My short bio: Dutch bike guy working in Berlin, working on almost all types of bikes (Expert on folders, cargobikes, Dutch style bikes, vintage stuff, world tourers, any steel bikes and all the common bike types) for 20+ years now. Owned a shop, worked in very good Dutch shop for years. I do very well at finding super nice (bike specific and general) tools, durable parts and quality used bikes for 1% to 40% of their new cost. I often advise people exactly what kind, how many tools as well as what bike they require for their specific situation and I teach people the fastest and best technique for bike repair, maintenance, overhauls and upgrades. Have taught 100s of people, more than half of them women since they rarely get a chance to learn these skills in a chill way. I intend to answer any and all questions over the next 2 days, might take a while but i will answer anyone with a sensible or fun question! One word of warning: i am a retrogrouch type of guy (like St. Sheldon Brown and Grant Peterson) so i am not likely to say anything positive about Carbon, Disk and hydraulic brakes, 9speed and above, Aluminum bikes, low spoke counts etc. Best to ask the big number of other bike tech people who know and love those better. Also i do NOT do stolen bikes or parts, hate that shit. My best bike flip was 400 euros profit for 4 hours of easy and none too technical work. Best tool score was today perhaps. Minoura 35 euro wheel dish control tool for 1,50 and a Bahco small adjustable wrench in great condition for 1 euro, at a fleamarket. My Proof: Me, my former Padawan, Part of my bike workshop (i don't pay rent on it) and a half of my tools: AMA! about the stuff above or about bikes, parts in general or opinions on anything bike related. :)

5TH EDIT: Haha, i just created the sub: Thanks for the idea u/ontopofyourmom I have pretty much answered every question that i had an answer to and this AMA has run it's course. Thanks so much guys and gals, i am glad people got something out of it and that so many of you posted!

Comments: 402 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

Radiant_River42 karma

Why are modern bicycle seats so uncomfortable?

Cucaracha7642 karma

Silly ass influence from racing. Everyone seems to think that they need to ride similarly hard and light seats as the pros. But the pros train for a decade, have insane physical attributes and carry a lot of their weight with their legs since they are putting so much effort in all the time. If you want supreme comfort, buy a Brooks or if you are a woman, perhaps a Terry.

CaptainSnacks68 karma

Hi! I'm a bike mechanic and a Level II USAC cycling coach, and respectfully, you're totally wrong.

The real reason is that just like the rest of the bike, you have to find a saddle that fits. You don't 'carry a lot of weight in your legs", that means literally nothing. Saddles are different widths to accomadate different width Sitz bones, where you should be supporting your weight. A lot of people tend to think that you have to be sitting on the soft tissue, and that is totally wrong.

Not to mention that you totally glossed over chamoises and padded shorts.

Cucaracha7666 karma

Gonna have to respectfully disagree with some things and agree with one or two. Carrying a lot of weight with your legs is indeed an inexact term. So let me clarify. What i mean is that racers have a very aero, forward facing position on the bike. I think we can agree that someone sitting like that will carry more of their body weight on their legs and arms than someone sitting a lot more of upright and more far away from the front wheel, this type of rider will be putting the majority of their weight on their sit bones/butt/saddle.. do you concur? A lot of people who are not racers and buy a race bike with race saddle will adjust their handlebars so they sit quite a lot more upright and back than any true race cyclist. So my point was and remains that if you rest 60% to 85% of your bodymass on your saddle as opposed to say 30% to 50% (and of course these are total estimates!) while you ride... who do you think is more likely to have sore soft tissues? Especially if they are not a trained individual and riding a rock hard saddle made for racers? Chamoises and padded shorts. Never ever used them. Not even in my messenger days. Don't need them. I ride brooks. A big percentage of people who ride 150km per day (Word Tourers) often ride brooks and do just fine without shorts. Hell i can do 50k in Jeans! on my Brooks and feel 0 pain or discomfort. I do agree 100% that you have to ride a saddle that fits, but with Brooks there are basically (not quite) two sizes. Narrow, for racing. And wide, for comfort and more upright style cycling. Almost everyone who picks one of those to suit his individual cycling style seems to be perfectly happy. If you are not riding a leather "hammock" style saddle like Brooks, then i agree the width, material and finish becomes more important, but yeh, i am not a pro racer, i do not see any reason to ride hard saddles with little give. Lastly the brooks literally form to your sit bones which leads to a steep reduction or even removal of pressure points.

CaptainSnacks45 karma

You made a lot of good points, and I totally agree with all of them. i was just worried that people would take it the wrong way!

And now my question: favorite bike you've built?

Cucaracha7630 karma

Fair play man! I do not even pretend to always be right, much less always right for every situation and for everyone! I would consider myself a truly experienced mechanic and truly knowledgeable if i had worked full time for 30+ years in the field and in a big and varied bikeshop plus raced at a very, very high level. I have not done either and am not likely too ha ha, so i must remain humble. Favorite bike i have build. Perhaps my first one, it was a simple Peugeot MTB frame, but under the guidance of my Jedi Master at the time i cleaned and build up and refurbished every part of that bike, build a 3 speed Sturmey Archer hub into a very nice new rim with butted spokes, overhauled and greased everything and since that experience... i never looked back! Fell in love with the field and learning to learn and learning to teach. I felt back then it was a duty to pass on the skills my older friend taught me to more people than he did and that i must surpass him in knowledge. I am glad that i managed both. :)

no-mad10 karma

Pro's like yourselves don't consider the needs of the common man. I need a 6"deep deluxe jelly seat with builtin micro-massagers for my ride to the corner store.

