over varying types of terrain. All of them have been challenging, great training and very enjoyable.

Having recently done my first sportive of the year on Sunday, I thought I;d share a few points that if I had known before my first sportive, I probably would have enjoyed it all the more.

  1. Go steady. If you're riding 100 miles don't go off at warp speed. Ride your own ride. I average 15 - 16 mph over the 100 (hilly) miles and that's comfortable for me.
  2. Enjoy yourself. You poor bugger. You actually paid good money to put yourself through this, enjoy it and treat it as a day out with like-minded individuals.
  3. Bring a mobile phone, contact number for the sportive support team and some cash. I saw so many mechanicals at the weekend, but luckily they were all able to call the support team and let them know where they were because of their phone.
  4. Bring basics, such as tools, a spare inner tube and some warmer layers. Arm and leg warmers are great for these as they pack down well and they can make the world of difference. Unless your paying a lot of money for the event, don't expect there to be a support truck following your butt around the course.
  5. Be courteous, draft in turns. If you sit on someone's tail for a while do the right thing and spread the load. Take over and  give them a rest. Repeat as needed. Drafting can save a massive amount of energy!
  6. Make it social. Do say hello to other riders. We're all in the same boat and it's great to just get a nod from someone else. You might make some good chums, or better yet they might let you draft behind them.
  7. Prepare for the hills. Take it easy coming up to them and get the right gear in place. Stand up every now and then to shake off your arms and legs. Get back to it. Keep the rhythm smooth and don't shift your weight around too much.
  8. Arrive early for a good parking spot. Cyclists are early birds and to improve your chances of less stress, get there early for a good parking spot near the registration area. Makes life so much easier before and so much easier afterwards too.
  9. Bring your own food. They provide everything you need, but only after the first 25 miles or so, but before that you need to eat and stay hydrated. Bring a selection of your fav foods (and I'd recommend things that won't appear on the menu of the sportive) and make sure you have the energy needed for the first segment.
  10. Check your bike before you leave in the morning. Double check your gear too. Last thing you need is to get to the event and something's broken. The best way to test it too is to give it a ride. Bring extra tools if you don't have the time before you leave.
I'm sure there's easily more that could be added to that list too.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Recommended: dhb road and mountain bike clothes

I'd love to own a wardrobe of Assos gear. Something for every weather, style and fit. Nothing pongs and everything is easily accessible and still feels fresh when you put it on in on a cold morning. The reality of life however, means that my wardrobe is in fact an awkwardly shaped box on the floor of the spare room and it's all mainly cheap dhb gear from It pongs on occasion and it's certainly not fresh. But I still rate and recommend them and continue to buy more stuff too.

My first pair of mountain bike shorts was a pair of Pearil Izumi Pro's. They were £100 (in 2003) and they were amazing. I managed to eek use out of them until only a few years ago. Setting the bar so high so soon meant that anything else I bought was loose fitting, awkward to wear and didn't feel right whilst on the bike.

I tried Fox, other Pearl Izumi shorts and Royal. Nothing compared to spending good money for good quality.

Until I tried dhb. Now I don't work for them and there's no affiliation, but I'm so genuinely chuffed with the quality and value of their products that I wanted to share my views.

My dhb collection

I really like their stuff.

  • Bib tights
  • Bib shorts
  • Arm warmers
  • Summer socks
  • Thermal socks
  • Merino base layer
  • Long sleeved jersey
  • Waterproof
  • Phone wallet
My favourite piece of kit at the moment has to be my long sleeved jersey.

dhb Vaeon Roubaix Long Sleeve Jersey

Here's what I like about it
  • Great value. I'd expect this jersey to last a few years and per ride, we're talking less than £0.50. Which is great.
  • Snug fit. It's an odd material and cut in that it suited me as soon as I put it on. There was no bunching or re-adjusting. Sure it's tight, but it conforms more than it compresses.
  • Pockets for your needs. I personally don't use the pockets that often, but I've done a 100 miler with this jersey and have had all of my food, phone and arm warmers stashed in there. No discomfort and everything fitted fine.
  • It's not wind-proof, but it's wind-proof enough. Coupled with a base layer it's great for crisply cold mornings, but with a light vest underneath it it's great for Spring rides. Obviously it's not suited for Summer, but I appreciate it's versatility when you need to layer up.
  • Colours. Black is awesome. Red is even better!

A bit about Wiggle

I use to be all about I grew up looking at MBUK and browsing the CRC adverts with their prices and small photos of the components I could only dream of. Then along came Wiggle and my first thought was 'they're are not as cheap as CRC'. Then something happened. CRC got worse, Wiggle got better and price wasn't the only differentiator. It was the service too. And CRC service has always been really good and everyone is really friendly, but wiggle run sportive events, they have their own brand of clothing which is brilliant (and suited to UK weather) and you get the sense that they're committed to the UK biking scene. Maybe CRC and other retailers do this too, I know Evans do, but Wiggle have captured the essence of the sport for me and my wallet too.

They also appeal to my running and swimming side too. Check them out: | |