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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," and tell us where you live. 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 (do not submit a question if you don't want your Q&A posted in a future column). Take a look at our back issues to find answers to all kinds of bike fix-it questions. 

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Winter 2004 Q & A's (50 posted in this season's column)

Hey Andy,

I have a relatively new pair of Rockshox Psylo forks that are starting to leak. I'm going to need new seals soon and was wondering how to go about that. I normally do all my own repairs and am a very good mechanic it's just that I have never opened a pair of oil shocks before and I'm not sure if I will have all the tools I'll need or if I it's worth trying. I am on a very limited budget, so I would also like to know what type of oil I should use to replace the old stuff. I was told that using a thicker weight would give me more dampening power, I am a 190-pounded rider who rides like a maniac and the Psylos are just too soft for me so I need to beef them up a bit. I can't afford a new pair of shocks yet but would like to know what I can do in the mean time.

Thanks,
Gord  

Gord,

I'm not totally familiar with the Psylo internals, but if you do much beyond an oil or spring change, you're going to need some tools. Since the fork utilizes an open oil bath, you'll see some oil seeping out around the wipers, and this is normal. If you don't have dampening, then you have developed a leak in the dampening cartridge. The only way to make the fork work for your weight is to get a heavier spring. Heavier shock oil will have a minimal effect on compression/rebound dampening, but no effect on the stiffness of the spring. Look at www.rockshox.com for service instructions.

Andy

Jim [Bikexchange Editor],

I just found your fine site and read a few of Andy's columns. Thank you for providing a forum for honest advice. I am also a college-educated bike shop inhabitant. His responses seemed very realistic and helpful.  I'm sure your readers appreciate his honesty.

Compgearman

Compgearman,

They certainly do appreciate Andy's honesty and so do I.  Further, Andy and I appreciate your comments. People like you make our work on this website worthwhile!

Best,
Jim Joyce, Editor and Founder
Bikexchange.com: The Bicycle Exchange

Andy,

I have a set of Spin wheels on my Trek 8000sl and need to know if they will take a 9-speed cassette. I have an 8-speed on them now but want to upgrade. I had a 7-speed on them a while back and had to use a spacer to make it work.

Thanks,
Paul

Paul,

Any Shimano freehub that accepts eight cogs will accept nine. 

Andy

Andy,

What do I adjust to stop my pedal from slipping three or four inches every fourth or fifth revolution? Its driving me crazy, please help ;-).

Christine Maier 

Christine,

There are a lot of possibilities, and it would help somewhat to know what kind of bike and/or drivetrain we're dealing with, but you most likely have a broken pawl in the freewheel or freehub, which can be replaced for around $20-35.

Andy

Andy,

Great column! I just assembled a bike using a LeMond Zurich 853 frame with 8-speed Shimano 600 parts. Everything worked out well except the following. Whilst cruising down a descent the bike felt wobbly. I very gently slowed down and the problem didn't go away, so I stopped. I checked the front and rear wheel, and bounced the bike to check the headset, which was professionally installed.

I continued on down the hill and the problem didn't recur. There did seem to be a cross-wind that day. Could it have been flow-induced resonance? 

When I built the bike I was very careful to torque things properly. I didn't touch the front wheel, but I did overhaul the rear. The frame seems to have had very little use, but I'm hoping that this is not the reason the former owner sold.

Thanks, 
Dan
St. Louis 

Dan,

It is unlikely that the frame has anything to do with this phenomenon. Carefully inspect the fork first, making sure that the legs are secure in the crown, as they sometimes come unglued. If that looks alright, try a different front wheel. You most likely have a truing or balance problem, which could require either a new rim or maybe just a new tyre. 

Andy 

Hi Andy,

I have Bontrager Race cranks on my bike (they came stock on my 2000 Gary Fisher Sugar 2). I'm replacing the large and middle chain rings and am curious about the alignment. I called the bike shop that sold me the rings and they indicated that there should be some kind of artifact which will indicate proper alignment (I was told that these should align with the crank arm).

The crank spider has four arms: two of the arms are aligned with the crank arm, the other two are offset by 90 degrees to the crank arm. I found indicators on my new chainrings which align with one another (a hole on the large ring and a "bump" on the middle ring).  My problem is that these do not line up with the crank arm when the bolt holes are lined up (they are off by 45 degrees).  Can I still use these chainrings or do I need to find ones specific to my cranks? If so, do you have a suggestion of where I should align the artifacts, given that they won't align with the crank arm?  Most of the examples of 4-arm spiders that I've seen on the web have arms that are "rotated" 45 degrees from the orientation of my crank arms (in which case my new chainrings would appear to align properly).

Thanks for your assistance,
Brad Bowser

Brad,

First, let me say that the Bontrager crank is a piece of scrap aluminum. If you spent more than $50 on chainrings, take them back and buy a new crank. If you persist in trying to use this illegitimate offspring from the man who re-rolled road rims with his bare hands for the sake of better off road biking, buy the Bonti chainrings, and nothing else. Your biggest problem won't be the alignment, or "timing" as I call it, but will arise from the fact that the center of the Shimano tooth won't be in the same place as the center of the Bonti tooth, meaning that the distance between rings won't be exactly what it was. Bonti rings are marked as to timing by the chain pin on the big ring, and tabs on the inside of the circle of the other two. All this does is make sure that the pins and ramps are aligned to facilitate shifting from smaller to bigger rings. If this is out of whack, you could live with it. The spacing problem, however, is hard to live with. You can make these chainrings work if you have the right spacers, and it is possible that you'll get lucky and the profiles will match.