Cucaracha765 karma

Actually, if you are riding rides of up to 15 minutes i truly believe your saddle makes almost 0 difference. Hell, if i rode only short periods and not many of those a day as well i'd probably ride a Banana seat and be perfectly comfortable and get style points to boot. :) On the other hand, i_love-pencils makes a valid point indeed. Hot spots suck hard. And if you live in a warm climate and ride a gel (horror of horrors) or other very cushioned saddle you can easily start to experience them after only 5 or 10 minutes, especially if you wear thicker fabrics or clothes with pronounced seams.

no-mad7 karma

Now you are talking. What ever happened to those banana seats? There is a entire generations of kids that cant give cute girls a ride home on the back of their bike.

Cucaracha766 karma

Yeh as my name implies i am from '76, i have fond memories of owning a banana seat 3 speed bike with the two wheel sizes. I think it even had tassles... BadAss!

i_love_pencils1 karma

And on this point, I'd like to disagree. I have learned that you sit "in" a big cushy saddle, but you sit "on" a less padded saddle. I've always found that sitting in a heavily padded saddle means more contact surface, hence more hot spots. Sitting on a saddle, means fewer contact points and more comfort.

no-mad2 karma

I am old and going to need more surface area to spread the pain around. My boney ass wants to be surrounded in some of that high density jell.

Cucaracha764 karma

You could try the B66 or even wider model types of Brooks, they have tons of surface area. The aged version are soft and pliable from the day you buy them. However, if you are very comfy with you current saddle, save $100 plus and stick with what works/what you have right now.

FaptainAwesome2 karma

At my fattest I was most comfortable on, of all things a Fizik Aliante VS. So comfortable that I've got one on my Cervélo R3 and on my CAADX now. Seriously, it's like riding on a cloud. I think the big cushy gel saddles are meant to take advantage of people who think that wide and squishy automatically means comfort.

Cucaracha761 karma

Yeh i have sometimes met people who after trying plenty of models to no avail found a saddle and it just clicked! Even if the saddle did not seem like a likely candidate, they finally but definitively found the comfort that had always eluded them. Cool when that happens. F'izik generally makes great stuff.

Cucaracha762 karma

This sub exists now! Thanks for for the idea /u/ontopofyourmom ! :)

skoomaed15 karma

do you have any sort of big frankenstein bike? something that no longer looks like a simple bicycle, that's been cobbled together from the parts of many bikes?

Cucaracha7621 karma

I do, sorta. :) I just finished building it. It is a red Specialized Hard Rock, steel, small 90s frame i bought for 30 euros with papers (not stolen!) Then i put amazing parts on it that i got for free or super cheap. Some of the parts: A comfy 170 gramm saddle. Shimano V-brakes i got off a wreck. A 880 gramms Mavic wheel with DEORE hub i got for 0,50cts etc. I might post a pic if i got some time. I ghetto single speeded it by cutting the rear derailleur cable down to 10 cm and locking the der. with it in one position. I love! this bike. It is light, super fast, reliable, very easy to work on and and nobody is going to steal it. I can take a chick or big box on the back, jump of curbs and still do 30km+ an hour if i want.

EDIT: This is the bike: "OP Delivers. :) Pic 1. How i got it for 30 euros. 2 & 3 Quick and dirty build. 4. Added some convenience parts, uglified/stealthified. Not shown but right after 4. i added the rear brake and bel. Will add quick remove mudguards when summer is over and nice pedals, have some little lights for nighttime. Some details: Rack i got off a wreck, is a bit high but very strong and convenient with the spring loaded clamp. Saddle is superlight, 10 euros ish online, since i have a quick release in order that anyone can fit on this purposefully small frame bike. It is also my beater/loaner. I have chained the saddle with an old piece of drivetrain chain in an old tube. I am happy with it! But i am sure it will continue to evolve."

Someguy4045 karma

Any chance you can please post a picture?

Cucaracha769 karma

EDIT: Pics in my post right above this one. I will. It is not much of a looker though! I sorta uglified it on purpose. I am interested in performance, versatility, durability and my bike not getting stolen, so yeh, can't be too pretty. Just give me a day or two and i will dig up the pics.

imscammer152 karma

Why did you bother with using a cable? I would have just cranked the low stop in. I'm guessing it was a chain line issue.

Cucaracha763 karma

Chainline but more than that i like being able to go up or down one gear with the fine adjustment barrel. Still figuring out if this is my final preferred gear ratio on this setup. Also if it is windy or i am sick or doing a longer ride i like being able to change it but not having a shifter means i very, very rarely change it at all and only when it is truly necessary or of benefit. My rides are much more "Zen" that way

p2pbshmn11 karma

Why do people flip their drop bars upside down?

Bonus points for explaining why so many people fail to use their brake quick release properly.

Cucaracha7610 karma

Flipping the bars looks more Aero/stretched out even though it isn't really, it is the influence of messenger (i used to be one) and track bike/fixie culture. I guess in theory you can save like 100 ish gramms on the bar if you chop it off.. But it is slightly more dangerous than a regular drop bar since a bar that literally looks like a bullhorn is more likely to snag onto something, unlike a non flipped or cut drop bar. Fewer hand positions too, so way less comfort for longer rides. Brake release, do you mean on v-brakes or on side pull or both? Anyway, for sidepul racing brakes i think it simply is because the vast majority of people have no idea it is there/how it works! So once it is opened for whatever reason, it tends to stay in open position until someone points it out. V-brake (or more correctly direct pull brake), more people know how to release it and you can not really ride with it released.

altern8tif11 karma

Any thoughts on bamboo bicycles? Are they common in Berlin (or Europe)?

