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

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                                                                         Read the Ask the Mechanic

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.

Backyard Bike Mechanics Should Always Have a Handy Copy of ...
Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair
 by Jim Langley, May 1999
Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance
by Leonard Zinn, April 2000
Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance
by Leonard Zinn, February 1998.

Winter  2001 Questions & Answers ...

(35 Q&A's Posted This Season.)


I only have one simple question for you. Do they make different color mountain bike chains, and if so who would sell something like it?! I'm trying to customize my bike and wanted to add some more "flair" so to speak!



As far as I know, your choices are brown or silver. You could probably paint a chain for looks, but I'm sure that would wear off quickly.



Hi. I have a set of Performance rollers (Technique Folding Rollers, white frame) and they are kind of noisy. Sounds like maybe it would help if I dripped some lube into the shaft/bearings. What do you think?



Most of these things use "sealed" or "cartridge" bearings. You really can't service them, so you just replace them periodically.


Dear mechanic,

I traded in my road bike for a Trek 7500. I love everything about the hybrid: the comfortable ride, the lower gear ranges, and the forgiving tires. But I miss the drop handlebars from the road bike when I go into the wind or uphill. And my hands get sore because there is not much variation in different hand positions on the straight bar. I've put enough miles on the original equipment that I can, in good conscience, start an upgrade program to transform the hybrid into a touring bike, which seems to be the direction I'm going.

For a start, can I replace the mountain bike handlebars with road bars and a proper stem (the existing stem is 25.4 diameter)? If I do, will road brake levers work well with the V-brakes?

The combination shifter/brake levers on the road bikes look so cool. Can I use a Shimano Ultegra ST-6500 brake lever/shifter with the existing Shimano Nexave Front Shift, Deore LX SGS derailer, Nexave 48/38/28 Crank, IG chain and Shimano HG50-1 11-30, 8-speed cassette?

Failing that, can I upgrade to a Shimano Ultegra ST-6500 brake lever/shifter with XTR deraillers, crank, and cog? Or put another way: can I mix Shimano high-end road levers and high-end mountain power train components?

Or should I start over with a touring bike frame and upgrade that?



For starters, STI levers won't work at all with V brakes, unless you buy some sort of cable travel doubler. Shimano says that ATB shifters and road ders should not be mixed and viceversa, and I have witnessed poor front shifting using ATB shifters with road triple ders. There is a product called Newk or something like that that adds an ATB-style bar end and a road-style drop onto ATB handlebars, and that would be your best compromise. For optimum performance, I would not mix the road shifters with the ATB ders. For purposes of experimentation, it all should work, but I'm not sure how well.


I want to know how I can make my handle bars rotate 360 degrees as seen on BMX bikes.



You need a hollow stem bolt, a brake that can be pulled from the bottom, and a "Gyro" type device. Headsets must be disassembled in order to install a gyro, so maybe you should have it done at a bike shop.



I am completely replacing the brake set on my Trek 6000. I am choosing to do the work myself. I think it will be a great challenge. That brings me to my question: Do you know where I can obtain an instruction manual for assembling/building the entire brake set? Maybe you know of something online or, perhaps, would you be willing to fax me something?

thanks for you time,


Ordinarily, when you buy new brakes, you get some type of a manual, which covers about all you need to know. I think that Shimano owners manuals can be viewed at the Shimano web site.


Hello Andy,

I have a very basic question. How do I put the chain back on? When I was gearing a bit too fast, it fell off. Please email me the answer.



If the chain "fell off" on the front inside, you can just pick it up and place it on the teeth of the small sprocket. If it is on the outside, sometimes the derailleur jams, and you have to use a little force. On the back, usually, unless it jammed against the frame, you can shift a gear or two away from the mishap, and pedal the chain back into place.



I recently replaced my rear derailleur cable. Please inform me as to how the heck I should go about adjusting my gears.

Where do I start? What screws do what? Where should my thumbscrew adjusters be when I start? How much tension should be on the cable, etc? In other words, from start to finish, what is the process?



This subject has been extensively covered in the Winter '00 Ask the Mechanic.


