Bicycle frame jigs (3/4)


Here it goes a small selection of some of the most reputed pro fixtures out there. We are leaving the amateur ones for the last planned entry of this saga.

  • Henry James Universal Jig is a natural evolution of their original frame jig introduced in 1990. All the parts are different now, but the purpose and concept have not changed. The Jig still builds any style of road or mountain bike frame with fork built-in capabilities.

    Henry James makes a versatile jig for $4000, a good choice for lugged bicycle frames.

  • Sputnik Tool frame jig. The Sputnik competes with the Anvil fixture for the most reputed jig. Its base starts out as a 1″ thick cast-aluminum plate, blanchard ground to ensure a perfectly flat surface to build the jig up from. It locates and holds all the tubes at the proper centerline distance off the jig base. All tube contact points are stainless steel and all aluminum parts are black hard anodized for smooth action and durability. The vertical and horizontal motion of the head tube assembly is done using dual-vee linear bearings and rails. Quickly and easily adjustable plates for the seatstays and chainstays ensure that both stays are in the same plane. All measurements and angles are direct reading on the jig. No rulers or formulas are needed to figure out how to set up the jig.

    Everywhere the tubes are secured to the jig there is a purge line that allows argon to flow into the frame, displacing the ambient oxygen that could contaminate the welds. A backup gas is always necessary for titanium frames, for example, and still recommended for steel alloys.

  • Anvil Journeyman. The current Type 3.1 is probably the best frame fixture out there ($4250 base price plus many optional parts). Instead of a compact plate design it implements several arms that hold together the parts of the frame.

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    It also features purge lines for TIG welding gas backup

  • Bringheli. Best value jig for $1450. The BB drop is the only calibration, so the money you save on the front end will be eaten up in setup time.

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    Bringheli’s are very underrated fixtures. They sell a complete comprehensive kit of tools on their website for framebuilders, as well as tubing sets and machined parts for building a bicycle from scratch

  • Arctos. It is built on a backbone of super-stiff T-slot aluminum extrusion. The fixture can handle anything from a micro mini BMX frame to a 29er tandem. Any BB style, any tubing, any head tube size, any welding technique. Adapters are available for most bottom bracket shells. Dummy axles for track, road, and mountain spacing ship with the jig; BMX and 150mm are available separately. A tandem add-on is also available. The biggest issue that has been reported is how the BB is floating out in space. More complicated than it need be for figuring BB drop. Building from the BB up is a better alternative.

    The Arctos is not cheap to boot (around $4000) and not always in production.

  • Bike Machinery Hydra. The only good European-made jig is available for 12000€ ($16000). It is a production oriented frame fixture: hard to tweak the center line, nothing to measure angles (only distances) and does not work with oversize tubes. The E version is a computer controlled monster that will automatically setup the jig for the tubing assembly.

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    Made in Italy, these units are as hard to find as pricey

  • Granite/aluminium/steel cast flat plate + custom machined fixtures. Flat surface is more important to the beginning framebuilder than a dedicated frame jig. For a pro it is still essential for alignment checks and straightening. 36″x48″ metal plate with a 1″ hole bored could be a great choice because you can fixture it unlike granite tables where clamps are not easy, or big, and no magnets are useful. Blanchard ground tables are found in the custom market. For instance, Bringheli’s C-Channel alignment table is available for $850 ($2100 full-size).

    Granite offers best flat tolerances and it is easy to find and cheap (even something “kitchen alike” local-ish to reburbish). Steel requires maintenance and aluminium can be fragile but light which is a good thing if you have not found a permanent location for the table.

Bicycle frame jigs (2/4)


The election of a frame fixture is not just a matter of budget. It is obvious that if you are going to produce few amateur frames a flat surface or a beam design jig will suit you. If you circulate large amounts of kind of the same type you should ponder over switching to something that ease the assembly and welding at the expense of less versatility.

