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The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 66 - The Best and Worst of Repairing Bikes

Jun 8, 2021 at 12:21
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

If you're not going for a ride, what's the next best thing? For a lot of us, it's working on our mountain bike, be it a quick tune-up, an afternoon spend building wheels, or just catching up on some long overdue maintenance (you know who you are). Today's podcast is all about working on and repairing bikes, from the fun jobs to the dirty ones, to having to install twenty tire inserts for the Field Test, to spending ten hours installing Di2 only for it to rattle apart on the first ride, to our favorite tools, to our most embarrassing workshop injuries... Including the time some scary chemicals messed with RC's, er, "component."

What's your favorite mechanical job? Do you have a favorite tool?

June 3rd, 2021

Has anyone seen where I put the left-handed hammer?

Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good
Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?
Episode 50 - Are Bikes Actually Getting Less Expensive? (Value Bike Field Test Preview)
Episode 51 - Should MTB Media Post Spy Shots?
Episode 52 - Our Most Embarrassing MTB Moments
Episode 53 - Should Climbers Still Have the Right of Way?
Episode 54 - Best and Worst MTB Product Marketing
Episode 55 - Big Dumb Rides & Staying Motivated
Episode 56 - What Were the Most Important Inventions in Mountain Biking?
Episode 57 - What Were the Best (and Worst) Trends in Mountain Biking?
Episode 58 - Debunking Mountain Biking's Biggest Myths
Episode 59 - Value Bike Field Trip Surprises & Spoilers
Episode 60 - What Kind of Mountain Biker Do You Want to Be?
Episode 61 - Athlete Pay, Lycra, Equality and More from the State of the Sport Survey
Episode 62 - Editor Preferences and Why They Matter
Episode 63 - Our Best (And Worst) Bike Buying Advice
Episode 64 - Who's On Your MTB Mount Rushmore?
Episode 65 - The Hardtail Episode

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 9 0
 Favorite tool: pipe cutter for cutting bars from 800 to 760 in 5mm increments over the course of a month because I'm too afraid to commit.
Another favourite almost-tool: fresh roll of blue shop towels
Least favorite maintenance job: anything headset related because I'm too lazy to remove my front caliper so my steer inevitably scratches my frame as is dangles from my bike like a lifeless body.
  • 4 0
 Love me a fresh roll of blue shop towels. I hear you on headsets - I have a BMC gravel bike that has its brake lines running down through the stem and headset. It makes for such a good looking bike, but what a PIA when it's time to pull the headset apart.
  • 5 0
 Remove the lever from the bar instead, problem solved. Smile
  • 1 0
 @bicyclelifestyle: this is the way
  • 10 0
 My knipex pilers-wrench has bailed me out of so many situations and has sped up so many of my common reparirs. It's foamed in to the very top drawer of my tool box right next to my knipex flush-cut clippers.
  • 2 0
 Ooh, yes, definitely one of my favorite tools. I don't know how I lived without one for so long.
  • 3 0
 Agreed. Certified Knipex fanboi here.
  • 9 0
 RC needs to be a monthly occurrence on the podcast...guaranteed top 10 podcast everytime
  • 7 0
 Next week's podcast is a looong, two-part series with just me talking to RC about him growing up as a little RC, welding Mantis frames, teaching himself how to fly in an ultra-light, and so many other ridiculous stories. Hope you like Smile
  • 5 0
 My last trail fix... A spoke broke and went through the rim tape.. I was about to hike it the 4-5 miles out when I told myself, "I have a tube, I can figure this out.." I ended up using my extra bacon strips still in the plastic to set over the hole and put the tube in and limped it out..

Oh, and RC, that Answer test track put me into the ICU for 2.5 weeks..
  • 5 0
 Favorite tool: Hayes purple disc brake spreader tool. It's so simple and effective.

Favorite job: #1 building wheels (haven't been in the industry in four and I still get calls to do it). Maybe my favorite tool is my Park 4-sided spoke wrench. The thin loop one, not the heavy bunny-head-looking one. I like RC's choice of the round plastic DT wrench also.

