The #1 Bicycle Mechanic Website in the World!


Gears Bike Shop
109 Vanderhoof Avenue, Toronto, ON
Phone: 647-729-2500
Hours: Mon-Fri 10-8, Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5
Gears Bike Shop is always hiring mechanics. Contact

Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Fix a Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed Internal Gear Hub

Hi Charles,

I have an older model Raleigh Sports with a Sturmey-Archer internal gear hub that I've been having troubles with and was hoping to get repaired.

I've taken the bike to a couple of different repair shops already and it has always been returned with the same troubles.

I stumbled across your site when I was searching online for Toronto-area bike mechanics that appear to have experience with 3-speed internal gear hubs.

Would you be able to take a look at it? If so, what's the process and where should I bring it.

Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Steven S.

Hello Steven!

My advice:

Buy a new internal gear hub, possibly from a different company.

Internal gear hubs are basically supposed to require a little bit of oil once or twice per year for maintenance and that is it. If it broken however, your best options are to return it to the manufacturer for a replacement (if it is still on warranty) or if the warranty is up, buy a new one.

What has most likely happened - in the event it is broken - is that one or more pieces inside the gear hub have SNAPPED IN HALF or into several pieces, and then the smaller pieces have jammed up inside the internal mechanisms, possibly doing other permanent damage. The internal pieces are not designed to break, but with age, wear and tear, metal gets fatigued and can eventually just snap.

It is possible that a piece inside has just come loose, or bent, and it just needs to be bent back into shape or placed back in its proper location. Now there are some experts out there who know how to repair internal gear hubs - but it is pretty rare knowledge. A bit like finding a clockmaker who knows how to fix pocket watches. Not many people go into that sort of thing as a career these days.

Thus it might save you a lot of time and effort just to buy a new one.
Now you might wonder why I suggested possibly buying a new internal gear hub from a different company. I am not dissing Sturmey-Archer's quality, I am sure the quality of their internal gear hubs are just fine. But feel free to shop around anyway and browse your options. No doubt the higher quality gear hubs will be more expensive, and the lower quality ones cheaper. You get what you pay for. So if you find an internal gear hub from Sturmey-Archer that you like, that is in the right price range, absolutely, go ahead and buy it. However if you find one you like from a different company which is higher quality - and possibly has a lifetime warranty, you might want to buy that one instead.

Here is a YouTube video about fixing a Shimano 3-Speed Internal Gear Hub which might help you a bit if you decide to try and fix your gear hub yourself.

And here is another video about Sturmey-Archer three speed gear hubs and how they work, and should give you insights on how to fix yours depending on what is broken on the inside. Between this video and the one above you might be able to fix yours.

Happy Repairing / Shopping!

Charles Moffat
The Bicycle Mechanic

Monday, February 10, 2014

How to make a bow out of a bicycle wheel

While it is an amusing design for how to make a bow to practice archery with, I do NOT actually recommend the bow designs shown below.

My reasoning is fairly simple. I have been doing archery since 1989. I have over 12 bows myself, and two things I have learned over the years are the following...

#1. Decurve bows do not make good bows. (The designs shown below are definitely decurve.)

#2. The bow below isn't really a bow. It is really more a kind of complicated looking slingshot using a giant rubber band.

The end result is a slingshot that really is not a bow, doesn't really work that well, and would ultimately be a waste of time for anyone who is not into slingshots.

So if you are into slingshots, go ahead and use the designs below. If you are into archery I have suggestions to make at the bottom for how a person could make a proper bow - in this case a recurve bow - using bicycles parts.


You will need...

Old Bicycle Wheel
Giant catapult rubber band - $5. (You could use a rubber inner tube, but it isn't as powerful.)
Saw to cut the bike rim
Drill and drill bits.
Scissors / Tin Snips or some way to remove the spokes from the wheel
Metal file to tidy up the cuts
Pliers for bending
Eyelets + Retainers for the eyelets (plasterboard expanding grommets work well)

The design above is pretty much self explanatory just by looking at the photo. It is basically just a frame for holding rubber band for the slingshot. The bicycle wheel does bend a bit like a bow, but it is the rubber band that does 90% of the work.

