Home | Classifieds | Mechanic | Links | Race Headlines | Features | New Books | Photos | Travel | Cartoons | OH-WV-PA InfoSite Map | Search | Contact

Bikexchange.com logo, link to Home          Send your questions to bicycle expert Andy Wallen. (Cartoon image of Andy)Ask the Mechanic

                                    Past Editions of Ask the Mechanic...
Fall 1999   Summer 99 | Spring 99 | Winter 99 | Fall 98Summer 98 | Spring 98 
Winter 98 | Fall 97 | Spring /Sum 97 | Winter 97 | Fall 96
                                         Read the Ask the Mechanic Disclaimer.

 The Best Cell Phone Deals!

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.

Fall 1999 Questions & Answers ...


I have a Cannondale road bike with a Campy Record bottom bracket (cartridge) which is seized in the frame. After three mechanics and myself have tried to get it out there is nothing left of the threads in the BB, so I can't use the BB-tool.

Do You have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,
Audun Roalkvam


You may have to cut the carcass of the cartridge out of the frame. First you must remove the innards, then cut the carcass carefully with a hacksaw.



I have just built a Colnago Master Olympic with Mavic Helium wheels/hubs and I am having problems with the back wheel slipping in the dropouts. The dropouts have the 'old style' screws and I have set these to position the wheel about half way along the dropout. I keep the quick release very tight but have still experienced the wheel slipping out on two ocassions when setting off. I am worried about this happening at speed!

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,


I would check the dropout alignment. Also, try roughing up the contact points of the drop out. Make sure that the outer surface of the locknuts have a knurled appearance. Maybe try a new skewer. If none of this works, buy a slow release like Control tech. If this device is adequately tightened, the wheel should not move at all.



Thank you for reading my questions. I'm still young and didn't know where to get some good answers from an expert. I have more than one question so am going to try to state them in an order you can understand. Ok here goes.

I have a chro-moly Hardtail right now, but am looking for a new bike now. I would like to get a full suspension, but am concerned about losing climbing ability. Is there any truth to what people say about not being able to climb well with full suspension?

As I said I am looking in to getting a full suspension, but since I am still young yet price is a problem. I would like to keep it under $750 if possible. I was looking in my Mountain Bike Magazine's Buyers guide, and there are some in there that would suit me, if they are quality. Any suggestions?

I was looking through the same magazine, and found two companies: Scorpio and Univega, neither of which have I heard of. But they were cheap, so they caught my eye. Any comments about either of them? I would really appreciate your advice.

One more thing, I am really interested in a VooDoo, too. Do know of anyone in the West Virginia area that carries them? I would like to test ride one before I buy it.

Thanks again,


If you ever watch professional or even serious amatuer race, you'll notice that very few of them use full sus for xc. The weight issue and the fact that all fs designs have to have a compromise makes it impractical to use fs for racing, especially for climbing. Short of blowing excessive cash on something like a bow ti, you are much better off on a light weight hard tail if you are looking for speed, sprints and climbs. Given your budget, a full susser is out of the question. 28 pound bikes, I can live with if there is some advantage to be gained along with the weight. The $750 class of full susser is going to be mighty heavy, and will lack design features found of over $1000 bikes. As for VooDoo, I don't know of any shop that carries them. They are probably as good as any bike at the price point, but I would consider buying from a larger, more establishment manufacturer due to possible warranty issues. The bigger companies have a bigger warranty budget, and usually address issues in a prompt and consumer friendly manner. Some small manufacturers ( I can't really speak for VooDoo) don't or can't provide a high level of customer service, and some go out of business before your warranty is expired.



Help! - I get different answers from everyone I talk to. I have an RX100 equiped bike with 7 speed rear hub and shifters on the down tube. I rode a friends STI the other day and loved it and would like to upgrade to STI. I can't find "RX" STI but assume the 105s would work, but I can only find "9-speed" versions in most stores (and Shimano's) catalog .

Will 9-speed STI work with my current setup?

Local stores want to sell me 9 speed STI, which they say would require a rear hub upgrade, 9-gear cassette, rear and front derails, new inside front chain ring and chain.

