Friday, November 21, 2014

2015 Raleigh Ziva 27.5 - A Mountain Bike Just For Her

The Ziva is our 27.5" race driven hard tail designed specifically for women. 

Already race proven by our Raleigh sponsored riders Caroline Mani and Courtney McFadden, the Ziva is as ready as you are, whether your hitting the local MTB races, or are just ready to clear that elusive technical section on your favorite trail.

Trail-ready and gritty enough for everyday exploration, Raleigh's Ziva Expert opens up new shredding possibilities when the rubber hits dirt. A lightweight aluminum frame mates to a RockShox Recon Gold fork up front to create a responsive ride that's whippy and fun. Speaking of whippiness, the 27.5-inch wheels wrapped in Kenda rubber just beg for more whoops, whips, and roosts.

Of course, you'll need to get up to speed to have all that fun, so a SRAM X7 drivetrain gives you all the right gears and the smooth shifting to get you going fast. With all that speed, you'll need some reliable brakes, so Tektro Gemini hydraulic brakes are on the case. You'll shred this rig for years to come thanks to tough and reliable Raleigh components, a comfy women's-specific saddle, and grips and brake levers made specifically for feminine hands.

  • Lightweight women's specific alloy frame with XC geometry
  • 2x10 drivetrain with Sram Type 2 rear derailleur to keep chain noise down
  • Women's specific saddle, grips, and brake levers
  • Rockshox Recon Gold TK 100mm fork with lockout
  • Tektro Gemini hydraulic disc brakes with 2-finger women's specific levers 
Ride-A-Bike Shop
116 NE. Court Square
Lincolnton, NC 28092
(704) 735-1746

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Rainy Cyclocross Season Is Coming Quick - Master the Mud

4 Tips On How To Master the Mud

Ride partners will appreciate it if you ride with fenders when it's muddy. Besides keeping the spray out of their eyes, fenders will keep it out of your peepers and off your clothes, too. Best, they'll keep the muck off the bike, somewhat reducing cleaning time and limiting the wear and tear on the finish. We can show you some fenders suited to the mud.

Don't Muddle The Puddle
When riding in muddy conditions be careful at puddles. It may seem fun to blast through, but it's never a good idea because you can't be sure what's at the bottom. If there's a hole there, you'll end up doing a sweet Superman imitation and sail over the bars when your front wheel gets stopped cold. This will entertain your ride partners immensely but it can be quite painful and could wreck the fork and frame if you're really unlucky.

Our recommendation? Slow way down and try to skirt the edges of puddles so you know you're passing over solid ground.

Wheelie Across
If you're coming into a muddy section that's only a yard or so across, but still looks like it could cause a loss of control, try this technique (this requires being able to lift the front wheel; if you don't know how, learn before trying this move): as you approach the bog, lift the front wheel and hold it up, until it's over dry ground. If you do this correctly, the front wheel will miss the mud altogether and the rear wheel will cruise through the muck. Because your front wheel is airborne as you cross the goo, there's no chance of getting the front end stuck and getting launched.

Ride It Out
Another important mud maneuver is hanging on a little longer when things seem out of control. Often, if you can just ride out the initial unsteadiness you feel, the bike will regain control on its own. It helps to stay off the brakes and remain relaxed.

Dodge The Danger
Keep in mind that no one is forcing you to ride through the mud. If it looks risky, the best bet may be to get off and walk around the muddy section. There's nothing wrong with that and you'll have the last laugh should one of your buds bury their front wheel and auger in! 
Ride-A-Bike Shop
116 NE. Court Square
Lincolnton, NC 28092
(704) 735-1746

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Do You Want To Build Your Own Custom Groupset? Here's How.


Mixing Groupsets: What Works Together and What Doesn’t   

by Matt Wikstrom - October 20, 2014 

With three major groupset manufacturers, transmissions of anywhere from seven- to 11-speed, and an excess of aftermarket cranksets and wheels on the market, consumers will inevitably suffer from a clash of component compatibilities, particularly when upgrading. In this post CTech Editor Matt Wikstrom takes a look at the known incompatibilities between groupsets from different brands (and within the same brand) along with some emerging compatibilities.

Once upon a time, cyclists were free to mix and match transmission components but that all changed when Shimano introduced indexed gear shifting in 1984. The new system provided very accurate shifting, but it depended upon precise compatibility of the shifter with the derailleurs and drivetrain.

Indexed shifting works because the rear derailleur travels a precise distance in response to a pre-set amount of cable pull within the shift lever. Cable tension is critical for accuracy, but the geometry of the derailleur and the cog spacing must match the indexed cable pull, otherwise the derailleur will not align with each cog.

Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM all manufacture indexed shifting systems according their own specifications rather than sharing a common standard. For example, SRAM levers employ 1:1 actuation (1mm of cable pull moves the rear derailleur 1mm) while Shimano and Campagnolo use higher ratios (1.4 to 1.9:1).

As a consequence, there is little interchangeability between brands (though Shimano and SRAM share the same specifications for the chain and cassette).

The evolution of the transmission from six-speed to 11-speed created further incompatibilities. The introduction of eight-speed systems depended on an increase in rear hub width from 126mm to 130mm to accommodate the extra cog. After that, the width and spacing of the cogs was reduced to allow more cogs to be added. Chains were narrowed too, slimming down to 5.50-5.90mm where once they were 7.80mm.
Forwards or Backwards Compatibility?

As a rule, mixing and matching different transmissions from one brand will not work due to changes in cog spacing. Brands will likely not support mixing components either. There are some exceptions though such as Shimano’s earlier groups and its Di2 E-Tube system.

So where do the compatibilities lie? For the purposes of this article, I’m going to limit myself to 10- and 11-speed transmissions. Where possible, I’ve tested the compatibilities for myself, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be satisfied with the performance of a given mix of components until you carry out the experiment for yourself.

Chains and Cassettes

According to Leonard Zinn’s testing, all 11-speed transmissions are compatible. A comparison of a Campagnolo 11-speed cassette with a Shimano equivalent demonstrates that the cog spacing is well matched. However, there is a measurable difference in the width of each company’s 11-speed chain (Shimano’s chain is 5.62mm wide, Campy’s is 5.50mm).

In practice, the measurable differences account for little and a Shimano 11-speed cassette works well with a Campagnolo groupset, and vice versa. Neither combination is perfect though. The imperfections express themselves in the form of a little extra chain noise and/or occasional lazy upshifts for some, but not all, of the rear cogs. Overall, the compatibility is more than adequate in most circumstances, though not all users (or fussy mechanics) will be satisfied.

For 10-speed users, there is also reasonable compatibility between Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo. While the chains are almost identical in width (Shimano’s chain is 5.88mm versus Campy’s 5.90mm), Campagnolo employs variable spacing* that leads to some extra chain noise and lazy upshifts that is more obvious than that seen for 11-speed transmissions. Regardless, the compatibility is more than adequate in an emergency, but the mix is unlikely to satisfy all users.

Updated by the Author: "The variable spacing applies to the cogs in Campag's 10-speed cassettes. So when a Shimano freehub/cassette is installed with a Campag transmission, the derailleur does not shift precisely to the next Shimano cog, making for a little extra noise or lazy upshifts. The chain is not the issue, it's the difference in the placement of each cog (and the indexing of each shift) between Shimano and Campagnolo that creates the incompatibility."

Attempting to mix 10- and 11-speed cassettes will cause significant problems due to differences in cog spacing and/or the width of the cassette. For Shimano/SRAM, 11-speed cassettes are too wide to fit properly onto 10-speed freehubs, and 11-speed chains are a little narrower (5.62mm versus 5.88mm). In contrast, Campy’s 10- and 11-speed cassettes will fit onto the same freehub body, but the 11-speed chain is significantly narrower than the 10-speed chain (5.5mm versus 5.9mm).

Owners of 10-speed chainsets fitted with power meters will be pleased to hear that there is no strict need to replace the chainrings if they upgrade to an 11-speed transmission, at least if they’re using Shimano or SRAM.

I’ve seen many people use Shimano or SRAM chainsets with Campagnolo chain and cassette and vice versa. FSA recommends strictly matching its chainrings to the transmission, as does Campagnolo, though anecdotal evidence suggests there is little to worry about. Indeed, I couldn’t detect any issues after swapping 10- and 11-speed Campy cranksets between their respective groupsets, though the 11-speed crankset offered slightly better shifting onto the big chainring.

