Technical Q&A with Lennard Zinn

Dear Lennard Zinn;To date I have not had much experience with threadless headsets. Howdoes one adjust (raise) the handlebar height on a threadless headset system?--Craig Dear Craig;If you have spacers on the steering tube above the stem, you canraise it. You pull off the top cap and the stem and move spacers from abovethe stem to below it. If there are no spacers above the stem, you do nothave enough length of steering tube to allow raising it. If you have adown-angled stem, you can flip your stem over so it angles up. Or you getanother stem that has more up angle to it. --Lennard  That

By Lennard Zinn

Dear Lennard Zinn;
To date I have not had much experience with threadless headsets. Howdoes one adjust (raise) the handlebar height on a threadless headset system?–Craig

Dear Craig;
If you have spacers on the steering tube above the stem, you canraise it. You pull off the top cap and the stem and move spacers from abovethe stem to below it. If there are no spacers above the stem, you do nothave enough length of steering tube to allow raising it. If you have adown-angled stem, you can flip your stem over so it angles up. Or you getanother stem that has more up angle to it. –Lennard

That long climb calls for a triple
Dear Mr. Zinn;
What do I need to install a Shimano triple crank onto an Olmo 12 speedframe? The original crank is a 52-42 Ofmega crank. I now live in the mountainsand could use the extra low gears. I have two of your books pertainingto mountain biking and enjoy and use them often. –John

Dear John
You need a new triple bottom bracket (Italian thread on an Olmo),crank and front and rear derailleurs (and shifters, if you get differentderailleurs from what you currently have).

I ride, Ergo I am
Dear Lennard;
I have an old road racing bike I rode when racing junior back in theearly 90’s. It’s one of my most favorite bikes ever and I still enjoy ridingit to this day. However, it currently has the 1990 (or 91?) version ofthe Campagnolo Chorus 7 Speed gruppo. From headset to rear derailleur.Unfortunately, this also means that it uses the old friction down-tubeshifters that I still love to polish!

 Back in the day, I remember somebody telling me (just as Campywas coming out with its Ergo shifters) that I could not use the Ergo brakelever shifter with my derailleurs, BUT I may be able to get away with usingsimilar shifters from a company called Modolo. At the time I was not toointerested mainly because it was new technology, very pricey for a junior,and I knew that my racing days were limited as I began to focus more onmy university degree.

 I still ride this bike quite a bit and I’m even thinking of tryinga few races (finally convincing myself that I can enjoy racing again) butI’m not sure I want to continue using the down-tube friction shifters.I’ve asked around at a few bike shops and everybody seems only interestedin telling me that the only solution is to “buy a whole new gruppo”. Thisseems too much like a sales pitch to me. I’m an engineer and believe thatmany things are possible regardless of what salesmen want to tell me. SoI come to you with the question of: What do I have to do to ‘slap on’ aset of brake-lever shifters so that they will work with my current (andbeautiful!) Campy parts and 7 speed cassette?

There MUST be a way to do this and I can’t imagine I’m the only personwho has thought about attempting to do this…back then there must havebeen people trying to retrofit the shifters onto their existing gruppos???–Tom

Answer from Campagnolo:
Thank you for having addressed your question to us. I have accuratelyread your email and I will try to help you. I am very glad to read thatpeople like you are so loyal. Everyone in Campagnolo is proud of this loyaltyfeeling.

Let’s talk about your question. I read that you are using a 7-speedChorus drive train with down tube shifters, which you would like to updateinto Ergopower shifters. Of course I do not intend for you to buy a newgroup, but I am afraid that the update you want is more complicated thatit really seems. I am always referring to Campagnolo parts and I do notknow if other products in the market could offer an appropriate compatibilitywith 7-speed rear derailleur.

Campagnolo indexed down shifters and Ergopower shifters were first bornbeing 8-speed compatible with the 8 speed Campagnolo cassette. Before the8 speed indexed down-tube shifters Campagnolo never made its own cassette(just two aluminum versions 6 and 7 speed for threaded cassette). Thereforeit is not possible to get any compatibility between indexed Ergopowersand 7-speed cassettes.

Indexed systems need a perfect interface between cassettes and downshifters or Ergopowers.

I do not know what hub and cassette you are using, but if you let meknow I will give you more information about.
–Joseba Arizaga
Campagnolo Italy

The skinny on shimmy
Dear Lennard;
I’ve just built up a new 60cm Orbea road bike and am experiencing severeheadshake at speed when I take my hands off the bars. This is not a goodthing if I need to eat or shed layers during a race or while training.

The frame has an integrated headset, and I’m running a Reynolds OuzoPro fork. The bike is 6000 Alu with carbon seatstays. This is high-endstuff, so I would expect that they are perfectly aligned when they rolloff the assembly line. Moreover, I had a similar (though not as severe)headshake problem with my 60cm Litespeed Ultimate that I’d been ridingthe previous few years.

