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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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Summer 2003 Q & A's (45 posted for this season)

Andy,

I bought a used Burley Samba tandem (I think it's a 2000). The bike is equipped with SRAM Grip Shift 7-speed shifters. The rear derailleur is Deore LX. The problem is that I can't get comfortable with mountain bike bars. I want to switch to drop bars with STI like my road bike.

Given that we spent a lot on the bike, I'm trying to do this cheaply (i.e. used equipment on web classifieds or ebay). The only listings for STI shifters I can find are typically 3- speed front and 8- speed for the rear. Can this work on 7- speeds by limiting the derailleur, or is the spacing too different? Or do I need to fight my Scottish stereotype, and buy new stuff?

Your advice would be appreciated.

David

David,

You can use an 8- speed shifter for seven gears, but you'll have to remember that you have an extra click. If you hit it eight times, you'll need to click twice to get from 1st to 2nd. The front shifters can be tricky; older 2 x 8 shifters don't do triples very well, and the new stuff does doubles or triples (except Sora and Dura ace) but will only shift nine gears in the rear. Sora is available in a 3 x 7 set up. Be wary of buying used STI shifters, as they are capable of only making a limited number of shifts before croaking. If you buy a shifter that, say, is good for 10,000 shifts, and it works great after 9,799, it's not going to last very long. A cheap alternative is bar end shifters and regular brake levers. 

Andy

Andy,

There is a bike advertised that has an automatic shifter, is it any good? It's a Land Ride.

Al

Al,

Whether this bike works any better than it's ill conceived ancestor, the Autobike, remains to be seen. I did have one in the shop a while back, and it is a vast improvement over the Autobike. I doubt that it will survive much use, and woe unto those who have to change a rear flat. It also shifts when it wants too, not necessarily when it should. I could not recommend this bike for any price, and for what they're asking, it's a rip off. Mechanical considerations aside, it's a one- size- fits- all, assembly- and- maintenance- required hefty purchase.

Andy

Hi,

I have a Trek Navigator 200 with a 48-38-28 chain ring set. My large ring wore out. The shop guy said I should replace the crankset and suggested a Shimano Deore model fc-m510. When I installed it, it did not line up like my original one. It sticks out further and my front derailleur won't shift to the large ring. Do I need other parts for this to work right? The chainrings on the new set are 44-32-22. 

Thank you for any and all help. 

Mark D. Luton 

Mark,

You need the appropriate bottom bracket to fit the crank. You probably had a Tourney crank with a 122 mm spindle; the Deore works best with a 110-113 spindle.

Andy

Hello,

I'm trying to make one mountain bike out of parts from four. I got all the way done, except I can't get the chain on. The only way I can figure to get it on is to take it apart at one link, then put it in place, then put the link back together, how would I do this? I don't have a special chain link tool, if there is one, so I need another way.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Justin Welch

Justin,

You must have a tool. Even chains that have "master links" have to be cut to fit your bike, and I can't recommend anything but a chain tool for this purpose. 

Andy

Andy,

I have a 1985 Trek 620 with a Shimano N600 crankset. I need to replace the bottom bracket. What are the specs on the bottom bracket that I need as a replacement?

Thanks,
Frank

Frank,

On something this old, I'd have to speculate. You probably have a 68 mm shell. Measure this, because some treks have had 73s, but most road bikes will have 68. You need about 22 mm of spindle on the drive side. Since spindles are pretty hard to come by, try a Shimano cartridge, probably 68 x 118.

Andy

Hi,

Please turn a willing ear and tell me if Shimano grip shifters are compatible with Campagnolo derailleurs. 

Thanks,
Glen

Glen,

Shimano shifters only work with Shimano drivetrains. SRAM does not make Grip Shifters for Campy.

Andy

Andy,

I ride a four-month- old Trek Fuel-90. Driven by the reviews, I had the shop switch out the factory crankset for a Shimano XT before I purchased it. As I understood it, and personally witnessed, the Bontrager crankset caused all kinds of problems, like chain wrap. Now that my bike is a few months old, I'm starting to get a lot of pinging from my rear cassette when climbing, and most annoyingly, a real lot of chain wrap when I'm in the bottom chainring while on relatively smooth ground. By " chain wrap" I mean the chain sticks to the ring and get pulled up above the chain stay.