Cut the wheel, smooth down the rough edges, drill some holes in it, add the eyelets, etc, attach the rubber band and you're done.


#1. Cut the wheel into quarters instead of halves.

#2. Line the quarters up like below


#3. Weld them together to make the classic recurve bow shape.

#4. Drill holes in the top of the bow and the bottom of the bow, roughly one inch from the ends.

#5. Using bicycle cable, string the bow between the two holes.

#6. Find a sturdy way to affix the bicycle cable to the bow. I recommend drilling the holes big enough to fit a bolt through there, wrap the cable around the bolts a bit, slide the bolt through the hole, tighten with a nut on the opposite side and make it super tight so the cable won't come loose. Repeat process both ends of the bow.

#7. Wrap bicycle handlewraps around the handle where you will be gripping the bow.

#8. Optional - Make an arrow rest using random parts from a scrap bicycle.

#9. Optional - Make stabilizer using random parts.

#8. Use a crimp to add a bead on your bowstring so your arrows don't slide up and down.

#9. Practice with your new recurve bow!

#10. Send me photos of the finished product so I can show others what you did!

Gas Engine Bicycles - For lazy gasoline lovers?

I am not going to pass judgement and not talk about gasoline bicycles, but I am going to say that many cyclists see gasoline powered bicycles - and sometimes even electric bicycles or e-bikes - as a betrayal of what bicycles are supposed to be: clean and efficient means of transportation.

The video further below is an example of one such gasoline powered bicycle or g-bike.

Whether you like g-bikes, or despise them, the video is an interesting example of one way to tinker with bicycles and try something new with them.

After all, this wouldn't be a bicycle mechanic blog if I didn't showcase examples of people tinkering with their bicycles and trying something different.

RB Inc Sports is hiring bicycle mechanics

 RB Inc Sports of Toronto is hiring bicycle mechanics and sent me the email below.

:) CM

We are looking for a mechanic. If you are interested or know someone that would be interested,  please come by around 11 till 3 for a job interview if you are interested also please send in a resume if you have one.

Full Time Bicycle Sales and Bicycle Mechanic Job Request $12 to $20 per hour depending on experience.

We are a boutique bicycle Jamis Bicycle Outlet (you can google our info) store looking for an experienced bicycle salesman that is also a good bicycle mechanic. Perfect articulation in English is important. Characteristics we are looking for: Neat and Tidy, ability to follow direction, effective sales person that can absorb information quickly and is familiar with all parts of the bicycle. Efficient bicycle mechanic that can put together a new bicycle quickly, and effectively but also one that can keep his work area clean and also not lose or break tools. Experience and ability to work on all types of used bicycles from clunkers, road, mountain, and hybrids.  Important to be friendly and deal with a variety of cyclists from professionals to leisure enthusiasts. Please understand as well no use of text messaging, skype or e-mails that are not work related during work.

Important to live close to work. The job is 5 days a week but includes Saturday and Sunday. The job also requires good and fast ten finger typing and the ability plus experience to work on iPads and Apple computers.

Richard Browne President
RB Inc
79 Wingold Ave Unit 10
Toronto Ontario Canada
tel 416 787 4998
fax 416 787 2709

Saturday, November 2, 2013

How to Fix a Slipping Chain and Gears

Tools You Will Need

Bike stand
Chain tool
Small screwdriver

One of the most important things to maintain on your bicycle is the drivetrain. This includes the shifters, chain, front and rear derailleur, the cassette and crankset. They all work together. Several of these parts can be responsible for slipping gears, making it important to perform regular maintenance of you bicycle. A well maintained bicycle increases the safety and enjoyment of your ride and decreases the chances of getting a gear stuck, jammed, or the chain slipping right off the gear cassette.

How to Fix a Slipping Chain and Gears

Step 1

Place your bike in a bicycle stand. This will allow you to clearly access all the parts and spin the pedals to see how the drivetrain is performing. If you do not have a bicycle stand, put the bicycle upside down and rest it on the seat and handlebars.

Step 2

Look over the chain for excess wear or bent links. Using a chain tool, slip each of its ends through the links of your chain and check your chain against its wear indicators. If the chain is worn out, replace it. Don't bother trying to fit it, once a chain is worn out it is no longer good for using on a bicycle. If a link is bent, either replace the link or the entire chain.

Step 3

Check your gear sprockets. The sprockets are under pressure from the chain, especially when climbing. If any of the edges are no longer rounded at the ends and instead resemble a shark's tooth, it's time to replace the cassette because it's probably causing your chain to slip.

Step 4

Examine your rear derailleur. If the chain and sprockets are fine, chances are this ghost shifting is caused by either a bent derailleur hanger or the derailleur is out of alignment physically. This is common, especially as new cable stretches, often causing the derailleur to shift incorrectly.

Step 5

Inspect the derailleur hanger from the rear. The pulleys should line up. If they appear out of alignment, the derailleur hanger is likely to blame for your poor shifting. This is a cheap and easy part to replace, but change it as soon as possible to decrease the chances of it breaking off or flying into your spokes.

Step 6

Adjust the limit screws on the derailleur with a screwdriver. If the hanger looks straight, adjusting the screws is the next logical diagnostic tool. There is a high- and low-limit screw on the derailleur as well as a tension-adjustment screw. These are marked by an "L," a "B" and an "H." These screws set the parameters on where the derailer can move.

Step 7

Adjust the B screw until the pulley is rubbing against the largest sprocket. When it is adjusted to just clear the chain, tighten the screw.

Step 8

Turn to the H-limit screw. First, relieve any pressure on the cable by loosening the cable adjuster. Examine how the chain is riding on the smallest sprocket. If it's rubbing on the next gear, loosen it until it's centered. If it appears to be moving toward the axle, tighten the screw. Readjust the cable tension and see if this solves the problem.

Step 9

Shift down to your lowest gear and check the L-limit screw if you are still experiencing problems. If the chain is pulling toward the axle as it rides on the sprocket, tighten the screw clockwise until it is lined up underneath. If the opposite is happening and the chain is pulling down, loosen the screw. Before riding, run through all the gears to ensure the derailleur will not shift into the axle.

Tada! You're done!

Keep on riding!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

12 Step Derailleur Tuning

Want to learn how to adjust and fix your derailleurs? Here is the 12 step program as set forth by Jerzy "Smokey" Dymny of the Quadra Bike School.

1. Rear derailleur. Shift to high gear (small ring) and disconnect DR cable. (If DR has a reverse-rise spring the DR travels in opposite direction when released. In that case reverse these instructions for high and low cogs.)

2. Set high limit screw. Chain must travel smoothly on smallest cog but not go past it.

3. Check the complete cable path and reconnect rear derailleur cable.

4. To tune rear shifting, shift chain to middle chainring in front & tighten rear barrel adjuster until each shift click produces one clean downshift in the rear.

5. Adjust the low limit screw to let the chain reach large (low) cog but not shift past it. Check guide pulley spacing and adjust “B” screw to increase spacing if necessary.

6. Test up shifts. Turn barrel adjuster slightly in, if any shift is slow. Repeat till perfect.

7. Leave rear DR in low (large). Disconnect front cable. Adjust height of front derailleur 1–3mm above large ring.  Set front DR low limit screw. Tightening low limit screw pushes derailleur outward from frame.

8. Check complete cable path. Reconnect front cable.  Leave front DR in small ring. Test rear DR shifts up to second highest cog.

9. Shift front DR to middle ring. Test rear DR shifts through all gears.

10. Place Chain/String tool on smallest rear cog and largest chainring. Rotate front cage to match the cage engagement gap to the string angle.

11. Shift to the large ring. Set high limit screw. Test rear shifting to second lowest cog.

12. Check that front derailleur shifts through whole range & downshifts quickly.

© 2012, Quadra Bike School

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Why Bicycle Mechanics are not licensed and so underpaid...

For a combination of complicated legal and political reasons bicycle mechanics don't have licenses, certificates are basically just bogus, and bicycle mechanics are ridiculously underpaid.