Cucaracha7618 karma

Bamboo is an amazing material! But, perhaps not for frames. I looked into it's use in bikes fairly extensively. I concluded it is not for me, YMMV. I just spend 6 month in SE Asia and i looked at various locally produced bamboo frames. Basically every one i saw joins the bamboo tubes and attaches the metal dropouts with a big gob of resin type material, i find it very unsightly, looks almost like a tumor and i have heard that it sometimes fails/tubes come lose, but this is hearsay. Other problems i see: Bikes generally live outside. It is soooo easy to saw through bamboo to steal your bike for parts,.. also, moisture, rain, critters and wood, not the best mix IMHO. Very uncommon in EU, i see more Titanium bikes than bamboo. I would say 1 in a 3000 to 10000 bikes here might be bamboo, maybe less..

nicocote8 karma

So a while ago, I rode over a piece of padded wrap without realizing it and it jammed in my rear deraileur. The speed and sudden stop was enough to bend the frame (specifically the hook-thingie that holds the axle of the back wheel). My rear deraileur is no longer parallel to my wheel.

The bike shop told me it was totaled. Is there really nothing I can do? My frame is steel. I bought the bike last year!

Cucaracha767 karma

I need pics to be sure. Detailed ones if possible. But,.. on of the things i love about steel is that it can usually simply be bent back and always be repaired (though the cost of having a pro frame builder repair a frame is sometimes not economical) A bike shop has a vested interest in you buying another bike. I assume you have the receipt. It is not entirely honest since this was not normal use, but, if you send your frame back to the manufacturer and do not tell them about the padded wrap, they may well replace it. I am not saying you should do this, that is up to your moral compass. I am just saying it is possible. Most decent brands have 3 to 10 years guarantee on their frames.

otterpopinski8 karma

If someone is in the market for a vintage road bike, are there any easy ways to tell quality from crap? And how do those differences affect performance (some things must be more important than others)?

Cucaracha7612 karma

Yes. If the frame says something along the lines of "Cromo Double butted (Type of material and treatment/style of tubes) as well as one of these brand names: Reynolds, Diddacci, Tange, Columbus, Ishiwata (quality tubing manufacturers) 9 out of 10 times it is a good bike. This is because the frame is often the most expensive part to manufacture. It is rare indeed that a bike will have a expensive, light and strong frame and then have crap parts, unless of course they were replaced.. Other very good signs: Chromed stays or fork, branded rims with spoke eyelets (ferruled) by famous brands (Mavic, Wolbers, Campagnolo etc) . Of course within these brands and parts types there are different qualities as well, but as an example, even the bottom of the barrel Tange frame will generally beat the shit out of any other typical steel frame in terms of weight, strength and durability. Generally all other steel frames will be made from bog standard Hi-Tensile steel which is nothing horrible but also nothing to write home about.

pyramidsofmoney7 karma

Best way to free a stuck seatpost with limited tools?

Cucaracha7612 karma

Don't. Hehe, okay, so that is a bit "neg". But having wrestled with this problem a lot! Some of them are simply write offs if you are not willing to spend a lot of cash (having a pro shop mill them out) or have plenty of tools and a lot of time. And even if the latter is the case it still might not work. However, as always, Sheldon Brown has a better answer than i could provide in general and especially in a small box of text. Good luck! :)

CaptainSnacks3 karma

Go to Home Depot and get a can of PB Blaster. Spray that liberally down the seatpost and let it set in, then hammer the seatpost lightly around the area where it goes into the frame. Then pull up on the saddle and twist while you pull down on the frame

Cucaracha765 karma

This is good advice. We dont have PB blaster here in EU as far as i have seen. Question: Have you ever successfully freed a very seized Alloy seatpost from a steel frame? Because i do not know if it is oil based but mechanics seem to agree that penetrating oils do nothing to remove the type of corrosion that forms between alloy and steel. If PB blaster does work, i would be stoked to try it.

cdouble5133 karma

I think the best way to unfree a really stuck seatpost is the sheldon brown method.. sitting there for 2 hours with a bare hacksaw blade and cutting a line down the post til you can clamp in and remove it... I did this after waiting 6 months to try it, because I knew if I failed the bike would be a gonner. But it totally worked.. and you could see that the corrosion on the alloy was extensive and nothing could have chemically worked.

Cucaracha763 karma

Yeh it is the last resort and seems to always work. But damn is it a chore and mind numbing haha! Still, much better than to chuck the frame.

kstruckwrench4 karma

I have removed stuck alloy seat posts by sticking the frame in my hot tank which contains caustic lye solution at about 80-90 degrees C. Alloy tubes just disappear.

Cucaracha763 karma

What the heck?! :) You got a pic of that setup? How come you have a tank with caustic lye in your house haha?

Gnascher7 karma

Well how do YOU get rid of the bodies?

Cucaracha762 karma


Apollinaire1315 karma

What is the best type of bike, and why is it a handmade lugged steel frame?

Cucaracha762 karma

Steel is Best Bike. Steel is Real! Steel is only bike.

But to my shame i must admit i don't mind tig welded steel either. Sorry brother! :)

quipkick5 karma

Hey what's up I've got an early eighties schwinn toad bike (traveler) and I use it at my university. Just wondering what are the best ways I can make the bike lighter in any way (best parts to but first for cheapest etc.) and to run better? (what to lube, what to wd40) thank you in advance!

