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The Do’s and Don’ts of Clamping a Carbon Fiber Bicycle into a Shop Stand or a Bike Rack: How NOT To Wreck Your $4,000 Frame
Before I begin this post, one major point needs to be made so this post doesn’t promote… misunderstanding. Carbon fiber frames are stronger than steel frames. You read that right, stronger than steel. Steel bends and twists over time where carbon fiber holds its shape. A well cared for carbon fiber frame will typically outlast its steel and alloy brethren by decades and won’t ever have to be bent back into shape.
Don’t buy into the hype that a carbon fiber bike frame is weak when used in the manner for which it intended. It’s not.
The problem is that carbon fiber is manipulated to be strong in holding the frame together with a rider atop the saddle. Certain places on the frame are, by nature, not as stiff as others to promote comfort in the ride and weight savings. This means, if you clamp onto these areas, or suspend the bicycle from them, say on a car rack, you’re asking for trouble. Typically big, expensive trouble.
This is why we own a bike rack that supports our bikes at the wheels rather than the top tube. There are better racks out there, but this one is good enough for government work and didn’t put us in the poor house. Hitch mounted bike racks can be exceedingly expensive, especially racks that hold four bikes.
Clamping a standard bike into a stand is quite simple (especially one with a compact frame so you’ve got lots of seat post to clamp to:
If you look at our gravel bikes, mountain bikes, or my wife’s road bike as examples, they all have round seatposts that can be clamped easily into a stand. My Trek 5200 is a little tricky in that there isn’t enough seatpost exposed to leave the saddle bag on whilst clamping the seat post in – I have to raise the saddle far enough that I’ve got room to clamp it in (a little inconvenient, but not terrible – I use my Garmin Varia mount to gauge the saddle height… if I fit a 10-mm allen key between the seatpost clamp and the Varia mount, I’m exactly at my perfect saddle height).
My Venge is an entirely different story. The seat post is a foil and there’s no clamping that seatpost into a stand:
I’ve got a friend who, because he didn’t have enough exposed seat post to clamp to, would clamp his top tube to get his bike mounted onto a shop stand. At some point, he cracked the top tube clamping it into his stand. Put simply, a carbon fiber frame’s top tube is not as strong as a seat post – there isn’t the need for that tube to be exceedingly strong except where it forms to the seat tube. Thankfully, they were able to repair the frame, but there was tension for several weeks, between wondering if a fix was possible, and whether or not it would hold.
You’ll find some on the interwebz who claim you can, indeed clamp a top tube “if you’re careful”. I won’t even join the debate. You may be able to. I won’t. My Venge is worth too much to me with all of the carbon fiber parts whole and complete. I don’t think “careful” has a lot to do with it, but that’s just me. If clamping the top tube truly was no big deal, you’d see pro mechanics doing it. And you don’t. Ever.
What other options are there?
Pro mechanics use a stand that holds the bike up by setting the bottom bracket shell on a rubber stop and securing the fork in a clamp (after removing the front wheel). These range in price from $100 to $300+. This is the Tacx option at $125:
If, however, you can service your whole fleet with the exception of one bike, is it necessary to go that far? I don’t think so. There are other options available with your normal stand or even an old trainer. First, open the stand clamp and lift the rear end of the bike off the ground so the saddle nose rests in the open clamp jaws. This is a bit precarious and quite dangerous but will do in a pinch and for drivetrain cleaning or simple shifting adjustments. The second option is simply operating on the bike on the floor, right side up, or rubber up. I’ve done this for years, but it’s getting old now that I’m 50. The final option is to clamp the bike into an old trainer. With the flywheel retracted so it doesn’t touch the tire, an old trainer is quite the placeholder and you can do everything you would on a normal stand. I used this frequently before I had a stand to work on my bikes and still use it for working on the Venge.
There are plenty of options available for wrenching on your 🚴… without resorting to clamping to your top tube. You could, if you so choose. But now that the Venge is no more, I’d have lost my marbles to do such a thing.
Geeky Road Bike Stuff… From A Fairly Scientific Aero / Traditional Bike Comparison to Tire Pressure.
