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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, subject "ask the mechanic," and tell us where you live. Or, mail your question directly to Ask the Mechanic, c/o Wheelcraft Bicycles, 2185 National Road, Wheeling, WV, USA 26003. Andy will e-mail your advice and we may post it afterward (do not submit a question if you don't want your Q&A posted in a future column). Take a look at our back issues to find answers to all kinds of bike fix-it questions.
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Winter 2006 Q & A's (30 posted this season with more to come)
I was wondering if maybe you could help me out with this problem I am having. No matter how much I tighten my headset, I always have a loose handlebar. So loose that when you turn the bars too quickly, that's all that moves! The forks do not turn with the bars. It is becoming a pure annoyance for me. Thanks in advance if you can help me out.
Denver Poole in Barrie, Ontario, Canada
If the stem (not the headset) is sufficiently tight (pinch bolts at about 150 inch pounds, quill bolts at about 200) and the bars don't work, you either have a compatibility issue, or if you have a quill stem, perhaps the bolt is stripped or the wedge broken. If you have an Aheadset system, you may be tightening the preload bolt on the top (on old quill type stems, the center bolt tightens the stem to the fork), which does nothing unless the pinch bolts on the side of the stem are loose, and these are the bolts that may solve your problem.
I have a 2004 Cannondale F400 mountain bike. It has the "Cannondale Earth" front hub. I need a new cone for this hub, but my local Cannondale dealer told me that I have to buy a whole new hub because Cannondale doesn't sell
replacement parts for this hub (as they don't actually manufacture it themselves). I wonder if you know where I could get a replacement cone?
I have no idea what size or shape this is, but Cannondale doesn't make it, so there probably is a Wheels Manufacturing replacement (these guys make high quality replacement parts for Shimano, Joytech, most Asian and Campagnolo hubs). See if you can find a match at www.wheelsmfg.com, and ask your bike shop to order it for you. If they don't have it, it probably can't be had. BTW, it has been typical of Cannondale not to offer down the road support, and I can only imagine that this situation has worsened since bankruptcy, as has their customer service.
I can't seem to get an answer from my local bike shop, hoping you could help me out. I have a 56cm Aluminum road bike with Sora Triple components, STI shifters. I have a 12-28 cassette and I'm hoping to put on a "Mega Range" 34T cassette. I do an awful lot of climbing and at 53 I need all the help I can get. Can I put that size on the back and do I have to put on a Mega Range derailleur? Can you advise me where and what type components do I need and where can I get them.
Thanks so much,
You can use the Megarange cassette, but you need a mountain bike rear der. I wouldn't use the Megarange der because it is very cheap, but it'll work. A better choice is to use an LX, even though it is for 9 speed; it will work
on 7 or 8, and it is of much higher quality than the Megarange.
Can Campy Ergo shifters be installed on the aero handlebars?
No. You can only use bar end shifters on the aero bars, and one usually accompanies these with aero brake levers which can only be used on cow horn bars.
I ride a Cannondale CAAD5 with 700 x 23 tires. Will the rims also accept 700 x 25?
You can fit anything from 18 to 32mm on the rim; the frame will probably not allow bigger than 28mm.
I don't know if I am in the right place but here is my question: Can I lace a 28-hole Sturmey Archer three speed hub onto a 36-hole, 26-inch MTB rim?
If so, what is the recommended spoke length, thickness, and pattern? If not, any suggestions?
It probably can be done, but I'm not sure if it should be done. It is pretty easy to lace a wheel that has twice as many holes as your hub, but with 22% more rim holes than spoke holes, well, I just don't know what might happen there. I'm sure that someone with a lot of patience, and a whole bunch of various sized spokes--there's virtually no way to calculate the spoke length accurately--could produce a ride able wheel. You can get 28-hole rims for not a lot of cash, you know.
I have a Motobecane (that I love to death) with a 5-speed cassette on the original 27" wheels. I'd like to upgrade to some nicer modern (700) wheels on a newer hub. Is there any one that sells these or builds them in a 5-speed? I'm not opposed to going to an 8-speed cassette and new derailleur, but will that wheel fit? I'd prefer not to have to spread the frame, although its chromoly so it wouldn't be that big of a deal, right?
