Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Forever fettling my bikes

Posted by Matt | May 7, 2024 | Leave a comment

Cannondale Topstone with 42c tyres on Hunt rims
My bikes all seem to have worn out at the same time. But where does maintenance end and fettling begin?

That’s actually a trick question.

Maintenance never ends because the more you ride, the more things wear out. The only way to stop this process is not to ride at all, and where’s the fun in that?

This winter in particular we’ve found ourselves dealing with some pretty serious grinding paste out on the trails with ‘woodland management’ causing havoc.

But if you need to buy new gear anyway, you may as well upgrade and optimise at the same time. I guess??


In the last post I introduced new Specialized Pathfinder tyres for my gravel bike. These are now on my Cannondale Topstone and I can confirm their 42c width fits with masses of space to spare. I think 45c is easily achievable on the Topstone, but 50c might be pushing it too far.

Besides, why go so big? If you are on road, big tyres eventually reach overkill proportions.

The 42c of the Pathfinders works pretty well, suitably plumptious with front and rear pressures of 30 and 34psi respectively. I could probably go a smidge lower on tyre pressure to be honest, which would help off road too.

Of course, riding has been limited in the past week or two. Rain. OMG rain! And colder temps than I like too. It feels we are well over due some hot weather and when it comes we will have to suffer the inevitable shock ride of being massively over dressed for the occasion!

As a result of the weather I haven’t yet tried the larger (but 50g per end lighter) Pathfinders off road. I have no reason to suspect they will be any worse than the 38c version I had previously, which are great except in greasy mud.


Specialized Pathfinder 42c tyre

Plans for the gravel bike

Part of the reason for a tyre upgrade – aside from the old ones reaching end of life – has been how I plan to use the gravel bike going forward.

Until Wisley settles down, I can’t see myself riding the kind of gentle XC and tow path routes that make a nice contrast to Ranmore MTB. This is a pity. I need to explore the carnage caused by the M25 ‘upgrade’ but don’t expect an easy route through for a while.

However, in July we plan a 3-day ‘battlefield’ trip to Belgium (including Ypres) by bike. This route will feature extensive tow path riding from Dunkirk into Bruges and beyond and the gravel bike seems an ideal option for comfort.

The trip will necessitate carrying some luggage, so a rear rack will soon be added to the bike.

This gives me the chance to instigate a commute one day a week (or fortnight!) into the office, carrying laptop plus a change of clothing. I’m damned if I’ll drive but the logistics of infrequent office visits mean I need to carry all my gear with me when I do.

That will keep the Topstone ticking over nicely.

Ravemen LR1600 front light


I’ve used Ravemen lights for a long time now; first the Ravemen PR1200 (which I dropped one too many times) and latterly the Ravemen PR2400. An excellent off road light with a dipped lens for on-road sections.

With my gravel bike plans and my new road bike (oh! I guess I haven’t talked about that yet…) I decided it is time for something to better suit a road-based bike. Mainly the PR2400 light is too bulky to mount discretely on a road bike.

I’ve decided to go for the Ravemen LR1600 which is much smaller, yet still puts out 1600 lumens when I need it to (dark country lanes etc.). It can also be mounted upside down via a Go Pro mount under a centrally positioned bike computer, saving a lot of bar space and keeping a nice sleek look. I am just waiting on the Go Pro mount to arrive to put this plan into action.

Bike fettling

I mentioned needing to do some maintenance earlier. Well that’s not the half of it.

After some new Hunt wheels about 500 miles ago, the Topstone has recently had:

  • New tyres
  • New chain
  • New cassette
  • New rear derailleur
  • New bar tape
  • New chainset (to a GRX 810 48/31) which then necessitated a
  • New front derailleur

That is basically a new bike isn’t it?

Then the Pace spat out it’s crankset back in February…

Meanwhile my Bird Aether 9 has been out of action since last autumn.

Partly, winter and a hardtail that was bought specifically for that purpose. Partly, the Pace got the Deore crankset off the Bird while the Bird will get a new, lighter SLX crankset. But specifically, a need for a new set of bearings for the Aether has meant buying a set of drifts and a bearing press along with the actual replacement bearings.

In addition to all that, I want to set my new road bike up tubeless. Which means a pair of tubeless road tyres are now also required. At least the discarded road tyres will find their way to my Trek urban bike (despite the name – tyres called Maxxis Detonators concern me!).

All in all, lots of time faffing and fettling (with the bearing swap yet to be attempted) and lots of near continuous expense from the bike budget over the past 6 months.

If anyone asks, all the above has been an investment in my future riding… but it’s a wonder I get to ride at all!

Filed under Mutterings in May 2024


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

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