Potential frame builders have the mistaken idea that the jig must be extremely accurate, built like a precision timepiece and yet possess immense strength for bending and holding the tubing sections in position for welding but in fact the base structure of the jig, sometimes called the backbone, bed, table, base table, face table or frame face can be almost any relative rigid structure. As long as the backbone is level in all directions the real precision and accuracy will come about through the fabrication of the fixtures that attach to this substructure (backbone) and then will be adjusted and secured to position and hold the tubing and parts in place during the fabrication of the frame.

A modified flat plate is enough for welding a bicycle frame

A modified flat plate is enough for welding a bicycle frame

For around 300$ you can start to think about it. In old Europe, for less than 400€ I’m struggling to find the right materials to accomplish my project. I guess this continent is not that cool anymore, isn´t it?

Don´t forget that choosing a frame jig is closely related to the welding technique. For example, brazed lugged construction requires the most from a jig. Full access to each joint is critical. When using lugs, most builders prefer to braze the complete frame in the jig unlike lugsless construction where jigs are used only to tack at 2 to 4 spots on each joint.

Silver brazing a lugged frame

Silver brazing a lugged frame

Consider most jigs offer limited access to one side of the frame. On top of that, if you are gas welding just forget about tackling the job on a cheap parallel beam jig for example. The heat coming from the torch will deform beam materials affecting our setup.

Nowadays TIG welding has become the superstar for joining the tubes of a frame. Both bicycle factories and custom workshops uses it on a daily basis. SMAW, GMAW, FCAW SAW are others common types of arc welding procedures but useless because of the thin-walled bicycles tubes.

Automated robot welder at Merida - Taiwan tacking a full suspension frame.

Automated TIG robot welder at Merida – Taiwan tacking a full suspension aluminium frame. Hand-welded frames are still far superior.

Besides TIG (that uses electricity), gas welding (oxyacetylene for example) is also possible, been the standard for 70 years. As good as it is, gas welding cannot compete with TIG. Anyway, oxy-fuel is still required for brazing, either fillet brazing (bronze weld) or brazing lugs (silver weld). These realiable and old-fashioned methods are still popular between cycle enthusiasts, that’s why you have to keep them in mind for your future jig plans.

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Checking the chain stays

So far: budget, quantity and welding procedures have been taken into account. The quality of a frame depends more on your miters, the time you spend fine tuning the geometry and your welds rather on an expensive jig, that can offer good accuracy of course. Amazing frames can be produced with simple tooling and great skills.

But there are also few considerations about the bicycles you are going to build and how you want to work in order to select the right jig:

  • What are the limitations in the seat tube area? Does the top of the seat tube have to be square cut? If it does, you can’t pre-shape the seat tube top, or use a seat lug with an internal ledge for a cut to length seat tube.

  • Does the seat tube holder arrangement pivot about the center of the BB shell? If so, you can’t build with the seat tube offset from the axis of the shell.

  • Can you easily build interrupted seat tube designs? These are common and unavoidable with rear suspension frames.

  • Are you in the mood of ISP? If you are, size the jig up accordingly or fabricate an extension.

  • How versatile is the rear axle arrangement? Most jigs come with one axle for only one spacing. You have to pay extra for any other spacings. 130mm road frames and 135mm mountain frames eclipse other preferences. How do they do 120 mm track spacing, or 126 mm old road spacing (for restoration, repairs, or using classic parts), or 145 mm if the jig also builds tandems, or the new MTB standard142xM12, or 165-170mm for fat bikes?

  • How do they handle the inevitable pull-in of the rear dropouts?

  • Do you want to build the frame from the BB up?

  • How do you build forks? A fork building feature could be integrated in a design. The rear dropout holder doubles as the front dropout holder in the Henry James Universal frame jig for example. A separate professional fork jig usually costs about $500. You don’t usually build forks? That is all the more reason to have one built in for when you do need one!

  • Can you build the occasional tandem on the jig? An attachment of some sort must be used, and you should not expect the adapted jig to be good for a tandem specialist.

  • How do you mount it? Because of the jig weight and bulk, most jigs require an expensive and complex mounting system that can increase your costs.

  • How portable is it? How much storage space does it need? TIG welding is not a straightforward skill. You might want to set up a frame in the jig, then single-handedly put it in your vehicle and take it to a full-time professional welding shop (an easy way to get perfect welds) for tacking while you wait. Even on a moveable stand, most jigs take up a lot of space.

