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Stuck in gear and need expert advice? Ask Andy the Mechanic (a.k.a. Andy Wallen), the proprietor of Wheelcraft Bicycles of Wheeling, WV. (Please, no old bike & antique questions.) E-mail to ibike@bikexchange.com, subject "ask the mechanic," or mail your question directly to Ask the Mechanic, c/o Wheelcraft Bicycles, 2185 National Road, Wheeling, WV, USA 26003. Andy will e-mail your advice and we may post it afterward. Take a look at our back issues to find answers to all kinds of bike fix-it questions. (Submitting a question will put you on the list for our next seasonal email newsletter; your name can always be removed from that list at your request.)  

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Winter 2003 Q & A's (50 posted in this season's column)

Hi there Andy,

After chasing everywhere for a good idea, I found your website which seems to have all the common sense!

I have a 'commuting' racer, with 27-inch wheels, and I built in a Shimano 3-speed hub gear. After a year, it started to screech in top gear when pressure was applied. I replaced the gearbox with a spare I had, and this one has just started to do the same thing again, a tortured metal screech, only in top gear, and only when pushing. It totally beats me, do you have any ideas what's doing it, and how to stop it? I'd be really grateful, because this one has totally stumped me.

Cheers,
Mike Watson
Transport Safety Investigator
Australian Transport Safety Bureau

Mike,

It's hard to say what is causing your problem, but I will say that 3-speed hubs are rarely any trouble. It's possible that the gears need lubrication, which may be easy if there is an oil port, and not quite so easy if not. You can partially disassemble the hub enough to get some oil on the vital organs. Use heavy gear oil, not grease. If you don't want to get into disassembly, you may be able to force oil in through the hole that the push rod goes into.

Andy

Guys,

I am looking for two tyres for my granddaughter's bike. We live in Australia, and I have found it impossible to find. It is a Peugeot and the tyre size is 600 x 28A.

Your help would be appreciated,
Lionel J Bowen

Lionel,

As nearly as I can tell, you need some variant of a 24 x 1-3/8 inch tyre. Try a 24 x 1-3/8 x 1-1/4. They may be hard to find, but they are available.

Andy

Hello,

I own Dura Ace STI 9-speed levers (7700).

The right-rear lever doesn't downshift. The only way to get the mechanism to release the cable is to hold the main lever with the fingers and shift with my thumb. If I don't hold the main lever it doesn't shift.

Thank you,
Luc

Luc,

When the STI lever breaks, it's broke. Perhaps a watchmaker could fix it, but probably not. You have a 3-year warranty--hopefully, it's not up. If it is, prepare to cough up damn near $200 to replace it. 

Andy

Andy,

I have a Cannondale R200 CAD2 bike with Shimano RSX A410 brakes. The brakes do not have a quick release cam. Is there a kit that will add a quick release cam to these brakes? Or is there another way to add a quick release cam? 

Ralph

Ralph,

The only thing you can do is get new brakes, as no such kit exists.

Andy

Dear Andy,

Can you give me a few examples of some good freestyle BMX brakes?

SD,

Diacompe, if you can afford them. Diatech is very good for a little less money.

Andy

Andy,

How do I adjust the front breaks on my Haro Revo freestyle bikes?

Split Munky

Split,

Freestyle bikes usually have "U" brakes, which are similar to cantilever brakes. Unlike cantis, you should have the pad hit the rim near the bottom of the brake surface, rather than the top. For maximum power, have the pad hit flat when viewed from all directions. The brakes have centering springs on both sides; to use them, loosen the fixing bolt slightly, and turn the flat spots on the cover with a 13mm (I think) wrench to move the pad closer to or further from the rim.

Andy

Andy,

I am installing (trying to) a new Campagnolo chain on a bike I am building. I have no idea how long I should make this chain. It seems too long to me, but I may be mistaken. What are the guidelines for installing a new chain?

Are Campagnolo chains hard to remove chain rivets from?

Thanks,
Steve

Steve,

Out of the box, the chain is way too long. Typically, you'll use 104-106 links, but that depends upon gear choices. I usually use just enough chain to pull the rear der so that the chain doesn't contact the outside of the der cage when in the smallest cog/chainring. I'm sure there must be a more scientific method, but this works for me.

Andy

Andy,

We have a Mongoose Hoop D with 20-inch tires and stunt pegs on the front and rear. The rear tire is flat and we were able to get one peg off using a ratchet extension. The other side however seems to be stripped. How can we get the nut off to fix the flat?

Molly

Molly,

This would call for unsound methods. If the nut or axle is in fact stripped inside the peg, I see only one way out, and it involves hacksaws, sawsalls, mototools, or all of the above. It's really tough to cut an axle off while the wheel is attached, but I'm sure it can be done. Alternatively, you may be able to unthread the axle all the way through the hub from the side that came loose. Either way, it'll be a huge pain (or a big bill).

