Monday, December 31, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Witcomb Cycles circa 1970

Custom framebuilding seventies style.

NEWSWIRE: Witcomb Cycles circa 1970

No titanium or carbon here! I don't see him in the clip but master framebuilder Richard Sachs worked for Witcomb and has been perfecting his craft since. And, one of the first big events of 2008 is the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, February 8 - 10 in Portland, Oregon. Here you can meet builders like Richard and see gorgeous handcrafted bicycles of all types. Don't miss it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Q&A: Crankset conundrum

Q: I have a Dura-Ace 9-speed setup on my bike. I want to upgrade the
crankset to a newer model. It states that it is a 10-speed crankset. Should
this make any difference? Isn't it the derailleurs that control the
shifting, not the crankset and chainrings? I'm confused!

A: I actually haven't tried installing a 10-sp crankset on a 9-sp
drivetrain, Robert, but it's not supposed to work right because the 9-speed
chain is wider than the 10-sp so it might not shift very well. The
derailleur will still move the chain fine but it might not seat smoothly
onto the chainrings. You might be able to solve the issue by going with a
10-sp chain when you install the 10-sp crank. That would work fine on the
crankset but would be narrower and might not shift perfectly on the rear

But, I haven't experimented like this with these parts so I don't know for
certain whether you could get it to work, or not. Sometimes even though the
manufacturer says it won't work, it actually works enough so that you can
get by with it for awhile. I just can't say for sure having not tried it.

Of course, what you're supposed to do is upgrade the whole shebang,
crankset, cassette, chain and shifters, but that gets expensive. So, if you
don't mind experimenting you could certainly upgrade one piece at a time and
see how little you can get away with.

Good luck and let me know how it goes,

Q&A: Singer British Highwheel

Q: Jim,
Greetings from Ireland! I enjoyed looking through your site. I have a Singer
British Challenge bike that I am about to restore. The bike is rusted but
sound. One of the lugs for the small wheel is broken off and I am thinking
of getting it welded back on - I approached an experienced welder but he is
afraid to do the job as he doesn't know what might happen. I have new spokes
and tires.

Any advice for me? The nickel-plated finish looks really good but my frame
is all pitted and I am not sure how to get it back smooth again. If I sand
it would I be weakening the structure?

Many thanks,

A: Nice to hear from you, Brian, and to hear about your Singer. As your
Singer is a piece of history I would recommend proceeding cautiously so you
restore it correctly and don't harm the bicycle. Here's how my restoration
came out:

The chances are pretty good that if you contact the Veteran-Cycle Club, that
you could connect with someone who knows about your Singer and how best to
go about restoring it. The VCC's website is and the email address I found on their
site to contact them is

Sometimes it's hard to get hold of someone through a website so if the VCC
doesn't respond, you might contact the shop that sponsors their site, which
is Harwood Cycles, email or call 01296 712219

Another good source of information on restoring highwheels is G. Donald
Adams' book Collecting and Restoring Antique Bicycles, which you can see

An antique bicycles is like an antique car in many ways so you just need to
find experts who can correctly repair the issues the bike has. You mentioned
that a "lug" was broken off on the small wheel, but I'm not sure what you
mean so I don't know what to suggest. The wheel is made of steel, though, so
a good welder should be able to reattach it with care. You also mentioned
that the nickel plated finish looks really good but that the frame is all
pitted. That's confusing because if the nickel finish is in good shape, it
should have protected the frame from rusting. Usually the rust begins after
the nickel is worn away. Is it possible that someone re-plated the bike with
nickel after it had rusted and gotten pitted? If so, the pitting may be the
best that could be done when they cleaned the bike for replating?

I'm just guessing here, but these are the types of questions to ask before
doing any work on an antique bicycle like your Singer. If you can get Adams'
book or get together with one of the experienced collectors from the VCC I
think you'll learn a lot about your bike and find out the best way to
proceed to get it running again.

Oh, another resource is I didn't mention this first
because it's based here in the United States. But, you might find useful
information on their website.

I hope this helps,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Q&A: Toe clips

Q: Jim,
I purchased a new Raleigh Grand Prix in 1970. It's still completely original
except for the tires and brake pads. I ride it 75 to 100 miles each week. I
would like to put some high quality toe clips and straps on the existing
pedals. Could you recommend brands and advise how to install them? How do I
determine what size I should purchase? I wear a size 11 shoe.


A: With a size 11 foot you should get size large toe clips, Glynn. These
should be available from any bicycle shop, or they can order them for you if
they don't have them in stock. Or, you could order them online.

They might come with mounting hardware or you'll need to buy that. And,
you'll need to buy the toe straps, too, if you plan to use them. The clips
attach to most pedals with 2 bolts. Your pedals need to have holes in front
for these toe clip bolts but the pedals on the Grand Prix will. And the
pedals should have slots in the side for the toe strap to pass through if
you plan to use these, too (again, your pedals will have these, too). Most
modern toe clips are made of nylon. In 1970 they would have been
chrome-plated steel and you should still be able to find these. The straps
will be leather or nylon. (See link below.)

The best bet would be to call your local bike shop and ask if they have toe
clips in stock because they could then take a look at your pedals, make sure
they're compatible with the toe clips they sell, and install the toe clips
and straps on your pedals for you or show you how to do it. If you do it
yourself, the only tricky thing is running the strap. Feed it through the
back slot on the pedal, so that the buckle is on the outside of the pedal
about 1.5 inches away from the pedal. Put a twist in the toe strap where it
passes beneath the pedal, then feed it through the other slot in the pedal,
up through the slot(s) in the toe clip and down and into the buckle. The
strap goes through the buckle in such a way that you can pull up on it to
tighten the strap on your foot and simply push down on the end of the buckle
to loosen the strap and get your foot out.

Here is a source for "old style" steel toe clips and leather straps. If you
click on the leather toe straps you'll see photos on how to run the strap
through the buckle correctly.

Hope this helps. That's a classic 10-speed and it's cool you're still
enjoying it,

Friday, December 14, 2007

Q&A: Fixing Shimano STI shift levers

Q: Jim,
After making a quick web search concerning repairing RSX brake/shifters, I came across your name. I have an immediate need, and I was hoping you could help. I have an old Raleigh touring bike with RSX brake/shifters. It's been in storage for awhile, but then I took it out and have been riding it frequently (in the cold and rain sometimes). Shifting became intermittent, so I tried spraying silicon lube right into the crannies of the shifter, and had the cables replaced. I think the cables may have helped one problem, but I may have created another.

I removed the screw on the front of the unit, the only one you can see with the hood on. When I pulled the cap away from the housing, I heard a 'tik!'. Damn it - the torsion spring relieved itself, and I knew it would not be fun to reinstall. I did manage to reinstall it with the spring in the right holes, but the shifter continues to have intermittent function. I suspect the spring had a preload, and I did not wind it or reinstall it right. Does this front spring have a preload? How do I reinstall it right?

Last night, when it was around 39 deg F outside, my shifter did not engage at all. Earlier, when it was warmer, it worked intermittently (I'd sometimes have to flip it a few times before the upshift caught). This suggests a lube issue, but how the heck do I lube this thing?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A: Hi Matt,
Unfortunately, Shimano STI levers aren't designed to be serviced by the user (apart from very basic service unrelated to the shifting mechanism), which is why you won't find any information on this on their website. You're not supposed to try to take them apart. Instead, if you have a problem, you take your bike to a local shop, have them take a look, and if it's a defect, they ship the lever to Shimano and see if the company agrees it's a defect and if it is, and you're within the warranty timeframe, you get a new, working lever from Shimano.

It sounds like you unscrewed the main piece holding your lever's shifter together so getting it covered under warranty is out of the question now, though it was probably too old anyway. I'm not certain if that spring has a preload or if you just unscrewed the bolt when the spring was under load and it released. The fact that you were able to put it back together is a good sign. And, it sounds like it works just like it did before you took it apart. You might try again flushing the shifting part with a penetrating lube like WD-40, something that you can spray into any little gaps into the mechanism you can find. Do this inside where it's warm so the lube is thin and any gunk inside the lever is, too. I've heard that a good "lube rinse" will sometimes free a sticky, non functioning RSX STI lever.
If you're lucky, that might work and get you going. If not, you might instead search on for used RSX shifters (or any Shimano STI levers compatible with your bike) and see if you can't find a right one or a pair for a decent price and then just use your old one for spare parts as needed in the future.

If you want to read about how other people have managed to fix their Shimano
STI levers, here's a link that might help you out: This page is old and some of the links on it no longer work, but it's at least a start and maybe it'll help you figure out your lever and get it working again. If you search for the phrase "STI repair" you'll find a few other links with some interesting comments, too.

Good luck and sorry I can't provide specific repair instructions,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

COLLECTIBLES: Chainring Fever

"Vintage" (1930 to 1980 road bikes) and "antique" (1865 to 1925 models) bicycles are getting pretty expensive to collect, plus you need the room to store them. So, a lot of us choose to collect other cycling items and one of the coolest is chainrings, also called chainwheels. On today's bikes these are pretty yawn-inducing - just steel, aluminum and carbon, the only design being for weight savings and efficiency. But, pedal back a few years and you start finding some fun stuff. Here are a few pictures and links from the awesome Bike Works NYC Chainwheel Archive and Joel Metz's fantastic Chainring Tattoo Project

Click to see more

Click to see more And my favorite:Click to learn more

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Discovery Team Bike on eBay!