Bicycle frame jigs (1/4)


There are a handful of approaches to design a bicycle frame fixture. Taking advantage of Henry James knowledge from his website and my own researches I have ended up with this article about the existing possibilities. A lot of information spread all over the bike forums that somehow I wanted to gather and analyze.

Holland custom frame in an Anvil fixture.

Holland custom frame in an Anvil fixture

Jigs can be classified according to different criterias: professional solutions vs. hobbyists fixtures, horizontal configurations vs. vertical mountings, tack-only vs. fully weld frame jigs, mass-oriented production jigs vs. custom frame geometry units, beam inspired types vs. beamless jig designs, multipurpose and extensible jigs vs. simplified versions, the place where you start to assemble the tubes on the jig and so on.

Professional fixtures will provide full access to each joint for TIG welded and fillet brazed construction without the hassle of tacking and removing the frame in order to fully weld it apart. At the same time is easy to remove and replace the frame during the assembly process, especially important when using lugged construction or when we want the gravity to assist the welds, which is a good thing.

Jigs having vertical structural plates and/or members are superior to horizontal or backbone based models. Their individual clamping components are shorter, located closer to the joints and connections, hence stiffer than the same type of fixture that has to extend all the up from the base plate.

Homemade tack-only jigs are affordable if you are planning to build just lugged bicycle frames. Roomier units that provide enough clearance to fully weld the frame vertically on the jig can be achieved with DIY beam designs at the expense of more complexity when determining, for example, the BB drop as it will be “floating out in space”.

Pure beam style jigs for mass production (the ones used in BMX companies for example) have limited range of adjustment but work well and offer a lot of access for peanuts. On the other hand, jigs that combine compact plates and adjustable arms via extensions that hold the “bearing areas” (BB, HT and rear axle) generate almost endless geometry combinations with good clearance.

Fixtures made of beams are very rigid and provide great accuracy if we go for extruded aluminium profiles and machined parts. On the downside, aluminium can be considered a bit expensive compared to wood or traditional metallic square profiles.

A multipurpose jig will meet more framebuilders needs, for example integrating a fork building feature in the rear axle frame fixture, or offering motorcycle jig capabilities.

Finally choose the jig that makes the tubing logic assembly fancier for you. Building from the BB up is a better alternative in my opinion.

Here is a brief summary of the frame jig types according to their design:

No jig. This goes back a hundred years. Accuracy depends on craftsmanship, not tooling. Because no fixture is used, lugged joints often are pinned together by driving nails tightly into drilled holes in every joint. This holds the frame together, and hopefully keeps it in place during brazing.

Welding bicycle frames in an American factory (not named). Wood engraving Leipzig 1900.

Welding bicycles frames in an American factory in 1900

Flat surface. The frame is assembled on a flat plate which is larger than the frame, and made of granite, cast iron (steel) or aluminum, or for beginners, particle board or plywood. Fixtures consists of shims, vee blocks, or other holders that locate the tubes on the center line of the frame. Setup takes forever, and access is limited. Used for tacking only. A good choice for building your first frame considering a flat surface is also needed to check the alignment.

A flat surface, machined fixtures and a full size drawing is enough for precise framebuilding

Modified flat plate or vertical plate jig. Still intended only for tacking, The plate is shaped specifically for a range of common frame configurations in an attempt to provide better access. It has specially designed holders for head tube, rear axle, etc. but still with limited capabilities. Because intersecting tubes (HT and BB) and rear axle are clamped it can be mounted vertically.

A massive flat plate design that has been tailored to extreme dimensions

A massive flat plate design that has been tailored to extreme dimensions

Parallel beams jig. Here the plate is replaced with beams that are parallel to the head tube and seat tube. These beams rest on one or two cross beams that are intended to keep the structure flat. This style of jig is very sensitive to warping of the beams. Most beam materials are not inherently dimensionally stable, so internal stresses and external stresses from torch heat, etc., can lead to a loss of accuracy.

