Friday, October 31, 2008

Great Free Mag #2: Momentum!

I recently told you about the cool new free online cycling 'zine Urban Velo. It turns out that there's another fine free online bicycle mag you need to check out - Momentum, The magazine for self-propelled people published in Vancouver. I'm having a wonderful time clicking around and reading all the encouraging stories of how inspirational people are using cycling to change our world. Even Lance Armstrong, who just opened an Austin, Texas bicycle shop called Mellow Johnny's, which caters to all pedalers to grow cycling in the community. You can read feature stories like these on the site or open any entire issue from their archives for free (or subscribe if you like). And each magazine, and every section of the site is packed with fun stuff, like Omar Bhimji's Internally-Geared Hubs for the technically minded, their Reported Elsewhere section that carries the latest two-wheel news from all over, or Issue 35, which is perfect for the What Not to Wear set; or maybe their fashion show video would be perfect. Wherever you end up, I think you'll enjoy yourself and appreciate all Momentum is doing to provide some additional momentum to bicycles and cycling. Great stuff.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NEWSWIRE: SF Bike Expo & Swap

If you're in the Bay Area and have a garage-full of old bike stuff you'd like to turn into cash - or an empty one you want to fill with new two-wheeled toys, you might want to take part in the San Francisco Bike Expo and Swap, Sat and Sun, November 29 and 30 at the Cow Palace in SF. They're offering a Swappers' Corner for those who want to bring one bike and a bag of parts to sell and the cost is only $20 for one day or $30 for both. Or, individuals with lots to sell can get a 10 x 10 booth for both days for $130. Of course, you can also just walk the expo looking for deals and great stuff. General admission for that is $10 per day and it includes a free raffle ticket. Besides bikie's booths, there'll be bike shop and industry booths, too, so it should be a fun time for all. For more information visit the rideSFO blog

Friday, October 24, 2008

Head badges continued

Some of you know that I collect bicycle head badges, the small maker's emblems that used to be attached to the head tubes of just about every bicycle. This short YouTube video I made shows some fun ones you might like to see. I now have about 600 different badges in my collection and a lot of them are shown on my site. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. I met a collector in Chicago who has over 2,000!

Great bicycle collectible head badges

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Q&A: Carbon Bike Shifting Issues

Q: Hello Jim - I recently upgraded from my old faithful steel road bike to a modern full-carbon one. I love the light weight, the ride, the performance and the beautiful sculpted frame. But, no matter what I try, I can't get the drivetrain and shifting to work as well as my old bike. I've tried all the adjustments and even had my bike shop work on the bike. It's not that it's awful. It does hit all the gears, but it's noisy no matter how I set the adjustment barrel. And, I think it shifts a little slower, too. I'd really like the drivetrain and shifting to be as flawless as the rest of the bike. Can you help?

Wheels Manufacturing derailleur hangers
A: I think so, Matt. The issue is most likely the replaceable derailleur hanger on the back of the frame. Most modern carbon wonder bikes are made in China and for some reason they tend to use flimsy aluminum rear derailleur hangers. Since the hanger is what joins the derailleur to the frame and holds it aligned, you can see how one that flexed or was easily bent, could become the Achilles heel of a drivetrain and cause noise and balky shifting. What I recommend is replacing it with one made by the company Wheels Manufacturing. As shown above, they stock an excellent selection for just about any frame out there and they're not overly expensive. Wheels Mfg doesn't sell directly to consumers, however, so you need to order your dropout from your local bicycle shop or online from I made this upgrade to my Cervelo and am glad I did.

Good rides,

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Great Free Mag: Urban Velo!

While at the Interbike Bike Show a few weeks back I ran into Brad and Jeff from the cool magazine Urban Velo that covers all things city cycling - and is sure to get even more people pedaling around instead of driving. Their site, blog and magazine (published 6 times a year) are packed with helpful information, cycling culture, news, videos, product reviews, maintenance and repair tips, riding techniques, and more. And, what's great is that you can download the entire magazine completely free. Check Urban Velo out when you get a chance. I think you'll like it a lot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Q&A: Brake pads and rim wear

Q: Hi Jim,
You recommend keeping the rims and brake pads clean for the best braking and to limit rim wear. But, how does aluminum from the rims accumulate on the brake pads if the aluminum is the harder of the two surfaces? The reason I ask is because for the second time now (four or five days apart) I started to hear and feel the sick metal-on-metal grinding from my front pads. The first time I heard and felt it, I ran a piece of sandpaper lightly over the pads and the noise went away, problem solved, I'm a genius - not! Now a few days later, the same sick grinding sound comes when I apply my front brakes.

