tool of the week

This weeks tool of the week is the Hoover. okay so you’re probably thinking why I have chosen a hoover as my TOTW, but there is a good reason behind this, any of you out there that have an internally cable routed frame when it comes to changing the inner and outer cable you must wonder how to do this with ease, well hear’s your answer - the Hoover.

 The first step is to remove the old inner and outer cables from the frame, then get the new inner cable, some blue cloth and some Finish Line Wet Lube, place the blue cloth on a flat surface then create a line of wet lube across the blue  cloth, once that is done pick the blue cloth up making sure the wet lube faces upwards and run the inner cable across this keeping a tight grip across the whole cable. This is to insure that all of the manufacturers lube ( which is actualy Lanolin a form of pig fat ) is removed, and giving the inner cable a good smothering of lube.

The next step in to cut the correct length of outer cable, then tie a piece of string to the inner cable and start to feed the cable into the ICR whole. Then get your Hoover and place the nozzle end of the frame where the ICR while come out from, turn the hoover on but make sure you have hold of the other end of the cable. Once through turn the hoover off and pull the string/inner cable out of the hoover.

Once you have carried out those steps the next is to feed the outer cable through. place some wet lube into the end of both side of the inner cable ( this is to make sure the inner cable runs freely through the outer. Then simply feed the outer over the inner insuring you do not pull the inner cable out of the other side of the ICR.

And there you have it my TOTW makes what I think to be a hard job into an easy one :) Jules says it does a mean job of keeping the floor spic and span too!!

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Be faster on a bike pt 3

Be Faster on a bike Pt 3
Fitter – not fatter.

In the last edition of ‘be faster on a bike’ we explored ways in which we can use the power of our minds (link to blog here) by using techniques like visualisation and positive thinking in an effort to gain those precious extra drops of speed. In this article I would like to explain about how, when it comes to food, a little self control, planning and discipline will go a long way (literally) to helping you become faster on a bike.
In order to go fast on a bike everything must be as light and as lean as possible. I alluded to the importance of the rider in the article about aerodynamics, a smaller rider presents less frontal area to the wind meaning his drag co-efficient will be greatly reduced and the power he will need to go at a given speed will be less compared to a rider of bigger build – giving him an advantage in terms of speed and the ability to ride for longer distances with the watts saved.
It’s not as appealing to think about reducing the weight of the rider compared to reducing the weight of the bike, you don’t get to buy shiny bits of equipment – and you have to show restraint in the face of tempting food. Most of us would admit that we are carrying more around our midriffs than we are happy with and that we could probably easily loose half a stone. Well, let me put some motivation behind your personal weight loss target. Half a stone is 3175 grams!! A whole Dura Ace Di2 groupset is 2100g and that will cost you the thick end of £2500… Why not write down this amount and stick it to the front of your fridge as a reminder to keep the snack gremlins at bay?

Let’s be clear, shedding weight from yourself won’t be easy. You will need to be disciplined and will need to plan what and when you eat. My advice is to BE SENSIBLE. It’s all to easy to start getting obsessed with losing more and more weight and this will lead to all sorts of problems. Have a day off from time to time, you deserve it! Depriving yourself of what you fancy will lead to blow out binges and feelings of regret afterwards, you won’t have this if you treat yourself from time to time and it will give you the motivation you need to get out training and to continue with your weight loss plan.

