Sunday, July 18, 2010

Q&A: Loose Water-Bottle Insert, Seat For 300-Pounder, New Yorker Bicycle Covers

Hope you're enjoying some wonderful summer cycling. Here are a few recent conversations of interest.

Q: Greetings Jim,
I’ve got this problem with a water bottle cage screw that won’t unscrew itself, because the insert that goes in my Giant aluminum frame wall (the down tube to be exact) has come loose so both the screw and the insert are turning. I tried in vain with a long-nose pliers to hold the insert's ridge or ring preventing it turning, and with an Allen wrench to unscrew the screw, but the insert ridge is so thin that the long nose pliers keep slipping.

I just can’t get a good grip on it. So I’m thinking of sawing off the head of the screw, and by applying maximum pressure downwards with a screwdriver or a pointier tool on the ridge of the insert holding it down, I’ll be able to unscrew the screw. What do you think?

Thanks in advance,

A: Hi Simon,
What I would try is wedging something between the rivnut (the insert) and the frame to jam the insert in place. Most of them are just rivets, so to tighten them, you squeeze them tight against the frame again. Since you can’t do that until the cage is removed, you can try putting a shim in there, which is essentially the same thing as tightening the insert.

Maybe make a little wedge-shaped shim and slide it under. Maybe make it with a V notch so as you tap it, it goes under both sides of the insert. If you can tap a shim like this under the insert, that should help hold it, but in order to get the screw out, you’ll need to hold it with a ViseGrip or some tool like that (locking pliers) so that you can pull up as you turn the screw (angling it sideways can help, too).

Another idea is to try heating the screw first and letting it cool. If you could get some heat to travel down the screw and perhaps expand the screw, when it cools, it won’t be gripping the insert so tightly. Don’t burn your paint, though.

Bike shops should have a tool for tightening the insert back in the frame – or removing yours and putting in a new one. But, you might need to go to a Giant dealer, since it’s a Giant frame. They might have a way to get the screw out too. You could call your local Giant dealer and ask.

Be sure to also check out Park Tool's webpage on dealing with loose bottle-cage rivnuts and getting screws out. It even has a cool tip for using a quick-release skewer and hub to make your own rivnut tightening tool!

Hope this helps you fix this problem,

Q: I stumbled across your www, Jim. I have a bike where the handlebars are above the saddle I purchased it to start exercising. I am 22 stone (308 pounds) and am finding it hard to get a comfortable saddle. I read your extensive articles about bicycle seats. What do you think would be a good one for me? I have a wide cushion at the moment.


A: Hi Steve,
The best way to find a seat you like is to visit a bicycle shop that has a good selection and then actually sit on them on a bike to see how they feel. Most good shops will let you bring a seat back if it doesn’t work for you. So, you could try out what they recommend, and what feels good in the store, and then if it didn’t work, you’d be able to return it and try another one.

When you ride in an upright position you typically need a wide seat since more of your weight is directly on it. It might be that the seat you have doesn’t fit you quite right since everyone’s body is a little different. That’s why it’s so important to try seats. If you brought your seat into the bike shop with you, you could compare it to the seats they offer and try something slightly different.

You can also think about what shape might feel better by thinking about what parts of the seat you have now bother you. You want the seat to support your sit bones and not interfere with your legs when pedaling. You also don’t want pressure on sensitive areas. Since seats all have different shapes it can take some experimentation to find the right one. But, if the bike shop has experience in seats, they should be able to see what you have now, listen to what’s bothering you about it, and then be able to suggest a replacement that will solve these problems.

I hope this is helpful and you find a nice, comfortable seat. There are a great many to choose from so keep trying,

Yours in cycling,
Q: Hi Jim,

Here is my situation. I live in Philadelphia and just met this really great guy about two weeks ago. He is a cycling enthusiast and works at a bike shop. It is his birthday in a few days and I thought a nice gift would be a copy of the August 1, 1983 issue of the New Yorker magazine (bike shop scene on cover) featured on your site. I have checked eBay and the internet with no luck. Any suggestions on how to get my hands on a copy of this? Or if not, any other suggestions for a 31 year old bike enthusiast on his birthday?

Thanks for any suggestions!


A: That’s one of the most popular covers in my collection, Olivia, and one of my favorites, too. It’s what started me on collecting The New Yorker covers in the first place, and I'm sure your cyclists friend will love it as a gift.

To get a copy, the first option is to simply print that cover from my site. I've gotten feedback from people who've done this with good printers and they say it looks great in a frame over their desk.

The next option would be to visit the New Yorker site and print it from there, where it's even larger. You can also purchase a reprint of the cover. Visit this website and you should be able to find it and purchase it.

Best birthday wishes to your friend. Hope he loves the cover.

1 comment:

redvic said...

Taliah Lempert has some nice original bicycle artwork: