Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Q&As: Bianchi, flats fear, Shimano groups

Q: I recently purchased an older Bianchi lugged steel frame. It has no
markings of model, just the Bianchi logo. It is Celeste green with Columbus
CroMor tubing and I am wondering if you know much about Bianchi models or
know someone who does. I am trying to find out what model this bike is.


A: Hi Roy,
If you have the whole bike you could go by the components on it but if you
only have the frame it may be tougher to figure out what it is. I am not an
expert on Bianchis though I do know something of their history and even
visited their factory in Italy once, which was absolutely fantastic. But,
they make so many bikes here and in Europe that it would be very hard to
remember every model. One thing that might work is searching eBay for
Bianchis for a while and seeing if any are for sale that resemble yours. If
so, there'll be a description and perhaps you'll see your bike and learn all
about it.

If it's a recent model another approach would be to check your Yellow Pages
for the closest big-city Bianchi bicycle shop, one that's been in business
for awhile and give them a call to see if you can talk to the resident
Bianchi expert. He might be able to ID your bike based on his experience
selling the bikes over the years.

Or, you might even try contacting Bianchi direct and see if you could email
them a digital photo for them to take a look and tell you what you've got.
You might even get them to send you a catalog from when your bike was made
(a long shot but you never know), which would be a nice way to find out
everything about it. Come to think of it, if you search on ebay you just
might find someone selling recent Bianchi catalogs.

Bianchi's USA contact info is:
21325A Cabot Boulevard
Hayward, CA 94545

I hope this helps you find out exactly what Bianchi you've got,

Q: Hi Jim,
Thanks for your site, it's awesome. I have had at least 5 different tubes go
flat on me and I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. All but one of them
have had pin prick sized holes near the valve. The other had a pin prick
sized hole along the seam away from the valve. I've tried two different
makes of tube with the same results, so I don't think it's a manufacturer's
defect. It seems to happen to the rear wheel as much as the front wheel.
There don't seem to be any issues with the tires or rims (no sharp objects,
etc.). Some more details: I've got a singlespeed freewheel road bike with
pretty thin tires. I am using the correct size tube (700x23C). I am keeping
them inflated to the pressure on the side of the tires (120 PSI) and usually
add air about every other ride. I use an air compressor with a pressure
gauge to add air. Is this simply a sad fact I have to deal with because
there are lots of potholes in the roads or is there something I am doing
wrong or could be doing differently?

Thanks for your help and keep up the great website!

A: Thanks for the email and kind words about my site, Laura. Flat tires can
definitely be frustrating, especially when you have a run of bad luck like
it sounds like you're having, but you want to keep in mind that there are no
mysteries or paranormal activity involved ;-) It's just a flat tire, which
always means something popped the tube causing the flat or you have a leaky
valve, etc.

What I would do is make sure that all systems are good to go. I would
carefully check the tires to make sure there is no glass or wire or gravel
or thorns or debris, etc. embedded in the tread. If there is it will poke
into the tube when you're riding and cause flats. The best way to check is
to ball up a rag, stuff it inside the tire and then run it around the inside
of the tire in both directions very carefully. If something sharp is in the
tire it should snag on the rag and you'll feel it. I would also very closely
inspect the tread of the tires to look for holes that indicate a piece of
glass or wire or a thorn has gotten in there and then I would take a pick or
an awl or a knife and carefully dig into the hole and see if I could pick
anything out that's stuck in there. I'd also look on the inside of the tire
at each hole to make sure the thing didn't poke through, a sure sign that it
might poke and pop the tube.

If you have cut, bald, worn-out or old tires, I would replace them and start
with new, quality tires. I don't know what type of bike you ride but I
recommend good brand name tires. On my road bike, which takes 700 x 25c
tires, I run Continental Grand Prix 4000 tires. These are expensive, about
$50 each, but they are super flat resistant and I weigh 175 pounds and ride
on terrible glass-strewn roads so I really need that. But, Continental,
Michelin, Specialized, etc, all make great tires and the prices vary
depending on which level you buy. Most bike shops will have an opinion on
what works really well in their area based on what their customers tell them
and what they've found riding them.

I would also very carefully check the inside of the rim. First take off the
rim strip so you can feel around in there for any sharp edges. The fact that
you got tube cuts near the valve might indicate that there's a burr on the
aluminum where they formed the valve hole in the rim. If so, smooth it out
with a file or a little sandpaper so it can't do that any more. Also you can
run the rag around the rim trying to find other sharp edges that you can
sand smooth. When you put the rim strip back in be sure that it covers all
the spoke nipple holes and can't move when you install the tire and tube.

It is possible to get defective tubes, but usually only once in a great
while. A defective tube would fail right at the seam or where the valve is
attached usually. If that happens you can always return to the shop and ask
for a replacement and they should provide one if they agree that the seam
was weak and failed, but if they see signs of a poke-type hole they won't be
able to replace it under warranty because the company won't take the tube
back. In my experience most tubes will work fine - even inexpensive ones.
It's rare to get a defect, but if you use patched tubes you can sometimes
end up running a tube that seems okay but actually has a slow leak because
the patch wasn't put on well or maybe there was another hole that the
patchee didn't find.

Something else I recommend is riding with less air pressure in your tires.
As I mentioned I'm 175 pounds and I ride and race and I never run more than
100 psi in my tires. This provides a better ride because it's not so harsh
and it's also a faster ride because you don't bounce so much as you roll
down the road, the softer tires conforming to the road better.

Since you've had so much trouble with your current tubes and tires, what you
might do is start fresh with 2 new tires and tubes. Just be certain that
there are no rim or rim strip issues first. I'm sure the bike shop would be
happy to give you a second opinion if you are buying tires and tubes from

I hope this helps end your flat tire problems and let me know if you have
other questions,

Q: Where can I find a list of Shimano derailleurs in order from most
expensive to cheapest?


A: Here you go, Floyd - and keep in mind that Shimano makes some inexpensive
repair derailleurs, too, you might find out there. In general the more you
spend the lighter you get. In most cases the shifting doesn't change much
from cheapest to most expensive, it's more about weight and appearance.

Ultegra SL



divyang pandya said...

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good one


divyang pandya said...

This is the best blog for bicycle

good blog

Tire tube valves