Cucaracha7614 karma

schwinn toad bike (traveler

This one? If so, that is a nice bike! Weight savings, get a magnet, assuming you already have alloy rims replace all steel parts with Alu/alloy in this order for maximum weight savings: Crankset and rings, pedals, seatpost and stem. However be aware that weight savings have very, very little measurable influence on your speed. The placebo/psychological effect can be quit big though and if you have to lift your bike often it is nice if it is 1 kilo or more lighter. Take your time to source cheap used but good parts. Especially the crankset and chainrings can be very expensive. Use a digital scale to figure out if your old parts are truly heavy. Lubing. This is not! the pro way to do it (i could elaborate on that later as well) but it will work just fine on an old bike that is running dry. WD-40 the shit out of the chain and both derailleurs, run all the gears while you hang up the bike. Let it sit a bit. Use an old towel to carefully remove all the excess especially from the outer parts of the chain. Grease your seatpost and stem ASAP, really. Should run way nicer now, ders. might need adjustment though. Make sure your tire pressure is correct! This generally is the one thing that makes old racers go faster. If your tires are old school get some lightly used tires and new inner tubes, pump that shit up to 7 bars. You will be flying.

quipkick2 karma

Awesome thank you for a thorough answer!!

Cucaracha764 karma

My pleasure.

summerchilde3 karma

Don't use WD40 to lube anything. It will attract dirt faster and also evaporates faster than chain lubricant.

Cucaracha7610 karma

Yes i have heard this often. And it is "true" but not really an issue for me/the average person . Of course on customers' or my own bikes i use bike specific like rohloff. But for very casual mechanics or rusty chains or casual cyclists i find that the the less cost and the more ease there is in lubing the more likely they are to do it regular or at all! Since an aerosol (unlike a drip bottle) is super easy and almost every household has a WD-40 can lying around... As for the dirt issue, in my post do suggest cleaning up the chain with a rag, unless he is offroading or in terrible winter conditions dirt should be a non or minor issue. Lastly, Ken Kifer who was a serious touring cyclist did just fine with only occasional WD-40. YMMV!

KnowledgeGrabber5 karma

When I was a child, the police department (NH, USA) gave a brief overview of bicycle rules to the community. At that time, everybody rode their bike on the right side of the road with the flow of traffic.

Now, many people ride on the left side of the road against the flow of traffic. It scares the bejesus out of me! Is there a way to bring back the tradition of teaching people some basic bicycle rules?


Cucaracha763 karma

Ah well, though i do a fair amount of bike advocacy i do not know nearly enough about the US situation to give an informed opinion. Here in EU we all ride on the right and on the copious bike paths,.. problem solved. I think bike paths are the way forward. Seems to work for Portland and others. It is even great for the car enthusiasts, Less gridlock, less pollution, more parking, less collisions with cyclists and likely more space on the road if enough people start biking.

rfshunt3 karma

I used to keep my bike in good repair back in the day of freewheels, 10 speeds, and non-indexing changers/derailleurs.

My question - what is the best way to learn how to maintain my new bike that has a cassette, indexing changers, etc.? Any books/videos/websites that you recommend?

Cucaracha768 karma

Spending no money: Youtube and Sheldon Browns website! Seriously, those two are amazing. I am convinced if anyone puts in the time they could become a very skilled apprentice or even qualified level mechanic by using only those two. If you want to do it offline and spend some cash. Barnett's bike school and book or the Park Tool book. Zinn's is also good. And there is a few more books in this list (i have 0 affiliation with any person or product in this post btw)

Goldin3 karma

Who do you follow on YouTube? Just as I've found in the world of electronics, there are people who really know their stuff at an advanced level and others are really hacks.

Cucaracha763 karma

This guy has ridden like 500.000 miles so i take his ideas seriously indeed. I don't agree with everything he recommends but he will surely blow your mind with his ideas on how cheap a bike can and should be. Production values are so so, but the info, length, experience and opinions in this clip are stellar:

This video is not bad. Decent primer.

And then there is this big jovial US fellow, something like " The Backyard mechanic" can't find him atm. But has solid bike tech tips and how to vids. Quite popular on youtube, won some award.

rfshunt2 karma

Thank you, thank you!

If you don't mind one more question…I used to flip my bike over and put the seat and handle bars on the ground/floor to work on it. How important is a one of those stands when working on the bike? Am I an idiot for turning the bike upside-down to work on it?

Cucaracha762 karma

Ask as many questions as you like. :) Flipping bike to work on it, nah man, that is totally fine. Those stand are expensive if you get a good one and the cheap ones suck. Just make sure your handlebars are even on the top and put some thick fabric (old towel?) under your handlebars so the bike is stable and the saddle and bars/bar tape/grips do not get scuffed. I would only suggest getting a good (Park Tool, Minoura etc) stand if you work on bikes like 1x a week or more. For an occasional mechanic the $100+ a good stand costs is waaaay better spend on some Spokeys, Crank puller, Box wrenches, Headset wrench, chain whip, chain punch, cone wrenches etc.

deimios3 karma

Hi! I live in Canada and just started biking to work every day this year. It's about a 9km ride each way. Any tips for riding all year? I am thinking of getting a second simpler bike (maybe a fixie or three speed) with larger tires for winter, but will see how things go through late autumn first.

Cucaracha763 karma

In wintery climes i most definitely think a winter bike is the way to go. In practice having two wheel or tire sets does not work that well. Too much hassle to exchange any time some unseasonal snow falls or it is a sudden sunny winters day outside. If your area is flat(ish) a flip flop hub would be a good choice. A lot of winter riders swear by the feedback and control a fixed gear provides and the drivetrain (not a correct term but a convenient one) of a singlespeed is much more impervious to grit and snow than a derailleur bike. Also much cheaper to replace when it does wear. I would certainly go for flip flop in case you find fixed hard to get used to or if you want to have a second gear for the hopefully rare days you are a bit sick or have a strong wind. Just flip the wheel. So my recommendation: A 90s (Specialized Rockhopper?) steel MTB that will take V-brakes (do not buy it if it has U-brakes) that you have a flip flop wheel build for. A bike like that should survive the next ice age.

deimios1 karma

Thanks! What about preventative maintenance? We use a lot of salt on our roads during the winter so corrosion is a big problem. Is there a product you would recommend to protect the chain?

