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


One inch threaded carbon forks are hard to find. Easton made a good one EC30 but they are no longer available. Looking for a 1" threaded with a 220 aluminum steer tube. Any ideas?

Larry Hofstetter
Coronado, California


You can still get the Kinesis carbon 3 in 1" threaded.  Any shop that deals with QBP can order it if it's in stock.


Hi Andy,

I'm a heavy guy (350 lbs.) and I'm looking to get back into cycling (road riding and touring) this summer. I wonder if you could give me some advice on selecting a new bike.

I really want a rear hub instead of derailleur (shaft-drive would be nice -- //www.dynamicbicycles.com -- but I could live with a chain).

What I really need advice on is rims, spokes and tires. I guess if I'm buying something with a hub, I'm going to be limited in choices regarding the number of spokes.



I hesitate to recommend the shaft drive for many reasons, primarily, you are heavy and you are going to need some low gears.  As for internally geared hubs, they are a great idea, except for the same reason, lack of gear range.  The obscenely expensive Rohloff Speed Hub is the exception with an equivalent gear range to most mountain bikes.  I have not seen one of these with 36 spoke holes, though, and that would be best for someone your size.  I would recommend 36 to 40 spokes, and maybe forget about the internal hub for budgetary purposes.   I really don't think that a 32- hole high quality rim will be a problem.  Get a pair of Sun Hhyno lites or Velocity Dyads and use DT Swiss or Wheelsmith stainless spokes, and you'll probably be okay with 32 holes.  Go wide and lower pressure on the tyres--Panaracer Pasela is a good one, or some of the Conti Gatorskin tyres.



I just bought a GT Outpost, I wanted to change the stem, but I'm not sure what size it is.

Bethesda, Maryland


Old outhouses used 1", but anything made since around 1996 should have a 1 1/8".  If it is threadless, it is certainly a 1 1/8", but if threaded could be either.  If a 32mm wrench fits on the locknut, it is 1"; if a 36mm wrench fits, it is 1 1/8".


Hello Andy,

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I have a 2003 Giant OCR 2 with a 1" steerer tube and all that. I was wondering if it would be possible to buy a fork with a 1" unthreaded steerer tube. If possible, which parts would I need to make this happen? Will I need to replace the bearings? Any advice would be helpful.

Johnson City, Tennessee


You need a new stem and headset.  I have actually converted threaded headsets to threadless by filing off the threads, but I don't recommend it unless you just bought a Dura Ace or better threaded headset and want to keep it.  A decent threadless headset can be had for far less than I would charge to file threads off a threaded one.


Dear Sir,

I am seeking advice/information on the durability and strength of the following bike frames by make and model year 2006:

1)  Rocky Mountain Road bike - Solo 50.  Frame: RMB Solo 7005 Custom Aluminum + Carbon. (Made in Canada.)

2)  Eclypse road bike. Frame:  6061 grade Aluminum. (No info. on heat treatment). (Made in Canada.)

3)  Trek 1500 Road bike.  Frame:  Alpha SLR Aluminum.

4)  Specialized Allez Road bike. Frame: Specialized E5, fully manipulated Columbus SLX tubing, compact race geometry.

I am a recreational rider and would only be able to ride approximately 6 months of the year. (Canadian winters are not suitable for bicycling!)

These bicycles are rather expensive and the carbon fiber / steel frames are beyond my means.  I am told by knowledgeable bike enthusiasts that aluminum bike frames come in different grades and that some are stronger and more durable than others.

I would be obliged if you could furnish me a comparison of the above mentioned bike frames.

Yours truly,
Andrew Fok


I'm not a Specialized fan, but out of the bunch, I'd buy the steel frame. SLX is pretty stiff for bigger guys, it rides better than aluminum, and it's repairable if you crash it.  My opinion is that it's more durable than aluminum as well, but it will rust (aluminum corrodes also).  While some alloys are lighter and/or stiffer, I wouldn't suggest that any aluminum is durable; it's the most disposable frame material out there.



I am changing out handle bars on my bike and so at the same time I have to change to a different type of shifter to fit the bar.  I want to use all of the same cables and just re-attach them to the new shifters.  How do I go about doing this without causing damage to the old shifters and also without damaging the cables?  I have been able to release the brake cables but the shifter cables seem too wound up and very hard to release. I know if I mess with it too much more I may end up either cutting the cable or breaking the shifter completely. There has got to be an easy way to have it release.

Any suggestions at all would help greatly!



I do not advise reusing old cables as it is just not a good use of time considering the low cost of new cables.  Chances are, you are changing things, at least one of your cables will be too short anyway.  Most shift cables come out easily if you are in the fully released mode (high on the right, unless you have rapid rise, low on the left), but some road and higher end mountain shifters have a small cable inlet cover that's attached with one or two tiny screws.  I would spend extra $10-12 on new cables and housing all the way around, though.



