R.I.P. Chris "Monk Dawg" Vasquez 1970-2016

The mountain bike world lost another good soul recently when Chris ‘Monk Dawg’ Vasquez lost a long battle against illness.

He may not have been someone that many folk outside of the race pits will have heard of but if you were lucky enough to ever have met him, you’ll remember him.

As a tribute to late, great Monk Dawg we’ve delved into our archives and dug out this ‘Mechanics Tips’ feature from 2002.

Over to you Monk Dawg…

1. Always keep your bike clean

And inspect it for cracks. Don’t be afraid to use soap! Soap is your friend. In the States we use Dawn (a dishwashing soap), but basically anything that’s really lemony; something that will cut the grease.

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2. Always check all your bolts

Or any bolts you may have touched. When you check your bolt, don’t tighten it again unless it needs it. Don’t twist on it, just nudge it. You’ll see a lot of people tighten more and more. Either the bolt’s going to snap or they’re going to strip out something.

3. Cabling thriftiness

If you have just replaced the cable housing, sometimes you can just get away with replacing the inner. Spray it through with a lube, then blow it through if you have a compressor. Spray into a cloth, if the lube doesn’t look too black when it comes out then it’s reusable. Take a sharp point and open the cut end of the housing. Make sure there are no obstructions in there. If you ride in really muddy areas, Shimano have little boots that go on between the cable and the housing. Use these anywhere where gravity is pulling dirt in, or where the front tyre can throw muck in.

4. Disc brake check-over

With disc brakes you want to make sure your pads are wearing nice and evenly, not clamming. The definition of clamming is wearing in a v-shape. They’ve got to be hitting the disc as flat as possible, although sometimes things can’t be perfectly flat. Check your hydraulic lines; make sure there are no creases or shiny oil spots. If you see any oil leaks, suss it out, because if you lose too much oil and you hit that brake, there could be nothing there.

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5. Never touch your rotors with your hands

Just the oils in your hands are enough to make your brakes lose power. So usually you grab the spider in the middle, but never touch the actual contact surface.

6. Sandpaper your rotor and pads

If your brakes tend not to work as good as you would like, pull the pads and the rotor off the bike and cross-hatch all of the surfaces with sandpaper. Roughen up the contact surfaces of the pads and the rotor in a diagonal opposed orientation. What this does is introduce a rough edge on both surfaces and pad material is deposited onto the rotor, increasing the stopping power of the disc brakes. The rough edges are fighting each other, biting, and material is collecting in the grooves.

7. Avoid aerosol lube

Use a drip lube on the chain to keep oil off the brake system.

8. Don’t be afraid to bottom out

Bottoming out isn’t bad. You can have the occasional two, three, five hard hits per ride at the most. If it’s a really big drop, it’s going to hit the bottom. But if you’re getting nice soft kisses, that’s beautiful.


R.I.P. Chris “Monk Dawg” Vasquez 1970-2016.