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Rec.Bicycles Frequently Asked Questions Posting Part 1/5

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Old October 29th 04, 07:10 AM
Mike Iglesias
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a
Default Rec.Bicycles Frequently Asked Questions Posting Part 1/5

Archive-name: bicycles-faq/part1


Subject: 1 Introduction

Last modified: October 28, 2004

Answers to Rec.Bicycles' Frequently Asked Questions and Interesting Information

The following monthly posting contains the answers to frequently asked
questions posed to rec.bicycles.* and interesting information that cyclists
might find useful. Some of the answers are from postings to rec.bicycles.*,
and some are condensed from postings. Answers include the name and
email address of the author. If no author is listed, I'm the guilty party.
If you're the author and I've misspelled your name or have the wrong email
address, let me know and I'll fix it.

****NOTE****: I am not the moderator or "person in charge" of the
rec.bicycles.* newsgroups. I also have no way to help you with problems
reading the newsgroups unless you are at UCI; you'll need to talk to your
system or news admin for help.

If you have something you feel should be included in the FAQ, please write
it up and send it to me at the address below.

Note: I don't read each and every posting to rec.bicycles.*, so suggesting
that something be included in the FAQ may not be seen. If you want
something included, summarize the discussion and send me the summary.

This FAQ is posted to rec.bicycles.misc, news.answers, and rec.answers
around the 15th of the month. It is also available via anonymous ftp from:


Check the "Archives" section for information on how to obtain the FAQ via

Mike Iglesias


Subject: 2 Index

(! means updated since last FAQ. + means new section.)

1 Introduction

2 Index

3 Administrivia
3.1 Abbreviations
3.2 World Wide Web access
3.3 Archives
3.4 Posting Guidelines
3.5 Electronic Mailing lists
3.6 Posting Guidelines for rec.bicycles.marketplace

4 Rides
4.1 Maps
4.2 Touring supplies
4.3 Taking a bike on Amtrak
4.4 Travel with bicycles - Air/Rail/Other
4.5 Warm Showers List
4.6 Touring Europe Guide
4.7 More information on Amtrak and Bicycles
4.8 Getting Weather Information

5 Racing
5.1 Tour de France Jerseys
5.2 Major Tour Winners 1947-1996
5.3 Rating the Tour de France Climbs
5.4 How to follow the Tour de France
5.5 Tour de France Time Limits
5.6 Tour de France Points Jersey Competition
5.7 Bicycle Racing Movies
5.8 Guide to Spectating at the Tour de France

6 Social
6.1 Bicycling in America
6.2 League of American Bicyclists
6.3 Rules for trail riding
6.4 Commuting - Is it possible for me to commute by bike?
6.5 Commuting - How do I choose a route?
6.6 Commuting - Do I really need to look that goofy?
6.7 Commuting - Do cyclists breathe more pollution than motorists?

7 Marketplace
7.1 Marketplace hints/guidelines
7.2 Bike Trailers
7.3 One Less Car T-Shirts
7.4 Panniers and Racks
7.5 Clothing materials
7.6 Seats
7.7 Women's Saddles
7.8 Women's Bikes
7.9 Bike Rentals
7.10 Bike Lockers
7.11 Bike computer features
7.12 Recumbent Bike Info
7.13 Buying a Bike
7.14 Kids Bike Clothes
7.15 Repair stands
7.16 Updated Bike Locker listing
7.17 Electric Bikes
7.18 Cycling loaded: bags, panniers, and trailers

8a Tech General
8a.1 Technical Support Numbers
8a.2 Using a Quick Release
8a.3 Workstands
8a.4 Workstands 2
8a.5 Working on a Bicycle Upside-down
8a.6 Where to buy tools
8a.7 Common Torque Values
8a.8 WD-40
8a.9 Sheldon Brown's web pages

8b Tech Tires
! 8b.1 Patching Tubes
8b.2 Mounting Tires
8b.3 Snakebite flats
! 8b.4 Blowouts and Sudden Flats
8b.5 Blown Tubes
8b.6 Tube Failure in Clinchers
8b.7 More Flats on Rear Tires
8b.8 Tube and Tire Casing Repair
8b.9 Presta Valve Nuts
8b.10 Rim Tape Summary
8b.11 Talcum Powder for Tubes and Tires
8b.12 ETRTO numbers for tire sizes
8b.13 Tires with smooth tread
! 8b.14 Rolling resistance of Tires
8b.15 Wiping Tires
8b.17 Clinchers vs. Tubulars
8b.18 Tubular Fables
8b.19 Tubular Tire Repair
8b.20 Gluing Sew-up Tires
8b.21 Another way to glue sewup tires
8b.22 Folding a Tubular Tire
8b.23 Coiling a Wire Bead Clincher
8b.24 Measuring the circumference of a wheel
8b.25 What holds the rim off the ground?
8b.26 Making a tubular tire
8b.27 Things to check after a flat
8b.28 Mounting Tubular Tires
8b.29 Presta vs Schrader valves
+ 8b.30 Valve stem separation flats

8c Tech Wheels
8c.1 Stress Relieving Spokes
8c.2 Anodized vs. Non-anodized Rims
8c.3 Reusing Spokes
! 8c.4 Ideal Tire Sizes
8c.5 Tied and Soldered Wheels
8c.6 Machined Rims
8c.7 Wheel Bearing adjustment
+ 8c.8 Wheels for Heavy Riders

8d Tech Chains
8d.1 Lubricating Chains
8d.2 Chain cleaning and lubrication; wear and skipping
8d.3 Adjusting Chain Length
8d.4 Hyperglide chains
8d.5 SACHS Power-links
+ 8d.6 Cleaning chains

8e Tech Frames
8e.1 Bike pulls to one side
8e.2 Frame Stiffness
8e.3 Frame repair
8e.4 Frame Fatigue
8e.5 Frames "going soft"
8e.6 Inspecting your bike for potential failures
8e.7 Frame materials
8e.8 Bottom Bracket Drop
8e.9 Bent Frames
8e.10 Aligning a Fork
8e.11 Stuck Handlebar Stem

8f Tech Moving Parts
8f.1 SIS Adjustment Procedure
8f.2 SIS Cable Info
8f.3 STI/Ergo Summary
8f.4 Cassette or Freewheel Hubs
8f.5 Cassette or Freewheel Hubs take 2
8f.6 "Sealed" Bearings
8f.7 Ball Bearing Grades
8f.8 Bottom Bracket Bearing Adjustment
8f.9 Crank noises
! 8f.10 Cracking/Breaking Cranks
8f.11 Installing Cranks
8f.12 Biopace chainrings
! 8f.13 Indexed Steering
8f.14 Roller Head Bearings
8f.15 Brakes from Skid Pads to V-brakes
8f.16 Brake Squeal
8f.17 Electronic Shifting
8f.18 Bearing Seals
8f.19 Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed Hubs
+ 8f.20 Loosening Splined Shimano Cranks

8g Tech Accessories
8g.1 Milk Jug Mud Flaps
8g.2 Storing NiCad Batteries

8h Tech Ergonomics
8h.1 Seat adjustments
8h.2 Cleat adjustments
8h.3 Adjusting SPD Cleats
8h.4 SPD cleat compatability
! 8h.5 Shimmy or Speed Wobble
8h.6 Soft Bicycle Saddles
8h.7 Black vs White Helmet - Thermal Test
8h.8 Ankling, a pedaling style

8i Tech Misc
8i.1 Weight = Speed?
8i.2 Traffic detector loops
8i.3 The Continuously Variable Transmission
8i.4 Alenax Bicycle
! 8i.5 Stuck Pedal Removal
8i.6 Removing Pedals
8i.7 Bikecurrent FAQ
8i.8 Fretting damage in Bicycle Mechanics
+ 8i.9 Left hand threads

9 Misc
9.1 Books and Magazines
9.2 Mail Order Addresses
9.3 Road Gradient Units
9.4 Helmet FAQ now on-line
9.5 Terminology
9.6 Avoiding Dogs
9.7 Shaving Your Legs
9.8 Contact Lenses and Cycling
9.9 How to deal with your clothes
9.10 Pete's Winter Cycling Tips
9.11 Nancy's Cold/Wet Cycling Tips
9.12 (Moved to 8b.16)
9.13 Cycling Myths
9.14 Descending I
9.15 Descending II
9.16 Trackstands
9.17 Front Brake Usage
9.18 Slope Wind, the Invisible Enemy
9.19 Reflective Tape
9.20 Nutrition
9.21 Nuclear Free Energy Bar Recipe
9.22 Powerbars Recipe
9.23 Calories burned by cycling
9.24 Road Rash Cures
9.25 Knee problems
9.26 Cycling Psychology
9.27 Mirrors
9.28 Another Powerbar recipe
9.29 Lower back pain
9.30 Saddle sores
9.31 Group Riding Tips
9.32 Riding in echelon
9.33 Mirrors II
! 9.34 Thorns aka Puncture Vine
! 9.35 Gyroscopic Forces
9.36 Going over the bars
9.37 Yet another powerbar recipe
9.38 Custom Jerseys
9.39 Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Patelar Tendonitis
9.40 Staying up in a crash
9.41 Applying Merlin Decals
+ 9.42 Flats from Beer and Cigarettes
+ 9.43 Riding on Ice

10 Off-Road
10.1 Suspension Stems
10.2 MTB FAQ no longer available
10.3 Installing new rear derailleur spring
! 10.4 A Brief History of the Mountain Bike
10.5 The Mike Vandeman FAQ
10.6 Ode to a Usenet Kook


Subject: 3 Administrivia


Subject: 3.1 Abbreviations

Some common abbreviations used here and in rec.bicycles.*:

FAQ Frequenly Asked Question. What you are reading now is a file
containing answers to some FAQs.

IMHO In my humble opinion.

TIOOYK There Is Only One You Know. Refers to the Tour de France.

See the glossary in the ftp archives for more bicycle-related terms, or
check out Sheldon Brown's Glossary at



Subject: 3.2 Gopher and World Wide Web access

I've made the rec.bicycles ftp archives available via the Web using
the URLs below:


Again, please ask your local gurus for information on how to use Web

The FAQ used to be available via gopher but since I upgraded my system
the software is no longer available. Please use the web or ftp site instead.


Subject: 3.3 Archives

I've made available via anonymous ftp a copy of the current FAQ and a
few other items on draco.acs.uci.edu ( This is the
workstation on my desk, so I'd appreciate it if people would restrict
their use to 7pm-7am Pacific time. The files are in pub/rec.bicycles.

For those without Internet access, you can use an ftpmail server to get
copies of items in the archives. I really don't have time to email copies
of files to people who can't get at them easily. These servers come and go
all the time but a daily status report can be found:

On the Web at http://www.netservs.com/mrcool/stats.htm
By FTP at ftp://ftp.cix.co.uk/pub/net-services/stats.txt
Mail to and say
"send file stats.txt" (no quotes)

README for Rec.Bicycles Anonymous FTP area

arnie.light Arnie Berger's ) "Ultimate bike light"

Lawrence Hare's ) copy of a
Hypercard stack to calculate gearing. Lawrence says
there is a newer version on major bbs systems.

bike.lockers David H. Wolfskill's ) summary of
bike locker vendors.

bike.painting Sam Henry's ) collection of articles on
how to paint a bike.

bike_power.* Ken Roberts program to calculate power output and power
consumption. See bike_power.doc for more info. Updates
now include wind speed, altitude, and size of rider.
updated by Mark Grennan ) is available

biking_log.* Phil Etheridge's ) hypercard stack
riding diary. It keeps track of dates, distance, time,
average speed, etc., and keeps running weekly, monthly,
and yearly totals. See biking_log.read_me for more

CA-veh-code A directory containing the California vehicle code sections
that pertain to bicycles and gopher bookmarks. See the
README in that directory for more information.

camera.tour Vivian Aldridge's ) collection of articles
on cameras to take on a bike tour.

Roger Marquis' ) article from the
Feb 91 Velo News on nutrition and cycling.

Sheldon Brown's ) universal bike
computer calibration chart and installation suggestions.

cyclesense Larry Watanabe's ) copy of
the "Cycle Sense for Motorists" ready to run thru LaTeX.

faq.* The current Frequently Asked Questions posting

first.century Pamela Blalock's ) tips on training
for your first century ride.

frame.build Terry Zmrhal's ) writeup of
a frame building class he took.

gear.c Larry Watanabe's ) program to
print gear inch tables.

glossary Alan Bloom's ) glossary of bicycle terms.

lab.info Erin O'Brien's ) article on the
League of American Bicyclists.

lights Tom Reingold's ) collection of
articles on bike lights.

lights2 More articles from rec.bicycles.* on lights.

mtb.faq Vince Cheng's ) MTB FAQ.

pam.bmb* Pamela Blalock's ) report on her
Boston-Montreal-Boston rides.

pam.pactour* Pamela Blalock's ) writeup of her PAC tours
across the country.

pbp.info Pamela Blalock's ) information
on her Paris-Brest-Paris ride.

pictures Bicycling gif pictures.

prof.sched Roland Stahl's ) list of
scheduled professional races in many countries.

pwm.regulator Willie Hunt's ) design notes
on a pulse width modulated voltage regulator. Originally
designed for caving, this design is adaptable to bike
lighting. The author has parts available in kit form.

ride.index Chris Hull's/Bill Bushnell's )
explanation of a way to "index" rides and compare the
difficulty of different rides.

ridelg22.* Found on AOL by Gary Thurman ), a
ride diary program. The .exe file a self-extracting archive
for PCs.

spike.bike Bob Fishell's ) Spike Bike series.
They are numbered in the order that Bob posted them to
rec.bicycles. All the Spike Bike stories are
"Copyright 1989 by Robert Fishell, all rights reserved."

spokelen11.bas Roger Marquis' ) spoke length
calculator, written in Microsoft Quickbasic.

spokelen.c Andy Tucker's ) port of
Roger Marquis' spokelen11.bas to C.

spokelen.hqx Eric Topp's 's Hypercard stack that
computes spoke lengths.

studded.tires (Name removed by request) compilation
of messages on studded tires, including how to make your

tandem.boxes Arnie Berger's ) notes on how
he built a box to transport his tandem to Europe and
back. It's taken from a longer travelogue on his trip - if
you want more information, contact him at the above

tech.supp.phone Joshua Putnam's ) list of technical
support numbers for various manufacturers. This list
used to be in the FAQ but now is too long to include there.

trailers A summary posting of messages about bike trailers. Good
stuff if you're thinking of buying a trailer.

wheelbuild.txt Sheldon Brown's ) instructions on
how to build a wheel.

wheels.*.hqx R. Scott Truesdell's ) Hypercard
stack to calculate spoke lengths. See wheels.readme
for more info.

wintertips Pete Hickey's ) notes about
how to cycle in the winter.

wintertips.pam Pamela Blalock's ) winter cycling tips.

More files are available from
http://spiderman.novit.no/dahls/Cycling and


Subject: 3.4 Posting Guidelines

The rec.bicycles subgroups are described below - please try to post your
article to the appropriate group. The newsgroups were designed to minimize
cross posting, so please take the time to think about the most appropriate
newsgroup and post your article there. Most postings to rec.bicycles.* should
not be cross-posted to groups outside of rec.* (alt.* is ok).

For archives of rec.bicycles.*, you might want to check out

rec.bicycles.marketplace: Bicycles, components, ancillary equipment and
services wanted or for sale, reviews of such things, places to buy
them, and evaluations of these sources. Not for discussion of general
engineering, maintenance, or repair -- see rec.bicycles.tech.

rec.bicycles.tech: Techniques of engineering, construction, maintenance
and repair of bicycles and ancillary equipment. Not for products or
services offered or wanted -- see rec.bicycles.marketplace.

rec.bicycles.rides: Discussions of tours and training or commuting routes.
Not for disussion of general riding techniques -- see rec.bicycles.misc.
Not for products or services offered or wanted -- see

rec.bicycles.soc: Social issues, cycling transportation advocacy, laws,
conduct of riders and drivers; road hazards such as potholes, dogs, and
sociopaths. Not for products or services offered or wanted --
see rec.bicycles.marketplace.

rec.bicycles.racing: Race results, racing techniques, rules, and
organizations. Not racing equipment -- see rec.bicycles.marketplace
or rec.bicycles.tech.

rec.bicycles.misc: General riding techniques, rider physiology,
injuries and treatment, diets, and other cycling topics.
Not for products or services offered or wanted -- see

rec.bicycles.off-road: This group is moderated. Discussion of riding
on unimproved roads, gravel, dirt, grass, sand, single track or 4x4 roads.
Also discussion of environmental issues related to mountain biking, trail
issues, backcountry travel, how to handle conditions (technically and
evo-sensitively), off-road magazines and other media. See
http://rbor.org/ for more info and moderator information.

alt.rec.bicycles.recumbent: Discussion of recumbent bikes.

alt.mountain-bike: Discussion of mountain bikes and mountain biking.


Subject: 3.5 Electronic Mailing lists

A mailing list for tandem bicycle enthusiasts.
Suitable topics include questions and answers related to tandem
componentry, riding technique, brands and equipment selection,
prices, clubs, rides and other activities, cooperating on a section
on tandems for the rec.bicycles.* FAQ, etc. For more information
send mail to " with the body of the
message having the line "info tandem", or point your WWW client at
http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/home-pages/wade/tandem.html, or

BOB is the Bridgestone Owner's Bunch, and this is the internet
edition of it. This is a mailing list, not a newsletter, and has no
connection with the real Bridgestone-sponsored BOB except in name and
in spirit. Get more information by sending mail to

HPV list The HPV list is for the discussion of issues related to the
design, construction, and operation of human powered vehicles
and closely related kin. (Hybrid human/electric, for example.)

For further information, send a mail message containing the
following single line in the message, to

info hpv


The BICYCLE list was formed to provide a forum for cyclists to
discuss all topics related to bicycles, mtn. biking, and cycling in
general. This is NOT the place to discuss issues related to

To subscribe to BICYCLE send the following command to

in the BODY of e-mail:


For example: SUBSCRIBE BICYCLE John Doe

Owner: Chris Tanski


A new regional internet discussion group has been started to discuss bicycle
advocacy issues in the midwest area. BikeMidwest was started to connect
cyclists in L.A.W. Regions 6, 7, 8 and 9. That is, the states of Ohio,
Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Iowa and Missouri. Of course, people from outside this area are welcome
to join.

Subscriptions to the list are handled by a computer program called
Majordomo. To subscribe, send a message with the following command in the
body of the message to

subscribe BikeMidwest

Bicycle BBS

BicycleBBS offers free access to cyclists. The # is 619-720-1830.
The BBS is run by Neil Goren,

BicycleBBS also has a mailing list. Anyone can join by sending e-mail to:

and put "JOIN" in the text body anywhere.

VeloNet has a list of some 200 cycling-related mailing lists,
all run under standard majordomo protocols, with both live and
digest formats. Subscribe/unsubscribe requests should go to

Here are the "international/general" lists:

* bikecurrent - Discussions regarding Bicycle Electronics
* bikeham - Cycling and Amateur Radio Operation
* bikemedic - Cycling and Emergency Medical Services
* bikepeople - General/International list for Bicycle Advocacy
* bike-station - Bike commuter centers at transit stations
* bikes-n-transit - Taking your bicycle on public transit
* bmx - General BMX Discussion List
* coaching - Coaching discussions for racers
* commute-logistics - Discussions regarding bicycle commuting logistics
* facilities-n-planning - Transportation infrastructure affecting cycling
* iccc - International Christian Cycling Club
* icebike - Winter cycling
* ifcmc - International Federation of Cycle Messengers and Companies
* imba - International Mountain Bicycling Association
* marketplace - Discussions regarding buying a bicycle or components
* messengers - Bicycle Messengers and Couriers
* mtb - General Discussions about Mountain Biking
* mtb-trials - Mountain Bike Trials Riding
* moulton - The Moulton Bicycle Club Mailing list
* patrol - Discussions regarding Mountain Bike Patrols
* power-assist - Power-assisted HPVs
* promoters - Race promotion
* race-results - International, Cat A & USPRO Race Results
* randon - Randoneering (touring and non-competitive ultradistance)
* safety-n-education - Discussions of Bicycle Safety and Education
(formerly ca-bike-safety)
* team-internet - International Team Internet Racing Team
* touring - Bicycle Touring
* ultra - Dicussions regarding ultra marathon cycling events
* velonet-admin - Discussions regarding the operation of VeloNet

Web sites:

Trento Bike Pages


Subject: 3.6 Posting Guidelines for rec.bicycles.marketplace
From: "E. Paul Stanley"
Date: Sun, 09 Mar 1997 19:14:59 -0500

All subject lines in rec.bicycles.marketplace should stick to the
following codes.


Where CODE = FS (for sale), WTB (wanted to buy), WTT (wanted to

Size would, of course, be omitted for some items.

Commercial vendors could use the following:


Where spam would be the crap enticement to go to the web site, email,

There is no space between the Code, the colon, and the size of the item
to conserve space and make sure the complete subject comes out.

Following this nomenclature would permit newsreaders to see similar
items grouped together and would highlight spam which would not follow
the nomenclature.

The argument that "I have a buch of stuff to sell/buy so it would
require bunches of posts" is without merit. First, "Regular" people
don't have bunches of stuff so it would be a "COM:" post. Second, if a
regular person does have a buch of stuff, simply post the same message
with the proper subject lines for each item. Several posts, but only
one copy and paste from your word processor.


Subject: 4 Rides


Subject: 4.1 Maps
From: Jim Carson
Updated-From: Joel Spolsky

Adventure Cycling Association maps are not free, but you can get them
without joining. To order stuff with Mastercard or Visa, you can call
+1 (406) 721-1776 (24 hr). Maps are currently (Feb 1995) $8.95 each to
"non-members," $5.95 each to "members." There are also small discounts for
sets of maps and members in the continental US don't have to pay for
surface shipping and handling.

Scale of the maps is generally 1" = 4mi/6.4km. Certain areas are more
detailed when necessary. I like the maps because they have lots of
interesting features labeled (campgrounds, grocery stores, major
changes in elevation, historical info about the region,...), they're
printed on a water-resistant paper, and they fit nicely into a handlebar
bag map case.

As of Feb '95, there are three transcontinental (W-E) routes an east coast
(N-S) route, a west coast route (N-S), and a middle route and numerous
routes among the various parks in the western U.S. and Canada.

Membership is $25 individual; $35 family; $19 for students/seniors.
Lifetime is $475; $650 for couples.

Members get copies of Adventure Cycling Association's magazine, Adventure
Cyclist, published 9 times annually, a list of tours run by Adventure
Cycling Association, and the annual _The Cyclists' Yellow Pages_. _The
Cyclists' Yellow Pages_ provides *LOTS* of interesting information on
touring and points of contact for more information about cycling and
touring all over the world. (For example, they have an arrangement with
The Netherlands Service Center for Tourism whereby you can purchase
full-color, 21" x 38", 1:100k scale, Dutch-language maps.)

Adventure Cycling Association's address and phone:

Adventure Cycling Association
(406) 721-1776, fax (406) 721-8754
PO Box 8308
Missoula, MT 59807-8308


Subject: 4.2 Touring supplies
From: Scott "gaspo" Gasparian

Recently, I asked the group: what do you bring with you on medium
trips? (medium being more than one nite, and less than a week). I
received some excellent replies, a few great stories, and lots of things
that I never would have thought of. (at least not until I needed that
spare spoke that is).

Ok, for all of you who don't know what to bring with you on that
next medium trip...

Here, just whatever you normally consume. If you plan on
staying in a hotel/B&B, then obviously 1 day's worth is enough.
Standard things like power-bars and drink mixes should do the trick.
Since I'm not going to BFE, I have no idea what to pack for a real
"camp-out" type tour. This subject is enough for a discussion in
itself, but I just eat what I want.

Almost everybody suggested something different, rangin from hi-
tech bodysuits to cutoffs and T-shirts. However, everybody agreed on the
indispensibleness (tm) of rain gear. Specifically, light waterproof
pants and jacket are not only good for staying dry, but have a very high
warmth/weight ratio.
A spare change of skivies, and a pair of dry socks were also
highly recomended. A pair of jeans or a "smushable outfit" can come in
handy, but I usually smell so bad after a day of riding that anybody who is
talking to me doesn't care what I wear. If it might be non-warm, a
watch-cap or other non-helmet type hat can help.

Outside of the standard band-aids/antiseptic-goop bit, sunscreen
and bug-away topped the lists. Asprin or Ibuprofen and rolaids were
mentioned, but I guess thats a personal thing, just like...

I stick with: soap, toothbrush/paste, deodorant. That covers
all I need, but everybody has different needs, and I'm not even gonna
touch the "personal hygeine" stuff. A razor is handy too, it can help
keep that road-rash dressing from ripping all your remaining hair out.

I'll put the tent/pit stuff into this category. Robyn Stewart
gave an excellent testamony to the uses of rope and tarps. A piece of
rope stretched between two trees can keep the food above the
critter-level, and can also provide a rudimentary tent with the aid of
an old shower-curtain. Again, there is a whole area of discussion here
on the pits and mattresses, but if it keeps you warm and dry, it works.

Basically, this could be split into two different classes, with
things like tire-kit being in the "fix it yourself" category, and other
stuff like a chain remover tool is in the "how far will I be from
civilization" range. This was what I really wanted to know about when I
posted my request, so a little more info than the first groups.

Most of this depends upon how much work _YOU_ do to your velo. If
replacing spokes is trivial to you, then you already know what tools to
bring. Also, wrenches and screwdrivers are very velo dependent: handy
sizes for a MTB might be useless for a nice racer, and vice-versa. Tools
that tune more than repair are also an individual call. I always carry
a hex-wrench that fits my brake-shoe adjustment bolt, but never the larger
one that actually removes the entire caliper.

pressure gauge
flat kit
wrenches (sizes and type for your velo)
hex(allen)-wrenches (sizes and type for your velo)
chain tool
chain links
tire levers (plastic)
spoke wrench
safety wire
duct tape
zip ties

Again, these fall into "distance from civilization" categories.
For example, that nut that connects your front mudguard to the forks
is essential, but could be fixed with the safety wire until you find a
velo-shop/store that might have a replacement. Then again, one little
nut is easy on space/weight, and it may be hard to get a replacement if
your velos measurements are non-standard. If you have a hard-time
finding a replacement for that random part at your local store, bring
one with you.

inner tubes
brake shoes
light bulbs
spokes (labeled if different, tied to the frame)
nuts and bolts for rack/fenders/etc.
tire (if you're _really_ out there)
toe-clip strap
cable (especially if yours are longer than normal).
cable housing (for the shimano special shifter ones)

Here are some of the better inside tips that I found both
humorous and usefull....

(Mike Johnston)
A sock (to keep tools inside and for keeping grease off my hands
during rear wheel flats)

(Steve Kromer)
The most important article to take along on a long ride
seems to be faith.

(chris rouch)
15cm of old tyre

Robyn Stewart
Enough money to get Greyhound home if something goes terribly wrong.

bungie cords - you never know when you might want to get that
set of six beer mugs as a souvenir and transport it on the
back of your bike.

(Catherine Anne Foulston)
ZAP Sport Towel. I think it is really useful because you can
get it wet and it still dries you.


Subject: 4.3 Taking a bike on Amtrak
From: Carlos Martin

The following article relates my own experience in taking a bike
as luggage on the Amtrak in the summer of 1992. It is intended to
offer advice to those who might choose to do the same, and is not
intended to reflect the views or policies of Amtrak. For reference,
I traveled from Trenton to Pittsburgh at the start of a tour.

Traveling with a bike on Amtrak can be problem-free if you take a few
precautions. Amtrak handles bikes at stations that check in baggage.
(Smaller stations and some trains don't check baggage at all.)
There is a $5 baggage fee for bikes, and it includes a box. Call
the station several days before your trip and notify them that you
will need a bicycle box.

The box they provided was big enough to accomodate my relatively
long-framed touring bike (Specialized Expedition) without taking off
either wheel, and with room to spare lengthwise. You will, however,
have to remove the pedals (even clipless ones) and turn the handlebars
to fit the bike in the box. Plan on putting only the bike in the box -
no helmet or panniers. (You may want to check with Amtrak on this point -
they may not cover damages to the bike if you packed other stuff
in the box.)

Before leaving home for the station, loosen your pedals and stem
enough to make sure you won't need heavy-duty tools at the station.
Plan to arrive at the station one and a half hours before departure
time - Amtrak wants all checked baggage at least a half hour before
departure (they may tell you one hour). Don't forget to keep your
tools handy.

At the station, go to the baggage room, get your box and some tape
from the attendant, remove the pedals, and loosen the stem bolt and
the bolt that holds the handlebars in the stem. Hold the front
wheel between your feet as you turn the handlebars parallel to the
top tube. Roll the bike into the box and seal the ends.
If everything goes smoothly, you can do the above packing in
ten minutes. Now go have lunch before you get on the train
unless you want to take your chances with train food.

BTW, the trains are very roomy and comfortable, particularly if
you are accustomed to traveling in airline cattle coaches.
I would travel by Amtrak again in a similar situation.
(The usual disclaimer applies: I have no connection to Amtrak,
other than being a taxpaying subsidizer and occasional user
of the rail system.)


Subject: 4.4 Travel with bicycles - Air/Rail/Other
From: George Farnsworth

I checked the FAQ for information about taking bikes on common carriers
and riding in and out of airports some time ago.

At that time there was little information so I initiated a mini survey on
these subject on rec.bicycles.rides, etc.

Now I have collected information on cycling in and out of about 100
airports around the world and using trains in the US and Europe.

This information is at http://www.GFonline.ORG/BikeAccess. Although the web
may have eclipsed the FAQ for certain purposes, it might still be possible
to provide a pointer to this data, almost all of which was contributed by
readers of r.b.r (who's email addresses appear in the listings).


Subject: 4.5 Warm Showers List
From: Warm Showers List
Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2000 05:32:05 EST

The Warm Showers List is a list of Internet and off-Internet
persons who have offered their hospitality towards touring
cyclists. The extent of the hospitality depends on the host
and may range from simply a spot to pitch a tent to meals, a
warm (hot!) shower, and a bed.

This list works on the reciprocity formula. What this BIG word
means is simply this: if you want to use the list you have to
submit your name on it. If you don't have room but could still
help a cyclist, please add your name to the list.

The Warm Showers List is free.

If you wish to be included on the Internet Warm Showers List,
please fill the application form (if it is not included below
or in the separate file please ask for it) and return it through
one of these two manners:

by E-mail, to: (Roger Gravel)
by S-mail, to: Warm Showers List
50 Laperriere
Vanier (QUEBEC)
G1M 2Y1

You can also apply through the bicycles related Internet page:
[ http://www.rogergravel.com/wsl/ ].

The whole of the FREE Warm Showers List can be obtained via
E-mail and S-mail but not at any Web site. A list of some
of the coordinates (i.e. Name of host, Email addresses,
City/Country/State) of some of the hosts are available to
everyone on Internet via this Web page:
[ http://www.rogergravel.com/wsl/vh_wwwsws.html ].

Keep in mind that if you want a hard copy of the list you will
have to pay for the postage stamps. Please contact me and we can
talk about the best way to implement this.

On behalf of the touring cyclists I thank you for your generosity.

Roger Gravel

Wisdom should be cherished as a means of traveling from youth
to old age, for it is more lasting than any other possession.
- Bias of Priene, circa 570 B.C., one
of the Seven Sages of ancient Greece.

It is as easy as 1 2 3 and it is FREE

Because machines tend to break and people make mistakes, if I have
not answered your request in a few days, please send me a message,
I will try to correct the glitch as soon as possible.

================================================== ===============
================================================== ===============
Best read with Screen Format at Courier New 9
================================================== ===============
================================================== ===============
Organization: (name of organization)
EMAIL address (For pre-trip communication)
Name: (Who are you?)
Home phone: and/or Work phone:
(non mandatory but the work phone can be helpful)
LOC: (Non-Email Contact)
Address (line two)
Address (line three)
Nearest largest city (50,000 people):
(It's much easier to find a large city on a map than a small one,
and some small ones aren't even on some maps!)

Direction and Distance from above city:
(Some cities are very large and getting through or around a city
can be very difficult.)

----------------------------Will provide:
SLEEP: Lawn (for tent or sleeping bag)?
SLEEP: Floor (for sleeping bag)?
SLEEP: Bed (Wow!)? (Cyclists' gotta sleep.)
Food? (or distance to nearest grocery store or restaurant - if known)
(Cyclists' gotta eat.)
Shower? (or distance to nearest motel - if known)
(It can be a real boost to know shower is waiting at the end of the
Laundry facilities?
Local advice/help? (If you don't have room but could still help a cyclist)
(You can provide as much, or as little, as you want.)

Availability: (If only available some months, please indicate this,
otherwise 'year-round')

Cost to Cyclist: (Do you wish any money for your hospitality? if any: How
much?) (please, no more than $5-$10)

Preferred Notice: (Do you require advance notice? If so, how many days
(weeks) notice?)

Maximum Number of Cyclists: (You don't want a major tour coming through :-)

Storage: (Is there a safe place to store bikes? If so, storage for how many

Motel: (Distance, Cost - if known)
(In case a host is not home, for an emergency, etc.)

Local Bike Shop: (Name, Phone, Distance, Reputation - if known)
(In case bike repairs are needed - good to know where good
shops are.)

Any additional comments you would like each interested person to know before
contacting you?

p.s. To allow the manager of the list to put your coordinates on the Web
page please make sure to include the following sentence :
in the body of your message.

Thank you.

================================================== ===============
Roger 'velo-hospitalite' Gravel

================================================== ===============


Subject: 4.6 Touring Europe Guide
From: (Bruce Hildenbrand)
Date: Mon, 5 May 1997 22:30:56 -0700


This guide has been written in an effort to help prospective cyclists get the
maximum out of their European cycling experience. It based on knowledge gleane
from my many European tours and those of others, most notably, Chris Wiscavage
who never gave me an incorrect piece of advice.


It is important to set some sort of goal for your trip. This can be as simple
as "I just want to have fun!" or, "I gotta get up the north side of the
Stelvio" . For instance, in 1988 my goal was to see as much of the European
Alps as possible, particularly those passes that have played roles in major
European professional cycling races (Tour de France thing, Giro de Italia,
Tour de Suisse) as could be had in about three weeks US to US.

One thing that will be noticeably different to the American cyclist is the
respect that European drivers have for cyclists. Cyclists get much more
respect in Europe then they do in America.


There are two basic ways you can tour Europe. The first is to sign up with an
organized tour group. The tour package usually includes lodging, meals, guide
service and transport of gear to and from each day's destination. The other
basic option is to self plan a tour where you, or your small group of friends,
are responsible for lodging, meals, route selection and hauling your gear from
place to place.

The big advantage of guided touring is that you can benefit from the experience
of your touring company and its guides. These people usually have a familiarit
with the area you will be visiting and they can make arrangements for decent
lodging, meals and cycling routes. If you are new to traveling in Europe and/o
you cannot speak the language of the countries which you will be visiting, then
a guided tour may help ease the tension of being a stranger in a strange land.

One disadvantage to guided touring is that you are part of a heterogeneous grou
of people who may differ widely in cycling ability. Also, there is no guarante
that everybody will get along and become friends. Some may see the chance to
meet new people as a positive side to guided touring.

Another disadvantage to guided touring is that in most cases, hotel reservation
have been made in advance which means two things. First, your daily route is
not particularly flexible since when you leave town A, you must be in town B
that evening. Secondly, if the weather is bad, you usually do not have the
flexibility to layover and let the weather clear. You either have to ride in
bad weather, which is a real drag in the high mountains, or take the support
vehicle or other forms of transportation to the night's destination.

Self-guided touring has the advantages that you can choose your companions,
you can choose the dates you want to travel and if you haven't made hotel
reservations in advance, you can vary your itinerary to meet your prevailing
attitudes and weather conditions.

The downside to self-guided touring is that you are basically on your own.
You make all the decisions. If you are somewhat familiar with the area or
have down some research, you are more likely to make good choices of cycling
routes and places to stay. However, every once and a while you may pick
an unfriendly town or a horribly busy road, both of which looked good on a map
or came recommended in a book. Also, if you experience any equipment failure
you will be responsible for either making the repairs or finding someone who
can do them. Most guided tours bring a mechanic and enough parts to be able
to handle most equipment problems.

This may seem counterintuitive, but I think the more ambitious the tour, the
better off you are doing it in a self-guided fashion. If you are going to be
riding lots of miles with lots of climbing you want to know who you are going
with and also have the flexibility to be able to modify your route if something

Because I prefer self-guided touring, this guide is written with that type of
touring in mind. However, I feel it contains enough valuable information for
those taking a guided tour to make it worthwhile reading for all potential



When planning which flight to take, there are a few guidelines that may be
helpful. I think the key here is that you want to go through customs and
change planes as close to your final destination as possible. If you miss
a connection because of flight delays or custom delays, you have a better
chance of catching a flight out the same day. Reasonable places to clear
customs are Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Washington DC and Newark.
New York's JFK is hit-or-miss. I have had both very good luck and very bad
luck at JFK.

Also, allow 2-3 hours for making your international connections. Most
airports have separate terminals for international and continental flights.
There may be some distance to be covered to make plane changes which may
result in either you or your baggage not making the flight if you cut the
connection time too closely.

I have had both good luck and bad luck with just about every major airline, so
think all carriers are basically OK. One thing to note is that Delta Airlines
and United Airlines are smoke-free on every international flight. Also,
Alitalia offers good fares to Italy but be forewarned that the workers for this
airline like to go on strike at very short notice.

Most airlines have beefed up their security on International flights, they now
verify that all passengers who checked luggage are on the flight. This means
that every time you change planes you have security checks and potential delays
Suffice it to say, the fewer plane changes the better.

Air fares differ between high and low seasons, arrival and departure
locations, date of purchase(I am a terrible procrastinator), etc.. In 1986
I flew Denver- Frankfurt-Denver during low season for $620. In 1988 I
flew Denver-Geneva- Denver during high season for $1050. In 1990 I flew
San Francisco-Barcelona then Geneva- San Francisco on the return during
high season for $1200. High season runs from about June 1 to September 30.

An interesting note, one year I was flying to a town near Pisa, Italy. The
far e from San Francisco to Rome was $1000. If I added the Rome to Pisa
connection the fair only increased to $1007. The extra $7 charge was well
worth getting closer to my final destination as the alternative was to take
a 4 hour train ride. So, check when booking fares to see if you can get
closer to your final destination for just a little extra money.

Chris Wiscavage advised against flying by charter. He said that charters are
notorious for being overcrowded and if they run out of baggage space on the
plane, then the bikes are one of the first items to be left behind. On one of
his trips flying charter, he had to wait 5 days for his bike to arrive.
Obviously, the conditions vary between charter companies, if you have one that
you trust and the price is right, go for it!

On most international flights, if you check your bike as one of your 2 pieces
of luggage you will save the $50 (or whatever) charge(each way). Current
international baggage requirements (as of 6/94) a 1st bag - may not exceed
62 linear inches and 70lbs.; 2nd bag - may not exceed 55 linear inches and
70lbs. I have checked two bikes as my two pieces of luggage and not been
charged for an overage.

Flight delays seem more and more common. I have found that if your flight is
delayed going to Europe, unless there is some catostrophic problem that
cannot be fixed, it is best to stay with your original flight and wait out the
delay. If you try routing yourself through another airline or reaching your
destination by hopping through many cities, you may have a much bigger problem,
especially with your luggage catching up to you. Be patient, sitting out
delays seems to be the best alternative. This is a good reason to avoid
booking hotels in advance. You can almost always get a room somewhere, but
trying to stick to a regimented schedule may cause for major stress.


This is a commonly asked question. There are a number of pros and cons to both
renting a bike in Europe and bringing your own bike. Also, there are several
factors that can influence your decision. Note that on international flights,
your bike can be checked as one piece of luggage, so there really is no added
expense to bringing you own bike on the plane.

First off, if you are planning an ambitious trip with lots of miles and/or
lots of climbing, you will definitely feel better riding your own bike
rather than renting. Add to that the fact that, these days, most rental
bikes are are mountain bikes. This may be an advantage if you are planning
lots of climbing since the gearing tends to be lower, but a mountain bike
is not as nimble as a road bike and can be significantly heavier than a
road bike. Of course, if you r primary bike at home is a mountain bike,
these differences may be less noticeable than if your primary bike is a
road bike.

Secondly, if you are combining your cycling vacation with large portions of
non-cycling segments at the beginning or end of the trip, it may be better
to not worry about lugging a bike halfway across Europe, especially if you
are going to use trains as your primary mode of travel (see "Taking Your
Bike on th e Train" in a later section). Another option in this case, is
to ship your bikes , by train, to the destination where you will need them
if your cycling comes at the end of the trip or to your departure
destination if your cycling comes at the beginning of the trip.

Personally, I prefer to bring my own bike. I know the condition of all the
components and since everything should be in good working order, I can be
assured that barring any catastrophe, my bike will not let me down. Also, it
just feels a lot better and hence more enjoyable to be astride my trusty steed.


There are many ways and specialized containers to help facilitate packing a
bike. I have flown frequently with my bike for the last 10 years and have
never had any damage when my biked was packed correctly.

Get a cardboard bike box from your local friendly bike shop. Mountain bike
boxes are best because they are a bit wider and easier to pack, but as mountain
bike frames get smaller, road bike sized mountain bike boxes are getting harder
and harder to find.

Here is how I do it:

1) Use 3/4" foam pipe insulation to protect the 3 main tubes (top, down and
seat) and tape in place. Make sure to get the insulation with an inside
diameter that most closely matches the diameter of your frame tubes.

2) Take the seat, pedals, and front wheel off the bike.

3) Use a bit of string to attach the LEFT(non-chainwheel) crankarm to the LEFT

4) Remove the rear derailleur from its hanger and just let it hang.

5) Remove the handlebars and stem from the frame(this may necessitate removing
the cyclocomputer mount, and the front brake cable from the brake - a good
reason for soldering the ends of your cables!) and hang on the top tube.

6) Place a spacer in the front fork (see below).

7) wrap downtube shifters and brake levers with thin foam to minimize
metal-to-metal contact.

8) Put the seat, pedals and other small parts in a bag and place the bag in the
front of the bike box.

9) Slide the frame in such that the forks are just ahead of the bag.

10) Spread the box a bit and slide in the front wheel on the LEFT side(non
chainwheel) of the bike with the front axle about 8-12" in front of the
seat tube. The end of the handlebars should fit between the spokes of the

11) take the pump off the bike and securely tape it to one corner of the box.

12) use foam squares(I have about 20 1' X 1.5' X 2" pieces procured from
shipping crates at work) to pad the bike from any potential metal to metal
contact. Be sure to put padding on top of the bike, as you never know which
way the bike box will end up.

13) Close the box and tape with strapping tape. Check to make sure the bike
cannot move around inside the box, there should be sufficient padding to keep
any shifting from occurring.

You can make a very inexpensive, yet very effective spacer to prevent damage
to the front fork from an old front axle. Leave the cones and lock nuts in
place and use the quick release skewer taken off your front wheel to secure
the spacer in the fork.

Bring a small amount of grease (35mm film cannisters work great for this)
to aid in re-assembly and throw in some rags or paper towels for wiping
off the excess grease.

Also, note that if your bike has Campagnolo Ergo levers, it is much easier
to remove your stem and handlebars if you leave a little extra cable during
installation. Another alternative is to loosen the brake and shifter cables,
but this is a last resort as it requires that you re-adjust the shifter cable
tension when you re-assemble the bike, which is a bit of a hassle if you have
index shifting.

One nice thing about bike boxes is that you can pack a lot of your extra gear
(and presents) inside the box. I have traveled to Europe using just the bike
box as my only piece of luggage!

I also bring a roll of the 2" wide clear packing tape. This stuff can be used
to reinforce or repair any damage to the bike box that might have occurred in

One note of caution here. I would try and obtain a bike box that closely fits
the size of you bike(i.e. if you have a 58cm frame get a box for a 58cm frame
bike). You want to minimize movement in the box and the box should be packed
tight enough so that you can stand it on end or even possibly upside down. I
would not recommend getting a box that is too big and trying to cut it down to
size. I tried this one year and suffered minor damage to the bicycle because
when I cut down the top of the box, I could not get it to fold over very well
and lost some of the structural integrity of the sides of the box. A heavy ite
was placed on top of my box and the sides of the box could not support it.

Different bike manufacturers use different strengths of cardboard with their
boxes. And the same manufacturer can change the strengths of their boxes from
year to year. Suffice it to say, the stiffer the better.

I have had poor results using the soft sided bags (both padded and unpadded
versions) and I would not recommend them. I think the foam padding gives a
false sense of security to the consumer, but more distressingly to the baggage
personnel who may attempt to place heavy items on top of the bag.

Another method is to use minimal packing and minimal padding to force the
airlines to handle your bike with care. This method entails removing the
wheels, crankarms and rear derailleur. Turn the handlebars and lash the
wheels to the sides of the bike frame. Enclose the whole package in a
sturdy plastic bag. I have never used this method, it works for some
but necessitates some tools like a crank extractor and crank bolt wrench.

Hard plastic cases are becoming popular. However, I am not particularly
fond of them. Besides being expensive, their weight empty(i.e. no bike) is
between 25 and 30 lbs. Ouch! In comparison, an empty cardboard bike box
weighs only about 5 lbs. The extra 20-25 lbs. can be a real factor if you
have to carry your baggage any substantial distance.

In any event, if you would like to begin and end your trip from the same
airport, you can leave the bike box in "checked" or "left" luggage and pay
a small daily fee for storage. One nifty trick if you have multiple bike
boxes is to tape them together and check them as a single box. Hotels near
an airport may also allow you to store your bike box, usually for a small fee.


In general, the availability of bike parts varies greatly from bike shop to
bike shop. The larger European cities contain well stocked shops, however the
smaller towns(as you find in the mountains) are not as well stocked and parts
may be hard to find. This goes for service as well. It is a good idea to come
prepared to be able to deal with about anything, or have a bike that is low
maintenance (sealed components).

Here is my pre-tour bike preparation:

1) new chain
2) new tires and tubes
3) 4 new cables(2 - brake, 2 - derailleur, esp. if STI)
4) repack or replace bottom bracket
5) repack or replace headset
6) repack hubs
7) clean derailleurs
8) check brake pads for wear
9) true wheels
10) oil/grease freewheel/freehub
11) wash bike thoroughly(check frame for any cracks!)

I would recommend soldering the ends of your brake and derailleur cables. This
keeps the cables from fraying and you can take them in and out of their fitting
and housing when packing and unpacking the bike or doing maintenance and you
don't have to worry about losing those silly little aluminum end caps!


This portion deals with the equipment that I take. Note that my lists reflect
that I am doing lightweight "credit card" touring where I sleep in hotels at
night and eat food at restaurants. Some of this equipment may also be
appropriate for fully loaded touring, but that is not discussed here.

Also, since the riding clothes that you will be wearing during the day will mos
likely get washed every night, an important consideration is that they be made
of a quick drying material.

Cycling Footwear

When it comes to cycling footware, I think the best option seems to be one of
the walkable clip-in shoe systems such as the Shimano SPD. Having a shoe that
you can walk in has two big benefits. First off, if you have never toured, you
will be surprised at the amount of off-the-bike walking that is done during the
course of the day in order to buy food, take photographs and check out historic
sights. Secondly, having to carry a pair of walking shoes means extra bulk and

I would not recommend Look cleats for touring. I do a lot of walking which is
unavoidable. It has been my experience that even a little bit of wear on the
Look cleat can make it behave differently in the pedal. While Look cleat cover
are available to protect the cleat during walking, during a normal day on the
road you do so much on and off the bike activity that it seemed like too much
bother to take the covers on and off and on and off, etc.

Baggage Systems

There are many options to holding gear on the bike, I will describe two that I
have used.

The first method of carrying gear uses the Quix brand Max Contour Trunk rack an
bag in one. A small clamp slips onto the seatpost and the bag clicks into the
clamp. One restriction is that the seatpost must be round (i.e. non-aero) to
hold the clamp. Another restriction is that the bag must ride high enough to
clear the rear wheel by 2-3" as the bag may bounce a bit up and down. The Quix
bag is incredibly stable, it is easy to attach and detach and it does not
require a rack(just a small seat post clamp). It is a very nice system for
ultra-light touring.

The Quix system is ideal for carrying about 550 cu. in. of gear, however severa
easy modifications to the bag should be made. First, I removed all the foam
insulation from the bag and replaced the two side pieces with .8mm ABS plastic
pieces cut to the same dimensions as the foam pieces they replaced(round off th
edges to prevent abnormal wear). Adding the side stays gives the bag some
integrity and allows it to stand up making it easier to pack. I purchased a
small tool bag shaped like a pack of cigarettes and added some velcro tabs whic
allowed it to be attached in front of the Quix bag, giving about an additional
50 cu. in. and bringing the total carrying capacity up to about 550 cu. in.
This is enough space for a multi-week tour, see my equipment list below for

One nice advantage of the Quix bag over the standard rear rack mounting systems
is that for rain protection you can slide a waterproof sack completely over the

For occasions where I needed to carry over 550 cu. in. of gear, I have used a
Blackburn SX-1 rack and rear trunk bag. I have a racing frame, so I had to use
the "eyelet mounts" which worked fine. I replaced the outer washer(black
neoprene) with a wider one, (get them at a plumbing supply store) and used a
piece of bicycle innertube as padding between the frame and the aluminum piece,
which worked well. I had to file off the protruding tongs on the bottom of the
rack so it would not contact my seatstays; I left enough of the tong so that a
bungee cord could still be hooked onto it.

The bag I use with the Blackburn rack is a Cannondale rear trunk bag. This is
one of the multitude of shoe box shaped bags that sits on top of the rack.
Unfortunately, most of these bags are foam lined(for 6-packs) and they do not
have the 800 cu in. minimum capacity that was necessary for my gear. I removed
the plastic liner and sewed nylon sleeves into the two sides(not front or back
side)of the bag. I made two 5"x12"rectangular pieces of 1/32" plexiglass (or
..8mm ABS plastic) that fit into the sleeves to hold the bag up and give it some
shape. I also sewed some lash points on top of the bag in case of overflow.

The Cannondale bag listed at 800 cu in., it had one big compartment, two side
pockets, a rear pocket(with reflector) and a top pocket. All my medical stuff
fit inside the rear pocket, eliminating the need for a toilet kit/stuff sack.
I put my long sleeve shirt, hat, gloves, leg warmers and jacket in the side
pockets so they were easily accessible. The camera, map(s) of the day, money,
road food go in the top pocket. I hit upon a great way to pack the tennis shoe
which takes up minimal space. Rather than crunch them together and lose the
dead air in between, pack them to each side and stuff clothes in between.

A friend has used a rack top bag made by Lone Peak of Salt Lake City. It was
a 1200 cu in. top loading bag and worked well.

I bought a plastic "rack top" that snaps onto the top of the Blackburn rack to
provide a flat surface for the pack and also, some rain protection. I made a
rain cover which fit over the entire bag, since panniers are notorious for

Another option for holding a rack top bag is the new rigid, aluminum racks whic
attach to the seatpost. Headlands is one popular brand. These racks weigh in
at about 1 lb. and offer an interesting alternative to a full rack. They
require an aforementioned rack top bag and a non-aero seatpost and may provide
a good alternative to the Quix system if more than 550 cu in. of gear is

Equipment List

My normal equipment list(7-8lbs. total weight) is the following (assume you
are starting with a completely naked cyclist). The current miracle fabrics
are Thermax, Coolmax and Capilene. Polypropylene is no longer recommended.

1 pr. cycling shorts(with quick drying synthetic chamois)
1 short sleeve cycling jerseys (quick drying synthetic)
2 pr cycling socks
1 pr cycling shoes(SPD type)
1 helmet and/or cotton cycling cap(washable)
1 pr leg warmers(Pearl Izumi are the best!)
1 medium weight Thermax long sleeve top(converts SS jersey to long sleeve)
1 waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex, etc.)
2 pr gloves 1-cycling, 1-warm(Patagonia Capilene)
1 pr sunglasses
1 pr lightweight pants(North Face North Shore)
1 polo shirt or t-shirt (Patagonia Capilene)
1 pr walking shorts(Patagonia Baggie Lites are light and not bulky)
1 pr undershorts(or Speedo swimsuit, doubles for jacuzzis and swimming)
1 handkerchief/bandana(for cleaning glasses and neck protection from the sun)
1 rain cover for pack(panniers are notorious for leaking)
2 spare tubes(new)
1 patch kit with 8 patches and new glue + several tire "boots"
1 tool kit(spoke wrench, tire irons, chain lube, screw driver, chain tool,
3-4-5-6mm allen wrenches, Swiss Army "Classic" knife)
2 water bottles(20 oz. or 27oz. depending on your preference)
Maps(see below for brand recommendations)
Toilet kit(aspirin, cortisone cream(saddle sores), neosporin, toothpaste,
toothbrush, shampoo, razor, soap, sunblock, comb, fingernail clippers)
Camera + film(see below for recommendations on type to purchase)
Small "hotel" type sewing kit for emergency repairs
1 extra derailleur cable (a must for those with STI)
1 extra brake cable
Notepad and pen
Cash(Traveler's Checks)
Credit cards(Visa or Mastercard, not Amex)
ATM Card
Driver's License (and extension if expired)
Health Insurance Card
Earplugs(for sleeping at night)
Watch with alarm
Wallet (leave the stuff you don't need at home)

Some optional items may include (if you have the space!):

second pair of cycling shorts
second short sleeve cycling jersey
1 foldable clincher(can be shared with another rider)
1 pr Tennis Shoes(get something with good support for days off)
Bike cable and lock(5/16" X 5' coated Flexweave(TM) cable)
1 pr pajamas
1 Freewheel puller + spokes - if you have a habit of breaking spokes
10-15' of thin cord to use as a clothesline
Electronic language translator (see below)

Miscellaneous notes

Having a cyclometer can help to keep from getting lost. A cyclometer that can
be switched to kilometers (standard unit of distance in Europe) is a big plus.
Also, I like having an altimeter function as well. On the big passes it really
helps me to know how much climbing I have done and how much I have left before
the top.

The synthetic material used in Federal Express envelopes, called Tyvek, makes
great thin, lightweight tire boots. Cut them to fit the size of your patch kit

"Fiber Fix" makes an inexpensive kit for use in an emergency to replace a broke

If you are going to begin and end your trip from the same destination, you can
bring extra clothes for the flight over and the flight back which can be stored
in your bike box while you are on your tour.

The "going light" method does not leave much room in your bike bag for momentos
or gifts. However, if you find something you really like, it is quite easy and
not expensive to mail the item back home. Most post offices sell an assortment
of boxes so finding the correct size is easy. Also, if the item is valuable,
I would suggest sending it air mail. For smaller, more valuable items like
film I put everything in one or two well-sealed plastic bags before placing it
in the box. That way, if the box somehow springs a small leak, you won't lose
that one roll of film wth the killer photos.


I would recommend a good set of brakes, some of the descents are long, steep
and quite tricky with off camber and decreasing radius turns, usually
accompanied by lack of guard rail. Make sure your brakes are working well!


For gearing a 39x26 or 39x28 seem to be a reasonable low gear for the sustained
climbing in the Alps. Some people prefer triple front chainrings. Your mileag
may vary.


This section deals with the basic trip details, road conditions, weather, food,
hotels, changing money.


The yellow Michelin regional maps are the best. There is so much detail, it
is almost impossible to get lost. Having the elevation of the towns helps
plan out the climbs and having the different types of roads(see below) marked
out helps me stay off the more heavily traveled arteries. The Michelins are
only available for France, Switzerland and, parts of Italy. Also, note that
these maps now bear a date(on the back at the bottom) as to when they were last
updated, get the latest version. The yellow maps are in 1cm:2km (1/200000)

Michelin is now making green regional maps that are 1cm:1km (1/100000) scale
and are much more detailed than the standard yellow maps. They are also more
expensive and larger which makes them great for pre-planning a route before you
leave home but maybe a bit too bulky for taking with you on your trip. These
maps are also date labeled and have numbers in the 100-200 range.

For Italy, I would recommend the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) maps, they are
almost as good as the Michelins and come in 1cm:2km (1/200000) scale.

Also recommended are the Institut Geographique National(IGN) maps, which are
marked with contour lines. There are three flavors green is 1cm:1km, red is
1cm:2.5km, and blue is somewhat finer than the green (blue is usually used by


First, there are different classes of roads, delineated by the color of the
signs. For example, in Switzerland, the freeways use green signs (verboten for

bicycles), the blue signs are for primary roads(bikes OK) and the secondary
roads are in white (bikes OK). Primary roads tend to be a little more direct
than secondary roads, but they have more traffic as well.

The colors for road signs may differ from country to country. Note that in
France, freeway signs are in blue and primary road signs are in green.

One important sign to note is that in Europe, a red circle with a bike in the
center means that the road is closed to bicycles. In the US we are more
familiar with a red circle with a red slash through it meaning the activity in
the sign is prohibited, but in Europe, just the red circle means the activity i
the center is prohibited.

Many tunnels in Europe do not have lighting, and some are very long. For the
most part the road surfaces inside are OK, but it's best to play it safe and
slow way down, don't forget to pop up the sunglasses.

The mountain roads are generally good, but deteriorate as you go higher. Also,
the width of the roads can change dramatically from 2 lanes to 1 lane, etc.,
tunnels spring up out of nowhere, and the turns are not marked. However you
can avoid just about anything by being careful.

The roads in Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein are the best. France, Ital
and Spain are very good as well.

Guides to Paved Climbs

Written guides to paved climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees exist. There are four
separate guides to the mountainous regions in France that describe the paved
mountain passes which may be of use to anyone planning a trip. The guides are
written in French, but each pass has a sort of topographic layout of the actual
climb, giving the percent grade for each kilometer, which is very useful.

The four guides are(denoted by the subtitle "ALTIGRAPH Edition"):

1) Atlas des Cols des Alpes - North(everything north of the Col du Galibier)

2) Atlas des Cols des Alpes - South(everything south of the Col du Galibier)

3) Atlas des Cols des Pyrenees

4) Atlas des Cols du Massif Central

They cost about 110ff($20 US) each (they take credit cards!) and are
available from:

Au Vieux Campeur
14 Rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris France
Telephone # +33- (magasins/shops, librairie/book shop)
Fax : +33- & +33-


Choosing the correct port of entry can depend on a number of factors. If you
have lots of time and resources, but not much money, you might try to fly into
an airport that has great fares, but is relatively far from your starting point
Frankfurt is a good example, with lots of reasonable fares from the US and with
rail service right out of the airport to many of the starting points for popula

If you have a time constraint, you may want to try and get as close as possible
to your starting point. Another option is to get a one-way rental car so that
you can drive directly from the airport to your starting point. Be warned that
with gasoline prices in Europe between $4 and $5/gallon and with freeways in
France and Italy charging tolls to use their roads, the oveall cost of renting
a car can be much greater than the actual car rental charge.

Below is a list of points of entry to the various mountainous regions of Europe

1) Geneva - good for the Alps and the Jura mountains. There is a train station
in the airport to get you out of town fast.

2) Milan - good for the Italian and Swiss Alps. You can leave luggage in the
airport. The airport is a fair ways northeast of the city, there is bus servic
to the train station downtown.

3) Nice - very nice starting point for the Maritime Alps and Provence. You can
ride your bike right out of the airport.

4) Barcelona - about 100 miles south of the eastern end of the Pyrenees.

5) Paris - you can take a TGV (bullet train) south to the Pyrenees or east to
the Alps.

6) Zurich - close to the Swiss Alps.


First off, it should be noted that Europeans are embracing credit cards. One
big advantage to using credit cards to pay for everything is that you get a muc
better exchange rate than by changing your US cash (or Traveler's Checks) into
local currency. In 1996, using credit cards gave about a 7% savings over cash.

ATM cards are also becoming popular. They offer similar savings as credit card
as long as you are not charged a high fee by your bank for using it. I have
heard that sometimes the transaction fee can be as high as $5. Interestingly,
most banks charge about $5 for exchanging money!

If you are in the Alps, you should keep a good supply of the local currency as
banks are not always easy to find(except resort towns). Hotels will change
money, use this as a last resort as the exchange rate is not always good.

I have found that most banks have the same exchange rate, so shopping around is
seems to be a waste of time. Remember, you can change your current currency as
well as your US stuff when you change countries. However, if you are in France
and want to change US currency into Italian lire, you will most likely be
charged two transaction fees, one for changing from US to French francs and one
for changing the French francs to Italian lire.

As a general rule, you cannot change small denomination coins. If you are
anticipating leaving a country be sure to use up all your small change or be
prepared to just give it away at the border.


Jet lag is a problem, especially if you are coming from the West Coast which
means an 8-9 hour time difference. It is advised that you try to get on the
local time standard as soon as possible. If you arrive in Europe in the mornin
try to stay up and sleep when night comes to Europe rather than taking a nap
right away and then lying awake when it is dark outside.


Except in big cities, everything in the towns shut down from 12pm(noon) to
around 3pm. This means markets, banks, basically everything you need.
Restaurants are open, but a big meal is a no-no. I found it was better to buy
food at a super market in the morning and just munch a bit about every 2 hours.
Typical road food was fruit(bananas, nectarines, peaches), cookies, candy bars
and bread.

In Spain, everything shuts down from 1pm-4pm and dinner is not usually served
until 8:30 or so. In Italy and France, everything shuts down from about 12:30
pm to 4pm and dinner is not usually served till 7pm.


The "Office of Tourism" is a good place to start looking for hotels. The
tourist office can provide a list of hotels graded by stars and may also make
recommendations. I prefer the 2 and 3 star hotels(out of a possible 5), the
firmness of the bed and noisiness of the street outside were the major factors
influencing my decision.

The average price of 2-3 star hotels for 2 twin beds and a toilet with shower
was $40-$70. I have found that in France and Italy, 3 star hotels are quite
nice and 2 star hotels are adequate. In Switzerland 2 star hotels are very

It should also be mentioned that since most hotels do not have air conditioning
you need to do everything possible to get a cool room. If you need to keep the
windows open, try and get a room away from the street side of the hotel or the
noise will keep you up(believe me, this is important). Earplugs help somewhat.

A couple of tricks to stiffen up soft beds are to put the mattress on the floor
or you can take a door off of a closet and put it between the springs and the

Many European hotels use down comforters instead of blankets on their beds. If
you sleep hot, like me, you can remove the comforter cover and use it as a



Most hotels in Europe are now charging ($5 to $7) for their continental
breakfast (le petit dejuneur). If you are unsure if there is a charge it is
best to ask. If you don't need a latte to get going in the morning a less
expensive alternative is to buy some pastries at the local bakery the night
before and eat them in your hotel room before departing. Most hotels are open
for breakfast from 7:30am to 9:00am.


Most bars and restaurants offer simple sandwiches at reasonable prices. A
cheese sandwich runs about $3, while ham and cheese is around $4. In Italy,
these simple sandwiches are called paninis.


I'm not a big food gourmet. For dinner, I stick with the basics. Spaghetti,
lasagne, pizza, grilled meats, etc.. If you try something exotic and your
stomach gets upset, you won't be able to ride. If you are looking for good
food, get some recommendations before you leave or be prepared to swig some
Pepto. As we say in America, "If you can't pronounce it, you might not want
to eat it".


You should come to Europe prepared to get wet. Yes, it rains there in the

It can be hot at the lower elevations in the summer, if you sleep at higher
altitudes(1000 meters) you may be able to beat the heat.

Some regions have predictable weather conditions such as the 15-20mph wind that
seems to always blow up the Sion valley from Maritgny towards Brig.

The best month to tour in the Alps is July. The weather is reasonably settled
and the days are warm. September is a good second choice, though the weather i
a bit more unsettled and it can turn cold and actually snow. Also, in
September, it is possible that the hotels at major ski resorts, like Sestriere
and Isola 2000, may be closed as they prepare for the upcoming season. Check
before heading up that next climb.

I would not recommend going to the Pyrenees Mountains during the month of July
(possibly even August). Even though there are a lot of 4000' climbs, the passe
are for the most part low altitude compared to the Alps(1500-2000 meters versus
2000-2700 meters) and because of this it is quite hot. A better time for the
Pyrenees is May, June or September. Also, I found the Pyrenees to be quite
beautiful but, I really like the ruggedness of the Alps and the roads in the
Pyrenees did not pass by much of this type of scenery(though it does exist via
hiking trails).

August seems to be a bad time for a tour. All of Europe goes on vacation. Thi
means that the roads and accommodations are crowded and the air pollution is
also bad.


Because I am on vacation, I am not going over to Europe to suffer on every
climb, so being in shape is of tantamount importance. Plan your pre-trip
riding depending on the type of trip you are going to do. I live for
switchbacks so I go to Europe to ride the passes, so I try to do a lot of
climbing on my rides in the US.


I find everybody pretty friendly. In most countries, the people attempt to
speak English once you attempted a conversion in their native tongue (especiall
the French). Try to respect the native customs.


I would avoid checking baggage(this includes bikes) on a train unless you
can afford to be separated from it for up to a week after you reach your
destination. This is because on European trains, the baggage cars are not
necessarily hooked up to the passenger trains which means you can wait for
days for your luggage to arrive(I saw this happen to a Canadian guy in 1990).

I have been told that there are some trains in Italy that include a special
baggage car the will hold bikes. You may want to check into this if your
proposed itinerary includes travel by train. The key here is that you want
to make sure that both you and your bike are on the same train.

On Swiss and German trains there is space at the end of most cars where
you can leave baggage, which is where I put my bike. In France and Italy,
I suspended the bike above the seats in the two opposing luggage racks(great
trick!). There is a chance that a conductor may be displeased by the bike
and start making all sorts of gyrations about the bike having to be sent
as baggage. Just play dumb and as long as you are not taking up too much
space they will usually let you slide.

Unfortunately, in 1992, I came under the wrath of every train conductor in
Europe. I never got separated from my bike, but I had to pay an extra charge
for having my bike with me on the train($30 US). However, I would rather be
verbally abused than be separated from my bike!

On interesting thing about bikes on passenger trains, in 1992 I took the
TGV from Paris to Pau and was not hassled about my bike because it was
still in the box and in the back of the car. You may be able to cut
down on your hassle quotient by keeping you bike in your box until you
really need it. Just a thought.

Train service is not available in all towns (especially in the mountains).
However, bus service usually is available and you can use the bus to connect
to a train station. Your bike has to travel in the baggage compartment,
it is a bit risky since the bike may move around a bit with all the luggage
so take care in helping the driver put it in a good location.


1) I have a ritual for taking care of necessary business (most notably
washing my cycling clothes) when I arrive at my day's destination and
get into my hotel room:

a) take off all my cycling clothes and place them in the sink with soap
to wash

b) after 5-10 minutes rinse soap out of cycling clothes and use the fresh
clean bath towels to ring them as dry a possible. A quick way to help
wring out your freshly washed riding clothes is to spread the wet garment
on a dry towel. Roll the garment up in the towel and use your knee to press
the rolled towel. Unroll the towel and hang the garment to dry.

c) hang the clothes to dry, if done properly they should be ready for the
next morning. Theft proof hangers may present a problem. One trick is to
bring some thin clothesline to hold the hangers.

d) take my shower and use the slightly wet towels to dry(this works fine).

e) there are some really good, super-concentrated laundry soaps such
as ultra-strength Wisk which work well for washing clothes and are
concentrated enough so that a little goes a long way.

2) Be careful when buying film in Europe. Some of the film prices include
processing charges. It is best to ask what's what.

3) I did not find it necessary to take a travel guide(such as the Michelin
Red Guide), but it may be helpful for pre-trip planning.

4) There are a number of pocket calculators that serve as language translators.
I have one that translates between English, French, Spanish, German and
Italian. It also converts miles to kilometers, degrees farenheit to degrees
centigrade and currency rates(you enter the ratios) and all for about $40!

5) Beware of national holidays. Once I was out of francs in France during
Bastille Day, not pleasant.

6) Many mountain passes have restaurants on top which is great for getting
a soda or candy bar. However, be forewarned that a can of Coke can cost
3-4 times as much at a bar than at a supermarket.

7) If you need to make long distance phone calls you can save a significant
amount of money by using a pay phone and your calling card rather than
using the phone in your hotel room. Most hotels use a computer to estimate
the actual phone charges and these estimates can sometimes be over three
times the actual charges. The calling card method bills you for only the
actual charges.

8) Phone cards are becoming the norm in Europe. You can buy them at newstands
and at Bar/Tobacco shops.

9) Some countries may require a separate Visa(like France used to), be sure
to check with your travel agent or the State Department.

10) When buying stamps for postcards, make sure you ask for Air Mail stamps
otherwise it can take up to 3 months for the cards to arrive in the US.
Also, it is much cheaper to mail postcards in France ($0.80 US) than
Switzerland ($1.80 US), so if you are sending lots of cards you can save
quite a lot of money by mailing them in the correct country.

11) If you are shipping and parcels to Europe(or vice versa), allow 8 weeks
for delivery if sent surface, about 2 weeks for air mail.

12) If you have Shimano Hyperglide shifting, I would consider also carrying
a chain tool. In the past several years, with the popularity of STI,
I have noticed more and more people stopped by the side of the road
with a broken chain. Some emergency versions of a chain tool, such as
the Ritchey CPR 5 are very light.

13) If you buy bus or train tickets, you should specify up front if you
would like a one-way or round trip ticket. Some locations assume the
default is one-way, others assume round-trip.

14) Staying hydrated(i.e. drinking water) is really important. Most towns
have fountains or pipes flowing into water troughs. The general rule is
that unless there is a sign that says the water is not fit for drinking
("eau non potable", "verboten") then you can drink it.

15) Instead of carrying lots of medicines that you may or may not need
like cold medicines, write down the name and amounts of the ingredients
of your favorite US medicines so that you can compare and buy the same
products if needed.

16) Plastic bags can be your savior in wet and/or cold weather. Plastic
bags placed on your feet before putting on socks, plastic inside your
leg warmers or on your chest can help cut the cold dramatically.

17) Food labeling is not the same as it is in the US. For example,
the Nutrasweet label is not found on diet soda, so beware.

18) I take 2-3 energy bars for use from the time my plane touches down
and I have my bike together and have hit the road. There are a lot of
things to do when you arrive at the airport and before you reach your
first town. Having an easy source of food makes those hectic moments
much easier.

19) if you are going to leave your bike box at the airport (or hotel)
you can stash things like extra clothes, et. al. to make the trip over
and the return a little more comfortable and hygenic.

20) rather than change your foreign currency back to US money when you
return home, save it for future use when you return for your next adventure.

21) There is an interesting effect that seems to occur in Europe. Early
in the morning the combination of low light and some haze can make it look
like a bad day of weather is coming. However, once the sun climbs a bit
in the sky, everything burns off and a glorious day arrives.

22) In Italy, it is cheaper to mail packages back to the states if you
give the customs officials the permission to open the parcel when it is
leaving the country.

23) One way to make a great vacation with a short amount of time is to
arrange a one way drop-off car which can be used to get you to the prime
cycling territory quickly. Arranging for the car in the states can save
a lot of money.

24) People like to smoke a lot in Europe, especially in their hotel rooms.
If your hotel room is filling up with smoke, place a towel against the
floor of the door jam to stop the flow.

25) If you anticipate doing any cycling in your street clothes, you might
want to think about including a seatcover. The seatcover keeps any
grease, grime, etc. on your saddle from transferring to your good clothes.

26) A neat trick for drying out wet cycling shoes is to pack them tightly
with dry newspaper. I have had totally soaked shoes dry out overnight.

27) Some antibiotics increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Be certain that
you know what the side effects of your medications are before you leave on your

28) On the top of many of the mountain passes, the shop(s) selling postcards
usually has a rubber stamp. Geting your postcards stamped on top of the pass
makes them more "official" ("you were there") in some circles.


If someone wanted to avoid the hassles of carrying gear and just wanted
to find a nice town for some day trips, my first choice would be
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Situated in the heart of the Dolomites, Cortina
has incredible, and I mean incredible, scenery and many great passes(don't
miss the ride up to the Tre Cime de Lavaredo, it's a great walk to
circumnavigate the base as well). You can plan trips from 30 to 150+ miles
of some of the best riding in the world.

My second choice would be Andermatt, Switzerland gateway to the Susten,
Furka, Gothard and Oberalp passes and close to Wilhem Tell's birthplace(he
didn't really exist but, there's a monument anyway). The day rides here are
longer and more strenuous but, you won't be disappointed.

Also recommended is the northern Italian town of Bormio. The Stelvio,
Gavia, Bernina, Foscagno and Mortirolo are all within a day's ride.


Subject: 4.7 More information on Amtrak and Bicycles
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 97 13:31:13 -0800

In the summer of 1997 a group of us decided to take Amtrak to the
northern Californian town of Dunsmuir. This is the last stop before
Oregon and we wanted to ride from the California boarder to Sacramento
through the Central Valley since we had never heard of anyone doing
that before.

After several calls to Amtrak we finally found out that we could take
the train from Fremont to Dunsmuir with only one transfer in
Sacramento. But since neither Fremont nor Dunsmuir had passenger
services (which allowed baggage loading and unloading) we couldn't
take the bicycles with us.

We made other plans for the bicycle transport. We had a sag wagon
going up there but most people would probably opt just to send the
bike via Greyhound which is cheap, reliable and goes more places than
the train does.

The train was a bit late at Fremont but we finally got out only a few
minutes off of their schedule. The view and the trip to Sacramento
were very nice. The trains are extremely comfortable in the seating
position though the overhead luggage section isn't suitable for normal
sized carryon stuff. This line had bicycle carriers that would accept
ONLY single bikes. Tamdems would definitely not fit.

The connecting train was a real problem. It was 2 hours late and the
Sacramento station is something built around 1925 or so and extremely
uncomfortable, drafty and cold at night. Moreover, Amtrak personnel
generally know nothing at all about what is going on, what the delays
are or when you can expect the train to arrive. This isn't because
they are stupid or don't want to be helpful, it is because no one
knows what is going on and the railroad won't tell them.

There was another bike rider there who was going between major
stations and so was loading his bike into a box provided by Amtrak.
However, they had no tape and it was late evening and there was no
place for him to get tape. I don't know how he resolved the problem
since he was gone when we got back from dinner. But if you intend to
take your bike on Amtrak be aware of this possible problem.

