Friday, August 31, 2007

Q&A: Bike Friday and Raleigh Grand Sport

Hi Jim,
Is your Bike Friday your primary bike also?

I purchased a B.F Pocket Pilot configured as a road bike two years ago-only as travel bike. Prior to that, I have been riding my 1977 Raleigh Grand Sport for almost thirty years. When I first rode my Grand Sport, I thought it was the perfect bike with the perfect fit for me. As I got older, due to some lower back issues, I shortened the stem, and moved my seat forward, which seemed to do the job.

I knew B.F was a good bike, but I thought the sales staff there were giving a little hype telling me they all gave up their conventional machines and now ride exclusively their B.F. Well... for the past six months I have been on the B.F more and more, and now I see it as the perfect fit for me. The top tube is a little shorter than the Grand Sport's, the gearing is easier (I enjoy standing on the pedals, but don't need to as much), and my normal 9-mile early morning ride is now 15 miles, with the same effort. Perhaps it's the custom fit. I also enjoy the agility of the front end (small wheels and straight fork-compared with the wide rake of the Grand Sport) - the compact feel makes me feel much more in control and on top of everything. I even first thought of changing the ergonomic bars and replacing them with straighter drop bars like the Grand Sport - I'm now glad I didn't.

These two were my only real bikes. I wonder if I would enjoy a conventional custom-fitted road bike (fitted with S&S couplings) as well as my B.F. I see no reason to spend the time or money to find out.

By the way, what do you think I can get for my Grand Sport? I am thinking of selling it. My local bike shop thinks I can get more for the parts (new SunTour sidepull brakes, Shimano 500 derailleur - Reynolds 531 frame). I would hate to tear it apart after so many years of use.


Thanks for the email, Saul. I'm happy to hear you love your Bike Friday as much as I do mine. My Rocket is my travel bike but I'll use it at home, too, if I need to when my other bikes are loaned out or waiting for parts. I think it's an awesome bicycle and have made many of the observations you have. The S&S coupled bikes are very nice, too, but the Bike Friday is easier to pack and travel with in my experience. Here's my Rocket.
My awesome Pocket Rocket

On selling your Raleigh Grand Sport, I recommend checking for similar bicycles for sale on Just search on "Raleigh bicycle" once a week for a bit and you'll probably turn up some bikes similar to yours. You can then watch the auctions to get a feel for what the selling price is and that's a fair assessment of what yours might sell for. You could certainly part it out, but I agree that that would be a shame.

Good rides!

Q&A: Kangaroo bicycle

I need the price of the Kangaroo bicycle for France,

Thank you,

For information on purchasing the amazing Kangaroo bicycle, please contact the company at this website or email the company at


Q&A: Old Harley Davidson bicycles

Hi Mr. Jim, glad I found to contact you for information. I am from
Indonesia. Many people and club have old bicycles, and if you can help me to
email information about Harley Davidson bicycle to me maybe I can chat with
you. Thanks'.

Thanks for the email. Harley made some nice bicycles. I have couple of
Harley ads on my website that I like. Here are links to them:
My favorite: A strange one:

Interestingly, there is a motorcycle shop in town that has a women's Harley bicycle on display, circa 1890s. That's a beauty.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Q&A: Road tires and tubes: wear and pressure

Hi Jim:
When is a good time to change bike tires? Should we change tube when we change tires? I am preparing my bike for an Ironman and thinking of changing tires that can be pressurized to 140 pounds (up from 120). Should I change my tubes also?


You replace tires when they're worn out and they're worn out when the tread is gone or the sidewalls start failing. When that happens they look cracked and weak from age and sun and weather. It's best to check the tires when they're new so you can tell when the tread starts to wear away. For most road tires the tread lasts about 1,500 miles on rear tires and at least twice that on fronts, but it depends on how you ride, how heavy you are and the roads you ride on. A sign that a tire is worn is having frequent flats on an old tire. That tells you that the tread is getting too thin to protect the tube. Tread with lots of cuts in it is also a sign of excessive wear.

