Not everything pro mechanics do can be considered best practice. They clean bikes with power washers, sometimes blowing the grease out of bottom brackets, wheel bearings and headsets in the process — but these bikes are continually stripped and re-built.
They also cut into expensive gear, file, tape, drill, bend and melt if necessary to make the riders happy.They are often coming up with solutions to problems, such as incompatible parts, to keep sponsors happy.
Here are a few of the hacks on the pro circuit.
1. Power banks
There are few things worse than losing front shifting when you’re on a ride because you forgot to charge your Di2, EPS or eTap battery. Imagine the same thing happening at the end of a race Imagine if you had to charge a whole team's worth of stuff.With portable power banks becoming more popular, the World Tour teams are taking advantage of these compact power sources to keep drivetrains fully charged.
2. Water bottles
Mechanics use chopped-up bottles to hold things other than water.The classic is for mechanics to mix up their concoction of degreaser in an old bottle, which is then painted onto the drivetrain when the bikes are cleaned.Mechanics also use chopped bidons to hold tubular glue as they prep tyres and wheels. While most dip a paintbrush in the glue, the some mechanics use an intact bidon as a squeeze bottle to lay down a bead of glue on the rim before spreading it with a brush.The most creative use for a bottle is the Katusha-Alpecin wrench, who fashioned a race number holder from a bottle and a bolt.
3. Ultegra cassettes
Something many a bike shop has been preaching for years is the use of Ultegra/Force cassettes in lieu of Dura-Ace/Red. Last year Dimension Data, Quick-Step, Cannondale-Drapac, were all running Ultegra cassettes.They are considerably cheaper and shift just as well; the only downside is they are a touch heavier. But, with the UCI still enforcing the 6.8kg minimum weight limit, it serves as functional weight, rather than dropping chain links or fishing weights down the seat tube.
4. Tyre valve tape
A piece of electrical tape, around the valve stem is a tried-and-true solution for rattly valve stems.Wheel and tyre brands have purpose-made stickers that do the same thing, and you could probably use a valve nut too, but a small piece of electrical tape is quicker, faster and looks cleaner than the alternatives ; it works, too.
5. Shrink-wrapped cables
To prevent the snake pit at the front of the bike, many bikes have cables and Di2/EPS wires can be shrink-wrapped or taped together.Not only does this make the bike look much neater, and prevent rattling, it also means there's one less thing to get snagged during a crash or quick bike change.
Tyre pressure and rolling resistance
The higher the inflation pressure, the lower the rolling resistance. A tyre’s susceptibility to punctures is lower with high pressures. If the inflation pressure is continuously too low, premature tyre wear is the result.
The ‘right’ inflation pressure depends on the load exerted on the tyre and the type of riding you are doing. This is only a suggestion, though — riders should choose the pressure they put in their tyres to reflect the ride quality they want
If you reduce a tyre’s pressure, its tyre contact patch will increase. This increases the grip level and if you are riding in wet conditions, a lower pressure than usual — around 7psi — is recommended. Lower pressures can also offer increased comfort.
Wider tyres are generally used at lower pressures, which, combined with their larger air volume, means they absorb road bumps and holes better and are therefore more comfortable to ride. Wider tyres don’t suffer from reduced puncture protection, or increased tyre wear and, perhaps surprisingly, don’t even have higher rolling resistances, because the length of contact patch of a 25c tyre is shorter than the contact patch of a 23c tyre at the same pressure, there is less tyre deflection and therefore less rolling resistance,”
If you’re searching for outright performance and high average speeds, though, higher tyre pressure is still where the answer lies. If you have great road conditions and you would like to ride very fast, inflate to the maximum permitted pressure. Using the example of a 25c tyre, you can reduce rolling resistance by around 10 per cent simply by using 123psi instead of 94psi.”
So how much should you inflate your tyres? That’s up to you to decide…….