Friday, August 21, 2009

Q&A: Colnago Book, Car Racks, New Old Brake Hoods

Q: Dear Jim,
I've been given your name from our local bookshop when I went enquiring about Colnago books. Our son David is a dedicated cyclist and a collector and restorer of Colnago bicycles. I would dearly love to get for him some catalogues from the 80's showing these frames. He is so good to me that I thought I would surprise him if I possibly can. Am I in the right direction sending you this message? If you have time, I would love to hear from you, (I'm not even sure where you are!)

Kind regards,
Pauline - Melbourne Australia

A: Nice to hear from you, Pauline. I'm actually in California so a long ways from you. Before I get into how to find Colnago books here's a link to an excellent Colnago page showing a selection of beautiful Colnagos. I'm sure David will like it.

For finding Colnago books and catalogs, I recommend searching on Just search on the words "Colnago book" or "Colnago catalog" I tried that recently and found 3 catalogs and a book listed here on USA ebay. You might find more on your local ebay. FYI: The photo here is of a promotional not-for-sale book from my library that Colnago published in 1986 - but there have been other books and catalogs and you'll surely find some if you hunt a bit.

You could also check your telephone directory for bicycle shops and call a few and ask them if they ever sold Colnagos. It's a possibility. If they didn't they might be kind enough to tell you a local shop that did and you could contact them and inquire whether they have any books, catalogs or posters they'd sell (some shops might even give some things away if they got them free as promotional materials).

Lastly, you could also contact Colnago, the company in Italy and ask them. That might sound crazy, but they're just a bike company, Italians are very friendly, and you might get somewhere for the cost of a long distance phone call. Here's a link to their site where you will find contact information.

Checking their site, I see that the Colnago distributor for Australia is in Sydney. You might also contact them. Here's the contact info:
3/595-615 PRINCES HWY, NSW 2044
Phone: 0061-2-95599011
Fax: 0061-2-95599088

Hope this helps you find an awesome Colnago gift for David!

Q: I am moving cross country and need to buy some type of bike rack for my car. I have a 2006 Toyota Rav 4. I have no idea which one to get. I've also been looking on, but just don't know. I want an affordable option and something that will be dependable with my new bike. Any thoughts?

Thank you!

A: Hi Kelly,
The tricky thing is that I think your car has a spare tire mounted to the back (I'm a bicycle expert, not a car expert ;-). If I'm right on that, I would recommend looking up the bike shops in your area in the phone book and asking them what rack they have that will fit your car. Or, you could visit the rack websites like or or and look for the link to the configurators or fit charts. For example, Thule's is called "Rack My Car" and is at the top of this page. The Saris rack finder is on this page (on the left). You just select your car, year, model and make, tell how you'll use the rack, and the online tool tells you which racks fit. You can also find a dealer in your area on the rack sites.

It should be pretty straightforward. Once you know which rack fits your car, you will be able to search for it on

I like simple racks that you can put on and take off and that fold up easily for storage. There might be one that attaches to your spare tire. Or maybe you have a hitch (receiver) under that car and if so, you can get a hitch rack. Those go on really fast and are super easy to use, so that would be a good way to go for easy on/off and easy bike mounting. The ones that hang on the back usually use straps and they take a little adjusting the first time you put them on, but after that it's almost as easy to put them on the car as it is a hitch rack, and strap racks are cheaper too.

I hope these tips help you find the perfect rack.

Q: Dear Jim,
I'll be putting Cane Creek replacement hoods on original non-aero Dia-Compe brakes/Schwinn Super Le Tour 12.2. Since the cables have to be fed through holes in the hoods, I would appreciate a recommended procedure for releasing the cables from the levers, or lever removal, pins, complete brake hood from bar, etc., and reassembly tips.

Thanks much if you can find time to respond before I attack this project in a clumsy manner and ruin something on my 32-year-old otherwise mint bike. The old gum rubber hoods have been removed and all metal parts are nice and clean already.
Hugh from Arizona

A: Hi Hugh,
You don't have to take anything apart. Just put those new hoods in a little cup of warm to hot water and let them "cook" a bit. They'll then slip right over the brake levers from the bottom nice and easy. Just slide them on gently. They're stretchy enough to do it dry, but the little bath will make them even more supple and slippery. An even faster method is to just breathe in them a few times. This slightly wets the insides and makes them slip over the levers. But, if you use the hot water, they'll be even less likely to rip even if you're a bit "clumsy." You could also use a harmless lube like isopropyl alcohol, which will make them slippery too. You'll just need to wait for it to dry for the levers to stick fast again.

In case you don't know how to detach the cables at the levers here's how: It's really easy. No wrenches or adjustments needed at all. Just remove the wheels and then squeeze the brake calipers fully closed (both brake pads should be touching). Then using something like a toe strap or a zip tie, "tie" the brakes so they stay like this.
This will create slack in the cable and all you have to do is push toward the levers with the cable and jiggle the lever a little bit to get the head of the cable to pop free of its holder inside the lever. There's a slot in the cable head holder for this purpose. Once you get it free the cable will lift right out of the lever. You can then slip on your rubber hoods and reverse the process with the brake cables to hook them back up.
With this approach no brake adjustment is needed at all. It should only take about 15 minutes to do the whole thing. Those old brakes were really nice to work on
Have fun getting that classic back on the road,