Getting my maximum worth out of a cassette

When I got Hyro back in 2014, he came equipped with a Shimano Tiagra CS-4600 cassette with a 12-30T gear range. Since then, I’ve put him through his paces, replacing chains as they wear out, but never really changing out the cassette.

Now, 14,700 kilometers later, that changed.

The telltale sign was my Shimano CN-HG54 chain exhibiting 0.5% wear, as indicated by my Park Tool CC-3.2 chain checker. With chains, I err on the conservative side and replace them at the 0.5% mark with fresh ones. It’s vastly cheaper to replace chains, which are the first point of wear, than it is to replace worn drivetrain components.

It just so happened that this is already the cassette’s fourth chain.

It’s not that the CS-4600 cassette is particularly expensive, either, at around PhP900 apiece. Such is the benefit of using steel cogs simply riveted to a center carrier, and avoiding the bragging-rights vanity of lightweight cassettes. At a rated 320 g, this Tiagra unit isn’t going to win any weight weenie awards.

So first, I had to break the old chain…

Not Hyro’s back wheel, but the same thing applies for removing almost any cassette.

…then remove the rear wheel and undo the cassette lock ring…

…and finally pull the old cassette from the freehub body.

Fourteen thousand kilometers, eh? I certainly got my money’s worth out of this little mound of sprockets.

Now to slide the new cassette on. It’s also a Tiagra CS-4600 12-30T unit.

On the 12-30T Tiagra cassette, the seven largest cogs (15T, 17T, 19T, 21T, 24T, 27T, and 30T) are all pinned together on a carrier, so they slide onto the freehub body as one unit.

Next goes the only spacer in the entire cassette.

After the spacer comes the 14T cog.

Then the 13T cog goes on. This sprocket has a spacer built in.

Finally the 12T top cog goes on. It also has an integrated spacer, and its face has the teeth that the cassette lockring will bite into.

Grease up the threads on the lockring, spin it on to the freehub body, and tighten to 40 Nm.

Finally it’s time to break out that new chain, resize if necessary, and install it on the bike.

Shimano coats its new chains in a light, sticky grease as corrosion preventive while in storage, and it’s generally okay to use the chain in this condition for the first 100 kilometers or so. With that in mind, I logged a 70-km ride after installing the new cassette and chain, and stripped it of its grease when I got home. That’s a story for another time.

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Hooked on: Feedback Sports Velo Hinge review

Previously, I went over the task of moving my bike fleet’s storage outside of our living room, and I came across the Feedback Sports Velo Hinge as a possible solution. Today we’ll be looking at it in greater detail.

By default, the Velo Hinge opens its hook and front wheel plate to the left. Shorn from its cardboard backing, the instructions for mounting and reorienting the hinge direction are revealed.

For my particular installation, I wanted it to swing open to the right. Doing this is a matter of grabbing a 5 mm hex key and unthreading the hinge bolt, making sure none of the plastic spacers are lost.

Once the hinge bolt is removed, just pull out the hook from its retention plate, move it to the top edge, and re-insert.

Reassemble the hinge bolt and tighten to the desired tightness.

Once you deploy the hook and close up the hinge, you should get this.

Also included in the Velo Hinge hardware are a rear wheel bumper and five wood screws.

The rear wheel bumper is basically a glorified drawer pull handle. Its main function is to serve as an anchor point for the rear wheel to lean against when the suspended bike is pivoted, and prevent uncontrolled swinging.

The Velo Hinge is meant to be mounted on a wall stud (i.e. a vertical wooden beam). For mounting on a concrete wall, plastic screw anchors are needed. These are readily available from any hardware store, and are sunk into holes that are drilled into the concrete.

After drilling and mounting, here’s the result.

Looks neat, but how is it in action?

Here’s Hyro suspended on the wall in the standard perpendicular orientation.

