Thursday, September 30, 2010

How I roll - the stuff in my pockets

So I dunno if you've noticed by now but I can be pretty particular when it comes to.........well anything really. Since cycling occupies most of my time, it gets over analysed ad nauseam. The benefit to you? I do a lot of the hard work, trial and error, and money wasting.
Here are the basics of what I take with me on every ride and why. Obviously it varies by the length, temperature, and type of ride but these basic tools will be with me 99.999999% of the time.

-pump/CO2 inflator
-tube patches
-Shimano chain pins / quick link
*on solo rides*
-MP3 player and headphones

Genuine Innovations - Second Wind mountain bike version
First things first lets take a look at the pump. Found this little gem probably about 5 years ago and I am lovin' it! So it's a mini pump, no big deal, gets the tires up to about 40psi with a billion strokes. The great thing about it however is that the head of the pump can be un-screwed and you can use it as a C02 inflator. It is an awesome inflator too.
Sooooo if you get a flat you can use it as a regular C02 inflator. Then if you get another flat you can use it as a pump when all of your CO2 is gone or you screwed it up the first try or you are too cheap to use a cartridge (me).
I replace this guy about every 2 years because like any CO2 inflator the seals tend to get a little worn out and it stops working effectively as an inflator. They make a road version that reaches higher pressure but I have yet to try that one. I think they are actually updating/upgrading this for next year so not sure if this specific model will be around much longer. You can bet I'll be one of the first to try out the new model.

Topeak Nexus multitool
This is what separates the mechanics from the guys who watched their buddy adjust their brakes that one time. This thing has everything you could practically want on a ride, meaning that you will be able to fix 99% of the trouble you might expect to realistically encounter while on the bike. Has all your common Allen key sizes, some spoke wrenches, couple screwdrivers, a Torx bit for disc rotor bolts, and a really great chain breaker (even has a little wire that holds the chain together while you repair it). There is even a slot that nicely fits a couple Shimano chain pins. I keep a 9 and 10 speed pin stowed in the rare occurrence of a Shimano chain breakage.

Doesn't really matter which route you go here. I always keep my tube in a ZipLock bag for an extra layer of protection. The higher end tubes ($10) are nice because they are wrapped up smaller, come in their own plastic, and have talcum powder dusted on them already so they slide into place better.
Honestly I neeeever flat. I find the only tubes I use are for my ill-prepared friends. Probably for the best because you should replace your spare tube at least once per season. Nothing sucks more than fixing a flat only to find out that your spare tube has a hole in it!
No glue tube patches
So this is how the story goes. I was riding with a friend (Mr. Tomsic I think??) down in South Carolina. We had set out on a fairly epic 160km mountain ride that traversed a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. I had already had a flat earlier that day when I ran over a piece of glass, my spare tube was now gone (used).
So we get to the Parkway to find that it is closed, no big deal bikes are still allowed (I think?). We are bookin' along at about 75km/h when I double flat on chunk in the road. So here is the problem, I have 2 flats, we only have 1 tube left between the 2 of us. The real problem was that we were about 40km from anything....... like a person. The road was closed so no traffic to flag down. I was thinking ohhhhhh damn.
As we considered our options I started to remove my shoes as walking seemed like the best course of action. Just as we started to set off to certain death an angel floated by on two wheels and proceeded to give me a tube. It was the only cyclist we saw the whole 7 hours we were riding that day and I vowed that I would never be stuck like that again. It was a sign.
So that is the reason for the patches. They cost like $4, have 6 self glued patches you just peel and stick, and take up very little space. A must have.
Quick link and/or Shimano pins
For whatever brand of chain you used. Pictured is the one for my KMC chain. A SRAM link will work on Shimano chains of the same speed. Usually I will use the Shimano pins on Shimano chains because, in my opinion, it is a stronger bond.
Cause you never know when you will get the munchies.

