Pro mechanics' rain tips

Bike set-up & care from rainy California

Somewhat surprisingly, the rain that hit stage 2 of the Tour of California didn’t make for much extra work for the mechanics looking after the bikes, though we picked up a few useful wet weather prep tips from the teams’ wrench pros

Most of the preparation was limited simply to different chain lubricants and perhaps a tire swap. 

Team mechanic Steve Kiusalas was applying a thin layer of grease (yes, grease, not oil) to the chains of High Road’s Giant bikes prior to the start while some other mechanics, such as Eva Barabas of Health Net and Ben Oliver of Team Bissell, went with heavier weight oil. 

Barabas favors Pedro’s Syn Lube while Oliver goes with a homemade mixture of marine grease thinned with mineral oil.

According to Oliver, the Bissell team didn’t need to swap tyres in preparation for the treacherous descent down the backside of the Trinity Rd. climb, either. 

Oliver said that the rubber compound on the team’s Vredestein TriComp Pro tubulars is already soft enough for the wet pavement.

He does, however, generally drop inflation pressures across the board.  Instead of the usual 120-130psi, riders were running about 100-110psi and have occasionally gone as low as 90psi.

Aftermath

The post-race situation, though, was a bit different although still not as much as we had expected. 

The only major change Barabas anticipated was “lots of scrubbing” to clear off all of the road grime. 

It’s not even customary to swap out the cables and housings after such an ordeal, at least not after just a single day in rain. 

Barabas sticks with the stock Shimano cables and pre-lubed SP41 housings fitted with o-ring-equipped housing caps. 

“[It’s] sealed pretty well,” she said. 

Oliver is even less likely than Barabas to be found swapping cables after a wet day on the road. 

The 1:1 actuation ratio on Team Bissell’s SRAM Red groups requires roughly twice as much cable movement to effect a gear change as Campagnolo or Shimano, so the team’s bikes will generally shift well even with moderate levels of housing contamination. 

The cables and housings themselves are still important, though, and Oliver fits his riders’ bikes with the Gore Ride-On Low Friction cable and housing sets that SRAM includes with its Red groups. 

They’re not sealed in the technical sense but Gore claims the PTFE coating applied to its cables dramatically reduces friction and improves durability in adverse road conditions. 

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