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Old 03-09-17, 12:09 PM   #1
Snuts
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Truing/Tension knowledge on tour.

Since I have been involved with the local bike Co-op, Community Spokes I enjoy the truing stand duty.
Knowledge of spoke tension is as valuable as truing in my touring experience. I feel it is a great asset, with no weight penalty.

This may become a topic of opinion, let's have it.




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Old 03-09-17, 12:45 PM   #2
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Do you think you'll get a variety of opinions? I would say that any mechanical knowledge gives you an advantage. But I am surprised by how far you can go with zero knowledge. Was reading a CGOAB journal where the writer stopped at a few bike shops over the course of a week during a transamerica tour to have their handlebars adjusted. Something it never would have occurred to me to go to a shop for even if I were in my home town, riding past my local bike shop, and thinking, "I really need to adjust these handlebars."

So there's what's useful and then there's what's needed. Since some people tour with almost no mechanical knowledge, I would have a hard time thinking of what would be "required" knowledge. I would say there's a spectrum that has "fixing a flat" at the base level, and way at the other end is "truing a wheel." If someone asked, I would strongly recommend that they learn to fix a flat before heading out. Even then, I wouldn't tell them that the knowledge was required, only that getting a flat was highly probable, and knowing how to fix it could get them back riding faster.

That said, I've enjoyed learning to build and tru wheels and have benefited from the knowledge. Can't remember if it's ever happened on tour, but I have broken some spokes, and it sure is nice to have a spare on hand, flip that bike over, thread in a new spoke, tighten it up, and get moving. As opposed to watching your wheel wobble and wondering how long before the next one breaks.
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Old 03-09-17, 01:00 PM   #3
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If you know, you do. if you don't you can choose to gain experience..

I built my 2 most used on tours wheels myself.. without a tension gage .. it was not a thing you bought, when I started ..

As a guitar player , relative tension can be felt, and pitch, heard.




...
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Old 03-09-17, 01:01 PM   #4
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I am of the opinion that once all your spokes are up to proper tension, minor future truing can be done without bothering to check it with a gauge. I use rim brakes so I probably true up my wheels more than the people that have switched to disc.

I carry a spoke wrench on a tour. Which was quite fortunate as you can see in the photo. I am not 100 percent sure what happened, but I think the front wheel threw a rock into the rear wheel and the rock jammed between that spoke and frame as I was rolling to cause that bent spoke. When I saw the spoke, I was sure that the threads in the spoke or nipple had been stripped. But I was able to tighten up the spoke without replacing it. I really did not want to start stripping rim tape off a wheel when I was in the middle of nowhere, so I was quite pleased that the old spoke and nipple still functioned and did not need replacement.

That said, someone that does not know how to use a spoke wrench should not try to learn by trial and error on a bike tour.

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...
So there's what's useful and then there's what's needed. Since some people tour with almost no mechanical knowledge, I would have a hard time thinking of what would be "required" knowledge. I would say there's a spectrum that has "fixing a flat" at the base level, and way at the other end is "truing a wheel." If someone asked, I would strongly recommend that they learn to fix a flat before heading out. Even then, I wouldn't tell them that the knowledge was required, only that getting a flat was highly probable, and knowing how to fix it could get them back riding faster.
....
I would say that fixing a flat is required knowledge.

If they were biking in an area with steep hills, so steep that only one brake would be insufficient, I would say replacing a brake cable is required knowledge in case they break one. Or, they would need to be traveling with someone that knew how. But otherwise I can't think of anything else that I would say is required.
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Old 03-09-17, 01:07 PM   #5
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You are going to need some basic knowledge to replace a spoke, especially when it comes to drive side spokes and removing your cassette. I think on tour you could baby it with feel tension until you got to a shop.

Keeping some zip ties and having your wheel propped up while you true its about as simple as it gets, along with having the correct wrench.

I have gained a lot of knowledge in a lot of areas of bike maintenance. Outside of my normal job I work PT as a mech at my LBS. I did it for extra cash at first now I just do it for fun really. Most of my day is spent replacing tires, worn chains and every once in a while a overhaul. Bike maintenance is surprisingly easy if you just slow down and look at the problem and understand a high and low limit screw.
@rob E
There are people I have met in my time as a mechanic that just see a bike shop as a place that just does all bike things, it is not that they do not know how (this writer may not have known how), but they just would rather pay someone else to make it 100% right. In that same vein I am tired of hearing people say "knowing my luck I'd screw it up." You probably will screw it up, if you do not slow down and just look at a problem, its like any other problem thrown at you.

