Tech letters for February 12, 2002

Edited by John Stevenson

Confounded by carbon fiber? Need to sound off about superlight stuff? Tech letters is the forum for your gear-related questions and opinions. We'll attempt to answer all questions that don't require a PhD in astrophysics or industrial espionage.

Send your emails to Cyclingnews' tech desk

The last mailbag was full of questions and I'm pleased to say this one is full of answers, with excellent advice from our readers on dealing with leg length discrepancy, setting up Sidi shoes and fixing STI levers. We also have a controversy brewing, I think, on the merits of Jacques Anquetil's pedalling style, and some comments on Ed Miller's 'Frankenbike'.

For starters, though, some more questions, on Time pedals, computers on tandems, bike sizing and lots more.

Contents

UCI wheel regulations
Tandem computers
A new Time pedal
Coda disk brakes
Specialized M4 & Crank lengths
Steerer choice
Sizing
Speedplay Zero pedals
Adjusting to new kit
Rear derailleur adjustment
Crank Brothers Egg Beaters
Tyre pressure
STI lever repair
Sidi Shoes
Leg length
Frankenbike
Anquetil's pedalling style

UCI wheel regulations

I was wondering if you could clear up my confusion about the new UCI wheel regulations. In the chart of non-standard wheels, I see the Bontrager wheels. Both the Race Lite and X-Lite have 20 spokes (front) and a 23 mm high rim profile (front) according to their website (www.bontrager.com). Why wouldn't these wheels be considered 'standard' according to the UCI specifications? The carbons have a higher rim profile so it makes sense that they wouldn't be classified as 'standard.' Thanks for your help!

Oscar Yeh
USA

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Bontrager's rims are 23mm wide, not deep. They're all deep enough that they fall into the net of the regs, but they pass the rupture test, according to the most recent info we have.

Tandem computers

I have a tandem and am looking to hook two cyclocomputers together so both the captain and the stoker can share the same information. Is it as simple as clipping off the sensor unit of one and soldering the wires to the contacts of the first?

John Linford
CA USA

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My tandem stoker has always said she doesn't want to know how fast we're going, so I've never tried this. Have any readers patched together one set of sensors to two computers?

The no-brainer solution would be to mount a second computer on the rear wheel, with a rear wheel kit intended for use with a turbo trainer, and have two separate systems. Since you're going to have to buy a second computer anyway, that would be lots simpler.

A new Time pedal

I have heard that Time is releasing a new pedal called the "Z". It suppose to be much lighter and have more foot coverage, causing better support. I heard it was shown at the Vegas bicycle show. Have you guys heard anything about it. Looking to buy a set, but I don't know if it has been released yet. It would be great if you can investigate.

Douglas Ford

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It hasn't been released yet, though we've seen pictures and the prototypes that were on display at the trade shows.

Coda disk brakes

Can anyone help with ideas on how to get Coda brakes to work better?

Richard Quinn
Australia

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Try switching to EBC pads, that does seem to be an almost universal cure-all for disk brake woes. Any better ideas from readers?

Specialized M4 & Crank lengths

I hope you can help me or point me in the right direction. I am in the process of building up a Specialized M4 Road. I was wondering if you have done any tests on this frame before I step up and buy it. Also, do you have any sources of info on optimum crank lengths? This will be my road bike for years to come so I want to set it up the best I know how. I am 6 feet tall and currently use 175s.

Anything you have is greatly appreciated. I'm probably going with Campy Chorus or maybe Record – any tests or specs/weights on that stuff would also be of interest.

Keith Averill

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Unless you're sure you need a change and for good reasons, the best crank length is usually whatever you're using and accustomed to. There have been studies of relationship between performance and crank length, but they've usually been inconclusive or poorly conducted.

As for the bike and gear, it all sounds like good stuff to us – make sure the shop you buy it from takes the time to set it up right. Something we've noticed over the years is that Campagnolo and Shimano are two of very few companies whose claimed weights for components are almost always right.

Steerer choice

I currently ride a Litespeed Catalyst set up with a pair of profile BRC forks (1" steering column). I am interested in switching to a pair of Reynolds forks, threadless headset etc. I weigh 180lb. Are there weight considerations when choosing between carbon fiber or alloy steering columns? I have searched the internet for such info, but I have not been able to find any.

