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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.

 Give These a Spin...
AirFree Bike Tires | Spokemon Bracelets: Cool Fashion for Cyclists, Made of Real Spokes

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 and 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

Spring 2002 Q & A's (45 in all) ...

Andy,

Even though human power is rather weak (1 HP), I'd like to use my legs and a foldable Montagu tandem (unfortunately, no more are made) aboard my sailboat for producing 12V DC in case of emergency and to exercise my legs. (Some sailors, after many days on the seas, having trouble walking because their legs have had little exercise.)

Please, do you know:
1)  Where I can find a foldable Montagu tandem in good condition?
2)  Something about such an electrical device? If not, where can I continue my search?

Thank you very much! I like very much your magazine. I would appreciate that you write more on marginal problems like mine, where bicycles find a completely different use.

Joseph A. Soltész
Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Joseph,

I have no idea where to find a used Montague, maybe Ebay or some such site. (How about placing a wanted ad in this website's free classifieds via www.bikexchange.com/classcur.htm? --Editor's note) I know a guy who got freaky during the Y2K thing and hooked up a bike (bare rim) to a car alternator via a long V belt, and I suppose it worked somewhat, so go get a working alternator from a junkyard, and go to town!

Andy

Hi,

As a heavy rider (225 pounds, 6'1") who does high mileage self-supported events (usually 100-375 miles, completed Paris-Brest-Paris '99), I'm interested in a comfortable frame that's reasonably lightweight. I'm interested in a couple of Torelli frames but am concerned about whether they'll be durable enough given the load. Can you give me any idea whether the Torelli Nitro Express or Express models would be reasonable choices?

Mark

Mark,

I'm not that familiar with these frames, but Torelli sells some very nice stuff. You need something with stiff chainstays. I've had good luck with bigger riders on Reynolds 853/535 frames, and while pricey, it's hard to beat the Masterlight. Ideally, you should ride a few different bikes before coming to a decision.

Andy

Hey,

I am putting a new front suspension on my bike and I wanted to know if there was any tool you need to get the fork off. Also, what would be the steps needed to put a new one on my bike?

Biker

Biker,

You need a few tools. If you have a threadless (Aheadset) fork, all you need is an allen wrench to fit the stem bolts, either 5 or 6 mm, a crown race remover, and a slide hammer to install the crown race onto your new fork. You'll also need a hacksaw to cut the new fork, and saw guides are a good idea so that the cut is straight. For the threadless fork, a star nut setter makes it much easier to install the star nut, but is not absolutely essential. Threaded forks require the proper size headset wrench--either 32 or 36 mm, and most of the other tools required for threadless fork service. 

As for procedures, there's not much to it--remove the stem and brakes, then the lock nut and top cone (threaded), then the fork comes off. Cut the new one to the same length, install the crown race, and install the fork. You'll probably need to adjust your brakes. If you doubt your ability to do any of this stuff, take it to a good shop.

Andy

 

Andy,

The brakes on my bicycle need some repair. When you apply pressure on the pedal , it goes around two or three times before it takes hold. What can I do? I am afraid to ride it. I am 75. I want my brakes. Can they be fixed?

Helene

Helene,

You may need brake shoes or some other internal part. Coaster wheel repacks are usually less than $20, and complete wheels are around $30, so it won't cost much to fix.

Andy

Andy,

I am riding a Cannondale F400.  I use it for road riding, touring, and moderate mountain biking.  I have been having a lot of dirt-on-chain issues and I can feel it slowing me down in all situations.  My local bike shop suggests Tri-Flo. I have been using Tri-Flo (applying, then wiping off
excess), and like it better than the White Lightning I was using, but the chain cruds way too quickly. Which lube (type or brand) to you recommend?  

Also, I do almost all of my riding in Oregon--where it rains quite a bit--and I ride year round.

Thanks,
Ken

Ken,

I like Tri-Flow, but you have too keep things real clean and reapply it so that it doesn't get cruddy. For most conditions, I like White Lightning, or Finish Line Pro Lube. None of these are perfect, but I like light and clean stuff better. 

Andy

Andy,

I have been riding for 20 years and I follow two rules:
1)  Use a pro mechanic 
2)  Stick with Campy.
These two rules allowed me to put tens of thousands of miles on my Bottechia with no breakdowns. Now my problem is there are no mechanics where I now live. Any books/tapes, etc. on maintaining Campy? 