Dear Andy,

I just got an old Joe Breezer frame, from someone, and when I brought it into a shop to have it appraised the mechanic there said I needed to repack the hub and replace the cones and bearings. I am not a mechanic, but I am also not an idiot around my bike, so I was wondering if re-packing the hub is something I could do in the backyard over the weekend with a minimum of confusion and destruction.

I have taken apart a hub before, but it was an old coaster brake one, and I never could get it back together. I just don't want to repeat my mistake. Whatever advice you have would be great.

Mirium in Toronto, Ontario

P.S. I have a little brother who's pretty handy so he'll be around to help me out...


You'll need a few tools, mainly cone wrenches--13 and 14 (or 15), and a 17 mm wrench for the locknuts. You also need to know exactly what hub you have in order to get the right cone and sealing mechanism. It is usually not a good idea to pry off the dust caps, as they are easy to mangle. I like to lube the freehub body during this process, using a Morningstar freehub buddy. You can also get an easily replaceable dust cap from Morning star for the freehub side. Some folks believe that you should keep track of which balls were in the left and right side, but if you are replacing cones, spring for the new balls, about $3.00.


Dear Andy,

I have a Mongoose DXR4. Recently I have noticed that my bike makes a clicking noise once I make one full revolution with the pedals. I believe the sound may be emanating from the pedals because I can feel the vibrations from the clicks in the pedals.

Do you have any ideas on how I can solve this?



You could have a bad pedal bearing, or a loose crank, loose bottom bracket, or worn out bb. Tighten the crank bolts first, and if it is still making the sound, replace the pedals. Check to see if there is any play in the crank.



I have a stock '98 Cannondale SP300 hybrid and I'm out of gears. That is, I'm in 20-21 most of the time and want more speed on the road. Is changing the large chainring the easiest method? The specs are...crank--CPI 24/34/42, chain--Sachs SC-40, bottom bracket--Shimano, BB--LP27, front der--Shimano Alivio, rear der--Shimano STX, rear cogs--Shimano Hyperglide 11-28. What would be the largest chainring I could get away with? Thanks a lot for your suggestions.

Paul in Miami


If your crank has removable chainrings, you can comfortably use 44, and really stretch things with a 46--you'll sacrifice good shifting to use the 46. We've had good luck changing to a Nexave crank and front der, which gets you very good shifting and a 48-tooth big ring for less than $100 in parts.



I'm trying to make a decision between a R600 Cannondale and a Terry road bike. I'm 5'5" tall with a 31" standover height. Both have the same top tube length, standover height and handlebar width. I feel a little bunched up on the Terry but the brake hub reach is really comfortable. I'm a little stretched on the Cannondale especially when I need to get on the break hub. Does it hurt to shorten up the handlebar stem on the Cannondale and how short can I go before it changes the handling of the bike?

Also concerned about the aluminum vs. the steel. Many have said the aluminum frame will beat up your body. However, I took them both for fairly long test rides and didn't notice much difference.



I find the Terry bikes to be very beneficial for those who need them. Most women don't need them, and except for a few features, such as bar width and brake lever size, they don't fit well unless you are very short. They are also overpriced, considering the frame and components. While the design of the frame is unique, it is nothing more than a run of the mill Taiwan steel frame, which should be priced much lower than it is. If you have to have one, it's worth the price. If you don't and if the Cannondale fits ok, then it is probably the better bike. Small frame aluminum bikes will ride much harsher than steel, but that is a matter of individual preference. Many things can be modified to make the Cdale a better fit, and shortening the stem by 15-20mm should not be a problem.


Hi Andy,

I commute on a '98 Marin (San Rafael) city bike, and lately have noticed an intermittant "clunk" coming from the bottom bracket immediately after I stop pedaling. It seems to happen more frequently if I'm in the granny gear (i.e., more cross-chain torque?). Note: the noise is not the typical loose-crank creaking, but rather, like I said, a perceptible clunk. It's a lower-end Shimano sealed BB. Is this a cup torque problem? Ever hear of this before?



