Guernica-Paris 13 November 2015

In the City of Light as dusk fell on 13 November 2015, Muslim criminals committed a vicious mass-murder of innocents who had done them no harm.

andre_jute_9_paris_mon_amour_13_novembre_2015_ink_n_wash_approx_27cmsq_800pxwAndre Jute: Paris Mon Amour 13 Novembre 2015.
Ink and Wash, Approx 27cmsq.

Paris Mon Amour is my response. It is an ink and wash sketch for an oil painting, should anyone want to commission an oil. The sketch is approximately 26cm square but the oil could be any size up to two metres square.

The scene is in Montmartre. My apartment in Paris was behind the viewpoint, further up the steps. My driver would pick me up in the morning and in the evening drop me at the bottom of the steps for my exercise. Sometimes others using the steps more sedately would smile or even cheer politely as I ran up them in my pinstripes.  It is the normality of that  harmless routine life that I want to capture here at the very moment when it is shaken and threatened by alien thugs.

All artworks placed on the net are somehow processed, and the artist normally chooses the image nearest to the paper rendition, and agonizes over the compromise.

Here, instead of agonizing pointlessly if understandably, I’ve used the necessity of processing to make two different points with one piece of art. For the technically curious, the post-photographic computer processing was precisely the same for both versions, but I started with two differently lit photographs to create the difference; that too is a sort of computer processing, except that it happens inside the camera when one chooses parameters or presets. I love modern technology!

andre_jute_9_paris_mon_amour_13_novembre_2015_ink_n_wash_approx_27cmsq_800pxwAndre Jute: Paris Mon Amour 13 Novembre 2015.
Ink and Wash, Approx 27cmsq.

The lights of our liberal society are going out in Europe, amid denial and appeasement, and blaming the victims, and crude reversals to anti-semitism, by our rulers, who claim to know better and clearly don’t. Our grandparents have seen this before during the rise of Hitler.

Andre Jute is a writer and painter.

High noon in Bandon. At least no snow in Ireland.


High noon in Bandon.
At least there is no snow.
Cycled around the town just to get out.
Andre Jute is a writer and painter.

American politics becomes more bizarre with every election


American politics become more bizarre with every election.

What is one to think of a republic so effete that it offers a choice between the wife of one previous president, and the son and brother of two other previous presidents…

Such things usually happen only in banana republics trying to institute an hereditary monarchy.

Andre Jute is a writer and painter. His most recent political thrillers are An Election of Patriots and Eight Days in Washington. He is also the author of the author of the non-fiction best-seller It’s the Economy, Stupid.

Merry Christmas


REVERSE NEGATIVE the classic espionage thriller by André Jute “So bizarre, it’s probably all true.” London Evening News

“The author is very close to the truth.
The book has sufficient fact to make some people sit up.”
Richard Deacon, author of A History of the British Secret Service.

Reverse Negative by Andre Jute

the classic espionage thriller
by André Jute
“So bizarre, it’s probably all true.”
London Evening News
Get a sample or buy from
iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N

Kim Philby, the spy who betrayed a generation, has plotted his own death in a fiery helicopter accident. Immediately British Intelligence, the KGB, the CIA and Israeli Intelligence start searching for Philby’s “insurance” — a set of documents which point fatally accusing fingers at powerful men in high political, security and academic circles.

In England, a Cambridge don suddenly finds himself inextricably tangled in this web of violence. The rival intelligence services want him dead to prevent him talking, alive for questioning with drugs that will kill him anyway, or available for trading with those who want to kill or question him. To survive he must enlist the help of the sole survivor of the Israeli Intelligence team. And to uncover the devastating truth, he must got to the Lubianka, headquarters of the KGB in Moscow…

REVERSE NEGATIVE is a stunning and convincing story of the “Fourth Man” and of the disgraced darling of the Establishment, Kim Philby, whose treachery to the Western World lives on.

— Jacket copy by Nick Austin from an original edition

“Wild but exciting. A grand job with plenty of irony.”
New York Times

“So bizarre, it’s probably all true.”
London Evening News

“This is an important book.”
Sydney Morning Herald

“Keeps up such a pace and such interest that it really satisfies.”
Good Housekeeping

“A masterly story that has pace, humor, tension and excitement with the bonus of truth.”
The Australian

“Jute has clearly conducted a great deal of research into everything he describes, investing the novel with an air of prophecy. His moral and ecological concerns are important.”
Times Literary Supplement

EMPIRE by André Jute “So bizarre, it’s probably all true.” — London Evening News.

