Ask Nick: Shimano 9000 climbing gears, Duggan’s stars and stripes

Nick Legan answers reader questions on a 30+ cassette for the new Dura-Ace, gearing for bike storage and more

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Editor’s Note: VeloNews tech editor Nick Legan is a former ProTour mechanic who most recently wrenched for Team RadioShack at the 2010 Tour de France and elsewhere. His column appears here every Thursday. You can submit questions to Nick at, and be sure to check out Nick’s previous columns.
The new 11-speed Dura-Ace cassettes will keep the same maximum range of 11-28t. I would have expected, especially since SRAM has a 32-tooth cog, that Shimano would have extended the range of gears, rather than just add another gear between the 11-28 bookends.

Why not a 30 for us slow guys? Or a 10 for Cadel Evans’ descents? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the pros use mountain bike gears on some of the crazy steep stages in the Dolomites and Alps.
— Ken Press

A. Ken,
I would guess that Shimano focused on making the best race group they could when designing the new 9000. A 30-tooth cog falls outside that realm. There are very few races that require gearing that low (usually in the Giro or the Vuelta).

But I agree with you! The truth is that you can make current Shimano and the upcoming 9000 work with a 30, 32 or even a 34-tooth cog on some frames (I asked Shimano’s Wayne Stetina about it at the launch). Because the cogs are the same width as 10-speed, you could probably assemble a cassette with a 30-tooth cog. So there is hope for us climb creepers, it’ll just take some ingenuity.

I was watching the Tour de Suisse and noticed Timmy Duggan, as usual, working like 10 men on the front of the field. Then I realized that the newly crowned U.S. national road race champion was wearing a blue, white, and neon green jersey, with just a small U.S.-flagish (flagian?) band on the arms and legs. That strikes me as so minimal an interpretation of the traditional, “official” national champion jersey as to be arguably offensive. Is this the Canadian outfitter Sugoi’s belated revenge for “South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut?” And more to the point, will USA Cycling go on the record as approving this? If memory serves, the Italian federation was not amused when Team Katusha painted their signature Red Square silhouette in the Italian colors on Pippo Pozzato’s jersey, and it forced the team to go back to the drawing board. What’s your take?
— Apollo

A. Apollo (if that’s your real name),
Duggan’s national champ jersey, like all U.S. national champ jerseys, requires the approval of USA Cycling. The one I’ve seen has both stars and stripes in red, white and blue. Nothing too controversial there and I would argue that it looks much better than Matt Busche’s RadioShack version. The inside of his bib short legs also has a U.S. theme to it.

I’ll admit that I’m a big Timmy Duggan fan and I like his kit. Riding for Liquigas means that there is going to be some green involved in it, but that’s OK in my mind. He is the professional road race champ, after all. And part of his profession is pimping his sponsors.

Is there a specific gear combination that is best when your bike is not in use, particularly when not in use for long periods. I am thinking in terms of stress on the rear derailleur’s spring, as well as the chain itself.
— Peter Cote

A. Peter,
Great question. One of the most professional riders I ever worked with is Chris Sutton (now with Team Sky). Every time he dropped off his bike at the end of the day, he shifted to the small chainring and the smallest cog. He was taught, likely by his world champion father Gary Sutton, to always leave his bike in a gear that takes tension off the cables and derailleur springs.

I’m not sure that it makes a huge difference, but it certainly can’t hurt. Springs like to be coiled, so best to leave them there when in storage. The chain isn’t really a big concern as wear is brought about under power. So there you go, shift like Chris.

I recently switched to full-time riding on a set of tubulars I used to use only for racing on the cobbles. My question concerns storing my bike in the back of my Ford Explorer Sport.  I know that the summer heat will cause it to get hot in the truck, but will it get hot enough to soften the glue holding the tire to the rim and if so, what would you recommend as a max temperature to expose the wheels to?
— Michael 

A. Michael,
Anyone riding tubulars should read Chip Howat’s studies on tubular glue adhesion. He has one article specifically on temperature. He tested most major brands of glue at 60 degrees Celcius (140 Fahrenheit) and found all the glues still worked remarkably well, though the top two were Vittoria Mastik One and Continental.

The test specifically focused on heat created from braking. But after checking how hot cars become, unless you have your car parked in Death Valley, you should be OK, assuming that the tires were properly glued.

If you’re ever worried, simply deflate your tires and check the adhesion of the tire. Too few tubular riders take this easy step in assuring their safety.

If you are leaving your tubulars in the car during hot days, I would recommend deflating them. Pressure can increase by several bar (or psi) inside a baking car. This combined with the softening glue can cause a tire to roll or slither on the rim.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.