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Editorial

Panic Mechanicking

Words Cam McRae
Date Oct 13, 2021
Reading time

On the day before Trevor's big birthday ride, I was uncharacteristically prepared. I'd swapped out Friday's flat and replaced both tires with a test set, tweaked my suspension settings, and three days earlier I'd managed a good bleed on the Reverb post that had been giving me some trouble. It was now working perfectly. If I was a cigar smoker, I would have lit one immediately.

The last thing was to go through the vent valve procedure on the post because it was getting a little spongy. I'd done this before and, aside from dealing with removing the seat post clamp to get access to the valve, and then putting it all back together, it was a piece of cake to do and produced great results. I used the Reverb's vent valve tool as instructed, pressing into the valve mechanism and allowing that pressure to push the post down until a hard stop. This all went smoothly and the post was once again nice and firm at full extension.

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It's incredible how my enjoyment of a ride is now dependent on a functioning dropper post, considering I rode for years as a worse-than-mediocre XC racer who rode the North Shore, without lowering my saddle an inch.

Feeling heroic, I fiddled with the fasteners and reinstalled my saddle before testing the uppie-downie function, just to be sure. Unfortunately it appeared that function was no longer available. I removed the 1x Remote from the bar and pulled the seatpost out, fastening it to my saddle with a toestrap for the procedure. I am getting very proficient at these bleeds, which are much less fussy than a brake, and it went smoothly. I first bled the line by pushing fluid from the syringe attached to the post, to the syringe attached to the lever repeatedly, until all bubbles were banished. Then I closed the bleeding edge fitting at the lever, leaving the syringe attached, before removing the syringe from the post and replacing the fitting. Finally, I bled the lever by reopening the bleeding edge fitting, pulling the plunger and carefully creating back pressure with the syringe, again repeating until bubbles were done bubbling, and then finished with a gentle squeeze to push the lever back to ready. I reassembled everything and voilà... it remained immobile. I tried a couple more bleeds with similar results.*

*Mountain biking is tough on products and every product can break or have defects, but I have generally had good experiences with Reverb dropper posts. It remains to be seen if my Reverb issue is user error, but I wouldn't doubt it.

DSC06756-denizmerdano-norco-emtb-range-sight-ca.original_aISCBg3.jpg

The Norco Sight VLT is a great machine for many types of ride, but not a big group ride where nobody else is e-doping, nor one that requires 57 lbs of bike to be pushed up a very steep trail for 45 mins. Photo - Deniz. Merdano

Trevor's ride was the next day but I didn't have any more time to work on the post that evening. The only appropriate option I had for the ride was the Norco Sight VLT eMTB I've been testing, which would have been fine aside from the steep 45 minute hike-a-bike part way through the ride. Lugging a 57lb bike up a mountain didn't seem that appealing, nor did the heckling that would ensue for being the only e-rider on a big group ride. Still, I didn't think I had options that would save me from that fate before the 0900 start time. By the time I went to bed, I'd talked myself into seeing if I could swap a post off another bike, first thing in the morning, to save the ride.

I got up early and started measuring seatposts. I couldn't remember the post diameter of the Kona Honzo ESD* but my caliper confirmed it was a 31.6 just like my Yeti SB150. I had about 25 mins to remove both seat posts and then install the Trans-X from the Kona onto the Yeti. This likely would be a sub ten-minute job for most good mechanics, but for me it felt like it would take a miracle to finish in 30.

*Yes, the Honzo ESD was an option but I had decided the Sight VLT would be the lesser of two evils because this was going to be a long and challenging descent and I wanted to be hound doggin' with the rest of the crew on a duallie, and because I'd installed some very light XC wheels on the Honzo for testing and I wasn't sure they would be up for a double black descent. I have several more excuses if you've got the time.

kona-honzo-ESD-2021-479-denizmerdano-review-cam.original.jpg

The Kona Honzo ESD would have been up to the task, but I would have been off the back with the fast riding crew on long travel duallies (and other excuses). Photo - Deniz. Merdano

And then things started to go sideways immediately. I had no way to attach the Shimano dropper lever on the Honzo to the Yeti's handlebar or the SRAM Code lever. A little digging uncovered an excellent Bike Yoke lever that was matchmaker compatible. I removed the post from the Honzo, undoing the 5 bolted cable guides as quickly as I could, and then measured the housing against the Reverb line. Too short! I dug up some housing and cut it to length and then got to work on the internal cable routing of the Yeti.