On Christmas Eve 1968 Yuri Andropov, soon to be Chairman of the KGB, returns home unexpectedly to discover an orgiastic party thrown by his son. In his own bed Andropov finds Babe Bibikov and Nadia Kerensky. Andropov calls for the files of his son’s friends…

Book 6 of the 75-Year Saga
Cold War, Hot Passions
by André Jute

These grandchildren of revolutionary heroes are high-flying students at the prestigious Institute of International Relations. Piotr, an old-style hardliner who believes that the glorious aims of Lenin’s revolution justifies any means, however base, is sponsored by the KGB and, even more sinisterly, by Marshal Kurusov of the Politburo. But Babe and Vladimir, even as students, are starting to grasp that communism has failed Russia.

Babe, Vladimir and Piotr all join the KGB. Vladimir shortly becomes an aide to Andropov and marries Nina. Babe distinguishes himself in Egypt and meets the CIA agent Hubbell Adams, whom he does not report to his superiors. His marriage to the supremely beautiful but selfish Nadia is strained by his questioning attitude which threatens their good life. On a boar hunt with grandfather Nikolai and Brezhnev, Sergei Kurusov and Andropov recruit Babe and Vladimir for a mysterious plan to regenerate Russia. Meanwhile Piotr is rising through the ranks of the spetsnaz, the most thuggish and loyal of Russia’s special forces.

Babe betrays Soviet machinations in Egypt to the Americans and in July 1971 defects to the US. Nadia returns to Moscow and becomes a ‘swallow’, using her body to extract secrets from diplomats. In the US, Babe is incarcerated in solitary confinement by the brutal CIA man Conrad Drexler (one of Nadia’s lovers).

Get it here: iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N

Cold War, Hot Passions
the series
by André Jute

The epic saga
of ten intertwined families
who live and die by their love of
their Russian and American motherlands
and the searing passions they
arouse in each other


In the beginning they were impassioned young revolutionaries risking only own their lives for justice. The prince, the soldier, the peasant and the baroness became the founders of three families, steadfast in love and war, whose generations are enfolded in the sweep of humans and inhumans, inquisitors and victims, the betrayals of friends and family, the show trials of colleagues, the psychiatric tortures of dissidents, that was Russia under the Communists, right up to glasnost, when the fourth generation must answer the question, Was the result worth three generations of tragic suffering and sacrifice?

And the Americans who opposed them for liberty, the patrician Adams family, the refugee Hirches, the redneck Remptons who became political powers in the land, the McQueens who did not count the price of rising from smalltown mid-America to the highest levels of the nation, the Drexlers who had always served their country, the implacable Southern Hubbells who could — and did — threaten Presidents, and the clever Talbots whose shy Joanne married the handsome Russian who was the cleverest traitor of them all.

In his first novel for two decades, a storyteller who has always had a knack with the true history of men and women will touch your heart and thrill your mind with the risks these men and women took with their lives and their families for the ideals they were born to — which some betrayed, and some paid too high a price for in love, even with their lives.


• around 2000 pages

• launched in eight volumes
• at the rate of one volume per month

Get it here: iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N

Brand #NEW Lance #Weber #adventure from Andrew #McCoy

by Andrew McCoy

Lance Webber is on trial for his life for the adventures recounted in BLOOD IVORY. Even if he escapes the hangman’s rope, he can’t stay in Africa. But his friend Tanner is already established in South America, so Lance goes ranching. However, Hernandez, the military governor of the State, wants Lance and Tanner’s land, and the Falklands War gives him the pretext to turn Lance and his party, including guests like Jimmy and Boo, into wanted criminals on the run. This explosive scenario is complicated by Jimmy’s girlfriend, the daughter of the French politician who has yes-power over delivery of the Exocets without which Argentina knows she will lose the Falklands war. Hernandez must take Jeanine alive or his military superiors will stand him up in front of a firing squad.