The bb cartridge is either loose, or near the end of its short life. These things blow up anywhere from 3 days to 2 years from the day you buy them, so if you're going to all the trouble to take of the crank arms and tighten the cups, I'd just go ahead and put an upgrade bb in there.



Subject: My damn gyro!

I have a Schwinn Powermatic (BMX) and I was wondering how to put the gyro back onto the bike. It's an SST Oryg 1-1/8. I don't know if you guys specialize in bmxs or mountain bikes or whatever, but any help would be very helpful. Thanks.

Tyler McKay


It would be very difficult to explain how to install a gyro within the confines of this column. You should have an instruction manual with pictures and advice, if not, you may find a bike shop in your area that can help you.



My son's chain popped on his bicycle. It is a 12-speed mountain bike. We bought a new chain, but I think we installed it incorrectly. Is there a way you can show us how to put the chain on all of the gears correctly. I think we threaded it wrong.

Inexperienced bike mechanic mom


Put the bike in its lowest front and highest rear gear. Starting at the front, pass the chain over the smallest sprocket, and through the front derailleur. Pass it over the smallest rear cog, and thread it through the rear der, so that when the chain leaves the smallest cog, it goes over the top jockey wheel, in sort of an "S" shape. Then, you go through the derailleur cage, and make sure that the chain is on the inside of any tabs that may be on the cage. It then goes around the back side of the lower jockey wheel, and back to the other end, which you should have been holding onto to prevent it from following the rest of the chain, causing you to have to start all over. You'll need to cut about 6 or 8 links off, and some chains require a tool to install.



I recently bought a set of Spin mag-type wheels with the ceramic rims. I have gone thru two sets of brake pads and usually overheat the wheel. I had bought this type of wheel as people said that the ceramic type tends not to overheat.

Did I make the wrong buy or do I need a special brake pad to handle the Spin wheels?

Bill Wattling


You need ceramic brake pads. You can get Shimano, Real, Kool Stop, Delta, and many other brands. Standard brake shoes will work, but they wear out too fast.



Chain Lubrication... A lot has been written about chain maintenance. My own experience is rather weird.

I came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter much which lubricant one uses. I tried sewing machine oil, semi-fluid lube oil for automatic weapons, old motor oil, motorcycle chain oil, all working OK. The only lousy product I ever used was Finish Line KryTech chain wax lubricant but, anyway, I can't afford it now.

The only thing that seems important to me is that one lubes the chain after all.

Is this also your experience?



It is better to put hair tonic or bear grease on your chain than it is to let it rust. Unless you are collecting samples of all the dust, dirt, feathers, hair, insects, and that you ride through on a given day, you might want to consider using a bike specific lube. Some people would rather spend time looking for alternatives to something that is already rather inexpensive and widely available, but it doesn't make sense to use anything not designated for bicycle chains. Tri flow is very cheap and works well. I can understand one's hesitancy regarding expensive miracle lubes, but all chain lubes do not fall into this category.


Dear Andy,

I recently picked up a bike with a Shimano 3-speed internal gear hub. The hub says "Shimano Japan" and "3CC" on it. I really like the internal gearing, and it seems to work just fine. However, in third gear there is a noticeable (though fairly soft) clicking sound, which is regular and increases in frequency with the speed of the bicycle. At high speeds, it becomes almost a "buzz" because you can't hear the individual clicks. (There is no similar noise in first or second gear.) The cable seems to be adjusted properly. Can you speculate as to the cause of the clicking? Do you think it's normal, something I should be concerned about, something I can do something about? If I had to have the hub rebuilt, I'm sure the cost of repairs would far exceed the cost of the bicycle, so I don't think that's probably an option. Thanks very much.

Steve R.


Three-speeds tend to make clicking noises, some louder than others. Repair is out of the question, as most people don't know how to fix them, and it is very time consuming (expensive). If it works, other than being noisy, I wouldn't worry about it. Some of these hubs have a grease or oil port, and others can be lubed to an extent by removing the bell crank on the end of the axle, pulling out the plunger, and squirting some reasonably heavy oil in there. That's about all I know about 3-speeds, other than they are the weapon of choice of team Hugh Jass for years at 24 hours of Canaan (now Snowshoe).