It comes down to this...

You can make more money PER HOUR if you operate your own backyard or garage bike repair shop. Or better yet, open a bicycle repair shop and you are the OWNER. The reason is because if you work for someone else's bicycle repair shop then you will be making minimum wage - or barely above minimum wage.

As a career therefore I actually discourage people from becoming a bicycle mechanic unless they are ABSOLUTELY SERIOUS about it. Otherwise it will just be a lark or a hobby for them.

There are a variety of schools where a person can go become a bicycle mechanic (the one I recommend is the Quadra Island Bike School), but when it comes to getting a job all the bike shops want is experience. They don't care if you have a certificate, an apprenticeship or whatever. They just want people with lots of experience that they don't need to train.

And even if you do have lots of experience, many shops won't look at you because they might think you are "too young" to be that experienced as it says on your resume.

Or they might just not like you for whatever reason. They might even have a store policy against hiring new mechanics because the mechanics they've hired in the past so often turn out to be duds.

I also want to note that once people get into the business, and get experience, many bicycle mechanics will often jump ship from store to store in an effort to get better pay, better hours, more likeable co-workers, nicer boss, etc. They might even leave the bicycle mechanic field entirely to become a bicycle courier or get - egad - an office job or something in construction / manufacturing.

Lets take Ontario as an example. Ontario has a Bicycle Mechanic Apprenticeship Program ... and it is basically a legal and political failure that looks good on paper but hasn't resulted in any actual "apprenticeships" of bicycle mechanics.

Between March 2013 and April 2013 the Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities made a Training Agreement with 113 Bicycle Mechanic Apprentices in Ontario and provided a 30 page Schedule of Training. However, now the apprenticeship is under pressure. The program is going to be de-listed because of those 113 proposed apprenticeships how many have led to people actually becoming an apprentice?


A lot of work went into the creation of this program. A lot of bureaucracy. But so much bureaucracy happened and no actual ball (wheel?) was rolled into place to get the apprentices into place.

Basically they made a program, signed it, and then just let it sit there on paper. That is all it is. A worthless document.

Why? Because they failed to amend a second document and then funnel money and effort into the program. The initiative was made on one piece of paper, but the second was never amended and carried out.

Here's the details...

The trade of Bicycle Mechanic was designated as a new apprenticeship program under the Apprenticeship and Certification Act, 1998 (ACA) back in 2012. However, the trade is yet to be prescribed / named under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009. Basically the 2009 document needs to be amended before the 2012 document can be put into practice.

When the 2009 Act came into effect on April 8th, 2013, the previous apprenticeship legislation and regulations governing apprenticeship programs, including the ACA, were revoked because the 2009 document was never amended to include the ACA document changes.

Before the Ministry can name the trade of "bicycle mechanic" in a regulation under the Act, a 45-day consultation period with industry and training stakeholders will be required to confirm support for Bicycle Mechanic to be named as a trade under the Act - however if members of the bicycle mechanic trade don't speak up and voice their concern within 45 days, nothing will happen, the 2012 document will be throw into the proverbial garbage.

Bureaucratic jibber jabber.

And even if support is confirmed the following events will also need to occur:

The trade will need to be named in Ontario Regulation 175/11 (Prescribed Trades and Related Matters), which means that regulation also needs to be amended;

The College will need to develop the scopes of practice in regulation (O. Reg. 278/11 – Scope of Practice - Trades in the Service Sector), which means that regulation also needs to be amended;

And lastly...

The College of Trades Board of Governors will need to establish a panel review to determine compulsory or voluntary designation. Which if they don't bother or don't feel like it, it will never happen.

As of April 8, 2013 and until all these events occur, no new apprenticeship training agreements can be registered for the trade of Bicycle Mechanic.

Active training agreements (of which there are zero) with existing apprentices will continue to be honoured. Which is funny because there isn't any. They (a sum of zero) will continue to be registered apprentices with the Ministry until such time as the trade is designated or not. Please note these apprentices (all zero of them) cannot be members of the Ontario College of Trades until the trade is named under the Act.