Can you tell me if it is easy to replace your own brakes?  I have a Giant TCR3 and just bought new brakes.

Thanks so much,


Road brakes are generally pretty simple to set up with a few caveats. Hopefully, you have instructions and enough front brake bolts to fit your fork.   The only thing that I think people need to know is that older brakesets don't have a toe in feature.  If these brakes are not toed in, or if they are toed out (the normal state of affairs for these), you need to  bend them with a crescent wrench until the desired toe in is attained.  Other than that, it's really not rocket science.  Pads hit flat, near the top of the rim, make sure all bolts are tight, etc.



The threads on my left crank are stripped where the pedal screws into the crank. Is there any way to repair the threads so the pedal will attach?



I will repair aluminum cranks only, and the charge for a new left crank arm is usually equal to the cost of repair, unless we're talking LX level or higher--generic crank arm $12, Helicoil insert in stripped arm, at least $12, sometimes more.



I damaged my front wheel on my ~1993 Specialized Crossroads bike recently. In trying to find a replacement, I have had a lot of trouble finding information about wheels and wheel sizes.

The wheel is an Araya 700C PX35.  It is equipped with 700x38C tires.

Can I buy any replacement with those dimensions?  Or do I have to buy a Specialized replacement part? Any recommendations?

Rich Setterberg


Specialized does not make wheels, in fact they don't make bikes either, all their stuff is sourced from Asia.  You should be able to find a replacement at any bike shop. If it is a rear wheel, you need to know whether it has a cassette or freewheel, and in either case, it may be wise to have the shop transfer the aforementioned parts for



I just recently moved to the Pheonix AZ area but I have not yet brought my bicycling stuff out from Atlanta where I used to live until a few months ago. As a stop gap measure I picked up a few older mountain bikes in the hope of being able to get one good bike out of the group. Most of the bikes seem to have been ridden hard and put away wet so to speak. Most have bent rear axles so I am attempting to remedy that but one of the wheels has a Falcon freewheel. My problem is I cannot seem to figure out if it has standard threads or reverse threads. It seems to work differently than a standard Shimano style cassette since I don't seem to have to have a chain wrench to hold the freewheel/cassette while I turn the locking mechanism. As a result I am confused and afraid I will break something since with what I feel is a reasonable amount of force I have not been able to get anything to move by turning in either direction.

Anyway, any information about this operation would be most appreciated.



You need a Falcon (Lifu) freewheel remover.  Freewheels don't come off the same way as cassettes; the entire body and all unscrews.  You can either put the tool in a vise and unscrew the wheel, or use a large crescent wrench to unscrew the freewheel.

Hey there,

I'm up in the Pacific Northwest. Just got my '97 Santa Cruz Heckler out and the chain is jumping from the middle to small chainring up front when I put some weight on it. Note, I only weigh 145 pounds, so when I'm "cranking" it's not that much weight!  It has XTR derailleurs. The only clue I have is that a guy who helped me recently told me the chainrings were sharp (an indication of wear?).

Any ideas?  I found your website searching on Google and it's great.



The symptom you describe is not indicative of a worn chainring, but if you have sharp teeth, it can't work very well.  Usually, sharpened teeth result in a violent skipping, but the chain stays on the intended ring. It is all but impossible to ride a bike when this happens.  If the chain literally jumps from one ring to the next (so called "ghost shifting"), that indicates something else--chainline, derailleur problems, pivot wear.  Since you need a new chainring (you also need a chain and cassette if you replace this), start with that and see what happens.  It may clear up your problem.



I'm considering changing to the new Shimano compact crank for my Typhoon. I'm currently running Ultegra 9-speed and would like to know if I need a different bottom bracket or any other component to make the change over. I would like to just add the crank instead of switching to a 10-speed system.

Park City, Utah


You will need one of the Shimano bbs for 2-piece cranks--105, Ultegra or Dura Ace, and a 10-speed chain.  I would guess that you won't need the chain, but that's what they say.


what do u do when u get wd40 on your disc?



u get nu break shooz an sum gud nonrezidooleevin kleener an kleen yur rooters reely gud.  uze diskdoktor or finish line speed clean, or even white lightning clean streak.



I got a Huffy Luna bike and do not understand how to assemble the handlebar stem to the fork.  Can you help?



I'm not up to speed on the Huffy Luna.  If you look at www.parktool.com, click on the headset of the bike map, you'll be able to determine whether you have a quill stem or an Aheadset type, and you should get a pretty good explanation of how to deal with it.



I have a Cannondale R3000 road bike.  It is equipped with a USE Alien Titanium seatpost that is seized in the seat tube.  If at all possible, I do not want to destroy the seatpost and certainly do not want to compromise the frame.  Is there anything I can do to resolve this issue?