To use this style of jig you move and rotate the beams to set the jig up. The problem is that the beams are parallel to the tubes, limiting access just like the plate jigs. The net result is still a tacking jig without the simplicity of the plate jigs, or the access of the compact plate jigs.

The resulting jig is lighter and more portable than a flat plate design

The resulting jig is lighter and more portable than any flat plate design

Compact plate jig. On a compact plate jig, the plate is much smaller than the main triangle. Adjustable arms extend out to support the head tube, BB shell, and rear axle. Carefully designed, offers the best combination of clearance, rigidity, fast accurate set-up and versatility.

Because of the compact design, these jigs can be much lighter than other jigs, making it much easier to rotate the jig as you weld, and the jig takes up much less space in the shop.

Sputnik and Henry James professional frame fixture are ample proof of this design.

A rare variation of this style uses no plate at all, just a bunch of arms that support critical parts of the frame. Both Anvil and Bringheli jigs implement this design.

Sputnik stands out as one of the best choices

Sputnik stands out as one of the best choices

Bottom up or backbone jig. A narrow (4″-6″ wide) four foot long bar or beam is the base of this style of jig. The frame sits upright on this base. Along the base are supports for the BB shell, rear axle, and head tube. Additional supports may be added to hold the seat, top and down tubes.

Only the axle and BB shell which are close to the base are accurately held. All the other supports extend a relatively long distance from a very narrow base, so errors and tolerances are magnified. Set up is usually slow.

An almost jigless version of a frame fixture can be achieved thru this design. The method is proposed here following famous Paterek instructions.

The main disadvantage on this is that you never see the complete picture of the frame until you tack in the last tube. You can't set it up and then have a sanity check where you can see if it all makes sense

The main disadvantage on this is that you never see the complete picture of the frame until you tack in the last tube. You can’t set it up and then have a sanity check where you can see if it all makes sense

External jig or motorcycle jigs. A rectangular framework structure is sized so that the bike frame fits completely inside the structure. For this reason, these are sometimes referred to as “picture frame” jigs.

A foundation of a wide rail, multiple rails or table are built upwards with the jig fixtures supported from below. Arms extend inwards to support the head tube, BB shell, axle, and seat tube. Because the framework must be the largest of any style of jig, and because the framework members must be heavier to provide the stiffness this large size structure requires, these jigs are heavy and expensive. The inherent problem with this style is that the largest frame you can build is limited by the size of the framework. And, if you make the framework really large, the extensions that hold the bike frames must reach in much farther to build very small frames.

It is stable by itself without the need of mounting platforms.

A variation is a hybrid jig with a smaller framework offset to the rear with extension arms for the axle and/or head tube.

Supacustom bicycle and motorcycle frame jig

Supacustom bicycle and motorcycle frame jig

20 spoke disc wheel for cyclo-cross


24-hole is widely considered the minimun spoke count on disc hub wheels, front or back. This is due to the need to provide at least a 2-cross lacing pattern in the flange involved and enough spoke count to handle the braking forces as the torque is transferred from the hub to the rims thru the spokes unlike conventional rim brake systems where spokes don´t deal with torsional forces.

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The resulting wheel is one of my best creations. By the way, I started to build my wheels under the name ‘beespoke project’ just for fun

Now that a friend of mine is moving on to disc brakes in its cyclo-cross rig it is time to reuse their old tubular 50mm carbon rims.

Riding both 20/24 hole rims I was guessing if such a low drilling pattern was enough to switch to a safe cyclo-cross wheel. Seen the bracing angle of a 24H wheel laced 2x it seemed quite cheeky to try just 20 spokes crossing them over twice. After drawing the prototype in my computer I was delighted with the idea and wanted to try uncharted territory.