The prices are through the roof, considering these race machines have been
ridden hard by the strongest of the strong in the toughest races out there -
but, if want to own a piece of racing history, here's your chance:

GREAT TIPS: A bike noise solution

Hi Jim,

I came to your site recently when looking for some basic road bike
maintenance tips. Thanks for the great content!

I also thought I'd have a look at your clicks, squeaks etc. page as I've recently had a
situation that was driving me and my riding companions a little crazy. My
bike developed a loud click on each pedal revolution. I was told this might
be related to my cranks and/or pedals. Both were inspected by me and found
not to be a problem. Various adjustments were made to the rear derailleur
too, to no avail. The local bike shop only managed to suggest that I was
cross-gearing... which I was certain I was not, having been warned not to do
that previously. So, I thought I may simply have to put up with this.
However, I noticed at some point that when I took off my Nike shoes that
they rattled (and they hadn't always done this). The shoes are equipped
with several attachment points for cleats, one set of which wasn't being
used by my Look cleats - and the bracket/plate for the unused attachments
was moving backwards and forwards through the pedaling motion. So, some
modeling clay stuffed into the bottom of the shoe to hold the spare plate
fixed the problem... there was no other way to tighten or remove the unused

Hope that is of some interest!

(Perth, Western Australia)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Q&A: Pedal Noise

Hello Jim,
Was going thru your page on bike noises and here is one for your
advice & time. I have been riding my Olmo road bike with Look PP206 pedals.
On a ride last Friday I noticed a loud click under my cleats and could also
feel it. I took my bike to the bike shop here in Muscat. Unfortunately they
could not figure it out. I was wondering if you could be kind to put a light
on it. I adjusted the release of the right pedal and also tightened it, but
my guess is that a bearing in the pedal has caused this unless you think
differently. Appreciate your time & advice.


Hi, Brian,
Have you checked the bolts holding the cleats to the bottom of your shoes,
or did the bike shop check this? My experience is that the noises are often
caused by cleat problems rather than pedal problems. So, that's what I'd
check first. Next I'd check to make sure that the cleats aren't worn out.
They need to have enough material to hold in the "jaws" on the pedal. Even a
little walking wears Look cleats out fast. I use Kool Covers, which are
rubber covers you slip over your cleats anytime you have to walk at all. I
just carry them in my jersey pocket. They work great to save the cleats and
help you not slip on slippery floors, too.

If the cleats are worn you should replace them. They don't cost much. Just
be sure to trace a line around your old cleats first so you know exactly
where to place the new ones.

If your cleats are in good shape, then I would check the pedals for
something loose. If you adjust the tension too loose the back plate on the
pedal can move too much and that might cause a click noise under pedal
pressure. Tightening the tension adjustment a little should stop that.
Usually, the bearings in these pedals do not wear out very quickly so I
wouldn't expect that to be the problem, though you can certainly remove the
pedals and spin the axle by hand to feel for roughness, grit and noise, if
you want. If that's an issue you'll want to clean and regrease the pedal
bearings or perhaps install a new bearing kit. But, typically these will
last for many years without service so I don't think that will be the

Hope one of these ideas solves the problem,

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Q&A: Eldi emergency-spoke tool

Hello Jim,
I'm from Israel. I read an article in one of the cycling forums on the net
in Israel that mentioned your Eldi spoke tool, shown here Can you please tell me
whether this tool is a special tool for spokes or it is a tool being used in
other areas. This one on your web site seems an old tool.

Do you have any idea where I can purchase a tool like this, as I'm doing
nearly all the maintenance of my mountain bikes by myself, and it seems to
me that the Eldi or a similar one can be of great help to me.

Kind regards

Thanks for the email, Itamar. Unfortunately that tool is an old bicycle tool
that they don't seem to make anymore. I believe it is from the late 1960s or
maybe early 1970s. I was lucky to work at a bicycle shop that had a lot of
old tools and I was able to buy that one from the owner for my personal
collection. It was specifically made to cut spokes to size and bend them
just right for use as replacement spokes when you don't have the correct
size spoke on hand and it's a handy tool to have.

You don't really need a special tool to do this, though. You can do the same
job by cutting the spoke with a diagonal cutter and then bending the cut end
into an L shape with the diagonal cutter or pliers, and in this way you can
achieve the same result. That may be why the tool is no longer made.

Hope this helps,

Q&A: pedal overlap

Hi Jim,
I have a Marin bike with 700c wheels. When turning the front wheel it hits
the pedal if the pedal is horizontal to the ground and to the front. Could
this be right? The fork is nearly vertical with little clearance from the
down tube. It is hard to ride, too.

Thanks for your help,

Hi Leon,
It sounds like the bicycle has been in an accident. Maybe someone ran into a
parked car? This would bend the fork and frame making the front wheel too
close to the frame and pedal (when it comes around). You can check for this
by looking at the frame top tube and down tube, the 2 tubes that meet the
head tube (the front frame tube that holds the fork). When a frame is bent
in a front end collision like this these tubes usually get buckled a bit and
you can see and feel the wrinkled paint and bulges on the bottom and top of
these tubes. You might also see damage on the fork legs so look there, too.
Sometimes the wheel won't get damaged at all so you can't go by that.

Unfortunately, if the frame and fork have been damaged like this, it may be
impossible to repair perfectly so it might mean you'll need to replace the
frame and fork, or bicycle.

Good luck,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Q&A: How to service Campy Daytona hubs?

Hello Jim:
I have a question regarding Campy hubs. I just got a pair of wheels with
Daytona hubs for winter training and I would like to service the hubs before
I put them on the road. How do I disassemble the hubs to get into the
bearings? I tried putting a 5mm hex wrench on both ends of the skewer hole,
but I broke one of the 5 mm hex keys and I couldn't turn it loose. How do I
do it?


Happy Holidays, Robert. I've attached 2 files from Campagnolo's website tech
pages that should get you
going. One is a pdf doc showing an exploded view of the 2001 Daytona hubs.
The other one is the instructions for working on 2007 Record hubs. I haven't
worked on the Daytona hubs but from comparing the diagrams I believe these
instructions should explain the steps to take those hubs apart because
they're similar in design, not identical but similar enough, I think. It
looks like you were right to use 2 5mm Allen wrenches. Since one broke maybe
the parts have gotten a little frozen. Try again but use Allens that are
higher quality and have longer handles to give you more leverage. The
directions don't say to do this until the next step but maybe try loosening
the screw in the lockring first, too. Maybe that will help.

I'm assuming you have Adobe Reader installed on our computer to read these
but most people do. Or you can download it for free.

I hope this helps,

Monday, November 26, 2007

Q&A: Hub cleaning and repacking

I have just purchased a new set of wheels for one of my road bikes. They are
built on Shimano Ultegra hubs. I ride this bike 6,000 mile/year on clean,
dry and smooth roads. I'm a do-it-yourself mechanic and would like to know
from an expert how many miles I should expect to ride before I clean and
repack these hubs.


Thanks for the email, Rob. Hubs should be cleaned and repacked with fresh
grease about once a year. If you get stuck in a bad rain storm and have to
ride in it for hours, you should check them afterwards by removing the
wheels and turning the axles in your fingers and feeling for grittiness when
you turn them. If they're still silky smooth, there's no need to do
anything. But, if they got gritty from all that rain riding, it would be
good to dismantle them, clean them and regrease them.

But, if you are lucky enough to ride on dry, smooth, clean roads for all the
6,000 miles, once a year will be fine. And, when you take them apart the
first time if you find that the grease is clean and fully packed, covering
all the bearings, that's a great sign that you can repack the hubs even less
often. So, you could bump the interval up to every 18 months and try that.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Head Badge Site

Never seen this one before
Apparently, this Flickr Bicycle Head Badge website has been up for awhile but I just found it so it's news to me. Currently there are about 450 photos of head badges (also called nameplates), with some rare and great ones I've never seen anywhere else, such as this Germann in the photo. (There are some shots of head tube decals, too, which I don't consider badges, yet it's still nice to see the art.) I have about 700 different badges in my collection, which I've been working on for decades so it was fun to stumble onto this nice resource. Another great place to see photos of head badges is where there's always a few interesting ones for sale.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Q&A: Mounting bike in trainer

Hi Jim,
I visited your site to update my knowledge on repairing and maintaining my bike. I recently bought a trainer to use at home in cases of bad weather and discovered I need quick-release levers in order to install it properly. There is a lot of info around on how to use and maintain these levers, but no info about how to fit them, I was hoping you could help me out.


Hmmm... are you sure you need quick releases? Most trainers work fine with any bicycle, one with bolt-on or quick-release wheels. Could you tell me a little more about your trainer? Usually the ends that attach to the rear wheel are hollow so your axle will fit right inside and the ends that clamp on the rear wheel hold just fine.