I've never had these problems with bikes in the past. When I catch the chain in the act of wrapping, its sitting up on top of the teeth of the chainring. Is this a cable- stretch issue or chain- stretch issue? Or more of a wrong- chain- for- the- drive-train issue?

Please help,
Jeff

Jeff,

It's possible that a SRAM chain is used on this bike, with a SRAM cassette as well. There are so many parts on this bicycle that don't work well together, I think they should send you a $200 voucher for new parts. The Bonti crank is a disaster, and that's not just the cheap one. I've often said that if Kieth Bontrager was dead, this stuff would make him roll over in his grave. I've found that the best results are attained by switching the crank to at least LX, go with shorter bottom bracket, get a Shimano chain and cassette. That's a lot of parts for a new over- $1000 bike. Your problem is probably chain related, and you may find that when you change chains, you'll need a new cassette. If all this doesn't help, get the next size smaller bb. I think you have a 118, so get a 113. Usually relentless chainsuck is a result of a damaged chain or chainring. Riding the bike with the Bonti crank could have caused this deformity. 

Andy 

Hi,

My original components were Suntour; I had a 7-speed freewheel that needed to be replaced. My LBS replaced it with a Sachs 7-speed freewheel twice (I am now on my third freewheel).

Now it looks like I may need another replacement, but they cannot find distributors carrying Sachs 7-speed freewheels.

So, my question is: Is there a generally available replacement for my Suntour/SACHS freewheel?

Thanx, 
Mike

Mike,

Nothing is compatible with old Suntour. The freewheels formerly known as SACHS are now available from SRAM.

Andy

Andy,

I have a four-year- old bike from a chain store (not a bike store). For the first three years I didn't mind that it didn't shift, but now am more active and this is a hassle.

I am an old lady, but I ride the bike up and down the city streets. It is a 10-speed bike from Target store with two speeds on the left hand (two hubs, I guess) near the pedals, and five smaller ones on the back wheel. When the front wasn't shifting at all, my friend said to unscrew a hex nut and pull up the derailleur wire that led from that left hand. Viola, the front is now shifting onto and off of the two hub thingies. But now, the little five back hubs aren't getting any action. I can click the lever all over the place, but it doesn't appear to move the chain.

Do you know of any sites with pictures so I can safely, cheaply, get this bike to function a little better? It is my toy and I am getting exercise now for a little while before our weather goes back to rain. I'm not all that mechanical, but if it wouldn't hurt the bike, I'd be willing to try. Some
of the WORDS on the other sites intimidated me and I do better with pictures, since all the parts on this bike are, in my mind, "thingies."

Thank you,
Lettas

Lettas,

I'm not aware of any sites that have pictures. Chances are that if your shift lever clicks but the derailleur doesn't move, your cable is either too loose, or sometimes they get rusted inside the cable housings.

Andy

Dear Mechanic

I have a 2002 Redline SupaX bmx/freestyle bike and it's front wheel bangs hard when I land from a jump, hurting my wrists. I never encountered this before. I tried lowing the PSI. and this helps a little but it still hurts when I jump and land. I even bought a new tire and it didn't help ether. The front wheel is an Alex Supra B Pro double wall, but the hub is Redline, and everything else is Redline on the bike. Thank you, hope you can help me. 

Frank Furlan III

Frank,

There's a few things you can try. In order of expense: Fat squishy low pressure tyre; 36- spoke 3- cross front wheel; lighter duty, more flexible front end parts, such as the fork, stem, bars. When a bike is built to withstand abuse, comfort is often sacrificed. 

Andy 

Andy,

I have not been able to figure out how to keep the brake shoes in place while I put the assembly inside the hub. HELP! It is making me crazy! I have two disassembled hubs from bikes I am rebuilding. I know how they go back together and how they work, but those two little shoes do not want to cooperate! They keep falling off/out when I try to put the hub back on. 