Isaac in Portland, Oregon
You can buy pre-built wheels of average quality with freewheel (thread on) hubs for less than $120 per pair. You can also buy very nice freewheel hubs and have exceedingly good wheels built for around $550 or more. The 8/9/10 speed cassette wheels will fit if you spread the frame, but I suspect that the old equipment won't shift more than 6 or 7 cogs. You can put 7 cogs on an 8-plus-speed hub with a 4.5mm spacer. The advantage of the cassette wheel is rear axle strength and they are easy to find. The freewheel option would cost less in terms of making it work on your bike.
I am trying to gather components to build up a handlebar for a drop in stem I bought for my BikeE. I have a Shimano Nexave rear D I will put on (keeping original 7-speed cassette) and understand most any grip shifter will work with it (though numbering will be reversed due to "low-normal" spring). But, if I want the components to match, I need to know which grip shifters have 3-speed shifters compatible with the 3-speed rear hub. I have been shopping on eBay and saw Swiss Army 3x7(who makes those?), Sram MRX, 3.0, 5.0, Centera, Shimano, Suntour, etc. I suspect ESP is out--but a list of what works or a list of what does not would be very helpful.
Carl Downey in Arlington, Texas
As far as I know, only the Sram dual drive shifter works with this hub. I suppose you could use one of the gripe shift micro front shifters, but I'm not sure whether that would be just mildly inconvenient or impossible to put up with. It's only $25 for the real thing, so why screw around?
I just bought two titanium 9-speed cassettes with the intention of using some thinner spacers that I have (they convert standard Shimano 9-speed compatible cassettes to 10-speed with one extra cog). None of the cogs are bonded to each other. I gave it a try and it was too wide. I then got out my calipers to check the cogs and found that two of them are fatter than the others. The question: can I get spacers that will make it work? Do you sell them? I am hoping that I can use all of these cogs and that the only extra space will be the 11-tooth outer cog. The cogs' widths are as follows: 25t 1.79mm, 23t 1.79mm, 21t 1.79mm, 19t 1.84mm, 17t 1.85mm, 15t 1.76mm, 14t 2.18mm, 13t 1.81mm, 12t 2.05mm, and the 11t is 4.61mm. The way I figure it is that the first five spacers will hopefully be a standard issue; the sixth, seventh and eighth will be thinner, and the tenth cog will have a little extra space but it will be properly set by the derailleur outer range screw rather than the shift index. One problem I have is that I can't find any dimensions for the cassettes on the web. Lastly; I wonder if it is possible that the fatter cogs will be incompatible with my Wipperman stainless steel 10-speed chain. I therefore will appreciate any assistance that you can offer. Thank you!
Most of us have equal shortages of time and money, and with quick and easy $10,000 credit limits on our Visa cards, don't let the latter get in the way. This time of year, my time crunch is far more critical than my cash crunch, however, why, when I can buy an Ultegra 10 speed cassette for $60 that will function flawlessly, would I care about cobbling something together that probably won't work, and could not have possibly cost much less? If you need a Campy to Shimano conversion, it will cost about $100, but still, that's not much in bike dollars. The short answer is I don't have a clue, but expect problems if you are not using standard issue (Shimano, Campy, or Wheels conversions) stuff. Your Wipperman will probably not work on a cog much thicker than 1.8mm. All I can tell you is the
following: campy 10 cogs are 1.7mm thick; all the spacers are 2.42mm. Shimano 10 cogs are 1.6mm, spacers are 2.35. Campy 9 cogs are 1.75mm, spacers are 2.8. Shimano 9 cogs are 1.76, spacers are 2.56. 2.35 and 1mm spacers are widely available, but the Campy spacers are all slightly different according to their position. For whatever reason, some cassettes have thicker cogs in certain positions (usually the smaller ones) and thinner spacers.
Whatever means one uses, the end must result in exactly the same center to center distance between cogs (4.12 for Campy 10, 3.95 for Shimano 10).
