Have a question about bicycling products, or about bicycling in general? You can ask Mr Bike by sending him e-mail ( ). Due to the volume of requests, Mr Bike must charge a minimum of $1.99 (U.S.) before answering. If you send a request, you'll get instructions on how to pay by credit card.

The following shows questions others have asked.


What brake levers for upside-down handlebar & sidepull brakes?


Clipless pedals and bike fit

Ordering products on-line

What if a bike shop won't take a return?

Big lady wants sturdy bike

What type of bike to buy?

How much for a vintage Schwinn Suburban?

Where to find serial number on a Schwinn Suburban?

Replacement cost of a Huffy

Color vs. cost in a road bike

Mass-market Schwinns and water bottles on small frames

How to price a used bicycle?

What brand of bike to buy?

How many U.S. bikers over 40?

How to tell the manufacture year of a Schwinn?

Used bike will fit a tall biker?


What kind of front basket to buy?

Need a wicker basket today

Messenger bags vs. panniers

Cable interference on car bike rack

Best ways to carry a small dog

Best ways to carry a laptop or notebook computer

Where in Sweden to get baskets and panniers?

What screw size needed to mount a child seat?

Park outside, or lug up and down stairs?

Which car carrying rack won’t cover license plate?

Where to get a rear metal basket?

Panniers: backpack and one-sided options

What rack hardware to get, and where

How to transport a bike when moving by car


Short shorts

Where to find “armor” to protect from falls?


Source of crash statistics

When police kick you off the road

“Do you hate veterans?” and other motorist zingers

Biking in drive-through lanes

Doored biker dealt indignity


Potential problems from removing a front derailleur

What does tire size "700 C" mean?

What pedal axle diameter does my bike have?

Replacing Onza Rip & Rail MTB tires

Low vs. high gears and gear ratio

Where to replace a vintage pump?

What kind of clipless/platform pedals to buy?

Leg amputee seeks custom training wheels

How to tighten a left pedal?

Who makes fenders?

Where to get bike chain in bulk?

Want widest tire, more aggressive tread

Adding a disk or drum brake to a tandem

Rim strips: What kind, and how to install?

BMX wheel keeps coming loose

Chains keep falling off

Chains keep falling off—even after Mr Bike’s fix

Cut off old chain, how to install?

What tire sizes work with 18- & 19-width rims?

Still recommend solid tires?

How to shift gears on a 5-speed

How to adjust to clipless pedals?

Chain jumps past rear gears

Tyre-Grip good for winter traction?


Bike sizing for short women

What to do about knee stiffness and feeling of looseness?

Too leaned over; new bike?

The origin of step-through frames

Want custom-fit hybrid with ergonomic seat

Step-through frames for men?

How to raise a stuck handlebar


What advantages to a wireless cycling computer?

Need instructions for Avenir cycle computer

How to clean a hydration pack?

Need manual for Topeak Comp 150


Adult wants to learn to bicycle on gift bike

Where can an adult learn to ride a bike?

How to handle motorists in bike lanes

How to turn left on busy multi-lane street

How to hit on someone while biking?

When should you stop?


Kid’s bike seat vs. trail-a-bike

Biking with kids on sidewalks

Teaching children to bicycle

How to buy a bike for a child?

Attaching a used child seat

Child seats in the UK?

Where to get a saddle-seat carrier?

How to carry two kids?

Child seats: front or back?

Warning about Back Trails locks and helmets

Which front-mounted child seat seems best?

Mr Bike's panel of parents reviews the iBert safe-T-seat


What to do about the Kryptonite lock vulnerability?

Bell locks vulnerable to pens?

What locks to buy?

Thwarting thieves with ID; shift rattle

Who invented armored cable?

Jamming of OnGuard locks

IDing your bike: going beyond registration

Where to get U lock collars & reinforcement straps?

Lost keys for a Bell U lock

Stopping thieves at the workplace

Opening an old Diamondback lock

Opening a new Diamondback combo lock

What not to engrave on your bike

After drilling & sawing lock, what next?

Where to store a bike in Manhattan?

Bicycle covers for outside storage

How to replace a Huffy lock key?


How much to pay for a tune-up?

Annual cost to maintain a mountain bike

Installing Dura-Ace brake on Ouzo Pro fork

How to tighten a brake cable?

Repair books, lubes, & “comfort” bikes

“Questions” page misses brake check

Stuck rear brake on kid’s bike

Nishiki owner needs shift & triathalon fix

How to stop squeaking brakes?

Winter bike storage: cold or warm?

What does flat-repair cost, and what maintenance needed?

Heavy rider’s shocks lose pressure

Remounting a chain after flat fix

How much to repair a chain?

What needed to assemble a bike from a frame?

Removing a chain ring

How to replace a Schwinn Airdyne bottom bracket?