Thanks,
Steve in the Tropics

Steve,

As of this writing, Lennard Zinn's
Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintainence is your best bet for Campy service. The Ergo service instructions alone are worth the price of the book.

Andy


Andy,

I'm a fairly aggressive rider, doing off-road tri's, adventure races and some races like the Shenandoah MTB 100 in Harrisonburg. The cassette on my '99 Specialized FSR XC Pro seems to be wearing (I believe it's the original although the rear hub was replaced by Specialized a year ago - common warranty issue they were having). How can I tell if I need to replace it or not?  If I do need to, what would you recommend?

Thanks,
No Clue
Fairfax Virginia

Andy,

There are tools that check wear on cassette cogs. Generally, if you have about 1000 off road miles on a drivetrain, you should replace both the chain and cassette, as they wear together, and rather quickly in adverse conditions. Road riders should get almost double this figure between cassette/chain replacements. Or you could just keep riding the same stuff until performance deteriorates. I really like XTR cassettes, but the new SRAM cogs are nice for the money. Most bikes like SRAM chains, but occasionally, cranks or frames work best with Shimano chains.

Andy

Hello,

I am pretty new to mountain biking. Three years ago I bought a cheapy bike just to get me started. So I recently decided to get serious about riding. So I just bought a new GT i-drive 5.0--it isn't the best they make but it works for me. I have already warped the rear rim. So needless to say this will be the first thing I upgrade. Okay, the GT i-drive is a bit on the heavy side so with weight an issue I would like to know of a good, strong, lightweight rim that would hold up to my punishment. I ride on every type of terrain out there including downhill. And I weigh about 200 pounds. So what do you recommend? 

I've been looking at the Mavics online but the ones that seem strong are also on the heavy side. Disk brakes to keep my rims from heating will be the next thing I get into.

Thanks for your help,
Shannen

Shannen,

I believe that you are talking wheels, not rims. If your rim is tweaked, you could place a new one onto your present hub, saving much money in some cases. I don't know the quality of the stock GT rim, but Bontrager, Velocity, and Mavic all make great replacement rims from around $40 and up. If you want new disc capable wheels, most of them are not light, especially when you add the weight of the rotor and bolts. If you definitely plan to add disc brakes, the wheels are just going to be much heavier than non-disc wheels. Mavic makes both disc and non-disc wheelsets, and they are pretty well made. I'd recommend good hand built wheels if you can budget for them, but the Mavics are real decent wheels.

Andy

Andy,

I was wondering if you might tell me what a ticking noise coming from my rear wheel might be? It happens in the same place, every r.p.m. The wheel is true, the tires are new. My wheelset is Mavic Open Pro with 105 hub, 14 gauge spokes. When I go fast, it does, slow, it does. It does it whether I'm pedaling or not. Please help!

JP

JP,

Mavic rims have a tendency to make noise when a piece of swage-ing material breaks loose and rattles around between the walls of the rim. An aluminum or plastic swage is jammed between the two ends of the rim to hold it together before welding. It is impossible to get it out. Turn up the radio.

Andy

Hello,

I like your very informative website.

I have a question on chain compatibility with 7/8-speed drivetrain set-ups.

I am looking to replace my chain on my ATB bike. I currently run a 7-speed Shimano hub, Sachs rear derailleur and chain, and this setup has worked well for me. I will likely stick with a Sachs chain. My question regards this: I have heard some say that 7/8-speed hub setups actually shift and run better with 9-speed chains than with 7/8-speed chains, due to the narrower chain width. (Of course, you also get a weight savings.) Do you find this to be the case, i.e., would I be better off using a 9-speed chain on a 7-speed hub, or should I stick with a 7/8 speed chain? In either case, is there a chain that you would particularly recommend for low cost and durability?

Thanks,
Seth Perry
Rochester, NY

Seth,

While the 9-speed chain will work with all those other cassettes, I don't think that anything
will improve. We started using 9-speed Dura Ace chains just before they quit making 8-speed ones, basically because they worked fine and were cheaper. Use whichever one you want, but don't expect any improvement. I like the SRAM mid-priced chains, I think they now call them PC-61, or the KMC chain formerly known as the SS91.

