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Category Archives: Customers

Rear Wheel Repair on a Chain-less Bike

The iconic bicycle chain is but one variant of the many ways of propelling your steed. Having experienced quite a few of these alternatives, Re-Cycle Engineering (RCE) we weren’t surprised (nor perturbed) when asked to carry out a repair this bike:

A modern chain-less bicycle.

Note (1) the electric motor operating the front wheel. Present British law only allows for pedal-assist bikes (i.e. you must be pedaling for the electric motor to be operational). Note (2) the lack of a chain. So, how does it work?

Let’s have a look at the chain-set:

A chain-set without a chairing or chain – what gives?.

Back story: RCE helped out the owner a few weeks earlier. The cyclist had accidentally damaged the right-hand pedal crank and needed it to be replaced. For those of you unknowledged, a right pedal has a right-handed thread on it (clockwise to tighten) and the left on has a left-handed thread on it (anti-clockwise to tighten). Of course we could have sold him a expensive crank arm for a right pedal which would have delayed his return to cycling. Alternatively we could have fitted a left-hand crank with a left pedal (not ideal – meaning that he would be permanently having to buy 2 sets of pedals at a time). To get the cyclist back on his saddle the same day, we agreed upon fitting a spare, pre-used right-hand crank (quick and cheap).

Still, we haven’t answered the question of how the bike is propelled? Let’s take a gander at the rear of the bike:

No chain and no cogs.

Looks a bit weird. Let’s take of the hub’s gear-changing ‘click-box’ and the cover off where the chain should be:

Does this explain anything?

Now we see a strange-looking gear on the wheel’s hub. Let’s take off the rear wheel and look at what that gear interacts with:

Any the wiser?

Maybe these to pictures will help:

A) straight-cut bevel gears (often seen on canal lock).
B) Spiral-cut bevel gears (often seen in tricycles and cars differentials).

The wonderful 1898 book, “The Modern Bicycle and Its Accessories by Alex Schwalbach and Julius Wilcox” devotes the second chapter to shaft-driven bevel-geared bikes (and other alternatives).

Back to the repairing the rear wheel:

A closer look at the gear on the right-hand side.
Shimano’s Roller Brake on the left-hand side.
Flip side of the Roller Brake.
Oh dear!
14 (out of 36) spokes damaged.
At least the remaining 22 spokes were OK.
Spokes replaced and tensioned.
Rear wheel, brake, bevel cover and click-box installed and set.
Ready to go
(after the saddle & seat-post are installed.

OFF TOPIC STUFF:

Brought a tear to our eyes: ‘Sea You’, A Touching Animated Short That Tells the Story of Profound Loss Told In Reverse Order.

Best Friends and puddles.

A scandal that stains the history of the grand old city of Leeds.

Cycling is bad for the economy…

A journey through the fragmented unconscious of our modern times:

Click pic to view (or HERE if removed).

… and, to finish with, bit of young blues:

See you all soon and be well.

 

Racer to a Tourer Conversion

A very nice young man came to see us January 2020. We’ll call him Andrew (not his real name). He had just arrived in the UK, would be staying for a few years and wanted to tour various parts of Yorkshire & beyond. After listening to Andrew’s needs, RCE advised him upon; types of touring bikes, carrying capacities, gears ratios, handlebar shapes, frame materials & geometry, shifters, tyre size & puncture-resistance, etc.

Although Andrew had a budget of about £550.00, it was not enough for his ideal bike! No problem – RCE advised him on alternative shops and off he went – we never thought we’d see him again.

Lo and behold, a couple or three weeks later, he comes smiling into the shop with a possible candidate bike:

01 Start

Andrew: “Thanks for all that info you gave me last time – it was really useful. OK, I’ve got this bike. I’ll need it looked at in detailed, a rear pannier rack, mudguards, bottle & holder, high-puncture-resistance tyres, and whatever you can advise me on. I have a £400.00 budget. What can you do for me?”.

RCE: “We’d spent a lot of time with you last time – without any recompense – that’s not an issue. Therefore, a) Thank You for acknowledging our help, b) Thank You for coming back and c) Thank You for the challenge. Looking forwards to it!”.