Hubs and wheels

As mentioned above, Shimano/SRAM users will need an 11-speed freehub body fitted to their hubs/wheels in order to upgrade to an 11-speed transmission. Owners of Mavic wheels needn’t worry though; their 10-speed freehub bodies are already 11-speed compatible.

Many manufacturers offer conversion kits for their wheels/hubs, although there are instances where there are none (e.g. Zipp wheels with silver hubs). In such instances, owners may be able to install a Campagnolo freehub to use an 11-speed cassette if they can’t afford to replace the hub or wheel.

A more subtle incompatibility exists between different brands of hubs, since they can differ in the positioning of the freehub body on the rear axle. Such differences arise due to variations in the spacing of the right-hand hub flange and/or the spacing of the right-hand axle locknut. As a consequence, the rear derailleur limit screws have to be reset when swapping wheels to ensure crisp shifting onto the smallest and largest cogs.

If you own more than one set of wheels with different brands of hubs, then it is worth fine-tuning the axle and/or cassette spacing for perfect interchangeability.
Shifters and Derailleurs

As the brains behind the operation, each brand’s shifters must be matched with their own derailleurs, especially the rear derailleur, in order for the indexed system to function properly. As noted above, there is little or no backwards or forwards compatibility for Shimano, Campagnolo, or SRAM. It is possible to cheat with the front derailleur since there is more tolerance for variation in shifting but as the least expensive component in a groupset, there is little to be gained by leaving it out when upgrading your transmission.


Shimano recently overhauled the cable pull and leverage of its brake levers so they are no longer compatible with earlier calipers (e.g. mixing Dura Ace 7900 levers with 7800 calipers results in less braking power). The re-design introduced more leverage to the calipers such that SRAM or Campagnolo levers pair poorly with the new caliper design (due to too much leverage).

The issue gets a little murkier with aftermarket brakes where there is very little information on their performance with different levers. At present, it appears Campagnolo and SRAM road brake levers enjoy greater compatibility with one another’s brake calipers and aftermarket brands than Shimano’s latest design.
Summary and Final Thoughts

With all the potential for incompatibility, it’s perhaps surprising that instances of compatibility do exist. Indeed, the divide between the brands has narrowed with the introduction of 11-speed transmissions, probably because there is a lot less room for variation.

In absolute terms, 11-speed Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo chains and cassettes aren’t interchangeable, but I’m sure there are plenty of riders that will be satisfied with the performance offered by a mix. Similarly, 10- and 11-speed cranksets are practically interchangeable amongst brands, although brake calipers and lever/shifters may not be.

Would there be any benefit to a common standard for all groupsets? Absolutely. Consumers would find it easier to replace any part at short notice, retailers would be able to offer more options to their customers, and service centres would be able to attend to all repairs and servicing in a timely manner.

However, such convenience would come with the risk that product development would be slowed down or hindered by an out-dated standard. On balance, I’m happy to accept the exclusivity of groupset design because it guarantees unique and distinctive products. 
Ride-A-Bike Shop
116 NE. Court Square
Lincolnton, NC 28092
(704) 735-1746

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

9 Easy Steps to Quiet Down Your Noisy Rim Brakes (with pictures)

 Squealy rim brakes? These tips will help quiet them down. 

(Tips and photos from

The following tips will hopefully explain and illustrate some of the principles involved for the three main types of rim brakes commonly seen. The most important principle affecting noise is the angle of the pad relative to the rim: generally, the front must come into contact before the rear – known as ‘toe-in’.


  • 4, 5, 6mm Allen keys
  • Adjustable spanner
  • Abrasive block by Mavic or light sandpaper
  • 10, 11, 12, 13, 14mm offset brake spanners
  • 8, 9, 10mm Y-wrench
  • 0mm box end/open ended spanner

1. Clean-up act
If your pads still have a fair bit of material, you’ll need to clean them first. Wipe them off with a bit of damp cloth and check the wear indicator, usually a line about 2mm from the backing edge. If they’re worn beyond this mark, you should replace them. The pad will sometimes have developed a ridge along either the lower edge, which indicates that it’s set too low, or the upper edge, which could indicate it’s too high and risks wearing through the tyre over time. Using a coarse half round file or emery cloth, roughen up the surface, making sure to remove all signs of shiny hard glaze. Remove the pad first to improve access if required.

