Hallett's Howlers

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CJ
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Hallett's Howlers

Postby CJ » 4 Jun 2020, 4:31pm

I’m certainly biased, but I think Cycle needs a new Technical Editor, or even an old one! In the past six years I have often choked upon a half-baked piece of technical advice in Cycle magazine, swallowed hard and said nothing. But in the latest issue Mr Hallett takes the biscuit with duff answers to not one but two readers.

I can no longer remain silent because his advice to Steve Brown with vague shifting on the small end of his new 11-40 cassette, to remove two chain links, is actually dangerous. Sooner or later Steve will engage big & big inadvertently. Then the pedals suddenly jam and probably something will break – if he’s lucky just the chain, if not perhaps a bone! For safety’s sake, a chain must always be long enough to accommodate big & big. Shortening it isn’t even likely to improve the shifting.

For better shifting I would advise a 9-speed ‘Shadow’ mech, such as RD-M592, that doesn’t need an ‘Extender’ and gets low by virtue of a steeper parallelogram slant. Not quite as low as 40, but down to 36-teeth and also up close enough to the smaller sprockets that those shifts don’t become vague. With that I’d recommend the Shimano 12-36 cassette – because Shimano cassettes shift better, but 11-36 can also be had if you really want that 118in top!

So how does Steve still get his leg-saving bottom gear? His outer ring is 48, so I’ll wager the inner is 28 and that the chainset will accept as small as 24 teeth. A 27in wheel with 24/36 becomes like 18in, one inch lower than 28/40: job done!

It’s possible that in dropping four teeth (=8mm) further, the chain may sometimes miss the inner ring and end up wrapped around the bottom-bracket. So fit a chain watcher to be on the safe side. The total difference of this arrangement, being 48–24+36–12= 48 teeth, exceeds the mech’s 45T chain wrap capacity. But so long as the chain is just long enough to accommodate big & big, it doesn’t matter and does no harm if it hangs loose in small & the smallest two or three sprockets.

If even lower is wanted, fit a MTB chainset that takes rings down to 22T. The outer will have to be smaller, so ask yourself: where did top gear ever get, that you wouldn’t have got in about the same time just freewheeling?

Next up, Mark Duce is breaking rear wheel spokes and Mr Hallett cannot say why! Honestly, broken rear wheel spokes are the bane of touring and commuting. Someone who serves this organisation in a technical capacity should very well know why. Please let me explain, in easy steps that someone without an engineering degree might understand.

For a durable wheel it’s really important that the spokes are tightened uniformly to just the right tension, bearing in mind the expected use of the wheel and the type of spoke – and to a lesser extent the type of rim and hub. Any good wheelbuilder will tell you that. What they’ll not be so keen to discuss is how spokes in the rear wheel of a derailleur-geared bike cannot be a uniform tension. That’s because the wheel is dished to make space for all those cogs, obliging the chain-side spokes to be as much as twice as tight as spokes on the left. Given this situation, it takes all of a wheelbuilder’s skill to make the best of a bad job. With experience it is often possible nevertheless, to get the left spokes just tight enough and the right spokes not too tight, that neither side starts to fail before the rim wears out. But it’s still a bad job, at best a compromise.

The rear wheel does not have to be your bike’s Achilles heel. Some ‘factory wheels’ balance the dish with twice as many spokes on the rear right than the left, so all the tensions work out the same. Good job! But since most bikes don’t get ridden enough for ill-tensioned spokes to start failing, standard hubs and rims are made with the same number of holes on each side – for convenience.

The thinking wheelbuilder’s answer is to use different types of spokes in the different sides of a dished wheel. Thinner spokes – for which the ideal tension is lower – on the slack side and thicker spokes – that easily take a higher tension – on the side that has to be tighter. An ideal balance is achieved by specifying spokes that elongate similarly when brought to their necessarily different tensions. Thus as the wheel rolls against the road, spokes near the bottom relax in equal proportions on both sides of the wheel, keeping the rim central with no spoke going completely slack (or not before its opposite number).

Anything closer to that ideal is better than the usual same-old. So my simple recommendation for derailleur wheels is double-butted spokes (thinner in the middle so they elongate more for a given tension) on the left and single-butted (like plain spokes but even thicker at the hub end) on the right. And have a good craftsman build it of course.

In all my time advising CTC members thus, nobody ever complained – apart from the occasional “if it’s good enough for Eddy Mercx” wheelbuilder, reluctant to order those single-butted spokes only tourists seem to want!

Chris Juden, CTC Technical Officer 1983 to 2014
Chris Juden
One lady owner, never raced or jumped.

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531colin
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby 531colin » 4 Jun 2020, 4:42pm

Chris, I agree entirely. *
Apart from duff technical advice, the man < . . is an ad hoc frame and bike builder working purely on a private commission basis>.
How can that not be a conflict of interest with being CTC technical officer?
I notice he recommends eye-wateringly expensive stuff, when there is usually a much cheaper alternative which works.
The snag is, the CTC isn't a democracy.

*Except for the line about an engineering degree. The reader only needs to understand written English if the explanation is adequate.
I'm also staggered that you have written about wheels without mentioning stress-relieving.
Last edited by Graham on 5 Jun 2020, 9:42am, edited 2 times in total.

Brucey
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby Brucey » 4 Jun 2020, 4:44pm

maybe I'm biased too but in the last few years the quality of technical support for cyclists via Cycling UK's official organs has been poor. The content on the CUK website has been dumbed down to a great extent. Presumably there is some thought that this isn't (or shouldn't be) the role of CUK. However I think that there are many cyclists who would vehemently disagree with that sentiment; in this day and age there are many voices but few which are both non-partisan and technically adroit. In the past the CTC has been both, but at present CUK is neither.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carlton green
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby Carlton green » 5 Jun 2020, 7:24am

PhilD28 wrote:Also I agree about the recent quality of advice, fortunately I don't require it, but there are many new less technical cyclists that would certainly benifit from CJ's expertise.