Shop frustration stories: #1 remember when tubeless "standards" were all over the place? Mounting a Hutchinson tire on an old Stan's rim. Those old Hutch tires were 618mm for tubeless 29/700c and I'm pretty sure Stan's rims were 626mm. I got the pair on, but I'll bet they had to be cut off that rim when they were done. I did not recommend that combination, advised against it, but was still dumb enough to accept the job... Oh, and I once got DOT 4 in the eyes/mouth bleeding some old Hayes with their shitty bleed kit that would jump out of the caliper as soon as you looked at them. As much as it sucks having a whole bunch of bleed kits, at least they all pretty much work now.
  • 5 1
 Question for next podcast: What music does the team listen to? Whether that be getting pumped for a ride or just hanging around the garage, what's your favourite genre and band?
  • 5 1
 Add on to that - do you all ride like you’re favorite music genre?
  • 4 0
 I'm looking at my Spotify right now and see a whole bunch of Boston, Rolling Stones, Wu-Tang, The Band, Nipsey, Bob Seger, and waaaay too many podcasts.
  • 2 0
 i know Kazimer likes metal so would be cool to see what bands he's into.
  • 6 0
 I could talk for hours about music... My actual dream job is to host All Songs Considered. I listen to all sorts of stuff, everything from Nas to Brian Eno, but off the top of my head some of my constant favorites are Boris, Fugazi, Low, Dinosaur Jr., Sharon Van Etten, and so many more. Sepultura and Pantera are always in the mix when I want some classic heavy riffs. I've also been way into Mdou Moctar lately, and there are some good tracks on the new Red Fang album.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: The Sword! So damn good, Kaz.
  • 3 0
 Bleeding brakes... It's by far and away the worst job. I have tried and tried, now I just employ someone else for that one job.

Favourite tool; park tools Pro chain splitter. Can't count the number of cheap ones broken at key moments. A decent chain splitter with a floating centre guide and replaceable pins with a nice cushy handle and lots of controlled leverage makes this a job I now relish instead of dread.
  • 11 0
 Speaking of chain splitters, I love the little green aluminum quick link tool from OneUp. I take my chain off too often, so this little guy is amazing for me.

Mountain bike brakes are so annoying. Not only are they inconsistent from brake to brake (same model), they all require different fittings, procedures, and tricks to get it done as best possible. Mountain bike brakes are always trying to be too light and fancy. Add 50g and make them work all the time, please.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Now that I live somewhere much flatter, I think my next big brake purchase will be Klampers. Brakes are always such a pisser.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: So...Buy Hope?
  • 1 0
 Brakes are a pain. Agree 100%. Least favorite job. That said, Hope I have found to be dead simple. And pretty consistent.
  • 1 0
 @RBorek: bleeding Hope brakes is like bleeding the brakes on an old truck - that is a compliment, btw. A little time consuming, but super simple.
  • 3 0
 My favorite is working on BMX bikes. Only need three tools, not a toolbox worth and a tuned up bmx bike are the most satisfying drop tests ever. Only hear the tires and maybe a hint of cable at most. Favorite tool is a death wheel for cutting housing.
  • 2 0
 "death wheel" lol
  • 5 0
 I HATE.... the mavic springs/pauls... when the freehub body all of a sudden pulls off and the items eject into another universe! RE-GOD-DAM-DICULOUS
  • 3 0
 The older I9 Torch hubs were the same. And the springs were so small, you would never find them once they hit the floor. They shipped all hubs with a few extras, probably because they new this could be an issue. Not an issue any longer with the latest iteration of (wonderful) hubs.

On Mavic, I think they have moved away from sprung pawl/tooth. The latest hubs are all star ratchet style from what I have seen, which is a great move for them. Good news for us!
  • 6 0
 Yes, picky freehub internals should go away. I remember those old (and really light) WTB hubs that used a pawl system with a tiny spring pin that let everything completely disengage when you're not pedaling. Super clever, no drag, and so f*cking fragile.