Amtrak loads passengers into cars in some manner that keeps most of
the passengers getting off at any specific station in the same car so
that it is easier for the conductor to remind you to get off. The
problem with this is that the more popular stations will crowd some
cars while others will be almost empty.

If you want a good view the upper levels are best, but that is also
the level though which the children run continuously fore and aft as
the train is traveling. Because of this you will get no sleep
whatsoever if you seat yourself at either end. The doors are
continuously opening and closing and have air mechanisms that are very

Instead sit near the center of the car. The lower level seating is
very quiet in this regard though there is more track and traffic
noise. I would sit on the lower levels in the future since our trip
was almost exclusively at night and there was nothing to see anyway.

We had other members of the tour arriving the next day but that train
was 8 hours late and no one knew where it was stopped. This was a
nightmare for the people involved and it took the sag wagon away from
the ride for the entire day trying to recover these riders. Without
the sag wagon to wait for and sag these late riders up, we would have
had to lose a day of the tour and we would therefore have had to
reroute the trip missing the most scenic portion of the trip.

Be aware that while there are some advantages to taking Amtrak, there
are a lot of disadvantages and you cannot count on time schedules
being kept. I would always allow at least an extra day for travel to
or from an event knowing what I know now.

We had planned on a day to recover from the trip and booked rooms at a
local motel for the day after the trip and that was definitely the
right thing to do. The owner of the motel also allowed us to use their
garage to store the 15 bikes after they were reassembled from
transportation mode.


Subject: 4.8 Getting Weather Information
From: Bob Kastigar
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 07:18:09 -0500 (CDT)

I'm planning an excursion for next summer, and I was trying to find
weather statistics for where I wanted to go, to get important things like
average temperatures, average rainfall, etc. for different times of the
year. I found a *great* resource at:


which I thought I'd share with you, if you need to take into account
climatic information when planning a bike trip.

To give credit where credit is due: I was steered to this place by Jeff
and Alan at another resource:


and thought they should be thanked for their help.


Subject: 5 Racing


Subject: 5.1 Tour de France Jerseys
From: Chris Murphy

Chauner and Halstead (1990) in "The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling"

YELLOW Jersey -- Overall leader, first awarded during the 1919 race (TdF
started in 1903); yellow to match the paper used to print L'Auto
(Automobile Cyclisme), a French newspaper about bike racing.

POLKADOT Jersey (White w/red dots) -- Best climber, determined by points
scored by the first 3 to 15 riders finishing selected mountain
stages (number of riders awarded points varies with the
difficulty of the stage). First awarded 1933.

GREEN Jersey -- Points jersey, usually won by sprinter-types, with points
given to the first 25 riders to finish each stage. First awarded 1953.

YELLOW Hats -- First place team, determined by combined elapsed times of the
the team's top 3 riders.

In the event of a rider leading the race and also deserving one of the other
jerseys, the race leader wears yellow, and the 2nd place in the category wears
the category jersey.


Subject: 5.2 Major Tour Winners 1947-1990
From: Tim Smith

[Ed note: I'm hoping Tim won't be too upset if I add to the list he posted.
I need some help filling in the last few years.]

Winners of the Big Three National Tours -- Since 1947:

Tour de France Giro d'Italia Vuelta d'Espana
1947 Jean Robic (F) Fausto Coppi (I) E. van Dyck (B)
1948 Gino Bartali (I) F. Magni (I) B. Ruiz (E)
1949 Fausto Coppi (I) F. Coppi (not held)
1950 Ferdi Kubler (CH) Hugo Koblet (CH) E. Rodriguez (E)
1951 Hugo Koblet (CH) F. Magni (nh)
1952 Fausto Coppi F. Coppi (nh)
1953 Louison Bobet (F) F. Coppi (nh)
1954 Louison Bobet C. Clerici (CH) (nh)
1955 Louison Bobet F. Magni J. Dotto (F)
1956 Roger Walkowiak (F) Charly Gaul (L) A. Conterno (I)
1957 Jacques Anquetil (F) Gastone Nencini (I) J. Lorono (E)
1958 Charly Gaul (L) E. Baldini (I) Jean Stablinski (F)
1959 Federico Bahamontes (E) Charly Gaul A. Suarez (E)
1960 Gastone Nencini (I) Jacques Anquetil (F) F. de Mulder (B)
1961 Jacques Anquetil A. Pambianco (I) A. Soler (E)
1962 Jacques Anquetil F. Balmamion (I) Rudy Altig (D)
1963 Jacques Anquetil F. Balmamion J. Anquetil (F)
1964 Jacques Anquetil Jacques Anquetil Raymond Poulidor (F)
1965 Felice Gimondi (I) V. Adorni (I) R. Wolfshohl (D)
1966 Lucien Aimar (F) Gianni Motta (I) F. Gabica (E)
1967 Roger Pingeon (F) Felice Gimondi (I) J. Janssen (NDL)
1968 Jan Janssen (NDL) Eddy Merckx (B) Felice Gimondi (I)
1969 Eddy Merckx (B) Felice Gimondi Roger Pingeon (F)
1970 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx Luis Ocana (E)
1971 Eddy Merckx Gosta Petersson (S) F. Bracke (B)
1972 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx J-M Fuente (E)
1973 Luis Ocana (E) Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx (B)
1974 Eddy Merckx Eddy Merckx J-M Fuente
1975 Bernard Thevenet (F) F. Bertoglio (I) Tamames (E)
1976 Lucien van Impe (B) Felice Gimondi J. Pesarrodona (E)
1977 Bernard Thevenet Michel Pollentier (B) Freddy Maertens (B)
1978 Bernard Hinault (F) J. de Muynck (B) Bernard Hinault (F)
1979 Bernard Hinault Giuseppe Saronni (I) Joop Zoetemelk (NDL)
1980 Joop Zoetemelk (NDL) Bernard Hinault (F) F. Ruperez (E)
1981 Bernard Hinault Giovanni Battaglin (I) Giovanni Battaglin (I)
1982 Bernard Hinault Bernard Hinault Marino Lejarreta (E)
1983 Laurent Fignon (F) Giuseppe Saronni (I) Bernard Hinault (F)
1984 Laurent Fignon Francesco Moser (I) Eric Caritoux (F)
1985 Bernard Hinault Bernard Hinault Pedro Delgado (E)
1986 Greg Lemond (USA) Roberto Visentini (I) Alvaro Pino (E)
1987 Stephen Roche (EIR) Stephen Roche (EIR) Luis Herrera (Col.)
1988 Pedro Delgado (E) Andy Hampsten (USA) Sean Kelly (EIR)
1989 Greg Lemond (USA) Laurent Fignon (F) Pedro Delgado (E)
1990 Greg Lemond (USA) Gianni Bugno (I) Marco Giovanetti (I)
1991 Miguel Indurain (E) Franco Chioccioli (I) Melchor Mauri (E)
1992 Miguel Indurain (E) Miguel Indurain (E) Toni Rominger (CH)
1993 Miguel Indurain (E) Miguel Indurain (E) Toni Rominger (CH)
1994 Miguel Indurain (E) Eugeni Berzin (RUS) Toni Rominger(CH)
1995 Miguel Indurain (E) Toni Rominger (CH) Laurent Jalabert (FR)
1996 Bjarne Rijs (DK) Pavel Tonkov (RUS) Alex Zulle (CH)
1997 Jan Ullrich Ivan Gotti (I) Alex Zulle (CH)
1998 Marco Pantani (I) Marco Pantani (I) Abraham Olano
1999 Lance Armstrong (USA) Ivan Gotti (I) Jan Ullrich
2000 Lance Armstrong (USA) Stefano Garzelli (I) Roberto Heras
2001 Lance Armstrong (USA) Gilberto Simoni (I) Angel Casero
2002 Lance Armstrong (USA) Paolo Salvoldelli Aitor Gonzalez
2003 Lance Armstrong (USA) Gilberto Simoni Roberto Heras
2004 Lance Armstrong (USA) Damiano Cunego Roberto Heras

The Tour started in 1903, and was not held 1915-1918 and 1940-1946.
The Giro started in 1909, and was not held 1915-1918 and 1941-1945.

Source: 1947-1982: "La Fabuleuse Histoire du Cyclisme" by Pierre Chany.
1982-1988: my fallible memory. Would someone complete 1983 and
1984, and correct any mistakes? Thanks.

One interesting observation: almost all the winners of the Tour were
big names in their time (yes, even Charly Gaul and Jean Robic.)

There were no same-year winners of the Tour and the Giro before 1949.
In fact, the first year a non-Italian won the Giro was 1950.


Subject: 5.3 Rating the Tour de France Climbs
From: Bruce Hildenbrand
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 00:28:53 -0800 (PST)

One of the most frequently asked questions is how do the organizers
determine the ratings for the climbs in the Tour de France(TIOOYK).
The Tour organizers use two criteria 1) the length and steepness of
the climb and 2) the position of the climb in the stage. A third,
and much lesser criteria, is the quality of the road surface.

It is important to note several things before this discussion begins.
First, the organizers of the Tour have been very erratic in their
classifications of climbs. The north side of the Col de la Madeleine
has flip-flopped between a 1st Category to an Hors Category climb,
even though it seems to be in the same position of a stage every

Secondly, rating inflation, so rampant in other sports has raised
its ugly head here. Climbs that used to be a 2nd Category are now a
1st Category, even though, like the Madeleine, they occupy the same
position in a stage year after year.

Let's talk about the ratings. I will give you my impressions
on what I think the criteria are for rating the climbs based on
having ridden over 100 of the rated climbs in the major European

Note that gradual climbs do not receive grades. It has been my
observation that about a 3-4% grade is necessary for a climb to get
rated. Also, a climb must gain at least 70m for it to be rated.

The organizers of the Tour de France also claim that the quality of
the road surface can influence the rating of a climb. If the surface
is very poor, like some of the more obscure climbs in the Pyrenees,
then the rating may be bumped up.

4th Category - the lowest category, climbs of 200-500 feet(70-150m).

3rd Category - climbs of 500-1600 feet(150-500m).

2nd Category - climbs of 1600-2700 ft.(500-800m)

1st Category - climbs of 2700-5000ft(800-1500m)

Hors Category - the hardest, climbs of 5000ft+(1500m+)

Points awarded for the climbs ranges are as follows (from the 1990
race bible):

4th Category: 3 places: 5, 3, 1

3rd Category: 5 places: 10, 7, 5, 3, 1

2nd Category: 10 places: 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1

1st Category: 12 places: 30, 26, 22, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1

Hors Category: 15 places: 40, 35, 30, 26, 22, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1

Steepness also plays a factor in the rating. Most of the big climbs
in the Alps average 7-8% where the big climbs in the Pyrenees average

Please remember that I am giving very, very rough guidelines and
that there are exceptions to every rule. For example, L'Alpe D'Huez
climbs 3700ft(1200m), but is an Hors Category climb. This is because
it usually comes at the end of a very tough stage and the climb itself
is unusually steep(~9%) by Alpine standards.

More confusing is the Col de Borderes, a mere 1000ft(300m) climb outside
of Arrens in the Pyrenees mountains. I have seen it rated anywhere from
a 3rd Category to a 1st Category !!! This is most likely due again, to its
placement on the stage. The 3rd Category rating came when it was near the
beginning of a stage where its 1st Category rating came when it was near
the end.

Flat or downhill sections can also affect a climb's rating. Such sections
offer a rest to the weary and can reduce the difficulty of the climb
considerably. This may be one of the reasons that the aforementioned
Col de la Madeleine, which has a 1 mile downhill/flat section at mid-height,
flip-flops in its rating.

I am often asked how climbs in the United States compare to those in
Europe. Most of the US climbs are either steep enough by European
standards(6-8% grade), but are short(5-10km) so they fall into the
3rd Category or 2nd possibly; or the climbs gain enough altitude, but
are too long(they average 5%) so again they would fail to break
the 1st Category barrier and end up most likely a 2nd or 3rd Category.

Fear not, there are exceptions. Most notable to Californians is
the south side of Palomar Mountain which from Pauma Valley climbs
4200' in 11 miles, a potential 1st Category ascent, though it may
fall prey to downgrading because of the flat section at mile four.

The east side of Towne Pass in Death Valley is definitely a 1st
Category climb!

A popular Northern California climb, Mount Hamilton, is similar to
Palomar Mountain but, fails to be a 1st Category climb because of two
offending downhill section on the ascent and an overall gradient of 5%.

For Coloradoans, you can thank the ski industry for creating long,
but relatively gradual climbs that rarely exceed 5% for any substantial
length(5+ miles). I never had to use anything bigger than a 42x23
on any climb in Colorado, regardless of altitude. Gear ratios of
39x24 or 26 are commonplace in the Alps and Pyrenees and give a very
telling indication as to the difficulty of European climbs.

One potential 1st Category climb for Coloradoans may be the 4000 ft.
climb in about 15 miles from Ouray to the top of Red Mountain Pass.

Also, remember we are rating only paved(i.e. asphalt) roads. Dirt roads
vary considerably in their layout, condition and maintenance because there
really are no guidelines for their construction. This makes it difficult
to compare these climbs and inappropriate to lump them with paved roads.

Also, it should be noted that there is not a single uniform rating scheme
for all the races on the UCI calendar. What one race might call a 1st
Category climb, may be called a 2nd Category climb, even though the stages
of the two races are almost identical.

One last note. I think it is inappropriate to compare the ascents of
climbs by the European pros with the efforts of us mere mortals.
I have said this time and time again and I will repeat it now. It
is very, very hard for the average person to comprehend just how
fast the pros climb the big passes. Pace makes all the difference.
Riding a climb is very different than racing it.


Subject: 5.4 How to follow the Tour de France
From: Tom James

A question was recently posted to r.b.r concerning ways to follow the
Tour de France. Here are a few comments about my own trips to France over
the last five years, which may be of relevance to people who want to
watch the race and have access to either a bike or a car.

I've seen the Tour every year since 1991, always in the Alps or the
Pyrenees. In addition, I've watched the Paris Stage in 1993/5, and the
British stages in 1994, so all in all, I've a fair amount of experience.

In 1991 and 1992 I watched as part of longer cycle tours in the Alps,
stopping off to watch in the course of a ride from one place to another
(in 1991 in the Arly Gorge, and in 1992 on the Galibier). On both
occasions, the combination of my own abilities (only averaging ca. 60
miles/day) and the Tour's itinery meant that seeing the race more than
once was not really feasible.

In 1993, 93 and 95 we (myself + 3 friends) organised things differently.
Basically, we took a car with the bikes on the roof and camped in the
vicinity of the tour. It was then normally possible to see two days of
racing (ie, somewhere near the end one day and near the beginning the
next) before moving on to a new campsite perhaps 100 or 150 miles away
to get another couple of days in. For example, in 1994, in addition to
the Brighton and Portsmouth stages, we also saw the tour on l'Alpe
d'Huez; on the Col de la Colombiere; on the Col de Joux Vert (2km from
the finish of the Avoriaz time trial) and at the stage start in Morzine.

Now some general notes. If you elect to see the Tour as we did by car and
bike, be prepared for some long days with a lot of climbing. Bear in mind
also that after the voiture balai has passed, it can still sometimes take
almost as long to descend a mountain as to get up, due to the large
number of pedestrians, cars, other cyclists etc also trying to get down.
This problem is compounded at mountain top finishes, because firstly the
field is spread over a long time (maybe 3/4hr from first to last rider)
and secondly because after the stage, all the Tour vehicles and riders
generally also come back down to the valley. For example, when we watched
on Alpe d'Huez, it was nearly 5.00pm before we got down to Bourg d'Oisans
and we then had a 40 mile ride with 1300m of climbing back over the
Lautaret to get to where we were camping in Briancon

Secondly, aim to get to the foot of any mountain you want to watch on at
least 2 hours in advance. Even then, you might find some policemen want
you to get off and walk. The attentiveness of policemen to this detail
varies widely. For example, in Bourg d'Oisans, one policemen wanted us to
walk, even though we were 2km from the foot of Alpe d'Huez; then 100m
further on a second gendarme told us more or less to stop mucking around,
if we had bikes then why weren't we riding them! Similarly, one Gendarme
in 1995 gave an absolute flat refusal to let us even start on the climb
of the Madeleine (admittedly we were quite late, and the first 8km are
very very narrow) whereas on the Colombiere, I rode up in the middle of
the caravane publicitaire. (NB this latter trick has oodles of street
cred as a) about 50 million people cheer your every pedal stroke, b) the
caravan showers you with freebies and c) you can beg chocolate from the
Poulain van and pretend you're a domestique sent back to the team car to
pick up extra food - and let's face it, being even a domestique is way
above what 99.9% of the readers of rbr can aspire too!) If you travel by
car and then hope to walk up, the roads get blocked even before they are
completely closed - for example, in 1995 we ran into a terrible traffic
jam south of Grenoble on the day of the Alpe d'Huez stage whilst we were
heading south, though fortunately we avoided it by going via Sisteron
rather than Gap, as had been the initial plan.

Thirdly, come prepared for all weathers and with plenty of food and
water. Both TT's I've been to (outskirts of Paris in 1993, and Avoriaz in
1994) took over 5 hours to pass, and even a run of the mill mountain
stage may take 2 hours from first vehicle in the publicity caravan to the
"Fin de Course" vehicle. The weather can change markedly - for example,
at Avoriaz, we started the day in hot sunshine with girls sunbathing in
bikinis, and finished in freezing rain. So make sure you have some warm
clothing, even on an apparently hot day; plenty of water and plenty of
food. Remember, once in place , you can't easily nip off to the local shop!

All of the above was written from the point of view of watching in the
mountains. I guess flat stages are easier as there are more small roads
around, and the crowds are not so concentrated at certain key points. For
Paris, it's best to travel into the centre by RER/RATP and then walk; you
may need to wait several hours if you want a place on the barriers on the
Champs Elysees, but at the Jardin des Tuileries end of the circuit, the
pressure is not so bad.

Finally, is it worth it? Yes! OK, you only get a fleeting glimpse of the
riders, but it is all the incidentals that make it fun - spinning yarns
with Thierry on the Galibier; riding up the Colombiere in the publicity
caravan; being at the exact point on l'Alpe d'Huez where Roberto Conti
made his winning attack (and hence being on Television); seeing Zulle
ride effortlessly near the top of the Colombiere, 5 minutes up on
everyone else; getting a grin from "Stevo" on l'Alpe d'Huez when a bunch
of Ockers I was with shouted "hello Aussie!" as he rode past; and many
many more in similar vein. Go! - you'll have a lot of fun!


Subject: 5.5 Tour de France Time Limits
From: Bruce Hildenbrand
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 00:28:53 -0800 (PST)

Below is an explanation of the time limits that are imposed on the riders
for each stage of the Tour de France. If a rider does not finish within
the prescribed time limit, then, barring extraordinary circumstances, they
are not allowed to start the next day's stage and are eliminated from the
Tour de France(TIOOYK). There is no time limit on for the prologue. This
information comes from the 1990 edition of the racer's bible, it may
be a bit out of date, but you get the general idea.

Each stage of the Tour falls into one of six categories:

1) flat stage
2) rolling stage
3) mountain stage
4) individual time trial
5) team time trial
6) short stage

The "short stage" category is used for stages that are short on distance
by Tour standards(80 miles) and usually flat or rolling hills.

The important thing to note is that faster the overall average speed
of the winner, the greater the percentage of the winning time.

For flat stages the scale goes from:

5% for less than a 34km/h average
6% for a 34-35km/h average
7% for a 36-37km/h average
8% for a 38-39km/h average
9% for a 40-41km/h average
10% for a 42-43km/h average
11% for a 44-45km/h average
12% for a 46km/h average or greater

For rolling stages the scale goes from:

6% for less than a 31km/h average
7% for a 31km/h average
8% for a 32km/h average
9% for a 33km/h average
10% for a 34km/h average
11% for a 35km/h average
12% for a 36km/h average
13% for a 37km/h average or greater

For mountain stages the scale goes from:

6% for less than a 26km/h average
7% for a 26km/h average
8% for a 27km/h average
9% for a 28km/h average
10% for a 29km/h average
11% for a 30km/h average
12% for a 31km/h average
13% for a 32km/h average
14% for a 33km/h average
15% for a 34km/h average
16% for a 35km/h average or greater

The individual time trial 4 has a single cut-off and that is 25% of the
winner's time.

For the team time trial the scale goes from:

13% for less than a 42km/h average
14% for a 42km/h average
15% for a 43km/h average
16% for a 44km/h average
17% for a 45km/h average
18% for a 46km/h average
19% for a 47km/h average
20% for a 48km/h average or greater

For short stages the scale goes from:

10% for less than a 34km/h average
11% for a 34-35km/h average
12% for a 36-37km/h average
13% for a 38-39km/h average
14% for a 40-41km/h average
15% for a 42-43km/h average
16% for a 44-45km/h average
17% for a 46km/h average or greater


Subject: 5.6 Tour de France Points Jersey Competition
From: Bruce Hildenbrand

The green ("points") jersey is awarded from points accumulated from
finishing places and intermediate sprints. Riders receive points for
all stage finishes based on the type of stage.

Each stage of the Tour falls into one of four categories:

1) flat stage
2) rolling stage
3) mountain stage
4) individual time trial or prologue

From the 1990 racer's bible:

Flat stages: 25 places: 35, 30, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13,
12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Rolling stages: 20 places: 25, 22, 20, 18, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8,
7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Mountain stages: 15 places: 20, 17, 15, 13, 12, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Individual Time Trial and Prologue: 10 places: 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Intermediate Sprints: 3 places: 6, 4, 2

Bruce Hildenbrand


Subject: 5.7 Bicycle Racing Movies
From: Michael Frank
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 22:12:33 -0500


Local cyclist in a small town (townie's aka 'cutters), lives, eats, and
breathes cycling and everything else Italian, comes of age in a race
against college kids. Based on Dave Blaze, and his experiences at Indiana
University and the Little 500. Lots of trivia in this one, look for a
current USCF board member, a current regional USCF coach, some former

One story I had heard was that one of the plot inspirations for the race
scene in Breaking Away was Wayne Stetina. Wayne made the 1972 Olympic team
at the age of 18. According to the story, after riding in Montreal he
enrolled at IU, joined a frat, entered the Little 500 as part of his frat's
team, rode the entire race himself and won. Just like the Cutter's plan for
Dave Stohler in the movie.

I think the term "Cutters" referred to the principle industry of the
community, which was large (building) stone quarying, or "cutting". The
race was sponsored by a local university and there was a strong "us against
them" mind set between the University team and the non university or cutter
team. The whole movie was loosely based on fact. The race does in fact
still occur. It's still the cutters against the college crowd, and I saw
it on TV about a year ago on ESPN2. Can't for the life of me remember the
name of the university.

Does anybody if this actually happened?

I've heard basically the same story, and I do know that Wayne (and also
Dale, I believe) went to IU and was on a frat team that won the Little 500.
However, whether he did it singly-handedly I don't know.

I *can* tell you for a fact that if you were a decent cyclist and were
interested in attending IU, fraternities were willing to pay for your room,
board, and tuition. After the Stetina's domination, however, the rules of
the Little 500 were changed to limit it to only Cat 3 riders (there were no
Cat 4 or Cat 5 categories back then). A friendly rival of mine (Bill
Brissman) from Indy moved from Junior to Cat 3 (instead of Junior to Cat 2
like I did) just so he could pick up this "scholarship". He had to be
careful about when and where he raced, so that he didn't draw too much
attention and get bumped up to Cat 2 against his wishes. As soon as he
graduated, he moved up to Cat 2.

The IU alum and USCF racer who did the riding "stunts" for Dennis
Christopher (the actor who played the protagonist) is now a woman. No need
to mention his/her name.

2 brothers, one, a former National caliber rider (Kevin Costner), and his
enthusiastic 'newbee' brother, take an adventure to the 'Hell of the West'
(aka Coors Classic) stage race. Lots of good 'Coors Classic' footage in
this one, even Eddy Merckx makes an appearance.

Trials and tribulations in the tough world of bicycle messengers in New
York City. Stars Kevin Bacon, and Nelson Vails.


A depression era bookie (Walter Matthau) gets stuck with a little girl,
left as an IOU (marker). Only about 5 minutes of 6-day racing in this one.
The track is a portable one, built by the same builder as the portable
Atlanta Olympic Velodrome.

A 1940's Bike messenger wins the Big 6-day race. A hard to find BW film
from the 40's. Lots of 6-day footage, starring era comedian, Joey Brown.

A family in Post war Italy struggle to make a living, taking their life
savings to buy the Husband/Father a bicycle for work, only to have the bike
stolen. Often shown at art festivals, or 'Study of film' classes. This
film is by one of those famous 'Fellini' -types . No racing, but lots of
old bikes, and definitely a different lifestyle, where the bike is King.
Italian with Subtitles.


Hugo is the winningest 6 day racer in Italy, beating everyone, incuding the
Mafia's 'Fixed' riders. To stop losing gambling monies, the Mafia decides
to wear Hugo down by throwing beautiful women at him, hoping to reduce his
endurance and stamina. This Adult movie from the late 70's was 'Competive
Cycling' magazines choice for best cycling footage in the era before
'Breaking Away'... Dubbed.

A PBS Documentary from the Early 70's, showing the trials of the American
team at a stage race in Canada.

BREAKING AWAY, the TV Series Shawn Cassady plays the role of Dave Stoller,
bike racer, in the TV series, based on the movie of the same name. This
one is tough to find, as it only lasted one season in the early 80's.

Don't forget "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" whose opening scene is Pee Wee
Herman dreaming about winning the Tour de France.

Wasn't there a movie (french) called the Maillot Jaune? I do remember some
talk a few years past and even some speculation about a remake starring
Dustin Hoffman

Another movie filmed in New York City in the 80s was Called "Key Exchange"
with Dany Aeillo and one of the actors from "Breaking Away"

(there seems to be no dubbed version of this one - you could translate the
title to "a men's affair", maybe?)

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Claude Brasseur

JL-T is an architect and joins a bicycle racing group where also a
detective (C.B) is member. he uses this friendship to cover, that he
mudered his wife. Film includes several scenes of the group's weekly race
(which also plays a part in the murderers alibi), and even the final
confrontation is not done using guns, but bikes.

On a far tangent anyone ever see the Euro 'Vanished' (I think there was a
poor attempt at an American version with Jeff Bridges)? There was a
reference in the bizarre dialogue about Joop Zotemelk (sp?) and bicycle
racing. Never figured out what it had to do with the rest of this
disturbing film.

Neither do I, except maybe that the Dutch couple in the French/Dutch movie
"The Vanishing" was on bicycle vaccation in France when the wife was

A PBS Documentary from the Early 70's, showing the trials of the American
team at a stage race in Canada.

BREAKING AWAY, the TV Series Shawn Cassady plays the role of Dave Stoller,
bike racer, in the TV series, based on the movie of the same name. This
one is tough to find, as it only lasted one season in the early 80's.

One great movie to watch is "A Sunday In Hell 1976 Paris-Roubaix" available
from World Cycling Productions. Not one of their regular videos, but a
real movie about pro racing.

Yeah.. great flick, but if I remember correctly, isn't that the one with
the endless "PAREY RABO.. PAREY RABO..." chant in the background that goes
on forever?

Of course this one is slightly disappointing after you hear all of the
build up. Another one, Stars and Water Carriers is a better movie with much
better scenes of Eddy (The Cannibal) Merckx and how he won so much.The film
shows the strain on Eddy's face and clearly shows how much effort he put
into his racing. This is a Danish documentary with added english sound
track so it sounds a bit funny, but it takes my vote for best cycling video
to date.

John Forrest Tomlinson wrote
There was also "Key Exchange," though it might be better termed "mid-80s".
I was in it ;-)

So was Nelson "The Chettah" Vails, (a.k.a., the fastest cat in the jungle).
He races the cabbie in the opening scene.

Nope ... that scene is from Quicksilver ... Kevin Bacon is the passenger in
cab... and the star of the movie.

From what I understand, he did a lot of his own stunts ... the boy could


My favorite scene was when KB was racing one of the other messengers, and
COASTED down one of the major S.F. hills on his fixed gear without brakes
.... that and the freewheeling noises whenever he was riding his fixie.

That and when Nelson shifts *from* a 14 *to* a 28 to race the cab.

Speaking of.... Doesn't Dave Stoller drop into his little ring to motorpace
the semi at the beginning of Breaking Away?

From: Jonathan Good

JOUR DE FETE is a great French film starring Jaques Tati. It's about a
bicycling postman's misadventures (Tati) as he seeks to become a faster
deliveryman (and cyclist). It is charming and absolutely hilarious, and
features exciting and ridiculous bicycle riding in almost every scene in
the film. No silly special effects here, this old film features the
actors doing all sorts of cycling feats, including "mixing it up" with a
pack of French racers on a training ride. Very hard to find, but not to
be missed if you get the chance to see it!

Also, I've seen JOEY BROWN, 6 DAY RACER, but it was just called
6 DAY RACER. (No JOEY BROWN in the title, but he is the star of the


Subject: 5.8 Guide to Spectating at the Tour de France
From: Bruce Hildenbrand
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 00:24:10 -0800 (PST)

There are two basic ways you can watch the Tour de France. First off, you can
join an organized tour group. The advantages with a tour group are that all
the logistics are taken care of for you, all you have to do is watch and ride
your bike. The disadvantages are that you must stick to the schedule of the
group and there is a potential to be staying farther away from the venues
because it is harder to find accommodations for a group. There are many tour
groups which provide this service. Surf the Internet or check out the back of
any major cycling periodical for the names of the touring companies.

This guide explains the second option, doing it by yourself, in more detail.


If you are on a very limited budget, you might try to use trains and buses to
get to the locations of the stages. This is not too difficult an option when
viewing the flatter stages, but gets more difficult as the Tour enters the
mountains. If you can afford it, a car is a definite plus, especially if you
want to bring your bike and do some cycling. Renting a car runs about $300-400
a week then you have to add in gas ($5/gallon) and tolls, so figure about
$400-500/week total expenses.

Sleeping Accommodations

Because of the large entourage (riders, press, support personnel) who follow
the Tour, hotels can be hard to find. This is especially true, in the
mountains, but there are some tricks. Many mountain stages finish at the top
of ski resorts with the Tour entourage staying in the hotels at the resort.
You may be able to find accommodations in the large towns at the bottom of the
resorts or at the end of the valleys, such as Grenoble when the Tour comes to
l'Alpe d'Huez. Better yet, try another moutaintop ski resort near the stage
finish such as Les Arcs when the Tour finishes at Courcheval. It is best to
make accommodations as early as possible to ensure getting a room. Also,
others have reported that even if you have confirmation of a reservation,
the hotel may deny any knowledge when you arrive. If you do pre-book a
hotel, bring all the confirmation information with you on your trip to prove
that you do, indeed, have a reservation.

Another option that gives more flexibility is to camp along the route. If
you are driving by car, you can toss in a tent and a sleeping bag(s) and
camp almos t anywhere along the route. It is important that you bring a
tent since afternoo n and evening thunderstorms are common.

Route Information

A number of cycling related magazines such as the French magazines Velo and
Mirroir du Cyclisme as well as the American VeloNews publish guides to the Tour
which includes some route information to help you plan where you would like to
watch the Tour. Sometimes, you can obtain a free copy of the official route
map, I have seen these in years past, but don't know how to request one.

Getting on the Route

Obviously, the actual route of each day's stage is closed to both car and
bicycle traffic at some during the day. The problem here is that the
policy fo r closure seems to vary from year to year. One year the road up
to l'Alpe d'Huez was closed at 6am the morning of the stage finish and
another year, the police were letting cars on the road 2 hours before the
riders arrived (about 3 pm)! Suffice it to say that if you absolutely need
to be somewhere at a specific time, you should give yourself lots of time.

The gendarme's seem to be more lenient towards letting bicycles on the race
route, most times they start asking riders to dismount with about 1 hour to go
before the riders arrive. However, recent incidents between spectators and
racers have caused the Gendarmes to be more stringent in enforcing the rules.

If you really want to ride a stage or portions of it, your best bet might
be to do it the day before or the day after the Tour has come by, but that
defeats th e purpose of going to see the Tour in the first place.

On the flatter stages, there are more options of roads to follow to
intersect the Tour. This helps if you want to see a lot of a particular
stage and you have a car. In the mountains, the options are much more
restrictive. One thin g you can do is to stay at the stage finish and then
on the morning of the stage, ride backwards over 1 or 2 climbs, then climb
back up to the finish in time to watch the stage on the big scree TV that
is present at most stage finishes. You then drive to the next stage finish
in the evening after all the hoopla has quieted down.

Visiting teams after stage

At the stage finishes it is difficult to actually visit the teams at their
hotels. The riders need to prepare themselves for the next day which means
getting massages, eating some food and resting are very important. While
it is not advisable to attempt to visit the riders, the team mechanics are
usually out in front, or back, of the hotel washing and adjusting the
riders bicycles. As with the riders, the mechanics have important duties
to attend to after each stage, but they usually don't mind if you watch
them work. You might even curr y their favor by offering to buy them a

Gear to bring

The weather is totally unpredictable during the Tour so you should bring
clothing for hot, cold and wet weather. If you are touring by car and will be
camping, in addition to your personal gear, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and
tent will give you a lot of freedom.

Daily newspapers/TV coverage

The French sports newspaper l'Equipe has excellent daily coverage of the
Tour. It costs about $1 a day. Daily TV coverage of the Tour starts around
2pm giving about 3 hours of coverage as all stages are designed to finish
around 5pm in the evening. On the days of the more important stages such
as the time trials and mountains, TV coverage may follow the entire stage and
begin as early as 9am. If you have access to cable TV, you should be able to
find coverage in the major European languages.

Also, there usually is a large TV screen present at the finish of most stages
which carries the video of the normal TV coverage.

For those of you fluent in French, the radio coverage is also quite good.


Subject: 6 Social


Subject: 6.1 Bicycling in America
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 17:08:29 PDT

(or How to survive on a bicycle)

In America, bicycling appears to be an unacceptable activity for
adults. It is viewed as a pastime reserved for children (people who
are not old enough to drive cars). Adults who sense they are
violating this stricture, excuse their bicycling as the pursuit of
physical fitness, referring to their bicycling as training rides.
Rarely do you hear a cyclist say "we were bicycling" but rather "we
were on a training ride". Certainly most of these people never race
although one might assume, by implication, that their other rides are
races. Some also refer to themselves as serious cyclists, a term used
to describe riders who, typically, keep track of pedaling cadence and
other bicycling statistics, thereby giving proof that their riding is
not child's play.

In contrast, Europeans seem able to accept bicycling as a proper
activity for all ages. That is to say, motorists do not treat
bicyclists with apartheid and bicyclists do not feel the need to
justify their pursuit as anything other than bicycling, for whatever
reason. In Europe cadence on speedometers is an un-marketable
function for no obvious reasons, however, one could imagine that for
the average cyclist it is a useless statistic, except for "training

With this perception of bicycling in America, non cyclists and some
occasional cyclists are offended by others who bicycle on public roads
in the presence of automobile traffic. "Get the f#%k off the road!"
and similar epithets are heard from drivers, some of whose cars are
equipped with bike racks. I find it is similar to gay bashing; by
expressing public outrage they demonstrate abhorrence of unacceptable
behavior. The same is true of bicyclists who deride others in public
for not wearing a helmet. Aggressive self righteousness is probably a
fitting description.

Another motive behind such behavior may be a sense of dissatisfaction
with ones life. Anyone who is perceived as having fun, or at least
more fun than the subject, needs to be brought down a notch.
Psychologists who have interviewed youths that go "wilding" have
gotten responses to the effect that "my life is terrible and I can't
stand people who are having fun". So these youths attack others and
beat them bloody. In a manner that may not make sense to others, they
bring their victims down a notch to achieve parity.

There is little doubt that bicycling has its hazards. You can fall by
running into a pothole or an obstacle, by riding into a grating, or
falling on loose gravel or a slick manhole cover. There are enough
hazards without the threat of being run down by a car. However, the
whole sport loses its appeal when motorists, who believe that adult
bicycling is offensive, actively engage in making it a deadly

The scenario:

In a typical encounter a driver says to his passenger "You see that
guy on the bicycle? That's a dangerous place to ride." while slicing
within inches of the cyclist. The passenger is truly impressed with
the danger of bicycling, especially in the presence of this driver.

I don't understand how drivers justify such behavior but I think I
know what is going on.


o The buzz and swerve routine:

A driver slices dangerously close even though there is no opposing
traffic. Then he drifts to the edge of the pavement to make clear how
far he went out of his way for the cyclist. His desired path was even
nearer the road shoulder than at the passing point. The buzz and
swerve is executed equally well consciously and subconsciously.

o Center court, extra point:

The car, on a visibly empty stretch of road, travels perfectly
centered between median and edge stripes, even when this requires
passing within inches of a cyclist. It appears that the driver is
awarding himself points for not flinching when passing cyclists and
extra points for proximity. In the event of a collision it is, of
course, the cyclist who swerved unexpectedly. The precision with
which the driver executes this maneuver, in spite of the danger, makes
the center court game conspicuous. People generally don't drive
exactly centered in a lane, especially when there is an obstacle.

o Honk and slice:

The buzz and swerve or center court routine can be enhanced by honking
a single one second blast. This is usually done at a far greater
distance than a sincere warning toot; about 200 yards works best.
This is a great crutch for the driver who subsequently collides with
the cyclist. "But I warned him!"

o The trajectory intercept:

A car is traveling on a road that crosses the cyclists path at right
angles. The car and bike are equally distant from the intersection
but at different speeds. With skill, the driver of the car can slow
down at a rate that lets him arrive at the intersection at the same
time as the cyclist. The bicyclist who has a stop sign may now come
to a complete stop and wait for the driver who is only looking out for
the cyclist's safety. If the cyclist doesn't stop, the driver honks
and yells something about breaking the law.

Extra points are gained by offering the right of way to the cyclist,
in spite of moving through traffic in the adjacent lanes.

o The contrived hindrance:

A driver refuses to pass a cyclist on a two lane road until the
passenger asks how much longer they must follow this bicyclist, or
until the following cars begin to honk. Then, regardless of
visibility or oncoming traffic, an inopportune pass is executed after
which each of following drivers makes it clear when passing that it
was the cyclist who was responsible for a near collision.

o The rear-ender:

While riding down a mountain road, the cyclist catches up with a car
that notices his rapid approach. If an oncoming car approaches the
driver slows down, obviously for safety sake, and then suddenly slams
on the brakes when there is no place for the cyclist to go. Bicycles
cannot stop as fast as cars since cars can safely skid the front
wheels but bicycles can't. This game is the more dangerous variation
of speeding up every time the cyclist tries to pass but to drive as
slowly as possible everywhere else.

One explanation for these maneuvers is that the driver recalls that
riding in the mountains was always too hard and riding down hill was
scary. This cyclist can't do what I couldn't do and I'll show him a
thing or two. Thus the driver proves to himself that not riding in
the hills was for safety's sake, it had nothing to do with physical
ability. It fits into the "I'll teach that smartass a lesson." There
is little risk for the car because in a rear-end collision the vehicle
behind is, with few exceptions, found at fault.

So why does all this go on and on?

It is not as though they are all hostile drivers; some are just
frustrated drivers. They may still be getting even for some bicycle
accident they had in their youth and don't want others to get off any
easier. Some are angry at having to spend the time behind the wheel
while other "irresponsible adults" are playing on their bicycles. I
believe the meanest ones are insecure people who don't feel as though
they are accomplishing what they expect of themselves and don't like
to see others have it any better. Many drivers believe that the only
part of the road to which a bicyclist is entitled is the road
shoulder, unless it occurs to the driver to use that part too.

A bike rack on a car may lead you to believe that the driver has a pro
bicycle attitude. Some people use bike racks to transport family
bicycles to a park where they can be ridden safely without venturing
onto dangerous roads; roads that are meant for cars. Among these
people are some of the strongest opponents of general bicycling. They
take refuge in the belief that, if they should run you down while
playing center court, it would prove that you should bicycle as they
do, and not get in the way of cars.

What to do? Don't fuel the flames. Don't return the rudeness that is
dished out. Take legal action where appropriate (and possible).
Don't posture in traffic drawing attention to some undefined
superiority to people who sit in cars. Don't balance on your bike or
ride in circles in front of cars waiting at a red light. Don't make
moves in traffic that are either discourteous, or at best, awkward but
legal. If you hear loud knobby tires coming, believe it! That guy in
the extra tall pickup truck with the all terrain tires, dual roll bars
and multiple searchlights is not a friend of yours coming close to say
hello. Give him room.


Subject: 6.2 League of American Bicyclists
From: Brewster Thackeray
Date: Thu, 8 Apr 99 09:53:34 -0500
Orig-From: Erin O'Brien

The League of American Bicyclists, (founded as the League of American
Wheelmen) has been working to improve the quality of bicycling in America
almost as long as there have been bicycles.

In the 1870s the forefathers of bicycling banded together to lobby the
government for more paved roads and to put a stop to antagonistic acts from
other road-users. United in 1880 as the League, their mission has carried
on throughout the history of bicycling.

Fashioned after "The Good Roads Movement" of the 1880's, our current agenda
is embodied by the L.A.W. Safe Roads Movement, a comprehensive program that
aims to reduce the number of injuries and deaths to cyclists. Highlights
of this 10-pointaction plan include educating bicyclists and other road
users about thei rights and responsibilities to safely share the road, and
promoting the improvement of road design and maintenance to better
accommodate bicycles.

The League's Effective Cycling program is making great strides to advance
this agenda. Taught by certified instructors, it is the only national
bicycling education program that combines the technical training needed to
safely negotiate any traffic situation, with the principles of safe,
responsible riding.

The League sponsors National Bike Month (May), which serves to promote the
various aspects of bicycling.

The League played an instrumental role in the passage of the Intermodal
Surface Transportation Equity Act of 1991 (ISTEA), federal legislation
allowing both for increased spending on bicycling improvements and for
bicyclists to participate in local transportation planning.

The League's national and regional rallies bring together members from all
over the U.S.A. and Canada for great riding and entertainment, daily
workshops include, advocacy, safety, club leadership, cycling techniques,
and more.

Six issues per year of Bicycle USA magazine keep members up to date on
League activities. Regular features include effective cycling tips,
News from the States and League Notes columns, cycle news, and an event
calendar. Special issues include an annual Almanac and Tourfinder.

League members can fly their bikes for free on numerous airlines when they
make their travel arrangements a League-affiliated travfel agent.

The League is a 501c-3 non-profit organization with membership of more than
35,000 bicyclists and 450 affiliated clubs and coalitions nationwide.
Individual membership costs $30/year or $45 for families.

To join the League of American Bicyclists send your membership contribution
to 1612 K Street, NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20006; phone 202/822-1333;
fax 202/822-1334; e-mail ; website www.bikeleague.org


Subject: 6.3 Rules for trail riding
From: Roland L. Behunin

The Salt Lake Ranger District of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest has
some guidelines for trail riding in their district. Here they a

1. Yield the right of way to other non-motorized recreationists.
People judge all cyclists by your actions. Move off the trail to
allow horse to pass and stop to allow hikers adequate room to share
the trail.

2. Slow down and use caution when approaching another and make your
presence known well in advance. Simply yelling bicycle is not

3. Maintain control of your speed at all times and approach turns
anticipation of someone around the bend. Be able to stop safely within
the distance you can see down the trail.

4. Stay on designated trails to avoid trampling native vegetation, and
minimize potential erosion by not using wet or muddy trails or
shortcutting switchbacks. Avoid wheel lockup. If a trail is steep
enough to require locking wheels and skidding, dismount and walk your
bike. Locking brakes contributes to needless trail damage. Do not
ride cross-country. Water bars are placed across to direct water off
the trail and prevent erosion. Ride directly over the top, or
dismount and walk your bike.

5. Do not disturb wildlife or livestock.

6. Do not litter. Pack out what you pack in and carry out more than
your share whenever possible.

7. Respect public and private property, including trail use signs, no
trespassing signs, and leave gates as you found them. If your route
crosses private property, it is your responsibility to obtain
permission from the landowner. Bicycles are excluded from designated
Wilderness Areas.

8. Always be self sufficient. Your destination and travel speed will
be determined by your ability, your equipment, the terrain, and the
present and potential weather conditions.

9. Do not travel solo in remote areas. Leave word of your destination
and when you plan to return.

10. Observe the practice of minimum impact bicycling. "Take only
pictures and leave only waffle prints."

11. Always wear a helmet.

12. If you abuse it-you lose it!. Since mountain bikers are
newcomers to the forests, they must prove to be responsible trail

From personal experience, you may also want to add the following

13. In National Parks and National Monuments bicycles are considered
vehicles and restricted to roads.

14. On BLM land - ride only on roadways, trails, and slickrock. The
desert crust (microbiotic crust) is fragile and takes up to 50 years
to recover from footprints, waffle tracks, etc.

15. When camping out of improved campsites camp at least 500 feet
off the road or trail. Try to leave no trace of your campsite.

16. Toilets in unimproved areas - move off trail, and dig a 1 foot
deep pit, cover after use.

Old October 29th 04, 07:10 AM
Mike Iglesias
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Archive-name: bicycles-faq/part2

[Note: The complete FAQ is available via anonymous ftp from
draco.acs.uci.edu (, in pub/rec.bicycles.]


Subject: 6.4 Commuting - Is it possible for me to commute by bike?
From: (Royce Myers)

Not everyone can commute to work on a bicycle. Some people can't cycle to
work in a reasonable time because of their fitness or because they live
too far away. Other people need their cars for their jobs, or take
children to school. Some employers frown on bicycle commuting, and don't
provide any facilities. All these obstacles can be surmounted.

If you want to commute by bike, you will find a way to do it.

A few facilities at your workplace can make commuting easier.

Minimally there should be racks in a well trafficked area. Some business
will let you park them in your cube, and others might provide a closet or
unused room to store them. My company provides enclosed lockers. If
theft is a significant danger, consider buying a second, inexpensive bike
to be used only for commuting.

If your commute is short, and the dress code where you work is relaxed,
you won't need to change or clean up after getting to work. The rest of
us need to prepare for work.

Every workplace has a bathroom where a sponge bath and change is
possible. If you're lucky (like me) there's showers and lockers. If your
ride makes you sweat a lot, and there is no way to take a shower at work,
look around for a nearby gym. Sometimes you can arrange to change and
shower there, then walk or ride slowly to work. If you want to get a
workout, but there's nowhere to clean up at work, try getting your workout
on the way home, making little or no effort on the way to work.

If your ride is too long for a round trip, and there's no place to park,
put your bike in your car and drive to work on Monday. Monday night, ride
home. Tuesday morning ride to work and put your bike in the car. If
you're tired Tuesday night, drive home. If there is a vanpool to work,
get the vanpool driver to mount racks. Then you can take the vanpool in
the morning and ride home in the afternoon.

Some people reduce the length of their commute by driving to a "park and
ride" area, then riding in from there. Another way to solve a long
commute is to find out about bicycle accommodation on buses or other
public transportation. Many people use a combination of bikes and buses,
subways, or trains to make a long commute possible.

Racks, bags and panniers: Some people drive in clothes once a week and buy
lunch at work so they don't need to carry much on their bikes. Others
need something to carry paperwork, lunch and clothes. A lot of commuters
use knapsacks rather than putting racks on a bike, but this raises their
center of gravity and increases wind resistance. Racks can be put on any
bike, and they come in handy for running errands, touring and unsupported
rides. If you're looking for a commuting bike, get one with rack eyelets
on the frame for convenience. Another alternative are touring saddle
bags, which are hard to find but are very handy on bikes without racks.

Get your bike in shape. Replace tires which have cracked sidewalls, or
worn casing. Carry a flat kit, a spare tube and enough tools to fix a
flat. If you're not mechanically inclined, have a bike shop tune up your
bike. Check every part of the drivetrain for lubrication and wear. Make
sure your wheels are true, and that the hubs are lubricated and adjusted

[I did not retain the mail address of contributors who posted to the group
without a sig; also, I may have missed some posts that weren't emailed to



Subject: 6.5 Commuting - How do I choose a route?
(Royce Myers)

According to the U.S. Uniform Vehicle Code, drivers of bicycles have the
same rights, and the same responsibilities, as drivers of other vehicles.
This means that commuters may use any road, street or highway they want,
and that they must obey traffic laws. Some states vary from the UVC, and
of course, some countries treat bicycles diffently than the US does.

John Forester, in his book Effective Cycling, suggests that all cyclists
use the following traffic principles:

"1. Ride on the right-hand side of the road, not on the left and
never on the sidewalk.

[Note: this is specific to those countries which drive on the right hand
side of the road, like the US. In countries like the UK, you should ride
on the left side of the road.]

2. When approaching a road that is larger than the one you are on, or
has more or faster traffic, you must yield to traffic on that road.
Yielding means looking and waiting until you see that no traffic is

3. When preparing to move laterally on a roadway, you must yield to
traffic in that line of travel. Yielding means looking forward and
backward to see that no traffic is in that line of travel.

4. When approaching an intersection, you must choose your position
according to your destination. Right-turning drivers are at the curb, left
turning drivers are at the center, while straight-through drivers are
between them.

5. Between intersections, you choose your position according to your
speed relative to other traffic. Parked ones are at the curb, medium-speed
drivers are next to them, while fastest drivers are near the center of the

Transportational cyclists want to maximize safety and minimize time.
Usually the most direct route between the cyclist and work will be the
best choice, but other factors may come into play.

Facilities: Multi-use paths (trails shared with bicycles, pedestrians,
skaters and sometimes horses) are less safe than the road, according to a
recent study published in the Institute for Transportation Engineers
journal; this kind of facility is more likely to send cyclists to the
hospital than comparable streets. Pedestrians, pets and skaters are
unpredictable and require more skill to pass safely. Sidepath
intersections are very dangerous because motorists don't expect vehicular
cross traffic.

Roads with wide curb lanes are safer than narrow roads, but narrow roads
may be ridden safely by using an entire lane. Bike lanes may be as safe
as the same width roads without lanes as long as the rider is competent to
avoid their dangers (e.g., they direct cyclists into right turn lanes,
when the cyclist should normally ride to the left of the right turn
lane). In California, cyclists traveling at less than the speed of
traffic must remain in the bike lane unless preparing for a left turn or
avoiding a hazard, like parked cars, a slower cyclist, rough pavement or

Traffic: even though arterials usually faster and more convenient than
side streets, riding on side streets may be more enjoyable due to lower
traffic noise and better scenery. Some cyclists are willing to ride the
Huntington Beach multi-use path during the summer even though the fastest
safe speed is 5mph. The view is very nice.

The compromise among pleasure, safety and time is yours.

Once you set your priorities, scout a few routes. Get the best street map
you can find and highlight streets that you like. US Geological Survey
maps (1:24000 scale) also show the hills, which is handy. They're
beautiful maps, too. They look nice on a wall.

[I did not retain the mail address of contributors who posted to the group
without a sig; also, I may have missed some posts that weren't emailed to



Subject: 6.6 Commuting - Do I really need to look that goofy?
(Royce Myers)

Before I started cycling I had no idea why cyclists wore such silly
looking clothes. Now I know why, but I still think we look silly. The
value of using cycling clothes on a commute depends on the length of the
commute. It is hardly worth it to ride 1 mile to work in cycling clothes
and then change to regular clothes at work, but 20 miles is a different

How to dress for the road, from the ground up:

1. Shoes: if you have a short commute with little climbing, virtually any
kind of shoes and socks will do. I have seen commuters wearing cowboy
boots moving at around 15 mph. If you expect to exert yourself for any
length of time, some trade-offs should be considered. Socks made of
cotton will retain moisture, while polyester type socks (e.g., Coolmax)
will wick moisture and encourage it to evaporate. Cycling shoes are
stiffer than casual or dress shoes, so transmitting energy to the pedal is
more efficient. On the other hand, they are not comfortable to wear off
the bike, so a change of shoes is necessary at work. For most of us, this
is not a problem because shoes take up little space and can be left at the
office. There are a range of options in cycling shoes, depending on your
pedal choice.

A note about pedals:

- Flat pedals allow easy on-off and may be used with any shoes. If you
hit a bump your feet may leave the pedals, which can result in loss of
balance and a crash.

- Toe clips and straps keep your feet on the pedals. They are designed to
be used with cycling shoes, either touring shoes, which have a sole
designed to hook onto a pedal, or racing shoes, which have cleats that
lock the cyclist to the pedal and improve efficiency. Many people
consider clips and straps to be obsolete, but they are a low cost way to
improve your efficiency. They will work adequately with street shoes and
hiking boots, which some people consider an advantage.

- Clipless pedals attach your shoes to the pedals similar to the way skis
attach to boots. With practice you can step in and out of them as easily
as flat pedals, but they are more efficient than toe clips. These pedals
require shoes that are compatible, and are much more expensive than toe
clips. I use the SPD style of clipless pedals, which has a recessed cleat
allowing you to walk around off the bike. I wouldn't recommend extensive
walking in these shoes, but they are perfect for what I need.

- Some pedals are flat on one side and clipless on the other, which allows
the rider to choose to wear cleated shoes for performance or regular shoes
for utility trips.

- An adapter is available for some clipless pedals that will turn them
into flat pedals with toe-clips.

2. Shorts: Casual cyclists ride at low speeds, at low RPMs, for short
distances so no special shorts are necessary. If you ride for any
distance you will need to develop a high RPM (80 - 110) for efficiency.
When your legs are moving that fast, baggy clothes will chafe, as will the
the seams in ordinary underwear, so you'll need something clingy like
lycra. And if you exert yourself, you will need to have some kind of
liner in these shorts to wick moisture from your privates. Bicycle shorts
are meant to be worn with no underwear; they are usually made out of lycra
and are lined with wicking pads. A good pair of bike shorts makes long
rides a pleasure; in fact, I never get on my bike without them.

3. Jerseys and shirts: Cotton retains moisture, so if you sweat, cotton
will keep it next to your skin, making you feel sticky and soggy. Yecch.
Polyester fabrics are designed to wick moisture away from you and allow it
to evaporate quickly. Bicycle jerseys are made out of polyester, and are
cut longer in the back because cyclists usually ride leaning forward to
reduce air resistance. Also, jerseys normally have two or three pockets
in the back, handy for carrying a handkerchief, banana, etc. When I take
my kids on rides I'll wear a tee shirt because I'm not going to sweat
much, but I always wear a jersey on my commute. Some people like cotton
and other natural fibers because they don't retain odors as much as the
polyester fabrics. In cool weather, wool is ideal.

4. Gloves: gloves will make your commute much more comfortable, and will
offer some protection in a crash. Long fingered gloves really help you
stay warm when it's chilly.

5. Eyewear: If you are commuting at dawn or dusk, you should consider
wearing clear glasses to protect your eyes from debris kicked up by cars
and wind. In daylight, sunglasses are a necessity to protect against UV
as well as road hazards.

6. Helmet: A helmet offers some protection in a crash, but the best way to
survive a crash is to learn to avoid falling in the first place. I wear
one, but I don't think it's some kind of magic talisman.

7. Other equipment: If there are unpredictable rains in your area, carry
rain gear. The articles on riding in the winter are availble through ftp


If you might work late, carry a light. Articles on lights are available
through ftp from:

[I did not retain the mail address of contributors who posted to the group
without a sig; also, I may have missed some posts that weren't emailed to



Subject: 6.7 Commuting - Do cyclists breathe more pollution than motorists?
(Royce Myers)

The sources for this information vary in credibility, but most of it comes
directly from published studies or other reputable sources like the
Berkeley Wellness letter.

1. Exercise will extend your life by about the amount of time you spend
doing it. So if you spend an hour on your bike, you've added an hour to
your life.

2. Drivers of cars are exposed to up to eighteen times more pollution
than "ambient air", approximately 300 feet from the road. Cyclists share
the road with cars, but they do not trap pollutants, and they take air in
at a much higher position than cars (assuming a diamond frame) so...

3. Cyclists breathe approximately 1/2 as much pollution than cars (this
appears to be _per breath_).

4. Over _time_, a cyclist will breathe much more than a sedentary driver,
since the cyclist is using more than twice as much air. Athletes appear
to be very sensitive to foul air.

5. In general, cycling takes longer than driving, so the bike commuter
may be exposed to pollution for longer periods of time.

6. A UK study found that cyclists had 1/2 the blood level of CO that
drivers did after traveling along a ten mile stretch of congested road.

7. CO blood levels may be less of a problem than inhaled particulates,
which are much harder to measure. Masks make breathing difficult if they
are properly sealed, and are ineffective if they are not sealed.

As a result, the health advantages of commuting by bike depend on several
key factors:

1. Would you exercise anyway? That is, would you drive to the gym and
ride a stationary bike in relatively clean air if you weren't commuting in

2. How hard do you ride? The harder you ride, the more air -- and
therefore pollution -- you take in. But then the better the training
effect will be, so if you don't do any other exercise, this is a wash.

3. How long is your drive compared to your ride? If it takes
significantly more time to ride, you may be exposed to more pollution.

4. What kind of car? An open air Jeep would take in and trap less
pollution than a sedan.

The health effects of exercise far outweigh any additional health dangers
from pollution. If you would exercise anyway, though, commuting may not
in your best interest. If you commute on low volume side streets, or on
sidepaths, pollution might not get you, but other hazards might.

Here is a rationalization for those of us who want to believe that
cyclists get less pollution than motorists:

One thing I've noticed about my commute: when I drive, I am _always_
surrounded by traffic. All us cars meet at the light and move from light
to light more or less together. When I ride my bike, I meet cars at
lights, but I don't spend a lot of time around them when they're rushing
past me to get to the next light. The vast majority of time is spent
between packs of cars, without much motor traffic. Since I'm not around
cars very much I can believe:
- I am breathing more garbage than a motorist when I'm in traffic
- I am breathing less garbage than a motorist when I'm not in traffic
- I am not in traffic far more often

Therefo I am probably getting less pollution on the bike than in my car!

[I did not retain the mail address of contributors who posted to the group
without a sig; also, I may have missed some posts that weren't emailed to



Subject: 7 Marketplace


Subject: 7.1 Marketplace hints/guidelines
From: Jim Siler

: Are people really willing to pay 10% less for a "nearly new" MTB when
: they
: a) often have no assurance that it really hasn't been used
: (except of course someone's word)

: b) may have to buy, unseen.

: c) may not get a transferable waranty on the MTB

I think that in general, many people are acutely aware of what they
spent for a thing and are woefully unaware of how much value that thing
lost when they walked out of the store. Let's assume for a moment
that I buy an XTR rear derailleur in my local shop (good practice,
worth some added cost) for $100. I use it for a week, and trash my
frame and want to part it out. Hmmm... this was $100 new and its only
a week old, virtually new. Let's ask $90 o.b.o. and see what happens.

Now I change roles and become the buyer.

I go to my local bike shop, where I trust the owner and am willing
to pay a premium, but no XTR rear derailleur. Next stop mail order.
Everyone but everyone has it for $80, plus shipping, but less tax.
They will take a credit card. The unit is warrantied, in the box,
with instructions (the value of which should not be underesimated).

Given this I am unlikeley to even consider the used part. But let's
suppose I offer $75, and send off my money order, sight unseen.
What can happen?

1 -- It never arrives. After a number of hassles and excuses I
realize that there is a major problem. Email stops being
returned. I contact his sysadm, who can't do much. I
publicly flame him, starting one more interminable flame
war. Eventually I either get my $75 bucks back or not.
Even if I get the derailleur (remeber, the original
object was the derailleur) I have bought myself
hundreds of dollars worth of aggravation.

2 -- It arrives and looks like hell. C'est la vie.

3 -- I arrives and one week later it is obvious that something
is seriously wrong. No amount of adjustment will cause
it to shift reliably for any length of time. See 2, above.

4 -- While waiting for arrival i trash MY frame. Derailleur
arrives. Sadly, I have nothing to hang it on. See 2,

Let's run through the same scenarios having purchased through mail
order, using a credit card.

1 -- I don't pay. If they get ****y about it I do too. As most
mail order houses have, at best, a fragile relationship
with Mastecard/Visa (it is VERY difficult to open a merchant
account to accept credit cards over the phone for mail order,
so difficult that many use their in store accounts, faking
signatures) and are dependent on that relationship to stay
in business, they tend to become most reasonable when you
make real noise with the credit card company.

2 -- Unlikely, as goods should be new. See 1, above.

3 -- Warranty problem. If you have a good local dealer, you
would have been better off there. If you have a so-so
dealer you may well be better off through mail order.
Worse comes to worst, see 1, above.

4 -- Worst case, you eat a restocking fee.

In general, I would be hesitant to buy anything here for much more
than 60% of its mail order price, unless the product is exactly
what I want and all else is right.

I have bought two things this year through this group, a GT Zaskar LE
frame, new in the box with slight cosmetic ding for $350 (negotiated
from $375) and a Flashlite 2 tent with a tiny hole, professionally
repaired, for $100. Both carried resonable prices in the original
post, offered to pay the shipping, and clearly spelled out the
possible problems with the product for sale. Both sales were
satisfactory to all involved, and I am delighted with both.

I have seen many other Items for sale that I have wanted and bought
elsewhere because the posted prices were so ridiculous that I
had no basis for negotiation. Typically, these are reposted with
sad wonderings as to why no one has responded. C'est la vie.

In general, I think that anyone wanting to move something quickly
through posting should do the following:

Be realistic with price. Look at the true market value of
your goods. It is not what you paid. You are going to take
a loss. If your fork, which was the hottest thing in July
of this year, cost you $600 in a store is not any better
than the new $375 fork that is available in December, its
market value is certainly no more than $375, if it is new.
Unless limited availability takes it out of the commodity
realm (e.g., my Zaskar frame with blemish had only limited
availibility) knock off 40% of the realistic market value.
Our fork is now down to $225. If this makes you too
queasy, up it a bit and throw in shipping, say $275 with
U.P.S. ground shipping, hmmm... not too bad.

Clearly state everything of importance to the buyer, good
and bad. This will avoid later hassles, and greatly increase
your trust factor.

Don't initially offer at an inflated price, thinking to
negotiate down (remember back to Onza Clipless Pedals for
sale flame war). It just makes it clear to an intellegent
buyer that you are hoping to find a sucker, and will take
whatever advantage you can. This may not be true, but it
will be clear, nonetheless. Trust factor goes down the

Make phone contact as soon as possible. A human voice is
often more comforting than an email address.

To anyoune who has read this far, thanks for putting up with my
rambling and opining.


Subject: 7.2 Bike Trailers

[Ed note: The posting I saved on bike trailers is over 145k bytes, so
if you want a copy see the section on "Archives".]


Subject: 7.3 One Less Car T-Shirts
From: Alayne McGregor
(Ed Ravin )

The T-shirts are produced by Transportation Alternatives, a New York
City bicycle activist group. They're 100% cotton, have the TA logo
on the front, and ONE LESS CAR on the back. Call TA for colors and
sizes currently in stock. They're US$15 each. No refunds or
exchanges. Allow 6 weeks for delivery. For people who have to
drive but feel guilty about it, they also have "I'm Polluting the
Atmosphere" bumper stickers at 3 for $5.

Send orders to:

Transportation Alternatives
92 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10009
attn: One Less Car

I happen to have one of these shirts in my closet right now. Causes lots
of comments when my covivant and I ride our tandem with both us wearing
our shirts.


Subject: 7.4 Panniers and Racks
From: Sharon Pedersen

This is a condensed version of a longer article on panniers, low-rider
racks, loading and generators. --Sharon

Price--cheaper may not be better, if they fall apart. Commuting to
school entails stuffing sharp-cornered books into them thus making
sturdiness as important here as for touring.

Cut--an angled cut may make those books not fit so well.

Pockets--convenient for organization, but cuts down on versatile use
of space. You can use stuff sacks for organization instead of pockets.
One big and one small pocket on each pannier is plenty.

Fastening--lots of options: bungees and hooks, or fixed placement
hooks, or straps with buckles or cams. Bungees and hooks have been
just fine in my own road experience, but for off-road riding, you will
want more security. However, don't get a system with so many
attachments that you can't stand to take the panniers on/off.

Brands--the following is a by no means exhaustive list, with
telegraphic comments made in 1988. Check local stores since features
may have changed since then.
Eclipse--(no comment); Kirtland--tourers like them;
MPacks--panniers made by an actual bike tourer, Mike Center, in
Santa Rosa, CA, (707) 545-4624;
Maddens--made in Boulder, "superior construction at better than
average cost" yeah! (I love mine, write for more glowing testimonials);
Performance--low-cost, non-spring attachment; Rhode Gear--expensive;
Tailwind--aerodynamic, rigid attachment.

Some manufacturers: Bruce Gordon, Blackburn, Vetta, Voyager. The
Bruce Gordons are more expensive (~$70 in 1988) but are designed with
clearance for the quick-release skewer so you don't have to pry them
apart to take the front wheel off.

(No comment in the original article; Blackburns seem to be the
standard and durable enough.)

Balance the load side-to-side and, if possible, fore-and-aft.
Keep heavier items low and towards the bottom bracket. Rider, bike
and luggage together should have 55-60% of weight on rear wheel;
remainder on front. Bike with front low-riders is quite stable.

The usual location on the left seat-stay interferes with panniers.
Mount the generator on the right seat-stay facing the other way, and
it will work fine, despite rotating "backwards." Or go with a
generator under the bottom bracket, which will have the advantage of
putting the wear on the tread rather than the sidewall of the tire.


Subject: 7.5 Clothing materials
From: Jim Carson

[Ed note: From a summary Jim posted]

Fluffy, fleecy stuff also called Polarplus and Synchilla. Comfortable.
Incredibly warm, especially under something that breaks the wind.
Doesn't wick moisture out very well. Breathes very well.

Supplex (nylon)
Comfortable. It is breathable and water repellent (but NOT water proof).
Seems to absorb a small amount of water if it is really getting drenched

Merino (wool)
From a "breed of fine-wooled white sheep originating in Spain and producing
a heavy fleece of exceptional quality." I guess you could treat this as
normal 100% wool.

An improvement on Polypro. The big advantage is heat resistance so
you can put it in the dryer. Balance that against the extra cost.

This stuff seems more like a plastic bag than the revolutionary wicking
material it is advertised as.

Trademark name for Dupont polyester. Woven fabric made from dacron is
similar to nylon ripstop or taffeta, but not as stretchy. Many of the
better clothing insulations are made from dacron. They are usually refered
to by more specific trademark names, like quallofil, hollofil, polarguard,
and dacron-88.

Used for its stretch, mostly a warm weather (65 degrees) thing.

A teflon based membrane with microscopic holes. Gortex's claim to
fame is that it will let water vapor (from perspiration) through, but
not liquid water (rain). It blocks wind fairly well too. The
membrane is delicate, so it always comes laminated between 2 layers of
other material. It does not breathe enough. There are less expensive

Does not wick very well. Can be uncomfortable. Troublesome to
care for (e.g. can pill badly) Will keep you fairly warm if soaked.
Not very wind resistant. Melts in the dryer.

Wicks moisture away. Very comfortable. Comes in different weights
for more/less warmth. [lots of favorable things about it... only
really unfavorable thing is the co$t]

60/40 cloth -
This is a cloth with nylon threads running one direction, cotton in
the other. It was the standard wind parka material before Goretex came
along, and is considerably less expensive. Good wind resistance,
fairly breathable. Somewhat water resistant, especially if you spray
it with Scotchguard, but won't hold up to a heavy rain.


Subject: 7.6 Seats

Seats are a very personal thing, for obvious reasons. There are several
types of seats:

Seats like the Brooks models. Usually used by hard-core riders. Requires
breaking in before it's really comfortable.

The usual bike seat, sometimes refered to as "anatomic". Has padding
where your "sit bones" (bottom of pelvis) supposed to rest.

Like the padded seats, except they have a gel (e.g. Spenco Gel) in them
for additional padding. Reportedly, the gel can harden and/or shift,
making the seat uncomfortable.

There are several types of seat pads (gel filled, containing an air bladder,
etc) that can be fitted over the seat to make it more comfortable.

If you are experiencing pain in delicate areas (especially you women readers)
you should make sure your seat is adjusted correctly (see the section on
seat adjustment). Women may need a women's type seat, which is wider in
the back (women's sit bones are farther apart than men's). Most pain
can be eliminated by a correctly adjusted seat, using a women's seat,
and riding so your body becomes used to it.


Subject: 7.7 Women's Saddles
From: Pamela Blalock

Many women who cycle have experienced frustration with trying to find
a comfortable saddle. It is amazing how many times I end up talking
with other women about saddles. This article comes from those
discussions and an informal survey of woman's saddle preferences. This
is a dynamic article and changes on occasion, so if you have comments
please contact me ) and I will incorporate your

While this is intended to be an article on women's saddles, since so
many other things can contribute to potential saddle pain, it will
also address some of these issues as well.

Just as women are different from men, we are also different from each
other. Since (fortunately) there is no mold into which we were all
poured, what works for one woman may not work for another.

First, be sure that your bike fits properly. Many women end up with
overly padded shorts and a big fat thickly padded saddle instead of
with a bike that fits properly. No saddle will be comfortable if the
bike is too big, or set up incorrectly. It is important to find
someone who knows about fit and specifically about women's fit and get
the bike set up properly before making other changes. In addition to
being more comfortable, a bike that really fits will also handle
better than one that is improperly sized. It isn't always easy to find
someone willing to take the time, but when you find a shop that will,
give them lots of business and send your friends there! Go to shops
during non-prime hours for the best service. You won't get a salesman
to spend an hour letting you try different saddles on a Saturday
afternoon, but you might on a Tuesday morning.

[ See Section 7.8 for more information on bikes for women ]

Now to saddles. A woman's hip bones tend to be set farther apart than
a man's. (This is a design feature to help with childbirth!) Every
woman is different, and there are many women out there with narrower
hip bones. To determine where you sit bones are, sit on a low curb.
Sorry, a chair won't do! When you sit on the curb, you will be able to
feel your sit bones. This is what you want supported by your bike
saddle. Avocet used to run a great ad showing a hip bone sitting on a
saddle. (look in old copies of bike magazines). With a saddle that's
too narrow, a woman may find herself effectively straddling it with
her hip bones, or slipping off of one side and pinching nerves - which
may eventually cause the legs or feet to go numb. A saddle that's too
wide will also cause problems.

A saddle that's slightly wider in the back (than the man's saddle that
comes on most stock bikes) may offer better support for the sit bones.
BTW, I'm not talking about those foot wide saddles you see on exercise
bikes at the gym. These are too wide for anyone.

I have quite a few retired women's saddles with depressed gel
indicating exactly where my bones are. Actually, looking at and
feeling your old saddle will tell you a lot about where you do and do
not need support! It's important to try out several different saddles
to find one that fits. Terry does produce a couple of different width
models but they are still somewhat limited. Widths do vary from
manufacturer to manufacturer - so for example, if the Terry is too
wide or too narrow, try the Vetta or Avocet or some other brand. Ask
your local dealer to let you put your bike on a trainer in the shop
and try sitting on and riding a few of his saddles. Saddles are fairly
easy to change and a good shop should be willing to let you try this.
(But not on a busy Saturday afternoon!) Some shops now have a device
that makes this easier. It is a stationary bike with merry-go-round of
saddles. You can sit on the saddle, pedaling, and then dismount and
swing the next saddle to be tried in place. It isn't as good as trying
a saddle on your bike, but will tell you a lot more than holding a
saddle and poking it, which it seems it how most saddles are

There are several women's saddles on the market, many of which are
padded with some form of gel. I have used (and retired) several of
these with no complaints. The gel does compress after a while
(regardless of sex), so these saddles do have to be replaced (for me
it's every 10,000 miles). Brooks also has several different models of
women's leather saddles, which some women swear by. I swar at them,
but that's me! (And there are women who swear at the saddles I swear
by!) And rather than needing to be replaced after 10,000 miles, the
Brooks is probably just getting broken in well at that point!

Many women who responded to my survey said that they have the nose of
their saddle tilted slightly forward to alleviate pressure on the soft
tissue. A large variety of saddles were used with this method. One
rider pointed out that having a seatpost with infinitely adjustable
angles, like the American Classic or Control Tech, will help one to
find the perfect angle. With the ratchet type adjustment of most, she
was never able to get the angle quite right. One problem with having
the saddle tilted too far forward is that you may end up with two much
weight/pressure on your wrists and hands. The result is numb hands and
pain in the lower back.

In John Forester's "Effective Cycling" book, he suggests getting a
cheap plastic saddle and carving out a depression in the area where
the labia would normally rest. This would place the weight on the sit
bones where it belongs, and remove it from the genital area, where it
does not. A couple of women used this idea and modified saddle pads in
this way. I watched a Spenco pad slowly get modified in this way each
day throughout PAC Tour last year. One survey respondent cut up a
neoprene pad and put it under the covering of her Flite saddle.

There are a couple of women's saddles which specifically address this
issue, the Terry Sport and the (formerly) Miyata Pavea (see the end of
the article for more info on acquiring this saddle). Both are shorter
and wider than the typical man's saddle and both have a hole to
suspend soft tissue. These saddles should be comfortable when level.
The Miyata leaves the hole exposed, while the Terry is covered in an
open-cell low-density foam. I should also point out that with the
Terry, the hole is in the nose, while the Miyata saddle has the hole
in the middle, further back.

While like many women, I tend to bend more at the waist, I also roll
my hips forward on a saddle to get in a more comfortable (and aero
cycling position). This means that on a standard saddle I am pressing
directly on tender tissue. Since I've switched to a saddle with a hole
in it, I can without any saddle related discomfort roll my hips
forward, and strech out on the aero bars for hours!

I heard from Carol Grossman, an Australian rider praising another
saddle. She wrote , "I have a Selle Bassano modular seat, which may or
may not be available in the US ( I live in Australia now). It has two
halves, with the split running nose-to-tail and a gap between them.
It joins together at the nose. The width of the seat, and therefore
of the gap as well, is adjustable so you can set it to match the width
of your seatbones. It has titanium rails, which give it a little bit
of spring. I must say, though, that it is quite firm and if I have
not been riding much and go for a long ride I do get sore seatbones.
But I can live with sore seatbones! Interestingly, the packaging
material said nothing about it being for women -- it was marketted as
a seat for men who suffered numbness."

My concern with this saddle is that as you make it wider in the back
to accommodate sit bones, you are also making the middle wider as
well. I have not personally triedon e of these yet.