I don’t think that the above quote is part of the head of a pin argument, just a casualty of the needed moderation intervention.

Fortunately these days I do manage to get by but I so miss CJ’s excellent articles in what was the CTC Magazine. It was common for me to keep his articles and his answers for later reference and I have some that are many years old. Sadly it is rare for me to keep articles or answers these days and in general my view is that there isn’t much in the way of excellence to take note of. To my mind it is a sad failing of both Cycling U.K. and the mag that they are not supporting new and established riders with a suitable supply of technical education and support.

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mjr
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby mjr » 5 Jun 2020, 9:03am

Carlton green wrote: just a casualty of the needed moderation intervention.

As has the praise for CUK being fast at fixing the website if the dumbing down made something factually wrong.

And the criticism of CUK apparently lacking capacity to check all it commissions from freelancers.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

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fausto99
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby fausto99 » 5 Jun 2020, 9:03am

CJ wrote:I’m certainly biased, but I think Cycle needs a new Technical Editor, or even an old one! In the past six years I have often choked upon a half-baked piece of technical advice in Cycle magazine, swallowed hard and said nothing. But in the latest issue Mr Hallett takes the biscuit with duff answers to not one but two readers...


+1 on that.

RH's technical advice is usually sketchy at best and wrong at worst. Cycle magazine would do better to consult and summarise the oracles and "stickies" here.

His equipment reviews are also sadly lacking. To my mind, are rarely more than a mish-mash of the maker's marketing and never an in-depth assessment of the items true function or worth.

Come back CJ. You are sadly missed.

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fausto99
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby fausto99 » 5 Jun 2020, 9:07am

Graham wrote:Please note that any further "head-of-a-pin" arguments will invoke the dreaded . . . . naughty step. !


Please explain. I'd never heard of "head-of-a-pin" arguments, so I consulted Mrs fausto99, who is a retired English teacher, and she explained about academic clerics and futile theoretical arguments re fitting angels onto pins, but I still fail to see the relevance to any of the posts in this thread.

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Mick F
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby Mick F » 5 Jun 2020, 9:10am

fausto99 wrote:Come back CJ. You are sadly missed.
+1

I've built my rear wheel using plain/DB as per CJs recommendations for which I thank him. Makes complete sense to me.
Mick F. Cornwall

rotavator
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby rotavator » 5 Jun 2020, 9:30am

So is someone going to contact Dan Joyce, the editor of Cycle, to point out the bad and potentially dangerous advice? Then it will be interesting to see if any apology, correction or change in technical advisor is forthcoming.

thatsnotmyname
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby thatsnotmyname » 5 Jun 2020, 10:06am

531colin wrote:Apart from duff technical advice, the man < . . is an ad hoc frame and bike builder working purely on a private commission basis>.
How can that not be a conflict of interest with being CTC technical officer?


Perhaps you could explain why you think it IS a conflict?

thatsnotmyname
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby thatsnotmyname » 5 Jun 2020, 10:07am

rotavator wrote:So is someone going to contact Dan Joyce, the editor of Cycle, to point out the bad and potentially dangerous advice? Then it will be interesting to see if any apology, correction or change in technical advisor is forthcoming.


Actually challenging the source of the information directly is a pretty novel idea. Especially since the OP has apparently been bottling this up for six years....

ANTONISH
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby ANTONISH » 5 Jun 2020, 10:30am

I also use plain/double butted for the rear wheel.
I don't claim to be an expert but it works for me.
Mr gripe is the occasion when he was writing about in line cross brake levers (which he plainly doesn't like ) and claimed that they don't allow a bar bag to be used.
I've had to fit in line cross levers on my partner's bikes and she loves them and has used them in descents in the Pyrenees.
She has a bar bag with a click fix mount and experiences no problem.
I think the difficulty with this sort of column is the prescriptive nature of the advice, which is often opinion presented as fact.

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squeaker
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby squeaker » 5 Jun 2020, 10:39am

thatsnotmyname wrote:Actually challenging the source of the information directly is a pretty novel idea. Especially since the OP has apparently been bottling this up for six years....
??? IMHO, CJ, having been made redundant, IIRC, has behaved exceedingly well towards his former employer by not sniping constantly at, shall we say, differing advice of variable quality that has appeared in the CTC mag. over the ensuing years. I welcome his post above and hope CUK issue a rebuke to Mr Hallett ASAP.
"42"

Jdsk
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby Jdsk » 5 Jun 2020, 10:44am

thatsnotmyname wrote:
531colin wrote:Apart from duff technical advice, the man < . . is an ad hoc frame and bike builder working purely on a private commission basis>.
How can that not be a conflict of interest with being CTC technical officer?


Perhaps you could explain why you think it IS a conflict?

I've no idea if there's any conflict of interest or not. But transparency is essential, and I didn't know this.

Jonathan

thatsnotmyname
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Re: Hallett's Howlers

Postby thatsnotmyname » 5 Jun 2020, 10:45am

squeaker wrote:
thatsnotmyname wrote:Actually challenging the source of the information directly is a pretty novel idea. Especially since the OP has apparently been bottling this up for six years....
??? IMHO, CJ, having been made redundant, IIRC, has behaved exceedingly well towards his former employer by not sniping constantly at, shall we say, differing advice of variable quality that has appeared in the CTC mag. over the ensuing years. I welcome his post above and hope CUK issue a rebuke to Mr Hallett ASAP.


I'm not with you. A rebuke for what?