Andy

Hi,

I wanted to know if there is a way to convert a one-piece crank to a three-piece.

Terry

Terry,

All you need is cash. Buy a 3-piece crank and bottom bracket, and there you are.

Andy

Dear Andy,

I am stuck in a bind. I have Campy Record 10 on my new bike and was cleaning off the old lubricant to put on new stuff. When taking the chainrings off of the cranks, I believe I lost a spacer for one of the bolts.

The crank arm has four spider arms and the crank arm. The chainrings bolt onto the crank arm as well as the spider arms. How exactly do the chainrings bolt onto the crank arm (i.e., what is required for the proper operation of the chainrings). As it stands, I have the bolt, but no spacer, and can push the chainrings together (not good). As well, I found a thin washer that prevents the bolt from going all the way through the large chainring, which I believe holds the large chainring to the crank arm.

Ok, after all that - one more question. Where can I get a mechanic manual to work on my campy stuff? Thanks!

Mike Mareska

Mike,

As a guy who deals with Wal-Mart Mongooses all day, it's pretty tough to stay abreast of all the high tech marvels that the rest of the world enjoys. Sad to say that I am ignorant about the intricacies of Record 10 chainring bolts, but if you have four bolts and only three spacers, you need another spacer, and it'll have to be a Campy spacer. Next time, take a picture or something so that you don't have a doubt about how to reassemble stuff. Zinn's road bike book covers this stuff pretty well.

Andy

Hiya Andy,

I've got an old steel bike (no decals or markings) with a Shimano 600 road component group. I want to remove the clamp-on shift levers and use the braze-on mounts on the downtube, but they are not the standard square mount. They are round with a smaller half-circle limiter on the front.  I've been told the older Dura Ace ex model uses this type mount, but as yet have not found any used or NOS.  Are there any other shift levers that will fit this mount?

Thanks,
mm

mm,

Stuff like this is out there, but tough to find.  I recently got wind of old Suntour stuff to be had at www.thirdhand.com. It's worth looking into.

Andy

Hi,

I hope someone will be able to give me some advice.  As a family, we enjoy cycling and take our bikes on holiday with us. My problem is that we have just purchased a brand new Ford Galaxy and are unsure as to which method to use to transport four cycles. They need to be rear mounted due to height restrictions. We also tow a caravan. I have been looking at tow ball carriers and rear door carriers, in particular the Thule backpack which will carry up to four cycles (unsure whether it carries four while towing). Can anyone offer me some advice on which would be the most suitable?  I would be most grateful to receive any information.

P.S.  You're site is very informative.

Ta Ta for now, Helen G.

Helen,

I'm not sure that anything will work well with four bikes and towing. A strap on carrier that carries four bikes is mainly held on by faith. It will require about four feet between the rear of the vehicle and the object being towed. The "tow and go" type would be best, but you can only fit three bikes on these. I'd get the tow and go, and try to mount the fourth bike to the caravan, or maybe put all four back there. You can mount Yakima carriers on to some of these campers.

Andy

Andy,

What's the best way keeping your bike's finish (not to mention the chrome) looking like new several years the down the road?  Thanks.

Lee

Lee,

Keep it clean and dry. Use only stuff made for bikes--cleaners, polishes, and lubricants. I use Finish Line for everything. Chrome polishes help keep down rust on chrome parts if you have them. 

Andy

Andy,

I have a Klein pulse and replaced the chain and rear cassette last year because there was noticeable wear. Ever since I cannot use all cassette gears when on the center crank gear. When climbing hills the chain skips unless using larger gear rings. For the trails I ride the center crank gear. That was all I used and I never had this problem. I have removed chain links until the chain was too tight to get all gears. The crank gears are in good shape and I have adjusted the rear derailleur from scratch several times. What would you suggest? 

Tim

Tim,

The middle ring is worn out. Either replace it, or replace all three chainrings.

Andy

Andy,

I have a 9-speed Ultegra bike. I am entering a USCF stage race next week that allows us to provide spare wheels. My brother-in-law has an 8-speed Shimano 600 bike with nice Mavic wheels that I could borrow. Will my spare 9-speed cassette fit on his rear wheel/hub to provide me with a spare wheel?

Thanks, 
Scott
Tucson, AZ

Scott,

Yes.

Andy

Hi,

Any advice on how to remove stubborn pedals from my son's Huffy Mountain Bike? I know that the threads are reversed. No matter how hard I strain I can't get either pedal to budge. It's not like I don't know what I'm doing either, I just replaced the pedals on my Fuji bike and they came off without a problem. I've reached the point with my son's bike where I'm ready to pitch it and get him a better quality bike. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Paul Ragas

Paul,

There's not much advice to give here. Use solvent (Knockerloose, Kroll, etc.) and get a longer lever. In the shop, I figure if something like this is going on, I charge $75 per hour to try to break it loose and possibly destroy it, or a new crank and pedals can be installed for about $30, parts and labor.  I'd cut the left pedal off and replace the crank.

