Technical Chat for April

This Months Technical Chat comes from Kevin Rourke and covers –

  1. Upcoming Aldi Special buys
  2. Some Special Offers on Framesets
  3. Mike Burrows and Compact Framesets
  4. Quicklinks for Shimano Chains
  5. A bit of history of Bowden cable


1. Upcoming Aldi Special Buys

Aldi Specialbuys – ‘Cycling’ Sunday 29 April 2018 

Some might find the Bike Repair Stand and the Children’s Bike Trailer interesting. 

Aldi Rain Jackets (this one is described as 2.5 layer) are good value, but always seem restricted by that £19.99 upper price tag, and it’s pity they don’t produce a better quality jacket priced at something like £40.


2. Some Special Offers on Frames

Building a bike from scratch and then sourcing the rest of the components is generally going to work out quite a bit more expensive than buying a ready built bike. However, there are currently a lot of Framesets on sale with large discounts (usually frame and forks, sometimes with a Headset also).


The Genesis Tour de Fer (725) 2017 frameset is currently on sale for £283.99 instead of £399.99.



The Ridgeback Panorama Deluxe (853) 2016 frameset is currently on sale for £389.95 instead of £749.99.




The only advantage of building the bike yourself is that you can choose to specify it exactly as you wish, e.g. a particular saddle, or an 8/9 speed groupset instead of 10/11 speed, and you may be able to use some components which you already have.

But spare parts tend to be expensive, and don’t forget you are going to need a seatpost, saddle, bottom bracket, handlebars & stem, gear shifters, derailleurs, crankset & chain rings, chain, pedals, cassette, brakes & rotors, wheels, tyres, inner tubes, gear & brake cables, cable-stop adjusters, bottle racks, mudguards, reflectors, etc. 


3. Mike Burrows and Compact Framesets


The name ‘Mike Burrows’ may not mean much to many of our members, but some of us were fortunate enough to hear him give a talk on Cycle Design at the Coventry Transport Museum. He is an Innovator/Inventor and might be described as a typical ‘British eccentric’. Quote: Mike Burrows’ contribution to the design of the modern road bike cannot be overstated. 

 He came up with monoblade forks and monocoque frames around 1985, but no one was interested in making them, as they were deemed too radical. 

 Those of us with short legs never felt that comfortable on the traditional 21 inch Gents bicycle with a horizontal top tube. 

And whilst working for Giant Bicycles he developed the Giant TCR (Total Compact Road). 

 The sloping top tube design resulted in large savings for manufacturers, as they were now able to produced frames in just 3 or 4 sizes rather than up to 10. 


His other projects included Chris Boardman’s Olympic winning Lotus pursuit bike and the ‘Ratcatcher’ & ‘Windcheetah’ Recumbents. 

 Read more at 


4. Quicklinks for Shimano 9-speed Chains

Most of my cycling experience has involved using Shimano indexed gears & Shimano STI, so I would automatically buy Shimano chains.

Then I had a couple of bad experiences with their ‘special’ connecting pins, including one failure by the roadside (I managed to ‘limp’ home using a borrowed nail).
So I would simply throw away the Shimano connecting pin and join the chain using a KMC/SRAM ‘Missing Link’ type connector instead.

Then, I decided I might as well buy KMC chains which came with a ‘missing link’ connector.

However, I’ve recently seen Shimano 105/Deore LX quality chains (CN-HG73) with a ‘missing link’ type connector on sale for less than £5. The cheapest I’ve found is £3.99 + 0.39p postage.

I would suggest anyone interested does a search on eBay.
The chain which I ordered was a little more expensive, but it was post free, came in ‘English’ language packaging and was clearly labelled Shimano 105/Deore LX and CN-HG73 9 speed. 


5. A bit of history of Bowden cables

A ‘Bowden cable’ is the name given to the type of cable used to operate brakes and gears.

The invention of the Bowden cable has been popularly attributed to Sir Frank Bowden, founder and owner of the Raleigh Bicycle Company who, circa 1902, was reputed to have started replacing the rigid rods used for brakes with a flexible wound cable (initially it was only used on the rear, as the front still had a ‘plunger’ brake pressing on the tyre).

However, the mechanism was actually invented by Ernest Bowden, who was not related.