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Bob's Suspension Clinic

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Outside and into the wild! If you loved our winter-long tech and suspension clinics, wait until you actually get to ride bikes at one! On July 12, we're taking the tech talk outside to help more of our customers understand their suspension. Whether you're on a hard tail or full-squish, we want to make sure your ride is dialed in. We'll go over how to make adjustments to both forks and shock, how each adjustments change your ride, and what to look for after a ride to make the right changes. 

You'll be able to hit the pump track as many times as you want, and we'll give you some points. If you're looking to really get things right, it's a great time to book your ShockWiz and suspension service so you can get more information from a longer ride at your favorite trail. 

Suspension clinic is totally free, totally laid-back, and it's going to be a lot of fun, too. 

It's also going to be a really good time to check out the new Norco line-up! We're really excited to offer some hand-picked models and specs that really suit how we like to ride here in West Michigan. Think longer travel, slacker geometries, and tough components that we know hold up really well. 

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Dropper Posts And YOU!

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As you stroll casually through Central District Cyclery, you're going to notice plenty of dropper posts. Once a rarity, dropper posts are popping up on stock builds from brands like Kona because of the way they change how people ride. 

Dismissed as enduro-only, the technology has become almost standard on mountain bikes ranging from dedicated cross-country to most trail bikes. Using either a mechanical cable or hydraulic line, the dropper post gets your set out of the way in a number of situations. 

The most obvious use of a dropper will be on steep descents. Getting your seat out of the way allows you to get way, way back and hold more traction. Especially on rough, loose, or rooty downhills, you'll also avoid getting rammed by the seat, pushing your weight forward and generally scaring the crap out of you. 

But droppers are also useful in turns. Fast, flowing trails can allow you to drop the seat and drop your center of gravity. The lower, the better, and the more traction! Getting used to doing this can take a bit of practice, but once you've got it dialed, it can make your singletrack skills much stronger. 

There are some other benefits, too. We've had some folks looking for dropper posts for transportation. You can drop the post in order to fit in your car, without having to use a tool and tape measure to get it back to the right height. We've also put dropper posts on bike belonging to older riders who find balancing at stop signs or getting off the bike difficult for their hips, knees or ankles. Dropping the seat gets it out of the way and safer to mount and dismount. 

Stop by Central District and hop on a bike with a dropper to get a feel for how much it changes your riding style. You'll find it on a number of Konas, including the Big Honzo! 

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Why A Chain Wear Indicator Is The Best Tool You Can Invest In For Cycling

It's one of the most inexpensive, simplest, and useful tools you'll ever find, and yet, too few avid cyclists have one. A chain wear indicator helps you save money by showing you when to replace your chain and increase the life of other components. 

Aside from maybe a rag to wipe your bike down, the humble chain wear indicator is the best investment you can make. Walk into my garage, and you'll find one hanging from a string that's tied around the repair stand. If a bike goes in the rack, it gets checked. Every time. The chain wear indicator gives you two numbers that gauge the wear of your chain. .5 means it's a good time to replace your chain. This is an amount of wear that should allow you to use the same cassette for a while longer, at least, and almost certainly the same chainrings. We've had riders that can get two, three, four or more chains worn with the same cassette, just by staying ahead of wear. A chain is less expensive than a chain and a cassette, and the savings add up. 

The second measurement is .75, which means you may have left it too late. It's definitely time for a chain, but due to the amount of wear on your drivetrain, that fresh new chain may bounce and skip over your old cassette. Your old chain has actually rounded and warped the old cassette, and it's just different enough that shifting may not be crisp, no matter how the bike is tuned up. If it's close on the gauge, some people will try the new chain with the old cassette, especially if they want to wait to replace the cassette ahead of specific event, or if there is rain or bad weather in the next few days. If it's well past .75, we recommend replacing the chain and cassette together the first time and avoiding the headache. 