Dear repair guru,

I have a very solid metal bike tire pump that has a rotten pump hose and pump cylinder gasket. It's a great floor pump with tire pressure gauge. I can find a new floor pump for a modest amount of money (less than $40), but it's the thought of throwing away the best part of the unit for a couple small parts.

Can you recommend any resources for pump parts?



Unless you have a Silca pump, you are probably out of luck. Hoses are somewhat universal, and sometimes Silca parts fit or can be made to fit other brands.


Dear Andy,

Is there any way to convert an 8-speed STI Ultegra drive train to a triple? I understand the problem is with the front shifter (other than converting bb, front der, crankset and chain). Is there any modification that can be done to that or do I have to go to a 9-speed if I want both STI and a triple?



There used to be a device that attaches to the shifter and allows you to shift three gears. I'm not sure that these are still available. You can buy a left hand triple shifter that'll work, but you'll have to match all your stuff--crank, shifter, and ft. der-- to get good performance. I think
that 8-speed ultegra stuff is still available, so you can pick up a crank, front der and left hand shifter. Buy this stuff soon, because it won't be around much longer, and you will then have to convert to 9-speed.



I have a bike with a 53/42 Shimano Ultegra front chainring. The chainrings carry a designation of "A". I recently replaced the 42 with a 39. The 39 has a "B" designation. I believe that Shimano makes a different 53 with a "B" that is to mate with the 39 "B". Mine seems to shift fine with the 53A and 39B. What is the reason for the different models? Should I expect to have problems with my current mix?



Shimano says that you have to do a lot of stuff in the name of optimal performance. You should not mix A and B rings, but I really don't know what the consequences of that are. If you don't have a problem now, then it probably won't self destruct during a century ride later. There could be some slight shifting or trimming idiosyncrasy that you can't detect, but if you're happy, keep riding the mixed rings.



Subject: The MGX D50i

I just purchased this bicycle because the price was right. Are you familiar with the brand/model and if so how would you rate the bike?

It has all the features I wanted but I am not familiar with the gear system. It has a brand called Torque Drive gears. The last two bicycles I owned had Shimano gears. Are you familiar with the Torque Drive brand name? They don't seem to shift as smooth as the Shimano's did. Could it be that they are just not adjusted right or are the just inferior to Shimano?

Thank you,
John Blanc


Unfortunately, you have purchased one of the worst so-called bicycles ever foisted on the pubic. These are now sold as Mongoose, but it's the same old Brunswick crap. I can live with the horrible drivetrain, because it'll only shift badly. What upsets me is the look of the bike. It's terrifying to think that someone may take this thing off road. It looks just like Shawn Palmer's downhill bike, but if you try any trail riding at all, hopefully it will fall apart before someone gets hurt. If you replace the drive train, be ready for wheels next. The rear hub, especially, has a tendency to have the cups crack and
cave in after three or four rides.


Hello Andy,

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 chromoly 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 amateurs' 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 lightweight hard tail if you are looking for speed, sprints and climbs. Given your budget, a full susser is out of the question. Twenty-eight-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.



My bike would not shift to the small cog on the rear derailleur. I turned what I thought was adjustment screws. I got the small cog, then not the large one. Then with a few more turns of one or the other I got the large but not the small and neither. I finally stopped when I had the large but not the small--right where I started. I have no idea where to start to get this thing adjusted properly. Can you help? I can't find my manual.



