Rinko Parts – Useful not only for Train Travel

Rinko Parts – Useful not only for Train Travel

Since our first visit to Japan last year, we’ve been fascinated by Rinko, the Japanese system of packing bikes for train travel. The Rinko system developed by the builders Alps and Hirose is especially elegant and results in the smallest possible package for the bike.
It still amazes me that a fully equipped randonneur bike, with a 60 cm frame, fenders, racks and generator-powered lights, can be disassembled in 12 minutes into a package that is no larger than the frame. Drape a bag over it, and you can carry it on trains, buses, and subways, or load it into even the smallest economy car. Put it in a padded bag, and you can travel on many airlines without paying extra fees. Best of all, there are no couplers or other parts that add significant cost, complication and weight.
After building my own Rinko bike, the “Mule” (above), I realized that every bike could benefit from being Rinko-compatible, even if only to remove the rear section of the rear fender when you transport a the bike inside a car…
The Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly includes a photo feature showing the details that make a bike Rinko-compatible. Small things make it easy to disassemble your bike. For example, slotted cable stops that allow you to remove the handlebars with the brake cables attached. There are only a few special parts needed to make a Rinko bike, and Compass Bicycles now offers them.
A key part is the “Rinko nut” (visible at the top of the fender). The rear fender is cut in half, a piece of fender is inserted into the rear portion, and the Rinko nut allows you to secure the two halves after you have slid them together.
A constructeur will cut the tongue that joins the two fenders from a third fender (since they can use that fender to make tongues for multiple bikes), but you can also shorten the bike’s rear fender by a few inches to get the material you need. Preparing a hammered fender so its halves slide together smoothly isn’t easy, so most Japanese builders use smooth fenders on their Rinko bikes.
FendCmRinko_3419The Rinko nut is threaded on the outside, so you can attach it to the fender with the supplied (thin) hex nut. It also is threaded on the inside. This is where the bolt goes that holds the two fender halves together. It’s a simple part, but if you have to machine it yourself, you’ll spend some time. So we had a batch made to save you the trouble.
A part that is useful not just for Rinko are the Ostrich tube covers. These pads wrap around your frame’s tubes to protect them during travel. The pads are thin, so they can be carried in a handlebar bag when not in use. They close around the frame with Velcro.
The “long” version (above) measures 450 mm, while the “short” version is 240 mm long. The pads fit around standard and slightly oversize frames, but they are not large enough for extremely oversize tubes.
Rinko pedals aren’t required for travel, but they make disassembling your bike much easier. The stub remains on the cranks, and the pedal can be removed without tools. Available as clipless (above) and platform versions (below). The models we sell have MKS’ super-smooth bearings that are nicer than any other currently-made pedal I have tried.
These pedals are useful not only for Rinko, but also for bikes with S&S couplers, or if you want to switch between platform and clipless pedals on the same bike. (If you just want super-nice pedals with great bearings, these pedals also are available in standard, non-Rinko versions.)
The Compass Rinko brake is functionally the same as the standard Compass centerpull brake, but one arm has a different shape, so that the straddle cable unhooks on both sides. That way, you can remove the handlebars and brake cables as a unit. (With the standard centerpull brakes, one end of the straddle cable attaches to the brake.)
The special straddle cable has two barrels that hook onto the brake arms. The cable comes with a second end that gets silver-brazed onto the wire (arrow). That way, builders can set the straddle cable height as they like, for example, to clear a taillight. A minor disadvantage of the Rinko model: After wheel changes, you have to hook both ends of the straddle cable back onto the brake (rather than just one end).
The Rinko Headset Tool is shown here on the headset locknut. It looks like a cat, is made from lightweight aluminum, and weighs just 14 g. You can tighten your headset by hand, or use an 8 mm Allen wrench for extra leverage (above). The other socket measures 10 mm. This tool also is useful if you want to take a headset tool on a ride or tour, where the 8 and 10 mm sockets also can come in handy.
Rinko bags are used to cover the Rinko bike package during travel. The carrying strap attaches to the bike frame, so the bag doesn’t have to carry the weight of the bike (see photo at the top of the post).
The Ostrich L-100 (above) is designed for the Alps/Hirose system of Rinko. Made from sturdy materials, it weighs 310 g, yet when not in use it fits into a pouch that is the size of a small water bottle.
The Ostrich SL-100 has the same dimensions as the L-100, but it’s made from ultralight SilNylon. It weighs just 200 g and packs very small. The SL-100 is not as strong as the standard L-100 bag, so it is not recommended for “Rinko beginners” who may try to stuff their bike into the bag, rather than just pull the bag over the Rinko’ed bike package.
Both Rinko bags come with three straps for packing the bike, a shoulder strap and a pouch to carry the Rinko bag on your bike. (SL-100 shown above.)
The Ostrich OS-500 Airplane Bag is padded for air travel. It is designed to work with many Rinko systems, so it is significantly larger than the L-100 and SL-100 bags. The Rinko’ed Mule fits into the OS-500 bag with room to spare. Taping the bag to reduce its volume allowed it to meet the luggage requirements for All-Nippon Airways (ANA) without requiring a surcharge.
Now that I have enjoyed travel with a Rinko bike, I don’t want to be without one. Considering how little it takes to make a custom bike Rinko-compatible, I know that from now, all my new bikes will be ready for Rinko. Being able to take my bike almost anywhere opens great possibilities.
Click here for more information about Rinko parts from Compass Bicycles Ltd.
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Comments (54)

