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Technical FAQ: Cyclocross top Levers, stripped Campy crank bolt, braze-on Campy front derailleurs

Mix and match accessory hydro levers, stripped Camp crank bolts, and Campy front derailleurs.

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Have a question for Lennard? Please email him at veloqna@comcast.net to be included in Technical FAQ.

Dear Lennard,
I’m kinda old school, and like the two-finger ‘cross levers mounted on the tops of my bars on my ‘cross bike when running cantilevers brakes. I have had hydraulic disc brake ‘cross bikes, but always return to cantis so I can run those little accessory brake levers as I spend most of my time with my hands on the tops. I have also put these ‘cross top levers on my road bikes, especially when riding in high-traffic areas.

I know that Shimano makes an accessory GRX lever for its hydro brake system. I have a Campagnolo H11 hydraulic braking set up on my current bike, and I want to know if Campagnolo makes an accessory lever, or if I could use the Shimano accessory lever somehow?
—Gentry

Dear Gentry,
Campagnolo doesn’t make a hydraulic cross-top lever. Without having tried the combo, my experience leads me to believe that the Shimano GRX sub brake lever would work fine with a Campy hydraulic disc brake. I have successfully mixed Campy hydraulic calipers with Shimano hydraulic levers, and found them to work well together. Your Campy caliper should work just as well with the Shimano sub lever.

As Andy Schwartz notes in a previous column, my subjective evaluation of the performance of this “Shimagnolo” mashup does not include objective data of the different caliper and master cylinder piston diameters and strokes, the master cylinder leverage ratios, and the pad area. In the absence of this data, your subjective evaluation of their performance together would determine whether you like the way it works. The mineral-oil hydraulic fluids in the two brake systems are compatible, so setting them up together would be problem-free. The worst that could happen is you don’t find the braking from the top of the bar with that combination to be to your liking; if so, you could always pass the GRX sub levers on to somebody else via eBay, Craig’s List, etc.
― Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I think I am screwed! I have a Super Record Ultra-Torque crankset, (11sp, 4-arm, post-2015, Ti spindle, reverse thread Ti bolts).

The crank bolt is frozen. I have stripped the hex head of the bolt with the Campy 10mm hex tool while attempting to remove it. There is now no way to turn the bolt. (And YES, I am turning it in the correct direction!)

The bolt was installed with abundant Park Tool grease mixed with Park anti-seize compound. I have 3 other bikes with the same crankset and never had this problem over many years of maintenance, etc.

Is this crank now “permanently” installed??? HELP!
—Mark

Dear Mark,
You are indeed in a pickle, and, yes, you may want to consider that crank as being permanently installed on that bike. Due to its location way down in the center of that hollow shaft, you can’t grab the head of the bolt with vise-grip pliers or cut a big slot in the bolt head to use a screwdriver on it.

If I were you and were insistent on getting that crank off of that bike, I would first try jamming an appropriately-sized Torx bit on the end of a socket extension into that bolt. I don’t know what size Torx bit would be the equivalent of a 10mm hex; you want one that is just barely bigger so that, when hammered into the stripped head of your bolt, it will bite and hold.

Assuming success in getting a Torx bit to bite into that bolt head, do not try to turn the Torx bit with your normal socket wrench. Since you already stripped the more robust interface of the 10mm hex key in the head of that bolt, to have any chance of getting that bolt out, you will need to use an impact wrench. My guess is that if you had used an impact wrench before you stripped the bolt head — when it first became clear that the 10mm hex key was not budging the bolt — you could have gotten the bolt out. With the sketchy grip of the Torx bit in the stripped bolt head, chances are still not great of getting that bolt out.

If the Torx bit on the end of an impact wrench won’t free the bolt, I know of nothing you can do besides drill out the bolt. At least you’ll be able to get the crankset out that way, though it may not be usable again. You would need a super long, 10mm-11mm (0.39”-0.43”) drill bit. If you can find one long enough and can drill through that bolt head, the head should pop off when you get through it, and then you can pull the two halves of the spindle apart.

Drilling titanium is difficult; you need a very sharp bit. Use canola oil as a cutting fluid on it (your shop will smell like a deli as the bolt and bit heat up) rather than normal cutting oil for steel.

After getting the crank out after drilling off the bolt head, you may have salvaged the frame, but your chances of salvaging the crank are still minimal. You won’t be able to get out the bolt stub using a standard spiral flute screw extractor (i.e., an “easy-out”), because they generally have a left twist to them. I’ve never seen a right-twist spiral flute screw extractor for extracting a left-hand thread bolt; perhaps you could find one? Even then, since the bolt was frozen in the first place, it won’t be a walk in the park to use it to remove the rest of the bolt. As an alternative to a screw extractor, drilling the entire bolt out without ruining the threads in the spindle while still being able to pick out the spiral that was the remainder of the titanium thread spiral itself is also a very tall order.

I think you may want to just leave it alone, Mark.
― Lennard

Looking for a braze-on 2011 Campagnolo Super Record front derailleur? Your best bet might be to try an auction site said the Campy North America representative.

Dear Lennard,
I have a 2011 NOS Super Record groupset, I would like to use the group on a frame that requires a braze-on front derailleur and the one I have is a clamp-on model. Those front derailleurs are rare. I was wondering if you had any insight.
—Bryin

Dear Bryin,
This is the answer from Campagnolo North America Technical Service (East):

“The 2011-2014 version of 11-speed has become very difficult to source. Our stash here at CNA ran out a few years ago. Unfortunately, the clamp-on version of the front derailleur from this generation was not convertible to braze-on. The customer would have to source a braze-on derailleur from that era to work with their frame. Any 11-speed double front derailleurs from Athena, Chorus, Record, or Super Record from 2011-14 would work. I checked with our distributors, but there doesn’t appear to be anything left, so auction sites might be the only resource.

—Buddy Spafford, Campagnolo North America technical service (east)”

― Lennard


Lennard Zinn, our longtime technical writer, joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a custom frame builder (www.zinncycles.com) and purveyor of non-custom huge bikes (bikeclydesdale.com), a former U.S. national team rider, co-author of The Haywire Heart,” and author of many bicycle books including Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,”DVD, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikesand Zinn’s Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists.” He holds a bachelor’s in physics from Colorado College.

Follow @lennardzinn on Twitter.