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The Dutch Bike Bits blog includes comparisons and reviews of cycling components.

The Hembrow Cycling Holidays blog has stories about cycle routes in Drenthe.

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Page of broken bicycle parts

Every so often something on one of my bikes breaks in an unusual way. Sometimes this is due to things simply wearing out over time, sometimes due to manufacturing problems and sometimes due to the part being abused in some way.

Sachs 3x7 hub

The Sachs 3x7 hub is a 3 speed hub gear with an inbuilt freehub for a Shimano compatible 7 speed cassette. My hub came as standard equipment on a Pashley PDQ recumbent bike. Twice in the past this hub has eaten its bearings and required rebuilding. On a tour in 2008 this occurred some way from home. We limped to a village where we found a very skilled engineer who rebuilt the hub, but could remove the cassette due to not having the correct tool. Unfortunately, the next day the same thing happened again. I didn't understand how it was possible for the bearings to slip out of alignment without the nuts at either end of the axle being moved until later. I built a new wheel for the PDQ but wanted to use the same nearly new cassette. The cassette wouldn't come off the hub. On taking the cassette apart it was obvious why. The freehub body was cracked and slightly crooked.

I couldn't remove the last sprocket without breaking the freehub body. The original damage is discoloured by oil while the break required to remove the sprocket is light in colour in the second photo. The main crack was nearly half way around the body and approaching another crack heading in the opposite direction.


Unknown brake lever

This brake lever was on the right hand side of Judy's Azor bicycle. In general, these bikes are of very high quality, and the modern Azor test procedure apparently includes bending brake levers back and forth several times to make sure they don't break easily. However, we bought this bike second hand, the right hand lever had a bit more freedom than the left hand lever and we don't know what happened to be beforehand. I was replaced with a similar looking manufacturerless lever from a local bike shop.

These days I have my own bike shop and we sell brake levers.

Xtracycle kickstand mounting

The Xtracycle Freeradical is a fine idea, but mine is a very early one and some parts of it were less than well made. For instance, the kickstand mount, which snapped off one day as shown below. You can see from the rust in the metal shown in the photo that one end, "A" was brazed right across, while the other end "B" was not. This weakness lead to the part simply dropping off the bike. I replaced this with the excellent Xtracycle Kick-Back. This is a proper double stand especially made to fit the bike and exactly what the Xtracycle always deserved.

Note that I've been told that newer Xtracycles are improved in this crucial area. Also, we sell stands (though not for the Xtracycle)

Truvativ idler

My Mango Velomobile is used to test new things. I've tried quite a few chain idler wheels, including this one from Truvativ intended for their "BoxGuide" or some such product. This sets the record for a short life. It lasted just one week, just 400 km or so (including this race), before falling apart and making an odd noise on the way to work. Well, that's something we'll not be using in the product for customers !

Admittedly I think it's not actually intended to be used as a the drive side idler, so I guess it's only supposed to be strong enough for a chain with little tension.

We sell much better idlers than this. The Truvativ was replaced with one of those, which still works years later.

Sturmey Archer 3 speed clutch

My town bike has a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub. The hub dates from the 1970s and has seen a lot of use, and unfortunately it started slipping out of 3rd gear. I took it apart and replaced the clutch.

New (left) and old (right) clutches. The old part is rather more nicely made. It's molded to a very particular shape while the new is just pressed. However, they are funcationaly identical.

In the close-up photos you can see the worn edge of the clutch. It needs to have a good edge which grips on other components within the hub. We blame Sturmey Archer for this failure. It's the result of being not quite correctly adjusted for many years of use.

Dynamo bracket for V-brake

For several years we sold these dynamo brackets for Cantilever or V-brake mounting in our webshop, after we'd fitted them to our own bikes and found them to be very convenient.

Unfortunately these brackets turned out not to be adequately constructed. They eventually fatigue off and the dynamo could end up between the spokes of the wheel and cause a crash. After nearly 2 years of service on my touring bike, I found that my dynamo was at an incorrect angle. Closer inspection revealed that the part had nearly complete failed so I removed it. That's the bracket above.

If you have a bracket like this for mounting a dynamo on your bicycle we recommend removing it immediately. If you bought one of these brackets from us, please contact us for a refund.

Broken spoke

I build my own wheels and they usually last a very long time, but a couple of days ago I rode home on my touring bike with a noise from the back wheel which was obviously a broken spoke and I when I took the broken spoke out I found this.

I built this wheel more than ten years ago and no spokes had broken until this one. Spokes mostly break on the bend where the spoke goes through the hole in the hub due to inadequate tension. This isn't a normal break at all. What actually happened here is a longer storey: I replaced my cassette and derailleur a couple of months back and rode the bike before I'd paid enough attention to re-adjusting the derailleur end stops. The result was that the chain came off and wedged itself between the back of the cassette and the spokes. On the day that this happened I was far from home, but I quickly took the wheel out, got the chain back on the cassette, adjusted the end stops and continued my ride. Afterwards I more or less forgot about it, but the spoke which had been damaged by the chain didn't forget and that's why a couple of months later it failed as you see here.

The moral of the story ? Pay more attention than I did to adjusting the derailleur end-stops when you change cassette or derailleur ! Luckily, we sell spokes. It took just five minutes to install a replacement and re-tension the wheel.

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