I could use a little more information, but here are the basic procedures for rear der adjustment:
1)Disconnect the cable.
2) Rotate the pedals until the chain finds a cog to rest on.
3) If the chain goes off the small cog, turn the high limit screw clockwise. If the chain rests on a cog other than the small, turn the high limit screw counterclockwise until the chain goes onto, but not beyond, the small cog. Once this is achieved, turn the screw until you hear the chain rubbing the next to smallest cog, and back it off until the sound ceases.
4) Push the derailleur towards the wheel while turning the pedals. If the chain goes into the spokes, remove it and turn the low limit screw clockwise, until the chain no longer goes into the spokes. If the chain does not go into the largest cog, turn the low limit screw until it does, making sure that you cannot force it into the spokes. Allow the chain to return to the small cog.
5) Reconnect the cable. Whether you are using indexed or friction shifting, the cable tension could be the source of your trouble. If indexed, adjust the tension via either shifter or derailleur adjusting barrel so that the chain moves one gear per click ( too tight a cable will move
or try to move two gears; too loose a cable will not move at all).

Many other factors can affect shifting. You can't have bent parts, gunked up cables, worn out chains, etc. Some parts, such as those found on Wal-Mart Mongoose bikes, were never meant to work and cannot be made to work even by a highly-paid magician like myself.


Hi Andy,

I have a Problem with my old Yeti MTB: It has 7-gear rear (130 mm axle) and nowadays, there are no derailers manufactured for it. Will a new 9-fold XTR or so work on it, too?



I think that the 9-speed dress should work ok. You can still buy XT and XTR 8-speed dress and they would not be quite so expensive.



I have a problem. I am swapping forks from one bike to another. They are both AHEAD and are the same diameter, 1-inch. I swapped the rings that are on the bottom of the steering tube but I can't get the wobble out of either of the front ends. Are there different sizes somewhere? Any suggestions?



All the headset parts must be matched, so whatever came off one bike must be put on the other, not just the crown race, but the entire headset, bearings, cups, etc.



I have a headset question. Is there a tool required, or is this a job left to professionals?



I assume that you are either trying to adjust or repack your headset. If it is threadless (Aheadset), all you need is the appropriate sized allen wrenches. If it is threaded, then you'll need the appropriate sized headset wrench. If you are replacing or installing headsets or changing forks, then you need about $100 in tools, or risk screwing something up. You would need a headset press, crown race remover, crown race setter, maybe a star nut setter.


Dear Andy,

I'm an aging baby boomer who knows little about post 3-speed Raleigh bikes, and am interested in getting back into casual biking after many years. My usage would be 95% on suburban roads (1-5 mile jaunts), and 5% dirt park paths. I can afford up to about $450, and have been looking at hybrid and sport comfort bikes. I found your comments on aluminum bikes and Raleigh illuminating in my quest for the optimal bike. In looking at the Raleigh, Trek and Cannondale web sites, it seems the main difference in bikes in this price range is derailers (Altus cheapest, Acera cheaper, and Alivio middle of the road).

Do you think I'm better off with the 700x38 of the hybrid vs. the sport comfort 26x1.95?

Should I stick with the chromoly (e.g. on the trek 720 vs. 7300, the steel is only about two ounces heavier)?

If you could make a recommendation on one or two best bikes that you think meet my requirements and price range, I would greatly appreciate it.

Tom Maye


Look at a Gary Fisher Zebrano. It has a lot of comfort features, like the saddle, suspension seatpost, and suspension stem. Unfortunately, like most other companies, Fisher has caved into market pressures and almost abandoned the high quality steel frame in favor of aluminum, but there is a lot to recommend in this bike. It is essentially a mountain bike with smooth tires and a higher-geared crank. This allows you to cruise at reasonable speeds on pavement (unlike a mountain bike with slick tires--it's still geared too low), and can be fitted with knobbies and used fairly well off-road. I have a 1997 Fisher Nirvana with a triple-butted true temper frame, and it is an excellent all around bike. I wish they still made this type of frame, but if it doesn't sell, why bother?



I have a 1990 Schwinn Tempo that was outfitted with a Shimano 105 group. I used the bike a bit from 1990-93 and then that bike only seen about 300 miles a year until now. The chainrings were the biopace style (oval) and I would like to replace them. The rear is equipped with a 6-speed freewheel.

What type of chainring can be used to replace this awful oval design and can I upgrade to a 8-speed cassette?

If I continue to ride I would get a new bike in a couple of years but I would like to upgrade some components for a little smoother ride.