The best bet would be to get a professional to assess you and give you a baseline weight before you start, this will give you a more accurate figure (in both the mathematical and physical sense) to work towards. I agree with Lance Armstrong in that the most important peice of equipment to use is a set of scales – make them your friend, use them every day, this way you will be able to keep an eye on your target weight. Expect to see fluctuations but the trend should be a downward curve in your weight.
How do you go about shedding the flab? Well, just riding your bike is a good place to start if you have a sedentary lifestyle, but I’m going to assume that as you are reading this you already ride regularly and are seeking a performance gain. Let’s start by looking at WHEN you eat. The motto is: BREAKFAST LIKE A KING, LUNCH LIKE A PRINCE, SUPPER LIKE A PAUPER. So, your main meal should be in the morning (did you know that Breakfast is actually two words break – fast? You are literally breaking the fast of the night without food) Breakfast sets you up for a day of activity (maybe the ride / commute to work) you can only burn calories from here. Your lunch should fuel you through the afternoon (and the ride home) and your supper should be a snack before bed, remember that if you eat a big meal before you go to bed the body will have no need for the extra calories and store them as fat. EAT AFTER EIGHT PUT ON WEIGHT is a bit extreme a statement but you get the idea.
Do you find it difficult to eat when at work? Me too, but with a bit of careful planning it is fully possible.
I have to leave for work at 7am which would mean getting up early to fit in some grub and as I cycle into work I need to leave some time for it to digest (a minimum of twenty minutes ideally) so instead of getting up super early I have a cup of coffee (caffine helps ignite the fat burners in the body) and make my commute into work without anything to eat. Now, this is ill advised if your journey is anything over an hour as it can lead to the dreaded ‘bonk’ but under an hour and at a steady pace (now is not the time to be setting a PB) will be beneficial to weight loss because the body has no Glycogen to burn so uses the next best fuel, fat.
The reason you will bonk quickly if you throw the hammer down is that you have minimal Glycogen stocks available and under hard loads Glycogen is the preffered muscle fuel (fat being harder to process into energy) it’s as if the body has a button that it can use so that when it does low pace work it burns fat, then when it encounters a high pace it switches the Glycogen burners on. (Glycogen stores are limited and are topped up by Carbohydrate rich foodstuffs like Pasta – just remember that like a fuel tank on a car it can only hold so much – what it doesn’t use or can’t hold in the tank will be stored as fat)
You can use this ‘switch’ principle to understand that if you do long ‘base’ miles the body will be burning fat instead of Glycogen so if you want another ‘fat buster’ then long steady state miles at a low heart rate will be burning the right stuff for weight loss.
Please make sure that you stay hydrated during the ride, but use water only, no carbohydrate energy drinks (Only true for the one hour max fasted rides, on anything else a carb drink is well worthwhile) On the subject of hydration, NOT being hydrated is the easiest way to hurt performance. Check this out:
I ensure that I have a waterbottle topped up throughout the day and I make sure I take sips from it often.
When I get to work I want to give my body something it can use to recover. Milk is ideal for this task, read this:
I also have a Banana and a healthy bowl of porridge with blueberries (which are full of anti-oxidants).
Mid morning break consists of a couple of cereal bars (low fat and easily transportable in my back pack)
Lunch has to be fitted into my back pack for the commute so food that is transported easily is preferred, I have a carton of mixed fruit, microwaveable rice (carbohydrate) two generously filled rolls (ham / tuna salad) and a ‘treat’ bar of chocolate from time to time.

I will have an energy gel before the ride home (which will be longer and harder than the ride in) and once home will have a recovery shake within twenty minutes of being home:
My evening meal is something small and light I try and ensure that I have a good amount of protein, so something like an omelette or tuna / chicken salad is great. Sleep is vitally important to recovery and if you eat a large meal last thing at night it will leave you bloated and digesting which will interrupt your sleep patterns and your ability to recover.
Try and listen to your body when you eat, like your Mother would say “chew your food” leave time for the stomach and brain to communicate. This takes a bit of a time so ploughing through your meal may mean you are eating more than you need. Show the food who’s boss by leaving some food on your plate when you feel full, Listen to the fullness signals your body gives you. Don’t food shop when you are hungry as your body craves sugary carb rich foodstuffs (this usually happens on the way back from a race at a garage or service station) instead, prepare some food the day before (fruit – tuna filled rolls or a carton of pasta) kept in a cool box or the like.
Finally, a word to say that at some point your weight loss will plateaux and the only way to continue the downward spiral of weight loss is to step up the miles of training you do, encouraging the body to use more energy and burn more calories. This is when it gets hard, and I would recommend seeking the advice of a professional to ensure that you are consuming enough calories to sustain your energy levels and that you are not affecting your fitness by ‘running on empty’ a coach will also help you by recommending a food plan ensuring that your body is getting all of the essential nutrients that it requires. Try to eat food stuffs that have as fewer ingredients and additives as possible, the more the additives, the lower the quality of the food and the harder it is for your body to digest. Also try to eat foods with a ‘low glycemic index’ see these:
This will ensure that you have a good dispersal of useable energy throughout your working and riding day.
Remember that everything becomes easier if you are lighter and fitter, you’ll also be kinder to your equipment too – another reduction in stress on your wallet…
Next time out I’d like to look at the benefits of a well set up bike, testing schedules and key component testing to ensure we make you ‘faster on a bike!’

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Be faster on a bike pt 2

Be faster on a bike.

Can you think yourself fast?