Cucaracha761 karma

Hebie chain glider. Be aware that you have to lube the chain glider now and then and i doubt it works with fixed gear. Alternatively/also, truly stainless steel chain, Taya and KMC do some affordable ones. Lubing the chain the proper way (one drop of fairly thick lube (i like finishline, pedros and rohloff) on the inside of each link from side to side) a very thin coat applied to the sides and underside with a cloth and having a master link on there so you can easily take the chain off every 1 to 4 months and clean it thoroughly. Good fenders!! Planet bike or SKS. With a lot of clearance and a mudflap, the front part should go way down pretty much as far as your bottom bracket shell.

jibsand3 karma

Quill stem or threadless stem?

Rim brakes or disc brakes?

Also who is your favorite cyclist and why is it Graeme Obree?

Cucaracha763 karma

I used to hate threadless. Too modern, too expensive, too bulky/ugly and too restrictive in terms of the adjustable height of your bars. I have since mellowed my view on them quite a bit. The one! massive advantage they can have imho is that you never have to worry about a frozen stem. If a a quill stem is truly and well frozen you might have to throw out the fork or frame and that sucks hard. This does not happen with threadless or with properly mantained quill stems. Also threadless can be lighter and these days there are a lot of adapters and adjustable parts to give you enough option in terms of bar diameters, bar height and angle. So, whatever works for ya man! :) Graeme is cool! But he is also a high tech type of riding beast. My heroes are: That mofu is crazy! Riding hundreds of miles in a day on a singlespeed with brooks saddle, winning the RAAM (no gimmicky bikes, no huge team, no high tech, just men being men and battling the road, elements and sleep!)

No man has traveled more extensively than him,.. and he did most of it on an ancient 3 speed, steel bike... The only thing this German bike hobbit seems to like as much as Bikes is Beer. Good show!

Disk brakes must die! The awesome Retrogrouch has stated exactly why better than i can here: He has more posts on (disk) brakes. All worth a read. The TL,DR version: If almost all Rim brakes can lock up the wheels (= Maximum possible braking power) why the hell does anyone need the alleged higher braking power of more complex, expensive and hard to maintain disk brakes?! Caveat: If you are a serious downhill or offroad MTBer that cycles in true wet and mucky conditions or go down very long steep descents often,.. then i can see some benefit to disk brakes. Elsewise, just seems ill advised and a marketing thing.

NorthStarZero5 karma

I'm a disk brake convert:

  1. They always always work. The first time you come down a long descent in the rain and the brakes actually work... wow.

  2. They greatly simplify wheel changes, especially on wider tires (more and more 25c out there) because you don't have to spread the caliper to get over the tire;

  3. Hydraulic brakes self adjust and never rub. Mechanical brakes, admittedly, can be a little more finicky. Both are easier to deal with than side pull calipers;

  4. Way, way safer with carbon wheels, because now you aren't trying to dissipate heat through a plastic; and

  5. More freedom for tire and wheel designers to optimize aero shapes because you no longer need to provide caliper clearance or a braking surface.

I'm so sold on them. I have disks on my Big Dummy ( which is set up as a road bike) and I wish I could adapt them to my Cervelo.

Cucaracha764 karma

Hmm fair enough! And though i do not want to get in a religious brake war with anyone, i feel it is good if i address your points. As always YMMV! So ride whatever the hell makes you happy and ride more... that bike and that technology -whatever it is- is the best one! :)

  1. My V-Brakes always work. Any style of even mid level quality non disk brakes only stop working well due to a severe lack of maintenance or terrible brake blocks. Get some Koolstop brake blocks and your side-pull or v-brakes will work awesome in the rain! If you were to not bleed your disk brake lines for years or let the disks rust to shit (and non are stainless) the disk brakes would also not work. So i feel this is a matter of doing basic maintenance, not brake technology.

  2. Dude, if literally taking 2 seconds to flipp a switch (quick release for wheel removal) is too much hassle,.. how many times a day are you changing wheels?! I sometimes did 30+ a day and i never, ever thought "I wish i could stop flipping these switches! We gotta get the Motherfucking Switchez of dese Motherfucking bikes!!! I wish they were all disk brake wheels!" ;-P

  3. I have worked on a lot of Hydraulic brakes (back in my Dutch shop days) on which the disk rubbed like hell and a bit of the rubbing and grating could not be resolved at all, no matter what! Such a horrible sound. The reason was that the disk had warped due to heat or impact. Those disk are not cheap, unlike say new brake pads. Again, adjusting decent mechanical brakes with the fine adjustment barrel is a no brainer 2! second job that most people will need to do once a month at most, possibly even once every six months...

  4. True! But i never ride carbon (plastic, as you yourself put it). I value my neck, teeth and jaw too much. I have seen carbon wheels in good condition "explode", even with disk brakes. I have never seen alloy rims that were in good condition explode, even with rimm brakes. Not saying it can not ever happen but i have never witnessed it. I also do not race at the highest levels where like 2 second differences over the course of 10 minutes or even an hour matter a hell of a lot, so the weight saving of Carbon does not offset the cost and other downsides for me at all. YMMV

  5. Same as 4. Before these tiny! and debatable increments of more "aero" actually mattered to me i would have to be at 7% body fat first and be a CAT 2 racer or something. I am not. Until i am it is not of any practical or measurable value to me and dareisay, the vast majority of non pros.

But again, i am not trying to convert anyone, if you are happy with your gear and riding, that is good enough for me!

wallowls3 karma

As a mountain biker (and fat biker), I have to say disc brakes are in a league of their own. I've felt some parallel pull xt v's that came close, but even the shittiest Juicy does a much better job with modulation and control on descents than rim brakes. Not to mention, fat bikes don't have any other option.

Also, while rotors are pricey, they're usually cheaper than a new rim. My touring bike has single digit 7 linear pull and after 10 years the rim is turning concave. Not a huge concern (10 years is a long life) but something to consider.

That said, I completely agree with you that on every other kind of bike they're completely unnecessary and can be a pain in the ass.

Cucaracha763 karma

Yeh, makes sense! Bike Disk brakes where developed for really dirty and wet or fast descent MTB applications. They make a lot of sense there! But now it seems like every type of bike or rider is switching to them and that is just money making BS imho. Disk brakes are even more superfluous here in Northern EU because there are few offroad opportunities and few riders who offroad seriously or frequently.

Wearing out rims with rim brakes can be a concern if you put in a lot of miles. Using Koolstops or other good pads reduces wear by half. Lightly sanding your pads every year or two as well means very little wear on your rims indeed.

thedoorlocker2 karma

Where do you get your ideas?

Cucaracha763 karma

Not sure if serious haha, but i will answer anyhow: BikeTechGod Sheldon Brown. Thoreaun minimalist bike tourer Ken Kifer. Retrogrouches and bike tech/industry luminaries Grant Peterson and Jobst Brand. The Retrogrouch blog. 35+ Fellow pro bike mechanics i have befriended and spoken to about all these ideas and topics at considerable length.

Goldin2 karma

A friend asks for a recommendation on a new bike on a limited budget. What make and model would you choose, and what modifications would you make to the bike? What would you advise your friend as far as best ways to take care of the bike?

Cucaracha768 karma

Singlespeed Racey: Awesome frame, can fit all kinds of tires!, good brand, fast, very little maintenance needed. But if your friend wants a comfort bike or MTB i would take some time browsing You really can not beat their price for a new bike. But after i looked there, i would save the page on my mobile device and go to the coolest bikeshop in town. Then i would ask them if they could match (a similar) bike and at least get in the ballpark of the price. It is really nice to support your local shop, it will pay off big time when you need maintenance. Try to get a bike that needs as little mods as possible, they add up. Shop around until you find an off the shelve/webshop bike that has the things you need or most.

Maintenance. The standard. Clean, lube, adjust cables, keep tires pressurized. But i would also advice that unless your friend enjoys the work and has the time, have a bike shop do it! Worth it, especially on a new bike, you don't want to damage anything by not having the right tools or the patience/time.

wallowls2 karma

What's your favorite bag/rack setup? Best materials in your experience for bags?

Cucaracha765 karma

Ortliebs or Arkel (light!) or Carradice (Retrostyle) and Tubus if you don't mind spending big money. Crab buckets and any decent strong but cheap rack with one of those spring clamps (not for the buckets, just very useful otherwise) if you wanna Cheap DIY it! :) Google for pictures of crab bucket panniers.

Organ-grinder2 karma

Do you purchase items from the homeless?

Cucaracha762 karma

No man haha? Wtf? :D I never see homeless people offering Mavic wheelsets next to the dumpster here? Is that more of a US thing? I do hear in SF people are jacking every seatpost in sight to sell or even for the metal. Sucks.

StrobingFlare2 karma

I have inherited a lovely old racing bike but the bottom bracket's fixed cup seems to have warped or (more likely) been forced in cross-threaded, so it does not sit flush on the rim of the frame. I couldn't budge it with a standard spanner so even tried a Stilson wrench with a length of scaffolding bar for extra leverage, but felt I was going to damage the frame before it would move.

I'm 90% sure its a left-hand thread, but its an Austrian frame and I read somewhere that SOME continental frames have both cups RH threaded.

Any advice? If I do shift it, would any bike shop be able to Re-thread the frame (if it needed it) so I could fit a sealed bottom bracket unit?

Cucaracha762 karma

There is a youtube clip in which a guy explains how to use a large bolt and nut and about 5 washers to use it as a fixed cup removal tool. Don't have a link handy but i think you should be able to find it! I would def. try this. Still, if it doesn't work or the threads are busted there are three options. 1. Have it rethreaded (only very good shops tend to do this/have the tools and generally not too cheap). 2. You could try threading in a BB with plastic cups (Kinex/FAG). I have had success installing these on wonky threads. Not expensive. 3. Unless the frame is uber nice you should be able to source an equal or better frame on craiglist for not too much. Transfer parts.

Never heard of Austrian frames having unusual threads but it is entirely possible. Generally threading is weird on some French, Italian and certain British and Belgian brands, but mostly the former two.

SanDiegoMitch1 karma

I'm a bike enthusiast my self.

I have created a Retro-Direct bike (pedal backwards or forwards to go forwards) and,

a Reverse Steering bike (turn left, to go right, right to go left).

Have you tried either? They are both great to ride, and I would recommend trying one if you get the chance.

Here is another video of how the retro direct works when I was still playing around with it getting it working.

Cucaracha762 karma

I tried both. Fun! The retro direct was so weird at first, felt like walking backwards in mud or something. Still it is fun to tinker with these projects. :)

JohnD14511 karma

What type of seat design would be the most comfortable for an average rider in your opinion? I have had numerous amounts of seats and non of them seem to stay comfortable for an extended riding period.

