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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 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. 

Backyard Bike Mechanics Should Always Have a Handy Copy of ...
Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair
 by Jim Langley
Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance OR  Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance
both by Leonard Zinn
Urban Mechanics Who Like Their Repair Manuals With an Edge Will Love ...
How To Rock and Roll : A City Rider's Repair Manual
by Sam Tracy

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Exclusive Photo: Andy and Gary Fisher at 2006 Interbike Show

Spring 2007 Q & A's (20 posted this season, with 1,000+ in past seasons.)


I bought a road bike about three weeks ago. So far I have put around 150 miles on it and it's been working great. I was riding it today though, and I noticed a clicking noise while pedaling. If I stop pedaling the noise goes away. I can hear it all the time, but it worse when I'm in certain gears than others. I've heard that you should have a tune-up around 100 miles after purchasing a new bike. Should I just have a tune-up or could it be something else?
Hanover, Massachussetts


The reason that you have 100 mile tune ups is so that the mechanic can fix problems, like clicking noises, which often arise on new bikes during a break-in period.  It would not be smart to continue to ride a bike that has a warranty issue.  Get it back to the shop pronto.



My bike recently started to "ping."  It's especially bad when I'm climbing hills. I'm wondering if maybe it's the spokes. Dude, I'm bike illiterate. What do you think? 

Thanks man,
Jared Dye,
Provo, Utah


It could be almost anything, most likely a loose crank arm or bottom bracket cup, or a loose seat clamp. It's hard enough to find noises when bike is physically here; near impossible when it's not.



I was given an old Haro-Master BMX bike from a friend and it needs some work. My problem is that it has Gyro brakes, and I'm not sure how to fix them. I tried to remove the cable from that front brake, but the wire wouldn't come out. Is it possible that the cable is jammed? If so, can I get it out without damaging the brake? Also, I'm not sure how the brakes (more specifically the front Gyro piece that lets the handle bars swing around) come apart or how to put it back together. I'd appreciate your time.



Sounds like the cable is rusted into the housing.  Just pull it out of the stem and replace it. As for the gyro, you simply attach the upper cable to the top part, and the lower cable to the lower part, and there you are. You should be able to find a picture, or another bike so that you can tell whether you have all your parts or not.  If you buy new gyro cables, I think instructions are in or on the package.



I've been looking at bike manuals and reading reviews for about two-weeks, trying to figure out which book to buy! I've also had an interest in becoming a bike mechanic; how does one do this? Are there special credentials or schooling I can get in Southeast Michigan? Thanks for your time.



There are several books that are worth having.  I like the Park blue book for general stuff, Lennard Zinn's for more technical stuff, and Barnette's if you can afford it. As for schooling, I only know of UBI in Oregon and Barnette's somewhere in California.



I have a Mongoose Rockadile SX that will not go from 2nd to 1st gear. The gear shifts but the chain will not drop; 2nd and 3rd shifting is fine! What's up?

Ernie Galvan


Either your cable's too tight (not likely if it shifts ok from 3 to 2) or your low limit screw's in too far (this screw has an "L" by it), unless the derailleur is up too high or crooked. The bottom bracket spindle could be too long as well.



I have a brand new '06 Specialized S-Works Tarmac that has a full Dura Ace gruppo. My problem is that my shift levers can't seem to be tightened down properly.  Over time they slide down on my handle bars and without a huge amount of force can be turned in or out from their proper alignment. I am concerned about over tightening them. I have lifted the rubber covers to reveal a metal band clamp around my carbon handle bar. It seems to me that a thin metal band around carbon is not going to have a great deal of adhesion to prevent slippage. When I had my wireless bike computer installed, the sensor had a rubber piece installed against the carbon to allow the clinch straps to hold it in place against the carbon member. Did my bike shop fail to install a similar rubber bushing in between the shifter metal band clamp and the carbon handlebars?  Please advise.

Steve Lloyd


Always use a torque wrench on carbon bars.  If your shifters are tightened to the correct torque, they may still slip, but at least you won't risk having the bar snap off in your hand while descending at 45 mph. Most carbon bars have a roughed up area to clamp the shifters on. There are no rubber shims that fit here. Again, check the torque, and try not to move these around too much, decide for sure where you want them and leave them there.



I have a persistent rattle of the plastic logo cap on top of the brake hood on my Shimano 105 levers. My shop fixed it once, saying they tightened a screw.  Now it's back.  Is there a special way to tighten this or am I looking at replacing something.  These are the newer combo (brake/shifter) levers.