SMALL WAR, FAR AWAY (Lance Weber 4) by Andrew McCoy

To save his wife and child, and his friends and their women, Lance must run and fight like he has never run and fought before, several thousand miles down the spine of Argentina to the only safety a stone’s throw from the Antartic at Punta Arenas on Cape Horn. But first, his back to a bridge he has blown up himself, in front of him a single road guarded by several hundred vengeful Argentinian soldiers, he must break out of the forest on the slopes of the Andes in which he has hidden the party.

SMALL WAR, FAR AWAY is another triumphant proof that no one excels Andrew McCoy in describing men and women in violent motion with their honor and lives as the prizes of failure. It is a tour de force by a writer at the peak of his form.

If you haven’t yet read the Andrew McCoy’s landmark Lance Weber Series, read the reviews below, then check it out.

Andrew McCoy’s books are available from iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N and all other good vendors. Kindle versions from Smashwords.

Lance Weber Adventures by Andrew McCoy

What the critics said

“Mr McCoy gets on with the job of telling us exactly what it is like in the Heart of Darkness. He has the soldier’s eye for terrain and the soldier’s eye for character. This has the ring of truth.”
John Braine/Sunday Telegraph

“Very rough, exciting, filmic, and redolent of a nostalgie de boue d’Afrique. Full of the rapport and affection for blacks experienced only by the genuine old Africa hand.”
Alastair Phillips/Glasgow Herald

“Like the unblinking eye of a cobra, it is fascinating and hard to look away from, powerful and unique.”
Edwin Corley/Good Books

“I found this work excellent. I recommend it as a book to read on several planes, whether of politics, history or just as thriller — every episode is firmly etched on my memory. It is certainly a most impressive work of fiction.”
“H.P.”/BBC External Service

“Like a steam hammer on full bore.”
Jack Adrian/Literary Review

“Something else again. The author has plenty of first-hand experience of the conditions he describes so vividly.”
Marese Murphy/Irish Times

“Totally convincing fiction.”
Colonel Jonathan Alford, Director, Institute for Strategic Studies/BBC World at One

“The reader is in good hands.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Even in an entertaining thriller he makes us see ourselves anew.”
La Prensa

“Graphic adult Boys Own Adventure.”
The Irish Press

“Well written by somebody who has lived the life: a cracking read.”
Grant MacNeill/Amazon


Incredibly, rather than some fringe neo-Nazi, this is the Foreign Minister of Sweden speaking!
“To counteract the radicalization we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East of which not the least the Palestinians see that there is no future: we must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence,” Margot Wallström told Swedish television network SVT2T a short while after the November 13 attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State terrorist organization.
Margot Wallström
Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
(Courtesy Times of Israel, photo credit: AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)
 If this Margot Wallström were not the Foreign Minister of Sweden, one could perhaps excuse her foolish remark as an inadequately educated dimbo trying to be trendy (think Californian Valley Girl), but she is the Foreign Minister of Sweden, speaking as the representative of her government and nation, and she should know better than to spout this disgraceful incitement to more murders by Muslim extremists everywhere.
 For a start, this bilge Ms Wallström spouts is entirely ahistoric. Is Ms Wallström, and her entire foreign policy department, so badly educated that she never heard of the Hashishi and their legacy of terror suicide? Has Ms Margot Wallström, and the entire Swedish Foreign Office, never heard of the cult of jihad, which needs no reason except that the existence of living infidels is an insult to the Muslim God? Are they so ill educated in the religion of the most disruptive ideology in the world today that they don’t even know that these impulses to murder and terror predated the founding of the modern state of Israel, and indeed its founding impulse, Zionism, by more than a millennium? Are they so unread that they do not know that Muslims in the furtherance of the spread of their civilization conquered Europe as far as Spain and Southern France, and that the tide of expansionist Islam was stopped twice at the very gates of Vienna?
But, most offensively, Ms Wallström’s remark is well over the edge of open anti-Semitism. If that isn’t a crime in Sweden, it should be.
 And Ms Wallström’s disgusting wriggling to blame Jews for over a hundred vicious murders committed by Muslims is in the poorest possible taste when the dead in Paris — let’s say it again: killed by Islamists, not Jews — are not even buried yet.
 Let’s see the Prime Minister of Sweden dismiss this Margot Wallström immediately for being stupid, for being ignorant, for being offensive, for having poor taste and worse manners, for being an anti-Semite, and for bringing shame on Sweden.
 André Jute‘s last book in Swedish was Ryktet om Min Död (Bra Spänning); his most recent book on a Swedish subject the best-selling critical literary biography Stieg Larsson: Man, Myth & Mistress (CoolMainPress). Currently his Gauntlet Run (written with Andrew McCoy and Dakota Franklin) is the free book from CoolMain.