Cucaracha762 karma

Brooks! Terry and a couple of others. But if you let me know what your specific pains are and age is i can give you a more detailed answer.

qwerqwert1 karma

How do you rectify the ideas that you abhor theft but consider yourself a flea market pro? Isn't a bunch of that stuff you're getting sick deals on first nicked before being sold to you?

Cucaracha765 karma

That is a good and hard question! I tend to go to flea markets where it is also a lot of private persons selling their stuff. I can generally tell when people are legit and when they are not. I never buy a bike without a frame number, a purchase contract (German thing) and without seeying an ID and writing down the nr. But with parts, one can never be 100% sure. I follow my gut instinct. I have let a lot of awesome deals go because though i knew i could double or triple my money but i knew the seller was fishy as fuck. Not interested in aiding and abetting thieves.

cbartlett1 karma

How can I authenticate a frame? I bought a 70's Peugeot track frame and it seems to be very rare indeed. I've never seen a single other. It rides like a dream and seems very legitimate but I have always wondered how to authenticate its provenance.

Cucaracha762 karma

The truth is, bikes made pre 80s are very hard to authenticate. A number of manufacturers kept few or shoddy records or do have good records but never made them available online. Extensive googling (including on french websites!) sometimes yields results, posting detailed pictures on can help too.

rastel1 karma

What brand or model of bike do you repair the most and what part seems to always break?

Cucaracha762 karma

Brakes that are neglected seem to need repair or maintenance quite a lot. Especially if they are craptastic brands such as Alongha, Saccom. Model does not seem to matter much, brand and quality does, Walmart, Huffy etc are awful and sometimes even downright dangerous. I basically do not sell, work on, or deal with those bikes much at all. I make exceptions but it is like carrying water to the sea, i am not even doing the owner a favour, since it is often a never ending money pit. However brakes are easy and cheap to repair or replace and i am always willing to help nice people get a kickass second hand, if they are poor with 0 profit for myself. Other common problems on bikes, negligence on old bikes is a bike killer. Leaving a seatpost or stem ungreased or in the rain for years can mean the whole frame is a write off. Leaving a dry chain in the rain for 6 months makes it unrideable.

robo5551 karma

Is there anywhere in Berlin where we can borrow tools, find parts, and/or learn bike maintenance?

I mean, there are YouTube videos, but often having someone show you is much more useful, and can point out mistakes. Other times, it's just lack of tools and not worthwhile to buy it for single occasions.

Cucaracha762 karma

Yes at least in 5 places. But of the top of my head: (i volunteer there 2 to 20 hours a week) and ADFC.

chris4801 karma

Need advice,I have a 97 Performance x102. Should I spend $100 for a tune up or try to find a craigslist bike for the same price instead?

Cucaracha761 karma

100 bucks for a tuneup seems excessive unless a lot of parts are being replaced. If you like it, for sure try and get it serviced over buying another, you might get a lemon on craigslist of have the same problem, unless you really know your stuff as a buyer. Ask around for your local, skilled and recommended moonlighting home mechanic. Maybe even craigslist. If it is just tune up, should not cost more than $30 to 70 tops.

purplepooters1 karma

Have you tried the swiss knife hand braclet? As an avid biker (I do over 5 miles a week) would you recommend it?

Cucaracha762 karma

swiss knife hand braclet

I am not sure if i know what you mean.. but i am sure i have never tried it. Do you have a link? Just in case you are talking about multi(bike) tools. I feel Crank brothers and Lezyne are the best while SKS are still very good while being affordabe. In US might be other brands.

MrPejorative1 karma

Is a chain guard worth getting for commuter bikes? Is it better to just clean the chain after bad weather or get a guard? Are they only available for single speed?

Also, why do they say to not touch the resin on brake pads? I've yet to be able to successfully replace them without fucking the whole thing up, and handling them... roughly, but I never really noticed a difference.

Cucaracha761 karma

There are chain cases for multiple speed bikes but generally only for hub gears. Check out hebe chaingliders. Worth getting,.. depends on you and the climate. If you are not willing or able to do maintenance on your chain every few weeks or every 3 months maximum or if you live in a place with very inclement wheather, then yes, i think a chainguard or case is worth it! There is really no better, there is what you actually do and what works. Even with a chaingaurd rare cleaning and especially lubing of the chain is still advisable. Brake pads, wait, are we talking about a part of a disk brake assembly or actual mechanical brake break pads? For the latter, i have never heard of that. For the former, my guess is that fingers always have a bit of oils on them. Oil and disk brakes are not a good combo.

BloomingtonFPV1 karma

Opinions on folding bikes? I'm riding a Giant Expressway, which is a style OEMed by lots of companies. But I'm thinking about a Birdy ( which is German designed and made in Asia.

Cucaracha761 karma

Giant Expressway

My reccomendation would be a Steel Downtube (cheap), steel version Scootr Swift (Mid price) or Brompton (expensive). I am a steel kinda guy, but beyond that all those bikes have very solid reputations on the folder subforum and elsewhere and importantly they take almost completely standard parts and wheels. Something i look for in all my bikes and folders especially. Birdy's are beautifull and efficient high tech machines but very non standard, alu and very expensive, good bikes! But just not my cup of tea.

gotexan81 karma

Hello, I've been running and swimming for fitness for quite sometime but just recently a friend of mine talked me into getting a bike and training for a triathlon (just a small sprint race to start nothing to serious). Anyway I decided on a Fuji Sportif and have honestly been having a blast! It's the first time I've taken riding very seriously or done anything other than leisure riding on a cruiser. In fact, I'm having such a good time I'm seriously considering training for a longer length event next spring. So here's my question: if I decide to get really competitive what should I do with my current "starter bike"? I feel it's too heavy for any serious competition and would like to cut its weight some if I could. Change out the Shimano Sora system for the 105, get a carbon fork, carbon wheels, etc. Would this benefit me at all or would I simply be better off trading up to a new carbon bike? Any particular bike you'd recommend?