If you can tell me more, I'll see if I can help,

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Q&A: Cold setting a frame to 135mm

Hi Jim,
I have an older fillet-brazed steel MTB frame that has 130mm spacing. I would like to respace it to 135mm. What's the best way to go about this?


Hi Gary,
There are a few ways to go about this. A good way is to take a fine piece of string or strong thread and tie it to the right rear dropout somewhere. Bring the string toward the front of the bike and around the head tube and back to the left rear dropout. Pull the string quite tight and tie it to the exact same spot on the left dropout that you tied it on the right dropout. You now have a reference line to gauge frame alignment.

Next you need a decent metric ruler. Use it to measure the distance between the inside surfaces of the rear dropouts. If they're perfect, they'll measure 130mm inside to inside. Continue checking the alignment by measuring from your string to the seat tube on both sides. These measurements should be exactly the same, too. If all the measurements check out you know that the dropouts are the correct width and the rear end of the bike is aligned dead-center with the frame.

It's your choice how you want to spread the dropouts to 135mm. You're only adding 2.5mm to each side, which isn't a lot so you might be able to simply stand behind the bike, grab one dropout in each hand and pull outward to achieve this. It really depends on your strength and the type of tubing, but I'd say about 75% of the time that's all it takes. You can check your progress by measuring with the ruler to see if the 130 is now 135. If you can't do it yourself, you could have a friend help with each of you standing across from each other with one hand on one dropout for pulling and the other hand on the opposite chainstay for bracing. With 2 people you will want to start with easy pressure, check progress and pull a bit harder. But, be careful not to pull too hard and overdo it. Ideally you'll only bend it once to just about 135 and then fine-tune from there.

If you go over, you can squeeze the dropouts together to bring it back. In most cases it should only take a couple of tries to get it right. Then you'll check to ensure that both sides moved an equal amount by measuring the distances to the seat tube from the string. If they don't match, you pulled too hard on one side and you'll need to move the rear end again to center it and maintain the 135mm spacing.

Other ways to bend/align the rear end include using a turnbuckle that fits between the dropouts. You may need to add blocks of wood to the turnbuckle, but once it fits in there and will stay put you can turn the center of the turnbuckle and it will put pressure on the dropouts and spread them and that's a way to do it evenly and carefully. Just check frequently to see how you're doing. You'll have to go past the 135 because the frame will "spring" back.

If the bicycle is stripped down to the frame you could also clamp the frame by the bottom bracket in a sturdy bench vise. Supported this way, you could use a long lever like an oar to pull first one side over and then the other. Just be sure not to rest the end of the oar on anything that can dent or get damaged when you start pulling on the oar. You could put a block of wood between that end of the oar and the bike if you're pushing against the frame.

One thing to keep in mind. The dropouts need to be exactly parallel to each other too. There's a special tool for checking this that shops carry. When you're resetting the rear end be careful not to exert too much pressure on the dropouts themselves. None of the techniques I described would do this, but if you got creative you might bend the dropouts out of alignment with each other and you'd then want to visit a shop and have them realign them, and probably check your cold setting, too, since if the dropouts are crooked, the spacing is probably not as exact as it should be.

Happy frame aligning!

Q&A: Calculating the hour record distance

Hey Jim,
I was watching a movie the other night about the riders trying for the 1
hour record, and it posed a question. How do they so accurately calculate
the exact distance traveled when the 1 hour is up. The distance is
calculated down to 1/1000th of a mile. The riders are on a circular track,
and obviously complete the 1 hour at someplace other than the exact
completion of a lap. Can you help me out here.

Hi Jack,
You might have been watching The Flying Scotsman. If so, I enjoyed that
movie though they didn't capture how amazing Obree's accomplishments were in
my opinion.

In any case, I'm definitely not a track expert or a cycling official, the
guys who are charged with measuring records, however, I believe official
racing tracks are usually 250 meters long so since they know the exact
distance of the track they just need to know where the rider is on the track
when the hour ends and it should be a relatively simple matter to calculate
the distance ridden.

The track is essentially a 250-meter yardstick and when the hour ends the
rider's position is marked on the track and they can then count laps, add
them up and then add whatever additional distance he/she did on the last
lap. I believe the track is probably marked with gradations for accuracy,
too, though I don't know this for a fact. It's possible they use one of
those little walking wheel measuring devices to calculate the distance on
the last lap, too. It's probably something like this.

Perhaps you'll find an explanation on Wikipedia's page on hour records here:


Monday, November 5, 2007

Q&A: Great book

Where can I obtain a copy of the book, The Golden Age of Hand-Built
Bicycles, mentioned on your site.

Kind regards,

Hi Bill,
That's a fantastic book. I'm sure you'll love it. You can order it at this

I didn't check but I wouldn't be surprised if you could find it at, too, and you might even find used ones there with a little


Q&A: Old wooden rims

I am having an 1897 Punnett Companion double bike restored and need two 28-inch wooden rims or as close I can get. Can you help?

Hi Frank,
I recommend placing a wanted ad in The Wheelmen newsletter, which goes out to the members about 4 times a year. The Wheelmen is an international group of antique bike collectors and usually you can find someone who has what you need or knows where you can get it. You can find out more about The Wheelmen, how to join, etc. at this link:

Have fun fixing up that cool bike,

Q&A: Classic Legnano

I was wondering if you could help me? I have a Legnano "Gran Premio" model that I believe we bought in Rome around late 1959 or 1960 (serial #EH2957.) The frame is Legnano's yellow/green with chrome fork-ends and thin red pin striping. It is a 10 speed (5+2) with a Campagnolo "Gran Sport" gearset with cable-style gear levers (for both front and rear) on a screw-tightened clip on the sloping front frame tube. The brakes are "Universal Extra" side-pulls with what appear to be natural rubber covers over the mechanisms. The handlebars are low racing-type and originally had red cloth tape around them, but this was changed to white (which was available to me at the time) when the red got dirty.

The original aluminum plugs at the ends of the handlebars are still there. The wheels are thin racing type quick removables (lever marked "Campagnolo") with tubeless tires and appear to be about 28". The pedals have toe-clips with leather covers and straps. There are original clip on aluminum fenders...front and rear...which are painted and badged the same as the bike (yellow/green with a bare aluminum strip down the center and a legnano decal on the front of the front fender and at the rear of the rear fender.) The long, narrow leather seat is marked "Italia" and there is a Legnano "lug" at the base of it's support tube. There is a matching air-pump released by a small spring-loaded pin at the top (this is all clipped onto the frame and can be moved or removed).

The front badge appears to be cast metal pinned on and there is a "Bozzi" decal at the top of the downtube under the seat, and below that there is a decal that states: "Campione del Mondo 1958-59". There are other decals and white rings (5) on the frame as well and on the sloping front tube near the steering head there is another that states: Legnano Gran Premio.

The bike is completely original, in good condition (needs some clean-up and touch-up) and I am the only owner from new. In fact, I still have the little "Legnano" pennant that came with the bike. For many years, it has hung by its frame on nylon cords from the ceiling of an air-conditioned garage. I am trying to determine a) its value (both as-is and restored) b) approx. what it would cost to restore it and who, if anyone, specializes in Legnano, and c) anything else I can find out about that bike, or the marque in that generation bike. I haven't yet decided what I am going to do with it.... whether to restore it and save it for one of my grandsons when he is old enough to appreciate it or to sell it.

I would greatly appreciate any help or direction you could give me. Pictures can be made available if that would help.


Thanks for the email, Steve. That sounds like a very nice bike. I'd enjoy seeing some pictures if you take some. You can learn more about Legnanos and maybe even find a picture of a bike like yours at this link on the Classic Rendezvous website:

In terms of value, it's hard to put an exact price on any old bicycle, but from how you described your bike, and assuming it's a reasonable frame size that many people would fit (not too huge or too tiny), I would suspect it would sell on today's market for from $1,000 to $2,500. But, this really depends on exactly what you have. If you had a rare Legnano model with all original parts with good paint, decals and chrome, there's a chance it might go for upwards of $3,000. This is just an educated guess, though. Like any collectible, value is in the eye of the buyer and if you have the right bike and can find the right buyer it's possible it might go for even more. But, this gives you a ballpark idea based on what other classic Italian road bikes like yours have sold for.

I would advise you not to do anything to it until you find out more about it. In most cases you'll significantly decrease the value if you do any kind of restoration. In most cases collectors want the bike to be all original. As they say, you can't restore originality. Once you strip the paint, original decals, etc. you essentially have taken a classic and made it new, and the serious collectors don't want a new bike, they want the original old bike with all of its blemishes.. the same way a furniture collector wants the original finish on the Shaker chest of drawers.

One thing you could do to find out more about your bike and have some fun talking about it and showing it off would be to sign up for the email list. Every day collectors and cyclists interested in vintage 10-speeds like yours add to the ongoing conversation. It's free to sign up and once you do you start receiving the daily postings and can put in your comments. If you did that and posted links to pictures of your bike I'm sure you'd hear from a lot of Legnano lovers who would really appreciate hearing about yours.