As the Velo Hinge is mounted very close to the corner, its pivoting action becomes very useful. Here it is leaned over as far as Hyro’s 400-mm-wide handlebars will allow. Note how the rear wheel bumper helps keep the bike in place, and that I had to reposition the cranks so that they don’t interfere with the pivoting.

So far, this solution has worked really well. The Velo Hinge is very sturdy, with smooth action from the plastic spacers and adjustable tension on the hinge via the bolt. With solid hardware and non-gimmicky operation, longevity shouldn’t really be an issue, and I feel PhP1,100 is a very fair price to pay for it.

From the above photo, this short section of wall has enough space for another Velo Hinge to store yet another bike. Unfortunately, the alcove roof sheltering Hyro from the rain is too short to protect another bike from rain water. I will have to figure out some other place to hang Bino.

Review: B’Twin 500-series mountain biking shorts

So I’ve talked about Decathlon and its cycling house brand B’Twin on two separate occasions now: my visit to their branch in Singapore a few months before we got our own, and my test of their 500-series cycling bib shorts. But what about our mountain biking brethren?

I lauded the bib shorts for their low, low price, but one could say their MTB baggy shorts are an even better deal. Coming home from that initial trip to the Singapore Decathlon store, I had purchased one pair of their 500-series baggy shorts for the equivalent of PhP680 in our money – or PhP750 when bought locally. I’ve been wearing them for about ten months now, primarily on my ride to work. Let’s see how they’ve held up.

FEATURES

  • Designed for occasional riding
  • Offered in sizes S-3XL; size XL tested
  • Snag-resistant fabric
  • Three pockets
  • Belt loops on waistband
  • No chamois pad

IMPRESSIONS

While these shorts are a little loose around the waist, the length and cut are spot-on.

Immediately obvious is the slightly odd sizing on these shorts. When it comes to spandex, I’m used to the XL size, but these same-size baggies fit pretty loose around my waist, necessitating use of a belt at all times. The shorts would slowly fall off my ass, otherwise.

They’re the correct length, though, with a hem that terminates just over the knee, and a nice cut that tapers toward the bottom. This slight tapering towards the leg opening ensures that the fabric doesn’t snag on your bike or your water bottles as you pedal or dismount and remount.

Out of curiosity, I had another pair in the next-smaller L size, and they were clearly too small – there wasn’t enough in the waist to let me close the top button. The smaller shorts never made it to my saddle.

Attached to B’Twin’s own liner shorts. Photo from decathlon.ph

Hidden in the waistband are a pair of small buttons. They are unobtrusive, and they sit on your left and right flanks when you wear the shorts, but it seems like they’re in there to hook up to a pair of liner shorts on days when you want to ride with a chamois pad on your bum. I thought that was a neat bit of design. Unfortunately, I was never able to test these as I don’t have liner shorts.

My only real complaint: no rear pockets.

The two waist pockets have a very useful depth, and the third pocket on the right thigh is set at a slight angle, covered by a flap you can lock with a button. While the pockets were all great, I wish B’Twin had added a few more, such as two on the bum and another on the left thigh.

My shorts are black, and its fabric is pretty hard-wearing. It’s stood up to repeated launderings just fine, with nothing in the way of threads coming loose or discoloration. That large white B’Twin logo on the left thigh is still there, unlike the reflective B’Twin logo accent on their bib shorts that peels off easily. Worn off the bike, it’s quite easy to live with these shorts as casual wear.

Looking at the seat area shows just how well these shorts have held up. There are a few tiny areas where the threads got worked off their stitches, but nothing catastrophic. More importantly, the fabric shows very little sign of friction wear; no danger here of wearing a hole through these shorts after a year’s worth of riding.

VERDICT

Admittedly, these are a pretty basic pair of shorts. Then again, they do the basics pretty damn well, and cost a very reasonable price. They even have thoughtful touches like the buttons for liner shorts. For bike commute duty, Decathlon’s offering is money well spent, in my opinion.