Sunday, July 5, 2009

Q&A: Bike Repair Schools, Bike Storage, Fixie Gearing, Scratched Carbon and more

Q: Hi, Jim. I'm in Kailua, Hawaii. I am a bike enthusiast and have been competing in time trials. I have always wanted to attend a bike mechanic course and understand some of the main schools are in Oregon and Colorado. I will be visiting my daughter in Santa Monica soon. For efficiency, I wanted to attend a course/school in the area, or maybe work in a great bike shop (as free adult supervised labor) to learn much more about bicycles. I would appreciate any suggestions.
Thank you,

A: Nice to hear from you, George. LA's a huge place so I think there's a good chance you can find some type of bike repair school there. What I would do is have your daughter call around to the shops in her general area and ask them if they're holding any bike repair clinics this summer. I bet if she calls 3 or 4 shops she'll either find out about a class a shop is offering or about one held at a local college.

Rec departments often hold them in the summers in big cities, too - and they're usually taught by local bicycle mechanics. I think since LA is so large that there's a good chance you'll find something like this. It will just take a little searching on the part of your daughter but I think just using the Yellow Pages and calling shops down there should do the trick.

Working in a bike shop - even for free - is something you can ask about, but I suspect most shops won't be interested due to laws that put them in jeopardy should they employ you and not pay you. If you'd like to learn more about the main bike repair schools, visit United Bicycle Institute and Barnett Bicycle Institute.

Q: Hi Jim,
I recently re-married to a wonderful non-cyclist mother of two. Of course, I immediately turned them all on to cycling! It worked so now the trouble is bike storage. I don't have a garage and my basement was remodeled into a family space so I lost my bike room and work area.

I need to build a place to store our bikes plus a workshop space. We currently have 11 bikes plus my 10 month old son's trailer. (I'm sure he'll have several bikes soon enough which will add to the quiver.) These developments have interested me in your Home Bicycle Workshop book. I'm sure it will address lots of areas but my main concern is bike storage. Does your book address things like ceiling height recommendations, wall vs. ceiling vs. floor vs. stands, etc?
Thanks in advance,

A: Yes, Steve, my book (photo) talks about storage solutions. You can read more about it and order your very own copy here, but I'm sure I don't address every possible situation. From what you wrote, it might make sens to line all your bikes up on one wall, hanging each by a single hook. You'd alternate bars up, bars down, and they

wouldn't take up much space except to poke out into the room as far as they are tall. You might want to add a wall "bumper" 2 x 4 for the tires (on the wheel that hangs lower) to bump onto so they don't mark the wall. Since studs don't run closely enough, you can use a long 2 x 4 to screw the bike hooks into as close as they can be placed to space your bikes right (just stand your bikes up side by side and measure to see what will work best). Then you can screw the 2 x 4 to the wall with lag bolts into the studs on the wall.

You need a fair amount of ceiling height to put them overhead, but if you have it, you could hang each bike by the wheels with 2 hooks and that's pretty easy if you have rafters overhead or joists to screw to. Don't put them any higher than you can reach, though, or you won't be able to get them down easy/fast,

Q: I have a 1994 Klein Attitude with a pressed in bottom bracket. My problem is that the spindle snapped. Can you help me find a replacement bottom bracket?

A: Thanks for the email, Steph. You probably don't need a whole new bottom bracket but just the bottom bracket spindle. You can get it from Phil Wood. You may have to have a shop order it for you as I'm not sure Phil sells direct to consumers. You may want the shop to install it too, so they can make sure it's right and regrease your bearings too.

Q: I managed to crash my road bike this weekend and amazingly did little damage appart from frustratingly scratching my deep section carbon tubular rims. The scratches are deep enough to be felt when braking on the wheels, as they are on the braking surface, but not so deep (I hope) to be serious in structural terms. I was planning to fill them (epoxy?) and then sand/polish them back down so they are flush with the braking surface. Can you give me any advice about how to approach this and what to use. It would be much appreciated.

A: You could try basic 5-minute epoxy, Ned, but it's messy to work with and thick enough that if it's only small scratches it might leave too thick a layer to easily stand down. A bigger issue is that epoxy usually softens with heat and braking causes heat. So it may not work very well to patch the braking surface. It's important to make sure the scratches aren't structural. You could tap on the rim with a quarter to see if it sounds different than a non-scratched part of the rim. If not, the rim's probably okay. I bet the scratches won't effect the braking much, and they'll smooth out as you brake, so you might just keep riding the rims and see if the braking issue goes away.
Good luck,

Q: I just purchased a Cannondale Capo singlespeed bicycle. I have been riding a Cannondale R500 road bike for years now, and really never ever switched out of the highest gear, so I figured I would simplify things. Upon purchasing the Capo I feel like a hamster spinning in an exercise wheel. The chainring and cog have way too low of a ratio for me to feel like I am doing anything. The crankset and cog give me a 42/17 gear.

The cranks only attach to the chainring in four places instead of five. Basically I want as large a chainring as possible, and as small a cog as possible, but I do not want to get rid of the cranks as I like the way they look and feel. What options do I have? I want my new bike to feel as comparable as possible to riding in high gear on my previous bike. Thanks for any help you can give me.

A: Hi Sebastian,
Since you just purchased your Cannondale, the best thing to do is to return to the bike shop where you bought it and tell them you want harder gearing. Because it's a new bike, they should be happy to switch out the gearing for you, and if you're lucky, at no cost to you. Also, since they carry that bike, they should have the chainring and cog to fit, or can order them.

You probably don't want to go to as high a gear as what's on the high end of a road bike. That would be a 53/12 usually, and that's a super hard gear. It would be hard to get going from stoplights and difficult to pedal up any real hill. So, what you might do is just change the rear cog to a 13 and try it. That'll give you a much harder gear and I bet you'll find you like it. That way you won't need to change the chainring.

If you have to pay for the parts, the rear cog will be inexpensive, but the chainring could cost a fair amount, so it's always better just to go with the cog if you can. You might want to have a selection of cogs so you can vary the gearing from time to time.

Keep in mind that putting on a smaller cog may mean shortening the chain, too. But, I would think since it's a new bike that the shop would be happy to do this for you for a small fee or for free.

Hope this helps and have fun on that great new bike!

Q: Hi Jim,
I have a TT bike with 650 x 21 tires/wheels. Will a standard inner tube, size 700C, fit these wheels?

A: Hi Jim,
You should use a 650c tube in those wheels/tires. If you were to get a flat tire while out on a ride or during a race, and not have the right size tube - or maybe you needed to borrow a 700c tube from someone riding with you - you can stuff it into the tire and use it to ride home on. But, the 700c tube is larger diameter and you'll need to fold it over a little to get it to fit in the tire. So, it's possible to use them, but it's not ideal. The tube adds weight, isn't as easy to install and doesn't install correctly with the fold in it. For every-ride use, I would stick with 650c tubes, which is the right size for that tire/wheel.

Hope this helps,

Q: Hi Jim,
I am a female cyclist, road bike, kinda new, a year or two. My computer is not displaying the cadence. I do not know were the sensor is or how to fix it. Can you help?

A: Hi Debi,
Bike computers usually pick up the cadence reading from a sensor that's attached to the crankarm (where the pedals are). There should be one on that and probably one on the frame too right near the crankarm. If you slightly adjust their positions you should get the cadence to show up again. Keep in mind that some computers have to be put into cadence mode before you see the cadence. In other words, you might have to press buttons on the computer before you see the cadence shown on the display.

Hope this helps you out,