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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
OR...
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

Support Your Local Bike Shop!

Fall 2006 Q & A's (20 posted so far this season, more to come, with 1,000+ in past seasons)

Andy,

I think my local bike shop is trying to rip me off. Two months ago I dropped off my 2002 GT Team i-drive to have the shocks rebuilt, a SID and a Fox Float RC. Neither were in bad shape, but I wanted to have them rebuilt while the parts are readily available.

The price quoted was $80 for the front, which I thought was a little high, and $40 for the rear, which I thought was a little low.. but it balanced out with what I expected to pay. I was told it would take about two weeks, they were going to out-source the work.

Two months later I finally get the call that my bike is ready, the bill is $275 ($100 for the rear, $150 for the front, $25 handling fee) and the incorrect rear shock is on the bike, a Float RL, not the RC that I had. They said they were charging me what they paid their vendors; however, the shop refused to show invoices for the work done...and they refuse to acknowledge that the wrong shock came back from Fox. The front shock feels just as before and I suspect they are trying to charge me $150 for detailing the stanchion tubes.

The claim ticket I received did not have a written estimate on it.

Sooo, my questions are these:
1. Do these prices seem much higher than the industry standard?
2. How should I go about trying to recover my rear shock?
3. Have you ever heard of a fork repair shop called "Quality" in Wisconsin? I have been unable to find a phone number or website.. that is supposedly who rebuilt my front fork.

Can you suggest a common sense remedy? The shop is unwilling to work with me and I am incredibly frustrated.

Eric

Eric,

I don't want to get into a situation that requires a legal mind, but in a nutshell, you should not have been charged substantially more than the estimate. Without a written estimate, though, you don't have much of a claim (you ought to send this to Bob Mionske at VeloNews). Quality Bicycle Products has a dealer service called Shock Treatment, which does competent repair on most shocks.  Many dealers (me included) do not service shocks, as the investment in tooling, small parts, and time is just too much, and many specific, expensive tools are only
useable on one model year.  The total bill is not that bad, but people tend to get angry if an estimate is exceeded by 10%.  It's possible that Fox exchanged shocks rather than attempt a repair, and if that's the case, you may not get your shock back. I can only guess that your shop guy thought he was helping you out by getting it done, but he should have called.  I'm sure that QBP would give an estimate before work was done.  As for common sense remedies, I'm all out.  Given your side of the story, the shop is wrong and should at least meet you halfway or something, but that's only working with your side of the story.  Are you hard to get in touch with? I know people leave stuff here for months and never answer the phone or check messages, and it can get mighty frustrating to try and get an authorization, and if there's a bike hanging around with no fork or shock on it, that compounds one's frustration. Not an excuse for the big bill, but a theoretical explanation. Try to be diplomatic, if it's not too late
for that.

Andy

Hello,

I have a problem with my 2004 Campagnolo Ergo levers.

I recently replaced the cables and housings. I've reattached my derailleur cables but cannot get the levers to work--they don't seem to be pulling any cable.  I am getting the typical clicking, but the clicks appear to be further down in the stroke of the levers.  Cables appear to be moving smoothly (can easily push them out of the front of the shifter) and the derailleurs work fine when cable is pulled manually.  These were working perfectly before the cable change.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Nick

Nick,

I would have to guess that you have not properly threaded your cable through the shifter.  Take the cable out, and make sure that the shifter is relaxed by clicking the release lever several times. The cable must go through a little saddle that can only be properly accessed when the shifter is in its fully relaxed position. There should be some instructions on the Campy website for this.  Anyway, if it worked before the cable change, and both levers don't work, you must have mis-threaded the cable.

Andy

Mike here,

Im looking for a new bike and Im trying to decide just what level of gearing to upgrade to. I have a Lemond Reno which has RSX gearing; it has worked well for me but it would be nice to move up in quality. So my question is what level was RSX in 1997? Im guessing Shimano had three or four tiers as they do now. Also, do you recommend getting the highest my money can buy since I seem to upgrade every 5-10 years? Im a 47-years-young, budding triathlete looking for a compact design race bike that I can pop aero bars on for race day. 

Really appreciate any help! 

