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Lennard Zinn’s two key cyclocross accessories

Kappius Digital Tire Pressure Gauge

$159

I’m a hard person to shop for, especially when it comes to bike stuff, yet my daughter surprises me by coming up with the perfect gift on my birthday, and this year she got me the 0-30psi Kappius Digital Tire Pressure Gauge. When it comes to cyclocross tires in particular, but also fat bike and mountain bike tires, I’m a stickler for accurate tire pressure. You can’t count on a floor pump for that when you are dealing with very low pressures, and getting it wrong by even a few psi can make the difference between railing side-hills or corners and the tire folding at the apex of a corner.

I have long depended on a handheld gauge for its improved accuracy over a pump gauge. However, years ago, I gave up on reading handheld needle gauges at low pressures, due to discrepancies in the reading the needle on the scale depending on the angle you look at it — and due to my old eyes.

That leaves digital gauges. These are great, but each one has idiosyncrasies that you have to accept. Some gauges don’t reset without holding down a button after each reading, and if you forget to clear the pressure before putting it back on, you will have to do this step over again, each time losing some air when engaging the gauge chuck. Reducing pressure with most of them requires removing the gauge, venting the valve, holding down the zero button, reinstalling the gauge chuck on the valve, losing air each time.

Enter Brady Kappius and his father, Russ, who are long-time cyclocross and MTB racers as well as engineers devoted to improving cycling equipment. Their hubs, carbon rims, and wheels are renowned for their quality, and this gauge shows the same attention to detail and innovation. The Kappius digital gauge is available in four different configurations, depending on where you want accuracy. For fat bikes, the 0-15psi version is key, while cyclocross and mountain-bike racers will appreciate the 0-30psi version. Gravel grinders might like the 0-50psi version, and roadies would look to the 0-100psi one.

My daughter’s gift also included the invitation to pick it up at the new Kappius headquarters north of Boulder, where I got to look at production of Kappius hubs and wheels, as well as Brady’s carbon repair business, Broken Carbon.

Now that the leaves are falling and my cyclocross bikes have come out, I have been appreciating this gauge more on a daily basis. Its chuck fits well and is simple to line up on the valve and get it on with a minimum air loss. Its long, aluminum pipe makes it easy to read out from underneath the rim. The numbers are large, and it reads to two decimal places. More importantly, it automatically zeroes the reading when you remove it and go to another tire.

For reducing pressure, it works just like a shock pump: You just push the little air vent button on the tube, it lets out incredibly small amounts of air with a short push (and more with an extended push), so you can get it absolutely to the pressure you want. No need to remove it, vent air, and reinsert it onto the valve and lose more air.

If the tire pressure is over 50psi, this 0-30psi gauge just reads out “OFL.” However, if the tire’s pressure is in the 32-40psi range, the gauge flashes the actual pressure alternately with “OFL.” Up to 32psi, it reads only the tire pressure, and very accurately!

Effetto Mariposa Carogna Remover Tubular Rim Cleaner

$25 for 150ml tube

Gluing tubulars is nobody’s favorite task, and I have come to appreciate the new Carogna tape that, so far, has been working great for me, even on cyclocross tires, which are harder to keep on the rim than road tires due to less-precise fit on the rim, lower pressure, and a taller tire. However, for the tape to work well, the rim has to be completely clean. This is different from rim cement, where, as long as the old glue left on the rim is thin and smooth, a new layer could go over it and could even result in a better bond.

Completely cleaning off old tubular glue is an unpleasant job, particularly if it was held on with both rim cement (multiple layers) and Belgian tape, the method I believe in for properly gluing cyclocross tubulars. Getting that mess off generally requires a strong, often stinky, volatile solvent like acetone or VM&P Naphtha, and it often requires considerable elbow grease as well.

My experience of cleaning rims is now transformed after using Carogna remover on a pair of cyclocross wheels. It cleaned them easily with no odor and very little elbow grease.

The consistency was definitely gel-like and thick enough to stay in place. For 24 hours, one wheel was lying flat and the other was in a truing stand with Carogna remover on it. None of it flowed or dripped. There was a lot of Vittoria Mastik 1 on both wheels and torn pieces of Belgian tape that did not come off with the old tire and was strongly adhered to the rim.

My experience was much easier than what it looked like the guy on the Effetto Mariposa video experienced. The Belgian tape and glue lifted easily with the little stubby screwdriver I was using. On the second wheel, I only used the screwdriver on the Belgian tape; I just wiped the rest of the glue off with a rag.

After using Carogna remover and before applying Carogna tape, I blasted the rims with water and let them dry for a couple of days in the sun, but I think there is no need for this. Then I went over each rim with rubbing alcohol; in the future, I would just do the rubbing alcohol step. It removes the thin layer of Carogna remover residue left on the rim, and you can leave the globs of the old glue that the old tires pushed down into the spoke holes — or you can pull them out with a thin screwdriver.

This stuff makes an unpleasant job easy. What more can a bike mechanic ask for?