  • Alexander

    Wonder if the Tube covers (and maybe other parts of the bags) could be made inflatable for added padding. This might not work in airplanes, given the difference in pressure, but it could in cars and trains. Or are they?

    December 17, 2015 at 5:21 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Interesting idea! Long-term, inflatable things tend to leak, like those old Thermarest mattresses, but if you get a few years of inflatable protection, that might be enough…

      December 17, 2015 at 5:39 am
  • Fabien

    Why not a threaded rivet insert in place of this very special nut? Too tall?

    December 17, 2015 at 6:06 am
  • cbratina

    It makes sense when required by trains (Japan and high speed trains in Europe), but if flying to and from the same location, the Licktons Air Caddy is much easier to use and the bike is better protected. The rear wheel, pedals, handlebars/stem stay on. You just remove the front wheel and rotate the bars if necessary. http://www.shipbikes.com/Whatis.html. We have flown to one City in Europe and shipped our bike box to our departure City. When taking a train from spot to spot in Europe, we take the regional trains which generally have a baggage car for them. There are occasional episodes doing this that you will never forget, but it works well once you get the hang of it.

    December 17, 2015 at 6:11 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Like all new ideas, Rinko will take a while to get accepted outside Japan. Once you’ve seen it in action, you’ll be convinced… So if you get a new custom bike, just make sure it can be made Rinko-compatible later – slotted cable stops, etc. (as outlined in the Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly). You may not install Rinko fenders, etc., now, but having the option will be nice later.
      The problem with bike boxes is getting to and from the airport. Having lugged a full-size bike case on public transit across Paris before PBP, I don’t want to do it again. I can carry a Rinko bike all over the place with little trouble. Now I even bring it along to business meetings, so I can ride and explore the area after the meeting.

      December 17, 2015 at 6:39 am
    • 47hasbegun

      My experience with boxes like those isn’t quite as rosy. After a tour across the state, I took Amtrak back home and had to box my bike. Everyone I asked both online beforehand and at the station said that turning the bars with the threadless stem loosened would be enough, but it didn’t fit at all like that. Luckily, it was simple to just pop the stem off and tape the wrapped bars to the top tube, but I did have to learn how to adjust and align my headset and stem the hard way after that.

      December 17, 2015 at 6:55 am
  • 47hasbegun

    While this is certainly a great way to get a full-size, zero-compromise bike into a small package, it’s still not all that great for multi-modal commuting or travel within a city. A high-quality folding bike like a Brompton, despite all the design compromises, would pack down more quickly and easily. An added benefit is that low-trail is there from the get-go, and the design incorporates a luggage block for a front bag that doesn’t turn with the fork. Options like a rear rack, fenders (including third-party aluminum fenders like mine has), and dynamo lighting (either Shimano or Schmidt) are all easily available, too, to turn it into a full-on touring bike (still with many design compromises, of course).
    Going a little less convenient but more performance-oriented with something like a Bike Friday, one could do quite a bit as well. I recall Kent Peterson doing PBP on one of their road designs at one point in the past.
    All this said, a mini velo like those from C.S. Hirose set up with rinko hardware would be great when infrequently using long train/bus/airplane rides to get to the “good riding.” I’ve been dreaming of something like that for such a use for a while now.

    December 17, 2015 at 6:28 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I agree that if you need to disassemble/fold your bike several times a day, a Brompton or similar is a better choice.
      I used to own a Bike Friday, but it actually took longer to disassemble than a Rinko bike. The resulting package was the same size, but the bike rode nothing like a good full-size bike. (I actually sold the Bike Friday, because I preferred hauling a full-size bike over the compromises involved in riding a Bike Friday. Similarly, Kent Peterson no longer owns his Bike Friday.)

      December 17, 2015 at 6:41 am
      • Casey Reuck aka Velobeard

        Crazy thing, Kent owns one again. It helps that he now works at Bike Friday. Anyway, thanks for another great post and I hope you are healing well!!

        December 17, 2015 at 8:18 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          Kent once wrote a great sidebar for Bicycle Quarterly about riding bikes that aren’t optimal for the job at hand. His point was that a ride like PBP is a challenge, and riding a sub-optimal bike adds to the challenge. (His piece accompanied an article about optimizing your bike for long-distance riding.)

          December 17, 2015 at 8:53 am
    • ORiordan

      I know several people in London who fold/unfold their Bromptons 8 times each weekday, and even 10 times some days if they stop off to do some shopping or eat (They ride from home to train station, take bike on train, ride from train station to work, do the return trip after work and the bike is kept folded at home and at work if anyone is wondering how to get to 8 folds/unfolds a day…)
      Bromptons are really optimised for the quick time to fold/unfold and pack down to the smallest size possible given peak time trains in London (where Bromptons are still designed and built) often only allow hand luggage and don’t have baggage cars.

      December 17, 2015 at 8:35 am
      • 47hasbegun

        When not travelling, I ride mine when going to appointments and running errands that take a long time. That way, I can just take the bike with me and keep it by my side rather than leaving it locked outside to be stolen or taken apart in areas where bike theft is a major issue.
        A lock isn’t as safe as keeping it within arm’s reach.

        December 17, 2015 at 9:17 am
  • mike w.

    Perhaps you could show how a bike is packed into the OS-500 bag?

    December 17, 2015 at 6:42 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The OS-500 bag is pretty large, so there are many ways to pack a bike inside. I simply put my Rinko bike, in its bag, inside the larger padded bag… I offered to tape the bag, so it met the luggage requirements, but the agents said that since the ends squished, there was no need.

      December 17, 2015 at 7:01 am
  • canadianfinanceandbeyond

    Thanks for these great products. I just read the BQ rink article last night.
    Could you please give some more detail on the use of the headset tool? I would be curious about the best technique to adjust the headset with one wrench. I usually use 2 at home to adjust and set the tension.
    I also wonder if you could give a more thorough description of the process to rinko the fender. A step by step description of your process (with photos!) would be really helpful.
    Thanks for all of your work!

    December 17, 2015 at 7:30 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Ideally, your headset has a keyed washer that goes into the groove of your steerer tube. That prevents the upper cup from moving when you turn the locknut. With Rinko, you usually adjust your headset frequently, so you don’t need to get it super-tight… You could use two of these wrenches, but you’d have to turn the bottom one by hand, since I doubt you can get two 8 mm Allen wrenches into them.
      To Rinko your rear fender, you cut it shortly behind the seatstays. Take a section of a fender (same model), cut off the rolled-over edges and shape this “tongue” until it fits into the main fender. Insert the tongue into the rear portion of the fender and rivet it in place. The front of the tongue goes into the front part of the fender. Drill a hole where the Rinko nut will go. Enlarge the whole in the “tongue” and install the Rinko nut. Done!