In a perfect world, I would have attached the new line to the old line and pulled the new one through as the old one was pulled out. This works great if you are replacing hydraulic with hydraulic, particularly using the Rockshox barb connector tool (which I seem to have lost) but not as well going from hydraulic to cable. I've taped cables together in the past with some success but the hydraulic fluid on the line was going to make that impossible. Thankfully the Yeti has a trap door for this very purpose. A couple of bolts was all I need to gain access to the nether regions of the SB150 to steer the cable housing upward toward the seat tube's opening.

panic-mechanic-3.jpg

Can you find the access panel cover for the bottom of my Yeti in this photo? I don't think I could make it land there on purpose in 1000 attempts.

Now if it sounds like this process was calm and measured, I am unintentionally deceiving you. Trevor is a bit of a tardiness Nazi, and the clock was moving fast. I still had no idea if I would successfully perform this task in the allotted time and I was beginning to sweat, likely a symptom of what I felt was an undeserved and unearned hangover, but a hangover nonetheless. In short, I was a mess.

After some fishing and twisting, I got the new housing into place. The cable looked a little dodgy as well so I needed to remove it from the fitting at the bottom of the Trans X post. Unfortunately it was sticky and seemed to have corroded in place. I used a hex wrench to press the cable end out of the fitting while supporting the mechanism against the work bench. When it let go, my hand slipped, knocking some critical parts off the workbench and onto the floor. I was beginning to panic and I had no time for mistakes. I quickly found one bolt from the Yeti's trapdoor and eventually found the second, but the door itself, the easiest piece to find, was nowhere to be seen. I looked under every tire and rag and scoured the shop without luck. Without considering what I could use in place of the cover,* but knowing the ride would be a little wet and somewhat mucky, I pressed on. I oiled the new cable and attached it to the bottom of the post, pulled it into place and then slid the post into the frame.

*a cork? some rags? a baked potato? a stuffed penguin?

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From spotless to dog's breakfast in 15 minutes. Not only did I use virtually everything you see on the bench surface in that time, I put away several tools after I used them. Clearly an efficient and effective way to work.

At this point I was feverishly grabbing for the appropriate tools and then throwing them onto the growing pile on the workbench, meaning when I next needed the 3mm hex, I had to reach for a different one or a multi tool rather than dig into the haystack of tools and parts on the bench, which had been spotless 15 minutes earlier. I was getting slower rather than faster.

I then bolted the Bike Yoke lever to the Code brake lever and pulled the cable tight before fastening it to the actuator. Miraculously the post worked, or at least it worked as well as it had on the Honzo, meaning it needed a little help to reach full extension each time,* but I was overjoyed by this result.

*I have since lubed the shaft and increased the air pressure on the post and it's extending fine, but going down with a little too much effort

And then I remembered the missing trapdoor. I looked in the same places again with a similar result and then did that again. Just as I was about to concede that I was, finally, losing my mind, I tipped the bike toward me and noticed the black plastic cover perched atop two horizontally-oriented spokes on my rear wheel, behind the hub. If it had taken another minute to notice, it likely would have fallen out as I scrambled to slap pieces of Gorilla tape over the hole near the bottom bracket. I hastily bolted it into place and assembled my gear.

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There was no way I was going to miss a ride with these jackasses.

I decided not to change into my riding gear before I left, reasoning that arriving without being dressed for the ride was better than showing up even later. Despite the slow left lane drivers (oh how I despise thee!), I arrived at our muster location a mere five minutes behind schedule (but I was remarkably the last to arrive). Unfortunately, my nerves were completely shot from my frantic install job and my mild hangover. Eventually I calmed down enough to enjoy the day and the ride turned out even better than expected, thanks to excellent company, a mostly functional dropper, and having the right bazooka for the knife fight.

Thanks for getting older Tbone!

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Comments

fartymarty
+5 hambobet Vik Banerjee Pete Roggeman Nologo mrbrett
fartymarty  - Oct. 12, 2021, 11:57 p.m.

Honzo with a wheel swap???

I've had so many of these.  I generally try and sort it the night before the ride even at the expense of sleep - and a good night in front of the telly with the missus (I'm only swapping a couple of tyres it should only take half an hour - 3 hours later I come in sweaty and covered in sealant)...

My worst fails are usually with tubeless and tyre swaps.  Just when I think I've got a set of tyres aired up and sealed (usually just after midnight) I'm rudely awoken in the morning of the ride with a flat tyre (or tyres if I'm really lucky).  It's at that point the other bike gets taken on the ride - usually the HT.  And damn me if I'm going to put a tube in that thing, I'd rather fill it with a litre of Stans.

Ah the joys of bikes (I do secretly love it tho).