Tubes don't wear like tires. They will last indefinitely because they are protected inside the tire. There's no reason to change them unless you get a lot of flats and even then a tube with several patches will still keep working fine. I never change tubes unless the valve fails or the tube starts to fail at the seam.

Now, on changing tires for higher pressure tires, there's really no reason to do that. All the testing I've seen indicates that lower pressure provides lower rolling resistance (more speed) and a better ride. You should actually ride tires pumped to about 95 to no more than 110 pounds for most riders between 160 to 200 pounds. If you over inflate the tires up to 140 you end up with a tire that's so hard it bounces over even slightly rough pavement. This bouncing slows you down and makes for a rough uncomfortable ride, just what you don't want on a long tough event like an Ironman triathlon. So, I'd strongly recommend going with a nice, flat-resistant tire like the Continental Grand Prix 4000 and inflating it to a modest 95psi or slightly more if you're 185 pounds or more. I weigh 165 to 180 pounds and ride on 100psi in back and 95 in the front. If I was 200 pounds, I'd bump it to 110psi, but I'd never go anywhere near 140. That'll only slow you down and make you miserable at the end of the bike leg from the beating you'll take.

Hope this helps,

Q&A: Mysterious noise


Thanks to your site, I've been able to work through a lot of maintenance issues. Really appreciate your insights. Here is a sweek that I'm trying to
solve. Bike is a brand new Novara Safari -- disk brakes, triple chainring,
fenders, etc. -- it has less than 700 miles on it most on gravel trails
like the C&O. It was well set up but there have been a few little noises to
contend with --this one has me stumped.

Imagine the sound of a little spring peeper frog by the side of the road,
but more metallic....

*it's irregular, but fairly constant-- I can't tell where it is coming from while riding
*it occurs while pedaling and when coasting
*it isn't the suspension seatpost (it is well lubed and the sound is still there if I'm out of the saddle.)
*not related to speed or pedal motion.
*THIS SEEMS SIGNIFICANT -- if i coast out of the saddle with all my weight on the left pedal, the ticking increases; when all weight is on the right pedal (out of the saddle) the sound is still heard, but not as frequently.

The bike is clean; all the nuts and bolts I can think of have been tightened and blued with locktite. I had a loose left pedal that caused the steady clunking feel but that tightened up and seems fine. I thought about the spokes working loose. I'll have to admit that I'm not real confident with a spoke wrench. No spoke is noticeably loose, but i think I "feel" some differences, but I don't trust my analysis here. One friend suggested that I lube all the crosses of the spokes; is that a fix?


Did you check this page on my website, which goes in depth on common and uncommon noises:

Give that a try and see if it's any help. First you'll want to decide what type of noise you have. You wrote that it's a "sweak" but I've never heard that term before. Later you called it a "peep" and then "ticking." If "sweak" means "squeak," a squeak is very different from a tick, so you can see how things get confusing until you can explain accurately what the noise is you're hearing. In any case, whether it's a squeak, click, clunk, rattle, squeal, etc. etc., I have likely causes and solutions on the webpage I gave you the link to. And, I'm happy to try to help more if that doesn't help you quiet the noise. Ticking can be caused by spokes at the cross but usually not on a new bike like yours. Squeaking can be many things and I list a lot of things to check for on the webpage. Good luck!

Q&A: Finding a $2,000 road bike

Thank you for your site. I greatly enjoy reading it and find it very useful. I'm in the market for a new bike, and based on your description of different types of bikes I think I would like a Road Sport. I prefer high-quality steel as a frame material, and would look for a compact double crankset and parts that are at least Shimano 105 level or equivalent.

Would you be able to offer me some examples of steel road sport bikes currently on the market that would be available off the rack for under $2,000? Or of frames available for under $1,000?

Thanks for your help,

Thanks to the Internet this is pretty easy. Simply visit the various bicycle companies you're interested in online, such as,,,, etc. Once you're at the site you only need open a few bicycles in your category to see the pricing to figure out what's available. This is the easiest way to compare a selection of bicycles, however, the best way is to visit bicycle shops because there you can actually get fitted to the bikes and take test rides, too, which is the best way to select the ideal bicycle.

