Whoever Smelted It Delta’d It

I’m not the smartest person in the world. For example, see these cans?

I often manage to confuse them when I grab them out of the refrigerator door, especially when I’ve woken up thirsty:

There’s nothing worse than seltzer first thing in the morning. Eeew, gross!

Similarly, last week I noticed the derailleur on the Vengeance Bike was hitting the freewheel:

Which I attributed to what I thought (wrongly, as it turns out) was a too-long chain:

However, this comment got me thinking:

So I popped it off for a closer look:

The dropout tab looked fine. However, the…whatever the thingy on the deralleur that rests against it, well, that looked like it must have broken off at some point:

Here’s a closer look:

Here’s an even closer look:

Here’s what it’s supposed to look like:

And here’s what someone wants for that intact derailleur:

Obviously that wasn’t an option, so I rummaged around in my spare parts stores and found what I hoped would be a functional replacement:

If you’re a Campagnolophile this is blasphemous, and if you’re a pragmatist this is an upgrade.

The original bendy housing was too short for the new derailleur:

So I cut a new piece, which I had to tame with a zip tie owing to the position, angle, and diameter of the cable port:

I of course understand that between the zip tie and the Shimano I’ve already alienated at least several of you, but it seemed to shift nicely:

So the next morning I headed out for a sultry ride of approximately 40 miles:

And I’m pleased the report the bike shifted beautifully:

Sure, it may not look like there’s a little vintage Vespa hanging from the dropout anymore, but apart from aesthetics the replacement is excellent, and now that it’s shifting well the bike is a joy to ride:

Speaking of aesthetics versus functionality, the line on Delta brakes is they look good but don’t stop good. So far I find them adequate, and based on videos I’ve watched they seem cumbersome but not impossible to set up and adjust. (Assuming you have a 3.5mm hex key, which you almost assuredly don’t.) However, one attribute I haven’t seen anybody tout is that the pads sit far enough away from the rim that you can remove the wheel without having to open them up:

The fact that they offer decent stopping power while simultaneously providing clearance for wheel changes with up to a 25mm tire and accommodating wobbles and wheel flex while climbing and sprinting (remember when you used to sometimes open your brake QR while riding?) suggests to me these weren’t so much a stereotypically Italian form-over-function exercise as they were a purpose-built performance-over-convenience design that doesn’t have to be simple or convenient since pro teams have pro mechanics and the idea that road racing brakes need to be powerful enough to throw you over the bars with a single finger is a new and, frankly, absurd concept anyway. Also, I know nothing about engineering, and this may be a deeply flawed analysis on my part, but I kind of think of them as essentially a road racing brake inside of which beats the heart of a canti, which is strangely endearing:

Plus, pad toe-in can be set via the little screws on the pad carrier, and even the tire-to-caliper clearance is adjustable–the brake itself slides up and down on the mounting bolt–and while the Delta brake is obviously not the choice for the everyday cyclist the only truly bad thing I have to say about it is that it collects the fuck out of some road grit:

Also, on every ride at least one person will comment on them just to make sure you know that they know what they are. In fact, I think the only ride I’ve taken with them where not a single person said anything was the Five Boro Bike Tour, most likely because the ride is a mix of people who are blissfully unaware of cycling arcana and people who simply have nothing to prove.

Yes, in certain respects, both bikes and cans have come a long way:

Yet, despite changes in materials and ergonomics, they’ve also remained fundamentally unchanged:

Ultimately they’re just vessels that serve as brokers between you and enjoyment.

One reason I’ve been enjoying the Vengeance Bike is that, even though plastic race bikes aren’t my primary interest these days, it’s fascinating to ride a bike that’s a distillation of a certain era. Plus, there’s the fact that some things just become more interesting with age. (This blog excepted, alas.) The polar opposite of the Vengeance Bike is the Platypus–a modern bike designed for versatility and comprised of new yet simple and very un-Delta-like parts that cherry-pick from the past century of bicycle technology:

A bike like this is a sign that your riding life is a healthy one:

There’s a recurring dream that’s probably specific to New Yorkers in which you discover a heretofore unknown-to-you room or wing in your apartment. When you ride a bike you experience this in real life since you’re always finding yourself on improbable slivers of bucolic bliss:

Here it’s just you, as well as other skittish and marginalized creatures such as the Giant Northeastern Rabbit:

And the incredibly rare Hudson Valley Pygmy Deer::

I guess some of us were just born to scamper.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: