Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tech Summit

I love school. If I could afford it I would be a professional student. Thankfully, there are opportunities for me to indulge my inner student and outer bike geek. Like last month's Race Mechanic Clinic and this week's Park Tool Tech Summit.

Three parts hands-on instruction, one part infomercial. A handful of companies brought their latest and greatest tech for us to take apart, service, inspect and (hopefully) put back together. It was a good chance to see what each of these companies have put their R&D money into, and where they think the industry might be going. The 'selling' part of each clinic got a little tedious, but just like watching late night infomercials, you need to take every statement with a grain of salt. The three parts hands-on were great.

One surprising thing I learned was about Avid hydraulic disc brakes. Have these babies on your MTB ride? When was the last time you had them bled? You need to bleed them at least once a year. What? Why? Well, because Avid brakes use DOT fluid. DOT fluid has a high boiling point, so you don't burn it up while you're shredding it. So that's good. On the other hand DOT fluid is hydrophilic, so it'll suck up all available moisture. Right out of the air. So... even in that sweet sealed brake system, your brake fluid has been spending time contaminating itself. If you don't have DOT fluid brakes (probably mineral oil), it's still important to bleed them at regular intervals.

Maybe you're thinking that your brakes feel fine. If it ain't broke, right? Well, why wait for something to brake? Why do you change the oil in your car? Because if you don't your engine will blow up, which is much more expensive than $29.99, and it takes more than 10 minutes to fix. If you take the time to maintain your gear, you can spend more time riding it during the season. That goes for more than just brakes. Maintenance= better performance + longer lasting parts= cheaper in the long run + more trail time in season.

Brake bleeding is included in our Mountain Tune. Which is our service special of the month (and a half)! Regularly $100, it's $90 to get your ride ready for spring, now through February 28. Aaannnnd, $10 off of that if you're a NEMBA member.

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