T-Gear makes a leather saddle with a diamond shape cut in the middle.
The saddle is quite narrow and firm, and didn't fit me, but I've heard
some men rave about it. John, my SO found it too narrow in the back,
and too wide in the middle. Like the Selle Modular seat it is marketed
to men with numbness problems. (Mine is for sale!)

Another saddle I have tried very briefly is an Easy Seat. This is
actually two separate pieces, which rock independently. The only
points of contact are the hip bones - although the backs of my legs
rub the saddle. The two pieces can be adjusted for width and angle. I
know of a couple of women who used these saddles to salvage Race
Across America attempts, when saddle sores otherwise would have taken
them out of the race. I mounted this saddle on the bike on my indoor
trainer, but we had a wickedly mild winter, so I didn't use it this

I have used both the Terry and the Miyata a lot. (These were the two
most popular saddles in the survey.) I've received lots of positive
comments from women (and men) about their experiences with these
saddles. The men seem to notice the difference more after the ride
later in the evening when their partners weren't complaining about
saddle tenderness!

In 1992 I did BMB, a 750 mile ride in less than 4 days on the back of
a tandem. That's a lot of time on a saddle. I'd been using the Terry
for over 6 months and it worked great on everything up to 200 miles.
But 400 miles into the trip, I was ready to rip the foam out of the
hole. Once the swelling started, the presence of the foam became
unbearable. Even though there was no plastic shell underneath, there
was still something! I asked our crew person to see if he could find
the Miyata saddle. It's often quite difficult to find women's
products, and I was almost shocked when he showed up 20 miles later
with this wonderful saddle with an exposed hole. He had found the
Miyata. The difference was immediately noticeable. In addition to the
missing foam, the hole was further back (more where I needed the
relief). I probably would have finished the ride without it, but I
wouldn't have been in a good mood for days! The Miyata is a little
harder under the sit bones than the Terry, but that's not where I was
experiencing pain, and as Carol said above, it was worth the
sacrifice. Of course the saddle is different looking and draws lots
of comments and sexual innuendoes, but it saved my ride. Over three
years and 45,000 miles later, including 2 x-country rides and another
BMB, I still love my Miyata and won't ride anything else.

Not all women like the wider saddles. Some women find all women's
saddles too wide. Several women responded to the survey saying they
prefer a man's saddle. Some of these even felt they had wide hip
bones. For those who use a narrow saddle, finding one that was flat
on top seemed to help with the above mentioned problems. Others who
liked various women's saddles still found them a little thick in the
middle, even if they were the right width in the back. Someday, maybe
we will see women's saddles in various widths. We must create the
demand though.

Terry does makes a men's version of their Sport saddle. It is narrower
and has a longer nose and hole than the women's model. It also doesn't
say Terry on it anywhere. Instead it is marketed under the initials
TFI. Both this saddle and new models of the Sport have a (politically
correct) simulated leather covering. I know of several men who really
like this saddle, especially when using aero-bars. Women who find the
Terry Sport too wide may want to check this one out.

I've seen Terry saddles change a bit over the past couple of years.
One change is from a lycra cover to a simulated leather cover. Some
women didn't like the feel of the lycra. (I do.) Another women
noticed after replacing a stolen one with a new one that the foam in
the hole seems to be getting firmer, kind of negating the benefit of
the hole. Terry does offer a 30 day money back guarantee on their
products, so you can *painlessly* decide if you'd like a Terry saddle
or not.

They have also produced a couple of racing saddles. The first was the
same width in the back as their Sport model, but narrower through the
middle and had titanium rails. I was one of the lucky few to get one
of these. They replaced it with a Flite lookalike with holes drilled
in the nose. I tried one of these and must say for me it was the most
uncomfortable thing I ever came into contact with. But if you prefer a
narrow saddle like a Flite, you'll probably like this one.

Speaking of which, many women do LIKE Flite and other really narrow
saddles. I know that at their cycling camps, Betsy King and Anna
Schwartz get many women on them. They stress the flexibility of the
saddle with it's titanium rails and thin shell. They are very good for
mountain biking where you want to slide off the back of the saddle for
balance where a wide saddle would get in the way. I even know of a few
women who use them for distance cycling. Two women used them on the
x-country ride I did in 93, but they had very narrow set hip bones.
The other 15 women had women's models of one type or another,
including Terry, Brooks and of course I had my beloved Miyata.

And I would be completely negligent if I didn't mention that one
respondent said that recumbents almost always solve the uncomfortable
saddle problem. (Thanks to David Wittenberg for pointing this out.
His wife won't ride anything else.)

Other suggestions for improved saddle comfort included trying
different shorts. There are a lot of different shorts out there - far
more than saddles and just like saddles, they all fit differently. The
common theme from most women was to stay away from shorts with seams
in the center. This includes seams in the lycra as well as the chamois
(good luck!). On multiday rides, you may want to use different brands
of shorts, since having the seam in the same place day after day may
also cause irritation. Shorts that bunch up in front may cause also

Pearl Izumi and Urbanek make very nice women's shorts. And of course
Terry produces women's shorts. Some have fuller hips, longer legs,
wider elastic leg grippers, etc. I really prefer bib or one piece
suits, since there is no binding elastic at the waist. These are less
convenient for quick bathroom stops, but I prefer the added comfort.
Some women like longer legs, some shorter. Some prefer thick chamois,
some fake, some real. Try on as many different types as you can, until
you find one that fits you the best. Women are even more varied on
their opinions about shorts than on saddles, so just keep trying new
ones until you find the perfect pair for you.

(And while on the subject of saddle comfort, I use a combination of
Desitin (or some other diaper rash ointment) and powder sprinkled
liberally in my shorts to keep myself dry and rash-free.)

I can't stress enough that each woman is different and no one saddle
is perfect for all of us. Just because a local or national racer, or
your friend, or this author uses a particular type of saddle doesn't
mean that it will work for you. Don't let anyone intimidate you into
riding something that is uncomfortable, or changing the angle of your
saddle because it's different. Use the setup that's most comfortable
for you.

Among the saddles recommended by respondents were
Terry Women's (most popular of the survey)
Miyata Pavea (my favorite and a close second in the survey)
TFI (men's version of the Terry Sport)
women's Selle Italia Turbo
Avocet O2 (said to be as comfy as the above Turbo, but lighter)
WaveFlo Avocet Women's Racing saddle
Viscount saddle
San Marco Regal
Brooks B-17 and Brooks Pro
Terry Racing (like a Flite with holes drilled in the plastic)
Selle Bassano modular seat

(Of course some women swear at saddles that others swear by! Did I
mention that we are all DIFFERENT?)

Since Miyata no longer imports into the US, another source has been
found for the saddle with the hole in the middle. Tandems East is now
carrying this saddle (with their name imprinted on the back.) You can
contact Mel Kornbluh at Tandems East at (609) 451-5104 or (609)
453-8626 FAX.


Subject: 7.8 Women's Bikes

This subject has been compiled from different sources.

Part 1 is Lynn Karamanos' discussion from her questions about
purchasing a Terry bike.

Part 2 is the information from Pamela Blalock about the differences in
fitting women's bikes and suggestions for what to look for.

Part 3 was added by Marcy Stutzman and is a listing of different types
of bikes that are either scaled down with smaller wheels or
specifically designed for women.

Part 1

Lynn Karamanos

Here's a summary of the info I received on whether or not to purchase a
Terry bike.

1.) First, find a good bike shop, one that will try to find a bike that
fits you, not just sell you what they have in stock.

2.) Ride many different bikes to see what's best for you. You may be able
to find other bikes that fit just as well as a Terry once you've made some
adjustments/replacements (stem, crank arms, etc.).

3.) If you can't find any other bike to fit you, then a Terry's worth the
extra money.

4.) Except for about two people who sent me email, everyone who's ridden a
Terry has loved it. Even those two people said they knew others who loved
Terry bikes. Bottom line: the fit depends on your build. Women with long
legs/short torso seem to be the ones who like them, not necessarily just
short women.

5.) Also a few people mentioned that there are other road bikes that are
specifically "designed for women" or that fit women well. The names
mentioned: Fuji, Miyata, Bridgestone, Specialized (Sirrus). Also, someone
mentioned that the same production line in Japan that makes Terry
"proportioned" bikes also makes them under other labels. (Also one mountain
bike was named, Mongoose Hilltopper, and two hybred bikes, Univega Via
Activa and Giant Inova.)

6.) Something to keep in mind if you buy a Terry with a small front
wheel... replacement tubes and tires for smaller wheels could be more
difficult to find and/or more expensive.

7.) In case you're looking at older model Terry's, a few people mentioned
that until a couple years ago, some Terry bikes were $200-$300 less than
they are now.

Part 2

Pamela Blalock

Considerations for women buying bikes.

Most production bikes are built proportionally for the AVERAGE MAN.
But the average man tends to be taller than the average woman, so
women, especially smaller women, may have a much more difficult time
finding a bike that fits. Using the old guidelines of sizing a bike by
straddling the top tube may leave you a bike with a top tube that is
too long, since many of these smaller bikes have shorter seat tubes,
but the top tubes are left at the same length as larger bikes, so the
bike is no longer scaled proportionately. Of course this is not
strictly a woman's issue, but one that all smaller riders face.

Empirical evidence has come to suggest that many women are more
comfortable with a shorter top tube - stem combination than men.
Originally it was theorized that this was due to women having longer
legs and shorter torsos than men of the same height. Statistics have
proven otherwise. But despite the similar proportions, many women
still felt stretched out on bikes that men of the same size felt
comfortable on. There is no one definitive explanation for this. Some
have proposed that women may bend from the waist while men pivot more
at the hips, which would explain why two riders with identical torso
lengths might still want different top tube stem lengths. Georgena
Terry has observed that women tend to sit further back on their
saddles than men, which she believes is due to different distributions
in muscle mass. Again this could lead to that stretched out feeling.

I struggled for the longest time to get comfortable on a bike. I always
wanted to sit further back than I could. I finally found a gadget that
I could use to mount my saddle further back on the seat post. This
really helped. What helped even more was when I switched to a softride
bike. I switched for comfort, but discovered a very pleasant benefit,
that with the 5 inch range (fore/aft) of saddle adjustment along the
flat part of the beam, I could effectively choose any seat tube angle
I wanted. I could finally get my saddle far enough back.

A riding position that leaves the rider too stretched out can cause saddle
pain. It is not necessary to run out and buy a new bike right away if the
top tube on your current bike is too long. Using a shorter stem on a this
bike MAY give you a more comfortable reach. Very short stems, less than 40
mm, are available, but may have to be specially ordered.

Some shops use a fitting system called the Fit Kit. The numbers
generated from the Fit Kit are just guidelines and may not work for
everybody, especially women, since most of the original data was
collected for men. It is important to RIDE your bike and make
adjustments to achieve a perfect fit. Others may use an infinitely
adjustable stationary bike. One has been developed by Ben Serotta to
help choose the perfect size bike - whether it is a Serotta or not.
Adjustable stems are available to help you and the shop pick a perfect
length stem the first time, rather than the expensive trial and error
method of buying different length stems repeatedly until you find the
right size. Unless your current bike is a really, really poor fit, you
should be able to make a few relatively inexpensive changes to improve
the fit. Then when upgrading or buying a new bike, use what you have
learned to buy a bike that fits better.

Some builders tried to shorten the top tube by increasing the seat tube
angle, which then may place the rider uncomfortably far forward over the
pedals. This forces the rider to use an adapter in the seat post to get the
saddle back, which counteracts the *shorter* top tube. A steep seat tube
angle may be good for a time trial or triathlon, but is not comfortable for
longer distances, recreational riding or touring. And if it is true that
women tend to be more comfortable sitting further back, then this is really

A sloping top tube has been used by many manufacturers to achieve a shorter
seat tube and more standover clearance, but this leaves the top tube length
the same as that for a larger bike, so the smaller rider still feels
streched out on a somewhat out of proportion bike..

Several manufacturers have started building bikes proportionally sized for
smaller riders to specifically address those needs. There are several
different ways of getting the smaller geometry. Some bikes have a small 24"
wheel in front and a 700C or 26" wheel in back, others have two 26"or 650C
wheels. To truly scale down a frame keeping it in proportion, it is
necessary to go with smaller wheels.

To avoid confusion, let me state that by 26", I am referring to 559mm bead
seat diameter. This size wheel is most commonly used in mountain biking.
Thanks to mountain bikers use of very narrow rims, and a few tire
manufacturers willingness to make narrow, slick tires for this size, these
wheels can be used to build smaller bikes with proper proportions. Several
manufacturers make 1.25 high pressure slicks which are very nice for loaded
touring or casual riding. Specialized has the ATB turbo, which they
advertise as 1 inch wide. I am currently using these on my commuter in good
weather. And I understand from recumbent riding friends that other 26X1"
tires are available through 'bent specialty shops. While the selection of
narrow tires is somewhat limited, it is growing. I understand there is more
variety in Germany, and soon both Ritchey and Continental will have narrow
tires available in the US market.

By 650C, I am referring to wheels with a bead seat diameter of 571mm. These
wheels have found their way onto many triathlon bikes. These wheels are
also occasionally referred to as 26" wheels, which is why the bead seat
diameter number is so important. Tires for these two different *26 inch*
wheel sizes are NOT interchangeable, and it is very important to know which
one you have. Currently there is a very narrow range of tires available for
this wheel size, and I mean narrow in more ways than one. In the US, the
widest available tire is a Continental 23 or Michelin 20. In my opinion,
neither of these tires is really wide enough for general purpose use on
rough roads, and definitely not quite up to touring standards. Of course I
live in New England where road surfaces are quite rough. I have used wheels
of this size on a softride equipped bike. I don't believe I could take the
shock from such a skinny tire on a non-suspended bike, at least not for
longer rides.

700C is of course ISO 622, and is the most common wheel size for road bikes
in the US today.

In addition to a shorter top tube, women's bikes may also have smaller
brake levers, narrower handlebars, shorter cranks and wider saddles.
Georgena Terry was the pioneer in this area, but many other manufacturers
now build women's bikes. They may cost a little more than a comparably
equipped man's bike, due to higher production costs for fewer number of
parts. But, I believe that the extra initial cost to get a properly fit
bike will pay off in the long run, since you will either stop riding an
uncomfortable or poorly fitting bike, or you will eventually replace the
poorly fitting parts at additional cost.

Part 3

Womens Bikes manufacturer list by Marcy Stuzman,

I have compiled a partial list of what bikes I have heard of that are
designed specifically for women or small people. I have only ridden one of
these bikes myself, so I really can't comment on any of them. I would like
any comments from owners about these mailed to me so that they can be
included in the future.

Marinoni manufacturers a small frame, but it is not featured in their
homepage. For a description of this bike, you can visit Wedgewood
Cycles home page which does give a description of this bike.

The Marinoni comes in sizes up to 52 cm and has 26 inch wheels, which
can use slick mountain bike tires.

Bianchi makes a version of their bike called the Eros that comes with
the smaller wheels, but their web page so far is only finished in
Italian, so I couldn't discern much about the bike.

Cannondale manufacturered two bikes last year with the compact frame
(R500 and R800), but for 1997 is offering only the R600 in the compact

Rodrigues is manufacturing a small bike which was featured in the Jan
1997? issue of Bicycling magazine. One nice feature is that this bike
uses Dia Comp's small hands brake levers and bar end shifters, which
may be easier for women with small hands to use than the Ergo or STI
shifters that are popular.

Waterford makes a bike, but I have been unable to find much more
information on this manufacturer.

Performance made a bike in 1994 called the Expresso that used a scaled
down design and 650c tires, but this design has been discontinued.

Rivendell also designs 50 cm bikes the 26" mountain bike sized wheels
and offers shorter top tubes on their bikes if you need it.

Trek offers its 470 roadbike in sizes as as small as 43 cm with 700c

Terry bikes have been discusses extensively earlier in this article
and they don't yet have a home page, so I will just refer you to the
discussions above. (e-mail:

It was brought to my attention that Bike Friday, a folding bike with
20" wheels, does come in very small frame sizes for short people. Many
different brands of mountain bikes come in smaller sizes, including
Bontranger, Fat Chance and Ibis, but small mountain bikes are somewhat
easier to find than small road bikes.


Subject: 7.9 Bike Rentals
From: Various people

Skate Escape Ph. 404-892-1292
1086 Piedmont Ave. (Corner of 12th & Piedmont)
Atlanta, GA. 30332

Lincoln Guide Service
Lincoln Center
Lincoln, MA
(617) 259-9204
Rents mountain, road, kids bikes, and trailers. About 11 miles west of
Boston, within sight of Lincoln Center commuter rail stop.

Team Bicycle Rentals
508 Main
Huntington Beach, CA
(714) 969-5480
12spd $29/day, MTB $29/day, Santana tandem $69

Gregg's Greenlake
Seattle, WA

Second Gear
Seattle, WA

New York City Area:
All phone numbers are area code (212).

A West Side Bicycle Store -- 231 W 96th St -- 663 7531
Eddie's Bicycles Shop -- 490 Amsterdam Ave -- 580 2011
Country Cycling Tours -- 140 W 83rd St -- 874 5151
AAA Central Park Bicycle Rentals -- 72nd St/ Central Pk Boathouse -- 861 4137
Midtown Bicycles -- 360 W 47th St -- 581 4500
Sixth Avenue Bicycles -- 546 Avenue of the Americas -- 255 5100
Metro Bicycle -- 1311 Lexington Ave -- 427 4450
Larry and Jeff's Bicycles Plus -- 204 E 85th St -- 794 2201
Gene's 79th Street Discounted Bicycles -- 242 E 79th St -- 249 9218
Peddle Pusher Bicycle Shop -- 1306 2nd Ave -- 288 5594
A Bicycle Discount House -- 332 E 14th St -- 228 4344
City Cycles -- 659 Broadway -- 254 4457

San Francisco

Park Cyclery -- 1865 Haight street (at Stanyan) -- 751-RENT
Start to Finish -- 599 2nd Street at Brannan -- 861-4004

Pismo Beach, CA

Beach Cycle Rentals, 150 Hinds Avenue, Pismo Beach, CA 93449 (805) 773-5518
http://www.fix.net/~pismobill/ or E-Mail

Marin County, CA

Caesars Cyclery -- 29 San Anselmo Ave San Anselmo -- 258-9920
Far-go bike Shop -- 194 Northgate #1 Shopping Center San Rafael -- 472-0253
Ken's Bike and Sport -- 94 Main Street (Downtown Tiburon) -- 435-1683
Wheel Escapes -- 1000 Magnolia Ave Larkspur -- 415-332-0218

Austin, TX area

[all stores rent ONLY mountain bikes]
Bicycle Sport Shop -- 1426 Toomey Road -- (512) 477-3472
University Schwinn -- 2901 N. Lamar Blvd -- (512) 474-6696
University Schwinn -- 1542 W. Anderson Ln -- (512) 474-6696
Velotex Inc -- 908-B W 12th St -- (512) 322-9131

Boulder, CO

Boulder Bikesmith, Arapahoe Village, Boulder, (303) 443-1132
Bike'n'Hike, 1136 Main St, Longmont, (303) 772-5105
High Wheeler, 1015 Pearl St., Boulder, (303) 442-5588
(MTBs, Road and MTB tandems)
Lousiville Cyclery, 1032 S. Boulder Rd, Louisville, (303) 665-6343
Morgul-Bismark, 1221 Pennsylvania Ave, Boulder, (303) 447-1338
Doc's Ski and Sport, Table Mesa Center, Boulder, (303) 499-0963
University Bikes, 9th and Pearl, Boulder, (303) 449-2562
(MTBs and Tandems)
Full Cycle. 1211 13th St., Boulder, (303) 440-7771
High Gear, 1834 N. Main, Longmont, (303) 772-4327
Cutting Edge Sports, 1387 S. Boulder Rd., Louisville, (303) 666-3440


Subject: 7.10 Bike Lockers

This article has been removed due to out of date information. If anyone
would like to redo this, please submit it as per the instructions at the
begining of this FAQ.


Subject: 7.11 Bike computer features

[This table was created from information contained in Performance and Nashbar
catalogs. In the table below, 'Y' means that the computer has the feature,
'O' means it is an optional feature.]

Speed Ave Max Total Trip Elpsd Clock Auto Count
Speed Speed Miles Miles Time OnOff Down
Avocet 30 Y Y Y Y Y Y
Avocet 40 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Avocet 50 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Cateye Micro Y Y Y Y Y Y
Cateye Mity Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Cateye Mity 2 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Cateye Wireless Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Cateye Vectra Y Y Y Y Y Y
Cateye ATC Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Ciclo 37 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Ciclo IIA Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Performance ITV Y Y Y Y Y Y
Vetta Innovator Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Vetta HR1000 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Vetta C-10 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Vetta C-15 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Vetta C-20 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Vetta Two Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Vetta Wireless Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Specialized Y Y Y Y Y Y Y S
Speed Zone

Cadence Wireless Altitude Heart
Avocet 30
Avocet 40
Avocet 50 O Y
Cateye Micro Y
Cateye Mity
Cateye Mity 2
Cateye Wireless Y
Cateye Vectra
Cateye ATC
Ciclo 37
Ciclo IIA O O O
Performance ITV
Vetta Innovator
Vetta HR1000 Y
Vetta C-10
Vetta C-15
Vetta C-20 Y
Vetta Two Y
Vetta Wireless Y
Speed Zone


Subject: 7.12 Recumbent Bike Info
From: David Wittenberg
(updated by Gary Walsh

Here's my standard response to questions about recumbents. I'd be
happy to answer more specific questions.

Here's some info I posted in the fall of 1990. I think it's still pretty much
up to date. Changes from the last posting are in []'s.

--David Wittenberg

A few words about recumbent design, and then I'll provide a much
larger list of recumbent manufacturers.

There are three main choices in designing (or buying) a recumbent.
Frame material -- all the ones I know of are either Alumninum or Steel.
Wheelbase -- The front wheel can either be in front of the bottom bracket
(long wheelbase) or behind it (short wheelbase). You can't have a medium
wheelbase without a lot of extra work because the wheel and the bottom
bracket would interfere with each other. Long wheelbase is reputed to
be a bit more stable, while short wheelbase machines are often easier to
fit into cars for transport. Some long wheelbase recumbents fold in
neat ways to fit into a remarkably small space.
Handlebars -- under seat or in front of the rider. Under seat is probably
a more comfortable position when you get used to it (your hands just hang
at your sides), and may be somewhat safer if you get thrown forward as
there is nothing in front of you. High handlebars are somewhat faster
as your arms are in front of you instead of at your side, thus reducing
the frontal area. Some people find them more natural.
[There are long wheelbase bikes with both high and low handlebars. I don't
know of any short wheelbase, low handlebar recumbents, but there may
be some I don't know of.]

The following updated by Gary Walsh ) March 2000.

Recumbent Bicycle FAQs:


Recumbent Mailing Lists
HPV mailing lists

HPVSO mailing list

W.H.I.R.L mailing list

Linear mailing list

Recumbent Bicycle Organizations and Clubs

The International Human Powered Vehicle Association:
An association of national associations and organizations,
dedicated to promoting improvement, innovation and creativity
in the use of human power, especially in the design and
development of human-powered vehicles (not just bicycles).

Human Powered Vehicles of Southern Ontario

Washington's Happily Independent Recumbent Lovers (W.H.I.R.L)

Recumbents.com's list of Recumbent and Human Powered Vehicle Clubs

Recumbent Publications

Recumbent Cyclist News
The premier source of recumbent news and reviews of commercially
available recumbents in North America.

Human Power
The technical journal of the IHPVA

HPV News
Newsletter of the Human Powered Vehicles Association.

Recumbent UK
A British recumbent quarterly magazine.

Bike Culture Quarterly
Published by Open Road in the UK. They also publish the yearly
buyer's guide, Encycleopedia.

Bent Rider Online
An e-mag that started with the January 2000 issue.

Another new (in 2000) e-mag.

Other Recumbent Links

A good source of recumbent links and information.

Bicycle HPV Recumbent Resources and Sources
By Cycle America the National Bicycle Greenway in action.

Manufacturers and Dealers
See lists at:
The Human Power Source Guide - http://www.ihpva.org/SourceGuide/

[This has been copied from a flyer written by Robert Bryant of the
Recumbent Cyclist Magazine. He has given me permission to submit
it for the FAQ. - GW July 1992]

Have You Ever Considered a RECUMBENT BICYCLE?

There are many reasons to consider a recumbent. First and foremost
is comfort. When you ride a recumbent bicycle you will no longer have
an aching back, stiff neck, numb wrists or a sore a sore bottom. You
will sit in a relaxed easy-chair position. You will be able to ride
longer with less fatigue and arrive at your destination feeling
refreshed. The recumbent position offerd you a great view of the
countryside. While seated you will look straight ahead. This allows your
lungs and chest more open and free breathing. Recumbents are very
versatile machines. They can be used for a wide range of applications:
recreational/sport riding, for the daily commute, a fast double century
and they are great for long distance touring.

Recumbents hold all of the human-powered speed records. This is
because they are aerodynamically superior to conventional bicycles;
less frontal area means less wind resistance. The Lightning F-40
currently holds the Race Across America speed record of five days and
one hour. Gardner Martin's Easy Racer Gold Rush, ridden by Fast Freddie
Markham, was the winner of the Dupont Prize for breaking 65mph. You
can currently buy production versions of these bicycles. Fairings for
street use are common and optional equipment on most commercially built
models. They protect you from rain, cold and wind, with up to a 30%
reduction in drag. Commercially available recumbents are not always
faster than conventional bicycles. It depends mainly on the individual
rider. Your best bet is to do you homework and if your goal is
performance and speed, be sure that you look for a recumbent designed
for this purpose.

1) Do recumbents climb hills well? Yes they do, although climbing on a
recumbent requires a different technique, you must gear down and spin.
Maintaining an efficient spin takes some practice & conditioning, once
mastered, it takes less physical effort to climb hills. Depending on
your riding style, your speeds can range from slowwer to even faster
than on a conventional bicycle.
2) Can recumbents be seen in traffic? Recumbents with a higher seating
position may be better suited for riding in traffic than some of the
low-slung designs. The use of use of proper safety devices such as
safety flags and reflective devices is recommended. Recumbent bicycles
are different, futuristic and they get noticed. Many riders feel they
get more respect from motorists while on their recumbents.
3) Are they safe? Recumbent's are safer than a conventional bicycle.
Due to the low centre of gravity, they stop faster. Brakes can be
evenly applied to both wheels simultaneously providing more traction
without throwing the rider over the handlebars. In crash situations,
the rider goes down to the side absorbing the impact with the hip and
leg rather than flying over the handlebars and absorbing the impact on
your head and shoulder. Straight ahead vision is also better on a
recumbent, however, rear view mirrors are necessary for proper

Why are recumbents such a rare sight? Space age technology? New
type of bicycle? Not really, recumbent bicycles actually go back as
far as the mid to late 1800's with the Macmillan Velocopede and the
Challand Recumbent. In the 1930's, a series of events took place that
changed bicycling history. A French second category professional
track cyclist named Francois Faure rode the Velocar, a two wheeled
recumbent bicycle designed and built by Charles Mochet, to
record-shattering speeds, breaking both the mile and kilometre records
of the day. This created a storm of controversy within the U.C.I.
(United Cycliste International), bicycle rating's governing body. The
debate centred on whether the Velocar was a bicycle and were these
records legal? In 1934 they ruled against the Mochet-Faure record,
banning recumbent bicycles and aerodynamic devices from racing. Were
U.C.I. members worried that the recumbent bicycle would displace the
conventional design? Did they realize this would freeze bicycle and
human-powered vehicle development for the next forty years? This is
why bicycles of taday look very similar to the Starkey and Sutton
Safety (upright/conventional) of 1885. Just think where bicycle
technology would be today if the U.C.I. decision had gone the opposite

Recumbent development was fairly quiet until the late 1960's. Dan
Henry received some media attention for his long wheelbase design in
1968. In the early 1970's, the human-powered revolution was starting up
on both the U.S. east coast by David Gordon, designer of the Avatar, and
on the west coast by Chester Kyle. These pioneers recognized the need
for further development of human-powered vehicles. In the late 1970's
and early 1980's, this lead to the first commercial recumbent bicycle
designs such as the Avatar, Easy Racer and Hypercycle. In 1990, the
Recumbent Bicycle Club of America was founded by Dick Ryan who currently
manufactures the Ryan Vanguard and was also involved with the Avatar
project in the early 1980's. In 1988 recumbent promoter Robert Bryant
got his start writing "Recumbent Ramblings," a column for "HPV News."
In the summer of 1990, Robert founded the "Recumbent Cyclist Magazine,"
and in a short two years, RCM has become the source for recumbent bicyle
information in the world today.


Subject: 7.13 Buying a Bike

One thing to decide before buying a bike is what type to buy. Here's a
brief list:

Road bike Once known as a "ten-speed", most are now 12 or 14 (or even
16) speed. There are several sub-types: racing, sport,
and touring, the difference mostly in frame geometry.

ATB All-terrain bike, also known as mountain bike. Great for
riding in the dirt, these bikes usually have fat, knobby
tires for traction in dirt and gravel.

Hybrid A bike that borrows from road bikes and ATBs. For example,
they have the light frame and 700c wheels of road bikes and
fat knobby tires, triple cranks, wide-range derailleurs,
flat handlebars and cantilever brakes from mountain bikes.

Bike buying hints

When you're ready to buy a bike, you should first decide what you want
to use the bike for. Do you want to race? Do you want to pedal along
leisurely? Do you want to ride in the dirt?

Next, you should decide on a price range. Plan to spend at least
$350 for a decent quality bike.

Now find a good bike shop. Ask friends who bike. Ask us here on the
net. Chances are, someone here lives in your area and can recommend
a shop.

Now that you are ready to look for a bike, visit the shop(s) you have
selected. Test ride several bikes in your price range. How does it
feel? Does it fit you? How does it shift? Does it have the features
you are looking for? How do the shop personnel treat you? Remember
that the shop gets the bike disassembled and has to spend a couple of
hours putting it together and adjusting things, so look for sloppy
work (If you see some, you may want to try another shop). You might
want to try a bike above your price range to see what the differences
are (ask the salesperson).

Ask lots of questions - pick the salesperson's brain. If you don't
ask questions, they may recommend a bike that's not quite right
for you. Ask about places to ride, clubs, how to take care of your
bike, warranties, etc. Good shops will have knowledgable people
who can answer your questions. Some shops have free or low-cost
classes on bike maintenance; go and learn about how to fix a flat,
adjust the brakes and derailleurs, overhaul your bike, etc.
Ask your questions here - there are lots of people here just waiting
for an excuse to post!

Make sure that the bike fits you. If you don't, you may find that
you'll be sore in places you never knew could be so sore. For road
bikes, you should be able to straddle the top tube with your feet flat
on the ground and still have about 1 inch of clearance. For mountain
bikes, give yourself at least 2-3 inches of clearance. You may need
a longer or shorter stem or cranks depending on your build - most
bikes are setup for "average" bodies. The bike shop can help you
with adjustments to the handlebars and seat.

Now that you've decided on a bike, you need some accessories. You
should consider buying

a helmet
a frame pump
a tube repair kit
tire levers (plastic)
a pressure gauge
a seat pack (for repair kit, wallet, keys, etc)
a water bottle and cage
a lock

The shop can help you select these items and install them on your bike.


Subject: 7.14 Kid's Bike Clothes

There are several places selling shorts and jerseys for kids:

Performance Bike Shop (see listing in section 9.2)
Nashbar ( "" )
Rad Rat Ragz
303/247-4649 (CO)
617/423-2944 (MA)
Teri T's
503/383-2243 (OR)


Subject: 7.15 Repair stands

The Bicycle Service Station WWW site is at:



Subject: 7.16 Updated Bike Locker listing
From: (Thompson, John C.)
Date: Wed, 08 Apr 1998 00:28:59 -0400

Bicycle Lockers - a Survey on the Internet - by John Thompson

At the January, 1998 City of London, Ontario, Canada Bicycle Advisory
Committee meeting, engineering department staff mentioned that City Hall
would be implementing facilities to better store bicycles for employees
who bicycle to work. I understand that the planned facility is to be a
fenced, locked compound with a method of providing keys to the shared
facility for users.

At that meeting, I agreed to do a survey of bicycle locker facilities on
the Internet, to add possible improved options for the City to consider.
I had also been interested in bicycle lockers at my place of employment
for quite some time now. I have had my bike vandalized at work more than
once. Also I find it takes too much time each day to remove the "gear"
from my bike (such as lights, handlebar bag and pump,) so it doesn't get
stolen or vandalized. I'm interested in acquiring a bicycle locker at

Here are the results of my survey, done in March, 1998. The first source
of information I came across was an excellent start, and I must give
credit to the author, David H. Wolfskill, e-mail .
I found this material first at the rec.bicycles news group Frequently
Asked Questions, and the article is located at:
http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/7.16.html. I also ran across many other
versions in my search. This article seems to be the definitive material
on bicycle lockers to this point.

I took the 12 companies David posted, adding 4 new Internet accessible
vendors, for a total of 16 companies. I also added the Internet address
for the companies that I found on the "net", also adding e-mail
addresses, and pricing where they existed. I have not checked any of the
11 companies for which I could not find a web site.

I have looked at the 5 Internet sites, and the products there offer a
reasonable range of capability. I have summarized some of the
interesting points: (This was formatted for a Word 6.0/95 document, and
didn't make it very well to the text version.)

Construction # bikes Bike Position
In use since Shape Size
Bike Guard Steel or Stainless Steel 1 standing
1996? Wedge 47.5" x 73" x 72" high
on rear wheel
Bike Lid Polyethylene with steel base 1 or 2 Upright in
1996 Form fitting 43" x 96" x approx 50" high
a wheel stand
Dura-Locker fiberglass, molded HDPE, 1 or 2 Upright
? Rectangle 40" x 75" x 51" high
powder-coated steel, and
stainless steel
Crankcase Class Walls, top and door frames
1 locker of 14 gauge galvanized sheet
metal. Doors of 12 gauge
galvanized sheet metal 2 Upright
? Rectangle 42" x 75" x 45" high
Guardian Bicycle Molded Polyethelyene 1 Standing
? Wedge (unknown, but looks a bit larger than a
Bike Guard)
Locker on rear wheel

One of the key issues will be shipping cost, so I am investigating the
SPI Industries company because it is in Ontario, relatively close to our
London Location. I included this information in my submission to the BAC
for its April, 1998 meeting as an FYI item. I will also print some
copies of the web information and bring it to the meeting to hand out to
interested members.

Here's the full updated Bike Locker company information:

Manufacturer: American Bicycle Security Co.
Product: BIKE SAFE
Address: PO Box 7359 Ventura, CA 93006
Contact: Thomas E. Volk
Phone: 805-933-3688 & 800-BIKESAF
Fax: 805-933-1865

Manufacturer: Bike Gard
Address: 8149 South 600 East, Rexburg ID 83440
Phone: 208-356-0744
WEB_Site: http://www.ida.net/users/bikegd

Manufacturer: Bike Lid
Address: 322 W. 57th St., Suite 495, NY, NY 10019
Product: Bike Lid
Phone: 212-245-6623
Fax: 212-765-9803
WEB_Site: www.bikelid.com
Pricing: $845US for one, plus shipping 15%

Manufacturer: Bike Lockers Company
Address: PO Box 445 W. Sacramento, CA 95691
Product: BikeLokr
Phone: 916-372-6620
Fax: 916-372-3616
Pricing: approx. $300US/locker, small quantities

Manufacturer: Bike Security Racks Co.
Address: PO Box 371, Cambridge, MA 02140
Product: ?
Phone: 617-547-5755

Manufacturer: Bike Stable Co., Inc.
Address: PO 1402, South Bend, Indiana 46624
Product: ?
Phone: 219-233-7060

Manufacturer: Bike-Lokr Mfg. Co.
Address: PO Box 123, Joplin, MO 64802
Product: ?
Contact: Jim Snyder
Phone: 417-673-1960/800-462-4049
Fax: 417-673-3642
Pricing: approx $450US/locker, which holds 2 bikes

Manufacturer: Cycle-Safe Inc.
Address: 2772-5 Woodlake Rd. SW Wyoming, MI 49509
Phone: (616)538-0079

Manufacturer: David O'Keefe Company
Address: P.O. Box 4457, Alamo,CA 94507
Product: Super Secure Bike Stor
Contact: Thomas & David O'Keefe
Phone: 415-637-4440
Fax: 415-837-6234

Manufacturer: General Machine company
Address: PO Box 405 Vacaville, CA 95696
Product: Bicycle Locker
Contact: Vitto Accardi
Phone: 707-446-2761

Manufacturer: J.G.Wilson Corp
Address: PO Box 599, Norfolk, VA 23501-0599
Product: Park'n'Lock Bike Garage
Contact: J.L.Bevan
Phone: 804-545-8341
Fax: 804-543-3249

Manufacturer: Madrax, A T.L. Graber Co.
Address: 2210 Pinehurst Drive, Middleton, Wisconsin 53362
Product: Dura-Locker
Phone: 800-448-7931 or 608-831-9040
Fax: 608-831-7623
WEB_Site: http://www.madrax.com/duralock.htm

Manufacturer: Palmer Group
Address: 1072 Folsom, Suite 328, San Francisco, CA 94103
Product: CrankCase
Phone: 415-985-7128
WEB_Site: http://www.bikeparking.com

Manufacturer: SPI Industries Inc.
Address: Box 10, R.R. #2, Shallow Lake, Ontario, N0H 2K0
Product: Guardian Bicycle Locker Systems
Phone: 800-269-6533 or 519-935-2211
Fax: 519-935-2174
WEB_Site: www.spiplastics.com/bike.htm
Pricing: $841 CDN if you buy 1-10, $747 CDN for 11-70

Manufacturer: Sunshine U-LOK Corp.
Address: 31316 Via Colinas Suite 102, Westlake Village,
CA 91362
Product: Secura Bike Locker
Contact: Doug Devine
Phone: 818-707-0110

Manufacturer: Turtle Storage Ltd.
Address: P. O. Box 7359, Ventura, CA 93006
Product: ?


Subject: 7.17 Electric Bikes
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 21:37:27 EDT

Practical transportation for errands and short commutes.

Electric bikes are everyday bicycles with an added battery-powered electric
motor. The motor helps you pedal (a lot) whenever you want. Enjoy that
cruising feeling all the time - even when you start from a stop, go uphill,
or buck a head wind. Electric bikes make cycling quick, safe, and fun!

You can be riding your first EV for under $1000. Add a trailer and you've
got a small, easy-to-use vehicle capable of hauling 100 pounds of cargo over
five miles at 15+ mph. Without the trailer and cargo, you and your e-bike
can easily cover 10 miles at nearly 20 mph. For most of us, that's enough
for our local errands. For some, it will get us to work faster than driving
- and with less stress. E-bikes provide advantages of an extra car without
the burdensome costs. In addition, electric bikes combine well with bus and
train for point-to-point transportation. Multi-car households would do well
to consider replacing one car and sharing an e-bike.

All electric bikes give your pedaling an assist. Although capable of pushing
you along without your help, electric bikes perform noticeably better when
you pedal. The average "couch potato" who normally rides at 10 mph can do
15-20 mph with the same effort for a range of 10 miles before recharging.

Power is easily activated by a switch mounted on the handlebar - or in
response to your pedaling. When activated, the bike immediately responds
with a nearly silent push. When you release the switch (or stop pedaling),
the motor coasts - like "neutral" on a car. Standard bicycle hand brakes and
gearing round out the controls.

Electric (or "electric-assist") bicycles come in two basic designs - adaptive
and purpose-built. The adaptive type starts with a bicycle and adds a drive
system to it. A purpose-built e-bike is a designed from the ground up.
Adaptives are less expensive, less stylish, and may require installation
(allow 3 hours if you're familiar with tools; otherwise your local bikeshop
mechanic will charge about $75). Purpose-builts offer interesting designs
and features (like brake-activated tail lights). Regardless which type you
use, you don't need a driver's license, vehicle registration, or insurance.
In California, an electric bike is legally a "bicycle" (CVC 406(b)).

Rechargeable batteries power the electric drive motors. Charging requires
less than 5˘ of electricity from a standard 110 VAC outlet. Charging times
for different brands, however, vary widely. (ZAPWORLD.COM's DX systems
recharge in less than three hours.) If you own a bike, you can motorize it
for as little as $400. Or buy a purpose-built type for up to $1500.

An electric bike, by California law, is limited to a top speed of 20 mph
(speed limits vary from state to state). That speed limitation prevents
riders from over-riding their capabilities. The improved acceleration
provides an extra margin of safety by helping a rider dodge traffic. The
extra speed reduces the speed differential between you and cars, allowing
them more time to see you and adjust. The extra speed also allows you to
crest hills sooner, so you spend less time at those vulnerable slow speeds.
This can be expecially important on freeway overpasses. Finally, an e-bike's
large battery can power a big, bright headlight to warn oncoming traffic that
you're coming.

For more information and an overview of most e-bike offerings in the U. S.,

Electric tricycles (adult three wheelers) are covered at


Subject: 7.18 Cycling loaded: bags, panniers, and trailers
From: Mark Buell
Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 20:52:00 -0500

A FAQ covering courier bags, backpacks, panniers, saddle bags, and
There is an existing FAQ on panniers, but it doesn't cover courier bags,
etc. However, for more info on panniers, please refer to it.

Courier bags, backpacks, panniers, and trailers,
Which system is superior?

The real answer is "None." But that's a little confusing, and not very
illuminating, eh? In this article I try to offer some of my experience,
that of other experienced cyclists I've known, and opinions that have
been found on rec.bicycles.misc from time to time.

Critical Questions To Answer.
1: Distance. How far are you traveling?
2: How much weight are you carrying?
3: What is YOUR sense of style?
4: What kind of cyclist are you, and what is your ability level?
5: How do you feel most comfortable dealing with traffic?
6: Traffic levels and roadway conditions, i.e. off-road, city, Mongolian
track or US highway?

Changing your answer to one of the above may well change your decision
about how to carry your cargo.
These questions are all important, but numbers 1 and 2 are at the top
because they are arguably the most

Technical factors to consider:
Center of gravity.
Load stability.
Ease of access.
Personal style (again).

There are a lot of options! You can get panniers, front and rear, in a
thousand different styles. Then there are handlebar packs, for which
every manufacturer has different mounting hardware. You can choose from
backpacks, fanny packs, courier bags, Carradice bags, and trailers! I've
used all of these at some time, and, I've worn out a few. In this article
I discuss backpacks, Carradice bags, courier bags, fanny packs, handlebar
bags, panniers, racks, underseat bags, and trailers.

Following the description is a table showing how I rate the systems for
the characteristics above. A rating will vary, possibly a lot, due to
hardware particulars of a brand or design, how the hardware is packed,
and purely from subjective opinion. A user may find they prefer, say, the
ease of access of a set of panniers over that of a backpack.

The bottom line is "Do you feel in control of your bike, and comfortable
with your choice?" The ratings in the descriptions are for a useable
range of load capacity. This is not a maximum capacity, nor a minimum.
This is what I have found to be a wise capacity in real life, used on a
bicycle. On one extreme, you can use touring panniers for a single jacket
and camera, but it would be total overkill to use a trailer for that same
load. Obviously, too, some people will safely use their system with
larger loads, and they will happily tell you so. But, the rider with the
100 pound touring rig knows how to pack those panniers - very well.
Larger loads increase the likelihood of problems. There is a lot of gray
area here. Higher quality equipment will enable larger loads, but the
principles still apply.

One ng commentor wanted prices. I will say that this is the easiest thing
for the reader to find. Since the systems vary so widely it is a hard
question to answer here.
But some generalities may be useful. Quality costs more. Backpacks can be
real cheap, but the ones designed for cycling are only available at
medium backpack prices and above. Right now that means at least $50 to
$90. Courier bags, good ones, can be had for under $100. Panniers mean
you have to buy a rack too, so you're probably over $100 there, for
quality. Fanny packs can be cheap, or expensive. Trailers are easily over
$100, and most likely more; they are not a cheap solution. Carradice, or
saddle bags seem to be competitive with good backpacks and courier bags.

================================================== =================
Backpacks are convenient, cheap, readily available, and the first thing
an Average Joe looks to for carrying a small load. They are also not
particularly well-suited to using with a bicycle. There are two reasons I

give them any positive thoughts at all. First is because masses of less-
experienced cyclists pick them up and use them simply because they are
the most convenient answer to carrying cargo. Second is because many
cyclists on rec.bicycles.misc use them and argue persuasively in their
favor. Those cyclists who do so universally note that they use one of the
backpacks designed specifically for use while cycling or other heavy
physical activity - they are designed for lateral stability and with
good back ventilation.
Most backpacks are directly next to the back, and thus have an instant
ventilation problem. A loosely fitting backpack carrying a few textbooks
can be a dangerous threat to your stability. Personally, I think the
stability problem here is a little less dangerous than instable panniers
or handlebar packs, because an inexperienced cyclist will readily feel
the instability of the backpack. Panniers and handlebar packs can and
will go instable with little or no warning to an inexperienced or less-
skilled cyclist. But instability is easy to recognize in backpacks. There

is one circumstance where load instability will occur that may be less
readily recognized by the inexperienced: leaning in a turn. When this
happens the pack, or its contents, slides to one side of the body,
creating a situation where the pack changes the center of gravity - its
weight is then pulling to one side or the other. This is the worst
possible time for this to happen, with the cyclist already in a balancing

Things to look for are back ventilation, and adequate suspension for the
load (waist straps for heavier loads).
C. of G. Very Poor-Poor
Stability Poor
Ease of Access Good
Comfort Very Poor-Good
Typical usage: Short distance/around town, Commuting
Weight carried: very light to medium (25 lbs.), more could be
carried, but would create extreme stability and control problems.

Actually a brand name for saddlebags. They are convenient and simple. The
smaller ones don't require special
hardware (racks), and are pretty much out of the way for the cyclist -
off the body, and on the bike. They can also easily be unstable, and care

must be taken to avoid shifting loads. I would choose something like this

to carry those few extra items (eg. Camera, cell phone, etc.) on longer,
casual, day rides, century rides, and short tours. The larger seat bags
will usually require some sort of rack to keep the bag off the tire.
Like backpacks and handlebar bags, these are not my preference, but other

riders seem to like them. My use of one was quite a few years ago. They
have made quite a comeback in the marketplace since then, and the designs

today appear to me to be more advanced. They were ok at that time, and
then it seemed to me to be more a matter of preference. I thought
panniers were more convenient, and simpler to pack and fuss with.
However, the hardware for larger Carradice bags would be less in the way
of wheel maintenance than a rack. This is where a seatpost mounted rack
device would, in my opinion, be worth something. I will also say that I
might look at Carradice bags again in the future, as they might carry a
load while not creating a foot clearance problem, something that larger
panniers do.
Carradice bags
C. of G. Good
Stability Poor-Good
Ease of Access Poor
Comfort Very Good
Typical usage: Short distance/around town, commuting, day
Weight capacity: Up to 25 lbs. would be typical.

My favorite for around town shopping and shorter commutes, they are
generally stable, simple, and convenient. I find them only becoming less
comfortable at distances over 10 to 15 miles. In my opinion, for comfort
and convenience they are unmatched. They are easy to get into and out of.

They are completely unfussy as to how they are packed. You can toss in a
laptop or a briefcase - they will carry unweildy and oddball loads any
other system (except trailers, or baskets, which aren't covered here)
would choke on. They are readily available, relatively inexpensive, and
don't require hardware on your bike.
They are also easily misused and can easily be unstable. Stylish, look-
alike, copycat designs are often much less stable. However, if they are
unstable, in my experience, they do so in such a way that this can be
controlled by the rider. Example, if the load is going to shift on you,
it does so before you are all the way into a lean, and not when you are
already deep in a lean. You can easily compensate for such a shifting
load with a simple blocking move of your elbow.
Design features that make the courier bag stable (and convenient) are the

width of the bag, the width of the strap, and the addition of a chest or
waist strap. The courier bag design is wide. Chest straps have been added

in recent years for greater stability. The bag is worn low on the body,
putting the weight on the hips. This keeps it from being top-heavy. The
width of the bag also allows it to "wrap" around the hips; which helps
provide extra security against load shifting. A wide (2") shoulder strap
means it is comfortable on the shoulder, and also helps keep it from
shifting. It is worth noting that a CHEST strap is preferred by most
couriers over a waist strap for stability. The reason for this is quite
simple: a waist strap allows the bag to rotate (load shift) around the
body, which is exactly how it wants to shift when it is unstable. So the
waist strap, for most, prevents nothing. On the other hand, the chest
strap triangulates the load security and greatly decreases the likelihood

of a shifting bag.
My first courier bag was made before there were chest straps, and I found

that I knew when it was unstable, and would ride accordingly. I pretty
much wore that bag out. My second and current bag has a chest strap.
And, last of all, there is the matter of style. I found when I commuted
and shopped with panniers I got more "odd looks". I have a certain level
of tolerance, but I generally don't like getting "odd looks". A courier
bag, on the other hand, is not out of place in an office today. The
grocery store clerk who looks at panniers with a completely bewildered
expression doesn't give my courier bag a second glance.
Final analysis: what else can I toss my laptop, a 6-pack, or a watermelon
into with equal ease?
Courier bags
C. of G. Poor-Very Good
Stability Good-Very Good
Ease of Access Very Good
Comfort Very Good
Typical usage: Short distance/around town, commuting, light
Weight capacity: Up to 35 lbs. would be typical.

Convenient and simple for light and small loads. You can't get an easier
way to carry the camera and phone. But for heavier loads, and longer
rides, most people will prefer other systems. Larger fanny packs are
made, but for riding most people find they are less comfortable, due to
ventilation issues. Stability and control are generally not an issue. If
you can load it in the pack, you can probably safely carry it.
fanny packs
C. of G. Very Good
Stability Very Good
Ease of Access Very Good
Comfort Good
Typical usage: Short distance/around town, commuting, day
Weight capacity: Up to 5-7 lbs. would be typical.

Handlebar packs or bags are a subset of panniers, but I treat them
separately because they have many avid proponents, and have enough
individual considerations that they need to be treated separately. And,
really, there are two types of handlebar bags or packs. There are bags,
which strap to the handlbars without the benefit of a frame, and packs,
which use an external rigid mounting frame or rack of some sort. I'm not
going to distinguish between them for this article, and I will use the
names interchangeably.
Handlebar bags have two distinct advantages: they can be used to carry a
map that is always visible, and they are highly accessible. They also
have distinct and potentially dangerous disadvantages. They are extremely

easy to overload. When they are overloaded they readily cause instability

and a steering effect on the handlebars that can be dangerous. Their
mounting systems tend to be less than ideally stable.
I have used them for their advantages, and I find that to be a small
advantage, indeed - too small for me to bother with. But, they have folks

who love them, and who really appreciate the advantages I mentioned. So
if you like the idea, I will say this: don't overload them. They are
suitable for a jacket or two, a camera, a cell phone, and a map, and
nothing more. They are not suitable for school books, laptops, or other
dense items. They have enough space to pack this way, an inexperienced
cyclist probably wouldn't even think about it, they would just toss in a
couple of textbooks because there's enough room for them. A couple of
textbooks can easily weigh 10 pounds, and this would be an overload!
As for me, I'll pass on looking at my map all the time. A fanny pack or
pockets will be fine. The one exception would again be long distance
self-contained touring. Long hours in the saddle would mean my comfort
level demands as little constraint on my body as possible. So, then,
combined with whatever else I used for the real load, there would be a
place on my bike for a handlebar bag.
Handlebar bags
C. of G. Very Poor
Stability Poor-Good
Ease of Access Very Good
Comfort Very Good
Typical usage: Short distance/around town, commuting, day
trip/century, touring (self-contained)
Weight capacity: Up to 5-7 lbs. would be typical.

Please note that there is a more complete coverage of panniers in a very
good seperate FAQ.
Handlebar packs actually fit in this category, but have enough individual
characteristics that I discuss them separately. Panniers are the original
champion load-carrier, but in my opinion they have been dethroned.
However, for long distance touring with load, they and trailers are still
the only reasonable choices. When I started looking around they were the
"only" choice for "cyclists". Carradice bags (large saddle bags) were
then almost extinct, known mostly as a throw-back to an earlier era of
riding. Trailers were rare and mostly handmade, although there were a
couple of brands just coming to market. Backpacks were pooh-poohed by
anyone serious about their riding (for which there were good reasons, as
we will see) Panniers are attached to the bike at multiple points; which,
when done properly, has several advantages. Properly loaded, panniers
have a low center of gravity, lower than any other system except a
trailer. Load stability can be high. They are not the best for ease of
access, although they can be good. Since the rider is unencumbered,
comfort is usually rated highly.
Things to watch for a your racks, how the panniers mount to the racks,
and the pannier design. The racks should have multiple mounting points.
More mounting points mean greater stability. Stability is critical. A 3-
point mount can be fine for the lighter load generally associated with
commuting, but can fail under the higher pressure of loaded long-distance
touring. Quality is important. Unlike many other parts that, on failure,
will give you time to find a repair or replacement, a failing rack can
easily fall into the "catastrophic" failure class. A failed rack can drop
a rack leg into your spokes, or suddenly loose a loaded pannier
As for front low-rider racks, when they first came out they were a little
controversial. Now they have proved their point. I suppose somebody could
make an argument for the original front rack style, but I can find better
answers to any problems that might solve.
The pannier design should include a solid connection to the rack. A
pannier that is only held on by the spring pressure of a bungee-type cord
at the bottom and a hook at the top is not suitable for larger loads. Hit
a bump with a big load and you can loose your load. Bah-da-bing, that
fast. For lighter loads, though, they are ok. I may be dated, as I think
most panniers sold today have a firm connection at the top. Good thing!
Most people also want an "easy-on, easy-off" system. My first set of
panniers had a solid connection to the rack (they were strapped on with
nylon belting), but took several (irritating) minutes to get off. Pannier
manufacturers today do provide hardware systems that answer this
On bag design: foot clearance is important with rear panniers. If you
have long feet, clearance can be a big problem. I could never use the
type of pannier that you can just drop a shopping bag in. If I fit them
to the bike so that they didn't interfere with my feet, they would be so
high as to be instable, or so far back that my front wheel would be in
the air. But, if they work for you, great!
Bag design greatly impacts ease of access. One of the biggest complaints
I have with panniers is that they have to be packed with the care one
reserves for packing a full backpack for self-contained hiking/camping.
In other words, carefully, and with attention to detail. This also means
that if you want to get at that heavy item you had to put on the bottom,
you have to unpack everything on top. Larger items are difficult to
manage, as are odd sizes and shapes (i.e. map tubes, or a light cardboard

box for shipping).
On the good side, you can drop considerable weight (a laptop, for
instance) in a pannier without noticing it much on your ride. A well-
designed system is easy to get on and off your bike. A well-designed and
properly packed system can carry very significant loads with relative
ease. If I were ever to do self-contained touring again I would elect to
do it only as a group of riders, with a combination of panniers for most
riders combined with a trailer for bulky and heavy items. If I had to go
solo, my decision would lean toward panniers, but only very slightly.
Final analysis: A must for self-contained touring, but it seems like a
different bag is required for each type of riding and load. In my opinion
they are best saved for serious loads.
C. of G. Poor-Very Good (only poor for odd shapes or poor
Stability Good-Very Good
Ease of Access Poor-Good
Comfort Very Good
Typical usage: Short distance/around town, commuting, day
trip/century, shopping, touring (self-contained)
Weight capacity: Up to 50 lbs. More is possible, but I don't think
you'd want to peddle the bike with that.

A word or two about racks and attachments. Stability and strength are
your prime considerations. I have had loads shift and break loose in a
number of ways. I have seen racks bend, break, and sway. A rack should
have a firm mount to the bicycle at as many points as is possible. It
should be of firm and rigid construction. Look for triangulation in the
legs - the struts should be mutually supporting. Quality 3-point mounted
racks are almost as good as quality 4-point mounts. Brazed-on 4-point
mounts are the ultimate.
Single point mounted racks and flimsy racks are only suitable for very
light loads. The only exception to this is using one of these racks to
keep a Carradice bag off the rear wheel.
Trailer attachments are either on the seat-post or the rear triangle.
Mine is on the seat-post, and I've never had any reason to be unhappy
with it. Mostly you want strength in this attachment.

Available in a huge variety of sizes, of which the Carradice bag is a
premium version. Carradice is a brand name for saddle bags. They offer
models ranging from small up to pannier-competition.

The ordinary smaller versions are absolutely essential for the emergency
tools, spare tube and patch kit, or spare tire for the sewup set. They
are also very inexpensive. For larger loads and bags please see the
Carradice bags review.

Trailers are the ultimate load machine. Giving up the car and going
grocery shopping? I guarantee you a trailer is the only way to go.
How else can you carry cases of soda on a bicycle? How about taking that
cooler on the bike club picnic? I've used mine to carry a side of beef
and many cases of soda. Want to go surfing, and ride your bike to the
beach? I remember as a teenager trying to carry a surfboard under my arm
while riding. Whew, talk about stability problems! Every little breeze
blew the board one way or another, and each way was in my way! The first
commercial bike trailer I ever saw was produced to tow a surfboard.
Towing children versus putting them in bike seats is a topic all its own,
with good points on both sides.
I won't get into the debate over attachment points. My trailer uses a
seatpost clamp, and I like it just fine.

So, when it comes to carrying loads, the trailer is king. It does
increase your riding width profile, and it slows you down, but trailers
are stable when riding, and it matters little how you pack them. Ease
of access is the best, once you've dismounted. Some trailer designs are a
bit problematic in parking stability, but to me, this is an inconvenience
issue, and not a safety item.

C. of G. Very Good
Stability Very Good
Ease of Access Very Good
Comfort Very Good
Load capacity: the only way to go for truly heavy loads. Two kids
could easily weigh 75 - 100 lbs. My trailer is rated up to 125 lbs.
Typical usage: for bringing the kids on a recreational ride! Also suited
to serious grocery shopping or self-contained touring. What else can you
use to carry your surfboard or cases of soda?


Subject: 8a Tech General


Subject: 8a.1 Technical Support Numbers
From: Joshua Putnam

[This list is now in the ftp archives as it is too long to put here]


Subject: 8a.2 Using a Quick Release
From Mark Irving

The odd-looking thing which attaches most front wheels, many rear wheels
and some seatpins is not a sort of wingnut. It is a quick release lever.
If it is not properly fastened, your wheels are loose. If this description
isn't clear, go to any bike shop or find any local bikie person and get
them to show you. It's hard to describe, not obvious until you've done it
yourself, and it is important to get right. It's easy when you know how --
road racers can get their wheels changed in five seconds!

1. Make sure the floppy lever is pushed over to its "OPEN" side. This
lever operates a cam to close up the 'skewer' later.

2. Loosen off the little nut on the other end of the skewer just enough to
get the wheel into the dropouts in the frame. Slide the wheel into the
frame, and balance it there while you do the next bits.

3. With one hand, hold the operating lever straight out (parallel to the
axle), halfway between OPEN and CLOSED. With the other hand, tighten the
nut opposite until you feel resistance.

4. Push the operating lever over to CLOSED. This should be a tough
operation, if you've got the nut adjusted right. It should not hurt, but
it should leave a dent in the palm of your hand for ten to twenty seconds
afterwards! If you have the tension right, the wheel is now very safely
and solidly held.

5. If the lever really won't close all the way, open it (the full 180
degrees to OPEN), loosen the nut about 1/4 turn, and go back to step 4. If
it closes all the way without much resistance, open it all the way, tighten
the nut 1/4 turn, and go back to step 4.

If your bike doesn't have the stupid bumps, clips and 'lawyer lips' often
added, you'll never need to adjust the nut again. The only action needed
is to flip the lever between CLOSED and OPEN.

The subtle extra is to point the Q-R lever down, towards the ground, in its
CLOSED position, so that it doesn't get caught on anything solid when
you're riding. This is infinitely less important than doing it up


Subject: 8a.3 Workstands

There are a variety of workstands available, from about $30 to over
$130. Look at the mail order catalogs for photos showing the different
types. The type with a clamp that holds one of the tubes on the bike
are the nicest and easy to use. Park has a couple of models, and their
clamp is the lever type (pull the lever to lock the clamp). Blackburn
and Performance have the screw type clamp (screw the clamp shut on the

If you have a low budget, you can use two pieces of rope hanging from
the ceiling with rubber coated hooks on the end - just hang the bike
by the top tube. This is not as steady as a workstand, but will do
an adequate job.


Subject: 8a.4 Workstands 2
From: Douglas B. Meade


The Park PRS6 was recommended by several (5) responders; all
other models were recommended by no more than one responder.

Park PRS6
PROS: full 360\degree rotation
spring-loaded clamp is adjustable
very stable
CONS: not height adjustable
not easy to transport
clamp probably can't work with fat-tubed mtn bike
COST: ~$150
SOURCE: catalogs, local bike shops

Park Consumer
PROS: foldable
CONS: not as stable as PRS6
COST: ~$100
SOURCE: catalogs, local bike shops

Park BenchMount
PROS: stronger, and more stable, than many floor models
CONS: must have a workbench with room to mount the stand
COST: $???

PROS: The stand folds flat and is portable.
It has a 360 degree rotating clamp.
It is relatively stable.
CONS: crank-down clamp does not seem to be durable
crank bolt is not standard size; difficult to replace
hard to get clamp tight enough for stable use
clamp scratchs paint/finish
problems getting rotating mechanism to work properly
COST: ~$100
SOURCE: catalogs, local bike shops

CONS: not too stable

Ultimate Repair Stand
PROS: excellent quality
includes truing stand
includes carrying bag
COST: ~$225
SOURCE: order through local bike shop
the U.S. address for Ultimate Support Systems is :
Ultimate Support Systems
2506 Zurich Dr.
P.O. Box 470
Fort Collins, CO. 80522-4700
Phone (303) 493-4488

I also received three homemade designs. The first is quite simple:

hang the bike from coated screw hooks
(available in a hardware store for less that $5/pair)

The others are more sophisticated. Here are the descriptions provided
by the designers of the systems.

Dan Dixon describes a modification
of the Yakima Quickstand attachment into a freestanding workstand

I picked up the Yakama clamp and my local Bike shop for
around $25. What you get is the clamp and a long carraige
bolt with a big (5") wing nut. This is meant to be attached
to their floor stand or their roof racks. The roof rack
attachment is ~$60; expensive, but great for road trips.

I, instead, bought a longer carraige bolt, a piece of
3/4" threaded lead pipe, two floor flanges, and some 2x4's.
(about $10 worth of stuff).

You say you want to attach it to a bench (which should be easy)

+- clamp | wing nut
| | |
V | +--+ V
| |---------+ V | | O
| | | |\_________/| | | /
| | -O- |=| _________ |=| |==I
| | | |/ \| | | \
| |---------+ | | O
| |
/\ /\ | |-2x4
| | | |
flanges--+---------+ | |
| |

Excuse the artwork, but it might give you and Idea about
what I mean. You could just nail the 2x4 to the bench or
something. I really like the clamp because it is totally
adjustable for different size tubes.

Eric Schweitzer prefers the following
set-up to the Park `Professional' stands that he also has.

My favorite 'stand', one I used for many years, one that I
would use now if my choice of stand were mine, is made very
cheaply from old seats and bicycle chain. Two seats (preferably
cheap plastic shelled seats) (oh...they must have one wire
bent around at the front to form the seat rails...most seats
do) have the rails removed and bent to form 'hooks'. The
'right' kind of hooks are placed in a good spot on the ceiling
about 5 or 6 feet apart. (really, a bit longer than the length
of a 'typical' bike from hub to hub. If you do a lot of tandems
or LWB recombants, try longer Form a loop in one end of the
chain by passing a thin bolt through the opening between 'outer'
plates in two spots on the chain. (of course, this forms a loop
in the chain, not the bolt). The same is done at the other end
to form loops to hold the seat rail/hooks. First, form the hooks
so they form a pair of Js, about 2 inch 'hook's The hook for the
front of the bike is padded, the one for the rear looped through
the chain, squeezed together to a single hook, and padded.

To use, hook the rear hook under the seat, or at the seat stays.
Hook the front with each arm on oposite sides of the stem. Can
also hook to head tube (when doing forks). Either hook can grab
a rim to hold a wheel in place while tightening a quick release
skewer or axle bolt. There is no restricted access to the left
side of the bike. I try to get the BB of a 'typical' frame about
waist height.

In closing, here is a general statement that only makes my decision
more difficult:

My best advice is to consider a workstand a long term durable good.
Spend the money for solid construction. Good stands don't wear or
break, and will always be good stands until the day you die, at
which point they will be good stands for your children. Cheese will
always be cheese until it breaks.


Subject: 8a.5 Working on a Bicycle Upside-down
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 1997 14:33:14 PST

Should I continue to turn my bicycle upside-down to fix a flat,
the way I learned it as a youth?

Nothing can be done to a bicycle upside-down that cannot be done
better with it right-side-up, except to spin the rear wheel while hand
cranking the pedals. In fact, that is what most children do when they
haven't anything better to do with their bicycles. That is how I
discovered that a bicycle wheel is not well balanced, because the
bicycle began to hop when I cranked fast. I also found that this wore
a hole in the saddle, and scratched the handlebars and grips to the
dismay of my parents.

Many riders who have taken up the sport after years off the bicycle,
recall only a few things from their earlier experience, and turning
the bicycle upside-down seems to be one of them. I defy someone to
show me how they can change a rear wheel easily on an upturned
bicycle, be that with one speed or a derailleur. Even chain removal
is more difficult on the inverted bicycle, but this should be apparent
because no bicycle shop works on upside-down bicycles.

Beside the inconvenience, damage to the saddles, handle bars, and
speedometers is expensive. Warranty claims for damaged speedometers
with cracked LCD's and housings first brought this practice to my
attention, the failures being unexplainable under normal use. The
solution was to reinforce the speedometer's case so it could support
the load of the bicycle.

The most common explanation for this practice is that there was no way
to keep the bicycle from falling over during a tire change. Laying it
on its side somehow doesn't seem right, so the bicycle is turned on
its head. It might not look fallen over, but it is worse off.


Subject: 8a.6 Where to buy tools

You can buy tools from many sources. Some tools can be purchased at
your local hardware store (wrenches, socket sets, etc), while the
special bike tools can be purchased from your local bike store or
one of the mail order stores listed elsewhere.

You can buy every tool you think looks useful, or just buy the tools
you need for a particular repair job. Buying the tools as you need
them will let you build up a nice tool set over time without having
to drop a lot of money at once.

Some common tools you will need a

Metric/SAE wrenches for nuts and bolts (or an assortment of adjustable
Screwdrivers, both flat and phillips.
Metric allen wrenches.
Wood or rubber mallet for loosening bolts.

Special tools and their uses:

Cone wrenches to adjust the hub cones.
Chain tool to take the chain apart for cleaning and lubrication, and
to put it back together.
Tire irons for removing tires.
Spoke wrenches for adjusting spokes.
Cable cutters for cutting cables (don't use diagonal pliers!).
Crankarm tools for removing crankarms.
Bottom bracket tools for adjusting bottom brackets.
Headset wrenches to adjust the large headset nut.


Subject: 8a.7 Common Torque Values
From: Mike Iglesias

These torque values are from the Third Hand catalog. All values are in
inch pounds (in lbs); to convert to foot pounds (ft lbs), divide by 12.

Stem binder bolt 100-120 Brake levers to handlebars 75-95
Handlebar binder 145-200 Brake cable binders 55-75
Controls to frame 35-45 Straddle nut (yoke) 50-70
Front shifter to frame 25-45 Brake pads to brake 45-75
Front shifter to cable binder 25-45 Brake dome nut 50-80
Rear shifter to frame 120-145 Crank bolt 250-300
Rear shifter cable binder 25-45 Chainring bolts 100-120
Jockey wheel bolt 25-45 Nutted front hub 180
Seat binder bolt 35-55 Nutted rear hub 300
Caliper brakes to frame 100-120 Waterbottle cage 25-35
Cantilever brake to frame 45-60 Fender to frame bolts 50-60
Cantilever brake link wire 35-45 Toeclips to pedals 25-45
Kickstand 60

[Here is another list of torque values from Barnett Bicycle Institute
sent in by Richard Ney . All values are inch pounds.]

BMX handlebar binder bolts 240
BMX stem binder bolt 170-180
Bottom bracket fixed cup 240-300
Bottom bracket lockring 240-300
Brake levers on drop handlebars 60-72
Brake levers on MTB handlebars 36-60
Cable carrier pinch nut 48-72
Cantilever arm pinch nut/bolt 36-48
Cantilever brake caliper mounting nut 24
Cast-type BMX brake lever 36-60
Centerpull caliper mounting nut 12-36
Chainring bolts 48-72
Clamp-mount shift lever bolt 24-30
Cotterless crank arms 300-360
Crank arm dust caps 48
Crank extractor into crank arm 180-240
Double bolt integral seat clamp bolts 72-96
Drop handlebar binder bolt 205-240
Drop bar stem binder bolt 145-170
Front axle nuts (wheel mounting) 180-240
Front derailleur cable pinch 36-48
Front derailleur mounting bolt 36-48
Handlebar end-mounted shifter 48
Headset locknut 300 (minimum)
Hub locknuts 175-220
Mounting nut on threaded stud brake shoes 48-60
MTB multiple handle binder bolt 60-84
MTB single handlebar binder bolt 175-240
MTB stem binder bolt 170-180
Nonintegral seat clamp nuts 130-170
One-piece bottom bracket fixed cone 300 (minimum)
One-piece bottom bracket lock nut 240
Pedal installation 350
Pedal locknuts 100-125
Rear axle nuts (wheel mounting) 240-300
Rear derailleur cable pinch 36-48
Rear derailleur to hanger 72-84
Rollercam cam plate pinch nut 48-72
Rollercam roller locknut 36-48
Seat post binder bolt 72-96
Sidepull caliper cable pinch 48-72
Sidepull caliper mounting nut 72-84
Sidepull caliper pivot locknut 48-72
Single bolt integral seatclamp bolt 120-145
Stem mounted shift lever bolt 24-30
Thumb shifter mounting bolt 12-18


Subject: 8a.8 WD-40
From: (Rich Gibbs)
Date: Wed, 09 Sep 1998 04:03:00 GMT

There have been many opinions posted here on WD-40's composition, but
here is what the Material Safety Data Sheet [MSDS] says (it's from Oct
93, the latest I could find):

50% Stoddard solvent (mineral spirits) [8052-41-3]
25% Liquified petroleum gas (presumably as a propellant)
15+% Mineral Oil (light lubricating oil) [64742-65-0]
10-% Inert ingredients

(The numbers in square brackets '[]' are the CAS numbers for the
ingredients, as listed in the MSDS.)

Mostly, WD-40 is a solvent, with a bit of light oil mixed in. It
doesn't contain wax (except incidentally, since it's not exactly a
reagent-grade product).

Personally, I use it sometimes for small cleaning jobs, but it's not a
particularly good lubricant for anything that I can think of, offhand.


Subject: 8a.9 Sheldon Brown's web pages
From: Mike Iglesias

Sheldon Brown has written many articles on cycling, repairs, maintenance,
etc., and put them up on his web site. See the links below for more



Subject: 8b Tech Tires


Subject: 8b.1 Patching Tubes
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

The question often arises whether tubes can be practically and safely
patched. I suppose the question comes up because some riders have had
leaky patches or they consider it an imprecise exercise. Either way,
it need not be difficult if simple rules are followed.

Why patches come loose

Tubes are made in metal molds to which they would stick if mold
release were not sprayed into the mold. The release agent is designed
to prevent adhesion and it can do the same for patches, some of it
having transfered on and into the surface of the tube. To make a
patch stick reliably, mold release must be removed. For this reason
patch kits have sand paper that is not there to roughen the surface
but to remove it. Failure to remove the 'skin' of the tube is a main
cause of leaky patches.

Once mold release has been removed, rubber solution can be applied
with the finger by wiping a thin film over the entire area that the
patch is to cover. After the glue has dried, with no liquid or jelly
remaining, leaving a tacky sheen, the patch can be pressed into place.

Patches can be made from tube material but this must be done carefully
following the same procedure as preparing the tube. However, butyl
tube material, unlike commercial patches, is impervious to rubber
cement solvents and will not cure if the glue on the tube and patch is
not completely dry. This presents a substantial problem.


Patches commonly have a metal foil cover on the sticky side and a
cellophane or impervious paper cover on the back. The foil must be
pulled off to expose the adhesion surface before pressing the patch
into place. The backing paper or cellophane often has perforations so
that it will split in half when tube and patch are manually stretched.
This makes peeling the cover of the patch from inside to outside
possible and prevents peeling a newly applied patch from the tube.

REMA patches, the most commonly available in bicycle shops, have a
peculiarity that not all have. Their black center section exudes a
brown gas that discolors light colored tire casings in daylight. This
causes the brown blotches often seen on sidewalls of light colored

Leaky Patches

Assuming a patch was properly installed, it may still leak after a few
miles, if used immediately after patching. Because tubes are
generally smaller than the inside of the tire to prevent wrinkles on
installation, they stretch on inflation, as does the patch. The
stretched tube under the patch wants to shrink away from the patch,
and because there is no holding force from inflation pressure at the
hole, the tube can gradually peel away from the patch starting at the
hole, while the tube under the remainder of the patch is pressed
against it by air pressure.

Flexing of rolling bias ply tires also loosens patches. Laying a
standard 3.5x2 inch paper business card between tire and tube will
show how severe this action is. After a hundred miles or so, the card
will have been shredded into millimeter size confetti.

If the puncture is a 'snake bite', chances of a leak are greater.
Pinch flats from insufficient inflation or overload are called snake
bites because they usually cause two holes that roughly approximate
the fang marks of a snake. Although a single patch will usually cover
both holes, these will be closer to the edge of the patch and have a
shorter separation path to its edge.

In a rolling tire, the patch and tube flex, shrink, and stretch making
it easier for the tube to separate from a partially cured patch. To
test how fast patches cure, a patch can be pulled off easily shortly
after application, while it is practically impossible after a day or
so. For reliable patches, the freshly patched tube should be put in
reserve, while a reserve tube is installed. This allows a new patch
more time to cure before being put into service.

