Always store your bike in the mechanic's position: small-small to ease tension on the derailleur springs. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta

Always store your bike in the mechanic's position: small-small to ease tension on the derailleur springs. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta

On Rules #26 and #65: Spring Theory

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To hold opposing truths in one’s heart is a beautiful thing; to find resonance within contradiction is a liberating force that opens one’s mind to a wide world of possibilities. Life lived in black and white is a bland, simple world, after all: everything interesting in life happens in the gray space in between.

There is nothing outwardly in conflict between Rules #26 and #65, but within the application of Rule #26 we run the risk of violating Rule #65. Whenever storing one’s bicycle, whether for the evening or for an extended period of time, one is to take care to place the chain in a little-little configuration. This is done by Pro racers out of respect for their mechanic by making their life just a little bit easier when they remove the wheels before getting the bike a clean and sparkling for the next day’s training or racing.

We, the humble plonkers, presumably don’t have a personal or team mechanic who rubs our beloved steed with a diaper post-ride. But there lurks another reason why this practice is an important one to undertake: leaving the chain in the big dog and mid or high cassette as we would when gussying our girl up to be photographed puts the springs in the derailleurs under tension, causing them to wear out more quickly. Placing them little-little leaves them nice and relaxed, all rested up for your next soul crushing session.

I can not overstate that this in no way allows us to photograph or allow someone else to photograph our steed in this relaxed state, much like we would not allow ourselves to be photographed while laying on the couch wearing compression socks and moaning about our guns.

  1. Rule #26 //
    Make your bike photogenic.

    When photographing your bike, gussy her up properly for the camera. Some parameters are firm: valve stems at 6 o'clock. Cranks never at 90 or 180 degrees. Others are at your discretion, though the accepted practices include putting the chain on the big dog, and no bidons in the cages.

  1. Rule #65 //
    Maintain and respect your machine.

    Bicycles must adhere to the Principle of Silence and as such must be meticulously maintained. It must be cherished, and when leaning it against a wall, must be leaned carefully such that only the bars, saddle, or tires come in contact with the wall or post.  This is true even when dismounting prior to collapsing after the World Championship Time Trial. No squeaks, creaks, or chain noise allowed. Only the soothing hum of your tires upon the tarmac and the rhythm of your breathing may be audible when riding. When riding the Pave, the sound of chain slap is acceptable. The Principle of Silence can be extended to say that if you are suffering such that your breathing begins to adversely affect the enjoyment of the other riders in the bunch, you are to summarily sit up and allow yourself to be dropped.10

// Accessories and Gear // The Rules

  1. The last shift of every ride is to the correct gear for starting the next ride. Too low and the first stroke does not give you enough speed for a smooth and straight clip in. Too high and the first stroke is awkward. The bike left in a middle gear also looks better on the stand, with the derailleur partially tensioned and the top/bottom chain lines roughly parallel.

  2. @pistard

    If you really want to “rest” the springs, you should remove both derailleurs, disassemble them, and allow the springs to uncoil completely. (Careful they don’t take a eye out.)

    I do this between every ride to optimize springiness.

    I’d do the same, but my bikes prefer to repose on the airbed covered in think down-filled pillows, in a meticulously maintained 72 degrees at 50% humidity. That way they are well rested before the next ride!

  3. It can not overstate that this in no way allows us to photograph or allow someone else to photograph our steed in this relaxed state, much like we would not allow ourselves to be photographed while laying on the couch wearing compression socks and moaning about our guns.

    Love it!

    -Ted

  4. But little-little looks so ugly as the bike hangs on the wall hooks. So ugly in fact, that I might not be bothered to walk to my bike room just to look at the stable.

  5. @emerson

    @DavyMuur

    Sorry, it was dumb of me.

    No worries. We all do a brain fart from time to time.

  6. @Puffy

    @Ccos

    I have been told the little-little set up does “not much” for extending the life of derailleur springs.

    Even if it is “not much”, it makes it worth doing.