Hope this helps,
I've scoured the website seeking an answer, and haven't been able to find it, so here goes: I'm wanting to renew my OLD Peugeot 10-speed for use on a trainer. It has a freewheel on a wheel with a solid axle which will not allow a quick release skewer--and the trainer requires QR.
Should I replace the freewheel wheel with a cassette wheel? If so, how do I know fits and such for an old, French bicycle frame?
Finally, how do I determine exactly what model of Peugeot it is? I can find a serial number, but no other identifying marks.
Don't know much about old Peugeots, but you may have an old French threaded hub/freewheel, which will make things interesting if you need to replace either part. I would either buy a new wheel and freewheel (about $70), or
pursue installing a QR axle into your existing hub (about $25, more or less). You could use a cassette wheel, but you'll get a 130mm spacing and you must use at least 7 cogs. No idea abut the model or age of the bike.
When I am in bike pain here in Central PA, I browse your "Ask The Mechanic" website. I don't understand how you haven't yet gone insane. The questions remind me of my first boss. For absolutely any problem, he would say to me: "Give it to the computer!" Anyway...
My new bike fell over in a tangle of bicycles, maybe ten miles in. Just a couple of thin radial gouges across the braking surfaces of both Mavic Cxp23 6061 alloy 700c rims, but the "thuk thuk thuk" brake application feedback is driving me insane. The scratches are too deep to buff out with wet n' dry sandpaper, but certainly not so big or deep as to compromise strength.
What materials do pros use to fill-in such scratches, and is such a fix permanent? I suppose I could wait until wear and brake pad material heals the scars, but that would not be good for my mental health.
I know that you can use epoxy to fill gouged ceramic rims, so maybe it'll work on bare aluminum. I'd probably try something automotive, maybe some JB Weld. The worse that can happen would be that it will fall out.
I just changed the batteries on my Sigma Sport bc 700 computer and lost the settings. Could you help me? I have 27-inch road rims.
Vinny in Atlanta
Check www.sigmasport.com for archived instruction manuals. I think you either multiply your wheel diameter in mm x 3.14, and possibly divide that number by 1.61.
My Shimano Nexus Hub is starting to act funny. When I shift it into any gear other than the default, no cable tension position, the hub seems to bind, then release. It is a skipping sensation. The binding is not too obvious at first. What is obvious is that when the binding is released the pedal stroke jumps forward. Any thoughts?
I like to think that these hubs are "maintenance free", but unfortunately, they are only low maintenance. Before you decide to plunge inside the hub, make sure that everything outside the hub--cable, cable housing, all the mechanism causes shifts--is clean and well lubed. I might even spring for a new cable and housing, as any binding here will cause something like what you describe. If that doesn't help, you'll need to get some illustrated instructions. I honestly don't know if instructions exist on the Shimano web site, but that's a start.
I'm getting a 6 or 7-year-old Specialized Hardrock with Shimano Acera derailleurs back on the road after a couple of wet years in the shed. The front derailleur won't shift down onto the lowest (i.e. smallest) chainwheel, even with the cable removed completely. I can tune it up so that middle and top front shifts work fine, but it just won't shift down to lowest on its own. A very small nudge with my toe on the cage does the job nicely, but its not really an ideal solution, especially at speed. It seems like there isn't enough spring force to bring the cage back towards the seatpost and/or its sticking on something. Is there anything I can do to free it up or am I looking at attempting my first ever front derailleur replacement?
Thanks for your help!
You will probably need a new front der. Try some penetrating oil and good lube on your old one first, but it will not likely ever work correctly.
I have a new Cannondale Prophet 600 (TruVati Blaze crank, Shimano 9-speed chain, Shimano LX front derailleur). My problem is that when going uphill on the middle chainring, if I am applying significant pressure on the pedals, the bike will not shift reliably onto the small chainring (i.e., the front derailleur is not strong enough to pull the chain off the middle ring). My bike mechanic tells me that's just the way it is and to be expected (particularly with a full suspension bike), and I should shift before starting up the hill, or back off on the pressure while shifting, etc. Really? Things change while riding; sometimes you are on a hill that becomes steeper, sometimes you can't afford the momentum loss that backing off for half a revolution would entail, etc. I don't notice this problem on my road bike (Ultegra setup), nor do I remember having the problem on my ancient Trek 600 mountainbike. What do you think? Is this simply the way it is and I need to compensate with altered technique?