The chainrings are no problem. You can either specify Shimano replacements, or buy any of several aftermarket rings. If you have a freewheel, to upgrade to 8-speed cassette will require a new rear wheel. If your bike is aluminum, you should not spread the rear triangle to accommodate 130 mm spacing. If your bike is steel, spreading the rear to 130 mm is no problem. You could probably get away with a 4-mm spread on the aluminum if you absolutely had to, but besides being hard to do, bending aluminum shortens its already limited life span.



I have a question on a subject which hopefully you will be able to help. I am nearly finished with rotary wing flight school for the US Army. We have a long tradition of the last person in each class to "solo" in the helicopter to ride a ridiculous mock-up of a helicopter, based on a bicycle chassis, at the "solo party." Through the years it becomes necessary to replace the "solo cycle" ...needless to say I have been tasked to do just that! I have two weeks to build a bike that has a functional main rotor and tail rotor.

Here's where the question comes in. I have no problems figuring out how to get the tail rotor to spin, but do you have any suggestions on a simple way of converting the rotating motion of the pedals or wheels to allowing the main rotor to spin directly over head? If so please let me know in the near future.

Thank You,
Warrant Officer Marshall M. Dillon


I really don't have any good ideas here. You need either some sort of worm gear or a universal joint. You may try to do something with belts rather than chains, as you can twist them if needed for short term use.

Good luck!

I want to become close to an expert on quality biking (components, part names, etc.). Is there a book that could teach me so I am not so ignorant?



There are probably dozens of books out there. However, I can only recommend books on repair and maintenance. Since virtually every bicycle made uses Shimano parts exclusively, I might suggest getting a current copy of Shimano's catalog. This will tell you why an Acera
deraileur only costs $25, while an XTR costs $99. With due respect for Sram and Campy, you may want their catalogs, too.

This will pretty much cover major components. Discussing frame materials and bike brands is such a subjective area that expert advice is tough to find. ( This may be the only source of such advice, as I am not selling anything on this site, nor am I paid by any manufacturer to promote anything. My opinions here often run contrary to products that I must sell in house, due to market pressures; I like US built steel frames, but I the public demands Asian-made, cheap aluminum.)



hi. i was wondering how i would go about trying to unbend the rear wheel on my own?



Wheel unbending is probably best left to the experts. To an extent, tacos can be ridden out of the woods by whacking the wheel against a log, but this is only temporary. Steel wheels are crappie to start with; the slightest dent or wobble is usually hopeless. If you have aluminum rims, truing is usually possible, using the proper-sized spoke wrench and a truing jig of some sort. You have to know whether to tighten or loosen your spokes, because over tightening may produce a laterally-true wheel that is not dished (centered) or radially true (round). If the wheel is actually bent, even aluminum rims rarely straighten out satisfactorily. People use the term "bent" to refer to a wide range of maladies, from slight lateral imperfections to totally-destroyed wheels.



I have a question.

I need some advice on resistance trainers. I am planning to get one but I am confused about the different types: adjustable fluid, hydro-force, variable resistance unit...etc. Which type would you recommend as relatively silent and giving you a good workout?



My advice with trainers is the same as my advice for bicycles: Cheap stuff costs a lot. If you buy a noisy trainer with a flimsy frame, you won't use it, and if you do, you'll constantly worry about it giving way in the middle of a workout. The fluid drive trainers are really quiet at all speeds. Mags are fairly quiet until you reach a moderately high rpm. I really liked the Cyclops products; they disappeared for a while, and did have some warranty issues with their fluid units, but they have been purchased by Graber, and should now be back in stores. Expect to spend around $200.



My left pedal makes a noise when I pedal, particularly when I am pedaling hard. It makes the noise only once a revolution at the top of the revolution. Does that make sense? I removed the pedal and it was very easy to unscrew. Could that be the problem?



If you could remove your pedal by hand, it definitely was a problem, and if you rode with it this loose, you probably have a damaged crank arm. Noises emanating from the bottom bracket area are usually due to a loose or worn out bb, loose or worn out crank arm, or damaged or poorly-adjusted pedal internals.


