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Trick measurement techniques for bicycle components. Natural sez, Use the right tool for the job.
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The outlook for skills demand and supply in Europe – Hogarth & Wilson TERENCE HOGARTH AND ROB WILSON Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick The European Union labour market has experienced something of a rollercoaster ride in. The usual tool to measure thread pitch is the thread-pitch gauge, with a different saw-toothed feeler for each common thread pitch. But there are only a few thread pitches commonly used on bicycles, and so you can use bicycle parts themselves to check each other.
Crumb. The right tool for the job? Precise measurements are often needed so bicycle parts will assemble correctly. It is usual to perform many of these measurements with special tools which you aren't going to carry around in your on- road toolkit. Also, some of these tools have only a single use, and they can be rather expensive. Certainly, you should have a tape measure for large- scale measurements - - frame height, rim diameter, wheel roll- out. A ruler is more convenient for many measurements.
Neither of these, though, has the precision needed when checking many bicycle components for compatibility. To understand the challenge, let's first look at some measuring tools you wouldn't be carrying around in your on- road toolkit, or might not own at all if you are a home mechanic. The good news though is that common tools or parts of the bicycle itself can often perform the needed measurements. Often, too, trick measurement techniques are timesavers. This article describes a number of such techniques. At the end of the article is a list of links to other articles with information about measurements.
A caliper. This is very versatile and very precise, for internal, external and depth measurements. The most useful kind has a digital readout, which can be set to inch or metric at the push of a button. You wouldn't normally carry this tool on the bicycle, even in its protective case; but there are other ways to do most of the measurements it might perform on a bicycle. A thread- pitch gauge. This tool with saw- toothed feelers is important for a machinist or auto mechanic, but much more versatile than needed for bicycle use, and so, more expensive. The example in the image has an upper and lower bay.
The feelers in one bay are metric and in the other, inch- size. Bicycles use both metric and inch- sized threads, but in only a few sizes. This article will show how to use bicycle parts themselves to check each other's thread pitch. Stein seat- tube inside diameter measuring tools. The inside diameter of most bicycle components where precise fit is needed is standardized, with only a few variations. With the seat tube, on the other hand, the outside diameter is standardized, but the inside diameter is not.
The Stein tools are quick to check a bicycle frame for seat- post size, and also can check the inside diameter of a fork- crown bearing race. These tools can also measure an outside diameter, transferring it using an adjustable wrench. The Stein tools pay for themselves in bike- shop service, but they are way too heavy to carry with you, and expensive. A caliper can do what the Stein tools do, though less conveniently. Lacking the Stein tools or a caliper, however, you can still easily compare the diameters of an old seatpost and its replacement, as this article will describe. External measurements using a wrench. An open- end wrench can provide a direct measurement for its one size.
Though most nuts and bolts used on bicycles are metric, many standard dimensions of bicycle parts are inch sizes. So, they offer a way to put inch- size wrenches to good use on bicycles. An adjustable wrench, on the other hand, can't offer a measurement, but allows you to compare two dimensions precisely, and that is often all you need to do. For many such comparisons on a bicycle, you'll need a 1. It's good to have one around the shop anyway, for the occasional odd- sized headset top nut. Vise- grip pliers also allow comparison after screwing down the adjustment so the jaws can just slip over the part to be measured. Square- taper bottom- bracket spindles.
A 1. 3 mm or 1/2. Sliding the wrench up the taper of two spindles until it stops shows the difference of their penetration into a crank directly. The width where the wrench contacts the spindle (at the wider, inboard side of the taper), minus 0.
The spindle at the right is a J. I. S. An adjustable wrench will allow you to compare spindles but not to measure them. Hold your thumb over the adjustable wrench's grub screw to hold the measurement. Other crank- spindle measurements. The bearing seats of spindles of some cartridge- bearing bottom brackets differ slightly in diameter, and can also be compared using an adjustable wrench. Same with the ends of cottered spindles.
French cottered spindles have a diameter of 1. Another option is a caliper, but again, you may not have one. Tube outside diameters. An adjustable wrench can be used to discern the difference in diameter between a French fork steerer tube (2. British/ISO/Italian one (2.
French (2. 6mm top tube, 2. The French fork steerer tube can also be identified by its thread pitch (see below). Handlebar and stem diameters. Most handlebars have a larger diameter at the center, tapering to a smaller diameter at either side. Standard diameters are listed in our handlebar and stem dimension crib sheet. Most of these diameters are common inch sizes and can be checked directly with inch- size wrenches. The most common handlebar center diameter is 1 inch, same as with a standard British, Italian or ISO fork steerer, so you can test a handlebar stem by inserting a fork steerer into it!
That is much faster than threading a stem onto a drop handlebar. You could also use a piece cut out of the top tube of a trashed steel frame. The obsolete French handlebar center size is very slightly smaller, 2. There are three different Italian sizes larger than 1 inch, which fit loosely. The Italian sizes can be matched by matching the brand of handlebar and stem. The stem should be an easy slip fit over the handlebar center, until tightened. Common handlebar- end diameters are 7/8.
Most shifters for internal- gear hubs, and twist- grip shifters, fit only flat bars. Trying a shifter is a quick way to identify the handlebar- end diameter, but also the 2. You can test for handlebar- end diameter by trying to insert the end of a handlebar into the steerer tube of a standard 1.
Needle- nosed pliers can substitute for a caliper to do comparisons, but only if the pliers' joint is tight so it will hold its position. There are other useful tricks.
Headset crown race. Bicycle headset fork- crown races come in several internal diameters from 2. If you do have Stein seatpost- diameter measuring tools, you can use these also to measure and compare all but the largest fork crown races. If you don't have these tools, a selection of seatposts with readable markings can substitute. Seatposts are made in sizes with 0. You don't need them all to run the test.
The only problem remaining then is that you don't have a seatpost of the right size to use. Head- tube bearing race. Head- tube bearing races have two common outside diameters, 3. These are so close to one another that they can't be distinguished by eye, and are hard to tell apart with a ruler. It is helpful to keep an old 3. It will be loose in a head tube made for a 3. Seat- tube inner diameter.
If you don't have the Stein tool or a caliper, the best bet is to read the markings on the original seatpost, or take it to the bike shop when buying a replacement. We have a seatpost size database on this site, but manufacturers haven't always been consistent with their sizes, and we can't cover all of the possibilities. Certain seat- tube sizes are the same as those for other bicycle parts. Threaded bottom- bracket shells. The standard British/Italian/ISO hub external threading for a freewheel or fixed sprocket matches the internal British and ISO (but not Italian or French) left bottom- bracket cup threading. The threading on older Uniglide- compatible Shimano cassette bodies is the same.
So, I know this sounds a bit weird, but you can actually thread a hub or cassette body into a bottom- bracket shell. This trick is useful because many bottom- bracket cups have obscure markings, or no markings. It is also easier to thread in a hub shell or cassette body than a bottom bracket cup, and so the test runs quicker. Note also that British/ISO, Raleigh and Swisss right- hand bottom- brackets are left- threaded, while French and Italian ones are right- threaded, another important point of identification. Unthreaded bottom- bracket shells.
There are many different dimensions. Most unthreaded bottom brackets have cartridge bearings, and so you need either to measure with a caliper, identify the bottom- bracket manufacturer and model, or identify the cartridge bearing. Many cartridge bearings are imprinted with a model number which can be looked up in a manual or on the Internet to identify the dimensions. Our unthreaded bottom- bracket cribsheet can help you make comparisons.
Cotterless crank extractor threads. The extractor- thread diameter for an old TA crank is larger than for other cranks, 2. Stronglight crank, larger yet, 2. A standard extractor will be loose in either of these cranks. A TA extractor will thread into a Stronglight crank, but it will be noticeably loose as you thread it in, and can strip the threads if you try to pull the crank. Early Lambert cranks had a 7/8.
Some Campagnolo cranks had left- threaded extractor holes, but most of these had built- in extractor bolts. The right- threaded crank fixing bolt can't unscrew a left- threaded extractor dustcap - - not that this has proven to be a problem with other extractor dustcaps that are right- threaded.) If the crank no longer is equipped with this bolt and dustcap, you must use the special left- threaded Campagnolo extractor or (gasp!) a gear puller, which will leave marks on the back of the precious Italian crank. You are unlikely to find an extractor for a Lambert crank.
Your best bet is a gear puller. Also be sure to replace the hazardous cast aluminum front fork when working on a Lambert! Thread pitch. The usual tool to measure thread pitch is the thread- pitch gauge, with a different saw- toothed feeler for each common thread pitch. But there are only a few thread pitches commonly used on bicycles, and so you can use bicycle parts themselves to check each other.