While it is true that you can't expect full suspension to shift as well as a road bike, things can always be improved. Check your chain line. Does this bike have all Shimano, or does it have some goofy Coda crankset? If you want good shifting, get a Shimano crank and bottom bracket. Check the frame alignment, especially if this thing has some sort of adjustable geometry. You may find that something as simple as facing the bb shell can improve shifting. Keep in mind that you have to have extra chain for the suspension to work, so small cog/small ring shifting is going to suffer no matter what you do.
I have a Cannondale 2.8 road bike. It has a 1-1/4" fork. Is there any spacers, headsets available to change to a different fork? I use it for a TT bike, and it is a bit squirrelly on high speed descents.
Paul Palmer in Binghamton, New York
Squirrelly fork, squirrelly bike, squirrelly company who made the bike. Bet you think the 2.8 means that it weighs 2.8 pounds. BTW, that designation leads me to believe that it may have exceeded its useful lifetime, but I digress. You certainly do not have a 1- 1/4" fork; in all likelihood on a bike that old, it must be a 1", although it may be possible that you have one of the old headshock models (not at all likely with the 2.8 designation) which uses something close to 1.55". Measure the thing before you go any further. 1" forks are widely available, and if it's the fork that's squirrelly, you'll want something with a bit more rake (I think--I don't know what you have). Keep in mind that C'dale, when designing this bike, had fast handling, criterium- type geometry in mind, and the fork is only part of the problem. The frame is simply not designed for the average guy to ride and enjoy.
I have a question on my 1996 Trek Y22 bike. The rear shock is a Fox Alps 4 and I am looking to upgrade. My Question for you: Is there a shock you would recommend, and with the new shock, would it ride like today's bikes?
I've always felt that these sort of bikes like the Stratos shocks. You're going to be in for at least $275, but they work well on this suspension design. "They" say that the progressive suspension designs can make this bike work like a more complex (4 bar) system. 5th element is the way to go, but you'll spend around $400 or more on a somewhat dated bike. I don't know much about the new Rockshox. I have a Manitou spv type shock, and have no complaints with it, but it is on a semi pivotless bike.
I have an older Torelli Road Bike, probably around a ’93 with a 6-speed Dura Ace cassette. The frame is beautiful and I want to try to upgrade the bike to bring it into 2005. My question is two fold. First: would it be worth it financially? I know it is a very subjective question. Secondly, if I bought a new drive train set up (crank, shifters, derailleurs, rear wheel) would it fit my frame with out having to bend out the rear triangle?
If memory serves, your bike is much older than 1993, as they were using 8-speed STI as early as 1991, which was preceded by at least three years of 7-speed, which puts your 6-speed at 1988, if you're lucky. If it's 6-speed, it will need to be spread, which is no big deal, just don't take it to the cheapest place in town. Worth is relative, upgrading to DA 10 speed will cost about $1500, more of less. A new bike with the same will cost over $4000, so there you are.
I successfully changed the cable on my shifter, got the rear derailleur adjusted fine, but am unable to get the gear indicator to move in the window. Can you tell me what the trick is into getting this accomplished?
Faye Philips in Hammond, Indiana
You may have accidentally dislodged the indicator from the shifter. Most of the time, the shifter doesn't have to come apart to change cables (I don't know what you have). You should just unscrew a cable entry port and thread it through. If your indicator mechanism is disengaged or broken (this stuff is all plastic, with small pegs that fit into holes), release the cable, take off the indicator, and make sure that the pegs line up with the holes, and to do this, your indicator has to agree with the shifter before reinstalling it. Wish I had a picture.
I'm wanting to put a shock fork on my 1999 GT Outpost Trail. It has a threaded headset and the diameter of the stem is smaller than what I've seen on newer ones. Could you tell me the measurements for a fork I could put on it? Also would it be possible to go threadless on this bike? How could I do that? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Jacob in Texas
You have a 1" fork, which is pretty rare these days. The major fork manufacturers (RockShox, Manitou, etc.) haven't made any 1" threaded stuff for years. I sell RST forks for bikes such as yours, as the steerer tubes are interchangeable. You can buy a 1" threaded steerer tube and cantilever compatible fork for about $125. You could replace your stem and headset to go threadless, but I'd expect that 1" threadless stems would be scarce.