First, my personal favorite: My Tasmanian brother from another cycling mother did a fairly scientific comparison of his Canyon Aeroad and his new Trek Postal Edition 5200. As you might imagine, with my own 5200, I’ve written about the difference between my Venge and 5200 extensively. I’ve experienced similar results but the Tempocyclist takes it on leap further. For your reading enjoyment:
If that wasn’t enough, my buddy, Dave sent out a link to one of the geekiest tire pressure videos I’ve ever had the enjoyment of watching. I can summarize the core of the 30-minute video in 30 seconds: You’re riding with too much air in your tires. Stop it. Let some air out of your tires till your ride becomes smooth. If/when you start bouncing during a sprint, you’ve gone too far. Add 2% till you stop bouncing. The other 29 minutes and change is mashed potatoes and gravy next to the roast beef.
The full video is here:
My wife, on the fifth anniversary of her last Mother’s Day crash, went down yesterday. Before we go any further, she’s fine though a bit concussed – I went through the protocol last night with her – and very sore. She went down at speed, too. 20+ mph and if not for her helmet, God only knows what her condition would be today. Interestingly, her helmet, a Kask Mojito, shows signs of sliding on the pavement but there were zero torsional injuries (a favorite reason the anti-helmet crowd sites to suggest they shouldn’t be worn – ask a neural surgeon, ER doc, nurse, ambulance tech, firefighter, or Sheriff’s deputy and they’ll have a different opinion, having spent time investigating, shoveling brain off the ground, or trying to put it back in someone’s melon).
There are a couple of competing theories as to what happened – I was up the road 50 yards, sprinting for a City Limits sign – but the important thing is, my wife wasn’t doing anything she hadn’t done several hundred times. When you’re riding at speed, shit just happens that you can’t avoid and can’t brace against. This is why we wear helmets.
Now, I wouldn’t want to piss off the anti-helmet nutters, so I’ll leave this carve out; as helmets go, you do what you want. If you want to ride like my grandma, by all means, feel free and enjoy yourself. If, however, you want to ride like we avid enthusiast roadies do, folks, there’s a reason we wear brain buckets.
They save lives and families.
Pay special attention to the cracks… my wife’s head didn’t split like that because she was wearing that helmet.
A couple of my riding buddies shared these with me this morning:
We need an end to the N+1 stigma!!!
For those in Rio Linda, that image of Trump is a meme. It is not meant to be political in nature. It is meant to be funny. And it is.
Only Drug Addicts Have a Stigma Equal That of Vegans… And The BBC Entirely Misses the Simple Gist of Why That Is.
An article written for the BBC claims:
People love to moan that vegans are annoying: research has shown that only drug addicts inspire the same degree of loathing. Now psychologists are starting to understand why – and it’s becoming clear that the reasons aren’t entirely rational.
And that’s just the headline! The best part is, and you won’t find this in their article, that loathing is entirely rational, as I’m about to demonstrate.
So why do normal, rational people have a disdain for vegans equal to that of people who cheat, steal, and lie to remain the dregs of society? Well, don’t bother clicking on the link to the BBC article to learn something useful, you won’t. Truthfully, I’m surprised vegans don’t inspire more loathing than addicts and alcoholics do… that would be entirely rational, too. At least in an addict, being a scourge is a part of a disease…
To understand this, because I happen to be one who holds a special disdain for pretentious vegans whilst not losing my $#!+ about it, I’ll be able to let you in on the secret the BBC wasn’t able to discover. Now, as a disclaimer, I know there are quite a few upstanding vegans/vegetarians who read my blog regularly – you are not of the pretentious variety and should not take this post to be directed at you – it most certainly is not. For the aforementioned secret, we need only look at a typical vegan’s actions from the perspective of looking at the actions of a newly recovering addict or alcoholic.
Imagine an addict who found, miraculously, recovery. They found the answer to their unique dilemma and completely changed their ways. By unique, to use alcoholics as an example, only 10% of the drinking population end up an alcoholic. 90% of drinkers have no problem whatsoever… They then, in their exuberance, decide to push others to work their recovery program, not just to help other addicts, but normal people as well. Not to present an environment in which those others can understand what it’s like for we addicts and alcoholics to recover from our addiction(s), but to actually push normal folks to accept and work a recovery program in their lives because the addict/alcoholic thinks it would be good for others to live the way they do because, in the estimation of that addict/alcoholic, normal people just aren’t living up to the addict’s standards – they’re not living right.