Andy

Andy,

I have a cyclocross bike with Avid Mech disc brakes on it. I am wanting to put a 40-spoke rear wheel on it since I weigh 320 pounds and need a strong wheel for touring. All the hubs I have seen are spaced at least 145mm and my bike is spaced 135mm in the rear. Could I rework the hub by cutting off the axle to make it work in my dropouts?

Steve

Steve,

You can change the spacing to fit your frame. I'd suggest that you buy a 141mm axle and appropriate spacers, but you can cut a long axle down. Make sure that the drive side stays exactly as it is; cut and change spacing only on the non-drive side.

Andy

Hi,

I would like to know, what is the best way to convert a Presta drilled rim, to a Schrader.

I've had my road bike for two years now, I seem to brake the inner part of the Presta valve all the time. When I get a flat, that is always the case. I've noticed, that I haven't had a flat yet on my mountain bike, which I've had for about 3 years. I would like to be able to switch my road bike over to Schrader tubes (Presta to Schrader). Is that possible? If so, how would I go about doing that?

Thanks,
Pat

Pat,

You can usually ream out the valve hole. I'd have someone check out your rim to be sure that it's okay to do this. We use a Schrader valve reamer to enlarge the hole, but a drill bit is probably okay. I would not do this operation on a narrow or aerodynamic rim. 

Andy

Hello,

I have found some great prices on "full suspension" Jeep brand mountain bikes on the web, and was curious if you had some insight on this brand. I have not seen these in stores and do not know anyone who owns one.

I would really like some professional advice on these bikes.

Thanks,
David Hollins
Oregon

David,

The scope of this column is really limited to service and repair issues. However, I can tell you a little about Jeep. For decades, various manufacturers have tried, with limited success, to capitalize on the off-road name recognition of Jeep, as well as Kawasaki and Yamaha. Some of them, such as Ross in the '90's, were mediocre at best. Most were worse than Ross. I do commend whichever manufacturer who tried to market the Christini AWD bike, but I don't think that the Jeep labeled Christini ever made it. I believe that currently, the Jeep-labeled product is marketed by a company who also markets Honda labeled bikes, and are made by your average Chinese or Taiwanese factory, really nothing special, below the level of most shop quality bikes. It's probably a lost cause, but I would ask you to put principle above price. Daimler-Chrysler gets a cut for the use of the Jeep trademark. They make cars, which suck gas and pollute, worse, Jeeps are SUVs, granted they are not Cadillac's or Lincolns, but SUVs are very contrary to the cycling lifestyle. Enough philosophy--I'm really not what you'd classify as an anti-SUV green liberal, but people need to stop and think before they start up the old Humvee for a no passenger, 1/4-mile run to the corner store. Buying a Jeep bike advertises for this nonsense. Would you buy a bike labeled McDonalds or Budweiser? I hope not. 

Andy

Andy,

I bought a set of Speedplay X2 road pedals and was curious to notice that, while they rotate smoothly about their spindle, you cannot spin them. In other words, they only spin to the extent you continue applying force to them. I would have expected them to spin as easily as my wheel bearings. Is this just a perception resulting from the relatively small mass and/or close proximity of the pedal to the spindle, or are there higher end pedals with less spindle "friction" that would provide a meaningful improvement in performance? What about bottom brackets? Do the higher end sets spin with significantly less friction than something like a Shimano 105 bottom bracket?

Joe

Joe,

Without having your pedals here, it's tough to tell whether you have undue friction. Suffice to say that a large part of your perception is influenced by mass and centrifugal force. If you removed the rim from one of your hubs, mounted the hub in the bicycle, and gave the hub a nice spin, it'd quit almost immediately, just like your pedals do. The same applies to bottom brackets. If you remove the crank arms, even a good, well adjusted bb won't spin for very long. Add the mass of the crank arms, and you have momentum, so it may spin several revolutions. There are small differences in bearing qualities from Shimano 105 through Dura Ace. The Dura Ace bottom bracket has gotten a bad rap, which I think is due to the fact that it is adjustable, and therefore requires adjustment, and if such adjustments are not promptly attended to by someone who knows how to adjust bbs, it'll self destruct. I like the Dura Ace bb for that very reason--if it's too tight, you can adjust it--and I also like the fact that it has serviceable bearings. 

Andy

Andy,

Hey, what's going on? I have a Hard Tail 2001 Specialized RockHopper and I like it a lot.  I really want a full suspension bike without spending a ton of money.  I want to convert my bike to a full suspension bike by altering the rear end of the frame.  Is this possible?  My main concern would be if the bike would be stable after making such alterations. 

Thanks,
Matt Ayars

Matthew,

There's really no safe way to do this. You can buy a good suspension seatpost, or get a new frame. I can't recommend anything that involves cutting and splicing frames .

Andy

Hi Andy

Why is every bicycle pump I purchase losing it's prime?

I buy a pump, use it once, then not again for maybe two months. When I go to use it the next time, it produces no air whatsoever. I end up buying another one, only to have it do the same thing the next time I try to use it. I keep the pump(s) in the house, so they are not exposed to any extreme weather or conditions. 

Please help!

Thank you, 
Brandy

Brandy,

I'd consider a new source of pumps. I've sold some pumps that I'm not exactly proud of, and never had this problem. If you buy a good pump, like Blackburn, Wrench Force, Topeak, Planet Bike or Silca, you'll get a 1-year to lifetime warranty. Most of these pumps can be cheaply rebuilt if something goes wrong out of warranty. I've been using an old Medai pump for 23 years and never had a problem. Buy a name brand and you'll be pumping trouble free for years. Remember, stuff that says "Bell" on it in Wal-Mart is not name brand. Unlike some of the best helmets in the world, this stuff is junk, and the helmets are dangerous.

Andy

Hi Andy,

Thanks for your advice page--it makes interesting reading!