Hope this is helpful and I look forward to seeing your Legnano pictures at
some point,

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Jeff Linder Does It!

Well, actually, Jeff did it this summer, but just recently he wrote about his epic 170-mile-a-day PAC Tour ride across the country, and it's such an inspiring read I wanted to spread the word so you can enjoy it, too. Due to extreme heat at the outset that knocked out quite a few riders and even disabled Jeff for a while, this was one of the most difficult PAC Tours ever. Read Jeff's exciting account of how he managed to complete this ultimate test here.Jeff and his Air Friday at the finish!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Q&A: Which derailleur to get?

Hi Jim,
I have an old Roy Thame frame that I purchased in London. (I think it is actually an old Ciocc frame). I built it in 1981 with a 5 cog freewheel. Recently, I found a new, larger gear range 6 cog freewheel at a bike shop and put it on. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked, except that the old Campy Nuovo Record derailleur is obviously going to have to be replaced. But with what? I am considering a Shimano Deore which by its description says is for a 7 speed. Will this work, or will the derailleur be unable to limit putting the chain into the spokes? What do you recommend?

Enjoyed your site,

Hi John,
Yes, you should be able to install any of Shimano's mountain-bike derailleurs and get your bike to shift just fine, so you could get any one you like. Just be sure to fine-tune the limit screws so that the range of travel is spot-on and you won't have any trouble with it shifting into the spokes.

The difference from one derailleur to the next is mostly a few less grams, a nicer finish and usually aluminum versus steel in certain parts. So, there's no need to spend any more than you want. If you just want the bike to shift again you can go with the least expensive mountain-bike derailleur you can find. If you wants higher quality and lighter weight you can spend more. The shifting will probably be so similar you'll never feel the difference.

Have fun fixing up your bike!

Q&A: Connecting brake cables

I recently bought a Schwinn from the 1980's. The brake cables were unhooked at the handlebars for shipping. I don't know how to get them reconnected again.

Hi Mathew,
It would help to know what kind of bicycle and brakes we're talking about here, but regardless, you need to create slack in the cable so that you can pull enough inner cable out of the housing to hook the ends of the cables back inside their holders in the brake levers. The holders are usually slotted. So, once you have some slack and have some inner cable protruding from the end of the housing, you can feed that end of the cable into the lever and hook the end into its holder in the lever. On a 10-speed the holders will be inside the brake levers. You will probably be able to look down through the hole on the top and see them. On a 3-speed or mountain bike, the holder will be visible when you squeeze the lever. And, may need to feed the lever through the adjustment barrel, turning it to align the slot first so you can get the cable through.

To create the slack, you can try just squeezing the brake with your hand. If the wheels are in the bike that might not create enough slack. If that's the case remove the wheel and try again. If you squeeze the brake and hold it
with one hand you can fish the cable into the lever with the other. Or, use a strong elastic band to hold the brake together so you can use your other hand to feed the cable into the lever.

You might wonder why you don't just detach the cable at the brake to free the cable completely and not have to deal with the brake spring. The reason is that then you will need to readjust your brake. Also, the less you loosen and tighten the cable anchor bolt the less risk of fraying the cable and stripping the bolt, which tends to be rather delicate.

Hope this helps and if what I described doesn't sound right, it's probably because you're working on a different type of brake. Let me know the details and I'll try again!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Giro Ionos helmet

If you're looking into purchasing a new top-line road helmet, check out my review of Giro's Ionos, the coolest helmet they've ever made. You can read my review for a while on Here's the link. This will only take you to the review while it's live in the free section of the site, which will probably be for another week or so from now (after that it gets moved to the subscriber-only part of the site). So, check it out soon!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Q&A: Bicycle repair stand recommendations?

I'm setting up my home workshop. What do you recommend for a home repair stand? There are the standard Park tool models, but is there anything else you might suggest as smarter or better?

Thanks very much,

If it's for home use only, Michael, I'd go with one of Park's Pro models like the Deluxe Single Arm Repair Stand These are really sturdy, completely rebuildable and will last a lifetime. They have a heavy base, though, so they're not for travel.

If you want to use your stand at home AND travel with it, too, I would recommend the Ultimate Pro Classic Repair Stand This is light, super easy to use, great on all surfaces, folds quickly and packs small. It has an awesome clamp, too.

Of course there are many other choices with Performance Bike, Topeak, etc. making stands now, but the two I mentioned have been stalwart stands for years and I can recommend them wholeheartedly. I have not tried the other ones. If you decide to, just be sure they come with money-back guarantees and then you'll be able to exchange them if you don't like them.

Have fun setting up your bicycle workshop!

Q&A: Repair old bike or buy new one?


Really enjoying your site, what a nice piece of work! I found it while looking to answer the question of what I should do about my Schwinn CrissCross, a hybrid I bought 14 year ago. It's been ridden off an on throughout those years, but it's getting pretty worn out. A local shop told me, without inspecting it, that it probably needed all new components. I use it for fitness cycling and I like it pretty well, but it looks like it would be more expensive to replace the components than it would be to buy a brand new bike of the same quality. I'm going to train over the winter and spring to do a weeklong tour of Oklahoma next summer. I'll probably spring for a road/touring bike prior to that anyway. Is my old Schwinn toast, or can it be refreshed reasonably?

Joe Freeland

Thanks for the kind words about my site, Joe. Glad to hear it's helped you out. It's tough for me to answer your question because age isn't enough to evaluate a bike by. It's mileage, and how a bike has been cared for that tells the tale of what condition it's in and whether or not a new bike is needed. In most cases a bike that age will still be going strong because most people simply don't ride that much. But, if you rode it 5 days a week all-year long and put in say 10 miles a day, it would certainly be getting pretty worn unless you kept after it by replacing the chain, cassette cogs and chainrings as needed, tires, and other small parts, such as brake shoes and cables, etc.

A visual test will tell an experienced person a lot. If the bike is really gunked with grease and the tires are cracked and the cable housings are cracked, too and the cables rusty, that's an indication that the bike is in need of a pretty extensive service and may not be worth spending the money, depending on how you feel about the bike. Another good test would be to put a ruler on the side of the chain and see if you can measure 12 inches between 2 pins. If you get over 12 1/8 inches when you do this it's a sign that the chain is worn out and that usually means the cogs and chainrings might be, too, which means a fairly expensive drivetrain repair to get the bike running and shifting nicely again.

The best way to decide would be to bring it to a good mechanic for a look-see. They don't charge for estimates so that would be a good way to get an educated opinion based on an actual check of the bike rather than just an opinion out of thin air, which is what the first shop told you, it sounds like.

One thing to consider is that bikes have improved in those 14 years. Most significantly the shifting and braking has improved so it's easier than ever. Whether or not you appreciate the changes, and want to spend money to get them on a new bike only you can decide. That's easy and fun to do. You can just visit a bicycle shop and test ride some new bikes to feel how they compare. My experience has been that most people who do this realize that they get a lot more for their money in a new bicycle than what they'd get by spending money to repair the bike they already have -- not everyone, but most. Plus, for a major trip like a tour across Oklahoma, I would think you'd really enjoy being on a nice new bicycle that rides just the way you want.

Hope these tips help and have fun checking out new bikes,

NEWSWIRE: Clif Bar's 2 Mile Challenge

Click the links to learn more
Lots of forward-thinking bicycle companies are working hard to make our roads safer for bicycling and we should all support these efforts. One such company is Clif Bar. Watch their YouTube video and then visit to learn about their Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge and how you can help make a difference. Then spread the word!

READER TIP: Tire boots and a lot more

Hey, Jim,
Denim and canvas are old hat when it comes to booting tires to fix glass cuts. Get a hold of a FREE Tyvec envelope at your local US Post Office. The stuff is indestructible, light and can even be cut (got scissors?) into shoelaces for repairing chains, tying racks onto frames when the screws go missing. You can also make emergency shoe laces and lashings, slings, band aids, rain hat, rain cap for your saddle... why, there's no end to the uses for this great stuff!


Q&A: Old chainring bolt

Thank you for your website, Jim. I have gone to it many times. I have a problem and maybe you could help? I have for myself a re-hab bike. someone had it out by the street and I took it. Seemed to be in okay shape. I lost some parts. This is the bike: TAKARA DELUXE 12. It has a city bike sticker, or bike pass dated 1982.

I lost a nut and bolt for the small ring gear. It's a 12 speed and the large crank gear is 52 tooth and I guess the small crank gear is a 38 tooth. They mount by 5 each nuts and bolts and they are small. That is 5 each and I lost a pair and I have only 9 pairs. Everything bike shops down here have shown me are way too big. The screw size is a M5 X .08 metric (also the nut hole size). It is off the small crank/pedal gear. Can you help?


ANSWER: This should be an easy fix, Dan. Since that bolt is a 5 x 8, any bike shop should have something they can make work because lots of bolts on bikes are that size. For example the standard water bottle bolts are 5 x 8 so maybe one of those with a nut and a washer or 2 will do the trick. It won't be original but it should get you going. Maybe an easier option would be to visit any decent hardware store and simply buy the nut in the metric bolt aisle? This is a common size and should be easy to find and by experimenting with washers and the nut you ought to be able to get thing going again.