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 13, 2021, 6:18 a.m.

Well said FM. Tires can be the worst. I’ve complicated that further lately with inserts and attempting thjngs that shouldn’t work - like inserts that are slightly too big for the tire which turned into a multiple session adventure. (I gave up after 90 minutes with 6 inches of bead still unseated but then decided to give it one more try a day later and made it pop into place).

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Oct. 20, 2021, 2:53 a.m.

I've just spent the best part of an hour trying to re-seat a tyre resulting from a massive flat spot (kerb case).  In the end I gave up and put a tube in as I need my HT tomorrow to commute.  A wheel swap was on the cards but pedalling a tough Vigi on the road didn't appeal.

To make matters worse we've just moved house and all my bike stuff is in boxes in the garage which is rammed with everything else that doesn't fit in the house yet.  I did manage to find everything but its a PITA working without a work bench and organised tools...

I can see inserts as another level of infuriation...

What I have realised though is I should really buy a compressor.

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Oct. 13, 2021, 7:40 a.m.

Yes. Always the night before vs. the morning of. I've learned that lesson the hard way a few times. :-(

Reply

ham-bobet
+5 Vik Banerjee Cam McRae Mammal Pete Roggeman mrbrett
hambobet  - Oct. 13, 2021, 2:55 a.m.

I've sort of learnt to never mechanic - even the 'easiest' job - when you have a timeframe in mind - the laws of sod will always have other ideas.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 13, 2021, 7:49 a.m.

Best laid plans… I had to look up “laws of sod,” which I am familiar with as Murphy’s Law. My trapdoor’s unlikely hiding spot is an excellent example of that.

Reply

craw
+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
Cr4w  - Oct. 13, 2021, 11:21 a.m.

A good reminder to always have your backup bike dialled and ready to go. That reminds me, I should dial up my backup bike.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Peter Appleton
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 13, 2021, 11:47 a.m.

So true. Although in Cam's defense, this was a perfect storm. The Honzo is a great backup bike, and he has backup biked it plenty, but for the ride in question, I can understand going to great lengths to avoid the hardtail. Sometimes you just know the fun factor needs to be maxed, and in a big group bday ride on a big hill...yeah, I wouldn't have wanted a HT either.

Reply

cooperquinn
+3 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee Derek Baker
Cooper Quinn  - Oct. 13, 2021, 1:30 p.m.

Nah, look at it this way. When you grease everything on the hardtail, you get to give all the guys around you sh*t for being old and soft and needing rear suspension.

Reply

BkrAdam
+8 Vik Banerjee Cam McRae Mammal Cr4w Pete Roggeman Larrabee cheapondirt Derek Baker
BkrAdam  - Oct. 13, 2021, 7 a.m.

That’s the most anxiety triggering article I’ve read in a long time.

Reply

mammal
+4 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Nologo Larrabee
Mammal  - Oct. 13, 2021, 10:22 a.m.

Because we've all been there. .

Reply

rwalters
+5 Cam McRae Deniz Merdano Alex Durant Pete Roggeman Larrabee
Ryan Walters  - Oct. 13, 2021, 7:32 a.m.

If only one of us had a spare bazooka you could have borrowed for the knife fight.....

Range

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+5 Ryan Walters Raymond Epstein Matt Lee Deniz Merdano cole128
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 13, 2021, 11:47 a.m.

That's an anti-ship cannon.

Reply

denomerdano
+4 Ryan Walters Sean Chee Cr4w Pete Roggeman
Deniz Merdano  - Oct. 13, 2021, 8:20 a.m.

a little trick I learned yesterday is to keep a bottle of Reverb fluid in the fridge or freezer and perform a bleed with said fluid rather than a room temperature one.

The idea is that the air bubbles dissolved in the oil is smaller in the cold fluid. 

and my source bleeds about 50 reverbs per day...

food for thought.

Reply

rwalters
+8 Sean Chee Zak Brown Alex Durant Mammal Larrabee Matt Lee Derek Baker Timer
Ryan Walters  - Oct. 13, 2021, 8:44 a.m.

Bleeding 50 Reverbs a day sounds like a special version of hell.

Reply

denomerdano
+1 Jonas Dodd
Deniz Merdano  - Oct. 13, 2021, 9:21 a.m.

High capacity this time of the year... Dipped below 10c you know.. chilly reverb syndrome.

Reply

craw
+2 Deniz Merdano Jonas Dodd
Cr4w  - Oct. 13, 2021, 11:21 a.m.

SHRINKAGE

Reply

denomerdano
+1 Jonas Dodd
Deniz Merdano  - Oct. 13, 2021, 5:07 p.m.

