Sunday, 3 November 2019

Fox CTD Remote 2014-2015

In the process of removing the Climb, Trail, Descend (CTD) remote level from Shelley's bike, I have worked out why it did not work very well. For the avoidance of doubt, this is for the remote used for Fox Evolution forks and rear shocks for model years around 2014 to 2015. That remote has long since been superseded.

Shelley did not use the remote and it was getting in the way on her handlebars. It would have been removed, even if it had worked reliably.

The otherwise good instructions for setting up the cables are not clear about some essential requirements.
The main bit, that needs better clarification, is that the CTD shock control knob and the forks topcap, need to be pre-loaded. By that, I mean that the knob needs to be rotated so that the cable is tightened up with the spring tension pulling on the cable.

On both the forks and the shock, this means the pale blue topcap and control knob have to be rotated nearly a quarter turn before the spring tension is felt. It is that tension that returns the remote lever to it's open position.

The above is easy, when you know how. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there is a design flaw with the remote operation when the remote is used for the dual setup of forks and rear shock. The through cable goes to the rear shock but the red rebound control, on the rear shock, tightens the blue CTD control knob so that the spring tension is reduced or completely locked out.

If too much rebound control is applied, deliberately or accidentally, the remote lever will never return to the open position, so both the rear shock and forks do not return to their open positions!

The photo from the instructions, shown above, makes it obvious where Fox expect the cables to go. I have not tried it but in my opinion, the remote might work better if the through cable, clamped with the grub screw, went to the front forks. The opposite of what is shown in that photo.


Monday, 28 October 2019

Bike grease

A few weeks ago, my brother and I serviced a Rockshox dropper post. The recommended grease for the seals within those posts is a product called SRAM butter. We didn't have any of that, so we took a chance and used general purpose, lithium based, car grease.

What I set out to find out is, if the car grease had any significant disadvantages for this purpose and, perhaps, the reverse of that question, what actually is SRAM butter.

I'll start by saying, that I am not in any way qualified to talk on this subject. This is all based on what I have been able to find and, as much as I can, understand from articles and adverts on the internet. Not only that but I still don't have definitive answers to either of the questions that I started with. I do, however, know a lot more about grease.

My conclusion:

I know it's odd to start at the end but for most people all they want to know, is what should I use.
The short answer is, for the price the manufacturers charge, just buy what they suggest, even if the price does appear a bit over inflated.

If you want a choice, for use on the seals on hydraulic shocks, forks and dropper posts, I'd use one of the following:
If I was in the US, I'd probably use Slickoleum.
In Europe, I can buy SRAM butter and Slick Honey which, as far as I can tell, is the same sort of thing as Slickoleum, just sold in smaller more expensive pots. Even then, it does not cost very much and only a little is needed.
There are plenty of other alternatives available in Europe, which the manufacturers claim, do the same thing. Motorcycle mechanics are a useful comparable source of information. They tend to use a generic, Red Rubber Grease, although, that may be a bit thick for bicycle forks, it will probably work.

I liked the sound of :
RSP Slick Kick Grease (Ultra Slick) which is available in 500g tubs. Trouble is, it was more expensive, per gram, than importing Slickoleum from the US!


Two Components

Grease has two major parts which can be made of many combinations of materials to produce a grease that is best suited for any particular application. The major components are, lubricant and thickener.

This can be oil, synthetic oil or any number of polymers. I found a fairly scientific paper that was still clear enough to understand, at least for the basics.

This is where is gets a bit hazy. What I know for sure is that the thickener, in the general purpose grease, used for cars, is lithium. That, however, is just one of many possibilities. In the case of Slickoleum, it is Anhy Calcium.

What to use for each purpose:



Thursday, 26 September 2019

Woodham Walter footpath map

For my own interest I have been working on a map of the village, where I live, and eventually I will extend that to the surrounding areas.

I was surprised at how much good quality mapping data was available to download under open licenses that permit its use.

All of the significant mapping is from the original data sources. This is not a drawn map, it is constructed from the Ordnance Survey (OS) data obtained either directly from OS or via Essex County Council, from the same data used for their online representation of the definitive map.