Also, I once had a rear flat during a XC race, stopped, removed my wheel... and had my freehub fall off into the dirt because I was missing an interference fit O-ring that would have held it in place. I lost one Star Ratchet and one spring and skateboard pushed for 20km to the finish line.
  • 3 0
 HA! Suffered the same Mavic moment in tall grass, miles away from the trailhead. Easter egg hunt for tiny bits.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: BAAAAA HAhaha
  • 3 0
 Late to the party. I'm slightly obsessed with German Tools! Knipex adjustable wrench, side cutters, pliers and circlip pliers are amazing. My heuer vice is a work of art and Hazet hand tools are the bomb! Here are some product codes to help anyone out that might me interested....

KNIPEX Plier Wrench :
- Knipex 86 03 125 (125mm Small version)
- Knipex 86 03 180 (180mm Medium Size)
- Knipex 86 03 250 (250mm Large Size)
There are more sizes but these 3 have you covered. If had to buy just one 1 for bike work, then I would for for the medium 86 03 180

If you are looking for knipex pliers and side cutters, I think there are almost 2000 types, but if want a basic set to get you going then the Knipex 00 20 11 Assembly Set is sweet.. It has regular pliers, long nose pliers and a wicked pair of side cutters.

Knipex 00 19 56 Set of 4 Circlip Pliers. Probably complete overkill but they have you covered for any clippy thing you might want.

I could bang on all day about tools.

Also a great site for German tools is www.jensputzier.com They are one of the few shops that ship worldwide out of Germany. Shipping is relatively cheap and fast with DHL. They don't have all the German tool brands but they do stock all the Knipex Tool, Heuer vices, Stahlwille, Hazet and can stock any of the Reca Green Tools on request. If you are searching for knipex tools on the site, remove all the spaces in the serial codes - for example Knipex 8603125.
  • 2 0
 Finally, been waiting for this. I feel like I almost fix my bikes as much as I ride them. Ok, this might be a slight exaggeration but I still feel like it should be less. And it’s not that I only run cheap components. Nothing fancy either. Fox forks, DT Swiss hubs, Stans rims, Codes, you get the point. Anyone else feels like maintenance and repair is consuming too much of their (riding) time?
  • 2 0
 Is stuff breaking (and how) or wearing out?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: mostly wearing out things, losing bolts on the trail, seeping sidewalls, popping tires, bent hangers and rims. Time consuming to stay on top of all of that! Luckily it’s not often that I break things. Knock on wood.
  • 2 0
 Favorite tool that I thought was stupid when I first saw it: Cushcore Beaddropper. It's actually a huge help with cushcore install/removal and other tight bead problems.

And sure, it's a $20 tire lever, but no one's going to steal it out of your tool box 'cause it looks like a sex toy.
  • 2 0
 AKA the CushCore butt plug
  • 2 0
 Favorite tool; tap set (maybe park). I didn't use it everyday, but it wins for the amount of goodies it has provided me by saving peoples parts, bikes, and money. Second goes to the Silca THandle hex set. They aren't really better than a 3 way or standard hex set, but they're pretty and come in a leather roll.

Hated Jobs; Fixing a flat after someone says, "can't you just fix it now, it should only take 5 minutes". Close second was when we had our shop basically open access to the salesfloor, plenty of neck breathers as you worked on their bike. Hate that. Leave me alone while I work.

Favorite Job; used to work at a shop that was on the Tour Divide route in CO. Always rad to see Dividers come through as by that point they were pretty in the groove of things. We'd always jump them to the front of the queue to get them rolling. I've done some interesting things with Divide bikes to make them roll again, and seen some interesting bikes.

