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  1. #1
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    My first bike in almost 20 years....

    Just bought my first bike since the early 90's. I'm in my 30's now, and looking for a good way to get into shape. Also, I live in the city, my car's garage is over a half mile away, and I recently moved to brooklyn which seems to be pretty bike friendly.

    I bought a used single speed. It is a converted mid-80's Bianchi Italian made frame with a hodgepodge of components. Seems pretty light, and I like the look.

    I have been reading this forum, and now I have a bunch of questions:

    - when I finally get in shape, will the gradual hills you find in the city get much easier? Or should I consider converting to a 3 speed hub? I want to keep it as simple as possible, but how functional are these single speed bikes?

    - I got a bunch of flat tires the first day I had the bike (no joke, we blew 5 tubes between me riding (3) and the store pinching the tube (2)). So I spent the money on some kevlar puncture proof tires ($45 per). Should I also line the tires with Mr. Tuffy, or would that be overkill?

    - wheels. My wheels are a little wobbly. Size 700c. What are some good sugestions for wheels? How much should be spending on wheels? I bought a new rear wheel, but returned it as I am still debating the 3 speed hub approach and one of the flats was an inner tube hole right by the valve so I felt bad karma from that wheel.

    - crank/chain. I had the bike shop put a new chain on, as the guy who sold me the bike said the old chain was the wrong size. Now I get a strange cranking sound when I pedal (not when the bike is upside and I generate force, but when I am riding and need to generate momentum). Is this natural, and will eventually work itself out? The guys at the bike shop seem to be in denial that it is happening as it doesn't make the noise when on the stand, but it is loud and I don't hear other people's bikes making the nose. Perhaps it is the crank/chainlink that needs replacing? The current crank is an older sugino crank (5-7 years old). Would that be old enough for replacing? Perhaps it is the freewheel hub making the noise?

    - any other tips/advice/suggestions? I have some sweet lights, an underseat pouch, I'm going to ride with a helmet, a bicycle street map, carrying a spare tube and pump, chain lock (wrapped around the bar right now, any other suggestions?), tips for riding and advice.

    - racks, baskets, way to carry things. I'm thinking about putting on a rear basket. The bike shop had them, but they were like $50 and that's not including buying the rear bike rack to mount the basket to. How do I go about this? I have a small dog, and would love to throw his carry bag in the rear basket to get him to the dogpark without the hassle of the 20 minute walk to get to the park.

    Thanks for the help. I'm a beginner, so don't be afraid to dumb it down for me. I've tried reading Sheldon Brown's website, but that's a bit too complex for me right now.

  2. #2
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    First off, it doesn't get easier, you get faster.

    It all depends on the tires, but I live in an area with lots of broken glass, I ride COntinental GatorSkins and they work great, no mr. tuffy.

    for city riding, I'd look for 32/36 spoke wheels if possible. You want strength and good rolling wheels, my wheels are soma, but there are lots of brands. Mavic is a popular one.

    Could you describe the noise? If it is chain noise, it could need a good lubing, also check the chain line (the straighter the better), also if the bike had heavy use, the cogs could be worn and that can increase chain noise. If it's a 'popping' sound, it could be that the cranks need to be tightened down.

    Suggestions? have fun! Don't worry about being the fastest, unless of course that's your goal.

    I'm not sure how brooklyn is, I hear SUPERDUTY chains are good, personally, I have a Mini-Ulock with cable, that seems as secure as it can be without going too overboard. Helmet/lights/tools is always good.

    I personally like a messenger bag or backpack, the slung wait is superior to static weight on the bike, in my opinion. And the bike looks cleaner. But Panniers/racks/baskets are nice because you don't trap heat on yourself.
    No matter how bad things get, they can't get any better, and they can't get any worse, things are what they are, so you better get used to it Nancy, quit your B*tchin'

    -Church

  3. #3
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    Tires are the maxxis re-fuse 700c x23/120 psi. Looks like they are a little cheaper online, but most things are a little more expensive in NY. Whatever wheels I get I want them to fit the tire, as I just paid a lot for the tires. Is the spoke count really important? What price should I be looking to pay? Would this be a good deal for the wheels: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=263602_263622

    When I get new wheels, should I switch to a fixed gear? Does that require buying a fixed gear hub as well? How much do those cost? My freewheel hub is a little banged up right now, so I might have to replace that anyway.

