June meeting minutes

[As a prelude, we're going to try and be a little more reliable in sharing meeting proceedings. We want you to see the great things you might have missed, maybe pick up a thing or two. Do you know the story behind the invention of the quick release? Read on, it might save you at trivia night.]

East Alabama Cycling Club Monthly Meeting Minutes, June 11, 2018

James Trouse: Wheels: Old School/New School


Before introducing the invited guest, Tim (president) and others discussed the club’s second time trial, scheduled for the next day at the intersection of CR 188 and Hwy 14 at 6 pm. Also mentioned were upcoming rides particularly the Jackson Brevet in Braselton, GA, on June 16. Tim then introduced James Trouse, well known to all as the long-time proprietor and chief mechanic at The Bike Shop in downtown Auburn. James spoke extensively on the topic of wheels and the evolution of their constituent parts.

James tried to simplify a complex topic and always makes it fascinating, but these notes will reflect the struggle of a non-mechanic to paraphrase and summarize the thoughts and opinions of James and so to completely understand many of the points presented.

James began with an overview of the different designs for bicycle wheels and the variety of their components. The number of spokes has varied over time as has their shape and lacing patterns. A two-cross is more common on motorcycle wheels while the three cross is considered the most stable and comfortable design for the bicycle wheel. The rare four-cross is most fragile but is seen on touring bikes today. This cross is good on both large and small flange hubs. Radial spokes make for a stiff and often unreliable wheel in James’s opinion.

Continuing on lacing, James said that the “over under” spoke lacing pattern gave spokes flexibility under tension. The nipples stayed tight. It uses neighboring spokes to share tension load. Wheels thus threaded are more easily trued and stay trued longer.

When you see an “over over” or “under under” lacing you know the wheel was machine/factory made.

Answering a question from the audience, James discussed in depth the mechanics of the Sturmey Archer planetary gear. He thought that generally internal geared hubs wear out faster than chain and sprocket systems and the parts to repair them are not readily available. They are extremely sensitive to water and rust wears them out more than mileage. Still there are situations where they are preferable.

Spokes and wind: James said that side wind not head wind slows down a cyclist more. The best analogy is a sailboat tacking up river.

Bladed spokes: They had to be straightened after every ride. Back in the day, they had to be slotted into the hub which cause the hub to split and fail eventually.

Basically, James thought the best spoke is the standard rounded spoke with an elbow that threads into the hub and is secured to the rim with a nipple.

Hubs: James explained the relationship of the freehub and climbing and the evolution of the rear hub from the straight axle.

Hub body: James prefers a small body hub body where bearings, cones, and cups are more tightly supported.

Quick release/skewer: It clamps the frame on both sides. Evolved from an “accident” sometime between 1905-1920s that involved Tullio Campagnolo. He had finished a difficult climb and had to flip his rear wheel for a smaller cog for the downhill and lost his wing nuts in the snow. He also lost the race. But he later conceived the idea of the skewer to eliminate the separable and lose-able parts.

Double butted spokes: came out in the 1920s and again in the 1930s and are currently in use. Curiously, the Torrington spoke, out of Connecticut, were made for low end bikes but used in higher end bikes because riders liked the color, according to James.

The Bernard spoke, a French steel spoke, is the most reliable, James said.

Rims: The first aluminum rim was the Ambrosia rim. James had them on his 1962 Sears 10-speed J.C. Higgins bike. It had double-butted chromoly tubing. He eventually traded it for a Volkswagen, which he considered a fair trade.

Nightmare repair cases: Answering a question from the audience, James said disk brakes were his nightmare. He gave an explanation from a mechanic’s point of view for why they should be avoided.

Tim McDonald then brought out his new/old Vitus vintage 1987-91, a beautiful pink thing that he bought on ebay. When he brought it home, he discovered that the fork was bent. James helped him straighten it and they are assembling it still. Instead of sticking to the plan of all SunTour, Tim is installing a mixture of mechanicals.

Conversation continued as everyone asked questions about the vintage bikes they owned and the parts they found to restore them. James as always was a fountain of knowledge which he shared over brews and chips until we kicked ourselves out of the Chamber a few minutes after 9.

Submitted by Angela Lakwete, Secretary, EACC.