    The Japanese have a word for it I’m sure (doing something right and exact). As I remember it, I’ve had two people instruct me on the matter. The first was along the lines of “this is the right way to do it” and the second was more along the lines of “it doesn’t help much because blah-blah-blah-I like to hear myself talk-blah-blah.”

    I paid attention to the first fella.

  7. @DavyMuur

    @emerson

    @DavyMuur

    Sorry, it was dumb of me.

    No worries. We all do a brain fart from time to time.

    Trying to work out whether that is @frank excepted or @frank especially…….

  8. I’ve always stored the bike in the small ring, but I thought it was to make your chain last longer.

  9. Really? Really? Where do we keep the kool-aid honey?

    Until someone shows me some f’ing data that putting the rear derailleur into the 12 every day makes one little difference to the bike’s shifting performance, I’m not buying. Or is this done to keep the bike happy? My bike won’t talk to me, is it mad at me because I’m not doing this?

    OK, I’m going to write a post on wiping off one’s tires after riding through debris. Does it help anything? Probably not. Do I keep doing it? Yes. Will I keep doing it even if I know it makes no difference? Yes. Will I instruct everyone else do the same? Hell yes.

  10. Oh, and I forgot…you damn kids get off my fucking lawn!

  11. @Gianni

    Oh, and I forgot…you damn kids get off my fucking lawn!

    Or as we say in Wisconsin, “get off my fucking snow!”

    Got my first ride of 2016 in yesterday. Low 30 degrees and getting a bit gloomy at the end. You forget how much harder your body has to work in the cold. At the height of the season 40kms is an easy recovery ride.Not so much when the wind chill is in the 20s. The whole experience wasn’t helped by the chain coming off the small chainring on the steep hill 7 kms from home. After consulting Sherlock Holmes, it’s either a worn chainring or chain – or both. Will remedy this weekend even though the forecast is shit and it’ll be trainer time.

    I’m probably in the last gear home, first gear start camp. Mind you, I always open the QR on my brakes after every ride to save those springs.And back off the tension springs on my pedals. And fully deflate the tires in case I stretch the inner tubes. Can’t be too careful you know . . .

  12. To finish off a ride, wouldn’t one shift to the inner chainring anyway? Unless one is to continue their sprint right up the drive way or to their parked car. Without hesitation or forget, I will always put the chain on the 4th sprocket off the front (outside) of the cassette. This accommodates a PRO chain tension holder that is used instead of a chain hanger.

  13. @Oli

    Over ten years or so it might make a minute difference, but it’s certainly nothing to concern anyone.

    Assuming you maintain the one and the same derailleur for ten years, the derailleur is the one component that if it is off, the rider is fucked. Other than the one and the same controls and brakes too.

  14. It’s a philosophical practice, that illuminates and defines us as Velominati/riders able to maintain a stable. When I was a courier, we’d not lock our bikes when going into buildings, (but we would be very careful about where we parked them) but we’d leave them in the big/small (highesgear combo you’ve got) so if an opportunistic thief hopped on the bike, they’d be on a massive gear, which would slow them down and possibly make them think twice. Some other tenets of wisdom we lived by:

    WD40.
    Clean the bike by riding it in the rain.

    MTB frames with road bike drivetrain parts.

    Partying A LOT. Sleep when you’re dead.

    Repair broken spokes by winding the broken spoke around the nearest, non broken spoke.

    Yep. Like I said, we’re not fucking savages.

  15. @Gianni

    Really? Really? Where do we keep the kool-aid honey?

    My bike won’t talk to me, is it mad at me because I’m not doing this?

    Yes. Yes it is. Bikes get mad like women. You don’t realise it’s mad now, but when you do figure it out, you’re in for some hard times.

    OK, I’m going to write a post on wiping off one’s tires after riding through debris. Does it help anything? Probably not. Do I keep doing it? Yes. Will I keep doing it even if I know it makes no difference? Yes. Will I instruct everyone else do the same? Hell yes.

    That’s the spirit. The less it makes sense, the more I like it.

  16. @Gianni

    Oh, and I forgot…you damn kids get off my fucking lawn!

    Or as we say in Wales “you damn kids stop paddling on my fucking lawn!”