In the last article of ‘Be faster on a bike’ we looked at making ourselves more aerodynamic in order to get those precious few seconds or watts. In this article I would like to look into becoming faster without even being on the bike, by focusing on the mental aspects of riding and looking at different thought techniques that we can use to improve our riding and ultimately go faster.

The Human brain is an amazing bit of kit. Used correctly it enables us to do great things, but used incorrectly it is a big hindrance, stopping us from reaching our full potential.

I will talk about the CONSCIOUS and the SUB-CONSCIOUS types of thought (or explicit and implicit memory types)

The conscious / explicit capacity of your brain is very small in comparison to the sub conscious. It can only hold so many thoughts at once. When you first learnt to ride a bike it took all of your concentration to be able to turn the pedals whilst keeping your balance by making minute adjustments to your handlebars and body positioning. You CONSCIOUSLY had to think about each of these movements and it was difficult because there was a lot of things to think about doing. You were using your explicit memory to its full capacity.

Now you will be able to ride a bike now without having to think about all the tiny movements required to keep yourself upright – you have honed your skill to such a degree that it has become an automatic process. This has been done by repeated practice – all the hours in the saddle from when you first learnt to ride as a youngster. You can ride the bike SUB CONCIOUSLY. As your brain has learnt to ride a bike it has moved the thoughts required from the explicit (small holding) memory bank into the implicit (large holding) memory bank to free up more space in the explicit memory. This is a bit like zipping up folders on a laptop to free up more space on your desktop.

So, with the explicit side of the memory bank a little less crammed, we can think about things like line choice, scanning traffic to check for potential danger, looking at our computers to check our speed and scanning the bunch to decide whose wheel you should be on for example.

So how can this help us ride faster? Well, the brain finds it hard to distinguish between when we actually ride and when we replay the ride in our head. Which means we can practice the perfect ride any time we choose, day or night. Take a downhill racer in the build up before his race run. You will see them, eyes shut deep in thought. They are VISUALISING their perfect run. Every rock, root, drop and berm is being played out in their mind in glorious techni-colour. They are piloting their bike down the track without actually even spinning a crank in anger. They are committing the run to their implicit memory in order to have the maximum explicit memory space to allow them to push as fast as they can.

Now, this is only part of the process. For the Visualisation to have maximum effect, the ‘mind run’ must be perfect. Every corner cleaned, drop nailed and jump cleared. No NEGATIVE thoughts must be allowed to enter the process. If you visualise that you will case a jump or blow out a berm, odds are you probably will. You have programmed that thought to happen and the mind has a funny way of making things that it thinks are going to happen come true. How many times have you felt anxious about a wet road corner or a rooty off camber section and thought “I could come a cropper there” and when you do you think “I knew that was going to happen!” Well, You only have yourself to blame, Litterally!

A much better way to look at the situation is to recognise the danger (slippery tarmac corner / rock drop etc) and imagine yourself clearing the obstacle, confidently and in control. Then, whaddya know? You clear the obstacle, confidently and in control. Going back and doing it again reinforces the knowledge that you have the ability to do it and the more you do it, the more you commit the thought to the implicit memory allowing it to become ‘second nature’ and going on to conquer steeper / higher / faster stuff. Ever wonder why the top athletes can be so arrogant? Well, I wouldn’t think of it as arrogance, more extreme confidence in their ability. A boxer can’t go into a ring thinking “he is going to hit me and I might get knocked out” because in effect he will have already lost the fight. So he will approach the fight thinking “I am going to take this sucker DOWN!” having already fully visualised winning the fight and taking the spoils of victory.

When is the best time to practice visualising? Well, for a visualisation to have maximum effect you must be very relaxed. Not easy to do in todays busy society. My advice is to practice your perfect ‘mind run’ just before you are about to nod off, be it in the sofa or tucked up in bed. Better still if you wake up in the night and find yourself in that drifty sleep / awake state, this is a perfect time to practice as the SUB CONCIOUS side of your mind will be more receptive to your visualisations. Imagine everything going right and ‘see’ the ride with the brightest colours, the loudest noises and ‘feel’ every bump and turn. Imagine yourself taking victory or setting your fastest time. You will need to visualising often as doing it just once won’t necessarily reap any benefits.