I keep all this stuff in the ZipLock bag because then you can just grab and go. Bag doubles as a rain jacket for my MP3 player and headphones in the event of precipitation.
MP3 Player - Creative Zen 8 GB
I know what you are thinking, "you ride with music?? OMG that is like soooo dangerous! What if a blood thirsty Pterodactyl swoops down and pecks your eyes out??!??!?!"
Lets just say that life is full of risks. It's like a big game of risk vs reward and in this case I like my music so I ride with it. Really what difference is it going to make if I can hear the car behind me that is about to run me over? I don't have eyes on the back of my head and I'm sure as hell not going to look back every time I think I hear one. I ride defensively, obey the traffic laws, ride predictably, and pay attention to my surroundings. I think that goes a lot further towards me staying safe on the bike.
Favorite ride music includes but is not limited to:
-Depeche Mode
-Massive Attack
-Daft Punk
-The Prodigy
-Beastie Boys
-Dave Matthews
-Various 1-3 hour long electronic/techno/dance albums
-Genesis (Phil Collins ftw)
Headphones - Ultimate Ears 700, earbud style
Did I mention that I like music?? Well I do. And I take is seriously, I guess. These babies are amazing. Did a couple months of research before deciding on these. They are supposed to be the best mix of sound and lightweight. They block outside noise (a nuclear blast would go unheard) and are dual armature which means they cover lows and highs with two different drivers. Took some monkeying around to find the best fitting earpieces but they are supplied with tons of options.
Here's a trick to not having the headphones pulled out of your ears when something pulls on the cord. I zip tie a safety pin to the cord of all my headphones. I attach the pin where the two ear piece wires join together. Clip the pin to your shirt (or jersey) and anything that pulls on the main cord will just pull on the safety pin and leave the two ear piece cords unaffected.

That's it. That is the stuff that is bulging in my pockets when I ride. Now you know.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

XTR Shadow Ben-meya rear derailleur

Wow what a journey! This sucker is done.........................................
well errrr ok not 100% but very very close. Just need a couple more tiny bolts since a few of the ones I ordered didn't work out (ok well one didn't work out and I accidentally ruined the other haha). Looks like it will be around the 145-150 gram mark once the finishing touches are done. Went for looks and durability over stupid light weight. Still how I managed to take 40 grams off of the normal weight of this derailleur is pretty nuts. Not bad for my first project.

So here is the master list:
-drilled out steel pivot pins. Tapped threads and replaced pins with aluminum screws.
-main derailleur body had some material shaved and drilled off. Polished to a mirror and painted gold.
-carbon upper hanger plate. Painted gold on one surface and re-cleared.
-aluminum upper hanger plate bolt. Polished gold anodizing off part of the surface and brought to a mirror, gold anodizing left on some surfaces.
-Token aluminum pulley wheels with ceramic bearings. Polished gold anodizing off of the surface and brought to a mirror. Gold anodizing left in cutouts.
-carbon short cage from Speedware. Painted gold except for the outwards facing surfaces (left raw carbon) and re-cleared.
-polished cage spring bolt
-polished main body spring
-all screws replaced with gold aluminum
-custom support stand fabricated from old shadow cage lol

What is left?
-lower hanger plate bolt (purchased in gold aluminum but didn't fit. Re-ordering in Ti)
-gold aluminum cable pinch bolt and polished cable sandwich plate, ruined the gold one I had trying to cut to size :-( .
-respray a few damaged areas and blemishes
-final polish of mirrored surfaces.

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for!
Where it all started

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Speed on a bike cannot be created or destroyed

only transferred from one rider to another.

Pauls Dirty Enduro - 2010
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. A time where overused phrases and cliches were used, with ill efficiency, to segue into one mans 1st person account of what happened that fate full day.

The build up
Ok so here's the deal. I am pretty darn fit right now but I know that kid was much stronger than me last year. He also seems to be beating me on a fairly regular basis in the O-Cup scene. So where is my advantage? Well I am really hoping that I can win through some technical fault or fluke like last year. I like my chances.