Injury; trying to get a tubeless Ardent on a WTB rim, no levers of course. Dislocated my left thumb and had basically no grip strength in that hand for about a month. I am no longer lever-averse.
  • 1 0
 A nice set of taps is worth more than its weight in gold. And I bet you saw some CRAZY bikes being on the Divide route. Those things are so interesting.
  • 2 0
 Favorite job, build wheels.
Worst one: working on Tri-bikes. Worst customers most of the time, sweat, pee, power drinks, gu... and everything you can think of on the bike.
Shop injury : fork air shaft punch a hole above my clavicule cause I forgot to release the air. I never forgot again
  • 4 0
 hopefully my ears are built to take a pounding cause any RC podcast is getting cranked up immediately.
  • 3 0
 Favorite tool is by far a good shop apron. Stay clean, wipe your hands, tools always at the ready, and WAY less likely to lose small bits and parts.
  • 2 0
 Question for the next podcast. Do you guys ever get recognized in public? Or are you like not "famous" enough.I feel like id just be like "hey that guy looks like mike levy" and continue on with my day.
  • 14 0
 The other day some guy asked me, "Hey, did you know you look a lot like Mike Levy?"
  • 16 0
 @mikekazimer: You let him get away with that insult?
  • 6 0
 I'd be like "hey that looks like one of the Mikes", spend five minutes trying to remember which one, miss the opportunity, and hours later realize I could have addressed either one as Mike.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: thats hilarious.
  • 5 0
 favorite tool my wera hex keys. they are just a joy to hold.
  • 2 0
 I carry a Wera tool set in my car and totally agree.
  • 5 4
 I love these podcasts and the back and forth banter. My only critique would be to drop the "we get free stuff he he" type comments. It creates an aura of superiority and insider-ship that the cycling industry could certainly do with a lot less of.
  • 1 0
 Not to mention, parts are just expensive. Not a lot of people can afford to buy a new tire, especially when they puncture a brand new one.
  • 2 0
 Favorite/most valuable/most used: Arkane Wheels or BSC Tools double square nipple drivers. Park Tool TS2.2. Custom made tension meter from Filip Kralyevski.

Good tools are always a great investment.
  • 3 0
 “I leave it in until the stuff comes out…if it starts leaking out of the hole one more time and it looks bad, I just throw it away.”

  • 1 0
 Question for the next podcast. If you could only ride one brand of bikes, (For example Trek Commencal Transition) you could ride any of there bikes but you couldn’t ride bikes from other companies. Which Brand of bikes would you ride?
  • 1 0
 Good question. I'd want a brand that does some interesting/weird stuff, not just cookie-cutter bikes, and they'd need to sell mountain, road, and gravel...
  • 1 0
 Most embarrassing and worst injury in the repair bay, simultaneously: My first year as a mechanic and so surrounded by coworkers, inflating a tube with the compressor for the 100th time and not paying enough attention. Tube burst half a meter from my head, loud pop, everyone laughs, I install a new tube and keep it moving. A couple hours later on the train riding home I'm woozy and sleepy, like you sometimes feel after a concussion. A couple hours after that I experience my first ever panic attack, full on runaway adrenal meltdown with sweating, disorientation, brief loss of speech. Thought I was having a stroke. Housemate, a herpetologist, diagnoses it as panic attack, a condition I wasn't aware of at the time and so didn't believe!

Check that the tube isn't pinched under the tire bead, every time, friends
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy Question for next podcast: In the last podcast, you briefly mentioned the bike you and Kaz refer to as the Snufflophagus, however you spell itWink Which bike are you referring to exactly, and how did the nickname come about?
  • 1 0
 This bad boy: www.pinkbike.com/news/polygon-square-one-ex9-review-2017.html

I really liked the bike - it has some awesome characteristics that made it very different from most other bikes - but I don't think its appearance helped.
  • 1 0
 Question: I’m struggling to get full travel out of the rockshox revelation fork on my hardtail. I’ve tried taking out the volume spacers, reducing the sag and even just riding harder but even on over-jumping landings and dropping to flat doesn’t use the last 20mm of travel. I’m currently running 25% sag, no volume spacers, no compression and 5 clicks of rebound. Any suggestions? Could this be a geometry issue given that the bike started as 27.5+ and is now a mullet with regular tyres? Thanks guy, love the podcast.
  • 2 0
 Take the air cap or valve core out and verify that you physically can get it to bottom out. I once overfilled the damper and kept getting hydraulic bottom out. From there, check your compression damping. Maybe a lighter oil would help? Also bar setup: lower bars put more weight and therefore force through the bars.
  • 1 0
 Question for next week: where do you think the corporate money for Wyn Masters' privateer award has gone? 2019 had a few big donations from brands, but it doesn't look like there's been any so far this year. We know they're not spending it on salaries
  • 1 0
 the drivetrain companies aren't wrong. yes, giving themselves an extra 2mm can absolutely improve bearing life. the problem is that we're cramming 30mm hollow aluminum spindles in a BB shell standard designed 50 years ago around steel square taper axles.
  • 1 0
 How about trying to use an old, frayed cable and having that one strand that won't cooperate? So you unwind that strand back to the lever and cut it off. Front derailleurs are the worst and now I love all the mechanical work.
  • 2 0
 Oh shit, that is terrible. I remember trying to save $2.50 shift cables like that and the whole thing just unraveling or poking me so damn hard.