A friend of mine is a framebuilder, and his insight was that on largerframes, this is common when the top tube material is too ‘thin’. But still,I have to wonder why this problem was evident on my Litespeed, too. I’ma big guy at 6’1″ and 185lbs, and I’ve ridden lots of different bikes andhave only noted this problem on the aforementioned road bikes.

Any ideas? Does fork rake play a role in this? Could my frame reallybe deflecting that much when I’m on the bike? The bike is rock-steady otherwise,and tracks straight if I sit up and pedal with hands off the bar. –Mike

Dear Mike;
There are several letters on shimmy in the Q&A over the pastyear – in particular, the ones from last July and August have a lot ofshimmy questions. Frustration with shimmy is why I became a framebuilder– I was on the national team and had horrendous shimmy on several sponsor-providedbikes (I was 6’6″ and 160 lbs. at the time).

You can look through those archived Q&As for more insight, andyou can refer to the “Making It Work” column today, which I did on thesubject, since I constantly get so many questions about this. –Lennard

Follow-up letters on OCLV creak:
After last week’s question about creaking Treks, I got inundated withmail about fixing OCLV creaks. Here is a sampling. (A common thread onones I did not include tended to be the Rolf wheels – both the skewersor the bearings – stems, headsets and bottom brackets.)

1. It’s the bottom bracket
You recently got a letter from a reader concerning creaking on a 2000Trek 5200 (60cm). I too have a 1999 Trek 5200 (61cm) and I was positiveit was the bottom bracket. I took it to LBS over 6 times (actually differentones to get second and third opinions) and they all pulled and greasedthe BB but the noise continued. I got tired of the expense and bought myown tools and pulled the BB and wrapped with plumber’s tape. The noisecontinued. I removed and greased the quill stem and clamp area and thenoise still continued.

I read somewhere that noise can sound like it comes from one area andit actually comes from another. I thought the noise was coming from theBB since it only occurred when I was out of the saddle really pushing orclimbing (I weigh 195#). Then I got a set of Kysriums and the noise wentaway. The creaking was coming from the Rolf Wheels. I still train on theRolfs and tolerate the noise.
So tell your reader to try a different set of wheels. –Claude

2. Yeah, what he said…
Here is another trick that James can try with his creaky OCLV thatI’ve had luck with on some customers’ bikes. Wrap the threads of the bottombracket shell in Teflon tape. This seems to firm up the fit of the bottombracket and take away any pesky creaking noise. This also works great formaking sure the bottom bracket remains tight, but removable, on any typeof bicycle.
WildRock Outfitters/Bike Werks
Peterborough, Ontario

3. It’s the headset
You had a column regarding a creaking noise for a Trek 5200. I spent6 months with a bike shop working to eliminate a creak in my 2002 Trek5200. We started thinking it was the headset. I replaced the bearings addedgrease. Then we went through Trek’s trouble shooting list. Then we thoughtit was the bottom bracket. Nothing worked on the bottom bracket. Grease,Loctite, parts replacement, nothing. We sent the bike back to Trek whoproceeded only to return it and say nothing was wrong. I finally decidedto replace the Headset with a Kris King and I haven’t had a single noisesince. I know others who have done the same thing and had it work.

Please spread the word because Trek hasn’t.  –Jay

4. It’s the axles… and/or the headset
In response to the tech inquiry 3/11/03 regarding the creaking Trek5200 OCLV. I have the same bike and experienced similar problems. Assuminghe has the same “stock” components, I found two things on this “stock”bike that resolved the creaking noise:
A) The front hub of the Rolf wheel set needs to be pulled apartand the axle/bearing contact surfaces lubed every couple hundred miles.This is the most persistent source of creaking.
B) The Cane Creek headset wasn’t the best and was also a sourceof some unwanted noise. I changed it out for a Chris King and haven’t hada problem since.
I hope this helps, the above worked for me and even with a lot of milesits a pretty sound ride. –Tony

5. It’s the quick relase
You went to the right source. When Mike advised me to grease the QRskewers on my ’99-5200, I thought he was nuts, but I’ll be damned if hewasn’t right. The problem is the Rolf skewers which, to use technical language,are shit – poor leverage and cam shape, as well as using a lever with unnecessarilysharp edges. They can be greased and made to work OK, but I’ve never regrettedgetting rid of mine. My 5200 has been quiet as mouse ever since. –Steve

Last word:
Finally, in response to many questions I have received on the subject,yes, there still are more spaces available in the Italian bike camp I amdoing May 17-24 with Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney. Information andregistration information can be found on on “Veneto” under “Camps”). The camp will include great ridingin Veneto (northeastern Italy, northwest of Venice) as well as seeing astage finish and a stage start of the Giro d’Italia, and tours of Italianfactories including Campagnolo and other component, shoe, saddle and framemanufacturers. –LennardVeloNews technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder, a former U.S. national team rider and author of several books on bikes and bike maintenance including the pair of successful maintenance guides “ Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” and “Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance.” Zinn’s column is devoted to addressing readers’ technical questions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn. Zinn’s column appears each Tuesday here on