Fondriest Xstatus 16.5 (early 2000s) restoration part 3: Mavic Aksium Elite wheel service, freehub and cartridge bearings

I recently picked up a new project bike, an early 2000s Fondriest steel-carbon hybrid road bike, made of super-light Dedacciai EOM 16.5 tubing. Like most strays, this one looked rather sad and in need of attention to resurrect the goodness!

On its first decent test ride (56kms, 760m climbing, 65km/h descents) I noted a couple of issues to address.

The first of these was a twitchy rear cassette while coasting, which made me wonder if I had a bent axle. On removing the cassette it was immediately apparent what the issue was. Thankfully not a bent axle, but instead…

This is not a 1mm spacer ring…

…a most interesting bodge by the previous owner! Realising the cassette “didn’t fit right”, they jammed some electrician tape in there to fill the gap. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t work! Surely if you have the tools and know how to remove a cassette, you can install a spacer? On installing a 1mm spacer at the hub, problem solved and the cassette is solid as it should be.

The second issue I noted was an unusual “chirruping” noise at speed, coming from the rear wheel. After some initial confusion, it became clear it was the rear spokes, which at high speed (>60km/h) sounded more like a fan than a wheel (I’m exagerrating a little…). With the Mavic Aksium Elite wheelset having bladed spokes, it’s crucial they’re properly aligned and presumably a previous truing bodge by the former owner had misaligned the spokes. Given I don’t have the requisite tools, my local bike shop sorted that for me.

Finally, I also previously noticed the wheels weren’t running as smoothly as I’d like and the rear wheel would turn if suspended and pedalling backwards. Too much internal friction and time for an overhaul.

Somewhat daunted by my previous experiences with Mavic wheels (e.g. bladed spokes and proprietary spoke nipples), I thought I’d nonetheless attempt a hub service on these Aksium Elite wheels.

Spoiler alert, it’s a doddle!

I watched a couple of helpful videos from Dan and Simon at GCN and was amazed to find how easy it is. I even stripped the freehub and serviced the pawls, which is a first for me. Also I’m now a total convert to cartridge wheel bearings, which are so much easier than faffing about getting perfect adjustment on a cup and cone bearing.

All you need to overhaul your Mavic Freehub and sealed cartridge bearings are:

  • 17mm spanner
  • 13mm cone spanner
  • 5mm allen key
  • Chain whip
  • Shimano cassette removal tool
  • Large adjustable spanner
  • Thin screwdriver
  • Sharp knife
  • Degreaser
  • WD40
  • Grease
  • Shimano mineral oil
  • Kitchen paper or rags
With the cassette off, clear out muck. Allen key in here, 17mm spanner on nut.
The axle should fall out, and with some pushing and wiggling the freehub will slide off, revealing 2 pawls and springs (don’t lose them!)
Dry, sticky old grease. Keep an eye on that washer hidden in there…
Gunky funky pawl
Gunky funky hole where pawl goes
A little degreaser makes for a dramatic transformation
Also here (note washer is gone but must be reinserted on reinstallation)
Recommended by Dan Lloyd, and I had some lying around
Nicely degreased freehub meets fresh oil
Not perfectly clean, but clean enough and SO much better than before
Make sure the pawls and springs are properly seated and push them with your fingers in as you drop the freehub over them. Fresh grease on the outside cassette splines.
Degreased lock nut thing, easy enough to reinstall with 5mm Allen key and 17mm spanner
Next pop off the cartridge bearing dust cover with a sharp knife
Degrease, clean out the muck
Front is similar to the rear. But use the 13mm cone spanner and 17mm spanner. Much cleaner now
Regrease and pop the covers back on

With an abundance of caution and care, this took an hour for both wheels. Both are now running much better, smooth and free.

It’s pretty rare that a job you never did before, on unfamiliar gear, ends up being much easier than expected. That’s definitely the case here and I’m most grateful for it! I’d encourage anyone to have a go.

Now I wonder how many watts I just recovered? 🤔😂

Vintage Gaggia MDF grinder restoration

Last year, as a covid-boredom-inspired project, I picked up two sets of vintage Gaggia espresso machines and grinders, all advertised as non-functional.

Having got the espresso machine working, I set to the grinder, which appeared to work fine, but after goodness knows how many years without a clean, it really deserved some attention.

It’s clear as soon as you touch this that the build quality is from another age. They truly don’t “make things like they used to”. This might actually be a good thing from an ecological standpoint as this device seems to contain as much raw material as 3 modern coffee grinders 😆.

A google search yielded little to help me as it turns out my grinder is one of the older ones (subsequent research confirmed this as a “series 2” MDF grinder, with the finger protector in the hopper. Earliest ones just have a hole straight to the burrs), long discontinued and made slightly differently to more recent Gaggia MDF grinders (with two bolts holding the bean hopper in place).

Hopefully this can serve as a guide to anyone attempting a restoration or basic service/cleaning. Spoiler alert, it’s a piece of cake.

The starting point looks pretty rough, but we can see past that, right?

All the guides I found online showed the bean hopper being removed by removing two bolts inside the hopper (the newer models). No bolts in mine… no fear! All you need to do is pull it straight out, with some force required. I wouldn’t recommend using anything like a large screwdriver for leverage for fear of cracking the plastic. Good luck finding a replacement…! Just take your time and keep pulling 😁

From here on in, it’s all very logical. Philips screwdriver to remove this plate.

The spout where the ground coffee comes out has a rubber end bit which was pretty funky and needed a good clean.

Next the plastic part covering the dispenser needed a good clean. Rather than using anything rough, to avoid dulling and scratching the clear plastic , I just soaked it in hot water. Even after 30 mins, still needed a good brush with a soapy toothbrush. Coffee oil is some sticky stuff! On reflection a degreaser might work well, I didn’t try it this time.