Red eyed Sat a.m.
K seriously wtf 5:45am??? I was smarter this year to not wake up at 5 at least. No point in sitting around in the cold for 45 minutes. Might as well get some extra blanket time.
Actually pretty warm out considering the sun isn't even up yet. I am sooooo thankful for the weather. Luck strikes again for Paul's!

Arrival at the venue
Oh geez there are way too many people who are all like "gonna win another one eh Ben". I guess they don't realise or don't remember that I really shouldn't have won last year.
Why does this dude insist on taking 8 centillion photo's of me? Why must they document my inevitable failure??
Aw look they have some photo's of Paul Rush riding the Ganny. Wish I could have met him. I bet he would have had a lot of fun doing this awesome 100km course. Gets better every year.

It begins
So looks like a pretty good group this year. I see that my nemesis is here. Really he is a lot like me so technically if he wins than I am actually the real winner through some convoluted logic which seems to have come and went as quickly as my energy during the 80km's that follow.
Not even bothering with the headphones this year. I know it will be a battle and not a solo ride in the woods like previous years.
That Tall Tree's rider (who I later found out was named Matt) seems to be going out awfully hard for someone I have never heard of. He is gonna blow for sure. Seems to be running into a lot of stuff. Zac is going fast too on his singlespeed. He usually dies in the last 40km's though, he's not a threat.

45km's done
Well we all got through that feed zone pretty fast. Quite the scramble. Organised chaos but old hat for me since I have been using the 2 bottle method for 3 or 4 years now.
*The 2 bottle method is as follows:
-start with 2 full 750mL bottles, one on bike, one in jersey
-toss empty bottle at first feed zone (20km's in)
-finish 2nd bottle by second feed zone (45km's in and at the start/finish point again since it is a figure 8 course).
-grab 2 bottles placed by me at the start/finish and keep riding
-toss empty bottle at next feed zone (65km's)
-fill up bottle at 80km or 90km feed zone if needed.
Total stopping time for the entire race = 30 seconds

wow we are really starting to pick up the pace. I think Andrew is trying to drop me and Tall Trees Matt. I think he might be over extending himself a little.
Ok we're 70km's in. Andrew is towing me around like a sac of potatoes. Definitely not overextending himself. Tall Trees Matt is gone off the back. I am really going way too hard. I have felt out of my comfort zone since the big push began at the 50km mark. Oh well if I am going down it's gonna be in a blaze of glory.
Ok starting to feel a bonk coming on. Getting dizzy, stomach is angry at me. Better eat a bar, even if it is a little ahead of schedule.
Ahhh that feels way better. Where are we now? 75km's eh.
Ok the 2nd last feed zone. Andrew is stopping for a second. Maybe I'll test the legs a little. Ohh boy they are so very done. He caught back up I'm sure 5 seconds after stopping. Kid's got energy to spare.

*"OK that's it, I'm done"
"What? No you gotta keep going"
"No I can't. Have fun"
"See ya"

And just like that he was gone. I had lost. Why did I decide to shut her down juuust after a feed zone? I am sooo hungry. I'll pinball my way through the trees and try not to think too much about the delicious PBJ sandwiches waiting for me at the 90km mark.

The 90km final feed zone
Ohhh thank you jebuz. Nom nom nom; life giving PBJ, nectar of the gods. Ok I've zoned out long enough. Time to get back on the bike and finish this SOB. Oh look there goes squeaky drivetrain Tall Trees Matt. Guess it was I that blew up. Ohh the irony.
Perhaps it is a PBJ induced coma but there goes Mr. Zac Wheeler cranking by me on his singlespeed with 1km to go on the never ending 5 minute long climb. Well if you're not first you're last. It was worth it!
Hmn still 10 minutes faster than last year. What an amazing day of racing. I am actually really glad that there is such a fast field to make this extremely hard race even harder. Almost a personal best time for me. Next year should be amazing.

That's a typical Paul's Dirty Enduro experience in a nut shell. I'd have to say it was the funnest one that I can remember. All hail King Andrew and long live old man Dawson. Yes I am just a man now, my reign of terror is over.