Andy

Andy

I have a late-80s Battaglin (SL tubing) that I am considering restoring. Several, short, questions: First, the chainring rubs against the inside of the derailleur when I stand or pedal hard. Is this a result of the frame flexing, the bottom bracket or the crank (and can it be fixed)? Second, is it possible to "spread" the rear to fit modern 9-speed cassettes? Third, is any of this worth doing, or should I just scrap the thing?  Thanks in advance.  

Robert L. Arendell
DONNELLY, CONROY & GELHAAR, LLP
Boston, Massechussetts
 

Robert, 

The rub could be from the frame, the bb, the crank, or any combination of the 3. You can spread steel frames, but if it's that old, and the rub could be flimsy frame, I don't think I'd spring for much of an upgrade. 

Andy 

Hey there

I just finished building a really, really nice lowrider bicycle. I love it so much, but it's really hard to ride (more for show I guess). But I was thinking about putting an engine on it. Is that at all possible? Do you have any suggestions as to how I should go about it and what kind of engine I should get, etc? 

Thank you,
Laura Ricker
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Laura,  

Your best bet would be the Currie drive system. The system is chain driven, and a drive gear is clamped onto your hub. This is probably going to be the easiest one to adapt to a low rider. 

Andy

Hello, 

I need help in finding a bike with the shifter and rear brake on the left handlebar. I don't need more than 5 or 7 speed gear ratio. And I don't want the shifter turned upside down either. The reason for this is that my right hand is partially paralyzed and I have trouble using it. I love to ride and want a comfortable bike that I can use without having to settle for a one-speed cruiser. I would appreciate it if you could help with what I am looking for. Thank you. 

Walter 

Walter, 

You can put a Grip Shifter on either side of the bar. Any 6 or 7-speed bike can be converted to left side shifting. 

Andy

Andy,

My Shimano freewheel doesn't spin freely. When coasting it locks up and pops the chain. I thought maybe the bearings might have dirt in them or even be damaged.  I tried to soak some oil into them, but this did not help.  I have removed the sprockets, but I don't know how to get the cassette open. Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Spike

Spike,

If you have a cassette, the best thing to get is a Morningstar freehub buddy, and the lube that goes with it.  You can use this tool to flush gunk out of your freehub, and get it working in most cases.  You'll need to take out the axle, from the non drive side, and pry the dust cap out on the cassette side.  The freehub buddy presses into the freehub and forms a seal, so you can pump solvents, oil, what ever into it.  If this doesn't work, you'll need a new freehub body, for about $25.  If you have a freewheel, you can open it by unscrewing the outer race by turning it clockwise.  This is a delicate operation involving several 1/8" ball bearings and hairsprings and stuff, so don't loose anything when you get the race off.

Andy

Hi,

I'm looking for plans for a home-made bike repair stand. Do you know of any on the web?

Nick

Nick,

I don't know of plans for a homemade repair stand. That sounds like Bicycling's department.

Andy

Hi Andy,

I'm overhauling a friends Bridgestone x02 and am stuck on chainring spacing. It's a basic 1993 Shimano spider with 03,40,50 and I got new Engagement ring chaingrings for the 40 and 50, as well as a new 30, 110mm.

The old set up had one set of washers between the inside of the spider arms and the outside of the 40 ring. 

I know to put the recessed hole side of the rings where the bolts are for smoothness, but this puts one of the Engagement rings facing one way, and the other, the other way. The problem is, the spacing didn't look right, the 40 was too close to the 30. So I put the washers on between the outside of the spider arm and the inside of the 50.

Is this okay? I've yet to re-assemble the bike and test shifting. What are the guidelines for chainring spacing, other than chain line, know that should be straight in the middle/middle gear), and does it matter where the washers go?

Thank you,
Robin from Massachusetts

Robin,

I'm not sure there are rules for chainring spacing; however, if you are using Shimano indexed shifting, the new chainrings have to be in exactly the same position as the old ones. It is sometimes difficult to use non-Shimano parts for this reason, and if the bike is very old, it is
difficult to obtain exact replacement parts. If you have non-indexed (thumbshifter or grip shift) shifting, it won't matter too much, as long as there's enough space so that the chain doesn't rub the adjacent ring, but not so much that there's room for the chain to get stuck. You'd have to
have a big assortment of washers to duplicate Shimano spacing if it is possible.

Andy

Hi Bike Guru,

Axle: Can you advise how to un-seize it? I recently fitted new pedals using normal grease, then found out about the need to use Ti prep. I managed to remove one pedal but the second will not
budge. Help! Any advice before I try a longer lever and more force?

