Techy Recommendo:  Chain Lube, Frame Protection & More- by Grannygear with Guitar Ted

mad sciLast time there was a Recommendo, it was about the human element but we have been using a couple of other products that are more machine based and having great results.

chain lChain lube of the gods:  Ok, maybe not that great, but I have used Chain-L now for nearly two seasons across all the bikes in the stable and the first bottle I purchased is still not empty.  Almost, but not quite.  Not only does it last long as far as dispensing it over time, it lasts a long time in use on the bike.  It runs clean too as long as you are careful with how you apply it…one drop per link/roller and then let it soak in, wipe a bit, move on to the next section of chain, etc, then run the chain through the rag a few times to grab the excess.  A little goes a long way.  It also does not smell too bad, unlike some of the products that are like working with a chemical spill.  Available here or at a dealer. $12.00 a bottle is a deal for the magic elixir of no-squeak.  I get the feeling this is a small biz owner deal and that always makes me feel good too.  The big guys get enough of my money.  I like the cottage industry level stuff as well, as long as it does the deed.


Keeping it pretty:  OK, your bike is going to get scratched up, chipped up, and maybe even dented before it sees it’s life come to an end;  happy, worn out, and used up.  But let’s not hurry that departure date along, shall we?  Keeping the finish of your bike intact goes a long way toward this.  Keeping frame tubes from dents, digs, and dings is even better.  Perhaps the king of ding protection is a product called Shelter – Bike Frame Protection Tape.  At 1 mm thick and sold ready to be cut into the shape you need, it is pretty easy to apply but a bit pricy for two pieces 55x500mms long at $29.95.  But, except for a full on hit of significant impact, Shelter is a first line of defense for your frame tubes on that pricy carbon bike of yours and just might pay for itself multiple times over.  For downtubes at the underside, top tubes where the bars might whip around and smack brake levers into things, etc…Shelter is pretty cool.

racers tape

However, it is too thick for some applications where the surface is a convoluted shape or is a small diameter as it gets in it’s own way (too thick to conform and stick well).  It also is overkill for places where you just want to avoid things rubbing like cable housings or bag straps.  There I have found Racer’s Tape (also know as surface protection tape or helicopter tape) to be perfect for this.  Pretty much what you would use as a screen protector for your electronics device, but sold in bulk rolls, Racer’s Tape can be had in multiple widths and thicknesses.  I bought a roll of 2″x12′ and a roll of 4″x12′ in 8mil thickness for about $60.00 but that is enough to do multiple bikes.  I did the new road bikes, both painted carbon, and you cannot even see where the tape is.  I am told it does not yellow in the sun over time.  I also used it to protect against surface rubbing where bag straps  wrap around Mrs. Grannygear’s new mountain bike, even on the carbon bars, etc.  Great stuff.  The 2″ width is about right for top tubes, etc and if you need to cut custom shapes, the 4″ width allows for creative shapes.  Do the prep work well, clean the frame for oils, etc, then spray water on the frame and on your fingertips so you can move it around till you are happy with placement, then squeegee the water out carefully from center to edge.  Voila.

feed bag

Cuz’ she likes to bring stuff along:  Mrs. GG hates hydration packs so that is an immediate disadvantage in hot So Cal.  As well, she likes to bring the kitchen sink on rides…lip balm, kleenex, snacks, iPhone, keys, and who knows what else.  I hate huge seat bags and a frame bag would have just sucked up the one water bottle placement she had on the bike.  What to do?  One answer is a ‘fuel cell’ or ‘gas tank’ or top tube bag, however they are called, but they are a bit tiny and get in the way of a shorter rider on an already hard to fit 29er.  Enter the Mountain Feedbag from Revelate Designs.  Like a chalk bag for your bike stuff (minus the chalk…rock climbers will get this), the Mountain Feedbag is a handy, sturdy bit of awesome practicality all wrought in outer woven polyester with a liner and drawstring.  They strap on either side of your h-bar/head tube area and add a lot of storage.  Large water bottles are no problem.  You might tend to hit your knees on it if you stand and climb a lot.  Mrs. GG is a spinner, so this has never been an issue for her.  I have not ridden with one myself, but she has them on two mountain bikes (both sides) and her road bike (just one there) and is a happy camper.  At $39.00, it is hand made and well worth it, offered for sale by a someone who is a good guy, polar explorer by bike, and small biz owner.


P1070091Pack It! Along the lines of the above, I (Guitar Ted) have had a great experience with another small business run out of Australia by the name of Bike Bag Dude. Kedan, who is the “dude” of the Bike Bag Dude company, can sew you up a custom frame bag, fix you up with the Chaff Bags for bottles, snacks, or whatever, (in three different sizes!), and can also get you hooked up with a seat pack. All of that and he can do it in a “matchy-match” set up like mine shown here on my titanium Mukluk. Or you could get plain ol’ black, like everybody else, but why do that when it doesn’t cost anything more to be colorful? 🙂

I’ve thrashed my frame bag, Chaff Bags, and seat pack through Winter glop and Summer dust and dirt, and these bags not only have held up well, they are lightweight and worthy of any expedition you have in mind. Fit and finish is impressive and Kedan is really a great guy to work with. Prices vary depending on your needs and level of customization.

wipperman chain toolCheck It: There are a lot of chain checking tools that you can buy, and most of them I’ve seen are nice and do the job well. The one I use? The Wipperman Nylon Consumer Chain Wear Indicator. It’s super-simple to use. Place one end in a “narrow” slot on the chain between rollers and the other end in a “wide slot” between rollers as far apart as you can. If the tool lays flat on the chain, it needs to be replaced. Simple.

If you poo-poo the idea of a Nylon material being used in a tool, there is a “shop tool grade” model in stainless steel available. It costs twice as much as the Nylon one. I got two Nylon ones when I first got this tool thinking that my bicycle mechanic gig at the shop I work at would render the Nylon tool useless in short order. Four years down the road I am still using the original one and I gave the back up away.

The Wipperman Consumer Chain Wear Indicator is available online for about 10 bucks. Well worth the coin.