Fast Eddie in KC

Eddie,

Stick them onto the clutch assembly with lots of grease. Make sure you're not putting the wheel on backwards, and the grease should hold them in place.

Andy

Hi,

I just bought a 2003 Electra Rally Sport. This is my first bike purchase since I was a wee lad and have no clue on how to solve my problem. When I'm pedaling down the street, pedaling is really easy, and I travel extremely slow. I know the bike I bought is called a "cruiser", but c'mon, going this slow is ridiculous! How do I make it so that there is more resistance while pedaling and therefore I can get going faster? Thanks bike dude, I look forward to your response.

Chillin,
Jay

Jay,

About all you can do is buy a bigger sprocket. Increase the number of teeth by four and see how it goes. 

Andy

Andy,

I am looking for something to ride mainly on bike paths (which are pretty uneven in some sections). I am trying to decide between the Gary Fisher Utopia and the Trek 7500. I like the Utopia a little better except I want some of the comfort features, such as the adjustable stem and suspension seat, that are on the Trek. Would it make any sense to add these features to the Utopia, or do you think a Trek 7500 or something else is the better way to go if riding in a somewhat upright position is the primary concern, with speed being second? 

Thanks,
Todd 

Todd,

The Utopia is a sort of "racing" hybrid, and it doesn't make sense to do make too many changes. Sitting more upright and adding weight with a suspension post negate the "racing" aspect of the bike. If you really like the Fisher, buy it anyway, but if it makes more sense financially, buy the Trek.

Andy

Hi,

I have e-mailed Lemond, asked knowledgeable friends, and called several bike shops for a definitive answer to my question. I should point out that Lemond (tech service) never responded. I have a 1999 Lemond Chambery that I have turned into a Time Trial bike. It is pretty tricked out but I would like to make some additional adjustments. I currently have a 54t Dura Ace chainring and want to go to a 56. The front derailleur hanger is welded/brazed on. I know that I can loosen the allen bolt and raise the derailleur up a little but I am not certain it will be enough to accommodate the 56. 

Any idea about this? I have already ordered the 56t chainring but was originally hoping to get an answer before spending the money. I also would like to lower the front cow horns and aero bars by about an inch. My guess is that I will have to go with a Mountain bike stem and simply turn it upside down since I don't see any road stems with this option.

Thanks for your help,
David Rusnak

David,

I don't know if the braze on will accommodate the 56t ring. You could grind it off and get a Shimano- braze- on- to- clamp- on adapter, or a new clamp on derailleur. It was certainly not designed for this, so I'd have to guess that it won't work. I have slotted braze- ons to get more range out of them, but this may be too far for that. You can't use a mountain bike stem with road bars. There are road stems with less than 80 degrees of drop. The Millennium "adjustable" goes as low as 65 degrees.

Andy

Andy,

I have a noise that is only induced under pressure (while pedaling). I am not sure what causes it, but I tried tightening the cassette and it did not seem quite as bad. How tight can I tighten my cassette without damage?

Other suggestions?

Thanks,
Steve

P.S. This is a brand new road bike (Campagnolo components) that I built.

Steve,

The proper torque should be specified by the cassette or hub manufacturer. I don't have the figure recommended by Campy, but Shimano is at 40 Nm, and I would not exceed that by much if you are using higher end, lighter weight stuff. 

Andy

Andy,

I have two questions that are somewhat related.

1. How do I adjust the handlebar height on a bicycle? I recently tried to remove the nut that surrounds the handlebars stem and is located at the base where the handlebars slide into the frame. This didn't work and, in the process, that nut broke (which is the basis for my second question).

2. The top nut located between the base of the handlebars and the bike frame broke while trying to loosen it. Is this a standard part that is universal and can be purchased at a bike shop or is it model specific? What is the part's name, and where can I get one?