Ian N. Jongewaard

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If Reynolds doesn't suggest a weight parameter, I think it's a safe bet that the fork can be used by anyone.

Sizing #1

Here's a question that's probably been asked 101 times before, but ...

Does anyone know of a good system for properly sizing up a bike? I mean, like most people I know the old "frame size = 0.65 x inner leg measurement" formula and all that, but what about the top tube length and stem length? What account to take of steeper or slacker seat tubes?

Also, how do you account for different shoe thicknesses (and, in my case, the Time adaptor plates) when setting saddle height?

And are there any major differences in setting up my MTB compared to my road bike?

I saw an article running through a measurement system a few years ago but seem to have lost the copy I had. However, I'm sure that there are articles in sports biomechanics journals or whatever out there - I just can't seem to find anything.

Any words of wisdom would be gratefully received.

Craig Wadsworth
Rotorua, New Zealand

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There are probably as many ways of sizing a bike as there are bike experts. Get hold of a few books on road racing and coaching – like LeMond's, Hinault's or Eddy Borysewicz's – and you'll find a variety of different systems for getting a bike fitting just right.

Nevertheless, even the pros change things around. It's not unusual for a rider to spend a few weeks at the beginning of the season fine-tuning his or her position, raising and lowering the seat by a couple of millimetres, fitting a 5mm or 10mm different stem, and so on.

Whichever set-up nostrum you subscribe to, none of them are a substitute for listening to your body on long rides and making changes if things aren't right.

See the next letter for some thoughts on road bike vs MTB setup.

Sizing #2

I am currently searching for the right full-suspension mountain bike for me. How can I learn how to make sure a frame fits me correctly? Is there a resource on the web that I should read?

Austin Kerr
San Francisco

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In some ways, fit for a mountain bike is a lot less of an exact science than for a road bike. You move around a lot more on an MTB, so you're not in the same position for ages and at risk of over-use injury as a result of a poor position.

Frame size depends on what you're planning to do with the bike. If you'll be downhilling and leaping off things, you want a smaller frame than if you're racing cross-country. Even then, the old maxim of three to four inches clearance between 'nads and top tube is a good one.

Lots of recreational riders use a slightly lower seat position on their mountain bike versus their road bike, to make it easier to dab and to lower the weight of the rider, making the bike a shade more stable. On the other hand, cross-country racers who train on the road tend to keep the height the same for both so they're training exactly the same muscles on both.

Speedplay Zero pedals

I just purchased a new set of the Speedplay Zero Pedals and after a bit of tweaking (front to back and side to side only, as the float takes care of the alignment) I have only one complaint. Dry lube kinda sucks in that it is like water until it sets up, so a clod like me has it running all over the place.

Has anyone tried anything like powder graphite, or is there a less runny (see messy) alternative?

By the way, I went to these pedals for knee problems and love them. I had Look 396's and there is no doubt about it, float and free float are two completely different things. The Looks basically had no float (although they say adjustable to 9 degrees) because they self-center, and the float takes effort. The Speedplays have up to 15 degrees and it is very easy (zero effort) float that lets your foot settle in immediately and moves with your effort. In three weeks my knee pain (of two years) is gone! Even if it (the pain) were no better, I still like the pedals as they feel more solid, and the part of the cleat that touches the ground when you walk or stop is not the part that locks in to the pedal, so these don't get sloppy or loose or hard to enter or exit as they wear out (unlike Look, Shimano, Campy). The weight savings is just a bonus.

Charles Manantan

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The secret to dry lubing anything is lots of old newspaper! Alternatively, though we haven't tried this, spray-on Teflon might be a tidier solution.

Adjusting to new kit

I have recently just started using a set of near new Speedplay pedals and Giordana shoes that I bought from former Mercury pro Jamie Drew (only used for three months) and while everyone raves about the free float offering great protection to your knees; nobody mentions a word about any advantages/disadvantages to your back. Unlike others who have tried the Speedplay pedals I have no knee problems, but recurring back injuries that need stretching and strengthening. A custom bike (Pave, built in Australia) has given me a fit which feels like a comfortable armchair and an extremely stiff yet light frame which is responsive as soon as you hop out of the saddle. Speedplay pedals were supposed to be the last link in the chain of my dream bike. Have used the pedals for a week now and, yes, the free float did feel bizarre but my lower back ached somewhat and my legs are hardly feeling electric in the bunch rides Since I started riding eight years I have only used Carnac/Time shoes and Time pedals so is it natural for your body to need time to adjust to new shoes, pedals etc? If so, generally how long before you feel as though you are a part of the bunch and not some straggler off the back.

Any thoughts on Speedplay's advantages/disadvantages for those with a dodgy back. Indeed, if any!

For the record, I did smash the record for my two favourite hill climbs so they are definitely light - though the carbon sole of my Giordana shoes undoubtedly played a part against my trusted, but abused 3-year-old Time shoes.

Are all cyclists neurotic?

Kevin McIlduff
Perth Australia

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Kevin, I think we are.

I think there's inevitably an adjustment period to any change. I know I usually don't feel 'right' on any new gear until I have a few hundred kilometers on it at least, and I'm used to swapping and changing.

Rear derailleur adjustment

I get a lot of customers at the shop I work at who come in for these minor RD adjustments that involve turning the barrel adjusters half a rev or so. To prevent them from having to drag their bikes in (and have me work on it) for such a minor thing I usually show them a quick visual trick to fine tune the RD. There is a gap between the chain and the next larger cog about the thickness of a business card (I usually stick a business card in there just so they know exactly what I'm talking about). Make sure that the gap is equal both at the top of the cog (where it is always the same) and at the point where the chain comes off the cog and onto the top pulley on the RD. Adjust the barrel adjuster until the two gaps are equal. Customers sometimes get confused with the lefty-tighty righty-loosy barrel adjusters and how they work so giving them a visual indicator helps. This tip works well provided that the customer doesn't turn the barrel adjusters so much that they shifted themselves up or down a full gear.

Tai Lee

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Crank Brothers Egg Beaters

Questions regarding the Egg Beaters: What about the cleat on an MTB shoe? You inferred they might be a bit clumsy for the road, but what about 'cross? Can you run with them on an MTB shoe? Lastly, what is the mounting pattern for the cleat? Is it similar to an SPD or does it take an adapter like the Speedplay frogs? If it takes an adapter is that adapter readily available?

Thanks for the additional info.

Chris Mathews

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Egg Beater cleats fit the two-bolt SPD pattern, and are a similar size and shape to an SPD cleat.

Tyre pressure

I am doing a project at my university regarding tyre pressure in bikes. I would like to know what tyre pressure is optimal, I've had many conflicting opinions.

Is maximum tyre pressure best?

Ted Lyberogiannis
Canada

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For the record, Cyclingnews is unable to answer questions that require a term paper's-worth of research, but we'll take a small stab at this one. The maximum tyre pressure for many tyre/rim combinations is around 200psi – that's the pressure at which the tyre will blow off the rim. Obviously it's not a good idea to ride tyres anywhere near that hard; it'll be like riding a steel hoop.

Tyre pressure is a compromise. Lower pressure increases traction by putting more rubber on the road and is more comfortable, but also increases rolling resistance and the chance of pinch punctures. Higher pressure lowers rolling resistance but also lowers grip, a factor that's especially significant off-road or in the wet.

Tyre width is also a factor – fatter tyres can safely be run at lower pressures, while very skinny ones need high pressures or they'll bottom out on the slightest pothole. The reason for the conflicting opinions is simple: the only real answer is 'It depends' and it depends on lots of things.

STI lever repair #1

Last year I had a similar problem with a 105 right (rear) shifter lever on my 'cross bike. I had a road bike and it was spring, so I took apart the lever. Inside is a mess of springs, ratchets and thingamajingies. I believe I was able to fix the problem, but then I was unable to put the lever back together, more due to a lack of finger dexterity than to confusion... That experience has made me a lover of Campagnolo road levers. Good luck.

Karen Walkerman
USA

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STI lever repair #2

The easiest way for Jonathan Dunne to repair his lever is to remove the head of the lever, this would be the part that does the shifting and braking, from bracket and soak the entire thing in mineral spirits. An easier method is to purchase a can of Clean Streak by White Lightning and spray a liberal amount of it into the shift mechanism/lever head while still on the bike. What happens to these levers is the grease inside them becomes old, dirty, etc and does not allow the ratcheting cogs to engage properly. I have done this successfully on three different occasions and have not had further problems.

Dave Barcus
Morehead Kentucky

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STI lever repair #3

Jonathan can probably fix those levers himself. Pull the brake lever to open a gap near the top of the lever. Spray a bunch of WD-40 on the shift mechanism. Spray enough WD-40 to flush it out; fluid should run down the brake levers and drip on the floor. Leave it alone overnight. Clean up the extra WD-40 from the brake lever, handlebar, and anywhere else it may have dripped. Ride.

This suggestion comes from Mike Jacoubowsky, Chain Reaction Bicycles in Redwood City & Los Altos, CA.

Dave Van Tol
USA

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STI lever repair #4

With regard to the letter about the STI lever...

I had a similar problem with older dura ace levers and was told that the lubricant used by Shimano goes hard after a while.

The advice was to spray them with a liberal dose of RP7 and this worked a treat!

I hope your problem is equally easy to remedy.

Mark Friedlander
Melbourne, Australia

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STI lever repair #5

The problem sounds like the pivot screw has come loose or fallen out. When this screw loosens, the secondary lever will rattle and shifting will become imprecise, eventually ceasing to function.

This small Phillips head can be found under the lever where the secondary lever pivots. Tightening can be difficult with the lever in place due to tight spacing, so you may have to remove the lever from the bar to access. Once the screw begins to loosen, I have found it necessary to remove the screw and apply lock-tight to the screw prior to reinstalling it.

Neal Elliott
Silver Spring, MD, USA

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STI lever repair #6

I have a similar problem with my Ultegra left shifter in that the gear shifter lever broke off leaving me unable to shift the chainrings. My local shop (Barron Cycles, Sturton-by-Stow) discovered from Shimano that it will cost approx 60 for the lever internals, otherwise, a new set of STIs will be required. As an alternative to that, a down-tube shifter on the left might be a cheaper option.

Stephen Duffy
UK

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STI lever repair #7

At least it is the front changer and not the rear, this makes the problem much simpler, I have taken apart and repaired both front and rear levers and found it very frustrating and time consuming. The road STIs seem to me much harder to work on than Shimano's mountain levers and they actually "suggest" you not do it. It is exactly this problem which led me to switch all my bikes to Campag Ergo which are easily adjusted and rebuilt. (PS Thanks to Tim Rutledge for the very helpful and informative letter on cross bike cable routing)

Steve Farris
New Mexico, USA

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Sidi Shoes

I've ridden Sidi shoes for a while – Genius 3's which should have an identical sole to the shoes he's having a problem with.

The first thing to remember is that with Sidis you have about 5-8 extra mm of space between you foot and the pedal because of Sidi's adaptor system (and yes, it's 5-8 because I've seen 3 different thicknesses of adaptors). Now don't go raising your saddle that much because most people where I'm from ride their saddles too high, so you might be giving yourself a secondary fix.

The second thing to take care of is getting the Sidi/Look cleat bolts – can't use the ones that come with the cleats because they are too short, again, because of the adaptor.

Without knowing the full problem of tweaking the cleats, I imagine that it has something to do with them twisting around as you torque down on the fixing bolts or even twisting as you ride and unclip.

The solution to both these problems is a little (well, a lot) of silicon glue. Just smear it all between the adaptor and the shoe, then smear some more between the adaptor and the cleat, position the cleat as you want it, and tighten just a little bit. Leave the shoes outside overnight (so your girlfriend or wife doesn't kill you because of the fumes) then tighten the cleats down full torque the next day.

You are guaranteed to have a power output increase of 5 percent now that your shoe/cleat combo aren't sliding around as you crank. And don't worry about not being able to get the cleats off, by the time they need to be replaced, the glue will have degraded a bit due to the elements.

Hope it all works out.

James Wilson, Team Earth Fare rider
Columbia, SC, USA

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Leg length #1

Your question didn't give any details as to symptoms of your fit problems but typical results from leg length discrepancies are saddle sores and lower back/hip pain isolated on one side of the body. other possible problems will be knee related. Two issues must be dealt with concurrently in dealing with your different leg lengths. The first involves an appliance between the shoe and the cleat to build the leg length up by HALF the measured discrepancy. A good way to get the actual amount of unequalness is to have a chiropractor or radiologist take x-rays and determine whether the length difference is the result of shorter bone structures in the leg, a canted pelvis or frequently the result of hypertonic musculature (super tight muscles which contract, shortening overall lag length). In all but the third case, the appliance is indicated. The second issue is that of forefoot cant angulation; the conditions of varus and valgus at the ball of the foot which interfaces with the pedal. The same appliance can deal with both issues at the same time. Any quality shop should be able to measure your feet, establish the type and severity of cant involved, and correct for it with either custom appliances or a product like Paul Swift's excellent Big Meat Wedges. Remember, God didn't make any junk; but he didn't make any two items exactly alike either!

Jim O'Brien

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Leg length #2

I'm responding to the question on leg length. I, too, have a similar problem (right femur 1cm shorter than the left). I've compensated somewhat by inserting an old Diadora cleat between my right shoe and LOOK cleat. It's definitely not perfect, but it helps.

There is a place called High Sierra Cycle Center that has more effective, but more expensive, alternatives. They make special cranksets where you can offset the cranks in a manner to compensate for the difference. Their website is www.hscycle.com, phone # is 1-800-438-4399. mailing address is 123 Commerce Dr. , Mammoth Lakes, CA. Their fee when I called them over a year ago was around $7-800.

Spencer Dech
USA

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Several other readers also suggested High Sierra's services.

Leg length #3

There are a few solution to this problem. My brother is an avid rider, but just like to have fun on the bike. He has completed double centuries as well as a few road races. He has a leg length discrepancy of over an inch. In order to inexpensively minimize his problem we have taken the orthopaedic lifts from his old tennis shoes and placed them in his cycling cleats. This took a lot of the rocking out of his hips while on the saddle. Since he rides Speedplay pedals we also took two different cleats (the original Speedplay cleat was taller than the old one by about 0.25 of an inch) and placed them accordingly on his feet. This bought us a total difference of 0.5 inches.

I also have another buddy who is a techno weenie. He decided to use a product called the (fr)equalizer. There are other similar products on the market, but these are designed to shim your cleat to the proper pronation and height for your feet. These same designers will then machine a chainwheel that matches your body's discrepancy and will allow the rider to utilize all of their power. I have not seen scientific proof, but the 2 people I know that ride these systems swear by the system. (2 different manufacturers too.)

Hope that gives you some direction to resolving your problems.

Chris Mathews
Element Frame Co.

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Leg length #4

This is for the guy with one femur shorter than the other. I have the same problem and all I can say is be very careful with what you do.... I was always injured in some way, and didn't realize until I was properly checked up that not only was my right leg shorter than the left, but I also had scoliosis. Anyways, last year my new doctor suggested I try to build up my shoe, with a slim insole. I did, and a few weeks later my right hip was killing me. I had obviously started messing around with something nature had given me... I also do a lot of running, (triathlete) but as I got to talk to my physiotherapist for the past 10 years, he made me realize something important. He said "Kris, you have walked like this for 28 years now, you can't expect to change this in just a few weeks... It's very difficult to 'teach' your body to function in a new way like this..." I think he made a good point. I threw out my insole, got back in to stretching and simple strength workouts to prevent injuries, rather than deal with them later on. So, be careful. You may or may not need to build your shoes up. But, don't panic just because you found out your leg is a little shorter. My leg difference is 3/4 of an inch. Good luck to you.

Kristofer Larsen
Austin TX, USA

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Leg length #5

In regards to the answer posted to the question about using a different length crank-arm for a leg length discrepancy, I would have to disagree. If his the leg length discrepancy is in the femur I do not see where using any sort of cleat shim will improve the bio mechanical problem. By doing that you will only be essentially increasing the length of his lower leg on the short leg side. So now he will have two lower legs of different length and two upper legs of different length [it helps if you try to picture the body and legs in purely mechanical form of lever arms, fulcrums, pivot points, etc.]

Kevin Swanson
USA

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Leg length #6

After reading about the Frankenbike I have decided to resurrect the Cannondale touring frame I bought for my partner a few years ago as a crosser – perfect with its super clearance, steel fork etc. It will be a bit of a 'compact' as it is only a 58 as opposed to my normal steed a 63 but it's still bigger than my MTB ;-)

The reason for writing:

After reading your leg length letter I remembered Colchester Cycles in Colchester Essex, UK installing a modified pair of cranks for a rider who had a leg significantly shorter than the other after a car accident. The modification involved putting pivot in the left crank arm so one leg could follow a different radius from the other. It was very similar to the 'Power Cranks' that triathletes were using a few years ago but done only on one side. The actual work had been done by an engineering shop and playing with the bike I could understand the logic. With one leg much shorter than the other the 'natural circle' that the foot would make would not only be different in size but also position. The pivot allowed for free float of one foot compared to the other unlike normal cranks that lock them into position. As few people would be perfectly symmetrical there might be something to the 'Power Cranks' after all but whether this will make a difference for anyone apart from those with special needs is questionable.

Keep up the good work and don't stop wearing the T-Shirt to events – I was sitting behind someone with a Cyclingnews shirt watching Brad McGee win Bronze and it sure brought a smile to my face. What a man. What a crowd.

Rudi Meyer
Australia

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Frankenbike #1

Just read the piece about the Frankenbike. Great information.

I was struck as to how similar his problems were to mine. I purchased a 'semi-custom' steel cross frame from a local builder. Said builder is known the world over for making awesome Aluminium MTB frames. He started with steel BMX bikes and graduated up.

When I finally received my frame I was shocked to discover that the Shimano road cranks I had purchased were not going to fit with the standard BB spindle length!! For some reason the frame was made in two halves. The front half was designed to be a cross bike. The back triangle had been designed to accommodate a mountain bike wheel (wide tire spacing, odd chainstay angle, etc). Anyhow I also discovered that with the road cranks I was not able to clear the right chainstay. A mechanic at another local builder's shop dug around in his tossed out parts bin and found a cheap Shimano BB that is spaced at close to 130. It fits!! But just barely. I have less than 1mm clearance between the right chainstay and the crank! And as luck would have it, the left side clearance is not much more.

But the beauty of this bike is that I have the 53/39 gearing in the front, a standard 13-28 MTB 8 speed block in the back, and chain crossover problems only in the big/big combination. The bike's wide Q-factor at the BB is just perfect for my wide stance. It was the first thing I noticed when I hopped on the bike.

It isn't the "perfect" bike. But it is the "most awesome fitting bike I have ever owned." And it is a kick to explore the trails and race occasionally. I love it.

William Darlow

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Frankenbike #2

I was interested to read Ed's article about his DIY cross bike as I've been riding a similar thing for a while now. I have to say though, that I think the hassles he had with the cranks were completely avoidable. His reservations about using a triple seem to have more to do with appearance than anything else. I ride a triple with a 46x12 big gear and it's plenty big enough, even for road riding. Having a granny ring also allows the use of 12-21 or 12-23 road cluster which is more appropriate for cross/road riding and allows the use of a short cage road rear derailleur which keeps weight down and is less likely to become snagged.

For the record, I also went for the much easier canti brake option and they work fine.

Adrian Quick
Australia

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Frankenbike #3

Racing cross this year I too put together a Frankenbike. I love it and use it for a good portion of my mountain bike riding this time of year. With the narrow tires it is great for all kinds of trails and then for the regular Mt. bike trails the large tire option that cross bikes just don't offer is great. It was definitely more of a headache than I thought it was going to be because there are a million options and ways to make it work. Good to hear you made it and that you are enjoying your new ride. The Continental super narrow 1.75 are actually UCI legal. I have entered a race and had the "official" calipers put on them and passed (just barely). Thanks for the great article. It's funny that you call it the Frankenbike because when everyone I ride cross with saw my new rig they all coined it the Frankenbike in that my name is Frank and it looked spooky I guess. Ha! Good to see the envelope pushed and new and old materials put to a better use.

Frank Mapel

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Frankenbike #4

The article about converting an old mountain frame into a very practical machine will hopefully inspire some people into trying to patch some old parts into a useable bikes. But a comment about gearing.

While the mountain bike's chainstays didn't allow use of chainrings over 48 teeth with a short BB, that shouldn't be taken as a bad thing! A 48 up front matched with a 12 tooth small cog will give the same gear ratio as a 52 to a 13. This is a big gear by most standards. Professionals used to use a ratio like this before the whole 11 tooth/9 speed silliness. At 120 RPM one can achieve 38.5 mph with this gearing. It is plenty for most mere mortals, and offers side benefits as well. Call it road micro drive. With the big ring reduced to a 48, the small ring can become a 34, giving you a little extra help at the top of the hill. Of course, to get a 34 tooth ring, you'll need a mountain crank. This is the beauty of the 74/110 bolt pattern. My favorite all purpose set up is a 74/110 crank (TA makes one, as does Sugino) with the small ring holes plugged up, and just 34 and 48 rings, matched with a 12-28 or thereabouts cassette. This set up can be convinced to work with many derailleur options. The top end won't leave you behind, and the low end is so low that any thing less and you'd be better off walking. What's more, most of the gears between are pretty useable too.

I'd recommend anyone considering going triple to consider this route first. If you still want lower gears, you've got a triple crankset already, and one that gives you greater ring options than most standard offerings out there. For most people, more gears is not the answer: better use of the ones you've got is. Why anyone can puts up with the Herculean jump between the 11 and 12 tooth cogs I'll never understand.

Hans Stoops

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Anquetil's pedalling style #1

In response to Noel Crowley's letter regarding the pedaling style of Jacques Anquetil.

This is all a fallacy. As many people have replied to Noel before on other forums - Anquetil's style does NOT eliminate lower back stress or involvement in the pedal stroke. The lower back is the primary muscle group associated with extending the upper leg and is a major player in the power phase of the pedal stroke. You can not eliminate lower back stress just by pointing your toes and using your arms (another aspect of Noel's "theories" he has espoused). In fact, for many riders, using JA's style would result in more discomfort and less effective power output based on a decrease in comfort level.

JA pedaled the way he was born to pedal as do we all. Attempting to alter one's pedaling technique in this way will not achieve any significant or noticeable positive effect on speed, power, or comfort although during the transition phase when one is trying to learn how to do this speed, power, and comfort would certainly all be compromised.

Rotor Cranks seem to be a solution looking for a problem. Studies have shown that the "mythical" circular pedal stroke is not indicative of cycling performance- The fastest riders are those that can stomp down on the pedals the hardest for the longest. The biomechanics of the human do not allow a "circular" pedal stroke. Look at the size of your quadriceps compared to your hamstrings. Measure how strong your back muscles are compared to your abdominals. These opposing, antagonistic muscle groups are designed to do different jobs and have differing capabilities. We can stomp down very hard but can't pull back up anywhere near as hard. We can lift far more with our back muscles than we can with our abs. Everything about our musculature says we can push more than we can pull.

Rotor Cranks will not make you faster or "better", IMO. They may help one smooth out their pedal stroke a bit but I think one could do this just as easily at home on a trainer in a low gear or out on a flat road.

Robert J. Coapman
USA

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Anquetil's pedalling style #2

Noel cannot be serious. Maitre Jacques pedalled with his toes down, so what? Your going to have to explain your "theory" more clearly if you expect anyone to believe that old tosh.

Ray Green
UK

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Anquetil's pedalling style #3

Jacques Anquetil's technique is powerful, yet smooth and relaxing and not nearly as severe and extreme as in that description by R. Gardiner. The pointing down of the toes is a gradual process, increasing as the pedal moves downwards and always in the direction through which the power is being directed at the pedal axle, which is roughly parallel to the pulling line of the arms. This parallel connection is a vital part of Anquetil's technique.

Yes, pulling up could be worth 5+ kph., but it is not pulling up on the pedals that gives this additional power. The parallel (leg/arm power) technique enables a rider to do what B. Hinault (in his book) claims to be impossible, which is to combine the maximum pulling power of the arm with the power of the leg when riding at speed in the saddle on flat roads. By spreading the workload over upper and lower body muscles and because of the manner in which the power is applied to the pedals, in addition to the extra power gained, you also eliminate all lower back strain/pain and reduce the risk of injury to the knees and build up of lactic acid in the legs. An ideal technique for time trialing.

The recently released English language version of the French video on Anquetil's racing years has some excellent examples of his pedalling action. It is called "The Mysterious Cycling Champion". This pedalling technique is 99 per cent mental, involving power combination, synchronisation and application, which makes it impossible to copy and consequently Anquetil could cruise to victory in all 9 of the world championship time trials that he rode.

Noel Crowley.
UK

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