Okay, so I took my first dinger on the new bike. Nothing serious other than a road scuffed right and left nameplate. I have 2004 Ultegra 27 speed.
I talked with a guy at the local bike shop about replacing the nameplate (purely cosmetic) and he told me he has never been successful in replacing the original name plate. He said they always end up rattling after installation and people just end up taking the replacement name plate off anyway.
Is that correct, or is it just a matter of finding the right mechanic to get a replacement nameplate installed correctly? It looks like a simple screw in, why can’t anybody do it (like me)?
We've had issues with rattling nameplates from the inception of Ultegra 9, but I don't think that the newer ones are as prone. Replacement is not difficult, and I've had some success with using silicone sealant to quiet them when they do rattle.
I just purchased a Cannondale R700 road bike with a double crankset and I am not sure that given my age (63) the gearing is right for me. I ride in hilly terrain and although none of the hills are longer than 1/4 mile some of them are fairly steep.
The bike has a 39/53 crank and 12-26 rear cogs. My local bicycle shop advised me that given that I am fairly light (140 lb.) and in pretty good shape this would be a good setup for me. He did not think that I needed a triple, which he said did not shift as well and got out of adjustment more often.
After riding for two weeks, I feel that I could use lower gearing for some of the steeper hills. Is it possible to switch to a 12-27 rear cog, a 38 crank or both to achieve this objective without spending a lot of money?
Thanks for any help you can give me.
Don't go to a shop that doesn't sell triples to guys in their 60's! Since the damage is done (you bought it already!), your options are either get a 12-27 cassette, which works pretty well till you hit 60, or get a compact crank, or both. Converting to a triple will cost well over $300, so I'd suggest trying the first two options, or trading the bike in for one with a triple. Some triples have shifting issues, but nothing so drastic to offset the advantages of lower gearing. Campagnolo triples have no disadvantages
whatsoever, unless you use a Campy crank and bb (square is, well , square).
How do I make the pawls fit into the hub? I tried to put them in but the springs are fully expanded and it won't fit if I try to push them down.
There are several designs, and some of them, like Shimano, are really not designed to be serviced. Pawls retract when the wheel moves forward, or when the freehub body spins backward, so you need to exert force in that direction in order to get them to engage the ratchet ring.
Hope this helps,
I bought my Trek Y3 in ’99 for $950, I’ve put some work in it--Judy RockShox, Fox Racing rear shock, and new, light weight pedals. If possible, could you tell me how much its worth now?
Mountain bikes don't hold their value very well, so even with some upgrades, I don't think that you could get much over $300. The technology on this bike is considered uncool, and even though some folks love it, it is an unpopular design.
My son has a new bike, it is VERY stiff to ride (to turn the pedals). Other than trying to break it in, are there any hints or tips to speed up the process?
The most common cause of this would be that the chain is too tight. Loosen the wheel nuts and let the chain slacken slightly. If this doesn't help, you probably have an over tight bottom bracket, or perhaps damaged bearings or other bb parts. The bb can be loosened by turning the locknut clockwise, rotating the cone clockwise and tightening the locknut against the cone (counterclockwise).
Raleigh 10 speed with Suntour, year 1978. What is the length of chain? Installed new Shimano but when in small front chain ring and small rear chain ring, chain has big sag.
The chain needs to be as long as it needs to be, neither longer nor shorter. I think that there is a formula on the Park Tool site for this, but I usually eyeball it. I can tell you that it is rare for any bike to use the entire length of chain (116 links) in the box.
I have an older road bike ('72 Bottecchia) that I am breathing life back into. It has a very wide range 5-speed freewheel (SUNTOUR PERFECT): 14-32. It is really too wide for my use as a local bike. I want to try an upgrade to a 6-speed freewheel with a narrower cog range as I've heard they fit fine in that frame spacing. The bike has Campagnolo hubs (Gran Tipo, I believe).
