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.

Q&A: Rear dropout spacing frame alignment cold setting

I am back for another consult: I have a new frame for buildup (Kogswell Porteur- ordered raw w/o paint). It is spaced 135mm in rear, but I am thinking of using 130mm hub (Campy Centaur or Veloce- with 10 speed ergo drive train). I have years of experience as a bicycle wrestler and know how hard it is to re-space rear triangles as the frame is essentially a big spring. I have one bike currently that is spaced about 122mm, and accepts 126mm six speed hubs with just a little spread action. I have tried to get the stays to move those extra 4mm, but the stays return to original position after many attempts (which is good).

So can I, with a clear conscience, run a 130mm hub in a 135mm rear triangle without any liability other than the hassle of wheel removal and installation? I will attempt to add some spacers to the rear axle; and I know it is possible to run Shimano 135mm hub with Shimano cassette with
Campy ergo shifters- the J-tek thingamabob or some such.

Thank you,

Hi Michael,
You'll probably be okay running your 130mm wheel in your 135mm frame. It won't hurt the frame to squeeze it those 5mm, 2.5 on each side. The risk is that, with the squeezed dropouts holding your axle, the dropouts are slightly out of parallel. And, because they're clamped tightly against the axle locknuts they will be applying a steady bending force on the axle. Over time this force could cause the axle to bend, or maybe break. Fortunately, most modern quick-release axles are made out of chrome moly steel, which is tough stuff, so it's likely that the force from the dropouts
won't bend your axle, but there are no guarantees, I've seen some bend and some break, it depends on your axle, how much your frame actually distorts when compressed, how hard you ride, what kind of load you carry on your bike - and whether you're lucky.

If it was me, I'd realign the frame's rear end to 130 or get a 135 hub or re-space the hub you want to use to 135, or if you can't do that, just
adding anything, even 1 or 2mm will help.

That Kogswell frame is steel so it should be relatively easy to cold set. I would stand behind the bike, put one hand on each dropout and push my hands together. If you have large hands, you might be able to reach across the stays with your fingers and squeeze your hands together. No? You could also use woodworking clamps to gently squeeze the rear end down to 130.

Or, you could have a friend come over and you could do it together. Ideally, you'll do it carefully and not overdo it. You want to bend it only once if possible, not back and forth. But, it shouldn't be all that difficult to do it.

I did visit the Kogswell Porteur website
read about your bike and learned that it was designed for 26-inch wheels and that's probably why they went with the 135 spacing. So, my last comment is that maybe you might want to reconsider building your bike up with road equipment and use mountain stuff since that sounds like what it was made for? That's just a suggestion. It's possible yours is a custom model built for the parts you plan to use, but if that's the case, I don't understand why it didn't come with 130 spacing.

Hope something here helps you build up that cool bike in style,

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Q&A: Clipless pedals

I've got a bike with pedals that have toe clips and straps on them. I'm
going to ride it for a while but am wondering about clipless pedals. Can you tell me about them?


Thanks for the email, Tom. Clipless pedals offer more power throughout the pedal stroke because they keep your feet attached to the pedals making it easy to apply power on the down stroke and up stroke. They are also easier to get into and out of than clips and straps once you get used to them so they're actually safer -- even though people who learned first how to use clips and straps sometimes think that going clipless is more dangerous.

Because there is no metal clip or strap rubbing your toe or foot, clipless pedals are more comfortable and they don't wear out your shoes. And, because the clipless pedal does not have a metal cage hanging down like a toe clip, you don't have to worry about dragging the toe clip when you're riding on the bottoms of the pedals. This can be a problem if you're riding on a trail where the inverted toe clip can snag on a root in the ground and cause a crash, something I've seen more than once.

There are super light clipless pedals if you're interested in performance, too, and clipless pedals often include some amount of float in the cleat system and this helps protect your knees. If you use cleated shoes with regular pedals with toe clips and straps, there is usually no float, so you don't have anything built in to protect your knees.