-photo's when they come. Send me some if you have them!


Carolina Tour Option - Caesar's Head

Thar's cycling gold in them hills!
Caesar’s Head – Road ride
This ride leaves from the scenic Table Rock State Park. Wind your way East through the twisty back roads to the base of the Caesar’s Head climb. Roughly 10km’s of switchbacks taking you up to about 1000m above sea level. Regroup at the top and take in the scenery at the overlook. Quick descent down the backside and back onto the extremely scenic, meandering, velvety paved roads which take us West to HWY 178. Make the climb back up to the continental divide and enjoy 2 switchback descents followed by some more meandering as we make our way East back to Table Rock State Park.
Ideal lesson topics covered:
-Riding in a group

Location: Table Rock State Park
Est. driving time: 45 minutes one way
Difficulty: Intermediate
Km’s covered: approx. 95km
Ride time: Est. 4hours

Race Prep Pro in Peterborough on September 28th

Like the title says. I will be in Peterborough on September the 28th and available to service bikes. Flat rate of $20/hr. I will have all of my tools and will be fully operational to the max. Available hours are limited and it is first come first serve. Let me know what you need and I'll make it happen!
Service is performed at the location I am staying. I can come pick the bike up and drop off (for a fee) or you can drop off and pick up.

text or call: 705 229 6923

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Carolina Tour Option - Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah Trail System: Black Mountain – Mountain biking
Strap on your shoes for a truly epic experience. Pisgah is the real deal! This Black Mountain ride has easily become one of my favourites after spending a week last year perfecting the route. Ride 45 minutes of scenic twisty fire road (or 45 minutes of extremely technical singletrack climbing, you decide) as you creep closer to the top of the first peak. Duck into the singletrack for another 15-20 minutes of steep, technical climbing taking you up the sister peak to Black Mountain (2 free beers to those who manage to ride all the way to the top of this peak!). You get a little bit of a breather with a great singletrack descent which brings you to the base of the Black Mountain climb.
Steep, technical climbing sprinkled with some hike-a-bike portions will challenge you to see how far you can ride different sections before having to put a foot down. Finally you’ve made it up to the scenic vistas on Black Mountain.
After taking in the view you get your first 10 minute descent. Let your brakes cool with a quick 5 minute technical singletrack climb before heading down the second 10 minute descent. The latter featuring flowy berms and jumps, bringing you back to Hwy 276 with a short 5 minute ride to the car. If you are feeling adventurous we can head back out to Coontree Mtn. aka Mt. Motherf***er for a final 15km loop with a relentless climb and amazing ridge ride singletrack descent right back to the car.
Ideal lesson topics covered while at Pisgah:
-Technical singletrack climbing
-Energy conservation
-Selecting a line

Location: Pisgah National Forest
Est. driving time: 1 hour 30 minutes one way
Difficulty: Advanced
Km’s of trail: 300+km
Ride time: Est. 4-5 hours

Starting the long climb up

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

InSaNe Deal on Hardwood 2011 mountain bike season pass

Hardwood Ski and Bike in Barrie have an awesome deal going on right now for their 2011 mountain biking season's pass. When you buy the early bird you also get the rest of 2010 free.

"$99 + tax Early Bird Mountain Bike Season Passes go on sale on September 15! Purchase your season pass for next year after September 15 and ride for free for the rest of 2010!
There are a limited number of these adult and student (13 to 19) season passes available. Riders aged 6 to 12 pay only $75 + tax."

Here are the normal rates:
"Season Pass Fee for Riders Age 20 & Over $215.00 + tax
Season Pass Fee for Riders Age 13 - 19 $179.00 + tax
Season Pass Fee for Riders Age 6 – 12 $99.00 + tax
Riders Age 5 and Younger FREE"

Thought I'd spread the werd since I know a lot of you come to Hardwood to pre-ride for races and whatnot.