Have fun!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Q&A: Water bottle cages coming loose?

I have water-bottle cages coming loose. Use locktite?

Hmmm... shouldn't be necessary. Did you lube the threads before you inserted the bolts? Grease or a little lube on the threads in the frame or on the bolts should ensure enough tightness to keep them tight. Sometimes they get put in dry, which usually means you can't get them tight enough. If you lubed them and they're coming loose, it might be that they weren't tight enough. If they're lubed and tight and still coming loose, then you can go with a light duty locktite like green, but it shouldn't be needed.

Another point: if you were to locktite the bolts, there's a chance that it might cause a problem when it comes time to remove them, as the locktite might let the bolt turn the frame insert. That's a maybe, as I don't really know whether the frame inserts on the Cervelo are mechanically or chemically attached or both. Still, locktite would raise that concern on some frames with bottle boss inserts and it'd be a bummer if you went to remove the bolt and the insert started spinning and loosening in the frame, which I've seen on certain inserts.

Also, there should be flat washers beneath the bolt heads. Those should help keep the bolts tight, too.

Q&A: TT wheels

I am looking at getting a new time trial bike and a quality set of wheels. What would you recommend in tt frames? And more importantly, what would you recommend for wheels, assuming I am willing to spend $2,000 on the wheels and most of my tt racing will be on rolling terrain?


It's been a while since I did many time trials or triathlons, but if I was gearing up for one now, I'd probably look at something like Kestrel's Talon for an affordable fast frame (my Cat-2 friend just got one of these and he's flying and credits the bike — he rides/races even hilly courses on it), or go whole hog and buy a Cervelo P3, arguably the fastest bike ever if you don't mind spending a small fortune. And, for wheels, I'd look at Zipp's which are fast and light. Or, I'd look at HED wheels, too Steve Hed's been the guru of free speed forever. I haven't checked prices but I believe Zipp and Hed have nice wheels in your price point.

Hope this helps — and go FAST!


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Q&A: Old Royal three speed

I picked up a very nice ROYAL three speed at the dump. I needed a pedal to replace a threaded rod that the previous owner had used. The pedal set I bought yesterday cost me $21 (nothing cheap back here!)but when installing them,I found the hole to be stripped. I could pay someone to weld the pedal on but my question is,would it be better to get a whole new inexpensive crank assembly? Are they standard sizes? Difficult to install? The exisiting parts are soooo cool. Heavy chrome and well made,I sort of would like to keep them,even welded. Also,the gears do not seem to work anymore and yesterday the cable on the rear hub snapped. Not a worry at the moment but another question I have would be, could I just buy a new wheel and have a no speed,rather than a three speed?



The best fix for a stripped crankarm is to replace it and the only tricky thing about that for you is finding a crankarm that matches what's on your bike closely enough that it will fit. Here, I would go on a search of local bicycle shops hoping to find some old inventory. If that didn't work, I'd go to swap meets looking for entire old British 3-speeds I could rob parts off of. You might be able to buy one of those for $10 or $20 and just use the parts you need. That would be a good way to get the cable, too FYI.

Another way to find old parts like this is to search on You're looking for a "cottered crankarm" or you could try searching on "3-speed crankarm" or "three-speed crankarm." You'll find anything and everything on ebay if you look regularly and it shouldn't cost very much. You might even find the exact crankarm you need.

You could weld the pedal on, but if you do that be sure the person who welds it gets it straight, perfectly straight. And ask him to use a welding technique that is reversible so someday if you find the right crankarm or if your pedal gets ruined or wear out, you can fix it. Oh, he has to be careful not to overheat the pedal axle or he'll cook all the lube out of the bearings and maybe even weaken the pedal axle. Putting wet rags on the pedal might solve this problem. The welder should know all about this.

On the wheel it would probably be easier to hook up the cable and get the 3 speeds on your bike working again than to switch to a coaster-brake rear wheel, and cheaper, too. So, that's what I'd recommend. Your bike will look the same but you'll have the nice benefit of 3 speeds, which is really nice when it's windy or you have to go up hill.