A tube can be folded into as small a package as when it was new and
practically airless, by sucking the air out while using the finger
opposite the stem to prevent re-inflation. This is not done by
inhaling but by puckering the cheeks. Although the powders inside
tubes are not poisonous in the mouth, they are not good for the lungs,
but then that's obvious.

Patch Removal

The best remedy for a leaky patch is to remove it and start over.
However, after several days of curing, a patch is hard to remove.
With heat supplied by a hot iron or heated frying pan at moderate
temperature, patches come off easily. Pressing a patch against a hot
surface with the thumb until the heat is felt will allow the patch be
pulled off easily. Patch remnants can be cleaned off with rubber
solution (patch glue) or sand paper.


Separating patches are often hard to find because separation always
stops at the edge, air pressure preventing further separation. Slow
leaks that occur, often close when the tube is inflated outside a
tire, so the offending patch cannot be found. Old tubes to be
discarded often reveal patch separation when cut through the center of
a patch with shears, to reveal talcum powder from the inside of the
tube under most of the patch.

Although talcum powder on the outside of tubes does nothing useful, it
is essential on the inside, where it is found in any butyl tube.
Without it tubes would adhere to themselves after manufacture and not
inflate properly. Externally, talcum may prevent adhesion to the
tire, slight as it is, and may help prevent sudden air loss in the
event of a puncture but it does nothing for the wellbeing of the tube.
When inflated, tubes act like an integral part of tire casings with or
without talcum.

Tires are less flexible at a patch so tread may wear slightly faster
there, but patches have no effect on dynamic balance since wheels
naturally have a greater imbalanced than patches can cause and have no
effect on the heaviest position of the wheel which is either at the
valve stem or the rim joint. Heat from braking can accelerate
separation of a fresh patch but this generally does not pose a hazard
because leaky patches usually cause only a slow leak.


Subject: 8b.2 Mounting Tires
From: Douglas Gurr

A request comes in for tyre mounting tricks. I suspect that this ought to be
part of the FAQ list. However in lieu of this, I offer the way it was taught
to me. Apologies to those for whom this is old hat, and also for the paucity
of my verbal explanations. Pictures would help but, as always, the best bet
is to find someone to show you.

First of all, the easy bit:

1) Remove the outer tyre bead from the rim. Leave the inner bead.
Handy hint. If after placing the first tyre lever you
are unable to fit another in because the tension in the bead is too great
then relax the first, slip the second in and use both together.
2) Pull out the tube finishing at the valve.
3) Inspect the tube, find the puncture and repair it.

Now an important bit:

4) Check tyre for thorns, bits of glass etc - especially at the point where
the hole in the tube was found.

and now a clever bit:

5) Inflate the tube a _minimal_ amount, i.e. just sufficient for it to
hold its shape. Too much inflation and it won't fit inside the tyre.
Too little (including none at all) and you are likely to pinch it.

More important bits:

6) Fit the tube back inside the tyre. Many people like to cover the tube in
copious quantities of talcum powder first. This helps to lubricate
the tyre/tube interface as is of particular importance in high pressure
7) Seat the tyre and tube over the centre of the rim.
8) Begin replacing the outer bead by hand. Start about 90 degrees away from
the valve and work towards it. After you have safely passed the valve,
shove it into the tyre (away from the rim) to ensure that you have
not trapped the tube around the valve beneath the tyre wall.

Finally the _really_ clever bit:

9) When you reach the point at which you can no longer proceed by hand,
slightly _deflate_ the tube and try again. Repeat this process until
either the tyre is completely on (in which case congratulations)
or the tube is completely deflated. In the latter case, you will have
to resort to using tyre levers and your mileage may vary. Take care.

and the last important check:

10) Go round the entire wheel, pinching the tyre in with your fingers
to check that there is no tube trapped beneath the rim. If you
have trapped the tube, deduct ten marks and go back to step one.
Otherwise ....

11) Replace wheel and reinflate.


Subject: 8b.3 Snakebite flats
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 23 May 2001 14:13:14 PDT

Snakebites, otherwise known as pinch flats, are so called because they
usually cause adjacent punctures about 10mm apart (for tires with
about a 25mm diameter cross section). They occur when the tire casing
bottoms on the rim, causing a compression failure in the tube for both
clinchers and tubulars, much like pinching the cheek with thumb and
forefinger. The finger tips simulate the tire casing and the cheek
the tube.

Reasonably inflated tires can bottom when crossing RR tracks, riding
up a driveway with a raised lip at street level, or riding on rough
roads with ruts and rocks. Although higher inflation pressure helps,
it does not guarantee protection. Watching how, and how fast, such
obstacles are encountered helps more.

Because latex rubber of tubes commonly used in better tubular tires is
several times more stretchable than common butyl rubber, such tubulars
are less susceptible to snakebites. When sheet rubber is compressed,
it stretches laterally like a drum skin, and the farther it can
stretch the less likely it is to tear. In contrast, when ridden over
such obstacles, tubular rims are often dented without the tire going
flat. However, because thin latex tubes hold air so poorly that they
must be inflated daily, snakebites from under-inflation were more
common in the days when most riders rode tubulars.

Snakebites can be identified by inspecting the tube under grazing
light that will reveal diagonal tire cord impressions at the
perforation. This is especially important when only one hole occurs,
the other not penetrating. Riders have claimed that the hole occurred
spontaneously on the underside of the tube and demand reimbursement.

Underside snakebites, the least common, occur mostly on fat MTB tires
that are often ridden with low pressure on soft terrain. At low
pressure, such a tire can roll to one side and pop back, without
disengaging the rim. A snakebite caused by this mechanism appears on
the underside of the tube similar to laying your head to one side
while pinching the skin at the Adam's apple. Such flats are
erroneously attributed to rim tape failure and other obscure causes,
when in fact it was under-inflation that can no longer be assessed.
Here cord impressions also give evidence of a snakebite.


Subject: 8b.4 Blowouts and Sudden Flats
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 09:21:09 -0700

Bicyclists often report tube failures that they believe occurred
inside a tire casing. They believe these are blowouts caused by
faulty tubes that split or were cut by the rim tape. However, they
also heard a bang, after which the tire was flat. On removing the
tire casing from the rim with tire irons, the burst tube is found to
have a long slash.

If there was an audible bang, then the tire was off the rim, exposing
the innertube. However, the undamaged tire usually remains on the rim
because tires usually fall back into place after exposing a tube. A
tube cannot blow out inside the tire with a bang, because a bang is
caused by a sudden change in volume, an expansion. Such an expansion
is not possible within a tire casing that is essentially air tight.

The resulting clean slash in the tube cannot occur from rim tape that
would cause a gradual failure along an abraded line extending beyond
the end of the split. A burst into a spoke hole in the rim would
cause a starburst hole that is smaller than the rim socket because the
tube shrinks when no longer inflated.

Tire blow-off occurs most commonly on tandems where substantial energy
of descending mountain roads is converted to heat in rims by braking.
In contrast a single bicycle is usually able to dissipate enough of
its descending energy by wind drag to not suffer from this. Rim
heating with rim brakes on continuous steep descents can increase
inflation pressure substantially. For this reason some mountain
passes in the Alps prohibit descending by bicycle while up hill riding
is permitted. For instance, Zirlerberg between Zirl and Seebach
(Innsbruck), a major road between Germany and Austria, is one of
these. The road has several runaway tracks for motor vehicles with
brake failure.

Formerly, base tapes made of gauze-like tubes, filled with Kapok, were
offered for mountain touring. The padding served as insulation
between rim and tube to prevent rim heat from increasing pressure.
These rim tapes have not been available lately, probably because
bicycle shops did not recognize their purpose.

Short tubes, that must be stretched to fit on the rim, can contribute
to tire blow-off because a stretched tube tends to rest in the space
on the bed of the rim where the tire bead should seat for proper
engagement with the hook of the rim sidewall. A tube under the tire
bead can prevent proper engagement with a hooked rim to cause blow-off
even without excess pressure.

Valve stem separation is less dangerous because it usually occurs
during inflation. While riding it generally causes a slow leak, as
the vulcanized brass stem gradually separates from the tube. When
this occurs, the stem can usually be pulled out entirely to leave a
small hole into which a valve stem from a latex tube of a tubular tire
will fit. Stems from tubulars have a mushroom end, a clamp washer,
and a locknut, that fit ideally. Such a used stem should be part of a
tire patch kit.

Tubes with an encircling ribbed zone near the stem are "welded"
together at this point and have occasionally developed a leak from no
external cause other than tire flexing. Stretching the tube manually
at the joint can exposes this weakness before installation. Both this
defect and stem separations are quality control problems that in time
may be resolved, considering the many tubes of similar manufacture
that do not display these faults.


Subject: 8b.5 Blown Tubes
From: Tom Reingold

Charles E Newman writes:

$ Something really weird happened at 12:11 AM. My bike blew a
$ tire while just sitting parked in my room. I was awakened by a noise
$ that scared the livin ^&$% out of me. I ran in and found that all the
$ air was rushing out of my tire. How could something like happen in the
$ middle of the night when the bike isn't even being ridden? I have
$ heard of it happening when the bike is being ridden but not when it is
$ parked.

This happened because a bit of your inner tube was pinched between your
tire bead and your rim. Sometimes it takes a while for the inner tube
to creap out from under the tire. Once it does that, it has nothing to
keep the air pressure in, so it blows out. Yes, it's scary. I've had
it happen in the room where I was sleeping.

To prevent this, inflate the tire to about 20 psi and move the tire
left and right, making sure no part of the inner tube is pinched.


Subject: 8b.6 Tube Failure in Clinchers
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 15:02:23 PDT

Riders occasionally tell about a tube that blew out with a loud bang
INSIDE their tire, leaving the tube with a long slash. The tube blew
out, but not as described. If there was a bang, the tube was outside
the tire. That is, the tire lifted off the rim and fell back in place
after the tube burst.

Tubes do not burst inside tire casings, although they may leak, the
most they can do is give off an audible hiss, assuming it is otherwise
quiet enough. An un-socketed double walled rim can make a dull pop if
the tube is exposed to the inner rim volume. The concept that a tube
can explode inside a tire is dangerous, because it leads people to
believe that tubes can mysteriously fail without apparent cause INSIDE
a tire. With few exceptions, the cause is an improperly mounted tire.

Without understanding the cause, a rider may continue to risk a
blowout, without realizing that tire lift-off can be caused by the
tube lying between the rim and the tire bead. In this position, the
tube prevents the tire from seating properly in the hook of the rim, a
condition that, under the right circumstances, will cause a blowout.
This cannot occur inside the tire casing. To prevent blow-off, the
tire seat must be inspected by pushing the tire away from the rim,
upon which the tube should not exposed at any point around the tire.

Valve stem separation is another common failure, but it is less
dangerous because it usually occurs while inflating the tire. If it
occurs while riding it causes a slow leak, as the vulcanized brass
stem separates from the tube. When this occurs, the stem can be
pulled out entirely to leave a small hole into which a valve stem from
a latex tube of a tubular tire will fit. Stems from tubulars have a
mushroom end, a clamp washer, and a locknut, that fit ideally. Such a
used stem should be part of a tire patch kit.


Subject: 8b.7 More Flats on Rear Tires
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 18:15:42 PST

Many sharp objects, especially those that lie flat on the road like
nails and pieces of metal, more often enter rear tires than the front
tires. That is because the front tire upends them just in time for
the rear tire to be impaled on them.

For example, nails seldom enter front tires. When dropped from a
moving vehicle, nails slide down the road, and align themselves
pointing toward traffic, because they prefer to slide head first as
they would when laid on a slope. The front tire rolling over such a
lengthwise nail, can tilt it up just in time for the rear tire to
encounter it on end. I once got a flat from a one inch diameter steel
washer that the front tire had flipped up so that the rear tire struck
it on edge. When following another wheel closely, the front tire can
get the "rear tire" treatment from the preceding wheel.

The front wheel set-up effect is especially true for "Michelin" wires,
the fine strands of stainless wire that make up steel belts of auto
tires. These wires, left on the road when such tires exposes their
belt, cause hard to find slow leaks almost exclusively in rear tires.

When wet, glass can stick to the tire even in the flat orientation and
thereby get a second chance when it comes around again. To make
things worse, glass cuts far more easily when wet as those who have
cut rubber tubing in chemistry class may remember. A wet razor blade
cuts latex rubber tubing in a single slice while a dry blade only
makes a nick.

As for pinch flats, aka snake bites, they occur on the rear wheel more
readily because it carries more load and is uncushioned when the rider
is seated. The rider's arms, even when leaning heavily on the front
wheel, cushion impact when striking a blunt obstacle.

Old October 29th 04, 07:11 AM
Mike Iglesias
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Archive-name: bicycles-faq/part3

[Note: The complete FAQ is available via anonymous ftp from
draco.acs.uci.edu (, in pub/rec.bicycles.]


Subject: 8b.8 Tube and Tire Casing Repair
From: John Forester

There sure seems a dearth of knowledge about patching both tubes and

Yes, the idea that tubes could be patched without liquid cement was a
good idea, but only as an idea to research to see whether an adequate
adhesive could be developed. So far as I know, all the peel and stick
adhesives are very viscous liquids. That means that they don't harden and
therefore that the air pressure will slowly leak into and through them. If
the viscosity is high enough it will take the air under pressure a long
time to form another leak. A glueless patch of the peel and stick variety
cannot have effective solvents in it, because the solvent would evaporate
during storage. Even if the patch were sealed inside a container that
prevented the evaporation of the solvent, the system would have the problem
of getting enough glue onto the tube and then letting the solvent partially
evaporate from the open joint for the joint to be made. You might as well
use the old system.

The problem that some experience is that they find the cement hardened in
the zinc dispensing tube. The answer to that is to buy the cement and its
solvent in bulk and carry a small quantity in a small jar with a screw cap.
A metal jar would be most useful, but I do not know of any common source for
such. Small glass jars are commonly available and last well enough.
Periodically, examine the cement inside and top up with solvent if it gets
too thick. Because the cement tends to glue the cap to the jar, it is
desirable to wrap both the jar and the cap with several layers of adhesive
tape to provide a better gripping surface at a larger radius.

Two kinds of cement are available. The traditional cement is rubber cement,
Camel #12-086 Universal Cement, available at tire shops. The other cement is
contact cement, available from hardware stores. While the modern
formulations often are non-flammable and use chlorinated hydrocarbons as
solvents, buy the flammable kind, if available, because the chlorinated
hydrocarbons are detrimental to rubber. (Very important for diluting rim
cement for tubular tires. Not so important for just tire patches or boots
because the solvent evaporates.) In any case, use toluol as the replacement
solvent, available at hardware stores.

The tube must be cleaned before applying the cement. Stick medium sandpaper
to tongue depressors and cut to lengths that fit your patch kit.

Cut casings are repaired with an internal boot. Satisfactory boots are
made from cotton trouser fabric or from lightweight dacron sail fabric.
These must be cemented by contact cement, not tube cement. Cut pieces of
suitable size, so that they run almost from bead to bead when laid inside
the casing. Coat one side with several layers of contact cement and let it
dry completely before storage. Before applying, coat the inside of
the casing with contact cement and press the boot into place before the
cement dries. Wait about ten minutes before inflating the tire. If you wait
too long, the cement really hardens and there will be a narrow spot in the
casing because of the greater strength where the patch reinforces the

It is probably possible to use contact cement as the tube patch cement.
Do not use tube cement for boots; it slowly creeps and allows the boot to
bulge. So carry a small jar of each cement, or one of contact cement.

Contact cement is suitable for closing the outside of the cut also, but
it must be applied in several layers and allowed to dry thoroughly before
use, or it will pick up particles from the road. Duro Plastic Rubber is a
thicker black rubber paste that can be applied in one layer and left to


Subject: 8b.9 Presta Valve Nuts
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 1997 16:46:59 PST

Jam nuts on Presta valve stems and pumping.

1. The jam nut holds the stem when pumping so that it does not recede
into the rim when pressing the pump head against the tire. This is
especially useful when the tire is flat (after installing the
tube). It also keeps the stem from wiggling around while pumping.
Removing the nut should present no difficulty unless the threads
have been damaged or the hands are cold. The cold may present a
problem, but then just opening the valve nut on a Presta valve
under such conditions is difficult.

2. Breaking off stems with a frame pump comes from incorrect pumping.
The number of new tubes with broken stems lying along the road
proves that this occurs far too often. To avoid breaking the stem,
the pump head should be be held in the fist so that the pumping
force goes from one hand into the other, not from the pump into the
valve stem. To practice the correct action, hold the pump head in
one hand with the thumb over the outlet, and pump vigorously
letting out no air. All the force goes from one hand into the
other. This is essentially what should take place when inflating a

It does no good to "get even" with the stupid tube by discarding it
on the road for all to see. Most riders understand how to pump a
tire and see this only as evidence of incompetence rather than a
faulty tube. Besides, this ostentatious behavior constitutes
littering for which the the fine in California is $1000. Bike
shops should instruct new bike owners about the use of the frame
pump. Along with this there should be some tire patch hints like
don't try to ride a freshly patched tube, carry a spare tube and
always use the spare after patching the punctured tube. Of course
this is a whole subject in itself that is also treated in the FAQ.


Subject: 8b.10 Rim Tape Summary
From: Ron Larson

This is a summary of the experience of riders on the net regarding
various rim tapes, both commercial and improvized. Any additional
comments and inputs are welcome.


Rim tape or rim strips are the material that is placed inside a
clincher rim to protect the tube from sharp edges of the nipple holes
and possibly exposed ends of spokes extending beyond the nipples. Many
materials have been used to produce rim tapes: plastic, rubber, tapes
consisting of a multi-directional fiber weave, duct tape and fiberglass
packing tape.

A few factors influence how well a rim tape works. Some of the tapes
are available in more than one width. It is important to choose the
width that provides the best fit to cover the entire "floor" of the rim
as opposed to a tape that is barely wide enough to cover the nipple
holes. Another factor is how well the rim tape withstands the stress of
being stretched over the nipple holes with a high preassure inner tube
applying preassure to it. The main form of failure of the plastic tapes
is for the tape to split lengthwise (in the direction the tube lies in
the rim) under high preassure forming a sharp edge that the tube
squeezes through and then rubs against. Thus the splitting tape causes
the flat that it was supposed to be protecting against.


Plastic Tapes


Easy to install and remove. No sticky side is involved.


Although there are exceptions, they are prone to splitting under

Michelin Good Experiences: 0 Bad Experiences: 6

Cool Tape Good Experiences: 2 Bad Experiences: 0

Cool Tape is thicker than other plastic tapes and does not exhibit
the splitting failure noted above.

Hutchinson Good Experiences: 0 Bad Experiences: 2

Specialized Good Experiences: 1 Bad Experiences: 4

Rubber Tapes


Easy to install and remove. Good if the nipples are even with the rim
floor and there are no exposed spoke ends.


Stretch too easily and allow exposed nipple ends to rub through the
tape and then through the tape.

Rubber strips Good Experiences: 0 Bad Experiences: 2

Cloth tapes woven of multi-directional fibers:


Easy to install. Do not fail under preassure.


They are a sticky tape and care must be taken not to pick up dirt if
they need to be removed and re-installed.

Velox Good Experiences:11 Bad Experiences: 0

Velox rim tape comes in three different widths. Be sure to get the
widest tape that covers the floor of the rim without extending up the
walls of the rim. The stem hole may need to be enlarged to allow the
stem to seat properly. Otherwise the stem may push back into the tube
under preassure and cause a puncture at the base of the stem.

Non-commercial rim tapes

Fiberglass packing tape (1 or 2 layers)


Cheap. Readily available. Easy to install.


Impossible to remove. If access to the nipples is required, the tape
must be split and then either removed and replaced or taped over.

Fiberglass packing tape Good Experiences: 1 Bad Experiences: 1

Duct tape (hey, someone tried it!!)


CHEAP. Readily available.


Useless. Becomes a gooey mess that is impossible to remove.

Duct tape Good Experiences: 0 Bad Experiences: 1


While plastic tapes are easy to work with, they often fail. The clear
winner in this survey is the Velox woven cloth tape. A quick review of
mail order catalogs confirms the experiences of the net. Velox was
available in 5 out of 5 catalogs checked. It was the only rim tape
available in 3 of the catalogs. The other 2 had one or two plastic
tapes available. (None sold duct tape...)

One good suggestion was a preassure rating for rim tapes much like the
preassure rating of tires.


Subject: 8b.11 Talcum Powder for Tubes and Tires
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 1997 16:54:17 PST

I've been told since my first bike that I should liberally dust the
tube in talcum powder before installing it. I've believe that this
may have reduced the number of flats I've had recently.

Talcum is one of the more durable urban legends. There is no benefit
in putting talcum or substitute powder on a tube or in a tire. The
practice has come to bicycle tires the same way tire treads that are
miniature replicas of automobile treads have... if it's good for cars,
it must be good for bicycles. Trucks (and formerly cars) use talcum
or graphite powder between tire and tube, because without it, the two
can vulcanize from the heat of rolling. This often makes tube removal
destructive, leaving tube fragments stuck in the tire casing.

Bicycles do not generate enough heat to vulcanize tubes, so they can
be removed from the tire without problem. Other than that, talcum has
no effect on punctures other than to release air faster when one
occurs. A tube stuck to the casing will retain air for a considerable
distance after a thorn penetration because the thorn that penetrates
plugs the casing hole leaving the tube hole with no outlet. This is
especially true for snake bites. I have found such flats the day
after when they have gone flat over night. Without powder, a tube
will stick adequately to most clincher tires in about 100 miles.

Corn starch is no better than talcum powder, the only difference being
that it is water soluble, but then who cares. Talcum also cakes up
when wet, although it doesn't dissolve.

A tube cannot move in a tire when inflated, regardless of what powder
is used, because, no translational forces exist, on top of which the
holding force between tube and casing is large. That talcum prevents
damage when mounting a tire is also not the case, because the pinch
occurs when the last part of the bead is being popped onto the rim.
This can cause a pinch with or without a tire iron, and powder will
not protect a tube from lying in the gap if it hasn't been pushed into
the tire adequately.

The reason tubes have talcum powder inside is that in manufacture,
they become hot enough that, otherwise, they could become inseparably
stuck when folded. That is why most butyl tubes have talcum inside.


Subject: 8b.12 ETRTO numbers for tire sizes
From: Osman Isvan

There is nothing wrong with tire/rim compatibility. If
we...stop calling them with colloquial names such as "26 inch
wheel", "road wheel", etc., we would be all set.

There is no dimension on a mountain bike rim that is even
close to 26 inches. The ETRTO number, bead diameter in
millimeters, is *molded* on the sidewall of the tire (to make
mislabeling almost impossible) and if it matches, it will
match. There is nothing confusing, mysterious or misleading or
complicated about the ETRTO designation. The ETRTO designation
also includes the width of the tire to be sure it is not too
narrow or too wide for the rim, but this dimension is not
accurate as it is not critical.

Common standard bead diameters are 559 mm (ATB), 571 mm
(Triathlon) and 622 mm (road). They are a reasonable size
smaller/larger than each other, so what's the problem?

The confusion comes from us (marketers and consumers)
referring to both the 559 and the 571 standards, and a slew of
others, as 26" for some reason. The term "26 inch wheel"
refers to the approximate outside diameter of the inflated
tire, and has nothing to do with tire/rim compatibility...

This is no different with cars, but in automotive "lingo" the
colloquial names for wheel sizes are the rim diameter (and
that's what matters for compatibility), not the tire outside
diameter. The same car comes with either "13 inch" or "14
inch" wheel options but the outside diameter of the tire may
be the same. The rubber part takes up the difference.
Motorists refer to their RIM SIZE when they talk about wheel
diameter. A 13 inch tire such as "175/70 R 13" means it will
fit to a 13 inch rim.

We should do the same. It is possible to build the same
outside diameter by either using a 26 mm wide tire and 559 mm
(mountain) rim (ETRTO 26-559) or a 20 mm wide tire on a 571mm
(triathlon) rim (ETRTO 20-571), and this doesn't imply they
would be interchangeable. And because the 559 mm (Mountain)
rims have a diameter of only 22 inches, it takes very fat 2.0
inch (Mountain) tires to bump them up to 26". Of course they
wouldn't accept skinny triathlon tires of same thread

When ordering tires, order according to bead diameter (ETRTO
designation). This will solve any problems with compatibility.
If the salesperson doesn't understand, ask to look for the
number which is molded with the casing.


Subject: 8b.13 Tires with smooth tread
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 05 Dec 1997 16:29:59 PST

Drag racers first recognized the traction benefits of slick tires,
whose benefit they could readily verify by elapsed times for the
standing start quarter mile. In spite of compelling evidence of
improved traction, more than twenty years passed before slicks were
commonly used for racing cars, and another twenty before they reached
racing motorcycles. Today, slicks are used in all weather by most
street motorcycles. In spite of this, here at the end of the
millennium, 100 years after John Dunlop invented the pneumatic tire
for his own bicycle, bicyclists have not yet accepted smooth tread.

Commercial aircraft, and especially motorcycles, demonstrate that a
round cross section tire, like the bicycle tire, has an ideal shape to
prevent hydroplaning. The contact patch, a pointed canoe shape,
displaces water exceptionally well. In spite of this, hydroplaning
seems to be a primary concern for riders who are afraid to use smooth
tires. After assurances from motorcycle and aircraft examples,
slipperiness on wet pavement appears as the next hurdle.

Benefits of smooth tread are not easily demonstrated because most
bicycle riders seldom ride near the limit of traction in either curves
or braking. There is no simple measure of elapsed time or lean angle
that clearly demonstrates any advantage, partly because skill among
riders varies greatly. However, machines that measure traction show
that smooth tires corner better on both wet and dry pavement. In such
tests, other things being equal, smooth tires achieve greater lean
angles while having lower rolling resistance.

Tread patterns have no effect on surfaces in which they leave no
impression. That is to say, if the road is harder than the tire, a
tread pattern does not improve traction. That smooth tires have
better dry traction is probably accepted by most bicyclists, but wet
pavement still appears to raise doubts even though motorcycles have
shown that tread patterns do not improve wet traction.

A window-cleaning squeegee demonstrates this effect well. Even with a
new sharp edge, it glides effortlessly over wet glass leaving a
microscopic layer of water behind to evaporate. On a second swipe,
the squeegee sticks to the dry glass. This example should make
apparent that the lubricating water layer cannot be removed by tire
tread, and that only the micro-grit of the road surface can penetrate
this layer to give traction. For this reason, metal plates, paint
stripes, and railway tracks are incorrigibly slippery.

Besides having better wet and dry traction, smooth tread also has
lower rolling resistance, because its rubber does not deform into
tread voids. Rubber being essentially incompressible, deforms like a
water filled balloon, changing shape, but not volume. For a tire with
tread voids, its rubber bulges under load and rebounds with less force
than the deforming force. This internal damping causes the energy
losses of rolling resistance. In contrast the smooth tread transmits
the load to the loss-free pneumatic compliance of the tire.

In curves, tread features squirm to allow walking and ultimately,
early breakout. This is best demonstrated on knobby MTB tires, some
of which track so poorly that they are difficult to ride no-hands.

Although knobby wheelbarrow tires serves only to trap dirt, smooth
tires may yet be accepted there sooner than for bicycles.


Subject: 8b.14 Rolling resistance of Tires
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

The question often arises whether a small cross section tire has lower
rolling resistance than a larger one. The answer, as often, is yes
and no, because unseen factors come into play. Rolling resistance of
a tire arises almost entirely from flexural rubber losses in the tire
and tube. Rubber, especially with carbon black, as is commonly used in
tires, is a high loss material. On the other hand rubber without
carbon black, although having lower losses, wears rapidly and has
miserable traction when wet.

Besides the tread, the tube of an inflated tire is so firmly pressed
against the casing that it, in effect, becomes an integral part of the
tire. The tread and the tube together absorb the majority of the
energy lost in a rolling tire while the inter-cord binder (usually
rubber) comes in far behind. Tread scuffing on the road is even less

Patterned treads measurably increase rolling resistance over slicks,
because tread rubber bulges and deforms into voids in the tread
pattern when the tire bears on the road. This effect, called tread
squirm, is mostly absent with smooth tread because tread rubber cannot
bulge laterally on road contact because rubber, although elastic, is

Small cross section tires experience more deformation than a large
cross section tires and therefore, should have greater rolling
resistance, but they generally do not, because large and small cross
section tires are not identical in other respects. Large tires nearly
always have thicker tread and often use heavier tubes, besides having
thicker casings. For these reasons, smaller tire usually have lower
rolling resistance but not from the smaller contact patch to which it
is often attributed.

These comparative values were measured on various tires over a range
of inflation pressures that were used to determine the response to
inflation. Cheap heavy tires gave the greatest improvement in rolling
resistance with increasing pressure but were never as low as high
performance tires. High performance tires with thin sidewalls and
high TPI (threads per inch) were low in rolling resistance and
improved far less than poorer ones with increasing inflation pressure.

As is mentioned in another FAQ item "Mounting Tubular Tires", tubular
tires, although having lower tire losses, performed worse than
equivalent clincher tires because tubular rim glue absorbs a constant
amount of energy regardless of inflation pressure. Only (hard) track
glue absolves tubulars of this deficit and should always be used in
timed record events.


Subject: 8b.15 Wiping Tires
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 15:02:23 PDT

Although the tire wiping has mostly gone the way of the tubular tire,
some riders have remained believers in this practice, that never had
any validity in the first place. It is purportedly done to prevent
punctures by wiping off glass that may have "stuck" to the tire.

If one considers the rotation rate of a wheel in typical bicycling,
about 15-20mph, it comes to about 3.5 revolutions per second. When
observing a tire wiper, the time between noticing hazardous debris on
the road and the first wipe is more than a second. Hence, any glass
or other small object would be firmly pressed into the tire by four
revolutions and all exposed glass edges chipped off. By the time the
other tire is wiped several more seconds will have passed. If the
glass is not thoroughly embedded by then it will not enter the tire.

This is not to say that particles embedded in a tire always cause a
leak immediately, but that they are irrecoverably in the tire at that
time. Those who have patched flats from glass will recall that the
piece of glass is not easily found, especially if the location of the
puncture is not known. The embedded chip is usually imperceptible
when wiping the hand over the place even when known.

On the other hand, the rear wheel is more subject to flats than the
front, because flat objects must first be tipped up to engage a tire
to have any effect. Wiping the rear tire on common short frame
bicycles is hazardous, because the fingers can be sucked into the
narrow gap between tire and seat tube to cause serious injury.

Carefully considered, tire wiping is an idle gesture, reassuring to
some riders, and impressive to others if deftly executed. I recall as
a beginner that learning all the tics of bicycle racing was important.
Wiping tires was one of these. Forget it.


Subject: 8b.17 Clinchers vs. Tubulars
From: F.J. Brown

gave some useful hints on mounting clinchers,
mostly involving the use of copious quantities of baby powder, and
trying to convince me that clinchers aren't difficult to mount, so ease of
mounting isn't a valid reason for preferring tubulars.

wrote that although average tubulars ride
'nicer' than average clinchers, there are some clinchers around that ride
just as 'nice'. He also said that ease of change isn't a good reason for
preferring tubulars as if you flat in a race, you're either going to swap
a wheel or drop out. He pointed out that tubulars end up costing $20 -
$80 per flat.

gave some of the historic reasons that tubulars were
preferred: higher pressures, lower weight, stronger, lighter rims. Said
that only a few of these still hold true (rim strength/weight, total weight),
but he still prefers the 'feel' of tubulars.

started this thread with his observations on
clinchers seperated from their rims in the aftermath of a race crash.

comments on improperly-glued tubulars posing a threat
to other racers by rolling off, and noted that this couldn't happen with

agreed with stek, with the additional note that
it is inadequate inflation that often allows tubulars to roll.

Kevin at Buffalo agreed with stek and jobst about tubulars (improperly or
freshly glued) sometimes rolling.

says he uses clinchers for cost and convenience.
Clinchers let him carry around a tiny patch kit and some tyre irons, costing
60c, whereas tubulars would require him to carry a whole tyre, and would
cost more.

Tubulars - used to be capable of taking higher pressures, had lower weight
and mounted onto stronger, lighter rims than clinchers. Clinchers
have now largely caught up, but many cyclists thinking hasn't.
Tubular tyre + rim combination still lighter and stronger.
- are easier to change than clinchers. This matters more to some
people than others - triathletes, mechanical morons and those
riding in unsupported races.
- cost megabucks if you replace them every time you puncture.
***However*** (and none of the North Americans mentioned this)
down here in Kiwiland, we ***always*** repair our punctured
tubulars (unless the casing is cut to ribbons). The process
doesn't take much imagination, you just unstitch the case, repair
the tube in the normal manner using the thinnest patches you can
buy, stitch it back up again and (the secret to success) put a
drop of Superglue over the hole in the tread.
- can roll off if improperly glued or inflated. In this case, you
probably deserve what you get. Unfortunately, the riders behind
you don't.

Clinchers - can be difficult to change (for mechanical morons) and are always
slower to change than tubulars. Most people still carry a spare
tube and do their repairs when they get home.
- are cheaper to run: if you puncture a lot clinchers will probably
still save you money over tubulars, even if you repair your
tubulars whenever possible. Tubulars are only repairable most
of the time, you virtually never write off a clincher casing due
to a puncture.
- have improved immensely in recent years; top models now inflate
to high pressures, and are lighter and stronger than they used
to be. Likewise clincher rims. Some debate over whether
tubulars are still lighter and tubular rims stronger. Probably
depends on quality you select. No doubt that high quality
clinchers/rims stronger, lighter and mor dependable than cheap
tubular/rim combination.


Subject: 8b.18 Tubular Fables
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2003 20:38:07 -0800 (PST)

Why is it better to deflate tubulars between rides or is this just a
silly rumor?

Yes and no. The "rumor" arises from a misunderstanding. Track tires,
that are most often still tubulars, are generally inflated to more
than 10 bar and are dangerous if they were to explode. Good track
tires, unlike road tires, are often made of silk with fine and thin
strands that are not coated or otherwise protected.

I have seen these tires get touched by another rider's pedal and
explode, or even when carelessly laid on any angular object, they can
burst because only breaking a few cords is enough to start a burst.
For this reason track tires are best deflated to less than half their
running pressure when not in use. I can still vividly hear the sound
of a tire exploding in an indoor track although I heard it only a few
times years ago. It is not something you would like to have happen in
your car or room.

The reasons people give for deflating tubulars are generally false and
are given for lack of understanding. This is what makes it sound like
an old wive's tale. Most people do it just to be doing what they
think is "professional" when in fact the protected sidewalls and
pressure of most road tubulars makes deflation as meaningless for them
as it is for clinchers.

What advantage is there in aging tubulars?

None! The aging concept arose from the same source as the "steel
frames need to be replaced because they get soft with age" concept.
Both were intended to improve sales during the off (winter) season by
bike shops with too much inventory on their shelves. Tires oxidize,
outgas, and polymerize from ultraviolet light. The concept of a tire
manufacturer making a tire that cannot be used until ripened for six
months from the date of purchase is ridiculous. Tires can be made to
any specification at the factory. Tires are most flexible and durable
when they are new. They don't improve with time and exposure to heat,
light, and oxygen or ozone.

"Over-aged" tubular tires, have crumbling hard brown latex on their
sidewalls that exposes separating cords directly to weather and wear
and they have treads crack when flexed. Considering that this is a
continuous process, it is hard to explain where, in the time from
manufacture to the crumbly condition, the optimum age lies. The claim
that tires are lighter after aging is true. Their elastomers have
evaporated making the tire brittle and weak.

Purchasing tubular tires in advance to age them is unwise, although if
there is a supply problem, tubular tires bought in advance should be
sealed tightly in airtight bags and kept in the dark, optimally in a
freezer. For best results, use new tires because aged tires are only
as good as how little they have aged.


Subject: 8b.19 Tubular Tire Repair
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Tue, 04 May 1999 11:07:38 PDT

Opening the Tire

The tire casing must be opened to gain access to patch the tube. To
do this, open the casing by peeling the base tape back and unstitching
the seam. If this is a seamless tire, chuck it. There are two types
of seams, zipper stitch (using one thread) and two thread stitch. The
zipper stitch is identified by having only one thread. It appears to
make a pattern of slanted arrows that point in the direction in which
it can be 'unzipped'.

Never open more tire than is necessary to pull the tube out of the
casing. Remember, the tube is elastic and can be pulled a long way
from a three cm long opening. Even if there are two punctures not too
far apart, the tube can be pulled out of a nearby opening. However,
to insert a boot requires an opening of about 6 to 10 cm at the
location of the cut or rupture, about the length of the boot (at least
10cm) and a couple of cm more.

Base Tape

Never cut the base tape because it cannot be butt joined. Always pull
it to one side or separate it where it is overlapped. Do not cut the
stitching, because it takes more time to pull out the cut thread than
to pull it out in one piece. When working on the stem, only unstitch
on one side of the stem, preferably the side where machine finished.
Use latex to glue down loose threads on a sidewall cut. Paint the
exposed casing zone that is to be covered by the base tape and the
tape with latex emulsion, allow to partially dry and put the tape in
place. Put the tire on a rim and inflate hard.

Seam Ripper and Triangular Needle

A convenient tool, available in the sewing department at most
department and sewing specialty stores is a seam ripper. This and the
triangular sewing needle from a Velox patch kit are two highly useful
tools for tubular repair, scissors and razor blades being common
household items.

Zipper Stitch

Cut the thread at some convenient place at the upstream end of the
intended opening and with a blunt awl, like a knitting needle, pull
out several stitches in the direction the stitch pattern points. When
enough thread is free to pull on, the stitching can be opened like a
zipper. When enough seam is open, thread the loose end through the
last loop and pull tight, to lock the zipper. Don't cut off the free
end because it is often good enough to re-sew the seam.

Two Thread Stitch

One of the threads makes a zig zag as it locks the other thread where
it penetrates the tire casing. Cut both threads near the middle of
the opening and, with a blunt awl like a knitting needle, pull out
only the locking thread in both directions, stitch at a time. The
locking thread is the one that is easier to pull out. Remove as many
stitches as the opening requires. The other thread pulls out like a
zipper. Tie a square knot with the loose ends at both ends of the
opening and cut off the rest.


Patch butyl (black) tubes using patches from a bicycle patch kit.

To patch a latex tube, make patches from an old latex tube that are
fully rounded and just large enough to cover the hole plus five mm.
For instance, a thorn hole takes a 10 mm diameter patch. Use Pastali
rim glue (tire patch glue also works but not as well) wiped thinly
onto the patch with your finger. Place the patch on the tube
immediately and press flat. Latex will pass the volatile solvent
allowing the glue to cure rapidly with good adhesion to the tube.

Casing Repair

Repairing tubular tires requires latex emulsion. You can get it from
carpet layers, who usually have it in bulk. You must have a container
and beg for a serving. If you are repairing a tubular you probably
ride them, and therefore, will have dead ones lying around. The best
tubulars generally furnish the best repair material.

Most cuts of more than a few cords, like a glass cut, require a
structural boot. With thin latex tubes, uncovered casing cuts will
soon nibble through the tube and cause another flat. For boot
material, pull the tread off a silk sprint tire, unstitch it and cut
off the bead at the edge of the fold. Now you have a long ribbon of
fine boot material. Cut off a 10cm long piece and trim it to a width
that just fits inside the casing of the tire to be booted from inside
edge of the bead (the folded part) to the other edge.

The boot must be trimmed using a razor blade to a thin feathered edge
so that the tube is not exposed to a step at the boot's edge,
otherwise this will wear pinholes in a thin latex tube. Apply latex
to the cleaner side of the boot and the area inside the tire,
preferably so the boot cords are 90 degrees from the facing tire

Insert the boot and press it into place, preferably in the natural
curve of the tire. This makes the the boot the principal structural
support when the tire is again inflated, after the boot cures. If the
casing is flat when the boot is glued, it will stretch the casing more
than the boot upon inflation. After the boot dries, and this goes
rapidly, sew the tire.

Valve Stem Replacement

This depends on the type of tube. Latex tubes and some of the others
have a screwed in stem that has a mushroomed end on the inside and a
washer and nut on the outside. These are easily replaced from another
tire whose tube is shot. Open the old ruined tire at the stem, loosen
the nut, lift the washer and pull out the stem.

Open the tire to be repaired on one side of the stem, preferably the
side where sewing ended, the messier side, and loosen the base nut,
lift the washer, wet the stem at the tube opening with saliva and
twist it until it turns freely. Pull it out carefully and insert the
replacement stem after wetting its mushroom with saliva. Tire
stores have a soapy mixture called "Ru-glide" or the like to do the
wetting but it cost a lot more than spit and doesn't work any better.

Tube Replacement

To replace the entire tube, open the tire on one side of the stem, the
side that seems to be easier to re-sew after the repair. Open about
eight to ten cm the usual way, so that the old tube can be pulled out
by the stem. Cut the tube and attach a strong cord to the loose end
of the tube to be pulled through the casing by the old tube as you
pull it out.

Cut the "new" latex tube about 8-10 cm away from the stem, tie the
cord onto the loose end and pull it gently into the casing. Dumping
some talc into the casing and putting talc onto the tube helps get the
tube into place. With the tube in place, pull enough of it out by
stretching it, to splice the ends together.

Splicing the Tube

This procedure works only with latex tubes. Overlap the tube ends so
the free end goes about one cm inside the end with the stem. With the
tube overlapped, use a toothpick to wipe Pastali rim cement into the
interface. The reason this MUST be done in place is that the solvent
will curl the rubber into an unmanageable mess if you try this in free
space. Carefully glue the entire circumference and press the joint
together by pressing the tube flat in opposing directions. Wait a
minute and then gently inflate to check the results. More glue can be
inserted if necessary if you do not wait too long.

Sewing the Tire

Sewing machines make holes through the bead that are straight across
at a regular stitch interval. For best results, use the original
stitch holes when re-sewing. Use a strong thread (one that you cannot
tear by hand) and a (triangular) needle from a Velox tubular patch kit
(yes I know they are scarce). Make the first stitch about one stitch
behind the last remaining machine stitch and tie it off with a noose

With the beads of the tire pressed against each other so that the old
holes are exactly aligned, sew using a loop stitch pulling each stitch
tight, going forward two holes then back one, forward two, back one,
until the seam is closed. This is a balanced stitch that uses one
thread and can stretch longitudinally.

Gluing Tire to Rim

For road tires, that are intended to be manually mounted and replaced
on the road, tires with a rubberized base tape are preferred because
these are easily and securely mounted by applying a coating of glue to
the rim, allowing it to harden and mounting the tire to be inflated
hard so that it will sink in and set.

Because road tires are intended to be changed on the road, they use a
glue that does not completely harden and allows reuse for mounting a

Track tires, in contrast can be mounted using hardening glue such as
shellac or bicycle tire track glue. This glue is best suited for base
tapes that are "dry" cloth. The tire is mounted either with a light
coating of track glue on the base tape or un-glued onto a good base of
track glue whose last coat is still soft on the rim, into which the
tire will set when inflated upon mounting. Hard glue prevents rolling
resistance otherwise generated by the gummy road glue. Track glue is
primarily useful for record attempts where every effort is needed.

Mounting a Tubular

The most effective and fastest way to mount a tubular is to place the
rim upright on the ground, stem hole up; insert the valve stem of the
tire and with both hands stretch the tire with downward force to
either side, working the hands downward to the bottom of the rim
without allowing the tire to slacken. Try this before applying rim
glue on a dry rim and inflate the tire hard so that afterward,
mounting is easier on the glued rim.

Note that inflation pressure causes the tire to constrict until the
cord plies are at about 35 degrees. This effect helps retain the tire
on the rim in use. Therefore, do not inflate a tire to mount it.
Tubulars should generally not be inflated off a rim because this
deforms the tire and base tape adversely, possibly shearing the
inter-ply adhesion and loosening the base tape and stitching.

Now that you know everything there is to know about this, get some
practice. It works, I did it for years.


Subject: 8b.20 Gluing Sew-up Tires
From: Roger Marquis

[More up to date copies of Roger's articles can be found at

Davis criterium, it's hot, hot, hot. The pace is fast and the
corners sharp. Inevitably some riders are going to roll tires,
happens every year. What can you do to insure that your sew-up
tires stay glued when the mercury rises?

There is no one cause of poor tire-rim adhesion so let's start at
the beginning, new rims and tires. Most rims are shipped with a
coating of anti-corrosive substances that closely resemble grease.
This has to be thoroughly removed with solvent and a clean rag
before you can put down the first coat of glue. Fast Tack is not
the best glue to use on a bare rim. Instead try Clement, Wolber or
one of the other slower drying glues. Put a thin coat of glue all
the way around and leave the wheel(s) to dry for at least 12 hours.

While this glue is drying you might check your tires for any latex
that might be covering the base tape. If there is any latex at all
give it a good roughing up with coarse sandpaper before coating it
with a thin layer of standard glue or Fast Tack. This too should
be left to dry for a few hours. If you're a light rider or don't
plan on doing any hard cornering on hot days you can usually leave
out this step but always roughen the latex on the base tape.

After the base coat of glue has dried it's time for the adhesive
layer. This should be thicker than the first layer but not so
thick that it can squeeze out from under the tire when you mount it
and get on the rim and sidewalls. If you are using a traditional
style road glue let it dry for ten to fifteen minutes before
putting your tires on. Tires should be mounted on Fast Tacked rims

New tires usually need a good stretching before they will go onto
the rim without tending to roll and get glue all over them. I
usually stretch a tire by pulling it around my knees and feet for
a few seconds and then mounting it on an old rim for a while. You
might want to try mounting the tire on a dry rim first to see just
how much stretching it will need.

If you used traditional sew-up glue you should wait at least 12
hours before doing any serious cornering. If you need to race
right away you can use Fast Tack and corner confidently within an
hour. Be sure to spread the glue evenly over the surface of the
rim using your finger or a brush. To get the last section of tire
onto the rim without making a mess grab the remaining 3 or 4 inches
and lift the tire away from and over the rim. This can be
difficult if you forget to stretch it beforehand.

Some glues work better than others in hot weather. Fast Tack works
best followed by Wolber and Vittoria with Clement in the middle and
Tubasti at the bottom of the list.

When buying Fast Tack be sure you get the real thing. 3-M sells
other trim adhesives in boxes nearly identical to Fast Tack. These
trim adhesives do not work for bicycle tires! Be careful that
whatever glue you do use has not separated in its tube. If it has,
take a spoke and stir it up before you squeeze it out. I have also
heard of mixing different glues before application. This is a
dangerous shortcut that yields unpredictable results. Fast Tack
and Clement are the most popular tire adhesives. Even though Fast
Tack will dry out you can get a few tire changes between
replications if you have a good layer of traditional glue on the
rim underneath it. Racing tires though, should be reglued each
time. Base tapes can come apart from the tire in hot weather and
underinflation can cause tires to roll as well. Check these things
as well as the tread for wear or cuts before every race and you'll
be able to descend and corner with confidence.

Roger Marquis )


Subject: 8b.21 Another way to glue sewup tires
From: "Mike & Joanna Brown"
Date: Wed, 06 May 1998 21:49:53 CDT

I have been racing for 6 years now and have tried multiple tire/rim
combinations. I have come to the conclusion that good tubular tires on a
pair of good carbon fiber rims provide the ultimate ride. But many people
dislike tubular tires because of the gluing process and the possibility of
rolling the tire during fast cornering.

I decided to write this article because of the three to four racers who
rolled a tire at the recent Baylor/Mirage sponsored criterium. Rolling a
tire at anytime during race can be catastrophic. Everyone has their "best"
way of gluing a tire. I can assure you, this is by far the best and SAFEST
way to glue a tire to prevent it from rolling during any type of cornering
at any speed. I took this process out of Cycling USA last year and now
follow it religiously when gluing my own tires. This gluing process was
far superior to the manufacturers recommended process in regards to bond
strength at tire/rim interface. We will briefly discuss the following; 1)
The glue 2) Mounting tubulars to new rims 3) Mounting tubulars to used

Not all glues are the same. Especially in Texas! The temperature outside
may be 90 to 100 degrees, but the surface you are racing on may be 150 to
160 degrees. You definitely want a glue that sets up hard in hot weather.
If not, as the temperature increases the glue/bond gets softer/weaker and
chances of roll off and serious injury increase. The article listed seven
glues in this order of strongest to weakest tire/rim bond; Vittoria Mastik'
One, Continental, Wolbar, SM Fast Track, Vittoria Gutta, Pana Cement and
Clement. I prefer clear glues. That way if you screw up its very
difficult to tell. With colored glues, if you screw up everyone knows.
Also for your information I use Pana Cement. It does not provide the
strongest bond, but it sets up perfectly in all extremes of hot weather and
it takes one hell of a finger bleeding effort to get the tire off the rim.

Gluing tubulars to new rims properly should take about 84 hours. Here's
the process. Test mount the tubular to a dry rim, inflate to 100 psi and
allow to sit 24 hours. This stretches the tire which will make mounting
easier and also allow you to inspect the tube and tire for defects (most
"good" tubulars are hand made). After 24 hours remove the tire. Clean the
rim with acetone, lacquer thinner or alcohol only. Other types of cleaners
may leave a film on the rim that cannot be seen by the eye and will
decrease tire/rim bond strength. Composite rim owners should contact the
manufacturer for recommended solvents. Roughing the rim surface will not
improve the bond strength. Gently scrap the base tape on the tire with a
straight edge to remove any latex. If you scrap a one inch section and the
appearance of the base tape does not change, then you probably have no
latex on the base tape and can stop scrapping. But be sure to visually
inspect the entire base tape just to be sure.

Inflate your tire off the rim until the base tape rolls outward. Apply a
uniform layer of glue over the entire base tape area. It is best to do
several tires at this time. You can store those tires not used and
anticipate that the adhesive bond will remain strong as long as the tire
surface is kept clean. Apply a uniform layer of glue across the entire
width of the tire rim gluing surface. The principle bond is at the rim
edge; therefore, it is critical for performance to ensure that the glue
reaches the edges of the rim. Allow both to dry for 24 hours. Apply an
additional coat after that 24 hour period and allow that 2nd coat to dry
for 12 hours. Apply a third coat. This is the mounting coat. With Pana
Cement, once the third coat is applied to the tire and rim mount the tire
immediately. (One tip I would suggest here is before putting glue on the
rim is to put black electrical tape on the entire outside edge and breaking
surfaces. This makes for very easy cleaning after the tire is put on.
Just peal the tape away and all excess glue comes with it and leaves behind
a nice, clean breaking surface).

Place the rim vertically on a clean, smooth surface with the valve hole at
the top of the rim. Place the valve stem through the hole and ensure that
it is properly aligned-straight through the hole (Another tip…For those
with deep dish rims requiring valve extenders, place a small amount of
loctite on the tube valve stem threads and then screw the valve extender
on. This will prevent any leaking at that junction once the tire is glued
on). Grab the tire 8" away from the valve stem in both directions, pull
outward with a mighty heave and place the section of tire between your
hands on the rim. Slide your hands down another few inches down the tire,
pull and install this section. Once a full 180 degree section of the tire
has been mounted, turn the wheel over and place the valve stem section down
vertically on the ground. This is the point where I have my wife hold the
section of tire I had just put on the rim with two hands at 0 and 180
degrees. I then grab the tire at the top and turn it so the base tape is
facing up. At this point I pull up on the tire and roll it onto the top of
the rim. It's actually very easy with two people.

Once the tire is on the rim, it must be aligned. Inflate the tire to
about 50 psi so it can be easily "turned" to align. You can either align
the tire by the tread or by the base tape. Here, I prefer to align my
tires by the base tape. Higher quality tubulars treads will align
properly. Lower quality tires were not necessarily made straight, so
perfect alignment may not be possible. Once aligned, inflate the tire to
100 psi and allow to dry for preferably for 24 hours.

When gluing tubulars to used rims, do not remove the old tire until you
are ready to begin the gluing process as the old tire keeps the rim surface
clear of debris which would weaken the new tire joint. You must find a
weak point in the joint and begin removing the old tire. On my Zipp 440's,
I use a tire lever so I do not damage the rim surface. On aluminum rims
you can use a flat head screw driver to make it easier. You may glue a new
tire over the old glue on the rim unless it is not contaminated or old, if
there is too much glue on the rim or if the remaining glue covers the rim
only in spots. If one of these conditions applies to your rim, remove the
old glue with heavy duty furniture stripper. Apply the stripper according
to the manufactures recommendations. I always put the stripper on and let
it sit for 30 to 45 minutes and the old glue then wipes away like butter.
DO NOT wipe the glue along the rim. This causes the old glue and stripper
to be pushed down into the nipple holes. Wipe across the rim in small
sections. Once the rim is free of glue, begin the process as described
above in the article. If you leave the old glue on the rim, apply at
least one additional coat before installing the tire. To the tire, apply
at least one coat and let it dry for 24 hours before putting on the
mounting coat.

In concluding, let me state once again everyone has their "best" way to
mount tubulars. I can honestly say I have mounted and raced on tubulars
put on in 24 hours. Those instances are far and few between though. I
always make a 100% effort to follow the procedure written above if all
possible. 84 hours seems like a long time to wait just to mount a stupid
tire. It all comes down to how much you value safety. When it comes to
the safety of the other riders, not to mention the consequences of roll off
to my wife and my job, I want to be damn sure I'm as safe as I can possibly
be because I took the time to do things right!


Subject: 8b.22 Folding a Tubular Tire
From: (Jobst Brandt)
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 1996 15:31:33 PDT

Although there are many arcane folds that people devise, it boils down
to pragmatism. Most spares are used tubulars because those who use
them typically ride together and for a new rider someone offers a
spare that gets returned or not at some later time. Therefore, we are
talking about a previously glued tubular and the point is to prevent
the whole tire from getting goo all over the tread and sidewalls, so
you flatten the tire against itself lengthwise with the sticky base
tape stuck to the sticky base tape. Now you have about a 40 inch long
flat tire that when folded in half twice makes the typical wad that
riders carry under their saddles secured by a footstrap.

Footstraps being nearly extinct, I don't know what people use today,
but whatever it is, it must be tight and secure. If it isn't, the
tire will jiggle enough to abrade the sidewalls to become a
pre-packaged blowout, to be installed when you get a flat on the road.
Don't do it. Most spare bags sold today are not good places to put a
tubular tire because they will allow the tire to vibrate too much.

It's bad news to ride alone with one spare anyway, so you ought to
ride with other tubular riders when you go any significant distance
from appropriate tire service. It's not like carrying a tube and
patch kit that can go until you run out of patches (you can cut
patches in half too). The advantage of using tubulars is so marginal
that the little weight saved is best applied to track and criterium
racing where its minuscule reduction in rotational inertia can at
least be argued to have some significance.


Subject: 8b.23 Coiling a Wire Bead Clincher
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 10:00:05 PDT

_____________ _________
*/ \* */ \*
*/ \* *| |*
*/ \* *| |*
*/ \* *| |*
*| |* _________*|__________/*
*| |* */ *|
*| |* *| *|
push-- *| pull & turn -- |* *| *|
*| |* *| *|
*| |* *\_________*|__________
*| |* *| \*
*\ /* *| |*
*\ /* *| |*
*\ /* *| |*
*\_____________/* (*)tread *\_________/*

Holding the tire seen edge-on in front of you, pull the front half
inward while turning that part so the tread faces you, to make the
figure on the right.

Fold the side loops over one another on top of the central loop. This
is the way band saws are coiled for storage. The three coil pack must
be secured to prevent it from springing open again.


Subject: 8b.24 Measuring the circumference of a wheel
From: Jobst Brandt

For accuracy, the speedometer wants to know how far the bicycle
travels per wheel revolution (under normal load and inflation).
Therefore, that is what must be measured, and it is commonly called
the "rollout distance". To make this measurement, sit on the bicycle
in typical riding position next to a wall for support, and roll
forward, starting with the valve stem exactly at the bottom at a mark
on the floor. When the stem is again exactly at the bottom, measure
the distance traveled. Typically this distance, for a 700-28 tire at
120 lbs pressure, can be as much as 30 mm shorter under load than
rolling the unloaded wheel for one revolution.


Subject: 8b.25 What holds the rim off the ground?
From: Jobst Brandt

What forces keep the rim of a wheel with pneumatic tires off the
ground. It obviously can't be the air pressure because that's acting
from top as well as from below.

As has been pointed out, the casing walls pull on the rim (or its
equivalent) and thereby support the load. The casing leaves the rim
at about a 45 degree angle, and being essentially a circular cross
section, it is in contact with the rim over its inner quarter circle.
At least this is a good representative model. The visualization may
be simpler if a tubular tire is considered. It makes no difference
whether the tire is held on by glue or is otherwise attaches to the
rim such as a clincher is. Either way the tire is attached to the
rim, a relatively rigid structure.

Under load, in the ground contact zone, the tire bulges so that two
effects reduce the downward pull (increase the net upward force) of
the casing. First, the most obvious one is that the casing pulls more
to the sides than downward (than it did in its unloaded condition);
the second is that the side wall tension is reduced. The reduction
arises from the relationship that unit casing tension is equivalent to
inflation pressure times the radius of curvature divided by pi. As
the curvature reduces when the tire bulges out, the casing tension
decreases correspondingly. The inflated tire supports the rim
primarily by these two effects.

Tire pressure changes imperceptibly when the tire is loaded because
the volume does not change appreciably. Besides, the volume change is
insignificant in small in comparison to the volume change the air has
undergone when being compressed into the tire. In that respect, it
takes several strokes of a frame pump to increase the pressure of a
tire from 100 psi to 101. The air has a low spring constant that acts
like a long soft spring that has been preloaded over a long stroke.
Small deflections do not change its force materially. For convenience
car and truck tires are regularly inflated to their proper pressure
before being mounted on the vehicle.


Subject: 8b.26 Making a tubular tire
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:04:39 PST

The tedious but simple process of hand made tubulars is not much
different from mechanized manufacture that automates many of the
steps. Tire casings are made of two crossed layers (plies) of
side-by-side cords that are not woven as cloth. An elastic binder
between the layers holds them together and for the high quality
tubular, that binder is latex rubber.

Fabric for tubular is made on a cylindrical drum about 2m long 20cm in
diameter, with a narrow 45 degree helical slot from end to end. A
single layer of thread (cords) is wound onto the rotating drum from
end to end and coated with latex solution. When dry, the unwoven
cloth is cut along the 45 degree slot with a razor to produce a 20cm
wide sheet (long trapezoid) of diagonal cords lying side-by-side at 45
degrees, held together only by the latex coating.

This band, when folded in half lengthwise, with partially cured latex
to the inside, will adhere to itself, and make a 10cm wide two ply
strip. Both edges of this strip are sheared to a desired casing
width. The ends of this cloth band expose single layer triangles that
exactly match each other when closed in a loop to make a seamless two
ply circular band, the tire casing. An 8mm wide selvage, through
which the tire closure seam will be stitched, is folded, glued and
sewn along both edges of the casing.

A yellow 0.4-0.8mm wall thickness latex tube, much like rubber
tourniquets used in blood clinics, is formed into a hoop with a 10mm
lap joint. A nickel plated brass Presta valve stem, with a 10mm
diameter, rib faced mushroom end, is inserted into a 3mm diameter hole
in the tube at its overlap and where it has been reinforced by a
20x40mm elliptical rubber with fabric backing reinforcement that
prevents extrusion when the nut is clamped. A rib-faced washer is
placed on the protruding stem, secured by a hex nut to produce the air

After laying the tube in the casing, a 20mm wide band of soft cloth is
sewn to the inside of both edges of the channel shaped casing to
prevent the tube from chafing against the main closure seam. The main
seam uses one of two common tire stitches. The two thread version
appears as an "X" pattern down the middle, while the other uses a
single thread diagonal loop and lock (zipper) stitch, both kinds are
biased and can change length with the casing. The seam is machine
sewn, beginning at the valve stem, and is manually finished when it
again reaches the stem.

A bias weave base tape with a20-30mm overlap near the position of the
stem is placed on a rim and given a coat of latex as is the tire that
is mounted on the rim and inflated. The outside of the inflated tire
is given a coat latex to which the tread that has also been primed
with latex is applied with a little stretch. The tire is complete.


Subject: 8b.27 Things to check after a flat
From: Toby Douglass
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 14:31:16 +0100

In the last two months I've had a serious spate of rear tube punctures -
about twenty and counting now.

I wanted to detail some of the things I've learned that aren't in the FAQ.

1. It's important to get your rim tape in *the right way up*. I had a
rubber rim tape which had an "up" face and a down face. The down face had
two raised edges to help it stay centered in the rim. With the down face
"up", the edges cut right into the tube and kept puncturing it. When this
happens, the puncture is a thin slit on the underside of the tube.

2. Don't use rubber rim tape for pressures over about 60 psi - it deforms
too much and eventually the buldge your tube forms pushing into the spoke
hole will rupture - this happened to me. When you examine the tube you'll
find little buldges which have permanently deformed the tube over the spoke
hole, and one of them will have a fairly large cut in, where the tube ruptured.

3. When you've got a new tyre and you're fitting it and a tube to a wheel,
put the tyre onto the wheel a couple of times, using tyre levers (you'll
probably have to!) to stretch the tyre a little - it'll help a lot.

4. When you've had a real puncture, and you're found a stone or somesuch
which has gone through the tyre, and you're removed the object - *look
again*. Sometimes a shard will have seperated from the object proper and
will still be in place - when you inflate the tyre and cycle again it'll
cause another puncture.


Subject: 8b.28 Mounting Tubular Tires
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 01:01:01 PST

Two kinds of glue are used to secure tubulars to rims, road and track,
the latter having become uncommon. Over the years many glues have
been available by: d'Alessandro, Clement, Continental, Michelin,
Vittoria, Wolber, Pastali, Tubasti, and others. With the decline of
tubular use, these brands have become so scarce that riders in the USA
turned to other sources, one of which was 3M Fastack (R) that compares
favorably with the others and cures faster than most.

Road tubulars preferably should have a rubberized base tape, one
coated with latex, to improve adhesion to pressure sensitive glues.
These glues behave similar to typical sticky tapes, sticking better to
slick surfaces than cloth, so that rubberized base tapes stick better
to partially dried rim cement than to bare cloth. Do not modify
tubular base tape with cleaning solvents because they affect rim
cement adversely. Track tubulars, to be glued with hardening
adhesive, should have bare cloth base tapes because shellac type track
glues adhere poorly to rubberized tape. Hardening glue is used on
track tires to avoid rolling losses typical of pressure sensitive rim

Because road tires are intended to be changed on the road, their glue
must be manually separable and reusable; it must be sticky. However,
being gooey, it allows the tire to squirm on the rim, which causes
rolling losses independent of inflation pressure. That road tires
move on the rim is apparent from the aluminum oxide (dark grey) that
invades rim cement during use and cloth textured wear marks from base
tape in the rim.

Mounting the Tire

Stretch the new tubular tire on an old rim, inflate hard and let stand
while applying cement to the rim on which the tire is to be mounted.
Rim cement dries fairly rapidly, some faster than others. If this is
a low viscosity rim glue, it may require more than one coat. Apply
additional coats when the previous one has become firm enough to not
draw strings when pressing the finger into it.

When a good coating (0.5mm) of rim glue has set enough to be firm to
the touch, deflate and remove the tire from the stretching rim and
mount it on the glued. With the wheel standing upright on the floor,
start by inserting the valve stem into the rim and stretch the tire,
pulling down with the hands to both sides away from the stem, working
around the rim until reaching the bottom with only a short section of
tire not yet in place. Lift the wheel and thumb the remaining section
onto the rim. Inflate the tire enough for it to take shape, centering
it on the rim before inflating hard.

Were the glue still soft and mobile, it would get on the sidewalls
while mounting the tire. Glue should be firm enough to not make a
mess. Because pressure sensitive glues are also thermally sensitive,
heat from braking, while descending montians, often melts rim glue
enough to make it flow from under the tire in contrast to hard (track)
glue. While track glue (Tipo Pista) is more cumbersome to use, it has
its benefits for heat but primarily for timed events where fractions
of a second make a difference.

Mounting track tires is done the same way as with road glue only that
it takes several coats of shellac, the last of which must not be
allowed to dry, so the bare cloth rim strip will be wet by the glue as
the tire is inflated. Mounting the tire cleanly is more difficult and
removing the tire sometimes requires tire irons.


Subject: 8b.29 Presta vs Schrader valves
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 14:42:55 -0800 (PST)

Many valve types have come along since the invention of the pneumatic
tire but for bicycles mainly Presta and Schrader remain in use. The
Presta valve is the more slender of the two and is slightly more
cumbersome to use, having a lock nut instead of a spring to ensure
closure. However, these two features have kept the Presta valve in
use on many bicycles.

In the past, sports and racing bicycles used Presta valves because
they are slender and enabled racers to inflate tires with a simple
pump with attached chuck (pump head) and no hose. Presta valves are
easier to pump than Schrader, because they have no valve spring to
overcome. Although a valve depressor for Schrader valves could
alleviate this, it would require a check valve, impractical to house
in lightweight pump heads.

The small diameter of the Presta valve requires a smaller hole in the
rim, whose size is important for narrow rims where cross sectional
strength of is significantly reduced by a stem hole. In narrow rims,
clincher tires also leave insufficient space between tire beads for
larger Schrader valves.

In contrast Schrader valves are more robust, universally used, and
have an easily removable core. Spring closure makes them simpler to
use because one needs only to press the inflation chuck onto them at
an automobile service station. For hand pumps, a screwed or lever
chuck provides the valve depressor. The depressor not only makes
inflation easier but is necessary to read back pressure in the tire.

Although Presta valves have been made with removable cores, demand is
so small that they are uncommon. Removable Presta cores can be
identified by two wrench flats on the coarse valve cap threads.


Subject: 8b.30 Valve stem separation flats
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

A flat caused by valve stem separation, a manufacturing flaw, is less
dangerous because it usually becomes apparent during inflation. If it
occurs while riding, it causes a slow leak as the vulcanized brass
stem gradually separates from the tube. When this occurs, the stem
can be pulled out of the tube entirely to leave a small hole into
which a valve stem from a latex tube of a tubular tire will fit.
Stems from tubulars have a mushroom end, a clamp washer, and a
locknut, that fit ideally into the hole left by stem separation. Such
a used stem should be part of a tire patch kit. Any good bicycle shop
that handles tubular tires or latex tubes should have used ones if
they weren't thrown away.

In a self accusative manner, riders often place blame for this failure
on errant inflation, the use of the anchor nut on the stem, or some
other feature of the rim that they failed to ameliorate. On close
inspection, separated stems show that the rubber peeled away leaving
only a slight black trace on the stem where the leak began. This
isn't caused by any of the usually believed mechanisms. It is a
manufacturing flaw.


Subject: 8c Tech Wheels


Subject: 8c.1 Stress Relieving Spokes
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 17:13:28 PST

I wonder if "stress-relieving" is entirely correct? I see it as a
yielding/hardening process, in which the yield load is increased by
embedding the spoke elbow in the hub, bending the elbow to a
different angle, etc. When unloaded from a high load, this area of
the spoke should be more or less elastic.

So I think the term should be "overloading" or "hardening" -- any

Yes. It appears that the process of stress relieving is obscure to
many if not most people, because after seeming to have made it clear,
comments like the above surface. Spokes are cold formed from wire
that is (at least DT) as hard and work hardened as it can become.
Tensioning does not further harden spokes, there being no plastic
deformation. Besides, wire ductility is important in both forming
spokes and in use.

The coiled wire from which spokes are made is straightened by running
it first between rollers staggered in X and then in Y, the wire moving
in the Z direction. Reverse bending acts as a degausser, having ever
diminishing excursions that affect ever shallower depths of the wire.
This stress relieves the wire while removing the curl of being shipped
in a coil. If it had no curl, releasing its free end on the spool
would allow it to uncoil explosively into a huge birds nest.

Wire is cut into suitable lengths, the first operation being to cold
form a spoke head onto one end with one axial blow of a die, after
which the spoke is cut to a specific length before rolling the thread
and bending a 100 degree elbow.

Threads, head, and elbow, contain metal that was plastically deformed
(beyond yield) as well as metal that was elastically deformed, each
having elastic memory. In these transitions, parts that yielded and
ones that did not conflict, each wanting to return to or stay in a
different shape. This is why a spoke bent by hand springs back only
partially when released.

On lacing spokes into a wheel, elbows are often additionally bent
(brought to yield), thus remaining at or exceeding yield stress during
tensioning. Threads also have internal tensile stress besides local
compressive stress at the threads. The thread core is already in
tension from the lengthening effect of thread rolling and its stress
only increases with tensioning.

Therefore, spokes in a newly built wheel have locations where stress
is near yield, some more so than others. Because fatigue endurance of
a metal at or near the yield stress is short, cyclic loads in such
spokes will cause failures at high stress points. In normal use, a
wheel only unloads spokes, but with spokes near yield, even these
stress cycles readily cause fatigue failures. Only the lightest
riders on smooth roads might be spared failures with a wheel whose
spokes have not been stress relieved.

Stress relieving to relax these high stress points is accomplished by
over-stressing them in order to erase their memory. It is not done to
bed the spokes into the hub, as is often stated. Bedding-in occurs
sufficiently from tension. However, stretching spoke pairs with a
strong grasp at midspan, can momentarily increased tension by 50% to
100%. Because spokes are usually tensioned no higher than 1/3 their
yield stress, this operation has no effect on the spoke as a whole,
affecting only the small high stress zones where spokes are near
yield. By stretching them, these zones relax below yield by as much
as the overload.

Stress relieving with a light grasp of spoke pairs is worthless, as is
bouncing the wheel or bending it in a partially opened drawer.
Pressing axially on the hub, while supporting the rim, requires a
force larger than is manually possible but is effective for spoking
machines (except the left side rear spokes that would collapse the
rim). Another not recommend method, is laying the wheel on the floor
and walking on it with tennis shoes, carefully stepping on each pair
of crossed spokes. The method works but bends the rim and is
difficult to control.

It is STRESS RELIEVING! Even though people insist on calling it
pre-stressing or seating-in. The wheel is already prestressed when

Jobst Brandt


Subject: 8c.2 Anodized vs. Non-anodized Rims
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 15:31:32 PDT

Dark anodized rims were introduced a few years ago as a fashionable
alternative to shiny metal finish, possibly as a response to non
metallic composites. Some of these rims were touted as HARD anodized
implying greater strength. Hard anodizing of aluminum, in contrast to
cosmetic anodizing, produces a porous ceramic oxide that forms in the
surface of the metal, as much as 1/1000 inch thick, about half below
the original surface and half above. It is not thick enough to affect
the strength of the rim but because it is so rigid, acts like a thin
coat of paint on a rubber band. The paint will crack as the rubber
stretches before any load is carried by the rubber. Similarly,
anodizing cracks before the aluminum carries any significant load.

Rims are made from long straight extrusions that are rolled into
helical hoops from which they are cut to length. Rims are often
drilled and anodized before being rolled into a hoop and therefore,
the anodizing is already crazed when the rim is made. Micro-cracks in
thick (hard) anodizing can propagate into the metal as a wheel is
loaded with every revolution to cause whole sections of the rim to
break out at its spoke sockets. In some rims, whole sidewalls have
separated through the hollow chamber so that the spokes remained
attached to the inner hoop and the tire on the outer one. In
contrast, colored anodizing is generally too thin to initiate cracks.

As an example, Mavic MA-2 rims have rarely cracked except on tandems,
while the identical MA-40 rims, with a relativley thin anodizing, have
cracked often.

Anodizing is also a thermal and electrical insulator. Because heat is
generated in the brake pads and not the rim, braking energy must flow
into the rim to be dissipated to the atmosphere. Anodizing, although
relatively thin, impedes this heat transfer and reduces braking
efficiency by raising the surface temperature of the brakes. When
braking in wet conditions, road grit wears off anodizing on the
sidewall, an effect that improves braking.

Anodizing is not heat treatment and has no effect on the structural
properties of the aluminum.


Subject: 8c.3 Reusing Spokes
From: Jobst Brandt

I just bent my wheel and am probably going to need a new one
built. Can I reuse my old, 3 months, spokes in the new wheel.
The guy at the shop gave me some mumbo jumbo about tensioning or

There is no reason why you should not reuse the spokes of your
relatively new wheel. The reason a bike shop would not choose to do
this is that they do not know the history of your spokes and do not
want to risk their work on unknown materials. If you are satisfied
that the spokes are good quality you should definitely use them for
you new wheel. The spokes should, however, not be removed from the
hub because they have all taken a set peculiar to their location, be
that inside or outside spokes. The elbows of outside spokes, for
instance, have an acute angle while the inside spokes are obtuse.

There are a few restrictions to this method, such as that new rim
must have the same effective diameter as the old, or the spokes will
be the wrong length. The rim should also be the same "handedness"
so that the rim holes are offset in the correct direction. This is
not a fatal problem because you can advance the rim one hole so that
there is a match. The only problem is that the stem will not fall
between parallel spokes as it should for pumping convenience.

Take a cotton swab and dab a little oil in each spoke socket of the
new rim before you begin. Hold the rims side by side so that the
stem holes are aligned and note whether the rim holes are staggered
in the same way. If not line the rim up so they are. Then unscrew
one spoke at a time, put a wipe of oil on the threads and engage it
in the new rim. When they are all in the new rim you proceed as you
would truing any wheel. Details of this are in a good book on
building wheels.

The reason you can reuse spokes is that their failure mode is
fatigue. There is no other way of causing a fatigue failure than to
ride many thousand miles (if your wheel is properly built). A crash
does not induce fatigue nor does it even raise tension in spokes
unless you get a pedal between them. Unless a spoke has a kink that
cannot be straightened by hand, they can all be reused.


Subject: 8c.4 Ideal Wheel Sizes
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

I'm getting a custom frame built and wondered what people thought of
using 26 inch road wheels. Smaller wheels ought to be lighter and

....and goes on to list advantages and disadvantages that aren't as
clear as the writer assumes. The main reasons for using 700c or 27"
wheels, the common sizes for most adult bicycles is better understood
by smaller riders who have a hard time fitting these wheels into their
smaller bicycle frames. On the other hand, the larger the wheel the
better the ride by averaging road roughness. Riders who encounter
cattle guards can best explain this. Don't try that with roller

Cross sectional area of the rim limits total tension of its spoke
complement, whose individual spoke tension limits how much weight the
wheel can support. Two to four spokes near the ground contact point
of the average wheel support the load at any moment. For this reason,
larger wheels would require more spokes that would require a heavier
rim to withstand total tension of a greater number of spokes.

