Ask Nick: Should you go for your vintage dream bike?

Also: seating tubeless, CDI torque wrenches and wider road rims

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Editor’s Note: VeloNews tech editor Nick Legan is a former ProTour mechanic who most recently wrenched for Team RadioShack at the 2010 Tour de France and elsewhere. His column appears here every Thursday. You can submit questions to Nick at, and be sure to check out Nick’s previous columns.

I’m having an issue with Hutchinson Fusion 3 tires properly seating on a Velocity rim that has been converted to tubeless with the Stan’s kit.  The rear tire is seated perfectly.  On the front rim part of the tire is seated lower in the rim well then the rest of the tire. When spinning there is a visible wobble in the tire as the diameter changes. I’d say the difference is around 3mm.

The shop that built the wheels and did the tubeless conversion put a new Fusion 3 on with the same result.  They reinstalled it a couple times, rotating it, and found that the location of the low spot moves and doesn’t appear to be specific to one area of the rim.  The tire was inflated to max pressure but would not even out.  Since the tire on the rear rim is seated perfectly and evenly I don’t know if there is an issue with a bad batch of Fusion 3s or something with the rim.

Any recommendations/comments or any concerns about the safety or stability of this tire and rim? I don’t really notice it riding, although on fast descents it seems there is a bit of shimmy or speed wobble that I have not experienced before.
— Chris Rankin-Williams

I’ve also had some problems getting tubeless tires to mount perfectly in the past. Sometimes it’s a bad rim/tire combination. But as your rear rim and tire are working happily, we can rule that out.

I’ve personally always had good luck with all the Hutchinson tires, both road and mountain, that I’ve installed. Nor have I heard of bad batches of Fusion 3s.

Some tires just like to give mechanics fits. Here’s a trick that has helped me before.

When I install a new tire, I get it on the rim with the sealant inside. If it doesn’t want to seat properly after a few tries (the first with high pressure, the second with lower pressure and some manhandling), I’ll deflate the tire, push both beads to the center of the rim bed and then spray sidewall and bead with a soapy water solution. This acts as a lubricant and helps the tire seat more easily.

This got me out of a jam just the other day. Be careful doing this, though, as the soapy water also makes it easier for the tire to blow off the rim.

That said, I would not recommend riding on a tire that isn’t properly seated. The shimmy you’re experiencing is dangerous and most likely due to your tire issues. Good luck.

From the late 1970’s to mid-1990’s I raced on inexpensive, hardly vintage, Raleigh, Univega and the earliest Cannondale frames, the latter for 10 years. After buying and reading Italian Racing Bicycles, I realized I did not know as much about bikes as I thought. I’ve had Italian bits and pieces on my bikes, but never a complete bike. Locally, someone I know is selling his early 1980’s, completely restored, Colnago Mexico with Super Record. Had I only been able to afford this back then.

I returned to racing when I turned 60 and bought a CAAD9 with Dura-Ace and now race a Cervélo S2 with Ultegra; both are great bikes. In the past and now, I look to the future for the better bikes and components. Yet now, I’m looking back to a 1980’s dream bike that I would love to ride.

My questions are: When is a vintage (no rust/crashes) bike worn out? Is it better to buy a new steel frame from a local builder? I’ll be in my 80s by the time my CAAD9 is vintage, although many, not me, will say a Cannondale will never attain vintage status.
— Richard Duncan

You’re a perfect example of how wonderful cycling is. It can truly be a lifelong pursuit. I’m glad to hear that you’re still enjoying bicycles.

Your questions are good ones. Vintage bikes can certainly wear out, but if they’re rust-free, the lifespan is quite long. Many older bikes, especially those in excellent condition, don’t actually have that many miles on them. While they won’t ride like a modern carbon steed (not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion), a bike like your acquaintance’s Colnago Mexico (one of my personal favorites, too) would probably delight you on the road.

That’s the beauty of dream bikes. The allure of owning them and seeing them underneath us is powerful. The Mexico, especially in the red color scheme, evokes memories of leafing through old cycling magazines and staring in amazement at the Del Tongo world-striped jersey of Giuseppe Saronni.

I’m never one to dissuade someone from buying a new bike from a local builder (they can use all the support we can give them), but if the Colnago is your size and has called your name for some time, I’d go for it.

We tend to regret the things we didn’t do in life, not those we did.

I have looked for the CDI torque wrenches online and at my local hardware store and have been unable to find them.  Perhaps you could point me in the right direction.
— Louie in Texas

CDI is a Snap-On specialty brand. Look for a Snap-On dealer and I’m sure that they can get you all sorted out. They’ll usually stay calibrated for 3,000 cycles (9 months of shop use, more for the home mechanic) and cost $30 each.

I ride on a lot of chunky country asphalt, so after reading your advice on wider rims (see the 2012 Velo Buyer’s Guide, page 18) allowing lower tire pressure and giving better road feel, I upgraded to HED Ardennes SL wheels.  I love ‘em.  My question is, if I move up to 25mm tires, am I losing any road feel benefits, now that my tire/rim would have the “light bulb” shape again?  Or will I gain from wider rims AND wider tires?
— Alex Tetlak

If you’re enjoying the benefits of your HED rims with your current tires, you’ll love them with 25 or even 28mm tires. In fact, the Highroad team rode 25mm tubulars all the time on their HED rims.

The wider tire, with more sidewall between the rim and the road, will protect the rim better and prevent more pinch flats. While your tire/rim profile will be slightly more “light bulb” than with a narrower tire, the difference is small.

You’ll also be able to run even lower pressures, something nice on your country roads. Give it a go. I have a feeling you’ll like it.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.