2. Rim in trim

The condition of the rim surface can have a great effect on braking and noise levels. Most rims now have a machined or heavily scored surface when new. This has gone a long way to reducing the need for masses of toe-in, but as this rough surface becomes re-polished, squealing can occur. Not only can pads get glazed, but so can rim surfaces. Removing pieces of embedded aluminium will keep the scraping noise down; you might have noticed little raised dots of metal which form through braking and deposit themselves on both the rim and pads. Use a Mavic abrasive rubber block or coarse emery cloth and wipe clean. Carefully remove embedded aluminium from the pads.

3. Pad points

Concave and convex washers provide rotational adjustment in all planes, and are included on many aftermarket pads which can be fitted to side-pulls, dual pivots, V-brakes and cantis. Kool-Stop popularised offset pads, which were orientated in such a way that more force was exerted at the front of the pad than the rear, minimising the need for substantial amounts of toe-in while simultaneously curing squashy brakes and squealing. In the late ’80s, Shimano introduced offset pads orientated with the long edge forward. Where possible, short edge forward is less prone to noise, but be sure the closed end of the metal pad holders is always pointing forward.


4. Snug and secure

First tighten the main fixing bolt to ensure the calliper is firmly attached to the frame. This will be a 6mm recessed nut with a 5mm Allen head, or an older style non-recessed 10mm hex head, preferably a nylock nut (with a nylon insert to prevent the nut working loose). Using a brake spanner or cone wrench on the back adjuster nut, release the front lock nut, tighten the adjuster nut enough that the arms don’t deflect under braking loads, while still moving freely, allowing snappy lever return. Re-tighten the lock nut against the adjuster nut. On some dual-pivot brakes, check the exposed pivot bolt, if any – it’s usually a 4 or 5mm Allen. Tighten firmly while retaining movement.

5. Side-pull toe-in
With the advent of concave/convex washer systems, toe-in adjustment achieved by bending the calliper arms has become pretty much obsolete, but among bikes being dusted off and taken out of the shed there’ll be a few skinny Weinmann side-pulls getting a second chance at glory. Bend the arm inward at the front – we used a Park tool that’s now discontinued, but you could use a small adjustable spanner positioned to grab the arm in a similar way. On current dual-pivot brakes you’ll often get a set of concave/convex washers making toe-in easy; if yours are slightly older and don’t have them, install some that do. Tighten pads firmly so they can’t be moved or twisted by hand.

6. Baggy pivots
Minimising flex and vibration is the main goal of this anti-noise exercise, so checking that the pivot mechanisms and bolts are tight is critical. V-brakes and cantis are attached to the frame posts using a 6mm bolt, usually Allen but occasionally with a 10mm standard head. The brake arm either rotates directly on this pivot, using a brass bushing on older cantilevers, or incorporates an integrated pivot system which displaces wear from the frame post to its own internal mechanism, shared by modern Vs and cantis. This will also include a spring and adjustment screw, which add mechanical complexity and wear possibilities. Replace if the arms are really baggy, and/or if any toe-in of over about 3mm is lost through play in the arm.

7. V-brakes
Toeing-in V-brake pads will require, in most cases, a 5mm Allen key. In some instances, the pad will use a nut on which you can use a 10mm Y-wrench; it will often incorporate an internal 5 or 6mm Allen fitting. One technique suggested by some of the pad manufacturers for setting toe-in is to insert a small piece of folded card between the trailing end of the pad and the rim. This will keep the rear part of the pad further away as you tighten the nut, and can be useful if you’re having trouble holding the pad in place by hand. Having the spring unhooked on both sides can also make life easier when positioning pads. Bring the pads against the rim to check they’re at the correct height, and then tighten firmly.


8. Canti correcting

If your cantilever brakes have an external return spring then it can be easier to position the pads if you unhook the spring first; the arm won’t then fight you as you’re trying to line up the pad against the rim, and fine tuning will be easier. To toe in the pad use a 10mm spanner to immobilise the brake pad mount, then loosen the front nut using a 5 or 6mm Allen key. Some designs reverse this configuration or even require two 10mm spanners. When setting up the pads, leave roughly a 2mm gap at the back of the pad. If the pad keeps moving back into its previous position, try rotating the washers and clamping the pad either a little higher up or down the arm, to avoid the old marks left by the previous setting.

