Friday, March 28, 2008

Q&A: Merckx tubing, Motobecane badge, Pedals times 2, Seatpost racks

Q: I've just bought a second-hand Reynolds 653 road frame. I've spent about an hour a day on the internet researching this tubeset but the most I can discover is that the rear triangle uses 753 tubing. Nowhere can I discover what the other tubes were - 631, 531, whatever. And what about the forks? Reynolds no longer publish any info about this tubeset. Can you tell me anything more about or direct me to a resource on it?


A: What year is the frame? Maybe if I knew the year I could find some mention in magazine back issues. I vaguely remember 653 but not enough to tell you anything about it so I'll need to research it. Having a year would shrink the haystack,


Tom's reply: Thanks Jim. Reynolds have sent me a helpful reply so don't spend any more time on this one on my account. I'll tell you what they said as it's interesting and other folk might appreciate it too. In essence, 653 was invented following feedback from Eddy Merckx that a pure 753 frame was too harsh for certain stages. So Reynolds produced a 653 tubeset which combined 753 stays with 531 main tubes and forks. Not any old 531 though, but an even thinner gauge than usual - just for use in the 653 set. Eddy and other riders were very pleased with the result, which combined an light, ultra-stiff and efficient transmission with a more forgiving and comfy ride. Nowadays when folks are after a similar ride builders use 725 stays and usually 631 for all other tubes. I heard it from the horse's mouth.

Thanks again for your prompt attention previously.

Thanks for sharing Tom!

Q: I've been searching and searching for a vintage Motobecane head badge, but to no avail. Could you help me find one?


A: It'll take a little patience but if you check every day for a while, or once a week, you should be able to find one. I've seen lots of them on there over the years and they're not that rare. Of course, it depends on which one you need, too. They made a few different designs over the years. I would search on the words/phrases "head badge" "head badges" "Motobecane" and "Motobecane badge"

Another option would be to search on "Motobecane" and see if you can find a frame or bike with the badge you need on it. If it's selling for an affordable price you could buy the whole thing, remove the badge for your bike and then sell the frame or bicycle back on eBay to get your money back.

If you live in a big city you might be able to find one at local bike shops that have been around since the 1970s, too. A lot of shops have a little drawer where they save head badges for use on repair bikes or repaints in the future. But, it will need to be a shop that's been around for a while. Newer shops probably won't have any badges, though it never hurts to ask at every shop you visit or call. By the way, here is a picture of one style of Motobecane head badge from my collection:

I hope this helps you find one,

Q: Hello,
I recently purchased an old Nishiki Riviera GT. I wanted to change the pedals so I purchased some. Now that look at the bike there is an Allen wrench hole on the back side of the pedal hole on the crank. Does an Allen key have to be used as well as an adjustable to get them off. Are they both reverse threaded? It's a classic bike and I do not want to mess it up.

Thanks for any help,

A: Hi Jeff,
Your Nishiki has standard pedals, meaning that you turn the right one to the left to loosen it and you turn the left one to the right to loosen it, too. That's because left pedals are always reverse threaded (rights are regular threaded) so the lefts don't loosen when you're riding (an invention by the Wright brothers).

The Allen holes can be used to remove the pedals and there are probably wrench flats on the inside of the pedal axles (right next to the crankarms) for removing them with a pedal wrench. Be sure to shift onto the large chainring before removing the pedals as this will provide some measure of protection should you slip and hit it with your hand or arm. And, be sure to align the wrench with the crankarm so you have good leverage. Using the wrench will be easier than using an Allen wrench. For more extensive tips on pedals please visit this page on my website:

Have fun working on your bike!

Q: Hi Jim and greetings from TAZ!
I have a set of FSA K-Force cranks that the drive side pedal insert has worked loose in. It's not repairable is it?

Like your work!

A: Sorry to hear about that, Nige. I'd bring it in to your local bike shop and ask them to check it for warranty repair or replacement. I would think FSA would cover that assuming it wasn't caused by a crash or abuse. It should not be able to loosen or fail just from riding or working on your bike. I believe that insert is screwed and glued in there and designed to be permanently fixed in place. FSA components carry a 2-year guarantee from date of purchase and I bet they'd take care of it for you if you contacted a dealer or FSA. Here's a link to that page on their site:

Of course, if it's so loose that you can see inside and determine what's
wrong you might be able to fix it, but only if it's something simple. For example if it only loosened (and all the threads are still perfect, maybe you could remove the insert, apply a good 2-part epoxy and screw it back into place. But, you put so much pressure on pedals and you crash so hard if they fail that I wouldn't chance it. I'd see if FSA will take care of it for you.

Good luck!

Q: Hello Jim,
I subscribed to your mailing list about six months ago and enjoyed every one of your emails. I even blogged about your website - it is truly an extensive resource of information for bikers everywhere. I have a quick question. I recently purchased a pannier seatpost rack for my mountain bike. I use the bike regularly to go to school and hoping to go on at least a short bike backpacking trip this season. During weekends, I go mountain biking in nearby trails. I was wondering if it is safe to have the seatpost rack installed when I go for mountain biking?

Thank you,

A: Thanks for the kind words about my site and blog, Vamsi. I appreciate it very much. Seatpost racks usually have a load limit (if it's not written on the rack check the company's website) and as long as you don't exceed the load limit they should withstand any riding you want to do. Of course they should be nice and tight so they can't move around and get in the way or scratch the seatpost, which could cause the seatpost to fail if the scratch was deep enough. But, these things shouldn't be a problem if the rack is installed right and you're not overloading it with too much weight. If it's an extremely technical or bumpy trail you might go with half the maximum weight to provide additional safety because the bumps will cause more jarring and stress on the seatpost. And, you didn't mention what type of bicycle or seatpost you have but ideally you'll have a good quality seatpost that can handle a little more weight. Any brand name bicycle should be equipped with a nice aluminum seatpost that will work fine.

If you're using panniers with your rack they need to be high enough or secured well enough so they can't swing into the wheel or spokes, too, as that can be an issue on rough trails and even rough roads. Usually there are straps or cords or supports on the rack to prevent this but it's worth checking. If the bags swung into the tire they could jam and stop the wheel and cause a crash and you wouldn't want that.

I hope these tips help and you have a nice trip!

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