Then, and this is the fun part, for those who resisted (as any normal person should), the nutters break into their homes, steal and/or break their stuff, disrupt their family lives and way of life with the hope the normal folk would cave and follow their way of life… This is what vegans do and why normal, polite society has a disdain for them. As for the normal vegetarians, they get the short end of the stick due to a bit of guilt by association. The nutter vegans are so loud and horrible, as soon as you hear “I’m a vegetarian”, it triggers instant daymares of the “allow me to tell you why you’re living wrong, you animal murdering bastard” conversation to follow. We, as they say, simply turn and run for the hills.
That’s the level of pretentiousness exuded by vegans. That’s why vegans are despised. It’s not just that they are just pretentious, obnoxious, hateful people. It’s that they demand others share their idiosyncrasies and wildly misplaced and supercharged guilt. They’re typically ignorant as hell, while maintaining that pretentiousness, and won’t rest until others follow their chosen way of life no matter how wrong it is – and that’s maddening to normal folk who want to have peace and eat their bacon, too.
Take, for instance, a recent example in which two vegans broke into a farm in Italy to “save” some rabbits. They liberated 16 bunnies but failed to understand that those bunnies were mothers. Liberating the mother bunnies caused the death of more than 90 little, innocent, baby bunny rabbits and reports say they killed another five trying to liberate the 16. Point is, that woman and her team should be charged with breaking and entering, theft, then as a terrorist (same with eco-terrorists).
As for the ignorance, we only need know that vegan diets are typically woefully deficient in many nutrients that cause various illnesses unless synthetic, man-made, hyper-super-duper-processed supplements are taken to maintain some semblance of health. Here’s a news flash – eating a balanced diet is actually quite simple, until you try to eat vegan. At that point, you have to micromanage your diet to get the nutrition right. It’s not supposed to be that way, folks. Even then, science is beginning to show that people who rely on those supplements are at greater risk of developing certain cancers and illnesses. Sure, vegans claim to feel healthy for a time, but eventually malnutrition catches up and they run into health problems. Hair thins over time and starts to fall out, and eventually they become sickly. Generally speaking, that’s a lack of iron, iodine and Vitamin D, and a few others, dears, and guess where you get iron, iodine and Vitamin D.
The BBC claims loathing vegans isn’t entirely rational? Bullshit. It’s perfectly rational. I’d go as far as logical, and trying to ignore the reasons behind this reasonable loathing, blaming it on something else, only helps to keep the perpetrators ignorant as hell.
If I described you, if you’re a vegan who would break into someone’s home, farm or place of business to stop someone else from eating a healthy diet you happen to disagree with, stop it. You’re a terrorist and an idiot. If I didn’t describe you, this wasn’t about you in the first place, and I’m glad you’re a normal functioning part of society along with the vast majority of everyone else. If you got a chuckle, well, for that I am grateful. I’ve done my job.
The Rule on Wearing Team Jerseys… The Side Rule That Shall Not Be Broken, Lest You Incur Good-natured Verbal Abuse and Laughter for the Infraction
Ladies and gentlemen, I realized I made a severe, egregious even, mistake in omitting one small item in my post the other day in which I reviewed my new Ducati Corse team jersey:
That’s one badass jersey, baby.
In that post, I wrote that it is becoming increasingly acceptable to wear your favorite team’s jersey as a show of support. Wearing team kit is not directly against Rule #17 which only states team kit is questionable if one isn’t paid to wear it. I think wearing team kit has become far less questionable… as long as it isn’t a zebra or leopard print. In that case, f***, dude.
There is, however, one rule which must not be broken pertaining to team kit:
Rule #16 must not be broken. Respect the jersey. Do NOT wear world or national championship kit. There is a reason for adhering to this rule. It is very simple and easily illustrated with an experience from my cycling past.
August 3, 2013 (just two years after I started cycling)
I was riding in the Tour des Lac, starting and ending in Fenton, Michigan. 100 miles of fun, and they stuck almost all of the hills at the end. We had a five-man crew comprised of myself, three of my friends, and the German National Champion. His kit said so, right down to his National Champion socks. He was an animal, often pulling for three or four miles at a time, north of 23-mph. By the time we hit 60 miles, I was hurting but I wasn’t about to give up the draft, so I rolled on. A few miles later I was into my second wind and feeling better.