      December 17, 2015 at 8:47 am
  • Le Constructeur

    Is it possible to have a Rinko-bike with a rear rack? That seems difficult. I know, Jan, that’s you prefer bike without rear rack, but I need one for my next randonneuse! So, I will choose a Rinko bike only if it could include a rear rack.

    December 17, 2015 at 8:58 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      If you use a constructeur rack that attaches only to the rear fender and dropout eyelets, then it would just come off with the fender. The rack is wider than the fender, so it would require a little extra space in packing, but that shouldn’t be insurmountable.

      December 17, 2015 at 9:02 am
  • drew

    Integrating the bike with other modes really does open up the possibilities; one way adventures with a train trip back! Thanks Jan, for illustrating all the details about it. For travel in the US, a Rinko bike can get on any Amtrak train. There is no specific size rule for folding/take-apart bikes on Amtrak. A bag is not required either (but is a very good idea). It would be stashed in the lower level of most trains. The rider sits in the upper level, unless a reservation has been made for seating in the lower level (for those who feel the need to keep an eye on the bike).
    Taking the bus is a bit different. Greyhound and other carriers use the 62” size limit (length/width/height added up) for luggage stored under the bus. No Rinko bike (without frame couplers and with 700c wheels) can get that small. That said, the bus driver may not get out the tape measure; they use their discretion. Without a bag, you have no chance; it MUST covered up. But with a bagged Rinko bike you do have a chance and you can usually put the bagged bike in the hold yourself. But if a driver says you can’t load the bike, the regulations say it too and you can’t argue the point.
    Airlines in the US abide by the 62” rule as well; you need to expect a Rinko bike would be charged as oversized. Somebody other than you will be handling it; the chance for scrapes, dents and bends would be much higher. A rear triangle brace would be a really good idea here! And because you are likely to be hit with an oversize charge, pad it with clothing and as much other stuff as you can. They may require you to sign a waiver against damage as you check the bag, since it is not in a hard case.

    December 17, 2015 at 9:29 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      ANA’s maximum is 158 cm (62 inches), and my Mule, despite having a 61 cm frame (c-t) made it (barely – they measured three times and finally decided it passed). It really is surprising how small the package is. So it should be fine for Greyhound and all airlines. The Mule currently is in Japan; I’ll measure it when I next am physically next to it to make sure it’s not 63 inches. 😉
      For airline travel, I do use a rear triangle brace (a spare axle with cones and locknuts), frame pads and the padded bag. It would be nice if we could get a hardshell case that is the same size as the L-100 and SL-100 Rinko bags. That case would be so much smaller, lighter and easier to carry than all the ones I have seen. It would be great for travel with airlines that don’t handle your luggage as gently as the Japanese.

      December 17, 2015 at 10:03 am
    • B. Carfree

      Here I was thinking I had no use for a Rinko bike. Then you mentioned being able to carry it on an Amtrak train and I remembered all those middle of the night stops without baggage service on many western states Amtrak lines. I don’t want another bike; I don’t need another bike; however, there may be one of these in my future if I ever decide I’m tired of long rides that both start and end at my front door. (I’m fortunate enough that there are an awful lot of wonderful rides to be had that start and end at my front door; no complaints on that front.)

      December 18, 2015 at 6:48 pm
  • DG

    I’ll really like to rinko my front fender so the rear of the fender will clear the fork mount roof rack tray. Glad you made a batch of nuts.

    December 17, 2015 at 11:14 am
  • Antoine

    In my limited experience airlines have always asked “What is inside this bag?”, and then charge the ridiculous fee for bicycles when a simple oversized bag would be much cheaper. United once asked for $350 for a very well packed bike in a special padded bag. I find airlines to be more and more un-bike-friendly these days.

    December 17, 2015 at 11:17 am
  • Markku

    I visit Japan 2-3 times a year and often see the bagged bikes. Not too long ago I saw one rather large frame bicycke that was bagged and yet nearly fully assembled except for pedal removal and rotating the bars to be parallel to the frame. The rider moved to the door of the train behind the cab and just stood there with it.
    I ride a 62+cm tourer, and although it is really too large to pack in true “rinko style”, I use the rinko headset to allow me to use a standard bike box from REI, and I don’t even have to remove the fenders or racks to fit the bike in the box.
    Recently got a Bike Friday NWT to try for travel, and met a BF rider. who says he applied a stenciled “handicap” symbol on his BF suitcase to give it a better chance “passing” without the fine levied for bicycles.
    Now that we pay even for the first standard checked bag, the next step may be charging for toilet use?

    December 17, 2015 at 11:40 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Not too long ago I saw one rather large frame bicycke that was bagged and yet nearly fully assembled except for pedal removal and rotating the bars to be parallel to the frame.

      There are all kinds of Rinko systems in Japan. A few are portrayed in the Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly. We like the Alps/Hirose system, because it results in the smallest possible package.

      December 17, 2015 at 11:47 am
  • drew

    Two wheels next to each other (axel to axel, skewers removed) with inflated 700c tires are 26 x 26 x 10, or 62 inches. The Rinko bike is indeed quite small, but some elements will stick out of the imaginary square area a bit, like the head tube, part of the handlebar, and rear derailleur (if not removed). The baggage person may not care about the areas where things stick out though. I think their chief concern is that its securely bagged and not too heavy. On my next flight I will Rinko my Guerciotti and give it a try (with fingers crossed!).
    I like how the back of the seat and the rear dropouts give the bike a stable platform to sit on.

    December 17, 2015 at 11:52 am
  • PenguinWatcher

    I understand the steps needed to convert the rear fender into a Rinko-style one. But if some are hesitant to do it themselves, do you plan on offering ready Rinko-style fenders in the future?
    My bike Salsa Vaya has SS couplers and fitting into a small bag is not difficult, although very time consuming and requires carrying lots of tools. During summer vacation in Hawaii we were hit with 3 tropical storms so I promised myself never to travel without fenders again 🙂

    December 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The Rinko fenders are cut in different places, depending on your frame size. So it would be difficult to offer ready-made fenders, but we could offer the tongues, ready to be riveted into the fender. We’ll think about it. If you are getting a new bike, you should ask the builder to modify the fenders for you, and fit them to your bike.

      December 17, 2015 at 1:45 pm
      • PenguinWatcher

        Jan, thank you!

        December 17, 2015 at 1:53 pm
  • Will

    Thanks for bringing Rinko to our attention. While really slick, I’d be very nervous handing over my custom rando bike to a TSA agent in just a padded bag, especially on overseas flights. It’s a sketchy thing to do even with a hardshell Scicon case, let alone a padded nylon bag, especially with the thin wall tubing bikes you’ve popularized. You must have a great deal of faith in the baggage handlers and a good deal of luck. How many times have you checked your Rinko mule on flights?

    December 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      There are two approaches to air travel with a bike. Either pack it in a hardshell, padded and secured as much as possible. The case is so heavy that it will go on the bottom of every pile. It’s so hard to lift that it will be bumped around
      Or make it clear that this is a fragile bike, and trust that nobody wants to cause damage maliciously. Keep the package light, so it’s easy to carry and handle. Trust that it’ll be placed on top everywhere.
      The worst approach may be a cardboard box – hiding the bike from view without providing real protection.
      For my first PBP, I had to fly a commuter plane to Canada. No room for a bike box, so my then-brand new Rivendell had to travel in a clear plastic bag, with just a few foam tubes around the frame for protection. No problem either way.
      The Mule has traveled by air six times, but always on Japanese airlines that tend to be careful when handling luggage.