Lakewood, Colorado


There is a little screw that holds this thing on, but I think that it can still rattle. On the past generation (9 speed) lever, it's been reported that a dab of silicone sealant on the plastic cover works to silence the rattle. It would probably work on the 10 speed lever as well.



My ceramic wheel has a chip in the brake surface of the rim. It looks like the ceramic coating peeled off.  It's only about .5 inches long x .5 inches wide. Does the rim need to be repaired and how is this repair made. Thanks for your advice in advance.

Andy J.
Ann Arbor, Michigan


You can fill the chip in with epoxy, then sand it level after it dries.



I need help with a pair of Rock Shox Judys xc cartridge system circa 1999. They wont re-extend once compressed. I removed the adjuster and the elastomer bushings were crumbling. 

Can I replace them with springs?  Will that fix my problem?  What is your Opinion?

Rodger Roth


If your elastomers are broken down, you can replace them with springs if they are available.  Mountain Speed Springs used to make replacements for elastomers, but I'm not sure that they are still at it.  Englund Total Air cartridges may still make retro fits for these as well.



I have a Cannon dale Super V 1000 which is a ripper machine and I do about 25km per day mountain tracking for fitness. I have just demolished the lower ratio on the Coda front crank and a replacement Shimano Hollowtec was fitted with new bottom bracket. The Shimano crank set is 3 teeth larger in diameter than the Coda and I am having trouble having it select sweetly. The favoured clearance from the leading edge of the XT selector on the outer sprocket is suggested as 1-2mm as ideal but the best I can achieve is about 4mm and can find no way of adjusting this as there is no apparent adjustment for this clearance. I have followed Lennard Zinn's procedures but he fails to suggest way to adjust this clearance other than to tell you what is recommended...not much help..

Any your thoughts would be appreciated.

Geoffrey Harris.


It could be that your old crank had a 42-tooth big ring, and your new one is 46 or 48, which will work much better with a front derailleur profiled for 46-48 teeth.


Hey Andy,

I have a bike with a Shimano Nexus 7 internal gear hub and the standard upright bars and grip shifter. I am curious if I put road bars on the bike will any vintage of the STI brake lever/shifters work with the Nexus 7. I love the simplicity of the internal gears but love the STI type shifters and drop bars. It should be simply a matter of spacing each click but without buying a pair but I have no way of knowing. Shimano is of course silent on the subject.Thanks for any guidance you can provide.



I have asked Shimano techs if this will work and they say no.  I've never tried a standard indexed lever with the Nexus hub, so I don't know from firsthand experience whether it works or not.  My guess is that it may work, but not well enough for them to ok it.  I would try a cheap 7-speed thumb shifter to see if it works. If you can shift it with a thumb shifter, then the STI lever will work.



I recently bought a bike which has the Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal hub. I find that it has a constant sound like a freewheeling noise in both the 7 and 8 gears, more pronounced in the 7th. Someone has said this is the nature of the thing. Do you think that is the case? Gears 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are fine in this respect.

Also another noise In all the gears the is a kind of 'click-clack' noise only under load, say going up a hill. It disappears when going down hill or on the flat. Do you think this should be the case?

I myself did not expect these noises as part of the internal gearing. Someone has said they are part of the internal gear setup and were there in all the old 3 and 5-speed hubs.

Chris Pembroke


There are some noises that are more or less normal with this hub, and the pitch and timbre of these sounds varies with the gear you're in. As for the clacking sound, I don't know, but from your description, it doesn't sound normal. A casual observation: these things do what they are supposed to do well, but you mentioned "under a load".  I'm not sure that Nexus shifting and "under a load" belong in the same sentence.



I have a Shimano Nexus Inter 8. Can you please tell me how to take the rear wheel off or, more importantly, put it back on? Why would anyone invent a gearing system for a bicycle that you need to be a NASA engineer to fix a puncture?

Please help,
Tamsyn Dixon


It is possible, but not easy, to pry the cable anchor bolt out of the cassette joint without disconnecting the cable.  I usually do any repairs possible without fully removing this item.  For instance, you can install tubes or tyres from the left side, with the cable still attached to the right side.  I highly recommend either Slime, Mr. Tuffy, or a flat resistant tyre, maybe even an airfree tyre, so that you'll never have to deal with this on the roadside.



I have  Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub, and have noticed recently that I am getting slight "misses" on some gears.

The indicator window that displays the selected gear, is also "out of sync" i.e., it does not display the gear correctly but rather the white area in between.

I have adjusted in fourth gear (found by counting clicks) the two red indicators on the hub at the rear and am getting seven gears but as noted above with slight misses, and it makes no difference to the indicator window.

There is a slight ribbed "button" beside the window but I cannot open it and am unaware of its purpose.

Its driving me daft! Can you help?