I've got a second-hand road bike which I've had about a year, and I'm having a spot of trouble with it.  The freewheel hub has stopped engaging, so I end up pedaling like a madman and not getting anywhere. It seems okay when I first get on the bike, but after a short while I'm in leg-spin-land. 

The outermost sprocket has Sachs '94 on it, but I can't figure out what the hub is or how it works.  It's not a cassette-type, and looks like it may be threaded.  Do I need to get another chain whip, so I can unscrew this baby?  Or should I give up on the hub and get a new one built into my wheel (which is in very good nick)?

The other problem I have is that the rear wheel assembly and gearing is an 8-speed, jammed into a 7-speed width steel frame.  It's not too tight, and the rear wheel can be removed without too much aggravation, but it's obviously not ideal. Also, it seems quite hard to get 8-speed components these days.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Andy
UK

Andy,

Your freewheel is independent of the hub, and can be removed with a Shimano type freewheel tool (Park Fr-1C or Shimano TL-FW30). To my knowledge, replacement parts are not available, so you'll need a new freewheel. Only SRAM, formerly known as Sachs, and Sun Race make 8-speed freewheels. If the hub is otherwise okay, the cheapest and easiest solution is to replace the freewheel. If you want to replace the hub, you'll most likely wind up with a cassette hub, which will require a cassette in addition to the expense of the hub. If you can find a threaded hub for a freewheel, you'll still need to purchase a freewheel. Your frame can be spread (if it is steel or ti) to 130mm, if desired. 

Andy

Hi Andy,

Another (related) question I'm afraid--thanks in advance for your time!

So, are my sprockets screwed on to the freewheel? If so, how can they be removed, should I find a replacement freewheel and use the same sprockets?

Regarding the frame, the current axle width seems to be 125mm. Is that the standard for 7-speed? And is 180mm the standard for 8-speed? What's 9-speed?

Thanks again. I've looked around on the web for this info and not had much luck--I'm not being lazy!

Andy

Andy,

The cogs are attached to the freewheel body, and the two or three smallest cogs thread on to hold the rest of them on. It is difficult to buy small parts, so you'll be replacing the unit with a full set of new cogs. OLD (over locknut dimension) for 6/7 speed is 126, for 8/9 speed is 130. You can remove the cogs from the body, but it's not easy.

Andy

Hi,

Iíve got a 952 XTR bottom bracket that only creaks when either going uphill or using big gears on the flat; if I shift to easier gears on the flat than the creaking stops. Any suggestions? The bb has been removed and greased, so also has the cranks and pedals.

Fred,

Assuming that everything you described has been done correctly, there are exactly three possibilities: chainring bolts, spider lockring, or the fit of the cup in the frame. 

Pull the crank and check the spider lockring first. If it's loose, or not torqued to spec, there you are. If that's okay, remove, grease and reinstall each chanring bolt, and torque them to spec. If that doesn't do it, remove the bb. Clean out the shell, and smear a little grease on the threads. Wrap each cup with plumber's Teflon tape, and reinstall. This works wonders on nonferrous frames. 

Andy

Hello,

I have some scratches on one of my 2002 Monster T's stanchions, can you advise me on how I can protect my seals from being scratched and damaged as a result? The scratches aren't horrendously deep, and they run parallel with the full; length of the stanchion. One person said to use extra, extra fine grit emery paper with a little water and "gently" sand the scratches till they are just a little less rough than before. Afterwards, I should use Crazy Glue or nail polish in what scratches remain after the light sanding.

When that dries, I sand the resin smooth. Voila. Is this advisable? Otherwise, what can you suggest? 

Thank you,
Bruce

Bruce,

I don't think sanding is a good idea, because sanding will make the diameter somewhat smaller, and the seal won't work as well. I kind of like the fill and sand idea. Before you do it, consult with a machinist or someone who knows about this sort of thing, and perhaps they can recommend something a little more substantial than crazy glue, some high tech epoxy or something. While you have it apart, try and find out what caused the scratches in the first place. Make sure to get the Marzocchi seal removal thing and the proper installation tool. 

Andy 

Andy,

I am thinking of buying a Huffy Ironman Pro for my daughter. Is it a good bike? What is the retail value of it?

Jenna

Jenna,

I probably shouldn't go off and write a dissertation about this, but what the heck. The Huffy Ironman is something that I've never quite figured out. Huffy paid big money to the Ironman people to use the trademark, and put it on a boat anchor of a so called mountain bike, along with a sticker that identifies the heaviest of heavy gauge mild steel as "titanium boron alloy". Talk about truth in advertising issues! The paradox is that the Ironman events are triathlons, run in several venues around the globe, where guys that weigh 90 pounds swim 2.8 (I think) miles, hop on a $7500 tri specific bike and ride it 113 (I think) miles in their Speedos, and then run a full marathon, finishing the race with barely enough life left to throw up, which they usually do. Needless to say, they don't use anything like the Huffy Ironman bicycle to compete in these events. A bicycle worthy of this sort of use is very light, but more to the point, it has to be very aerodynamic. What's that got to do with a cheap department store mountain bike?

Well that's enough of that. The Ironman comes in two versions, the earlier of which is Ironman metallic blue with the aforementioned titanium boron frame. The later version comes in a polished aluminum Mexican made frame, and is actually quite an improvement over the original, which, I believe is one of the last of the American-built Huffys. I can't recommend either bike, or anything else sold in department stores, which now includes Schwinn, GT, and Mongoose in addition to Pacific, Murray, Huffy, Next, whatever. If you can afford it, go to a bike shop and get something that fits and is properly assembled and serviced. A good used shop quality bike is a much better investment than any department store bike. Huffys are designed to be ridden once or twice and then hung in the garage until the big spring yard sale. One reason people don't ride more is that they've had a frustrating experience with such a bike. If Huffy made an airplane, would you fly in it?