Holy get a new bike, Batman!

Are there any sources for older 7/8 speed STI? The bike is a Paramount series 3 bought in '92/'93. It was my second "upgrade" bike and along with getting married, buying a house and having kids, I haven't had time to put but maybe 100 miles on it - so I'm not at the point of wear replacement. I was a fairly serious enthusiast doing 75+ miles a week with a computer and I change gears frequently to keep momentum and cadence going. We have a new trail that just opened near us that is a blast to ride but I want to be able to shift going around twists and turns with my hands on the bars.

What are my options?

Stan Wood


The 9-speed stuff won't work very well here, but 8-speed will, except for that extra click. I would buy a 105 sti lever set and an 8 speed cassette, and necessary hub parts ( or a new rear wheel). The package here runs about $250 if we only modify the hub, and you install the levers. RX100 8 speed levers are available, but are not much cheaper than 105. You could do this in phases by purchasing the levers first, and riding with sti (with that annoying extra click) until you've had enough and decide it's time to spring for the 8 speed hub modification or a new rear wheel.



Any advice on setting up clipless pedals? Should I set them up with a slight toe in, toe out, or as neutral as possible? If it makes any difference, I am looking to install Ritchey mountain bike spd-style pedals.



There are no general rules for cleat set up, because every foot, knee, hip, pedal, shoe, etc. is different. You can experiment from the neutral position, and make slight variations by trial and error. There are several cleat fitting systems out there if you want to be meticulous and eliminate guesswork. Sometimes I like to start beginners at the center of the shoe with a slight toe out, which makes the release point closer to center, but that's not necessarily biomechanically correct.



I have a 10-year-old cannondale mtn. bike which developed a small hairline crack where the bottom bracket meets the chain stay. I had a welding shop fix it with a big fat weld, and they said it was "good as new." Nevertheless, I'm a bit wary, and I'm only using it for around-town riding. Am I just asking for it, or is it probably okay?



Aluminum cannot be safely repaired. Once it is cracked or bent, it needs to be recycled. In order to attain adequate strength after welding, 6061 type frames must be precisely heat treated, hence the "T6" designation. If it is rewelded, then the heat treatment is undone, and your frame has all the tensile strength of a beer can.



I own a custom-made front suspension bike and I want to know how to fix (if possible) a Shimano XTR left crank. It is missing three threads. I hope it is possible to fix it because of the expense of buying a new one.



I assume that your pedal threads are damaged. Depending on the extent of the damage, this could be retapped. If retapping is not an option, then it is possible to install an insert into the crank arm which will replace the threads. Otherwise, individual left arms are available.



I saw your info page on bikexchange.com and have a two quick questions for you.

1)  I recently purchased a used trek 5200 54c 1994 bike and it has look clipless pedals on it. Thats okay, I have the shoes to fit. My problem lies in that I have limited mobility/flexibilty in my left ankle (due to birth defect) and have problems disengaging my foot from the pedal. The pedals are LOOK Carbo-Pro ARC F and have a small screw on the foot-plate. Is there a way I can adjust the tension of these pedals? Or is there a way to file/cut off part of the cleat or pedal to make it easier?? I do triathalons and it embarassing to have problems in the transition area. I have other pedals but feel more comfortable with the clipless--less bulky than tennis shoes...

2)  The bike mentioned above was bought used/sight unseen over the Internet. I was told it was a 21" frame (roughly 53" was what the guy said). A 54 fit perfect in the store so I figured a 53 would work. Well, It's maybe a 54 but its a bit big. When I stand over it It hits me well, in that tender area...

Is there a way I can perhaps put smaller rims on it? The rims are 700c now. I know now not to buy things unseen/unridden...Due to the problem with my left leg (1 inch shorter than right) Id like more clearance than what I have. Other than that one thing the bike seems to fit ok...

Mobile, Alabama


I don't recall specifically the pedals in question, however, Look pedals, except for the very cheapest ones, have adjustable release tension, which is probably the screw you are describing. I believe that your problem may have to do with float, or lack of it. Look black cleats are fixed, you cannot pivot your foot without disengaging the cleat. Red cleats have a few degrees of float, and I have a few pairs of the Biocleat, which offers adjustable float. I don't think that these biocleats are still available, but we still have a few. I've used them, and I rather like both the entry and exit characteristics. If your problem is getting into the pedal, the only solutions are to either reposition the cleat or loosen the pedal tension. It is dangerous to modify the cleat in any way, and it is dangerous to ride on old cleats.

The internet is a wonderful thing, but I can't say that I know too many people who have bought cycling-related products that lived up to their expectations. If you don't see it and try it on, don't buy it. You can do very little to alter the fit of your bike. You cannot put smaller wheels on it. You may lower it by ne more than 3 mm by finding lower profile tires, but you may already have low profile tires on it, and I doubt that a couple of millimeters is going to matter. If you value your family jewels, sell the bike and buy one that fits. Otherwise, be very careful.



I just bought a used Olmo '86. It's beautiful but the fork needs to be replaced. I'm trying to find either a new or used Olmo fork that's similar to the one that was on it (it was very cool w/ blue Olmo stars....) any advice?



It would be very difficult to find an exact replacement fork. What I would do is to purchase a good quality cromo fork primed and have it painted. Several paint shops, such as Cycleart (760-599-1015) and The Color Factory (800-62gleam) can do a nice job, however, you may consider just using a chrome plated fork,as custom paint is expensive.


Hey Andy,

I am having problems with my STX/RC rear deraileur. It doesn't shift smoothly, and is hard to shift in general. I had a new chain put on recently (although the problem was always there) and the shop readjusted the deraileur. It is now a semi-automatic (random shifting especially when pumping hard uphill, when it will shift to a higher gear!). I would take it back to the shop, but, I need to learn how to start fixing problems on my bike myself or I will go broke!

A little more info: I was at the shop when they were adjusting the deraileur for part of the time. It wouldn't shift into the highest gear no matter what, until they took apart the Grip Shift and played with the cable housing. They mentioned putting a stronger spring in the deraileur or a "bass worm." So, is there a problem with this deraileur not having a strong enough spring, or do I need to get the adjustment just right?



Grip Shift systems must have as near a friction free cable/housing set up as possible. The lever must be grit free and well lubed, and the cable and housing should be of the highest quality. Teflon cables are a very good idea here, and bassworms or rollamajigs help quite a lot. In spite of all the praises we could lavish upon Sram, they're system does not work as well as part of a Shimano system, and Shimano is determined to keep it that way.


Dear Andy,

I'm having a problem with a Mongoose that I bought just a few months ago. It is equipped with a number of Sun Race components and it appears that the bearing has been completely thrashed. Unfortunately I can't figure out how to take the cassette off and I was wondering if you had any suggestions.

Thank you,
Rob Jellings


You are a victim of Brunswick. You think that since the bike says Mongoose on it that it is of the same quality as the Mongoose bikes that cost hundreds of dollars more in the bike shops. Mongoose labeled deathtraps are sold in Walmart and assembled by boobs. The parts are not standard Shimano stuff, and the freewheels usually do not come off, even when using a Sun Race tool. Never expect any" bike" purchased from Walmart or Dick's to perform as anything other than scrap metal .


Hi Andy,

What do you recommend? We don't like flats!! I saw some Vittoria tubes in Nashbar. We tried Airlock tubes (with built-in slime) but still got a flat. Are there any tires that essentially incorporate Tuffy liners in the tire?



I highly recommend Mr. Tuffy as flat prevention. I think that all the tubes are about the same, and really don't care for Slime. A properly installed Tuffy is about 90% effective.