This arrived from my arts materials pushers, Jackson’s in London. Frightening what the bureaucrats in Brussels can get up to, especially when pushed by a bunch of dumb Swedes trying to drain the glee from everyone’s life.



Dear Andre,

Yesterday afternoon, the European Commission issued its communication confirming that it will not adopt a REACH restriction on cadmium in artists’ paints, which would have seen cadmium colours effectively banned in Europe.


In 2013/14 the EU’s Chemical Agency responded to a Scandinavian request that attempted to reduce the quantity of cadmium batteries sent to land-fill waste across Europe. Alarmingly the proposed legislation made no allowance for the entirely safe cadmium compounds used in artists’ paints and if successfully adopted would have seen cadmium banned from use by European paint makers. Without concerted and urgent effort, artists would have been deprived of the vibrant cadmium yellows, reds and oranges that have formed an essential part of the professional palette since the 1840’s!

How we did it

Co-ordinating the campaign were Spectrum Paints, a comparatively small UK paint maker. Their size meant they were unrestricted by legal departments and press officers, so Michael Craine, Rachel Volpé and Angela Brown set about raising awareness and speaking with the EU through the paint maker’s trade organisation CEPE. Artists & Illustrators Magazine was an early supporter and joined the campaign to spread the word and encourage individual artists to contact the ECHA with their views. Michael Craine recalls, “It was a fascinating time through which we had a growing sense that perhaps the strength of our argument might win through. As a result of the Artists & Illustrators publicity and further excellent blogging by Jackson’s Art and other enthusiasts and supporters, the story went global! We were contacted by British broad-sheet newspapers, the story was taken up by Emma-Jane Kirby of the BBC who interviewed me for broadcast on Radio 4’s PM program. We made it onto the BBC news. We appeared in the media in the USA, South Africa, Australia and the French and German press”.

What happened?

The European Chemical Agency ECHA were impressed with the art world’s reasonable, informed and strongly-held view that pigments such as Cadmium Sulphate are indispensible to artists – perfectly safe, perfectly strong, wonderfully lightfast and producing unique shades. There are imitations but no replacements! Rachel Volpé of Spectrum Paints comments that, “whilst we discussed the technical case for cadmium pigments, many artists were passionately able to stress the economic and artistic importance of cadmiums as they uniquely bring a warmth, light, strength and colour to paintings that stands the test of time”.

Have we won just a temporary reprieve?

Michael from Spectrum writes, “this is more than a reprieve. The ECHA recognise our case and acknowledge the substance of our arguments. This astonishing collaboration has taken up a great deal of time for me over the last two years and innumerable emails, meetings and conversations, but it was worth it!” Not only is the change of heart over cadmium a joyous occasion in its own right, the fact that the artist fraternity is recognised as a community in its own right is an exciting development and one that should help us protect our mutual interests in the future. So congratulations and sincere thanks all round!

Can you #guess who this #painter is? #Tip: He painted more in #oil than #watercolour.

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Can you guess who this painter is? Tip: He painted more in oils than watercolor.

Andre Jute is a novelistpainter and cyclist.

The ghost of yesteryear’s bicycle


The ghost of yesteryear’s bicycle in Bandon, West Cork.

Andre Jute is a novelist, painter and cyclist.

Bombing down the hill at Kilbrogan

I love autumn in Ireland. It is generally the warmest season of the year here in West Cork, the sun might even shine, and often it doesn’t rain.

The sun at dawn is low on the Eastern horizon behind me, as you can see from my elongated shadow near the middle left of the photo.

You can’t see the bottom of the valley, but on the far side is the steepest hill in West Cork. From the bottom of the valley, to leave in any direction you must face the first, second or third steepest hill in West Cork.

Of course there is a network of small roads, very pleasant riding. But if I were descending across the fields at speed, while a fall might not hurt too much on these hassocks, I would want my doctor in attendance. Reluctantly I turned away to…

Speeding downhill at 51kph. Oh, the thrill of it! This is more than halfway down already, with the steepest, fastest bit behind me, more’s the pity.