Andy

Andy,

I have a 1997 Trek 930 XC which has an RST suspension. I have a couple of questions about it. First the bearing races in the headset, which is threaded, are all worn out, and I have not been able to find replacements. Do you have any ideas of where I can find some? Also, my fork which is an Elastomer spring suspension, has not been working well for a while. I was wondering what I could do to help get the fork working again. I have taken it apart and cleaned everything. I have also applied Judy butter to it. I have heard that mineral oil can help it, but I am not sure if that is true. This bike is a back-up bike for me, and it is located on Molokai Hawaii, while my good bike a Giant XTC SE1 in Canada. Any time you can give me in getting my fork working properly would be very helpful.

Thanks,
John

John,

Generally speaking, you can't buy headset parts, and you certainly can't buy them unless they can be specifically identified and/or matched (that they came on a Trek does not identify the manufacturer or model). You can buy bearing sets anywhere, but if you need more than one cup, you can replace the whole thing for less than $20. The fork would probably make a nice addition to your nonferrous scrap metal pile. Oil only works on forks designed to use oil; this one requires grease. By not performing well, I'm not sure what you mean. Did it ever perform well, or is it worse than it was? You can change springs and clean and grease these things, but that's about all you can do. This is not a Psylo, you know, so don't expect much.

Andy

G'day Andy,

Firstly, you've got a top site going here!

I recently bought myself a Mongoose Brawler (BMX) mainly for inner-city riding. I had the bike modified by having six gears (Shimano Altus single lever) installed and that meant spreading the back forks by about 20mm to accommodate the gears.

I'm wondering if the gears are heavy duty enough for off-road riding and what kind of stress are the forks under now that they've been stretched.

I'm also having problems in that I can only change to every second gear, making it a "clean-miss" whenever I change gears. I can't work out whether I need to tighten or loosen the gear cable on the derailleur. Any advice would be great.  

All the best,
Happy
Sydney, Australia.

Happy,

I'm not familiar with this particular frame, but 20mm is a bit more than I'd want to spread a frame. I don't think that it would hurt much in this case, as I think you have 1/4-inch plate steel dropouts and reasonably stout tubing. As for the gear situation, Altus is not really what I'd call "off roadable," but it's pretty reliable stuff. I'd hesitate to put an expensive drive train on a more or less experimental bike. Your shift problem is probably related to the position of the wheel in relation to the derailleur. Derailleurs are designed to mount on bikes with very little fore and aft adjustment of the wheel; this type of bike has a pretty long slot in the dropout. 

Andy

Hi there,

I have a Cannondale v2000 with hope front disc hubs. I've bearings have just become noisy. Can the sealed bearings be replaced or is does it require a whole new hub unit?

Ian

Ian,

You should be able to get bearings from almost any bike shop. If you don't have the proper tools or experience, pay someone to do it for you. Cartridge bearings are expensive, and can be easily destroyed by improper installation. 

Andy

Andy,

I am a Virginia Beach police officer. I am going to ride in the annual Police Unity Tour in May. It is a 250-mile tour over a three day period. I need to purchase a bike to do this. I am looking for a good used bike because I'm not able to spend a whole of money. I have found a '95 Giant Innova that is in really good shape for $199. Is this a good bike for the money? Also is there a suspension seatpost available for this bike if I do decide to get it?

Thanks,
Brent 

Brent,

The Innova is a pretty good bike for the money. This bike sold for around $400, so $200 is not a bad price if it's in good shape. Suspension seatposts can be shimmed to fit almost any size, so yes you can get one to fit. 

Andy

Hi Andy!

I am trying to verify the wear of my chain. The measuring method does not show me any wear. My chain measures exactly 12 inches and nothing more, not even 1/16-inch. Since the bike has about 1,500 miles, this is surprising, but I have to say that I am performing a lot of maintenance. Now, I have been reading about another way to check for chain wear that involves lifting the chain when it is on the bigger chain ring. If one full tooth shows up, the chain is ready to be changed. Now, when you do this, do you pull a bit on the derailleur to keep the chain under tension, or not? Depending on how I do it I get various results. Also, if I were to find some wear using this method, I should see it when measuring the chain over 12 inches, too, and I do not see anything! (Just in case you're wondering, I am a certified accuracy mechanic from Switzerland, so I know exactly what measuring means.) What is your advice?

Thank you!
Jacques Eicher

Jacques,

I do not rely on the method you describe, but use sophisticated measuring devices, such as those made by Park and Rohloff. Rohloff also makes a nice cassette cog device which I use a lot. Unfortunately for the technically inclined, these instruments only tell you that something is elongated or malformed, not precisely how much wear has occurred. My thoughts are, if you can measure chain elongation by your methods, it's probably too late to avoid small cog or middle ring damage. When in doubt, change ATB (moderate off road use) every 1,200-1,500 miles, and road chains at about 2,500. It's cheaper to buy a new chain every 1,000 miles than to wait until the damage is done and have to replace the chain and cassette, and sometimes chainrings. Besides, a new chain usually shifts a lot cleaner and crisper than an old one. Back in the old days, a chain lasted as long as a frame. We'd take them off, clean them, boil them in wax, rotate them. I had a friend who'd take his off and put it in the dishwasher to get it sparkling clean. Nowadays, by the time your chain is dirty enough to clean, it's time to get a new one! That's one disadvantage to indexed shifting and 27 speeds. 