On the whole knowledge while touring. I think it would be a disservice to yourself to not at least own Park Tools Blue Book, we are given this book as mechanics and I still use it day to day, mainly for quick torque specs. If you go on tour with a tablet take a pdf of this book with you, there is so much information in there, we should all send Calvin Jones a Christmas card.
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Old 03-09-17, 01:09 PM   #6
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.....
Knowledge of spoke tension is as valuable as truing in my touring experience. I feel it is a great asset, with no weight penalty.
Knowledge is always the best tool to carry on a tour. It weighs nothing, can't be lost, damaged or stolen en route, nor is there ever any decision about whether to take it or leave it at home.

However, if your unstated intent was to imply that it made sense to take a tension meter when traveling, then I disagree. There's imply no need, since you'll only be dealing with repairing a wheel, as necessary to continue the trip. This is very different that when building, and in most cases will have to compromise on tension in favor of trueness.

Also, tension can be "measured" reasonably enough by feel or sound, which have always been the standbys before use of tension meters became more common.
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Old 03-09-17, 01:38 PM   #7
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Knowledge is always the best tool to carry on a tour
Well said
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Old 03-09-17, 04:13 PM   #8
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Let me back-up a bit.
My opinion, and recommendation is some exposure to wheel maintenance is a great asset towards your first unsupported solo trek.

This year I have a new bike assembled to tour on. With the machine built wheels, now at 500 miles. I will be tensioning/truing those wheels this week-end. Then I will know when, and how well they have been adjusted. After that sure, the touchy-feely, sound etc. will be used as a daily send-off.

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Old 03-09-17, 04:28 PM   #9
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Sorry, I don't think you are going to get a contrary opinion. More knowledge is always good.
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Old 03-09-17, 04:45 PM   #10
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Oh.. I dunno.
I remember a thread where the idea of carrying tools on tour was poo pooed in favour of going UL. The idea being that a well maintained bike won't break.
No sense having skills if you don't have the tool to apply them.


Not my personal opinion however...
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Old 03-09-17, 05:01 PM   #11
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Sorry, I don't think you are going to get a contrary opinion. More knowledge is always good.
True dat!
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Old 03-09-17, 05:18 PM   #12
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I'm on board with bicycle knowledge being an excellent attribute to bring on a tour, but resourcefulness far exceeds it in importance when out-there real-world-touring, IMO.

Spoke tensioning & wheel truing are good to know but by no means required for successful touring.

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Old 03-09-17, 06:18 PM   #13
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Knowing where to score biscuits and gravy is the most important skill to have on tour.
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Old 03-09-17, 06:20 PM   #14
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Knowing where to score biscuits and gravy is the most important skill to have on tour.
Spoken like a true southerner.

But WAIT, your from new Hampshire. (southern New Hampshire by any chance?)
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Old 03-10-17, 06:33 AM   #15
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Spoken like a true southerner.

But WAIT, your from new Hampshire. (southern New Hampshire by any chance?)
Northern-southwest.

I'm a native Mainer by birth, but I spent a long time in the Southlands as a GI, and over the years, I've grown fond of southern-style breakfasts. Its pretty hard to find biscuits and gravy on the menu anywhere here in New England, and most-times when you do, it pathetic. Either the biscuits are lame or the gravy is poorly made or both. My daughter is an excellent cook, and she'll invite us over sometimes for biscuits and gravy, or country-fried steak and mashed taters. Sweet Lord, I'ma gettin' hungry!
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Old 03-10-17, 07:02 AM   #16
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Northern-southwest.

I'm a native Mainer by birth, but I spent a long time in the Southlands as a GI, and over the years, I've grown fond of southern-style breakfasts. Its pretty hard to find biscuits and gravy on the menu anywhere here in New England, and most-times when you do, it pathetic. Either the biscuits are lame or the gravy is poorly made or both. My daughter is an excellent cook, and she'll invite us over sometimes for biscuits and gravy, or country-fried steak and mashed taters. Sweet Lord, I'ma gettin' hungry!
Ack! Then again I love me some chicken fried steak! Unlike many here I like grease and carbs when I ride hard. I try to eat healthy otherwise.

edit: as for wheel building and truing, I find it to be very relaxing. Enough so that I'd probably build wheels for free on a limited basis for therapeutic value.

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Old 03-10-17, 07:24 AM   #17
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Let me back-up a bit.
My opinion, and recommendation is some exposure to wheel maintenance is a great asset towards your first unsupported solo trek.

This year I have a new bike assembled to tour on. With the machine built wheels, now at 500 miles. I will be tensioning/truing those wheels this week-end. Then I will know when, and how well they have been adjusted. After that sure, the touchy-feely, sound etc. will be used as a daily send-off.