Andrew: “I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. You know what you’re talking about and I trust you.”.

After a few more reciprocated ‘Thank You’s we agreed to carry out a detailed assessment (£12.50) of the candidate bike afore pumping a lot of £££s into the project.

Our assessment indicated that the following needed attention:

  • Headset (bearing where the forks go into the frame) – more grease,
  • Bottom bracket (bearing between the pedals) – take up wear’n’tear,
  • Wheels – re-tension and true,
  • Wheel hubs – take up wear,
  • Brake callipers – clean and take up wear on arms,
  • Gear systems (front & rear) – the bike came with gear ratios for racing – would need to change that if Andrew wanted to get up all the hill in Yorkshire and maintain a high speed on the levels and downhills,
  • Gear shifting – the existing shifters we’re on the downtube – not ideal, preferred position was shifting from the handle bars,
  • Tyres – the bike already had high-puncture-resistant 700x25C Schwalbe Marathons on – preferred choice was for 28C tyres, and,
  • Rack – being a vintage racing bike it does not have any upper-fastening facilities.

02 Handlebars

03 Chainset

03 Shifters

04 Freewheel

Of prime import was the gear ratios. The chainset (front cogs) was a ‘double’ with a 53T outer and a 48T inner, and, the freewheel (rear cogs) was 6-speed with 23T low gears and a 14T high gear. This gives:

  1. lowest gear = 2.09 (48 divided by 23),
  2. highest ratio = 3.79 (53 divided by 14), and
  3. overall ratio = 181% (3.79 divided by 2.09). When we were kids, those ratios used to kill us – especially in our Pennines town.

As Andrew wanted braking & shifting from the handlebars, the only reasonable option was for Shimano Tourney Sti (Shimano Total Integration) brake/shifters. Unfortunately, these are only available in 7-speed (for, either a double or a triple chainset) and only for the appropriate 7-speed freewheels (unlike the one provided on the bike (a 1989 Sach Huret model – different spacing between sprockets). Further, even within Shimano’s range 6 and 7-speed, shifter cable-pull ratios and freewheel sprocket spacing are different – therefore, the two are NOT compatible. Meaning, that only a Shimano (or compatible) 7-speed freewheel could be used. Being wider than a 6-speed freewheel, question: would there be enough space on the rear spindle for a 7-speed one. And if not, what could we do about it? A test-fitting of a Shimano 7-speed freewheel 14/28T proved successful – without having to piss-about changing the rear axle.

Next task – the chainset. One cannot throw on any old chainset onto a square-taper bottom bracket. Some will sit too close the frame – perhaps hitting the frame or not allowing the front dérailleur (FD) to shift the the smallest sprocket. Counterwise, some will sit too far away from the frame and not allow the FD to shift to the biggest sprocket.

Another chainset consideration was that of using a double or a triple one. A triple would offer very wide ratios but require changing the FD for a triple-compatible model (and more £££s).

Final chainset consideration was that of crank length (the distance from the centre to where the pedals are). The existing chainset was 165mm – not ideal for Andrew’s leg length. A minimum length of 170mm was required.

So, what do do? Well, being the best bike workshop, this side of Nagasaki, RCE had over a 100 chainsets to select from. Narrowing down to 7-speed options, with (at least) a 170mm crank length) and with the correct profile to sit on the BB, narrowed down our options. After calculating gear ratios a further discussion with Andrew, we arrived upon a solution – 170mm, 50/42T double (a lightly-used Sakae with replaceable sprockets. The new gear rations:

  1. lowest gear = 1.5 (42 divided by 28) (previously 2.09),
  2. highest gear = 3.78 (50 divided by 14) (previously 3.79), and
  3. overall ration of 230% (3.78 divided by 1.5) (previously 181%).

So, RCE managed to keep his highest gears ratio similar AND reduce the lowest gear ratio by a whopping 28% (that should get Andrew up all Yorkshire hills). A further 3% can be garnered with the extended crank length.

Gee, we’re good!

The existing rear dérailleur (RD) would not cope with a 28T freewheel and the replacement chainset ratio. A Shimano Tourney, correct cabling and special ferrules (for older frames) would be require.