If you decide to get clipless pedals and shoes, be sure to set the cleats up correctly. They should be under the balls of your feet and angled so that your feet are at a natural angle that feels right when you're riding. It's hard to do this yourself but any good shop should be happy to help you out if you're buying shoes and pedals from them.

Once you get your pedals on your bike, don't go for a ride until you've trained your feet how to get in and out of the clipless pedals. To do this, stand over your bike on your lawn. Now click your right foot into the pedal and then click it out. Do this 100 times (I'm serious). Focus on the motion of getting in and getting out. Then repeat with your left foot.

This will train your muscle memory so that when you actually ride the bike you should be able to get in and out easily. If you started with clipless and never rode toe clips and straps this would be natural. But, if you ride on clips and straps first you end up learning the bad habit of pulling up/back to get out, and that will not work with clipless pedals. Practicing getting in and out will save you falling over, which even at slow speed can result in broken bones, so you want to avoid that.

Good rides!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Q&A: Interesting folding bicycle

Good evening,
Do you recognize this bicycle which would be of English origin?
Thank you,

Hello JP,
Yes, but I believe that is actually a French bicycle, called Le Petit Bi, or "The Little Bike." I have attached a couple of scans from the book It's In The Bag by Tony Hadland and John Pinkerton. In this book they give the history of this neat folding bicycle. These files tell the story: You can visit Tony's website, too, for lots more great bicycle stories and tips.

Thanks for the great pictures, too,

Q&A: What have I bought?

Dear Jim,
I recently bought a bike and the seller offered a "box of bits," too. I gratefully accepted but am a bit confused over one item and wonder if you can help. One of the items is a frame (753 Peugeot), which appears to have a wheel size of 700cc at the back and 650 at the front. Is this possible and what style of cycling would this suit (I am probably going to sell it so wonder who would be the market)?
Many thanks,

It sounds to me like you might have purchased a road time trial bike from the 1980s, sometimes referred to as a "funny" bike, due to the smaller front wheel. This name comes from the hot rods called funny cars. The smaller front wheel was said to improve aerodynamics. I'm guessing that that's what the bike is based on the fact it has a Reynolds 753 frame, which is a somewhat rare and expensive tubeset (when it was new).

If it had a regular steel frame, the other possibility would be that it's a bike designed for a woman or a short man. Some builders use smaller wheels in front to accommodate a shorter top tube that shorter riders require. But, the Reynolds 753 was a super-light and high-tech tubeset usually only seen on racing bicycles so I suspect you have a 1980's time trial bike.

To sell it, I would visit and sign up to receive their free email newsletter. You could then post a message to the group. We're all vintage 10-speed fanatics from around the world. If you were to provide some nice photos of your bike, you'd probably get some feedback from the CR people, and you might even hear from someone who knows exactly what you have. Then you could choose whether to see it to someone on the CR list or on

Have fun and I hope this helps,

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Q&A: Cable/housing ferrules

Every bicycle-repair book I've got tells me to put ferrules on the cable housing, and I have the parts to do it on the V-brakes I'm setting up. But, if I put one on the end of the casing that goes into the noodle, the outer sleeve of the noodle won't fit over the ferrule. If I leave the ferrule off, will the outer sleeve of the noodle be sufficient to keep the casing from splitting? Know what I mean?


I don't know what exact set-up you're working on, Kevin, but you usually don't need the ferrules at the noodles. The noodle end that the housing slips into is the ferrule essentially. So, it should work fine without the ferrules.

On other brake and derailleur systems the rule to follow is if the ferrule fits, you should use it. This is a little tricky, though, because sometimes a ferrule will fit on one end of the housing, the one that fits into the frame stop, yet on the other end of the housing (at the lever), it won't fit because the hole in the lever is just the right size for the housing only (a ferrule won't fit). So, what you have to do is try the ferrule each time and see if it will fit and use it when it does.

The idea behind the ferrule is to ensure that the cable housing can't pull through the frame stop or lever it's seated in under hard braking or shifting. It also reinforces the housing, which can make it last longer and prevent splitting and cracking over time. However, manufacturers sometimes design their frame stops and their components to a close tolerance so that you don't need to use the ferrules and the cable housing will still work perfectly fine.

