Author Topic: Christmas is coming!  (Read 654 times)

Andre Jute

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3444
Christmas is coming!
« on: December 18, 2019, 12:04:48 AM »
If you bought a new frame today, which components from your current bike would you carry forward, and why? Equally, which components on your current bike would you not want on your new bike, and why? Or specify/not specify if you ordered a whole bike?

« Last Edit: December 18, 2019, 12:34:00 AM by Andre Jute »

Andre Jute

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3444
Re: Christmas is coming!
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2019, 12:33:28 AM »
I would carry forward (actually buy new ones of), in no particular order, these proven components, given that if the frame cannot, for instance, take 60mm Big Apples complete with P65 mudguards, it wouldn't even be on my shortlist:

***n'lock stem -- unlocks the steering tube to make the bike unrideable -- best and quickest lightweight security I know.
***VP-191 pedals -- silky smooth, not pricey.
***Schwalbe 60mm Big Apple tyres, lightweight folding version -- very comfortable, almost perfectly puncture proof, long-lasting.
***SchwalbeT19A "lightweight" tubes -- saves a couple of pounds, as good in all respects as standard tubes.
***Standard steel fork, no suspension beyond Big Apples, relaxed understeering geometry -- I just think steel rides better -- best looking fork ever was Thorn's biplane.
***Steel frame of scaled, graduated, internally butted, externally lugged steel, brazed (not welded), relaxed geometry, long wheelbase -- the way I ride on the downhills the last thing I want is a high-strung, nervous bike.
***Rohloff Speedhub 14 gearbox with EXT click box gear change -- need I explain?
***KMC X8-99 chain -- proven value.
***Chainglider chaincase -- only chaincase worth considering, and a bargain at the price.
***SON hub dynamo -- superior longevity.
***B+M lamps front and rear, permanently on -- underspecified (no blinking mode) but reliable, on balance the best you can buy.
***B+M 47LH stable nylon-filled lamp stand --  necessary to shine Cyo over Big Apple.
***Brooks Saddle B73 -- voted most comfortable by my bum.
***Brooks leather ring grips -- match the saddle, super comfortable and long-lasting.
***Magura rim hydraulic brakes -- strong enough, sealed for life, very progressive.
***Tubus Cosmo pannier rack -- stainless steel, more durable than ali racks.
***Basil open-top pannier baskets -- I live in a low crime area so I can justify the convenience of not having to open panniers.
***Uno-alloy North Road handlebars -- ultra-comfortable and very adjustable.
***Exal XL25 rims -- 24mm wide over beads to take 60mm Big Apples
***Sapim Strong spokes with "Rohloff elbow" and Polyax nipples -- best touring spokes for Rohloff.
***SKS P65 mudguards, long, with front and rear extensions -- not perfect but probably the best available.
***1-1/8in Cane Creek S8 headset, copy made by Cane Creek for German distributor.
*** Square taper crank axle and cranks -- post office era tech that just keeps working.
If you need it:
***Bafang/8FUN BBS centre motor -- well made, very versatile software controls.

Important points:
*all these components are proven to work together:
*all are zero or ultra-low maintenance products, so fit and forget, for instance, I run the KMC chain inside the Chainglideer for its entire life of 4500km (very good for a masher like me) on the factory lube, no additional lube, cleaning or even inspection.

Also notice how few components in my list aren't of at least thirty years standing in the cycling community. Product longevity and the community's collective judgement are rarely wrong when given enough time.

Andre Jute

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3444
Re: Christmas is coming!
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2019, 11:40:31 PM »
Something I wanted for years but couldn't find was the VAR 425 tire lever set. It would make fitting, and removing, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus (and Bontrager workalike) tyres that I used until about ten years ago a doddle. When I went over to Schwalbe Big Apple Liteskins, a soft sidewall "folding" balloon tyre, the VAR 425 became irrelevant -- except I still have bikes with those obstructive tyres... Maybe I should start looking again. Here's a page from the VAR catalogue showing what it looks like, third block from the top, and how it is used:

« Last Edit: December 22, 2019, 11:43:44 PM by Andre Jute »


  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7763
  • reisen statt rasen
Re: Christmas is coming!
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2019, 12:36:59 AM »
Something I wanted for years but couldn't find was the VAR 425 tire lever set. It would make fitting, and removing, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus (and Bontrager workalike) tyres that I used until about ten years ago a doddle.
No, it wouldn't, Andre, not if the tires are very wide at all. That's why VAR's description says, "...REMOVING LEVER FOR TIRES OF SMALL SIZE: WOLBER, MICHELIN".

