Changing The Front Crankset

FSA CranksetChanging The Front Crankset


  1. I am changing the front Crankset on my Bacchetta Giro 20 from the stock FSA-Tempo bottom bracket with 52/42/30 gears to a Shimano-Deore FC-M590L263648 with 48/36/26 gears.  I am doing this to provide better low end gearing for cross country touring on a loaded recumbent bicycle.
  2. I reference a number of Park Tool products.  There are other companies that make similar tools, and sometimes a standard ‘tool box’ tool will work.  I reference the Park Tools because this provides a starting place for assembling the needed tools.
  3. The various numbers and gears that I reference are relative to my bicycle.  They may not be the same on other bicycles.
  4. If your chain is really dirty you might consider cleaning it, or at least wiping it down with a solvent, to minimize getting grease and grime on everything.

Here is a chart I put together which shows the difference between the old chain set and the newer one.  Keep in mind that the circumference of my tires may not be the same as yours.

Measuring the DistanceMaking The Change

  1. with the front derailleur set on the largest gear measure the smallest distance between the large chainring and the front derailleur (normally toward the top of the chainring – 4.3mm)
  2. position the chain on smallest gear front gear
  3. rear cassette – position the chain where the rear idlers are perpendicular (23T)
  4. remove the front pedals using a thin 15mm wrench (Park Tool PW-3)
  5. non-drive side pedal – reverse threadeddrive side pedal – normal threaded
  6. Perpendicular Idlerscheck the chain to see if it needs replacement (Park Tool CC-3.2) – For the modern 9 and 10 speed chains, replace chain at or just before the 0.75% readings. For the 11 speed chain, replace at or just before the 0.5% reading.
  7. count the number of links in the chain
    1. find the removable link
    2. put a dab of fingernail polish on it
    3. I also put fingernail polish on every 20th link to aid in keeping track
    4. my chain – KMC Z99 with 137 links
  8. locate the removable link, compress the chain on either side of the link (Park Tool MLP-1), separate the removable link and pull one side out (be prepared, the chain  will rapidly unspool and fall to the ground)
  9. remove the existing crank arms
    1. Park Tool has some instructions on this process
    2. use an 8mm allen wrench to remove the allen bolts on each crank arm (may need an extension bar or dead-blow hammer to loosen them up)
    3. non-drive side – clockwise threaded
    4. drive side – counter-clockwise threaded
    5. remove the FSA-Tempo cranks arm (Park Tool CWP-7)
    6. on the crank puller, follow the directions to insure the correct end cap is in position on the inner threaded arm (small cap), if not, switch end caps
    7. use a dab of lubricant on the threads when screwing the outer section of the crank puller into the crank arm (otherwise it tends to gall somewhat easily)
    8. screw the outer section of the puller all the way into the crank arm (if not screwed all the way in the threads may pull out of the aluminum crank arm)
    9. screw the inner section in until the crank arm pops off of the tapered square shaft (this may take some amount of force)
    10. repeat the process for the other side
  10. remove the bottom bracket bearing set (Park Tool BBT-22)
    1. Park Tool has some instructions on this process.
    2. unscrew the removable (non-drive side) ring – clockwise threaded
    3. unscrew the fixed (drive side) flange – counter-clockwise threaded
    4. remove the bearing set
    5. at this point I put the bearing set and end bolts in a plastic sandwich bag to minimize contamination
  11. on the bicycle, measure the width of the bottom bracket housing – 68.3mm
  12. install the Deore bearing set (the Shimano directions are well written and easy to follow)
    1. Park Tool has some instructions on this process.
    2. follow the directions closely for a 68mm bottom bracket width
    3. rub a small amount of grease on the bottom bracket threads
    4. all three spacers measured 2.5mm each
    5. drop 2 of the spacers on bearing housing with the inner cover tube, screw the bearing housing into the drive side of the bracket (counter-clockwise threaded), and use Park Tool BBT-19 and a torque wrench to tighten to 305-435 inch pounds
    6. drop the remaining spacer over the right adapter, screw the bearing cap into the non-drive side bottom bracket (clockwise threaded), and use Park Tool BBT-19  and a torque wrench to tighten to 305-435 inch pounds
    7. check to see if there is a light coating of grease on the crank arm shaft, if not, apply a light coat of grease
    8. insert the crank arm shaft into the drive side of the bottom bracket and press all the way through (may need to tap lightly with a dead-blow hammer)
    9. there should be some residual grease on the splines of the crank arm shaft, if not, apply a light coat of grease
    10. press the non-drive side crank arm on the splined shaft, 180 degrees away from the drive side arm (press all the way against the bearing housing)
    11. screw the cap into the end of the non-drive side crank arm
      1. use Park Tool BBT-10 and a torque wrench to tighten to 6-13 inch pounds
      2. if using your fingers instead of a torque wrench, just firmly tighten, there is no need to really crank down on it
    12. press the little stopper plate (on the non-drive side crank arm) all the way down (it may take firm pressure with the thumb)
    13. use a 5mm allen socket and torque wrench to tighten the crank arm bolts to 106 – 122 inch pounds
  13. adjust the chain length
    1. thread the chain through the front derailleur cage and wrap it around the small gear
    2. the chain should still be on the same gear on the rear cassette (23T)
    3. pull the rear section of the chain forward which will apply tension with the rear derailleur
    4. use Park Tool MLP-1 to hold the chain together
    5. install the removable link sections on either side and clip them together
    6. loosen the chain pliers, and the chain tension should lock the link sections together
    7. check the rear derailleur to see if rear idlers are perpendicular, in my case the were about one chain link section to far back, so I needed to remove one chain link section
    8. repeat the process to unclip the removeable link
    9. using Park Tool CT-5 remove one link from the chain
    10. repeat the to re-attach the chain per the above instructions
    11. check the rear derailleur to see if rear idlers are perpendicular (mine were)
  14. re-install the pedals
  15. adjust the front derailleur
    1. loosen the shift cable adjusting bolt with a 5mm allen wrench (the derailleur will close up due to internal spring pressure
    2. loosen the bracket that holds the front derailleur on the bicycle with a                     5mm allen wrench
    3. lower the derailleur to achieve the same spacing between the derailleur and large front gear as previously measured
    4. re-tighten the bracket bolt
    5. use the inner derailleur set screw to position the derailleur cage over the small chainring
    6. pull the shift cable up to remove all slack, and then tighten the locking bolt
    7. turn the pedals by hand and try shifting the front derailleur, you may need to adjust the set screws to allow sufficient movement without over shifting
  16. New Cranksetcheck the rear derailleur
    1. use your hand to pedal the bike and shift the front and rear derailleurs in all gear positions to insure the rear derailleur has sufficient travel
    2. note: when the chain is on the large front gear do not use the two largest rear gears, and when the chain is on the small front chain do not use the two smallest rear gears
  17. good luck and good cranking