The coloured background is from an online mapping site, with the OS data overlaid.


High quality PDF version of the footpath map
Copyright and licenses information


Wednesday, 18 September 2019

QGIS clear cache

This is an odd post to start a new project with, however, it is something I got stuck on.

I have started to use a mapping tool called, QGIS.
This is an excellent, open source, Geographic Information System (GIS). In its simplest form, it is used to create maps.

I am creating an up to date, digital version, of the map of our village showing all the public rights of way.

I'm using, as the base layer, the open source map from The link to this is built in to the current version 3.8 of QGIS.

The Problem with the Cache

As I've been going along, I've been updating the Open Street Map site with changes. For example, re-routing paths, removing the former shop and changing the phone box in to a defibrillator.
That was the problem. I made the changes, and they appeared online shortly after, but the old images remained on my base layer in QGIS!

It took me ages to trawl through the menus and options until I eventually found the 'Delete Cache' button. It's under, Settings -> Options... -> Network

There's a section for the cache. It's obvious when you know how but searching, on Google and the QGIS help pages, for 'QGIS clear cache' found nothing.

Before I found the button I managed to find the folder and deleted that. It worked, so the map refreshed, and the empty folder is recreated automatically next time you open QGIS. After having used that work round, I managed to find the built in button.

Data Sources

I have found lots of good sources for UK map data, that are free to use. I would like to recognise and thank those providers.
The following offer data that is freely available to download and under licenses that permit their use in most projects:

I have also found other data sources, also released under suitable licenses, that have been useful:


Sunday, 8 September 2019

New bikes

All the cycling, Shelley has been doing, has inspired me to go out riding myself. That has led to me getting a new bike.

It's the first full suspension bike I have had. So much nicer to ride on the terrain round us, than the hard tail, front suspension only, bike that I have had for the last 14 years.

Shelley has a Merida One-Twenty 7.800, 2015 model year.

I now have a Giant Stance 29er 2, 2020 model year.

I am very pleased with it. We did over 18 miles on Saturday, nearly all off-road. I kept up most of the way but I was struggling with the pace towards the end. A nice ride.

I made a couple of adjustments on Sunday. Most important was a new, more comfortable, saddle. That means more padding.

I shortened the handlebars, from the massive 780mm width down to 720mm.

I fitted a dropper post that my brother, Roy, and I serviced to get it working.
It's all setup ready to go.


Dropper Post
Having tried it for a while, I now know I need one with less than 100mm drop. The one fitted has 125mm drop and that makes the saddle way too tall for me.
I find I don't use it much, so I've removed it for the time being.


Saturday, 7 September 2019

Rockshox Reverb service

My brother, Roy, offered to lend me a dropper post to try out. There was a condition. It needed to be serviced because, at the time, it was not working.

There are plenty of existing online tutorials, including the manufacturers videos, to show you how to carry out the service. Roy had already bought the kit of spare parts. Mainly rubber rings and other seals.

The following are bits of information that would have helped us to know, in advance. We might have known this, if we had read other articles!

Read the list of tools. Do not rely solely on the video.

You will need some specialist tools or some way to do the same thing.

None of them are expensive. The bleed tool is the most difficult to find an alternative to. You need something to block the hole but you also need to be able to release it to make sure nothing leaks out.

The 'oil height' tool is only used to suck out any remaining oil up to a level. A carefully held tube in a syringe would be able to do the job adequately. Just don't suck out too much fluid.

The 'IFP height' tool is also not essential but some correctly fitting metal or hard plastic pipe would be necessary. For the price of the tool, I would recommended to use it.

We did not have the appropriate offset spanners to use with a torque wrench. We used care and a guess, based on experience, of how much to tighten. Erring on the side of not breaking anything.

One tricky job is clamping the inner tube without damaging or marking it. We took it apart, very nervously, with it clamped between two flat blocks of wood.
Before we started the re-assembly, I made my own specialist clamp.

For the inner tube of the piston, it needs a 10mm hole, which I drilled in to some hard wood. I cut through the middle of the hole, along the grain, to form the two halves of the clamp. It works well.

 While I was at it, I added different size holes.

It took a few hours but we got everything done and back together and working, first time.