    The chain sound is a loud, dull cranking sound when I apply pressure (pedal down) and only when the pedal/stroke generates momentum (if the bike is going fast enough already it does not make a sound). I thought it might be too tight, so I tried moving the back wheel up a bit but then the chain started slipping and fell off. I wouldn't call it a popping sound.

    I would like to do the backpack/over the should bag, but I want to be able to cruise with the dog. I tried using his over the should bag, but it would keep slipping to the front and I was worried about banging him into the handlebars.
    Last edited by westBrooklyn; 05-27-10 at 09:35 PM.

  4. #4
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    westBrooklyn,

    Lots of good stuff there. My opinions:

    It sounds like you purchased good tires. No need for the Mr. Tuffy. Do carry an extra tube, quick patches like Scabs, tire irons and if you have track nuts on your axles (not quick releases) a 15mm wrench.

    If your wheels are wobbly have your LBS true them up. If you want new, I'd suggest 36 spoke rims/hubs for city riding.

    The chain is difficult to diagnose over the Internet. But, loud noises tend to be not good. New chains usually come with very good factory lube on them. But, it wouldn't hurt to drip some lube on and see if that fixes the problem. If your cog or chainring is very worn they could be a real part of the problem. Do any of the teeth look like shark's teeth (hooked) instead of wide and flat? If so, it's a good time to change them out. Age doesn't matter but usage does.

    A basket is a fabulous idea. You'll need a rack to mount the basket on unless you get a basket that mounts to your handlebar. As much as I beat the LBS drum, if they are nailing you for $50 for the basket alone I'd suggest checking online. Obviously, you know exactly what you want so checking online will give you an idea of the best price. If your LBS wants $7 more bucks for a basket I'd say buy it there. If they are doubling the price either go somewhere else or buy online. Seriously, for a basket and rack - check Wallmart, Target, etc..

  5. #5
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    My chainring does look a bit worn out. The guy I bought the bike from said he wore the crap out of a lot of the components. I think the freewheel hub (that little ring that attaches to the back tire) is also pretty worn.

    Can I replace the chainring without having to buy new cranks? I have a sugino crank that looks like this:
    http://images.jensonusa.com/large/cr..._165__sing.jpg

  6. #6
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    westBrooklyn,

    You most certainly can replace the chainring only. Those 5 little bolts come off and of course go back on. Take the ring off, take it to your LBS, get a replica and remount. By the way, the "nuts" part of the chainring bolts kind of need a special tool. It's called a chainring bolt tool. No kidding! You can get one at the LBS or you can just use a dime. The tool should be cheap - less than $5. But, a dime is well, a dime. The tool will work better.

  7. #7
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    Singlespeeds are very functional if you have the appropriate gear ratio to go with it and gear ratio depends on the route you would normally take.

    If you are hesitant about rather going fixed or freewheel, then a wheel with a flip flop hub is the perfect candidate. You can switch between freewheel and fixed gear.
    Be sure to line your rim with rim tape such as Velox rim tape, the rim tape will protect your tube from the nipples popping the tube.
    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...+Rim+Tape.aspx

    You could definitely replace chainring without replacing cranks, Sugino RD uses a 110 BCD chain ring I believe.

    As cg1985 have said, invest in a good chain if you want to keep your bike longer.

  8. #8
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    I'm finding that the LBS I was at the other day takes great pride in their labor cost. $25 to put a new chain on. $10 to fix a flat (although the guy made it sound like I was getting a deal when he said, "don't worry, I won't charge you for the ones I blew") They weren't even believing me when I told them the chain was making a cranking noise after I got it fixed. (It was not making one before, maybe the chain fit it better so there was less grinding?) I spent over $400 there the other day (helmet, lock, tires, pump, under seat bag, etc...) and they still seemed to be nickle and diming me on labor costs.

    Going to try a new place tomorrow. Look at their wheel selection and a new chainring.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vixtor View Post
    Singlespeeds are very functional if you have the appropriate gear ratio to go with it and gear ratio depends on the route you would normally take.
    What does this mean?
    How do I adjust my gear ratio?
    Do I have to buy a new crank or rear wheel to do this? Or is it a simple adjustment that can be done without additional purchases?