Thanks,
Greg

Greg,

It's probably hopeless. You may wind up only replacing either the spindle or the crank arm, but one of them is going to go. By the way, most anyone who knows anything, except those who manufacture ti spindles, will tell you that this is a very poor (risky) application of titanium, even if it was not seized.

Andy

Andy,

I've been seeing this "Shock Upgrades" column in a lot of web sites. And I've heard some of my friends talk about having it done. What is a shock upgrade and what does it do? It sounds like they just take out the old parts of your shocks and put new ones in. They said it was cheaper than getting new shocks.

01

01,

I would imagine that you want improved performance, less weight, or something like that.  Some shock upgrades are a good use of money, like say, White Bros fork wipers. They don't cost much, but they are lighter than boots, and eliminate stiction. Many riders like stuff like Speed
springs, but they are rather expensive, shouldn't be used with an undamped (cheap) fork, and will void your warranty.  I like the Englund total air system for older Judys and Quadra type forks. It'll set you back $100+, but if you have an undamped fork, it damps, and reduces the weight significantly. Most upgrade kits are only made for the most popular or expensive forks.

Andy

Hi!

My problems: 1) my gears keep jumping when I start riding and 2) my gears will not change when I want them to.

Have you got any idea how to fix it?

Your faithfully,
David

David,

You could have any of several problems. Skipping gears is probably due to an old, rusty, or elongated chain, or worn teeth on rear cogs or front sprockets. If your gears will not change, try replacing cables, as they often rust and will not move.

Andy

Andy,

I own a 2001 Fuji Dynamic Canti-Leisure bike that came equipped with the 24-speed T-400 Shimano Nexave TapFire shifters, derailleurs, crankset and the Mega Range cassette 11 - 34t. I love this bike and have been trying to find a manual or information on the maintenance and adjustments of the Nexave components. I would prefer full Shimano documentation if it is available. Can you help?

Thanks for your fine website!,
Dave & Jan Cook

Dave & Jan,

Shimano "manuals" are little folded up pieces of paper with basic information in 12 languages.  I think you can get the same info from the Shimano web site.

Andy

Hi,

I have a 6-speed recumbent Rebike. Is it possible to add a motor or battery to it?  If so where can I find one?

Thanks so much,
Ramona

Ramona,

I think that the Currie Technologies system would work on this bike. Currie is distributed by Total EV, which should have a web site.

Andy

Andy,

I have two questions for you. First, I am working part time at my local Wal-Mart store. Others assemble bikes, I adjust and do repair work. This doesn't put me in the  category of a serious cyclist. I enjoy this work very much and I believe I do a very good job. There is still much, I realize, to learn, but I will. I am planning to start my own repair business. I am looking to find some source of home study or some such. Can you offer any advice or steer me in the right direction?

Second, I often find I need the little cable ends, ferrules. It is difficult and time consuming to get the from the companies we deal with to send more than a few at a time. When I look for them on line, they only sell them two or 10 at a time and they are expensive. When I went to a local bike shop, they had their own supply, a large quantity. There prices also were hard to swallow. So I know I can get them, but I don't know how or where.

When I get my home repair going, I will need to know how to get supplies (tools, parts etc.). Can you help me?

Thank you,
Art

Art,

I don't know of any home study courses. Your best bet is to buy a Barnette's manual, and keep it handy.  As for ferrules, you can buy them from any of several distributors, usually in jars of 200 or so. The catch is that you must have an account with a bicycle parts distributor, such as
QBP or J and B.

Andy

Andy,

I've heard of using pedal axle extenders to move the feet further apart. Even after a complete bike fit I'm still having knee pain on my road bike. On my mountain bike, no pain. There is a significant difference in distance as measured from outside of crank to outside of crank on each bike. Road = approximately 5-3/4 inches, mountain bike = approximately 7 inches.  Where would I find pedal extenders?

Al

Al,

To my knowledge, nothing of this sort exists.  Most cyclists and designers want to have a low Q factor, with pedals closer to the frame, as this is usually more comfortable and efficient. It would be risky business to make extra long spindles, as this area takes a pounding, and longer
spindles could fail catastrophically. I'd look at the shoe/cleat/pedal situation. I know the new flagship Look pedal has adjustable Q factor, but I doubt that it would adjust as far as you want it to.