Help! I have a 21-speed aluminum frame mountain bike. My bottom bracket was starting to go out, so I took it to a bike shop here in Lexington to replace the cartridge. They broke two tools, but couldn't get it out. My dad has a tool and die shop, so I took it home, and his guys finally got it out but with a cutting torch! The bad part is that the threads on the right side bonded with the BB and came out with it. A new BB only grabs about two threads--not enough to hold it. I was hoping you might have some ideas or solutions. Possibilities might include:

1) A BB with a longer length of threads to grab more of the threads that remain
2) Cutting larger Italian threads and putting in a different size BB. The guy at the bike shop thought this might be a possibility
3) My dad could weld in new material, re-bore the hole, and then the threads could be redone if I can find someone with the equipment
4) My dad cuts the old bracket out of the frame, makes a new one in a CNC, and welds it in place

I'd like find the simplest solution if possible, hopefully one of the first two. The last two probably aren't feasible with respect to the cost of a new bike. Please let me know if you have any other ideas or suggestions. I just want to ride

Michael McCollum,
Lexington, Kentucky


If someone took a torch to an aluminum frame, it's torched. Once alu is welded, it must be tempered (heat treated). When it is reheated, the temper is lost, and so is all of the stiffness, most of the strength and it is not safe to ride. Alu can not be safely re-welded--cracked, damaged or broken frames must be recoiled and never ridden. If you had cut the bb out without heat, the Italian thing would have worked. At this point, you need a new frame. When you get one, thoroughly grease or anti-seize the bb threads, and remove them once a year to make sure they don't cold weld again. If you plan to use torches on frames, buy a steel one.



My son purchased a Corsa Human Powered Racer, which is a recumbent 3 wheeler, three years ago. This was manufactured by H.P.E. Corporation in Kent, Washington, and it has serial # 01185 stamped on it. The skins on this racer are a molded plastic and come off of the frame for access. My question is: Have you ever seen this bike before and how would I get a manual and parts? What would your estimated value of this bike be to sell? He wants a new Mongoose bike. Walmart sells the S70? series for $499. Is this a good bike?

Thanks for your help.
Roger Anderson


I am not at all familiar with the Corsa HPV, and have not heard of the
company. However, I am all too familiar with the Walmart Mongooses. You should never expect any "bicycle" purchased from Walmart to be fit for human use, and the Mongoose is no exception. These bikes are refuse from the Brunswick acquisition of Mongoose and Roadmaster, and they are much more akin to Roadmasters. In fact, the generic drive train parts used on these pieces of doodie are only available from Roadmaster. They are unsafe, poorly assembled, unrideable, and worst of all deceptive. The public thinks that they are buying a shop quality Mongoose, just like the ones we used to sell, and what they get is worse than or maybe equal to a Huffy. The generic parts don't work, the freewheels blow up and then don't come off, the ballistic shocks don't work, and the piec d'resistance is the $350 full suspension downhill bike with the double clamp fork.

Why spend $8000 on an M1 when you can ride one of these beauties? Did I mention that while we have to confuse our customers with details like bike fit and show 5 to 6 sizes of each model of bike, the Brunswick sizing system by passes all that with a revolutionary, one size fits all bike?



I realise there are many ways to spoke a wheel, but is there a simple rule to take buckles out of my rear wheel.

P.S.  It's a wheel and the wheels are as they came from the factory.



When it comes to wheels, I always prefer laces to buckles. There is no simpler or cheaper remedy for this other than a good mechanic. Most people really screw up wheels when they attempt to straighten them, often to the point of no return. If you have steel rims, just accept the fact that they are "buckled," because it is usually a waste of time and/or money to true them.


Ask the Mechanic,

Our Commotion "JAVA" tandem has a defective Huegi rear hub. In your experience, which hub brands have proven themselves in terms of reliability? We were considering hubs by Phil Wood, White Industries, or Hadley. Please send your ranking and recommendations to ...

Hans Rocke
UC Davis

I appreciate your services!


The Hugi hub is normally quite reliable, and replacement parts are widely available. If you are burned on Hugi, I like World Class. White hubs are wonderful, although a bit quirky to adjust, and the rears tend to develop a small amount of play shortly after adjustment. I'm not sure that they make tandem hubs, but they probably can. I know a guy who has Edco on his tandem, and they have lasted for six years at an average of 2,500 per year, so that sounds pretty good. I built wheels for last year's masters tandem time trial champions, and we converted an XTR hub to 140mm spacing. That worked out quite well, and probably cost less than half than the big buck tandem hubs.