Andy

Andy,

I have a Marin 'City' Bike with 700c rims. Currently I have 32/30 all terrain tyres and I have been doing a little off road work. I am encountering a little difficulty with riding over sandy or loose soil surfaces with the narrow tyres. Is there a tyre manufacturer whom makes a slightly wider off road tyre for these rims?

Regards,
Tony Carmoda

Tony,

There are a number of tyres that'll fit 700c rims, if they'll fit into your frame. You can get cyclocross tyres if you want a more aggressive tread, such as the Vittoria Tigre Cross. 40mm is probably as wide as you can go, and my pick for best off road performance at a bargain price is the Ritchey Alpha-Bite trail mix. If your frame is wide enough, you could actually use 29" ATB tyres, like the WTB Mutano Raptor. 

Andy

Greetings,

I own a '95 (I think) GT RTS-3 and I have broken off the rear derailleur. My local bike shop has told me that the rear swing arm will have to be replaced.  I am wondering if there is somewhere that I can buy an aluminum swingarm (as fitted to the later models) or is the old bomber headed for the dumpster?  I have tried to call GT support, but we all know what kind of response I got there.  Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.

Semper Fi.
Ron Walsh
Sgt, USMC

Ron,

I have no idea where you're going to find a GT swingarm. If the problem is a bent or broken derailleur hanger, it's possible to retrofit it with a replaceable hanger. I like the Cannondale hangers (a lot more than I like their bikes!) for ease of installation. Otherwise, it's time to go bike shopping. 

Andy

Hello Andy

As an old-tyme bike wrench I love reading your column. 

Most of your stuff is dead spot on, but you might have missed a bet with the stem stuck in the Paramount (see Winter '03 column). 

I would suggest using a propane torch to heat the stem (NOT the frame), getting it fairly hot and then allowing it to cool. By repeating this cycle a few times the expansion and contraction of the quill should break the bond. 

Just a thought. Keep up the terrific work. 

Richard 

Richard,

I don't recommend that my readers use torches and hammers, as it is too easy to overdo it. Also, with the current crop of various aluminum alloys, ultra thin steel, and composite frames, I find it best to avoid extreme heat, unless you are a professional.

Andy

Andy,

My son was riding a Roadmaster, 18-speed 'Ridgemaster' mountain bike when the front shock broke sending him over the handlebars. He wasn't traveling very fast at all. He was also "bouncing" the front fork to activate the shocks when this occurred. My question is: Have you heard of any recalls or others who have experienced the same problem?

Thanks,
Steve Hopple
Blair, Nebraska

Steve,

We are literally deluged with recall notices from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and various manufacturers, both bicycle and parts manufacturers, so it is all we can do to keep up with recalls that affect us, or products that we sold.  This is one more good reason to buy from an independent bike shop.  If we'd sold you the bike, you'd get a card or a call about any recall. Toys-r-Us maintains a very extensive customer data base, so that you get mass mailings, catalogs and coupons, but I don't know of a single customer that was contacted about the 1995 massive Shimano crank recall. We've replaced about 75 cranksets on bikes that we didn't sell, and most of those were Pacifics, sold at Toys-r-Us, and in every case, the customer had no idea. There have been at least three cheap fork recall notices in the last couple of years.  Your best source for this information is the CPSC website.

Andy

Gentlemen,

On the downtube of my 1992(?) Miyata 1000 T Touring Bicycle there is a single bolt midway up
the tube. It seems to be the same size as a bottle carrier's bolt. It attaches nothing to the bike but simply is threaded into the tube. It is located on the forward surface of the downtube and penetrates only a single wall of the tube. I thought it might be a bottle carrier's bolt, but there is only one of them, and it seems to be placed too high up on the tube--a bottle there would hit the front tire. What is the purpose of this bolt?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Best regards,
Bill Sisco

Bill,

I have 2 theories: 1) Oops, Hashimoto, we drilled too many holes in this frame! 2) It may be for a fender or some sort of rack or touring specific fitting. Some ATBs from this period had portage carrier bolts on the frame, and if you removed the portage strap, you'd have two water bottle bolts with no apparent function.

Andy

Hello Andy!

This is rather new to me--the site that is. And I am really hoping it can help me. My oldest son (15) was involved in a car accident while riding his bike. Wheel bent, frame bent, etc., but he escaped with just a few scrapes and cuts (thankfully!). We had two bikes, his and one other that had a problem with the rear well not turning (I thought it was a ball bearing in the gear sprocket). 

Well, we decided to change parts from one bike to the other and found out that the tire still will not turn--it will lock into position after one revolution. I do not understand what I am doing wrong, have done wrong, other than trying to repair the bike myself! Help!

Oh, the bike is a Huffy, 18-speed, Back Water. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Mike Gjurich
Las Vegas, Nevada

Mike,

You either have a bent axle, crushed bearings, cracked bearing races, or a combination of the three. You'll need to take the axle and bearings out to see what's going on, and it would be easier to work on if you could remove the freewheel. You'll need a few tools, like cone wrenches and a freewheel tool.

Andy

Andy,

Help. Just bought a new front shock for my mountain bike. Looked a long time for a threaded 1-inch for 24-inch wheel. Everything went over fine, till I went to place the brake pads. At that point I found them to be off by a half inch. Is there anything I can do to bring the pads down? Drop bolts for this style V-brake I can't find. Any suggestion would be welcome!

Gabrielle

Gabrielle,

There is nothing except the right-size fork that will help you. It sounds like you have a fork for a 26-inch wheel, in fact, I'd bet my '68 Nuovo Record Pista hubs on it. If the legs were the right length (about 9 inches or 230mm from the brake stud to the dropout), you should have no problem. If you get about 9 3/4-inch or 250mm, you have a fork for a 26-inch wheel. If you want one that fits, I have a basic RST for about $100 with 1-inch steerer.