Of course, if you check with enough bike shops it's not out of the question that you'd run into a shop with some old inventory and they'd have exactly what you need. It's not like 1982 is all that long ago ;-) A good shop would have a chainring bolt drawer and in that drawer they would have old and new bolts. You just need to find a good shop that's been around awhile. Usually these exist in any larger city so it might mean calling a few in the city near you to find the exact chainring bolt you need.

Hope this helps,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Escape With Second Summer!

I heard from my buddy Rob Templin of Second Summer Tours the other day. He asked me to spread the word about his Maui and California Dreaming tours, great winter escapes, which are coming up and sell out every year. If you're interested, visit his site or contact Rob soon. You won't find better, more experienced or helpful ride leaders, a nicer bunch of folks to pedal with or more fun places to ride. Below is a photo taken at the summit of the 10,000-foot-high Haleakala Volcanao in Maui, one of the highlights of Rob's Maui Triple Challenge Tour, which is not for the faint of legs. Of course, you can choose which itinerary best satisfies your cycling and stress-reduction needs! But, whatever Second Summer Tour you take you'll have the time of your life.
From sea level to 10,000 feet in 30 miles

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Video Review of SRAM Red

Courtesy of Cervelo's e-newsletter, here's a short and interesting video review of SRAM's new Red road component group, which is getting good press. I had a chance to test it a bit at the Interbike Bicycle Show and was impressed with the quick shifting, adjustable-reach levers, light weight, ceramic bearings throughout, nice appearance and innovative cassette, which is machined out of a solid chunk of metal for significant weight savings. Here's a shot of the carbon crank. Read more about the Red group at SRAM's site.

The SRAM Red carbon crankset

Q&A: wheelbuilding spoke tensioning

On tensioning spokes, Jim, I saw your page on rebuilding a wheel and I have looked at several other sites and it's kinda like, "well it takes lots of experience to know how much to tighten a spoke." I have an old Schwinn tandem I am fixing up for my wife and I to ride. Since it will be double the weight on the same amount of spokes, I know that spoke tension is critical. Isn't there a way to say, "tune each spoke to middle C on the piano." Or whatever pitch you need. Even a tuning fork would help to know how tight to tighten it. When you tighten, is the musical pitch of the spoke the same from wheel to wheel? If so, what is that pitch? It seems to me that would solve a lot of guesswork as to how much to tighten, even if it were a span of 2-3 notes on the piano.

Thanks for the email, Jim. Actually going by the sound the spokes make is a great shortcut when truing wheels and fixing broken spokes and one of my favorite tips. It's in all of my wheelbuilding and truing articles on my site, in fact. However, there's a big difference between truing a built wheel and building a wheel from scratch. With the built wheel you have spokes that are at the right tension so you can pluck them and then match the pitch with the new spoke you're installing or the spoke that was loose and needed tightening. Using that technique you can usually get a wheel almost perfectly true without ever using a truing jig. It's usually that accurate.

So, since you're probably working on a built wheel on that Schwinn tandem it should be relatively easy to compare the pitch and make sure that the same-side spokes are at the same pitch. If some sound dead they are likely loose and need some snugging up. Most likely that wheel had heavy gauge spokes, which is what Schwinn typically used on its "family style" tandems (if you're working on one of the 10-speed types, that would have lightweight wheels). Tensioning a wheel like this should be pretty easy because those spokes don't stretch much and don't need to be overly tight to make for a strong wheel. You'll see what I mean when you turn a few nipples to tighten the wheel. It should go pretty easily if it's got heavy gauge spokes.

If you're planning on rebuilding a tandem wheel off a lightweight bicycle it's tougher to find the right tension because you're dealing with a unique mix of components and materials and there's nothing to compare it to unless you can find the exact same combination. And, it has to be the exact same in every respect. If you had a built wheel truly identical to the one you plan to build then you could pluck that finished-wheel's spokes and get a pitch to shoot for in tensioning your newly built wheel.

I like music but the talent in my family went to my brother and sister so I don't know much about musical pitch or notes. So I called a bicycle mechanic friend who knows a lot more about music and even tunes pianos on occasion and has studied it. I asked him if it would be possible to come up with a range of notes to tune spokes to on different types of common wheels. His reply was that it would be impossible to do this with any amount of accuracy due to there being way too many variables. Even small things like how well you seated the nipples in the rim or dirt or oil on the spokes would change the pitch, so he felt there would be no way to know what's right for a given combination of components besides checking a built wheel and even then, one small change could make it irrelevant for the new wheel.

What I recommend on my wheelbuilding articles is to compare your wheel to a similar wheel at a bike shop or on a friend's bike. Squeeze or pluck the spokes and compare. By doing both you should get a feeling for what's tight enough. That's a start. You can also buy spoke tensionometers these days for around $100, not that huge an investment if you plan to build a number of wheels. And, you'll also learn what's right after you've built a few. This usually happens by building them to what you think is tight enough and then finding out when you ride that the spokes aren't tight enough because the wheel goes out of true. You then true the wheel and add another round of tension and try again. If the wheel stays true that's a good sign that the spokes are now tight enough. If not, you'll need to add another layer of tension, and so on. That's exactly how I learned how to properly tension a wheel because back when I was learning there was no such thing as a tensionometer. It was all done by feel.

Sorry I can't give you an easy solution but experience is often the best teacher and in this case it's actually kind of fun learning what tension is correct so it's not all that bad a thing. If you're a musician and want to use a tuning fork or some such device to put a pitch on spoke tension on a variety of modern wheels perhaps you can come up with something that will help future wheelsmiths. It would be an interesting experiment and I'd be happy to share your results to my readers.

Happy wheelbuilding,

Sunday, October 7, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Pashley Celebrates 80 Years

Interbike model Joiliana with Pashley's Limited Edition Guvnor.

Here's another fun photo from the Interbike Bicycle Show. One of the themes this year was cutting-edge singlespeeds and city bikes, and British manufacturer Pashley displayed one of my favorites. Appropriately named the Guvnor and sporting a lovely tuxedo-black paint job (right down to the pinstriped rims), drum brakes front and rear and 29-inch wheels with whitewall tires, this beauty was built to commemorate Pashley's 80 years in business and only 80 will be built. You'll want to place your order soon. Or maybe Pashley's classic roadster 3-speeds are more your cup of tea, or maybe you want their amazing Pashley-Moulton TSR, which fits everyone and packs small for travel, or how about a work bike to make your job easier. Pashley makes these and a lot more cool bicycles, too!

Q&A: Clicking/Clunking Question

I get a clinking/clunk only when I am applying torque with both feet clipped in. I pedaled up a slight incline with my left foot only clipped in... then my right foot only, and didn't get the sound. I still can't isolate the click. Can you help?


Thanks for the email, AC. It's hard to find clicks and clunks without knowing more about yours or actually riding your bike and hearing it for myself. My best guess from what you wrote is that your bottom bracket might be slightly loose. You'd feel this pedaling with both feet but you probably wouldn't generate enough power with one foot to feel it. But, that's just an educated guess. For more suggestions I have a very extensive article on my website that talks about many common noises, what causes them, how to find them and how to fix them. It even includes many unusual bicycle noises and solutions sent in by readers. I bet if you read this article you'll be able to find a solution to your noise. Here's a link:

Hope this helps solve the problem,

Friday, October 5, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Ric Hjertbert offers wood rims

Wood rims are light, supple and lovely The photo above shows a Ghisallo wood rim in the final processes of construction being drilled with holes for the spoke nipples. Wood rims are hard to come by these days yet still of interest to vintage road bike aficionados looking for super classy tubular wheels. So I was happy to hear from my friend Ric Hjertberg at FSA that he is bringing some to the market again through his new website On his site he also offers excellent wheelbuilding information, more photos of the Ghisallo rim build and some tempting top-notch wheelbuilding tools for sale, too.

Q&A: Fixing an Auto-Bike

Hello Jim,
I was happy to find your site. My parents have a woman's Auto-Bike with some sort of sprocket problem. Do you have any ideas as to a possible source for replacement parts? Please email me if so. I appreciate your time.


Hi TerrySue,

Although that bike isn't usually sold by regular bicycle shop, a good bicycle shop should be able to diagnose and repair the problem with an Auto-Bike because it's mostly comprised of regular bicycle parts. So, that's where I'd recommend you start. In a worst case, the shop might discover that there's a proprietary part that's damaged and you might have to contact Auto-Bike to get a replacement, however, most times these things can be fine-tuned with basic adjustments that any good shop mechanic can handle.

Hope this helps,

Q&A: carbon seatpost in Colnago steel frame

Hi Jim,
I was thinking about a carbon seatpost for my Colnago Master Lite steel bike. Would it clamp in okay. Would it get scarred bad if I have to adjust it?


