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Tip Turkey is Bootiebike's blog-style place for tips, reviews, gripes, experiments, little discoveries and other stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else.

Chains aint chains

I've discovered that chains aint chains; 'bushingless' chains are only really meant for derailleur bikes, and if you have a hub gear or single speed bike you're better off with a 'bushed' chain. It took a long time for this little epiphany to occur. I had always thought that bushed chains were olde worlde, long since superseded by the much more modern bushingless variety.

But that was until the I stumbled upon the 'chain wear measuring tools' page of the fascinating 'Pardo' website (one of those unglamorous but wonderfully informative websites that prove the worth of the web™). Anyway, I always knew (as you probably do), that bushingless chains are made the way they are so they can 'bend' their way across a derailleur cassette. What was new to me is that bushingless construction introduces all kinds of compromises that affect the durability of the chain, compromises you needn't accept if it doesn't need to bend.

close up of bushed chain compared to bushingless chain

Pre-slimed tube usage instructions

As part of the never-ending war against flat tyres, I thought I'd be clever and finally try a pre-slimed tube. No worries; I quickly scanned the instructions, popped in the tube, pumped er up and went inside for dinner. Next morning, what else but one very flat tyre with a very slimed valve core.

Lesson: Before inflating a slimed tube, drain any slime from the valve stem. This means locating the valve at roughly 5 o'clock or 7 o'clock for a few minutes before inflating. A second, very close look at the box revealed this wisdom, but it was buried deep in the fine print, and only legible to this old fogey with the aid of a magnifying glass.

Dear Mr Slime: Please make this advice more prominent and save your new customers a little heartache. (Would being upfront about this really jeopardise that many sales?) Oh, and by the way, it should be 5 o'clock or 7 o'clock, not the 2 o'clock or 10 o'clock it says in the tiny text on the slime box!

close up of rear of slime tube packaging box

Special grease in tyre valves (fail!)

Could this really be as simple and effective as it seems? Periodically douse/smother your valve cores with special rubber grease to make them seal more effectively (and Prestas easier to tighten/loosen). It's hard to be scientific about it, but I could swear it slows down air leakage from the tyres.

You can't use ordinary grease as it will damage the rubber, but you could probably use the grease plumbers use to lubricate tap O rings, available cheaply at any hardware. It's easy to apply to removeable Presta valves and Schraeder valves (i.e. also removeable), but it's a problem with non-removeable Presta valves. I've tried it by just deflating the tyre and then squeezing it in alongside the valve core.

Conclusion: A bad idea! This little experiment has resulted in a clogged/half-seized valve. Oh well, next bright idea…

tube of brake grease

'Chain-L' – oily chain oil

Unlike most chain lubricants, Chain-L is oily and fairly viscous, a bit like Phil's Tenacious oil. I've applied this oil to a few of my bikes, and I've noticed it keeps the chain silent, giving the impression it's actually doing what it's supposed to do. And it's been doing so for a longish time, too. Stay tuned.

Conclusion: After many months of using this chain lube I would like nothing more than to recommend it as a superior product. Sure it's a good product, and it works, but I can't claim it is significantly better or worse than the other good products out there. My feeling is that it doesn't matter very much which good brand one uses – what really matters is how much care you're willing to invest in your chain.

bottle of chain l lubricant

Upside down Sturmey Archer gearshift

I've always considered the classic Sturmey Archer trigger gearshift awkward and slow. I never thought to do anything about it, preferring a twist grip when half-decent shifting was important. So it's taken me until now to do something about that clunky shifter. Noticing that shifters were once available in 'below the handlebar' (upside down) configuration, why not try 'rolling my own' with a new one?

Voila! A vast improvement. This Sturmey trigger could now be almost described as convenient and quick. Why aren't they all like this?

sturmey archer trigger gearshift mounted upside down

Death of a Duomatic

You are looking at the remains of the axle of a 60s F&S Duomatic two speed, coaster brake hub.

I suppose one can't complain if a hub lasts 50 years before shedding a tooth from the sun gear. I knew Duomatics are strong and durable but now I know they're not without their limits. It happened while 'honking' up a steep ramp in high gear. Delving into the spares pile, I put the hub back on the road; chastened, I now use it more sensitively.

fichtel and sachs duomatic hub axle with sun gear tooth missing

Death of a Moulton

You are looking at the remains of the frame of a 1965 Moulton Deluxe.

I suppose one can't complain if a hub frame lasts 50 years before tearing in half like this one did. The British craftsmen at the Kirby BMC plant had just finished a liquid lunch when it came time to braze the pivot tube for the rear suspension, so they got their new first-year apprentice to cover for them. And besides, no-one said he had to braze it all the way around. So it was just a matter of time – fifty years, as it turned out – before the resultant stresses did what you see here, while yours truly was riding it. And down she sank, over the course of a few time-standing-still, life-before-your-eyes, seconds.

If you ever obtain a pre-raleigh Moulton (up to 1967), I suggest you check for such things. Anyway, the bike was brought back to life – in a grandfather's axe (frankenstein?) kind of way – thanks to a replacement frame from Moulton Preservation.

moulton broken frame

The joys and sorrows of New Old Stock (NOS)

The Bootiebike 1965 Moulton Deluxe recently received a nice NOS Sturmey Archer SBF front drum brake. Very exciting; nice and shiny, and a bit of a find with only 28 holes. Unfortunately it turned out to be defective (out-of-round beyond tolerances), and it shuddered violently whenever it was applied.

This is not the first or second time that Bootiebike has bought something 'NOS' and found it was faulty all along. Do you think there is usually a good reason why a drum brake, for example, would be left lying around on a shelf somewhere rather than be being sold and used? I'm beginning to think so.

Anyway, if you're interested, you can read about the repair on the 'Fixing an out-of-round Sturmey Archer SBF drum brake' page.

tatty sturmey archer box that drum brake came in

The joys and sorrows of fitting solid tyres

Bootiebike recently fitted a pair of 'Tannus' solid tyres to its workaday bike, and they seem to be a success. By using these tyres day in and day out I've come to appreciate how much brain space one devotes to keeping air in those front and rear doughnuts.

But fitting these solid tyres is a time-consuming and fiddly hassle, enough to scare off the faint hearted. And chances are you'll need to replace your rims, as they must have a particular internal width. And the instructions don't seem terribly helpful. The benefits would need to be pretty significant to consider the hassle.

Still interested? Well, here's your chance to find out more by visiting the 'solid tyres' page.

close up of section of wheel rim fitted with airless tyre showing unused valve hole