Andy

Sir,

I have a Chesini bike with a headset type "PRO" (it has a label "PRO" printed on it). After riding about 50 km, the headset and fork start making abnormal noise. In fact, the upper ring of the headset for some reason or another lost grip. I can turn it round with my hand. This upper ring contains three small inbus screws. I can fix the ring by re-fixing the three screws. Until the next 50 km.

The technician in the bike-shop doesn't give much comment on the problem. He tells me "to bring in the bike when I have the problem." However, I cannot bring it in after each 50 km. 

What is the solution for this?

I have the impression that the three small inbus screws must be fixed or tightened at their max. Probably the technician did not fix them at their max. I am a little afraid of putting too much force at the screws. Might it harm other parts like frame or fork?

The problem is that when you cannot keep the small screws fixed, you cannot keep the headset and fork fixed. And fixing those small screws (for a long time) seems to be impossible as they loose their grip as results of the shocks and vibrations in the fork. 

Regards,
De Gieter Jean-Marie

Jean-Marie,

It sounds like you are describing a threaded headset with set screws in the locknut, which are supposed to prevent the problem you have. Obviously, something's wrong. Hopefully, the fork threads are not damaged. Even with the set screws, you still must be able to adjust the headset conventionally, which means that both the fork and locknut must have good threads. Take it apart and look at the fork threads. If they are okay, then replace the locknut, with or without the set screws, as these screws are not vital. You may need to have the steerer tube rethreaded, or possibly replaced. 

Andy 

Hey Andy,

I own a Haro '540' Air (Mirra Signature Series) and for some reason the headset became loose. I want to be able to fix this myself because all it needs is to be tightened a bit. The headset feels really loose and wiggles when I brake and trick off of stuff and it wasn't like that when I first got the bike.

So if you know how I would be able to go in and tighten this bad boy by myself it would very helpful...or any information for that matter.

Thanx,
Rudy

Rudy,

First, loosen the pinch bolts with a 5 or 6mm allen wrench. Then, tighten the adjusting bolt (this has the front brake cable running through it) until the play is taken out of the head set. Tighten the pinch bolts very securely.

That's it.

Andy

Andy,

I ride a Free Agent BMX and my headset is always coming loose. I tighten it and go for a ride on some jumps then I get home and have to tighten it again. Also, I have gone through (snapped) three types of bars in the past two months. Do you recommend any good bars?

Thanks,
Liz 

Liz,

If you are breaking stock bars, it would be worth spending $50 or more for a really good bar. Profile, Crupi, Standard, and Primo are some of the best, and Odyssey makes a bar with extra thick tubing. Your two problems could be related if you have a crappy stem. If your bars are breaking near the clamp, you could have a bad finish or fit on the stem, and if it is a cheap stem, it may not sufficiently hold the headset adjustment. I would examine all parts of the headset. You could have a split race, or a damaged bearing. In either case, the headset will seem fine until you bump it around a little, and then it gets loose again. 

Andy

Dear Andy,

My son just bought a GT Bump and says his friend told him that cutting a few inches off the ends of the handlebars will improve performance, i.e., riding through trails and dirt jumps etc. What is your opinion please?

Thank you,
Chris' Dad.

Ronald,

There is nothing wrong with trimming the bars, as long as you leave enough room for the brake levers and grips. It's just a matter of preference, and would be less likely to get stuck in a tight spot. 

Andy

Hi,

I have two Cannondale Raven 4000's with Lefty forks. I want to convert one of them to a street cruiser and leave the other for more extreme applications. I know it is a bit silly to put such a hardcore bike to such a task but it is what I want. One for "streeting," one for mountain biking. So here is what I need: The steering stem is 1.5 inches and I want to raise the bar height and make it more upright for street use. Also, tell me any other ideas you have about making it more "streetable." I have a road bike as well, a Bridgestone RB-1 8, but I like riding the same frame and bike both places. Speed is not important on the Raven Street. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Stephen 

Stephen,

This is like turning a Hummer into a Lowrider, or a Countach into 4-wheel drive. I'm glad you said that it's a bit silly, as there are a million cheap bikes that come out of the box ready for this purpose. As far as I know, you'll have to buy a Cannondale stem, or possibly a Profile. Your choices would be limited to whatever they make, which I imagine would include a 45 degree stem for "uprighteousness." I don't think SKS fenders will fit the bike, which is a shame as this would add the ultimate geek touch. You may, however fit some clear THE fenders on there. Get the grand prix 26x25 tyres, maybe a 4-inch riser bar. 

Andy

Andy,

I was wondering if it takes any special tools to replace the cables in the Shimano 105 shifter/brake system?  I took the front off but couldn't see how to replace the cable. Any and all coaching will help. Or, where can I get a detailed diagram on the system itself?