      December 17, 2015 at 8:47 pm
      • Steve Palincsar

        “Or make it clear that this is a fragile bike, and trust that nobody wants to cause damage maliciously. Keep the package light, so it’s easy to carry and handle. Trust that it’ll be placed on top everywhere.”
        Trusting in the kindness of strangers: how very “Streetcar Named Desire”. Let’s hope you never end up looking like Brando in this still from the film: http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width_large/hash/47/ae/47ae94a7a57e6c054e8f9856dfcc4f5a.jpg?itok=wTIr7iN1 in anguish yelling “Stella…!”

        December 18, 2015 at 5:59 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          In all of my life, I depend not so much on the kindness, but the consideration of strangers. I rely on drivers that they won’t hit me… Even when you pack your bike in a hardshell case, you still trust that nobody will drop it or put huge amounts of weight on top…

          December 18, 2015 at 10:46 am
  • kirt

    Any word on getting the threaded pedal/crank inserts in sets, without the entire pedal? One pedal to bounce between bikes still sounds like a good thing. Thanks

    December 17, 2015 at 5:40 pm
  • Will

    Ok…warming up to the feasibility of Rinko’ing bike vis a vis air travel. But for those of us who are already running your ctr.pull brakes, must we purchase an entire new set of ctr.pulls or will you be offering just the inside slotted arm so we can swap it out?

    December 18, 2015 at 4:31 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We probably can offer the arm and straddle cable separately. Contact us via the “Contact” at the Compass web site.

      December 18, 2015 at 4:39 am
    • C. Brenn

      Could you not just get the Rene Herse hangers and just remove the bolt that holds the roller to let your cable free? Basically every time you rinko your bike you bike you loosen an extra 2 bolts.

      December 18, 2015 at 5:50 am
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        You could, and I’ve done that on my Herse when I packed it in its hardshell case. If you do it frequently and in a rush, the rollers could fall down and get lost…

        December 18, 2015 at 6:25 am
  • Roger

    I like the Rinko concept but am kind of overloaded on it after the last couple issues.
    I guess being from Northern California where public transit is all about buses it is hard to imagine needing to set up a bike for Rinko anytime soon.
    Jan, is the 61cm mule the size you usually ride? It sounds pretty large, maybe you’re taller than you look in photos. I know the 650’s help with stand over, my Boulder All road is low enough to easily drop my foot to the ground vs my 700c bike when seated at a stop. Same with the mtn bikes I ride, I have to stretch my toes to the ground, especially the one with 29 inch wheels.

    December 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We got a lot of questions about Rinko, so we decided to cover it in more detail. I hope you enjoyed the studio photos of the Mule independent of whether you plan to get a Rinko bike. A good part of the article was about optimizing the design of low-rider racks, anyhow…
      The Mule is 59 cm (c-c), and that is the size I ride these days. I am not that tall (181 cm/5’11”), and in my racing days, I rode a 55 or 56 (c-c). The taller frame allows me to get the handlebars where I want them (just below the saddle) without extra-long stems.
      Standover clearance: I don’t need it – I only put one foot down when I stop. I wrote about that in BQ… Unlike toe overlap, standover clearance isn’t something that can hurt you. It’s almost impossible to jump off the bike in a hurry with both feet flat on the ground…
      By the way, the top tube is in the same place no matter which wheel size, if your bike has the same BB height… so standover clearance isn’t affected by wheel size. I suspect your 700C bike has a higher bottom bracket than your 650B.