9. Swap brake type
Cantilever brakes can be tricky to silence, especially on skinny steel touring forks which are more prone to flexing. One thing that doesn’t help is a design that favours noise-making, where the brake pad post clamp sits way out in front, forward of the arm and mount. If you’ve tried everything to stop the squealing and still no joy, you might have to resort to a different design altogether. One to consider would be the inboard type pictured here, which seems to squeal less; both Ritchey and Avid offer this more compact design. Compare the forward type pictured in step 8 above with the rear mount design pictured below, which minimises flex in the brake arm, reducing the likelihood of high frequency vibration.

Them's the brakes

Brake squeal is caused by vibration, as that’s a fundamental requirement of generating sound (unless you’re riding in a vacuum). Vibration between the rim and pad can be caused by many things, but is most commonly a result of the interface between the pad and the wheel rim. Sorting your brakes out using all of the steps above will make sure your brakes are as good as they’re going to be, but there’s no hard and fast rule that will guarantee that you still won’t be getting brake squeal. The most common remedy, and often the quickest, is to fit a new set of brakes pads to freshly cleaned rims.

Dual compound pads can help to reduce the chance of the dreaded brake squeal coming back. The harder section of the pad gives slightly less friction than the softer sections and also serves to clean up the rim as you use your brakes. This kind of pad gives the best of both worlds: plenty of performance when you really haul on the anchors and clean rims for smooth, squeal-free braking. 

Ride-A-Bike Shop
116 NE. Court Square
Lincolnton, NC 28092
(704) 735-1746

Friday, October 17, 2014

2015 Santa Cruz Tallboy LT R : Value-Packed Trail Maniac

2015 Santa Cruz Tallboy LT R - Decidedly Aggressive, Yet Balanced Performance

At A Glance:
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Color: Gloss Black Frame, Red decals
  • Shock: Fox Float CTD
  • Fork: Rockshox Sektor Gold RL 140
  • Kit: R

If big wheels, big rides, big races and big adventures are your thing, the Tallboy LT is your big ticket.

  • 135mm (5.3") VPP™ suspension
  • 29" wheels
  • Forged upper and lower links
  • Double sealed pivots for long bearing life
  • Dual grease ports on lower link for easy maintenance
  • Full carbon dropouts and disk mounts
  • Angular contact bearings maximize stiffness
  • Collet axle pivots lock in place without pinch bolts
  • Stealth and external seatpost cable routing
  • 142mm rear axle spacing
  • Threaded BB for creak-free riding and easy installation
  • ISCG-05 tabs for chainguide compatibility
  • Direct mount rear derailleur option

The Tallboy LT is made of aluminum, with Santa Cruz's signature hydroformed top and down tubes. A medium frame is about a pound and a half heavier than its carbon brother, but its price is much friendlier, and it’s still amply strong. And the strength and stiffness are further enhanced with the mechanic-friendly, oversized 15mm collet-style hardware and a 12x142mm thru-axle out back. The result is a frame that's light enough for endurance racing, and strong enough for anything you can throw at it.

At the heart of the LT's handling is a highly refined VPP suspension. It's a suspension platform that's widely beloved for its blend of pedaling efficiency and trail-erasing smoothness. VPP employs two aluminum counter-rotating links to achieve this balance. If you're wondering how it works, the upper link provides most of the rotation as the bike compresses into the sag point. This yields a vertical wheel path, which you'll notice in the form of a firm feel during acceleration. As the bike compresses deeper into the suspension, the lower link activates, moving the axle path rearward. The rearward axle path enables the rear wheel to travel out of the way of impacts, so the ride is smooth, not jarring. And you'll find the same collet-style pivot hardware that has become standard for Santa Cruz's suspension bikes. That means that your pivots stay tight and are simple to service, even for home mechanics.