Next the grind size scale can be removed. It feels like Bakelite and cleans up really nicely with little effort.

Next the grinding mechanism. Easily removed with two (4mm?) Allen bolts.

This puzzled me for a bit. Why is there a weird ball on top of the shaft? And is that a perished rubber washer of some sort around the sides?

Turns out no, just decades of coffee oil build up. Sticky and hard. Yuck…

I didn’t get it perfectly clean, but good enough with a small screwdriver. I didn’t really want to start squirting solvents in here as I don’t want to drink them later, or have to wet this mechanism too much.

Already looking a lot smarter wouldn’t you agree?

Note the power cable on the side, apparently indicative of older MDF grinder models

Obviously I’m not using a 39 grind size 🤣

Instead a 3 gives a great crema, genuinely comparable to a “caffé al bar” in Italy. Pretty incredible for a piece of forgotten equipment from the late 1970s/early 1980s!

If you come across one of these in need of some TLC, do yourself and coffee heritage a favour and rescue it. You won’t regret it!

😋😋😋☕️🥇ITALIA no.1!!

Pretty respectable crema

Fondriest Xstatus 16.5 (early 2000s) restoration part 2: the basics

I recently picked up this early 2000s stray, in need of some care to bring it back to its former glory.

Having picked it up and given it a once over, it was clear the fundamentals were sound. It’s easy to overlook major frame problems in the excitement of a new bike purchase, so do take the time to give it a good inspection for crash damage or other non-economically-repairable problems before you buy it.

I measured the seat post with a set of calipers and found it to be a 27.0mm down tube. This rather stumped me as it’s a bit of an unusual size, and I didn’t find many options online or locally. My local forum buddies thought a 27.2mm would fit, and the only one I had around to test was on my son’s old child’s 16″ mountain bike. Amazingly (to me at least) it fit just fine!

Next I wanted to get these nasty ferrules out of their braze-ons, but whatever I tried just wouldn’t work. Not a single ferrule would come out, not even the ones the previous owner had jammed into the derailleur cable adjusters. A trip to my local bike shop later, problem sorted. Remember, you don’t have to do EVERYTHING yourself =)

How does that even happen?
For love nor money I couldn’t get this thing out! I guess the plastic derailleur ones have a slightly smaller diameter than these ones meant for brake cables

Next, I replace the tyres with some white Bontragers I had spare and suited the look of this bike, installed cable housing, new brake and derailleur cables, degreased and regreased the chain, installed some pedals, reseated the not-too-hard-or-worn brake pads, indexed the gears, adjusted the H/L limits (why would they even be off? but they were…), and installed some new bar tape.

Quite pleased with that bar tape wrap. Just don’t look too closely…

So the first gentle test rides were done with a seat post scavenged off an 8 year old’s bike, but don’t tell anyone. I’m not sure you can really tell, at least not from a distance…

It’s starting to come together rather nicely I think.

I’ll leave the review on the ride for another day, but I will say, besides a couple of niggles, the first impressions are good!

2007 Giant TCR Composite sold…

It’s with some regret that I said goodbye to my first carbon road bike this week.

Thinking of all of great rides together, thousands of metres climbed, long days in the saddle, eye watering descents.

It’s a looker

And those Campagnolo Record carbon brake levers… 😍😢

While I enjoyed the bike every time I rode it (and looked at it), I promised myself that when I got the Fondriest Carbon Magister, one would have to go. The Giant feels great, nimble, taught, like a coiled spring, ready to burst into motion, but on long rides that aggression can get uncomfortable. Ultimately for the riding I do, I felt happier with Fondriest, and the choice was made.

I never knew it was possible to fall in love with a brake lever, but Italians can make that possible!

For our last ride together I took it on a 100+km ride up a great local climb on Easter Monday. A fitting goodbye for a great bike and I wish the new owner as many happy rides as I had. Farewell old friend.

Fondriest Xstatus 16.5 (early 2000s) restoration part 1: the starting point

It’s always easier to start a new project than finish the ten already started.

Trawling those internet adds for interesting opportunities is always fun. Which led to this purchase, an early 2000s Fondriest Xstatus.

Fondriest is one of those well respected Italian bike brands, but that only geeks seem to know. Not really a household name.

Maurizio Fondriest was a successful professional Italian cyclist in the 80s-90s, winning World Championships, TDF and Giro stages, Milano-San Remo. Still actively engaged with the bike brand, he takes part in cycling and marketing events.

Here’s a few close ups after picking up the bike and before I did anything to it at all

My first impression is how light this bike is. The Dedacciai EOM 16.5 tubing is incredibly thin and light. I was expecting something similar to my Colnago Tecnos, but this feels quite a bit lighter. It will be interesting to see how the feel compares…

Missing seat post, pedals, cables, housings and bar tape, but what’s here seems sound.

I’m looking forward to getting to work on this!

Bike or mini bridge??

This is an interesting one. I wonder if it results in a heavier or stiffer frame?

My eyes!!

There’s apparently no end to weird frames

Every cloud…

Once this covid nonsense is over, hopefully some things will change for the better. Might this period of major extended disruption act as a catalyst for improved sustainability and focus on collective wellbeing? Let’s hope so!

I’m certainly pleased to read that various European cities have bolstered their cycling infrastructure. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit!

More oddness!

The weird frames just keep coming. The super weird head tube, the droopy handlebars. And the colour matched green tyres… This one makes me positively queasy 😆

Now this really is an odd one

I don’t even know which angle one would approach this from!

Apparently it’s called a Twicycle and I doubt I’ll ever see one in the wild. Have you???