Thanks for the help,
Paul Whittam
Buffalo, NY

Paul,

On the type of bike described (quill stem, vs. Aheadset type), you need to loosen the bolt which goes down through the middle of the stem. This is usually a 6mm allen head, although some cheaper bikes use a 13mm bolt. Don't raise the stem past the minimum mark which is etched near the bottom of the stem. This mark, which could mean the difference between a happy ride and a near death experience, is very hard to see. If bike manufacturers had any sense at all in this age of litigation, the mark would be bright red, or maybe an alarm should go off if you exceed the mark. But, as it is, it's etched on and painted over. Tighten the bolt very securely when done. The part you broke is called a headset locknut, and you need to know what size headset (either 1" or 1- 1/8"), and you can find these at most bike shops.

Andy

Andy,

I broke the goose neck and handlebars on my Diamondback Juju and I'm wondering if you could tell me how much it would cost for some new ones.

Jerry

Jerry,

Assuming that this is a BMX/freestyle bike, your parts are going to be around $50 minimum. You can pay more than $50 for a good set of bars, and about that much for the stem as well.

Andy

Andy,

I heard that some professional riders double rap their bars with bar tape. That sound really  comfortable to me and I would like to try it.  The tape that you buy from bike stores though seems a little to short even for the first wrap. For the second wrap it would be way to short. Is there a source to buy bar tape in longer rolls?

Thanks,
Ken

Ken,

I don't know of a source for extra long rolls of bar tape. Your options are to use extra tape only where needed, and wrap over top of it, or check out new stuff, like Stella Azzuria or Cinelli gel tape.

Andy

Hi,

Recently I had difficulty choosing between the purchase of a "hybrid" and a "comfort bike" (Trek 7200 and Trek 200 Navigator). I loved the comfort of the 200 and loved the speed / gearing feel of 7200. I chose the 7200.

But I  miss the comfort of the tires on the 200! Can comfort tires be used on a hybrid. I guess not, but what's the thickest tire that can be placed on the Hybrid 7200 (2003 version)?

Any other tips on the choice I made?

Thanks,
Rob

Rob,

You can probably fit up to 45, or at least 40mm tyres on most hybrids. Check Continental, IRC Mythos CX, or, for the budget minded, the Kenda Komfort.

Andy

Andy,

What is the best process to get rid of rust patches on a normal bike? It's not an expensive bike but it rides! Scratch and repaint? If so, what kind paint?

Thanks, 
Shane

Shane,

Sand off all the rust and surrounding paint. Use either auto touch up paint or model paint. You want to put several coats on, and sand lightly between coats.

Andy 

Andy,

Taking the two-wheeled Money Pit out beach riding on the packed stuff at the surf's edge is fun but messy. After a full de/re-greasing session I've gotten most of it off but there is some permanent damage.

I did not anticipate the deep, sharp-edged grooves in the alloy rims worn by the sand particles that attached and then embedded into the pads. I have zero stopping power now and the grooves are shredding the new pads I thought would help.

Is there any way to restore a deeply scratched rim by metal filler or sanding?

Thanks for such a great website!

Sunov A. Beach

Sunov, 

I always advise people to rent bikes at the beach, even if they are beach cruisers. All you can do is replace the rims. There is almost no way to tell how much brake surface is left, except to measure it with a micrometer and compare that to the measure of a new identical rim. Most new rims have a wear indicator embedded in the brake surface, so you'll know when to recycle them. I'm sure that most cheap mountain bike types are in for a rude awakening, should they decide to pay attention to these indicators. I can tell you that aluminum stuff doesn't last forever and most catastrophic failures are the result of abuse or over use, but when your rim indicator goes off, well , a picture is worth a thousand words. Rent a cruiser next time. 

Andy

Andy,

You recently mentioned in one of your replies: "In fact, it is not a very good idea to ride an old
aluminum frame, but that's another story." Well that got me a bit worried and I really would like to hear that "other story". I recently bought a five-year-old Klein Quantum II. Except for the rubber on the tires and a slightly rusted chain, it seems to be in great condition. Should I be worried about the frame? Can it break down while I am riding it? Any info is greatly appreciated.