I hope this helps!


Q&A: Stem question

You have a great site. I need to shorten my stem on my Giant OCR A1. It has a 105 MM and I need to go to a 90 MM. I determined using some charts that a 10 degree rise would allow me to keep the current height. I noticed most stems for road bikes do not go above 10 degrees. I have found 6, 7,,8 and the new EA90 at 10 degrees. Is there a reason for this limited selection? With cleats I could stand to raise the bar a half inch as well as shorten the reach.


It's a good question if there's a reason stems these days only come in certain rises and I don't have a good answer for you, Joseph, except to say that it's sort of a standard that's arrived with the threadless systems. I think if you search enough you'll find other sizes but you might have to look a bit. Luckily you can usually dial-in your position and get comfortable with a combination of the rises available and by raising or dropping your stem (assuming you have the spacers to do this on your fork steerer; to get that 1/2 inch you mentioned, you'll put a spacer that size beneath your stem). It's also possible to have custom stems made to get whatever position you need and solve situations where you don't have spacers on your fork to do it, though these are harder to find and usually more costly, too, since they are hand built.

Thanks for the kind words about my website,


Q&A: Gear chart online?

Hi Jim! I've been a long time reader and fan. While diggin thru piles of hardcopy I found a print of of a spreadsheet that calculated gear ratios and formatted them similar to the chart I used to keep on the handlebar stem of my bikes (does anyone do this anymore? Does anyone still care about what gear they're in? or is it because the chart for a 24 speed wouldn't fit?)

The bottom of the chart indicated it was one of your creations and after searching your website for it I didn't find it. Sure, I could use Google and probably find it but I've always wanted an excuse to write you. :-) Would you still have that spreadsheet around?

I started working at bike shops in college (1972) after buying my first 10-speed, a Gitane Club Racer. Got introduced to light weight steel frames, tubulars and Suntour all at once (and a honking 46/54 front set of chainwheels). Skipped all the crap I could've gotten saddled with. I'm now riding my second 10 speed, a 1973 Legnano Super Corsa. All -Campy, 531 db tubing, chrome stays and lugs, TTT bar and stem, etc. (still using the 46/54 and a 13/21) Added Suntour Superbe components and better wheels (still tubular) thru the years where needed and simply haven't been able to think of a reason why I need a new bike.

Other than needing a paint job and new chrome on the fork it's carrying me in style everywhere (I started commuting to work about 3 months ago. Changed jobs in the middle and commute to the new one as well.) Picked up a weekend job as a mech at the local bike shop 4 years ago and love the contact with other bikers of all sorts and the feel of tuning a bike to be better than its owner expects.

Keep up the good work!

PS: any tips for prepping a bike for a repaint?

Nice to hear from you, Oran, and to hear you're riding around on a 1973 Legnano. Very cool. On gear charts, I still think they're handy and that it's fun and useful to check your gearing and get it just right for your abilities and the rides you do, but with the advent of 10-speed cassettes and compact drivetrains and triple mountain bike gears, it's gotten more about buying the bike with the right gearing for you than buying a bike and then modifying the gearing. Plus, the manufacturers make systems now that work very nicely so there's less need for most people, so long as they get the right bike, to need to modify the gearings.

Having said all that, I do still have a spreadsheet for calculating my gears. You can find it at this link and once you open it you can save it to your computer and customize it your heart's content. It makes determining your gear ratios pretty easy and then you can see how changes will affect things. Here's the link:

On repainting: boy, the first thing I'd ask is are you sure you want to repaint a classic old Legnano?

In general on bikes like that it's much better to retain the original paint and decals, even if the bike's a bit beat-up. Once you strip it and repaint it, you may miss the original bike you had and wish you hadn't messed with it. I haven't seen the bike, though, so it's hard for me to judge, but that's the first thing to consider. If the bike was already refinished once or is badly rusting, etc., then a repaint might make sense and the first step is to strip the old finish and get the frame/fork down to bare metal. This is a job I usually leave to the painter, but you could certainly do it yourself if you had the patience and some basic stripping tools.

