Category Archives: Good service

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.


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.


You gotta be kidding me – £25 to fit a saddle!

The following is an example of why all our works prices are Estimates. What may appear to a simple operation, can turn into something a lot more!

Normally a £3 to £10 operation (un-bolt the old saddle, insert a new one, set the reach, height & angle, and lock into place).

This one’s not a “normal”:


Covering 200 miles per week in the Autumn, Winter & Spring months, this saddle had not been moved for about 3 years.

Plan A failed: an attempt to release the rear clamping bolt failed – the Allen-key socket head on the bolt was rusty and rounded-off on first attempt.

Plan B failed: attempts to clamping the bolt-head failed – not enough access to it.

Plan C was to cut/grind off the saddle where it’s rails meet the clamp and release the front clamping bolt. Should be fairly straight-forward – let’s see what happened.

Saddle removed:


The seat-clamp from above:


Underside, showing the rounded-off rear clamping bolt:


Plan C failed: after cleaning the clamp head, we found the front bolt also rounded-off – obviously, both bolts were firmly seized/corroded into the clamp.

Normally we’d stop here and wouldn’t put any more of our time & effort (and customer’s £££s) into the operation – usual practice would be to notify the customer for approval to replace the seat-post at an agreed price.

However, being who we are, we wanted to go further down this rabbit hole (though, not at the customer’s expense) – so we came up with Plan D:  grind-out one of the rails to reduce pressure of the other one, remove the remaining rail, get better access to both bolt-heads for clamping/turning, clean everything up, replace both bolts and ensure that we don’t get into this mess again. Let’s see how that went:

Here’s both of the rails removed:


Here’s what was left (from the from, right, above):


And from the rear left above:


After much grunting and a daily, paper-cut:


we were able to remove the rear clamp-bolt:


and then the other:


Plan D failed: we did not possess a suitable bolt to replace the rear one! Darn it!

Plan E: a) replace the seat-post and b) ensure that we don’t get into this mess again.

Here’s the replacement seat-post:


Close-up of the head:


To ‘ensure that we don’t get into this mess again’ we’ll have to remove the fastenings:


clean them:


cover all internal and external threads and contact points with Shimano’s Anti-Seize Paste:


refit everything and set:


Plan E worked! The final bill to the customer was only £20 more – including the replacement seat-post.

That paper-cut a week later:


Made us smile:bert rides his bike.jpg

So Lenin, no difference to capitalism then:
The establishment of a central bank is 90% of communizing a nation. - Vladimir Lenin

So “I Love Rock N Roll” wasn’t written by Joan Jett:

By The Way,I Charge Extra For Bloody Knuckles Too

We missed this the first time round:

Bit of a heroine for us:

We’re/ I’m so old …

That’s all for now – be good to each other.



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 & 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 (

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

Be safe out there.


Lamborghini and Ridgeback offspring?


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:

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


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

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



Rory Block: Mississippi Blues


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:
Side 2:

Enjoy, and play nice.


1993: Busy time for Mr. Clips

Here’s clipping from the local toilet paper from 1993 (thought you might be interested):

And here’s the enlarged version:


Emmerdale: The Bicycles

For over 10 years we have been fettlin’ the bicycles used by the Emmerdale cast. The production company’s brief is very simple: make sure the bikes are safe, efficient and effective – don’t tart them up!

We’d like to think that the reason for the production company to use us is because we are either:

  • good at what we do (and/or)
  • timely (and/or)
  • reasonably-priced.

Anyway here’s the pics – see if you can spot any.





The following is one you probably wont have seen – it will appear in a near-future episode (sorry, no spoiler).

Please note: Emmerdale do not necessarily endorse us. They just continue to use us.

As a way of saying a big ‘Thank You’ to one of most loyal customers, we will be giving a 10% discount on all future works.

THANK YOU to Emmerdale

from the team at Re-Cycle Engineering


Bank Holiday (29th August 2011)

We will be open as usual (10am to 6pm) on Monday, 29th August 2011.


We’ll be open on Friday, 29th April 2011

It pains us to even acknowledge the presence of this treasonous, corrupt and parasitic family. It’s also bewildering to accept the idea millions of unknowing ‘subjects’ will wasting electricity by following the farce on tv. Why do we, the taxpayers, have to foot any of the bill for the security. Why? Their clan is one of the richest in the world.

The whole family should be imprisoned in The Tower of London until they can justify or prove that they have any legitimacy ‘over’ us. The Head has already broken her Coronation Oath many, many times – technically, she has renounced her ‘sovereignty’.

Ho hum.

The Sheeple will continue to pay for them, the corrupt politicians, the unconstitutional EU, their fraudster banks, the exploitative, fat-cat international corporates and almost anyone who threatens them with a fine.

Although we would like to shut up shop for the day in protest, the shop will be open as usual on Friday, 29th April (10am to 6pm). We’ll be here for cyclists.

We’ll give the couple 6 months!

We’re neither anarchists nor ne’re-do-wells. We just want to fairly taxed, fairly legislated and fairly represented. We ALL deserve and need a good representative (local and national) government, good local services, a fair application of justice and a Britain that we can all be proud of.

Anyone else feel the same?

Rant over!.

We hope that you will all have a good couple of weekends. Be good to your family, friends, neighbours and all people. Live with dignity and Honour.

PS Happy Birthday Your Majesty

PPS Sod the Census


Easter Opening Times

We will be open on Easter Friday (22nd, 10am to 6pm), Saturday  (23rd, 10am to 5pm) and Monday (10am to 6pm).

PS Sod the Census.