Bob Wilson
Edinburgh, Scotland


Cable tension and friction are usually to blame for these problems. It's a big hassle, but installing a new high quality cable and housing could solve the problem. I would use a Teflon coated cable and 5mm housing, or a stainless cable with cable specific lube. I did this on my Nexus bike, and it made a huge difference.  It is still somewhat quirky, but usually goes into the indicated gear and stays put.



I searched your site and could not find the answer I am looking for: How can I stop my Specialized s-works carbon handlebar from slipping in my Ritchey WCS stem? I roughened up the stem surface not wanting to mess with the carbon handlebar. I re-greased the bolts and put it all back, but it still lips every once-and-a-while. Should I have to constantly check those bolts? Thank you for your time and safe riding!

Shaun Riebl
Colorado Springs


If you use a torque wrench and properly torque the stem bolts, the bars should not slip.  However, we've noticed over the last few years that it is a very bad idea to use brand X's bars with brand Y's stem.  Also, it's likely that if the bars had never slipped, they never will, since they've started slipping, they will always slip.  Best solution: buy a torque wrench, new bars and stem of the same brand, and start over.



I hate my new Ultegra 6600 rear brakes. I do a lot of mountain riding and I have to apply LOTS of pressure to brake properly (a dangerous amount to my mind) plus the handle travel is long. My old 105s seemed perfect. I understand Shimano and Campy have introduced a modulation factor into their calipers. So....I guess my question is: Do new 105s have this factor or do I need to use an older model? Any other caliper suggestions from this point of view?

Tim Barnhart


I don't know anything about a "modulation factor," but I do know that everybody hates the brake pad compound on these brakes.  If you invest in the Kool Stop replacements, you'll probably be happy.


Dear Mr. Wallen,

Sorry to bother you. I have a set of cxp33 rims laced to Phil Wood track hubs. I have a set of 700x23 continental training tires with a non-folding bead rated to 110 psi.  Now, with the front wheel, I used a 700x23-25 inner tube, installed the tire and tube, inflated it to 10 psi to set it in place, deflated it, and then re-inflated it to 90 psi as measured on my pump. It has held air fine now for four days. The rear wheel went through the same procedure but has had not been behaving. The first time, right around the valve the bead seemed to show more than anywhere else.

When I inflated the tire, it started to swell right above the valve, so I let the air out and changed tubes. The second tube was inflated the same as the front wheel. It seemed ok until I starting riding. After about ten minutes of riding I noticed that something was rubbing on my back wheel. I slowed to a stop and the rear tube was pushing out between the bead and rim right near the valve. Suddenly, the tube popped. I don't know what is wrong with the rim or the tire that it could be doing this. The rim and tire are brand new. The tubes are good quality (Salsa). Any help would be greatly appreciated.  

Thank you,
Boston, Massachusetts


It's either technique or materials. Don't mean to insinuate that you lack certain skills, but make sure that the little presta valve nut isn't on the valve stem on the wrong side of the rim. After the bead is seated, make sure to push the valve into the tyre, which pulls any hangover tube into the tyre where it belongs. Otherwise, you could have a problem with the tyre bead, but I'm about 82% sure the fault is yours.



I'm asking how to replace the bearings in a rear hub (Ultegra 600). Are there any special tools needed, like a press? What size bearings are needed and where is a good source to get them? Thank you for your help.



All you need is a 14 or 15mm cone wrench, a cassette lockring tool, and a chain whip.  Take off the cassette, remove the axle, and there you are. 

I don't take out the dust caps unless absolutely necessary, as they bend easily.  You have 18 1/4" loose balls in there, get grade 25.



I have a 1988 Trek 1200 (aluminum frame, Shimano components). I have left the flatlands of Eastern North Carolina and now reside in the mountains of SW Virginia. I need better gear ratios for the steep hills! The current bike has a Shimano Biopace 52 (two gear levels); I would like to buy a crankshaft with three gear levels. Can you suggest a replacement that should work with my Shimano 105 derailleur?



You'll need new front and rear derailleurs to use a triple.  It would be more economical to either buy a smaller front chainring and/or a larger rear cog, or buy one of the new compact cranksets.



I have a Landshark (maybe nine years old) with a 1" steel fork and integrated stem (that goes into the fork). I want to replace the fork with a new 1" carbon fork with a clamp stem. What shall I be looking for? Can it be done?

Thanks for any advice.


There are lots of 1" threadless forks out there in all carbon or carbon/aluminum steerers.  Look at Alpha Q or Reynolds; Kinesis makes nice budget oriented stuff.  You'll need a stem and headset, of course. I recommend Chris King.


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