Friday, April 11, 2008

Q&A: Mixing SRAM/Campy; bike for big man; vintage wrenches; QR to bolt-on axles

Q: Hi Jim,
Always good to read your opinion where I can. It sure helps. I'd like a short answer from you. I run Campy Chorus bikes. I'd like to buy the SRAM Force gruppo but would like to be able to ride my Campy wheels without having to change cassettes and hub body. Do you think it will be fine? Where could I find info about SRAM/Campy compatibility?

Thank you,

A: I have not had the opportunity to extensively ride or test the SRAM components so I did a little research and discovered that my friend Lennard Zinn, tech writer at VeloNews magazine has - and has written about compatibility issues. Unfortunately, he says that SRAM works fine shifting Shimano and SRAM cassettes but that Campagnolo cassettes (10-speed) have different spacing and won't shift correctly. You can read his explanation here:

Hope this helps,

Q: Next week is my boyfriend's birthday and I wanted to buy him a bicycle. I was hoping to stay in the price range of $250-$300. The bike would be used for pleasure, leisure, and extra activity. We would not be racing or doing any serious competing. We live in Philadelphia so there are some bike trails near us that we could ride on. I talked to some people and they said to look
into last year's models. My boyfriend is also close to 300 pounds - and I was wondering if I should take that into consideration when finding a bike. If you could give me some suggests/model/brands of bikes you think would be good I would greatly appreciate it - thanks!


A: What a nice birthday present, Colleen! I would recommend checking out the Trek 820, which sells for $290 (sug retail) and should be available at just about any bike shop that sells Trek bikes. It will come fully assembled and with a full guarantee and the shop will be happy to adjust the seat and bars to him and answer any questions he has. They'll also give the bike a free tune up after he breaks it in with a month or so of rides.

The 820 is a basic mountain bike. It's good for a big rider because it has a
strong frame and wheels, a nice upright riding position so he'll be comfortable and it has low gears for easier pedaling and for riding up hills. It also has quality brakes and a suspension fork for some more comfort.

He'll need to try the seat to make sure it fits right and is comfortable but that's the case on any new bike. If he doesn't like the way it feels after a few rides he should ask the shop to try another and he should be able to find one he likes after trying a few.

Here's a link to the bike online so you can check it out. It comes in 2 colors and you can click the colors to see the different one:

I hope this helps and that you have a nice birthday party and he loves the bike,

Q: Hi Jim, I don't have a question on repairs, but i do have a question about cone wrenches. I have 3 wrenches made by Park Tool which are in sizes 11/16 ,7/8 ,and 1/2 inches. They are the old style. About 8 inches long with the old Park Tool logo. What I was wondering is how many sizes were there and in what years were they made? I do own 13-20, 22mm in the new and old style. Thank you for your time,


A: Ah, a Park Tool trivia question......

We've made several different versions of cone wrench over the years including a complete set of fractional wrenches. A complete set would have included 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, 3/4 and 7/8". The photo shows wrenches from two different times. The circular logo would be from the 70's or early 80's and the sprocket logo could go as far back as '85. We discontinued fractional wrenches in about 1990 as there was no use for them. The first cone wrenches we made were for Schwinn starting in the late 60's early 70's. They had red handles.

I hope this helps,
Eric Hawkins
Park Tool Company

Q: Hi Jim,
I bought a used one-speed freewheel bike a few years ago and it came with quick release axles on both the front and back. I know a little bit about hubs, like how to adjust them. But I have one question. I would like to change from my quick releases to bolt-on wheels. Do I need to buy only a new axle with cones and bolts, or do I have to change my hub completely? I keep hearing about solid hubs vs. quick-release hubs, but I can't find any info.


A: Hi Katie,
It depends on what hubs you have but in most cases you can simply remove your axle set (the quick release axle, cones, spacers, lockrings) and replace it with a bolt-on axle set (you can use your old bearing again unless they're old, in which case you should go ahead and put in new ones). Good shops should carry the bolt-on axle sets and if you're lucky you'll find ones that will work on your front and rear hubs. You may find that the dustcaps, which are original to the hubs may not be completely compatible with the new bolt-on axle set's cones. If that's the case you can usually
easily "shrink" the cones by grinding or filing them or enlarge the holes in the dustcaps with some emery cloth or sandpaper.

What you might do is head down to the bike shop with your wheels, having already removed the QR axles. Then, you can take their bolt-on axle sets and test fit them into your hubs to see if they will work. If you're lucky they'll go right in. Be sure to get chromoly bolt-on axles, not cheap carbon steel, because carbon steel is more likely to bend with a lot of use. Chromoly axles should hold up to almost anything.

Happy hub overhauling!

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