After searching the net for hours, I came across your site and hope you can answer my question(s). I am 26, 6'1" and run a fair amount. I also lift 5 times a week, so am in good shape. I want to get involved in bike racing/biathlons/triathlons. Problem is, I don't know the first thing about bikes. I wouldn't know a deraileur from a hole in the wall. I don't want to go into a bike shop and be told that I need a $3000 bike and not know any better. Any advice on where I can learn about anything from bike sizes to components to accessories that I would want/need? I appreciate any advice you could give. Thanks.



It sort of sounds like you want me to tell you which bike to mail order, which is against my principles, and a real stupid idea for anyone, especially if they don't know a deraileur from a hole in the wall. There are several tri/tt style bikes available for well under $2000, and the same can be said of racing bikes. If you only plan to do the multi-sport thing, don't buy a racing bike, but if you plan to divide your activities between road racing and multi-sport, a racing bike with aero bars will be the best all around machine.What you really need is someone who can fit you to the bike and take care of it for you, so I strongly suggest a good shop that sells road related merchandise (many shops only sell ATBs and comfy bikes).

My picks if you are on a budget are: Multisport--the Fuji Aloha or the Cannondale Multisport 800. Both are Aero, with 650c wheels, and you'll be able to afford a few triathlon entries after paying for the bike. If you can squeeze it into your budget, get a Softride (just under $2000). For road racing, it would be hard to top the Lemond Zurich at $1700. The same frame can be had with cheaper components for about $1400, but the wheels alone are worth the $300 price difference.



I just bought a second hand Trek 8000 with lx/xt components. The bike is great except for this distinct creaking noise when I stand up and jam in a high gear. Sounds like its coming from the bottom bracket. Or could it just be the pedals? The right crank was loose as soon as I brought it home, So I tightened it up with a 6mm hex. Now there is no play at all at the axle.

Could this creaking just be something unique to alum frames? I never rode alum before--"Steel is real." Besides this noise the bike rides great. Any help would be appreciated.



Your problem is that the right crank was ridden loose, and the taper has become deformed, so that it will not stay tight. When you tighten the bolt on this crank, it is further enlarging the taper and pulling the crank further in. The only cure is a new crank.



I bought a 1998 Cannondale SuperV700 this past Christmas with a Shimano STXRC 8S rear hub and SunnRHYNO lite rims. As I have had to get my rear wheel redished once already and it needs it again, I was wondering how to redish it myself. If there are any special tools needed, please list them and give a price estimate on each.



I believe that you are using the wrong term. Dishing refers to centering the rim on the hub, and shouldn't have to be done very often at all. Normally, when a wheel needs work it is lateral truing, or making straight the crooked places. The third component of wheel truing is rounding. Most amateurs crank on the same couple of spokes over and over until the wheel looks "true", but fail to account for the dishing and roundness of the wheel, which they have just wrecked. You must tighten some spokes, and loosen others. You need a decent wheel truing stand (approx $75-$125), and a spoke wrench ($2-$10). If you want the wheel dished, then your stand will have to have the self-centering feature, or you'll need to buy a dishing tool ($12-$45). If you can't find any of this stuff, we probably have it here.



My son and I have just progressed from riding a $25 garage sale 10-speed and a Huffy ATB on the road, up to a couple used road bikes. I found a beautiful Grandis (late 80's) for him (unfortunately the owner had pulled the Campy components off and replaced them with old Shimano 105), and I got a Peugeot HLE105. I don't know how old the Peugeot is - but it is in brand new condition.

My question, what is the best way to extend the low range of the gears to help a fat guy up the Tennessee hills? The Peugeot has a 6-speed Sachs freewheel (13x24) and a Nervar crank (42,52). My first thought was to replace the 42 chainring with a 39, but the bolt pattern does not seem to be standard (just under 130mm). How hard would it be to find one? Second option is a new freewheel. Would it be a problem to change to a 7 or 8-speed freewheel? Maybe a 12x28 or 12x32? The shifters are downtube, friction type, the rear hub is Maillard. What would this require?

Any other ideas?