Bill,
Laurel, MD

Bill,

I would imagine that the Shimano web site would have the so called technical manuals, which come with each product, but yours may not have if your levers came stock on the bike. Push the release lever (the small one) until it stops clicking, or until the chain is on the smallest cog or chain ring. Undo the cable bolt, or cut the cable. Release the brake, as if to remove the wheel. Pull the brake lever as far as possible, and you expose the cable inlet. Push the old cable out, and install your new one from this position. You need to be sure that the lever is fully released before inserting the new cable. If it is not, it may become jammed. When you look in from the outside, you should clearly see a cable seat, shaped to hold the lead cylinder on the end of the cable. If this seat is tilted up, the lever is not released, and you'd need to push the release lever until the seat is roughly parallel to the top tube.

Andy

Hi,

I have a Trek 930 1993. I would like to change the threaded rigid fork to a threadless shock. How?

Thanks,
Jeff

Jeff,

Most people do not possess the tools or mechanical inclination to do this right. Most shops will charge around $40 to do this. If you must do it yourself, get the fork, Aheadset, Aheadset stem, assorted headset spacers, star nut setter, saw guide, headset press, slide hammer, and a good hacksaw. You can not install a headset without a headset press and slide hammer; there are no acceptable substitutes. These tools alone will exceed the $40 for shop installation. When you buy the head set, it'll tell you how to install it. There's not much to it really, you press in the cups, measure the fork, cut the steerer tube to the desired length (This is a matter of personal preference--be very sure of the correct length before cutting. I often cut as much as 50mm too long, and stack spacers above and below the stem so that the rider can try different stem heights before deciding exactly where to make the final cut.)

Andy

Andy,

I have a wheely big problem.  I bought a new double wall (Velocity Aeroheat) ATB rim for my bike. The old rim has metal inserts to distribute the load of the spoke tension between the two walls, I think. The new rim has no such inserts and I wonder if this is okay.

Chuck

Chuck,

The rim in question has a reinforced spoke bed; the aluminum is thicker where the nipples seat. This is an excellent alternative to Mavic, Sun, etc. The rim is among the lightest made, and the combination of shorter spokes, due to the aero profile, and sturdy construction, build into one of the strongest wheels around, plus they come in blue or orange.

Andy 

Andy,

I'm a 51-year-old guy, bike enthusiast, very mechanically inclined. Is it possible for me to learn to build wheels? I see the components are reasonable, am I wasting my time thinking I'll be able to build my own? 

Thanks, Denny

Denny,

It is not that difficult to build wheels if you are patient. I like the book The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt. It will explain all you need to know.

Andy

Hi,

I have a new road bike that came with Formula XERO XR3 wheelset. I've had a couple of broken spokes already and am fearing that perhaps the rear wheel, which has just 20 spokes, may be too light for my 225 pounds-of-rider. After the second broken spoke, I had them all replaced; so far no more breaks but I fear that the next one is looming because I may just be too big for the wheel. What do you recommend for a rider of my size? Are 20 spokes too few? 

Phil

Phil,

Sounds like the wheel isn't quite strong enough. The more spokes you have, the sturdier the wheel will be. Some low spoke wheels are quite strong (Rolf, aka Bontrager); others are best left to 160-pound riders. Get a 32-spoked Mavic or Velocity rim with a Shimano hub and stainless spokes, and you won't have this problem.

Andy

Andy,

I have a Bob Jackson frame made of 531 and have put about 1500 miles on it. It is a 60 cm frame and I weigh about 225 pounds. Recently I have found that the seatpost will slip about 1-1.25 cm during a ride, leaving me with very uncomfortable knees. I have had it back to the shop three times with no good results. They have done everything from roughing up the post, widening the groove between the ears of the seatpost bolt hole and notching the ears so the bolt will not turn on one side. All this to no avail. 

Tonight a friend, a knowledgeable triathlete who works on his own bike, shimmed the post with some fine brass shim stock and placed a washer on one side of the bolt hole. I will try it on a 35-mile ride tomorrow morning, but he said he thought the whole area of the seat tube had stretched and eventually the frame would not be salvageable.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
David Greenberg
Fort Myers, Florida

David,

This usually happens with quick release seatpost clamps and mountain bikes. What has happened is that, at some point, the post slipped and the clamp was over tightened. If tight is good, then tighter must be better, right? Everything has a limit as to how much torque should be applied, and seat post clamps really don't tolerate that much. I would try and remove the "clamp" on the frame, and replace it with an aluminum collar. If the inside of the seat tube is deformed, you could ream it to the next size, and use a 0.2 mm bigger post. You could have the entire seat tube replaced and refinish the bike, but the first two ideas are relatively cheap.

Andy

PS: Steel frames are always salvageable, if you can afford it. 

