Review: OTTO Tuning System – App for Adjusting Your Bike Gears
Correctly indexing your gears can be a lost art for some. Enter the OTTO Tuning System. The system looks to remove the complexity by leveraging an innovative combination of tool and app combo to remove the thinking and give you a bike shop like tune up in minutes. But is it worth the investment? Let’s find out.
Nothing annoys a rider more than a mysterious tick on your bike. With your mind-set on smashing out a muffin and a coffee in an hour, not having your carbon baby performing 100% is frankly too much to handle for you and your riding buddies.
Incorrectly indexed gears often are the cause of this and without resolution can quickly escalate from annoying to dangerous. The chain can slip under load, surprise you by changing gears randomly and ultimately make you feel like you have a gremlin in control of your Shimano Di2.
Tuning up the drive chain comes down to playing with the limit screws on the rear mechanics, nowadays understanding how to do this has become a bit of a lost art, often requiring you to splash out cash at your local bike shop to make even the slightest of re adjustments.
How does it work?
The OTTO tuning system works by tracking elements on a plastic gauge via your iPhone application. On opening the App it kicks off with a small 5 minute tutorial about how to use the tool, simple enough and easy to understand. You have 2 basic options;
Free: which allows you to check your indexing
Subscription: will provide advice on how to tune your gears. It’s important to note that to date it doesn’t support Android, which is quite frustrating, requiring me to borrow my mechanics iPhone just to complete the review. Does sound like a little oxymoron doesn’t it?
Subscription service 1-day: $1.99 / 90-day: $11.99 / 1-year: $26.99.
Once you have decided on your options the App asks you to put the tool on the derailleur pulley and align the targets on the gauge to the App. A procedure which reminded me about Luke turning on his targeting computer during his death star run except, this time, it hit the target.
After artificially tinkering with the limit screws prior to see how it would work, it picked up to the millimetre where the derailleur was miss aligned. Bravo!
The paywall service then kicks in, so if you have subscribed it gives you actual advice on how to adjust the barrel adjuster and limit screws, cable tension with complete videos, tutorials and the ability to recheck multiple times to get the adjustment right.
Teach a man to fish….
This surmises my biggest gripe with the product whilst reviewing the OTTO tuning system. I couldn’t help but wonder if my time was better spent actually learning how to adjust my gears rather than looking at video instructions on how to use the tool and App.
There’s several videos online that can take you through it and I’m sure if you buy your mechanic a coffee they will be glad to take you through it. I can certainly see a place for the OTTO tuning system to check my indexing while learning how to adjust the gears. But for me to pay a subscription service for an App to tell me what to do? I just couldn’t see the value.
Get thee to a spanner jockey
$50 dollars for the OTTO Tuning System is a relatively modest entry point, ($77 with the subscription service), compared to say 4 services a year your way ahead. However, behind every good rider is a good spanner jockey. Bike mechanics are the unsung heros of the Tour, Kona and Roth, and you need to be best buddies with yours.
Tuning up your bike is more than just adjusting the rear mech, it’s that relationship with your bike, your riding style and common mistakes (sorry for the cross-chaining Jimmy!) and your history that brings the art to the science. So whilst you may save a bit of coin on the mech adjustment, overall I think your life of a cyclist is better off in the hands of a knowledgeable mechanic.
Functional, but time may be better spent learning how to tune your gears.