And here I just caught a thrill at 50+kph on a much safer surface, where the only danger is a tractor coming around the corner at the bottom of another steep hill, this one a couple or three kilometers away from the first photograph.

Andre Jute is a novelist, painter and cyclist. He has some other dangerous passions as well, including kilovolt thermionic tube hifi with horn loudspeakers.

Bloody Hell, #Pornography Creeps in Everywhere. Steve #Jobs spins in his grave.


Does this serious fellow look like a pornographer to you? Incredibly, his worthy though lively tome is described on iTunes as:
The Wealth of Nations“He remembered how it had seemed to him to him, a priest sweet to die if he might die clasping unrebuked this woman in his arms. The blood throbbed in his temples as he recalled the wild thoughts that had swirled in a mad throng through his brain in those moments which had seemed like hours; the blood throbbed, too, in his wounded arm, so that a groan forced itself through his parched lips. He was constantly throwing himself to and fro as if to escape from some teasing thought, always to be by the sharp pang in his wound brought to a sense of his condition. The whole night passed in an agony of mind and body.” Check it out at

it_s_the_economy__stupid_v2_cover_800ph_123kbAndre Jute’s most recent book on economics is IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID — a Rhodes Scholar Education in One Hour.


The Sentinels — grabbing a watercolor moment in my little pochade tin

For watercolors en plein air I normally use water brushes but for father’s day I was given a set of Da Vinci 1503 Kolinsky Sable Travel Brushes. I’ll have more to say about them in an interview with Joanna Truscott, who turned up on this day.

The viewpoint is up on the old railway track above the road between Bandon and Innishannon. I’ve been waiting for a sunshine day to block out an oil painting 16x12in of this scene but, as you can see, the Irish weather isn’t being accommodating. So I decided that between showers I’d make a quick watercolour sketch in my little pochade tin and get the details and the oil at home in the studio.


Andre Jute: The Sentinels, watercolor, 6x4in, 2015

Hungry #hedgehog comes out in daylight. #Photos.

Andre Jute's pet hedgehogA family of hedgehogs lives in the stables, or the orchard behind it. They’re very private animals who usually come out only after midnight to eat the food we put out, and drink the water we leave out for them and the other animals: a family of foxes that come up from the gully at the end of the orchard, dogs, cats, birds. It’s pretty difficult photographing the hedgehogs without giving them a migraine with the flash on the camera, and you generally have to do it from behind glass as they scurry off in a hurry when they see what to them must be a large looming presence. But this one came out in daylight… Must have been very hungry.

#Electronics promote social and #family #alienation. I blame #Amazon.

Do you still need to ask whether #electronics
promote social and #family #alienation?
I blame #Amazon.

Photos celebrating the life of cyclist, Porsche engineer and bicycling innovator Jobst Brandt 1935-2015


jobst_brandt_1935-2014Jobst Brand in the Alps.
See an inspiring celebration of his life in photos.


The theory and practice of derailleur chain tensioners, vertical dropouts, horizontal dropouts, slotted frame ends and Rohloff OEM slider dropouts, with reference to power and braking torque resolution, and to suspended and unsuspended bicycles, with a critical path decision tree through the complications

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_chain_elongation_216pxhEvery drive chain wears over its service life. This wear is misnomered “stretch” because the visible effect is growth in the operating length of the chain. This increase must somehow be adjusted out in every bicycle transmission of whatever type. This article is about the technical ins and outs and aesthetics of “somehow”, to serious cyclists a matter of importance third only to sex and hydration.



On a derailleur-equipped bicycle, with more than one chainring and most likely many sprockets in the rear cluster, the chain tensioner, a spring-loaded arm, does what it says on the tin, adjusts the chain for wear (“stretch”), and it does it automatically. It is a well-understood, proven system, albeit crude in conception; it has the additional advantage of offering flex for the varying chainline between different sized front and rear cogs at different distances from the
centreline of the bike.

