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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. (Submitting a question will put you on the list for our next seasonal email newsletter; your name can always be removed from that list at your request.)  

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Spring 2003 Q & A's (50 posted this season)

Hi,

It's Mr. Retrogrouch here.

I decided I would finally install the Ultegra 9-speed STI shifters on my bike--it has downtube shifters on it.

Have you written up instructions in any of your articles?

Anything I should remember? Or look out for?

Thanks,
Kevin

PS: When I went to Barnett's school we talked about Sidi pedal buttons (pre-clip-in), and how to rebuild freewheels. So this STI/cassette stuff is pretty new.

Kevin,

All the stuff you buy will have reasonably clear instructions, if you bother to read them. The main thing is, you have to buy the whole enchilada; don't try to save a buck by cutting corners. You can mix parts from any and all of the 9- speed groups, but nothing is compatible with your existing stuff.

Andy

Dear Sir,

I've got a Cannondale MTB and have a headset reducer for it.  Problem is, I can't get the darn thing on--the rings are too large for my headtube. What do I do now, so I can enjoy my new suspension fork?

Cory Miller
Bellevue, NE

Cory,

If you bought Headshock reducers, and there really isn't anything made that's bigger, they'll fit. I suspect that you are trying to install them with something other than a headset press, or that there is some Heasdhock bearing residue still in the headtube. 

Andy

Hi,

I have a Specialized A-1 Pro Hybrid and am looking for bar ends that are both typical bar ends and drop bars, all-in-one. I have seen them on bikes and have not been able to locate a source. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Rocky Kimball

Rocky,

You want something called "Newk" bar ends, and I don't know if these guys are still in business. Try a search for Newk and see what comes up.

Andy

Hi Andy,

I have a Giant mountain bike with 26 x 1.75 Continental Semislicks I use for commuting, quick beer runs, etc. Last night I rolled out of the drive and as soon as I got up to speed, I felt a 'thump, thump, thump' coming from the front tire.  I dismounted, turned the bike upside down and spun the tire to take a look. There is a pronounced flat spot on the tire (6mm or so) in one 100mm long section. There is also noticeably less gumwall showing in this section than in the rest of the tire. The rim itself shows no wobble when spun, with no visible flat spot, and the spokes all seem to be of the same tension. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Keith M

Keith,

This can be a very difficult thing to fix. I bought a couple of tools for this purpose, and they are rarely of any use. Here is my method, which requires little skill, much luck, and even more guts: 

Remove the tyre completely. Use a lot of baby powder all around the bead, and on the bead seat of the rim. While you've got baby powder all over the place, go ahead and smear some on the tube. Slowly inflate the tyre to about 20psi, and try to pry the sidewall away from the rim with your hands. (Sometimes, it helps to mark where the bead is stuck before removing the tyre, but the stuck spot usually moves around). This probably won't work. What usually does it for me is high air pressure. This is where the guts part come in. Are you man enough to inflate this tyre to 130psi? This is probably not a good idea; however, it is the only thing that'll snap the stuck section out most of the time. Use a hand pump, and once you reach 65psi, go real slow, and allow the tyre to settle between each 5-7 pumps. You'll hear a nice, crisp snap when it goes (you may hear a nice, loud explosion, and you may blow out the bead, but this usually works for me).

Andy

Hi Andy,

I recently bought an unassembled Raleigh M30. My closest mechanic is a pretty good drive from here and I would like to get better at taking care of this bike, so I want to assemble it myself.  I have looked through the manuals that came with the bike and I cannot figure out what size wrenches, etc., I should buy for assembly.  It is pretty clear what to do, just not what to do it with.

Do you know the specific wrench sizes I need for the M30? And what should I get as a basic tool kit for maintaining the bike?

I hope you have time to answer my questions.

Thanks,
Greg
Whitesburg, Kentucky

Greg,

You can do a pretty good halfassed assembly with just a metric allen set (2.4, 3 ,4, 5, 6, 8mm), and probably a few open end wrenches, like 8, 9, 10mm. With these tools, you should be able to do a much better job than your local Wal-Mart or Toys-R-Us. If you want to do it right, or if there are unusual circumstances, you'd need a wheel truing stand and spoke wrenches (the wheels on most new bikes are way out of whack), and a repair stand makes everything much easier.

Andy

Hi,

Could you please tell me how to remove rear wheel gears and if I can make a tool for removing same?

Tmbikeman

Tmbikeman,

I realize that some of my readers have more machining skills and equipment than others; however, it is not generally good policy to try making your own tools. If you are dealing with freewheels, there are about a dozen tools for each brand (most of these are antiques, or obsolete, like Maillard, Huret, even Suntour). There are three tools required to remove the entire gamut of cassettes: the Shimano lockring tool, the Campy lockring tool (this also fits the Campy bb and some freewheels) and a chain whip. All three can be had for about $25. Each freewheel tool is about $7, and I'd suggest the Shimano, the Chitai Shimano knockoff (Sunrace or Lifu), and the Suntour 4 prong for starters.

Andy

Hi,

I have a 2000 Ultegra 9-speed triple set-up on my road bike. I would like to change to a double. What items need to be changed or replaced? I was thinking just the crankset and front derailleur but on triple "upgrades" I see bottom bracket and rear derailleur also included.

Thanks!
Dave

Dave,

You need the right bottom bracket, crank, and most likely, a front derailleur. 

Andy

Andy,

You guys have a great site, and I hope that you'll be able to help answer a question I have.

I have a D'rienzo 12 speed with a Shimano 600 crankset (old, I know). I'd like to change from a double crankset to a triple; its a great bike, I'd just like to make it more versatile without going into hock to do it (or have to buy a new bike of the same quality).

Possible?

Thanks,
Robert

Robert,

Old bikes are fairly cheap to convert. You'll need a new crank, front derailleur, and possibly, a rear derailleur. Some old bikes have a crank that will accept a third ring, so you may not have to buy the whole crank. Sometimes a longer bottom bracket spindle is required.

Help!

I have a 1981 Miyata 110 bike with DIA COMPE brakes #730 side pull, with hooded levers and safety levers.

I broke the 1- 1/4" bolt which has a 3/8" hole in it to allow either level to be used. Where can I find this bolt? Do I have to buy new levers? I'd like to stay with original-- any ideas?

Thanks,
Roman

Roman,

Bike parts are in millimeters, not fractions of inches. I think that you need the aux lever screw. A long time ago, manufacturers realized that so called "safety levers" were anything but; they flex so much that a panic stop, or even a quick slow down is impossible, and they quit making them. My advice is to head to your local aluminum recycling company and use the cash you as a down payment on some real brake levers. I happen to save this crap, as do most old school bike shops, so you might find some lying around in a well established real bike store. However, if I were you, I'd take my advice.

Andy

Andy,

The rim on my bike is slightly bowed and I was wondering if there was a way I can straighten it or if I just have to buy a new one?

Chad

Chad,

If it is only slightly bowed, it can be trued, but this is best left to someone who knows what they are doing.

Andy

Andy,

I just bought an early to mid-90's model Fuji road bike with a 2 x 7 shifter on the frame. Can it be converted to brake shifter and if so how?

Marion

Marion,

You need a bunch of parts. If the bike is Shimano equipped, you can probably get away with a pair of Sora shifters. You may need a matching crank and front der, but I think it'll work with just the shifters. If you have a Suntour- equipped bike, you need most of a drive train. You're looking at about $350 for Sora (8-speed). If you like the bike, go for a 105 crank/bb, with Tiagra 9- speed, or if you don't care how much you spend, go for Dura Ace. 

Andy

Andy,

Please advise me about tuning up mountain bike (Trek 3400) gears. The derailleur doesn't me allow to shift to the largest disk. It only allows to shift to the medium and small disks.

Please forgive my lack of knowledge of the bike lingo, as I am calling them disks for lack of a more appropriate name.

Hugo

Hugo,

If this problem developed over time, without any screwing around with limit screws, you probably just have a loose cable. There is an adjusting barrel attached to the shift lever, and if you turn this a few turns counter clockwise, it will remedy a loose cable. If the bike has never shifted to the big ring, or if someone adjusted the limit screw, several other possibilities exist. If tightening the cable takes care of the problem, leave well enough alone. If it does not, make sure that the derailleur is very close to and parallel to the big ring when shifted to the middle ring. See if you can pull the exposed cable and cause the derailleur to shift to the big ring. If it won't go, then you need to look at the high limit screw, usually this is on the inside side of the derailleur, with a tiny, nearly impossible to see in bad light, "H" next to it. If you unscrew this a little, it will allow the chain to rest upon the big ring. If you unscrew it too much, it'll allow the chain to go off.

Andy

Andy,

Is there such a thing as a 9-speed freewheel that will work with the 9-speed Shimano index shifting system?

David

David,

No.

Andy

Andy,

I have a new Shimano Flight Deck computer.  In trying to reset the clock (which I finally managed to do) I inadvertently changed the tire size calibration. Can I enter "setup" and go back and put the proper tire size in, or do I have to re-enter all of the setup data?  The manual was not helpful in answering this question. Is there a "Shimano Flight Deck for Dummies" manual available?  I'm serious.  A very practical manual for everyday users would be great.

Steve

Stephen,

My experience is that you must re-enter all your data. There is the resetting section on p. 14, but I've never tried this. Hold the b switch for 5 seconds in any function other than clock. I don't know if you can only change one input or if you must change them all. For future reference, store all that information somewhere handy so that you won't have to count teeth on your cogs and such. 

Andy 

Andy,

I'm attempting to change the shifter cable on my bike, and I think the cable is longer than the original--do I just cut the casing off, or try and fill up the slack? Or do I have to get a shorter cable?  I've got everything put together at the shifter end, but at the derailleur end I have the extra cable that I'm not sure what to do with?

Dusty Phillips

Dusty,

Both the cable and housing must be cut to the same length as whatever came off of your bike, with something nice and sharp, like cable cutters. Moto tools can be used to cut housing. 

Andy

Andy,

I have a Spalding bicycle for my daughter (about 13 years old--the bike, not the daughter) and I recently took the back wheel off to grease it. When I took it apart, the coaster brake parts fell out and I can't figure out how to reassemble them. Is there a diagram, or a Spalding web site I can go to, to get some idea how to put this back together again so that it works?

Regards,
Steve Tedlie
Houston, Texas

Steven,

Somebody made the hub, not Spalding. Knowing who would help, but it's difficult to describe this within the confines of this column. Suffice it to say that the stuff only fits together one way. Leave the side with the brake arm assembled. With the axle pointed up, slide the clutch cone on, with the spring and little tabs pointed down. Attach the shoes to this mechanism with grease. If you look at the hub, you'll see that the drive gear fits onto one side much better than the other; the depth of the bearing races are different. Slide the hub onto the axle (it's easier to place the axle in a vice for this) carefully, with the race that fits the drive gear side up. Insert the drive gear, and twist clockwise so that it threads in. Drop in your bearings and cone and I think that's it.

Andy

PS:  This is approximately how most of the Asian made hubs go together. Bendix is slightly different, and old hubs are drastically different.

Andy,

How do I remove the pedal brakes on my bike?

Rebel

Rebel,

The brakes in question are inside the rear hub; to eliminate them, you'll need a new wheel and freewheel.

Andy

Hello,

I have a mountain bike that is set up for touring. I'm trying to find a good rim that will do the following: Allow me to run my avocet cross tires 26 x 1.9†(wire bead)†at 80 psi. Do you know of any rims that would work?  Would the Mavic x517's work?††Would the Sun CR18's do the job?  I tried the F519's and they would not hold the 80 psi !†The side of the Avocet cross tires state "to fit 26 x 1.5 to 1.75 rim". Do you know how I can correlate this to the rim manufacturers' rim widths?†

I currently run Sun CR17A rims (32 spoke) but really feel I need a minimum of 36 spokes (14 ga) for loaded touring on paved to rough dirt roads (I weigh about 180 pounds).†

So bottom line... I'm looking for advice as to which rim(s) would be appropriate to run my Avocet 26 x 1.9 cross tires at 80 psi.†

If you have any advice, thanks in advance,
Andy Janz

Andy,

I'm not sure what went on with your rim that did not hold 80 psi. Basically, any rim ought to work. We have used Bontrager rims with Grand Prixs at over 100 psi. If you don't like Sunn or Mavic, look at Bontrager or Velocity. A Bonty Clyde is a nice heavy duty rim.

Andy

Hi Andy,

I just bought a set of Velomax Circuit Comp wheels. They're great, except when I apply the brakes, I experience heavy thumping--much like a wheel that is out of true. The wheels are perfectly true however, and the brake shoes are properly positioned. Upon slow speed examination, it appears that during braking, the brake pads "skim over" one small area of the wheel about six inches long. The thumping results as the brake shoes grip the wheel surface firmly again. Why is this happening and can I correct it?

Thanks,
John

John,

If the brakes skim over a section of the rim, then I wouldn't exactly call that perfectly true. I'd say that the rim is not machined or extruded to the right spec, and if it is new, take it back and demand satisfaction.

Andy

Dear Sirs,

This is an aluminum mountain bike question. I dented the upper tube that goes from the rear axle to the seat post. The dent is noticeable, but tolerable. The problem is there seems to be a slight bend to the bar. Itís very hard to detect, but I think a brake started rubbing after the damage occurred. I wouldnít worry too much about it, but the bike is brand new (Trek 8000, about $1000). And Iím sick about it. Is aluminum tubing repairable? Straighten-able? Is it worth it? I canít tell if Iíve introduced a weakness into the stiffness of the bike. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

Respectfully,
Anthony Denzer

Anthony,

Aluminum is not repairable. It is, however, recyclable. You should be able to get a couple of bucks for the frame at $.37/pound. I'd just live with it. It's not likely that the integrity of the frame is compromised, unless this is a really big dent.

Andy

Hi! 

After breaking three drive side spokes in about the last 600 miles, I called Bike E for some advice on replacement spokes for my CT recumbent. They recommended triple lacing the non-drive side and using double butted spokes on both sides. I weigh 220 pounds, by the way. Local bike shop explained the ins and outs of trying to use the old rim. They said it could come out okay (true and round), or maybe not. They recommended a heavier duty rim if I did decided to replace. Can you recommend a BMX rim for this application (Scram 3X7 hub. 1.75 X 20 wheel)?  I really only ride on roads so no need to go too beefy.

Thanks,
Russell

Russell,

Neither the rim n or the spokes on your bike are anything to write home about. Get DT or Wheelsmith spokes, lace 3x on both sides if you can. Sunn Rhyno Lite would be my pick for a long term relationship. You could get away with a little lighter rim, but you probably only want to do this once.

Andy 

Andy,

I have a damaged brake post on a 1998 Rockshox Indy. I would like to simply replace this. Can this be replaced and, if so, where can I get a part like this? This is the post the brakes mount onto. The previous owner appears to have cross threaded the bolt which mounts the brake onto the post and has destroyed the post itself. I cannot even get the bolt out of the post. It just unscrewed the post. I appear to have increased the damage trying to remove this so I would simply like to replace the post and the v-brakes.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Scott

Scott,

Canti studs are readily available for Rockshox. You should be able to get one at almost any respectable bike shop.

Andy

Hi Andy,

I have bought a Thule bicycle rack that bolts on the tow bar. This model has two arms that clamp on to two points on top tube of the bicycle. I have an aluminum bicycle from Cannondale--Silk Path 400. Having read articles on wall thickness of bicycle tubes--the thinness/thickness--I wondering if the bicycle rack will damage the bicycle.

PS:  The clamps can be rotated and are able to clamp the seat tube.

Howe

Howe,

Cannondale says no.

Andy

Andy, 

Is there a trick to "snapping" the cover back onto a threadless Ahead set (top)? It's like trying to snap the back onto a watch after replacing the battery- - one side in, the other pops up. Do I need to find a 2" tube and bang directly down on it with a hammer? I'm afraid that I'm going to bend it like a Pringle.

Thanks,
Rick 

Rick,

I believe that you are referring to the adjusting cap, which should fit into the stem without much persuasion. If you need to pound it to get it in, something's not going to work, because the function of this part is to preload the bearings before the stem is clamped onto the steerer tube. The old plastic ones could be problematic, but I haven't seen these for a while. Either your steerer is too long, or the cap is the wrong size, or something, because this should not present a problem. 

Andy

Andy,

How do you find the masterlink on a mountain bike chain?

They ain't none, well usually not. Masterlinks go on single speed chains, most derailleur chains don't have one, but the SRAM and Connex chains have a removable link, which is easy to spot.

Andy

Andy,

What is the difference between an English and Italian bottom bracket? Is it the thread type? How do I know what I have without a thread gauge? What is the most common?

Thanks,
Dave

Dave,

Without getting into thread numbers, suffice to say that the Italian bb is slightly bigger, and both cups thread in clockwise. The drive side cup in an English bottom bracket threads in counterclockwise. Unless you have an Italian bike, you probably have an English bb. 

Andy

Hi Andy,

My wife and I would like to paint her Cannondale Delta V 600 mountain bike, or maybe just leave it stripped (shiny aluminum style). We need any recommendations for tools and technique you can provide.

Muchas gracias, (thanks a bunch)
Luis y Sanya

Luis,

You can polish aluminum to a very nice finish, with a little elbow grease. Cannondale used to sell bikes with a polished finish, as do some other companies. You can remove the paint by hand, or have it dipped in caustic soda or some other toxic substance. I use a touch up gun to paint, rather than a large sprayer. To polish the frame, start with medium steel wool, and then use very fine. The final finish is obtained with a soft cloth and aluminum polish, or tooth paste. I use a Moto Tool to get into the tight spaces. 