Rueda 20 radios a 2 cruces (II)

Spokes leave the hub in a extreme angle but still doable in my opinion

I’ve never ever seen a conventional 20 spoke front disc wheel laced with a regular hub and J-bend spokes. Indeed, there are no regular 20H front hubs in the market to choose from (Hope, Sun Ringlé, Chris King, and so on…). So far only top notch system builds with hubs that make easier the geometry of the spokes.

rolf_4CX_disc_2014_2014

2014 Rolf Prima 4CX carbon wheelset retail price is over 2000$ whilst our planned wheels are on a budget of 500$

The biggest concern then was to get some information about the rim, more specifically if the spoke bed was going to be able to carry out all the stress coming from twisting spokes.

No information was given with the original wheels. A further inspection ended up with a great finding: reinforcing eyelets inside each hole that fired the starting signal of the project. You might say I’m a believer… time will prove :).

At this stage, I was feeling like breaking new ground. My fears were:

  • 20 spokes and 2x, will they get on well?
  • Will the spoke bed stand the test of time?
  • How can I find a standard quality 20 hole disc hub?
  • Can I go with alloy nipples?
  • What’s the sort of spoke should I lace the rim with?

The first two questions have been already pondered over.

After some unsuccessful research looking for 20H hubs an amazing quality 40H White Industries MI6 tandem hub was placed first in our priority list. The idea was to use half the spoke count to build the wheel.

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Adjacent spokes leave the hub with too much of an angle with a 2-cross pattern, but still doable despite some wheelbuilders

I am a fanboy of aluminium nipples but this was not the ocassion to risk in a minor detail. A saving of 25 grams would never be taken into account in this build.

For choosing the spokes I was looking at middleweight but top quality extra beefed butted spokes. Something with 2.18 or 2.34 mm in the elbow end and swaged middle section which seemed to be the right choice to provide better lateral stiffness and stress relieving. Remember how convenient are butted spokes to release forces in the thinner part resulting in a more reliable and lighter wheel at the same time. Triple butted Sapim Force spokes and DT Swiss Alpine III were the only options I found. Because the spanish Sapim distributor is sourcing spokes at the speed of a turtle my friend finally ordered the spokes to an online german store. 44 Alpine III at a price of 0,65€ each plus shipping fees. It is certainly annoying that there are no interest in Spain to sell a wider variety and range of spokes.

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Spokes are rare DT Swiss Alpine III 2.35/1.8/2.0 mm

With all the ingredients on the table it was just a matter of patience to get all the spares and build the wheels.

There is just one issue I have left to discuss: the spoke length.

Because there are not available in the market 20H disc hubs (broadly speaking the industry doesn´t consider doable this alternative) an uncommon 40H option was the last resource unless you want to pay top dolar for a custom made hub by a CNC machinist.

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In good wheels I like to place the logo of the hubs on top of the valve stem so that you can see your lovely investment every time you are pumping your wheel

Using a 40H hub in a 20H rim means you only make use of half the hole count. OK, that’s easy to wonder. But have you noticed that once you choose any of the two constellations in the first flange for the lacing process, the spokes to be inserted in the other side don´t have the holes where you expect them to be? The opposite hub flange has offset its related constellation of ten holes by half the distance between holes in a forty drilling pattern hub. As a consequence, the spoke length is slightly modified.

The heads-out spokes of that side will be shorter if you twist the hub clockwise and longer if you do it counter clockwise. For the spokes with the heads facing inside the hub it happens the contrary. Eitherway, half of them are shorter and the other half longer than the theoretical measure required for a pure 20H hub. Some spreadsheets for wheelbuilders allow to calculate this discrepancy by changing the hole pattern by some degree. Something that occurs in paired-spoke wheels. Our deviation is 360º divided by 20/2, which is a total of 9º varying the length in a couple of millimiters.

I hope you like the wheelset at least. It’s going to be ridden by a good cyclist (not a pro though) and hopefully winning local and regional races in Andalusia.

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Experimental disc brake wheels with low spoke pattern as we started off reusing more common 20/24H road carbon rims. The rear hub is a 135mm Sun Ringlé Dirty Flea hub

Lucas Arcos Liroa, 6th December 2013, Parque Moret Huelva

Lucas Arcos Liroa, 6th December 2013, Parque Moret Huelva

A case of study: 29er inner tubes


Not long ago bike shops struggled to source specific 29er tubes (700x54mm). A widespread practise was to overinflate the classic 26″ size or 700x35c inners with the risk of sudden blow ups, decreased rolling eficiency and more punctures. Only some beefy tubes behaved well with no surprises for this purpose.