Cucaracha762 karma

Fuji Sportif

That Fuji is just fine! Unless you are competing at the highest levels a 10 kilo bike should be adequate. You might consider faster tires,.. but other than that, if you want to get faster focus on training, nutrition, cadence etc. If you don't believe me, go to a track of your favorite several mile run. Borrow a friends Carbon 7 kilo bike. Time yourself. On another day go with your Fuji. Compare the times. Odds are the difference is tiny. If you are going to be doing many rides of more than 65km or with tons of climbs perhaps the above does not apply, but otherwise...

CarneDiem1 karma

What is your opinion on the Fixed Gear Bike? I prefer the fixed to free wheel. I always get hurt on a free wheel for some reason. I ride brakeless and strap my feet in. I feel like I am in complete control. My dad HATES my Fixie... do you think they are unsafe?

Cucaracha7612 karma

If you are hurting yourself on the free wheel your bike is lacking or your skills are, there is no other good explanation for that. Honestly, i think it is dumbshit and even irresponsible to ride a fixed gear without at least front brake. And this is coming from a former messenger who worked with a fixie (two hand brakes). I have also been to the EU messenger championships and was friends with one year's champion, those dudes have literally world class fixie skillz!! But even the best of them could not skid or stop as fast and controlled as the average 12 year old cyclist on a bike with even one V-brake or sidepull. And sometimes only 30cm/one yard extra makes all the difference between paraplegic/coma/dead or walking away 100% unscathed from a (near) collision. Don't fuck around and risk the rest of your long life and your young body and messing up grieving relatives for life. Ride fixies! I love fixies! But get a front brake. Now.

tdotgoat1 karma

what tools do you recommend for changing bike tires/tubes?

Cucaracha762 karma

Technique! Watch about 3 expert youtube vids before you tackle tires for the first time. 9 out of 10 times when i see someone struggle with tire removal it is not their tool but their technique and impatience that is the problem. Having said that, Pedros levers are great for any non race bikes. For tight fitting tires such as on racebikes, Crank Brothers' speedier lever! It is one of the very few that also works awesome for putting your tire back without risk of puncture.

FetusChrist1 karma

I've got an old Windsor international in great working condition that I love riding, but it's really starting to show it's age. How would you suggest cleaning up some rust spots and there paint while keeping the original look?

Cucaracha762 karma

This stuff is gentle yet effective on rust, available in many hardware shops or large department stores. For the paint something like this, basically a product that restores the clear coat by mild means.

lucasgorski991 karma

Yay! You may be my savior :)

I was riding my father's bicycle a while back, and I wasn't paying much attention... Anyways much swerving and roadburn later I found the front tire was a bit bent, not extremely, but enough for it to rub against the brake for a brief moment of each rotation. Is there anything I can do to straighten it?

Cucaracha762 karma

Wait, you mean the rim! is bent, not the tire right? If it is a smallish warp the rim can be trued in 5 minutes or less by any even half way decent mechanic. You could do it yourself but you would need to take your time, watch youtube how to and buy a 6 dollar spokey.

Qlinkenstein1 karma

Ever ride a Schwinn Stingray Swing Bike? What's your opinion of them?

Cucaracha762 karma

Schwinn Stingray Swing

Never rode one (Schwinn's are very rare in Northern EU) but saw one or two. I think they are awesome! Some people upgrade them these days and they make for unique bikes.

Qlinkenstein2 karma

This is my dream bike. I'm the youngest of 11 so there was never a chance that I would get one of these because my brothers al thought they were stupid. My neighbor had one and all I ever wanted to do is go to Jeff's house and ride his swing. Now that I'm in my 40s I think i may just find one and get it for myself.

Cucaracha762 karma

Do It! :) It is good to make your childhood dreams reality.

NoMoMoneyNoMoHoney1 karma

How many bikes have you flipped?

Cucaracha762 karma

100s.. Maybe a 1000. But that is if i count the ones i sold in my own shop and the second hands (we did not do many second hands) in the bike shop i worked at for 4 years. I mean i Holland buying and selling second hand bikes is a way of life. Since i was 5 years old almost every bike i owned and later sold on was second hand so,.. yeah, it adds up.

doityama-1 karma

Hi Cucaracha76, I also live in Berlin and am a former messenger.

Could you help me with a problem?

I know a fair bit about bikes, but there are of course some things i haven't done yet.

I need to solder cable-counterholder on my Long John, could you help me with that?

Cheers! :)

Cucaracha761 karma

No man, sorry, i wish i could! I do not do any frame/soldering/welding/brazing type work, do not have enough experience nor the tools. However, there is a very good bikeshop and framebuilder in P-Berg (forgot his name but should be easy to google) that does do this kind of work and even at reasonable rates. Also, if i am not misunderstanding your question, the other cheap and simple option would perhaps be (if your tubes are not super oversized) to use one of those old school cable clamps/stops the used for 3 speed sturmey Archer cables or some race bikes. I am pretty sure there are also modern variants of these that are meant for big tubes. Both vintage and new sources can be sourced on E-bay and kleinanzeigen and online bikeshops with some patience and research. You could also try! They have many old parts. Do not know the german word though. :)