Which is probably never going to happen.

The start of the 45 day consultation period hasn't started yet. So the program hasn't been cancelled yet per se... but it does appear to be on hold indefinitely and is potentially going to be scrapped, mostly because the bureaucracy has grinded to a stop.

In theory people could contact the Ministry of Training and encourage them to continue with the program, but without a decent amount of public support the program will likely be scrapped because of the government's present cost cutting mood.

A decision on whether the program will live or die should come about in September. Unless it falls to the side thanks to bureaucratic incompetence.

Apprentices (all zero of them) who wish to cancel their registered training agreement may request a full refund of the $40 registration fee by contacting their local apprenticeship office. A complete list of apprenticeship offices is available on the ministry web site at

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Wrap Road Bike Handlebars

I have posted on the topic of How to Wrap Bicycle Handlebars before. Twas a YouTube post before too.

However you may recall I only gave that video 4.5 stars out of 5.

I think I have found a 5 star video on the topic, a two-parter. Both parts of the video are shown below.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Should Toronto have elevated bicycles lanes?

Should Toronto have elevated bicycles lanes?

Post your comments below and let everyone know what you think of this Utopian idea of building elevated bicycles lanes across Toronto. See the photo and map below if you are unfamiliar with the concept.

Toronto Architect Chris Hardwicke wants to build something pretty futuristic. He proposes "a high speed, all season, pollution free, ultra-quite transit system that makes people healthier. Using an infrastructure of elevated cycle tracks, velo-city creates a network across the City. "

His Velo-City idea, although novel, is largely unrealistic. I can still admire it however and daydream about it. The kind of spending required to even start a pilot project like that however should really be going towards subway expansion instead.

Below: Chris Hardwicke's map of where he would build elevated bicycle lanes.

Or you know, we could just improve the quality and number of existing bicycle lanes. Much more feasible. (Although not so much under our current crack-smoking temper-tantrum wife-beating mayor Rob Ford.)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Slightly Oval Chainring - Look for better quality!


Hi Charles,

I own a good quality fixed gear bike. Nonetheless, is it normal for there to be tight and loose spots on the chain. When the crank side arm is facing front, the chain is at it's tightest. Turn 180 and it is loose. It is not so loose that it will come off the chain ring. For a Campagnolo crank I was expecting higher tolerances. I have read that tight and loose spots are to be expected on a fixed gear bike. I would like a second opinion. What is yours in this matter. Thank you



Hello Andre!

It is the result of lower quality chainrings and cranksets that are more oval shaped instead of perfect circles. It is only off by a mm or so, but its enough to be annoying. (With bicycles, being off by even 0.5 of a mm is often a big deal.)

If it bothers you then you can purchase higher quality parts that are more perfectly round.

Make sure you mounted the ring properly. Try removing the chain ring and remounting it slowly by tightening the bolts, every 2nd one in a star pattern, so they are evenly tightened. Tightening all the way on one side and going around can warp the aluminum ring. Let me know if this works and helps you. :)

The companies that are making such shoddy parts are the ones who like to spread the claim that such imperfections are "normal". Yes, imperfections do happen. Its the result of a faulty manufacturing process that results in a percentage of chainrings being slightly oval shaped.

Even better quality companies sometimes have this problem, but their quality control should be ensuring that the chainring is as close to perfectly circle as they can make it. And anything less than quality should be tossed and recycled.

But claiming that such imperfections should just be "accepted" as normal is misinformation on their part.

Charles Moffat
The Bicycle Mechanic

PS. I do agree, I would expect better quality from a Campagnolo chainring. If I was the manufacturer I would be apologizing and offering to send you a new one.


Hi Charles,
I just finished putting my bike back together. I followed your directions and found there to be much less play on the loose side. Much better!


Spam comments will not be approved. If you want to advertise your product or service (or want to sponsor this blog) please contact

Recent Posts

Popular Posts

Looking for a bicycle mechanic school in Canada? The Quadra Island Bike School in British Columbia is a Canadian bicycle mechanic school that trains professional bicycle mechanics against the backdrop of the beautiful Quadra Island.