Well, actually, Jeff did it this summer, but just recently he wrote about his epic 170-mile-a-day PAC Tour ride across the country, and it's such an inspiring read I wanted to spread the word so you can enjoy it, too. Due to extreme heat at the outset that knocked out quite a few riders and even disabled Jeff for a while, this was one of the most difficult PAC Tours ever. Read Jeff's exciting account of how he managed to complete this ultimate test here.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
I have an old Roy Thame frame that I purchased in London. (I think it is actually an old Ciocc frame). I built it in 1981 with a 5 cog freewheel. Recently, I found a new, larger gear range 6 cog freewheel at a bike shop and put it on. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked, except that the old Campy Nuovo Record derailleur is obviously going to have to be replaced. But with what? I am considering a Shimano Deore which by its description says is for a 7 speed. Will this work, or will the derailleur be unable to limit putting the chain into the spokes? What do you recommend?
Enjoyed your site,
Yes, you should be able to install any of Shimano's mountain-bike derailleurs and get your bike to shift just fine, so you could get any one you like. Just be sure to fine-tune the limit screws so that the range of travel is spot-on and you won't have any trouble with it shifting into the spokes.
The difference from one derailleur to the next is mostly a few less grams, a nicer finish and usually aluminum versus steel in certain parts. So, there's no need to spend any more than you want. If you just want the bike to shift again you can go with the least expensive mountain-bike derailleur you can find. If you wants higher quality and lighter weight you can spend more. The shifting will probably be so similar you'll never feel the difference.
Have fun fixing up your bike!
I recently bought a Schwinn from the 1980's. The brake cables were unhooked at the handlebars for shipping. I don't know how to get them reconnected again.
It would help to know what kind of bicycle and brakes we're talking about here, but regardless, you need to create slack in the cable so that you can pull enough inner cable out of the housing to hook the ends of the cables back inside their holders in the brake levers. The holders are usually slotted. So, once you have some slack and have some inner cable protruding from the end of the housing, you can feed that end of the cable into the lever and hook the end into its holder in the lever. On a 10-speed the holders will be inside the brake levers. You will probably be able to look down through the hole on the top and see them. On a 3-speed or mountain bike, the holder will be visible when you squeeze the lever. And, may need to feed the lever through the adjustment barrel, turning it to align the slot first so you can get the cable through.
To create the slack, you can try just squeezing the brake with your hand. If the wheels are in the bike that might not create enough slack. If that's the case remove the wheel and try again. If you squeeze the brake and hold it
with one hand you can fish the cable into the lever with the other. Or, use a strong elastic band to hold the brake together so you can use your other hand to feed the cable into the lever.
You might wonder why you don't just detach the cable at the brake to free the cable completely and not have to deal with the brake spring. The reason is that then you will need to readjust your brake. Also, the less you loosen and tighten the cable anchor bolt the less risk of fraying the cable and stripping the bolt, which tends to be rather delicate.
Hope this helps and if what I described doesn't sound right, it's probably because you're working on a different type of brake. Let me know the details and I'll try again!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I'm setting up my home workshop. What do you recommend for a home repair stand? There are the standard Park tool models, but is there anything else you might suggest as smarter or better?
Thanks very much,
If it's for home use only, Michael, I'd go with one of Park's Pro models like the Deluxe Single Arm Repair Stand http://www.parktool.com/products/detail.asp?cat=23&item=PRS%2D3+OS These are really sturdy, completely rebuildable and will last a lifetime. They have a heavy base, though, so they're not for travel.
If you want to use your stand at home AND travel with it, too, I would recommend the Ultimate Pro Classic Repair Stand http://www.ussbike.com/Pro-Classic-Repair-Stand This is light, super easy to use, great on all surfaces, folds quickly and packs small. It has an awesome clamp, too.
Of course there are many other choices with Performance Bike, Topeak, etc. making stands now, but the two I mentioned have been stalwart stands for years and I can recommend them wholeheartedly. I have not tried the other ones. If you decide to, just be sure they come with money-back guarantees and then you'll be able to exchange them if you don't like them.
Have fun setting up your bicycle workshop!
Really enjoying your site, what a nice piece of work! I found it while looking to answer the question of what I should do about my Schwinn CrissCross, a hybrid I bought 14 year ago. It's been ridden off an on throughout those years, but it's getting pretty worn out. A local shop told me, without inspecting it, that it probably needed all new components. I use it for fitness cycling and I like it pretty well, but it looks like it would be more expensive to replace the components than it would be to buy a brand new bike of the same quality. I'm going to train over the winter and spring to do a weeklong tour of Oklahoma next summer. I'll probably spring for a road/touring bike prior to that anyway. Is my old Schwinn toast, or can it be refreshed reasonably?