    I tried to read sheldon brown's site a bit for this info, but for a beginner that site is like giving a 1st grader a calculus book and telling him to figure it out.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by westBrooklyn View Post
    I'm finding that the LBS I was at the other day takes great pride in their labor cost. $25 to put a new chain on. $10 to fix a flat (although the guy made it sound like I was getting a deal when he said, "don't worry, I won't charge you for the ones I blew") They weren't even believing me when I told them the chain was making a cranking noise after I got it fixed. (It was not making one before, maybe the chain fit it better so there was less grinding?) I spent over $400 there the other day (helmet, lock, tires, pump, under seat bag, etc...) and they still seemed to be nickle and diming me on labor costs.

    Going to try a new place tomorrow. Look at their wheel selection and a new chainring.
    I think my heart stopped for a minute...

    Quote Originally Posted by westBrooklyn View Post
    What does this mean?
    How do I adjust my gear ratio?
    Do I have to buy a new crank or rear wheel to do this? Or is it a simple adjustment that can be done without additional purchases?

    I tried to read sheldon brown's site a bit for this info, but for a beginner that site is like giving a 1st grader a calculus book and telling him to figure it out.
    Gear ratio is hard to get at first but once you are used to it, then you will have no trouble understanding it.
    It is basically the ratio of your rear cog to your chain ring. The ratio should be around 3:1. Each complete revolution of your crank will rotate your wheel 3 times, the higher the ratio, the faster you are and the harder you need to pedal to go to certain speed.
    Try this calculator, it will tell you all the numbers you need.
    http://software.bareknucklebrigade.c...it.applet.html

    Gear ratio is adjusted solely by switching between cogs and chain ring, gear ratio depends how strong you are and the hills you have to climb on your commute. You should figure out what ratio you want to use before you buy your chain ring.

    I'm not sure if any of that helped you with understanding gear ratio though...
    Last edited by Squirrelli; 05-27-10 at 10:28 PM.

  11. #11
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    vixtor, I was shocked too. Actually put it on a spreadsheet to assess the damage.

    Helmet - $80
    Lock - $25
    underseat pouch - $25
    pump - $25
    Watterbottle holder & bottle - $20
    front/rear lights - $60

    chain - $25
    tire tubes - $25
    tires - $90
    front brake - $50'ish ($20 for lever, $20'ish for brake/cable, a little more for labor)

    added up fast.

  12. #12
    Nü-Fred ichitz's Avatar
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    man.. i want to live in brooklyn and have a garage somewhere too

    anyway, from a fellow brooklyn-er experience, i'ld say

    - hills, like climbing the bridges gets a little easier over time, but if u're looking to always go faster then it'll never get easier as u'll always push urself. But no, you won't need to have a 3speed hub. And yea, find ur suitable gear ratio, like Vixtor said.

    - I run 700x23c in the city as well. There are certainly some flat tire days. But usually I pay attention to where broken glasses are (and they're everywhere!!) and avoid potholes and such and haven't got a flat in the last 4 months. Since u already have puncture resistant tires, just watch out what u roll ur wheels over and u should have flats to a minimum.

    - wheels wobbly meaning they are untrue? like if u spin it u can see the rim going left and right a little? You can just get it trued so it'll be straight rather than getting new wheels.

    - I agree, i think ur chainring is older (as u said 5-7years) so the spacing is different than the chain. Just get a new chainring. Is ur cog old as well? Or is it new with the wheel you got? If it's old, might want to check if that's worn too.

    And what bike shop did u go to? That sounds like some awful price. My LBS puts on my chain for free. But that's probably coz I try to buy little things from them from time to time.
    Quote Originally Posted by dsh View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fixedgear80 View Post
    once you go fixed.....
    ...you generally go back in like a year.
    http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e1...ig_mercier.jpg http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e1...ig_3rensho.jpg http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e1...ig_peugeot.jpg

  13. #13
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    My LBS gives me good deals. Those prices seem inflated. 20 dollars for a bottle and cage? My LBS gave me those for free.
    No matter how bad things get, they can't get any better, and they can't get any worse, things are what they are, so you better get used to it Nancy, quit your B*tchin'

    -Church

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ichitz View Post
    Is ur cog old as well? Or is it new with the wheel you got? If it's old, might want to check if that's worn too.
    Is the cog the free wheel part that the chain connects to on the back tire? I think that is pretty old.