Andy

Hello,

I just bought a Mongoose and the chain snapped yesterday. Before this I had not bought or even ridden a bicycle in years. When I was younger the chains had a link you could take apart to change the chain. I guess things have changed in the last eight years, because I can't seem to find that link on the new chain. I am taking the chain of another Mongoose that was hit by a van--my buddy was riding it at the time (he's okay now). If you could help me out it would be much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Ben Sikes

Ben,

If you have a multiple-geared bike, chances are you need a chain tool to remove or install a chain.  Some chains have a masterlink of sorts (SRAM, KMC, etc.) but most stock low-end chains do not.

Andy

Andy,

I have a Miyata bicycle with a frame described as "triple-butted." I have seen this term used to describe frames before but have not seen a description of what triple-butted means. What does this mean?

Mike

Mike,

Butting is a mechanical process that adds thickness to the ends of frame tubes.  You start out with a very thin walled tube, and manipulate the wall thickness where more strength is needed, which is presumed to be near the welds. Double-butted tubing is thicker at each in than in the middle, having two-wall thickness.  Triple-butted tubing would have three-wall thickness, and quad-butted would have four.  Some of the exotic tubing from Columbus and Dedaccia have differential butting, using an extremely thin tube, and manipulating various computer designated areas into various wall thicknesses. You can do this sort of treatment to aluminum and ti as well.

Andy

Andy,

When pedaling slow under light load, I hear a clunking noise with each rotation of the crank. It goes away under heavier loads when cruising. Sometimes when I have been coasting, the pedals spin even when I start pedaling again. After about 10 rotations, it catches and then is okay until the next occurrence.

Is it an adjustment or do I need to replace something? If I need to replace, what part is it?

Thanks and God bless you!
Ken Boekhaus

Ken,

You probably need to replace whatever sort of ratcheting mechanism you happen to have. Old bikes and cheap new ones have freewheels, which is a gear cluster with ratcheting mechanism that threads onto your hub.  Most newer bikes use the freehub or cassette type hub, with the ratcheting mechanism attached to the hub by a large bolt, with a separate cassette, or
gear cluster.  Cassette cogs are held on by a splined lockring, and you can tell whether you have a cassette or freewheel by identifying the lockring.  In either case, replacement will cost you between $25 and $40.

Andy

Andy,

What causes the normal clicking sound we hear in the rear hub when coasting?

My wife's nearly new Sierra does not make this sound, and I know I've heard other similar bikes (in fact, most all bikes) make this 'cricket' sound when coasting (or when pedaling backwards).

Just curious... Thanks for your time.

Donald Hutchins

Donald,

The sound is caused by pawls being hit by a rotating ratchet ring. Imagine a ring of pointy metal teeth, surrounding a smaller cylinder. Pawls, sort of like little spring loaded ramps, are struck by these teeth as the wheel rotates. Springs lightly press the pawls against the teeth. When you pedal forward, the pawls are engaged by the teeth, and the wheel turns forward. Some hubs are actually silent, either by design or accident. If you put grease, rather than oil, in your freewheel or freehub, it'll be quiet, but this isn't really good for the mechanism. Weak pawl springs make for a quiet hub, but one prone to skipping when pedaling. Really good, expensive hubs have three pawls, and make a lot of noise, like the Chris King or Hugi hubs.

Andy

Hi,

I have a question about wheels accepting tubular tires. I don't particularly trust my local bike shop staffers knowledge (or my own), hence my seeking out some expert advice. Is it appropriate to place rim tape on wheels accepting tubular tires as one would clincher tires?

Does doing so interfere with the bonding of the tire to the rim? 

I appreciate your time in answering this question.

Thank you,
John Pospisil

John,

The bed of the tubular rim should be as fanatically clean, and especially free of tape or other debris, unless you'd like to try and take a corner whilst the tyre rolls off. Anyone who says to put anything but glue (or Fastack) between the tyre and rim is a total idiot, and should be forced
to experience aforementioned disaster. I like to sand the rim bed after going to anal lengths to remove all the glue and stuff off.  If you don't know how to install tubulars, please find someone who does, and pay them well.

Andy

Andy,

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have 7 or 8-year-old bikes (his a Trek, hers a Giant), each purchased for around $600 and each coming with Suntour components.  As a nice gesture, I wanted to refit their bikes with new freewheels, chains, brake pads, etc.

