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How the Website Works #8   BackToList   Print
Written: 2020.05.21   Review Date:2020.05.21    LastUpdate: 2020.06.16

How to use the database tables and reports.
This website is a little encyclopedia of standard bikes and their components. The database technology of the website comes from which I have run for the past 20 years. The emphasis of is on touring/commuter bikes, as opposed to mountain bikes, or racing bikes.

To use the website, start by clicking on "Bike Models" on the front page. In that list, you can adjust the format of the report to show different columns. There is a format called "Custom" which allows you to check off which columns you'd like to see compared.

Once you are familiar with the bike models, there are other tables that allow you to look up the availability and cost of some of the parts. It's not meant to have every model of every part, but to give you a general idea when looking at a given bike.

The challenge in writing this encyclopedia is exactly the same as the challenge anyone will have in maintaining the bike. What parts will fit my bike? Some bikes like the Surly Long Haul Trucker have all the specs spelled out. Other models of bike can be more difficult because even the manufacturers can't answer basic questions. So if you come across a bike model in this encyclopedia that has incomplete data, that is your first warning. If you can figure out the missing specifications, let me know. Otherwise, buyer beware.

The bikes that are most complete in this encyclopedia are the ones that are the easiest to find the replacement parts. For some bikes it has become a struggle to determine their specifications - even the manufacturers are unable to answer basic questions. That is exactly the problem anybody will have when trying to maintain those bikes.

For example, for a certain model of bike, what replacement wheels would fit? To find wheels, you've got to know the hub spacing. What parts will fit is determined by certain specifications of the bike frame. I call these the "interface specifications". For example, one of the interface specs for a wheel is the dropout width. The dropout width on your new wheel must match the dropout width of your frame.

The website has a database table called "Bike Models" that lists about 30 models of bike. The emphasis is on drop bar touring/commuter/gravel bikes. For each model, there is a database record containing key specifications such as dropout width, axle diameter, bottom bracket shell type, steerer tube diameter, etc. To support the main bike models table, there are various "part model" tables such as cranks, cassettes, chains, wheels, stems, etc.

So if you were looking at a certain model of bike such as a Surly Long Haul Trucker, and wanted to research what wheel options you had, you would get the necessary wheel interface specs from the bike model table, and then search the WHEEL table for wheels that match.

In order to know the interface specs for any given component, you need to know what specs are important. For example, what specs do you need to know to replace a rear wheel? To find this out, the bike models table has special report formats for each major replacement part. For example, there is a special report format for Cassette, Rear Wheel. If you set the "Format" to "Rear Wheel" you then see a report showing the most important specs for rear wheel replacement. The first column is "RimD". If you hover the mouse over the column heading, you see an explanation.

The main Bike Models table is only a starting point. The system has a dedicated table for each type of component. In this case, we look at the "Wheel Lister". It has various "filters" that allow you to quickly see only the relevant wheels. It also has a special format called "Checklist" which shows the most important columns. For wheels, the most important columns are RimD, Hub Spacing, Axle type, Brake Type, and valve type. The idea of "checklist" is when you are ordering a wheel, make sure the wheel you are looking at matches each of those items. In addition to the "checklist" items, there are various secondary items such as number of spokes or rim width that you might want to know. These items are secondary because they aren't essential, but are often important. For example, a wheel with 24 spokes might still work on your touring bike, but you might prefer a 36 spoke wheel.

For many components, the first thing to read is the chapter about that component in Master Buyer's Guide. From that you learn that the key fact is the number of speeds.