I was in the pooool!!

Reply

hbelly13
0
Raymond Epstein  - Oct. 13, 2021, 3:25 p.m.

The ultimate hack for a Reverb bleed is installing a Wolf Tooth Sustain kit. My pal did this to one of his Reverbs nearly four years ago and has never had an issue with it outside replacing the cable since.

Reply

hbelly13
0
Raymond Epstein  - Oct. 13, 2021, 3:25 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

Sethsg
0
Sethsg  - Oct. 13, 2021, 9:01 a.m.

On the topic of bleeding do you have tips for bleeding Magura MT7 brakes? I have done it twice followed the directions to the . but the rear is still pulling to the bar on long descents.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 13, 2021, 10:37 a.m.

I recently bled some MT5s but I’m no expert and it was relatively straightforward. 

My thing with bleeds is, if it doesn’t feel perfect, do it over until it does. I get a little better every time.

Reply

Cheez1ts
+1 Cam McRae
Garrett Thibault  - Oct. 13, 2021, 4:19 p.m.

Sometimes flicking the lever a few times isn't enough, gotta leave it overnight.

Get the brake in a spot where gravity can be your friend (might have to angle the bike in the stand if you're internally routed) and then strap the brake lever down overnight. Air bubbles will slowly bubble out in the top syringe.

I've had success doing this by solely lever bleeding on Sram and Shimano brakes (i.e. not using the syringe on the caliper) if you want to skip part of the process. I do not have magura brakes, but based on the youtube video I found it looked like the same process as sram brakes.

Reply

YDiv
0
YDiv  - Oct. 13, 2021, 5:17 p.m.

Tilt your levers so they're pointing vertical, give it a couple taps, then turn them back so they're horizontal. This will help to get the bubbles into the proper spot. Unfortunately, the master cylinder on MT7s has really weird ports that point in the same direction as the lever.

Then you should be good to go with the usual flicking procedure and all that.

Reply

IslandLife
+4 Mammal Cam McRae Pete Roggeman AndrewR
IslandLife  - Oct. 13, 2021, 9:09 a.m.

Ha... had one of these a couple months ago. Bike park trip planned for the next day... overall bike was pretty good to go, just needed a general cleaning/lubing/look-over. but I had noticed that I'd been experiencing a little oil seap-age from the air bleed valves on my Fox38... upon closer inspection it seemed to me that the oil may have been coming from around the valve vs out of the the valve button. "Hmm weird" I thought... "maybe if I just tighten up the valve a bit with my trusty ratchet... **SNAP**!" Broke the valve right off the the fucking fork!! First thought: "B..b..b..but I'm going to the bike park tomorrow!!" Second thought: "Are my lowers toast??"

So, three pieces of valuable information for anyone with a Fox fork with bleeders:

1. Fox has anticipated that this may happen and sells valve replacements in packs of two (which is great for when you are replacing a broken one and break it again... FUCCCKKK!! (I know... I know...)). Depending on how and where the break is, it's very simple to remove them with an allen key and maybe some needle nose pliers (no, your lowers are not toast). I bought them direct from the Fox Canada HQ in Burnaby over the phone... but they said normally you should order them through your local shop.

2. In a pinch with no time? Just remove the broken valve, then tape and zap strap the shit out of that big hole in your lowers... seems dodgy but I can confirm it will handle a full-on bike park day with zero issues (I was actually in a local DH race that day and my fix did just fine). No comments on the long term durability of this crappy bodge though.

3. Tighten your bleeder valve until it stops... then stop, like really stop. The torque value is low (5.0 Nm), and there is basically no more give after it bottoms, if it's tight and you try to give it "a bit more", it will probably break.

Reply

earleb
+6 Mammal Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Ryan Walters AndrewR Derek Baker
earle.b  - Oct. 13, 2021, 9:56 a.m.

This sounds like my life for most any big planned ride or event. Like 2019 Crankworx EWS80, the afternoon before the event on a shake down ride of a frame I had just finished days before I found the rear end wasn't braced well enough. So up till 2am in the workshop brazing in new gussets then 4 hours sleep to get up and drive up to Whistler and race the event.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Timer
Cam McRae  - Oct. 13, 2021, 10:33 a.m.

That is next level mission critical! Next level everything really.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - Oct. 13, 2021, 4:44 p.m.

Luckily I do not weld my own frames!! Next level.

Reply

Ddean
+2 AndrewR Cam McRae
Ddean  - Oct. 13, 2021, 12:36 p.m.

That enduro bearings tool is my favorite tool ever.

