MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

 

SITE INDEX   FINDING   BICYCLES   WORK SHOP   TRADING   WHAT'S NEW?

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

QUALITY - INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS BETTER?

OLD vs NEW

WHO MADE IT - ???

CAMPAGNOLO

SHIMANO

SUNTOUR

SIMPLEX

OTHER MANUFACTURERS

SEAT POSTS

PEDALS

SADDLES

RIMS & TIRES

HUBS, SPOKES , SKEWERS

HANDLEBARS & STEMS

BRAKE CALLIPERS

BRAKE LEVERS

DERAILLEURS

 

WHAT IS BETTER - HUBS, SPOKES & SKEWERS?

A road bicycle wheel is made up of three parts.  The center of the wheel is the hub.  It is attached or laced to a steel or alloy hoop, the rim.  Spokes join the hub to the rim and this joining is called lacing.  Of course, other assemblies attach themselves to the basic wheel structure.  Tires clad the rims and freewheels screw onto the rear hub.  There are, at times, spoke protectors to consider as well as wheel reflectors but these are, for the most part, accessory items and will not be included in the wheel discussion.  Consider the center of the wheel assembly first - the hub.

There are two fundaments hub styles to consider - Low Flange and High Flange.  Low flange hubs will offer a softer ride, than will high flange. However, high flange hubs, being more race oriented, are far more collectable.  Some would even argue that they high flange offering is aesthetically more pleasing.  I certainly would.

In addition to low and high flange styles, hub material presents another important choice.  The two choices are steel and alloy.  There are also hubs that are an assembled combination of the two.  Steel hubs are Old School and heavy when compared to their modern aluminum alloy counterparts.  Steel hubs are cheaper to make and generally find their way onto entry level bicycles.  When determining hub quality, consider the alloy hub set first.  Brand names also become important when deciding which hubs are more quality oriented.

Alloy hubs are a more recent addition to the vintage bicycle world.  But don't be fooled by that comment.  Alloy bicycle hubs have been around for a long time.  The oldest alloy hub set that I have stumbled across was fitted to my fifties something Carlton Flyer.  A rule of thumb might be "if the hubs are steel, they are likely just a relatively cheap entry level offering".  Look for the alloy hub as an indicator of quality, in both the collectable and "user friendly" arenas of vintage road bicycle ownership.

How the hub set attaches to the bicycle's drop-outs is also an issue to consider.  There rare three styles to choose from - hex nutted, wing nutted and quick release.  The hex nutted form of attachment employees simple hex nuts.  The nuts are tightened up with an appropriate sized wrench to ensure that the wheels don't fall off of the bicycle.  The hex nut method of attachment is by far the cheapest to manufacture and least "user friendly" of the available choices.

The wing nut is simply a modified hex nut.  Like the hex nut, the wing nut is screwed into place, however; there is no need for a wrench to tighten the fastener up.  The "wings" allow the user to tighten the component with finger pressures alone.  The problem is, not all riders will be strong enough to adequately tighten the wing nuts up.  To that add the dilemma of loosening these unusual fasteners off should they become a bit seized.  Finally, it it rare that a wing nut will work on the rear drive side of a vintage road bicycle.  The arc defined by the wings of the nut will not clear most rear derailleurs.  Though the wing nut attachment method screams vintage appeal, the system is anything but "user friendly" or even safe to use since they cannot always be tightened up adequately to do the job they are intended for.

Quick Release hubs are far more popular than the hex or wing nut mounting systems.  The quick release wheel attachment system relies on a cam to apply sufficient pressure to secure the wheels to a bicycle.  The quick release system is very "user friendly" and requires no tools to employ.  The quick release assembly is a narrow rod that feeds through a hollow wheel hub axle. One end of the rod is threaded to accept a modified hex nut which can be set close to tight but not tight.  The other end of the rod is fitted with a lever that actuates a cam like device.  Removal of the wheel requires a simple flip of a lever.  Refitting is equally easy provided that you know how to properly use the quick release system.  And, believe it or not, many people do not know how to use this simple "user friendly" and truly effective system of attaching a wheel to a bicycle.

When seeking quality in wheel attachment methods, seek the quick release system.  It is both much more collectable and definitely more "user friendly".

Vintage bicycle wheel hubs are offered in different widths.  The number of cogs fitted to a freewheel will generally determine how wide a hub must be.  A hub wearing a six cog freewheel will probably be wider than a five cog set-up.  Older front wheel hubs might be narrower than later vintages but will generally be either 95mm or 100mm in overall width.

Finally the wheel hubs must be attached to the wheel rims and this is accomplished through the use of spokes.  Most vintage road bicycle wheels will have either 32 or 36 spokes per wheel.  Spokes, essentially, are pieces of thick wire, threaded on one end and bent to a 90 degree angle on the other.  They can be chrome or cadmium plated units with the plating in place to protect against environmental damage.  More modern spokes will invariably be made of stainless steel, requiring no plating to protect them from the effects of Mother Nature.  Nipples, another form of modified hex nut, are inserted through the wheel rim and then screwed onto the threaded end of the spoke.  Tightening and loosening the spoke nipples allow for the wheel set to be tightened and trued.  Spokes must be adequately tightened or the wheel will go quickly out of true.  Truing involves removing wheel wobble or hop, both essential requirements for a well functioning bicycle.

A spoke can be straight gauge (one diameter from one end to the other) or butted.  In the case of spoke butting, one or both ends are thicker than are the middles.  Butting retains spoke strength where it is most needed and allows for rolling weight reduction where great strength is not needed.  And reducing rolling weight is very important if performance is the target.  However, be prepared to pay just about double for butted spokes.  And in today's world, choose the stainless steel spoke whenever you can.  They are easier to maintain and look much better than their plated cousins.

That covers the fundamentals of what holds a bicycle up.  Now consider the things required to implement control of a bicycle.

NEXT - WHAT IS BETTER - HANDLEBARS & STEMS?

 

 

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