Knowing that Suntour hasn't been in business for a while, I expected to find some other knock-off producer that would make something compatible.

However, my research on the Web has led to nothing!  I'm pretty sure that I'm out of luck in helping them out with a quick fix, but I wanted to confirm this with someone. Thus, the following questions for the Master Mechanic...

1)  They are using 7-speed Suntour AP and Suntour "Alpha" (can't make that symbol on this keyboard) freewheels.  Can I get a replacement for them that will work with their current shifters, derailleurs, and cranks (all Suntour, of course--his Edge series, hers GPX)?  Or is the reality that nothing but Suntour is going to work well with Suntour?

2)  If it is the latter--would you recommend buying new bikes or upgrading the components?  They both enjoy their bikes, it's just that the shifting is starting to go on the Trek (on the cogs that are more heavily used) and the Giant needs a lower range on the freewheel.

Thanks for your help!
Pete

Peter,

You can't buy anything that is Suntour compatible, and the Suntour alpha stuff was compatible only with other alpha stuff.  Over the years, I've found that some Shimano/Suntour combinations work satisfactorily, if not better than original. The miserable Xpress shifter is a good example of this.  Since it didn't work in the first place, why not replace it with Shimano?  The freewheel spacing is a bit of a problem, but SRAM and Shimano freewheels come close to working.  As an experiment, try a Shimano or Falcon freewheel.  If you are satisfied with its performance, then you can order up a SRAM freewheel with whatever gearing you want.  The cheap freewheels only come in 13-28, or megarange 13-24.  The SRAM freewheel will cost
substantially more, but will shift the same as the cheapies. Total drivetrain replacement will run close to $200.  SRAM freewheels go between $40-$65 depending on the configuration.  The shifting with these freewheels really is not bad; it's just not perfect, and is an economical compromise.

 Andy

Andy,

I have recently become hooked on cycling and want to buy a better hybrid or mountain style bike. I realize that I'm stretching it, but I'm broke and need to know the best bicycle I can buy for about $300.

Abraham

Abraham,

In 2001 prices, Gary Fisher 700c Hybrids are available from about $279; Fisher Leisure bikes (26" wheel) from about $299; Fuji leisure, $269; and 700c hybrids, from about $289.

Andy

Hi Andy,

I commute in New York city daily, and I'm looking for the best moderately priced hybrid (under $500). My route does have some potholes occasionally, so I'm wondering about your opinion on seat stem shocks and front fork shocks.

I've looked at Giant Innova (has both kinds of suspension), Specialized Crossroads sport (seat post only), and Trek 7300 and 7500. Ideally I'd like an aluminum frame, for a lighter bike. It's also difficult to find out the respective weights of these bikes. Andy thoughts or ideas? 

Are there other brands or models I should be also considering?

Thanks for your advice,
Paul

Paul,

The bikes you are looking at are all fine.  I'd favor the Giant, because you usually get a lot for your money with Giant. Companies only tout the weights of bikes that they are proud of; aluminum or no, these bikes are heavy.

Andy

Hi,

I'm looking to buy a hybrid city bike. Do you know any sites that have good bike reviews?
I like some of the Marin bikes like San Rafael and San Anselmo. However I would like to see independent reviews. Any ideas?

Regards
Jason Thompson
London

Jason,

The MTBR/RBR sites are good because they are reviewed by consumers, not idiots that write for Bicycling mag.  I'm not so familiar with Marin, but I would go the extra money to get the bike with the name brand shock. Generic shocks are the real weak link in price point bikes. I mean, they're never going to change away from junk Asian aluminum, so that's a non-issue.  Get the bike with Rockshox, both for performance and reliability. It is cheaper to replace the junk shock on the cheaper bike than it is to have it greased.

As Gary Fisher dealer, I must urge you to look at their stuff.  The Utopia and Fast City are excellent bikes, at about $650 and $1100.  Both are US built 6000 series butted aluminum, with no junk parts. However, these bikes are more performance and less comfort oriented, and may be out of your price range. Look at 'em anyway.

Andy

Andy,

Realizing your time is valuable, thanks in advance. I would value a quick opinion. Question: What is your opinion of Bianchi bike in general, and Eloce model in particular? 