    What places do you recommend in brooklyn? I went to a place on the northwest portion of prospect park. They were really helpful and spent a good portion of the day with me, I don't want to paint them in a bad light, but I found myself spending about double what I expected to pay (and I pretty much only put a new creaky chain on the bike and some new tires). I'm thinking about riding around this afternoon and checking some places out. Williamsburg seems to have a few places. There is a place at the end of court street near redhook that I heard was pretty reasonable in their repairs.

  15. #15
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    Like you, I have about a 20 year gap between bikes. I like to ride fast and there are a few hills around where I live, so I find myself mashing or spinning quite a bit. On flat roads the bike is great and I cruise about 16mph. I'm looking into a 3 speed hub too just for some more variety. I'd buy a complete wheel so I can switch back if I want to. I tries riding fixed once (for S & giggles) and found it uncomfortable, plus I'm not a fan of toe straps.

  16. #16
    Nü-Fred ichitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by westBrooklyn View Post
    Is the cog the free wheel part that the chain connects to on the back tire? I think that is pretty old.
    oh yea, i mean freewheel. Might want to swap both the chainring and the freewheel so they both match the spacing of your new chain.

    I don't usually venture very far to find bike shops. The one I go to most is B's Bikes. Usually pretty friendly. Try to avoid it on weekends or holiday esp since weather is nice now coz they will be PACKED, mainly coz they sell some 2nd hand bikes outside while helping casual riders who haven't biked since last summer to pump their tires. I went to King Kog once to buy grease, staff seems friendly. Never got any mechanical things done there so I dunno how they do in that department.
    Quote Originally Posted by dsh View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fixedgear80 View Post
    once you go fixed.....
    ...you generally go back in like a year.
    http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e1...ig_mercier.jpg http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e1...ig_3rensho.jpg http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e1...ig_peugeot.jpg

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cg1985 View Post
    chain noise, it could need a good lubing, ......, the cogs could be worn and that can increase chain noise.
    Quote Originally Posted by ichitz View Post
    Is ur cog old as well? Or is it new with the wheel you got? If it's old, might want to check if that's worn too.
    Replaced the rear freewheel cog, worked perfect. smooooth sound now.


    Another issue:
    Bike has a 54 or 56 or something chainring. I am out of shape and not really looking for speed, so a 44 or 48 chainring is probably a better option? anybody know an internet site where I can order one for the sugino crank?

    Went to the bike shop in redhook today (514 court st), very helpful there. Didn't talk above me, were more than helpful, weren't looking to nickle-dime the labor charges. Not as many shopping options, but service was great. Ride Brooklyn people were nice, but for the amount of time I spent there this week they should have had more productive solutions.

  18. #18
    Goon
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    44 would be a major drop from 54 or 56,

    What's the Tooth count on the new cog?
    No matter how bad things get, they can't get any better, and they can't get any worse, things are what they are, so you better get used to it Nancy, quit your B*tchin'

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  19. #19
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    I believe the tooth count on the rear freewheel cog is 16.

    What would be a good tooth count for my new chainring?
    How do I know if this one would fit?
    http://www.amazon.com/Sugino-46T-110.../dp/B001GSOOPW
    Last edited by westBrooklyn; 05-29-10 at 07:00 AM.

  20. #20
    Goon
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    what you need to know is your BCD. (Bolt Circle Diameter).

    The two common ones are 110mm and 130mm.

    Sheldon brown has a bit on it in his glossary: http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_bo-z.html
    No matter how bad things get, they can't get any better, and they can't get any worse, things are what they are, so you better get used to it Nancy, quit your B*tchin'

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  21. #21
    Senior Member NateRod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ichitz View Post
    I don't usually venture very far to find bike shops. The one I go to most is B's Bikes.
    Those guys are the best. Great experiences with them so far.

  22. #22
    Senior Member the_don's Avatar
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    Hills do get easier, When you get your fitness up you will be able to handle any hill with ease, but you have to make sure you hit them with good speed and try to keep your pedals going at a good pace all the way up.

    It'll hurt at first, but after a while hills will become welcome challenges and you will relish them.

  23. #23
    Goon
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    another note on BCD, there is a chainring out there that has stack ring bolt drill outs for both 130mm and 110mm, my girlfriend's brother has it, her dad built the bike, but he can't remember where he got it.
    No matter how bad things get, they can't get any better, and they can't get any worse, things are what they are, so you better get used to it Nancy, quit your B*tchin'

    -Church

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