Foto 1 Nikki Gudex tubes

Tubes are within the most iconic bicycle components

Now the market is full of 29 inches tubes. For around £4-5, 6-7€ or 7-8$ you can afford good quality spares. Maxxis (Taiwan) and Schwalbe (Germany) are remarkable brands that produce tubes in many different sizes.

After damaging the original “unlabelled” tubes that came with my bike (probably made by CST, Vee or any other asian bulk manufacturer), I picked the Maxxis Welterweight (4,24€) and Schwalbe Extra Light (6,60€), both in online stores, to give them a go.

A thousand kilometers after testing the tubes with new tyres, the Maxxis tube has result in an amazing and absolute quality product. A bargain for the price (now over 5€).

Maxxis tubes are always true to the word of the company. Since the moment you open the box they meet the announced weight in the worst scenario, and sometimes a lot less.

The Welterweight is not a weight weenie product unlike the intended use of the Schwalbe Extra Light. Officially 205g. versus 140g. Note that the thickness of the butyl wall and tube dimensions will determine its final weight. The valve type, porosity and overall rubber quality have a negligible impact on it.

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Maxxis tubes are made in Taiwan while Schwalbe units come from Indonesia

The good thing of the Maxxis is the fact that it is a real 29er inner tube. The Extra Light tube width doesn´t meet the requirements to fit securely a 2.4 tyre despite it is recommended for this size. It is clear when you put them close together that something is wrong in the Extra Light product. It looks like a 700x35c spare.

But what is even more shocking is reading the compatibility printed in the cardbox. It suits also 650b/584mm/27.5 wheels! Wouldn´t have been any wiser to make a compatible 650c/26″/559mm and 584mm tube while producing separately the specific 29er size? The discrepancy of the 29er size (622mm) with the 584mm standard is more than the 559mm measure has instead.

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A nonsense of tyre matching specifications that even claims 700b compatibility (635mm)

The result is that the Schwalbe model is not a proper 29er tube and nor a 650b one. You have to slightly overinflate them on 2.2 Continental Mountain King tyres for example. It’s tricky to slide equally the tube inside the tyre bulging it on many ocassions unless you use an air compressor.

What’s more I got quite a few flats. None with the Maxxis. I reckon even the rolling eficiency is compromised with such a tight fitting. A hassle.

The final blow came when checking the weights. The taiwaneses are only 40 grams on average heavier than the germans, instead of the expected 65g.

Average weights

Average weights. Less than 40 grams average discrepancy between models

Cheaper, easier installation, more reliable and keeping the pressure for longer my vote is on the Welterweights. It’s great that Maxxis produces almost each single size of bicycle inner tubes. Meanwhile the design of the Extra Light tube is all messed up.

Park Tool pin spanners and three newsworthy repairs you can do with them


One of my favorite bicycle wrenches are Park Tool pin/peg spanners. It’s because they are handy, strong, cheap and simple tools but also because of the different coloured grips that break the monotony of any tool wall display.

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Spanners are made of hardened carbon steel to ensure long life while the handle is vinyl coated

My own experience tells me they are not on a daily basis tools anymore, but still esential for any all-round workshop that services freewheels or old fashioned bottom brackets for example.

The green handled SPA-1 fits the adjusting cup on many old three pieces cranksets. The pin ends are round with a diameter of 2.9mm.

The most popular repair you can tackle is a cup and cone type bottom bracket service.

Mural Park Tool SPA-1

Wherever there are two holes with the right size the Park Tool hanger cup pin spanner will allow you to do different repairs. Adjust the tension of the chain by turning the eccentric BB, removing a dustcup and so on

On the other hand, the SPA-2 red spanner has 2.3mm pin diameter. Due to its smaller size fits better a wider range of hole widths. It releases retaining rings on Shimano and Campagnolo crank bolts and the adjusting cone on most freewheel clusters.

