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Spring 1998                                  Winter 98 | Autumn 97 | Spring/Summer 97 | Winter 97 | Autumn 96
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Stuck in gear and need expert advice? Ask Andy the Mechanic (a.k.a. Andy Wallen), the proprietor of Wheelcraft Bicycles of Wheeling, WV. (Please, no old bike & antique questions.) E-mail to ibike@bikexchange.com, subject "ask the mechanic," or mail your question directly to Ask the Mechanic, c/o Wheelcraft Bicycles, 2185 National Road, Wheeling, WV, USA 26003. Andy will e-mail your advice and we may post it afterward. Take a look at our back issues to find answers to all kinds of bike fix-it questions.

Spring 1998 Questions...


My Name is Chris Bronaugh. I own several Bicycles. My GIANT Iguana SE is the bike that I use most often to ride cross country. Of late, I have been having trouble with a skip that has begun to occur by the chain jumping over the top of the cassette sprockets 3,4,and 5. Please to advise me on the best remedy. The components usually cease problems after cleaning, re-setting the wheel on it's quick release. Also, I placed a washer on the outside of the release side, that seemed to run the problem away from the 3, 4 to the 5 sprocket. Do I need a new derailleur? Please advise.

Very Seriously,
Chris "Bruno" Bronaugh


Two possibilities come to mind here, and it could be both. Your chain and cogs (especially the smaller ones) are probably worn out. You must replace the chain and cassette together. Just replacing the chain will make the problem worse. You could have a bent derailleur hanger. Have the hanger alignment checked and adjusted. Other things like gunked up cable housings will cause shifting problems, but these would be more random rather than confined to certain gear combinations.



I'm doing a restoration on an old custom-built frame and am trying to use parts of similar age to the bike. I was recently given Shimano 600 cranks and bottom bracket. The cranks have a Shimano one key release design - of which I'm totally unfamiliar. This is an Allen-keyed bolt inside a threaded ring which mount to the bottom bracket spindle. Any ideas on the procedure to remove the cranks?



If you can get these things off, throw them away immediately! These cranks have a sort of built in extractor, which is supposed to pull the crank when you remove the bolt. Sometimes they work and usually they don't. Once you get them off, you can remove the outside part as you would a dust cap, and replace them with regular bolts.



Thanks for the help! Took them off - and the pulley/bolt actually worked well. They've cleaned up nicely and are now quite a handsome (if old) set of cranks - suit the old bike to a tea, and are much better than the original steel set!

Thanks again,


I recently ordered a San Remo by Bianchi and to my dismay I found the gear combinations left a lot to be desired for hill climbing.  I believe the 52-42-32, 13-26 combination (a '97 vintage) leaves the lowest gear inch at 32-32. Not very good to tour with. According to a comparison sheet I pulled off the net by Bruce Gordon, his bikes--Trek, Cannondale--all have 22 for a low gear inch. To get to that range, I would have to have a low chain ring of 22 and a high rear cog of 28. My question is: Will that combination work? If not, is there one that will work? I bought the bike to tour with, assuming it was a good tour bike like everyone was saying, only to find out I would have to be a Hercules to go up even the smaller hills.

Appreciate your advise. Thanks.

W. Everett


I don't think that you can make a great change here without spending quite a lot. Your problem is further complicated by the fact that you have a Campy equipped bike, and most shops just aren't going to have any Campy inventory to speak of, and of course, it is only compatible with other Campy stuff. The gearing that you have is what I would call classic touring gearing (without the half step) and is quite adequate for most applications for which it was designed (touring with a load).

Back in the early 80's, people rode all over the place and carried hundreds of pounds of gear on bikes with similar gearing, and they did just fine. As nearly as I can tell, the terrain has not changed significantly in the last 2 decades. The bikes you are comparing yours to have compact mountain bike cranks which can give you as low as 20 teeth, but limits the high range usually to 46 (48 top). If your crank and derailleurs are designed for compact drive, exceeding a 46-tooth high gear (which you need) will result in shifting problems. You are confusing the term "gear inch" with your actual gear combinations. Your 32-26 low gear yields 33.2 (32/26x27). Standard low gear inch for racing/rec riding is usually around 40 so your bike is substantially lower.

The best thing you can do if you think you must have lower gearing is pick up a 30-tooth exadrive ring. This is really your only option. My opinion is that most people in reasonably good shape don't need those super low gears. The lesson here is "try before you buy" or at least consider this aspect of the spec chart.



I was thinking of buying a Girvin Rock Ring for my new Big Sur. I was wondering if this product will save my chainring from abuse? I ride in places such as Cooper's Rock which is pretty technical and can tear up your chainring fairly easy. Also, where are good places to bike in the Wheeling area?

Zachary Pittman


A "rock ring" or similar product can be a good investment if you are not obsessed with weight and ride in rocky territory or hop a lot of large logs. If your big ring never gets bent or broken, theoretically, the chainring protector will pay for itself as the big ring normally doesn't need to be replaced as often as the middle one due to wear. We like the QBP Tooth Fairy for its looks, weight, and overall design.

There are no good places to ride in the Wheeling area. There are some very short up and back trails, but nothing to get excited about. Grand View Park in Moundsville is not bad, and there are some good trails in Bethany, WV, but nothing to speak of within riding distance of the Nail City (the "Friendly City?").


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