You can check it out and print the waiver here
2011 Hardwood mountain bike season pass - Early bird


Monday, September 13, 2010

For Sale - XT M770 trigger shifters

Up for grabs are my XT triggers that came off the X-Ben. They have been modified to release up to 2 gears on the rear shifter when shifting to a harder gear (like XTR). Included are the gear indicators that were removed when I first got the bike, they are easy to re-install if wanted.
The shifters are in perfect condition cosmetically and mechanically. They make a great upgrade.
Reason for selling, now have XTR shifters on the X-Ben.

Price - $50 picked up
Shipping - $5 in Canada

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 Pauls Dirty Enduro - Pre Race

Ok so it looks like it is that time of year once again. I think this is my 7 or 8th time doing the 100km course and I seem to always forget just how much singletrack there is in this event. I'm thinking the 6 hour ride wont feel as epic being fresh off the 24 hour a couple weeks ago but then again it is a different kind of event. There is a ton of climbing and I hope the weather cooperates since I don't function too well in the cold.
Went for a 4 hour ride earlier this week, my first real ride since the 24. Definitely still hurtin' from that one but I'm sure I'll be good to go by the 18th. Just hoping that I don't start to get a cold the night before like I have for a bunch of times in the past.
Last year we raised over $17,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association and this year we are hoping to raise even more. Please donate a pledge for me if you can and support a great cause.

I'll let you know how it goes. Apparently I am the defending champion having won it the past 5 times in a row. Hopefully I can hold off against the tidal wave of young whippersnappers biting at my heels.

King Ben

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Testing - Polar RS800 CX Bike

I have been using Polar products for probably about 6 years now. I think I would feel lost without a heart rate monitor. Most of all I have come to love and rely on the Pro Trainer software.

The year was 2008, bikes were 23% flexier and 12.6% heavier on average. It was the year my S720i finally bit the dust after its many many rides and hard use (4 or 5 years). I was now in the market for something new and exciting. Enter the RS800 CX Bike.
Now the RS800 comes in a few different models depending on what you will be using it for. There is the running model, which comes with their s3 stride sensor. The multi-sports unit containing their G3 GPS sensor. And finally the bike model which comes with the CS speed, and now cadence sensors. All accessories feature Polar’s W.I.N.D. wireless technology which uses 2.4 GHz transmission frequencies to cut down on interference from other sources such as power lines.

Out of the box
Well let’s see. Out of the box Polar sent me the wrong unit. I was shipped the running one instead of the bike model so it had the s3 pedometer. I thought oh well I will check out the watch before I return it for the proper model. Well watch wouldn't turn on either. You think they would make sure the battery isn't dead before they shipped out a $500 watch but I guess I am just picky. 3 weeks later I got the real deal, the RS800CX Bike. Came with a bike sensor, bike mount, CD, USB infra-red stick, wheel magnet, warranty card.
It is a very attractive unit. Much more sleek and quite a bit smaller than my previous S720i.

On the trail
This unit is awesome. It seamlessly collects and organises all of your data. The bike sensor is very accurate with speed and distance provided you calibrate it properly. The screen is easy to read and it is also easy to pan through the different displays while you are on the go. The strap is the most comfortable yet and doesn't slide around even on my pigeon chested little torso. Doesn't suffer as much from interference as previous models. Hydro wires will still give you funky readings when you are in close proximity but not as much as older models.
My RS800 CX Bike didn't come with a cadence sensor. I believe all new models do. It’s not something I would mount on my mountain bike anyway.

Specs and features
All of the wireless accessories are coded and need to be calibrated to the watch. It only takes a couple seconds and ensures that your watch won’t read the 100 other heart rates that are close by in the start pen of a race.
There are about 5 different screens you can navigate through while you are in a workout. Each screen displays 3 lines of data. You can choose from a list of about 20 different options of what you want each line to display and every screen is customisable. What this means is that you are no longer stuck with what Polar programs from the factory. You have complete display freedom!
It is much easier to customise your displays and settings while your watch is synchronised with the computer. This is very easy to do via the tiny infra red “IrDA” adapter that plugs into the USB port on your computer. This is finally included with all RS800 models.
I looooooove the Pro Trainer software! It really helps to keep me organised when and if I decide to do a little training. This feature is where Polar really shines. You can click on each day and get into as much detail as you want. It puts all of your information from the ride that day into graph form and plots all of the data against itself for easy comparisons. Pan your watch over any time in the workout and get a little bubble of info about exactly what was going on at that point in time (speed, altitiude, temperature, ect). There are about a million features in Pro Trainer and the watch. Read more on the Polar website or ask a specific question so I don't have to write the great Canadian novel.