Adjusting Avid disc brakes

Degreasers safe for non-metal parts

Replacing brake shoes on a 1970 Schwinn tandem


Four-wheeled cycles

Clarification on recumbents

How to transport a quadracycle?

On a tandem, which rider signals?

Where to buy a 3-bench surrey?

Turning a regular bike into a stationary bike

1/2-inch pedals for exercise cycles

How to adjust the chain on a Schwinn Airdyne?

Position of clipless cleats on a recumbent

Age and model of Schwinn tandem

Converting a tandem to multi-speed


Heavy rider breaks the seat

Where to get Avenir saddles?

Vinyl Brooks saddle: real or fake?

Bike shop gives wrong seatpost size

What diameter seatpost to use in a tapered seat tube?

Need a comfortable seat for a Schwinn Airdyne

Need thin seatpost for a vintage tandem

Distance between sit bones vs. seat width


Which light to prevent nighttime cut-offs?

Where to get reflective triangles?


Driving directions for bike rides


How does a newbie become an expert mechanic?

How to start a career in promoting bicycle touring?

Clarification on recumbents
July 14, 2004
    I have just begun your book for urban bikers and, as a Manhattanite who rides in traffic daily to commute and run errands, I am altogether amazed at all the information you have packed into one book. I am heartened to finally find a book that actually addresses all the real difficulties of riding in a congested city. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your savvy with the rest of us.
    However, your brief mention of recumbents may not do them justice. Some compact long wheelbase recumbents, such as the Rans Tailwind that I ride in traffic, work so well that I think you may want to reconsider the complaints you have against them. I see very well. The bike is not too low to see or be seen. My short wheelbase Rans V Rex actually seats me so high that its riding position is nearly level with that of a conventional bike. The height in traffic issue varies greatly with each recumbent design; a potential city biker can carefully choose a recumbent that really doesn’t compromise this very important safety issue.
On a compact long wheelbase the wobbly front wheel issue is a minor one: this design allows me to push the bike forward so quickly from a complete stop that I find that I rarely experience much of a wobble at all. This particular design feels very stable from the moment it begins to roll. This is not the case with all recumbent designs. I would argue that the compact long wheelbase style recumbent is an especially worthy candidate for any urban bike list.
In any case, thanks for your terrific book! It will only make my riding more successful and pleasurable.
Steve M.

    Thanks very much for all your kind words about my book.
    I appreciate your insights into ’bents. I hadn’t looked at recumbents in a while, so dove back in and found the following.
    A certain model of recumbent might place your eyes higher than a certain model of upright bicycle. Regarding cycles in traffic, however, I think you’ll find the average upright bicyclist’s eyes at a higher level than that of the average recumbent rider’s. Also, consider head tilt: Comparing two kinds of cycles that go fast in traffic, recumbents and racing bikes, a rider of the latter might have their head tilted down more than that of the recumbent rider. In this case, from a safety standpoint one could argue that the ’bent rider has an advantage because they can look ahead and around more easily.
    The amount of starting wheel wobble also varies from model to model, but it seems just as affected by rider height and weight. Wobble seems to occur for most people who switch from an upright to a ’bent. For some, it clears up depending on how well they adapt and the bike’s stability.
    To get more ’bent info, a Web site I like:
Mr Bike

Short shorts

September 23, 2004
    I enjoy long bike rides near my cottage on the Michigan shore. My question has to do with a cycling apparel problem. For comfort's sake, I wear very short pants while cycling. Being a virile man, sometimes it is difficult to balance the comfort of short shorts with exposure issues.
    I would appreciate any tips or tricks you may have to offer to ease my dilemma.
Major Delay

     You might get the exposure you crave and the protection you need with a product I like, Hotskins Short Shorts. They leave the skin uncovered but don’t ride up while bicycling, providing embarrassment-free comfort.
    Also, you might find further inspiration in these lyrics to the 1958 tune “Short Shorts” by the Royal Teens:

    Who wears short shorts
    We wear short shorts
    They're such short shorts
    We like short shorts
    Who wears short shorts
    We wear short shorts.

    [Repeat 2 more times]

Mr Bike

When police kick you off the road

December 1, 2004
    I have been reading what you have to say about cycling on streets. Where I live is the country, we have roads not streets. I avoid cities, too many red lights, I stop for every one.
    I have been riding according to the Pennsylvania bicycle drivers manual for years. The local police don’t want me to ride as a motorist would. If a car comes up behind me, they want me off the road, if I don’t, motorists just stack up behind me. Only some will pass.
    I have been in front of the magistrate every year for something for the past 15 years. No matter if I bike on a major thoroughfare (like the road I live on) or on an asphalt-covered path through the woods, I keep getting citations. I usually get them for "vehicle proceeding slower than prevailing speed." Once, when I didn’t stay pulled over when a cop told me he was taking my bike, I was charged with "fleeing and eluding police."
    The last time I was in court, I had gotten five citations all for the same thing, doing what the law says I can do. Have you ever heard of anything like this? I have been contacting bicycle advocacy groups for years. Thank you.
Brad M.