On a fixie, single-speed or internal hub bicycle there is a fixed, hopefully straight chainline because there is only one cogged ring on the bottom bracket axle and one cogged ring on the wheel axle, but chain wear over the chain’s service life must still be allowed for, and in this case too a chain tensioner is simple to design and execute with widely available components in a wide range of qualities and prices.

andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_andre_jute_instructions_coca_cola_zero_bikes_cork_a_popular_service_stand_overview_800pxwHowever, with a fixie, a single-speed or an internal hub gearbox, there are several advantages over the derailleur system — which are lost by the installation of a spring tensioner. The advantages lost in what we generically call “single-speed bicycles” include the “clean appearance” of a simple chain between two cogs without appendages, easy adjustment and service, cleanliness, longer service life of the chain and all other transmission parts, a very long list. Perhaps the greatest loss brought about by the thoughtless, reflex fitting of the chain tensioner is the important ability in all but the crudest bicycles of fitting a full chain case with its own advantages in attracting a wider class of rider and putting the bike to a wider class of service, or in intensifying the other advantages of doing away with the chain tensioner.


When you replace the ugly, dirty, imprecise, wear-inducing derailleur system and its chain tensioner with a tidy, self-contained, longlasting hub gearbox, you don’t want the gearbox to turn around in the frame. So, whatever design you put in the place of the chain tensioner must not only provide adjustable drive length (the centre to centre distance between the bottom bracket axle and the rear wheel axle), but must react torque for the drive power.

Regardless of which transmission system you choose, disc brake torque too must be reacted and ditto the torque of the very effective roller brakes available as an integral fitting with Shimano hub gearboxes (Nexus, Alfine).


Rear suspension on bicycles are perforce swing arm systems. There are only two possibilities:

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_rohloff_softtail_216pxhIn one type the swing arm contains only the rear wheel, with the swivel before the bottom bracket on the forward part of the frame, in which case a chain tensioner is inevitable whatever the transmission type preferred.

When the swing arm contains both the rear wheel and the bottom bracket, with the swivel to the main frame placed forward of the bottom bracket, the swing arm forms a rigid brace as on the tradional diamond frame, and all the other chain tension possibilities canvassed below open up.


andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_various_dropouts_216pxhFirst we’ll look at the most difficult installations, in which a traditional derailleur-equipped bicycle is turned into a fixie, a single-speed or a hub gearbox bike. The thorough Germans have of course thought the matter through exhaustively, and Bernd Rohloff supplies kits of his hugely admired Rohloff Speedhub for every configuration of frame imaginable. This is the opening page of Rohloff’s Speedhub Finder, which purports to simplify a complicated decision tree:


You can play with this decision tree but basically, unless you have horizontal dropouts 25mm or longer (illustration B), to fit a Rohloff, you will need either a chain tensioner (illustrations A, C D, E) or a custom frame or at least custom frame ends brazed/welded on (illustrations F and G).

“Frame ends” is the proper name for rear dropouts that don’t drop out… I don’t know what front dropouts with lawyers’ lips, which don’t drop out easily either, are called. Long horizontal slots that open rearwards are called “track ends”, if you want to be fancy. Stick to “dropouts” and you can’t go wrong.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_horizontal_slot_216pxhI have long horizontal slots on bikes fitted with Shimano hub gearboxes and, together with tug nuts, and in conjunction with serated axle locknuts which chew up the aluminium frame ends, they work a treat. My Rohloff hub gearbox is fitted to the full katootie OEM slider dropouts on a custom frame, so I cannot say from personal experience how well the adaptations of the Rohloff to standard derailleur frames work, but they appear to work for tens of thousands of riders and mud pluggers.


andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_phil_ebb2_216pxhSo, if you’re resigned to having a derailleur frame altered, or to buying a dedicated frame for your fixie, single-speed or hub-gearbox bicycle, what choices do you have for adjusting chain tension?

Gazelle Flowline KettingkastAs an aside, a temporary tributary in the flow of bicycle design, a chain tensioner is possible inside an enclosed chaincase if the bicycle is designed from scratch with the correct fittings to move the chain tensioner to a suitable position, as in the Gazelle Flowline concept illustrated to the right. (Thanks to Simon McKenzie for finding the illustration.) It solves the difficulties of the consumable eccentric bottom bracket, or alternatively the irritating rolling consequential adjustments (mudguard, brake, rack) that may accompany chain length compensation in slotted frame ends. Many, including me, would however consider this design a retrograde step because it cannot but result in faster chain wear. In 2012 Gazelle commercialized the Flowline design on an innovative bike called the Friiik (not a spelling mistake), illustrated in a video and photos available via links in the comments below; this clever model is now gone from Gazelle’s catalogue, according to insiders for reasons of sales channel resistance and low demand.

