Shifting Of Champions

Further to my last post about a certain triangular brake…

…I fell into a Delta-shaped rabbit hole after a reader suggested my brake pads were on backwards. In fact, they are not on backwards, but the reader thought they were since the open end of a pad holder should point towards the rear of the the bike, to wit:

However, these pads have no open end at all, go figure.

A normal person would leave it at that. I, however, am a bike dork, so I wanted to learn more. Furthermore, as a bike dork with a blog, I am going to share what I learned with you, despite the fact it is mind-numbingly boring, and that researching obsolete racing bicycle braking systems is a complete waste of time.

From what I can tell, the brakes I’m using are the second-generation Delta brake, as seen in the 1986 Campagnolo catalog:

As you can see, there is no open end on the pad holder.

Here is the next generation of brake, as seen in the 1987 catolog, which clearly does sport an open-ended pad holder:

So fine, they added it, right? But the weird thing is that the very first Delta brake, seen here in the 1985 catalog–and which which they recalled because it could kill you or something–also had the open-ended pad holder:


I have no idea what to conclude from this, except that: 1) I have too much time on my hands; and B) It’s yet another example of Campagnolo’s fabled passione. Also, according to the ’86 catalogue, it’s further evidence of their “research and reliability:”

Oh, you mean reliability like…BROKEN DERAILLEUR STOPS???

Actually, that’s not fair, obviously Campagnolo is in many ways responsible for the refinement of the modern racing bicycle drivetrain, and overall their designs and products have more than stood the test of time. Nevertheless, while down in the C-Record rabbit hole I did get the sense this is a common failure for this particular derailleur. I also came to appreciate just how over-designed this particular component group is in every possible way, both good and bad, right down to the loose ball bearings in the pulleys, which another reader pointed out some time ago:

I mean what else would they use? Bushings!?! That’s bush league!

And that’s not all I’ve learned, either. People say Delta brakes were never officially called “Delta:”

But they were called Deltas…at least as of 1987, as per the catalog:

So there!

At this point you might not think I’d be able to extract any more useless information from these old catalogues. Not so! Consider the entry for the shifter:

Specifically this passage:

For those who do not wish to use the shift lever of the champions, it is possible to obtain the RECORD gear equipped with the SYNCRO shifting lever.

With this control lever you can shift by predetermined steps to place the chain on the desired sprocket.

See, “SYNCRO” was Campagnolo’s indexing system, which presumably they had to implement in order to compete with Shimano and Suntour. Yet in so doing they make it clear that people who choose to avail themselves of this feature “do not wish to use the shift lever of the champions”–or, in non-marketing terms, are complete “woosies.” It’s brilliant! Nothing’s more quintessentially Italian than insulting your own customers. (At least according to stereotypes I’ve formed from watching movies.)

Anyway, from now on I will officially refer to friction shifting as the “Shifting of the Champions.”

(And no, the C-Record shifter Vengeance Bike does not have a “SYNCRO” mode, it’s 100% the Shifting of the Champions.)

Of course, I appreciate the irony that the Shifting of the Champions is no longer used by the champions, and is in fact espoused most passionately by those who identify as the very antithesis of the champions. I also realize my own tendency to define myself in opposition to the Modern Roadie is mostly affectation and pretense, but what can I say? Frankly I’m weirded out by what it’s become:

It’s like Star Trek after accidentally running their clothes through the dryer:

I can’t deal with the glasses eyewear either:

In this case Star Trek’s vision of the future actually turned out to be conservative:

Same goes for the helmets:

Never forget:

Australia: the Campagnolo of helmets.

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