  17. My bike is always in the small chainring at the end of a ride. I don’t worry so much about which rear cog. More casually deliberate that way.

  18. @emerson

    Haha, my newest derailleur is about 15 years old!

  19. @BlackRoad

    Paddling wee bastards…

  20. @Gianni

    Really? Really? Where do we keep the kool-aid honey?

    Until someone shows me some f’ing data that putting the rear derailleur into the 12 every day makes one little difference to the bike’s shifting performance, I’m not buying. Or is this done to keep the bike happy? My bike won’t talk to me, is it mad at me because I’m not doing this?

    OK, I’m going to write a post on wiping off one’s tires after riding through debris. Does it help anything? Probably not. Do I keep doing it? Yes. Will I keep doing it even if I know it makes no difference? Yes. Will I instruct everyone else do the same? Hell yes.

    Yes. To all of that.

  21. @pistard

    And how the fuck do we reconcile this heresy with Rule #90?

    This isn’t for riding, it is for storage. Sheesh, try to keep up!

  22. @wiscot

    @pistard

    If you really want to “rest” the springs, you should remove both derailleurs, disassemble them, and allow the springs to uncoil completely. (Careful they don’t take a eye out.)

    I do this between every ride to optimize springiness.

    I’d do the same, but my bikes prefer to repose on the airbed covered in think down-filled pillows, in a meticulously maintained 72 degrees at 50% humidity. That way they are well rested before the next ride!

    +1 badge to you!

  23. And to think that I could have gone on placing my bikes in the garage for another 40 years without ever having known the proper way to do that !? However, this only now has me questioning how much I still don’t know that I don’t know. Cheers all

  24. @Gianni

    OK, I’m going to write a post on wiping off one’s tires after riding through debris. Does it help anything? Probably not. Do I keep doing it? Yes. Will I keep doing it even if I know it makes no difference? Yes. Will I instruct everyone else do the same? Hell yes.

    Yes please, write it. We did this religiously until my buddy got his hand jammed between his tire and seat tube on his new Tarmac some years back. He came to a quick and hilarious stop followed by an equally funny flop onto his side with his hand still jammed in place (funny at least to me). These aero bikes are fucking with some old habits I’ll have you know.

  25. @Ccos

    That’s what he gets for riding a Tarmac……

  26. Rule #65 is of high importance, more so when you are limited to space, i.e – during/post ride @cafe stop where there is no option other than to lean ones bike against another bike. Not only must this be executed is a precise manner but also with an extremely delicate touch. Otherwise you are likely to get mouthful or a serious face off.

    NB: Above

  27. @Ccos

    @Gianni

    OK, I’m going to write a post on wiping off one’s tires after riding through debris. Does it help anything? Probably not. Do I keep doing it? Yes. Will I keep doing it even if I know it makes no difference? Yes. Will I instruct everyone else do the same? Hell yes.

    Yes please, write it. We did this religiously until my buddy got his hand jammed between his tire and seat tube on his new Tarmac some years back. He came to a quick and hilarious stop followed by an equally funny flop onto his side with his hand still jammed in place (funny at least to me). These aero bikes are fucking with some old habits I’ll have you know.

    Sensible me read that in the original post as cleaning them after a ride. Cleaning with your hand at speed during a ride seems like the sort of stupidity worthy of Darwinian Selection.

  28. A good friend gave me a proper workstand for Christmas. So, from now on I will wash my bike properly and regularly. That will be enough of this arcane nonsense without delving into spring fatigue rates and the resting heartrate of carbon fibre….

  29. @PT

    A good friend gave me a proper workstand for Christmas. So, from now on I will wash my bike properly and regularly. That will be enough of this arcane nonsense without delving into spring fatigue rates and the resting heartrate of carbon fibre….

    Ok, I have what I’m sure is going to sound like a complete dullard question regarding the use of workstands.

    If you have a bike in the stand and take the wheels off – how do you put them back on and be sure the axles are seated properly in the drop outs?