Andy

Andy,

I hope you can help me with this. I have a 94 GT Zaskar frame and I need to replace the crankset. The problem I have is I can't seem to find out the spindle length.†Would you happen to know the spindle length or how I might be able to find out myself?

Jimmy

Jimmy,

The spindle length is determined by which crank you are using. An older GT may have a 73mm shell, but you can measure this with calipers. Other than the shell width, the frame has very little to do with the spindle length.

Andy

Andy,

I just bought a new Mongoose 26- inch mountain bike, a dual suspension, 21- speed MGX DXR, model 4502wmbt. I am 6'3" tall. I just found that the seat post is too short; it is about 10 inches long. Can a person get a longer seat post and does it hurt the durability of the bike in anyway to install a longer seat post? 

Thanks from Art

Art,

The bike is way too small. Toy stores believe that one size fits all. We sell at least five sizes of most models of bikes, so that you buy something that fits comfortably and safely. But you've made your purchase. Using a longer seatpost won't hurt anything as long as at least two inches is inside the frame.

Andy

Hey,

I am a bmx-er but I need expert advice on cassette hubs. I have already wrecked a Profile one and am in the process of wrecking an Odyssey one. As you probably know the amount of money these are worth, I am getting sick of hubs, period. I am now wondering if there is any maintenance needed to keep the cassette drive from grinding up inside and falling out (the problem I have).

Hey,

I am not a bmx-er so my advice is not worth much, but here it is anyway. If you've trashed two hubs, you've got to figure that maybe you are the problem, not the hub. Good cassette hubs don't need much maintenance, but you've got to make sure that bearings are not overtightened or too loose. The ring drive or ratchet ring needs to be cleaned and lubed every now and then, but that's about it. Now, I'm talking about road and mountain hubs here. The Profile hub is a very new item. My philosophy on new designs is to let somebody else pay for it until it has proven itself on the market for a couple of years. We have had very good luck with Chris King hubs over the years (road and mountain), so, since you seem to have a pretty nice bankroll, try a King. 

Andy

Andy,

The barrel adjusters (we think that's the name of them ) have been knocked off during various mishaps. Is there a way to replace them or repair them? They are Shimano Deore LX and XTR  derailleurs.

Jeff and Penny

Jeff and Penny,

You should be able to find a replacement adjusting barrel--the last thing your cable housing touches on it's way to the derailleur--almost anywhere. I'm pretty sure that you can thread any Shimano adjuster in there, without paying the XTR price.

Andy

Andy,

How do you get a seat post "unstuck"? It's metal stuck to aluminum.

Thanks,
John

John,

Since I am not particularly fond of excruciatingly tedious manual labor, I'd pay a good machinist to take care of this problem. If you really want to save yourself the $15 my guy charges, get a hacksaw blade holder, and at least seven finely crafted micro brews. Cut the top of the post off very near the frame, approximately 10 mm. With your hacksaw blade, cut the length of the post, all the way through, but not into the frame. Make a second cut directly opposite the first, then a third halfway between the first two, then a fourth. At some point, a piece of the thing will come loose, if you're lucky. You can then pry or pull the remainder of the post, sometimes. Pay the machinist, it's really, really worth it. 

Andy

Andy,

I put a big ding in my Scandium top tube. I heard that there is a process used in which they will pump hydraulic fluid into the frame to pop it out. Is this true and who does it?

Thanks,
Greg
Omaha, NE

Greg,

I'm not familiar with this process, but there're a few issues here. In order for this to work, the tube in question would have to be capped, but accessible so you could pump fluid into it. I suppose you could seal off one end of the tube, but you're going to need an awful lot of pressure, surely enough to blow off almost anything safe enough to use. Also, I don't think that this type of an alloy should be subject to any more stress than the dent caused in the first place. I certainly would not try to unbend a bent scandium frame, due to cyclical fatigue, and somehow pumping out a dent seems like a similar stress. 

Andy

Andy,

How do you center a u-brake when the pads are touching the rims?

Graham

Graham,

Loosen the allen bolts (5mm, I believe) that hold the brake onto the frame. Use a 13mm open end wrench to rotate the spring adjusting collar ( this surrounds the bolt you just loosened), tightening the spring to pull the brake shoe away from the rim, or loosening it to move the shoe closer to the rim. Tighten the fixing bolts. This will take a little trial and error, but that's all there is to it.

Andy

Hey,

I really want some Spins but I can't find any! Do you know where I could get some? I'm so desperate now that I would probably take some other carbon fiber mag wheel even if it isn't a Spin. If you know where I could get some high quality mag wheels that are light and are 3- spoked, let me know. 

Sandra

Sandra,

Spin's out of business. They say that Dan's Comp has some, I don't know. 

Andy

Andy,

I have a new Shimano Flight Deck computer. In trying to reset the clock (which I finally managed to do) I inadvertently changed the tire size calibration. Can I enter "setup" and go back and put the proper tire size in, or do I have to re-enter all of the setup data?  The manual was not helpful in answering this question. Is there a Shimano Flight Deck for Dummies manual available?  I'm serious. A very practical manual for everyday users would be great.

Steve

Stephen,

My experience is that you must re-enter all your data. There is the resetting section on page 14 of the manual, but I've never tried this. Hold the " b" switch for five seconds in any function other than clock. I don't know if you can only change one input or if you must change them all. For future reference, store all that information somewhere handy so that you won't have to count teeth on your cogs and such.

Andy 

Andy,

I just purchased a "Mongoose 2002 Intake Full Suspension Mountain Bike Mens".  Got a great price on it.

However, I have long legs and have to raise the seat almost as high as it will go to make the ride comfortable. After doing this, the handlebars are so low that I really need to bend over to grip them. Is there any way to raise the handlebars on this bike?  I couldn't see a way to do it.  I bought it already assembled so I don't have instructions.

Also, this bike is really responsive from a steering perspective. I'm unable to ride it without holding on to the handlebars. That's something that I'm not used to. Is this inherent in some mountain bikes or does mine need some type of adjustment?

Thanks,
Scott

Scott,

I hope that this isn't one of those toy store bikes. It probably is, because it sounds like it doesn't fit. If it's too small, there's not much you can do to make it fit.  Ahead set style stems cannot be raised, but you can get stems with a rise on them, or a stem riser from Delta or Zoom. If the bike wanders when you ride no hands, you could have any number of problems, from crooked wheels to bent frame parts. It is not typical of good quality mountain bikes.

Andy

Andy,

Where can I get an Ibis rear elastomer shock replacement part for a Silk Ti?

Kim

Kim,

Offhand, I don't know if anyone is handling Ibis parts and warranty. I'd hazard a guess that perhaps a Moots elastomer might work, and I'm sure that if you brought the bike to me, I could rig up something. And I'd like to think that anyone who sold you such an insanely expensive frame could do the same.

Andy

Andy,

I have an hybrid bike (Trek), and I want to make hard trail with my friend. Can you tell me what is the best trail tire I can put on my bike?

The dimensions of the tire are 700 x 38c.

Thanks!
Effrigene

Effrigene,

If you can find them (I have a pair in stock) and they fit, you can't beat the Panaracer Smoke 700 x 45. Otherwise, the Avocet cross k is decent, as are several cyclocross tyres. 

Andy

Andy,

Just stumbled across your site and have spent quite a bit of time thumbing through your column--lots of great stuff in here! I have a Trek 2100 from the early 90's, when carbon fiber was available on such lower end frames, that was built out with Shimano 105 components. This is what I refer to as the 'original' 105 group with a 7-speed cassette that predates STI (as best I know this is true). I love the frame of this bike and would like to keep it though I dearly want to upgrade the component group to get index shifting and probably a triple crank as I am not as spry as I once was...

My local bike shop changed hands a few years back and I no longer trust the new guys as far as I can throw them. I would like to know what my options are in terms of upgrading to the 'new' 105 group with the primary intent of gaining better performance in the shifting department (I fought my current group all the way through a 30-mile ride this afternoon), STI shifters, and a triple crank. Like most folks I am trying to do this with a careful eye on how much I am spending and I do not want to upgrade what I really don't need to to get what I am after. If I were looking to shave grams then I would eat less food, not pay more for my components, so that is not a big concern for me.

I am getting back into cycling after a several-year-marriage-induced hiatus and will typically ride group rides of 20 to 50 miles per day with the occasional charity event of longer duration. I will not be racing competitively but I like to prove to myself that I can still make it go now and then. Also, any recommendations you would have for a crank set that might fit this type of person would be appreciated. Oh yes, I live in the Northern KY/Cincinnati area which has plenty of hills, hence my desire for the triple.

Thanks in advance, I appreciate your time.