An older ('84) Shimano 6-speed hub, 14-26, has been offered to me. Can I assume that since this bike currently has a Suntour-type freewheel that the hub will be compatible with this Shimano freewheel? I've heard things about the various standard sizes of freewheels leading up to the ISO that the Japanese builders worked by.
Thanks for your help!
Mark Evans in Madison, Wisconsin (where we are bike crazy!)
The only issue I've ever seen with freewheel compatibility involves French threaded hubs and corresponding freewheels. All the Japanese stuff from way back should be compatible.
My older 105 wheels need to replaced, so I picked up a set of new wheels and tried to install them on the bike but have run into problems.
After checking with Performance Bicycle about the new wheel being larger (130mm) and being told it should fit my metal frame I picked up a set. They told me I would need a 4.5mm spacer if I want to keep my 7-speed cassette so I bought the spacer as well. When I installed the new wheel I found first I had to notch out the spacer to fit over the nuts that hold the cassette together.
After installing the wheel it did seem to fit in the dropouts without much of a problem except now the chain is rubbing against the inside of the seat stay just above the drop out. Also I can not get the smallest gear to engage with this setup.
Do they make a smaller spacer and would this be the answer or am I missing something else that could be the cause of the rubbing?
Thanks for the help,
Rich Grant in Brewster, NY
If you are using a 130 spaced wheel on a 126 spaced frame, you should have the frame spread and realigned (unless it's not steel, in which case, you're stuck with things as they are). In the process of fitting the wheel to the bike, you should measure the distance from the smallest cog to the locknut on the old wheel, and make sure that the distance is the same on the new wheel. It's likely that fixing the frame will solve the problem, or that you could take the lazy approach and stick a washer on the drive side.
I have a stock, 1997(?) Trek 2100 carbon-fiber, 54cm bike with Shimano RSX system shifters/derailleurs. The bike sat in the shop for two years, maybe more, before I purchased it new. When new, it shifted great. It has had limited (perhaps 400 miles) use.
The rear shifter has become "fussy"--it's difficult to get it to shift to a taller (smaller sprocket) gear. There is no "click." Sometimes, pushing the shifter lever forward while rotating it inward helps, but very little. Lubricating inside the brake handle/shifter lever helps, but only for a short while. I've used WD-40, and I've used silicone spray lubricants. I took it to my bike shop, and the mechanic there did basically the same thing: several good shots of lube to the levers and cabling, and what I thought were a couple of rather aggressive pulls on the cable. It worked well, but only for a couple rides. Got any suggestions?
I'd guess that your shifters are shot. Even sitting around for just two years, these things can deteriorate. They cannot be repaired, and if you have one of the 26-36-46 cranks, front derailleurs and shifters are not available.
I have a new Cannondale Prophet 600 (TruVati Blaze crank, Shimano 9-speed chain, Shimano LX front derailleur). My problem is that when going uphill on the middle chainring, if I am applying significant pressure on the pedals, the bike will not shift reliably onto the small chainring (i.e., the front derailleur is not strong enough to pull the chain off the middle ring).
My bike mechanic tells me that's just the way it is and to be expected (particularly with a full suspension bike), and I should shift before starting up the hill, or back off on the pressure while shifting, etc. Really? Things change while riding; sometimes you are on a hill that becomes steeper, sometimes you can't afford the momentum loss that backing off for half a revolution would entail, etc. I don't notice this problem on my road bike (Ultegra setup), nor do I remember having the problem on my ancient Trek 600 mountainbike. What do you think? Is this simply the way it is and I need to compensate with altered technique?
While it is true that you can't expect full suspension to shift as well as a road bike, things can always be improved. Check your chain line. Does this bike have all Shimano, or does it have some goofy Coda crankset? If you want good shifting, get a Shimano crank and bottom bracket.
Check the frame alignment, especially if this thing has some sort of adjustable geometry. You may find that something as simple as facing the bb shell can improve shifting. Keep in mind that you have to have extra chain for the suspension to work, so small cog/small ring shifting is going to suffer no matter what you do.
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