Another tip I often employ when actually out riding, is to imagine myself on Euro-sport, with the commentators speaking about me. “He’s pushing hard on this climb” “with this sort of form he looks unstoppable!” it often helps me up and through those nasty climbs or down the tricky descents. Also when I do my sprint training (and this really hurts) I imagine that I will be rewarded with something like a Ferrari, or ten thousand pounds, but only if I give it every last drop of effort. Ok, it’s an empty incentive, but it makes me push hard!

I like the way Jens Voigt told his legs to “Shut up!” this is a way that he was telling his brain not to feel the burning in his legs, letting him go further and faster for longer.

Can you think yourself faster? Damn right you can and it takes no physical effort! Get practicing!!

Next time we’ll look at how ‘You are what you eat’ in an effort to give you more speed.


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Be faster on a bike

Be Faster on a bike.

Julian ‘Jules’ Thrasher

We all want to ride our bikes faster. But the pursuit of speed can be fraught with pot holes of bad advice or, worse still, no advice at all!

 Does buying the latest design of Aero bike instantly make you faster? Can you think yourself fast? Does fitness really matter if you are riding Downhill?  I want to explore these questions and more in my quest to make you faster on a bike. I want to offer you clear guidance and simple tips that I have learnt over my years of riding. The advice will not focus on one type of riding in particular, as I myself ride both Mountain Bikes and Road bikes, the advice given in these blog posts will reflect this. I am also armed with a rather apt surname with which to tackle this subject…

So, let’s in no particular order have a look at being fast on a bike. I would like to start with the Aero debate.

Being Aerodynamic is the new cycling hot potato and rightly so. Wind resistance (aerodynamic drag) is the biggest factor to consider when looking to go faster. Try cycling into a head wind and you’ll expend as much energy for a fraction of the speed.

But do you have to spend vast amounts on the latest kit to be aero? It’s something the big name companies would like you to think so. With bikes coming out from all the big name players all claiming to ‘out-aero’ each other, how can those of us without the deep pockets required to invest in such beasts be aero without them?

I believe that most of the aero gains to be had on a bike come from the rider themselves. I always marvel at the fact that I can overtake those who are pedalling downhill on the road by simply tucking my arms and legs in and ‘chewing’ on the stem. In certain instances I have looked (briefly) at my computer to see my speed go up when tucked and then go down when I move up (slightly) to start to pedal! Experiment with your position whilst out riding. For sure, the biggest gains will be seen when travelling downhill where the speeds are higher, but don’t forget that they can be applied on the flats too.

Look at the pro-tour riders when they are descending. Some of them have really scary looking positions to tuck themselves out of the way of the wind which will require a good deal of flexibility not to mention a large helping of bravery to achieve. For me the best position is to place my hands in the crook of the drops (just underneath the hoods) move my bum onto the back of the saddle and get my head as close to the stem as I can whilst tucking my elbows and knees into my body and the bike frame respectively. Please note that your head must be looking forward, firstly for the obvious reason that colliding with a parked car you have not seen will ruin your average speed (and perhaps life) and that although you may not feel the wind as much in this position, you will be exposing more of the helmet to the wind, increasing your drag.

This may not be a position that feels comfortable at first. My advice is to work on your flexibility through stretches. Find a wooden chair that has a back about shoulder width and grasp it near the seat from the back. You will have to bend down quite a way to do this, but your hands will offer support (much like they do when you are on the drops) the key to good stretching is to undertake the stretch when the muscles are warm (so after a ride is perfect). Do not stretch to the point of pain. Do not ‘bounce’ the stretch. Breathe slowly and deeply and hold the stretch for as long as you can. Stand up from the stretch slowly and avoid any sudden movements. Also try looking up to the ceiling and down to the floor. This will help to increase the range of mobility in your neck muscles.

So what about being aerodynamic on the flat sections of a ride? How can we achieve this? I’d like you to look at Mark Cavendish’s position during sprinting. Not only does he have an amazing capacity for a savage increase in speed, he is also able to do it in a position that is more aero than many of his competitors, meaning that the watts he produces are not sacrificed as freely to the aero gods.

The key to this is to balance the speed you can pedal to the aero effect. Not easy this and requires practice (it is worth my while pointing out that there are various companies offering to do this with fancy software and high end ‘turbo’ trainers, which is great, I would definitely have a go with one – if I could afford it! Watch this space…) To work out your ‘wind effort’ as I am going to call it, you will need a computer and a slightly downhill, long straight section of road. Go as fast as you can sat down pedalling. Make a mental note of your speed. Then get into your tuck position. Again make a note of your speed. Now try to pedal in the tuck position. Does your speed go up or down? You are looking to see your speed go up. If it goes down, then work on your position until you can get a happy medium. This will take practice and you will need to vary your position for differing road situations.