Dave Voelker

Dave,

I recently performed such an operation on an old bike, and came up with a mix of 105 and Tiagra. You definitely want to spring for the 105 crank and BB, but if you want keep the cost down, get everything else Tiagra. The Tiagra crank is cheap, and probably as good as what you're used to, but the 105 crank/bb combo is significantly stiffer, and somewhat lighter, worth the extra money. There is virtually no difference in performance among the other parts. It is possible to put an 8/9 speed freehub body on your wheel, but it may be just as well to replace it. You can get away with only replacing the derailleurs, shifters, and chainrings, but I would advise buying the whole enchilada.

Andy 

Hi Andy,

I have a fine road frame and now want to upgrade to Campagnolo Ergo shifting. I do not have frame bosses on the down tube for the Ergo blocks into which the cables must fit for derailleur tensioning. Do you know of a means of fitting these blocks without brazed-on fittings?

Many thanks for any help.

Roy Goswell

Roy,

You should be able to find a downtube shift lever clamp. They are uncommon, but available. Also, if your bike already has downtube shifters, the clamp on the frame should work.

Andy

Andy,

Are there any Shimano or Regina 7-speed freewheels that will index okay with Suntour XC PRO 7/8-speed compatible thumb shifters and a Suntour XC PRO rear derailleur?  Since freewheels are becoming obsolete, I'd like to know where I could find any freewheel that might also work with my factory 1992 Bridgestone MB-01 mountain bike, which came equipped with Suntour XC PRO equipment with a Suntour freewheel?  I'd like to keep my bike going for a few more years.

Mikal Woodward

Mikal,

Nothing but Suntour will work well. Shimano or SRAM will work, but you'll have issues, like good downshifts with sloppy upshifts, or vice versa. Suntour has been functionally dead for 10 years now, so these items will be scarce. Try www.thethirdhand.com

Andy

Andy,

Question: Proper setup of XTR rear-end with Dura-Ace.

I bought my 2000 Lemond Maillot Jaune with all Dura Ace components and after several months of use and steeper climbing I realized I should have gotten an Ultegra triple. But I discovered that you could put an XTR rear cassette and derailleur on the back and get some low end without going for a more expensive triple upgrade/downgrade.

I've been using the XTR rear-end for awhile now, but noticed when I installed it that the spot where the derailleur adjustment screw touches the frame (not sure what that's called) it seems to be a lower angle than what a mountain bike has.  As a result it seemed the derailleur could have used a few more millimeters of adjustment down to keep it from riding on top of the gears.  Nonetheless it has been working fairly well for a thousand miles or so but has started to make some noise. It almost sounds like the chain is rubbing against the front derailleur cage, but I verified that the noise is coming from the rear, not from the front. 

Anyway, do you have any advice on the proper setup of the rear derailleur?  A longer setscrew on the rear perhaps?  Chain length recommendations?

Thanks,
Mark

Mark,

This isn't supposed to work, but it usually works pretty well. Shimano claims that only road ders should be used with road shifters, etc., but most of the time, mixing them up isn't a problem. You can take out the "B" tension screw, and thread it in backwards, hence making it effectively longer, albeit much more difficult to adjust. 

Andy

Andy,

I just purchased a new bike with a Shimano Ultegra group (9-speed).  When I shift into the small rear cogs and I'm in the small chain ring, the chain is rubbing the inside of the large chainring.  Please note that it has no trouble shifting into any gears, and the chain is not rubbing the front
derailleur, but when I'm in my three smallest cogs in the small chainring, the chain rubs the large chainring.  Can you help? Thanks.

By the way, the cassette (if it matters) is a 12-27.

Tom Brane

Tom,

You've got a bad chainline. Is this a Schwinn, buy any chance? Corrections can involve changing the bottom bracket, looking at the rear wheel spacing, bending and mangling the frame, or a combination. Also, bikes are not designed to use all the gears. You should be able to use the small chainring down to the 7th, possibly the 8th cog, but not the 9th, without noise. Never try the other extreme (big and big).

Andy

Andy,

I have a Centurion Iron Man bike with Shimano 600  six-speed with sis shifting. I would like to upgrade to the Dura Ace line. From looking around the Internet I see that most of the gearing is now 9 speed. Will the 9 speed fit on my frame or will I need to find 7 or 8-speed components?

Can you help?

Thanks,
Gary Mueller

Gary,

Don't do it. The frame couldn't possibly be worth it. If you insist, you can make the 9 speed rear wheel fit by having your frame spread to 130mm, which you would need to do to use any of the 7 or 8 speed stuff if you could find it. 

Andy

Dear Andy,

Which bike brakes do you suggest I get, the Odyssey Evolvers, or the Diatech 996's w/Fiesta Pack? It doesn't matter how much they cost. Also, are the Odyssey Modulever brake levers any good? Thanks a lot.