Andy

Andy,

I am currently working on two mountain bikes that have suffered from snow and road salt. The bikes sat for three months without washing the salt off of them. Well, anyway, I cleaned them up and put on new chains and brake lines. One of the bike's derailleurs is screwed up--the freewheel doesn't move when I pedal. Also, the wheel doesn't turn. Everything else seems to work...so far at least. Thanks a lot.

Kevin

Kevin,

Your freewheel is probably rusted to the point of not turning. It's possible to free this up with solvent, or liquid wrench type stuff, but it's most likely a goner. I'd replace it, because even if you got it loosened up a bit, it's not safe. I don't know why your wheel doesn't turn, but it's
probably rust related. Check the rear wheel bearings.

 Andy

Andy,

Can I run 9-speed Campagnolo STI units on a 9-speed Shimano cassette? If not, what is the reason?

Thanks,
Stephen

Stephen,

You can do anything you want. I say that because I don't want to discourage experimentation. However, for optimal results (if you'd like to be able to use all 9 cogs without making fine cable adjustments between shifts, for example) you must use all Campy or all Shimano. The spacing of the shifters and cassette cogs is different. You can buy cog conversion kits, so you can
use a Campy shifter on a Shimano wheel, or vice versa, but you can't enjoy optimal performance if you just stick a Shimano wheel/cassette on your Campy equipped bike.

Andy

Hello Sir,

I have a 2002 Motobecane 4.0. It has the stock LX Deore derailleurs and less than 100 miles. The bike rides and shifts fine, but if I leave it in the same gear for more than a couple of minutes it shifts on its own, or sometimes it just feels like it's going to shift (chain jumps a tooth) but stays in the same gear. This occurs under easy and hard riding. It is the rear derailleur that auto-shifts. I also get a little harmless chain noise from the front der when the rear der is in certain gears. I read your other responses about adjusting derailleurs, but didn't see anything about auto shifting. I could take it back to where I bought it (free labor for life), but I wouldn't learn anything that way.

Thanks,
Jeff

Jeff,

It sounds like you aren't actually experiencing so called ghost shifting, where the chain goes onto a different gear without input from the rider. I think you have either a bent chainring, crank, or a bad link in your chain. The chain is easy to check by pedaling backward, and observing the rear derailleur. If there is a bad link, it'll catch in the der. If the chain goes through smoothly, then you don't have a bad link. The fact that you are also experiencing chain rub on the front derailleur leads me to believe that you have a crank/bottom bracket/chainring related problem. It is also possible that you have a deformed der pulley wheel or bent tooth on your cogs. Free labor for life! I feel so special.

Andy

Hello,

I find myself marooned in Switzerland with a classic Colnago road bike and a Shimano Dura-Ace Uniglide rear cassette slowly wearing out on steep Alpine passes. I've checked all my local shops and the general answer is: "If you find a place which has Uniglide cassette parts, please let us know too!"

Surely these flat, simple gears can be cranked out by an after-market supplier with relative ease. Has anyone caught on to the fact that there are poor souls like me, left behind by Shimano advancements, willing to pay good money for Uniglide gears? Or is there any place which might be pilfering dumpsters behind bike shops to collect still-usable refuse from Hyperglide upgrades and resell them?

Regards,
David Hansen

David,

My solution to this problem is to replace the old freehub body with a new one. New cassettes will fit on the new body, on your old wheel. There is a website (www.thethirdhand.com, I think) that may have Uniglide cassettes, but otherwise, I'd go the freehub body route.

Andy

(Editor note: You may also want to check this feature article from Fall 2000, Econo Dream Bike for more information on New-Old-Stock parts)

Andy,

I have an old Cannondale MTB that has Suntour XC stuff on it, with an 8-cog rear cluster. I broke the rear derailleur. Will a Shimano derailleur work, given that the cog spacings for both systems are different? I have been told yes and no. It still has the original late 1980s gear shifters. Fitting a Shimano derailleur sounds better than replacing everything, as one person said. 

Thank you,
Warwick

Warwick,

I think the Shimano derailleur actually will work better than the Suntour one. The whole drive train replacement happens when you need a cassette or shifter.

Andy

Andy,

I was cleaning the sand and oil from my gears and took off the back gear set. Being the inquisitive type, I used my pliers tips to take it apart, when a lot of very small (about 1mm in diameter) bearings fell out. How can I get them all back onto the rails on which they normally sit without falling off all the time?

Thanks,
Pieter

Pieter,

This is very difficult to do. You'll need to buy a bunch of 1/8-inch bearings, because you've surely lost a few. The best way to do this is to take the gear cluster off (don't remove the freewheel, just lift off the part that's already loose. Put a bead of grease around the bearing race, and stick your bearings onto the grease. I don't know how many, but be liberal with your bearings. Seems like 42 might be the number. Carefully place the gear cluster onto the hub, trying not to lose bearings. Put a bead of grease around the outside race, and repeat the procedure. Replace the lockring--it threads on counterclockwise.

Andy

Andy,

My son is trying to replace the rear triangle on his GT I Drive 3000. We got the I Drive apart except the pressed- in bearing races. How can we remove them without damage? We plan on cleaning and greasing the bearings and reusing them. Any tips on reassembling the I Drive?

Brown

Brown,

I'm not a GT service guy, but I'll tell you what I know. You'll probably have to pound out the pressed- in cups. If the bike has bearings instead of bushings, you'll probably kill them taking them out. If it has bushings, you'll definitely need to replace them. Be prepared to replace parts in either case. If you are delicate, you may be able to gently tap them out without damage, but it's not likely. 

Andy

Andy,

I have a Fuji Outland mountain bike with 8-speed shifting and a Shimano derailleur. I have a 11-30 cassette. Can I switch to a 12-32 cassette without any problems? 