  30. @RobSandy

    @PT

    A good friend gave me a proper workstand for Christmas. So, from now on I will wash my bike properly and regularly. That will be enough of this arcane nonsense without delving into spring fatigue rates and the resting heartrate of carbon fibre….

    Ok, I have what I’m sure is going to sound like a complete dullard question regarding the use of workstands.

    If you have a bike in the stand and take the wheels off – how do you put them back on and be sure the axles are seated properly in the drop outs?

    Always check with the bike back on the ground.

  31. @Teocalli

    @RobSandy

    @PT

    A good friend gave me a proper workstand for Christmas. So, from now on I will wash my bike properly and regularly. That will be enough of this arcane nonsense without delving into spring fatigue rates and the resting heartrate of carbon fibre….

    Ok, I have what I’m sure is going to sound like a complete dullard question regarding the use of workstands.

    If you have a bike in the stand and take the wheels off – how do you put them back on and be sure the axles are seated properly in the drop outs?

    Always check with the bike back on the ground.

    Yeh, I’d do that. I just find getting the wheels back on when it’s up in the stand very awkward. Always feels like I could do with a 3rd hand.

  32. @RobSandy

    There are always times when having a pet Octopus comes in handy………..

  33. @Teocalli

    Not Darwinian, more of a skill move. Back in the pre-sealant days of riding tubulars and having little money a quick wipe of the tires with a gloved palm after running through glass or other bits seemed to be a tire saver. I flatted exactly twice on tubulars while doing this but they were both thread bear at the time. The rear tire separates the men from the thumbless so to speak.

    My S5 and its tight spacing takes care of the rear tire now. Though with a frame scraping “ZZIIIIIIT” as the announcement. Now that I don’t wear gloves, it’s best to avoid the practice.

  34. @wilburrox

    And to think that I could have gone on placing my bikes in the garage for another 40 years without ever having known the proper way to do that !? However, this only now has me questioning how much I still don’t know that I don’t know. Cheers all

    Aye, and there’s the rub. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, there are the known knowns, the known unknowns and the ones that really get you are the unknown unknowns. The latter you can’t do anything about so don’t worry about it!

  35. @Ron

    But little-little looks so ugly as the bike hangs on the wall hooks. So ugly in fact, that I might not be bothered to walk to my bike room just to look at the stable.

    This is the first legitimate concern I’ve seen raised on this matter.

  36. @ILCapo

    Rule #65 is of high importance, more so when you are limited to space, i.e – during/post ride @cafe stop where there is no option other than to lean ones bike against another bike. Not only must this be executed is a precise manner but also with an extremely delicate touch. Otherwise you are likely to get mouthful or a serious face off.

    NB: Above

    Indeed. Please see the below for reference:

    http://www.velominati.com/etiquette/la-vie-velominatus-lean-properly/

  37. @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    @RobSandy

    @PT

    A good friend gave me a proper workstand for Christmas. So, from now on I will wash my bike properly and regularly. That will be enough of this arcane nonsense without delving into spring fatigue rates and the resting heartrate of carbon fibre….

    Ok, I have what I’m sure is going to sound like a complete dullard question regarding the use of workstands.

    If you have a bike in the stand and take the wheels off – how do you put them back on and be sure the axles are seated properly in the drop outs?

    Always check with the bike back on the ground.

    Yeh, I’d do that. I just find getting the wheels back on when it’s up in the stand very awkward. Always feels like I could do with a 3rd hand.

    That, but you just pull up enough on the wheel to make sure it’s seated correctly in the dropouts and then spin it to check if it’s centered etc. But it’s always good to check on the ground, also to make sure the QRs are seated correctly and won’t creak.

  38. @Teocalli

    Actually do this all the time. Lightly rest your palm atop the front wheel as you spin along and all sorts of debris (glass shards, flint) come flying off. Harder to do for the rear tire but not impossible. Haven’t had a flat for ages – if you get rid of the offending sharp bits before they have time to fully get through the tire you’ve saved yourself from being dropped due to puncture. Does help if you’re wearing gloves, though….

  39. Even if it is nothing more than superstition or the cycling equivalent of an urban legend, I still look at it this way: Even if I ride for 2 hours every day, that’s still 22 hours that the spring is unnecessarily under tension. I still put my derailleurs in the small-small combo at the end of the ride.