Mike

PS: Are there any books/magazines you could recommend on bike buying that go beyond the basics?

Michael,

RSX was the bottom of the barrel when you bought your bike (DA, Ultegra, 105, RX 100, RSX), but it was better than today's bottom, Sora.  I would definitely be in the market for an Ultegra, or mostly Ultegra bike.  The new Lemond Tri bikes are quite nice for the money, but since Trek resurrected the 5200, that's my pick.  American built 120 gsm frame, full Ultegra 10 speed group, better than average wheels, for less than 3K. Can't beat it.  If you have the budget, look at the Lemond Victoire and Tete de Course.  I just bought a Tete (frame only) and it's incredible.  Like the 5200 (my former "Chambery" frame) only way plusher and a bit crisper handling.

Andy

Hi Andy,

I have an 8-speed Campy Record setup on my road bike and want to install a compact crank.  I noticed that when I replaced the crankset a couple of years ago, the box that the Record crank set came in said it was 8/9/10-speed compatible.  Most of the compact cranks say they are only 9/10-speed compatible. Can I use one of these with my 8-speed system?

Thanks for your help,
Mike

Louis,

This should work fine. If I were the type that makes sweeping generalizations, I'd say, "You can always use a crank made for more gears with less, but you can't use a crank made for less gears with more."  More or less.

Andy

Dear Sir,

Can you please answer this question for me? I own a 1987 Lotus road bike, and the frame is made by Cinelli. My question is this; can I replace the front fork with a high quality light-weight carbon fork which will work with my existing Deda quill stem? I want to stay European, as my Lotus is all Italian, German, French, etc.

Thanks a bunch,
Gary

Gary,

Threaded forks are a little hard to find, but Kinesis Fabrications still makes a good quality 1" fork with carbon legs.

Andy

PS: Lotus, the car, is European.  Lotus, the bike, was Japanese.

Dear Sir,

I was putting on a new Continental Grand Prix 3000 GT on a Campagnolo Neutron Front wheel, and while pumping up the tire up to 115psi, the tire popped out of the seam, which resulted in a popped tube. Now I'm wondering--if that happens, will it damage the rim in any way? Also, is there a way to find out if the rims are damaged or not?

Thanks!
Jesse

Jesse,

I doubt that anything is damaged, unless this is a carbon clincher or some such trinket.  Next time, follow the directions on the tube box, and use talc powder so that the tube doesn't get stuck under the tyre bead.  Especially follow the directions about putting a little air in the tube before you start, and filling the tyre to low pressure so you can inspect it without 115PSI behind it.

Andy

Andy,

Please help me. I do not know how to remove or install a Spanish bottom bracket on a BMX bike.

Marie

Marie,

I'm not really up on Spanish bbs or high end BMX in general, but most bb cups require a specific tool, which is determined by the manufacturer, not the type of threads; an FSA bottom bracket requires an FSA tool, whether Spanish or Euro, and a Haro bb requires a Haro tool, etc., so get the tool.

Andy

Andy,

I have a trike bike that I use at work. It's a Mohawk bike and I have emailed them to get parts. It needs the bearings where the brake is--I think they call it a drum. I have emailed them twice. Can I get it at a local shop or should I order it from them?

Chuck

Chuck,

I am not familiar with this company; however, bearings are more or less standard. If it is a sealed bearing, get the number off the rubber seal (should be 6001, 6900,  or something like that) or remove it and take it to a good bike shop. If you have cup and cone retainers, you should take the assembly out to determine the replacement.  If you have cartridge bearings and know the number, I probably have it in stock.

Andy

Hello,

I am building a hub assembly for a trike and I cannot find dimensioned drawings of disk brake mounts.  I know that there is 51mm between the mounting holes but I need to determine their precise location relative to the center of the hub as well as diameter of the holes.  I would also like to find standard hub/brake disc dimensions.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Graham Gallamore
OU Mechanical Engineering
University of Oklahoma

Graham,

I don't think that there really is a standard here; each manufacturer makes a big rotor and a small rotor, but the actual diameter or each varies slightly.  For 6" rotors, the lower rear hole is around 45mm from the hub center; the lower front is about 55mm for direct mount, slightly more for most forks that require adapters, and this can
vary slightly with the fork manufacturer and model.  The rocket scientists at Touchstone Research Laboratory (www.trl.com) made a 'bent to demonstrate one of their proprietary materials, and I sold them Hayes brakes, so they just determined placement based on the brakeset.  Caliper mounting bolts are normally M6x20.  You might get better info from www.hayesbrake.com, or by calling their tech guys at 1-888-686-3472.

