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Sheldon Brown/Harris Cyclery site

Old 12-04-23, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by TC1
It's great that someone is keeping this site online, but someone also desperately needs to edit it. As-is it contains many errors that are, frankly, well below the standard of a venerated reference.

Some of the more embarrassing errors include:

"At high speeds, hydroplaning is just possible for car tires, but is absolutely impossible for bicycle tires."

"A correctly inflated tire will have negligible rolling resistance."

"Airless tires have been obsolete for over a century, but crackpot 'inventors' keep trying to bring them back. ​"

"Conventional tires used on 99% of all bicycles are "clincher" type, also known as "wire-on." They consist of an outer tire with a U-shaped cross section, and a separate inner tube. The edges of the tire hook over the edges of the rim, and air pressure holds everything in place. Many people suppose that tires are made out of rubber, because that's what is visible. This is a major oversimplification -- rubber is the least important of the three components that make up a tire:"

"The "bead" is the edge of the tire. On most tires, the beads consist of hoops of strong steel cable."

"The rubber is mainly there to protect the fabric from damage, and has no structural importance."

"The rubber that comes into contact with the ground is called the "tread.""

"Cracks in the tread are harmless."


And that horrific mess is all just on one page.
Can you explain why these are errors?
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Old 12-04-23, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
Can you explain why these are errors?
Well yes, I could -- and I've addressed a couple of them in other threads when they've cropped up -- but if there are people editing this reference site who don't know why these are all wrong, that's an even bigger problem.

I doubt this thread is the appropriate place to review those obvious errors, but if said maintainers need help rewriting that entire page, they can contact me.
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Old 12-04-23, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Lenton58
• This is a reference legacy left by one master journeyman years ago.
There are a few more people involved than that. For example, Jobst Brandt is quoted often -- and is also responsible for some errors.


Originally Posted by Lenton58
• His opinions and technical information may be subject to criticism, questioned, revised, or updated today. Some of it may just be subject to opposing opinions of some readers.
Opinions should be marked as such -- especially those which are dangerously wrong, like his opinion about hydroplaning, which was scientifically disproven when he was only 19 years old.

It's either a reference document or a blog filled with scientifically-inaccurate opinions -- it can't be both.

Originally Posted by Lenton58
• Every set of legacy or indeed historical documents eventually come under some scrutiny. They get criticized for all sorts of stuff. In more arcane, academic revisions, it is called "historiography". Well, we are not at that exact place with the Sheldon Brown collection. But respectfully, I submit that we should have a little more patience than labeling some content as "horrors".
In this case, one of two tacks should be followed. Either preserve the entire work as its late author left it, and denote the sections which are not factual. Or maintain it as a living document with a standard of accuracy befitting its reputation, and continued use as an encyclopedia.

The middle of the road approach being applied, with some updates mixed-in with existing laughable errors, is detrimental to everyone -- it confuses people trying to use it as a reference and it damages the reputation of the late author.

There are people, even on this very site, who routinely quote some of the most egregious errors from Brown's work -- errors in which they fervently believe, just because of the source. That does no one any good.
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Old 12-04-23, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by TC1
Well yes, I could -- and I've addressed a couple of them in other threads when they've cropped up -- but if there are people editing this reference site who don't know why these are all wrong, that's an even bigger problem.

I doubt this thread is the appropriate place to review those obvious errors, but if said maintainers need help rewriting that entire page, they can contact me.
Are they 'wrong' or just a difference of opinion?

I am not seeing anything outright wrong there on that list.
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Old 12-04-23, 01:54 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
Are they 'wrong' or just a difference of opinion?
They are wrong -- and unquestionably so.

Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
I am not seeing anything outright wrong there on that list.
For just one example, if you are unaware that bicycle tires have significant rolling resistance, you might not be qualified to judge these points. There's quite a lot of research on that topic, that you can avail yourself of: https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/ among many others.
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Old 12-04-23, 02:38 PM
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TC1 is being ultra-critical. As much of a general home mechanics resource and was generally correct for the time it was written. Much of what he wrote is/was intended to be a resource to the home mechanic. A useful background information from which to gather and think through and solve your own problems.