Thanks for the kind words about my site, Joe. Glad to hear it's helped you out. It's tough for me to answer your question because age isn't enough to evaluate a bike by. It's mileage, and how a bike has been cared for that tells the tale of what condition it's in and whether or not a new bike is needed. In most cases a bike that age will still be going strong because most people simply don't ride that much. But, if you rode it 5 days a week all-year long and put in say 10 miles a day, it would certainly be getting pretty worn unless you kept after it by replacing the chain, cassette cogs and chainrings as needed, tires, and other small parts, such as brake shoes and cables, etc.
A visual test will tell an experienced person a lot. If the bike is really gunked with grease and the tires are cracked and the cable housings are cracked, too and the cables rusty, that's an indication that the bike is in need of a pretty extensive service and may not be worth spending the money, depending on how you feel about the bike. Another good test would be to put a ruler on the side of the chain and see if you can measure 12 inches between 2 pins. If you get over 12 1/8 inches when you do this it's a sign that the chain is worn out and that usually means the cogs and chainrings might be, too, which means a fairly expensive drivetrain repair to get the bike running and shifting nicely again.
The best way to decide would be to bring it to a good mechanic for a look-see. They don't charge for estimates so that would be a good way to get an educated opinion based on an actual check of the bike rather than just an opinion out of thin air, which is what the first shop told you, it sounds like.
One thing to consider is that bikes have improved in those 14 years. Most significantly the shifting and braking has improved so it's easier than ever. Whether or not you appreciate the changes, and want to spend money to get them on a new bike only you can decide. That's easy and fun to do. You can just visit a bicycle shop and test ride some new bikes to feel how they compare. My experience has been that most people who do this realize that they get a lot more for their money in a new bicycle than what they'd get by spending money to repair the bike they already have -- not everyone, but most. Plus, for a major trip like a tour across Oklahoma, I would think you'd really enjoy being on a nice new bicycle that rides just the way you want.
Hope these tips help and have fun checking out new bikes,
Denim and canvas are old hat when it comes to booting tires to fix glass cuts. Get a hold of a FREE Tyvec envelope at your local US Post Office. The stuff is indestructible, light and can even be cut (got scissors?) into shoelaces for repairing chains, tying racks onto frames when the screws go missing. You can also make emergency shoe laces and lashings, slings, band aids, rain hat, rain cap for your saddle... why, there's no end to the uses for this great stuff!
Thank you for your website, Jim. I have gone to it many times. I have a problem and maybe you could help? I have for myself a re-hab bike. someone had it out by the street and I took it. Seemed to be in okay shape. I lost some parts. This is the bike: TAKARA DELUXE 12. It has a city bike sticker, or bike pass dated 1982.
I lost a nut and bolt for the small ring gear. It's a 12 speed and the large crank gear is 52 tooth and I guess the small crank gear is a 38 tooth. They mount by 5 each nuts and bolts and they are small. That is 5 each and I lost a pair and I have only 9 pairs. Everything bike shops down here have shown me are way too big. The screw size is a M5 X .08 metric (also the nut hole size). It is off the small crank/pedal gear. Can you help?
ANSWER: This should be an easy fix, Dan. Since that bolt is a 5 x 8, any bike shop should have something they can make work because lots of bolts on bikes are that size. For example the standard water bottle bolts are 5 x 8 so maybe one of those with a nut and a washer or 2 will do the trick. It won't be original but it should get you going. Maybe an easier option would be to visit any decent hardware store and simply buy the nut in the metric bolt aisle? This is a common size and should be easy to find and by experimenting with washers and the nut you ought to be able to get thing going again.
Of course, if you check with enough bike shops it's not out of the question that you'd run into a shop with some old inventory and they'd have exactly what you need. It's not like 1982 is all that long ago ;-) A good shop would have a chainring bolt drawer and in that drawer they would have old and new bolts. You just need to find a good shop that's been around awhile. Usually these exist in any larger city so it might mean calling a few in the city near you to find the exact chainring bolt you need.