Hi,

My name is Jake. I got bored one day and thought and decided to try to make a pedal-powered 3 wheeler. I have pretty much figured out how to do everything except how to have a rear axle with the cog in the middle and how to attach the wheels. 

Thanks for any help you can give.

Thanx,
Jake Forsdyke
Royston, England 

Jake,

This is a bit outside of my expertise.  Most of these have only one drive wheel; the left wheel just rolls, and there is a freewheel mounted to a collar that clamps onto the axle.

Andy

Hi Andy,

My Bianchi (Boron '01 with double chain ring, Campagnolo Centaur '02) has recently started "creaking".  It seems only to happen when the pedals go around, but I can't just put the bike on the stand and make it creak by spinning the pedals freely.  I put it on a trainer and rode it, and no creaking, but the creaking comes back on the road even with low forces.  I do have square campy bottom bracket/cranks and I did replace the drive-side crank (myself), and the bb bolt was looser than the recommended, so I tightened it, but that didn't resolve the creaking.

I checked to see if it was the spokes (where they intersect on the Levitation wheels) by dabbing a little light oil at the intersections, but it didn't seem to take the noise away entirely.  And, this is frame #2 for this bike-- one of the welds on the '02 frame broke around the bb, so I checked for frame cracks, and didn't seem to find any. 

Any ideas? Or should I just resign myself and take it to the shop :-)

Nick
Berkeley, California

Nick,

I would guess that if you rode with a loose crank bolt, you probably need to replace the crank.  This is the most common creak from that area, and once it wears, it's done. Torque this bolt often, as Campy cranks get to be expensive.  It could be the bb cups, which I always wrap in Teflon tape if used on a non-ferrous frame.  It could also be a thousand other things, but worn crank taper is most common.

Andy

Andy,

Regarding a 1997Answer Manitou Pro-c shock, I went to the Answer Manitou folks and asked them for this information . They keep no records for this model shock-- hard to believe, eh? What Im looking for is the weight of the oil and the amount.

Thanks,
Jim

Jim,

I could only speculate. You might try Hippie-Tech Suspensions, as they specialize in vintage fork repair.

Andy

Hi

My question is regarding steer column height on a threadless stem. Is 1- 1/8 height from top of headset minimum enough for stem to secure fork or not? 

I got a deal on a SID SL and it is too short for my Thomson stem, which is 1- 5/8 high. Do you know which stem has the short height clamp I need?

Thank you, 
Eddie

Eddie,

The top of the steerer tube should be about 3-4mm below the top of the stem.  I would not use a fork if the steerer was more than 5mm below, but it's your life.

Andy

Andy,

The Sachs 12- speed hub on my handcycle has locked and will not shift.  I haven't found a bike shop that has the knowledge to correct the problem.

Where could I send the hub to get it repaired?  I'm in Melbourne, Australia, now, but will be returning to the US in a few months.

Thanks,
GW

GW,

I'm not up on these hubs, except to say I really like the idea.  I would contact SRAM (I think that's www.sram.com) for advice.

Andy

Andy,

Does anyone make aftermarket covers to replace the useless shift window on XTR shifter pods?

Andy

Andy,

I think that Shimano intended the indicator as an option, and if it's not too old, you should be able to buy a cover (too old being about 6 months).

Andy

Hey Andy,

Thanks for answering all these questions!

