It’s time for the latest installment of our Tech Q&A podcast series, and for this episode BikeRadar Deputy Editor Jack Luke and Technical Editor-in-Chief Rob Weaver are on hand to answer your questions.
With Technical Editor Alex Evans as your host, Jack discusses carbon frame protection for bikes and weighs a decision between the Merida Scultura and Scultura Endurance road bikes.
Rob, meanwhile, sheds light on how to clean stuck-on tubeless sealant and how best to carry your ride essentials, whether in a cycling backpack or elsewhere on the bike. Finally, we discuss mountain bike handlebar dimensions and buckled wheels.
Listen to the full episode below, or read on for a summary of Jack, Rob, and Alex’s responses.
What is the best way to clean? Did the tubeless sealant dry on the inside of the wheels, tires and outside of the frame?
Rob: “For the inside of the tire, just use hot soapy water and a scrubbing sponge. Rub those bits in and they should come off after a while.
“Put something on the floor or ground so you can clean it up later.
“You can also use stiff scrubbing brushes to get it out.
“If that fails, pour brake cleaner on the tire, give it a light coat, and then leave it for a few minutes and clean it with a scouring sponge.
“Then I would give him a hose and clean him up.
“With the framework, I always started with hot soapy water. If that doesn’t work with the more stubborn stuff, you can use isopropyl alcohol, which should have no effect on the frame material.
“Gently rub it with an old cloth and that usually removes it.
“Make sure you also take out the valve and clean it, so that it works fully. If that doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter what the sealer does when you’ve refilled it.”
Between the Merida Scultura and the Merida Scultura Endurance, which one would you choose?
Jack: “Think carefully about the kind of riding you’ll be doing. The Merida Scultura is a very bold bike and Simon von Bromley reviewed it very well.
“He noted that its handling is particularly snappy, it’s a proper racing bike.
“The Scultura Endurance is more focused on endurance with a more relaxed geometry, so it’s a bit taller with big clearances.
“It is also a very nice bike, which has received good reviews on our site.
“The Endurance is the more versatile of the two. If you’re thinking of an odd flirt in the gravel or a long-distance ride, that might be a better bike for you.
“But if you’re more interested in performance and tearing up the climbs, I’d go for the sportier bike. But I would base it on your riding.
“I would choose the Scultura because I prefer a sportier road bike, and if I wanted something more versatile I would buy a gravel bike.”
What do the dimensions of a mountain bike handlebar mean and should I be concerned about them?
Rob: “I think so, personally. There are certain things, like the width, that you will always want to adjust to his own preferences.
“Most modern mountain bike handlebars will be 800mm, but that’s wide.
“The width dictates how far apart the hands will be. It’s something personal.
“Wider bars offer more leverage, which is generally a good thing in terms of control (narrower bars can feel twitchy).
“But it’s important to find the right width for you.
“Too wide and it will push you too far forward on the bike, which can compromise your riding position.
“Buy a set of wide handlebars and move the grips and controls inward until you find a width you’re happy with.
“Then you can cut off the part that sticks out of the bar.
“The push-up test is a quick and easy way to get an idea of the width of the bar. Measure how far apart your hands are when you do a pushup on the floor. You will get an idea of the width where you feel strong.
“Rise is really critical. It is the height of the bar.
“Most mountain bike handlebars have a 10-40mm rise. You don’t see much more than that.
“Too high and you’ll lose control over the front wheel; too low can mean you sit so far from the front wheel that you’re going to tip the bars over.
“Higher bars will put you in a more upright position on the bike and move your weight up and back.
“Then you have sweep. Upsweep is how much the bar swings from the center attachment point to the end of the bar. This is generally around five degrees.
“The thing that varies the most is the recoil: how much the bar swings back from the center point to the end of the bars.
“Most are between seven and nine grades. The backward motion influences the amount of tension placed on the arms.
“Before buying a bar, I would recommend getting on a buddy’s bike to see what you’re comfortable with.
“How much you move the bars, forwards or backwards, influences the riding position and comfort. Spinning forward creates a more aggressive position, while I prefer to spin the bars back for more comfort.
“Clamp diameter measures how fat the bar is in the center where the clamp grips it. It’s usually 31.8mm or 35mm, so make sure the clamp diameter is compatible with your stem.”
What is the best and cheapest way to protect a carbon frame from rubbing or scratching from bike bags?
Jack: “We advise using frame protection like Invisiframe (which is essentially XPEL tape) where the bags would come into contact with the frame.
“Carbon is not a great material in terms of abrasion resistance, so beyond the areas where bike bags could rub against the frame, other areas to pay attention to would be the inside of the chainstays, the seatstays and fork, where the tire or any debris could come into contact with the frame.
“The downside to this is that you have to be careful when applying any masking tape to protect the paint on your frame.
“When it comes to removing it, which also has to be done methodically, it may have a tendency to detach part of the lacquer.
“This shouldn’t be a problem if you leave frame protection on permanently.”
Alex: “I use 3M rubber tape to protect my chainstays and it can also be used under bike bags.”
Should I travel without a backpack, and if so, where can I leave my things?
Rob: “People travel without a backpack because it can feel freer and it keeps your back from getting sweaty. But that doesn’t mean it’s right.
“If you don’t want to carry a backpack, it’s important that you have room for a water bottle on your bike so you can stay hydrated.
“Many brands now offer dedicated frame straps that will allow you to attach an inner tube, C02 pump or inflator, tire levers and tools to your bike.
“Some brands offer straps with dry bags that will even allow you to bundle everything together and keep it out of the mud as well.
“There are also frames with internal storage and some saddles have integrated tool storage.
“You can also carry a fanny pack for everything else.
“However, nothing beats a good backpack for longer trips, especially if you’re venturing to a more remote location.
“They also offer a little extra protection for your back.”
Is my wobbly rear wheel likely bent, a spoke problem, or something else?
Jack: “First, check to see if it really is your wheel that is wobbling. It could be your tire, because it’s not unusual for the tread to wobble back and forth.
“It could be that the tire is not seated properly on the rim. It’s easy to get stuck on new tires.
“But if it’s the wheel, it’s probably off the mark a bit. The best thing you can do is align your wheel.”
Alex: “To align your wheel, you will need to check the tension of the spokes. So turn your bike over carefully or put it on a work stand.
“Slowly spin the wheel while feeling the spokes with your hands.
“If you’re really loose, that’s the obvious culprit. But if they’re all pretty tight, it’s a matter of adjusting them.”
Rob: “If the wheel no longer works, that’s a lot of time and money down the drain. Getting a professional to look at it isn’t bad.”
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