      December 18, 2015 at 11:03 pm
      • Roger

        While I may not be a Rinko nut, pun intended, I am a bike nut and the photos are always enjoyed. I especially love staring into the past with the old photos, such as from the BQ Vol 12 #1 article about the Poly De Chanteloup, and those involving builder’s work spaces and custom fixtures as in more recent issues.
        I realize my 650 bike has a very low bb compared to the 700c bike so comparing isn’t fair. The 700 is also a cross bike so it is higher than a “road” bike as well. I am pretty sure I am done with 700’s now though. I love the 650’s larger air volume and better toe / fender clearance and the handling is stellar on a low trail bike!
        Thank you for the insight on stand over height, I have mainly been into mountain biking over the last 30 years where stand over is more of a concern, true I also step off with one leg and rarely stop with both feet on the ground, unless I’m at a stand still.
        I am pretty much your size, a 56cm would be a traditional fit for me, and like you I see the benefit of easier handle bar placement with a slightly lager frame so next time I build a bike up it’ll be a little larger. Although we are close to the same height I have larger feet, 46 or 12’s, so believe I’d end up with a little more seat post showing than you on the same bike which also adds some more stretch to the ground from the saddle.

        December 21, 2015 at 9:20 am
  • Jon Blum

    A cardboard box can provide good protection, if you install cross-braces in it. This can be done by rolling up chunks of cardboard from another box into tubes and then taping those inside the box. This is time-consuming and a hassle, but it works. Years ago, I had no money for folding bikes or fancy cases, and I took such a box on a bus trip. I marked the box carefully and explained to the driver how the box must be stood up in the cargo hold. Then I watched him load it upright. Once I was on the bus, he flipped it down onto its side, then stacked everybody else’s heavy luggage on top of it (just as Jan predicted for the heavy case). It was like that old suitcase commercial with the gorilla! But there was no damage; the cross-braces prevented the bike from being crushed. See https://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/how-to-department/routes-maps-logistics/boxing-your-bicycle/ for instructions; you don’t have to make holes for the cross-braces. This is not an elegant solution, but I have had success with it, and it’s cheap, at least for a bus. The savings may be negated if an airline hits you with large oversize charges. Bottom line, if you do use a cardboard box, I recommend adding those braces.

    December 18, 2015 at 7:13 pm
  • Christoph

    I noticed your Rinko bike is using a Chris King cartridge bearing headset. If I remember correctly, in an older review of a bike that was somehow prone to shimmy you assumed shimmy was caused (or amplified) by the bike’s Chris King headset spinning too freely. In said review you suggested that installing a roller bearing headset could cure the problem. Am I messing up something? Or is shimmy just not a problem on your “Mule” regardless of the headset?
    Really curious, as I am in the process of building a Rinko-compatible bike, and have to make a decision regarding the type of headset.

    December 21, 2015 at 5:57 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      You are correct – we found that some bikes shimmy more with a Chris King headset. The Mule seems less prone to shimmy, perhaps the oversize down tube is responsible for that. (The resonant frequencies of the standard-diameter top tube and the oversize down tube are very different.)
      I chose the Chris King headset, because a cartridge bearing headset is so much cleaner when you disassemble the bike. I found that the Mule rarely shimmies, especially if I adjust the headset a tad on the tight side. I experimented with a Token needle-bearing headset that has circlips so that the bearings don’t fall out, but the needles are smaller than those of Stronglight and Miche headsets, and they tended to fall out of their retainers when the steerer tube flexes under very hard braking. Then the headset binds, as the needles are trapped in the wrong places. So that headset didn’t last long – I replaced it in the middle of a trip to Japan.
      So if I were you, I’d start with a cartridge bearing headset and see whether the bike shimmies.

      December 21, 2015 at 6:06 am
      • Roger

        I recently built up a Boulder all road with extra light tubeset and was concerned about the shimmy potential.
        I once worked as a shop mechanic for several years, 88-95, and just could never wrap my head around the roller headsets available then, too many parts to align and they felt stiff and muted.
        I’m happy I decided to try an IRD 1 inch cartridge bearing headset instead of a full or half roller unit. While I realize each bike is a case all it’s own my bike has not suffered from shimmying and the headset is smooth, was easy to install and looks right on the bike as it is just a nice logo free silver.
        As a side note, the IRD Cafam II cantilever brakes are really good! But sadly the design won’t allow a front rack to mount using the Herse style bolts. (a vintage XTR canti has been substituted)

        December 21, 2015 at 9:35 am
  • James

    I’ve enjoyed your Rinko articles but have been wondering why the bikes all seem to use threaded headsets. Wouldn’t theadless headsets be slightly more convenient and remove the need for special tools or parts? I feel like I may be missing something obvious.