We pulled into a rest stop at the 70 mile mark. I stopped, then my buddy, Phill stopped right next to me… and here comes the German National Champion who was absolutely smoked after just 70 miles with just over 21-mph for an average. He had cycling brain big time and failed to hit his brakes, thereby sliding right into Phill’s rear wheel. Phill didn’t go down though the German Champ did. He also taco’ed Phill’s wheel in the process.
Phill was taken out by the German National Champion. At a rest stop. 70 miles into what would be an easy, boring spin for the real German National Champ. Because he was too tired to pull on his brake lever.
We still laugh about Phill being taken out by the guy… the story gets better every time it’s told and we laugh just a little harder.
You don’t want to be that person. Respect the championship jersey. You’re not good enough or fast enough to wear it. Unless you won it.
Trust me on this one point.
Actually, I don’t even know why they sell them… I can’t believe anyone would be crazy enough to even buy one knowing one mistake in that kit and you’re laughed at. Forever.
I’ve been riding with a Garmin Varia now for the better part of a season and I can say without question, it’s been a fantastic addition to my cycling gadget collection. I love my radar.
So, how this works is, the Varia picks up traffic that’s moving toward you, but only traffic faster than you. This includes cyclists. If, however, that traffic is moving at the same rate of speed you are, say you’re in a group on a club ride, that isn’t detected. This gives the appearance that it’ll pick up a car but not another cyclist – it’s not that complex – it just picks up whatever is moving faster than and toward you.
I’ve also written posts about how I use the Varia’s onscreen display to keep vehicles from buzzing me. Since starting this tactic, I haven’t been buzzed once.
How I use my rear-facing radar to avoid being buzzed isn’t the best feature, though.
The best feature is that the light changes its flashing pattern as a car approaches. With the changing pattern, it automatically draws a motorists eyes as they seek to put together what’s going on – because no other light on the road changes patterns. This means you’re noticed, and for cyclists, being seen is everything.
I use my Varia on all of my bikes, almost every time I ride, except Tuesday nights. I figure if a motorist can’t see 20 cyclists cruising down the road in a double pace-line, well, we never had a chance anyway and a blinky wasn’t going to help.
I’ve used standard blinky lights in the past, as well – my favorite used to be a Serfas Thunderbolt (my wife still uses one) – but nothing compares to having a radar on your bike that shows you where traffic is, and changes its pattern as traffic approaches.
Current models are running about $200 in addition to your Garmin Edge 520 Plus or better, which is the minimum it can pair with (it’s gotta have bluetooth capability). They’re worth every penny.
The ad ran locally during the TdF for our local bike shop. We did something like ten takes, up and down Denton Hill to get everything in. Considering the theme of my post yesterday, the message in the commercial fits right in.
My friends, I shouldn’t have ridden the Venge yesterday but this winter just sucks and I needed a win.
All day long the weather looked beautiful. Beautiful. Visions of me on my Venge, rocketing down the road kept the melon committee excited all day. I couldn’t wait.
On the way home that beautiful weather took a turn for the worse. The temp dropped six degrees inside a few miles. And it started to snow. SNOW! Not hard, mind you, but snow!
I texted my buddy, Chuck, dejected, to let him know I was riding inside.
I prepped the Trek, changed rear wheels, got dressed and climbed on. The sun came out. F@€k.
Then a knock on the window. What to my wondering eye should appear, but a Lycra clad Chuck and his steed of Specialized cheer! He said through the glass, “C’mon, man! Let’s go! Throw a leg over that top tube and remember to steer!”
I opened the door to let him in. He talked me into riding with him in less than thirty seconds. With the Trek on the trainer, there was no doubt I was taking the Venge. I pumped the tires, went in to change, and was ready five minutes later.
The first pedal stroke (and every one thereafter) was glorious. Smooth and powerful… responsive. Dear God in Heaven, and sweet Baby Jesus in a manger, it was beautiful.
I didn’t stop smiling till after I took the photo above.
All is right in my world today, for tomorrow night (tonight) shall be deemed Venge Day part Deux! Oh yes it shall.
P.S. If you don’t feel this way about something in life (preferably that something is legal, decent and noble), consider that you may be doing something wrong. Just sayin’.
P.S.S. A special thanks to you, Chuck. I never would have been outside without you, brother.