Andy,

I have his/hers Schwinn LaTour road bikes about 15 years old never really ridden. I like the Hybrid concept. Is it wise and or cost advantageous to convert these two bicycles into hybrids? I mainly wish to change the handle bars seat and post.

Steve

Steve,

You can convert these bikes for about $60-$75. You'll need bars, stem, brake levers, grips, and probably some cables and housing. Get a pair of Tioga Bloodhound 27x1-3/8, and you'll have a real hybrid. You won't necessarily need a new post to change seats.

Andy

Hello Mr. Mechanic,

Is there a way to determine if you are short a ball bearing? I'm not sure how many bearings my bike originally came with. I'm wondering because I can hear them clicking in my hub I just repacked with grease. Could this be the hub nuts not being tight enough?

Thanks in advance,
Mark

Mark,

You should expect to find nine 1/4" balls in each side of the rear, and ten 3/16" balls in each side of the front. There are exceptions, in which case you'd just have to use good  judgment--there should be just about room for one more ball if they are packed in there tight. 

There are many other things that can cause clicking or roughness--scored hub races or cones, bad fitting or deformed dust caps, old dried out grease, over or under tightening, etc.

Andy

Andy,

I am trying to replace the freewheel on my Santana tandem, 1994 or 1995. The freewheel is original equipment--a Suntour AP II (at least that's what's on the outermost ring) 7-speed. My question is how do I get the darned thing off? The hub is a Sansin. It has sealed bearings on the non-freewheel side and a 9-ball bearing cup on the other side that appears to be part of the freewheel, i.e., there's no place to put a freewheel tool. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Philip 

Phillip,

You may have a Suntour/Sansin cassette hub. Some of these are held on by the smallest cog, in which case you use two chain whips, one to hold the body, and one to unscrew (clockwise) the small cog. Otherwise, if it is in fact a freewheel, you'll need a two or four prong tool. If you don't see notches for a tool, then you must have the cassette. In either case, you'll never find a replacement. If your bike has indexed shifting, a Shimano cassette or freewheel will come real close to working, but it won't quite shift right. If you have friction, or can use friction shifting, this is not a problem.

Andy

Hi,

I have been surfing the web for some information on how to fix this problem and came up with your website. We are living in Zimbabwe and am finding it difficult to get help. 

The problem is that I have a TVT bike, that's all the description on the frame. It is a carbon/aluminum frame and the rear derailleur hanger bracket has broken. Any suggestions on how to fix it? 

Regards,
Jeff Brown

Jeff,

I have adapted various replaceable hangers to bikes that have bent or broken hangers. You just cut off the dropout to match the shape of the hanger, drill holes in the frame for the bolts, and voila! The late model CODA ones are easy to install, and I like the fact that they use two small bolts, so that you can get away with drilling 3/16" holes rather than larger ones that may weaken the frame. This is the best product that Cannondale makes; the only one that gets my seal of approval. They are widely available in the US, for about $20.

Andy

Hi Andy,

Having learned a lot from you already, I thought I would pose my own question. I have a 2001 Specialized Hardrock with Acera/Alivio components (7-speed). I just bought a small frame-- Wasatch 9000--for my wife, who rides about twice a year. The 9000 has XT 9-speed components.  I would like to swap everything. My question is, other than a potential problem mounting the front derailleur; do you see any other problems in switching?

Thanks,
Tom

Tom,

The only parts that may fit one frame and not another are the front derailleur and the bottom bracket. Most bikes use a 68mm shell, but a few use a 73. Otherwise, it's almost standard, except for seatposts. 

Andy,

Hi, I have a GT I-drive 6. I need to take the cranks off but I don't know how. They are square tapered. Please, can you help me?

Thanks from Dave

Dave,

Get a crank puller. Once you have the right tool, like a Park CCP-2, things like this are remarkably easy. Without it, something will break, or at least get badly bruised.

Andy

Andy,

I am trying to replace my crank and am unable to loosen it. I took it to a bike mechanic and they told me to take it to someone who had an impact gun. That didn't work either. I tried the best penetrating oil I know of and that didn't work. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Terry

Terry,

From your description, it would seem that you cannot loosen the crank bolt. I've never encountered a crank bolt that could not be loosened with a long enough lever. I don't think that air impact tools should ever be used on bicycles. As a last resort, destroy the head of the bolt, and use a ball joint separator to pry the crank off. (Ball joint separators are sold through bicycle tool suppliers at $15--wholesale--or you can walk into most any auto supply store and get one for $3.99.) 

Andy

PS: Use a large drill bit to destroy the bolt head. I hope this is not an expensive bike or crank.

Andy,

I would like to put a fork with a little more travel on my Cannondale Jekyll 900. It currently has the 70mm Headshok. I am mostly concerned about how that might affect the strength of my frame. Have you heard of anyone else doing this and know how it worked out for them? I don't know why Cannondale would make the parts available to do the job if they felt it was really going to compromise the frame. By no means am I going to be doing any big drop offs if I do change, that is not my style. I would just like to try a 100mm. Do you think it is something that is feasible?