Having seen it apart, we know that the cause of the post getting stuck, was only the outer tube. In future we would probably carry out a service just to clean up the outer slide. That can be done without any specialist tools and may not need any replacement parts. Only if that does not work, would we buy the kit and service the hydraulics.

Once serviced it is necessary to bleed the shocks. Rockshox have another video to explain that.

I have since, fitted it to the bike.


Tubeless bicycle puncture repairs

If there is any advert for using tubeless tyres, it is how easy they are to repair a puncture.

Firstly, I would thoroughly recommend using the goop they put in them to seal small punctures automatically.

Shelley has Stan's Tire Sealant in hers. On our ride today we heard a loud hissing and could see the white sealant spraying out. All it took was to rotate the tyre so that gravity brought the sealant down to the hole and the hissing stopped.

We didn't even have to add any more air. Shelley rode the, nearly, 10 miles home without any ill effects of the puncture.

Since then, I've tried to add some more air and the extra pressure has burst the seal where the puncture is.

That was easily fixed with some tyre repair strips.

It was very easy to use the tool to insert the tiny 'anchovy' style strip in to the hole. About two thirds in and one third out. That can then be cut down, leaving about 3mm protruding.

The puncture was sealed immediately and I was able to pump it up to a much higher pressure than needed.

I thoroughly recommend carrying this type of repair kit.


Thursday, 15 August 2019

Inkscape fix for tiny icons on 4K screens

When opening Inkscape (v0.92.4) in Windows on a high resolution (4K) monitor it does not adjust the interface scale. All the icons are tiny.

This can be corrected by using one of the compatibility mode options in Windows.

Navigate to the Inkscape executable.
Right click and open the properties. Select the Compatibility tab and press the button to 'Change high DPI settings'.

Enable both tick boxes and select the settings from the drop boxes for, when: 'I open this program' and 'System (Enhanced)'.

OK out of that and next time you run Inkscape the interface should be a more usable size.


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

AI to SVG online conversion reviews

I needed to convert a single Adobe Illustrator (AI) file to a Scaleable Vector Graphics (SVG) file. Primarily I want to be able to reproduce it at any size with the minimum loss of quality.

AI and SVG are both vector graphics formats. AI is proprietary and SVG is open.

Good quality - finished result

I was surprised when I did the first conversion online that the result was a poor quality, apparently raster image, not a vector. I tried another site and got a much better result. That's when I decided I should write a quick review to remind me of which sites to use in the future.


The process was very simple. I uploaded the same file to each site, as instructed by that site. I asked for it to be converted and then I downloaded the file when it was ready. I compared the results in Inkscape.

It was a friend's file, so there was no value for me to pay for the conversion. It was at no cost or not at all.

I did not do any thinking, I expected the online site to select the best output for me. That may not have been appropriate if I was testing raster graphics but for vector graphics, I would expect a perfect reproduction without any need for input from me.

Speed: Quick. The 2 meg file took only a few seconds.


Output: Top quality vector graphic. Perfect. The black was blacker than the others and closer to my expectations.
I was able to ungroup components and re-position them.

Speed: Quick. The 2 meg file took only a few seconds.


Output: Top quality vector graphic. Perfect. The black was a bit greyer than I expected.
I was able to ungroup components and re-position them.

Speed: OK. Took less than a minute to convert.


Zamzar - close up of the tip of a petal - shows flaw

Output: Acceptable but slight flaws in the vector positions. The black was a bit greyer than I expected.
I was able to ungroup components and re-position them.
Speed: Quick. The 2 meg file took only a few seconds.


Output: Raster graphic encapsulated in a vector file. That is not what I expected nor what I wanted. Poor result. No groups.


I used a scan of some finished artwork to confirm which of the vector conversions was closest to how the original designer intended.


CloudConvert and Convertio produced almost identical results except for a slight variation in colour. Both will be perfect for my needs.


A bit about Vector Graphics

There are only a few applications whose main purpose it to create vector graphics. Adobe Illustrator is probably the most widely used professional application. It is very well known and liked. For those of us that are reluctant to invest that cost for the odd bit of casual drawing, it is more common to use the free Inkscape application.