Hi Andy,

I have a Cannondale F700 with Shimano LX derailleurs (I think its a 1995). I recently had a new cassette, chain and center ring put on at the bike shop.

When I got it back it was having a little trouble going into granny (under stress--when you need it!), so I thought I'd take a crack at adjusting the derailleur. I don't have a clue how to do it. There are two screws, inside and outside. Can you give me advice? Are you supposed to adjust them in tandem? I screwed it up, now its pretty much stuck in the center ring. I'd like to get into more adjustments myself, couldn't find anything at the Shimano Web site.

Andy Waren


There are essentially five aspects of front der adjustment:

1) Low limit, which either keeps the chain from falling off on the small ring or prevents it from going onto it--this is usually the outside screw on newer stuff, identified with an "L"

2) High limit, same function as low limit only on the big ring

3) Cable tension--if too tight, you won't get the small ring, and if too loose, you won't get the big ring

4) Height--must be app 1-2 mm from the big ring when in the middle ring

5) Angle--front of chain guide must be parallel to big ring when in small ring

Some deraileurs, particularly top swing types, do not work well with Cannondale frames due to the size of the seat tube and/or length of the stock bb spindle. Also, there are other factors, such as alignment, old cables or housing, worn out shifters, the brand, profile, and spacing on the ring you replaced, that can cause problems that standard procedures for derailleur adjustment will not solve.


Hello Andy,

I have a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR XC Pro that I purchased in March of this year. A few weeks ago the Shimano XT V-brakes started making very irritating noises (prior to this time they were quiet). I have used sand paper on my wheels to rough them up a little to change the frequency of the braking noise, I cleaned the wheels, and sanded the brake pads, but nothing is working. The brakes are usually ok at low speeds on dry terrain with gentle brake pressure, but whenever I hit them fairly hard they make a lot of noise. Also, when they are wet they make a ton of noise at all speeds, and all braking forces. How can I eliminate this annoying brake squeal?

Mark in Flagstaff


Brakes usually squeal either because they don't hit the rim at the correct angle, they are worn or contaminated, or something is loose. XT brakes, with the parallel push dohickey tend to develop slop, which translates to increasing brake noise. This can be fixed by what Shimano calls a tune up kit.

I prefer a good quality soft pad, both for quiet(er) operation and better braking, especially in wet stuff. Sometimes, replacing the Shimano pad with a Kool stop grey or red can really quiet things down. I don't like to toe-in V brakes, as this diminishes their effectiveness. They should hit the rim flat, when viewed on both planes, and a slight toe-in is ok if quietness is more important than brake power.


Dear Andy,

I have a 1996 GT karakoram with cantilever brakes. I recently purchased a new xt v-brake/shifter combo with front and rear v-brakes. How do I properly install the rear brake? The frame is set up with brake guides for cantilever style brakes only.

Adam B


You need a clamp on cable guide. We sell the Alloy accents brand in various colors and sizes from about $8 and up. I have seen people try to rig this up, and you really should not try to use anything other than the cable guide. Of all things to be cheap about, $8 for a rear brake (something that can actually prevent death) is not one.


Dear Sir,

My son just bought a Huffy Ironman mountain bike with 21 speeds and index shifting. It has the problem of shifting on the front sprockets.

The shift system is labeled SRAM and is an index shifter. When he clicks the from deraileur from gear 1 to gear 2, the chain actually goes from gear 1 to gear 3. When he shifts to gear 3, the chain goes off the outside of the sprocket. How do we adjust to correct this overshift?

Thank you!
Ed Eppinger


The level of quality of these components, including the frame, almost always causes shifting problems that can never be resolved. Keeping this in mind, aside from probably being too high (over 3mm) and not parallel to the chainrings, your front deraileur needs its high limit screw turned in so that the chain only comes off 3 shifts out of 10, rather than every time. It will still come off, but you can probably cut down on the frequency and still get into the 3rd ring once in a while. It also sounds like the cable is too tight. This would cause the chain to go into 3rd when you want 2nd.


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