Thanks,
Jared

Jared,

You should have no problems with a 100mm fork. If you're worried, get a Black, Psylo, or Judy with adjustable travel. Your front end will be a little high with the reducers, but it should handle okay.

Andy

Hi,

I changed my back tire and now can't get the chain and back derailleur on. Where can I find out how to do this?

Thanks,
Jan

Jan,

If your derailleur is off, you have a hanger type, as opposed to the higher quality direct mount, which bolts to the frame. To install the derailleur, make sure that there are no loops in the chain: it should come straight off the front sprocket, and around the rear cog. Slide the "D" shaped nut into the dropout, or axle slot, as far back as it will go. Align the slot on the derailleur with the dropout, and snug the bolt down. Put the front shifter into the 1st gear, and the rear shifter into the highest gear. As you pull the wheel into position, pull back on the derailleur, and guide the top section of the chain over the smallest cog. At this point, you should have the chain contacting the smallest cog, and some slack on the bottom part of the chain. Gently work the wheel back into position, make sure that it is straight, and proceed to tighten up the nuts or quick release. If you have a nutted (with no "Quick Release" skewer) wheel, pull the gear side back as far as possible, and snug the nut on that side first. Move the wheel from the other side until it is straight, and snug the nut on that side. Then, really tighten both nuts, making sure that nothing slipped. If you have a QR, hold the wheel straight with one hand, and close the lever with the other. Make sure that the QR nut is tight enough to hold the wheel securely. If it is too easy to close the lever, open it and tighten the nut a bit. Do not use the QR as a nut and bolt. If you are not sure how to use it, take it to a shop. 

Andy

Andy,

The aluminum stem on my Schwinn Paramount road bike is frozen and I can't remove it. I have tried penetrating oil to no avail. I am afraid to try too much force for fear of damaging the fork. I have thought of just leaving it since the stem is at the correct height for me but I am worried that if it is corroded it might cause safety problems in the future.

I just wondered if there is any way to safely remove the stem or if it is better just to leave it alone?

I appreciate any help you can give.

Thanks,
Norm Rognalsen

Norm,

If you have a quill stem, I'd cut it off above the headset, then remove the quill in much the same way that one removes a seatpost, by cutting it into small sections with a hacksaw blade, longitudinally. If you have an Aheadset, you'll need to cut the fork off, and replace both parts. Sooner or later, you'll need grease or bearings in your headset, and you'll have to get it off. Until then, ignore it. 

Andy

Hello,

My wife has a 2001 Jamis Dakota AL with a 1-1/8" headset. It has a Manitou Mars air fork on it. I'd like to purchase a headset and I've noticed there to be different diameters. However, are there different heights as well? Such as, a 1-1/8" diameter and a 3/4" height? I'm really confused about what I've read--something about different size headset cups, and that the steerer tube may be too short for the headset.

Is there any real concerns that need to be addressed other than the bike requiring a 1-1/8" headset?

If you could clarify my questions I would really appreciate it!

Thanks,
Keith Adkins
FSU Cycling
Tallahassee FL
Go Noles!

Keith,

Your biggest concern here is for the stack height. By the way, this is always measured in millimeters, not 3/4 or any other part of an inch. If you buy a headset that exceeds your existing stack height by very much, you can't use it, as you won't have enough steerer tube to clamp onto. If you have a bunch of spacers under your stem, then you shouldn't have a problem with stack height. If you have no spacers, and go from a 26mm to a 31mm stack height, it won't work. You can also run into this problem with stem height.

Andy

Andy,

I am about to tape a drop bar for the first time. I am converting my first mountain bike to single speed and don't want to spend much money. That's why I'm doing it myself. I've ordered the tape (Cinelli cork) and I'm assuming it will come with directions, but any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Paul

Paul,

You'll get instructions with your tape. This is something of an "art". It's easy to do, but difficult to make pretty. You want to stretch the tape, but not too much, or it'll break. The best looking jobs start at the end of the bar, at the drops, and you stuff the tape inside the bar and use the plug to hold it in. I find that the so called finishing tape does not work very well at the stem end, so I usually opt for electrical tape here.

Andy

Andy,

First things first. I disagree with your assumption all Wal-Mart specials, specifically Mongooses, are bad. I have a D60r, which is a 1999 vintage Wal-Mart Mongoose. The frame is heavy but sturdy and I have upgraded it into a great bicycle. Shimano LX and XT, Panaracer Fire XC, Strongarm cranks--ya get the picture. Anywho, what do you know about Mavic Crossland wheels? I heard they need constant truing? Fill me in wise one!