Hope this helps,
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
On tensioning spokes, Jim, I saw your page on rebuilding a wheel and I have looked at several other sites and it's kinda like, "well it takes lots of experience to know how much to tighten a spoke." I have an old Schwinn tandem I am fixing up for my wife and I to ride. Since it will be double the weight on the same amount of spokes, I know that spoke tension is critical. Isn't there a way to say, "tune each spoke to middle C on the piano." Or whatever pitch you need. Even a tuning fork would help to know how tight to tighten it. When you tighten, is the musical pitch of the spoke the same from wheel to wheel? If so, what is that pitch? It seems to me that would solve a lot of guesswork as to how much to tighten, even if it were a span of 2-3 notes on the piano.
Thanks for the email, Jim. Actually going by the sound the spokes make is a great shortcut when truing wheels and fixing broken spokes and one of my favorite tips. It's in all of my wheelbuilding and truing articles on my site http://www.jimlangley.net/wrench/wheelbuildfull.html, in fact. However, there's a big difference between truing a built wheel and building a wheel from scratch. With the built wheel you have spokes that are at the right tension so you can pluck them and then match the pitch with the new spoke you're installing or the spoke that was loose and needed tightening. Using that technique you can usually get a wheel almost perfectly true without ever using a truing jig. It's usually that accurate.
So, since you're probably working on a built wheel on that Schwinn tandem it should be relatively easy to compare the pitch and make sure that the same-side spokes are at the same pitch. If some sound dead they are likely loose and need some snugging up. Most likely that wheel had heavy gauge spokes, which is what Schwinn typically used on its "family style" tandems (if you're working on one of the 10-speed types, that would have lightweight wheels). Tensioning a wheel like this should be pretty easy because those spokes don't stretch much and don't need to be overly tight to make for a strong wheel. You'll see what I mean when you turn a few nipples to tighten the wheel. It should go pretty easily if it's got heavy gauge spokes.
If you're planning on rebuilding a tandem wheel off a lightweight bicycle it's tougher to find the right tension because you're dealing with a unique mix of components and materials and there's nothing to compare it to unless you can find the exact same combination. And, it has to be the exact same in every respect. If you had a built wheel truly identical to the one you plan to build then you could pluck that finished-wheel's spokes and get a pitch to shoot for in tensioning your newly built wheel.
I like music but the talent in my family went to my brother and sister so I don't know much about musical pitch or notes. So I called a bicycle mechanic friend who knows a lot more about music and even tunes pianos on occasion and has studied it. I asked him if it would be possible to come up with a range of notes to tune spokes to on different types of common wheels. His reply was that it would be impossible to do this with any amount of accuracy due to there being way too many variables. Even small things like how well you seated the nipples in the rim or dirt or oil on the spokes would change the pitch, so he felt there would be no way to know what's right for a given combination of components besides checking a built wheel and even then, one small change could make it irrelevant for the new wheel.
What I recommend on my wheelbuilding articles is to compare your wheel to a similar wheel at a bike shop or on a friend's bike. Squeeze or pluck the spokes and compare. By doing both you should get a feeling for what's tight enough. That's a start. You can also buy spoke tensionometers these days for around $100, not that huge an investment if you plan to build a number of wheels. And, you'll also learn what's right after you've built a few. This usually happens by building them to what you think is tight enough and then finding out when you ride that the spokes aren't tight enough because the wheel goes out of true. You then true the wheel and add another round of tension and try again. If the wheel stays true that's a good sign that the spokes are now tight enough. If not, you'll need to add another layer of tension, and so on. That's exactly how I learned how to properly tension a wheel because back when I was learning there was no such thing as a tensionometer. It was all done by feel.
Sorry I can't give you an easy solution but experience is often the best teacher and in this case it's actually kind of fun learning what tension is correct so it's not all that bad a thing. If you're a musician and want to use a tuning fork or some such device to put a pitch on spoke tension on a variety of modern wheels perhaps you can come up with something that will help future wheelsmiths. It would be an interesting experiment and I'd be happy to share your results to my readers.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Here's another fun photo from the Interbike Bicycle Show. One of the themes this year was cutting-edge singlespeeds and city bikes, and British manufacturer Pashley displayed one of my favorites. Appropriately named the Guvnor and sporting a lovely tuxedo-black paint job (right down to the pinstriped rims), drum brakes front and rear and 29-inch wheels with whitewall tires, this beauty was built to commemorate Pashley's 80 years in business and only 80 will be built. You'll want to place your order soon. Or maybe Pashley's classic roadster 3-speeds are more your cup of tea, or maybe you want their amazing Pashley-Moulton TSR, which fits everyone and packs small for travel, or how about a work bike to make your job easier. Pashley makes these and a lot more cool bicycles, too!
I get a clinking/clunk only when I am applying torque with both feet clipped in. I pedaled up a slight incline with my left foot only clipped in... then my right foot only, and didn't get the sound. I still can't isolate the click. Can you help?