Thanks,
Mitch

Mitch,

You should have no problems with the change. Just make sure that your chain is long enough--it probably is, but watch for excessive tension in the lower three cogs if you ride in the big ring. You may have to adjust the b tension screw on the back of the derailleur.

Andy

Hi Andy,

First of all let me say this is a great www site, but I resent you calling my Raleigh crappy. I have ridden over 30,000 kilometers on my Raleigh without any major break downs. My Raleigh is made in England not like the Raleighs you get today. I fully expect to get another 30,000 kilometers from my trusty steel steed. So be careful about what you call crappy. It don't matter what you ride so long as you ride.

Chris Foster

Chris,

I didn't mean to be critical of genuine Raleighs or those who ride them, I meant that current Raleigh bikes, distributed by Derby, are sold on the basis of good component specification as opposed to good frames. A person is better off to buy a good frame with not-so-great components. You can always upgrade components, but you don't upgrade a frame. Old, made-in-England Raleighs have nothing to do with current Asian-made Raleighs, just as Schwinn Paramounts bear little semblance to the Schwinns sold in Wal-Mart. 

Andy

Andy,

My tyres keep going flat but when I take the inner tubes out there does not seem to be a puncture nor does air seem to be leaking out of the valves. (I checked for leaks by immersing the inflated inner tubes in a bowl of water). What could be the problem?

K. Folwell,
Australia

K,

It is normal to loose 1-2 pounds pressure per day, more if the temperature changes drastically. If your bike sets for very long, the tyres will get very soft or even flat. If this is not the case, and you cannot see any obvious holes in the tubes, you probably have a very small hole, but even small holes should show up under water. I guess what I would do is replace them if they leak and you can't find holes. 

Andy

Hi Andy

My name is Gustavo and I live in Brazil. Sorry about my terrible English. I'm trying to have a bike store here in my country, but we don't have many distributors. I'd like to know from you about the major bike and parts distributors (not the manufacturers) in the US, Europe or Asia, so I can start my business. Sorry to bother you with such a boring question. Thanks a lot for all your attention and help.

My best regards,
Gustavo

Gustavo,

You should try and get one of those industry guides that the Interbike people publish. Lacking that, we buy most of our stuff from Trek and Quality. All the disreputable department store parts can be had from J and B Importers. Trek is rather international, but I'm not sure about the rest. We rely on these distributors, and rarely have to hunt things down at places like UB parts or Shimano direct. 

Andy

Hi Andy,

Can you give me the lowdown for why bikes all have their gears and drives on the right hand side of the machine? I'm seeking knowledge...okay, it was a bet.

Thanks,
Beth

Beth,

I can only speculate here. 1) It's a right hand world. 2) In the old days, freewheels, as they were called, threaded onto the hub. The force of the chain coming from the right side served to tighten, rather than loosen, the freewheel. Of course, someone could have come up with a left hand threaded freewheel (as does Haro for the "LSD" feature, which does locate the entire drivetrain on the left side, but only for single speed freestyle bikes), but, most people aren't comfortable with left hand threads. This point is driven home by the number of ruined crank arms we see, buggered beyond all hope by a do it yourselfer who managed to thread the left threaded pedal into the right threaded arm, and/or vice versa. Once a successful right sided drivetrain was developed, changing to the left side would be impractical, as in the old days, there was a lot of standardization of parts.

There are many mysteries about bicycles that some historian could probably set us straight on, but I can only speculate. Why is that left pedal left threaded? What's the deal with presta valves, especially on mountain bikes? Why do we use a chain, rather than a belt or a drive shaft? Why can't they sell the Christini all wheel drive bike?

There is a bicycle museum somewhere in Ohio, and perhaps someone there can
give you an authenticated answer.

Andy

Good Morning,

I am trying to find a set of plans for building a four-wheel bicycle. A bicycle with seats side-by-side (weíre still newly weds). 

I have no problem with the idea of building it myself. (Especially since my wife thinks the idea is very romantic). My wife is handicapped and is unable to pedal, so Iíll need to modify any plans that I may find to accommodate a single peddler.

Please send any information you may have regarding the building of four-wheeled bicycles.

(I have all the tools Iíll need, including welding equipment.)

Thank you very much,
Bob Mitchell 

Bob,

Sorry, but I don't know of any plans for such a device. There are several production bikes and conversion kits out there, so maybe you could get a brochure from a company like Pedicab or Quadricycle and try to duplicate their ideas.

Andy

Andy,

I'm new to mountain bike riding. I was given an inexpensive bike (7-speed). Then my wife caught wind that this was not the quality of bike that I really wanted and bought me a bunch of components. How sweet! The point was to upgrade my new sub-par bike instead of hurting the feelings of the giver. She got me a Shimano LX rapid fire shifter (with brake handle) set, a Shimano LX rear derailleur, a Shimano Cassette (9-speed), and the chain that goes with all of it.

Can I use the existing 7-speed rim and hub (36-hole) with my new 9-speed parts?  Do I have to go further down this $-burning road and purchase a new hub and rim set if I want to go through with the upgrade?  Or can I get by with purchasing a Shimano XT rear, 36-hole hub and having the bike shop put it in my existing rim ("Xrim" is the label on the rim)?

What do I do?

Wheely confused
 Steve in Austin

Steve,

Before getting too far into this, consider that the most important parts of any bike are its frame and wheels. It makes very little sense to put better components onto a cheap frame. Give me a good frame, excellent wheels, and 1987 Suntour stuff, I'll be happy. In fact, my favorite ATB has yet to be upgraded to 9-speed.