Cliff

Cliff,

I really don't want to get into any sort of debate as to the legitimacy of the Wal-Mart bicycle. Everybody has an opinion, and people have different taste. Some people even buy well done steaks and wash them down with Budweiser, while listening to Eminem or Brittney Spears. I don't want to argue with them either. I will challenge you, however, to produce a bike expert (not Chris Hornung) who disagrees with me. Also, when I see and touch these products on a regular basis, and compare them with legit bicycles, my evaluation can hardly be called an assumption, can it?

The wheels in question should need no more or less attention than any other wheel. I think I remember the name "Crosslands", but that hasn't been on the market for several years.

Andy

Andy,

I just received a new GT bike. It is an I-drive 6.0. The first time I rode it I just went on a light trail and did nothing serious. When I got home I realized that the inner part of the shocks were sticking out the top, so that the greasy part was exposed. When I push the inner part back in and push down on the shock they come right back up. This happens on both sides. Also when I press the front brake and push the bike forward it moves within the shocks so that the frame moves like three inches while the wheel stays still. My dad is going to take the bike to a GT dealer to see if they can help but I was wondering if it was a simple problem, or what is wrong. Please e-mail me as soon as possible to prevent any money form being spent. 

Thanks a lot,
Elliot

Elliot,

Sounds like the cap popped; it probably stripped out. You'll need a new one, which you'll have to get from a bike shop. I'd find a decent suspension mechanic anyway, because I'm not sure what's going on from your description. Don't expect much from the tech/warranty dept of Pacific cycles, new owners of Schwinn/GT, and don't pay much to fix this fork, as it is without value.

Andy

Andy,

Question regarding sore hands. I ride my Cannondale R600 on a trainer during the winter. NY is cold! My hands get sore very quickly on the bike. I have been told this is because I am static on my bike. Gloves don't help. Do you have any advice. I am thinking of switching from a Quill to a threadless stem, to raise the height of the handlebars.

Do you think I am heading in the right direction or am I wasting my money?

Thanks,
John

John,

The most cost effective way to deal with this is to get either a stem with a rise--I think Salsa makes road stems with a 105 degree rise-- or buy a stem riser, such as those made by Delta. Either way is going to look a little goofy, the latter borders on real goofy. No, it crosses the line. It's beyond goofy. Since you ride indoors, there shouldn't be anyone around to observe how goofy it looks, so that's really not a problem. If you use a stem riser, you'll probably need new cables and housing. It'll bring you up a couple of inches, and you can restack the spacers to lower it if you like. 

The quill stem is not a good option. Most quill stems can be raised and lowered, but can not be raised significantly higher than your stock setup. If you buy a quill, then you'll need a new fork and headset, and threaded forks and related products are getting scarcer by the day. 
Remember, road bike bars are set low for a good reason. I don't have a written in stone formula, but my personal belief is that, if the distance between the center of the bars and the top of the head tube is increased beyond 90mm, handling suffers at a rate of about 20% per 5mm, at a rather exponential rate, such that if you were to go the distance of the Delta stem riser, you'd suffer a 320% decrease in your ability to ride around curves. If you buy the Salsa stem, which comes in up to 115 degrees in 1 1/8" size, you'll be able to easily change back to your stock stem if you want to race a criterium.

Andy

PS: Speaking of looking goofy, I once had my bike on the trainer with cheap aero bars. You might consider this instead of or in addition to the above suggestions. It gives you another completely new position, which doesn't put any strain at all on the hands. 

Andy,

I understand that Columbus makes a stainless steel tubing. The reason I am possibly interested in this is because my custom steel bike's top tube just cracked from rust. I sweat profusely but was told that stainless steel might withstand such an assault. But I am not sure that salt sweat is the same as nice plain rain water.

Or is titanium the only other reasonable route?

Any info or help would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Fred Kaufman

Fred,

A few years ago, Columbus Merak stainless tubing was hot stuff among the ever shrinking steel crowd. I'm sure it's still available, but is not used as widely as you'd think. I assume that it has more to do with assembly difficulties than the actual quality of the raw material. Stainless doesn't rust, per se, but it can corrode. We have a stainless sink here with a sticker that says not to use bleach or ammonia, or it may eat a hole in the sink. There are different alloys that are used for different purposes, and I'm really not that familiar with stainless frames. Talk to a builder, like Ted Wojic, for more insight.

My opinion is that if corrosion is your biggest problem, titanium will give you as near a steel ride as anything, and won't corrode. Carbon is a good choice, but it doesn't ride quite like steel.  Aluminum rusts in it's own way. 

Andy

Hi!

I'm a French guy constructing a vehicle for a competition with a prize for the least fuel consuming. Our objective for this year is 1500km/liter. I need a freewheel and only it--I've got everything else and the vehicle has only one gear. Could you advice me which manufacturer would be best for a freewheel with the least friction possible when "freewheeling" (the engine is off for 90% of the time of the race)?