You also mentioned the chrome fork and that's something you'll need a chromer's help with to refinish. Be sure to find a good one who knows how to work on bicycle tubing. Here again, a good bicycle painter would be able to handle all of this (stripping, painting, chroming, decals) for you and ensure that you get the nice job that bike deserves.

Hope this helps,


Q&A: Grip shifter cable replacement...

Dear Jim . . . I have a Giant bicycle . . . the right or rear shifter cable needed replacement . . . I need to know how to get a new cable installed into the grip shift assembly . . . It seems to be like a can of worms . . . once I opened it . . . I can’t seem to get it back together . . . HELP . . . Mel

There've been a bunch of different Grip Shift designs and I'm not sure what yours is like. So what I recommend is visiting the SRAM website (makers of Grip Shift) and browsing their tech docs to find yours. They should have instructions on installing cables and proper assembly, too. Visit this area of their site and use the drop-down menu next to SRAM to select your product (look for the model number/name on the components on your bike):

That should get you going,


Friday, August 24, 2007

Q&A: Cinelli Bivalent hub service


Great manual, I always refer to it. Good luck on continuing your streak of continuous days riding. This isn't possible in the Northeast. I was wondering if you have any suggestion to help me on this issue. I was able to recently obtain a set of wheels with Cinelli Bivalent hubs as NOS. Since they were not used for 30 years, the grease is dried out. I understand that these were made by Campagnolo for Cinelli. The dust covers that are on one side of the hubs look identical to Campy Nuovo Record. I have never needed to remove the dust covers when servicing the Campy hubs, but on the Cinelli hubs, the axle will not come out without removing the dust cover. I notice that there is only one small hole in these covers. My question is whether there is a special tool needed to remove the dust covers on the Campy Record hubs and what is the correct procedure to follow to remove these covers without damage due to prying? I am assuming that this will also work to remove the covers on the Cinelli hubs. I have the Campagnolo tool to remove the dust covers on C-Record hubs, but these seem to be different from the Nuovo Record design.

If you have a solution, I would appreciate your advice as I do not want to damage these Bivalent hubs in any way. Loosening the hub cone on the axle is not a problem, but the axle appears to only come out from the dust cover side and the cones unscrew from the freewheel side.

Thanks for your consideration.


Nice to hear from you, Gene. It's been many years since I worked on Cinelli hubs and I only did it once but I can tell you what I'd do. Those holes in the dustcaps are made to make it easy to add grease to your hubs. So, what I'd do is avoid the entire disassembly procedure and simply use the holes to flush the hubs thoroughly with some spray lube with a small straw/tube that you can poke in the hole. This will cut any old grease and grime while not stripping all lube.

Once the lube was running clear, I would let the hubs dry. If you have access to compressed air you could blow that in to clear any lube remaining, though it won't cause much problem if it's still a little damp inside. You can feel how you're doing cleaning by turning the axle and feeling for roughness. After a while the flushing should make it turn smooth though dry.

At that point, get yourself a cheap grease gun at an auto store and put your favorite bike grease in it. Make sure the gun has a needle tip. You then use that to squeeze grease into the hub through the hole in the dustcap and then do the other side. Don't put too much in — just enough to cover the bearings. If you do get too much in it will ooze out when you're riding. No big deal but you'll then want to carry a rag to wipe off your hub so the grease doesn't get flung onto your bike.

Using this technique you won't have to risk any wear and tear on the dustcaps, threads, locknuts, cones, etc. And you should end up with nice smooth regreased hubs. You can do this as needed in the future, too.

I hope this helps and let me know how it goes. FYI: If you were taking the hubs apart, my foggy memory seems to recall that you have to pry out those dustcaps and like Campy's they require patience to get back in perfectly. You have to mess around a bit. So, doing the regreasing the way I recommend should save you time, reduce wear and end up with flawless hubs when you get done.

Oh, congrats on finding those hubs, one of the holy grails of collectibles!

Please let me know how it goes,