My issue is that I'm trying to keep my almost 10-year-old frankenbike going, after years of hard off roading, six years of winter riding, couriering, touring, and a whole lot of commuting.  It's a rigid mtb steel frame (Thin Blue Line) with an 8-speed XT cassette, a new 8/9-speed Deore rear derailleur, mid 90s Acera X Top swing front, and a tripple up front with 22/46 Raceface rings. On the bar there's 8-speed XT shifter/level combos. My friend harshed the right shifter, so it's rather gone inside (and I know that a repaired Rapidfire pod is never the same). I'm done with indexing and want to go friction, with perhaps the option of indexing on for the rear. This bike is exclusively for urban use (pothole roads, curbs, stairs, but no off-road).  I've found a front/left XT thumbie in great condition, and still need a right/rear shifter. I'm going to attempt hacking off the shifter pods from the combos, but I'll probably need new brake levers.

The question is, what's the best approach to take with that right/rear shifter pod for a thumbie?  I know it depends a lot on what I can find, but how much difference is there in quality between this old stock?

Thanks a lot,
Joe Stirling

Joe,

I think that Paul makes a barcon to thumbie adapter, which is the best way to go.  You can buy a 9 or 10-speed bar end shifter and switch it to friction.  This will be much easier than trying to find something compatible in a thumb shifter.  I hack off pod mounts all the time. 

The dremel turns this into an art form.

Andy

Andy,

My son has a Specialized Hardrock Sport, with RST Gila T4 front shocks. Needless to say the bike has been ridden hard, and put up wet. The shocks are frozen, and I would like to know if there is any way that I could free them up. At this time I can't afford to take it to a bike shop. I'm very good with mechanics. Being on the poor side growing up, I learned quickly how to repair, build, and rebuild my own rides. I'm just kind of at a loss when it comes to the front, and mono shocks. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated, as my son, who is 16, is driving me bananas on this. 

Thank you,
Steve

Steven,

You will likely have to disassemble, clean and grease the fork. Sometimes, it's possible to work some liquid lube, such as Triflow in from the outside, but normally, you have to separate the upper stanchions from the lower legs. Hopefully, you can get specific info from RST; some forks obviously come apart by removing bolts on the
bottom, others have a sort of secret Chinese puzzle type of arrangement.

Andy

Hi Andy,

I have a Gary Fisher Joshua full suspension bike. I had found a Rock Shox Judy Downhill fork. Would this fork fit on my bike or would I need a new frame? How would I install it, or would I have to take to the shop?  Thank you very much.

Earl Louis

Earl,

If the steerer tube is the same length or longer than the original fork, no problem. If it is slightly shorter, it will work if you don't mind removing a spacer or two and giving up some height.  If all spacers are gone and there is more than 5mm of steerer tube below the top of the stem, don't use it.

Andy

Hello

I have been searching bike shops and the Internet for titanium bolts for my mountain bike. I'm looking to replace all the bolts on my bike with titanium to shave off more weight. Do you have any idea where I can find bolts, or bolts kits? I thank you for any information you may be able to offer. 

Rich Jones

Rich,

I thought that ti bolts went out with purple! I used to sell a fair amount of SRP aluminum and ti bolts, but IMHO, $6 and up for a bolt that only saves an insignificant amount of static weight (static weight is even more insignificant; it is rotational weight, specifically weight at the moment of inertia, that is worth more to a cyclist) is a waste of money.  SRP sold out to a larger machine shop; they started out marketing some of the SRP products, but I have long since lost touch with them.  I'd say that they were still available, but difficult to find.  If I get time, I'll make some inquiries. By the way, I still sometimes ride my Supercaliber with the SRP ST brake kit (lost 30 grams and $90).  I know it's there, and they don't corrode.

Andy

Hi, 

I am looking for a Cannondale Free hub - Coda Expert Disk. Do you know where I can get one, and are they easy to fit?

Cheers,
Sam

Sam,

CODA rhymes with Yoda.  Cannondale Original Design Application, read: Resigned by Cannondale, made by whatever country currently has the lowest standard of living.  Parts for above only available from Cannondale, the only company with worse old parts (more than 6 months old) support than Shimano or Rockshox, exacerbated by recent bankruptcy, i.e., if the country with the current lowest standard of living still made parts for CODA junk, they wouldn't sell them to Cannondale because C'dale owes them, and everybody else, money. Oh, semantics! They "emerged" from bankruptcy, so they don't owe anybody anything. The short answer is buy another wheel, one that you can get parts for. Freehubs are usually simple to replace, and need to be replaced fairly often on ATBs.

Andy

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