You have to have an 8/9-speed cassette body to accept the 9-speed cassette. No one in his right mind would pay anyone to remove and reinstall an "Xrim"; buy a new wheel. You can find decent (LX or better) rear wheels for way under $100. A cheap option is to replace the 7-speed freehub with an 8/9-speed one, if your rear hub is made by Shimano.

Andy

Andy,

I have a technical question that I cannot get a good answer for from my LBS. 

I have a TREK STP200 which I recently upgraded the Drivetrain to all XTR. Problem: When I place the chain on the small chain ring (22) and the large sprocket (34) of the cassette, the jockey pulley rubs on the sprocket. I maxed out the B-tension Screw, but it still rubs. My rear Derailleur is a Mega-9 SGS M952.

Do you have any idea how to solve this?

Thanks,
John Thomas

John,

The easiest solution for this common malady is to take the screw out and thread it back in backwards--you'll have to estimate how far to turn it in, but that's not a big deal, and the screw doesn't usually cause too much havoc if it is out a bit too far.

Andy

Hi,

I recently got a hold of a set of Topline road cranks. I want to mount them to my "winter" road bike, but have no idea what length bottom bracket to use. It's a road frame with 68mm shell. I called my LBS, but they haven't seen one of these cranks before. Any advice or info you could supply would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Troy 

Troy,

I haven't seen a Topline crank for a long time. It seems that they made a basic crank, rather than a low profile crank. Most older cranks work best with a 113-115 spindle, but if it is low profile (I'm almost sure that it is not--compare the distance from the little ring to the outside edge with a Shimano crank to be sure) you can use about a 107 spindle.

Andy

Andy,

My husband recently purchased an Haro bike at an auction. We would like to fix it up for our grandson but are having problems finding parts in our small town. Mainly we don't know how old it is or what style of Haro--the only markings are GROUP 1Ci - Race Series - HP250 GEFORCE. It has 20-inch tires but needs brake cables badly. Thank you for your help.

Carolynne

Carolynne,

Parts for 20-inch bikes tend to be generic. You should be able to buy brake cables, chains, brake shoes, etc. almost anywhere. Unmentionable big box stores, more plentiful than trees these days, sell parts of questionable quality, which are probably preferable to rusted cables, but you have to find a bike shop to get good stuff. There should be no need for old Haro specific parts.

Andy

Subject: SPINWHEEL

Andy,

I have a GOOD question for you. My 3-spoke rims are not disc mountable. Can I change the hubs in them to make them accept disc brakes? No one else can answer this question. Please help.

Tom

Tom,

No. If Spin was still around, probably not; since they're not, no. 

Andy

Andy,

Is it possible to put a bike chain back together if you don't have a masterlink? If so can you please tell me how to do it?

Thank you,
Andy R.

Andy,

As with most cycling related tasks, you can do anything with the right tool. I prefer never to use masterlinks, unless using a SRAM chain, and take the chain apart and reinstall it with a bonafide chain tool. You can get a Rivoli tool for occasional use at about $9, or a nice Park CT-3 for $30. Park also makes a nice smaller tool, the CT-5C aka Mini brute, for less than $20.

Andy

Andy,

I am looking for both the procedures, parts required, and tools required to convert a 9-speed triple crank setup to a double crank setup (either Ulterga or Dura Ace). Any info that you have or a good link would be great.

Thanks,
Daniel

Daniel,

This seems to be the question of the year. What happened, did everybody buy triples and suddenly get stronger or younger? Or are there a bunch of leg-shaving euro weenies out there taunting people with triples? I thought that since you can now buy Record 10 and Dura Ace triple, it would suddenly be cool. Guess I'm wrong, again. So far, I haven't gone triple. I have, however, gone 12-27, which is almost as bad.

You need a crankset, bottom bracket, front derailleur, bb tool, and puller. There's not much to the procedure. Yank the old one off, put the new one on. Your front derailleur may work, in fact, you could just take off the little ring and adjust the low limit so that you won't throw off the chain, for the sake of appearance. It'd be a lot cheaper. Practically speaking, you're going to gain a gear you probably won't use, loose 50 grams, and loose a gear that you probably do use. 

Andy

PS: If you currently have an ultegra triple, it probably has a built in extractor, so you won't need a crank puller for the job. The only tool you'll need to buy is a Shimano bb tool. Incidentally, I checked the weight savings between cranks. It's all of 37 grams, not 50 as I guessed previously. If you step up to dura ace, make it 70 grams.

Andy,

I'd like to outfit my 'garage shop' with a spoke cutter and Hozan thread roller, for the purpose of being able to have a couple hundred of only three or four different spoke lengths, and then cut/re-thread as needed (i.e., like all big bike shops).

What I am trying to figure-out is how much length is "safe" to cut from a butted spoke, i.e., how many different lengths do I need to have? For example, if I need a 296mm spoke, can I cut it from, say, a 300mm spoke? Or does that take too much off the "butt"?

 My original gut instinct was to go with 5mm steps in length, starting with 285 or so and going up to 305 maybe. But then I decided I better figure this out for sure. Hell, I don't know, maybe it's okay to cut a whole centimeter off the thing. I am really surprised I can't seem to find this information anywhere.

So I'm relying on the sage advice of the best web mechanic I know of!

Thanks,
Michael Doleman

Michael,

This would depend upon the brand of the spoke and how long the butted section is. Wheelsmith has 2 sizes of 2/1.8 blanks, and basically recommends cutting 30 mm max. Since people usually buy butted spokes to save weight, it'd make sense to buy them factory made, since you want the shortest butt possible. You're going to save about a nickel per spoke, then have to cut and thread it, and then, if you only cut 5mm off, it's going to have a long butted section that I'd complain about if I were your customer. 

Andy 

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