Back to the watch. The red “start workout” button is hyper sensitive and really easy to push. The downside of this is that if you want to wear the watch as a watch for normal daily activity you will bump the red button about 1452 times per day resulting in extremely annoying beeping noises.
The battery in the main watch only lasts about a year but now uses a much easier to find 2032 battery. However the last time I had to change it all of my settings were wiped out on the watch and for some reason my computer did not update the watch when I sync’d it shortly after. Instead it seems the watch tried to “update” the computer and wiped out all the settings on the computer as well. This angered me as I had to spend the next hour re-calibrating all of my wheels, heart rate zones, menu’s ect, ect……
The rest of the batteries used in the watch and sensors are easy to find and easy to change. You no longer have to wait 2 months and pay $40 to have Polar do it for you.

Polar definitely have some quality control issues so it is not uncommon to have to send it back to their ridiculously slow service department. As mentioned I opted for the standard wheel magnet and wireless sensor RS800 instead of the one that relies on the GPS receiver to gather its speed, altitude, distance, ect data. Two reasons I stayed away from the GPS. First is reliability, I’m sure it would turn into one big headache. Second is accuracy. It is not uncommon for a GPS based cyclometer to be inaccurate %15+ in heavily wooded and twisty singletrack.
I knew the bike sensor was tried and true and is 99.9% accurate as long as you calibrate it properly. I am still happy with my decision to not get the GPS and also like that I don’t have to carry a bulky receiver with me on my rides.
On the other hand the GPS model would be great for skiers, runners, hikers, pretty much lets you use your Polar for any sport though keep in mind GPS accuracy problems would still persist. After 2 years my watch no longer keeps accurate time. It is about 1 minute fast per week so it has to be reset every month or so. I will let you know if it gets worse.

-Pro Trainer software is awesome
-Works very well when it works
-Heart rate is reliable
-Tons of features and menus while riding

-Poor reliability
-Red button too easy to push
-Short battery life

Value – 9000 calories out of a 10579 calorie epic ride
Performance – 18 hours out of a 24 hour mountain bike race

Mounted on the bars of the X-Ben
W.I.N.D. Speed sensor
IrDA infra red Syncing up the watch

The whole system works very well together

My hardest ride to date. Ignore the distance, it got screwed up when I took my spare bike for a lap.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Carolina Tour Option - DuPont State Forest

DuPont Trail System – Mountain biking
DuPont is an extremely scenic location with multiple personalities. On one side of the river is steep, rocky terrain. There are fast and technical mountain climbs and descents with large areas of exposed slick-rock as you make your way up Cedar Mountain. Black Mountain is also located on the Southwest side of the river and has flowy berms and jumps as you make your way to the top of its steep technical descent which takes you back down to the main trail.
Take your shoes off (and hang on to them tightly!) as we fjord the stream and make our way over to the vast Northeast section of trails. Smooth and flowy IMBA style ridge riding with long climbs and descents will keep you smiling. All advanced difficulty trails here are optional and can be avoided for less experienced riders.
Even the drive over is amazing as you pass over famous Ceasar’s Head.
Ideal lesson topics covered while at DuPont:
-Braking while descending
-Technical singletrack climbing
-Selecting a line

Location: DuPont State Forest
Est. driving time: 1 hour 15 minutes one way
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Km’s of trail: 60+km
Ride time: Est. 4 hours

Is that a piranha?!