I had to setup the front derailleurs on mine and my partner's Zwift bikes that are on trainers - the first time I've had to deal with front derailleurs in almost ten years. It was not pretty and I felt inadequate haha
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: I have been known to pull out the big screwdriver for various fixes. Like the brand new (2002) Campy BB that you needed their tool for installation and removal. That's still running fine on my '01 Major Jake.
  • 1 0
 @levy oh man, this just reminded me thatyou sold me one of those god damn Stout tires for my old Proflex back at Pedal Sport. I could never get it off the rim and I remember the dread on your face when I brought it in to get removed. I’m sure you all had a good laugh.
  • 1 0
 That must have been 15+ years ago! Those damn tires were such a good deal but literally the worst to install. I wish we never sold them!
  • 1 0
 Late to this party but better late than never...

Favourite tool: Jagwire cable cutters. Not for their cable cutting ability, but for the little hole in the middle that puts a beautiful 3-point crimp into the cable end-cap.

Favourite job: Besides wheel building - the nervous thrill of cutting the steerer tube on a brand new fork. That's living on the edge.
  • 2 0
 Here’s an idea: we feed that AI @Charliewentoutside made everything we can find that RC has said. Its worth the risk of it becoming some synthetic divine being.
  • 2 0
 Wish I heard about that dummy pedal for turning the drivetrain before I sheared off the tip of my finger wrenching on my fixed gear.
  • 1 0
 I just cut down an old plastic pedal and put an old worn out grip over it.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: A new series where we come up with the cheapo but effective version of fancy tools? Yes, please.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: I have a cabinet full of them, wheel service stands, dummy forks, dummy hubs.

Do it, I love that shit!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy all-thread, couple’a bolts, and some washers for a “headset press”.... classic.
  • 1 0
 why would you need an electric drive train, why would they make your bike better, if you had this would it make you more capable or what types of MTB would be best to have a n E drivetrain on your bike.
  • 3 0
 Any podcast with RC gets me moist! Could listen to that dude for hours.
  • 3 0
 You’ll like next week’s show
  • 3 0
 Nothing beats a good hammer.
  • 1 0
 Except a better hammer. One of my first tools I was ever given was a mallet, im still amazed at how often I use it.
  • 1 0
 P&K Lie Tensionmeter has got to be the favourite tool. Trimming/tidying cables and hoses is the favourite job... nothing like tidying a birds nest!
  • 1 0
 The Toyota commercial is for sure on purpose! Brillant marketing. Toyota has worked with pro athletes for a long time. They would know better.
  • 1 0
 I'm thinking Toyota's ad agency managed to pull a Homer (en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/pull_a_Homer) - I'm betting it wasn't intentional
  • 1 0
 While we're talking about industry standards, can we PLEASE do away with press fit bottom brackets? Trek, I'm looking at you...
  • 2 0
 Whoop. Fullerton Bikes mention in the first few minutes.
  • 1 0
 That nobody mentioned cutting the tip of your finger off while centering a caliper makes me sad. Can’t be just me!
  • 2 0
 kaz did.
  • 1 0
 Hey pinkbike, nice round up of new release bikes.................you guys are so Evil......................................
  • 1 0
 You were spot on with the tire seating and being coverd in soapy water/stans... Lots of stuff got thrown around!
  • 1 0
 Probably the most frustrating thing, partly because it's so damn messy. And because the tire ends up full of soap haha
  • 1 0
 Is it only me or the podcast stop at 58min? Like impossible to load anything beyond this point?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy i bought an OEM shimano derailleur cage last week on eBay to fix my bent cage
  • 1 0
 "Is Super Glue sweet like Loctite?" Legendary line. @mikekazimer

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