Ask an Argyle Mechanic Q&A: Tom Hopper fields fan questions during Amgen Tour of California

    EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale mechanic Tom Hopper generously agreed to field fan questions during the Amgen Tour of California. We put out a call for questions on the #PinkArgyle social media channels. We imagined we’d pick the best one and share Hopper’s response on Instagram Stories daily during the race, but you guys blew us away with your questions, and Hopper felt compelled to answer as many as he could.

    We’ll continue to take your questions throughout the week and do a second Q&A at the end of the race.

    Q: How did YOU get to the WorldTour?

    Like most American mechanics working in a Euro-centric sport, I took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself.

    Q: Tell us more about the bike you’re washing in this photo.

    It’s quite fancy.

    Q: What’s the one thing “normal” riders can do (or do better) to keep bikes running well?

    Stay on top of replacing your chain. If you do that your drivetrain will run longer and smoother. Under normal riding conditions you should be replacing your chain once or twice a year.

    Q: How often do you suggest a certain set-up for a rider and they turn you down but after the race they realize they should have listened to you?

    Most of the time that is a discussion between the sport director and the rider when they are planning for the next race day. That information is then passed down to the mechanics.

    Q: What is the most surprising thing your job as mechanic as taught you?

    How important cycling is to so many countries around the world. It’s a beautiful sport.

    Q: What’s your favorite tool to remove grit and grime from cassette/chains?

    A sonic cleaner.

    Q: Do you use oil in the wheel hubs so they’ll spin more freely or just stick with grease? And if you use oil, will it last the entire tour?

    I’d say for 90% of the races the wheels are prepared like normal. For the special time or mountain stages, yes the bearings get some extra love.

    Q: How do you always look so stylish when you’re washing bikes?

    I would have thank my Mom for that one. She’s pretty cool.

    Q: What’s the best way to do a quick bike clean?

    Quick clean? There really isn’t one. If you’re committed to clean your bike, do it right. Degrease the drivetrain first. Then use simple dish soap and a sponge for the frame.

    Q: What part of the bike takes the most wear?

    Drivetrain parts (chain, cassette, chainrings) wear out the fastest.

    Q: My carbon frame is now 13 years old. Is there any concern with failure with older carbon frames?

    If it’s made it this long i’d say your fine. With that said I’d have a local shop or a trained eye inspect it at least once a year to be safe.

    Q: What is the one tool you recommend for anyone to use when cleaning bikes?

    A paint brush, your favorite or least favorite water bottle (cut the top off) and a heavy degreaser. Because a clean drivetrain is a smooth drivetrain.