A very interesting repair suitable with this tool is the removal of certain type of non-serviceable freewheels that don´t have an extraction tool option. A freewheel destructive removal method will require this spanner to get rid of the lockring.

The Park Tool cluster cone pin spanner is ideal for several repairs where a lockring needs to be removed, on self extracting or one-key release crank bolt systems or even if you need to fit/extract the guides of the BB facing tool inside the frame

The Park Tool cluster cone pin spanner is ideal for several repairs where a lockring needs to be removed, on self extracting or one-key release crank bolt systems or even if you need to fit/extract the guides of the BB facing tool inside the frame

The third and last peg spanner I own is the discontinued yellow SPA-4. It has a flat section designed to uncrew the adjusting cone of one-piece cranks. This is virtually the only repair you can do with this tool, the service of entry level cranksets on BMX’s and department store bikes.

The tool engages two notches of the adjustable left bearing cone. Rare cup and lockring cartridges BB's can also be serviced with the yellow spanner. The cup is run up to the bearings and then the lockring is secured. Note there is no bearing adjustment in this system

The tool engages two notches of the adjustable left bearing cone (2nd pic). Rare cup and lockring cartridges BB’s can also be serviced with the yellow spanner (3rd pic). The cup is run up to the bearings and then the lockring is secured. Note there is no bearing adjustment in this system. Nowadays the best use I found for it was while wrapping the handlebar of a road bike (4th pic)

At this point you might wonder what happens with the Park Tool reference SPA-3. Does it exist? Well, it does. But I haven´t seen one so far. It took me a lot of time to find a presentable picture of this tool and some information.

Blue and black peg spanners are top-rarity Park tools. SPA-3 has the ends facing one to each other. I don´t know the intended use for both tools. It seems the blue one can be used for adjusting old french bicycles headsets and the black for extracting crank bolts dust cups/retaining rings

Blue and black spanners are top-rarity Park tools. SPA-3 has the ends facing one to each other. I don´t know the intended use for both tools. It seems the blue one can be used for adjusting old french bicycles headsets and the black for extracting crank bolts dust cups/retaining rings

Meanwhile SPA-6 uses replaceable pins of approximately 2.2mm in diameter. The distance between the pins is adjustable, allowing use on virtually all hanger cups using pin holes. I have to say I do prefer fixed pegs as they are faster and more comfortable to use.

I have never faced a situation where you need to use the pin spanner wrench with such a distance between pins on a bicycle as in picture 2. Pin holes are likely to be close one to each other and thus more convenient a regular pin/peg spanner

I have never faced a situation where you need to use the pin spanner wrench with such a distance between pins on a bicycle as in picture 2. Pin holes are likely to be close one to each other and thus more convenient a regular pin/peg spanner

Swapping a Shimano Mavic Aksium freehub wheel to Campagnolo


The next repair will show how to upgrade a Mavic rear wheel that do NOT use QRM+/QRM SL technologies, just the standard QRM hub, to a different Shimano or Campagnolo freehub type. It’s also helpful if you just want to service the hub to clean&refresh with oil the pawls, replace bearings and so on.

Road wheels cassette-freehub interfaces are not universal. If a rider changes his mind and decide to switch from Shimano/SRAM to Campy and vice versa on his equipment, he will have to decide what to do with the wheels. Get a new whole wheel or replacing the freehub are the options.

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Mavic freehubs are a ripoff. An Aksium wheelset is around £150, £90 for just the rear and… £40 for the freehub! Campagnolo left, Shimano right

Mavic entry level wheels do not implement the famous QRM+ micro adjustment features, just the standard QRM design. As a result, the hub construction is totally different affecting how to precisely tweak the bearings or remove the freehub body, for example.

Mosaico tecnologias QRM estándar y QRM+

Top: QRM standard hub assembly with just a large hollow axle type. Bottom: QRM+ hub diagram that implements and axle end and a screw type axle

If you type on YouTube Mavic freehub removal or Mavic freehub service you will come across with some videos about how to dismantle it. But nobody has considered to do it with the cheapest version of the FTS-L hub, or at least I have not seen it.