A New Set Of Wheels

Velocity-RimsI built a new set of wheels for my Bacchetta Giro 20 recumbent bike.  The biggest reason was that I wanted a 36 spoke rear wheel (versus 32 spoke) to more adequately carry the weight load for a fully loaded set of panniers cross country.

My thanks to Wayne Estes for providing some assistance in selecting the components.  Wayne has done a significant amount of long distance fully loaded bicycle trips over the years.  Based on that experience I decided to use similar component where possible.

Front Rim Velocity Areo Heat – 20″-(406-32)-MSW-black
Rear Rim Velocity Areo Heat – 26″-(559-36)-MSW-black
Rim Plugs Velocity – Veloplug – Red (8.0mm) #601-200
Front Hub Shimano SLX – HB-M675
Rear Hub Shimano SLX – FH-M675
Front Spokes DT Swiss – Champion 14g
Rear Spokes DT SWiss – Competition 14/15g
Front Tire Schwalbe – Marathon HS240 20″ x 1.5″
Rear Tire Schwalbe – Marathon HS240 26″ x 1.5″
Front Tube Q Tubes 20 x 1.25 – 1.5″ – presta valve 32mm
Rear Tube Q Tubes 26 x 1.5 – 1.75″ – presta valve 32mm
Cassette Shimano SLX – CS-HG80-9 9 Speed 11-34

This was the first set of wheels I have built from scratch, so, I purchased an internet book titled Professional Guide to Wheel Building by Roger Musson.  Also, I watched several several internet videos.  Here are three that I watched, #1, #2, #3.

The first step involved measuring the rims and hubs so the spoke lengths could be calculated.  I used the drawings in Musson’s book as a guide, here are my hub measurements, and my rim measurements: 384mm front rim, 537 rear rim.

Using these measurements I went to  WheelPro Soke Calculator, plugged in the component measurements, and wahla, out came the spoke lengths required: front length, rear length.  Remember, for a 14mm spoke nipple you should deduct 1mm of spoke length.  I decided to do a 3X spoke arrangement  based on the existing rims and Musson’s recommendation. Please use all of my measurements as a sanity check.  You should do your own measurements.

I purchased my spokes from Velocity because they seemed to have a good selection of sizes.  Roger Musson prefers double butted spokes but they were not available in the short lengths for the front wheel, so I used DT Champion front spokes.  I did use the double butted DT Competition spokes for the rear.

truing-standNow came the building part.  Following their instructions I first dipped the threaded ends of the spokes in motor oil, and then lightly wiped away the excess.  Next, I used a Q-tip dipped in oil to coat the inside of each spoke hole with oil.  Then I laced both the front and rear wheels and ‘pre-tightened’ all spokes.  There are several videos on the internet that show how to use the bicycle forks & tie wraps as a truing stand.  Roger Musson’s book show how to build a nice looking truing stand.  In my case, I found a used Park Tool #TS-2.2 truing stand at a very good price.

Using a Park Tool Black spoke wrench I began tightening each of the spokes, starting at the valve stem hole.  After each round of tightening I would check for rim ‘wobble’ and diameter ‘trueness’.  In my case, I didn’t purchase a Dishing Gage.