So it’s probably safe to assume that you’re taking a more expensive route because you’ve already ruled out the crude, ugly, dirty chain tensioner.

Thus, again, there are two main choices, an adjustable bottom bracket, and some kind of movable dropout.


andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_basic_ebb_216pxhAn EBB is a bottom bracket set off-centre (ex-centrically — English is not always intuitive!) in an aluminium plug sized to fit inside the bottom bracket shell. The bottom bracket shell may be larger than standard, so the plug is bigger than a standard bottom bracket and will then take a standard bottom bracket. Or the bottom bracket shell may be a standard bottom bracket diameter, in which case a smaller than standard bottom bracket is required to fit the plug; this is a uncommon option.

Chain length adjustment is achieved by rotating the plug in the bottom bracket shell so that the bottom bracket axle comes to rest nearer to or further from the rear axle as required. A special peg tool (a pin wrench) is required but it is usually combined with another tool useful in a touring kit so that excessive weight is not added.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_ebb_dimple_fixing_216pxhThe plug is fixed in the bottom bracket in a variety of ways, the most common being by pointed- or rounded-end bolts entering the soft aluminium some short way, which have the disadvantage that eventually they ruin the EBB by wearing grooves in the aluminium plug and then will no longer hold it in position.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_ebb_lipped_shell_216pxhAn alternative is splitting the bottom bracket shell at a pair of lips that bolt together and clamp the EBB in place, a method hated by many frame designers as compromising the strength of the frame at a critical concentration of loads. You take your pick and pay the consequences.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_bushnell_retro_ebb_216pxhThe Bushnell EBB does not require a split shell; it is fixed in position by turning a screw which expands the eccentric within the bicycle’s bottom bracket shell. There are also external bearing EBB, such as the Trickstuff Excentriker or the Phil, which screw into standard bottom brackets but whose adjustment is external; they use modern cranks with integrated axles. Most of these “special” EBB have the disadvantage that they’re priced for plutocrats.andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_exzentriker_216pxhandre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_phil_ebb_216pxh

Note that the aficionados of the EBB who use hub gearboxes (and that’s almost all of them) must still design and construct a special dropout for torque reactions, or make do with a kludgy arm, so the EBB choice isn’t necessarily the cheaper construction option (though it is often presented as such). Furthermore, replacements of inevitably ruined EBB (for those who choose the cheap option of fixing the EBB by dimpling bolts) could over time make it a more expensive option than sliders. But for most designers cost appears to be an afterthought in this choice, an extra justification, as many have a visceral dislike of the only alternative to an EBB, some kind of slotted frame end in which the axle can slide.


andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_trackend_216pxhSlotted horizontal dropouts, long familiar from hub gearbox practice on Dutch-style city, commuter and continental holiday bikes, are slider dropouts, open at one end.

The axle is retained by friction between the axle nut, often with a serrated mating face, and the frame material, usually but not invariably assisted by an adjustable tugnut. For torque control, flanged washers fit over flats on the axle.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_tugnut_216pxhAdjustment is by loosening the axle nuts and the tugnut screws (often wing nuts or other finger-operable fasteners), sliding the axle until the chain reaches the required tension, and then locking all four fasteners.

The horizontal open slot has worked well for decades on tens of millions of installations. However, with anything more complicated than a simple rim-braked bike, it soon becomes complicated, though Shimano managed to integrate their rear roller brake with only a single extra bolt on the torque reaction arm braced to the chainstay to be undone-retightened for chain adjustment. Disc brakes are also possible but more complicated.

Long horizontal slots also allow beautifully clean installations without any unsightly dangly bits like chain tensioners when a standard hub-gearbox frame is converted into a fixie or a single-speeder.