  40. Placing them little-little leaves them nice and relaxed, all rested up for your next soul crushing session.

    …. and to wake up the electronic gear…..

    from here

  41. @cognition

    I believe a certain French make would better suit them…

    Although Il Pirata is not sure what the trouble is…

  42. @Dave

    Agree wholeheartedly, and I’d like to assert that switching to small/small means your cables will relax slightly, increasing the chances of bad shifts at the beginning of the next ride.

  43. @Tugman

    @cognition

    I believe a certain French make would better suit them…

    Although Il Pirata is not sure what the trouble is…

    I hear you. I loved Pantani’s panache (is there a good Italian translation for panache? Grinta is clearly a different concept). Heretically, though, I never liked the yellow-and-celeste mix.

  44. Just on the Rule #65 adherence, I’ve recently started using a new website Bicycle Log Book to arrange services through the LBS near work, once they’ve finished the work you get a report card through the site that details the work done & gives an overall condition of the bike as well. Have to admit I got a little kick of satisfaction in reading this…

  45. So I read the article last week and could only role my eyes…

    And then I came home from my ride and found myself putting the chain on the small cogs… *zucht*

  46. @bea

    Never did it before (trying to adhere to Rule #90) but yesterday I even left the bike on the turbo trainer in small-small. Next thing on my list: release tension on the brakes. Already done: release the tension on the rear tyre from the tacx-dynamo.

    Question: anyone know a good site with training/workout videos without cyclists featuring EPMS? Ruins my training….

  47. @KogaLover

    @bea

    Never did it before (trying to adhere to Rule #90) but yesterday I even left the bike on the turbo trainer in small-small. Next thing on my list: release tension on the brakes. Already done: release the tension on the rear tyre from the tacx-dynamo.

    Question: anyone know a good site with training/workout videos without cyclists featuring EPMS? Ruins my training….

    This is a fair but unfortunately mis-placed concern. I think you will find that training/workout videos are responsible for ruining your training. If you must train on a wind-trainer (and we all must stoop sometimes) please only watch recorded stages of grand tours or monuments to pass the time.

  48. @Teocalli

    @Ccos

    @Gianni

    OK, I’m going to write a post on wiping off one’s tires after riding through debris. Does it help anything? Probably not. Do I keep doing it? Yes. Will I keep doing it even if I know it makes no difference? Yes. Will I instruct everyone else do the same? Hell yes.

    Yes please, write it. We did this religiously until my buddy got his hand jammed between his tire and seat tube on his new Tarmac some years back. He came to a quick and hilarious stop followed by an equally funny flop onto his side with his hand still jammed in place (funny at least to me). These aero bikes are fucking with some old habits I’ll have you know.

    Sensible me read that in the original post as cleaning them after a ride. Cleaning with your hand at speed during a ride seems like the sort of stupidity worthy of Darwinian Selection.

    If you need to clean your tyres with your hands while riding you are approaching the problem the wrong way. Instead, if you ride fast enough, your bike will float over all obstacles, no matter how sharp. The tyres will have passed beyond the possible source of damage before it is able to make ingress into the tube. It is not proven but it may be explained by Brownian Motion, possibly String Theory too. Bernoulli can definitely take a small amount of credit.

    Whatever the case, this is the secret to using tubulars on a daily basis, riding very fast, all the time. Its also why pro mechanics don’t mind changing tubulars for pros – the correct velocity has been observed and its not their fault that the tyre has been poorly constructed and failed to keep its responsibilities.

    Please everybody, ride properly and look after your tyres: ride fast.

  49. @PT

    This theory also applies to riding cobbles. Just go so fast you become a hover craft.

  50. Picked up my bike from my local wrench last night. He’s the sort of guy who cleans your bike and lines up your skewers properly even though he’s not doing anything with your wheels, just because that’s the way it should be done.

    Anyway, I checked the location of the chain when I picked it up, bearing in mind he had been servicing my headset, not doing anything to the drive train – little-little.

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