Thanks a bunch!
Tim & Joey from Chattanooga

Tim and Joey,

The freewheel is probably the simplest thing to do. You may need a longer axle, but since the bike is not indexed, you can use any type of 6 or 7 speed. You could even put one of these Shimano megarange (13-34) deals on there if your rear der can handle it. I'm not sure what the nervar bolt pattern is, but you can get chainrings for it. They're a little tough to come by, and probably over priced. I'd try the freewheel first.



I just bought a new pair of SPD compatible shoes, but forget how to install the cleats onto the shoes. I've basically just taken the shoes out of the box, and need to know how to get them ready to ride with. I know how to adjust the pedal tension etc., but have forgotten how to do the easy stuff.



I'm not sure how anyone, regardless of mechanical aptitude, can have a problem bolting a cleat onto a shoe, unless you have a shoe which requires the use of an adapter, or one with a cut out cleat cover. If you have the former, you must contact the manufacturer for the correct adapter. If the latter, you must cut out the cleat cover with a utility knife. There are 2 bolts which fit into your choice of at least 1 pair of threaded inserts, and most cleats have some sort of indication as to which way is forward (normally the arrow or the point of the cleat is to the toe). This is not rocket science, but getting the best cleat position can require professional attention.



Is there anyway to true a Spinergy wheel?  If you can help this would be fantastic as Spinergy have been ignorant to this question...

Drew :)


Spinergy (assuming you mean Rev-x or Rev-rox) are fairly straight when produced, although not near as perfect as a quality spoked wheel. You put up with a slight imperfection because it normally won't get worse. If you have managed to whack the wheel bad enough that it is unrideable or have dented the rim, your only recourse is to take advantage of Spinergy's crash replacement policy if your wheel is not a warranty situation. I believe that Yuri Geller can true them using mind over matter, but mechanically, there is no way.



I am currently riding a older NASHBAR Road MK III with a full Suntour Cyclone group. It has a 42/52 crank and a 6 speed freewheel with a range of 13-28. This summer I am going to do a week long tour, which will be pretty hilly, and will be pulling my daughter. I would like to have some lower gears to handle the hills. Is it possible for me to change the freewheel to a 7 speed with a different range or can I change a chainring to say a 39? Any suggestions?

Phil Hanselman
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH


The best thing you can do here is to get a 38 tooth little ring. This should get you geared down enough without stressing out your rear (or front) deraileur and should not cause shifting problems. Anything else would involve changing several other components, and may not be cost effective.


Hello Andi,

Have you ever heard of a Giant bike with 42-32-22 chainrings and a 14-28 cassette? That's what my girlfriend's new bike (Acera-equipped) has. When she complained about strong vibrations in the whole frame (only at a certain speeds and only with the 42 front - 14 rear combination), I read some literature and found out that this combination isn't recommended, because the ratio mustn't be 1:1, 1:2, 1:3 and so on. Well, I think I will ask the dealer to put on a 11-28 cassette to solve this problem.

But my actual question refers to the V-Brakes of this bike: I wanted to adjust the pads so that both pads have the same distance to the rim. The problem is: I can't find any screw for adjustment, as most V or cantilever brakes have. Is it possible that these brakes can't be adjusted or did I miss something?

Best regards to WV and thanx for your help,


The gear combination sounds a little odd, but should not cause any problems whatsoever, especially vibrations. V brakes either have left and right adjusting screws for spring tension, or in some cases, a tension adjuster which must be turned with a flat (cone) wrench with the brake stud bolt loosened. You hold the spring ( with your wrench) in the desired position while you tighten the brake stud bolt, and the pressure which holds the brake to the stud holds the spring in place for a few days, and then you'll have to do it again.



I have a 1998, 26" Mongoose MGX mountain bike. It is a 21 speed. I was out jumping hills and my rear deraileur got caught in my spokes. It totally bent it all up. The deraileur is a Shimano. How much do you think it would cost to relace it? Why do you think it got caught in the spokes like that?

Josh Grover


Rear deraileurs run from about $15 to over $100. The cause for your problem is either a bent frame or hanger, or it was adjusted by an idiot. Since Mongoose MGX bikes are generally sold at Walmarts, both possibilities are very strong.


Please visit our sponsors.
Click Here to Visit our Sponsor

Crank on Home