Stefano in Tokyo

Stefano,

I wouldn't worry too much about a five- year- old frame if you know where it's been. If someone used it as a mountain bike for five years, you know, crashing into trees, off rocks, etc., then it could be spent. If it sat around, or was mostly ridden on pavement, then it's fine. A few years ago, many manufacturers quietly issued a five year life expectancy for an aluminum ATB frame; but Trek (Klein, Fisher) and Cannondale still offer lifetime warranties. 

Andy,

Not an "old bike" question, but it does pertain to two bikes I've revived. I don't believe model types are pertinent; however, one is a '60s ladies Schwinn, the second an 80s-ish Fuji. They both "skipped/slipped" while pedaling. I eliminated that they were between gears (both are ratio shifting), and I eliminated that the crankshaft arms are stripping. Our local dealer suggested that I consider changing-out the rear rim (or change out the sprocket). Before I pull it out, is there another possibility to consider?

Adolph Delgado

Adolph,

These sorts of problems are usually caused by worn cogs, chainrings, chains, or a combination of the three. Derailleur pulleys can also enter into it.

Andy

Hello Andy,

I recently bought a second hand mountain bike and I have this problem where, when I stop and then resume pedaling, I get a few (2-3) free spins before mechanism engages to driving the wheel. There is no slip/free spin while pedaling steadily, only after rest and resumption.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Daniel

Daniel,

Your freewheel or freehub mechanism is worn or dirty, so that the pawls don't always engage. Coasting pushes the pawls further into their disengaged position, and they aren't flipping out to engage the wheel as quickly as they should. Sometimes, you can flush this out and re-lube with gear oil to cure the problem.

Andy

Dear Sir,

May I know where can I get the pedal- spindle- removal tool for Shimano's SPD pedals? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Roderich Chenxu

Roderich,

The tool usually comes with the pedals, but they are available from any Shimano distributor. If you can't find one, let me know and I can get it for you. 

Andy

Help me please sir! 

My brother was messing with my brand new clipless pedals right out of the box. The one retention spring on the pedal is totally unscrewed and I can't seem to get it back in. If I have to rebuild the pedal, how do I do it?

Thank you very much for your help! 
Jay 

Jay,

This is very tough to do. You need to hold the springs in place while you thread the screw in place. I'd charge you at least $12 to do this.

Andy

Dear Andy,

Last year I purchased a Bianchi Boardwalk 2001 in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. I have enjoyed riding around Kingsmill in the early mornings.  However, the right pedal area has developed a clunk feeling and sound when using pressure on inclines.  The owners of the shop have tried everything they know to get rid of the problem, but it persists.

Please recommend something you think might be causing this irritation.  I no longer enjoy riding my beautiful bike with the clunking every turn of the foot.

Hopefully,
Maryellen

Maryellen,

You either have a defective or loose bottom bracket. Many bikes of this ilk use a "semi-cartridge" bb, which has ball bearings on the left, and cartridge on the right. These are pretty lousy, but can work. It is less work to replace this unit with a UN-52 or better than to try and repair it.

Andy

Andy,

I have found that you can't find pedal extensions for my three wheeled bike--and this is necessary as I as partially disabled--so I wondered if a guy can still find those pedal/crank repair bushings they used to have to repair the threads, as this will probably do the trick.

Thanks! 
Fred A. Neff

Fred,

Var makes a crank repair kit, and replacement inserts. You can also buy individual helicoils for this purpose.

Andy

Andy,

I have an early 90's Shimano 105 group and would like to replace the Biopace chainrings with round 105 rings.  Can I use the 9-speed 105 replacement rings they are selling today, or do I need to find some round rings from the old group I have?  I have been told by others that the new replacement rings will work, but the shifting may be a little sloppy.

What is your take on this?

Thanks for your help,
Jeff

Jeff,

Let me get this right: you ride Biopace and your worried that getting 9 -speed rings is going to cause sloppy shifting?

There is usually no detectable difference between 8 and 9- speed chainrings. You can't go the other way, but using 9 instead of 8 is not bad, especially after 10 years of Biopace.

Andy

Andy,

I just learned of your web page.  It looks very informative and perhaps you can help me with this one.