It seems to me that the most obvious reason for using 27" wheels is
tradition, but I'm not sure the advantages make it worth trying to
swim upstream. What do you think?

Fortunately "standard" wheel size was arrived upon in days when
economics played a role and produced a design that optimized many
aspects of performance, weight and economy. Hub width was one of
these criteria because as the wheel gets larger the hub must become
wider to offer reasonable lateral stability. Today much money is
spent by people who want the best, or at least better than their peers
without consideration of durability and safety. Riders often buy
exotic wheels spending more than double than what would serve them
best. Most of these wheels offer no advantage other than that a
famous racer won a major race on them.

If enough riders ask for 24", 25" and 26" wheels, manufacturers will
increase prices as their product lines expand, total sales remaining
constant. Tires and spokes would follow as a whole range of sizes
that were not previously stocked become part of inventory. Meanwhile,
bike frames will come in different configurations to take advantage of
the special wheel sizes. Sizes whose advantages are imperceptibly
small but are touted by riders who talk of seconds saved in their last
race or while riding to work.

Fat tired wheels generally use 26" rims that give the same outside
diameter of the 700c road wheel. The wheel size we ride today was not
an idly chosen compromise.


Subject: 8c.5 Tied and Soldered Wheels
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1996 15:09:03 PST

While writing "the Bicycle Wheel", to conclusively determine what
effect tying and soldering of spoke crossings in a wheel had, I asked
Wheelsmith to loan me an untied pair of standard 36 spoke rear wheels,
on on Campagnolo low and high flange hubs. I had an inner body of a
freewheel machined with flats so that a wheel could be clamped into
the vise of a Bridgeport milling machine while the left end of its
axle was held in the quill.

With the hub rigidly secured, with its axle vertical, dial gauges were
mounted at four equally spaced locations on the machine bed to measure
rim deflections as a 35lb weight was sequentially hung on the wheel at
these positions. The deflections were recorded for each location and
averaged for each wheel before and after tying and soldering spokes.

The wheels were also measured for torsional rigidity in the same
fixture, by a wire anchored in the valve hole and wrapped around the
rim so that a 35 lb force could be applied tangential to the rim.
Dial gauges located at two places 90 degrees apart in the quadrant
away from the applied load were used to measure relative rotation
between the wheel and hub.

Upon repeating the measurements after tying and soldering the spokes,
no perceptible change, other than random measurement noise of a few
thousandths of an inch, was detected. The spokes were tied and
soldered by Wheelsmith who did this as a regular service. The data
was collected by an engineer who did not know what I expected to find.
I set up the experiment and delivered the wheels.


Subject: 8c.6 Machined rims
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Sun, 26 Jan 2003 19:57:48 -0800 (PST)

Just wondering if it really makes any difference. Some
manufacturers don't even advertise whether the sidewalls are
machined; others do. Velocity for example, makes both, but I
believe they're the same price. What gives? Just marketing hype?

What you hear and read is mostly marketing hyperbole, but machining
rims has its reason, and it isn't for your benefit. If you inspect a
machined rim closely, you'll find a surface that looks as though made
by a thread cutting tool. The purpose is not to get a flat braking
surface, but rather to produce a series of fine grooves to prevent
brake squeal on new bicycle test rides.

The machined grooves, about the texture of LP vinyl record grooves,
can be felt by running a fingernail across the rim. These fine
grooves usually wear off on the first braking descent in wet weather,
the condition that causes rim wear in the first place. Even
anodizing, which is a hard ceramic, whether thick or thin, is more
durable than the machined rim. However, anodizing is not the solution
to wear, because it degrades braking. Anodizing being an insulator
that overheats brake pads and causes brake fade.

The claim that machining is for purposes other than suppressing brake
squeal is far fetched. For instance, rim joints have been made with
no perceptible discontinuity almost as long as aluminum rims have been
made. Unfortunately, some people in marketing believe that rims will
separate if not riveted (or welded) and introduced riveting that
usually distorts rim joints. Fortunately, that rims were made for
many years without rivets and had flawless joints proves otherwise.

In practice, machining solves the new-rim squeal problem at the cost
of a rim wall of unknown thickness. It also adds a bit of sparkle to
the new product by giving rainbow reflections in showrooms. Mavic,
for instance, has rims listed as having "CERAMIC2", "SUP, "CD", "UB",
MAXTAL", all features that substantially increase cost over plain
aluminum rims that were offered at about 1/4 the price not long ago.

The web site explains that "CERAMIC2" is an insulator that improves
braking even though the rim is "UB" machined, ostensibly for the same
purpose, before ceramic coating. This is a tipoff, because without
special brake pads, this feature overheats pads causing them to wear
rapidly while degrading performance. Not mentioned is that it's main
purpose is to reduce rim wear in wet and gritty conditions.


Subject: 8c.7 Wheel Bearing adjustment
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2003 12:21:02 -0800 (PST)

Bicycle wheel bearings, as most, require a slight preload so that more
than one ball under the cone (inner race) will support its load. With
proper preload, slight drag should be perceptible. Preload drag is
small compared to drag caused by wheel loads, neither of which are
significant regardless of adjustment. In contrast bearing life is
affected by proper adjustment. Adjusting ball bearings to spin freely
unloaded does not reduce operating friction because a bearing with
proper preload has lower drag when loaded than one with clearance.
For high quality bearings, preload should be just enough to cause
light drag when rotating the axle between thumb and forefinger. Low
grade bearings will feel slightly lumpy with proper preload.

Wheels with quick release (QR) axles present an additional problem in
that closing the QR alters bearing clearance. Closing the lever
requires increasing manual force with a slight over-center feel near
the end of the stroke. This lever force arises from compressing the
hollow axle and stretching the skewer. The ratio of elastic length
change between axle and skewer is that of their cross sectional area
and active lengths.

Although small, axle compression on QR hubs is large enough to alter
bearing clearance and should be considered when adjusting bearings.
Bearings should be adjusted just loose enough so that closing the QR
leaves the bearing with a slight preload. Excessive preload from QR
closure is the cause of most wheel bearing failures not caused by
water intrusion. Clearance, in contrast can be felt as disconcerting
rattle when encountering road roughness.

To test for proper adjustment, install the wheel and wiggle the rim
side-to-side to determine that there is no clearance (rattle), then
let the wheel rotate freely to a stop. If the wheel halts with a
short (indexed) oscillation, bearing preload is too high.

Although adjusting QR force is a safety consideration, it is also one
of bearing life. It should be kept at a constant level once the
desired closure force has been determined. Rear vertical dropouts
require a lower and more predictable closure force than was formerly
required with axles that could move forward from chain tension.
Because vertical dropouts do not rely on friction to resist chain
load, many hubs now have smooth faced jam nuts that do not damage
dropout faces as older knurl faced ones did.


Subject: 8c.8 Wheels for Heavy Riders

Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2003 00:08:48 -0700

Some heavy riders get poor service from mainstream wheels. Common
durability problems include wheels that go out of true and broken
spokes. Common strength problems include wheel collapse broken rear
axles, and broken ratchet mechanism. A ``better'' wheel improves
durability and/or strength.

Variations in wheel use and budget make it hard to make general
recommendations. However, here are some things that can help build a
stronger or more durable wheel:

- A stiffer rim improves wheel strength and spoke durability by sharing
the load among more spokes. Rim stiffness is increased by using a
wider rim and is also improved by using a deeper rim. It is clear
that a wider rim will build a stronger wheel; however, a deep rim is
radially stiffer, which shares the load among more spokes and thus
makes the wheel laterally stronger. Thus, using a deep-section rim
can improve lateral wheel strength and spoke lifetime, and can also
reduce the frequency of wheel re-truing.

- All other things equal, a heavy rim is stronger. It is also stiffer,
and rim stiffness improves wheel strength. However, rim shape has a
dramatic effect on stiffness, and many heavy rims do not have a good
shape for building strong or durable wheels. In particular, many
heavy rims are not very deep. For many uses, a lighter deep-section
rim builds a better wheel than a heavier but shallow rim.

- For ``dished'' wheels, use a rim with offset spoke holes. The rim
should face so the holes are as close as possible to being centered
between the flanges. Although offset rims move the nipple position
only a few millimetres, with highly dished wheels the change is a
substantial percentage of the dish. Reduced dish improves spoke
bracing angles which improves wheel strength; allows higher tension
on the low-tension spokes which reduces the rate of re-truing; and
may allow higher overall spoke tension, which improves wheel

- On front wheels, use hubs with wide flange spacing. Wide-spaced
flanges may be as much as 1cm wider than standard flange spacing, and
some aerodynamic hubs space the flanges as much as 1cm closer
together than standard hubs. Wider flange spacing improves the spoke
bracing angle and thus improves lateral wheel strength. It may
also reduce the rate at which wheels need to be re-trued.

- Center the rear hub by using a narrow sprocket cluster. Wide
clusters use space on the right and thus push the flanges to the
left; such asymmetry is called ``dish''. Dish hurt the bracing
angle of the spokes coming from the flange which is closer to the
center line. Dish also forces different left and right spoke
tension. The spokes with lower tension are more likely to go slack
under load, which weakens the wheel and make truing more frequent.
The spokes with higher tension may pull the nipples through the rim
before the rim's compressive load strength is reached, thus limiting
overall spoke tension for the wheel. Reduced overall spoke tension
further weakens the wheel and makes retruing yet more frequent.

Narrower clusters reduce dish. As of 2003, Five-sprocket and narrow
six clusters are largely unavailable. 6-sprocket and narrow seven
clusters are available, but mostly in lower-priced products. Some
are good products, but some may be less durable. Eight and
nine-sprocket clusters use the same spacing; they get nine in the
same space by using thinner material for the sprockets and chain.
Nine-speed equipment has a reputation for breaking and may be
unsuitable for riders who already have component durability

It is sometimes possible to build a 7-speed hub by bolting a
replacement 7-speed body on to a new 8-speed hub. Some people
retrofit 8 out of 9 sprockets of a 9-speed on to a 7-speed freehub
body; but doing so may cause poor reliability due to the thinner
sprockets and chains.

- Center the rear hub by using a wider dropout spacing. Centering has
the benefits listed above. Common dropout spacings range from 120mm
to 135mm and some tandems use 140mm and winder. If you have the
luxury to select the frame, get a wider spacing, but beware of
possible heel clearance and crank width issues with wider spacing.
If you have a steel frame it may be possible to spread the stays by
5mm. Beware that spreading requires special tools and skills to
avoid frame damage. Aluminum, titainum, and carbon frames cannot
typically be spread without damage. Note that simply ``stretching''
the frame to fit over a wider hub may cause gradual frame damage.
Spreading the frame requires a longer hub axle. Many hubs are
offered in various widths but make sure you have the right parts in
hand when the frame is spread.

- Use a rear hub with a tandem-rated ratchet mechanism. Many
``racing'' quality hubs are designed for low weight and are no
stronger -- and are sometimes weaker -- than mainstream components.

- Use a rear hub with an oversize axle. Freewheel hubs are available
with steel axles of 17mm. Freehubs are available in two general
styles, see the FAQ ``Cassette or Freewheel Hubs'' section. The type
labeled Hugi/Campagnolo needs a much larger axle; the type labeled
Shimano/SunTour does not need as large an axle. Most modern (2003)
freehubs have adequate axles even for heavy riders, but some older
ones are inadequate and new designs often bring new weaknesses.

- Use a large number of spokes. Most sizes of wheels can be built up
to 48 spokes. Note that there is less selection in high-spoke-count
hubs and rims, and parts often cost more. The benefit of many spokes
is partly limited by the rim strength: a large number of spokes may
require lower tension on each spoke to avoid collapsing the rim.
Thus, a very strong rim is required to realize the full benefit of
using many spokes.

- Use high spoke tension. High spoke tension improves radial and
lateral wheel strength, improves spoke durability, and reduces the
rate at which spokes loosen and let the wheel go out of true.
Maximum spoke tension varies from rim to rim and, unfortunately,
makers do not typically publish a recommended tension. As of 2003,
I have seen only one rim which listed spoke tension. Thus, tension
must be discovered in the manner described in _The Bicycle
Wheel_ [Brandt]. Although this procedure allows you to set tension
for a given rim, it is done as part of building the wheel, which
keeps you from choosing rims based on strength.

- Stress-relieve the spokes. Spokes are prone to break unless they are
stress-relieved after wheel building. Stress-relieving is described
in _The Bicycle Wheel_ [Brandt]. Stress relieving is also summarized
in the wheels section of the FAQ (``Stress Relieving Spokes'').

- Use swaged (``butted''; thinner in the center) spokes. The elbow and
threads take high loads and should be of thicker material; the center
should be slightly thinner so most stretching takes place in the
center section, thus reducing elbow and thread failures. Using
swaged spokes also reduces rim cracking at the spoke hole.

- Choose spokes according to the type of wheel failure. If spoke or
rim eyelet durability is a problem, use lighter spokes. It may seem
odd to solve breaking problems by going to a lighter spoke; but
spokes are run at 1/2 their yield strength or less, so do not break
from overload. Instead, they fail from gradual degradation caused by
repeated stretching and relaxing of the metal. Lighter spokes cause
the wheel load to be shared among more spokes, reducing the loads on
each spoke and thus improving spoke lifetime. A similar mechanism
can damage rims at the eylet, and lighter spokes can therefore also
help reduce rim damage. Note that using more spokes and a rim with
greater radial stiffness also helps spoke and rim bed durability.

- If wheel collapse is a problem, use thicker spokes. Note that very
thick spokes (2.3mm) will not fit in some hubs. Beware that using
thick spokes may hurt spoke and rim bed durability. Note that using
more spokes and using a rim with greater radial stiffness and greater
lateral strength and stiffness can also reduce wheel collapse.

- Use brass (not aluminum) nipples. Aluminum nipples also break more
often, especially at high spoke tensions. Brass nipples allow
periodic adjustment with less chance of wheel damage. Aluminum
nipples tend to sieze and gall.

With thse considerations in mind, here are some specific

(1) Fix the existing wheels.

In my experience, most wheels are under-tensioned, even those built by
many reputable shops. Many problems with existing wheels can be solved
by simply truing the wheel, raising the spoke tension to an appropriate
level for the rim, and by stress-relieving the spokes. A conventional
wheel can then give good service for many heavy riders.

Unfortunately, manufacturers do not rate rims for spoke tension (I have
seen only one rim that was marked or rated), so it is necessary to
gradually overtension the wheel and then back off, as described in _The
Bicycle Wheel_ [Brandt].

Beware that many mechanics are unfamiliar with tensioning and stress
relieving procedures, or claim familiarity but do not perform them
correctly. Thus, while there are also many mechanics do it right, you
cannot assume the mechanics know what they are doing. Familiarize
yourself with the tensioning and stress-relieving proeceudres, then
interview the mechanic who would repair your wheel, and ask them to
explain in detail how they determine proper spoke tension and how they
stress-relieve the spokes. If they deviate from the standard procedure,
there is a good chance they are missing something important.

Note also that a shop or particular mechanic may have a history of
satisfied customers and yet still build wheels with low spoke tension
and/or improper stress relieving. This can occur because low tension
and lack of stress relieving are less important for average riders, so
such wheels may not lead to customer returns.

(2) Use a deep-section rim.

The simplest and probably cheapest change is to use a deep-section rim.
Here, ``deep'' means at least 30mm. A deep-section rim allows you to
reuse your existing hub and/or buy inexpensive ``mainstream'' hubs, yet
a deep-section rim builds a wheel which is dramatically stronger and
more durable than a wheel built with a shallower rim.

Deep-section rims also give better rim brake cooling, which may be
important for heavy riders in hilly areas. Painted rims should be
avoided if cooling is a concern; color anodizing does not hurt cooling.

Fortunately, deep-section rims are available from several makers in most
common sizes (20", 650C, 26", 700C).

For dished wheels, given a choice between a deep rim and a rim with
offset spoke holes, I do not have data about which is better. My
intuition tells me that an off-center rim is probably more imporant the
steeper the dish. So, for example, an off-center rim might build a
stronger wheel for a 10-speed cluster in a 130mm dropout, while a
deep-section rim might build a stronger wheel for an 8-speed cluster in
a 135 dropout.

(3) Use more spokes; use lightweight spokes.

All other things equal more spokes builds a stronger and more durable
wheel. However, a deep-section rim is of sufficient benefit that if you
are forced to use a shallower rim in order to get more spokes, it may be
the same either way. With many spokes (e.g., 48), it is relatively easy
to overload the rim while the tension of each spoke is still low. A
stiffer rim allows a greater spoke tension, so a deep-section rim still
helps to build a strong wheel. Using more spokes allows the use of
lighter spokes, which increases spoke and rim bed durability.

(4) Avoid ``trendy'' solutions.

When discussing strong wheels, special techniques often come up. For
example: asymmetrical lacing, straight-pull spokes, paired or crossed
spokes, alternative spoke materials, and so on. For any given weight of
wheel, these approaches have not demonstrated measurable stiffness or
strength benefits in any tests I know of. In addition, they are
typically only available in low spoke count wheels anyway. Finally,
trendy solutions are typically more expensive. Thus, the best value
wheels are typically built using standard components.

Jobst Brandt, ``The Bicycle Wheel''. Avocet Press; 3rd edition,
October 1998.


Subject: 8d Tech Chains


Subject: 8d.1 Lubricating Chains

Lubricating chains is a somewhat religious issue. Some advocate oil,
some Teflon-base lubricants, some paraffin wax. The net majority favors
a lubricant that does not leave an oily coating on the chain that can
attract dirt, which will hasten chain/chainring/freewheel sprocket wear.

If you want to use paraffin wax, make sure you melt the wax in a double
boiler! Failure to do so can lead to a fire. You can use a coffee
can in a pan of boiling water if you don't want to mess up good cookware.
After the wax has melted, put the chain in the wax and simmer for 10
minutes or so. Remove the chain, hang it up, and wipe the excess wax
off. Let it cool and reinstall on your bike.

When using a liquid lubricant, you want to get the lube onto the pins
inside the rollers on the chains, not on the outside where it does little
good. Oilers with the narrow tubes are good for this because you can put
the lube where you want it. Work the oil into the chain after applying
it, wipe the chain off, and reinstall on your bike.

A good discussion of chain maintenance is at



Subject: 8d.2 Chain cleaning and lubrication; wear and skipping
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 17:40:52 -0800 (PST)

Chain wear and care evokes never ending discussions, especially for
new bicyclists who are not happy with this dirtiest of bicycle parts.
This leads to the first problem, of whether there is a best (and
cleanest) way to care for a chain. There are several ways to take
care of a chain of which some traditional methods are the most
damaging to the chain and others work to prolong its life.

That grease on a new chain, fresh out of the package, is not a
lubricant but rather a preservative that must be removed, thrives in
bicycling myth and lore. This is nonsense because chains are used as
they are by manufacturers who ship bicycles ready to use. They can
order chains with any desired lubricant and this is what they use. If
there is too much on the chain, it can be wiped off.

At the outset the term "chain stretch" is technically wrong and
misleading. Chains do not stretch, in the dictionary sense, by
elongating the metal through tension. They lengthen because their
hinge pins and sleeves wear which is caused almost exclusively by road
grit that enters the chain when oiled. Grit sticks to the outside of
a chain in the ugly black stuff that can get on ones leg, but external
grime has little functional effect, being on the outside where it does
the chain no harm. Only when a dirty chain is oiled, or has excessive
oil on it, can this grit move inside to causes damage. Commercial
abrasive grinding paste is made of oil and silicon dioxide (sand) and
silicon carbide (sand). You couldn't do it better if you tried to
destroy a chain, than to oil it when dirty.

Primitive rule #1: Never oil a chain on the bike.

This means the chain should be cleaned of grit before oiling, and
because this is practically impossible without submerging the chain in
a solvent bath (kerosene or commercial solvent), it must be taken off
the bicycle. Devices with rotating brushes, that can be clamped on
the chain on the bicycle, do a fair job but are messy and do not
prevent fine grit from becoming suspended in the solvent. External
brushing or wiping moves grit out of sight, but mainly into the
openings in the chain where subsequent oiling will carry it inside.

Do not use gasoline because it is explosive and contains toxic light
petroleum fractions that penetrate skin. Removing the chain from the
bicycle isn't always possible. There are times (after riding in the
rain) when a chain screams for oil and good cleaning is impractical.
In that case rule #1 may be violated for humanitarian reasons.
However, only an internally clean chain squeaks, so it isn't as bad as
it sounds. Also, water is a moderately good lubricant, but it
evaporates soon after the rain stops.

Removing solvent from the chain after rinsing is important.
Compressed air is not readily available in the household nor is a
centrifuge. Manually slinging the chain around outdoors works best if
the chain is a closed loop but without pressing the pin completely in.
The other way is to evaporate it. Accelerated drying methods by
heating should be avoided, because they can be explosive.

Lubricating the chain with hot 90W gear lube works but it is also
efficient fly paper, collecting plenty of hardpack between sprockets
and on the outside of the chain. Motor oil is far better, but
motorcycle chain and chainsaw lubricants are better yet, because they
have volatile solvents that allow good penetration for their
relatively viscous lubricant. Paraffin (canning wax), although clean,
works poorly because it is not mobile and cannot replenish the bearing
surfaces once it has been displaced. This becomes apparent with any
water that gets on the chain. It immediately squeaks.

Swaged bushing chains

Sedis was the first with its Sedisport (five element) chain to
introduce swaged bushings, formed into the side plates, to replace
(six element) chains with full width steel bushings on which the
rollers and pins bear. Although stronger and lighter than prior
chains, the five element chain achieves its light weight at the
expense of durability. These chains, now the only derailleur chains
available, have only vestigial sleeves in the form of short collars on
the side plates to support the roller on the outside and the link pin
on the inside. This design is both lighter and stronger because the
side plates need not have the large hole for insertion of sleeves.

Pins inside full bushings of (six element) chains were well protected
against lubricant depletion because both ends were covered by closely
fitting side plates. Some motorcycle chains have O-ring seals at each
end. In the swaged bushing design there is no continuous tube because
the side plates are formed to support the roller and pin on a collar
with a substantial central gap. In the wet, lubricant is quickly
washed out of pin and roller and the smaller bearing area of the
swaged bushing for the pin and roller easily gall and bind when
lubrication fails. Although this is not a problem for this type of
chain when dry it has feet of clay in the wet.

Chain Life

Chain life is almost entirely a cleanliness and lubrication question
rather than a load problem. For bicycles the effect of load
variations is insignificant compared to the lubricant and grit
effects. For example, motorcycle primary chains, operated under oil
in clean conditions, last as much as 100,000 miles while exposed rear
chains must be replaced often.

The best way to determine whether a chain is worn is by measuring its
length. A new chain has a half inch pitch with a pin at exactly every
half inch. As the pins and sleeves wear, this spacing increases,
concentrating more load on the last tooth of engagement, changing the
tooth profile. When chain pitch grows over one half percent, it is
time for a new chain. At one percent, sprocket wear progresses
rapidly because this length change occurs only between pin and sleeve
so that it is concentrated on every second pitch; the pitch of the
inner link containing the rollers remaining constant. By holding a
ruler along the chain on the bicycle, align an inch mark with a pin
and see how far off the mark the pin is at twelve inches. An eighth
of an inch (0.125) is one percent, twice the sixteenth limit that is a
prudent time for a new chain.

Skipping Chain

Sprockets do not change pitch when they wear, only their tooth form
changes. The number of teeth and base circle remain unchanged by
normal sprocket wear.

A new chain often will not freely engage a worn rear sprocket under
load even though it has the same pitch as the chain. This occurs
because the previous (worn and elongated) chain formed pockets higher
on each tooth (a larger pitch diameter) than an in pitch chain
describes. This wear occurs because a worn chain rides high on the
teeth. A chain with correct pitch cannot enter the pockets when its
previous roller bears the previous tooth, because the pocket has an
overhang that prevents entry.

Without a strong chain tensioner or a non derailleur bicycle, the
chain has insufficient force on its slack run to engage a driven
sprocket. In contrast, engagement of a driving sprocket, the crank
sprocket, generally succeeds even with substantial tooth wear, because
the drive tension forces engagement.

However, worn teeth on a driving sprocket cause "chainsuck", the
failure of the chain to disengage. This occurs more easily with a
long arm derailleur, common to most MTB's, that is one reason this
occurs less with road racing bicycles, that experience a noisy
disengagement instead.

In contrast a worn chain will not run on a new driving sprocket. This
is less apparent because new chainwheels are not often used with an
old chain. In contrast to a driven (rear) sprocket the chain enters
the driving (front) sprocket under tension, where the previous chain
links pull it into engagement. However, because a used chain has a
longer pitch than the sprocket, previous rollers bear almost no load
and allow the incoming chain link to climb the ramp of the tooth, each
successive link riding higher than the previous until the chain jumps.
The pockets in a used sprocket are small but they change the pressure
angle of the teeth enough to cause skipping.

Jobst Brandt


Subject: 8d.3 Adjusting Chain Length
From: Bob Fishell

For all Shimano SIS and Hyperglide systems, the chain is sized by shifting to
the smallest rear cog and the largest front sprocket, then sizing the
chain so that the derailleur pulleys are on a vertical line, or as close
as you can get to it. Note that this will result in the same chain length
for any freewheel within the capacity of the derailleur, so it usually is
not necessary to re-size the chain for a different cogset with these systems.

The other rule I've used (friction systems) involves shifting to the largest
chainring and the largest rear cog, then sizing the chain so that the pulleys
are at a 45 degree angle to the ground.

The rules probably vary from derailleur to derailleur. In general,
you may use the capacity of the rear derailleur cage as a guideline. You
want the chain short enough so the cage can take up the slack in the
smallest combination of chainwheel and rear cog you will use. The chain
must also be long enough so that the cage still has some travel in the
largest combination you will use.

For example, if you have a 42x52 crank and a 13x21 freewheel, the smallest
combination you would use would be a 42/14 (assuming you don't use the
diagonal). If the cage can take up the slack in this combo, it's short enough.
If the cage has spring left when you are in the 52/19 combo (again, you are
not using the diagonal), it's long enough.


Subject: 8d.4 Hyperglide chains

For those of you that are tired of dealing with Shimano's
chains with the special pins, I've found that the following
chains work well with Shimano Hyperglide gearing systems:

DID SuperShift
Sedis ATB
Union 800
Union 915

The SuperShift is probably the best performer of the bunch,
followed by the ATB and 915. The 800 doesn't do too well
with narrow cogsets (i.e., 8-speeds) because the raised
elliptical bumps on the side-plates tend to rub on the adjacent

I've also found that these chains work well on SunTour systems.
The 915, however, works better on PowerFlo cogs than it does
on regular (AccuShift) cogs (where it tends to slip when shifting).


Subject: 8d.5 SACHS Power-links
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 15:38:14 PDT

The SACHS Power-link, can be separated easily alone but not when in a
chain. The link is designed not to open by axial compression alone,
typically when a new chain is used on worn sprockets, where skipping
over teeth can cause inertial compression by the trailing chain. To
prevent this occurrence, a recess around the head of the stepped pin
makes more than a half circle, preventing the pin from sliding in its
slot. That means the side plates of the link must be pressed
together, taking up side clearance, to raise the head of the sliding
pin above this retention.

To open the chain, find the link, make an upside down U-shape of the
chain with the link as the cross bar, the adjacent chain hanging down,
grasp the link diagonally with pliers across the the corners to which
the pins are fixed, not the corners with the keyhole slot. Pushing
the side plates together assists removal but is not essential, the
diagonal force having a lateral compressive component.

Before using a Power-link, put it together to see why it does not
readily slide from closed to open position. Road grit makes this even
more difficult.


Subject: 8d.6 Chain cleaning
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2003 09:34:37 -0700

Here is a specific procedure for cleaning a chain. There may be better
procedures; please contribute. Note that the best cleaning procedure
will vary with the kind of chain lubricant and the riding environment.

* Basic Equipment and Procedure

I use three jars (old pizza sauce jars) each about a litre labeled
``dirty'' ``clean'', and ``rinse''. The first two are filled with
kerosene; the third with paint thinner. I also have an old tin can
labeled ``waste'', two solvent-resistant bowls each about two litres
(damaged saucepans), an old toothbrush, a paintbrush about 5cm wide, a
wooden stick, and a pair of chemical-resistant gloves. I bought about
four litres of each solvent and green chemical-resistant gloves at a
hardware store for about US$15.

The golves keep you from poisoning yourself and also keep your food from
tasting like kerosene; I wear them throughout the following procedure.

Note that even ``safer'' solvents are easy to set on fire accidentally.
Using them in a well-ventilated and/or cold area reduces the hazard.

The basic producedure is to wash a chain first in the dirty kerosene,
then in the clean kerosene, then in the paint thinner to remove residual
kerosene, then air-dry the chain. Kerosene does not evaporate well; if
you skip the paint thinner rinse you'll have an oily film of kerosene
even if you let the chain dry a long time.

When you wash the chain you want to remove the gunk on the outside. You
also want to move the chain around a lot in the solvent bath so that you
wash out the gunk which is trapped inside. I scrub the outside fairly
enthusiastically using the paint brush and toothbrush. I also stir the
chain around in the bowl fairly vigorously to clean the inside. I do
this in all three solvent baths.

I wash the chain in one bowl, then move the chain to the other bowl for
the next bath. You could do it all in one bowl if you have someplace
for the chain to drip; I had two bowls and it seems to work well.

You can reuse the solvents: after use, pour them back in their jars. As
the jars sit, after a few weeks most of the grit will settle out at the
bottom. Next time you clean your chain, pour most of the solvent in to
the bowl, but leave 2mm or so in the bottom above the sludge. With the
stick, scrape the sludge on the bottom and swish the jar around to get
the gunk in solution in the 2mm of cleaner solvent you left, then pour
the gunky solvent in to the ``waste'' can. Don't worry about getting
the jar clean, just try to pour out more than half the gunk and you're
ahead of the game.

Wnen you are done with a solvent bath, just pour it back in the jar.
You may find some gunk sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Wipe it out
with a discardable rag, newspaper, etc. You lose some solvent each
time; the ``dirty'' solvent can be refilled from the ``clean'' solvent
so the clean solvent and top off the fresh jar using the jug from the
hardware store.

I suppose the paint thinner eventually gets diluted with kerosene and
won't rinse off the kerosene any more. At that point, pour off some of
the ``rinse'' mix in to the ``clean'' jar.

When you are done cleaning the chain, put the ``waste'' can someplace
well-ventilated where the can won't get knocked over and you won't be
bothered by the stink. The solvents will gradually evaporate. That
leaves a can of grime, which can be discarded. Note that evaporating
organics does pollute; but the total volume is quite small.

* Variations

Kerosene on the chain will interfere with some lubricants, and kerosene
in the chain will prevent other lubricants from being wicked in to the
chain as effectively. Hence the paint thinner ``rinse''. It might be
as effective to do all cleaining with paint thinner, I have not tried.
(The paint thinner was an addition to a routine which was proven to
clean the chain but which left a residue.)

Diesel is similar to kerosene. I have used bio-diesel to clean parts at
a shop with good results.

Mineral spirits may be similar to paint thinner and may be cheaper. I
have not tried it.

Some solvents seem similar to kerosene/thinner but do a poor job. For
example, acetone does a poor job of cutting some oils. It's also more
toxic and more dangerous than thinner, so don't bother.

Gasoline contains more toxic compounds and is much easier to ignite
accidentally and thus more dangerous. Even when you wear gloves, the
toxic compounds are easy to inhale. Do not use gasoline or other
highly-flamable materials to clean your chain; a few dollars of kerosene
and paint thinner will last a long time and they are widely available.

Dawn Dishwashing liquid can remove some lubricants but in my experience
is not good for cleaning chains.

Spray-on cleaners may cut grease very effectively. However, many are
also more dangerous and more costly than kerosene/thinner. In addition,
immersing a chain helps to ``float away'' grit and dilute the grease.
The greater the volume of liquid, the more is carried awawy diluted.
Spray-on cleaners are a much lower volume and thus can be less effective
at floating away grit.

Many people use citrus and similar degreasers to clean their chains and
report good results. I have had poor results, but do not know why.
Beware that some degreasers may not work when diluted with water. I am
curious if ``good'' degreasers can be re-used. Citrus degreasers are
less flamable and less toxic than kerosene/thinner.


Subject: 8e Tech Frames


Subject: 8e.1 Bike pulls to one side
From: Jobst Brandt

For less than million dollar bikes this is easy to fix, whether it corrects
the cause or not. If a bike veers to one side when ridden no-hands, it
can be corrected by bending the forks to the same side as you must lean
to ride straight. This is done by bending the fork blades one at a time,
about 3 mm. If more correction is needed, repeat the exercise.

The problem is usually in the forks although it is possible for frame
misalignment to cause this effect. The kind of frame alignment error
that causes this is a head and seat tube not in the same plane. This
is not easily measured other than by sighting or on a plane table.
The trouble with forks is that they are more difficult to measure even
though shops will not admit it. It takes good fixturing to align a
fork because a short fork blade can escape detection by most
measurement methods. Meanwhile lateral and in-line corrections may
seem to produce a straight fork that still pulls to one side.
However, the crude guy who uses the method I outlined above will make
the bike ride straight without measurement. The only problem with
this is that the bike may pull to one side when braking because the
fork really isn't straight but is compensated for lateral balance.

This problem has mystified more bike shops because they did not recognize
the problem. Sequentially brazing or welding fork blades often causes
unequal length blades and bike shops usually don't question this dimension.
However, in your case I assume the bike once rode straight so something
is crooked


Subject: 8e.2 Frame Stiffness
From: Bob Bundy

As many of you rec.bicycles readers are aware, there have been occasional,
sometimes acrimonious, discussions about how some frames are so much
stiffer than others. Cannondale frames seem to take most of the abuse.
The litany of complaints about some bike frames is long and includes
excessive wheel hop, numb hands, unpleasant ride, broken spokes,
pitted headsets, etc. I was complaining to a friend of mine about how there
was so much ranting and raving but so little empirical data - to which
he replied, "Why don't you stop complaining and do the measurements
yourself?". To that, I emitted the fateful words, "Why not, after all,
how hard can it be?". Following some consultation with Jobst and a few
other friends, I ran the following tests:

The following data were collected by measuring the vertical deflection at
the seat (ST), bottom bracket (BB) and head tube (HT) as a result of
applying 80lb of vertical force. The relative contributions of the
tires, wheels, fork, and frame (the diamond portion) were measured using
a set of jigs and a dial indicator which was read to the nearest .001
inch. For some of the measures, I applied pressures from 20 to 270 lbs
to check for any significant nonlinearity. None was observed. The same
set of tires (Continentals) and wheels were used for all measurements.
Note that these were measures of in-plane stiffness, which should be
related to ride comfort, and not tortional stiffness which is something
else entirely.


TA - 1987 Trek Aluminum 1200, this model has a Vitus front fork, most
reviews describe this as being an exceptionally smooth riding bike

SS - 1988 Specialized Sirus, steel CrMo frame, described by one review as
being stiff, hard riding and responsive

DR - 1987 DeRosa, SP/SL tubing, classic Italian road bike

RM - 1988 Cannondale aluminum frame with a CrMo fork, some reviewers
could not tolerate the rough ride of this bike

---------- ---------- ---------- ----------
diamond 1 1 0 2 2 0 2 2 0 1 1 0
fork 3 11 45 3 9 36 4 13 55 3 10 40
wheels 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
tires 68 52 66 68 52 66 68 52 66 68 52 66
total 74 66 113 75 65 104 76 69 123 74 65 108

What is going on here? I read the bike mags and this net enough to know
that people have strong impressions about the things that affect ride
comfort. For example, it is common to hear people talk about rim types
(aero vs. non-aero), spoke size, butting and spoke patterns and how they
affect ride. Yet the data presented here indicate, just a Jobst predicted,
that any variation in these factors will essentially be undetectable to
the rider. Similarly, one hears the same kind of talk about frames,
namely, that frame material X gives a better ride than frame material Y, that
butted tubing gives a better ride that non-butted, etc. (I may have even
made such statements myself at some time.) Yet, again, the data suggest
that these differences are small and, perhaps, even undetectable. I offer
two explanations for this variation between the data and subjective reports
of ride quality.

These data are all static measurements and perhaps only applicable at the
end of the frequency spectrum. Factors such as frequency response, and
damping might be significant factors in rider comfort.

There is no doubt that these bikes all look very different, especially the
Cannondale. They even sound different while riding over rough
roads. These factors, along with the impressions of friends and reviews
in bike magazines may lead us to perceive differences where they, in fact,
do not exist.

Being a psychologist, I am naturally inclined toward the psychological
explanation. I just can't see how the diamond part of the frame contributes
in any significant way to the comfort of a bike. The damping of the frame
should be irrelevant since it doesn't flex enough that there is any
motion to actually dampen. That the frame would become flexible at
some important range of the frequency spectrum doesn't seem likely either.

On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that people are often very
poor judges of their physical environment. They often see relationships
where they don't exist and mis-attribute other relationships. For example,
peoples' judgement of ride quality in automobiles is more related to the
sounds inside the automobile than the ride itself. The only way to get
a good correlation between accelerometers attached to the car seat and
the rider's estimates of ride quality is to blindfold and deafen the
rider (not permanently!). This is only one of many examples of mis-
attribution. The role of expectation is even more powerful. (Some even
claim that whole areas of medicine are built around it - but that is
another story entirely.) People hear that Cannondales are stiff and,
let's face it, they certainly *look* stiff. Add to that the fact that
Cannondales sound different while going over rough roads and perhaps
the rider has an auditory confirmation of what is already believed to
be true.

Unless anyone can come up with a better explanation, I will remain
convinced that differences in ride quality among frames are more a
matter of perception than of actual physical differences.


Subject: 8e.3 Frame repair
From: David Keppel

(Disclaimer: my opinions do creep in from time to time!)

When frames fail due to manufacturing defects they are usually
replaced under warranty. When they fail due to accident or abuse
(gee, I don't know *why* it broke when I rode off that last
motorcycle jump, it's never broken when I rode it off it before!)
you are left with a crippled or unridable bike.

There are various kinds of frame damage that can be repaired. The
major issues are (a) figuring out whether it's repairable (b) who
can do it and (c) whether it's worth doing (sometimes repairs just
aren't worth it).

Kinds of repairs: Bent or cracked frame tubes, failed joints, bent
or missing braze-on brackets, bent derailleur hangars, bent or
broken brake mounts, bent forks, etc. A frame can also be bent out
of alignment without any visible damage; try sighting from the back
wheel to the front, and if the front wheel hits the ground to one
side of the back wheel's plane (when the front wheel is pointing
straight ahead), then the frame is probably out of alignment.

* Can it be repaired?

Just about any damage to a steel frame can be repaired. Almost any
damage to an aluminum or carbon fiber frame is impossible to repair.
Titanium frames can be repaired but only by the gods. Some frames
are composites of steel and other materials (e.g., the Raleigh
Technium). Sometimes damage to steel parts cannot be repaired
because repairs would affect the non-steel parts.

Owners of non-steel frames can take heart: non-steel frames can
resist some kinds of damage more effectively than steel frames, and
may thus be less likely to be damaged. Some frames come with e.g.,
replacable derailleur hangers (whether you can *get* a replacement
is a different issue, though). Also, many non-steel frames have
steel forks and any part of a steel fork can be repaired.

Note: For metal frames, minor dents away from joints can generally
be ignored. Deep gouges, nicks, and cuts in any frame may lead to
eventual failure. With steel, the failure is generally gradual.
With aluminum the failure is sometimes sudden.

Summary: if it is steel, yes it can be repaired. If it isn't steel,
no, it can't be repaired.

* Who can do it?

Bent derailleur hangers can be straightened. Indexed shifting
systems are far more sensitive to alignment than non-indexed. Clamp
an adjustable wrench over the bent hanger and yield the hanger
gently. Leave the wheel bolted in place so that the derailleur hanger
is bent and not the back of the dropout. Go slowly and try not to
overshoot. The goal is to have the face of the hanger in-plane with
the bike's plane of symmetry.

Just about any other repair requires the help of a shop that builds
frames since few other shops invest in frame tools. If you can find
a shop that's been around for a while, though, they may also have
some frame tools.

* Is it worth it?

The price of the repair should be balanced with

* The value of the bicycle
* What happens if you don't do anything about the damage
* What would a new bike cost
* What would a new frame cost
* What would a used bike cost
* What would a used frame cost
* What is the personal attachment

If you are sentimentally attached to a frame, then almost any repair
is worth it. If you are not particularly attached to the frame,
then you should evaluate the condition of the components on the rest
of the bicycle. It may be cheaper to purchase a new or used frame
or even purchase a whole used bike and select the best components
from each. For example, my most recent reconstruction looked like:

* Bike's estimated value: $300
* Do nothing about damage: unridable
* Cost of new bike: $400
* Cost of new frame: $250+
* Cost of used bike: $200+
* Cost of used frame: N/A
* Cost of repair: $100+
* Personal attachment: zip

Getting the bike on the road again was not a big deal: I have lots
of other bikes, but I *wanted* to have a commuter bike. Since I
didn't *need* it, though, I could afford to wait a long time for
repairs. The cost of a new bike was more than I cared to spend.
It is hard to get a replacement frame for a low-cost bicycle. I
did a good bit of shopping around and the lowest-cost new frame
that I could find was $250, save a low-quality frame in the
bargain basement that I didn't want. Used frames were basically the
same story: people generally only sell frames when they are
high-quality frames. Because the bike was a road bike, I could have
purchased a used bike fairly cheaply; had the bike been a fat-tire
bike, it would have been difficult to find a replacement. The cost
of the frame repair included only a quick ``rattlecan'' spray, so
the result was aesthetically unappealing and also more fragile. For
a commuter bike, though, aesthetics are secondary, so I went with

There is also a risk that the `fixed' frame will be damaged. I had
a frame crack when it was straightened. I could have had the tube
replaced, but at much greater expense. The shop had made a point
that the frame was damaged enough that it might crack during repair
and charged me 1/2. I was able to have the crack repaired and I
still ride the bike, but could have been left both out the money
and without a ridable frame.

* Summary

Damaged steel frames can always be repaired, but if the damage is
severe, be sure to check your other options. If the bicycle isn't
steel, then it probably can't be repaired.


Subject: 8e.4 Frame Fatigue
From: John Unger

I think that some of the confusion (and heat...) on this subject
arises because people misunderstand the term fatigue and equate it
with some sort of "work hardening" phenomena.

By definition, metal fatigue and subsequent fatique failure are
well-studied phenomena that occur when metal (steel, aluminum,
etc.) is subjected to repeated stresses within the _elastic_ range
of its deformation. Elastic deformation is defined as deformation
that results in no permanent change in shape after the stess is
removed. Example: your forks "flexing" as the bike rolls over a
cobblestone street.

(an aside... The big difference between steel and aluminum
as a material for bicycles or anything similar is that you
can design the tubes in a steel frame so that they will
NEVER fail in fatigue. On the other hand, no matter how
over-designed an aluminum frame is, it always has some
threshold in fatigue cycles beyond which it will fail.)

This constant flexing of a steel frame that occurs within the
elastic range of deformation must not be confused with the
permanent deformation that happens when the steel is stressed beyond
its elastic limit, (e. g., a bent fork). Repeated permanent
deformation to steel or to any other metal changes its strength
characteristics markedly (try the old "bend a paper clip back and
forth until it breaks" trick).

Because non-destructive bicycle riding almost always limits the
stresses on a frame to the elastic range of deformation, you don't
have to worry about a steel frame "wearing out" over time.

I'm sorry if all of this is old stuff to the majority of this
newsgroup's readers; I just joined a few months ago.

I can understand why Jobst might be weary about discussing this
subject; I can remember talking about it on rides with him 20 years


Subject: 8e.5 Frames "going soft"
(Jobst Brandt)
Date: Mon, 20 Apr 1998 15:31:32 PDT

I have read accounts of "frames going dead" in cycling literature in
the past. If you have information that debunks this, I'd like to
know about it. The explanations I have read claim that the flexing
of a metal causes it to heat up and harden, making it more brittle.
Eventually it will break under stress. In fact, I read recently
that aluminum frames are coming out with warning stickers stating
"this frame will break someday". I have also read that this happens
to titanium and steel.

It was in print, therefore it is true! Also known, is that a freshly
washed and polished car runs better. Just the idea that the car is
admirably clean makes this concept appear true for many drivers. The
same psychosomatic mechanism is at work when a bicycle racer thinks it
is time for a new frame. I even suspect that some frame builders
assisted in spreading this idea to improve frame sales.

Metal fatigue and failure occur, but they do not change the elastic
response of the metal. Steel (and of course aluminum and other common
metals) have been metallurgically characterized over more than a
century to a precise understanding. None of this research has shown
the possibility of perceptible change in elastic response from any
stresses to which a bicycle frame might be subjected.

You mention brittleness. Brittleness describes the failure mode of a
material and is not a perceptible unless the material breaks.
Hardness is also not perceptible unless you exceed the elastic limit
and permanently bend the frame, exposing the metal's yield point, the
point at which it no longer rebounds. If not, it springs back
unchanged as do most ceramics such as a dish, or a glass that is
dropped without breaking. If it breaks, it does not bend and none of
the shards show any distortion. It either breaks or it doesn't.
That's brittleness personified.

What escapes the believers of material change is that neither
"softening" or "hardening" effects the elastic modulus of the metal.
A coat hanger and a highspeed steel drill of the same diameter have
the same elastic bending stiffness. For small bending deflections,
both are equally stiff, although the hardened steel can bend farther
than the soft steel and still spring back unchanged. The stress at
which it permanently deforms is the measure of "hardness" of the
metal, not its elasticity.

Classically, when bicycle parts or frames fail, the rider usually
notices nothing before hand. This is true for most thick cross
section parts and often even frame tubes frames. The reason for this,
is that to permit any perceptible change in deflection, all the added
elasticity must come from a crack that has practically no volume. So
the crack would need to open substantially to, by itself, allow
perceptible motion. Since this is not possible without complete
failure, the crack grows in length, but not width, until the remaining
cross section can no longer support the load, at which time it

If these ideas have been widely disproven, I'd appreciate knowing
how. I've read all six parts of the FAQ and did not see it mentioned.

The reason this was not in the FAQ may be that the whole subject is so
preposterous to engineers, metallurgists, and physicists, that they,
the people who might explain it, are generally not inclined to bother
discussing whether "the moon is made of green cheese" or not.

PS. If what you're objecting to is the use of the word "dead" as
opposed to brittle and inflexible, I'll grant you that.

The objection is that you present something for which there is no iota
of scientific evidence, nor any even slightly credible explanation, as
though it were fact. It is as though bicyclists have a different
natural world, where the technical laws are entirely different from
all other machinery, and the most perceptive technical insights come
from the strongest bicycle racers. "After all who knows more about
bicycles, you or the world champion?" is a common retort.

Jobst Brandt


Subject: 8e.6 Inspecting your bike for potential failures
(Keith Bontrager)

Handlebars are probably the one component that deserves the most
respect. Easton recommends a new bar every two years. I don;t recall
if they include an "if you race" preface. I'd say that's probably
about right. Same for our aluminum bars. Yearly would be good
on bars that have not been engineered for extended fatigue lives.

Of course, if you don;t race, if you have more than one bike, if
you are a smooth rider, if you like to do "skyshots" you need to
work this in to the estimate. Getting tougher, eh? Many people
could ride on the good quality bars into the next millenium without
a problem. How do you sort it out? I don't know.

Many parts (not bars or forks) will give you ample warning if you bother
to inspect your bike regularly. Clean it. Look at it. There
are "hot spots" all over the bike that deserve carefull attention.

Fork crown. Welds if a rigid fork, crown material if its a sus fork.

Steerer. Hard to look at, but once a year, especially if it's aluminum
or if you've crashed hard with a big front impact. Also if there are
noises from the front of the bike when you climb or sprint, or
if the bike starts handling funny. Be careful when you change lower
head set races so you don't gouge up the steerer at the bottom.

If you have an AHS stem/steerer look at the steerer at the point
where the stem and HS bearings meet. Critical!

Stem. All of the welds and the binder. Especially if you are
a 200lb sprint specialist.

Down tube/head tube joint of the frame - underneath.

Top tube/ head tube joint - same location.

Seat tube - near the BB shell and near the seat binder clamp slot.

BB spindle. Hard to look at, but once a year. Look near the tapers
where the crank fits on. This is the weak spot. If the crank
feels funny when you are pedaling (hard to describe the feeling)
or if it comes loose unexpectedly, look long and hard at the spindle.
Cartridge BBs that allow you to change the bearings should be
treated with some respect. You can keep fresh bearings in them
forever, guaranteeing that they'll be in service until the
spindle fails!

Cranks. Check the right hand arm all around where the arm leaves
the spider. Also check the hub where the arm attaches to the
spindle - especially if the arm is machined from bar (CNC). The
section near the pedal threads was prone to failure on older
road cranks though I have not seen this on MTB cranks (yet!).
Look all over the arms on the light aftermarket cranks. Often.

Seat post. Pull it out and sight down the quill. Any ripples
or deformation around the area where the post is clamped in the
frame indicates a failure on the way. The clamps are too varied to
comment on. If you have to run the fasteners real tight to keep
the saddle from slipping you should put new, very high strength
fasteners in every year or so. The clamps can come loose from the
quill tube sometimes (ask me how I know). Grab the saddle and give it
a twist.

Saddle. Rails near the seat post support pieces.

Rims. material around spoke holes can pull out, side walls can
wear through, side walls can fail due to extrusion defects. Some
of these are hard to see.

Frames around the dropouts (not a problem with newer frames as it
was with older campy forged drops). Chainstays near the CS bridge
and BB shell.

Hubs. Flanges can pull away from the hub body. Not a problem
in most cases unless the wheels are poorly built, you are running
radial spokes and ride real hard, have poorly designed aftermarket
hubs, or are very unlucky.

Many components will make a bit of noise or make the bike feel funny
before they go. Not all will. Respect this.


Subject: 8e.7 Frame materials
From: Sheldon Brown
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 04:10:19 GMT



Subject: 8e.8 Bottom Bracket Drop
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 16:09:46 PDT

I'm not familiar with BB drop. How is it measured and what are its

For road bicycles, using conventional sized wheels, BB drop (BB
spindle centerline below wheel axle centerlines) has been empirically
arrived upon at about [240mm minus crank length] for useful cornering
clearance. Imbalance of pedaling in curves at greater lean causes
side-slip. For this reason, higher BB's have shown no advantage in
criterium racing while road races are practically unaffected by
maximum cornering ability while pedaling. Track bicycles have certain
advantages on tracks with low banking if they can ride the curves at
zero speed but then that depends on track length and how it is banked.


Subject: 8e.9 Bent Frames
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2001 16:50:20 PST

How to determine whether a frame is straight after a crash and what
can be done about it.

First is visual, especially for head-on collisions on a standard steel
frame, on which top and down tubes generally bend at the end of their
butted section, about 50-100mm from the head tube. This usually
causes cracks in the paint and can be detected by laying a straight
edge on the down tube. Next, sight down the fork to determine if the
fork blades are straight in the fore and aft plane, and whether their
upper straight portion is parallel to head tube. Bicycles with
straight blade forks (with angled crown) make the latter impossible.

Another simple test is to ride no-hands and see whether the bicycle
rides straight. This will show whether the fork is laterally correct.

Determining whether the "rear triangle" is displaced requires
measurement. The rear triangle, actually a tetrahedron (four sided
figure with six edges), is not easily bent except by side force on the
BB. Tubes bent by a force at midspan are self evident by no longer
being straight. Bicycles with curved stays are on their own here,
having no credible reason for their curvature, which becomes apparent
when trying to determine whether they are "straight."

Rear triangle displacement is measured by stretching a string from one
dropout over the head tube back to the same place on the opposite
dropout. The distance between string and seat tube should be
identical for both sides. Also, because the two sides of a frame are
seldom identically strong, dropout spacing will most likely not be
correct, one side having yielded differently than the other.

Such lateral displacements can be manually corrected by laying the
frame on its side, placing the foot on the inside of the lower
chainstay at the BB and pulling the dropout of the upper side toward
the correct position. Monitor position change by measuring dropout
spacing. After advancing a few millimeters, put the foot on top of
the upper chainstay at the BB and pull the lower dropout until the
spacing is correct and repeat the sting measurement.

Laterally correcting a front fork is done similarly while monitoring
dropout spacing. Here the critical test is whether the bicycle rides
no-hands straight, which is relatively easy considering that the only
the wheel need be removed to perform the bend. Otherwise, sighting
down the head tube onto a dummy axle with a centerline on it can help
determine whether the fork is "on axis." Forks are best straightened
with fixturing but can be done without.

For steel frames, these operations pose no problem if the distortion
is within limits that do not peel off paint. Frames with oversized
tubes generally make their fatal bends self evident by wrinkling as do
downtubes of standard steel frames in head-on collisions.


Subject: 8e.10 Aligning a Fork
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 16:35:42 PDT

aka Bicycle pulls to one side

Riders occasionally complain that their bicycle pulls to one side when
ridden no-hands. That is, the rider must lean off to one side to ride
straight ahead. This symptom can be from a wheel that is in crocked,
something that is easily checked by observing whether the tire is
centered under the brake bolt, or by just reversing the wheel to see
if the wheel is improperly centered.

Assuming the bicycle still pulls to one side, the reason is usually
that the fork is bent from a side impact. Bent from a frontal impact
this is easily seen because the blades have a rearward bend just below
the fork crown where the blades should be straight both fore and aft
and side to side. A frontal bend usually gives a side bend because
the blades are not identical and tend to skew to one side. This is
harder to fix and requires fixturing.

If the fork is only bent to the side, the correction must be to the
side to which the rider must lean when riding no-hands. This bend can
be done carefully by bending one blade at a time.

Lay the bicycle on its side, front wheel removed. Place the rubber
soled foot inside the crown of the fork and pull the upper blade until
the gap at the fork end increases by a couple of millimeters. This
should be measured. With the foot in the same place pull the other
fork blade until the original spacing is restored. Ride the bicycle
and assess the difference. Repeat if necessary. This must be done
with a strong arm and a bit of skill but it is simple.

If you have a non steel bicycle, buy a new fork.


Subject: 8e.11 Stuck Handlebar Stem
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 16:35:42 PDT

Frozen aluminum stems were a common occurrence because conventional
stems were poorly anchored in the fork, having only an expander at the
bottom and the top free to pump from side to side with handlebar
forces. This was OK in the days of steel stems and steel steer tubes
but aluminum accelerated corrosion in this interface, expanding
greatly with oxidation, in spite of grease in the interface that
only turns to an emulsion in the rain from lateral pumping action.

The expander bolt must be backed off about 1/2 inch to hammer the
expander wedge out of engagement with the bottom of the stem. When
the expander is free, the bolt should be loose with the expander
dangling on its other end down in the steer tube. Now the stem should
be rotatable with moderate force. If this is not the case, then it is
a corroded frozen stem. Many forks have been damaged by twisting the
bars forcefully in an attempt to free the stem. Don't do it. Pouring
ammonia onto the gap is ineffective unless the stem is not truly
frozen. The thin oxide interface to be dissolved is thousands of
times as deep as thick. There being no circulation, this method works
only in abstract theory.

A skilled mechanic can saw off and drill the stem out until it is a
thin shell, then break through one side of the shell with a grinder to
extract the stem. Because aluminum corrosion expands enough to
stretch the steel steer tube, it cannot be loosened by force. Riders
often are happy when their stem stops creaking only to find later why
it got quiet. It was no longer removable. The main advance achieved
by threadless head bearings is that the stem is no longer subject to
this failure. It is more a stem improvement than a head bearing
improvement, although it also makes adjustment simpler and less

Get it removed by a competent shop. Frame builders do this regularly.


Subject: 8f Tech Moving Parts


Subject: 8f.1 SIS Adjustment Procedure
From: Bob Fishell

Shimano's instructions for adjusting SIS drivetrains varies from series
to series. The following method, however, works for each of mine (600EX,
105, and Deore'). [Ed note: Works on Exage road and mtb also.]

Your chain and cogs must be in good shape, and the cable must be free
of kinks, slips, and binds. The outer cable should have a liner.
clean and lubricate all points where the cable contacts anything.

SIS adjustment:

1) Shift the chain onto the largest chainwheel and the smallest cog,
e.g., 52 and 13.

2) WITHOUT TURNING THE CRANKS, move the shift lever back until it
clicks, and LET GO. This is the trick to adjusting SIS.

3) Turn the crank. If the chain does not move crisply onto the next
inside cog, shift it back where you started, turn the SIS barrel
adjuster (on the back of the rear derailleur) one-half turn CCW,
and go back to step 2. Repeat for each pair of cogs in turn
until you can downshift through the entire range of the large
chainwheel gears without the chain hesitating. If you have just
installed or reinstalled a shift cable, you may need to do this
several times.

4) Move the chain to the small chainring (middle on a triple) and the
largest cog.

5) turn the cranks and upshift. If the chain does not move crisply
from the first to the second cog, turn the SIS barrel adjuster
one-quarter turn CW.

If the drivetrain cannot be tuned to noiseless and trouble-free
SIS operation by this method, you may have worn cogs, worn chain,
or a worn, damaged, or obstructed shift cable. Replace as needed
and repeat the adjustment.


Subject: 8f.2 SIS Cable Info
From: Jobst Brandt

After Joe Gorin described the SIS "non-compressive" cable housing to
me I got myself a sample to understand what the difference is. I
believe "non-compressive" is a misnomer. This cable housing is NOT
non-compressive but rather a constant length housing. As far as I can
determine, and from reports from bike shops, this housing should not
be used for brakes because it is relatively weak in compression, the
principal stress for brake housing.

SIS housing is made of 18 strands of 0.5mm diameter round spring steel
wire wrapped in a 100mm period helix around a 2.5mm plastic tube. The
assembly is held together by a 5mm OD plastic housing to make a
relatively stiff cable housing. Because the structural wires lie in a
helix, the housing length remains constant when bent in a curve. Each
strand of the housing lies both on the inside and outside of the curve
so on the average the wire path length remains constant, as does the
housing centerline where the control cable resides. Hence, no length
change. A brake cable housing, in contrast, changes length with
curvature because only the inside of the curve remains at constant
length while the outside (and centerline) expands.

Shimano recommends this cable only for shift control but makes no
special effort to warn against the danger of its use for brakes. It
should not be used for anything other than shift cables because SIS
housing cannot safely withstand compression. Its wires stand on end
and have no compressive strength without the stiff plastic housing
that holds them together. They aren't even curved wires, so they
splay out when the outer shield is removed. Under continuous high
load of braking, the plastic outer housing can burst leaving no
support. Besides, in its current design it is only half as flexible
as brake cable because its outer shell is made of structurally stiff
plastic unlike the brake cable housing that uses a soft vinyl coating.

Because brake cables transmit force rather than position, SIS cable,
even if safe, would have no benefit. In contrast, with handlebar
controls to give precise shift positioning, SIS housing can offer some
advantage since the cable must move though steering angles. SIS
housing has no benefit for downtube attached shifters because the
cable bends do not change.


Subject: 8f.3 STI/Ergo Summary
From: Ron Larson

This is the second posting of the summary of STI/Ergo experience. The
summary was modified to include more on STI durability and also the
range of shifting avaliable from each system. As before, I am open to
any comments or inputs.



Shifters that are easily accessible from either the brakehoods or the
"drop" position are an advantage when sprinting or climbing because the
rider is not forced to commit to a single gear or loose power / cadence
by sitting down to reach the downtube shifters. They also make it much
easier to respond to an unexpected attack.

At first the tendency is to shift more than is necessary. This tendency
levels out with experience. There is also an early tendency to do most
shifting from the bakehoods and the actuators seem to be difficult to
reach from the drop position. This discomfort goes away after a few
hundred miles of use (hey, how many times have I reached for the
downtube on my MTB or thumbshifters on my road bike???). All
experienced riders expressed pleasure with the ability to shift while
the hands were in any position, at a moments notice.

The disadvantages are extra weight, added weight on the handlebars
(feels strange at first) and expense. Lack of a friction mode was
listed as a disadvantage by a rider who had tried out STI on someone
elses bike but does not have Ergo or STI. It was not noted as a problem
by riders with extended Ergo / STI experience. A comparison of the
weight of Record/Ergo components and the weight of the Record
components they would replace reveals that the total weight difference
is in the 2 to 4 ounce range (quite a spread - I came up with 2 oz from
various catalogs, Colorado Cyclist operator quoted 4 oz of the top of
his head). The weight difference for STI seems to be in the same
range. The change probably seems to be more because weight is shifted
from the downtube to the handlebars.

There was some concern from riders who had not used either system
regarding the placement of the actuating buttons and levers for Ergo
and STI and their affect on hand positions. Riders with experience have
not had a problem with the placement of the actuators although one
rider stated that the STI brakehoods are more comfortable.


The Sachs/Ergo system was mentioned as a separate system. In fact
(according to publications) it is manufactured By Campagnolo for Sachs
and is identical to the Campagnolo system with the exception of spacing
of the cogs on the freewheel/cassette. With the Ergo system, all
cables can be routed under the handlebar tape while the STI system does
not route the derailleur cables under the tape. Those that voiced a
preference liked the clean look of the Ergo system.

Both Ergo and STI seem to be fairly durable when crashed. Experience
of riders who have crashed with either system is that the housings may
be scratch and ground down but the system still works. The internal
mechanismsof both systems are well protected in a crash.

Both Ergo and STI allow a downshift of about 3 cogs at a time. This
capability is very handy for shifting to lower gears in a corner to be
ready to attack as you come out of the corner or when caught by
surprise at a stop light. Ergo also allows a full upshift from the
largest to the smallest cog in a single motion while STI requires an
upshift of one cog at a time.

Riders voiced their satisfaction with both systems. While some would
push one system over the other, these opinions were equally split.


Subject: 8f.4 Cassette or Freewheel Hubs
From: Jobst Brandt

All cassette hubs are not nearly alike. That is apparent from the
outside by their appearance and by the sprockets that fit on them.
More important to their longevity is how their insides are designed.
Among the mainline brands, some are a response not only to the choice
and interchangeability of sprockets but to the problem of broken rear
axles and right rear dropouts. These failures are caused by bending
loads at the middle of the rear axle that arise from bearing support
that is not at the ends of the axle. The following diagrams attempt
to categorize the freewheel and hub combination, and two cassette
designs with respect to these loads.

H H | |
H H Io-- |
/-------------------\ -o\
O O------
===X==================wX========= Axle has weak spot at "w"
O O------ (Freewheel & hub)
\-------------------/ -o/
H H Io-- |
H H | |

H H | |
H H | | |
/------------------\ /----\
O O O----O
===X==================XwX====X=== Axle has weak spot at "w"
O O O----O (Hugi and Campagnolo)
\------------------/ \----/
H H | | |
H H | |

H H | |
H H | | |
O \-----O
===X=========================X=== Axle is loaded only at ends
O /-----O (Shimano and SunTour)
H H | | |
H H | |

For clarity only three sprocket gear clusters are shown.

Strong cyclists put the greatest load on the axle by the pull of the
chain because there is a 2:1 or greater lever ratio from pedal to
chainwheel. The freewheel in the first diagram has the greatest
overhung load when in the rightmost sprocket. The second design has
the greatest bending moment on the axle when in the leftmost sprocket
and the third design is independent (in the first order) of chain
position. This third design carries its loads on bearings at the ends
of the axle for minimum axle stress while the other two put a large
bending moment on the middle of the axle.

Common freewheel hubs have not only the highest bending stress but the
smallest axle at 10mm diameter with threads that help initiate
cracking. The second design type generally uses a larger diameter
axle to avoid failure. However, these axles still have significant
flex that can adversely affect the dropout.

There are other important considerations in selecting a hub.
Among these a

1. Durability of the escapement and its angular backlash (t/rev).
2. Flange spacing, offset, and diameter.
3. Type of bearings (cone / cartridge) and environmental immunity.
4. Ease of sprocket replacement and cost.

Currently the best solution for sprocket retention is a splined body
that allows individual sprockets to be slipped on and be secured by an
independent retainer. Screwing sprockets onto the body is
indefensible, considering the difficulty of removal. The same goes
for freewheels. No longer needing to unscrew tight freewheels is
another advantage for cassette hubs.

Old October 29th 04, 07:11 AM
Mike Iglesias
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Archive-name: bicycles-faq/part4

[Note: The complete FAQ is available via anonymous ftp from
draco.acs.uci.edu (, in pub/rec.bicycles.]


Subject: 8f.5 Cassette or Freewheel Hubs take 2
From: David Keppel

People often ask ``should I use a freewheel or a freehub?'' The
answer is usually ``yes.''

The hub is the center of a wheel and is composed of an axle, bolted to
the bike frame, a hub shell or hub body, where the spokes attatch, and
bearings to let the shell rotate around the axle.

Freewheels screw onto threads on the rear hub's shell, and cogs
attatch to the freewheel. The freewheel's job is to provide a ratchet
between the cogs and the hub shell, so that you can coast. Freehubs
are similar but combine parts of the freewheel with parts of the hub
shell. Freehubs are also sometimes called ``cassettes''.

The usual problem with rear hubs is that axles bend and break. This
is because the axle diameter was chosen when single cogs were used and
the hub bearing was positioned close to the frame. Since then, wider
cog clusters have become the norm, the bearings and frame have moved
further apart and leverage on the axle has increased. But since the
axle has not gotten any stronger, it now has a tendency to fail.

Cassettes fix the problem by incorporating one hub bearing in to the
freewheel mechanism, so that the bearing is once again outboard and
the axle is carrying its load under less leverage. Some freewheel hubs
solve the problem by using fatter axles. Since increasing the axle
diameter dramatically improves axle strength, this is an effective
solution and it is possible to use a fat axle that is aluminum and thus
lighter than a standard skinny (weaker) steel axle.

Neither solution is perfect -- cassette hubs let you use standard
replacement axles, cones, washers, etc., but force you to use cogs and
spacers and whatnot by a particular manufacturer (and possibly
derailleurs and shifters -- e.g. XTR uses 4.9mm cog-to-cog spacing
instead of the normal 5.0mm). On the other hand, fat axles are
nonstandard as are some other replacement parts.

As an aside, the cassette solution leaves a fairly long unsupported
axle stub on the left side, and this is sometimes a source of more
bending problems. Fatter axles solve the problem on both sides.

Note also that many cassette systems allow you to remove the cogs using
a lightweight tool and thus give you ready access to the spokes in case
of breakage. Freewheels attatch with a fine thread (another historical
artifact, I believe) and are thus more difficult to remove on the road,
making spoke replacement harder.

In principle, freehubs have all cogs attatch using the same size and
shape of spline, so, e.g., a 20T cog can be used as both a large cog
for a corncob cluster and as a middle cog for wide-range cluster.
However, Shimano's marketing is just the opposite and is directed at
selling whole clusters, without letting you replace individual cogs.
(Shimano's policy is relevant here since they sell 90+% of such hubs.)
Freewheels have several spline diameters in order to clear the bearings
and ratchet. Further, small cogs typically screw on to the freewheel
body or special cogs with extra threads. This introduces stocking
problems and may make it hard to build some cog combinations.

I'm not a fan of freehubs for the simple reason that they lock me in
to one maker's choices about cogs and cog spacing. For example, I had
a 1988 Shimano 6-speed freehub and by 1991 Shimano had, according to my
local bike store, discontinued 6-speed replacement cogs. Thus, simply
replacing one worn cog meant upgrading to a 7-speed system, which in
turn requires all new cogs, a new freehub body (lucky me -- for some it
requires a new hub and thus new wheel), and, if I wanted to keep index
shifting, new thumbshifters. Had this been a freewheel-equipped
bicycle, I could have easily switched to another maker's 6-speed

Fortunately, the market is stablizing, with a growing number of makers
producing hubs and cogs using a spline pattern like the more recent
Shimano 7-speed freehubs. However, it hasn't settled entirely, yet.

;-D oN ( A hubalaboo ) Pardo


Subject: 8f.6 "Sealed" Bearings
From: Jobst Brandt

Has anyone had any major problems with the Shimono XT "sealed" Bottom
bracket besides me?

This subject comes up often and has been beat around a bit. There is a
basic misconception about seals. The seals commonly sold in the bicycle
business are not capable of sealing out water because they were never
designed for that purpose. These seals are designed to prevent air from
being drawn through the bearing when used in, typically, electric motors
where the motor rotation pumps air that would centrifugally be drawn
through the bearing. If this were permitted, the lubricant would act as
fly paper and capture all the dust that passes, rendering the lubricant
uselessly contaminated.

Seal practice requires a seal to leak if it is to work. The seepage
lubricates the interface between shaft and seal and without this small
amount of weeping, the seal lip would burn and develop a gap. In the
presence of water on the outside, the weeping oil emulsifies and
circulates back under the lip to introduce moisture into the bearing.
This is usually not fatal because it is only a small amount, but the
displaced grease on the lip dries out and leaves the lip unlubricated.

The next time water contacts the interface, it wicks into the gap by
capillary action and begins to fill the bearing. This is an expected
result for seal manufacturers who live by the rule that no two fluids
can be effectively separated by a single seal lip. Two oils, for
instance, must have separate seals with a ventilated air gap between
them. If a seal is to work with only one lip the contained fluid must
be at a higher pressure so that the flow is biased to prevent

None of the effective methods are used in the so called 'sealed'
bearings that Phil Wood introduced into bicycling years ago. His
components failed at least as often as non sealed units and probably
more often because they make field repair difficult. These are not
liquid seals but merely air dams.

[More from Ben Escoto ]

Date: Sat, 07 Nov 1998 21:31:31 -0800
Subject: Additional entry on bearings for FAQ

Although the entry on "Sealed" Bearings (8.44 as of the
10/7/98 FAQ) provides useful technical information on seals, many
readers may not be able to directly apply it to bicycling on a
practical level. I asked about this on rec.bicycles.tech and received
helpful responses from Jobst Brandt, Matt O'Toole, and Hans-Joachim
Zierke, among others. I hope the following summary will be an
interesting and useful supplement to the entry mentioned above.

Firstly, it is important to distinguish between bearings that
are protected by a seal and bearings that cannot be individually
removed because they are locked in a larger structure. The first I
will call "sealed bearings"; the second are more properly called
"cartridge bearings." Bearings in hubs, bottom brackets, etc (whether
cartridge or cup-and-cone) on modern quality bicycles are usually
sealed. For a better description of the difference between
cup-and-cone and cartridge bearings, see the entries under "Cartridge
Bearings" and "Cup-and-Cone Bearing" in Sheldon Brown's excellent
bicycle glossary (

So, for the reasons Mr. Brandt explained in the other entry,
bearings on bicycles are not truly sealed, in the sense that water and
dirt cannot enter under any circumstances. The best designs include
two seals: a contact seal closer to the bearing, and then either a
labyrinth or a second contact seal further out. The outer seal in
hubs with double contact sealing should be oiled when the hub is
serviced, because this seal is not lubricated by the bearing grease
like the inner seal.

But even well-sealed bearings (of any type) can be
contaminated if exposed to pressurized water, as can happen in heavy
rain, if the bearings are submerged, or if you spray your hubs with
water as you clean your bike.

Given this, both cup-and-cone bearings and cartridge bearings
will occasionally need to be serviced. Here are some pros and cons of
cartridge and cup-and-cone bearings regarding their maintenance.

Cup-and-Cone: Cup and cone bearings are usually easily
disassembled and serviced by cleaning the races, replacing the
bearings, relubing, and reassembling. Also, individual bearings are
quite cheap to replace.

Although the cup and cone races are usually resist pitting better than
their cartridge bearing counterparts and rarely need to be replaced, a
ruined cup in a cup-and-cone hub, for example, may require that the
whole hub be scrapped. Campagnolo is one manufacturer who makes hubs
with replaceable cups and keeps spare parts available enough that
repairing hubs in this way is often feasible.

Cartridge: Cartridge bearings are usually harder to service.
The cartridge seal is easier to break during disassembly and often the
cartridge is not removable so the bearings are much harder to clean.
Additionally, the races inside the cartridge are often more poorly
made than the races in cup-and-cone bearings and more prone to damage
and rust. Components with irreplacable cartridge bearings are much
less maintainable than those with cup-and-cone bearings.

However, the cartridges in some components (for instance the hubs made
by Phil Wood, Syncros, and others) can be replaced without a bearing
press. These cartridges are much easier to repack and can be replaced
easily if damaged.

So, what practical significance does this have? Cup-and-cone
bearings are superior (in terms of maintainance) to irreplacable
cartridge bearings. There doesn't seem to be a consensus on
cup-and-cone bearings vs the cartridge bearings found in, e.g., Phil
Wood's hubs. As of this writing (Nov 98) both Campagnolo and Shimano
have stuck with cup-and-cone bearings for their hubs, while most third
parties are manufacturing cartridge bearings, probably because
cartridges are much easier to manufacture than cup or cone races.

Right now Shimano makes the best inexpensive hubs: they are
sealed correctly (double contact or contact/labyrinth), are fairly
durable, and are quite serviceable. Hubs such as Phil Wood's are much
more expensive, but may be better in some respects (see above).

Ben Escoto
PGP/MIME mail welcome - finger for key


Subject: 8f.7 Ball Bearing Grades
From: Bill Codding ,
Harry Phinney

Following is a description of the different grades of ball bearings.
The grade specifies the sphericity of the balls in millionths of an inch.
Thus, grade 25 are round to 25/10^6, while grade 1000 are good to 1/1000
(i.e. not all that round, but probably good enough for our uses).

Grade 25: the highest quality normally available, aka
"Campagnolo quality": hardened all the way through, best
alloys, coatings, roundness, and durability. Evidently,
a recent bottom-bracket overhaul article in "Bicycling Plus
Mountain Bike" magazine recommended these. Campy's tech reps
claim that the bearings in a set (usually in a little paper bag)
are matched. One should not mix bearings from different sets.

Grade 200: mid-range

Grade 1000: seems to be the lowest, may only be surface

Good sources for ball bearings:

Your local bike shop (make sure you're getting the grade you want)
Bike Parts Pacific
Bike Nashbar 1-800-NASHBAR ($1-$3 per 100 Grade 25)
The Third Hand 1-916-926-2600 ($4-$7 per 100 Grade 25)


Subject: 8f.8 Bottom Bracket Bearing adjustment
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2001 16:50:20 PST

This concerns conventional threaded adjustable and fixed cup bottom
bracket (BB) bearings, not roller bearing or Ashtabula cranks.