-Snuts-
When I notice my wheels are a bit out of true, I grab the spoke wrench and give it a little tweak. If I have a cable out of adjustment, I give it a little tweak. If I hear a squeak I give it a little lube. Drivetrain gets a bit noisy or bike is exposed to a recent rain, I lube the chain. I never plan for or schedule maintenance on a derailleur fitted bike, I just do it.

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Knowing where to score biscuits and gravy is the most important skill to have on tour.
I prefer eggs, homefries and toast myself. And maybe a good cinnamon roll later. Or, maybe some hashbrowns and sausages?

But, overall we fully agree on the concept.
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Old 03-10-17, 07:41 AM   #18
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When I notice my wheels are a bit out of true, I grab the spoke wrench and give it a little tweak. If I have a cable out of adjustment, I give it a little tweak. If I hear a squeak I give it a little lube. Drivetrain gets a bit noisy or bike is exposed to a recent rain, I lube the chain. I never plan for or schedule maintenance on a derailleur fitted bike, I just do it.
.
I do the same, daily on tour.

But I do want, at some point to start with a relatively balanced tensioning. Therefore I will be at the bike Co-op, to use their tension meter.
-22C here today, wind-chill, -34C

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Old 03-10-17, 08:01 AM   #19
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I have the little Park gauge but I find I rarely use it. I normally just check by pitch. I haven't tried one of the phone apps but this https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spok...518870820?mt=8 looks like fun. Whip out your phone and check a buddy's spoke tension on a group ride. You could become a legend!
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Old 03-10-17, 08:04 AM   #20
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@Tourist in MSN Holy Cow, man, that cinnamon bun has got me drooling!

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Old 03-10-17, 08:04 AM   #21
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Snuts, I and a friend of mine took some new club members out on their very first 'sort of serious' ride of about 20 miles. I ran out of tire patches and prior to the start of the ride I had to tune the brakes on one of the rider's bikes. My friend had a similar experience. At the end we added a brief lesson about maintenance items and pre ride basics.

Point being that there is bound to be some intellegent cyclists touring that don't have any maintenance knowledge and won't realize it until something breaks, and of course if something is going to break, it'll be at the worst possible time and place in the tour. Maybe it's time for a thread to make some tourists aware?

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Old 03-10-17, 09:21 AM   #22
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My intention with the title, and sub-forum choice.
Hopefully those showing a serious interest, and planning a tour might look into a visit to their local bike co-op or a basic bicycle maintenance course.
A wheel will usually give some indications of pending trouble. Being exposed to the theory of spoked wheel, the feel, pitch of a daily inspection (pre-trip) on tour will become a good experience. Speaking of a good experience, a little tweak here and there on a mechanically successful trip simply adds. Verses, a broken, or fractured rim in the big sky country (Saskatchewan!).

So those who might view this thread. This is not Voo-Doo, but can be a very rewarding bit of knowledge.

Let's all go ride (damn it's cold out today).




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Old 03-10-17, 10:05 AM   #23
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...
Point being that there is bound to be some intellegent cyclists touring that don't have any maintenance knowledge and won't realize it until something breaks, and of course if something is going to break, it'll be at the worst possible time and place in the tour. Maybe it's time for a thread to make some tourists aware?

Brad
As noted by others above, I agree that more knowledge is always good.

But, where do you stop? There is fixing a flat on one end of the spectrum and replacing a spoke on the drive side on the other end of the spectrum. And a long list of skills in between.

Unless you are traveling alone, there usually are other cyclists around that can help you fix something on a bike well enough to make it ridable to get to a bike shop. I have made a lot of emergency repairs for other cyclists in campgrounds and I thought nothing of it. And I rarely felt that the person I was helping should have had the knowledge that they lacked.
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Old 03-10-17, 11:49 AM   #24
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Ack! Then again I love me some chicken fried steak!
Come touring with me down south in April and we can take care of that little craving. A quick "lite" lunch served Arkansian style. I had to help my friend remount his bike after this little meal.

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Old 03-10-17, 12:04 PM   #25
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..... I've grown fond of southern-style breakfasts. Its pretty hard to find biscuits and gravy on the menu anywhere here in New England, and most-times when you do, it pathetic. ....
FWIW - I've found that ordering any regional specialties in restaurants outside the region is like drawing to an inside straight.

One lucky exception to that was when Deb was living in NYC and found a place serving real Memphis style BBQ only 3 blocks from her apartment. Quality Memphis BBQ in Chelsea, what were the odds?

BTW - one of my joys when bicycle touring is eating the regional foods, that I'd never otherwise experience.
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