Anyone who's ridden the LT will tell you that the feel is balanced, yet decidedly aggressive, and the geometry of the LT is an integral part of its near-magical handling. The 69.5-degree head angle doesn’t look particularly slack on paper, but with the larger wheels and longer-travel fork, it inspires incredible confidence at speed, while remaining maneuverable when you need it. Roomy top tubes per size enable the use of a modern cockpit setup consisting of a shorter stem and wider handlebars. The seat angle is fairly steep at 72.6 degrees, for an aggressive climbing position that enables efficient power transfer.

At 17.7 inches, the chainstays are long enough for incredible climbing traction and confidence inspiring stability, without being so long as to compromise the quickness of handling. The short of stature will notice that the smallest size that the LT comes in is a medium. That's due to the increased standover height associated with the longer-travel platform and larger wheels. While that will keep some riders off of the LT, we can't help but admire Santa Cruz's approach to not build smaller 29ers if the handling would suffer.

FOX handles rear suspension duties with a CTD Evolution shock and its Climb, Trail, and Descend modes, while a RockShox Sector Gold RL fork does its thing up front. The Shimano SLX drivetrain is light, but tough and reliable, while the Deore M615 disc brakeset will give you smooth, predictable stops every time. The Race Face Ride stem, bar, and seatpost are tested to RF's rigorous durability standards, which should instill plenty of confidence. Tubeless-ready 2.3-inch Maxxis tires wrap around bombproof WTB STi23 tubeless-ready rims, and WTB also tops off the package with a comfortable-all-day Volt Race saddle.

Full Specs:

Frame Material: aluminum
Suspension: VPP
Rear Shock: FOX FLOAT CTD Evolution
Rear Travel: 135 mm
Fork: RockShox Sektor Gold RL
Front Travel: 140 mm
Headset: Cane Creek 10 Mixed Tapered
Shifters: Shimano M670 (SLX) 10spd
Front Derailleur: SRAM X5
Rear Derailleur: Shimano M675 SLX Shadow Plus
Crankset: 22/34 t SRAM S1000
Bottom Bracket: SRAM GXP
Cassette: 11-36 t Shimano SLX HG81
Chain: Shimano SLX HG75
Brake Set: Shimano Deore BR-M615
Rotors: Shimano RT66
Handlebar: Race Face Ride
Handlebar Width: 740 mm
Grips: Santa Cruz Palmdale Lock-on
Stem: Race Face Ride
Saddle: WTB Volt Race
Seatpost: Race Face Ride
Seat Collar: Santa Cruz bolt-on
Hubs: [front] SRAM MTH 716, [rear] SRAM MTH 746
Rims: WTB ST i23 TCS
Spokes: DT Swiss Champion 2.0
Tires: [front] Maxxis High Roller 2 EXO Tubeless, [rear] Maxxis Ardent EXO Tubeless
Tire Size: 29 in x 2.3 in 
Ride-A-Bike Shop
116 NE. Court Square
Lincolnton, NC 28092
(704) 735-1746

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

VIDEO REVIEW: 2015 Raleigh RX 2.0 Cyclocross Bike!

Ride-A-Bike Review of 2015 Raleigh RX 2.0 

Brantley shows off the features of the brand new 2015 Raleigh RX 2.0! Come check it out today at Ride-A-Bike Shop! 116 NE. Court Square Lincolnton, NC (704) 735-1746

Read more Here

Monday, October 6, 2014

Awesome 2015 KHS Mountain Bike Under $3000!

KHS SixFifty 3500

2015 KHS SixFifty 3500 – $2949


KHS has been in the 27.5 game for a lot longer than many other manufacturers out there. In fact, their model names still refer back to the “old” name for it, 650B. The SixFifty 3500 shown here is in the middle of the model line-up and the Horst-link FSR rear suspension design has been reworked for 2015 (due to the expiration of the FSR copyright).

The KHS SixFifty 3500 frame is made from 6061 aluminum with custom formed double butted top tube and down tube. The bike features a RockShox Reba RLT fork and RockShox Monarch RT3 HV rear shock providing 120mm of travel front and rear. The bike also features a Shimano SLX/XT 2×10 drivetrain, Shimano M506 brakes, Kore stem/bar, Stan’s Rapid 25 double wall, tubeless ready rims, KT hubs and 27.5 Maxxis Ardent tires.

For more information visit 
Ride-A-Bike Shop
116 NE. Court Square
Lincolnton, NC 28092
(704) 735-1746