Don’t forget that aero gains can be had wherever you choose to place your hands on the handlebars, just ensure those elbows and knees are tucked firmly in!

If money allows I would recommend you invest in a good set of aero wheels. Yes they can be a bit of a sod in cross winds, but when you get a tail wind that comes in just to one side ‘pushing’ the rim, the gains are amazing. The wheel acts like a sail and gives you an extra turn of speed. Plus they sound damn cool when you get them up to speed!

Tri bars? Yes – if you can afford them. They will allow you to tuck your arms in even more presenting less frontal area to the wind. Just make sure they are set up properly and that you USE THEM!! I am sick and tired of the amount of people I see / overtake who don’t. Ditch them and save the weight!!

Clean your bike!! Your bike needs to be super slippery through the air, being covered in grit and road grime won’t help your need for speed. Make sure cables are routed nicely and tied together where possible to prevent less of the bike being in the airs way.

If you are a mountain biker new to road then don’t even think about wearing baggies. You might as well strap a parachute to your back…

Don’t want to shave your arms and legs? Invest in some arm and leg warmers to keep the wind from getting stuck in your manliness (so to speak) just make sure you don’t overheat on a hot day!!

When you have tried all of these THEN and only THEN will you be allowed to consider that spangly new aero bike…

Join me next time when we will explore more speed making secrets!!


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Dirty weekend for the workshop!

Back when the nights were long, the weather warm and the trails dusty, we planned a workshop weekend away at a trail centre. More specifically, the trail centre at Afan forest Wales.

Everything was in place.The accomodation had been booked, Simon had loaded the bikes into the van, kit and people were loaded into the car and the weather… well, let’s just say that howling winds and heavy rain wasn’t really what we had hoped for! But we are a hardy bunch, so the prospect of some muddy trails didn’t bother us too much, as someone famous once said “there’s no such thing as the wrong weather – only the wrong clothes” and we’d packed for that…

We drove down from ATG Trainings Aylesbury base after work on Friday with myself Mat and Alex in my car and Simon and Gerrard in the van. Highlights were the Gingerbread Latte at Leigh Delamare services and Mat almost blowing chunks whilst map reading on a windy Welsh road.

Alex (Brown) was waiting for us with a freshly made spaghetti bolognaise and a few freshly cracked beers which cheered everyone up and despite a chiding from the lodges’ owner for having too many people, all was well with the word. A couple of MTB DVDs to get us ready for the next days riding and it was time for bed.

Saturday morning dawned grey and miserable, so after a couple of strong cups of Tea and rounds of Toast, helmets were donned, rain jackets zipped up and bikes given that last fettle before we headed out.

The first (and only given its 44km length) was the W2 trail, a combination of the legendary ‘Whites Level’ and ‘The Wall’ trails. To get to the trail head was a stretch of surfaced disused railway which was a nice warm up for the climb that followed. I really like the climb, it goes on for ages, but is technical enough to hold your interest so that you don’t realise how much elevation you have gained.

A nice break was had at the top of the climb and we took the chance to play on the first few berms of the black run descent which was our reward for the pain of that first climb. When everyone had re-grouped we hit the descent, which although it is graded as ‘Black‘ is more of a ‘Red‘ grade. It comprises some nice berms, board walks and a rock garden towards the end and there were some big smiles when we reached the bottom of the descent. These smiles became worried frowns as we waited for Gerrard to arrive. Just as we were thinking of calling the Welsh air ambulance service Gerrard arrived pushing his bike through the final rock garden having binned it off of one of  the boardwalk sections and lost his confidence. Selfishly he had decided to crash where no one else had been able to witness it, but we let him off on this occassion as he had a comedy crash coming onto the fire road later on for all to see.

After a breif bit of blazing our own trail to detour round a fallen tree, we reached the half way trail centre and stopped to have copius ammounts of Tea, flapjack, chips and cheese sarnies. It was said Cheese sarnie and flapjack that were almost seen on the next part of the ride as Simon and I stormed away up the second longest climb of the day. SImon definately had the legs on me and spurred on by the Euro guys in lcra just up ahead (and going for it) he span away from me to bridge the gap. I lost him as I was trying to hold back the flapjack and as I turned of onto a singletrack part of the climb he was nowhere to be seen, so believing he had a big lead on me, I pressed on and completed the ride on my tod. As it turned out, Simon had missed the turning, ridden all the way up the fire road, realised he was lost and road all the way back to the main bunch and the turning! Gutted!