Hi John,
If they did a good job prepping that frame the seat tube should be nice and smooth inside. But, even if it is, I would worry about your clamp. The Master probably has a regular binder bolt, and a brazed-on seatpost clamp on the back of the tube. The risk is that when you tighten this it constricts on the carbon post which might drive the edges of the tube into the seatpost and that's going to damage or break a carbon seatpost. Ideally, you'd use a clamp that constricts without creating any pressure points at any spot on the post but that spreads the clamping entirely around the post. Carbon seatpost are super strong but if you put pressure on them in one spot you can break them just like stepping on a piece of bamboo. They just crack.

It'll take a little inspection and analysis to determine if you can go carbon, but my hunch is that it's not a good idea because that frame probably has an old-style binder that essentially puts all the pressure in one spot on the post. Of course, if Colnago modified the frame with a slip-on modern seatpost clamp you'll be fine, but I don't believe that's the case,

Thanks for the email and sorry if this is bad news,

Q&A: Finding a Rudge highwheel bicycle

Hi Jim,
I am very interested in purchasing another one or two ordinaries for my own use, and currently own a Singer British Challenge. Actually, I found your webpage on the one which you own.

My work takes me regularly between the US and Europe. I am looking to find a Rudge of 54-60 inch size. Racing model and Light Roadster types would be great. Also New Rapids of similar sizes are of interest. Do you know of any possible contacts who may wish to sell? I am looking for an original machine and will pay a good price.

Any assistance appreciated.

Best regards,


Thanks for the email, Marc. The best way to find highwheelers is to join The Wheelmen. Once you're a member you can place an ad or get involved and you'll soon be in touch with the people across the US, and rest of the world into these bikes. Also, the magazine they publish has for sale and wanted sections and you can find bikes in there and request them, too.

Here's a link to their website where you can learn more:

I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for if you do this,

Happy highwheeling!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Q&A: Replacing BB cable guide

Hey Jim, I just noticed that my cable guide located beneath the bottom bracket of my road bike is partially broken (rear side). I've ordered a new one, should be here in a day or two. It looks pretty simple to replace, just unscrew and switch them out but on a closer look I noticed that the cables need to be threaded through the cable guide. I was hoping to be able to do this myself, however I'm not sure if I'll need additional parts, etc.

Can you walk me through this as I have never removed the cables myself. Also, would it cause any damage to the bike or potentially myself to ride it with the cable guide partially broken?
Thanks Jim,

First off, the cable guides are almost always made of plastic so it shouldn't do any damage to keep riding on yours until you can replace it. You should look closely to make sure that nothing is wearing on the cable that might cause it to fray, weaken and break over time, but since the guide is plastic, it's probably just fine and you might not even want to worry about replacing it.

If you want or need to replace it, depending on which type you have, you should be able to install it without doing anything with your cables. This would be the case if the guide is 100% plastic. On this type you should be able to modify the guide so that the cables fit in and out of the grooves without cable removal. To do this you just put a thin slot in them with a sharp knife (be careful), a hacksaw or a thin file. If you add a slot like this, you'll be able to install the guide and then slip your cables through the slots and they'll snap back in place.

Since the cables are always pulled up tight during shifting there's little risk that they will ever get out of the guide slots so this should work fine. Of course to remove the old guide you'll want to add slots, too. That'll give you a chance to practice your slotting technique.

Most cable guides on my bikes are designed so you don't need to remove the cables to install them. So by modifying yours like this you'll actually be upgrading your bike. It's never a good idea to remove cables unless you really need to.

Have fun!

BLOGWATCH: Beautiful Road Ride Pictures

Checking out my friend Chuck Ibis of Ibis Bicycles' website, I spotted this recent blog entry with fantastic photos of some riding he did in Italy on the classic Grand Tour routes. If you can't be there pedaling up these peaks these scenes at least let you pretend.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Q&A: Making a bike pedal easier

Can you tell me if there is anything that can be done to make pedaling easier? I've just started riding and I ride a hybrid bike, not a fast rider or too long of rides but I heard that if you spend more on the main gears it makes pedaling easier. Would you please tell me your thoughts on this, and are all gears the same size?

Thank you,

Hi RF,
Some things to check include the tire pressure, the chain and the wheels. Bicycle tires lose air over time. If a bike sits for even a couple of weeks, the tires seep air -- and soft tires make it much, much harder to ride any bicycle. To fix this you simply need to check your tires before every ride and inflate them to the recommended pressure. This is usually printed on the sides of the tires. Typically, hybrid tires take about 60psi. You could also ride by any bike shop and ask them to top the tires off for you, which they'll usually be happy to do for free.

Next, you should check the chain to make sure it's lubricated. If it's dry and squeaking it will make it much harder to pedal the bike. To fix this, just get some bicycle chain lube at a bicycle store and apply it. Apply one drop to each link, wait a few hours, pedal backwards slowly to let the lube get into the links and then wipe off the excess.

You should also lift the bike by the handlebars and spin the front wheel, then lift by the seat and spin the rear, to make sure that the wheels are spinning freely. If not, you'll want to figure out what's causing the friction. The wheels need to spin freely for easy pedaling. Here, too, a bike shop could take a look and advise you if needed.

If all these things are fine and you're still having trouble pedaling the bike then it might be because you are riding in too hard a gear. It should help to think of yourself as the bike's engine. When riding your goal is to always ride in a gear that's easy for you to pedal whether you're on the flat, on a steep climb or zooming downhill. You do this by constantly shifting gears. Obviously if it's a flat, easy road, you don't need to shift gears much, but if you're on a rolling road or fighting a headwind, you will shift every time your legs get tired. That's the beauty of a multi-speed bike. It lets you fine-tune the pedaling simply by shifting until you're in a gear that feels just right for where you're riding.

Most hybrid bikes these days have 3 sprockets on the front and 7 or 8 on the back meaning they have 21 or 24 gears. The easiest way to ride/shift these bikes is to think of the front sprockets as where you choose your "easy" (when the chain is on the small sprocket), "medium" (when the chain is on the middle sprocket) and "hard" (when the chain is on the largest sprocket) ranges of gears. You choose one of these based on where you're riding and leave it there most of the time, for example in hilly terrain you'd leave it on the easy (smallest) sprocket.

Then you would do most of your shifting with your right lever, which shifts between the 7 or 8 gears in the back. By shifting onto larger cogs in the back you make it easier to pedal and vise versa. If the terrain changes, you could shift the left lever to move the chain onto the "medium" (middle)sprocket to go into a medium range of 7 or 8 gears.

In this fashion you can always put yourself in a nice gear that's easy to ride no matter whether the road tilts up or down or is completely flat.

Hope something here helps you enjoy your bike,

Q&A: Brooks saddle model

I have an old cycle with a Brooks leather saddle marked 890/3 (or B90/3). Does this code indicate its year of manufacture?

Hi Richard,
That number is probably the model number of the saddle, which is what Brooks saddles are typically marked with, not the year of manufacture. But, from that model number and from the construction and appearance of the saddle you might be able to figure out what year it was made. You should be able to research this on the Brooks website or the Wallingford Bicycle Parts website (also Brooks specialists) If you can't find an answer online, you might try emailing them a photo of your saddle. As a Brooks owner you might enjoy this Brooks ad on my website, too:


NEWSWIRE: Interbike Bicycle Show

Cervelo's booth stops you in your tracks I spent last week at the Interbike Bicycle Show in Las Vegas. Here's a pic of one of my favorite booths, Cervelo's. For more photos from the show and to read about some of the interesting products I spotted visit this link.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Q&A: Finding a crankarm that's no longer in production

Dear Jim,
I was wondering where I could find a non drive side crank that is no longer in production. I bought via ebay an FSA Carbon Pro Elite Compact Crank 50/36 (170mm crank length), but I didn't realize at the time it was just the drive side crank. It's probably a 2-3 year old model, but never been used. I contacted FSA directly and they said there wasn't anything they could do since it was a model that they don't produce anymore. I have scoured ebay and craigslist to no avail for the matching non drive side crank, can I substitute another crank in it's place? Or did I just buy an expensive paperweight? Thanks in advance for your help.


Hi Christopher,
I would keep trying to find the left crankarm on eBay. The same way you found the right side you will probably find a left if you look enough. But, really, if you just bought any FSA left 170 crankarm, or any crankarm that fits your bottom bracket, you would probably forget that it didn't match the other one after a few rides. You certainly won't feel any difference. It'll just look different and even then you'll probably only notice if you look at it. I bet few people notice when you ride with them, either. They'll just think you have a truly custom crankset ;-) All that matters is that the arm you use is the same length and that it fits on the bottom bracket correctly. I would think FSA could sell you one that would work. Hopefully it's not some proprietary bottom bracket design that they don't make crankarms for any more. I think they have stuck with a standard for a while and I would hope they could sell you a crankarm to fit your bottom bracket. It won't match your right side but all you need is something the right length and that fits right.