Though the open-ended horizontal slot beloved of Continental commuters works well within its limits, which is basically for bikes with 300% or so range in their hub gearboxes, and for fixie and singlespeed conversions, the Rohloff, with 526% range, that is torque multiplication, is altogether a different kettle of fish. A serrated nut, especially on the sort of steel frame often used for Rohloff installations (rather than the aluminium common on Dutch city bikes), and a pressed steel tugnut in an open slot is a recipe for high maintenance and frequent breakages, and very likely painful incidents (which is what we sensitively prefer to “accidents”). The Rohloff concept is anyway high quality and low maintenance, so tugnuts and open slots, such obvious choices for an internal gear hub, were also obviously out.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_rohloff_hangers_for_welding_in_216pxhBernd Rohloff solved the conundrum by designing his own frame end and dropout to suit the particular strengths and needs of his gearbox, adapted his designs for every possible application, and then put the designs in the public domain so that today you can buy a frame with frame ends to his design, suitable for socalled “Rohloff OEM dropouts” made by a variety of manufacturers in a variety of decorative patterns. The ones on the left are for brazing or welding to frames with eccentric bottom brackets or, horrors, chain tensioners.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_standard_oem1_rohloff_slider_216pxhThe Rohloff slider frame ends consist on each side of two closed slots in a line at a shallow angle to true horizontal, in the same way that traditional open “horizontal” slots are at a slight angle to horizontal.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_rohloff_slider_dropouts_216pxhThe dropouts are two entirely separate machined aluminium plates. The plates are tapped to accept two M6 bolts, one through each slider slot. Dropout plate and frame are further located to each other by a precisely machined tongue and groove system.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_white_bike_216pxhThe dropout has a long vertical slot that does double duty as a torque reactor by holding both the axle and a rectangular stud the width of the slot, protruding from the gearbox. The non-driveside dropout can be shaped with or without ears for a disc brake caliper, which then moves in correct relation with the axle.

Custom frames often have additional strengthening triangulation between the chain- and seat-stays if a disc brake is intended, or even just in case a disc brake is added later, because that is so easy.

andre_jute_chain-dropout-rohloff_article_complete_slider_setup_216pxhTo adjust chain length with the Rohloff slider frame ends, both slider bolts on each side are undone, the wheel is slid to the desired chain tension, and all four bolts are tightened. This takes less than a minute, much, much faster than resetting an EBB or the somewhat fiddly open horizontal slot system with tugnuts. However, large movements may require rim brakes to be adjusted to suit, and if the bike is assembled to fine tolerances, other adjustments may need to be made. It’s never happened to me, and my bike is constructed to 1mm clearances between moving parts, but it is theoretically possible.

There no reason that less puissant gearboxes cannot be hung on Rohloff sliders, or a fixie or a single speeder rear axle.


Many bicycle designers really hate one or another aspect of every one of these systems.

The chain tensioner is an aesthetic bicycle killer, the devil’s work.

Nor do I much like the idea of the expensive eccentric bottom bracket being a consumable part, but then I’m proud of having developed a virtually zero-service, near-zero-replacement bike, which is not everybody’s ideal.

Of course I dislike the possibility of cascading adjustments flowing from a chain tension adjustment in the horizontal slot or the Rohloff slider systems, but it has never happened to me on my several bikes with these systems.

So, recognizing that all these systems are compromises, I’m happy with the Rohloff-designed slotted frame ends and “OEM” dropouts as the least evil, and in any event vastly superior to derailleurs and an accompanying chain tensioner.

Your mileage may vary!

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who also keeps a bicycling page.


Copyright text and images © Andre Jute  2015. This text may be freely reproduced on not-for-profit sites as long as it is complete and unaltered, including all the links, illustrations, and this copyright notice. Commercial, print, broadcast, other use, contact the author.

Great bicycling memories: Dusk over a valley in West Cork


Now let us praise famous men: Tom Ritchey’s rides in the mountains with Jobst Brandt

silverfallsj1988800Tom Ritchey, for the innocent and the new bicyclists, is a famous and exceedingly influential designer of bicycles and components who played a major part in the development of the mountain bike. But in his fond and illuminating obituary of Jobst Brandt, a major influence on him as on so many designers and components and riding styles, Ritchey lifts the curtain on the days before mountain bikes when these hard men rode the Northern Californian mountains on narrow-tyred road bikes, setting a meme that still survives today in America, for instance in the insistence of many Americans on commuting on road (racing) bikes. For more click here or on the photo.

The illustration is from Richey’s obituary of Jobst Brand, where all the photos are © Jobst Brandt and Ray Hosler.

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter who also keeps a bicycling page.