Carolina Tour Option - Issaqueena Dam trails

Issaqueena Dam Trail System – Mountain biking
Located only a 20 minute drive from the house, Issaqueena is the ideal location to get in some early season miles on the mountain bike. The terrain is a mix of fast twisty singletrack with rolling hills and descents. It is well maintained and owned by Clemson College and contains over 70km’s of trail. The trails there are not marked in any capacity and it takes a long time to learn them all. Take advantage of my thorough knowledge of these trails when you choose Issaqueena as one of your guided rides for the week.
Learn the art of cornering properly, the hardest skill to learn! I break it down for you in easy to understand steps.
Ideal lesson topics covered while at Issaqueena:
-Weight distribution
-Gear selection and cadence
-Clearing obstacles

Location: Issaqueena Dam trails just North of Clemson
Est. driving time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Km’s of trail: 70+km
Ride time: Est. 4 hours

Derek does the wallride on the DH course at Issaqueena

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How-To: Adjust rear derailleur limit screws

What the heck are all these screws for???!

Limit screws are very crucial to the proper operation and longevity of your sensitive and expensive parts. They are located on your front and rear derailleurs. Here we will deal with the limit screws on your rear derailleur.
These guys are super easy to adjust and are yet another 5 minute job once you get the hang of it. This How-To assumes that all other adjustments are in spec (cable tension, b-tension, hanger alignment, friction free housing/cable). Of course once you get more familiar with how everything works in harmony you will be able to switch around between all of these adjustments since one adjustment usually affects the other. So adjusting limit screws you may run into a cable tension problem, or b-tension problems, or discover that your housing needs replacing. Don’t be intimidated, just take your time.
Limit screws are used to, you guessed it, limit the rear derailleur. Since the spacing on frames and cassettes vary slightly, and some bikes are 7, 8, 9, or 10 (ok Campy or 11) speeds there needs to be a way to set limits for the amount the derailleur can travel. By adding limit screws it means a lot of the time you can use the same derailleur for 7, 8, 9, or 10 speeds.
Limit screws are little screws that physically stop the rear derailleur from moving out of a certain range regardless of what your shifter is doing. They are like the bookends and have no function unless you are in your easiest or hardest gear on the back.

Here you can see the limit screws on the sexy Ben-meya derailleur and how they contact the body of the derailleur to limit its movement.
This is the other limit screw on the Ben-meya. One for the High limit, one for the Low limit.

Tools needed:
-Slotted screwdriver

It is important to select a screwdriver that fits snugly into the limit screw. Some limit screws are soft aluminum (like the ones on my 7900 DuraAce) so by selecting a tool with a secure fit it will ensure that you don’t damage the head of the screw (which sucks as you might have guessed). Also note that some derailleurs you need Allen keys to adjust the limit screws (SRAM XO and others) and they may be located in an entirely different place on the derailleur. Just look for the two screws labelled “L” and “H”. Sometimes you can also tell which limit screws they are by shifting to either the lowest or highest gear and locating the screw that is blocking the derailleur from moving beyond that point (as pictured above on the Ben-meya).

As always, make sure your wheel is square in your frame. I do this by leaning over the bike from the other side, putting my weight down on the saddle to keep the wheel square in the dropouts, and closing the skewer while my weight is keeping the wheel square.


Step 1:
Shift your rear derailleur into the hardest/smallest cog on the back. Locate the limit screws on your rear derailleur. On my DuraAce they are at the back and labelled “L” for Low (easiest) and “H” for High (hardest).

Step 2:
Check your High limit.
When you are in your hardest gear the upper pulley wheel on the derailleur should sit squarely in the centre of the hardest cog when viewed from the back. Spin your cranks so that your chain is moving to make sure it is running smoothly along the hardest gear if it does look centred.