The conventional ball bearing Crank assembly, as has been common on
three piece cranks, usually has 1/4" balls held in an 11 ball cage.
Some less expensive bearings use only 9 or fewer. The balls are best
left in the cage because removing it makes assembly difficult, does
not make room for additional balls, and saves insignificant weight.

The four kinds of BB threads in common use today are Italian, British,
French, and Swiss, possibly in that order of occurrence.

Diameter Pitch Right Left Cup
-------- ----- ----- -----
Italian 36mm x 24F tpi right right tpi (threads per inch)
British 1.370" x 24F tpi left right
French 35mm x 1mm right right
Swiss 35mm x 1mm left right

Unless there is something wrong with the right hand cup it should not
be removed because it can be wiped clean and greased from the left
side. The type of thread is usually marked on the face of both left
and right cups. Swiss threads are rare, but if you have one, it is
good to know before attempting removal.

A left hand thread is preferred on the right hand cup because it has a
tendency to unscrew if not rigidly tight. The propensity to rotate is
small, and will, depending on pedaling, sometimes unscrew a left hand
thread that was not tight so that a left hand thread alone will not
prevent loosening. The right hand cup should be made as tight as
practical and not be removed during regular maintenance. Because cups
seldom fail, right hand cups seldom require removal.

No unusual greases are required for this bearing and a can of
automotive wheel bearing grease will go a long way to lubricate this
and other parts of the bicycle that require grease. After installing
the spindle with greased bearings, the (adjustable) left cup should be
advanced until an increase in rotational drag can be felt but where
the spindle can still be turned using the tip of the thumb and
forefinger. Without preload that causes this drag, the spindle will
be riding on a single ball as each ball passes under the load.

Known as "ball drop" this phenomenon can best be visualized on a
loosely adjusted bearing where the spindle has appreciable clearance.
Because the steel of the spindle, balls and cups is elastic, the load
can be distributed over several balls, but only if these parts are
already in contact before the load is applied. Ideally the preload
should be large enough so that the balls on the top do not develop
clearance, but this much preload is impractical for such a heavily
loaded bearing.

Because the feel of bearing adjustment is delicate, the spindle should
be adjusted without the cranks. In a correctly adjusted bearing, the
spindle should not spin freely were it not greased. Practically all
industrial applications use axial springs (Belleville washers) to
preload bearings typically on motor shafts.

Although the BB bearing can operate without preload, its life is
substantially extended with a light preload.


Subject: 8f.9 Crank noises
From: Phil Etheridge

I've had the creaky crank problem on every bike I've owned which has
had cotterless cranks. Until now, I've never known a good solution to
the problem.

One suggestion I had was to replace the crank, but that wasn't
something I was prepared to do on 1 month old bike under warranty.
The shop mechanic spent half an hour with me and my bike sorting it
out. Tightening the crank bolts and pedal spindle (i.e. onto the
crank) didn't help (as Jobst will tell you).

Removing each crank, smearing the spindle with grease and replacing
the crank eliminated most of the noise. Removing each pedal, smearing
grease on the thread and replacing it got rid of the rest of the

Greasing the pedal threads is a new one on me, but it makes a lot of
sense, since they are steel and the crank aluminum. I thought it was
worth relating this story, as creaky cranks seems to be quite a common


Subject: 8f.10 Cracking/Breaking Cranks
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 12:47:58 -0700

Aluminum alloy cranks develop cracks principally at two places
although other failures occur as can be seen in samples at:


The two most common failures are the pedal eye and the junction of the
trailing spider leg and the right crank. The trailing spider leg
adjacent to the crank generally has a thin web that connects it to the
more rigid shaft of the crank, while the three preceding legs are more
flexible, stress is concentrated at this web. These cracks are
relatively benign because they are easily seen and rarely progress to

In contrast, the most common and most dangerous failure, one at the
pedal eye has a different cause not directly related to a stress
concentration, but one that might be apparent to a critical observer.
That the left pedal has a left hand thread is taken for granted and
seems not to be questioned because it has "always" been that way.
What is less well remembered is that automobiles also used left hand
threads to secure wheels on the left side of the vehicle before the
advent of the conical lug nut commonly used today.

The pedal attachment, as wheel nuts on cars of old, has a flat face
that bears against the crank, a surface that cannot transmit any load
except by friction because it is parallel to the applied force.
Therefore, this joint always moves under load, a microscopic type of
motion known as fretting. Fretting causes erosion of the interface
and develops an undercut in the face of the crank that is visible when
the pedal is removed. Besides, a left pedal without a left hand
thread unscrews, regardless of how tightly the pedal is installed,
proving that there is motion.

Removing a pedal, ridden for a longer time, reveals erosion in the
crank face having tiny cracks radiating from its circumference. In
time, some of these cracks propagate into the crank and cause the end
of the pedal eye to break off, releasing the pedal, usually at the
worst possible moment, that of high stress of a rider pedaling in the
standing position. Such failures generally cause the standing rider
to fall to the side of failure because that foot is suddenly standing
on the road at speed.

A solution to this problem is to use a tapered face (~90 degree
countersink) similar to the face of an automotive wheel nut in place
of the flat face at the end of the pedal thread. This design has been
tested in prototype with a rider who previously had more than two
dozen such crank failures and has subsequently not had any for five
years on the same cranks. Not only does it suppress fretting motion
that causes failures, but it makes the left hand thread unnecessary, a
bonus for manufacturing while secondarily giving one to tandem riders
who generally have difficulty finding cranks with threads opposite to


Subject: 8f.11 Installing Cranks
From: Jobst Brandt

My cranks get loose, quite quickly too; over about 10 miles or so
from being solid to flopping about in the breeze. Any suggestions?

Your cranks are ruined! Once ridden in the "floppy" mode, the square
taper in the crank can no longer be secured on the spindle. Get some
new cranks and properly tighten them after lubricating the tapers.
Proper tightness can be guaranteed only by torque wrench or a skilled
mechanic. The second of these is less expensive and you might be able
to get a demonstration of what is tight enough.

The admonition to not lubricate the tapers of the crank spindle seems
to find life only on bicycle cranks, of all the machines I have seen.
I have pursued the "dry assembly" instruction by talking to crank
manufacturers and discovered that they apparently had warranty claims
from customers who split their cranks open. It is easy to prove that
cranks cannot split by over-tightening simply by attempting to do so.
It is not possible to split a major brand crank this way, the bolt
will fail first.

Crank failure from "over-tightening" is caused by the re-tightening of
previously properly installed cranks. Once installed, a crank always
squirms on its taper, and because the retaining bolt prevents it from
coming off, it elbows itself away from the bolt and up the taper ever
so slightly. This can be detected by the looseness of the retaining
bolt after the bicycle has been ridden hard.

Grease in this interface does not affect performance, because only the
press fit, not friction, transmits load from crank to spindle. As any
bicycle mechanic can tell you, crank bolts are often appreciably
looser after use, the left one more so than the right. This occurs
because the left crank transmits torque and bending simultaneously
while the right crank transmits these forces one at a time. The right
crank puts no significant torque into the spindle. Either way, the
looseness occurs because loads make the crank squirm on the spindle
and the only direction it can move is up the taper, the retaining bolt
blocking motion in the other direction.

Regardless, whether grease or no grease is used, in use the spindle
and crank will make metal to metal contact and cause fretting
corrosion for all but the lightest riders. The purpose of the
lubricant is to give a predictable press fit for a known torque. If
the spindle is completely dry this cannot be said, and even with
marginal lubrication, some galling may occur on installation.
Lubrication is only used to guarantee a proper press because the
lubricant is displaced from the interface in use. Taper faces of
spindles show erosion and rouge after substantial use, evidence that
the lubricant was displaced.

"Dust caps" aren't just dust caps but retention for loose bolts. It
is not that the bolt unscrews but that the crank moves up the taper.
However, once the screw is unloaded it can subsequently unscrew and
fall out if there is no cap.

Because cranks squirm farther up the taper when stressed highly, the
unwitting mechanic believes the screw got loose, rather than that the
crank got tighter. By pursuing the crank with its every move up the
spindle, ultimately the crank will split. It is this splitting that
has been incorrectly diagnosed as being caused by lubrication. I have
never seen a warning against re-tightening cranks after having been
installed with a proper press fit. It is here where the warning
belongs, not with lubrication.

For the press fit to work properly, the pressure must be great enough
to prevent elastic separation between the crank and spindle under
torque, bending, and shear loads. This means that no gap between
crank and spindle should open when pedaling forcefully. Friction
has no effect on the transmission of torque because the crank creeps
into a position of equilibrium on the spindle in a few hard strokes.

Failure of this interface occurs when the press fit is too loose
allowing a gap open between spindle and crank. Torque is transmitted
by the entire face of the press fit, both the leading edge whose
contact pressure increases and the trailing edge whose contact
pressure decreases. If lift-off occurs, the entire force bears only
on the leading edge and plastic failure ensues (loose crank syndrome).
Tightening the retaining screw afterward cannot re-establish a square
hole in the crank because the retaining screw will break before the
spindle can exert sufficient stress to reshape the bore. Beyond that,
the crank would split before any plastic deformation could occur even
if the screw were sufficiently strong.

Because retaining screws could become entirely lose from squirming
action, especially if the press is relatively light, "dust caps"
should be used to prevent screws from subsequently unscrewing and
causing crank bore failure. Besides, the loss of the screw won't be
noticed until the crank comes off, long after the screw fell out.

The argument that the greased spindle will enlarge the hole of the
crank and ultimately reduce chainwheel clearance is also specious,
because the crank does not operate in the plastic stress level. At
the elastic limit it would break at the attachment knuckle in a short
time from metal fatigue, that occurs rapidly at the yield stress. In
fact, the depth of engagement (hole enlargement) can increase with an
unlubricated fit faster than with a lubricated one, because
installation friction is the only mechanism that reams the hole.

Jobst Brandt


Subject: 8f.12 Biopace chainrings

Biopace chainrings have fallen into disfavor in recent years. They
are hard to "pedal in circles". The early Biopace chainrings were
designed for cadences of around 50-70 rpm, while most recommend a
cadence of 80-100 rpm. Newer Biopace chainrings are less elliptical,
but the general consensus is to (if you are buying a new bike) get the
dealer to change the chainrings to round ones.

Sheldon Brown has some information on Biopage chainrings at


Subject: 8f.13 Indexed Steering
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 10:29:56 -0700

In the several years I spent working in a pro shop, I have never
seen a case of "index steering" (yes, we called it that) that was
_not_ caused by a "brinelled" headset - one with divots in the
races. I am 99.999 percent certain that that is your problem. What
are you going to do if you don't fix it? I suggest that you fix the
headset even if you sell the bike, as a damaged headset could be
grounds for a lawsuit if the buyer crashes.

I disagree on two points. First, because you use the term "Brinell"
that conveys a notion as incorrect as the phrase "my chain stretched
from climbing steep hills" and second, because there is no possibility
of injury or damage from "indexed" steering head bearings. The effect
is mostly perception of failure from the rattling noise and clunky
feel while braking lightly. It has such a small effect that it is
imperceptible when riding no-hands unless the bearing clearance has
been adjusted in the straight ahead position. Then the bearing will
bind off center.

Damage to head bearings seems to be twofold in this case because
properly adjusted steering can only become looser from dimples,
dimples that cannot immobilize steering. Therefore, the head
adjustment was too tight. However, dimpling is not caused by impact,
but rather by lubrication failure that occurs while riding straight
ahead, giving the steering a preferred home position. This occurs
more easily with a correctly adjusted bearing than with a loose one
that rattles and clunks. Rattling replenishes lubricant between balls
and races, something that would otherwise not not occur. Off road
bicycles suffer less from this malady than road bicycles because it
occurs primarily during long straight descents that on which no
steering motions, that might replenish lubricant, are made.

If you believe it comes from hammering the balls into the races, you
might try to cause some dimples by hammering on the underside of the
fork crown of a clunker bike of your choice. Those who hammered
cotters on steel cranks will recall no dimples on the spindle, even
though it has a far smaller diameter than the head bearing and the
blows were more severe and direct, supported by no more than one or
two balls.

Bearing balls make metal-to-metal contact only under fretting loads
(microscopic oscillations) while the races are is not rotating. Any
perceptible steering motion will replenish lubricant from the oily
meniscus surrounding each ball contact patch. Peering over the bars
at the front hub while coasting down a road at 20+ mph you will notice
the fork ends vibrating fore and aft. This motion does not arise at
the fork end, but at the fork crown, where it bends the steer tube.
Both head bearings rotate in fretting motion crosswise to the normal
plane of rotation as the steer tube bends. Dimples form in the
forward and rearward quadrant of both upper and lower bearings from
this fretting. That they also form in the upper bearing shows they
are not directly load related.

Lubrication failure from fretting causes metal to metal contact that
forms microscopic welds between balls and races. These welds
repeatedly tear material from the softer of the two causing elliptical
milky dimples in both races. Were these Brinelling marks (embossed
through force), they would be shiny and smooth and primarily on the
inner race of the bearing. Various testimonials for the durability of
one bearing over another are more likely an indication of lubrication
than the design of the bearing. Ball bearings with separate cups and
cones have been used as head bearings longer than they should
considering their poor performance.

The question has been raised whether steering to either side would
reveal a second preferred position in which the balls fall into
matching dimples. Since bearing balls move at roughly half the rate
of steering motion, with 20 balls, this requires a steering angle of
36 degrees for dimples in both races to match again with the balls.
However, the balls do not arrive exactly at the spot where dimples are
again opposite because they move at a ratio of (od-bd)/(id+bd)
od: outer race diameter, id: inner race diameter, bd: ball diameter.
This ratio not being 1:1, the balls do not naturally arrive at the
second coincidence of the race dimples although they usually drop in.

Roller bearings of various designs have been tried, and it appears
that they were possibly the ones that finally made obvious that fore
and aft motion was the culprit all along; a motion that roller
bearings were less capable of absorbing than balls. This recognition
lead to using spherical alignment seats under the rollers. Although
this stopped dimpling, these bearings worked poorly because the needle
complement tended to shift off center, skewing the needles and causing
large bearing friction as the rollers skate.

Shimano, Chris King, Cane Creek and others, offer angular contact,
full ball complement, spherically aligned cartridge bearings. The
Shimano cartridge bearings have contact seals, not exposed to weather,
to retain grease for life of the bearing. The races are sufficiently
reentrant that they snap permanently together with sufficient preload
to prevent rocking (fretting) motion perpendicular to the rotational
axis. Spherical steel rings, that move as plain bearings against an
aluminum housing, support the cartridge bearing to absorb, otherwise
damaging, out-of-plane motion while the cartridge bearing does the


Subject: 8f.14 Roller Head Bearings
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

Although roller bearing headsets never worked well, they introduced a
positive feature, not directly connected with rollers. The main
advantage of some rollers was that they had two bearings, the rollers
and a plain bearing back plate that was needed because rollers cannot
run well with even the slightest misalignment of inner and outer race,
something that conventional ball bearings do easily. The importance
was that this feature separated rotary from swiveling motions.

A head bearing serves mainly as the axis about which the fork steers,
but it also carries fore and aft swiveling motion as the fork flexes.
Swiveling motions are the ones that damage head bearings. As the
bicycle is ridden, the fork absorbs shock by flexing, primarily at the
fork crown, where it rotates fore and aft in the plane of the bicycle
frame, a motion that can be seen by watching the front hub while
sighting over the handle bars while rocking the bicycle fore and aft
with the front brake locked.

Although the wheel visibly moves, the angle through which the fork
crown swivels is small and is not in itself damaging because it is
readily absorbed by cup and cone ball bearings. However, occurring
repeatedly in the absence of steering motions, bearing balls fret in
place and displace lubrication that normally separates them from their
races. Without lubricant, bearing balls weld to their races and tear
out tiny particles, causing dimples having a matte finish. This
phenomenon primarily affects road bicycles while coast down hills fast
enough to make practically no steering motions that would move bearing
balls from their straight ahead position to replenish lubrication.

Because rollers cannot absorb swiveling motions, some were equipped
with spherical backing plates that could. This design feature was
then incorporated into ball head bearings that, in contrast to
rollers, stay aligned to their races and cannot bind as rollers do by
sliding off center, an effect that made them hardly useful for this
application. The combination of ball and plain bearings has replaced
rollers for this job.


Subject: 8f.15 Brakes from Skid Pads to V-brakes
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 14:53:00 PDT

Bicycle brakes have changed greatly since the original wagon wheel
brake that pressed a skid pad against the tread, but they have also
stayed the same, the skid pad brake still being used. The single
pivot caliper brake, commonly called the side pull, came along about
100 years ago and is still the mainstay. This brake was displaced by
the centerpull, a derivative of a cantilever brake, to take a large
part of the sport market in the 1950s. Meanwhile the cantilever brake
with its large tire clearance existed only in a limited way until the
advent of the mountain bike that demanded this feature for its large
tires and the dirt that sticks to them. Recently, other forms have
emerged to meet changing demands of the sports bicycling market.


Until recently, most brakes had a hand lever ratio (mechanical
advantage) of 4:1, with a caliper ratio of 1:1, making most brakes and
levers interchangeable. The 4:1 ratio struck a convenient compromise
between the reach of the hand, its strength, and brake pad clearance
to the rim. At higher ratios too much hand movement is used to bring
the pads into contact with the rim, a clearance that is necessary to
prevent a dragging brake and to take up pad wear. An important
feature of the single pivot is that it has practically no position
error through its sweep, the pad remaining centered on the rim
throughout its wear life.

Its main weakness is poor centering (clearance), caused by sliding
contact of its return springs. Exposed to road dirt, the sliding
springs change their coefficient of friction unpredictably, causing
the pads to retract unequally from the rim. To prevent dragging,
liberal clearance is required, preventing the use of the higher
mechanical advantage desired by today's avocational bicyclists.


The centerpull brake of the 1950's, was popular for nearly a decade,
in spite of being entirely without merit, being worse in all respects
than the side pull brake with which it competed. It had the same hand
levers and its caliper the same 1:1 mechanical advantage, but had
large position error, moving its pads upward into the tire with wear.
Its symmetry may have been its main appeal, an aesthetic that people
often admire without functional reason. Its acceptance might also
have been from dissatisfaction with flimsy sidepull calipers of the
time. It used a straddle cable on which the main cable pulled from a
flimsy cable anchor attached to the tab washer under the head bearing
locknut. Besides its two levers, it had a connecting bridge that
flexed in bending and torsion, making it spongy. Although Mafac was
one of the greatest proponents of this design it began to vanish on
sport bicycles with the introduction of the Campagnolo sidepull brake.


The cantilever brake offers clearance that fat tires and mud demand.
Its pads pivot from cantilever posts on the fork blades, giving it
large tire clearance and a fairly rigid action, there being no
significant bending elements in its mechanism. Nevertheless it has
its drawbacks. Its reaction force spreads and twists the fork blades,
something that became more apparent with suspension forks that require
a substantial bridge plate to restrain these forces. Its pads sweep
downward at about a 45 degree angle giving them such a large position
error that, as they wear, they easily pop under the rim, causing
unrecoverable brake failure. Its straddle cable is pulled by a main
cable that requires a cable anchor that is difficult to accommodate
with rear suspension, while the front straddle cable presents a hazard
in the event of a main cable failure, because it can fall onto a
knobby tire to cause wheel lockup.

The cantilever received a large resurgence in popularity on the
mountain bike, along with other innovative designs. One of these
concepts was the servo brake that had cantilever posts with a steep
helix that converted forward drag of its pads to contact force, a
dangerous servo effect that re-emerges from time to time.

Servo Brake

Servo brakes, ones that use pad reaction force to reinforce braking
force, have been designed often and without success, mainly because a
small change in friction coefficient causes a large change in braking.
The servo effect makes the relationship between application force and
brake response unpredictable and difficult to control. The servo
effect inherent in drum brakes is what caused automobiles and
motorcycles to switch to disks. Brake application pressure being at
right angles to the rotating disk, prevents any interaction between
reaction and application force. For bicycles, that effectively
already have disk brakes, introduction of servo effect is illogical.


The V-brake is currently displacing the cantilever brake because it
offers the same advantages while solving two critical problems, those
of the brake hanger for suspension bicycles and brake pad dive. The
cable hanger seems to have been the main goal because early V-brakes
had rigidly mounted pads that traveled in the same arc as those of a
cantilever. Newer versions use a parallelogram link that keeps pad
motion perpendicular to the rim. As usual, these advantages are not
gained without drawbacks, such as brake chatter arising from more
complex linkage and clearance required for it to work in dirt, and
incompatibility with other brakes by its higher mechanical advantage
that requires different hand levers.

The difference in mechanical advantage has been bridged by third party
hardware, one of which is called the "travel agent", that uses a two
diameter wheel to change the mechanical advantage to that of common
road brake levers. The device can also be used in a 1:1 ratio to
replace the elbow tube of the V-brake to reduce sliding friction.

Dual Pivot

Greater leverage for the same hand motion requires smaller pad-to-rim
clearance, that the dual pivot brake achieves by using two pivot
points to define a line of action about which its two arms are
constrained to move equally and remain centered. Brake centering was
essential in reducing the pad-to-rim clearance needed for a mechanical
advantages of about 5.6:1.

Higher leverage also required compromise. The offset arm (the short
one) sweeps its pad upward into the tire so that this pad must be
adjusted as it wears. The brake cannot track a crooked wheel with,
for instance, a broken spoke, and because it has a high ratio, it does
not work at all when the quick release is accidentally left open. And
finally, it runs out of hand lever travel 40% faster with pad wear
than the former single pivot brake. Its low pad clearance and narrow
flange spacing of current wheels make the brake drag when climbing
hills standing, so that racers often ride with the rear quick release

Part of the light feel of the dual pivot brake arises from the lower
(reverse) ratio of the caliper, whose springs now no longer exert as
strong a return force on the cable and hand lever. Because this force
is lower, a return spring has been added to the hand lever, lowering
cable return force, that coincidentally reduces cable drag during free
motion of the brake (before making contact with the rim). This makes
the brake FEEL even more forceful than it is because it has such a
light action in neutral.

Delta (Campagnolo)

For lack of power brakes that motor vehicles have, brakes with
variable ratios have been designed for bicycles, one of which was a
major blunder for Campagnolo. Campagnolo introduced the Delta brake
(aka Modolo Kronos), whose mechanism is an equilateral parallelogram
in which a cable draws two opposite corners of a "diamond" together,
such that the other two corners expand. The motion can be visualized
by placing the tips of the thumbs and forefingers together to form a
diamond. Moving the tips of the diamond together at a constant rate
demonstrates the progressive nature of the mechanism and the resulting
braking action, the brake pads being connected by links to the
knuckles as it were.

The motion is a tangent function that goes from zero to infinity. An
example of this is the motion of the top of a ladder, leaning steeply
against a wall, as the foot of the ladder moves away from the wall at
a constant rate. At first the the top of the ladder moves
imperceptibly, gradually accelerating until, near the bottom, its
speed approaches infinity. Although the Delta does not use the
extremes of this range, it has this characteristic in contrast to a
sidepull brake that has a constant 1:1 ratio throughout its range.
Besides its adverse response curve, its pads moved in an upward arc
toward the tire similar to a centerpull, which it essentially is.


Hydraulic brakes have their own problems of complexity and reliability
that keep them in an almost invisible presence in general bicycling.
Their advocates insist that they are superior in all respects in spite
of their lack of acceptance by the bicycling public at large.


Subject: 8f.16 Brake Squeal
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 16:35:42 PDT

Most car, motorcycle, and bicycle brakes squeal at one time or another
because they involve stick-slip friction whose frequency is supposed
to be out of audible range. Squeal is not only annoying, it decreases
brake efficiency, especially in the lower frequencies where the length
of slip motion exceeds that of stick.

Brake noise requires elastic motion (vibration) at the sliding
interface, with at least one element in rapid stop-start motion.
Because bicycles use hand power and demand light weight, they use
relatively flimsy mechanisms and demand pads with a high coefficient
of friction. The brake material must be soft and pliable enough to
achieve good contact on relatively rough rims. The brakes generally
have a mechanical advantage between 4:1 and 6:1 from hand to rim, as
described under "Brakes from Skid Pads to V-brakes." That's not much
compared to motorcycles that have hydraulic disk brakes with
practically no pad clearance. For a hand brake, free travel (pad
clearance) and flexibility defines the limit of mechanical advantage.

Soft brake pads and lightweight (flexible) calipers promote squeal
and chatter, chatter being the mechanically more detrimental version
of stick-slip behavior. Brake chatter is caused by gummy residue on
the rim together with excessively flexible (skimpy dimensioned) brake
mechanism. Rims can be cleaned but flexible brakes can only be fixed
by using better brakes. If the rim becomes gummy again after
cleaning, then either the rims are being contaminated by something
like riding through tar weed or the pads are no good. My solution for
pad quality is Kool-Stop salmon red pads.

Squealing brakes, the more common problem, involves mainly brake pads
that generate caterpillar like surface waves. The common advice is to
bend the brake caliper to make the trailing edge of the pad (with
respect to rim motion, the forward end of the front brake pad) contact
first. This is not entirely without merit because toe-in is the
natural state of a used, non squealing brake. Elasticity of the
caliper, however small, allows the pad to follow the rim and rotate
forward about the caliper arm, wearing the heel of the pad more than
the toe, causing toe-in. Toe-in is preferred because a pad that makes
full contact as it first touches the rim will rotate slightly from
frictional drag, reducing contact... and drag, which allows it to snap
back and repeat the action. This causes surface waves in the pad,
especially when it is new and thick. For this reason, some pads are
made with thin friction material to reduce elasticity.

If the pad contacts the rim, trailing end first, it develops full
contact stably as pressure and frictional drag increase. However, the
brake may squeal anyway. This can occur with new rims or one with wax
or oil, or from other contaminants like riding across a moist lawn.
New pads often have a glossy sticky skin that should be removed either
by sand paper or use. Many types of rim contaminants that increase
stiction (stick-slip) can be removed easily by abrasive scrubbing.
This can be done by braking at moderate speed with a dusting of
household cleanser on a moist rim, followed by a water bottle squirt
rinse (also while braking). This process is more conveniently
achieved by slowly riding through a long mud puddle while braking or
by descending a mountain road in the rain where there is usually
plenty of fine grit and where rain supplies the rinse.

Some rims have machined brake surfaces with fine grooves whose
roughness reduces squeal tendencies so they don't have to be "broken
in". Martano rims of old had somewhat larger grooves as part of the
extrusion for this purpose.

Avoid bending brake calipers. This is "cold setting" in its worst
form. Aluminum in such cross sections doesn't bend far without
structural damage. Besides, this remedy could lead to more bending
with each occurrence of squeal that is better abated by other means.


Subject: 8f.17 Electronic Shifting
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 17:08:29 PDT

A reader asks whether the Mavic Mektronic is any better than the
earlier Mavic Zap electronic shifting.

New styling didn't fix the basic problems of this device, although it
has an elegant speedometer and controls. The same basic problems
remain in the derailleur mechanism that shifts by means of a ratchet
pushrod that moves in and out with each idler wheel rotation. The
faster the chain moves the faster it pumps. A shift occurs during 1/2
revolution but primarily in 1/4 revolution considering the profile of
sinusoidal motion. The stroke takes place in about 35 milliseconds
when pedaling a 52t chainwheel at 100rpm. This heavily loads the
small electrically activated ratchet pawls, one for up and one for
down, that engage one of the sides of the pushrod. The opposing
ratchets of the pushrod have teeth space exactly one gear apart with
little overshoot.

Besides the ratchet problem, the upper idler must lie on axis with the
derailleur pivot, a feature that reduces chain slack take-up. Today
derailleurs have the pivot offset from and between the two idler
wheels, and use a slant parallelogram (low friction) movement. The
Mektronic uses a sliding post (like early Simplex derailleurs) that
resists motion when chain tension loads it with torque. Moving it is
similar to pulling a socket wrench off a nut while tightening it. A
rubber boot covers the mechanism that must run in an oil bath.

Drawing power to shift from the chain is both the novelty and the
fault of this design. The novelty is that only control power is drawn
from a battery while power for shifting comes from the chain and only
while shifting. The fault is that to make this possible the function
of the derailleur is compromised. Because it can support only a short
tensioning arm due its sliding post, it cannot take up large chain
differences typical of large to small chainwheel shifts. Most
seriously, pushrod velocity is too great to be reliable at speed.


Subject: 8f.18 Bearing Seals
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:04:39 PST

Bearing Seals

What is a labyrinth seal? For that matter, even though I think I
can picture it, what is a contact seal?

Moving seals are a more complicated than they first appear and are
only slightly related to fixed seals such as beer caps, mason jars,
and gas or radiator caps. This is best emphasized by the old saying
that "the seal that doesn't leak, leaks" that being the essence of the
problem. If the seal doesn't leak a little, its flexible sealing lip
will burn for lack of lubrication from the fluid that it is intended
to contain. Therefore, there must be fluid under the seal lip.

If a seal is intended to contain oil and seal it from water, the
principal problem is one of mixing disparate fluids under the seal
lip. Because circulation occurs under the seal lip, an emulsion will
develop and even if the volume of oil on the inside is too large to be
contaminated significantly, the shaft will rust when standing,
destroying the seal lip. Automotive bearings are sealed to retain
grease and oil but are protected from water exposure by splash

Separating two fluids requires two seal lips separated by a drained
dry space. This is done on automatic transmission and differential
gears with incompatible oils, to prevent contamination by circulation
under each seal lip. This is not possible with oil and water on
bicycles because there is no water most of the time, leaving the water
seal lip dry and unlubricated, which renders it useless when exposed
to water.

Most so called sealed bearings are not water tight, mainly because
they have run dry, burning the seal lip which becomes a capillary to
suck water when wet. Phil Wood used bearings designed for used in
electric motors that use a rubber lip seal to prevent air (dust) flow
that always occurs in rotating machinery that sucks at the axle and
blows at the periphery. Such bearings were never meant to prevent
water intrusion, something they can do only for a short time when new.
This is the main reason why such "sealed" hubs were not available at
the time he introduced them. To make this work, one would have to
protect the seal lip from contacting anything but oil by a shield,
otherwise known as a labyrinth seal.

The most common labyrinth seals on bicycles are found on Campagnolo
Pedals, threaded head bearings, and above all on Sturmey Archer
3-Speed hubs that are rust free and working more than 50 years after
manufacture. Bendix and New Departure coaster brakes are also
examples of excellent water rejection unless submerged.

The nature of a labyrinth seal is that it uses gravity to purge water
from its entrance. Typically this requires nothing more than two
nested channel cross section washers of two diameters, one rotating in
the other that is anchored in the housing. To visualize this make a
"C" shape with both hands, interleaving the thumb and forefingers so
they move freely in a rotary motion from the elbows. You can see
that, vertically, water has no ability to enter, and tilting the pair
either way only enhances the barrier.

The last such device I am aware of was the New Winner Pro Sun Tour
freewheel, whose labyrinth was visible as a tiny brass ring on both
faces. It's problem was that such a seal must take into account the
wetting angle of water and must have a large enough air gap to prevent
capillary attraction. The Sun Tour execution lay at the lower limit
with its small spacing but they worked under most conditions.


Subject: 8f.18 Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed Hubs
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:04:39 PST

Sturmey-Archer hubs have been in service for many years (1887):


Yet they have had a design flaw from the beginning that escaped
scrutiny through most of the popular life of the common 3-speed AW
hub. This flaw has consistently been "swept under the rug" or laid at
the feet of the mechanic so completely that few have questioned why it
jumps into free wheeling when ridden forcefully in top gear. I think
the symptom and cause should be explained to prevent injuries.

Drive is transmitted from the sprocket through a four slot driver,
through which a small movable cross (clutch) protrudes to transmit
drive in, low, direct,and high gear positions.

In low gear, the clutch is moved to the right to lift the (high gear)
pawls, driving the ring gear directly so that the ring gear drives the
planets with output going through the planet cage and its (low gear)
pawls at 3/4 the input speed. With one pair of pawls raised and the
other pair driving, the typical clicking sound of AW hubs is absent.

In second gear, (direct drive), the clutch drives the hub body
directly through the right hand pawls, making the planet carrier (low
gear) pawls click as they lag behind.

Top gear engages when the clutch is fully extended to the left against
the planet cage, between the four protruding planet (pinion) pins, to
drive the planets that turn the ring gear 4/3 the input speed. In
this position, the low gear pawls in the planet cage click as they lag
behind. It is the inverse of low gear and hence the reciprocal
relationship between low 1/3 down and high 1/4 up with respect to
direct drive on AW hubs.

Because the pinion pins are free fit in the housing, they are slightly
skewed to the hub axis due to canting within the clearance when loaded
by the clutch, a "tilt" that has a disengaging bias to the driving
clutch. However, because the axle bends slightly from chain tension,
depth of engagement between clutch and pinion pins varies during
rotation. These two effects can disengage the clutch and pins under
high torque, dropping the mechanism into free wheeling forward. The
result is that the rider, if standing, dives over the bars, with the
bicycle following.

This condition is apparent upon examining the clutch and pins that
both show wear, slanting to enhance disengagement. However, replacing
these parts does not resolve the condition. SA has always maintained
that the shift cable was misadjusted, something that is easily
disproven by disengaging the shift chain entirely. With the cable
disconnected, the clutch is free to make perfect contact with the face
of the planet cage, the best adjustment possible for top gear, and
still disengagement occurs.

This problem could have been resolved by putting a slight flare to the
ends of the planet pins and a similar matching slant on the clutch
faces, giving their engagement a preferential retaining force instead
of the opposite. Most motorcycle gear boxes use such features,
especially in older non-synchronized sliding gear boxes... the classic
clunk of BMW boxes for instance.

Similarly, the spring-less ratchet of the SW (Silent) hub was sensitive
to lubricant viscosity and with anything more than 10W oil could
freewheel forward, the pawls clinging to the ramps by oil viscosity
while not engaging. This hub was discontinued after a short run
probably because one could not place blame on user error.


Subject: 8f.20 Loosening Splined Shimano Cranks
From: "Jobst Brandt"
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

My 1 year old XTR crank on XTR splined BB loosens with use.

After each ride (an hour or so) the crank bolt looses up by about a
quarter turn. i.e. - when I tighten the bolt, my 8mm Allen key is
in the 12 o'clock position, after the ride, it is in the 9 o'clock

This crank attachment was apparently designed assuming that all riders
lead with the left foot when standing on both pedals, typically over
rough terrain. Properly tightened retaining bolts can loosen only
with weight on both pedals, right foot forward, because this is the
only condition under which the crank spindle torque reverses.

Reverse torque takes up backlash in the splines and turns the
retaining bolt slightly with each reversal. Backlash exists because
the splines have no press fit and do not mesh snugly, so they have
backlash at the outset. Elasticity of the spline teeth add backlash
motion, and when repeated often, can unscrew the retaining bolt.

Shimano, apparently in response to this problem, has a new design for
all its cranks. These use a straight spline on a hollow spindle onto
which left crank having a split knuckle is secured with two pinch
bolts while the right crank is permanently attached to the spindle.
This is not an entirely new idea but the execution appears promising.
However, its BB bearings are external to the BB shell possibly
presenting a new loosening problem as does the spindle, that has a
free fit in these bearings.



Subject: 8g Tech Accessories


Subject: 8g.1 Milk Jug Mud Flaps
From: Chuck Tryon

Actually, I have used plastic like this (or in my case, some
red plastic from a cheap note book cover -- it's heavier) to extend the
bottom (rear) end of the front fender. The Zephals are good, but they
don't stop the splash from where the tire hits the road from getting on my
feet. What I did was cut a small triangle about 3in (~7cm) wide by 6in
(~15cm) long, cut a hole in the top of it and the bottom end of the fender,
and use a pop-rivet (with washers to prevent tear out) to attach it. On a
road bike, it should be end up being within a few inches of the road. ATB's
will need more clearance, so this won't work well off road.

| |
| |
/| o |\ ----- rivet with washer on inside
| \___/ |
/ \ ---- flap fits inside of the fender, and follows the
| | curve, which gives it some stiffness.
| |
| |
| |
| | ----- bottom of tire


Subject: 8g.2 Storing NiCad Batteries
From: Tom
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 13:23:29 -0800

Michael GWell, the days are getting longer, and I won't be needing my
VistaLight 530 lights with a nicad battery for my nightly commute home until
October or November. My question is, what is the best way to prevent damage
to the battery from discharging over the next 6 months? Presumably, it will
lose charge slowly while in storage, so I will have to recharge it every now
and again. But how often is that? How can I be sure not to overcharge it
without going to the hassle of letting it discharge until the lights begin
to dim, then recharge it the 12-14 h stipulated in the manual?

You definately do NOT want to store NiCads charged. NiCads should be
stored discharged.

For more info, check out:
and especially check out:
for NiCad storage info.


Subject: 8h Tech Ergonomics


Subject: 8h.1 Seat adjustments
From: Roger Marquis

[More up to date copies of Roger's articles can be found at

The following method of setting saddle height is not the only method
around for setting your saddle height but it is the most popular
among experienced coaches and riders in the US and Europe.

1) First adjust the saddle angle. It should be level or very close
to level, with no more than 2mm slope up or down at the nose.

2) Put on the shoes you normally ride in. Don't forget to lightly
grease the seat post and binder bolt. Have a binder bolt wrench
ready (usually a 5mm Allen).

3) Mount the bike and sit comfortably, leaning against a wall.
Apply a brake with one hand (or mount the bike on a turbo trainer).

4) Placing your HEELS on the pedals pedal backwards at 30+ rpm
without rocking your pelvis (very important).

5) Adjust seat height so the gap between pedal and heel at bottom
dead center is:

5A) ZERO TO ONE HALF CM. for recreational riders (-50 mi/wk.),

5B) ONE HALF TO ONE CM. for experienced riders (50+ mi./wk.),

5C) ONE TO ONE AND ONE HALF CM. for endurance cyclists (250+

NOTE: Modify these recommendations if your soles are considerably
thicker at the cleat than at the heel. It can be difficult
to make an accurate measurement without a mirror or friend
to do a visual check of your heel and pedal at BDC. (This is
especially true for Time and Look style cleats).

6) Ride. It may take a couple of rides to get used to the feel and
possibly stretch the hamstrings and Achilles slightly.

Roger Marquis )


Subject: 8h.2 Cleat adjustments
From: Roger Marquis

[note: You may also want to consider going to a bike shop that does
Fit Kit and have them do the Fit Kit RAD to adjust your cleats. Many
people recommend it.]

[More up to date copies of Roger's articles can be found at

1) Grease the cleat bolts and tighten moderately. NOTE: it can be
*difficult* to tighten the bolts so they are loose enough to allow
cleat movement but tight enough to stay in one place while
clipping-out. Depending one the pedals it may be easier to have
someone mark the cleat position with a pencil before dismounting.

2) Sitting on the bike, put your feet in the pedals and adjust

2B) The ball of your foot is directly above or, more commonly,
slightly behind the pedal axle and,

2C) The inside edge of your ankle is approximately parallel
with the inside edge of the ball of the foot. This position
should feel natural and comfortable when first tried out.

Cleats positioned too far forward (on the shoe) can cause excessive
ankle movement and result in Achilles strain. When positioned too
far back they will be ergonomically inefficient and can cause knee

3) Tighten the cleat bolts fully and go out for a ride. If the
position just doesn't feel right repeat steps 1 and 2 with small

Consider also finding a bike shop that does Fit Kits. Many people
recommend it for problematic shoes and pedals.

Roger Marquis )


Subject: 8h.3 Adjusting SPD Cleats

Six adjustments can be made when setting up SPD cleats. With the foot
parallel to the ground and pointing in the direction of travel, the
adjustments a

1) Left/right translation
2) Front/back translation
3) Up/down translation
4) Front to back tilt
5) Side to side tilt
6) Azimuth, often called "rotation"

Front to back tilt is adjusted as the bicycle is pedaled since the
pedals themselves rotate freely in this direction.

Some people may need to adjust side to side tilt, but this requires
the use of shims which are not provided and can cause the cleat to
protrude beyond the tread of the shoe. Custom insoles that have
one side slightly thicker than the other may have the same effect
as shims between the cleat and the shoe.

Separate up/down adjustments for each leg may be necessary for
individuals with established leg length differences. To adjust
up/down translation in one shoe use a combination of an insole
and raise or lower the seat. To make small up/down changes
equally in both legs, simply raise or lower the seat.

The usual adjustments for SPD cleats are left/right, front/back,
and Azimuth. Of these Azimuth is the most sensitive. For most
people these three adjustments are sufficient to obtain a
comfortable alignment.


Aligning SPD cleats:

Position the cleat so that it lies on the imaginary line between the
bony knob on the inside of your foot at the base of your big toe and
a similar but smaller knob on the outside of the foot at the base of
the smallest toe. Set azimuth so that the pointed end of the cleat
points directly toward the front of the shoe.

If you're switching from clips and straps, and you are satisfied with
your current alignment, use the following alternate method. Position
your SPD shoe fully in the clip of your old pedal and align the cleat
to the spindle of your old pedal. Center the cleat in the X direction,
leaving room to adjust either way should the need arise.

Some people find pedaling more comfortable if their left and right
feet are closer together. This is sometimes called the "Q-factor".
If you prefer to start with a low Q-factor, then move the cleat so that
it is as close as possible to the outside of the shoe. Tighten both
cleat bolts before engaging the pedal.

Adjust the release tension of the pedals so that it is somewhere in
the low to middle part of the tension adjustment range. The higher
the release tension, the harder it will be for you to disengage the
pedals when dismounting. The lower the release tension, the easier it
will be for you to inadvertently pull out of the pedals, especially
when standing and pedaling. If you stand often to power up hills,
consider setting the initial release tension higher as an unwanted
release under these conditions can result in a painful spill. See
the pedal instructions.

Mount your bike on a trainer, if you have one, to make preliminary
cleat and release tension adjustments. Practice engaging and
disengaging the pedals a few times before you take a real ride.
Soon you will find this easy. If you notice that a shoe rubs a
crank or chainstay, adjust left/right translation and azimuth
until the shoe no longer rubs.

As you pedal, you will probably find the initial azimuth
uncomfortable on one or both legs. Notice how your foot would like
to rotate. Adjust the azimuth of the appropriate cleat in the same
direction your foot wants to rotate. For example, if your foot
wants to rotate clockwise, adjust the azimuth of the cleat (when
looking at the bottom of the shoe) clockwise. Start by making
moderate corrections. If you overshoot the adjustment, correct by
half as much.

As you approach optimum azimuth, you may need to ride longer before
you notice discomfort. Take your bike off the trainer, and go for
a real ride! And bring your 4mm allen key.

You may find very small azimuth adjustments difficult to make. This
happens because the cleat has made an indentation in the stiff sole
material (usually plastic, sometimes with a tacky, glue-like
material where a portion of the sole was removed). When you tighten
the cleat after making a small correction, it will tend to slide back
into the old indentation. Try moving the cleat one millimeter or so
to the side or to the front or back, so the cleat can no longer slip
into the old indentation pattern as it is being tightened.

Pain in the ball of your foot can be relieved. One way is by moving
the cleat rearward. Start by moving the cleat about two to three
millimeters closer to the rear of the shoe. Be careful not to change
the azimuth. When pedaling notice how far your heel is from the
crank. After making a front/rear adjustment, check to make sure the
crank-heel distance has not noticeably changed.

Moving a cleat rearward on the shoe has the effect of raising your seat
by a lesser amount for that leg. The exact expression is messy, but
for an upright bike, the effect is similar to raising your seat by
about y/3 for that leg, where y is the distance you moved the cleat to
the rear. For example, if you move your cleat 6 millimeters to the
rear, you might also want to lower your seat by about 2 millimeters.
Remember, though, that unless both cleats are moved rearward the same
amount, your other leg may feel that the seat is too low.

Another way to relieve pain in the ball of the foot is to use a custom
orthotic and/or a padded insole. Most cycling shoes provide poor arch
support and even poorer padding.

After riding for a while with your aligned cleats if you find yourself
pulling out of the pedals while pedaling, you will need to tighten the
release tension. After tightening the release tension the centering
force of the pedals will be higher, and you may discover that the
azimuth isn't optimum. Adjust the azimuth as described above.

On the other hand, if you find you never pull out of the pedals while
pedaling and if you find it difficult or uncomfortable to disengage
the cleat, try loosening the release tension. People whose knees
like some rotational slop in the cleat may be comfortable with very
loose cleat retension.

As with any modification that affects your fit on the bike, get used
to your pedals gradually. Don't ride a century the day after you
install SPDs. Give your body about two or three weeks of gradually
longer rides to adapt to the new feel and alignment, especially if
you've never ridden with clipless pedals before. Several months after
installing SPDs, I occasionally tinker with the alignment.

After performing the above adjustments if you are still uncomfortable,
seek additional help. Some people can be helped by a FitKit. If
you're lucky enough to have a good bike shop nearby, seek their


Tightening cleat bolts:

Tighten cleat bolts until they _begin_ to bind. This will happen when
further tightening produces a vibration or squeal from the cleat.
Tighten no further or you may damage the mounting plate on the inside
of the shoe. After living for a while with a comfortable alignment,
remove each mounting bolt separately, apply blue loctite on the
threads, and reinstall. Should you later find you need to loosen a
bolt to adjust the alignment, you will have to reapply the loctite.

Keeping the Pedal/Cleat interface clean:

Occasionally you may find the pedals suddenly more difficult to
disengage. This usually happens because dirt or other contaminants
get caught in the cleat or pedal mechanism. I have found that a good
spray with a hose quickly and cleanly washes off dust, mud, or other
gunk from the pedal and cleat. You may also wish to spray the pedal
with a light silicone or teflon lubricant.


John Unruh )
Lawrence You )


Case History:

I have sensitive legs--feet, ankles, knees, tendons, etc. If the
cleats aren't aligned properly, I feel it. I took a long time to find
a cleat alignment that was comfortable for long and/or intense rides.

I ride a Bridgestone RB-T, 62cm frame, triple chainring. I wear size
48 Specialized Ground Control shoes--evil-looking black and red
things. They were the only shoes I could find in my size that were
comfortable. When I installed the M737 pedals, I had 175mm cranks.
I set the release tension so that the indicator was at the loose end
but so that I could see the entire nut in the slot.

The azimuth I found most comfortable had both shoes pointing roughly
straight ahead. The ball of my left foot began hurting, so I moved
the left cleat back about 4-6mm. This placed the ball of my foot in
front of the pedal spindle. I did not make any left/right

Unfortunately, on longer rides, the ball of my left foot still hurt,
so I got a pair of custom CycleVac "Superfeet" insoles. I removed the
stock insole from the shoe, and inserted the CycleVac insole. The
CycleVac doesn't have any padding at the ball, and my foot didn't like
the hard plastic sole of the shoe. I had a pair of thin green Spenco
insoles lying around, so I put those under the CycleVacs to provide
some padding. I didn't use the stock insoles because they are too
thick. Finally, the pain was gone! If I remain pain-free for a while
I may try moving the left cleat forward again.

Then I replaced the 175mm cranks with 180mm cranks, and I lowered the
seat 2.5mm. My left foot was still happy, but my right knee began to
complain. Not only that, but my right foot felt as if it was being
twisted to the right (supinating), toward the outside of the pedal.
After fussing with the azimuth of the right cleat, I couldn't find a
satisfactory position, though I could minimize the discomfort.

I moved the right cleat as far as I could to the outside of the shoe,
bringing my foot closer to the crank. I also reduced the release
tension further. The red indicating dots are now just visible. This
helped my knee, but my foot still felt as if it were being twisted,
as if all the force were being transmitted through the outside of the
foot. In addition, my left Achilles Tendon started to hurt at times.

I lowered the seat another couple millimeters. This helped, but I
felt that my right leg wasn't extending far enough. Then I tried
_rotating_ the saddle just a little to the right, so the nose was
pointing to the right of center. This helped. But my right foot
still felt supinated, and my right knee started to hurt again.

I removed the right CycleVac insole and Spenco insole and replaced them
with the original stock insole that provides little arch support.
Bingo. The discomfort was gone. It seems I need the arch support for
the left foot but not for the right foot.

How long will it be before I make another tweak? The saga continues...


Copyright 1993, Bill Bushnell. Feel free to distribute this article
however you see fit, but please leave the article and this notice


Subject: 8h.4 SPD cleat compatability
From: Eric Salathe
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 11:52:55 -0800 (PST)

1) Could someone provide a definitive answer (I have been told
different things) about whether the newer Ultegra pedal will accept the
same cleat (I also have the PDA525 on another bike that I would like to
wear the same shoes with).

According to the Shimano web page FAQ:

Frequently Asked Questions

19) What cleats work with which pedals?

The SM-SH70 and SM-SH71 work best with both the PD-7410 and the PD-6500.
The SM-SH51 and SM-SH55 work with the PD-M747, M636, M545, M535, M515,
M434, M323, A525, M737 and M525.

There are a couple usable combinations which can be substituted for
the recommended cleat:

PD-M747, M636 M545, M535, M515, M434 can use all cleats (70,71,51,55).

The PD-A525 and PD-M323 work with all cleats except SM-SH70.

The new SH-90, SH-81/91 and SH-82/92 are only compatible with the PD-7700,
PD-6600 and PD-5500 SPD-R type pedals.


Based on this, I made the following table, which really ought to be on
Sheldon's web page (the 70/71 cleats are the standard road-racing cleats
and 50/51 are standard two-sided pedal cleats):

M747 M636 M545 M535 M515 M434 M737 M525 A525 M323 7410 6500 SPD-R
SH70 ok ok ok ok ok ok no no no no yes yes no
SH71 ok ok ok ok ok ok no no ok ok yes yes no
SH50 yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes no no no
SH51 yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes no no no
SPD-R no no no no no no no no no no no no yes

So the direct answer is that only the multi-release SH71 cleat will work
both with your A525s and with Ultegra 6500 SPDs.

2) Does anyone have any leftover PDA525 single-sided road pedals
for sale?

I don't see what purpose the one-sided A525s serve. Svelt one-sided
road-racing pedals make sense for the extremes of weight shaving and
corner clearance, but these are not met by the heavier and clunkier A525.
You are just giving up the two-sided convienience of the M535 or M515 with
no benefit in return except possibly the bogus claim that they are `road
pedals' not `MTB pedals'


Subject: 8h.5 Shimmy or Speed Wobble
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 00:29:14 -0700

Shimmy, a spontaneous steering oscillation of the front wheel, usually
occurs at a predictable speed when riding no-hands. The likelihood of
shimmy is greatest when the only rider-to-bicycle contact is at the
saddle and pedals. This position gives the least damping by hands,
arms, and legs. When shimmy occurs on descents, with hands on the
bars, it is highly disconcerting because the most common rider
response, of gripping the bars firmly, only increases it.

Shimmy is not related to frame alignment or loose bearings, as is
often claimed. Shimmy results from dynamics of front wheel rotation,
mass of the handlebars, elasticity of the frame, and where the rider
contacts the bicycle. Both perfectly aligned bicycles and ones with
wheels out of plane to one another shimmy nearly equally well. It is
as likely with properly adjusted bearings as loose ones. The idea
that shimmy is related to bearing adjustment or alignment has been
established by repetition.

Bicycle shimmy is the lateral oscillation of the head tube about the
road contact point of the front wheel and depends largely on frame
geometry and the elasticity of the top and down tubes. It is driven
by gyroscopic forces of the front wheel, making it largely speed
dependent. It cannot be fixed by adjustments because it is inherent
to the geometry and elasticity of the bicycle frame. The longer the
frame and the higher the saddle, the greater the tendency to shimmy,
other things being equal. Weight distribution also has no effect on
shimmy although where that weight contacts the frame does. Bicycle
shimmy is unchanged when riding no-hands, whether leaning forward or

Shimmy requires a spring and a mass about which to oscillate and these
are furnished by the frame and seated rider. Unloading the saddle
(without standing up) will stop shimmy. Pedaling or rough road will
also reduce the tendency to shimmy. In contrast, coasting no-hands
downhill on a smooth road at more than 20mph with the cranks vertical
seems to be the most shimmy prone condition.

When coasting no-hands, laying one leg against the top tube is the
most common way to inhibit shimmy and also one of the most common ways
to coast no-hands. Compliant tread of knobby tires usually have
sufficient squirming damping to suppress shimmy. Weight of the
handlebar and its extension from of the steering axis also affects

Shimmy is caused by the gyroscopic force of the front wheel whose tilt
is roughly at right angles to the steering axis, making the wheel
steer to the left when it leans to the left. This steering action
twists the toptube and downtube, storing energy that both limits
travel and causes a return swing. Trail (caster) of the fork acts on
the wheel to limit these excursions and return them toward center.

Shimmy that concerns riders the most occurs with hands firmly on the
bars and it is rider generated by muscular effect whose natural
response is the same as the shimmy frequency, about that of Human
shivering. Descending in cold weather can be difficult for this
reason. The rider's "death grip" only enhances the incidence of
shimmy in this situation. Loosely holding the bars between thumb and
forefinger is a way of avoiding shimmy when cold.


Subject: 8h.6 Soft Bicycle Saddles
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 10:26:21 PST

I was wondering if someone could direct me to a bike seat that is
soft. I have a Specialized-brand bike and the seat is hard. What
is the softest seat available?

You may already have heard something like this but I think it bears
repeating. Bicycle seats are much harder and narrower than you might
expect because they are designed to bear on a small area, primarily
the protuberances of the pelvic bone that you can feel as solid bumps
if you feel under your buttocks as you sit in a chair.

If you sit on a larger area, for instance on a soft cushion, you will
be sitting on the muscles that propel the bicycle. Although this may
be comfortable sitting still, pedaling, it causes a "charley horse" in
these muscles for lack of adequate blood circulation. You will want
to avoid such soft saddles if you plan to ride more than a few hundred
yards because riding will become painful. A better course is to ride
a conventional firm saddle, repeatedly, until your seating is no
longer sensitive. All bicyclists who ride substantial distances
achieve this condition, albeit with various saddles, none of which
have the broad deep cushion often sought by newcomers.

Even an experienced rider who is laid up or otherwise cannot ride for
more than a month, experiences much the same discomfort you do when he
returns to riding the saddle that he previously never gave a thought.
The big cushioned saddles are made for people who don't ride bicycles.
That is why there are so few of them available, and they are generally
not found in bicycle shops where the regulars shop.


Subject: 8h.7 Black vs White Helmet - Thermal Test
From: terry morse
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 10:20:57 -0700

At the encouragement of others, I ran a more elaborate test to see
how black and white helmets react thermally in sunlight under forced
air cooling. This new test aims to answer the question of whether or
not a black helmet is hotter than a white one when worn in direct
sunlight, both while at rest and while moving.

First of all, many thanks to Mike of Chain Reaction Bicycles
http://www.chainreactionbicycles.com/ for the loan of two Trek
Vapor helmets for the test. Mike: I'll be returning the helmets (none
the worse for wear) very shortly.

Test equiment:
1 regular household fan
1 150W halogen lamp
1 styrofoam head (from a wig store)
1 handheld anemometer
2 Trek Vapor helmets, size large (1 white, 1 black)
1 digital thermometer
1 stopwatch
( photo: http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/imgs/thtest1.jpg )

Place the temperature probe at the crown of the styrofoam head, and
put the helmet on the head. Hang the lamp 5" above the helmet, turn
the fan on high speed (6.5 mph), record the temperature every minute
until it stops changing. Set the fan on low speed (5.0 mph), record
the temperature every minute until it stops changing. Turn off the
fan, record the temperature until you can no longer stand it. Repeat
test for the black helmet, white helmet, and bare head.

Black helmet test photo:

Bare head test photo:


Complete Results: http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/imgs/temps1.jpg
Air-Cooled Detail: http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/imgs/temps2.jpg

Air Speed | Delta T: Black Hemlet White Helmet Bare Head
6.5 mph | 1.4 F 1.1 0.6
5.0 | 2.5 1.5 1.0
0.0 (*) | 20.4 21.1 29.3
(*) 16 minutes after turning off fan

As I had expected, there is a measurable difference between the black
and the white helmets at these air speeds and radiant levels.

The temperature rose quickly when the fan was turned off, and it
continued to climb for several minutes. There was no significant
difference between the white and black helmet in this "no air"
sequence, as the temperature increased at basically the same rate for
both. The small difference between the two might have been caused by
a slight shift in the ambient temperature during the test run. One
might conclude that the black surface got hotter and promoted free
convection, which made the black helmet wearer slightly cooler. But I
would hate to conclude that from these small temperature differences.

The bare head test had the greatest and fastest temperature rise in
the "no-air" test, even though I had surrounded the temperature probe
with a radiation shield (aluminum foil). While styrofoam certainly is
not thermally equivalent to the human head, this result add credence
to the old adage of wearing a hat on a sunny day (at least when
you're not moving).


Subject: 8h.8 Ankling, a pedaling style
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Thu, 09 Nov 2000 14:04:39 PST

Ankling, a topic of much discussion, has been claimed to improved
performance in bicycling, although not by racers and coaches. It has
been touted as one of the techniques for excellence that appeals to
bicyclists mainly because it requires no additional effort. That
there are different ankle motions while pedaling is apparent, although
most of these are not by choice nor do they effect efficiency.
Because so much attention was given the subject in the 1960's, it
prompted a study in Italy, in which some leading racers noted for
their abilities as well as a distinct pedaling style were fit with
instrumentation to numerically capture the stroke. Among them was
Jacques Anquetil who had a noticeably different ankle motion.

The study determined that there was no consistency among those tested
and that ankling, much like people's walking gait, is caused by
physical individuality rather than any advantage. Typically, some
walking gaits are so pronounced that a person can be recognized by it
at a distance. Some people raise their heel before stepping off on
the next stride while others "peel" the foot from the floor in a
continuous motion. To artificially emulate someone's ankle motion or
lack thereof, while pedaling, is as useless as emulating a walking
gait. The study laid ankling to rest for a while, but because urban
legends have a life of their own, rising again at the slightest
opportunity, ankling, with its lore, is assured a long life.


Subject: 8i Tech Misc


Subject: 8i.1 Weight = Speed?

I was wondering if anyone could help me figure out why heavier
people roll down hills faster than the little scrawnies like myself.

Surface as well as cross sectional area of an object (a human body)
increases more slowly than its weight (volume). Therefore, wind drag,
that is largely dependent on surface, is proportionally smaller for a
heavier and larger object than a smaller one of similar shape and
composition. A good example is dust at a rock quarry that remains
suspended in the air for a long time while the larger pieces such as
sand, gravel, and rock fall increasingly faster to the ground. They
are all the same material and have similar irregular shapes but have
different weight to surface area ratios, and therefore, different wind
resistance to weight ratios. This applies equally to bicyclists
coasting down hills if other factors such as clothing and position on
the bicycle are similar.


Subject: 8i.2 Traffic detector loops
From: Bob Shanteau

A traffic loop detects metal objects such as cars and bicycles based on
the change in inductance that they induce in the loop. The loop is an
inductor in an LC circuit that is tuned to resonate at a certain
frequency. A metal plate over the loop (like a car) causes the magnetic
flux to be shorted, reducing the inductance of the loop. This causes a
change in resonant frequency, which is detected and sent to the signal
controller. One of the ways of testing a loop is to create a loop about
2 feet in diameter with several turns of wire (connecting the ends) and
placing the test wire in the middle of the traffic loop. The test wire
should cause a dectection, if all is working.

The same effect is seen with a vertical piece of metal, such as a
bicycle, but is weaker. Because aluminum conducts electricity quite
well, aluminum rims help. Steel rims are OK. Non-metal rims cannot be
picked up at all. A bicycle with aluminum rims will cause about 1/100
the change in inductance of a car.

It is always possible to set a detector's sensitivity to pick up a
bicycle. The trade-off is in longer detection times and the possibility
of false detections from vehicles in adjacent lanes. Most people who set
signal detectors use the lowest sensitivity setting that will pick up
cars reliably.

I advocate using the highest setting that will avoid picking up vehicles
in adjacent lanes. Digital circuits used in modern detectors can use
high sensitivity settings without unacceptable increases in detection
times. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of old detectors out there,
and most people who work on signals use principles based on the
performance characteristics of old detectors.

In any case, bicyclists should, as a general rule, place their wheels
over one of the slots to maximize their chance of being detected. That
is where the magnetic field perpindicular to the wheels is strongest.
Bouncing the bike or moving it back and forth does no good. If you have
a metal frame, another tactic that may work is to lay the bicycle down
horizontally inside the loop until the light turns green.

Advancements are under way that may make traffic loops obsolete some
day. In particular, radar, infrared and sound detectors have been
introduced. Systems based on video cameras are especially promising.
Such systems can easily detect bicycles. Such a system may even be able
to detect pedestrians some day.

Bob Shanteau, PhD. PE
Registered Traffic Engineer


Subject: 8i.3 The Continuously Variable Transmission
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Sat, 25 Jan 2003 13:49:06 -0800 (PST)

The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is the holy grail of many
inventors who are not convinced that it is an impossibility. That is
to say, the positive engagement, continuously variable transmission,
that does not rely on friction, electrical, or hydraulic ratios but
uses mechanical gearing, is not possible. By definition, continuously
variable is analog while gears and chains are digital.

The CVT does not exist, and I am convinced it will not. If it were
possible, railway locomotives, trucks, buses, and cars would long ago
have used them. Strangely, it is in bicycling that the strongest
believers of the concept reside... as if there were more money to be
made in bicycles. In fact, the bicycle, with its enormously adaptable
human motor, doesn't need a CVT. In addition, its low input speed and
extremely high torque, make the bicycle an especially difficult
gearing challenge. For this reason high performance bicycles use
derailleur chain drive that is found practically nowhere else.

Non-gear CVT's, currently used elsewhere, have poorer efficiency than
both planetary gears and derailleur chains. More importantly though,
the low-speed high torque of bicycling would require transmissions
that would weigh more than the bicycle, which makes them impractical.


Subject: 8i.4 Alenax Bicycle
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 15:08:52 PDT

Has anyone heard of an Alenax bike? Instead of pedaling a circular
motion, the pedals pump up and down vertically. Strangest riding
bike I've tried. A friend bought one at a garage sale.

The Alenax is a great example of an outsider inventing a solution to a
perceived problem, creating something that is useless for the intended
user. Much money was thrown into the design and manufacture of the
Alenax and several years of bicycle show attendance with many models.

As soon as you ride it, you'll realize why it doesn't work, even
though it has a continuously variable gear ratio. It isn't a CVT
(continuously variable transmission) because it relies on
reciprocating levers to pull the chains, essentially a rowing machine
on which the "oarlock" (fulcrum) is movable.

The main problem is that the invention is based on constant velocity
lever pedals, instead of circular cranks on which the rotating foot
presents no inertial problems and on which the leg moves in sinusoidal
motion. The Alenax requires the foot to reach full speed from a stop,
before it catches up to the load it is trying to propel, after which
it must stop suddenly from full speed at the bottom of the stroke.
The action can be simulated by propelling a conventional bicycle with
one foot locked into a pedal by rocking the pedal up and down through
a small arc about the forward position.

The early models had fully independent pedal levers that could be
pedaled singly or in parallel or only only one if you wanted. This
made the return stroke difficult because the leg and crank had to be
pulled back to the top. What was worse is that in the event of a bump
in the road, the rider could not stand up, because both pedals would
go to the very bottom, fully extending the legs which prevented rising
from the saddle.

A later version employed a straddle cable over a pulley through which
one pedal raised the other, also enabling one to stand on both pedals
at half height as on a conventional bicycle.

Wheel changes were complicated by two chains, one on each side of the
rear wheel, each tensioned by a haulback spring. Each freewheel had
one sprocket but I can imagine a large and small one to give more
range with a smaller lever extension. The left side required a left
handed freewheel.

Summing it up, I think the inventor (and investors) did not realize
that converting reciprocating motion into circular motion is best done
by a rotary crank rather than a reciprocating lever, and above all,
they weren't bicyclists.

Jobst Brandt


Subject: 8i.5 Stuck Pedal Removal
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 12:47:21 -0800

What's the trick to removing pedals? Of the three times that I have
tried to remove my pedals (I have two bikes and am in the process of
exchanging/switching pedals) I have only succeeded once. The main
problem is the pedals have been put on very tightly and I can't even
budge the damn thing.

Left and right pedals have left and right threads respectively, and
are best removed with a long handled 15mm pedal wrench. Rather than
using any clever wrench orientation or other methods to determine
which way to tighten or loosen pedals, use the rule that rotating
"forward" (as the wheels of the bicycle do) tightens and rotating
"backward" loosens.

Pedals are often made with tight fitting threads in an effort to
improve the hold of this poorly designed mechanical interface. The
intent is to prevent relative motion under load although they move
anyway. If that were not the case, the threads would not be left and
right handed. That they move is also apparent from damage where the
pedal axle frets against the crank face, the main causes of crank
failures at the pedal eye. Besides damaging the crank face, fretting
motion depletes thread lubrication and causes galling (aka welding) so
that pedals often cannot be removed forcefully without damaging pedal
shafts, wrenches, or cranks so that forceful removal strips threads.

To remove "frozen" pedals from an aluminum crank, remove the crank and
pedal from the BB spindle, heat the pedal end of the crank over gas
flame cooking stove until it sizzles to the wet touch. Using a pedal
wrench, the pedal usually unscrews relatively easily without damage.
If a lubricated pedal with clean threads does not screw in easily, a
thread tap should be run through the crank to prevent galling on
insertion. This is best done on the bicycle, where the crank is held
firmly by the BB and prevented from rotation by the chain. To keep
chain tension to a minimum (so the rear wheel does not spin), keep the
pedal wrench as parallel to the crank as possible rather than as an
extension to the crank.


Subject: 8i.6 Removing Pedals
From: Mike Iglesias

Here's a simple rule to remember which direction to turn the pedals
when removing them from the cranks: With the wrench at the 12 o'clock
position, turn the wrench towards the rear tire. This works for both
the left and right pedal.

The left pedal has left-hand threads (tighten counter-clockwise), so it is
the opposite of the normal right-hand treads found most everywhere else on
the bike.


Subject: 8i.7 Bikecurrent FAQ
From: William Burrow
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 22:57:29 -0400

The bikecurrent FAQ covers issues related to electricity on bicycles,
primarily bicycle lighting and providing power to the lighting, whether
by generator or battery. Terms and concepts are covered for starting
the journey into understanding the topic in detail.


William Burrow -- New Brunswick, Canada


Subject: 8i.8 Fretting damage in Bicycle Mechanics
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 16:35:42 PDT

Fretting or to fret: to eat or gnaw away, to erode.

In machinery, fretting is the micro-motion of tightly fitting parts
that superficially appear immobile with respect to each other.
Classically, transmission shafts and gears or axles with a press fit
show evidence of motion on disassembly by the presence of rouge, rouge
being iron oxide particles that are generated in such interfaces by
micro-motions far smaller than conventional measuring equipment can

On bicycles such an interface occurs between the square taper on the
pedal crank and its spindle, where rouge is evident on the face of the
steel spindle regardless of whether it was assembled with grease or
not. That fretting occurs is also evident by the need for a retaining
bolt to prevent crank disengagement from its spindle and of pedals
from their crank. Removing a crank requires substantial force with an
extractor, yet continual fretting will disengage the crank in the
absence of a retaining bolt. Likewise pedals are not easily removed,
but without a left hand thread on left pedals, they will unscrew.

In addition to disengaging the press fit of a crank, fretting moves
cranks up the taper until the preload of the retaining and
installation bolt matches the press times the slope of the taper.
That is to say, fretting relaxes surface friction loads in the
interface. Additionally, load distortion of a crank causes it to move
away from the face of the retaining bolt, up the taper of the spindle.

Pedals have similar relative motions in the attachment thread and
pressure face on the shoulder of the spindle. This is also a dynamic
joint that appears to be static. In the case of the pedal, fretting
motion is directional and can cause precession by the "wandering" load
whose center of pressure rotates in the crank thread opposite to the
rotation of the crank. Even without clearance, elastic deformation of
the crank and pedal spindle cause micro motions that, if not countered
by an appropriate thread direction, will unscrew the pedal. The
presence of a left hand thread on the left pedal and on many bottom
bracket right side bearing cups is proof that fretting occurs.

If these motions did not occur, then bolt locking devices, such as
cotter pins, lock nuts and lock washers would not be necessary. Most
nuts and bolts so secured do not come loose in service and therefore
should not rotate. Presence of locking means gives evidence that
fretting is more ubiquitous than most people (mechanics and engineers
included) believe.

Fretting in bearings is a different but similar effect, that is the
bane of steering gears and other mechanical devices that are intended
to rotate but are primarily used in a fixed position (straight ahead).
Automotive patents for anti-fretting steering gears abound. Saginaw,
Gemmer, and Ross steering gears come to mind. In bicycles this effect
is seen in the bearings of the fork, or head bearings, that are meant
to rotate but often experience straight ahead, non rotating use.

Because fretting involves invisibly small motion, it remains difficult
to understand and hard to convey to the user who suffers fretting
symptoms on a piece of machinery. It was long believed that impact
cause Brinelling of bicycle head bearings even though mechanics who
installed cottered cranks should have noticed an inconsistency in that
pounding in cotters with a large hammer with all the shock taken up by
one 1/4" ball under the crank spindle never caused a dent, yet 20
balls loaded by a much smaller force through a rubber tire was
believed to cause dimpled head bearings. Beyond that, the top bearing
that carries practically no load and receives no impact, also became
dimpled and, like the bottom load bearing one, did so in the fore and
aft quadrant. These dimples were not shiny as Brinell indentations
are, but are milky finish typical of tear-outs from asperity welding.

Ball bearings operate in two modes that became apparent in the
computer disk business because their data actuators often move step by
step from track to track, with a radial arm about 1" long, there being
more than 20,000 tracks per inch. Servo control engineers must
analyze bearing drag to be overcome for this purpose. In such small
motions, ball bearings are essentially locked solid with their
lubricant film, the bearing appearing as welded balls acting as
springs. This "pre-roll" stage of motion is the one that causes the
dimples in the bicycle head bearings because they, unlike the disk
bearings, have been lubricant depleted from fretting, not having made
a larger motion for a longer time, motion that would replenish
lubrication between ball and race.

Ball bearings roll on a film of oil that is so thin that it does not
present liquid properties, being several mono-molecular layers thick
as it adheres to ball and race. If it weren't for this behavior, oil
would not remain in the interface. However, with fretting, oil is
displaced and pin point welding takes place. Bicycle head bearing
fretting is caused by fore and aft rocking of the fork crown, a motion
that lies below visible resolution, and is small enough to not
replenish lubricant. Bearing damage appears as dimples from myriad
asperity contacts that welded and broke loose as the ball fretted in
place, leaving a milky finish.

Road bicycles are more subject to this damage than off road bicycles
because they spend more time traveling straight ahead, especially when
coasting downhill. Fretting damage occurs during these times, because
lubrication is not replenished by steering motions. The compound
bearings offered by Shimano seem to have greatly reduced the problem
by taking up fork crown rocking motion in a plain steel on aluminum
spherical cup that is not prone to metal to metal contact, while
steering rotations are borne in a pre-loaded full complement angular
contact ball bearing supported by this plain bearing.


Subject: 8i.9 Left hand threads
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 16:14:11 PST

On bicycles, left hand threads are used mainly in three places, on
left pedals, right bottom bracket (BB) bearing cups, and freewheel
cones, to prevent unscrewing under operating loads. Unscrewing occurs
from precession, in which a round object rolling in a circular ring in
one direction will itself turn in the opposite direction.

For a pedal, a rotating load arises form downward pedaling force on a
spindle rotating with its crank making the predominantly downward
force effectively rotate about the pedal spindle. What may be less
evident is that even tightly fitting parts have relative clearance due
to their elasticity, metals not being rigid materials as is evident
from steel springs. Under load, micro deformations, enough to cause
motion, occur in such joints. This can be seen from wear marks where
pedal spindles seat on crank faces.

Precession of right side BB cups is less obvious because the rotating
load is only partial. The largest load being chain tension, that
together with the moderately large downward force on the right crank
and the smaller upward force from pushing down on the left crank, make
3/4 of a fully rotating load. For this reason some right BB cups have
used right hand threads and some with left hand threads have loosened.
The left BB cup with no significant rotating load has little tendency
to turn.

Freewheel cones are more obvious candidates for precession, their load
being mainly radial, and rotating continuously in the direction that
would unscrew a right hand thread. There are other such but less
common threads on bicycles.

Precession forces are large enough that no manner of thread locking
glues, short of welding, will arrest them. Mechanical fretting, the
micro-motion of tightly fitting parts moving against one another, is
the mechanism of this motion. Motion in these joints causes visible
fretting rouge, red iron oxide, on the shoulder of the BB cup and on
the face of the pedal spindle.

Left hand threads would not be required on left pedals if a design
common on cars were used. Before the advent of conical lug nuts, many
cars used left hand threads on left side wheels. Today, stories of
wheels rolling away from cars no longer make news, the conical seat
having solved this problem on car wheels as it could on bicycle

However, unscrewing is not the main problem for pedals, but rather
crank failure caused by fretting erosion of the pedal eye. Fretting
initiates cracks that can cause sudden and unsuspected pedal
separation when the eye of a crank breaks. Because this occurs
equally with right and left cranks it is the more important reason for
a conical spindle face and crank eye. This has been tested.