My bike shop will not attempt to get the seatpost out.  The seat height is set correctly for me so there is not an issue leaving it alone but I would like to be able to remove the post if possible. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.



First, a casual, smart assed observation: Why do people put seatposts on bikes that cost half as much as the entire bike?  Way out of proportion, in my opinion. Now that that's out of the way, the bad news is:  There is no way to remove this without destroying the post. People who should know better have suggested everything from Dr. Pepper to moonshine, but galvanic corrosion is, basically welding.  A very nice machinist built me a never fail seatpost extractor, but you cut off the top of the post and drill a small hole through the post.  If you want to have it done reasonably and can't find a reasonable machinist in your area, check H.H. Racing, somewhere in Pennsylvania. Next time use more antiseize than you think you need--the gross bronze stuff, not grease, and lots of it, enough to offset the weight of your chichi seatpost.



Would you know how or where to look to find what series of  Pepperoni forks on Cannondale EST were recalled in the early 90's?



I don't think that the EST fork was recalled (the whole bike ought to be). If I may step up on my soapbox, any bike old enough to have a recalled pepperoni should be taken out of service, and yours is at least five years older than those. Aluminum has a finite lifespan, and 15 years is a little much to expect out of a mountain bike.  Keep the EST as a conversation piece, or sell it on Ebay, as it may have some collector's appeal, but don't ride it. 

You can call Cannondale at 1800bikeusa.



I have a 7-speed rear cassette and I was wondering if I could use a Shimano LX rear derailleur on it.

Also,  is it necessary to have spacers under a threadless stem?



The der will work fine. In most cases, it is not necessary to have spacers under the stem, but it is necessary that the steerer tube not be more than 5mm below the top of the stem.


Hi Andy,

This may be a stupid question, as I am a little rusty on my bike literacy...but, I have a slight wobble on my rear wheel which is really annoying me! I'm not a small guy either and I like to thrash the bike a little (its a Trek 3200). I just had new wheels put on but this rattle has appeared maybe a week after that. I am guessing (and hoping) that it is something simple to just tighten up--but what?! I have tightened the quick release to within a mm of its life but it doesn't seem to be helping.

I live in Newcastle, in the North East of England.

Thanks for your help!


When you say "wobble," I assume that it's hub play and not spoke related, although loose spokes can cause a similar symptom.  You either have a loose hub, which can be tightened with a cone wrench, unless the drive side is loose, in which case the freewheel or cassette must be removed, or a broken axle, or a freehub problem.  Check to see if the drive side locknut is loose, and proceed from there. You may need to invest in a few tools--cone wrenches, freewheel/cassette removal tools, etc. Overtightening the QR skewer actually may make this worse.



I'm from North Carolina and I just bought a 1992 Trek 400 road bike from a garage sale. The only problem is that the original wheels were replaced with 27 inchers and rub the frame due to it needing 700c wheels.  The rear freewheel is also a 5-speed and it needs to be a 7.  The bike has the Suntour Blaze group.  Are there any Shimano rear 7-speed freewheels that will match the Blaze rear derailleur? Mine currently shifts badly.

What sort of wheels will accept the freewheel?

Thank you for your help, 


No freewheels are compatible with Suntour.  You can get reasonably close with your basic Shimano or generic item, but never perfect. Actually, one reason the old Suntour went belly up is that their stuff was never perfect either.  Finding new freewheel compatible wheels will be challenging.  You may do better to buy a cassette
wheel and cassette.  We can only get pre-built mountain bike freewheel wheels, and it is not cost effective to custom build wheels for this purpose.  A 7-speed cassette or freewheel will shift much better than your 5-speed one.



I was wondering if derailleurs and shifters are compatible throughout the Shimano product line. My bike has a 9-speed system with an Ultegra long cage rear derailleur, 105 front derailleur, 105 shifters and a triple FSA chainring. I tried to put an Ultegra FD-6503 front derailleur on, but it didn't shift well at all despite following the instructions closely (I think). When I try to downshift in front from the big ring to the middle ring, the derailleur seems to skip the middle and go to the small ring with one click (it's harder to click down than before). The swing arm of the derailleur seems to hit the tube below the clamp. When shifting back up, I can't get it to engage the middle ring well and going to the big ring is not smooth at all. I put the 105 front derailleur back on and the shifting seems to work okay (of course, I had to readjust the low and high screws a little). I'm pretty sure the Ultegra front derailleur is for a triple chainring. I got the FD-6503 because I thought it was for a 9-speed system. I'm thinking that the 6603 is for 10-speed triple systems with a narrower chain.

Dennis in Atlanta


The Ultegra der should work, but this is not the first case of upgrades not working as well as the cheap stuff.  If the der is hitting the seat tube, that indicates that the bb spindle is too short, or the crank profile is wrong.


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