Symptoms of improperly adjusted High limit:
Screwed in too far
-chain wants to jump up to the next easiest gear. In doing this your chain makes a *clicking* noise every time your cassette makes a revolution or your chain hunts around between the two hardest gears (or doesn't go into the hardest gear at all).
Screwed out too far
-chain wants to jump off the hardest cog and into the frame. It can get jammed in there and wreck your chain, derailleur, frame, hanger, ect……

Step 3:
Adjust your High limit.
Use your snug fitting screwdriver to make the appropriate adjustments. If you are screwing out counter clockwise and your derailleur isn't moving down towards the hardest cog it means the derailleur is being held in place by cable tension. Release some cable tension with either the barrel adjuster on the shifter/derailleur, or by loosening the cable pinch bolt on the rear derailleur. This will allow the derailleur to rest on the High limit screw.
*You rear derailleur will always rest on your High limit screw when you are in your hardest gear if your High limit is adjusted properly.
When cable tension and High limit screw are in harmony there is often just a tiny bit of slack in the cable when in your hardest gear on the back.

Here you can see there is lots of slack in the cable which will allow me to adjust the High limit as I please.

When it's all said and done there should be the smallest touch of slack in the rear derailleur cable and the derailleur should rest against the High limit screw when in the hardest gear.

Step 4:
Final check of your High limit.
You want to stress your High limit to make sure that your chain is not going to jump off the cog and into your frame. To stress your High limit and expose it to the kind of forces it will encounter out on the trail you need to and pull your rear derailleur to try and get the chain to come off into the frame.
Do this by firmly grasping the derailleur in your hand. While spinning the cranks, pull outward with a small amount of pressure. If the chain jumps off into your frame it means you need to tighten the High limit screw a bit more by turning it clockwise.
Finish up with your High limit.

Chain will fall off when derailleur is loaded by hand if not properly adjusted.
Step 5:
Check your Low limit
When you are in your easiest gear your upper pulley wheel on your derailleur should sit squarely in the centre of your easiest cog on the back. Again spin your cranks to make sure your chain is moving smoothly along this gear.

Symptoms of an improperly adjusted Low limit:
Screwed in too far
-chain wants to jump down to the next hardest gear. Makes a *clicking* noise with every revolution of the cassette or the chain hunts around between the two easiest gears or doesn't shift into the easiest gear at all.
Screwed out too far
-chain wants to jump off the easiest cassette and get lodged in your spokes. This is the most common cause of death for a rear derailleur/chain. Often the derailleur cage will get caught in your spokes and the whole derailleur will get ripped right off the bike. Usually it making a big mess of your rear wheel in the process.

Step 6:
Adjust your Low limit.
Again use your screwdriver to make the appropriate adjustments. Essentially just screw in your Low limit clockwise until it snugs against your derailleur when you are in your easiest gear. Or if your derailleur won’t make the shift to your easiest gear then screw your Low limit out counter clockwise to allow your rear derailleur to travel a little bit further up the cassette to complete the shift.
*You rear derailleur will always rest against your Low limit screw when you are in your easiest gear if your Low limit is adjusted properly.
When cable tension and Low limit screw are in harmony you should feel your derailleur just touch your Low limit when shifting into your easiest gear. Not enough to make it hard to shift into that gear, just enough to know that it is resting against the Low limit screw.

Step 7:
Final check of your Low limit.
Now you want to stress your Low limit to make sure that your chain is not going to jump off the easiest cog and into your spokes. To stress your Low limit and expose it to regular every day riding forces you need to push on your rear derailleur to try and get the chain to come off into the spokes.
Again grasp the derailleur firmly in your hand. While spinning the cranks SLOWLY, CAREFULLY push your derailleur towards your wheel with a small amount of force. If the chain jumps off into your spokes makes sure your wheel is moving slowly enough to not damage your chain/spokes/derailleur in the process. If it does jump off it means you need to tighten your Low limit screw a bit more by turning it clockwise.
Finish up with your Low limit.

Chain will fall off into spokes when pressured by hand if the Lower limit is not properly adjusted. Better here than being torqued up a hill out on the trail!
That’s if my friend you are all finished! Again, takes some fiddling back and forth but eventually you will get it. After a while you will get a feel for it and you will be able to troubleshoot almost any problem that comes your way concerning shifting. Every bike is different and practice makes perfect.

Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, comments, stories.