Much beer and wine was consumed that evening and Alex B got his MasterChef hat on and cooked up a lovely indian dish which satiated our grumbling stomachs.

Sunday morning was the same as Saturdays, Dull and wet, but we pressed on to conquer ‘Skyline’ the shortened loop. SImon and I had fresh(ish) legs and hammered away from the group up the first climb, stopping halfway up to remove the rain jackets, and again at the top to put them back on again. At the top of the ridge it was exposed and the rain was whipping in as we hit the first rocky descent.

A shortcut has to be made along a section called ‘the July trail’ to shorten the Skyline loop and we got a bit discombobulated taking a rather miserable slow and boggy section through to the top of the final descent of the ride ‘Jetlag’ for me the best descent of the ride, nice and fast with rock drops and rollers. Perfect!

With brake pads cooked and legs and arms fried, we coasted back to the lodge and cleaned up ready for the journey home. When everyone was ready and the vehicles loaded we said our farewells and headed back tired but very happy.

Can’t wait ’til Triscombe!!

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Tool of the week!!

Apologies for the abscense of TOTW, but here it is, back with a bang!

And a bang is just what you’ll get if you were to inflate a clincher tube to 220 PSI, something the Lezyne floor drive pump is capable of!!

Aesthetically pleasing to the eye the Lezyne floor drive is the Bentley of the pump world with its turned wooden handle and polished alloy base.

The flip thread chuck (you screw turn the chuck onto Presta or Schrader valves by flipping the chuck round) has a good reach, meaning inflating the tyres whilst the bike is held in the workstand is hassle free and due to the high volume delivery of the air from the pump less effort is expended from the mechanic as a result – leading to increased work rates and more productivity (this has yet to be scientifically prooven though) what is prooven is that the oversize pump design is easily powerful enough to seat tubeless tyres onto the bead with ease – no more faffing with C02 cannisters here!

Massive thanks to Paddy from Upgrade for sending us some FOC for us to test during our Cytech courses here at ATG-Training.

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Juice (lube) me up!!

Product of the week!

Suspension units need to be well looked after and serviced in accordance with the manufacturers specifications in order to keep them factory plush. We all know this right?

One of the products you can use AFTER EACH AND EVERY RIDE to keep the dust wiper seals from becoming to draggy and to reduce the applicable stiction that this causes (resulting in a slow and stutter fork – with possible foam wiper ring damage) is the (incredible) Fork Juice from Juice Lubes.

Using Fork Juice also prevents dirt from sticking to the stanchions reducing the chance of them becoming scratched and drawing muck into the expensive internal workings.

Juice Lubes themselves confirm that this is not ‘a fork service in a can’ but will help to prolong the useable life of the fork.

To quote from the back of the can “as the single most expensive component on your bike it makes sense to lubricate your suspension – after all, you wouldn’t ride your bike without lubing the chain would you?”

Fork Juice can also be used to prep your bike for a muddy ride – spray onto the downtube to prevent the horrible build up of cack that will inevitably happen at this time 364 days a year here in the UK.

The only pre-requisite for use is to ensure that you wipe of any existing dirt and grime before application (oh and keep it well away from your disc rotors and pads…)

A top product of the week, if you don’t have some in your workshop, go buy some today!!!

Check out for more info, and a big thanks to Will from Velo Brands for kindly sorting us with a big box of Juice Lubes FOC for use on our Cytech L3 suspension courses. Top work!

If you’d like to find out more about suspension care and servicing procedures – book yourself onto one of our L3 suspension courses here at ATG-Training pronto!!

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DT Swiss XMC 100 cutaway

It’s not every day I find myself taking a lathe to an expensive pair of carbon suspension forks (honest!) but that’s exactly the situation I found myself in at the Cytech  workshop last week.

Why commit such a wanton act of destruction Jules? Have you gone mad? Well… no, thankfully and in answer to your first question I had been asked by the guys at Madison (official UK importer for DT Swiss) to prepare a cutaway of one of their top end suspension forks, the quite lovely and very light XMC 100.