There is such a thing as information overload. And if you don't know the name of tool or thing "x" how are you going to know how to search for the solution to whatever problem you are trying to solve?

Should a crack near the tread block of a tire be replaced? Absolutely. Is said crack going to cause an immediate explosion of nuclear life ending severity instantly? Probably not. You'll get to work. Get it fixed. Now you know.

There is this thing about the written word: Some people think that if it is written, it must be unquestionably true with all the authority endowed by the creator of the universe...Sorry. For thinking people, it just doesn't work that way. Even Sheldon Brown's site had the encyclopedic authority of constant unending scrutiny, revisions and reviews and related editorial updates over the years that TC1 thinks it should to be credible in anything, any information contained should still warrant independent thought.


And there is A LOT that we fuss over in modern bikes that really, REALLY isn't that big of a deal for someone who is just using their bike for leisure or utility uses. His site stands well on that foundation.
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Old 12-04-23, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by TC1
They are wrong -- and unquestionably so.



For just one example, if you are unaware that bicycle tires have significant rolling resistance, you might not be qualified to judge these points. There's quite a lot of research on that topic, that you can avail yourself of: https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/ among many others.
If you read Sheldon Brown's sentence in context, he was talking about the effect of tire pressure on rolling resistance. When the tire pressure is set correctly, rolling resistance is minimized. In any event, the word 'negligible' is a subjective word which is a matter of opinion. For example, we are probably losing a good 20 watts by not wearing the skin suits that racers wear. Yet most of us don't think about that. So to us that loss is negligible.
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Old 12-04-23, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by TC1
like his opinion about hydroplaning, which was scientifically disproven when he was only 19 years old.
Jobst Brandt also thinks there is no hydroplaning on a bicycle:
https://yarchive.net/bike/slicks.html
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Old 12-04-23, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
And there is A LOT that we fuss over in modern bikes that really, REALLY isn't that big of a deal for someone who is just using their bike for leisure or utility uses. His site stands well on that foundation.
I would agree with that -- except for the sections related to tires. Tires are incredibly important. There are good reasons why the phrase "Where the rubber meets the road..." exists.

And almost everything about tires on Brown's site, is wrong. And some of it, dangerously so.
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Old 12-04-23, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
If you read Sheldon Brown's sentence in context, he was talking about the effect of tire pressure on rolling resistance. When the tire pressure is set correctly, rolling resistance is minimized. In any event, the word 'negligible' is a subjective word which is a matter of opinion.
"Minimized" is a completely different concept from "negligible" -- and both are wrong here.

And there is no rational definition of "negligible" that covers the dozens of watts of rolling resistance offered by many bicycle tires, even when perfectly inflated. For riders who are concerned with their speed, those dozens of watts are critical, and for slower riders who aren't pushing much air, those watts are most of their inefficiency. So using that word is, simply, and as I said, wrong.

Also, the claim that "correct" tire pressure always minimizes rolling resistance is wrong. Many riders have priorities other than rolling resistance, so their "correct" pressure might not have the minimum rolling resistance. Again, this whole statement is wrong.
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Old 12-04-23, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
Jobst Brandt also thinks there is no hydroplaning on a bicycle:
https://yarchive.net/bike/slicks.html
Yes, I know, and he's wrong. Brandt also believed that canoe-shaped objects cannot float, so let's keep his opinions in the appropriate perspective.

NASA proved this 60 years ago, people. This is not rocket science. We know with a high degree of precision the speed at which a bicycle will achieve complete hydroplane, and we've known it for close to half of the history of pneumatic tires.

The only mystery is why some people continue to spread the myth that bicycles are immune to known and well-understood physics.

Last edited by TC1; 12-04-23 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 12-04-23, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by TC1
"Airless tires have been obsolete for over a century, but crackpot 'inventors' keep trying to bring them back."


What's your issue with this?
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Old 12-04-23, 05:34 PM
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Sheldon Brown was NOT a bike racer. Speed was never his thing. His comments on rolling resistance are not far off if you are riding a 25-30 pound bike with fenders and racks on poor New England roads (where he lived) at 15 miles per hour.

(He was also sharp and with a real sense of humor. He'd have fun with the idea of following this tack or that tack with his tires (and ask if was tactful to be following tacks with vulnerable tires). (Edit: Refers to post #28)

Last edited by 79pmooney; 12-04-23 at 05:37 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 12-04-23, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by TC1
NASA proved this 60 years ago, people. This is not rocket science. We know with a high degree of precision the speed at which a bicycle will achieve complete hydroplane, and we've known it for close to half of the history of pneumatic tires.
OK. And what speed would that be?
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Old 12-04-23, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by TC1
NASA proved this 60 years ago, people. This is not rocket science. We know with a high degree of precision the speed at which a bicycle will achieve complete hydroplane, and we've known it for close to half of the history of pneumatic tires.

The only mystery is why some people continue to spread the myth that bicycles are immune to known and well-understood physics.
Can not? Or will not at normal bicycle speeds of something less than 150mph?

Again, you are being uncommonly pedantic.

Perhaps you are misunderstanding the common loss of traction for the phenomena of riding on a pressure wave such that the craft is lifted off the surface riding much in the manner as a water-skier or hydrofoil? For that to happen on a bicycle, reasonably at 100 pounds per wheel ÷ 2 square inches of contact patch = 50psi of lifting force. This sounds simple. The catch is the water, almost none of it is captured to provide any lifting force at all. It all ejects out the sides from under the wheels path. To achieve a high enough speed to overcome the waters resistance of squishing out of the way requires some speed well North of a bazillion mph.

Hydroplaning? No. Losing traction from surface adhesion and laminar flow? Yes.
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Old 12-04-23, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by TC1

The only mystery is why some people continue to spread the myth that bicycles are immune to known and well-understood physics.
It only appears to be a mystery because your own perception of reality is somewhat distorted.
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Old 12-04-23, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Sheldon Brown shows how things are conventionally done, whereas LarrySellerz is McGyver.
Some of Sheldon’s set ups are not exactly “conventionally done”. His 68:speed O.T.B. can hardly be described as “conventional”. Some of his brake cable routing, alternate component mounting and one off mounting hardware I also non conventional. I believe some of the UK members are known to use the expression “What would Sheldon say?”, when debating various esoterica.
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Old 12-04-23, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by TC1
NASA proved this 60 years ago, people. This is not rocket science.
Was it rocket surgery?
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Old 12-04-23, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa
What's your issue with this?
Well, calling NASA "crackpots", for starters.
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Old 12-04-23, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
OK. And what speed would that be?
Are you joking?

We've known for eons that the speed in miles per hour, is the square root of the tire pressure, in psi, times 10.2. If you don't know that, you are unqualified to contribute to this discussion. That constant has been slightly altered by research over the past half century, but again, anyone who purports to have knowledge of this topic ought to know this.
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Old 12-04-23, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
Can not? Or will not at normal bicycle speeds of something less than 150mph?
Holy cow. Read my preceding post. If you have absolutely no idea of which you are speaking, please accept my invitation to discontinue wasting everyone's time.

Originally Posted by base2
Hydroplaning? No. Losing traction from surface adhesion and laminar flow? Yes.
That is not how rubber tires work. Read the thread, and/or any accurate reference material on the subject.
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Old 12-04-23, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
It only appears to be a mystery because your own perception of reality is somewhat distorted.
My perception of reality is distorted, but y'all are arguing against science that has been well-known and thoroughly understood for over half a century. Right...
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Old 12-04-23, 06:36 PM
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Lol.

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Old 12-04-23, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
Can you explain why these are errors?
You just gave him the license he was looking for.
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Old 12-04-23, 06:45 PM
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Back on the precise topic, the entire last page or so of this thread is perfect evidence for my point, that the Brown site should be either edited to conform with our known science, or the nonsensical parts of it should be demarcated as opinion. As-is, many people are being misled and some of them are spreading that fake news with great conviction. I didn't know the man, but I get the impression even Mr Brown would be displeased to find his site is leading so many people astray.

For those that wish to argue against 60 years of science, this might not be the appropriate place. Especially since I just explained all this in another thread, no more than a couple weeks ago -- so it may be early for a rerun. I'll continue here if need-be, because it is important that people stop spreading myths, especially dangerous ones, but I'm suggesting that there are likely better places.
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