    December 22, 2015 at 7:25 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Hahn’s Rinko bike uses a threadless headset. It packs very slightly larger (longer steerer tube), but assembly is roughly the same. The main reason most traditional Japanese Rinko bikes use threaded headsets is simply the preference of the riders and builders.

      December 22, 2015 at 7:35 am
  • Richard Freeman

    Changing the caliper arm just to use a Herse-style roller straddle hanger seems rather extreme. The standard hook-style centerpull hanger would be just as quick to operate, less expensive, and allows the stock caliper and straddle to be retained.
    Perhaps Compass should make a high-quality version of the standard hanger? I prefer them to the rollers for functional reasons anyway. While you’re at it, a pinch bolt (Paul’s Moon Unit) is a much better for cable longevity than the hole-in-bolt version (traditional hanger).
    Locking headset top nuts would be a natural for Rinko too. Like this: http://abundantadventures.com/quads.html#HEADLOCK No need for special headset wrenches and easier to adjust quickly. Here’s another opportunity for a good one from Compass.

    December 23, 2015 at 11:06 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The caliper arm is the same as the other side, just doesn’t have the Compass logo. We prefer the roller straddle cable hanger, as it automatically centers the brake after you open the quick release (remove the straddle cable) when you change a wheel. Pinch bolts have three disadvantages over the “hole-in-bolt”: 1. They grip the cable off-center, which is fine for derailleurs, but not good for brake straddle cables; 2. They require more material, so the hanger has to be bigger/less elegant/heavier; 3. They don’t hold the cable as securely.
      Fortunately, it’s easy to substitute a different cable hanger, if you don’t like the Compass/René Herse model…

      December 24, 2015 at 5:32 am
      • Richard Freeman

        The website doesn’t let me reply any more, so here’s my response:
        I prefer the lack of auto-centering. The friction between cable and hanger can be used to adjust the caliper back to center if anything in the system becomes asymmetrical, such as a wheel running out of true or uneven spring tension. I also dislike the way the hole-in-bolt crushes the cable end. It produces a damaged end that often can’t be re-threaded into the housing if you want to lubricate it properly.
        1. Take a good look at the Moon Unit http://paulcomp.com/shop/components/moon-unit/ The cable is centered, it’s only the bolt that’s offset.
        2. The Moon Unit is 15g, yours is 12g. Lighter, really? You could use the same reasoning to drop the roller and go back to the standard MAFAC hanger, which is only 6g. By the way, I’m not a Paul’s partisan – I don’t really like his sense of graphic design, but they’re very well thought out from an engineering standpoint.
        3. I’ve never had either method slip, so this one is a non-issue for me. All the major component makers have used a pinch bolt on brake cables for many years with no known problems.
        Rich Freeman

        December 24, 2015 at 7:14 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          I prefer the lack of auto-centering.

          On the René Herse hanger, you have a choice: You can reverse the lower bolt, so it locks the pulley. That way, you don’t get the auto-centering. It’s useful if you use brakes with uneven spring tension. The springs of the Compass brakes are made to very high specifications, so the spring tension is very even… but that isn’t the case for some other brakes.
          Thanks for pointing out how the Moon Unit works. The off-center bolt of the Moon Unit would bother me personally, but nothing keeps you from using one with our brakes, whether the Rinko or the standard model.
          When I talked about extra weight, I meant for the entire brake. The Moon Unit is 9 grams heavier than the functionally identical Mafac hanger. (The Herse hanger adds a roller, which to me is worth the 6 g extra.) If we had used Allen bolts throughout the brake instead of the custom bolts we used, we’d have added multiple times 9 g, and that does add up…

          December 25, 2015 at 9:31 am

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