Thanks for the email, AC. It's hard to find clicks and clunks without knowing more about yours or actually riding your bike and hearing it for myself. My best guess from what you wrote is that your bottom bracket might be slightly loose. You'd feel this pedaling with both feet but you probably wouldn't generate enough power with one foot to feel it. But, that's just an educated guess. For more suggestions I have a very extensive article on my website that talks about many common noises, what causes them, how to find them and how to fix them. It even includes many unusual bicycle noises and solutions sent in by readers. I bet if you read this article you'll be able to find a solution to your noise. Here's a link: http://www.jimlangley.net/wrench/keepitquiet.html
Hope this helps solve the problem,
Friday, October 5, 2007
The photo above shows a Ghisallo wood rim in the final processes of construction being drilled with holes for the spoke nipples. Wood rims are hard to come by these days yet still of interest to vintage road bike aficionados looking for super classy tubular wheels. So I was happy to hear from my friend Ric Hjertberg at FSA that he is bringing some to the market again through his new website www.wheelfanatyk.com. On his site he also offers excellent wheelbuilding information, more photos of the Ghisallo rim build and some tempting top-notch wheelbuilding tools for sale, too.
I was happy to find your site. My parents have a woman's Auto-Bike with some sort of sprocket problem. Do you have any ideas as to a possible source for replacement parts? Please email me if so. I appreciate your time.
Although that bike isn't usually sold by regular bicycle shop, a good bicycle shop should be able to diagnose and repair the problem with an Auto-Bike because it's mostly comprised of regular bicycle parts. So, that's where I'd recommend you start. In a worst case, the shop might discover that there's a proprietary part that's damaged and you might have to contact Auto-Bike to get a replacement, however, most times these things can be fine-tuned with basic adjustments that any good shop mechanic can handle.
Hope this helps,
I was thinking about a carbon seatpost for my Colnago Master Lite steel bike. Would it clamp in okay. Would it get scarred bad if I have to adjust it?
If they did a good job prepping that frame the seat tube should be nice and smooth inside. But, even if it is, I would worry about your clamp. The Master probably has a regular binder bolt, and a brazed-on seatpost clamp on the back of the tube. The risk is that when you tighten this it constricts on the carbon post which might drive the edges of the tube into the seatpost and that's going to damage or break a carbon seatpost. Ideally, you'd use a clamp that constricts without creating any pressure points at any spot on the post but that spreads the clamping entirely around the post. Carbon seatpost are super strong but if you put pressure on them in one spot you can break them just like stepping on a piece of bamboo. They just crack.
It'll take a little inspection and analysis to determine if you can go carbon, but my hunch is that it's not a good idea because that frame probably has an old-style binder that essentially puts all the pressure in one spot on the post. Of course, if Colnago modified the frame with a slip-on modern seatpost clamp you'll be fine, but I don't believe that's the case,
Thanks for the email and sorry if this is bad news,
I am very interested in purchasing another one or two ordinaries for my own use, and currently own a Singer British Challenge. Actually, I found your webpage on the one which you own.
My work takes me regularly between the US and Europe. I am looking to find a Rudge of 54-60 inch size. Racing model and Light Roadster types would be great. Also New Rapids of similar sizes are of interest. Do you know of any possible contacts who may wish to sell? I am looking for an original machine and will pay a good price.
Any assistance appreciated.
Thanks for the email, Marc. The best way to find highwheelers is to join The Wheelmen. Once you're a member you can place an ad or get involved and you'll soon be in touch with the people across the US, and rest of the world into these bikes. Also, the magazine they publish has for sale and wanted sections and you can find bikes in there and request them, too.
Here's a link to their website where you can learn more: www.thewheelmen.org
I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for if you do this,
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Hey Jim, I just noticed that my cable guide located beneath the bottom bracket of my road bike is partially broken (rear side). I've ordered a new one, should be here in a day or two. It looks pretty simple to replace, just unscrew and switch them out but on a closer look I noticed that the cables need to be threaded through the cable guide. I was hoping to be able to do this myself, however I'm not sure if I'll need additional parts, etc.
Can you walk me through this as I have never removed the cables myself. Also, would it cause any damage to the bike or potentially myself to ride it with the cable guide partially broken?
First off, the cable guides are almost always made of plastic so it shouldn't do any damage to keep riding on yours until you can replace it. You should look closely to make sure that nothing is wearing on the cable that might cause it to fray, weaken and break over time, but since the guide is plastic, it's probably just fine and you might not even want to worry about replacing it.