Thanks,
Mike Wolfman

Mike,

Like with most bike companies, there are two distinct types of Bianchi: the ones that they make, and the ones that they'd like you to think they make. The Italian-made Bianchi's are as fine as any bike made, and are ridden by many professionals, such as Marco Pantani. The other ones are made wherever cheap labor can be had, and are like everybody else's Asian-made bike, which is not necessarily bad, just not "Old World" craftsmanship--in a word, inexpensive, and yet cheap.  I'm not familiar with the line, so I don't know where your bike fits in, but if it is less than $1000, it's probably a Chinese or Tawainese-built Italian bike, just as a Schwinn at the same price point is a Chinese-built American bike.

Andy

Andy,

Would like some info on a bike I have. I could possibly ask for a trade in.  The only writings and numbers I found on the bike include:  Bianchi...600 Shimano...Special...FD 8207.  Don't know the year.  It's red with yellow handlebars.  Can you help me?

Lynn Cupp

Lynn,

I don't really know much from your description, but it sounds like an old road bike; newer "600" components are also marked "Ultegra."  It's probably not worth much, $75 tops.

Andy

Andy,

Almost new (though cheap) "Kenda" 27 x 1.125 tire on brand-X steel rim, also "newish."   No matter how I try to seat and inflate the thing, the tire does not run true. It's as if the tire was slightly too long or short for the rim, but in some places it's high and in others low, so it's just not centered right.

This has happened with two different (types of) rims and three tires--a very old high quality one, and two cheap ones.  The cheap tire when very new ran true on the first try, but now, after fixing a puncture and reinstalling it (no cords were broken, the tire does not have a blister), it's back to wobble city.

I'm going nuts here. What on earth am I doing wrong?  Surely even a cheap tire won't wear out in 500km?

Markus

Markus,

Sometimes, especially with cheap tyres and rims, the tyre bead does not pop out all the way around the rim, leaving a flat spot or hop where the bead is stuck.  It can be tough to get this out, but try these suggestions:
1) Baby powder, to lube the bead all the way around.
2) Inflate to only a few psi, and wiggle the tyre back and forth all the way
around, trying to free any spot that is stuck already.  There is a tool for
this.
3) Use a tyre installation tool, like the Speed Lever or Qwik Stick.
4) If most of the bead has not popped when fully inflated, very gently pump
in a bit more air, and let the air pressure down after the bead has seated.

Andy

Andy,

I have acquired an "Ironman" bike made by Huffy.  It needs bearings in the rear wheel, a crank, and new handle bars.  Is this worth fixing or should I return it to the trash?

Richard

Richard,

Trash it.

Andy

Hello,

I need assistance on removing an old set of 1-piece cranks from my BMX bike. What tool do I use to unscrew the outer 6-sided nut? Please help me.

Thanks,
Psycho

Psycho,

You can use a large crescent wrench. This nut, and the cone under it, are reverse threaded, so turn it clockwise. Remove the keyed washer, and unscrew (by screwing) the cone.  Use a screwdriver in the absence of a pin spanner to turn the cone. Take out the bearings, wiggle it around a bit, and the whole greasy mess should drop onto the floor.

Andy

Andy,

Where can I find information on, or get in contact with, Univega?  I have a Nuovo Sport road bicycle circa 1980-85 that has 26-inch wheels. It has 26 x 1-1/4 Araya rims with no model or serial numbers.  I have tried 26 x 1-1/4 slick MTB tires but they are a different size. I would desperately like to find some tires for this bike. If you know of any sources to look at please let me know.

David

David,

Univega was one of the Derby brands, with Diamond back, Raleigh, and Nishiki, but they won't have these tyres.  This size is available, but there's not much selection, and they are not at all common.  If you can't get them locally, let me know. I can order them for you.

Andy

Hello,

I need help in finding a bike with the shifter and rear brake on the left handlebar. I don't need more than 5 or 7-speed gear ratio. And I don't want the shifter turned upside down either. The reason for this is that my right hand is partially paralyzed and I have trouble using it. I love to ride and want a comfortable bike that I can use without having to settle for a one-speed cruiser. I would appreciate it if you could help with what I am looking for. 

Thank you,
Walter

Walter,

You can put a Grip Shifter on either side of the bar.  Any 6 or 7-speed bike can be converted to left side shifting.

I don't know how hard it would be to get, but the EV Global bike has a shifter on the left side with the numbers oriented correctly.

Andy

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