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Q&A: Removing a frozen seatpost

I have a bike with a seatpost stuck in it. The top has been pounded out of shape so I can't get a seat on it to take it out. Any suggestions?

Much appreciated,

You have to grab the post somehow and twist it to get it out. Be sure to loosen the seatpost clamping nut/bolt all the way. If there's enough of the post sticking out, and the post is a constant diameter, you might be able to cut off the damaged part of the post with a hacksaw and attach a seat to the post. With a seat fastened tightly you'll have something to use to try to twist and pull the post out.

If that doesn't work or you can't get a seat on the post, I would try using a Vise Grip tool. If you heat the seatpost first with a propane torch that will make it and the frame expand slightly and this can help a lot, but be careful not to burn your paint (wrap a wet rag around the painted areas to keep them cool and heat only the post, not the frame). Be patient and let the heat do its work for a few minutes and then try to twist and pull the post out. If you have a bench vise, you can also hold the bike upside down (get a friend to help you), clamp the post in the vise and then turn the bike to try to get the post out. You don't want to break the post though so don't overdo it. Rock the bike sideways instead of trying to turn it too far on the post. You're trying the break the corrosion first and then the post will come out.

You can also try squirting some liquid wrench on the edge of the post right at the frame and tapping with a hammer on the post to vibrate the post and get the liquid wrench in there to break the corrosion, too. Liquid wrench takes awhile to work. You might have to apply it for several days and keep trying. Sooner or later, though it will break the corrosion and you will be able to extract the post as long as you can get a good grip on it. But, because it takes time, I usually try the vise grip and heat approach first.

If you break off the post when working on it, you can usually slot the back of the remainder of the old seatpost and insert another post that fits inside the old/stuck post as a way to fix the problem. Or, you can ream the old post out, too, if you have the tools.

Hope this helps you out,

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Q&A: Finding head badges

Hi Jim,
Awesome collection of bicycle head badges. How would one get started in collecting them? Any links or information on how to get started would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time,

It's pretty easy these days, Derrick. Just go on and search on "head badge" or "bicycle badge" and you'll see endless badges for sale. I wish ebay was around when I started collecting 25 years ago. Back then, they were much harder to find. The only problem with online auctions is that the badges sometimes go for too much money, but there are a lot on there and the same ones turn up over and over, so if you just wait, there's an excellent chance of getting the badges you like at reasonable prices. Here are some nice recent arrivals to my collection.
Great head badges
Other than ebay you can certainly try bicycle and vintage car swap meets, weekly flea markets, antique shops, older bicycle shops, garage sales, etc., etc. There are also some collectors that sell head badges. For example, is an international club and once you join you will receive their newsletter in which you'll see head badges for sale, well, at least once in a blue moon. Another resource is the Copake bicycle auction, which is a large bicycle auction in New York held each April. You can check their website to see everything on sale and bid online, or if you're near NY, you could attend, which would be a lot more fun. They usually have at least one lot of head badges each year.

Happy collecting!

Q&A: Shimming pedals/cleats, leg-length discrepancy

Dear Jim,

My right leg is shorter by 2.5 cm in length compared with my left leg because I was born with polio. My doctor told me that I must use a shim to be attached under the cleats of my right leg, since adjusting the saddle height in favor of the shorter leg will result in muscle injury of the left leg. Do you sell any shims? Can you refer me to a supplier/dealer? I'm currently using Shimano 7800 pedals with Shimano SPD SL shoes. Do I need to change pedals? Speedplay?


Thanks for the question, Nelson. I don't see any parts, and I don't know where you're located so it's hard for me to recommend a shop that can do this for you, however, more and more bicycle shops are getting good at fitting riders so I recommend you call a few local shops and ask them about their bike-fit services. The right shop will know how to shim the cleats and look at you on your bike and make a recommendation based on your specific needs. I don't think you'll need to change pedals, but I would need to see your shoes and cleats to be certain. A good fitter shouldn't have much trouble helping you out. If you need other pedals you can probably trade in the ones you have toward the ones you need, too.

Hope this helps and good rides!