If you want or need to replace it, depending on which type you have, you should be able to install it without doing anything with your cables. This would be the case if the guide is 100% plastic. On this type you should be able to modify the guide so that the cables fit in and out of the grooves without cable removal. To do this you just put a thin slot in them with a sharp knife (be careful), a hacksaw or a thin file. If you add a slot like this, you'll be able to install the guide and then slip your cables through the slots and they'll snap back in place.
Since the cables are always pulled up tight during shifting there's little risk that they will ever get out of the guide slots so this should work fine. Of course to remove the old guide you'll want to add slots, too. That'll give you a chance to practice your slotting technique.
Most cable guides on my bikes are designed so you don't need to remove the cables to install them. So by modifying yours like this you'll actually be upgrading your bike. It's never a good idea to remove cables unless you really need to.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Can you tell me if there is anything that can be done to make pedaling easier? I've just started riding and I ride a hybrid bike, not a fast rider or too long of rides but I heard that if you spend more on the main gears it makes pedaling easier. Would you please tell me your thoughts on this, and are all gears the same size?
Some things to check include the tire pressure, the chain and the wheels. Bicycle tires lose air over time. If a bike sits for even a couple of weeks, the tires seep air -- and soft tires make it much, much harder to ride any bicycle. To fix this you simply need to check your tires before every ride and inflate them to the recommended pressure. This is usually printed on the sides of the tires. Typically, hybrid tires take about 60psi. You could also ride by any bike shop and ask them to top the tires off for you, which they'll usually be happy to do for free.
Next, you should check the chain to make sure it's lubricated. If it's dry and squeaking it will make it much harder to pedal the bike. To fix this, just get some bicycle chain lube at a bicycle store and apply it. Apply one drop to each link, wait a few hours, pedal backwards slowly to let the lube get into the links and then wipe off the excess.
You should also lift the bike by the handlebars and spin the front wheel, then lift by the seat and spin the rear, to make sure that the wheels are spinning freely. If not, you'll want to figure out what's causing the friction. The wheels need to spin freely for easy pedaling. Here, too, a bike shop could take a look and advise you if needed.
If all these things are fine and you're still having trouble pedaling the bike then it might be because you are riding in too hard a gear. It should help to think of yourself as the bike's engine. When riding your goal is to always ride in a gear that's easy for you to pedal whether you're on the flat, on a steep climb or zooming downhill. You do this by constantly shifting gears. Obviously if it's a flat, easy road, you don't need to shift gears much, but if you're on a rolling road or fighting a headwind, you will shift every time your legs get tired. That's the beauty of a multi-speed bike. It lets you fine-tune the pedaling simply by shifting until you're in a gear that feels just right for where you're riding.
Most hybrid bikes these days have 3 sprockets on the front and 7 or 8 on the back meaning they have 21 or 24 gears. The easiest way to ride/shift these bikes is to think of the front sprockets as where you choose your "easy" (when the chain is on the small sprocket), "medium" (when the chain is on the middle sprocket) and "hard" (when the chain is on the largest sprocket) ranges of gears. You choose one of these based on where you're riding and leave it there most of the time, for example in hilly terrain you'd leave it on the easy (smallest) sprocket.
Then you would do most of your shifting with your right lever, which shifts between the 7 or 8 gears in the back. By shifting onto larger cogs in the back you make it easier to pedal and vise versa. If the terrain changes, you could shift the left lever to move the chain onto the "medium" (middle)sprocket to go into a medium range of 7 or 8 gears.
In this fashion you can always put yourself in a nice gear that's easy to ride no matter whether the road tilts up or down or is completely flat.
Hope something here helps you enjoy your bike,
I have an old cycle with a Brooks leather saddle marked 890/3 (or B90/3). Does this code indicate its year of manufacture?
That number is probably the model number of the saddle, which is what Brooks saddles are typically marked with, not the year of manufacture. But, from that model number and from the construction and appearance of the saddle you might be able to figure out what year it was made. You should be able to research this on the Brooks website http://www.brookssaddles.com/ or the Wallingford Bicycle Parts website (also Brooks specialists) http://www.wallbike.com/. If you can't find an answer online, you might try emailing them a photo of your saddle. As a Brooks owner you might enjoy this Brooks ad on my website, too: http://www.jimlangley.net/brake/brooks.html.
I spent last week at the Interbike Bicycle Show in Las Vegas. Here's a pic of one of my favorite booths, Cervelo's. For more photos from the show and to read about some of the interesting products I spotted visit this link.