Using the wear indicator can actually be pretty interesting, and you might even find a mix of components that last long and perform better. On my trusty Kona Private Jake, I went through chains non-stop. Finally, I started actually paying attention to what I was replacing. I found that PC-1130 chains, the least expensive, tended to last only a few weeks of hard, daily riding. Likewise, the PC-1130 cassettes wore out every two chains, even if the chains were replaced on schedule. After some experimentation, I've stuck with nicer Red 22 chains and 1170 chains, and I now get a new cassette every three chains, with each chain lasting much longer due to harder materials. 

Stop by the shop and we'll show you how simple this handy tool is, plus more simple things to check for to make sure your bike is in great shape heading into spring! 

 

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It's One Ring For Everything As We Hit Gravel Season!

It’s almost fascinating how quickly mountain bikes went to a 1x drivetrain in the past two years. Once a slap-dash set up that often included a front derailleur as a guide and maybe a ten-speed cassette, now even entry level rigs are coming 1x11 with SRAM NX or GX drivetrains. It’s to the point now that we poke and prod at front derailleurs like relics from the past, not unlike finding a Roman coin or arrowhead under the dirt. 

It was never going to be a huge leap to see the simplicity of 1x going to cyclocross and, eventually, gravel and even road bikes. Wide range component groups allow road shifters to run what were always traditional mountain bike cassettes, from 11-36 and now 10-42. With the right chain ring selected, it’s not a stretch to use your cyclocross or gravel bike for everything, with the option of swapping out wheels with different tires mounted for different conditions.   

Nailing that chainring selection is a big part of the process, and if possible, it’s worth trying out a ring or two before you buy. It’s not even too far a stretch to have two rings on hand, say a 40t and a 44t, with two chains, each cut to match the change in ring size. While you probably won’t want to switch your rings out every day, putting on the ideal ring a week or two before a big event is easy and puts you in a better position for the course or route you’re taking on. 

The big argument against a single ring for road or gravel was always that there was no way to cover the full range of a traditional 53/39 crankset with an 11-25 cassette. And it’s really range that has driven the component changes over the past decade, with 52/36 and 50/34 compact cranksets all but driving the 53 ring to its grave. Even cassettes have gotten bigger, with 11-28 and 11-32 clusters now standard on most builds from SRAM and Shimano. 

We really like using a single ring for a few reasons. First, it eliminates cross-chaining and finicky adjustments, especially if the bike is consistently thrown over rough gravel roads, sandy two tracks and wet and slick commutes. It also reduces drivetrain wear, and the odds of breaking a chain are exponentially smaller with a single ring, with most chain explosions coming with that aggressive, panicked shift from small ring to big ring at the top of a steep and slow climb. 

Finding the right size is a bit of a science, with this Gear Calculator being maybe the most useful tool. You can adjust the sliders to pick a chainring, your cassette, and then use metrics like cadence and tire width to see the gear ratio or top speed of a gear setup. With races like Melting Mann and Barry-Roubaix coming up, there’s another great trick. If you’ve done those races before, look up your average speed over those routes. Then, adjust the ring on the slider until you’re in the middle of the cassette with the ring, running at around a 90 cadence. For example, if you averaged 17mph, you’re probably looking at a 40t chainring with a 90 cadence on an 11-32 cassette. Assuming you’re starting to spin out at 100 rpm, that will still give you a top speed of around 30! 
 
 There are a few good tips to looking at what ring you want. First, look at the average speed of your normal rides and find a ring that puts you at that speed in the middle of the cassette. This means you'll use all the cogs and wear it out evenly, instead of having to spend too much time at the top or bottom of the cassette. Second, look at the steepest climbs and the speeds you go on them. Is it creeping and crawling? Maybe go down a ring size if that's the case. Flying up the climbs like a skimpy Italian pro? You might even be able to push a slightly bigger ring. 
 When in doubt, split the difference. If you're coming off a compact 50/34 crankset, going halfway with a 42t, might be just the ticket. 
 

Need help? We got you. Stop by and we can show you options on rings, plus let you know how big of a cassette your bike can run with your current derailleur! 

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