Gear

Technical Q&A with Lennard Zinn

Dear Lennard Zinn; My right foot (third and fourth toes especially) goes to sleep after only a short time on the bike (10-15 minutes).  I've had the problem for quite a while, but just got new shoes (with plenty of toe room) and it's back - these shoes are stiffer than my others too.  If I stand or unclip for a few seconds it helps, but comes right back.  I use the same MTB shoes for road and MTB riding (recreational) - the problem is worse on the road.  What can I do to help?  --JeffAnswer: It sounds like perhaps you need custom orthotics. I have a similar problem, which in my case was

By Lennard Zinn

Dear Lennard Zinn;
My right foot (third and fourth toes especially) goes to sleep after only a short time on the bike (10-15 minutes).  I’ve had the problem for quite a while, but just got new shoes (with plenty of toe room) and it’s back – these shoes are stiffer than my others too.  

If I stand or unclip for a few seconds it helps, but comes right back.  I use the same MTB shoes for road and MTB riding (recreational) – the problem is worse on the road.  What can I do to help?  –Jeff

Answer:
It sounds like perhaps you need custom orthotics. I have a similar problem, which in my case was diagnosed as “Morton’s Neuroma.”

I get pain and numbness in my toes if I ride without my special orthotics that have pads to support my metatarsal arch and prevent the pinching off of blood vessels and nerves between the metatarsals. It took a long time to get the pad for each spot just the right size, shape and position. The numbness and pain can also happen if the pad is too big or too little or is in the wrong place.

I wrote about custom orthotics and shoes for cycling in VeloNews 12, July 15, 2002, if you still have it, as well as in the 2002 Tour de France Guide. I highly recommend a specialist in cycling orthotics, as podiatrists and pedorthists who are not used to working with cyclists often do not have enough experience to get the orthotics right. We have a couple of experts in this here in Boulder, namely Russel Bollig at Podium Footwear, (303)554-0505, and Andy Pruitt at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, (303)544-5700 (or www.bch.org/sportsmedicine). –Lennard

Dear Lennard;
I built a bike up back in the day (ie, late 80s) — Schwinn Prologue with Shimano drive-train (Dura Ace crank/BB and Shimano 600 Ultegra 7-speed shifters).  I also still have the original Shimano Santé freewheel, 13-24 (you may recall Santé was made for a year or two and is of decent quality).

I plan to buy a new bike next year but in the meantime I am going to do some big climbs in France this summer while watching the Tour. I can handle the hills here in Portland with my 39/24 but will probably need a 26 or 28 to survive the big climbs in the Alps.

What I’ve seen in the shops thus far are heavy, albeit inexpensive, Shimano freewheels that have a 26 and/or 28.  My question is are you aware of any alternative to the heavy Shimano freewheel that’s reasonable in cost so that I can get a granny gear?  –Philip

Answer
Since you say “freewheel” and talk about it being heavy, I am assuming you mean you have a threaded rear hub with a thread-on freewheel. I seem to remember that Santé was available as a threaded hub and freewheel as well as a freehub with cassette cogs.

If it is a thread-on, you could replace the hub and freewheel with a freehub and a 7-speed cogset, but that would involve building a whole new wheel. Or you could get a triple crank (and you would probably need longer derailleurs with them). Neither will be cheap. Otherwise, your alternative is a heavy freewheel, since there really is nothing light anymore made for a thread-on freewheel system.

If, however, you mean that it is a freehub and you just do not like the weight of those large steel cogs, I know of no other current option for you. Titanium Shimano cogs are now only available in 9-speed, which are spaced more narrowly than yours and would require different shifters as well as a wider rear dropout spacing on your frame.

The spacing of 8-speed Shimano cogs was the same as 7-speed, so if you can find an old 8-speed Dura-Ace or XTR cogset with a 26- or 28-tooth large cog, you could save some weight. The large cogs would be titanium attached to the aluminum spider system. It should work on a 7-speed freehub body, as long as you replace the smallest two cogs with your smallest cog from the 7-speed.

Finally, there were many companies making individual titanium cogs for Shimano 7- and 8-speed freehubs many years ago. Again, if you have a freehub, you may be able to locate some of those old SRP or other brands of Ti cogs. –Lennard


VeloNews 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 VeloNews.com 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 VeloNews.com.