Thanks a lot,
Grégory Biton

Gregory,

Freewheels are not used much for anything but low end bikes and BMX bikes. The prevailing technology is the cassette hub, where the pawl/ratchet assembly is part of the hub. I don't know what your budget is, but I'd try and use a good hub, such as Chris King or Lew. If you buy a single speed freewheel, there are few choices. Shimano freewheels last longer than generic ones, but I can't speak for the drag factor. SRAM multiple gear freewheels are very good, and you could use one gear on the freewheel body with spacers. 

Andy

Hi,

I'm looking to buy a hybrid city bike. Do you know any sites that have good bike reviews?
I like some of the Marin bikes like San Rafael and San Anselmo. However I would like to see independent reviews. Any ideas?

Regards,
Jason Thompson
London

Jason,

The MTBR / RBR sites are good because they are reviewed by consumers, not idiots that write for Bicycling. I'm not so familiar with Marin, but I would go the extra money to get the bike with the name brand shock. Generic shocks are the real weak link in price point bikes. I mean, they're never going to change away from junk Asian aluminum, so that's a non-issue. Get the bike with Rockshox, both for performance and reliability. It is cheaper to replace the junk shock on the cheaper bike than it is to have it greased. 

As a Gary Fisher dealer, I must urge you to look at their stuff. The Utopia and Fast City are excellent bikes, at about $650 and $1100. Both are US-built 6000 series butted aluminum, with no junk parts. However, these bikes are more performance and less comfort oriented, and may be out of your price range. Look at 'em anyway.

Andy

Andy,

Thanks for the input. I was doing some looking on the Net and I think the bike for me is really a cross-comfort type of bike. I'm planning on riding mostly to and from work. And, in the industrial park I'll ride through, the roads are rough and there are lots of railroad tracks to cross. I really won't be doing mountain biking per say and I don't want to take my road bike there, I'd bend too many wheels. Looks like Raleigh makes some nice bikes.

Your thoughts?
Pete

Pete,

Raleigh is an acceptable choice in bicycles. I recommend buying the brand that the shop or shops in your area sell, because when you get right down to it, Giant, China Bike, Ace Trike, KHS, and Ideal make all of the price point bikes, so there's not much to separate one from another, except for the dealer, which is probably more important than who actually made the thing. We sell Gary Fisher and Fuji, and I prefer Fisher because, as part of the biggest bicycle company in the US, we have very good, no hassle warranty service, and Fisher actually manufactures about 40% of their bikes in the US.

Andy

Andy,

I am going to purchase a 20-inch bmx type bicycle for my 8-year-old son. He is a hard rider and uses his bike a lot. I am looking at a Schwinn and a Mongoose. Would you give me your opinion on these brands?

Thanks,
Tyger

Tyger,

First thing: don't buy anything from a department store. If you must have a Mongoose, buy one from a bike shop. Second thing: don't buy anything "made" by Pacific, which now owns both brands in question. Pacific is now huge, but has never had acceptable customer service. The warranty department is out to lunch, and there is nobody in the company with much technical savvy. All they can do is buy incredible amounts of bikes from China, and distribute them through channels that other companies have so far avoided. I don't know why they haven't put Schwinn and GT in Wal-Mart yet, but it'll happen any day now.

Haro has outstanding product and customer support. They are one of the few companies in the business that I have yet to have a beef with. I don't like Diamond Back, but I'd rather see you buy db over either Schwinn or Mongoose. 

Buying a Pacific product is harmful to everyone except Pacific. You are led to buy a department store brand under the guise of a shop brand, and you add fuel to the bigger is better mentality. Any decent BMX/freestyle/DJ bike is going to cost a minimum of $200. If it is less, be suspicious.

Andy

Andy,

My son is 13 years old and is working hard to repair his own bmx bike. He is having lots of trouble with the parts that have rust. He's removing parts from an older bike and putting them on his newer bike. The rust makes it hard to get the parts off and then he doesn't want to put any parts with rust on the new bike. Any suggestions to remove the rust and to protect the new bike from rust would be appreciated. Thanks a lot.

Mom 
(Sharon and Ken)

Ken and Sharon,

Surface rust can be very hard to remove. The best thing to do is prevent it, by keeping the bike dry, and drying it off if it does get wet. You can save a lot of problems by greasing new bolts when you install them. Some folks fill the allen head sockets with silicon, which prevents rust, but must be removed when you adjust the bolt. Some types of chrome polish will take off some rust, and prevent it (somewhat) from recurring. Spraying a petroleum based lube on them will help prevent surface rust as well. 

Andy

Andy,

I am looking for a bike attachment/carrier with wheels, to carry a young child (7 months). This would attach to my bike. Do you have a recommendation for a brand?

Thanks for your help,
Jen Green

Jen,

Don't buy department store junk. Burley is the best brand I know of, and most of their trailers can be converted to strollers. Yakima imports a trailer, but if you're looking to spend that much, get a Burley.

Andy

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