Subject: 9 Misc


Subject: 9.1 Books and Magazines

Bicycling Magazine, and Bicycling Magazine+Mountain Bike insert
33 E Minor St
Emmaus, PA 18098
(215) 967-5171

Bicycle Guide
711 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02116

Mountain Biking
7950 Deering Avenue
Canoga Park CA 91304

Mountain Bike Action
Hi-Torque Publications, Inc.
10600 Sepulveda Boulevard
Mission Hills, CA 91345

Velo News
P.O. Box 53397
Boulder, CO 80323-3397

Cycling Science
P.O. Box 1510
Mount Shasta, California 96067
(916) 938-4411

Human Power (The Journal of the IHPVA*)
(* IHPVA == International Human Powered Vehicle Association)
PO Box 1307
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-1307
1 (360) 323-1384 fax

OnTour: The Newsletter for Bicycle Tourists
OnTour Publications
2113 Arborview
Ann Arbor, MI 48103.
Sample issues are only $1, a six-issue subscription only $6

R.B.C.A./The Recumbent Cyclist
17650-B6-140th Ave. SE, Suite 341
Renton, WA 98058 USA

Tandem Club of America
Malcolm Boyd & Judy Allison
19 Lakeside Drive NW
Medford Lakes, NJ 08550
Dues are currently $10/year

Dirt Rag
5742 Third St.
Verona, PA
(412) 795 - 7495
FAX (412) 795 - 7439

Bike Culture Quarterly is an engaging magazine for "[people] who see
cycling as a way of life rather than an occasional leisure activity".
It has interviews with people building interesting bikes (Mike Burrows
about the Obree bike), travel reports, discussions of bicycle
advocacy, new equipment, and so on. Its summer issue is the
"Encycleopedia" "a personal selection of unorthodox, thoughtful
cycling products from around the world".

Price is (British Pounds) 25/year.

Order by phone UK: (0904) 654654 outside UK: +44904 654654

Post: Open Road
4 New Street
York Y01 2RA,

They accept Visa, Access, Mastercard, and Eurocard. Eurocheques are
also accepted. From the US, it's easiest to use a credit card.

Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair
Rodale Press
ISBN 0-87857-895-1

Effective Cycling by John Forester
MIT Press
ISBN 0-262-56026-7

The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt
ISBN 0-9607236-6-8) English
ISBN 0-9607236-4-1) German

Bicycle Maintenance Manual by Eugene A. Sloan
(a Fireside book, pub. Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
ISBN 0-671-42806-3

Anybody's Bike Book by Tom Cuthbertson

Bicycles and Tricycles
An Elementary Treatise on Their Design and Construction
by Archibald Sharp
Reprint of the 1896 edition, with a foreword by David Gordon Wilson
Anytime you hear of a "new" invention for bicycles, look it up in
here, and you'll find it.
MIT press - I have a paperback edition labelled $14.95

Bicyling Science
by Frank Rowland Whitt and David Gordon Wilson
A good book, and an excellent reference.
Second Edition 1982, MIT press, paper $9.95

Bicycle Road Racing by Edward Borysewicz

The Woman Cycist by Elaine Mariolle
Contemporary Books

Touring on Two Wheels by Dennis Coello
Lyons and Berrfard, New York

The Bicyclist's Sourcebook by Michael Leccese and Arlene Plevin
Subtitled: "The Ultimate Directory of Cycling Information"
Woodbine House, Inc. $16.95
ISBN 0-933149-41-7

Colorado Cycling Guide by Jean and Hartley Alley
Pruett Publishing Company
Boulder, Colorado

The Canadian Rockies Bicycling Guide by Gail Helgason and John Dodd
Lone Pine Publishing,Edmonton, Alberta

A Women's Guide to Cycling by Susan Weaver

Favorite Pedal Tours of Northern California by Naomi Bloom
Fine Edge Productions, Route 2, Box 303, Bishop, CA 93514

Mountain Biking Near Boston: A Guide to the Best 25 Places to Ride
by Stuart A. Johnstone, Active Publications (1991), ISBN 0-9627990-4-1

Mountain Bike: a manual of beginning to advanced technique
by William Nealy, Menasha Ridge Press, 1992, ISBN 0-89732-114-6

Greater Washington (DC) Area Bicycle Atlas
American Youth Travel Shops, 1108 K St, NW Wash, DC 20005 (202)783-4943

Bicycle Parking by Ellen Fletcher
Ellen Fletcher, 777-108 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4826
Cost: $5.95, plus 43 cents tax, plus $3 postage/handling

Richards' Ultimate Bicycle Book
Richard Ballantine, Richard Grant (Dorling Kindersley, London, 1992)

Bicyclopedia: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Bicycles and Bicycling,
Edited by Steven Olderr, ECI #290". (Wonder what "ECI #290" means. . . .)

The Bicycle, by Pryor Dodge. Paris: Flammarion, 1996. ISBN 2-08013-551-1.
Distributed in the US by Abbeville Press (same ISBN), $50. Lavishly
produced hardback book about the history of the bicycle, intelligently
written and superbly illustrated. Considering what you get, it is good
value--especially as it is available discounted. (Amazon charge $35.)

Bicycling Japan: A Touring Handbook, by Suzanne Lee. Carmichael, Calif.:
Zievid Press, 1991. ISBN 0-9627458-0-4. $6.95. In print (I think). A
slim paperback with a lot of information about cycling around Japan. Aimed
toward people who are new to Japan, but still of use to those who know it
other than as cyclists. Lacks information or tips about where are better
places to go.

Cycling Japan: A Personal Guide to Exploring Japan by Bicycle, ed. Bryan
Harrell. Tokyo & New York: Kodansha International, 1993. ISBN
4-7700-1742-1. 2200 yen / US$18. In print. A paperback with some tips on
cycling in Japan, but much more about particular itineraries. So
specific--with phone numbers of minshuku (pensions), etc.--that it is
likely to become dated and should therefore be used with care.


Subject: 9.2 Mail Order Addresses

Here's the addresses/phone numbers of some popular cycling mail order
outfits (you can get directory assistance for 800 numbers at
1-800-555-1212 if you don't see the mail order outfit you're looking for

Bicycle Posters and Prints
P.O. Box 7164
Hicksville, NY 11802-7164
Sells bicycle posters and other stuff.

Branford Bike
orders: 1-800-272-6367
info: 203-488-0482
fax: 203-483-0703

Colorado Cyclist
orders: 1-800-688-8600
info: 719 591-4040
fax: 719 591-4041

3970 Bijou Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80909-9946

(800) 678-1021

P.O. Box 884
Adrian MI 49221
Catalog $1 as of 4/91.

Excel Sports International
orders: 1-800-627-6664
info: 303-444-6737
fax: 303-444-7043

2045 32nd Street
Boulder CO 80301

Loose Screws
(541) 488-4800
(541) 488-0080 FAX

12225 HWY 66
Ashland OR 97520

orders: 1-800-627-4227 (1-800-NASHBAR)
216-782-2244 Local and APO/FPO orders
info: 216-788-6464 Tech. Support
fax: 800-456-1223
WWW: http://www.nashbar.com/

4111 Simon Road
Youngstown, OH 44512-1343

Pedal Phernalia
Phone: 1-313-995-1336

Box 2566-net
Ann Arbor MI 48106-2566

Performance Bike Shop
orders: 1-800-727-2453 (1-800-PBS-BIKE)
919-933-9113 Foreign orders
info: 800-727-2433 Customer Support
WWW: http://www.performanceinc.com/PerfBicycle.html

One Performance Way
P.O. Box 2741
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

R&R Bicycles
phone: 412-751-5341
WWW: http://www.rrbicycle.com/

1026 E Smithfield
Boston, PA 15135

Schwab Cycles
orders: 1-800-343-5347
info: 303-238-0243
fax: 303-233-5273

1565 Pierce St.
Lakewood, CO 80214

Triathlete Zombies

The Womyn's Wheel, Inc.
(Specializes in clothing and equipment for women)

P.O. Box 2820
Orleans MA 02653


Subject: 9.3 Road Gradient Units
From: Jeff Berton

The grade of an incline is its vertical rise, in feet, per every 100 horizontal
feet traversed. (I say "feet" for clarity; one could use any consistent
length measure.) Or, if you will accept my picture below,

d |
a |
o | y
R Theta |
Grade = y/x (Multiply by 100 to express as a percentage.)
Theta = arctan(y/x)

So a grade of 100% is a 45 degree angle. A cliff has an infinite grade.

[More from Jobst Brandt ]
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 1999 16:11:44 PDT

The steepness of a road is generally measured in % grade, which in
mathematical terms is the slope, or TANGENT of the angle, measured
from the horizontal. This is the ratio of elevation change per
horizontal distance traveled, often called "rise over run". Typically
a road that rises 1-in-10, is otherwise called 10% grade.

Measuring the distance along the surface of the road instead of
horizontally gives practically the same result for most road
gradients. The distance along the road surface gives the SINE of the
angle in contrast to the horizontal distance that gives the TANGENT.
For practical purposes SINE equals TANGENT for small angles (up to ten
degrees or so). For instance, a 20% grade (11.3 degrees), whereas
measuring along the road surface gives a 19.6% grade.

The slope of a road is more useful than its angle because it gives a
direct way to assess the effort required to move forward against the
grade, whereas the angle in degrees does not readily reveal this
information. A 5% grade requires a forward force of approximately 5%
of the vehicle weight (above and beyond the force it takes to travel
similarly on flat ground). A 15% grade requires a propulsion force of
approximately 15% of the vehicle weight.

Although the angle may be more easily visualized, it does not convert
easily to effort without a calculator. For instance a 20% grade is an
11.3 degree angle and is a steep and difficult gradient. The
relationship between angle and slope is non linear becoming 100% (1:1)
at a 45 degree angle. In contrast, the SINE of 45 degrees is 70.7%
while the SINE of 90 degrees (straight up) is 100% for which the slope
(TANGENT) is infinity (or undefined).

The most accurate way to measure this without a precision
inclinometer, is to use a level, a one meter long bar and a metric
ruler. Resting one end of the rod (held level) on the road at a
representative spot, measuring the distance down to the road at the
other end in centimeters gives the percent grade directly. Using a
carpenters level and a one meter long rectangular bar can give
accurate readings to a couple of tenths of a percent.


Subject: 9.4 Helmet FAQ now on-line
From: (Avery Burdett)
Date: 11 Nov 1998 20:39:30 GMT

The net's first researched-based Helmet FAQ dealing with common
misconceptions about helmets is now on-line at:


It answers questions about testing procedures, helmet effectiveness,
problems with modern helmets, the problem with Thompson and Rivara's
claim of 85% reduction in risk, why some people wear helmets and some
don't, whether cycling is dangerous, whether helmet wearing changes
cyclist behaviour, helmet laws, helmet promotion, impact on health,
and effective ways to reducing injuries.

Among the materials linked a

- Failure Research Associates' Comparative Risk of Different Activities

- Traumatic brain injury data and other stats

- Fatality data from US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration

- Fatality trend chart based NHTSA data

- Two papers presented to Velo Australis, 1996 on results of Australian
helmet laws

- Abstract of the Scuffham/Langley paper on the effect of helmet use in
New Zealand

- Abstract of Dorothy Robinson's paper on the effect of helmet laws in Australi

- Summary of Mayer Hillman's publication "Cycle Helmets - the case for and

- industry test standards and procedures

- Gerald Wilde's work on risk compensation

- article on car helmets - the next "innovative" product from the safety

- list of printed sources


Subject: 9.5 Terminology
From: David Keppel ,
Charles Tryon

Ashtabula Crank
A one-piece crank -- the crank arm starts on one side of the
bike, bends to go through the bottom bracket, and bends
again on the other side to go down to the other pedal.
Typically heavy, cheap, and robust. See ``cottered crank''
and ``cotterless crank''. Ashtabula is the name of the
original manufacturer, I think.

Biopace Chainring

Chainrings that are more oval rather than round. The idea was
to redistribute the forces of pedaling to different points as your
feet go around, due to the fact that there are "dead spots" in the
stroke. The concensus is pretty much that they work ok for
novices, but get in the way for more experienced riders.

Cassette Freewheel

A cassette freewheel is used with a freehub. The part of
a normal freewheel that contains the pawls that transfer
chain motion to the wheel (or allows the wheel to spin
while the chain doesn't move) is part of the wheel hub.
The cassette is the cogs, usually held together with small


A cleat attaches to the bottom of a cycling shoe. Older style
cleats have a slot that fits over the back of the pedal,
and in conjunction with toe clips and straps, hold your foot
on the pedal. New "clipless" pedals have a specially designed
cleat that locks into the pedal, sometimes with some ability
to move side-to-side so as not to stress knees.

Cottered Crank
A three-piece crank with two arms and an axle. The arms
each have a hole that fits over the end of the axle and a
second hole that runs tangential to the first. The crank
axle has a tangential notch at each end. A *cotter* is a
tapered and rounded bar of metal that is inserted in the
tangential hole in the crank arm and presses against the
tangential notch in the crank axle. The cotter is held in
place by a nut screwed on at the thin end of the cotter.
Ideally, the cotter is removed with a special tool. Often,
however, it is removed by banging on it with a hammer. If
you do the latter (gads!) be sure (a) to unscrew the nut
until the end of the cotter is nearly flush, but leave it on
so that it will straighten the threads when you unscrew it
farther and (b) brace the other side of the crank with
something very solid (the weight of the bike should be
resting on that `something') so that the force of the
banging is not transmitted through the bottom bracket

Cotterless Crank
A three-piece crank with two arms and an axle. Currently
(1991) the most common kind of crank. The crank axle has
tapered square ends, the crank arms have mating tapered
square ends. The crank arm is pressed on and the taper
ensures a snug fit. The crank arm is drawn on and held in
place with either nuts (low cost, ``nutted'' cotterless
cranks) or with bolts. A special tool is required to remove
a cotterless crank.

Crank Axle
The axle about which the crank arms and pedals revolve. May
be integrated with the cranks (Ashtabula) or a separate
piece (cottered and cotterless).

Also called a ``mudguard''. Looked down upon by tweak
cyclists, but used widely in the Pacific Northwest and many
non-US parts of the world. Helps keep the rider cleaner and
drier. Compare to ``rooster tail''.

Frame Table
A big strong table that Will Not Flex and which has anchors
at critical places -- dropouts, bottom bracket, seat, head.
It also has places to attach accurate measuring instruments
like dial gauges, scratch needles, etc. The frame is clamped
to the table and out-of-line parts are yielded into alignment.

A bicycle with one large wheel and one small wheel. The
commonest are large front/small rear. A small number are
small front/large rear. See ``ordinary'' or
``penny-farthing'' and contrast to ``safety''.

Hyperglide Freewheel

Freewheel cogs with small "ramps" cut into the sides of the cogs
which tend to pull the chain more quickly to the next larger cog
when shifting.

See ``penny-farthing''.

An old-fashioned ``high wheeler'' bicycle with a large
(60", 150cm) front wheel and a much smaller rear wheel, the
rider sits astride the front wheel and the pedals are
connected directly to the front wheel like on many
children's tricycles. Also called ``ordinary'', and
distinguished from either a small front/large rear high
wheeler or a ``safety'' bicycle.

Rooster Tail
A spray of water flung off the back wheel as the bicycle
rolls through water. Particularly pronounced on bikes
without fenders. See also ``fender''.

Named after the ``Rover Safety'' bicycle, the contemporary
layout of equal-sized wheels with rear chain drive. Compare
to ``ordinary''.

See ``crank axle''.

Three-Piece Crank
A cottered or cotterless crank; compare to Ashtabula.


Subject: 9.6 Avoiding Dogs
From: Arnie Berger

There are varying degrees of defense against dogs.

1- Shout "NO!" as loud and authoritatively as you can. That works more
than half the time against most dogs that consider chasing you just
good sport.

2- Get away from their territory as fast as you can.

3- A water bottle squirt sometimes startles them.

4- If you're willing to sacifice your pump, whump'em on the head when they
come in range.

If they're waiting for you in the road and all you can see are teeth
then you in a heap o' trouble. In those situations, I've turned around,
slowly, not staring at the dog, and rode away. When I have been in a stand
off situation, I keep the bike between me and the dog.

"Halt" works pretty well, and I've used it at times. It's range is about 8

I bought a "DAZER", from Heathkit. Its a small ultrasonic sound generator
that you point at the dog. My wife and I were tandeming on a back road and
used it on a mildly aggressive German Shephard. It seemed to cause the
dog to back off.

By far, without a doubt, hands down winner, is a squirt bottle full of
reagent grade ammonia, fresh out of the jug. The kind that fumes when
you remove the cap. When I lived in Illinois I had a big, mean dog that
put its cross-hairs on my leg whenever I went by. After talking to the
owner (redneck), I bought a handebar mount for a water bottle and loaded
it with a lab squirt bottle of the above mentioned fluid. Just as the
dog came alongside, I squirted him on his nose, eyes and mouth. The dog
stopped dead in his tracks and started to roll around in the street.
Although I continued to see that dog on my way to and from work, he
never bothered me again.

Finally, you can usually intimidate the most aggressive dog if there are
more than one of you. Stopping, getting off your bikes and moving towards
it will often cause it to back off. ( But not always ). My bottom line
is to alway ride routes that I'm not familiar with, with someone else.

As last resort, a nice compact, snubbed nose .25 caliber pistol will fit
comfortably in your jersey pocket. :-)


Subject: 9.7 Shaving Your Legs

How to do it (Garth Somerville )

Many riders shave their legs and have no problems other than
a nick or two once in a while. Maybe a duller blade would help.
But some people (like me) need to be more careful to avoid
rashes, infections (which can be serious), or just itchy legs that
drive you to madness. For those people, here is my
leg shaving procedu

Each time you shave your legs...
1) Wash your legs with soap and water, and a wash cloth. This
removes dirt, oil, and dead skin cells.
2) Use a good blade and a good razor. I prefer a blade that has
a lubricating strip (e.g. Atra blades). It is my personal
experience that a used blade is better than a new one. I
discard the blade when the lubricating strip is used up.
3) USE SHAVING CREAM. I prefer the gell type, and the kinds with
aloe in them seem to be the best. Shaving cream gives you a
better shave with fewer cuts, and goes a long way towards
preventing infection.
4) Use *COLD* water. Do not use hot water, do not use warm water,
use the coldest water you can stand. Run the cold water over your
legs before you start, and rinse the blade often in cold water.
5) Be careful, and take your time. Behind the knees, and around the
achilles tendon are places to be extra careful.
6) When finished, use a moisturizing lotion on your legs.

Why shave legs (Jobst Brandt

Why do bicyclists shave their legs? This question arises regularly,
although sometimes it's a troll, sometimes it's a rider who didn't
dare ask his shaven riding companions. Had he done so, among the real
answer, he would probably have gotten:

To prevent infection when crashing.
To pull off bandages more painlessly after dressing a wound.
To get a massage of the legs without hair pulling.
To be more streamlined in the wind.

Hair does not cause infections and if it is a gash that goes deeper
than the typical raspberry, there will be more dirt in it han a few
hairs. In any case, where a wound needs stiches the skin will be
shaved around the opening anyway for the reson that hair inclusions
are as bad as dirt inclusions.

Don't put tape on a hairy leg or arm. Shave it first. Every medic
kit should have a Bic razor or better anyway.

Many folks with hair get massages and it has no effect on comfort.
You'd think from this excuse, that those who shave get massages
regularly and that massage parlors always shave their customers.
Neither is true.

If this is a streamlining increment, then the rider should
first get a tight fitting Lycra jersey and shoe covers.

The other excuses are just that. Bicycle athletes shave for the same
reason body builders and women do it. Shaving exposes the sculptured
lines of muscle definition (defo) or the absence of it for some women
and some of the best legs are on bikies. Not only that, embrocation,
(oiling up with exotic smelling greases or oils is the same as in body
building and weight lifting), it emphasizes defo. If the soigner
tells the rider that this will improve performance, he'll accept that


Subject: 9.8 Contact Lenses and Cycling
From: Robert A. Novy

I received on the order of 50 replies to my general query about contact lenses
and bicycling. Thank you! To summarize, I have been wearing glasses for
nearly all of my 28 years, and taking up bicycling has at last made me weary of

I visited an optometrist last week, and he confirmed what I had lightly feared:
I am farsighted with some astigmatism, so gas-permeable hard lenses are the
ticket. He has had about a 25% success rate with soft lenses in cases such as
mine. I am now acclimating my eyes to the lenses, adding one hour of wear per
day. In case these don't work out, I'll try two options. First, bicycle
without prescription lenses (my sight is nearly 20-20 without any). Second,
get a pair of prescription sport glasses.

I had a particular request for a summary, and this is likely a topic of great
interest, so here goes. Please recognize the pruning that I must do to draw
generalizations from many opinions. Some minority views might be overlooked.
There is one nearly unanimous point: contact lenses are much more convenient
than eyeglasses. I had to add the word "nearly" because I just saw one voice
of dissent. Sandy A. ) has found that prescription
glasses are better suited to mountain biking on dusty trails.

You can call me Doctor, but I have no medical degree. This is only friendly
advice from a relatively ignorant user of the Internet. See the first point


+ Get a reputable optometrist or ophthalmologist. Your eyes are precious.
[Paul Taira ) even has an iterative check-and-balance
setup between his ophthalmologist and a contact lens professional.]

+ Wear sunglasses, preferably wrap-arounds, to keep debris out of eyes, to
keep them from tearing or drying out, and to shield them from ultraviolet rays,
which might or might NOT be on the rise.

+ Contacts are not more hazardous than glasses in accidents.

+ Contacts improve peripheral and low-light vision.

+ Extended-wear soft lenses are usually the best. Next come regular soft
lenses and then gas-permeable hard lenses. Of course, there are dissenting
opinions here. I'm glad to see that some people report success with gas perms.

+ One's prescription can limit the types of lenses available. And soft lenses
for correcting astigmatisms seem pesky, for they tend to rotate and thus
defocus the image. This is true even for the new type that are weighted to
help prevent this. Seems that near-sighted people have the most choices.

+ If one type or brand of lens gives discomfort, try another. Don't suffer
with it, and don't give up on contact lenses altogether.


+ Some lenses will tend to blow off the eye. Soft lenses are apparently the
least susceptible to this problem.


+ Consider disposable lenses. They may well be worth it.

+ Carry a tiny bottle of eye/lens reconditioner and a pair of eyeglasses just
in case.


From David Elfstrom ):
Hamano and Ruben, _Contact Lenses_, Prentice-Hall Canada, 1985, ISBN
I haven't laid hands on it, but it sounds relevant.


Subject: 9.9 How to deal with your clothes

When you commute by bike to work, you'd probably like to have clean
clothes that don't look like they've been at the bottom of your closet
for a couple of years. Here are some suggestions for achieving this

Take a week's worth of clothes to work ahead of time and leave them
there. You'll probably have to do this in a (gasp!) car. This
means that you'll need room in your office for the clothes.

Carefully pack your clothes in a backpack/pannier and take them to
work each day. It has been suggested that rolling your clothes
rather than folding them, with the least-likely to wrinkle on the
inside. This method may not work too well for the suit-and-tie
crowd, but then I wouldn't know about that. :-)

I use the second method, and I leave a pair of tennis shoes at work so
I don't have to carry them in. This leaves room in my backpack for
a sweatshirt in case it's a cool day.


Subject: 9.10 Pete's Winter Cycling Tips
From: Pete Hickey

I am a commuter who cycles year round. I have been doing it
for about twelve years. Winters here in Ottawa are
relatively cold and snowy. Ottawa is the second coldest
capital in the world. The following comments are the
results my experiences. I am not recommending them, only
telling you what works for me. You may find it useful, or
you may find the stupid things that I do are humorous.



I am not a real cyclist. I just ride a bicycle. I have
done a century, but that was still commuting. There was a
networking conference 110 miles away, so I took my bicycle.
There and back. (does that make two centuries?) I usually
do not ride a bicycle just for a ride. Lots of things I say
may make real cyclists pull out their hair. I have three
kids, and cannot *afford* to be a bike weenie.

People often ask me why I do it.... I don't know. I might
say that it saves me money, but no. Gasoline produces more
energy per dollar than food. (OK, I suppose if I would eat
only beans, rice and pasta with nothing on them.... I like
more variety) Do I do it for the environment? Nah! I never
take issues with anything. I don't ride for health,
although as I get older, I appreciate the benefits. I guess
I must do it because I like it.


Since words like "very", "not too", etc. are very
subjective, I will use the following definitions:

Cold : greater than 15 degrees F
Very cold : 0 through 15 Degrees F
Extreme cold : -15 through 0 degrees F
Insane cold: below -15 degrees F

Basic philosophy

I have two:

1) If its good, don't ruin it, if its junk you
needn't worry.

2) I use a brute force algorithm of cycling: Pedale
long enough, and you'll get there.

Bicycle riding in snow and ice is a problem of friction:
Too much of the rolling type, and not enough of the sideways

Road conditions:

More will be covered below, but now let it suffice to say
that a lot of salt is used on the roads here. Water
splashed up tastes as salty as a cup of Lipton Chicken soup
to which an additional spool of salt has been added. Salt
eats metal. Bicycles dissolve.



Although I have a better bicycle which I ride in nice
weather, I buy my commuting bikes at garage sales for about
$25.00. They're disposable. Once they start dissolving, I
remove any salvageable parts, then throw the rest away.

Right now, I'm riding a '10-speed' bike. I used to ride
mountain bikes, but I'm back to the '10-speed'. Here's why.
Mountain bikes cost $50.00 at the garage sales. They're
more in demand around here. Since I've ridden both, I'll
comment on each one.

The Mountain bikes do have better handling, but they're a
tougher to ride through deep snow. The 10-speed cuts
through the deep snow better. I can ride in deeper snow
with it, and when the snow gets too deep to ride, its easier
to carry.

Fenders on the bike? Sounds like it might be a good idea,
and someday I'll try it out. I think, however, that
snow/ice will build up between the fender and the tire
causing it to be real tough to pedal. I have a rack on the
back with a piece of plywood to prevent too much junk being
thrown on my back.

I would *like* to be able to maintain the bike, but its
tough to work outside in the winter. My wife (maybe I
should write to Dear Abbey about this) will not let me bring
my slop covered bicycle through the house to get it in the
basement. About once a month We have a warm enough day that
I am able to go out with a bucket of water, wash all of the
gunk off of the bike, let it dry and then bring it in.

I tear the thing down, clean it and put it together with
lots of grease. I use some kind of grease made for farm
equipment that is supposed to be more resistant to the
elements. When I put it together, I grease the threads,
then cover the nuts, screws, whatever with a layer of
grease. This prevents them from rusting solidly in place
making it impossible to remove. Protection against
corrosion is the primary purpose of the grease. Lubrication
is secondary. remember to put a drop of oil on the threads
of each spoke, otherwise, the spokes rust solidly, and its
impossible to do any truing

Outside, I keep a plastic ketchup squirter, which I fill with
automotive oil (lately its been 90 weight standard
transmission oil). Every two or three days, I use it to re-
oil my chain and derailleur, and brakes. It drips all over
the snow beneath me when I do it, and gets onto my
'cuffs'(or whatever you call the bottom of those pants.
See, I told you I don't cycle for the environment. I
probably end up dumping an ounce of heavy oil into the snow
run-off each year.


Starting at the bottom, on my feet I wear Sorell Caribou
boots. These are huge ugly things, but they keep my feet
warm. I have found that in extreme to insane cold, my toes
get cold otherwise. These boots do not make it easy to ride,
but they do keep me warm (see rule 2, brute force). They do
not fit into any toe-clips that I have seen. I used to wear
lighter things for less cold weather, but I found judging
the weather to be a pain. If its not too cold, I ride with
them half unlaced. The colder it gets, the more I lace
them, and finally, I'll tie them.

Fortunately, wet days are not too cold, and cold days are
not wet. When its dry, I wear a pair of cycling shorts, and
one or two (depending on temp and wind) cotton sweat pants
covering that. I know about lycra and polypro (and use them
for skiing), but these things are destroyed by road-dirt,
slush and mud.(see rule 1 above). I save my good clothes
for x-country skiing.

An important clothing item in extreme to insane cold, is a
third sock. You put it in your pants. No, not to increase
the bulge to impress the girls, but for insulation.
Although several months after it happens it may be funny,
when it does happens, frostbite on the penis is not funny.
I speak from experience! Twice, no less! I have no idea
of what to recommend to women in this section.

Next in line, I wear a polypro shirt, covered by a wool
sweater, covered by a 'ski-jacket' (a real ugly one with a
stripe up the back. The ski jacket protects the rest of my
clothes, and I can regulate my temperature with the zipper
in front.

I usually take a scarf with me. For years I have had a fear
that the scarf would get caught in the spokes, and I'd be
strangled in the middle of the street, but it has not yet
happened. When the temp is extreme or colder, I like
keeping my neck warm. I have one small problem. Sometimes
the moisture in my breath will cause the scarf to freeze to
my beard.

On my hands, I wear wool mittens when its not too cold, and
when it gets really cold, I wear my cross-country skiing
gloves (swix) with wool mittens covering them. Hands sweat
in certain areas (at least mine do), and I like watching the
frost form on the outside of the mittens. By looking at the
frost, I can tell which muscles are working. I am amused by
things like this.

On my head, I wear a toque (Ski-hat?) covered by a bicycle
helmet. I don't wear one of those full face masks because I
haven't yet been able to find one that fits well with eye
glasses. In extreme to insane cold, my forehead will often
get quite cold, and I have to keep pulling my hat down. The
bottoms of my ears sometimes stick out from my hat, and
they're always getting frostbitten. This year, I'm thinking
of trying my son's Lifa/polypro balaclava. Its thin enough
so that it won't bother me, and I only need a bit more
protection from frostbite.

I carry my clothes for the day in a knapsack. Everything that
goes in the knapsack goes into a plastic bag. Check the plastic
bag often for leaks. A small hole near the top may let in water
which won't be able to get out. The net result is that things
get more wet than would otherwise be expected. The zippers will
eventually corrode. Even the plastic ones become useless after
a few years.


In the winter, the road is narrower. There are snow banks
on either side. Cars do not expect to see bicycles. There
are less hours of daylight, and the its harder to maintain
control of the bicycle. Be careful.

I don't worry about what legal rights I have on the road, I
simply worry about my life. I'd rather crash into a snow
bank for sure rather than take a chance of crashing into a
car. I haven't yet had a winter accident in 12 years. I've
intentionally driven into many snow banks.

Sometimes, during a storm, I get into places where I just
can't ride. It is sometimes necessary to carry the bicycle
across open fields. When this happens, I appreciate my

It takes a lot more energy to pedal. Grease gets thick, and
parts (the bicycle's and mine) don't seem to move as easily.
My traveling time increases about 30% in nice weather, and
can even double during a raging storm.

The wind seems to be always worse in winter. It's not
uncommon to have to pedal to go down hills.

Be careful on slushy days. Imagine an 8 inch snowfall
followed by rain. This produces heavy slush. If a car
rides quickly through deep slush, it may send a wave of the
slush at you. This stuff is heavy. When it hits you, it
really throws you off balance. Its roughly like getting a
10 lbs sack of rotten potatoes thrown at your back. This
stuff could even knock over a pedestrian.

Freezing rain is the worst. Oddly enough, I find it easier
to ride across a parking lot covered with wet smooth ice
than it is to walk across it. The only problem is that
sometimes the bicycle simply slides sideways out from under
you. I practice unicycle riding, and that may help my
balance. (Maybe not, but its fun anyway)

Beware of bridges that have metal grating. This stuff gets
real slippery when snow covered. One time, I slid, hit an
expansion joint, went over the handle bars, over the railing
of the bridge. I don't know how, but one arm reached out
and grabbed the railing. Kind of like being MacGyver.


There are several ways of stopping. The first one is to use
the brakes. This does not always work. Breaks can ice up,
a bit of water gets between the cable and its sheathing when
the warm afternoon sun shines on the bike. It freezes solid
after. Or the salt causes brake cables to break, etc. I
have had brakes work on one corner, but stop working by the
time I get to the next. I have several other means of

The casual method. For a stop when you have plenty of time.
Rest the ball of your foot on top of the front derailleur,
and *gradually* work your heel between the tire and the
frame. By varying the pressure, you can control your speed.
Be sure that you don't let your foot get wedged in there!

Faster method. Get your pedals in the 6-12 O'clock
position. Stand up. The 6 O'clock foot remains on the
pedal, while you place the other foot on the ground in front
of the pedal. By varying your balance, you can apply more
or less pressure to your foot. The pedal, wedged against
the back of your calf, forces your foot down more, providing
more friction.

Really fast! Start with the fast method, but then dismount
while sliding the bicycle in front of you. You will end up
sliding on your two feet, holding onto the bike in front for
balance. If it gets *really* critical, throw the bike ahead
of you, and sit down and roll. Do not do this on dry
pavement, your feet need to be able to slide.

In some conditions, running into a snow bank on the side
will stop you quickly, easily, and safely. If you're going
too fast, you might want to dive off of the bicycle over the
side. Only do this when the snow bank is soft. Make sure
that there isn't a car hidden under that soft snow. Don't
jump into fire hydrants either.


Freezing locks. I recommend carrying a BIC lighter. Very
often the lock will get wet, and freeze solid. Usually the
heat from my hands applied for a minute or so (a real minute
or so, not what seems like a minute) will melt it, but
sometimes it just needs more than that.

Eating Popsicles

Something I like doing in the winter is to buy a Popsicle
before I leave, and put it in my pocket. It won't melt! I
take it out and start eating it just as I arrive at the
University. Its fun to watch peoples' expressions when they
see me, riding in the snow, eating a Popsicle.

You have to be careful with Popsicles in the winter. I once
had a horrible experience. You know how when you are a kid,
your parents told you never to put your tongue onto a metal
pole? In very cold weather, a Popsicle acts the same way.
If you are not careful, your upper lip, lower lip, and
tongue become cemented to the Popsicle. Although this
sounds funny when I write about it, it was definitely not
funny when it happened.


Subject: 9.11 Nancy's Cold/Wet Cycling Tips
From: Name removed by request

Here are some clothing suggestions, mix and match as you wish:

Rain gear : I forked out the dollars for gore-tex when I did a week tour
... and I'm real glad I did. The stuff works reasonably as claimed,
waterproof, and relatively breathable. (When the humidity is high, no
fabric will work completely at letting sweat evaporate.) Unfortunately,
typical prices are high. There are cheaper rainsuits, which I haven't tried.
For short rides, or when the temperature is over about 50F, I don't
usually wear the rain pants, as wet legs don't particularly bother me.

Waterproof shoe covers. When the weather gets icky, I give up on
the cleats (I'm not riding for performance then, anyway) and put
the old-style pedals back on. This is basically because of the
shoe covers I have that work better with touring shoes. The ones
I have are made by Burley, and are available from Adventure Cycling Association,
though I got them at a local shop. They are just the cover, no
insulation. I continue to use them in winter since they are windproof,
and get the insulation I need from warm socks. These aren't neoprene,
but rather some high-tech waterproof fabric.

Gaiters that hikers and cross-country skiers wear can help keep road
spray off your legs and feet.

Toe clip covers. I got them from Nashbar; they are insulated and fit
over the toe clips ... another reason for going back to those pedals.
They help quite a bit when the temperature goes into the 30's and below;
they are too warm above that.

[Joshua Putnam reports:
Nashbar has apparently discontinued its toe clip covers.

Traditional toe clip covers, also called toe warmers, are still
made by Kucharik Bicycle Clothing. Kucharik's model is not
insulated, just waterproof nylon cloth. It may be hard to find
a shop that carries them, but if you have a good relationship
with your local shop, they might be interested in dealing with
Kucharik, which also makes great wool jerseys and tights, arm and
leg warmers, etc.

The company is:

Kucharik Clothing
1745 W 182nd St
Gardena, CA 90248

Please remember that this is a manufacturer/distributor, not a
mail order catalog. ]

For temperatures in the 40's I usually find that a polypropylene shirt,
lightweight sweater (mine is polypro) and wind shell work well; I use
the gore-tex jacket, since I have it, but any light weight jacket
is OK. I have a lightweight pair of nylon-lycra tights, suitable in
the 50's, and maybe the 40's; a heavier pair of polypro tights, for
40's, and a real warm pair of heavy, fleece-lined tights for colder
weather. (I have been comfortable in them down to about 15-deg, which
is about the minimum I will ride in.) My tights are several years
old, and I think there are lots more variations on warm tights out now.
I use thin polypro glove liners with my cycling gloves when it is a little
cool; lightweight gloves for a little bit cooler; gore-tex and thinsulate
gloves for cold weather (with the glove liners in the really cold weather.)
It is really my fingers that limit my cold weather riding, as anything
any thicker than that limits my ability to work brake levers.
(Note: this may change this year as I've just bought a mountain bike;
the brake levers are much more accessible than on my road bike. It may
be possible to ride with warm over-mitts over a wool or similar glove.)

When it gets down to the 20's, or if it's windy at warmer (!) temperatures,
I'll add the gore-tex pants from my rain suit, mostly as wind protection,
rather than rain protection. Cheaper wind pants are available (either
at bike shops or at sporting goods stores) that will work just as well
for that use.

Warm socks. There are lots of choices; I use 1 pair of wool/polypropylene
hiking socks (fairly thick). Then with the rain covers on my shoes to
keep out wind, and (if necessary) the toe clip covers, I'm warm enough.
There are also thin sock liners, like my glove liners, but I haven't
needed them; there are also neoprene socks, which I've never tried,
and neoprene shoe covers, which I've also never tried, and wool socks,
and ski socks ...

I have a polypropylene balaclava which fits comfortably under my helmet;
good to most of the temperatures I'm willing to ride in; a little too
warm for temperatures above freezing, unless it's also windy. I also have
an ear-warmer band, good for 40's and useful with the balaclava for
miserable weather. I also have a neoprene face mask; dorky looking, but
it works. It is definitely too hot until the temperature (or wind) gets
severe. I sometimes add ski goggles for the worst conditions, but they
limit peripheral vision, so I only use them if I'm desperate.

For temperatures in the 30's, and maybe 20's, I wear a polarfleece
pullover thing under the outer shell. Combining that with or without
polypro (lightweight) sweater or serious duty wool sweater gives a
lot of options. Sometimes I add a down vest -- I prefer it *outside*
my shell (contrary to usual wisdom) because I usually find it too
warm once I start moving and want to unzip it, leaving the wind
shell closed for wind protection. I only use the down vest when it's
below about 15 F.

Old October 29th 04, 07:11 AM
Mike Iglesias
external usenet poster
Posts: n/a

Archive-name: bicycles-faq/part5

[Note: The complete FAQ is available via anonymous ftp from
draco.acs.uci.edu (, in pub/rec.bicycles.]


Subject: 9.12 Studded Tires
From: Name removed by request

[A summary on studded tires compiled by a reader. A complete copy of
the responses she received, including some that give directions for
making your own studded tires, is in the archive.]

Studded tires do help, especially on packed snow and ice. On fresh snow
and on water mixed with snow (i.e. slush) they're not significantly different
from unstudded knobbies.

On dry pavement they are noisy and heavy, but can be used; watch out for
cornering, which is degraded compared to unstudded tires.

Several people recommend a Mr. Tuffy or equivalent with them; one
respondent says he gets more flats with a liner than without.

In the U.S. the IRC Blizzard tires are commercially available. They
can also be made.


Subject: 9.13 Cycling Myths

Following are various myths about cycling and why they are/aren't true.

Myth: Wearing a helmet makes your head hotter than if you didn't wear one.

Actual measurements under hard riding conditions with ANSI standard
helmets show no consistent temperature difference from helmetless
riders. Part of the reason is that helmets provide insulated
protection from the sun as well as some airflow around the head.
(Les Earnest )

Myth: You need to let the air out of your tires before shipping your bike
on an airplane - if you don't, the tires will explode.

Assume your tire at sea level, pumped to 100 psi. Air pressure at sea
level is (about) 15psi. Therefore, the highest pressure which can be
reached in the tire is 100+15=115psi. Ergo: There is no need to
deflate bicycle tires prior to flight to avoid explosions.
(Giles Morris
Addendum: The cargo hold is pressurized to the same pressure as the
passenger compartment.
(Tom ?

Myth: You can break a bike lock with liquid nitrogen or other liquified gases

Freon cannot cool the lock sufficiently to do any good. Steel
conducts heat into the cooling zone faster than it can be removed by a
freeze bomb at the temperatures of interest. Liquid nitrogen or other
gasses are so cumbersome to handle that a lock on a bike cannot be
immersed as it must be to be effective. The most common and
inconspicuous way to break these locks is by using a 4 inch long 1
inch diameter commercial hydraulic jack attached to a hose and pump
(Jobst Brandt

[More myths welcome!]


Subject: 9.14 Descending I
From: Roger Marquis

[More up to date copies of Roger's articles can be found at

Descending ability, like any other fine-motor skill, is best improved
with practice. The more time spent on technical descents the more
your confidence and speed will develop. The difficulty for bicyclists
is that each descent requires a climb. There are hot shots who
practice on their motorcycles before races with strategic descents.
For most of us the best solution is frequent group rides. Group
rides are the best path to developing real bike handling skills,
on descents and elsewhere.

After experience the second most important component of a fast
descent is relaxation. Too much anxiety can impair concentration
and cause you to miss important aspects of the road surface. Pushing
the speed to the point of fear will not help develop descending
skills. Work first on relaxation and smoothness (no sudden movements,
braking or turning) and speed will follow.

Third in importance is technique. Technique, however, is difficult
or impossible to learn from reading about it. For that reason this
article touches on just four of the many technical facets of
descending: apexing, breaking, lean, and passing.

Apexing is the art of straightening out a corner by using the
breadth of the lane or roadway. A fast descender will set up his
or her line well in advance of a corner, entering it from the
outside edge of the road for the widest possible angle. The apex,
or mid-point, is crossed at the opposite or inside edge of the
road, finally exiting again on the outside (always leaving room
for traffic, error and unforeseen hazard). The key is to _gradually_
get into position and _smoothly_ follow the line through the corner.
If you find yourself making _any_ quick, jerky movements take that
as a sign that you need to slow down and devote a little more
attention further up the road.

Use the brakes ONLY up to the beginning of a corner. NEVER APPLY
THE BRAKES THROUGH A CORNER. At that point any traction used for
braking will reduce the traction available for cornering. If you
do have to brake after entering a curve make every effort to
straighten your line before applying the brakes. If the road surface
is good use primarily the front brake. If traction is poor switch
to the rear brake and begin breaking earlier. In auto racing circles
there are two schools of thought on braking technique. One advocates
gradually releasing the brakes upon entering the corner. The other
advises hard braking right up to the beginning of the curve and
abruptly releasing them just before entering the curve. Cyclists
should probably combine these techniques depending on the road
surface, rim trueness, brake pad hardness, headset wear and the
proximity of other riders.

Motorcyclists and bicyclists lean their bikes very differently in
a corner. Motorcyclists keep their bikes as upright as possible
to avoid scraping the pegs or pipes. Bicyclists on the other hand
lean their bikes into the corner and keep the body upright. Both
motorcyclists and bicyclists extend the inside knee down to lower
the center of gravity. To _pedal_ through a corner make like a
motorcyclist and keep the bike upright while the inside pedal is

One of the most difficult aspects of fast descents is passing.
Unfortunately, there are good climbers who are slow descenders. As
a result it is not always possible to begin a descent ahead of
someone who you may want to pass. If you find yourself behind a
slow rider either hang out a safe distance behind or pass quickly
but carefully. Passing on a descent is always difficult and can be
dangerous. By the same token, if you find yourself ahead of someone
who obviously wants to pass, let them by at the earliest safe
moment. It's never appropriate to impede someone's progress on a
training ride whether they are on a bicycle or in a car. Always
make plenty of room for anyone trying to pass no matter what the
speed limit is.

Keep in mind that downhill racing is not what bicycle racing is
all about. There is no need to keep up with the Jones'. This is
what causes many a crash. Compete against yourself on the descents.
Belgians are notoriously slow descenders due to the consistently
rainy conditions there yet some of the best cyclists in the world
train on those rainy roads. Don't get caught pushing it on some
wet or unfamiliar descent. Be prepared for a car or a patch of dirt
or oil in the middle of your path around _every_ blind corner no
matter how many times you've been on a particular road. Take it
easy, relax, exercise your powers of concentration and hammer again
when you can turn the pedals.

If you're interested in exploring this further the best books (and
videos) on bike handling I've read are the "Twist of The Wrist"
series by motorcycle racer Keith Code (http://www.superbikeschool.com).

Roger Marquis )


Subject: 9.15 Descending II
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 16:35:42 PDT

Descending and Fast Cornering

Descending on mountain roads, bicycles can reach speeds that are more
common on motorcycles. Speeds that are otherwise not attainable, or
at least not continuously. Criterium racing also presents this
challenge, but not as intensely. Unlike a motorcycle, the bicycle is
lighter than the rider and power cannot be applied when banked over
when cornering hard. Because narrow bicycle tires inflated hard have
little traction margin, a slip on pavement is usually unrecoverable.

Drifting a Road Bicycle on Pavement

Riders have claimed they can slide a bicycle on dry pavement in curves
to achieve greater cornering speed, as in drifting through a turn. A
drift, in contrast to a slide, means that both wheels slip, which is
even more difficult. This notion may come from observing motorcycles,
that can cause a rear wheel slide by applying power when banked over.
Besides, when questioned about how this is done, the proponent says
that the ability was observed, done by others.

A bicycle can be pedaled only at lean angles far less than the maximum
without grounding a pedal, so hard cornering is always done coasting,
hence, there is no power in hard cornering. Although bicycles with
high ground clearance have been built, they showed only that pedaling
imbalance has such a disturbing influence on traction, that pedaling
at a greater lean angle than that of a standard road racing bicycles
has no benefit. That is why road bicycles are built the way they are,
no higher than is useful.

That bicycle tires have no margin for recovering a slip at maximum
lean angle, has been tested in lean-slip tests on roads and testing
machines. For smooth tires on pavement, slipout occurs at slightly
less than 45 degrees from the road surface and is both precipitous and
unrecoverable. Although knobby tires have a less sudden slipout and
can be drifted around curves, they begin to side-slip at a more
upright angle as their tread fingers walk rather than slip. For this
reason, knobby tires cannot achieve lean angles of smooth tires and
offer no cornering advantage on pavement.

How to Corner

Cornering requires estimating the required lean angle before reaching
the apex of the turn where the angle with the road surface is the
critical parameter rather the angle with the vertical, as is evident
from banked curves. Lean angle is limited by the available traction
that must be assessed from velocity and appearance of the surface.
For good pavement, this angle is about 45 degrees, in the absence of
oil, water, or smooth and slick spots. Therefore, a curve banked
inward 10 degrees, allows a lean of up to at least 55 degrees from the
vertical, while a crowned road with no banking, where the surface
falls off about 10 degrees, would allow only up to 35 degrees.

Banked curves have a greater effect than just adding to the maximum
lean angle, because with a steeper banking, more of the centripetal
cornering force goes into increasing traction directly into the
banking up to the point of a vertical wall where only the maximum
G-forces limit what speed a bicyclists can attain. In contrast, an
off banked curve makes cornering progressively more difficult until
the bicycle will slip even at zero speed. This effect is more
naturally apparent to riders who exceeded these limits early in life
and have added the experience to expected natural phenomena.

The skill of visualizing effects of speed, traction, braking, and
curvature are complex, but is something humans and other creatures do
regularly in self propulsion. The difficulty arises in adapting this
to higher speeds. When running, we anticipate how fast and sharply to
turn on a sidewalk, dirt track, or lawn, to avoid sliding. The method
is the same on a bicycle although the consequences of error are more

Cornering requires reflexes to dynamics that are easily developed in
youth, while people who have not exercised this in a long time find
they can no longer summon these skills. A single fall strongly
reinforces doubt, so cautious practice is advisable if returning to
bicycling after a long time.


Countersteer is a popular subject for people who belatedly discover or
rediscover how to balance. What is not apparent, is that two wheeled
vehicles can be controlled ONLY by countersteer, there is no other
way. Unlike a car, a bicycle cannot be diverted from a straight path
by steering the wheel to one side. The bicycle must first be leaned
in that direction by steering it ever so slightly the other way. This
is the means by which a broomstick is balanced on the palm of the hand
or a bicycle on the road. The point of support is moved beneath the
mass, in line with the combined forces of gravity and cornering, and
it requires steering, counter and otherwise. It is so obvious that
runners never mention it, although football, basketball, and ice
hockey players conspicuously do it.


Once the basics of getting around a corner are developed, doing it
fast involves careful use of the brakes. Besides knowing how steeply
to lean in curves, understanding braking makes the difference between
the average and the fast rider. When approaching a curve with good
traction, the front brake can be used almost exclusively, because it
is capable of slowing the bicycle so rapidly that nearly all weight
transfers to the front wheel, at which point the rear brake is nearly
useless. Once in the curve, more and more traction is used to resist
lateral slip as the lean angle increases, but that does not mean the
brakes cannot be used. When banked over, braking should be done with
both brakes, because now neither wheel has much traction to spare and
with lighter braking, weight transfers diminishes. A feel for how
hard the front brake must be applied for rear wheel lift-off, can be
developed at low speed.

Braking in Corners

Why brake in the turn? If all braking is done before the turn, speed
will be slower than necessary before the apex. Anticipating maximum
speed for the apex is difficult, and because the path is not a
circular arc, speed must be trimmed all the way to that point. Fear
of braking in curves usually comes from an incident of injudicious
braking at a point where braking should have been done with a gentle
touch to match the conditions.

Substantial weight transfer from the rear to the front wheel will
occur with strong use of the front brake on good traction just before
entering the curve. When traction is poor or the lean angle is great,
deceleration cannot be large and therefore, weight transfer will be
small, so light braking with both wheels is appropriate. If traction
is miserable, only the rear brake should be used, because although a
rear skid is recoverable, a front skid is generally not. An exception
to this is in deep snow, where the front wheel can slide and function
as a sled runner while being steered.

Braking at maximum lean

For braking in a curve, take the example of a rider cornering with
good traction, leaning at 45 degrees, the equivalent of 1G centrifugal
acceleration. Braking with 1/10g increases the traction demand by one
half percent. The sum of cornering and braking vectors is the square
root of the sum of their squares, SQRT(1^2+0.1^2)=1.005 or an increase
of 0.005. In other words, there is room to brake substantially during
maximum cornering. Because the lean angle changes as the square of
the speed, braking can rapidly reduce the angle and allow even more
braking. For this reason skilled racers nearly always apply both
brakes into the apex of turns.


Beyond leaning and braking, suspension helps substantially in
descending. For bicycles without built-in suspension, this is
furnished by the legs. Standing up is not necessary on roads with
fine ripples, just taking the weight off the pelvic bones is adequate.
For rougher roads, enough clearance must be used so the saddle carries
no weight. The reason for this is twofold. Vision will become
blurred if the saddle is not unloaded, and traction will be
compromised if the tires are not bearing with uniform force on the
road while rolling over bumps. Ideally the tires should bear on the
road at constant load. Besides, if the road has whoop-de-doos, the
seated rider will get launched from the saddle and possibly crash.

Lean the Bicycle, the Rider, or Both

Some riders believe that sticking the knee out or leaning the body
away from the bicycle, improves cornering. Sticking out a knee is the
same thing that riders without cleats do when they stick out a foot in
dirt track motorcycle fashion. On paved roads this is a useless but
reassuring gesture that, on uneven roads, even degrades control. Any
body weight that is not centered over the bicycle (leaning the bike or
sticking out a knee) puts a side load on the bicycle, and side loads
cause steering motions over uneven road. Getting weight off the
saddle is also made more difficult by such maneuvers.

To verify this, coast down a straight but rough road, weight on one
pedal with the bike slanted, and note how the bike follows an erratic
line. In contrast, if you ride centered on the bike you can ride
no-hands perfectly straight over the same road. While leaning off the
bike, trail of the front wheel causes steering on rough roads.

Outside Pedal Down

It is often said that putting the outside pedal down in a curve
improves cornering. Although most experienced riders do this, it is
not because it has anything to do with traction. The reason is that
it enables the rider to unload the saddle while standing with little
effort on a locked knee, cushioning his weight on his ankle. This can
only be done on the outside pedal because the inside pedal would hit
the road. However, standing on one extended leg does not work on
rougher roads, because the ankle cannot absorb large road bumps nor
raise the rider high enough from the saddle to avoid getting bounced.
Rough roads require rising high enough from the saddle to avoid hard
contact while the legs supply shock absorbing knee action, with pedals
and cranks horizontal.

Body Contortions

Most of the "body English" riders display is gratuitous gesturing,
much like the motorcyclists who stick their butt out in curves while
their bikes never get down to 45 degrees (the angle below which hiking
out becomes necessary to keep hardware from dragging on the road). In
fact, in a series of tight ess bends, there's no time to do any of
this. It's done by supporting weight on the (horizontally positioned)
pedals, and unless the road is rough, with a light load on the saddle.
On rough roads, the cheeks of the saddle, (the ones that went away
with the Flite like saddles) are used to hold the bicycle stably
between the legs while not sitting.

The path through a curve is not symmetrical for a bicycle, because it
can slow down much faster than it can regain speed. Thus the
trajectory is naturally asymmetric. Brakes are generally used to the
apex (that is usually not the middle) of the curve, where pedaling at
that lean angle is not possible, nor does pedaling accelerate as fast
as braking decelerates.

Hairpin Turns

Although the railroad term switchback arises from early mountain
railroading where at the end of a traverse, a switch is turned to back
up the next traverse, after which another switch is turned to head up
the next, on roads these are hairpin turns. In such turns trajectory
asymmetry is most conspicuous, because braking can be hard enough to
raise the rear wheel when entering but one cannot exit with such
acceleration. For this reason, riders often find themselves with
extra road on the exit of such turns, having slowed down too much.


Where to direct vision is critical for fast cornering. Central vision
should be focused on the pavement where the tire will track, while
allowing peripheral vision, with its low resolution and good
sensitivity to motion, to detect obstacles and possible oncoming
traffic. Peripheral vision monitors surroundings anyway, so the
presence of a car in that "backdrop" does not require additional
consideration other than its path.

If central vision is directed at the place where an oncoming vehicle
might appear, its appearance presents a new problem of confrontation,
stopping image processing of the road surface for substantial time.
Because the color or model of car is irrelevant, this job can be left
to peripheral vision in high speed primitive processing, while
concentrating on pavement surface and composition.

When following another bicycle or a car downhill, the same technique
is even more important, because by focusing on the leading vehicle,
pavement and road alignment information is being obscured giving a
tendency to mentally become a passenger of that vehicle. Always look
ahead of the vehicle, observing it only peripherally.

Riders often prefer to keep their head upright in curves, although
leaning the head with the bicycle and body is more natural to the
motion. Pilots who roll their aircraft do not attempt to keep their
head level during the maneuver, or in curves, for that matter.

The Line

Picking the broadest curve through a corner may be obvious by the time
the preceding skills are mastered, but that may not be the best line,
either for safety or because the road surface is poor. Sometimes
hitting a bump or a "Bott's dot" is better than altering the line,
especially at high speed. Tires should be large enough to absorb the
entire height of a lane marker without pinching the tube. This means
that a minimum of a 25mm actual cross section tire is advisable. At
times, the crown of the road is sufficient to make broadening the
curve, by taking the curve wide, counterproductive because the crown
on the far side gives a restricted lean angle.

Mental Speed

Mental speed is demanded by all of these. However, being quick does
not guarantee success, because judgment is even more important. To
not be daring but rather to ride with a margin that leaves a feeling
of comfort rather than high risk, is more important. Just the same,
do not be blinded by the age old presumption that everyone who rides
faster than I is crazy. "He descends like a madman!" is one of the
most common descriptions of fast descenders. The comment generally
means that the speaker is slower.

Braking Heat on Steep Descents

Although tandems with their higher weight to wind drag ratio have this
problem more often, steep mountain roads, especially ones with poor or
no pavement require so much braking that single bicycles blow off
tires from overheating. For tubulars the problem is not so much over
pressure than rim glue melting as all pressure sensitive glues do with
heating. As glue softens, tires slip on the hot rim and pile up on
the valve stem. This is the usual indicator that tubular tire wheels
are too hot. The next is that the tire arches off the rim in the area
just before the stem.

This is a serious problem both for tubulars and clinchers because most
clincher tires, given enough time on a hot rim will blow off if
inflated to recommended pressure. Pressure that gives good rolling
performance (hard) while tubulars roll off from lack of adhesion to
the rim. The faster the travel, the more descending power goes into
wind drag and the better the rims are cooled. Going slowly does not
help, unless speed is reduced below walking pace.

On steep descents, where rims stay too hot to touch for more than a
minute, reducing tire inflation pressure is a sure remedy. However,
tires should be re-inflated once the rims cool to normal. The
blow-off pressure is the same for small and large tires on the same
rim, it being dependent only on the opening of the rim width. Also,
tires with a smaller air volume become hot faster than larger ones.

There is no way of descending continuously and steeply without
reducing inflation pressure, unless there is an insulator between the
tube and rim of a clincher. Insulating rim strips are no longer
offered because they were an artifact of dirt roads that often
required riders to descend so slowly that all potential energy went
into the brakes and almost none into wind drag. These rim strips were
cloth tubes filled with kapok, their insulating purpose being unknown
to most people when they were last offered.


Subject: 9.16 Trackstands
From: Rick Smith

How to trackstand on a road bike.

With acknowledgments to my trackstanding mentor,
Neil Bankston.

Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice, ....

1. Wear tennis shoes.
2. Find an open area, like a parking lot that has a slight grade to it.
3. Put bike in a gear around a 42-18.
4. Ride around out of the saddle in a counter-clockwise circle, about
10 feet in diameter.

Label Notation for imaginary points on the circle:
'A' is the lowest elevation point on the circle.
'B' is the 90 degrees counterclockwise from 'A' .
'C' is the highest elevation point on the circle.
'D' is the 90 degrees counterclockwise from 'C' .

/ \
D B Aerial View
\ /

5. Start slowing down, feeling the different sensation as the bike
transitions between going uphill (B) and downhill (D).
6. Start trying to go real slowly through the A - B region of the circle.
This is the region you will use for trackstanding. Ride the rest of
the circle as you were in step 5.

The trackstanding position (aerial view again):

---| /
------| |----/
|--- /

The pedal are in a 3 o'clock - 9 o'clock arrangement (in other
words, parallel to the ground). Your left foot is forward, your
wheel is pointed left. You are standing and shifting you weight
to keep balance. The key to it all is this:

If you start to fall left, push on the left pedal to move the
bike forward a little and bring you back into balance.

If you start to fall right, let up on the pedal and let the
bike roll back a little and bring you back into balance.

7. Each time you roll through the A - B region, try to stop when
the left pedal is horizontal and forward. If you start to
lose your balance, just continue around the circle and try it

8. Play with it. Try doing it in various regions in the circle,
with various foot position, and various amounts of turn in your
steering. Try it on different amounts of slope in the
pavement. Try different gears. What you are shooting for is
the feel that's involved, and it comes with practice.

The why's of trackstanding:

Why is road bike specified in the title?
A true trackstand on a track bike is done differently. A track
bike can be pedaled backwards, and doesn't need a hill to
accomplish the rollback affect. Track racing trackstands
are done opposite of what is described. They take place on the
C - D region of the circle, with gravity used for the roll
forward, and back pedaling used for the rollback. This is so
that a racer gets the assist from gravity to get going again
when the competition makes a move.

Why a gear around 42-18?
This is a reasonable middle between too small, where you would
reach the bottom of the stroke on the roll forward, and too big,
where you couldn't generate the roll forward force needed.

Why is the circle counter-clockwise?
Because I assume you are living in an area where travel is done
on the right side of the road. When doing trackstands on the road,
most likely it will be at traffic lights. Roads are crowned - higher
in the middle, lower on the shoulders - and you use this crown as
the uphill portion of the circle (region A-B). If you are in a
country where travel is done on the left side of the road,
please interpret the above aerial views as subterranial.

Why is this done out of the saddle?
It's easier!! It can be done in while seated, but you lose the
freedom to do weight adjustments with your hips.

Why is the left crank forward?
If your right crank was forward, you might bump the front wheel
with your toe. Remember the steering is turned so that the back
of the front wheel is on the right side of the bike. Some bikes
have overlap of the region where the wheel can go and your foot
is. Even if your current bike doesn't have overlap, it's better
to learn the technique as described in case you are demonstrating
your new skill on a bike that does have overlap.

Why the A - B region?
It's the easiest. If you wait till the bike is around 'B', then
you have to keep more force on the pedal to hold it still. If
you are around the 'A' point, there may not be enough slope to
allow the bike to roll back.


What do I do if I want to stop on a downhill?
While there are techniques that can be employed to keep you in
the pedals, for safety sake I would suggest getting out of the
pedals and putting your foot down.

Other exercises that help:

Getting good balance. Work through this progression:
1. Stand on your right foot. Hold this until it feels stable.
2. Close your eyes. Hold this until it feels stable.
3. Go up on your toes. Hold this until it feels stable.
4. If you get to here, never mind, your balance is already wonderful,
else repeat with other foot.


Subject: 9.17 Front Brake Usage
From: John Forester

I have dealt for many years with the problem of explaining front
brake use, both to students and to courtrooms, and I have reached
some conclusions, both about the facts and about the superstitions.

The question was also asked about British law and front brakes.
I'll answer that first because it is easier. British law requires
brakes on both wheels, but it accepts that a fixed gear provides the
required braking action on the rear wheel. I think that the
requirement was based on reliability, not on deceleration. That is,
if the front brake fails, the fixed-gear cyclist can still come to a

In my house (in California) we have three track-racing bikes
converted to road use by adding brakes. Two have only front brakes
while the third has two brakes. We have had no trouble at all, and we
ride them over mild hills. The front-brake-only system won't meet the
normal U.S. state traffic law requirement of being able to skid one
wheel, because that was written for coaster-braked bikes, but it
actually provides twice the deceleration of a rear-wheel-braked bike
and nobody, so far as I know, has ever been prosecuted for using such
a setup.

The superstitions about front brake use are numerous. The most
prevalent appears to be that using the front brake without using the
rear brake, or failing to start using the rear brake before using the
front brake, will flip the cyclist. The other side of that
superstition is that using the rear brake will prevent flipping the
bicycle, regardless of how hard the front brake is applied.

The truth is that regardless of how hard the rear brake is
applied, or whether it is applied at all, the sole determinant (aside
from matters such as bicycle geometry, weight and weight distribution
of cyclist and load, that can't practically be changed while moving)
of whether the bicycle will be flipped is the strength of application
of the front brake. As the deceleration to produce flip is
approached, the weight on the rear wheel decreases to zero, so that
the rear wheel cannot produce any deceleration; with no application
of the rear brake it rolls freely, with any application at all it
skids at a force approaching zero. With typical bicycle geometry, a
brake application to attempt to produce a deceleration greater than
0.67 g will flip the bicycle. (Those who advocate the cyclist moving
his butt off and behind the saddle to change the weight distribution
achieve a very small increase in this.)

A typical story is that of a doctor who, now living in the higher-
priced hilly suburbs, purchased a new bicycle after having cycled to
med school on the flats for years. His first ride was from the bike
shop over some minor hills and then up the 15% grade to his house.
His second ride was down that 15% grade. Unfortunately, the rear
brake was adjusted so that it produced, with the lever to the
handlebar, a 0.15 g deceleration. The braking system would meet the
federal requirements of 0.5 g deceleration with less than 40 pounds
grip on the levers, because the front brake has to do the majority of
the work and at 0.5 g there is insufficient weight on the rear wheel
to allow much more rear brake force than would produce 0.1 g
deceleration. (The U.S. regulation allows bicycles with no gear
higher than 60 inches to have only a rear-wheel brake that provides
only 0.27 g deceleration.) I don't say that the rear brake adjustment
of the bicycle in the accident was correct, because if the front
brake fails then the rear brake alone should be able to skid the rear
wheel, which occurs at about 0.3 g deceleration. The doctor starts
down the hill, coasting to develop speed and then discovering that he
can't slow down to a stop using the rear brake alone. That is because
the maximum deceleration produced by the rear brake equalled, almost
exactly, the slope of the hill. He rolls down at constant speed with
the rear brake lever to the handlebar and the front brake not in use
at all. He is afraid to apply the front brake because he fears that
this will flip him, but he is coming closer and closer to a curve,
after which is a stop sign. At the curve he panics and applies the
front brake hard, generating a force greater than 0.67 g deceleration
and therefore flipping himself. Had he applied the front brake with
only a force to produce 0.1 g deceleration, even 100 feet before the
curve, he would have been safe, but in his panic he caused precisely
the type of accident that he feared. He thought that he had a good
case, sued everybody, and lost. This is the type of superstition that
interferes with the cycling of many people.

My standard instruction for people who fear using the front brake
is the same instruction for teaching any person to brake properly.
Tell them to apply both brakes simultaneously, but with the front
brake 3 times harder than the rear brake. Start by accelerating to
road speed and stopping with a gentle application. Then do it again
with a harder application, but keeping the same 3 to 1 ratio. Then
again, harder still, until they feel the rear wheel start to skid.
When the rear wheel skids with 1/4 of the total braking force applied
to it, that shows that the weight distribution has now progressed as
far to the front wheel as the average cyclist should go. By repeated
practice they learn how hard this is, and attain confidence in their
ability to stop as rapidly as is reasonable without any significant


Subject: 9.18 Slope Wind, the Invisible Enemy
From: Jobst Brandt

Wind as well as relative wind caused by moving through still air
demands most of a bicyclists effort on level ground. Most riders
recognize when they are subjected to wind because it comes in gusts
and these gusts can be distinguished from the more uniform wind caused
by moving through still air. That's the catch. At the break of dawn
there is often no wind as such but cool air near the ground, being
colder and more dense than higher air slides downslope as a laminar
layer that has no turbulent gusts.

Wind in mountain valleys generally blows uphill during the heat of the
day and therefore pilots of light aircraft are warned to take off
uphill against the morning slope wind. Slope wind, although detectable,
is not readily noticed when standing or walking because it has
negligible effect and does not come in apparent gusts. The bicyclist,
in contrast, is hindered by it but cannot detect it because there is
always wind while riding.

Slope wind, as such, can be up to 10 mph before it starts to take on
the characteristics that we expect of wind. It is doubly deceptive
when it comes from behind because it gives an inflated speed that can
be mistakenly attributed to great fitness that suddenly vanishes when
changing course. If you live near aspen or poplars that tend to fan
their leaves in any breeze, you will not be fooled.


Subject: 9.19 Reflective Tape
From: Jobst Brandt

Reflective tape is available in most better bike shops in various
forms, most of which is pre-cut to some preferred shape and designed
for application to some specific part of the bike or apparel. The most
effective use of such tape is on moving parts such as pedals, heel of
the shoe or on a place that is generally overlooked, the inside of the

First, it is appropriate to note that car headlights generally produce
white light and a white or, in fact, colorless reflector returns more
of this light to its source than ones with color filters or selective
reflection. Red, for instance, is not nearly as effective as white.

Placing reflective tape on the inside of the rims between the spokes
is a highly effective location for night riding because it is visible
equally to the front and rear while attracting attention through its
motion. It is most effective when applied to less than half the rim
in a solid block. Five inter-spoke sections does a good job. One can
argue that it isn't visible from the side (if the rim is not an aero
cross section) but the major hazard is from the front and rear.

Be seen on a bike! It's good for your health.


Subject: 9.20 Nutrition
From: Bruce Hildenbrand

Oh well, I have been promising to do this for a while and given the present
discussions on nutrition, it is about the right time. This article was
written in 1980 for Bicycling Magazine. It has been reprinted in over 30
publications, been the basis for a chapter in a book and cited numerous
other times. I guess somebody besides me thinks its OK. If you disagree
with any points, that's fine, I just don't want to see people take exception
based on their own personal experiences because everyone is different and
psychological factors play a big role(much bigger than you would think)
on how one perceives his/her own nutritional requirements. Remember that
good nutrition is a LONG TERM process that is not really affected by short
term events(drinking poison would be an exception). If it works for you
then do it!!! Don't preach!!!!


Nutrition in athletics is a very controversial topic. However, for
an athlete to have confidence that his/her diet is beneficial he/she
must understand the role each food component plays in the body's
overall makeup. Conversely, it is important to identify and understand
the nutritional demands on the physiological processes of the body
that occur as a result of racing and training so that these needs
can be satisfied in the athlete's diet.

For the above reasons, a basic nutrition primer should help the athlete
determine the right ingredients of his/her diet which fit training and
racing schedules and existing eating habits. The body requires three
basic components from foods: 1) water; 2) energy; and 3)nutrients.


Water is essential for life and without a doubt the most important
component in our diet. Proper hydrations not only allows the body to
maintain structural and biochemical integrity, but it also prevents
overheating, through sensible heat loss(perspiration). Many cyclists have
experienced the affects of acute fluid deficiency on a hot day, better
known as heat exhaustion. Dehydration can be a long term problem,
especially at altitude, but this does not seem to be a widespread
problem among cyclists and is only mentioned here as a reminder(but
an important one).


Energy is required for metabolic processes, growth and to support
physical activity. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National
Academy of Sciences has procrastinated in establishing a Recommended
Daily Allowance(RDA) for energy the reasoning being that such a daily
requirement could lead to overeating. A moderately active 70kg(155lb)
man burns about 2700 kcal/day and a moderately active 58kg(128lb) woman
burns about 2500 kcal/day.

It is estimated that cyclists burn 8-10 kcal/min or about 500-600
kcal/hr while riding(this is obviously dependent on the level of
exertion). Thus a three hour training ride can add up to 1800
kcals(the public knows these as calories) to the daily energy demand
of the cyclist. Nutritional studies indicate that there is no
significant increase in the vitamin requirement of the athlete as a
result of this energy expenditure.

In order to meet this extra demand, the cyclist must increase his/her
intake of food. This may come before, during or after a ride but most
likely it will be a combination of all of the above. If for some
reason extra nutrients are required because of this extra energy
demand, they will most likely be replenished through the increased
food intake. Carbohydrates and fats are the body's energy sources and
will be discussed shortly.


This is a broad term and refers to vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates,
fats, fiber and a host of other substances. The body is a very complex product
of evolution. It can manufacture many of the resources it needs to survive.
However, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids(the building blocks of
proteins) and fatty acids cannot be manufactured, hence they must be supplied
in our food to support proper health.

Vitamins and Minerals

No explanation needed here except that there are established RDA's for most
vitamins and minerals and that a well balanced diet, especially when
supplemented by a daily multivitamin and mineral tablet should meet all
the requirements of the cyclist.

Proper electrolyte replacement(sodium and potassium salts) should be
emphasized, especially during and after long, hot rides. Commercially
available preparations such as Exceed, Body Fuel and Isostar help
replenish electrolytes lost while riding.


Food proteins are necessary for the synthesis of the body's skeletal(muscle,
skin, etc.) and biochemical(enzymes, hormones, etc.)proteins. Contrary
to popular belief, proteins are not a good source of energy in fact they
produce many toxic substances when they are converted to the simple sugars
needed for the body's energy demand.

Americans traditionally eat enough proteins to satisfy their body's
requirement. All indications are that increased levels of exercise do
not cause a significant increase in the body's daily protein
requirement which has been estimated to be 0.8gm protein/kg body


Carbohydrates are divided into two groups, simple and complex, and serve
as one of the body's two main sources of energy.

Simple carbohydrates are better known as sugars, examples being fructose,
glucose(also called dextrose), sucrose(table sugar) and lactose(milk sugar).

The complex carbohydrates include starches and pectins which are multi-linked
chains of glucose. Breads and pastas are rich sources of complex

The brain requires glucose for proper functioning which necessitates a
carbohydrate source. The simple sugars are quite easily broken down to
help satisfy energy and brain demands and for this reason they are an ideal
food during racing and training. The complex sugars require a substantially
longer time for breakdown into their glucose sub units and are more suited
before and after riding to help meet the body's energy requirements.


Fats represent the body's other major energy source. Fats are twice as
dense in calories as carbohydrates(9 kcal/gm vs 4 kcal/gm) but they are
more slowly retrieved from their storage units(triglycerides) than
carbohydrates(glycogen). Recent studies indicate that caffeine may help
speed up the retrieval of fats which would be of benefit on long rides.

Fats are either saturated or unsaturated and most nutritional experts
agree that unsaturated, plant-based varieties are healthier. Animal
fats are saturated(and may contain cholesterol), while plant based fats
such as corn and soybean oils are unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are
necessary to supply essential fatty acids and should be included in the
diet to represent about 25% of the total caloric intake. Most of this
amount we don't really realize we ingest, so it is not necessary to heap
on the margarine as a balanced diet provides adequate amounts.


Now that we have somewhat of an understanding of the role each food
component plays in the body's processes let's relate the nutritional
demands that occur during cycling in an attempt to develop
an adequate diet. Basically our bodies need to function in three
separate areas which require somewhat different nutritional considerations.
These areas a 1) building; 2) recovery; and 3) performance.


Building refers to increasing the body's ability to perform physiological
processes, one example being the gearing up of enzyme systems necessary
for protein synthesis, which results in an increase in muscle mass, oxygen
transport, etc. These systems require amino acids, the building blocks of
proteins. Hence, it is important to eat a diet that contains quality proteins
(expressed as a balance of the essential amino acid sub units present)fish,
red meat, milk and eggs being excellent sources.

As always, the RDA's for vitamins and minerals must also be met but, as with
the protein requirement, they are satisfied in a well balanced diet.


This phase may overlap the building process and the nutritional requirements
are complimentary. Training and racing depletes the body of its energy
reserves as well as loss of electrolytes through sweat. Replacing the
energy reserves is accomplished through an increased intake of complex
carbohydrates(60-70% of total calories) and to a lesser extent fat(25%).
Replenishing lost electrolytes is easily accomplished through the use
of the commercial preparations already mentioned.


Because the performance phase(which includes both training rides and
racing)spans at most 5-7 hours whereas the building and recovery phases
are ongoing processes, its requirements are totally different from the
other two. Good nutrition is a long term proposition meaning the effects
of a vitamin or mineral deficiency take weeks to manifest themselves.
This is evidenced by the fact that it took many months for scurvy to
show in sailors on a vitamin C deficient diet. What this means is that
during the performance phase, the primary concern is energy replacement
(fighting off the dreaded "bonk") while the vitamin and mineral demands
can be overlooked.

Simple sugars such a sucrose, glucose and fructose are the quickest
sources of energy and in moderate quantities of about 100gm/hr(too much
can delay fluid absorption in the stomach) are helpful in providing fuel
for the body and the brain. Proteins and fats are not recommended because
of their slow and energy intensive digestion mechanism.

Short, one day rides or races of up to one hour in length usually require
no special nutritional considerations provided the body's short term energy
stores (glycogen) are not depleted which may be the case during multi-day

Because psychological as well as physiological factors determine performance
most cyclists tend to eat and drink whatever makes them feel "good" during a
ride. This is all right as long as energy considerations are being met and
the stomach is not overloaded trying to digest any fatty or protein containing
foods. If the vitamin and mineral requirements are being satisfied during the
building and recovery phases no additional intake during the performance phase
is necessary.