SD

SD,

Either brake will work well. I prefer the Modulever for most applications. Keep in mind that very cheesy brakes and levers work very well with Odyssey brake lines, and good brakes work even better with this system.

Andy

Andy,

My client,  a Russian immigrant, bought a Wildwood DX Diamondback bicycle in June 1999. After a couple of months, the nose of the saddle broke and he took it back in to the dealer.  The dealer took another saddle off another bike in the shop and put it on this bike.  The saddle says Comfort Plus II on the top rear and Viscount on the underside.  Do you know who manufactures this particular saddle?  Do you know whether it is intended for use with a Wildwood DX bicycle?  My client was riding this bike when the seat post bolt broke, causing the seat to come off the bike and him to crash.  The rails under the saddle to not seem to fit the seat clamping mechanism, so that there may have been some shifting and strain on the bolt, causing it to fatigue and break.  Any
thoughts?  Thanks for your consideration.

Joel Maguire
Martin & Mehaffy, LLC
Boulder, CO 80302

Joel,

I generally answer questions about how to fix bikes, not how to fix people who sell them.

Andy

Hello Andy,

I just may be the world's worst mechanic, and I tried doing what I thought may be a simple task, which has turned out to be a rather complicated ordeal.  All that I had wanted to do was get a more comfortable seat for my bicycle, and instead have received a headache when trying to put it all back together.  I doubt that every bike comes with standard pieces (but including the center mounting bracket, screw and end pieces, I have eight pieces), so are there any suggestions you have for me?  Any on-line information with pictures and easy assembly instructions would be of great help for my mechanically challenged abilities.

James

James,

I assume that you have a straight post and a separate clamp. I have no idea where to get a picture, other than going to a place that sells cheap (well, not just cheap, most BMX/freestyle bikes use this type of clamp) bikes and look at seats. I'd take the clamp apart, put the two round, serrated pieces on the rails (they have grooves for the rails to sit in), pull the round parts away from the center. This allows the center piece to slide in there fairly easily. As you push the center piece in, the round side pieces will pivot on the seat rail, and snap into place (serrated sides against the serrated surface of the center piece). Once this is accomplished, push the bolt through, and place the outside parts onto the bolt (these pieces look like the aforementioned serrated pieces on the rails), thread on your nuts and go. It's not always easy, and some saddles have square rails, but if you have one of these, the clamp doesn't have to come apart. A square railed saddle will not work on a good seatpost with an integrated clamp.

Andy

Andy,

I just purchased a Mongoose 2002 Solution (full suspension). Do you know anything about this model or it's sister the 2002 Inferno? They are different colors but are they same bike? Also, any reason why Mongoose does not list a lot of their bikes on their website?  Like the ones sold to the Sports Authority or Dick's Sporting Goods?

Thanx,
Jamie

Jaimie,

There is much confusion surrounding Mongoose, which is why I and most other shop owners no longer sell them. They market a total junk line for Wal-Mart, and a decent quality line for independent bike shops. The junk line will soon be joined by Schwinn. I am totally ignorant about either line, so I can't tell you much about them.

Andy

Andy,

Just bought a Mongoose bike...says Solution on the frame. It's a $500 bike. I'm trying to raise the handlebar. There is an Allen wrench nut but I loosen it and it still doesn't still does not move. It is adjustable, or am I missing something?

Thanks,
Len

Len,

I have no idea what sort of bike you have, but it most likely has a clamp-on, or Aheadset, stem, which can't be raised. Your only option is to buy a stem with more of a rise, get a Zoom or Delta stem riser, or get riser bars.

Andy

Hey,

I crashed my mountain bike. My front wheel stopped (please don't ask me how) and the rear end of the bike catapulted me face first into the dirt as the bike followed. My bike doesn't ride the same now. The chain skips when I coast. The freewheel does not turn and coast smoothly without moving the chain, which results in the chain skipping. I suspect that I bent my White Industries Ti Cassette Hub and Aft-Tracker axle, but before ordering a new replacement axle, I would appreciate your opinion.

Thanks for your advice,
Geoff

Geoff,

There are many possibilities. I think that you have a worn or misaligned bearing in the freehub body, but it could be the axle. Get the axle and bearings at the same time. 

Andy

Andy,

Is it safe to put 1.25 inch tires on 1.50 inch rims?

A

A,

The tyre must measure 1.4 times the width of the rim. Neither the size printed on the tyre or the size on the rim label are accurate; these measurements must be taken with precise instruments.

Andy

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