Our first job was to disassemble the fork to remove the lowers and internals to allow us to machine away the stanchions and lowers to reveal the internals. A point worthy of note here is that the DT Swiss lowers were different to remove than the ‘footnut – crush washer’ assembly of the Rockshox units, the bolts are reverse threaded into the bottom of the lowers and to remove the lowers you need to screw the bolts INTO the fork legs freeing the lowers using a 4mm hex key.

The forks were air sprung, so not much to see on the spring side save for a few elastomer bottom out bumpers. The interesting part was the Damper leg, which, when we removed the cartridge, bore more than a passing resemblance to a Fox FIT unit. Further investigation of the ‘Twin Tube’ unit revealed separate damping circuits for compression and rebound with some neat, if tiny, shim stacks. We were impressed with the unit and a lot of thought seems to have gone into it. Shame we’d never get to ride it!!

I was a little concerned about cutting through the Carbon Fibre, I needed to leave a good clean edge and Carbon is not the nicest of materials for your health when being cut, so the correct safety measures had to be followed.

My concerns were ill founded as the Carbon was dead easy to cut through (with the correct tool of course!) if not a little bit scary given the cost of the stuff!!

With the lowers prepped, we moved on to machining the stanchions which I had foolishly believed to be the easy part of the job… It wasn’t. The Stanchions are hard anodized and getting the machine tool to bite through them proved challenging (the good news is I wouldn’t be concerned about rock damage to them on the trail after having done this!!) We had to jig up a special tool to hold the Stanchions whilst they were being machined and then prepare the edges to allow them to slide back into the lowers correctly.

Once we had trial fitted the lowers and were happy with the fit, we re-installed the damper and air spring cartridges and gave the unit a good ‘show’ polish ready for it to be displayed on the DT Swiss stand at the recent Ice Bike show. Did you see them? Now you know how they were done!!

If you fancy learning more about the specifics of suspension then get yourself booked onto a Cytech Level 3 Suspension course here at ATG-Training pronto!!

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L3 Road hits our Manchester branch!

Following the succesfull Launch of the L3 Road course here in our Aylesbury Training Centre, the course was launched in our Manchester centre to a group keen to learn about the complexities of the road bike.

Level 3 road follows on from the success of our Level 3 MTB qualification and gives participants the opportunity to understand the correct fitting and adjustment procedures for high end road gruppos from Sram, Campagnolo and Shimano (including Di2) we also look at the technical specifications in detail taking into account things like shift speed analysis, weight comparisons and percentage differences in the gear ratios for each system.

The course helps learners to understand the measurements that will need to be taken from a bicycle in order to carry out an effective frame swap and get the bike set up to exactly the riders preferences and offers an introduction into fitting a bike to the rider (please note that this is not a comprehensive fitting class – but will help to explain what is looked for when sizing a bike to rider – watch this space though…) We also take a look at correct clipless pedal set up and cleat adjustments.

Finally we explore the complex wheelsets found on high end road bikes and give learners the chance to strip apart and rebuild the likes of Mavics R-sys and Cosmic Carbone wheelsets, aswell as looking at some of the more traditional road wheel building techniques and the correct installation of tubular tyres.

At the end of the course learners are critiqued on thier set up ability and feedback is given everything from bar tape to logo placement is looked at and commented upon allowing learners to set up bikes ready to be used by a proffesional and looking good enough to use in a magazine photo shoot!

Here are a few pictures of the finished articles from the course:

‘Buzz’ ZR3 with Sram Force

‘Buzz’ ZR3 with Ultegra / Dura – Ace 7900 mix

‘Buzz’ ZR3 with Campagnolo Record 11 speed

Cervelo Soloist with Shimano Di2 (internal routing)

Fancy getting your hands on these? Then book yourself onto a Cytech L3 Road Course with us here at ATG-Training!

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Tool of the week!

It’s been off for it’s Christmas holidays and comes back tanned and toned, yes that’s right it’s Tool Of The Week!!

This weeks tool is the venerable PP-1 Parks Hydraulic Piston Press.

Nothing is more annoying than recieving a bike with hydraulic discs into the workshop where someone has squeezed the brake lever without the wheel and disc in place.
I have seen them where worn pads have met in the middle and the pistons are on the verge of falling out!!
So, like a plastic wrapped mettalic hero, PP-1 steps into the breach, making all but the most stuck fast pistons a pleasure to push back.
It is on this merit that I must award it the honourable title of TOTW!

Fancy learning how to weild spanners and wrenches like an absolute pro? Then get yourself Cytech trained with us here at ATG-Training!!

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