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Gear Table

Picture left:

If you are wearing this many medals on your chest, do not go cycling in a thunderstorm.

Unless you have aspirations to become a conductor.

Bicycle gears measured in inches date all the way back to the Ordinary or Penny Farthing bicycle. The large drive wheel was usually around 50 to 60 inches in diameter.

When the first chain-driven Safety bicycles were built the manufacturers advertised them as having, for example, a 60 inch gear. In other words, the gearing was the equivalent of a 60-inch diameter drive wheel.

The formula for calculating a gear is simple; it is the diameter of the rear wheel, divided by the number of teeth on the rear sprocket, times the number of teeth on the chainwheel.

A bicycle with a 27 inch wheel, an 18 tooth rear sprocket, and a 48 tooth chainwheel, would have a 27, divide by 18, times 48, equals a 72 inch gear. The equivalent of a 72 inch diameter drive wheel on an Ordinary.

You can make a handy custom gear table on your PC using Microsoft Excel. Print this easy to follow step-by-step instructions in PDF format.

Gear tables are useful especially when you have multiple gears in comparing different rear sprocket and chainwheel combinations.

If you are new to the sport of cycling, you will soon learn that gears in the 90 to a 100 inch and above are hard to push. You will use gears in the 70 to lower 80s range for most of your riding; 60 inch and below you will use on the hills.

A rule of thumb is one tooth difference on the rear sprocket is the same as between three and four teeth on the chainwheel. If you shift down from a 52 chainwheel to a 42, you need to shift up 2 or 3 teeth on your rear freewheel cluster to be the equivalent of one step (or one tooth) lower. A gear table is useful to see where these changes are.



No, I don’t mean the one-eyed giant from Greek mythology; that’s Cyclops.

I mean cycle-clips; made out of spring steel, usually coated in plastic, and they hold your pant leg at the bottom so they don’t get caught in your chain.

Very important if you ride a fixed gear bike as Fritz found out recently when his entire right pant leg was ripped from his leg.

Growing up in England, cycle-clips were standard equipment; as common in any household as a can-opener. If you owned any kind of bike you owned cycle-clips.

I don't understand why they never caught on the US.

Footnote: Cycle-Clips also can be used in the sport of Ferret Legging.


I Mistook a Silk Purse for a Pig’s Ear

When I posted my blog last Saturday about two rare track frames, one a yellow and black Fuso, the other I described as re-painted Paris Sport frame built around 1979 - 1980. The frame has turned out to be a custom ‘dave moulton’ frame built in 1991, probably one of the last track frames I built as I retired from the business in 1993.

The problem was the picture sent to me did not do the frame justice. I looked at the funky straight fork (Not the original.) and the geto bars with no tape, and immediately assumed the frame was “an old beater.”

The owner had been corresponding with me about this frame via email, but because someone else sent the picture, I didn’t realize this was the same bike. Yesterday, the owner sent more pictures, and it all became clear that not only was this the original paint but the frame is in immaculate condition.

The first clue, the frame is built in Columbus SLX tubing; SLX was not around in 1980. The decals also threw me a curve, these were newly designed around 1991 when this was built.

The road bike market had gone right down the toilet, due to the mountain bike craze, and I thought I might survive by building a few high-end custom frames. With this in mind, I redesigned the decals for the custom frames, but as it turned out only two or three frames were ever finished with these decals, making this particular frame unique.

My apologies to the current owner of this bike for my mistake, incidentally, he tells me he has the original fork, but as it is not drilled for a brake he has temporarily replaced it with the one you see here.

I’m also taking up a collection to send him money for handlebar tape.


Fuso Mixte: One of a Kind

Following my last post about rare track bikes another singular bike has just surfaced; a Fuso Mixte. Built in 1984, the year the Fuso was introduced; it is the only one of its kind. It was built for a business associate.

While operating my frameshop in San Marcos, which is in San Diego County, California, I used the services of a printing company in neighboring Escondido. They printed the Fuso decals, and they produced some brochures for me.

The owner of the print shop expressed an interest in having a pair of bicycles made for him and his wife in exchange for the work they were doing for me.

The 18 inch mixte frame was custom built for the wife and co-owner of the print business. The other bike was a standard Fuso frame, although it did have a non-standard paint job. Finished in a matching light and dark green metallic that you see here.

The mixte was finished as a Fuso rather than a custom ‘dave moulton’ so the two bikes would be a matching pair.

I never built another like it or even considered it as viable production model; there was not really a market for a high-end women’s bike. When females get into the sport enough to desire a frame of the Fuso caliber they usually prefer to ride a standard frame.

Somewhere along the way the matching pair of bikes got separated but the mixte has now shown up in Florida. My thanks go the current owner Mike Volpe for contacting me and sending the pictures.


The Highway Code

I am not one of those English people who live in the US and constantly compare the two countries, cultures, or lifestyles. I have lived here for 28 years now, if anything it is England that now seems foreign to me. You will never hear me compare Cadbury’s chocolate with Hershey’s for example, or argue that one is better than the other.

One simple rule I do follow; when in England the coffee is so bad I drink tea. When in America the tea is so bad, I drink coffee. Another I would argue is a good thing in the UK, is something called the Highway Code.

It used to be a little printed book given out to everyone who drove a car, in fact learning the Highway Code was the first step required in getting a driver’s license. It was also available to any road user; kids in school would be given a copy. These days it is also a website.

The Highway Code is a British Government entity, the website URL ends in The great thing about it is that it doesn’t just include car drivers, but all road users. It is a book of rules for cars, motorcycles, cyclists, pedestrians, and even horses on the road. There can be no argument that bicycles and others have a legal right to be on the road, a government publication says it is so.

With that right to be on the road comes a set of rules and laws that you must follow. I was amazed when I first came to the US to see bikes on the sidewalk, bikes on the wrong side of the road. Even when I started riding with the local racers in New Jersey, I was surprised to see them ride through red lights.

On the home page of the Highway Code website, about the third paragraph down it states that some of the rules are the law and to break them is a criminal offense, with fines, or even prison sentences. The rules that are the law are indicated on the website by the words MUST and MUST NOT in red type. Here are some of the must obey rules for cyclists:

Rule 46: At night your cycle MUST have front and rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85).

50: You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

54: You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement. (The pavement is the sidewalk in England.)

This law is good because you don’t get idiot motorists yelling at you to get on the sidewalk, because everyone knows it is against the law, and a cyclist would be fined for doing so. It is also against the law in most of the US but no one enforces it.

55: You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red.

As for riding on the wrong side of the road towards oncoming traffic; it is so blatently obvious that it is not even mentioned.

In the rules for drivers section it is interesting that the following advice is included:

Rule 139: Give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would a car when overtaking

I particularly like that one. “Give at least as much room as you would a car when overtaking.” It almost has the Biblical overtones of “Do as you would have done unto you.” Can you imagine the average car driver’s reaction if someone passed them missing them by inches? It would initially scare the crap out of them.

187: It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions and at roundabouts. Always look out for them when you are emerging from a junction.

188: When passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room. If they look over their shoulder whilst you are following them it could mean that they may soon attempt to turn. Give them time and space to do so.

189: Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room.

Need I say more to sing praises to the British Highway Code?

Footnote: As the majority of readers of my blog are from the US, I flipped the pictures to show traffic on the right side of the road.