Another major concern was the tyres – would a 28mm wide fit on the wheels, would the wheel sit the frame and then, can we then fit full mudguards? Being a proper vintage racer, this frame’s clearances were narrowly limited. Test fitting of 28C tyres and mudguards proved unsuccessful! (A lot or cursing ensued). The 25C tyres would stay and 28mm wide mudguards would (just) work.

But wait, we haven’t even priced out the project yet! Adding up the price of new components and our efforts gave us a figure of over £500.00 – beyond Andrew’s budget!

Even the option of lightly-used second-hand Tourney Stis and a second-hand rack still didn’t get to the £400.00 mark!

Only one thing to do – DISCOUNTS! Dealing with someone so nice, who was also buying all components from RCE, we were glad to make it affordable for Andrew!

Here’s the completed project after carrying the last 6 steps:

  1. carry out works,
  2. get Andrew back into the workshop to finalise the exact positions of the Stis, handlebars and stem,
  3. fit bartape,
  4. advise Andrew on correct use of gears, loading of rack, basic maintenance, security, etc.,
  5. take our payment, and
  6. get the bike back in after 50 to 100miles for final tweaking.

05 Completed

06 Shifters and Bartape

07 Cable Stops

08 Chainset

09 Freewheel and RD

10 Rack

Although projects such as this one is just-another-day to us, we were proud-as-punch with our results. Though not as much as Andrew!

11 b Customer anon

Re-Cycle Engineering – not like the others!


Lilliputians riding tricycles?

We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror. - Karl Marx

How NOT to transport a pizza on a bike.

And the, some freaking idiot invented the “lady’s bicycle”.

Profit: the 4 types.

Finally, a practical guide for roadside wildflower viewing. Made us chuckle.

Video: watch it all, cyclists may be interested at 4:07.

How many grammar nazis does it take to change a lightbulb?

“I wanna play cricket on the green
Ride my bike across the street
Cut myself and see my blood
I wanna come home all covered in mud”

and, finally

Live version with Lou Reed:

Until next time, take care.

 

Handlebar Assembly – never to be stolen again

An Ecuadorian Astrophysicist (linked of the Atacama Observatory https://www.almaobservatory.org/en/home/ & Leeds Uni.) used to be a loyal customer of ours. During his stay in the UK, we looked after his beloved steed – a high-quality tourer (some very nice & expensive bits). Let’s call him “EA”.

About 3 years ago, this lovely, young gentleman’s stay with us was blighted!

Overnight, some b@$t@&d(s) had stolen his stem & handlebars (& expensive Shimano XT 9×3 shifter/brakes).

The following morning:01 as presented.png

The poor soul was heart-broken – ‘in shock’.
We admit to being, a quite a-bit-more-than miffed.

All it took was a 5mm allen key and set of dull pliers. See the butchery on the cable:02 cables poorly cut.png

What to do?

NOTE: today is an intensely-emotional one for EA – therefore, we will not allow him to  make any big £££-based decisions today! However, he leaves knowing that RCE will assess the whole bike, before we talk again.

Then, RCE’s algorithm:

  1. Identify options to avert the same thing happening again.
  2. Identify customer’s present options & needs (e.g. straight/dropped/butterfly/etc. handlebars, stem length & angle, grips/bar-tape, cabling, shifters and brakes, budget).
  3. Identify customer’s potential future needs/alterations.
  4. Identify compatible components required.
  5. Provide an estimated price for the whole works.
  6. As authorised, proceed: provide componentry, fit, set, test, set, … until satisfied.
  7. Guarantee works, return to customer
  8. Adjust as required.

EA wanted drop-bars – with an option to change to butterfly-bars at a later stage. Fine, not a problem. Longer-that-optimal brake & gear cables were agreed on to allow for a cheaper changes.

The first choice of  ‘anatomical’ drop bars proved be the only ‘try’ required. It took 2 attempts to find the correctly lengthed & angled stem. Another ‘option’  wasn’t really an option – being a Shimano 9×3 geared-bike, the agreed choice was for a set of Shimano’s Sora triples shifters. ‘Intermediate Brakes’ were also incorporated into the design. Finally, additional in-line brake adjusters allowed for the maximum brakepad-wear take-up – a missing original-design feature.