    When situations persist for years, sometimes the people involved find it difficult to change. I’ve a suggestion nonetheless.
    You could try asking a local police official to meet with you. You’d want someone high up enough in the agency (e.g., watch commander, deputy chief) who can affect what the patrol-level officers do. At that meeting, you could have the goal of learning how and where the police think you should ride your bike on specific roads—given that the law says you have the right to ride on them.
    It seems to me that it’d help to have an uninvolved third party accompany you to this meeting. I suggest an advocate who not only understands bicyclists’ rights but has worked successfully with police. You don’t say what advocacy groups you’ve contacted, but you might try Bike Pittsburgh and the .
    Finally, keep in mind that non-bicyclists (including police) often have a hard time understanding that bicycle riders have a right to the road, so they need our help to get educated. I find traffic situations a bad place to deliver this education—so it serves you better to deliver the message in a meeting or class.
    Good luck.
Mr Bike

Who invented armored cable?

December 6, 2004
    I called an invention help line about one and a half years ago about a lock design very similar to armored cable. Today’s armored cables could just be based on my design.
    If you ask me, armored cable beats a chain due to the thickness and high strength of the outer shell. If today’s cables are similar to my design, I would estimate the cutting resistance to be equivalent to 3/4" hardened steel, and it would have the pull resistance of 3/4" cable—and still be relatively light but nearly indestructible.
    If what I say is accurate then I have put bike thieves at a great loss even if I never profit from the design. But I would like to know if I should take credit for it.
Tom S.

    The lock industry has had armored cables for a lot longer than 1.5 years; I’d guess at least ten.
    To learn more about the origins of armored cable I suggest you contact lock manufacturers who’ve made them for a long time. Try Master Lock (Wisconsin), 800/558-5528 and Kryptonite (Massachusetts), 800/729-5625.
Mr Bike

IDing your bike: going beyond registration

January 28, 2005
    Motivated by the frustration of a few recent bike theft reports in my city, I found a few minutes and started a Web-based stolen-bike registry.
    Our inspiring bike community is all about taking action rather than complaining or waiting for someone else to solve your problems. In that spirit please help me grow this page into something useful, and let's see if we can get a few bikes returned to their owners.
    Got any advice for me?
Howard K.

    While I find your registry a laudable grassroots effort, nothing prevents me from finding your bike parked on the street, copying down its serial number, going to your Web site, and registering your bike as my own. Next I wait till I see you riding your bike, grab a cop, and (as happened to my uncle Eddy as a teen) falsely accuse you of taking the bike that I can prove belongs to me.
    So I’ve a very strong recommendation for all bike owners, especially anyone who thinks they might someday use your site: Install in your bike incontrovertible evidence of your ownership. Write your name, address, and phone number on a card, seal it in a plastic bag, and stick it inside the handlebars or seat post tube. That way, if you happen across someone on your stolen bike, you can likely prove your ownership on the spot.
    I’ve gathered some other clever ideas for IDing your bike, and they appear in the "Avoiding Rip-Off" chapter of my book.
Mr Bike

Potential problems from removing a front derailleur

February 23, 2005
    Greetings. I would love to get rid of my front derailleur on my urban Kona Smoke and just run a single cog at the front with a chain guard; I saw some ready-made bikes set up like that. However I was told that if I do that my chain would constantly be slipping, especially when riding on uneven surfaces. Is it so? Many thanks.
Konstantine B.

