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Can I add a larger cassette on my bike to make it easier to pedal up hills?
The length of your rear derailleur cage and the amount of teeth on your chain rings will determine the largest cassette you can put on your bike. Typically on road bikes a small cage derailleur will accommodate up to a 28t cassette, but modern ones will allow up to a 30t. By increasing the length of the cage you can go to larger 30, 32 or even 34 tooth chain rings making it easier for hill climbing. Chain length will need to be varied and there is a risk of damaging your bike and derailleur if you don't get it right.
Why do I need to replace my chain and cassette all the time?
When we measure chain wear, we're measuring the amount the chain has stretched or elongated due to pedaling forces. An average chain can last from between 2000 and 3000 kms depending on use, rider style, rider weight and how clean you keep it. When a chain wears it also sculpts out the curves inside the chain ring and cog the teeth making them longer and rounded. Just replacing a chain onto a worn drive train will prematurely wear out the chain as the worn parts won't mesh well with the new chain. Sometimes you can get 2 chains per cassette if the wear is detected early, but matching a new chain and cassette is the best way to reduce wear.
What lube should I use on my chain and how should I do it?
We use and sell Prolink as it's proven itself year after year on our bikes and customers. It's a light oil that cleans and leaves no residue making it quiet and easy to clean and re apply. Dry lubes have their place as they stick to the chain and keep lubricating in hostile and dirty environments but cleaning these types after long use can be difficult if not impossible. Wax based lubes often have the wax suspended in oil to help distribute it on the chain and can be a good option, just don't use a water dispersant like WD40.
To apply, first clean the chain, cassette and chain rings if possible and either put your bike upside down or on a work stand. Apply the oil to both sides of the chain while back pedaling getting good coverage, wait 30 seconds for it to penetrate and wipe of excess with a rag while back pedaling. This helps clean the chain and coat all the surfaces.
What's the best way to wash my bike?
Rinse the bike with a hose wetting all areas, apply a bike wash or car wash cleaner to the bike excluding the drive train (chain, cranks and cassette). Apply bike safe degreaser to the drive train, using a sponge clean all the surfaces of the bike including wheels, frame and bars. Using a stiff nylon brush, clean the drive train by back pedaling the rear hub while cleaning in between the cogs on the cassette. Thoroughly rinse off the bike then either air dry or chamois dry. Re oil the chain as mentioned above.
Avoid using a high pressure washer as it can get into the hub and bottom bracket bearings. I've heard people say pressure washing is not an issue but we have seen several bikes that have had water damage in the bottom bracket and hubs from over zealous cleaning.
We use an Australian product called Ride Mechanic that is great value, bio degradable and works a treat.
Can I upgrade my bike to 10 or 11 speed?
If the freehub body is fairly new then most likely yes. Campagnolo free hubs are 9, 10 and 11 speed compatible. Shimano freehubs can be 9 and 10 compatible or 9, 10 and 11 speed compatible. It is sometimes written on the freehub body but it can also be looked up using the hub model number or it can be measured.
11 speed shimano compatible freehub bodies have a width of 36.75mm while a 9 or 10 speed body is 34.95mm. Thin washers have to be used behind the cassette depending on the cassette/freehub combination.