Good luck,

Q&A: Cable stuck inside Shimano STI shifter

Good morning Jim,
I have a problem with my Shimano Ultegra shifter-10 speed, triple crankset. The cable broke inside the shifter and the end piece that holds the cable fell below the cam. Now I can not turn the levers and can not get the piece out. I know the piece is in there because I can see the frayed end of the cable. There are very limited diagrams on the shifter assembly.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Bob,
Well, it can be tricky to get the cable out if it breaks like that, however, if you can see the frayed end, you should be able to persevere. Unfortunately you can't take the lever apart. So, what you have to do is try to reach inside the lever with some type of thin pointy probe like an awl or pick and try to poke the frayed end of the cable to try to get the other end, the lead end (or the head of the cable), to start to come out of its holder in the lever. If you can do that you can then reach inside with a small needle nose pliers, grab the head and extract the cable.

I know you mentioned that a piece fell below the cam. You may need to invert the bike and/or wiggle or shake the bars, or poke or pull with your probe to get things lined up again. If it moved one way it can move back with the right amount of trial and error. And, then it'll take some patience and experimentation but you should be able to get the cable out.

Now, if you don't want to mess with it, you could also pay a shop mechanic to get it out. This isn't a rare problem so the right mechanic who has dealt with this before should be able to help you. However, it'll be more fun to get it out yourself, I'm sure,

Good luck,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Q&A: Old Tricycle?

Help! I found you online and you seem like the expert I need. I bought this rather unique tricycle at a flea market, and am planning to restore it for my daughters (3 and 5 years old.) First off I'd love to identify it, it has what seems like Russian lettering but the decal is flaked off - it says "T. Mo...." The woman who sold it to me told me she thought it was from Hungary, but who knows...

Anyway, the bigger problem is the rims are all warped and they're steel so it might be hard to straighten them. Any ideas on where I can get replacements to fit? They are roughly 15" (38cm) high, and the front one, which sits in the fork, has an axle of about 2-3/8" (6cm). The rear ones are traversed by a single axle.

I'm in L.A., and my local bike shop (Helen's, usually very good) says they can neither replace nor repair them, so at the moment I'm stuck...

Any help would be greatly appreciated - many thanks


Thanks for the pictures, Jim. I'm afraid I have no idea where the trike was made, but I think Hungary is as good a guess as any and might be correct. It's a rather simple trike and appears to have held up decently for awhile, though it's now a little tired. It could be an illusion, but this appears to be an awfully large trike for your daughters. If they're 3 to 5 years old, you don't want them perched up high on a seat like that. And you can see in the photos that even though the seat is all the way down, it's quite a reach from the seat to the pedals at the bottom of the stroke. I suspect that this trike was built for kids 10 years old and older. Again, photos can distort things, but a typical trike for a 3 to 5 year old will have quite small wheels. This lets the kids get on and off safely and lets them sit low so they're close to the ground and won't fall far - and also feel confident. A lower center of gravity is safer for them just like it is in any vehicle.

You ought to be able to find a new trike like this with a cool paint job and components your daughters will love for about $75, so that might be one way to go.

If I'm wrong and this trike you have fits the kids and you're determined to fix it up, I would recommend first checking it over carefully to make sure it's safe and sound. It's seen some use for sure. If the chain and sprockets are worn out you probably won't be able to find replacements unless you want to make your own, so that could be a deal breaker right there. Ditto for the bearing surfaces. If the crank or wheels are spinning on worn out or damaged bushings/bearings, there would be no point in trying to fix the bike up unless there's an easy way to put things right. Be sure to check the drivetrain carefully as the one on this bike is anything but standard so if it's slipping or clicking, crunching, etc. it might be the reason the bike was retired by the previous owners.

But, let's assume that all is well except for the bent wheels. That might be something you can fix. It depends on a few things. I think there are spokes with nipples in the wheels. If so, if you can turn the nipples, that would be a good start. If not, you could try liquid wrench on them for awhile until they become free and you can turn them. Then, since the rims are steel, you ought to be able to loosen all the spokes and then carefully check the rims to find the bends in them. You can then bend the rims back into shape, maybe with your hands, bending over your knee, maybe with a fixture you build out of wood on a workbench to slip the bent portion of the rim under so you can flex the rest of the wheel to straighten out the bent section, or what have you. Once the rims are reasonably round and straight again, you can retension the spokes and the wheels, though they won't be perfectly straight, should be at least reasonably round and true and tensioned, and capable of holding up for your kids to enjoy.

But, the first and most important part of all this is to make certain that this trike is the right size before going any farther. You don't want to risk your kids' safety and this looks like a trike made for big kids to me.

Hope this helps,

Q&A: Axle nut won't cooperate

I found your awesome site through Google. I could use some advice!

My commuter bike finally died after years of service. I have a road bike, but it's not suited to the city streets where I ride. While pondering buying a new commuter bike, my neighbors threw out a 10 speed converted to a commuter - the problem with it was that it was rusty and the tires are in bad shape and cracked. I assumed the inner tubes would be the same. So I purchased new tubes and tires, and replaced the front ones. The rear wheel nut (on the right) is completely seized. I have tried moving it with an adjustable wrench, but it keeps slipping. I don't want to ruin the nut, and I put some oil on it with the hope it might seep inside and help me loosen it up a bit. Any advice? I was bummed out because I was looking forward to tuning it up and driving it in to work tomorrow.


Hi Graham,
Congrats on finding a "new" bike. Did you try tightening the left nut securely before trying to loosen the right nut? Sometimes you have to work back and forth like that, tightening one and trying the other and/or vice versa. If that doesn't work, you could try heating the nut, too, with a propane torch, or any flame. Heat will expand the metal and should help loosen the nut.

One of these steps should help you get it off. Have fun fixing up that bike!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NEWSWIRE: Shimano Dura-Ace Carbon Crank!


Shimano Dura-Ace Receives Carbon Crank Option

IRVINE, CA: Shimano debuted a carbon-fiber laminate Dura Ace hollow crank at Eurobike 2007. While carbon cranks are not new to the market, Shimano opted to continue to study and develop different types of construction in an effort to create a well balanced use of the material that is not only light weight, but also exceptionally rigid. Using knowledge gained by years of successful manipulation of carbon fiber in cycling shoe soles, rims, and other components, those goals have been realized with the new Shimano Dura Ace carbon crank. Prototypes used by professionals in competition over the summer provided final real world confirmation.

The Dura Ace FC-7800C carbon crank uses an aluminum hollow-core base that resembles an aluminum Hollowtech II crank design. The difference is that the aluminum is significantly thinner because a carbon fiber laminate layer completes the construction to achieve the uncompromising Dura Ace level rigidity and strength at a weight lighter than all aluminum construction. The aluminum base ensures that the achieved stiffness is multi-dimensional for better performance in the field where cranks are stressed in more than one plane. At just 709 grams including bottom bracket, the carbon construction manages to save over 30 grams from the standard aluminum Dura Ace crank/bottom bracket assembly and actually increases rigidity by 10%!

The bottom bracket and left arm construction is the same design as the latest version of XTR allowing for a lighter bottom bracket assembly and more precise adjustment of the bearings. Pricing is still being finalized, however the crank will be available in Spring 2008 in 3 crank arm lengths and 2 chainring combinations.

*Hollowtech II construction
*Hollow carbon fiber laminate arm
*Gear combinations: 53/39, 52/39
*Lengths: 170, 172.5, 175
*709g including bottom bracket
*Available: Spring 2008

Lighter, stiffer, more beautiful

Monday, September 17, 2007

Q&A: Buying a bike!

Just read your how to buy a bike tips and bike scenarios at They really helped me narrow down what I need, and were a fun read.

Now if only I could decide how much to spend!

Thanks again.

Thanks, Darcy. Glad my stories helped. Once you visit a shop and ride and see some bikes, it should become clearer how much to spend to get what you want. Keep in mind that you'll get the best value by buying the most you can afford at the outset. Sometimes people spend less thinking they can upgrade later, but it always costs more to upgrade than to just get what you really want on the bike you buy new.

Another consideration is that you may want some accessories like a bottle cage, lock, gloves, helmet, etc. When you buy a new bicycles some shops offer slight discounts on accessories with the sale or don't charge labor for installation or fitting. By taking advantage of these offers you can sweeten the deal.

Have fun picking out your new bicycle!

Q&A: Finding an affordable bike

I bought a bike a month ago off a guy on craigslist and the frame turned out to be bent. Now I need a bike to get to school and I am looking for a good used road bike. Do you know someone trustworthy to buy one from?


Hi Katie,
I'm sorry to hear that the bike you got on craigslist turned out to be bent. Sometimes you can straighten bent bikes good enough to get them at least rideable, but if it's really bad that's probably not an option. I'd be happy to take a look if you were ever down here.

If the bike can't be fixed maybe you could sell it again on craigslist but just for parts. You might get lucky and find someone who will buy it to use it to build another bike. You can tell people it's bent and that you're just selling it for parts.

And, on finding an affordable road bike for getting around, I don't know the Oakland/Berkeley area that well, but I would think that there's a large used bike market there. You might call some bike shops and ask if they carry used bikes or can recommend a place to get them. Shops are trustworthy and should know good sources, too. For example, we have the Bike Church here in Santa Cruz where you can go and work on bikes to earn a used bike. Maybe in Berkeley or Oakland there's a charitable bike organization like this. Or, maybe you can find a bike shop with used bikes.