    Feelin’ lucky? You could just try it and see what happens. The chain just might stay on the front gear, which in bike-biz jargon we call the chainring. (The chainrings connects to the crank, the thing to which the pedals attach.)
    First, tho, let’s consider: Should you remove the chainrings that you don’t plan to use? You could just leave them all on, put the chain onto the one you want to use, and let ‘er rip.
    But which chainring do you put the chain on? For a crank with three chainrings, most people would opt for the middle gear to avoid a bending chain, which I’ll get to in a minute. With a two-gear chainring, for longevity I’d go with the outer gear cuz the inner, smaller gear will wear more quickly, seeing as it has fewer teeth.
    Now, then. If your luck doesn’t hold and the chain drops off the chainring, you’ve options:
    1. Leave off the shift lever and cable, but put the front derailleur back on. Adjust the set screws (sometimes called the adjustment bolts) so that the derailleur keeps the chain centered on the chainring but doesn’t rub on the chain when you’ve got the chain on the middle rear gear (jargon: cog).
    2. Install a chainring protector or guard, sometimes called a rock ring. This plastic or aluminum ring sits right next to the chainring, far enough way so the chain doesn’t rub on it. Manufacturers originally intended such a gizmo to protect a mountain bike’s chainring from rocks—but it has the added benefit of keeping the chain from dropping off on whatever side of the chainring you have it installed. A clever mechanic could rig a chainring guard on both sides of the chainring—sort of sandwiching it so the chain doesn’t fall off on either side. (Note that some cranks come with an outer guard already attached.) If you’ve left the unneeded chainrings on the crank, you might have to remove one or two of ‘em to make room for the chainring guard.
    3. Install a device called a chain watcher or keeper (brand names: 3rd Eye, Deda). It attaches to the seat tube on the inner side of the chainring, and keeps the chain from falling off on that side only. You could use it in combo with an outside chainring guard, which I suspect would make for an easier overall installation.
    One more thing: Using only one chainring in front could cause what the jargonites call "acute chain line angle." Imagine the chain on the inside chainring in the front, and the outside cog in the back. In this case the sideways angle into which the chain has gotten bent can cause it to grind the teeth of the chainring, wearing them down. If your bike has an aluminum or alloy chainring (not uncommon), that wear can happen pretty quickly. (Old five-speed bikes didn’t fall prey to acute chain line angle, apparently, cuz they made ‘em with the cogs closer together.)
    What to do? Depending on a bunch of stuff—which chainring you have the chain on, the horizontal position of the chainring, how often you use the inner or outer cogs, and what kind of chain you have—you might not have a problem. Just in case, tho, you might wanna make sure you’ve got a steel chainring, which will hold up much better to this sort of punishment, titanium even more so.
Mr Bike

On a tandem, which rider signals?

March 11, 2005
    When riding a tandem, which rider (front or back) does the hand signals for turns and stops? Thanks.
Nancy G.

    Experienced tandemites will tell you that a satisfying tandem ride requires good communication between partners.
    That said, let’s first explore who most logically should do the hand signals: the front rider (AKA captain, pilot, or driver) or the rear rider (AKA stoker or rear admiral). Because the captain makes most of the decisions about turning and slowing based on what they can see to the front, it makes sense that the captain has ultimate responsibility for signaling.
    But, as I say, good tandeming results from teamwork. Let me illustrate. Say you and I go for a tandem ride with you piloting and me stoking, with some other bikers tagging along behind. We get going at a pretty good clip, when, suddenly, you see a child about to dart into the street from the sidewalk. As you use both hands for the brake levers you say to me, "Slowing! Please signal!" At which point I give the "slow" arm signal to the riders behind me.
    The lesson: In some situations that require signaling the captain needs both hands to control the bike, so they rightly take advantage of the stoker’s hands to signal—but to do so captains must communicate their wishes. On the other hand many couples find that, after tandeming together for a long time, they have to speak far less often to relay their intents.
    What if the captain signals? Should the stoker also signal, if the latter doesn’t need that hand otherwise? I say, why not? In certain cases—such as signaling a right turn using the right arm—it helps make the signal more visible to motorists positioned to the tandem’s left.
    You might like, as I do, the thread about communicating at the Bike Forum site.
Mr Bike

How to transport a quadracycle?

March 31, 2005
    I'm buying a Rhoades Car—a 4-wheel, 150-pound, 9-foot long "bike." I’m picking it up to save a couple hundred bucks on shipping, save time, and reduce the chance of it getting damaged in shipping.
    I know it would fit in my 5 x 8 trailer but that means it’ll bounce around the trailer for several days. And keeping it on a utility trailer for several days seems a bit of a theft risk and a potential parking problem.
    I have a couple of other options in mind to transport this thing—put it inside my Suburban, or put it on top of my '95 Astro Van—but there seems no way to know what is best.
    Any advice would be much-appreciated!
Richard H.

    Believe it or not, I have had to haul a heavier cousin of the Rhoades Car. Actually, two of them at the same time. Twice. (All in the interest of educating motorists about bike riders.)
    I only borrowed the things, so I rented a truck. Cost might prohibit that option for you, as your pick-up involves a multi-day trip.
    The manufacturer very definitely discourages putting their fine product on top of any passenger-class motor vehicle. Something about roofs caving in, quadracycles bouncing down the highway, and the like.
    It sounds like your only problem with an otherwise perfect solution, the 5 by 8 trailer, has to do with theft—which you can remedy easily with a lock or two. Get a high-security chain, like the ones available from OnGuard, and lock the quad to your trailer. On the road, when you park for the night, put the chain thru the trailer’s wheel. To avoid bounce bring a bunch of strong bungies to lash the quad down.
    And, unless you plan to stop overnight in Manhattan, you will find a place to park. Ask anyone who’s driven cross-country in a moving van with a car towed behind. (Like, uh, me—before my car-free days.)
Mr Bike