I wanted to put LX v-brakes on a 1997 Cannondale mountain bike. It has cantilever on it now. When I tried to mount the v-brakes on the brake pivot post I noticed that the v-brake arm assembly didn't mount flush against the frame like the cantilever brakes did. The v-brakes remained about 0.100 inches away from being seated on the flat of the frame. After a visual inspection I noticed that the v-brake was not capable of sliding over the bottom of the pivot because the pivot changes in cross-section to include what looks like a pair of flats used to remove the pivot from the frame.

My questions are:

1) Are v-brakes not designed to rest flat against the frame?
2) Is there a spacer required for my installation?
3) Are v-brakes not going to work on my frame?

Thanks for the help!

Bob in Cleveland

Bob,

V- brakes will fit any cantilever stud. They won't work on U- brake studs, but that's not what you have. Cannondale cantilever studs thread into the frame and fork, so the brake won't fit flush against the frame. This should not present any problems. 

Andy

Andy,

I ran across a good deal on the Web for a Motobecane 700XC full suspension mountain bike. I don't have a lot of dough to spend, and I'm wondering if you feel this bike is a decent ride. Any other full suspension bikes a good deal for under $900.00?

Thanks,
Tim B.

Tim,

"Motobecane" is an ancient French nameplate that has recently been acquired, I suppose, by bikesdirect.com., in much the same fashion as Pacific acquiring Schwinn/GT, only on a smaller scale. The once venerable Motobecane road bike, which, like Peugeot, was actually made in France, with French stuff, is now reduced to the Asian mass produced cookie cutter bike that is sold in shops and over the internet all over the place. I am not qualified to judge the quality of these bikes, except to say that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and $300-$400 below a comparable IBD bike is probably too good to be true. The biggest problem with this type of deal is that most people have no business doing their own service, and this is especially true when full suspension and disc brakes enter into the picture. Many shops are reluctant to work on mail order bikes, so you may be limited as to who will service your bike. If you want a good bike with shop service that is affordable, find a good Giant dealer. 

Andy

Mr. Mechanic,

I currently ride an older Raleigh M60 MTB outfitted with slicks for touring the hilly roads of Vermont. This weekend one of my crappy grip shifters just completely fell apart on me. I was wondering if it is possible to replace grip shifters with simple lever shifters?

Thanks,
Greg

Greg,

As long as you don't have a total Gripshift drivetrain (ESP, 9.0, 7.0, or 5.0), you can replace it with any Shimano shifter with the correct number of gears--replace 7 speed Gripshift with 7 speed Shimano, etc.

Andy

Andy,

I've found a rather obscure start up brand, Ibex, that is offering what appear to be decent bikes for generally $100-$200 less than competitors like Trek, etc., for comparable specs.  Is this a hoax?  Do you know anything about them?  How decent is the Scorpio RA200 road bike they're offering?

David Donnelly

David,

While I know everything about bikes, I don't know every bike. I do know of a Scorpio brand from a few years ago, which I thought only "made" mountain bikes. These bikes were positioned somewhere between Wal-Mart quality and, say, Fuji quality, and were sold in bike shops. Buying bikes via mail order is not good for most people, as service and warranty can't compare with a good shop. Unfortunately, you have to know where a good shop is, as opposed to a bad shop, or you may as well buy your Scorpio from Ibex. My philosophy on new products and distributors is: Let some other poor sap find out if they are a scam. If they're not, I'll hear about it. 

Andy

Hi,

I have some Campagnolo Ergo shifters that have been sitting on my bike for about three years, unused. What should I do for maintenance to be sure they're working well after sitting all that time?  The shifting seems really stiff.

Thanks a lot!
Beth

Beth,

Your shifters probably feel stiff because the cables have started to corrode. Replace them, or at least take them out and lube them (use Jonnisnot, Finish Line Green Cap, or Englund Slick Honey--you don't want to use petroleum products here.) These things do come apart, but I'm not sure we want to get into that. You can get some lube into the shifters from the outside--I use Finish Line Red Cap, in the aerosol form.

