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Dawes Diploma with bent rear wheel
I recently purchased a reconditioned Dawes Diploma. I noticed that the rear tyre was flat a couple of days ago so I took it to the bike repair shop where they repaired the puncture for me. However, the guy in the shop told me that he had noticed my rear wheel was very bent. He's straightened it out for me but he seemed to think a replacement at some point in the near future was necessary, either of the whole rear wheel or just the rim. The place where I bought it offers free repairs on bikes for the first month of purchase but this excludes punctures and 'tyre true' and I assume my problem is the latter.
I haven't really noticed any problems when I ride my bike; occasionally on an uphill gradient the rear tyre hits the mudguard which makes an unpleasant sound which is undoubtedly as a result of the bent wheel, and sometimes the gears skip slightly but I'm unsure whether this is a problem pertaining to the wheel or whether the gears simply need adjusting slightly.
I hope that someone could answer the following questions for me:
My bike has an internal gear system, does this mean it will be very expensive and complex to replace the rear wheel?
Does anyone know of any Dawes repair specialists in Central/SE London?
Could you recommend any websites that stock wheel rims/wheels suitable for a bike with internal gears? Does my bike require different wheel rims to a bike with derailleur gears? The guy at the repair shop said that I would have to look on the internet to find a wheel rim but I'm so ignorant about bikes that I'm not certain what I'm looking for!
It is probably very obvious by now that I know nothing about bicycles and I apologize for asking such basic and probably obvious questions! I hope that all I need to do is purchase a standard wheel rim of the correct size and take it to be bike shop to be fitted but I have a horrid feeling that this won't be the case.
Thank you for your help,<br />

We all didn't know anything about cycles etc' at one time. You only learn by asking?
A new rim will easily be available either from the Internet or bike shop but obviously will need to be fitted to your existing hub. It sounds to me as if the wheel needs truing and tensioning properly. Slack spokes let a wheel distort under load and this can cause the tyre/rim to catch the mudguard.
I would take the bike back to the shop and tell them what the other bike repairer said about the wheel. Also mention to them about the gears "skipping" as this could be a relatively expensive repair / replacement but may just need adjusting?
Depending on what you paid for the bike, the shop still has to give you value for money. I can understand about punctures and tires not being covered but the wheels and gears etc' should be.

Ride hard or ride home alone!
Hm. Skipping gears are usually a result of either misadjusted / worn gears or chain wear. Follow this: http://bikeride.com/chain-wear/ I am clueless when it comes to misadjusted internal gear hubs, probably Alex or Dave have a hint to offer there.<br />
If the parts are worn it is the shop's problem, though reconditioning a bike would in my opinion mean replacing these parts. Maybe the shifter cable has just stretched and it has to be readjusted. When you bring it to the bike shop, they might be able to adjust it in some minutes. Ask they guy if you can watch and also to explain how to do it.
However, I enjoy wheelbuilding and hope I can give you some answers. Be warned, this might be a bit lengthy...
- if there are any flat spots / bends on the outer diameter / sidewall of the rim it should be replaced. It is damaged beyond repair. Otherwise it can be trued. Judging from the bike shop's comment: flat spots / bent sidewall...<br />
- relacing a hub is usually not very cost effective unless you know somebody who'll do this for a beer or three. It can make sense if it is a high quality hub. In Germany I'd expect to pay at least 40€-50€ on work (+ the rim), you can get 8spd rear wheels for about 100€<br />
- If you have rim brakes, get a rim for rim brakes (hm... sentence looks... weird), if you have disc brakes, it does not matter (though rims for disc brakes are lighter).<br />
- If your local bike shop does wheelbuilding they know what to use, the rim will not be much cheaper online (and it is not nice to buy the parts online and bring them to the shop to build the wheel)<br />
- Try to get a rim that has about the same effective rim diameter (ERD, the diameter between two opposite nipple eylets), otherwise you might have to get new spokes - this is actually almost impossible to do. You might end up buying new spokes which makes the whole process even less cost effective. Many spoke manufacturers sell spokes in 2mm (some even 1mm) length increments, maybe this gives a hint on the spoke length (and thus ERD) tolerances... the problem is you could get away with using a wheel that has a different ERD, e.g. if the spokes are a bit short at the moment, you can use a rim with a smaller ERD, but with a larger ERD you will have problems. You might be able to guess by taking off the tyre and tube and rim tape and look at the nipples and ho deep the spokes sit in the nipples. Then, you'll have to guess (you cannot really measure without taking apart the whole wheel) the ERD of the rim.
So, I'd say: if you are sure that the hub is still good and you are working on a tight budget and the guy at the bike shop charges not too much for the work and tries to find a fitting rim you can replace just the rim. Otherwise replace the complete rear wheel, this is the almost hassle free solution.
Unfortunately I only know german bike online shops, so I cannot help you there. I'd expect shipping / money transfer to be too expensive.
To start learning about bicycles:
The first thing you should learn is fixing flat tyres, so you can get home when you get a puncture. Get a set of decent tyre levers (I like Park Tools), a spare inner tube and patches and a bike multitool. This can save your day... Also, much of basic bike maintenance is easy to learn like which lubricants to use, how to adjust brakes and replace brake pads, how to get the bike clean, replace tubes / tyres, set up the shifters / gears correctly and those jobs require not too many tools. The repair tutorials by Alex are very good, but also take a look at the Park Tools page and at Sheldon Browns homepage (both linked from this site).
Hm, this post is longer than I thought... though hopefully not too confusing.<br />
Good luck!
---<br />
EDIT: hm, it took me clearly a long time to write this, as cyclerUK has already answered many questions...


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