You might try Goodwill stores, too. It's amazing what you can find in them if you get lucky. Fleamarkets, swap meets and yard sales are good sources, too. You just need to get out there on a Sat or Sun and hunt a bit. You might get lucky. Another way people find bikes is to ask everyone they know. Sometimes the perfect bike is sitting there collecting dust in a garage or house somewhere. To find it ask everyone you know if they have an old 10-speed you can have. Ask friends, your relatives, people you meet when you're out and about, ask your friends to ask, etc. Lots of people find bikes like this because there are lot of bikes like this out there. The people don't think they're worth anything and would be happy to get rid of them. You just have to remember to ask everyone and be a little creative to get the word out.

I hope one of these ideas pans out for you and you find a nice bike and I hope that person who sold you that bent bike gets the stomach flu ;-)

Q&A: Drag

Dear Mr. Langley,

I have had a problem with my Seven Alaris ti frame of late. It has a Shimano Ultegra triple. The wheelset is Mavic K's ssl. My weight is 240 lbs. I ride 100-150 miles/week. I feel a drag in the rear of the bike and its not my rear. It occurs in certain gears, when I apply moderate to heavy pedal force. It is intermittent, but can be duplicated on a hill with the front middle chainring, and middle of rear cassette. The bike has been checked and wheel hubs have been replaced or adjusted, brake calipers have been checked and centered. The freebody hub has been changed, I have tried different wheelsets and skewers. Although my gut feeling is that it is not the frame I have run out of troubleshooting ideas and may have the frame checked by Seven. I would really appreciate your feedback on this issue.


Hi Nicholas,
Sorry to hear about the problem. I wonder if you have checked your chain, cassette and chainring for wear? If any of the 3 are worn out or nearly worn out, that can make the pedaling feel terrible. I wouldn't call it a "drag" feeling, but it's kind of like that because there's more resistance and you feel like you're working too hard to pedal the bike. Another consideration is the derailleur pulleys. These wear and can bind and they can make it considerably harder to pedal. Ditto for the bottom bracket bearings. You can check either by lifting the chain off and turning slowly by hand. There should be little resistance in the pulleys and the crankarms.

I know you meant drag as in overall bicycle drag, but my experience has been than sometimes riders sense or feel drag from other parts of the bike and think it's the wheels or brakes when it's other things. The fact that you mentioned pedaling and what gear it's in made me think of these possibilities.

Of course there is also the sobering possibility that the frame has cracked or broken where it's hard to see. For example, you might closely inspect the rear dropouts and see if one is cracked. It might be almost impossible to see. Get down close with a flashlight and have a friend push sideways on the wheel to put some stress on the dropout. If it's cracked it just might open up and you'd see it. If that's the problem, the wheel would be able to shift when you're riding and strike the brake causing the drag. A broken chainstay or seatstay might do something like this, too. You can usually find cracks by flexing the bike various ways and watching the tube junctures closely to see if they move, shift, or open up.

I hope this helps you solve the problem and that if it is a broken frame Seven get it's fixed up for you soon. If you find out what it is, I'd enjoy hearing about it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Q&A: 1970's Austro-Daimler frame value?

Mr. Langley,
Could you direct me to a resource to find a value for an 1970's Austro-Daimler Super Leicht frame?

I would appreciate any assistance you could give,

The best way, Lance, is to check the auction website once in a while and watch for your bicycle to show up for sale. Just search on "Austro Daimler bicycle" or frame. Sooner or later just about everything shows up on ebay so if you keep checking you'll likely spot it sooner or later. Then you can watch the auction until the end to see what it goes for and that'll give you a good idea of what you can get for yours.

Since you have a frame, size is a consideration, too. If yours is a common
size like a 57cm or 22inch, more people will likely be interested, so it'll be worth more than if it's a giant frame or tiny one... usually. And, condition is all important, too. The more original the better and the cleaner and nicer the paint and decals the better, too.

My educated guesstimate would be that it would fetch from $100 to $300, but without knowing the size and the condition, etc. that's a pretty wild guess. Obviously, you have your perceived value, too, and you shouldn't sell it if you can't get what you need out of it.

If you would like to tap into the best resource of people who love vintage 10-speed frames like yours, which would be a great way to find out more about your frame and try to find someone interested in buying it, I recommend visiting the website and signing up for their free email list. Once signed up you can send a post to the group about your Austro Daimler and they'll likely respond with all kinds of great suggestions and may offer to buy it or be able to give you an idea what they think it's worth. There's a wonderful bunch of vintage-bicycle people on there.


GOOD STUFF! Cloud Nine Re-cycle Bicycle Belt

Cloud Nine Designs Re-Cycle Belt!

My framebuilder friend John Calleti of Cloud Nine Designs makes gorgeous custom bicycles and he also made this sweet Re-Cycle bicycle belt for me. He'll make one for you, too!

Every belt is a little different because they're made of recycled materials. He uses worn tires, knobbies for off-road belts, and road treads for roadie belts, plus worn-out cassette cogs for the buckles. A used chain link attaches the buckle to the belt.

this link to learn how to order your own and add some real bike cool to your wardrobe, hold your pants up in style, and also make good use of recycled two-wheeler stuff, too!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Q&A: Front shifter problem on two bikes

Our bikes have been in storage for a year or so. Today I got them out to start reconditioning, and found that the front shifter on BOTH bikes has the same problem. Both bikes are essentially mountain bikes, straight handlebar, thumb shifters. On both, when you push the large thumb lever on the left to shift to the next higher front ring, the cage moves the chain up onto the next ring, but it will not stay there. When you remove your thumb, the cage goes back down to its inner most position over the smallest ring. If I remember right, there is supposed to be some sort of ratcheting action that keeps the cage over successively larger front rings as you shift up to higher gears. Can you shed any light on this?


Thanks for the email, John. You're right, there's supposed to be something that holds the derailleur in gear and that something is the shift lever. The derailleurs have springs in them and the only thing that keeps the derailleur in gear is the shift lever. If the lever loosens up, the spring will overpower it and the derailleur will shift right back out of gear the second you let go of the lever.

You didn't tell me what type of shift lever you have, but most basic thumb shifters have either a regular screw on top of them, or a screw with a D-ring attached to it that you lift up to turn. To tighten the lever and keep tension on it to hold the derailleur in gear you turn the screw with a screwdriver (or the screw with the D-ring) clockwise. It should be that simple.

Hope this solves the problem,

NEWSWIRE: Hutchinson Announces Tubeless Cross Tire

Hutchinson Tires Backs Team Redline
First Tubeless Ready Cyclocross Tire to See Competition

September 13, 2007—Trenton, NJ—The Redline Cyclocross Team has set the bar over the years for racing consistency as well as embracing technological advancements and this year will be no different. In his never ending search to match the best parts to the team issue Conquest Pro frameset, team manager Tim Rutledge has chosen to partner with Hutchinson Tires as the team’s official tire sponsor for the 2007/2008 cyclocross season.

Redline’s deep and talented roster will choose between Hutchinson’s Piranha CX and Bulldog CX tires. Last year’s introduction of these two new offerings was met with praise from dealers as well as racers who spoke highly of its true 34mm width, supple 127tpi casing and the two versatile tread patters.

Hutchinson has plans to debut its new Tubeless Ready cyclocross tires in October and the first riders to get a shot at racing on this groundbreaking technology will be the Redline Factory Team. The tires will feature the same specs and tread patters as the standard clincher tires with the one exception being the bead. In an effort to provide riders with an opportunity to ride lower pressure and suppler tires without the difficulty of gluing tubulars, Hutchinson will equip the new Piranha CX and Bulldog CX Tubeless Ready cyclocross tires with a tubeless bead of the same shape as Hutchinson’s Road Tubeless tires. The tires can be set up either with a standard tube or as tubeless on Shimano Dura Ace SL wheels with the addition of Hutchinson’s FastAir latex sealant.

“I look forward to the advantages of tubeless ready ‘Cross clincher tires that will eliminate the threat of pinch flats. Our goal with our team and sponsors is to show off the Hutchinson and Shimano tubeless clincher technology and the advantages this brings to Cyclo-Cross riding and racing” said Rutledge. “With the new tread designs that Hutchinson offers, ‘Cross riders have a mud tire—the Bulldog CX, and dry tire—the Piranha CX, two tires that are perfect for the variety of courses in America.”

Look for Team Redline riders to grace the top steps of the podium at the biggest cross races around the country.

Team Redline Roster
Kristi Berg from Seattle, WA - Elite Woman
Kevin Bradford Parish of Spokane, WA - Elite Men
Jacob Rathe of Beaverton, OR - Junior Men
Chad Berg of Seattle, WA - Master Men—Team Helper
Dan Norton of Roslyn, WA - Master Men
Logan Owen of Bremerton, WA - Junior Boys

About Hutchinson Tires North America
Hutchinson Tires NA is a division of Hutchinson Worldwide based in Paris, France, a leading manufacturer of industrial rubber products. Hutchinson Tires has been producing high quality bicycle tires since 1890.