In this year 2013, Mavic offers three road models (Aksium S, Cosmic Elite, Ksyrium Equipe) and one off road (Crossride models for 9mm axles) with the cheap hub and axle version.

Mosaico bujes sin tecnología QRM+

Aksium S, Ksyrium Equipe, Cosmic Elite and Crossride QRM standard wheel freehub

The procedure to take apart the freehub is similar in all of these wheels. Even if they belong to different seasons. Mine is the Aksium Race model sold during 2010-2012.

We can recognise a QRM standard hub wheel if there are not small holes to fit the Mavic specific hub tool in the left flange of it. Otherwise you can spot a 17mm hex nut on the right axle end. On QRM+ this nut is circular.

Mavic SL

Mavic R-Sys rear wheel

We need a stiff/long 5mm hex wrench and one 17mm hex combination wrench for the freehub body removal.

Park Tool 5mm P-handled hex wrench and 17mm socket type tool. It appears 15mm engraved but in the other side is also a 17mm one

Park Tool 5mm P-handled hex wrench and 17mm socket type tool. It appears 15mm engraved but in the other side is also a 17mm one

Fit the 5mm key inside the axle. Grab it with your left hand and keep stationary the axle. Turn only counterclockwise the red tool. Make sure you fit the wrench straight not to damage the nut. If you use an open end spanner it is likely to happen that the tool will slip under preassure. My advice is to get a combination wrench where you can hold the nut in all of their 6 sides with the box end of it.

Removal 1

Undo with your fingers the nut once is loose and keep it in a safe place. A magnetic parts tray is perfect for wheel repairs.

Shimano M10 freehub units need a specific spacer to fit 8/9/10 cogsets compatible with Shimano or SRAM systems. Remove it to have better grip while you are lifting with your fingers the base of the hub body. Do it slowly. If you are lucky none of the two pawls will pop out.

Removal 2

The last picture tells that one off them did not stay in place. Nothing mayor as you will have to double-check them after swapping over the bodies

By the way, the removal and installation process of the Campagnolo ED10/ED11 freehub is identical to the Shimano M10 version.

After taking off the freehub body clean the inside and the pawls. You can use light mineral oil. If you are desperate lube it with chain oil but remember to clean it regularly.

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. In my case everything was spotted on as the wheel has only spinned for 500km

Notice about the existence of the washer in the next mosaic. It is in between two bearings, the one inside the freehub in the axle end and the one in the hub shell that appears in the picture. I reckon it has the right dimensions to fit the width of the bearing units. We need it to remove any undesirable play.

Fit both pawls securely. At this point, choose the freehub wanted.

Installation 1

Never install the new freehub without the washer. It must be fitted like in pics 2 and 3

Compress both pawls with you left hand so that you can slide in the freehub body with the other one till the end. Then thread the nut back.

Installation 2

Use the same tools to secure the hex nut properly to10Nm by fixing the blue one in place and turning the red one clockwise

After all we have the wheel in working order. This repair should take around 5 minutes. The time necessary to grab the tools.

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Mavic Aksium Race 2012 with Campagnolo ED10 freewheel

The new wheels in the 2013 range feature a new axle size and thus a different freewheel bearing dimension. On these wheels, freewheel bearing has an inside diameter of 9 mm (instead of 8 mm on earlier models) and the freewheel bearing protection cap is silver (instead of black on earlier models).

The old freehubs M10 M40592 and ED10/ED11 M40591, with bearing diameter of 8 mm and a black bearing protection seal are not compatible with the 2013 range.

The new models HG11 30871101 and ED11 30871301 feature both Shimano and Campy 11 speed cassette systems. A shouldered washer is included in the freewheel kits to ensure the compatibility of these freehub bodies with wheels marketed prior to 2013.

2013 wheel range 9mm bearings

Discard the old washer and fit the new one provided in any type of hub (QRM, QRM+, QRM SL)

It must be used instead of the flat spacer M40066 to install these new freewheels on the old wheels, whose axle (QRM standard hub) or axle end screw (QRM+ or QRMSL hubs) have a diameter of 8 mm.