Basically, what all this means is that good nutrition for the cyclist is
not hard to come by once we understand our body's nutrient and energy
requirements. If a balanced diet meets the RDA's for protein, vitamins
and minerals as well as carbohydrate and fat intake for energy then everything
should be OK nutritionally. It should be remembered that the problems
associated with nutrient deficiencies take a long time to occur. Because
of this it is not necessary to eat "right" at every meal which explains
why weekend racing junkets can be quite successful on a diet of tortilla
chips and soft drinks. However, bear in mind that over time, the body's
nutritional demands must be satisfied. To play it safe many cyclists
take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement tablet which has no adverse
affects and something I personally recommend. Mega vitamin doses(levels
five times or more of the RDA) have not been proven to be beneficial and may
cause some toxicity problems.


"Good" nutrition is not black and white. As we have seen, the body's
requirements are different depending on the phase it is in. While the
building and recovery phases occur somewhat simultaneously the performance
phase stands by itself. For this reason, some foods are beneficial during
one phase but not during another. A good example is the much maligned
twinkie. In the performance phase it is a very quick source of energy
and quite helpful. However, during the building phase it is not necessary
and could be converted to unwanted fat stores. To complicate matters, the
twinkie may help replenish energy stores during the recovery phase however,
complex carbohydrates are probably more beneficial. So, "one man's meat
may be another man's poison."


This term refers to the quantity of nutrients in a food for its accompanying
caloric(energy) value. A twinkie contains much energy but few vitamins and
minerals so has a low nutrient density. Liver, on the other hand, has a
moderate amount of calories but is rich in vitamins and minerals and is
considered a high nutrient density food.

Basically, one must meet his/her nutrient requirements within the
constraints of his/her energy demands. Persons with a low daily
activity level have a low energy demand and in order to maintain their
body weight must eat high nutrient density foods. As already
mentioned, a cyclist has an increased energy demand but no significant
increase in nutrient requirements. Because of this he/she can eat
foods with a lower nutrient density than the average person. This
means that a cyclist can be less choosy about the foods that are eaten
provided he/she realizes his/her specific nutrient and energy
requirements that must be met.


Now, the definition of that nebulous phrase, "a balanced diet". Taking into
consideration all of the above, a diet emphasizing fruits and vegetables
(fresh if possible), whole grain breads, pasta, cereals, milk, eggs, fish and
red meat(if so desired) will satisfy long term nutritional demands.
These foods need to be combined in such a way that during the building and
recovery phase, about 60-70% of the total calories are coming from carbohydrate
sources, 25% from fats and the remainder(about 15%) from proteins.

It is not necessary to get 100% of the RDA for all vitamins and minerals
at every meal. It may be helpful to determine which nutritional
requirements you wish to satisfy at each meal. Personally, I use breakfast
to satisfy part of my energy requirement by eating toast and cereal. During
lunch I meet some of the energy, protein and to a lesser extent vitamin and
mineral requirements with such foods as yogurt, fruit, and peanut butter
and jelly sandwiches. Dinner is a big meal satisfying energy, protein,
vitamin and mineral requirements with salads, vegetables, pasta, meat and
milk. Between meal snacking is useful to help meet the body's energy


All this jiberish may not seem to be telling you anything you couldn't
figure out for yourself. The point is that "good" nutrition is not
hard to achieve once one understands the reasons behind his/her dietary
habits. Such habits can easily be modified to accommodate the nutritional
demands of cycling without placing any strict demands on one's lifestyle.


Subject: 9.21 Nuclear Free Energy Bar Recipe
From: Phil Etheridge

Nuclear Free Energy Bars
Comments and suggestions welcome.

They seem to work well for me. I eat bananas as well, in about equal quanities
to the Nuclear Free Energy Bars. I usually have two drink bottles, one with
water to wash down the food, the other with a carbo drink.

You will maybe note that there are no dairy products in my recipe -- that's
because I'm allergic to them. You could easily replace the soy milk powder
with the cow equivalent, but then you'd definitely have to include some
maltodextrin (my soy drink already has some in it). I plan to replace about
half the honey with maltodextrin when I find a local source. If you prefer
cocoa to carob, you can easily substitute.

C = 250 ml cup, T = 15 ml tablespoon

1 C Oat Bran
1/2 C Toasted Sunflower and/or Sesame seeds, ground (I use a food processor)
1/2 C Soy Milk Powder (the stuff I get has 37% maltodextrin, ~20% dextrose*)
1/2 C Raisins
2T Carob Powder

Mix well, then add to

1/2 C Brown Rice, Cooked and Minced (Using a food processor again)
1/2 C Peanut Butter (more or less, depending on consistency)
1/2 C Honey (I use clear, runny stuff, you may need to warm if it's thicker
and/or add a little water)

Stir and knead (I knead in more Oat Bran or Rolled Oats) until thoroughly
mixed. A cake mixer works well for this. The bars can be reasonably soft, as
a night in the fridge helps to bind it all together. Roll or press out about
1cm thick and cut. Makes about 16, the size I like them (approx 1cm x 1.5cm x

* Can't remember exact name, dextrose something)


Subject: 9.22 Powerbars Recipe
From: John McClintic

Have you ever watched a hummingbird? Think about it! Hummingbirds
eat constantly to survive. We lumpish earthbound creatures are in
no position to imitate this. Simply, if we overeat we get fat.

There are exceptions: those who exercise very strenuously can
utilize - indeed, actually need - large amounts of carbohydrates.

For example, Marathon runners "load" carbohydrates by stuffing
themselves with pasta before a race. On the flip side Long-distance
cyclists maintain their energy level by "power snacking".

With reward to the cyclist and their need for "power snacking"
I submit the following "power bar" recipe which was originated
by a fellow named Bill Paterson. Bill is from Portland Oregon.

The odd ingredient in the bar, paraffin, is widely used in chocolate
manufacture to improve smoothness and flowability, raise the melting
point, and retard deterioration of texture and flavor. Butter can be
used instead, but a butter-chocolate mixture doesn't cover as thinly
or smoothly.


1 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seed
1 1/2 cups dried apricots, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup shredded unsweetened dry coconut
1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups chunk-style peanut butter
1 teaspoon orange extract
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 package (12 oz.) or 2 cups semisweet chocolate
baking chips
4 ounces paraffin or 3/4 cup (3/4 lb.) butter or

Spread oats in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Bake in a 300 degree
oven until oats are toasted, about 25 minutes. Stir frequently to
prevent scorching.

Meanwhile, place sesame seed in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over
medium heat. Shake often or stir until seeds are golden, about 7 minutes.

Pour into a large bowl. Add apricots, raisins, coconut, almonds,
dry milk, and wheat germ; mix well. Mix hot oats into dried fruit

Butter the hot backing pan; set aside.

In the frying pan, combine corn syrup and sugar; bring to a rolling
boil over medium high heat and quickly stir in the peanut butter,
orange extract, and orange peel.

At once, pour over the oatmeal mixture and mix well. Quickly spread
in buttered pan an press into an even layer. Then cover and chill
until firm, at least 4 hours or until next day.

Cut into bars about 1 1/4 by 2 1/2 inches.

Combine chocolate chips and paraffin in to top of a double boiler.
Place over simmering water until melted; stir often. Turn heat to low.

Using tongs, dip 1 bar at a time into chocolate, hold over pan until
it stops dripping (with paraffin, the coating firms very quickly), then
place on wire racks set above waxed paper.

When firm and cool (bars with butter in the chocolate coating may need
to be chilled), serve bars, or wrap individually in foil. Store in the
refrigerator up to 4 weeks; freeze to store longer. Makes about 4 dozen
bars, about 1 ounce each.

Per piece: 188 cal.; 4.4 g protein; 29 g carbo.; 9.8 g fat;
0.6 mg chol.; 40 mg sodium.


Subject: 9.23 Calories burned by cycling
From: Jeff Patterson

The following table appears in the '92 Schwinn ATB catalog which references
Bicycling, May 1989:
(mph) 12 14 15 16 17 18 19
Weight Calories/Hr
110 293 348 404 448 509 586 662
120 315 375 437 484 550 634 718
130 338 402 469 521 592 683 773
140 360 430 502 557 633 731 828
150 383 457 534 593 675 779 883
160 405 485 567 629 717 828 938
170 427 512 599 666 758 876 993
180 450 540 632 702 800 925 1048
190 472 567 664 738 841 973 1104
200 495 595 697 774 883 1021 1159

(flat terrain, no wind, upright position)


Subject: 9.24 Road Rash Cures
From: E Shekita

[Ed note: This is a condensation of a summary of cures for road rash that
Gene posted.]

The July 1990 issue of Bicycle Guide has a decent article on road
rash. Several experienced trainers/doctors are quoted. They generally

- cleaning the wound ASAP using an anti-bacterial soap such as Betadine.
Showering is recommended, as running water will help flush out dirt
and grit. If you can't get to a shower right away, at the very least
dab the wound with an anti-bacteria solution and cover the wound with
a non-stick telfa pad coated with bactrin or neosporin to prevent
infection and scabbing. The wound can then be showered clean when you
get home. It often helps to put an ice bag on the wound after it has
been covered to reduce swelling.

- after the wound has been showered clean, cover the wound with either
1) a non-stick telfa pad coated with bactrin or neosporin, or 2) one
of the Second Skin type products that are available. If you go the telfa
pad route, daily dressing changes will be required until a thin layer
of new skin has grown over the wound. If you go the Second Skin route,
follow the directions on the package.

The general consensus was that scabbing should be prevented and that the
Second Skin type products were the most convenient -- less dressing changes
and they hold up in a shower. (Silvadene was not mentioned, probably because
it requires a prescription.)

It was pointed out that if one of the above treatments is followed, then
you don't have to go crazy scrubbing out the last piece of grit or dirt
in the wound, as some people believe. This is because most of the grit
will "float" out of the wound on its own when a moist dressing is used.

There are now products that go by the names Bioclusive, Tegaderm,
DuoDerm, Op-Site, Vigilon, Spenco 2nd Skin, and others, that are like
miracle skin. This stuff can be expensive ($5 for 8 3x4 sheets), but
does not need to be changed. They are made of a 96% water substance
called hydrogel wrapped in thin porous plastic. Two non-porous plastic
sheets cover the hydrogel; One sheet is removed so that the hydrogel
contacts the wound and the other non-porous sheet protects the wound.

These products are a clear, second skin that goes over the cleaned
(ouch!) wound. They breathe, are quite resistant to showering, and
wounds heal in around 1 week. If it means anything, the Olympic
Training Center uses this stuff. You never get a scab with this, so you
can be out riding the same day, if you aren't too sore.

It is important when using this treatment, to thoroughly clean the
wound, and put the bandage on right away. It can be obtained at most
pharmacies. Another possible source is Spenco second skin, which is
sometimes carried by running stores and outdoor/cycling/ stores. If
this doesn't help, you might try a surgical supply or medical supply
place. They aren't as oriented toward retail, but may carry larger sizes
than is commonly available. Also, you might check with a doctor, or
university athletic department people.


Subject: 9.25 Knee problems
From: Roger Marquis

[More up to date copies of Roger's articles can be found at

As the weather becomes more conducive to riding, the racing season
gets going, and average weekly training distances start to climb
a few of us will have some trouble with our knees. Usually knee
problem are caused by one of four things:

1) Riding too hard, too soon. Don't get impatient. It's going
to be a long season and there's plenty of time to get in the
proper progression of efforts. Successful cycling is a matter
of listening to your body. When you see cyclists burning out,
hurting themselves and just not progressing past a certain
point you can be fairly certain that it is because they are
not paying enough attention to what their bodies are saying.

2) Too many miles. The human body is not a machine. It cannot
take all the miles we sometimes feel compelled to ride without
time to grow and adapt. Keep this in mind whenever you feel
like increasing average weekly mileage by more than forty
miles over two or three weeks and you should have no problems.

3) Low, low rpms (also excessive crank length). Save those
big ring climbs and big gear sprints for later in the season.
This is the time of year to develop fast twitch muscle fibers.
That means spin, spin, spin. You don't have to spin all the
time but the effort put into small gear sprints and high rpm
climbing now will pay off later in the season. Mountain bikers
need to be especially careful of low rpms. I generally
recommend that even full time MTB competitors do most of
their training on the road.

4) Improper position on the bike. Unfortunately most bicycle
salespeople in this country have no idea how to properly set
saddle height, the most common error being to set it too low.
This is very conducive to developing knee problems because
of excessive bend at the knee when the pedal is at, and just
past top dead center.

If you've avoided these common mistakes yet are still experiencing
knee problems first make sure your seat and cleats are adjusted
properly then:

1) Check for leg length differences both below and above the
knee. If the difference is between 2 and 8 millimeters you
can correct it by putting spacers under one cleat. If one
leg is shorter by more than a centimeter or so you might
experiment with a shorter crank arm on the short leg side.

2) Use shorter cranks. For some riders this helps keep pedal
speed up and knee stress down. I'm over 6 ft. tall and use
170mm cranks for much of the off season.

3) Try the Fit-Kit R.A.D. cleat alignment device and/or a
rotating type cleat/pedal system.

4) Cut way back on mileage and intensity (This is a last
resort for obvious reasons). Sometimes a prolonged rest is
the only way to regain full functionality and is usually
required only after trying to "train through" pain.

Roger Marquis (www.roble.net/marquis)


Subject: 9.26 Cycling Psychology
From: Roger Marquis

[More up to date copies of Roger's articles can be found at

Motivation, the last frontier. With enough of it any ordinary person
can become a world class athlete. Without it the same person could
end up begging for change downtown. Even a tremendously talented
rider will go nowhere without motivation. How do some riders always
seem to be so motivated? What are the sources of their motivation?
This has been a central theme of sports psychology since its
beginning when Triplett studied the effects of audience and
competition on performance in the late nineteenth century. Though
a great deal has been written on motivation since Triplett it is
still an individual construct. As an athlete you need to identify
what motivates you and cultivate the sources of your motivation.
Here are a few popular methods.

GOALS. One of the best sources of motivation is setting goals. Be
specific and put them down on paper. Define your goals clearly and
make them attainable. Short term goals are more important than long
term goals and should be even more precisely defined. Set short
term goals for things like going on a good ride this afternoon,
doing five sprints, bettering your time on a known course, etc.
Set long term goals such as training at least five days a week,
placing in specific races, upgrading... DO NOT STRESS WINNING when
defining your goals. Instead stress enjoying the ride and doing
your best in every ride and race.

GROUP TRAINING. Training with friends, racing as a team, and all
the other social benefits of our sport are also great for motivation.
This is what clubs should be all about. With or without a club,
group training is vastly more effective than individual training.
The same intensity that can make solo training a challenge comes
naturally in a good group. Ever notice how easy a smooth rotating
paceline seems, until you arrive home to find a surprising soreness
in the quadriceps? Why beat yourself over the head when a few phone
calls (or emails) will generally find plenty of like minded
compatriots. As a general rule try to limit solo training to between
10% and 50% of total miles.

REGULARITY. It's nice to be regular, in more ways than one ;-)
Regularity makes difficult tasks easy. If you make it a point to
ride every day, or at least five times a week (to be competitive),
making the daily ride will become automatic. Riding at the same
time every day can also be helpful but be careful not to become a
slave to the schedule.

LOCATION. The 3 keys to a successful business, "location, location,
and location" are also key to effective cycling. The importance of
conveniently located rides, races, coaches, flexible school and
employment cannot be underemphasized. Good training partners, good
weather, good roads and minimal traffic can also make those long,
hard rides both easier AND more productive.

RACING. The best European pros actually do very little training.
Need I say more? There simply is no better way to improve fitness
and skill. Whether racing to place or to train the savvy cyclist
will do all the racing his or her motivation allows.

AS WELL AS cycling books, magazines and videos, new bike parts,
new clothing, new roads, nice weather, losing weight, seeing friends,
getting out of the city and breathing fresh air, riding hard and
feeling good, and especially the great feeling of accomplishment
and relaxation after every ride that makes life beautiful.


While high levels of excitation (motivational energy) are generally
better for shorter rides and track races, be careful not to get
over-excited before longer races. Stay relaxed and conserve precious
energy for that crosswind section or sprint where you'll need all
the strength you've got. Learn how psyched you need to be to do
your best and be aware of when you are over or under aroused.

It's not uncommon, especially in early season races, to be so
nervous before the start that fatigue sets in early or even before
the race. Too much stress can make it difficult to ride safely and
should be recognized and controlled immediately. If you find yourself
becoming too stressed before a race try stretching, talking to
friends, finding a quiet place to warm-up, or a crowded place
depending on your inclination. Remember that this stress will
disappear as soon as the race starts. Racing takes too much
concentration to spare any for worrying.

Every athlete needs to be adept in stress management. One technique
used to reduce competitive anxiety is imagery, also known as
visualization. While mental practice has been credited with miraculous
improvements in fine motor skills (archery, tennis) its greatest
value in gross motor sports like cycling lies in stress reduction.

Actually winning a race can also help put an end to excessive
competitive anxiety. But if you have never won (like most cyclists)
nervousness may be keeping you from that rewarding place on the


If you find yourself getting overstressed when thinking about
winning, or even riding a race try this; Find a quiet, relaxing
place to sit and think about racing. Second; Picture yourself
driving to the race in a very relaxed and poised state of mind.
Continue visualizing the day progressing into the race and going
well until you detect some tension THEN STOP. Do not let yourself
get excited at all. End the visualization session and try it again
the next day. Continue this DAILY until you can picture yourself
racing and winning without any stress. If this seems like a lot of
work evaluate just how much you want to win a bike race.

Visualization is not meant to replace on the bike training but can
make that training pay off in a big way. Eastern European research
has found that athletes improve most quickly if visual training
comprises fifty to seventy-five percent of the total time spent
training! Like any training imagery will only pay off if you do it
regularly and frequently. My French club coach always used to tell
us: believe it and it will become true.

(C) 1989, Roger Marquis (www.roble.net/marquis)
See also VeloNews, 3-91


Subject: 9.27 Mirrors
From: Jobst Brandt

Mirrors are mandatory on virtually every other type of vehicle on
the road. Competent drivers/riders learn the limitations of the
information available from their mirrors and act accordingly.

I suppose the question is appropriate because no one seems to have
a good explanation for this. In such an event, when there is much
evidence that what would seem obvious is not what is practiced, I
assume there are other things at work. I for one don't wear glasses
to which to attach a mirror and putting it on a helmet seems a
fragile location when the helmet is placed anywhere but on the head.

These are not the real reasons though, because I have found that when
looking in a head mounted mirror, I cannot accurately tell anything
about the following vehicle's position except that it is behind me.
That is because I am looking into a mirror whose angular position
with respect to the road is unknown. The rear view mirror in a car
is fixed with respect to the direction of travel and objects seen in
it are seen with reference to ones own vehicle, be that the rear
window frame or side of the car. I find the image in a head mounted
mirror on a bicycle to be distracting and a source of paranoia if
I watch it enough. It does not tell me whether the upcoming car is,
or is not, going to slice me.

I additionally I find it difficult to focus on objects when my
eyeballs are distorted by turning them as much as 45 degrees to the
side of straight ahead. You can try this by reading these words with
your head turned 45 degrees from the text.

I believe these two effects are the prime reasons for the unpopularity
of such mirrors. They don't provide the function adequately and still
require the rider to look back. I do not doubt that it is possible to
rely on the mirror but it does not disprove my contention that the
information seen is by no means equivalent to motor vehicle rear view
mirrors to which these mirrors have been compared. It is not a valid


Subject: 9.28 == Powerbars NO more --- homemade -- YES!!!
From: (Eric Conrad)

I don't know about any of you out there in cyber-mtbike-land, but I was
getting tired of buying Powerbars and other nutrition supplements to enhance
my riding. However, I do understand the benefit of having a quick, nutritious
snack that is full of energy on hand during a ride.

So I asked around and came up with a recipe for Powerbar-like bars that seem
to have a lot of what we need. I'll place the recipe here on the Usenet for
all to copy, distribute ... [but please don't market them, cause I'll only
kick myself for not doing it first ;-) ].

Please make them and enjoy them before you think about flaming me. Trust me,
you'll like them much more than Powerbars, and they're cheaper to make than to
buy their counterpart.




1 Cup dark raisins 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Cup golden raisins 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 Cup butter or Margarine 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 egg 1/2 Cup liquid milk
1 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour 1 Cup quick cooking oats
1/4 Cup toasted wheat germ 1 Cup sliced almonds (optional)
1/2 Cup golden molasses (dark is ok also)
1/2 Cup Nonfat dry milk

Chop raisins (in food processor if possible). Cream butter, sugar, molasses &

Combine flour, dry milk, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt and
ginger. Blend into creamed mixture with liquid milk. Stir in oats, raisins,
and half the almonds (if desired).

Pour into greased 13x9x2 inch pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with remaining
almonds (if desired).

Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 30 minutes. Cool in pan and cut into 1x4 inch


Subject: 9.29 Lower back pain
From: "David LaPorte (Biochem)"

I'm not a medical expert, but I've had my share of low back pain and I've
learned a few things. When in doubt, go see a medical professional.

Low back pain is one of the most common problems afflicting humans. It's
been estimated that about 80% of these problems arise because of poor
posture. These posture problems occur when we stand but are even more
significant when we sit or ride a bike. We tend to round up our low
backs, stressing the ligaments and tendons which lie along the spine. It is
the irritation and inflammation of these ligaments and tendons which leads
to most low back problems.

It is important to remember that back pain results from the sum total of
ALL the stresses your back experiences. Even if you only experience pain
when you're riding, poor riding posture may not be your only problem.
For example, you may be sitting poorly at a desk all day or lifting boxes

**Low Back Pain and Posture**

Since posture is the problem, it is also the solution. Those of us who
suffer from low back pain need to be constantly vigilant. We need to
maintain some arch in our backs as much as possible.

Sitting is a particular problem. Most chairs, coaches, car seats, etc
provide little low back support. You can buy low-back support pads at some
drug stores. Try them before you buy them because they are not all
comfortable. Alternatively, you can fold a towel and put it behind your
low back. The key is to maintain some arch without being uncomfortable.

Position on the bike is also important. Get your bike fit checked at a
shop that you trust. You should also work on maintaining a flat back
when riding. One way to achieve this is to push your belly button toward
the top tube.


Stretching is an important way to achieve flexibility and improve your
posture. A very useful stretch is to place you hands on you butt and
push your hips forward while standing:


you should feel this in the front of your hips. Tight hip flexors
prevent an upright posture. After a few seconds, arch your back and
slide your hands down the back of your thighs:


This movement puts the arch in you low back. You can do this stretch
many times a day. It is particularly useful to do it periodically when
you have to sit or ride for an extended period of time.

A more potent stretch that can be done a couple of times a day starts
with you lying on your front. Using your arms, push your shoulders off
the floor. Don't lift with your back. Keep your low back as relaxed as
possible. Let your hips hang down, staying as close to the floor as


This is a powerful stretch and should be started gradually. Otherwise,
it can do more harm than good. However, done properly, it can be
enormously helpful. Over a period of weeks, you should gradually
increase the height you achieve and the time you hold the position. It
is also less stressful to do this stretch for short periods with a little
rest than for a long period (for example, 3 X 10 sec with 5 sec rest
rather than for 30 sec straight).

Once your back starts to heal, you will probably need to stretch it
deliberately. This is apparently because of the scar tissue that built
up during healing. Keep it gentle, especially at first. You could
easily reinjure your back. Here's a good one: lie on your back with your
legs straight. Pull your knees up, grasp your thighs by your hamstrings
and gently pull your knees to your chest.

Stretching the ham strings can also help relieve low back pain. Tight
ham strings tend to pull the pelvis out of line. This can stress your
low back. The problem with most ham string stretches is that they also
tend to stretch the low back by forcing it to round up. The most
appropriate stretch I know requires the use of a doorway. Lie in the
doorway with your butt near the wall. Gently slide your foot up the
wall until you feel the stretch.


Two ways to make the stretch more gentle are (1) bend the lower leg,
keeping only your foot on the floor or (2) move your butt further away
from the wall. To make the stretch more intense, loop a cord or towel
over your raised foot and gently pull it away from the wall. As with all
stretches, this shouldn't hurt.


Another key to preventing low back pain is to keep your abdominal muscles
strong. These muscles help support the back. Do abdominal crunchers,
not sit ups. Sit ups emphasize the hip flexors, not the abs, and can be
hard on the back. Crunchers are done by lying on your back with your
knees bent. Press your low back into the floor and curl your head and
shoulders off the floor. Hold for a couple of seconds, then lower back
to the floor. Repeat until you can't get your shoulder blades off the
floor. Abs can be worked every day.

Strengthening the low back muscles can also be helpful. To start, lie on
your front with your arms and legs extended in a straight line with your
body. Raise your right arm and left leg. Put them down and raise your
left arm and right leg. Put them down and continue. As your back
strength improves, try raising both arms and legs at the same time, arching
your back in a "reverse stomach crunch". There are, of course, more
powerful back exercises, but they are also more stressful and shouldn't
be considered until your back is 110%.


Antiinflamitory medication can be helpful. Ibuprofen, naproxin and
aspirin are all available without a prescription. Acetominophen (eg.
Tylanol) is NOT an antiinflamatory. These drugs are most effective if
they are taken early since inflamation is hard to get rid of once it's
become established.

A danger in antiinflamatory drugs is that they are also pain killers.
Pain is your body's way of telling you that your doing damage. If you
block the pain signals, you can easily aggravate your injury without
knowing it.

Muscle relaxants are sometime prescribed for back problems. These should
only be obtained from a physician.

***Ice, Heat and Massage***

Ice is a great way to reduce pain and inflamation. A good way to apply
ice is to freeze water in a paper cup. Peel the cup back to expose the
ice and then use the cup as a handle while gently rubbing the ice over
the effected area. Ice is particularly good for the first couple of
days. Some people find that it's useful to continue ice treatments
beyond that. Others find that the ice treatments make their backs tight
if they continue beyond a couple of days.

Heat, especially moist heat, can be useful. However, it should not be
used for a couple of days after injuring your back or after aggravating a
current injury. Regardless of the timing, if you feel worse during or
shortly after heat treatment, stop doing it.

In the later stages of a back problem, I find that my low back muscles
get tight. Gentle massage seems to help them relax, promoting the
healing process. I suspect that massage could make things worse in some
cases, such as when the injury is fresh.


An excellent book on this subject is "Treat Your Own Back" by Robin
McKenzie, Spinal Publications Ltd., P.O. Box 93, Waikanae, New Zealand
ISBN 0-9597746-6-1. They use this book at the Low Back Center of the
University of Minnesota Hospital.


Subject: 9.30 Saddle Sores
(Lee Green MD MPH)

I think I'm developing a couple of saddle sores. I'm curious as to an
effective treatment for them, and effective preventative measures I can

It recurs intermittently here. Lots of comments about keeping clean to
keep the bugs at bay, all to the good.

However, there is more to saddle sores than infection. Skin has several
defenses against bacterial invasion, all of which must fail before
infection occurs.

Abrasion breaks the physical barrier, and preventing it is the reason for
good bike shorts. Lubrication is sometimes helpful too. I recommend not
Vaseline but Desitin. Yup, the diaper rash stuff. Some advocate bag balm
(there seems to be a whole cult of folk medicine around bag balm,
actually) but I'd say best avoid it: it softens skin, which is just what
you don't want.

The point that most posters here seem to miss is probably the most
important though: tissue ischemia. That is, the skin and subcutaneous fat
between your bones and the saddle get compressed. Blood doesn't flow
through them much. Low blood flow is "ischemia", meaning not much oxygen,
nutrients, antibodies, white blood cells, and other good things delivered
to the area.

Ischemic tissue is highly susceptible to infection, heals poorly, and can
break down and form a sore just from ischemia, without any infection at
all. It's similar to the pressure sores that nursing home patients

Keep clean, use lubricants if they seem to help, but especially wear good
bike shorts, *make sure your saddle fits properly*, and *get off the
saddle often to allow blood flow through the tissues.*

There is more to saddle sores if you're interested in a lot of technical
detail regarding oxygen tension, shear forces, etc but e-mail me if you
want the gory details.


Subject: 9.31 Group Riding Tips
From: Roger Marquis

[More up to date copies of Roger's articles can be found at

There is no more effective way to become a motivated cyclist than
finding a good regular group ride. Here are some group riding
techniques common around the world.

* Pacelines, Pacelines, Pacelines. Single or double, rotating
quickly or slowly but always smooth and tight. This is the single
overriding feature common to every experienced group ride.

* Accelerate slowly and with an eye to keeping the group together.
Attacks, jumps, short-hard pulls and other race-like riding may be
fine for certain smaller rides but have no place in a group oriented
ride. I'm often surprised that novice riders sometimes think this
kind of aggressive riding is better training than a good rotating

* A consistent pace is key. Try establishing a pedaling rhythm
before reaching the front, and maintain it until just after pulling
off. If you're feeling especially strong accelerate and/or take a
longer pull but if you do increase the pace do it gradually. Don't
forget to pedal harder on descents to make up for the extra
aerodynamic resistance.

* Go hard on the hills (and elsewhere) but don't forget to regroup.
This doesn't mean waiting for every last straggler but always make
a reasonable effort to regroup after the harder sections.

* Wheelsitters are always welcome, but please stay at the back.
There's nothing more disruptive than someone who rotates to the
front only to slow down on hitting the wind. If you're feeling
extended, tired, or otherwise not inclined to pull through there's
no problem with sitting at the back, just let the riders who are
rotating know when they've reached the back of the rotating section.

* Don't open gaps! If you find yourself behind a gap close it
_slowly_. A skilled group will remain in a tight paceline through
95% of an average ride including stops, corners, short climbs,
descents, and traffic by closing the inevitable gaps before they
become problems.

* Don't point out every single pothole, oncoming car, or other
obstacle. Each rider has to take responsibility for themselves.
This means that everyone should be paying attention to the traffic
and the road, even at the back. The frontmost riders should point
out unusual hazards of course, and steer the group gradually around
glass, potholes, slower riders and such but don't ever assume that
you can leave it up to the other riders to watch the road ahead.

* The lead riders are most responsible for the group's behavior
and must take this into account at stop signs and lights. Don't
accelerate through a yellow light unless you know the back of the
group can make it too. If the group does get split ride slow until
the rear group has caught back on. If you're at the back please
don't run the intersection just to maintain contact unless it is
clear that traffic is waiting for the entire group to pass.

* Don't accommodate elitist attitudes. Perhaps the best thing about
good group rides, aside from training, is socializing. Team
affiliation, racing experience, helmet use, type of bicycle, etc.
are all matters of individual preference and should be left as
such. As long as the rider is safe and able to keep up they should
be welcome.

* Experienced riders should point out mistakes. This must be done
diplomatically of course but it is important to make people aware
of unsafe riding, hard braking, cutting blind corners, unnecessarily
obstructing traffic, etc.

* It's also helpful to meet at a popular, central location. Cafes,
plazas, and bike shops are all good places to wait and talk before
the ride starts.

* Finally, a a href="http://www.roble.net/marquis/clinic"skills
clinic/a can be an excellent method of helping new riders achieve
the safety and proficiency necessary to participate in a paceline.

Roger Marquis


Subject: 9.32 Riding in echelon
From: Kevin metcalfe
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 16:47:03 -0700 (PDT)

The "fan" you guys are talking about is called an echelon. It is
something that even a lot of good cat 1 and 2 riders can't do properly.
It looks something like this: (Each "|" is a rider.)

Wind from the left Wind from the right
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
|| ||
| |
| |
| |

The single file guys at the bottom of the picture are "in the gutter".
Though they may be behind another rider they are getting almost no draft
and their days are numbered unless they can get into the echelon proper.

The riders in the echelon will rotate through from the sheltered side to
the front and then back in the windward side. i.e. With wind from the
left you rotate counter clockwise and you rotate clockwise when the wind
is from the right. If you are riding in a echelon and you want to keep
things smooth and together you will NEVER take a big long pull on the
front. You will always just rotate through. If you take a big pull at
the front, the previously pulling riders will continue to drift back.
Especially since the last guy to pull is still in the wind waiting for
you to swing over and give him a draft! What you'll end up with is a
single file echelon. This is bad because the number of riders that can
fit into an echelon is determined by the width of the road. If you go
single file, then only half as many can fit into the echelon and you've
got a lot of ****ed off riders pushing the wind.

A strong team (like ONCE) can cause a lot of damage in a cross wind. By
putting the whole team on the front and making the echelon just wide
enough for the team, they can drive the pace up front hard enough to
shatter the field. Smart riders will start forming second and third
echelons behind the original. This is the best thing to do.
Unfortunately there are two problems. First, as soon as you get close,
some moron will try and jump across to the first echelon. This is
usually stupid because the reason you are in the second echelon is
because they're no room in the first one. So the offending moron will
often find himself stuck in the gutter unless he can muscle his way into
the echelon. (A lot like trying to knock Abdu off of his leadout man
with 300 meters to go.) The second problem is that most of the stronger
riders are probably already in the first echelon so you're at a
horsepower disadvantage.

Often, early in a race, the field might encounter a strong cross wind and
break into as many as eight or ten echelons. Each echelon will be within
50 to 100 meters of the next one. They will continue like this until the
course turns either into or with the wind and the group will reform.
Just because you aren't physically connected to the front group in this
situation IS NOT NECESSARILY A REASON TO PANIC. If there are only ten
miles to go however, feel free to panic.

There's nothing about an echelon that makes it faster than a regular pace
line. The reason it will break the field up is that only part of the
field will fit in an echelon.


Subject: 9.33 Mirrors II
From: Richard Moorman
Date: Tue, 8 Oct 96 22:42 MDT

Helmet mirrors are very useful for nearsighted people with glasses. I use
my mirror to determine what's going to affect my travels in the next ten or
fifteen seconds. I don't worry about absolute accuracy, I just want the big
picture. If I want that information without a mirror, I have to twist my
body and head around so that I can look at the road behind me through my
glasses. To do this correctly I have to take my left hand off the bars,
disorient myself, and risk wobbling around a lot. It's dangerous. With the
mirror, it's just a glance up and to the left for a second or two. Mirrors
aren't for everyone, but for some of us they're wonderful. I use a mirror
despite the bad design that makes the plastic ones ridiculously breakable.
I hope that someone develops a flexible, springy mirror mount. It seems an
enormously obvious idea.


Subject: 9.34 Thorns aka Puncture Vine
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 16:54:00 PDT

Not all riders suffer from thorns which seems mainly to be a function
of avoidance rather than luck or protective means in the tires.
Rather than searching for tires or sealants that will survive thorns,
recognizing the plant is a more effective step toward avoiding flats.
The plant is not mobile and does not propel its seed pods away from
its tendrils. However, some riders think nothing of pulling thorns
from their tires and throwing them on the road as they patch their
tires. This practice seems to be part of not understanding avoidance.
In my experience, riders who suffer most from thorns, have no idea of
the plants appearance or its habitat. Most, think the yellow star
thistle is puncture vine which it is not and it cannot penetrating a

Puncture vine, tribulus terrestris, grows mainly on barren soil,
typically on roadsides that have been sprayed with herbicides to
prevent grass fires from discarded but burning cigarettes. The plant
germinates after the heat of summer has begun and grows from a central
tap root that reaches as deep as three meters. It has flesh colored
tendrils that radiate 30 to 50 cm with 1 x 3 cm dark green compound
filigree leaves that follow the sun. Its 1 cm diameter blossoms with
five yellow petals produce spherical seed clusters that separate into
five hardwood seed pods when ripe. Each pod or segment has two 6 mm
long thorns extending from the top of the arches so that gravity will
make one of the two thorns point upward. The plant produces seeds
throughout its annual growth.

Some examples:





Subject: 9.35 Gyroscopic Forces
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

What keeps the bicycle upright?

The question is often asked and, as often as not, is an introduction
to expound on the gyroscopic forces of the rotating wheels that make
bicycling possible. This claim is as accurate as the one that
authoritatively explains that spokes support the bicycle wheel by
hanging the hub from the upper spokes. They don't and it doesn't.

Some who propose the gyroscope theory, also explain that the advanced
skill of making fast turns on a bicycle involves a technique they call
countersteer. In fact, a bicycle cannot be ridden without
countersteer, commonly called balance, and it is this balance that is
used to keep the bicycle upright, just as one does while walking,
running, ice skating or roller skating. To say that the gyroscopic
forces of rotating wheels keep the bicycle upright, ignores that
roller skates are operated the same way and have so little gyroscopic
moment that one cannot detect it. On ice skates the argument fails
entirely. Besides, a bicycle can be ridden at less than three miles
per hour, at which speeds there is no effective gyroscopic reaction.

Those who ride no-hands sense and make use of the small gyroscopic
effect of the front wheel to steer. This, together with trail of the
steering geometry stabilize steering. Without trail, the bicycle
would have poor straight ahead preference and would riding no-hands
difficult. Many bicyclists never master riding no-hands because the
gyroscopic forces are too small for them to detect. Hands on the
handlebars completely obscure these forces.

For those who ride no-hands, countersteer should be visible and
obvious because the bicycle must be leaned away from the preferred
lean angle and direction of a curve so that the turn can be initiated.
With hands on the bars, although the opposing lean is unnecessary,
countersteer is still needed and can be done without counter-leaning.

That there are gyroscopic forces is evident from the riderless bicycle
test in which a bicycle is shoved at a brisk speed (from another
bicycle) and allowed to coast on its own. If the initial course is
straight, the bicycle will continue this path until it slows to a
speed where gyroscopic forces are too small to correct steering. Then
the bicycle takes a steep turn as it falls.

Gyroscopic forces are also used to walk a bicycle, holding it by the
saddle and steering it to either side by quickly tilting the bicycle.
The effect can be observed by resting a road bicycle (with a
horizontal top tube) on the shoulder tilted forward just enough to
make the front wheel aim straight ahead. Spinning the front wheel by
hand forward will make it steer as one expects, left for a left tilt,
right for a right tilt, all moves performed in less than a second.
With the wheel spinning backward, all responses are reversed.

A good example of a bicycle with no gyroscopic forces is the ski-bob,
a "bicycle" with short ski runners in place of wheels. This bicycle,
having no rotating parts, is ridden downslope easily by anyone who can
ride a bicycle.


Subject: 9.36 Going over the bars
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 05 Sep 1997 17:31:23 PDT

Many bicyclists fear using the front brake because they believe it, in
contrast to the rear brake, might cause the bicycle to overturn. What
is not apparent, is that overturning a bicycle with the front brake is
much harder than it seems, and that braking itself, is not the cause
of most pitchovers.

The primary cause of bicycle pitchover, is that the bicycle stops and
the rider does not, after which the bicycle overturns when the rider's
thighs strike the handlebars. Overturning can be simulated by walking
next to the bicycle, both hands on the bars, and applying the front
brake to raise the rear wheel. This experiment should make apparent
how small a force will overturn the bicycle when it stops and the
rider does not.

Beginners overturn when they use the front brake because they are not
aware that, unless they brace with their arms, only the friction on
the saddle prevents the bicycle from stopping without them. However,
even riders, who don't make this mistake, can pitchover from a
front-wheel jam that leaves no time to react. A stopped rear wheel
usually does not cause pitchover, because even if the rider moves
forward, unloading the rear wheel, effectively releases the brake.

Typically, front wheel jams occur from a stick in the spokes, a fender
jamming into the fork crown, a front cantilever straddle cable falling
onto a knobby tread, or a retaining bolt of a caliper brake releasing
from the fork crown. These are unanticipated events for which a rider
cannot brace if not already doing so. However, on clean pavement a
front wheel jam will overturn the bicycle regardless of rider reaction.

That bicycles do not easily overturn by braking becomes apparent by
attempting to raise the rear wheel, preferably at modest speed and
while bracing with the arms. The front brake, the principal stopping
and speed control device on motorcycles and cars, is especially
important for bicycles, whose short wheelbase causes even more weight
to transfer to the front wheel while braking, thereby making the rear
brake less effective. Therefore, the front brake should be understood
and used properly rather than being maligned as it is.

Formerly bicycles in the USA had their front brake on the right hand
as do motorcycles. A concerted effort by right handed safety
advocates, moved the "dangerous" front brake to the left hand, where
it could do less harm, and there it remains today.


Subject: 9.37 Yet another powerbar recipe
From: Dave Blake
Date: 1 Jun 1998 00:51:37 GMT

Bikewrkr wrote:
I'm getting sick of spending what seems to be all of my money on power bars,
gels, etc.

I know someone out there has their own secret sauce.

Here it is again - the Good Biscuit as tested and
raved about on rec.bicycles.tech.

Also, there is a clip in the FAQ at

I clipped this recipe about 3-4 years ago, from a
wreck.bikes newsgroup, and didn't make any of them.
The topic came up again recently, so I reposted the
recipe. And someone (please forgive me for not
remembering who) made them. And they came out well.
So then I felt really guilty, and I made some of my
own. And they came out well too. Non-cyclists at work
kept stopping by my desk to see if I had any more,
So here is the recipe. Please let me know how they turn out.

1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup wheat germ
0.5 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup corn, safflower, or light olive oil
1/4 cup molasses (or equivalent mix of molasses and honey)
(the honey mix is sweeter, I find all molasses a little bitter)

1/4 cup RAW sugar (not white refined sugar)
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel (California orange NOT Florida)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup orange juice (fresh JUICED from those California oranges)

1 cup chopped dried figs (or 1.5 cups total dried fruit)
1/2 cup golden raisins (I used 1 cup figs, 0.5 dry strawberries)

1/2 cup chopped almonds (or other nuts)

Combine flours, sugar, wheat, wheat germ, baking powder, cinnamon, and
salt. In smaller bowl, blend eggs, butter, honey, molasses, orange
peel, vanilla, and orange juice with wire whip. Add liquid to dry
ingredients; whip until smooth. Add figs, raisins, and almonds.

Spread in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F oven
for 35 minutes, until it tests done.

Makes about 24 bars.

Dave Blake


Subject: 9.38 Custom Jerseys

Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 10:22:48 PST

Does anybody know where I can find someplace that does custom jerseys
for clubs? Any ideas on how much they would cost? Please Email me at
one of the addresses below. Thanks for any help you can give me.

There are all sorts of jersey makers that you can find here or there. They
can usually be found advertising in the back of various bicycle
publications. Let's see if I can do this again:

Jerseys can be cheap -- in the neighborhood of $20 in quantities of 100 --
if you are willing to settle for one color (with perhaps some second color
trim for the sleeve and waistband piping) with a silk screened club logo.
These are the sorts of jerseys that were common in the old days. (Try Pyro
Apparel which I used and for this sort of jersey they were fine.)

Since the advent of fancy jerseys on professional teams more and more clubs
prefer to have the same sort of jerseys which use expensive high tech
materials and even more expensive coloring techniques such as sublimation
printing (where the jersey is white and the colored patterns and writing is
melted into the material permanently.)

Jerseys of this sort will run you about $60 apiece in 100's quantities from
the top line manufacturers counting all of the charges and shipping. These
would have several colors and complex artwork. (You can get this sort of
thing from Voler, VO2max, Canari, Castelli, etc.)

Top line jerseys require top line designs and if you get amateur designers
you could easily get an expensive jersey that looks like crap. So if you
don't have some good industrial designers in the club and can't afford to
get one, stay with the cheaper end of the chain.

Also quantity discounts are substantial so a large club can get very cheap
high class jerseys while a small club may actually pay more for much lower
quality jerseys.

http://www.pyroapparel.com/ (used and recommend)
http://www.voler.com/ (used and recommend)
http://www.vomax.com/ (Jazzy works for them and that's recommendation enough)
http://www.pearlizumi.com/ (Their production jerseys are some of the very best)
http://www.cannondale.com/ (They have very high quality stuff but I don't
know whether they make custom jerseys but I would imagine so for a large
http://www.sugoi.ca/team/ (It's close but these guys get my vote for top quality.)

A lot of people pop in and out of this business and its best to stick with
people who have shown that they can deliver a product on time and remain
there for years. There are also a lot of dorky clothing manufacturers that
think they can capitalize on bicycling's perceived popularity beware the
baggy shorts crowd since they can't figure out how to sew real lycra and

From off of the Urbanek site: (http://www.bicycleapparel.com)

What you need to know before you order Team & Club Apparel

Printed Jerseys and Team/Club Apparel

Most of the printed jerseys that you see on the market are sublimated.
Sublimation is a printing process whereby the image on a sheet of paper is
transferred onto white fabric through heat and pressure. The heat and
pressure cause the ink on the paper to turn to a gas which permanently
impregnates the fabric. The benefit of this process is that the image is
permanent and will not crack or fade like silk screening. Because the ink
impregnates the fabric and does not lay on top of the fabric like silk
screen printing, it does not interfere with the wicking properties or
breathability of the garment. The down side to this process is the expense.
Pricing is based on the number of colors in the garment and the quantity of
garments you wish to order. Each company has different minimums and pricing
policies so shop around.

Pricing is based on the number of colors and the number of garments

Delivery times (especially important if you have a scheduled event). The
average turn around time for a sublimation job is 6-8 weeks from the receipt
of deposit. In peak season deliveries can get behind. Order early and allow
extra time if you have a scheduled event.

Garment fit. If you are buying for a team or club, ask the company to supply
you with a size run of the garments that you wish to order and have everyone
try them on before you place your order. You will need to give the company a
deposit for the samples.

The following manufacturers make custom cycling apparel for teams & clubs.

Canari 800 929 2925
Castelli 877 324-7448
Giordana 800 366 4482
Hot Shoppe 949 487 2828
Kucharik 310 538 4611
Louis Garneau 802 334 5885
Pearlizumi 800 328 8488
Pace 800 762 7223
Parentini (39) 0571 467543
ST Cyclewear (619) 449-4300
Sugoi 800 432 1335
Voler 800 473 7814
VO Max 800 530 9740

Before you shop... have the following information ready!

1) Quantity and style of garments that you want to order.
2) Do you have art work completed, or do you want the company to do the art
work for you?
3) How many colors are in your art work?
4) Do you want to have different art work on the front and back?


Subject: 9.39 Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Patelar Tendonitis
From: Tom Kunich
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 22:21:41 -0800

I missed discussion earlier regarding Iliotibial Band Syndrome. I have been
having leg pain lately & the doc. told me this could be causing it. What
can other cyclists tell me about this ie, symptoms, causes, cure, avoidance
in the future?

Illiotibial Band Syndrome is caused by the bike fit all right. But it is
an overuse injury and your bike fit may not be the direct cause, but
instead be a factor contributing to retaining the injury.

The people most in danger of contracting this RARELY serious but painful
problem are short women with wide hips. However, there have been reports
from both sexes and all sizes upon occasion.

It is caused when the illiotibial band is stretched across the bony
ridge on the outside of the knee joint. Bend your knee and feel the
outside edge of your leg at the knee and that is where the pain should
be if it is am illiotibial band problem.

Another problem in the immediate area is patelar tendonitis. The pain
for this is associated more with the knee cap (patelar) than the side of
the leg/knee. PT pain is usually more towards the center of the kneecap
though mine was to the outside top of the knee cap.

Normally people who contract IBS from bike fit simply have the seat down
too low. This is also the cause of much Patelar Tendonitis.

Both problems are usually associated with a major jump in the amount of
riding or the level of riding that you have performed.

The cure for either is pretty much the same regiment:

1) As long as you have the pain do not ride hard. It is usually
recommended that you stay in the small ring. But many people can strain
just as hard in the little ring as the big. The main thing is to ride,
but to ride easy.

2) Start your ride easy and ride for about 15-20 minutes then stop and
stretch. Stretching is normally something like holding your left foot in
your right hand for 30 seconds, releasing and resting for about a minute
then repeating three times. If you can feel ANYTHING stretching you are
pulling too hard. Proper stretching is designed to return tendons to
their NORMAL length not pull them over your shoulder. Do both sides
regardless that only one is bothered. The other side will be carrying
more load than usual because you will favor the painful side.

3) Directly after your ride you must again stretch. Don't put it off
till later. There is no later in stretching. You must stretch when your
muscles are warmed up and the tendons are ready for it.

4) Immediately after you get back from your ride ice the painful area. I
just put a few ice cubes into a zip-lock plastic bag, sat down and
watched a 1/2 hour TV show. You need at least 20 minutes of icing. Some
people are sensitive to ice and then need to use a regular ice back or
wrap the plastic bag in a face cloth or some such. As long as you aren't
burning your skin, more icing is better than less.

5) As an OPTION but one I recommend, you can take over-the-counter
anti-inflammatories such as aspirin or ibuprophen. NEVER MIX pain
relievers. NEVER, NEVER mix them with Tylenol or other acetylmenophen
mixtures. Kidney failures have been known to happen when mixing these
things at package dosages. People, even doctors, are often pretty
cavalier about aspirin and the like but you should always follow the
package directions for maximum dosage and you should always consume a
lot of water when using these things. These things are dangerous to your
health if mishandled.

6) If you don't stretch you will not get better. If you don't ice you
may not get better. The important thing in fit is to get the seat height
and the handlebar reach appropriate for your body. There are other
factors in a fit that can lead to problems but you need to know
something about bike fit and this isn't the appropriate forum. Remember
that it's easier to hurt yourself stretching than just about any other
way so always use care when stretching.

7) Finally, I said that this rarely becomes serious -- but sometimes it
does. If you allow this pain to persist for a very long time it can
cause scarring of the tendon on the tibial ridge area and fixing this
can require surgery. This is not the sort of pain the you can 'ride off'
such as when you're hardening up your sit bones for longer rides. Or
when your neck hurts from bending it up in a tight aero tuck. This pain
requires you to do something about it. IF IT PERSISTS DEFINITELY GO TO A

8) Bike fit to prevent the problem in the first place. Stretch as a
preventative measure if you are in the most likely group -- short, wide
hipped women. Stretch, ice and ani-inflammatory to rid yourself of the
problem. Ride easy until the pain is gone.

In some people the pain goes away in a week while in others it takes
months of hard work. And remember that in 99.99% of the cases the
simplest measures are the most effective.


Subject: 9.40 Staying up in a crash
From: "John F Tomlinson"
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 07:37:41 -0400

I just barely avoided falling in the largish crash on the last lap of
a race a few weeks ago, and that got me thinking about the key
elements in avoiding crashing.

The first is to convince yourself of something that isn't completely
true -- that you are one hundred percent responsible for staying
upright and avoiding crashes.

Sure, in reality another rider might take your front wheel out from
under you or cause a big pile-up but, whenever you are on the bike,
you've got to believe that you are responsible for yourself. That's
the only way you can ensure you'll do your best not to fall.

I crashed in Central Park about five years ago. Another rider slammed
me from the side and we both fell off. I was vaguely aware that he was
next to me and knew he was a bad rider. So while he "caused" the
crash, I simply should not have been near him. That was my mistake.

The second element also involves attitude -- it's learning to not give
up when a crash is happening and instead to do whatever it takes to
find a way around or through it. Bikes might be falling all around
you, but you've got to have the confidence to keep fighting to find a
way out. Don't accept that you will fall.

Most importantly, don't look into a crash as it happens -- instead
look for open space and get your bike through that space. You tend to
steer your bike where you look and if your concentration is on falling
riders, you're going to get caught up in their trouble. Too many
riders see a crash, stare at it, jam on their brakes and then ride
into the crash. Instead, as soon as a crash starts you want to try to
get around it as fast as possible. It's sometimes OK to touch your
brakes for a split second to give yourself some time to find a way
around, but at racing speeds you're rarely going to actually avoid a
crash by stopping. Instead just look for open space on either side of
the crash and go for it. You might even want to accelerate into the
open space before the crash spreads.

I really can recall almost nothing about the crash a few weeks ago.
Bikes started flying around in front of me and the next thing I knew I
was looking for clear space. At first that space seemed to get farther
and farther away as the crash got bigger and bigger but, eventually, I
got through at the very edge of the road. I never looked at the actual

It's possible to practice focusing on open space by using a similar
technique to deal with potholes on training rides -- as soon as you
see one, don't look at it. Look for smooth road. With time this will
become second nature.

Fourth, whenever riding, keep a broad focus and stay aware of what's
going on around you. Don't stare at the rider in front of you but
instead look further ahead. The faster you're going, the further ahead
your focus should be.

This broad focus will often enable you to deal with trouble before it
even starts. You'll see people getting squirrelly or the road clogging
up on one side and be prepared to deal with it. Recognize too that in
much the same way as you want to accelerate around crashes, you often
should accelerate around trouble. Move up in the field before the road
gets narrow. Get to a difficult corner at the head of the group rather
than in the middle. Try to rely less on your brakes. Don't ride around
in group rides or races with your hands on the brakes. Learn to deal
with trouble by getting past it, not by just slowing down.

This sort of "aggression" is important not only to placing well but
also to your safety.

Fifth is what lots of people talk about, but too few do -- work to
improve your bike handling skills while on training rides. Some of
these skills are to make you a smoother, more predictable rider.
Others are to enable you to deal with situations in races where other
riders, intentionally or not, try to take your space. Both types of
skills are important.

Learn to keep your upper body relaxed. Gain an understanding of how
you use your hands, butt and feet to steer the bike. Practice
cornering, riding on bad roads and bunny-hopping so you'll be lighter
on the bike. Practice pacelines and ride closer and closer to other
riders. Practicing bumping into other riders and touching wheels is
good too -- you might want to start learning this while riding slowly
on a grassy field. Learn about protecting your front wheel and
handlebars. Riding off-road, on any kind of bike, can improve your
bike handling. Elizabeth races cyclo-cross in the off-season, which is
great for skills.

There are a lot of details to bike handling that I won't go into here;
formal coaching sessions or club rides are a good place to start.

You can also use other sports to improve your balance and body
awareness. Skiing, skating, soccer, basketball and dance are good.
(Motorcycling is supposedly great.)

Sixth, make sure your bike is in good working order. It should be
reliable and fit your body well. Your weight should be properly
distributed over the two wheels -- with just slightly more weight on
the back wheel than the front when riding in the drops.

Finally -- be aware of your limits. Crashes often happen when riders
are tired and get sloppy. They don't pay attention to what's going on
around them and their reactions slow. If you find yourself fighting
with the bike and riding with your head down, make a conscious effort
to relax and keep your eyes up. If you can't do that, back off from
the race -- you're a danger to yourself and others. As you improve as
a racer you'll find you get better at staying alert and in control
even when very tired.

Your limits are not only physical, but technical and mental too.
Learning and improvement come from pushing the boundaries of what
you're comfortable and proficient at. Bike racing is supposed to be
difficult and a small amount of fear is normal. But if you're
consistently stressed about crashing, or spending time constantly
riding your brakes due to fear, it might be worth backing off in the
race and giving yourself some space, even if you get dropped. A lot of
times when I'm scared I ride right at the front, or go way to the back
where there is more space until things calm down. Later, you can work
on your skills and confidence so that in the next race, you'll be more
in control.


Subject: 9.41 Applying Merlin Decals
From: Mark Hickey

Remove the old decals completely (including any residue). There
shouldn't be any clear coat on top of the decals (hey, it's a ti
bike). I'd suggest cleaning the tube with acetone or other solvent to
make sure it's clean.

Peel the heavy paper backing (I'll bet it's green) off the decal.

Place the decal VERY CAREFULLY in place, starting with the top making

VERY CAREFULLY rub down the decal so it makes contact with the frame
(you'll be able to see where this is happening).

Once the decal is placed on the frame, vigorously rub the decal with a
clean rag to create some heat (start slowly to keep from wrinkling the

When you're done, lightly "squeegee" over the decal with the edge of a
credit card or something similar. You'll see the decal release from
the backing as this happens.

If you end up with an air bubble, you can usually pierce the decal and
squeeze the air out (with the backing still in place, or "reapplied".

It takes a few days for the decals to reach full strength (they dry
from the outside in). Be careful with 'em during that period.

Mark Hickey
Habanero Cycles


Subject: 9.42 Flats from beer and cigarettes
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 11:10:32 PDT

Flat tires are caused by beer in winter and by cigarettes in summer.
As odd as this may seem, there is a direct link.

Glass is visible on roads by its shiny splinters and shards as well as
not being the same color as the road. When wet from rain, these
characteristics vanish and leave glass looking like any bit of gravel.
Not only is it "invisible" but it is lubricated and cuts through
rubber effortlessly. A convincing experiment is to cut a thick rubber
band with a razor, first dry, then wet.

In summer flats are caused by puncture vine thorns, a plant that grows
only on barren soil. There isn't much of that around except
peculiarly on roadsides that have been sprayed to prevent grass from
growing, grass that when dry presents a fire hazard for cigarettes
discarded from cars. Puncture vine grows on these barren roadsides
that have been created for safer cigarette disposal. If roadsides
were not sprayed, puncture vine would be a rare occurrence along roads
where bicyclists most often ride.



Subject: 9.42 Riding on Ice
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

Ice riding is best done with studded tires of which there are a few
suppliers, mainly in northern Europe, such as Nokian:


Riding on ice, especially frozen lakes, requires a few practical
tricks. This applies to slick as well as studded tires. Ice, in
contrast to fresh snow, is slick no matter whether it is frozen water
or firmly compacted snow. It offers poor traction. Therefore, riding
on ice should be done in top gear to avoid rear wheel spin. This is
similar to driving cars with manual transmissions where starting in
second gear helps avoid wheel spin. For bicycling on level ice, top
gear is best for both starting and cruising, because while starting,
acceleration is the main force while once rolling, wind drag, even at
low speeds, readily exceeds traction.

In the absence of studded tires for frozen lakes without a snow crust,
slick tires are better than ones with miniature automobile tread
because they give more contact surface, thereby reducing contact
pressure and slip.

Braking with the front wheel is impractical for two reasons. Skidding
the front wheel usually causes a fall, and there is no way to detect
that the front wheel is skidding except by falling. In contrast, rear
wheel skidding is benign and it can be easily detected. By continuing
to pedal while braking enables a precise ABS. When the rear wheel
skids, the pedals stop suddenly, to which one can respond almost
instantly by letting up the brake. The response speed and precision
of this method is surprising.

Good gloves help not only against the cold, but with inevitable
falling, they protect the hands from the ice. Frozen lakes are a
wonderful way to appreciate landscapes where there is no alternate
route and is safer than riding with traffic on icy streets. Thin ice,
a term heard often with risky adventures, is a hazard that occurs from
currents and from convection caused by gas bubbling to the surface in
marshy areas. Stay away from reeds and swamps.

Water in a frozen lake is at 4C (39F), its greatest density because
colder water rises to the surface and begins to freeze while warmer
water rises to the surface and cools. Marsh gas bubbling to the
surface brings 4C water to the surface to melt ice causing thin hollow
domes that no longer contact the water.

Thin spots can be detected if the surface is clear ice but they
present a hazard just the same. The bubble method is used to protect
boats too large to be lifted from the water. It keeps an opening in
the ice from an under water bubbler pipe in the shape of the hull.



Subject: 10 Off-Road


Subject: 10.1 Suspension Stems
From: Brian Lee

by Brian Lee & Rick Brusuelas, 1994

ABSTRACT: Discussion of the differences between suspension stems
and suspension forks, and a listing of the pros & cons of suspension

DESCRIPTION: The suspension stem discussed here is the
Allsop-type, which employs a linkage parallelogram and a spring
mechanism to effect shock-absorption. Two models on the market
using this mechanism are the Allsop Softride, and a version
produced by J.P. Morgen, a machinist based in San Francisco.
There is also a version put out by J.D Components of Taiwan
(advertised in Mountain Bike Action), however judging from
illustrations, this unit does not employ the parallelogram design
shared by Allsop & Morgen. Other Taiwanese models may also exist.
The Girvin-type stem, which uses a simpler hinge and bumper, will
not be directly addressed here, although some of the comments
may also apply.

The Allsop-type suspension stem (suspension stem) works on a
different principal than a telescopic shock fork. Instead of
only the front wheel moving to absorb shock, a stem allows the
entire front end of the bike to move with obstacles while the
rider's position does not change.

All suspension requires some form of "inertial backstop" to
operate. A theoretical suspension (stem or fork) loaded with
zero mass will not function regardless of the size of obstacle
encountered. This is because there is nothing to force the
compression of the spring mechanism. It is essentially locked

In a fork system, the weight of the bike & rider both provide the
inertial backstop. In a stem system, the rider's weight on the
handlebars provides the backstop. Because of this, the two
systems "ride" differently.

Since most of the weight comes from the pressure of the rider's
hands, the stem system encourages a more weight-forward style of
riding. Or perhaps placing the stem on a frame with a shorter
top tube so the rider's weight is distributed more on the front
end. (Shortening the front end has also been applied by frame
builders on frames intended for use with suspension forks. Ex:

What does this mean to you and me? It means the suspension stem
requires a certain amount of the rider's weight to be on it at
all times in order to remain completely active. For the majority
of riding, it's just fine. The only difference is in extremely
steep descents, where you are forced to keep the weight back in
order to keep from going over the bars.

In this situation, much less weight is on the bars to activate
the stem. Further, if one were to encounter a largish rock on
such a descent, what does one do? The instinctive thing is to
pull back a bit to unweight the front and help the front wheel
over. This removes all the weight from the stem area, and you
are now riding a rigid bike again.

A fork system is also affected by weight shifts, but not quite to
the extent that a stem is affected, because of the weight of bike
& rider coming through the head tube to be distributed into the
fork. Even if you were to remove your hands from the bars on a
gnarly descent and hang with butt brushing the rear wheel, you
are still applying weight to the bike through the pedals.

All this, of course, is theoretical and YMMV. I, for one, am not
always able to react to obstacles coming at me and leave the
front end weighted. When that happens, I'm very glad I have

Now enough theory stuff, here's a summary of the advantages &
disadvantages of suspension stems:


1) Lighter than a suspension fork. This depends on the existing
stem/fork combination. If the current stem and rigid fork are
heavy, then a suspension fork may be a better choice. For
example, I've chosen the following items for comparison, as they
represent the lightest and heaviest of commercially available
stems & forks (weights for all stems are for conventional types -

Litespeed Titanium 211g
Ritchey Force Directional 375g
Allsop Stem 625g
Fat Chance Big One Inch 680g
Tange Big Fork 1176g
Manitou 3 1360g
Lawwill Leader 1588g

So say you have a Litespeed stem and a Fat Chance fork. The
combined weight would be 891 g. Switching to an Allsop would
change the combined weight to 1305 g, while a Manitou 3 would
bring it to 1571 g. The Allsop has a weight advantage of 266 g
(9.4 oz).

OTOH, if you have a Ritchey stem & Tange Big Fork, the original
weight would be 1551 g. Allsop stem = 1801 g. Manitou 3 = 1735
g. In this case, keeping the boat anchor of a fork and switching
to the Allsop would be a weight penalty of 66 g (2.3 oz.).

Of course, YMMV depending on your original equipment.

2) Does not affect frame geometry. A suspension fork
retrofitted to a frame, *not* designed for suspension, raises the
front end - sometimes as much as 1". This reduces the effective
head angle and slackens the steering, slowing it down. This is
especially true for smaller sized frames which, with their
shorter wheel base, are affected to a greater degree by the
raising of the head tube. A suspension stem provides suspension
while preserving the handling of the bike.

3) Torsionally rigid fork. Telescopic forks all have a certain
amount of flex to them, and the sliders are able to move up &
down independently. This aspect of front suspension forks has
spawned a new line of suspension enhancing products: stiffer
fork braces, and bigger, heavier suspension hubs. All to stiffen
up the fork. This is one reason suspension stems are favored by
some riders who ride lots of tight, twisting single track.

4) No stiction. Stiction, or static friction, is friction that
exists as the fork sliders rub against the stanchion tubes.
This friction is an extra force that must be overcome for a fork
system to activate. Not a problem on large hits. But more of a
problem on small- and medium-size impacts. Because the stem has
none, the stem responds better to small, high-frequency bumps
(washboard) than many air-oil forks.

5) More boing for the buck. The Allsop stem provides up to 3"
of stiction-free travel, at a cost of about $250, depending
where you go. The majority of forks in this price range only
offer 1" - 2" of travel, and are often heavy, flexy, and fraught
with stiction. The fork could be stiffened, but at the
additional cost of a stiffer fork brace or perhaps a suspension
hub and a rebuilt wheel (e.g. fork brace - $90; hub - $80;
rebuild - $100. Plus the original $350 for the fork. YMMV).

6) Better "feel". The stem allows you to have a rigid fork,
which transmits more "information" back to the rider. This is a
benefit when riding through creeks where you cannot see where
your wheel is.

7) Less exposed to the environment. The stem is higher, more
out of the way than suspension forks. Thus you can ride through
creeks and mud without having to worry about your fork seals, or
about contaminating the innards of the fork. Even if mud
splashes on a suspension stem, the pivots are less sensitive to
grit than sliders and stanchion tubes.

8) Ease of maintenance. There are no seals to replace or
service, no oil to replace, no air pressure to adjust, and no
bumpers to wear out. An occasional lube of the pivots is all
that is needed. An extension of this is the ease of initial set
up. For best results, you have to set suspension (fork or stem)
to react according to your weight and riding style. With air/oil
forks you may have to change oil, adjust pressure or change
damping settings (if the fork has them). With bumper forks you
may need to swap out bumper stacks and mix-n-match bumpers until
you get what works for you. With the stem, the only adjustment
is to increase or decrease the spring tension with an allen


1) No damping. This is one of the main complaints from
proponents of suspension forks. The suspension stem will give
way to absorb shock, but the return is not controlled and cannot
be adjusted. JP Morgen currently makes a suspension stem which
employs oil-damping, but Allsop does not.

2) Requires adjustment to riding style. As mentioned above, the
stem requires weight to be applied to it to function. This is
also one of the complaints applied to the Softride rear
suspension beam. The flip-side to this, according to riders of
the Beam, is once the adjustment is made to "plant your butt on
the saddle" the ride is extremely comfortable and affords
excellent control by sticking the rear tire to the ground.

3) Stem "clunks" on rebound. The feeling is about the same as
suspension bottoming out, except it happens on the rebound. This
is not as much a problem on the Allsop as on the Morgen stem,
which uses a hard plastic top-out bumper. This is a subjective
complaint, as some riders claim not to notice it.

4) Stem not torsionally rigid. Another trade off. The stem is
not proof to twisting forces and may be noticeable in hard,
out-of-the-saddle efforts. Allsop has redesigned the top beam of
their aluminum stem for 1994 to address this problem. Instead
of the aluminum "dog bone" structure for the top linkage member,
they've substituted a machined aluminum beam, reminiscent of a
cantilever bridge.

SUMMARY: In my opinion, a suspension stem is an excellent choice
if one is retrofitting an existing bike, which has not been
designed around a suspension fork. A suspension stem is also a
very good choice if one's primary riding is twisty singletrack,
where you need the sharp, precise steering of a rigid fork.
There are undoubtedly situations for which a stem may not be
ideal, but stems should not be dismissed as a viable form of
suspension. The best thing to do is to try both types of
suspension if you can, and see what you like better.


Subject: 10.2 MTB FAQ available
From: Vince Cheng

The MTB FAQ from the above author is no longer available.


Subject: 10.3 Installing new rear derailleur spring
From: Alan C Fang
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 12:27:07 -0700 (PDT)

leave the derailler on the bike. first, check the orientation of the old
spring so that you will know how to put in the new one. taking out the
old spring shouldn't be too hard- just yank on it. if you can't do it,
use the reverse of what i'm about to tell you for getting the new spring

one end of the spring is open. that open end has to hook onto this bar on
the derailler body. to get it up and over this bar, get a piece of brake
or shifter cable (or a strong string) and bend it in half, putting a kink
in it. put the spring inside the derailler in the proper orientation.
thread this kink through the derailler where the bar is, making it go on
the side of the bar opposite the open side of the spring's hook. hook the
kink in the cable around the open end of the spring, and yank on the
cable. that should pull the open end of the spring past the bar. now you
can stuff the tip of the hook back over the bar, thus hooking the
derailler spring onto the bar.

the closed end of the spring is much easier to get in. what i use is a
bottom bracket tool, the kind with the pins for adjusting older style
bb's. use one of the pins to grab the closed end of the spring, and lift
it up so that it hooks onto that [other thing]. you are done. voila! or
as a dyslexic would say, viola!


Subject: 10.4 A Brief History of the Mountain Bike
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2004 12:07:59 -0800

The first -successful- high quality fat-tire bicycle was built in
Marin County, California by Joe Breeze, who recognized a demand for
such a bicycle while riding with friends on the rocky trails of nearby
Mt Tamalpais. They used balloon-tire one-speed bicycles from the
1930s, 1940s and 1950s (Schwinn Excelsior) with New Departure and
Bendix coaster brakes. These brakes were the origin of the name
"Repack" for one of the trails, because one descent was enough to
overheat the hub brake, requiring it to be re-packed. They referred
to their Mt. Tamalpais downhill bicycles as "my mountain bike" in
contrast to "my road bike" without giving the term generic
significance. According to Joe Breeze, riders around Santa Barbara
also used the term for their fat tired trail bicycles.

Joe Breeze, Otis Guy, and Gary Fisher, all still in the bicycle
business today, were top category USCF riders. Many of the Tamalpais
riders were members of road racing Velo Club Tamalpais, whose blue and
gold jersey carried the Mt. Tamalpais silhouette logo. In October of
1977, Joe built a fat-tire bicycle of lightweight tubing that was
previously found only on better road racing bicycles. It had all new,
high-quality parts and 26" x 2.125" Uniroyal "Knobby" tires on Schwinn
S2 rims and Phil Wood hubs. Joe built ten of these first Breezers by
June 1978. Breezer #1 has been on display at various places,
including the Oakland Museum, where it has been on permanent display
since 1985.

However the first Breezer was predated by a frame built for Charlie
Kelly by Craig Mitchell earlier in 1977. As the Breezer frames that
followed, it was made of 4130 chrome-molybdenum airframe tubing.
Charlie equipped it with the parts from his Schwinn Excelsior
including SunTour derailleurs and thumb shifters, TA aluminum cranks,
Union drum brake hubs, motorcycle brake levers, Brooks B-72 saddle,
Schwinn S-2 rims and UniRoyal Knobby tires (essentially, the best
parts found on clunkers of that day). In spite of this, he chose to
switch back to his Schwinn frame, which he rode until June of 1978,
when he got himself a Breezer, and for one reason or another the
Mitchell frame was not further developed.

In January 1979, Joe and Otis, who were planning another tandem
transcontinental record attempt, visited Tom Ritchey, who was building
the frame, and brought along Joe's Breezer mountain bike. Peter
Johnson, another noted frame builder who happened to be present, was
impressed with its features, as was Tom, sensing the significance of
the concept, both being veteran road bike trail riders in the Santa
Cruz mountains. Gary Fisher got wind of Tom's interest in fat tire
bikes and asked Tom to build him one. Tom built one for himself, one
for Gary, and one for Gary to sell.

After building nine more frames later in 1979, Tom couldn't find
buyers for them in nearby Palo Alto, so he asked Fisher if he could
sell them in Marin. Fisher and Charlie Kelly pooled a few hundred
dollars and started "MountainBikes" which became today's Gary Fisher
Bicycles. It was the first exclusively mountain bike business. It
was Tom's bikes, and Fisher and Kelly's business that made the
introduction of the mountain bike take hold. This was an obvious gap
in the bicycle market, most builders focusing on road bikes, left this
as an open field for innovation.

Fisher and Kelly tried to trademark the name Mountainbike, but through
procedural or definition errors the application was finally rejected.
Meanwhile in the 1980's Bicycling Magazine had a "name that bike"
contest that excluded the name "Mountainbike", that name being before
the trade mark board at the time. ATB was the winner but it didn't
hold ground against the much more natural "Mountain Bike" name that
spread rapidly after the trade mark application failed.

If anyone's name stands out as the builder of the earliest viable
mountain bike, it is Joe Breeze, who today still produces Breezers.
The marketing push first came from Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher, and
Charlie Kelly and the ball was rolling. At first the USCF felt it
below their dignity, as did the UCI, to include these bicycles, but
after NORBA racers began to outnumber USCF racers, they relented and
absorbed these upstarts, as they certainly would recumbents if they
had similar public appeal.


Subject: 10.5 The Mike Vandeman FAQ
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 20:49:05 PDT

The old Mike Vandeman FAQ is no longer available.


Subject: 10.6 Ode to a Usenet Kook
From: (Trekkie Dad)
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 16:10:38 -0800

[previously posted on alt.mountain-bike]

Ode to a Usenet Kook

Do you like my mountain-bike?
Do you like it? Do you, Mike?

I do not like your mountain-bike.
Leave it home! Go for a hike!
Too many gears! Enormous treads!
You rip my favorite trails to shreds!
You may not ride it here or there,
You may not ride it anywhere!

May I ride on single-track
with all my gear in camelbak?

You may not ride on single-track
with mountain bike or camelbak
And do not ride on fire-road,
It cannot take the overload.
You may not ride it here or there,
You may not ride it anywhere!

Where may I ride my new hardtail;
The one that's made by Cannondale?

You may not ride your new hardtail,
be it Trek or Cannondale.
You may not ride on single-track
With mountain bike or camelbak.
I do not like your mountain-bike.
Leave it home! Go for a hike!

Where may I ride my plush GT
With seven cogs and chainrings three?

You may not ride that plush GT,
in habitat that's human-free
It never will be allowed, you see
I want to save the woods! (for ME)

Stay off the trails for heaven's sakes,
Your knobby tires are killing snakes.
It's known to all biologists,
And famous herpetologists.
We do not like your mountain-bike!
Leave it home! Go for a hike!
You may not ride it here or there,
You may not ride it anywhere!

But, mikey, you don't understand
Enlightened people manage land.

So I will ride my mountain-bike,
I'll go on wheels. You take a hike!
And I will ride it here and there,
And I will ride it everywhere.

I will ride on single-track
With fully-loaded Camelbak.
And I will ride on fire-road,
It isn't such a heavy load!

I will ride that new hardtail;
the one that's made by Cannondale,
And I will ride my plush GT
(There is no place that's "human-free")

A little skill is all it takes
To keep from killing whippersnakes.
And we all know your PhD
Is NOT in herpetology.

Trekkie Dad | ICQ #14818568 |

World Without Cars Dictionary (updated November 27, 1998) at



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