I took my wheel off and can clearly see a piece of embedded aluminum on the face of the brake pad with a very light corresponding wear ring on the rim itself. So again I ask, where is the aluminum coming from? Especially since I don't use my front brake nearly as much as my back and I've not had this problem on the rear rim or brake. And, is this a continuous problem that I need to be fearful of destroying my rim and brake pads? Is there a ultimate solution to this annoying problem?

Thanks for your time,

A: Hi Gary,
I believe that there are 2 factors. 1. Some brake pads are way too hard and as they age they get harder and I think these can wear the rim over time and remove some aluminum. Keep in mind that even a soft material can wear a harder one if it contacts it enough, like water on stone for example. But, I think softer pads that wear out faster are preferable to harder ones. The other issue and probably the more important one is that the wheel picks up dirt and sometimes bits of gravel and that gets into the brake pads, too. Then, the surface of the pads becomes a bit like sandpaper and they begin to sand away the rims removing aluminum and embedding it into the pads, too.

These issues definitely lead to rim wear and left unchecked you will wear out your rims if you ride enough. I've done this and seen it many times on road and mountain bikes. To prevent it I use softer brake blocks and check them and dig out bits of debris and aluminum whenever I am doing routine maintenance. Something else you can do is rebuild your wheels with ceramic rims. These are very expensive and don't come in all sizes but they have a very tough braking surface that holds up much better to the brake pads. Of course, an altogether different approach for people with compatible bikes would be to install disc brakes and stop braking via the rims. But, you need the right frame and fork for this.

The best bet for most people is to keep a careful eye on the brake pads and rims, checking them about every time you lube your chain (weekly for frequent riders). Keep the rims clean (alcohol works great for removing rubber deposits and general grime) and keep the pads free of grit and aluminum (pick it out with an awl or sharp blade) and you'll get the most life out your rims possible. And, as I said, in my experience, softer pads wear rims less than harder ones. Your bike shop should be able to offer different pads and explain which are softest, or you could sample them. They shouldn't be overly expensive. I've found that with the right brake pads I have a lot less problems with grit and aluminum getting in the pads and rim wear, too. FYI: My road bike sees the most miles and it has Shimano Dura-Ace brakes on it from about year 2000. The brake pads I'm using are Kool Stop "Dura-Type" #KS-DURAB. They make pads for most brakes

I hope this helps,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Interbike 2008 bicycle show outtakes

So you can enjoy some of the fun, here's a short video sneak peak from the industry-only 2008 Interbike Outdoor Demo and Bike Expo held in Las Vegas Sept 22-26.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Finley #2

John Finley Scott part 2... FYI: These videos were done by writer/producer/director Billy Savage, who also made the much-hailed full-length feature mountain bike history film KLUNKERZ, which is available at

Finley #1

The late John Finley Scott was just inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame for helping to invent the mountain bike - way back in 1953! Here are a couple of fun YouTube video interviews with him.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PRODUCT REVIEW: CarboCut Carbon Saw

Effetto Mariposa's CarboCut carbon hacksaw
If you do much work on carbon-fiber bicycles, such as sizing forks, seatposts or the new integrated seat masts, Effetto Mariposa's CarboCut carbon hacksaw ($74.95) makes cutting these carbon components much easier. The secret is the blade, which has a grit edge of tungsten carbide. Unlike a regular metal, toothed hacksaw blade, the CarboCut's saws in both directions with a grinding action leaving a smooth edge and never "fraying" (debonding) the carbon fibers. It helps that the blade is held by a stout metal saw frame, too. In use, the CarboCut works as promised. It cuts straight and true, is easy to control and it leaves a super-clean cut. Because the blade is thicker than metal ones, you may need to run the CarboCut through certain fork/seatpost sawing jigs first to widen the slot. But, the tungsten carbide blade cuts even hardened steel, titanium and even ceramics and masonry, so it'll size the jig's slot, too. The CarboCut accepts 10-inch blades (most regular hacksaws use 12-inch). This means it's easier to use and that it also fits nicely in bicycle toolboxes.