I felt I could do just as well with a clamp and a small piece of wood for a pointer.  By reversing the wheels on the truing stand I could adjust the hub centerline just as easily.  As the wheel became more centered I would move the wood pointer in.  It took me about an hour, but eventually I was able to slip a sheet of paper between the wood pointer and the rim.  I am not sure how close the typical wheel building professional get their wheels, but I felt this was close enough for me.

Pinching The SpokesHow tight should the spokes be?  A very good question.  I used my thumb and forefinger to ‘pinch’ spokes on a commerically built rim to try and get a good ‘feel’ for how much they could be compressed.  At this point I went back and ‘pinched’ the spokes on my new rims.    My rims seemed to be a little ‘stiffer’ than the commerical wheels.  Information on various websites indicated that one advantage of hand built wheels was they were typically tighter than machine built ones, so I left my alone.

The next step was to check and see if all of the spokes were tightened about the same.  One trick I read about was was holding the rim Spoke Tensionstationary and ‘wiping’ a wooden stick across the spoke pairs to see if they all sounded the same.  I tried this, and again, everything seemed acceptable.  Note: each side of the rim will sound slightly different due to the varying spoke lengths.

Then I ‘stressed’ the rims to make sure every thing was fully seated and the spokes were stretched out.  I did this by placing the hub on the ground and pressing down on the rim, rotating the rim about 25o, then pressing down again.  I repeated this on each side of the rims.  As I did this there was some popping & pinging.  At this point I went back and checked the rims for warp and runout.  In my case, I stressed the rims twice and rechecked everything.  The rims did shift and Stressing The RimI ended up having to re-true the rims slightly.

After the wheels were completed I wiped everything down to remove any excess oil, then I installed the VeloPlugs.  I decided to used VeloPlugs rather than rim tape to cover the spoke holes for ease of removal.

At this point I used a cassette lock ring tool and a chain whip to install the cassette.  From there I mounted the tires & tubes and aired everything up to 80psi.  Schwalbe tires can be a pain when it comes to mounting them to a rim.  I used two velcro straps to help out (two of them are in my tire repair kit).

  1. mount one side of the tire to the rim
  2. install the tube
  3. mount the second side of the tire as far as possible
  4. stand the tire/rim up with the unmounted section at the top
  5. compress the tire as much as possible at the 4 o’clock position and velcro wrap the compressed tire to the rim
  6. repeat the process at the 8 o’clock position
  7. this should provide sufficient slack in the tire to use tire bars to finish the mounting process
  8. reverse the process to remove the tires

The new tires/rims were installed on the bicycle withou any problems.  The new rims were a little wider so the brake pads had to be move slightly and the brake cable had to be adjusted so the brake arms could be locked into position.

I have 50+ miles on the new wheels and all seem to roll along quite well.  I enjoyed building the wheels and learned a lot about rims, hubs, & spokes.  Only time and mileage will tell how really good my finished product is.

Velogenesis Seat Strut Clamps

TerraCycle ClampsI have always been somewhat concerned about the pins that hold the support tubes for the seat back for the Bacchetta Giro 20 in place.  The pull pins are removable so the seat back angle can be easily changed.  Both the ease of pin removal and the the fact that there was a slight wiggle movement between the inner and outer tubes concerned me.

Anytime there is continual movement for long periods of time (i.e. riding a bicycle cross country) between various metal parts  wear/failure can occur.  In this case, the pins could fail or fall out, the alignment holes could elongate (increasing the movement), or something else could happen.

While investigating underseat racks on the TerraCycle website I discovered some clamps that are made to ridgidly clamp the two seat back support tubes together, thus eliminating the removable pins and the vibration between the tubes.  Plus, the clamps can be easily loosened to make seat adjustments.

Seat Brackets InstalledI ordered the clamps for a Bacchetta bicycle (1/2″ x 5/8″), and they arrived within a week.  It took me about 10 minutes to install the clamps; the instructions on the back of the card are detailed and self explanatory.  To help me get the same tube location I replaced the removable pin prior to tightening the clamp; once tightened the pin was removed.

The first thing I noticed after installation is how ridgid the seat supports are.  Before using the clamps I could grab hold of the rear rack with one hand and the top of the seat with the other and wiggle the seat due to loosness in the support tubes.  Now the inner and outer tubes are one ridgid piece.

Would there have been a problem in this area on a long term bicycle ride?  I don’t know.  One thing for sure; there won’t be a problem now.

Note added 9/15/2013: On a recent cross country bicycle trip the other fellow traveling with me also rode a Bacchetta Giro. At about the 500 mile point I discovered one of the pins on his bike was halfway out and the strut holes somewhat distorted. We pushed the pin back in place and wrapped electrical tape around both pins to hold them in place.

Note added 10/22/2013: I added a set of these clamps to my wife’s TerraTrike Rambler after finding one of the pins on her bike half way out. Her bike required the 3/4″ – 7/8″ tube clamps.