I have three of them for my skinny-tired bikes and I can assure you while they work fantastically as tire bead jacks (the true technical term) for narrow tires on narrow rims, they just aren't as suitable for wider tires except when used as "regular" tire levers (there's one on the end of the jack and a second, standalone lever that stores inside the jack); they excel in that function as they are wide and the hook is narrow and shallow but abrupt without being sharp. The 425 is made of reinforced nylon and works superbly so long as the "jaws" clear the tire's section width and the rim is not too wide. If neither of those conditions obtain, it isn't worth beans as a jack (I've tried, 'won't work or work well enough to make a positive difference especially if the tire is much wider than the rim). The VAR 425 was the only means I ever found to remove an undersized kevlar beaded vintage Michelin Elan tire from an oversized Weinmann Concave rim back in the day -- and it did it quickly and easily without damage to either tire bead or rim.

The successor to the original 425 is still available but has some detail changes and is now colored blue instead of the older cream color of mine, all purchased before 1983. The basic dimensions are the same as my old version and their geometry remains poor when used with wider tires, which tend to spread the jaws so the notched foot slips off the far rim and the bead hook cannot retain its hold under the pressure of levering. If all is narrow, then it works better for the task than anything I've found. I've had no luck using mine with tires 35-37mm wide and just managed with 32mm, but the jack portion isn't really needed for that. It excels for tires ranging from 22-25mm wide where the tolerances are so tight conventional levers can't really get in to the places needed to do the job. The jack's hook manages by lifting the bead next to the rim sidewall where further pressure just slides the bead across the hook so it can then drop into place. For the right application, it is genius.

There's a video of someone using the VAR tool here:
...but the gentleman is not using it entirely correctly or as intended. The way to do it is to use the tire lever portions to unseat the beads initially, then use the rounded end of the detachable lever to "zip" (progressively unseat) the remaining bead. The rounded end prevents bead damage, while doing the same with the hooked end as the video shows can cause bead damage. When mounting, the proper procedure is to engage the bead manually as far as possible, then do most of the rest with the tire lever-ends, using the bead jack for the last portion where clearances are too tight to fit a lever. Again, "zipping" the bead into place with the hooked ends of the VAR tire levers or the bead jack can cause separation of the wrap containing the bead itself.

If you want the updated version of the VAR tool, it can be found at SJS Cycles: The lever portion is so good you should get it even if the bead jack portion is not so usable on wider tires. Better, I'd suggest laying in several against the day when you lose yours or someone nicks it.

Kool-Stop makes a version of the tire jack from black-colored, glass-reinforced nylon that is much heavier duty and has a wider jaw opening but still carries the same caveats wrt against use with wider tires. I no longer have mine as I felt it was too large to carry on the bike. One end looks like a bicycle handlebar grip while the hooks are more robust, essentially the same as the old Simson Tyre Mate: Available on eBay or here:

Amazon also carries similar models by BikeHand:
...and ImFun:
...but I have used neither of those so cannot provide a first-hand report.


« Last Edit: December 23, 2019, 05:47:24 AM by Danneaux »

Andre Jute

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3444
Re: Christmas is coming!
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2019, 05:17:43 AM »
Dan, you've ruined my dream! The VAR 425 was the second last bike tool I dreamed of finding and just when it becomes available, you tell me it will be no use on my bikes! Cruel, cruel man.

Heh-heh, but seriously... Trust you to have it already and to know all the alternatives too. The Bikehand tool looks the business, but at almost ten inches long (!), like you, I won't be carrying it on my bike' My toolbag, full, is about 3.5x3.5x1in. It is claimed, however, to work with tyres up to 3in wide, so might be justified as a garage tool. I don't need it for the Big Apples which almost beg to be reunited with the rim with just finger pressure, but you're right, my Marathon Plus tyres, and the Bontrager too, are 37 or 38mm, too wide for the VAR 425.

Thanks for taking the trouble to write a detailed exposition on rare and wonderful bead jacks (new term to me, for which double thanks) at such a busy time.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 695
Re: Christmas is coming!
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2019, 08:45:28 AM »
I also have the Var 425 tyre lever from the 1980's.

It was very useful on thin tyres with tight fitting rims, notably some models of SUN rims that have very shallow wells.

I only use it now on one of the Bromptons that has a SUN rim, and only really need it with some tyre models. For these 16" Brompton rims I have found that it works with all the tyre sizes I have tried from 28 mm to 38 mm.

With most of the other family bikes I don't even need tyre levers to get the tyres on or off.