Before the bar-tape could be fitted, EA had be summoned to specify the exact positioning of the shifters (angle, height & reach, intermediate brakes positioning and handlebar angle:04 closeup.png

Nearly there, but still …

What to do?

What to do about future theft? Well, there a couple of issues here:

  1. Removal of the fork’s/stem’s top-cap allows for the removal of the whole handlebar assembly.
  2. Removal of the stem’s front clamp bolts allows for the removal of the handlebars.

To address item 1. EA selected a lovely Pinhead Headset Lock (https://pinheadlocks.com/store/en/frame-and-headset-locks/15-headset-lock.html#/key-without_key):

06 pinhead.png

06 pingead key.png

The second issue was that of the standard allen-socketed bolts for the handlebar clamp:07 insecure bolts.png

Stainless-steel, high-tension, extra-security, Pin Torx bolts were agreed upon for this application. The customer was also handed the required tool for his own use.08 security bolts.png

Now, it’s finished:09 finished.png

10 closeup.png

Total cost (at the time): £400-ish (ouch!). But:

  • much cheaper than a replacement bike of the same quality & wear, and
  • customised exactly to the owner’s needs!

The bike was last seen commuting across the Atacama Desert, Chile – with a big grin on EA’s face.


A bit o’ fun:Twerk[4].jpg

Fancy a bit of Australian rock music?  Unlike AC/DC (saw them in 1979, with Bon Scott), we missed out on the following band the first time round. Shame on us! Hope you enjoy:(RADIO BIRDMAN – “Aloha Steve And Danno” official music video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmH0OeDLGEE)

Be safe out there.

 

Lamborghini and Ridgeback offspring?

09.png

Here’s a wee project we did for “M”, a FOST (Friends of the shop). Summer 2019.

At RCE, we’re quite lucky. We meet some of the best people. “M” is a thoroughly honourable person and has been a loyal customer for about 2 decades. We’ve looked after his various steeds. However, the latest one … 01.png
… has got to be “put down”!
If you look closely at the above pic, you may notice the fatal injury:02.pngThat’s right, the downtube committed suicide! 03.png

Aluminium welding isn’t cheap and, perhaps not suitable for this issue.

M asked RCE to ‘mate’ the Ridgeback with a Lamborghini, The one he’d brought along:

04.png
Wow! The name & ‘The Raging Bull’ logo conjurers images of the Countachs, Panteras and tractors.

Loving such a challenge, RCE was eager to help.

The algorithm:

  1. Assess all aspects of both bikes (components, dimensions, compatibility, alignments, wear, ratios, intended-use, etc.).
  2. Identify the best & compatible components to-be-kept.
  3. Identify works require to to-be-kept components (e.g. re-tension & true front wheel).
  4. Identify new parts required (e.g. rear wheel).
  5. Talk £££s.
  6. Fully strip-down the necessary organs of the Ridgeback.
  7. Fully strip-down the necessary organs of the Lambo.
  8. Fully strip-down to-be-kept components for degreasing & cleaning, re-assembly, fitting & setting.
  9. Mate the two.
  10. Test.
  11. Improve & Test again.
  12. Improve and Test again, etc. …
  13. Return to M.
  14. Guarantee works within ‘bedding-in’ period.

Here’s the Ridgeback after surgery:05.png

Here’s the completed baby:06.png

07.png

After a successful summer, the Lambo is now in The Netherlands.

TO: M
Message: We’re glad to have helped. Hope you’re well & happy. Pleasure knowing you. You a good ‘un!


OFF-SHOP:

ot_gone_fishin

Rory Block: Mississippi Blues

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vgbh2N9AJlE)

We first appreciated the song back in the mid-’70s, from this Japanese imported LP (bought as second-hand, but obviously unplayed). Every tune & note does ‘it’ for us: How To Play Blues Guitar LP

We’ve always wondered what the negative version of the cover would look like:How To Play Blues Guitar LP negative.png
Side 1: https://youtu.be/U5juxefsxx0
Side 2: https://youtu.be/HI1ALGz6w1U

Enjoy, and play nice.