Andy

Andy,

Well, I've been shopping around and test riding road bikes to replace my aluminum GT Rage road bike. I ride anywhere from 20 to 100 miles a week and have done several centuries, one double-century and the Markeville Death Ride, and I am currently doing half-ironman tris (I have no interest in a tri bike).  I would define myself as a recreational rider who enjoys a challenge. My primary desire for a new bike is comfort (my GT has beaten me up) and durability. I tend to be tough on bikes.

My shopping has narrowed the list to three bikes that are comparable in the following: the components I want; the price I am willing to pay; and whether they have ridden well during test rides. And the finalists are:

1. REI's Novara Trionfo
2. Lemond Zurich 853 Pro Steel
3. Trek 2300

Any suggestions/more information to be considered?

Thanks,
Pat Angell

Pat,

Don't buy the REI. If you can budget the Zurich (and it fits--some people don't like the classic geometry), buy it; otherwise, you won't go wrong with the Trek.

Andy

Andy,

I purchased a Huffy mountain bike and have ridden it four or five times. I purchased it assembled. I am having some problems and would like your comments. I am on a tight budget and would like to make any modifications myself.

What is the proper height of the handlebars on a mountain bike? My hands and wrists get painfully sore while riding. Both the front and rear brakes squeak and chatter a lot? How can I get rid of this problem? While riding, the pedals will make a clicking sound, but not continuously. How can I stop the clicking? 

I would appreciate any help.

Regards,
Mike Bilodeau

Mike,

There is no proper height of bars and seat, but ideally, you want the bars within four inches of the seat. If your bike is not big enough, you wind up with your seat several inches higher than the bars, and lean forward more than you would like. If your stem is maxed out, the solution is a stem riser, or a bar with a rise or upward curve. Brakes make noise if any part of them is loose, or if the shoes don't hit flat (when viewed from the front) and toed in (the front of the pad should hit a mm or two before the back). Glazed pads and dirty rims contribute to this problem. Clicking sounds could be almost anything. Probably the bearings in the pedals and cranks could use a little grease. 

Andy

Andy,

I have a Giant Cypress hybrid with Shimano 14-34T 7-speed Megarange gears in back. I want to change to something like 11-24, 11-26, or maybe 12-28. My small bike shop has never made this change and they don't seem to know what parts I need. I think I have a screw-on freewheel, but I'm not sure. Can you look this up for me and give me some part numbers for what I'm looking for?

Thanks,
Stretch

Stretch,

I think you have a freewheel, which eliminates any of the 11 tooth gears, unless you buy a cassette wheel. Only SRAM offers freewheels that start with 12 rather than 13 or 14. If you have one of those Megarange rear ders, I think that it won't work well with normal freewheels.

Andy

Dear Andy

I have a Park pre-titanium frame (19"), with a 27.2 mm aluminum seatpost. The frame has an alloy sleeve in the seat-tube (which I believe is also aluminum). I lubed the seatpost prior to installing it, but when seated and cranking under pressure, there is a persistent creak emitted from the seatpost-seat-tube area. 

Any idea what the problem might be? I would greatly appreciate your input. Thank you.

Patrick Lew

Patrick,

Make sure that your seatpost collar bolt is very tight, and that the bolt or bolts holding the saddle rails are tight. You may also grease the cradles and rails, as well as the previously mentioned bolts.

Andy

Andy,

Is it possible to rebuild Shimano STI Ultegra shifters?

I doubt it is, but I have a pair of nice shifters, and the right side shifter has recently stopped shifting. Assuming I was going to have to replace the whole unit anyway, I decided to begin taking the unit apart, but stopped as I thought I would seek advice on whether they can be repaired or not before I delved any further. 

Please advise,
John

PS:  If you want a break-down of parts on this thing, I'll be happy to do so. I'm not sure if anyone has bothered to mess with these or not in the past. They look pretty interesting inside.

John,

Generally speaking, you can't rebuild an STI lever. I did get an email from a guy who claims to have successfully done so, but I have to be skeptical. For one thing, parts are not available. If you have a broken spring or something, your only source for parts are other STI levers. There are craftsmen and machinists who can rebuild watches and automatic transmissions, so it's not impossible to do stuff like this, but it won't be easy.

Andy

Andy,

I recently got my rear wheel and cassette replaced, and I have a problem now that I didn't have before. When I am riding along and stop pedaling my rear cassette will keep turning with the wheel creating slack in the chain which then will snap back. This happens repeatedly and looks dangerous since the chain comes awfully close to the spokes. Does something just need oiling or is the problem more extensive? Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Sheldon

Sheldon,

Something is causing the freehub to bind. It could as simple as the plastic spoke protector, or the freehub could be worn out. It's possible that the new cassette does not quite fit on the body, causing drag.

Andy

Andy,

I am currently using a Raleigh hybrid bike for exercise (I am an injured runner) so I am pushing the gears hard to make it more a difficult workout. I am being told that I should go to a road bike (I put about 50-60 miles per week on hilly roads). Is this good advice? I am very interested in challenging myself and keeping my heart rate high.

Joe

Joe,

You can go a lot further faster on a road bike. However, whatever you ride, pushing big gears to make it more difficult is a bad idea. It's harder on equipment, and harder on you. I'm no exercise physiologist, but I can tell you that you and your drivetrain will be a lot better off if you downshift when your cadence drops, and up shift when your cadence increases. If you want a harder work out, go faster, or find some hills. Get a heart rate monitor, if you don't have one.

Andy 

Hi Andy!

I have a Murray Corona mountain bike (I am sure this is nothing special, I believe this is one step up from a Wal-Mart cheap special). I recently had the back tire go flat. I had to replace the inner tube and everything seemed fine after that, but after two weeks my back wheel wobbles. I thought it might be that I did not center it properly or tightened the nuts properly, but that does not seem to be the case. Do you have any suggestions as to what could be causing this? The rim does not seem bent, so I am at a loss.

Thank you for your help,
Coreen W.

Coreen,

Your tyre is not fully seated. At some point, the bead is stuck, causing a flat spot. Take the tire off and start over. Use baby powder on the bead to help prevent this, and slowly inflate the tyre until the bead pops out.

Andy

Hello Andy,

Recently I bought a bike that overall was in good condition but had a very rusty chain for some reason. Is there something I can soak the chain in to get it back into shape?

Mike 
Vancouver, Canada

Mike,

Usually, excessive rust means a new chain, and usually that means at least a new cassette or freewheel. You can try "liquid wrench" type products, and it may free up if it is not too bad.

Andy

Andy,

I know this question is kind of below the level of technology you guys appear to be used to, but here goes: Can you please advise what part of the bicycle frame is measured when the dealer indicates the size is 26" (for example). I know that measures the tire diameter as well, but I am specifically interested in frame measurement.

Thank you,
Arthur

Arthur,

The frame size is independent of wheel size. As far as I know, there are no 26" frames, but lots of 26" wheels. Kids' bikes are usually identified by wheel size, because most manufacturers only make one size of 16", 20", and 24" wheeled bikes. When you get to road, mountain, and hybrids (most cruisers only come in one or two sizes), you have four or five sizes available. Mountain bikes are usually measured in inches, from the center of the crankset to the center of the top tube, hence the term "18", center to center. Some bikes are measured from the center of the crankset to the top of the seat tube cluster ("center to top"). Road bikes tend to be measured in centimeters, and can be measured center to center or center to top, and some road or tri bikes have 650c, or roughly 26" wheels, rather than the customary 700c (approximately 27").

Andy

Andy,

I would like to convert a straight bar mountain bike to drop down road bars. What indexed shifting options do I have?

It's been 25 years since I have attempted this so I am once again clueless as to where to start but am learning fast.

Am in the process of buying the mountain bike. At my weight I need something durable, but definitely want to convert it away from the straight bars. Are there any conversion kits?

Thanks,
Chris Hazard of New Hampshire

Chris,

You can use bar-cons, or STI works fairly well. WTB makes a bar that fits mountain bike stems. STI, particularly the front shifter, works best with road derailleurs, but is not bad with ATB parts.

Andy

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