I will likely choose all my future bottom brackets just so that I can keep using that tool.

Reply

khai
+2 Derek Baker Velocipedestrian
khai  - Oct. 13, 2021, 3:37 p.m.

Anyone else have to deliberately pause to a few times mitigate reading that piece faster... and Faster... and FASTER?  I'm not an anxious person by nature but that article sure made me uncomfortable!

Reply

andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - Oct. 13, 2021, 4:43 p.m.

Eleven people on a ride - that looks like a 0.65 ride ratio right there!!

Reply

syncro
+1 Cam McRae
Mark  - Oct. 13, 2021, 6:41 p.m.

As having some notoriety for being "that guy" I wondered what all the fuss was about after getting to the end of the article. This one time on a Williams Lake road trip I had to stop mid-ride on a descent of DeSous to swap out a full brake system that I had brought with me just in case my Hopes decided to become hopeless in terms of slowing me down. Planning genius or????

Reply

Bad-Sean
0
Sean Chee  - Oct. 13, 2021, 6:43 p.m.

My takeaway from all this is the realisation that you media guys don’t have a quiver of half a dozen of the newest exotic bikes and a store room full of parts at home awaiting use.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 13, 2021, 11:29 p.m.

Not all of us anyway, but I’m certainly not hard done by! And sometimes there is no bike like your own bike.

Reply

lamar454
+2 Cam McRae Greg Bly
Peter Appleton  - Oct. 13, 2021, 8:40 p.m.

droppers, over rated...

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Oct. 13, 2021, 11:28 p.m.

If there had been an old one piece post around I would have grabbed it and arrived early!

Reply

dsciulli19
0
dsciulli19  - Oct. 14, 2021, 4:10 a.m.

Time to send that Reverb Packing. Cables don't need bleeding!!

Reply

Shoreloamer
0
Greg Bly  - Oct. 14, 2021, 10:17 a.m.

Ah yes the primal joy of exorsize and recreation on a two wheeled human powered contraption.  To escape the complexities of modern civilization.

Reply

jonas-dodd
+2 Velocipedestrian Timer
Jonas Dodd  - Oct. 14, 2021, 11:08 a.m.

"Ok guys, I'm going to do a quick brake bleed at the trailhead before we head out. See you then."

Words actually spoken by the coworker of a friend the night before a ride, followed by the precise outcome that one would expect: massive delay and mess with not optimally functioning brakes for said amigo, plus a combo of greatly reduced stoke and simmering anger for the rest of the group.

This incident is forever etched in our memories and is now used in jest whenever a ride with a critical start time has been planned.

Reply

syncro
+2 Jonas Dodd Velocipedestrian
Mark  - Oct. 14, 2021, 4:13 p.m.

This might not apply to you or your situation, but it seemed like a good opening to say this.

Sometimes mental health issues that you don't really notice about someone because they hide them well or have relatively minor affects on their day to day life can cause issues when they come together under situations that create pressure. If people know someone like this a great way to be a friend is to reach out and offer them help a few days before the big event to help take some of the pressure off. Something like "Hey a few of us are getting together for some pizza and to do a tune on the bikes, thought we could use your help" would be a great way to give someone that little bit of support they need without calling direct attention to whatever they might be dealing with. The beauty part of that is when you might need help, others you've helped in the past are usually willing to step up to return the kindness. We all go through ups and downs, so we all need to take an interest in caring for each other. 

Bro-hug and kumbaya at your own comfort level.

Reply

jonas-dodd
+2 Mark Velocipedestrian
Jonas Dodd  - Oct. 14, 2021, 4:42 p.m.

Very good thoughts, I will put them to use!

Reply

bFow
0
bFow  - Oct. 18, 2021, 7:40 a.m.

Panic mechanic rings true to me.  Similarly, big gang ride for my bachelor party in Fernie for a long weekend.  First ride on Friday with a smaller crew until the rest joined up.  My Sram G2 RSCs... got janky in the Mt Fernie park.  Lower screw on the rear brake pivot had fallen out.  Remind me again why there's two screws, one from the top, and one from the BOTTOM where it can rattle out locktite dried out?  Why isn't this an axle through both bearings with a cotter pin or something for backup. 

Anyways Fernie shops too busy to help, but have parts.  Random camping up coal creak time to get creative on wrenching.  Somehow my my 3-way hex wrench was the right diameter to use as a press to extract the eff'ed bearing race, good.  Ok, now how the heck to press in the new bearing without effing it?  Chain gauge tool as flat surface, and campfire axe to tap it in?  Clutch success, back to the campfire and riding the rest of the weekend!

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