Dead Ringers

In my latest Outside column I ask whether or not the supple tire trend has gone too far:

The answer is yes it has.

So too has the wide bar trend, by the way. At this point the “alt” cycling types are riding bikes wider than their bikes are long. (‘m not sure there’s anything “alt” about alt-cycling anymore, ether. If anything it’s road bikes that are now “alt”–and they’re back to narrow bars, go figure:

Cyclists are so predictable.

Of course, my favorite road bike also has relatively narrow bars, since it dates back to the last narrow bar cycle:

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve got some projects planned, and one of them is to give this bike some much-needed attention–including repairing and replacing the original C-Record derailleur, which I had to replace with an Ultegra back in May due to a broken bushing thingy. Among the goodies Paul of Classic Cycle had sent me over the holidays was a donor derailleur from which I could source an intact bushing. So I figured I’d get get started on that today.

I’d since moved the ailing yet beautiful C-Record derailleur to the Faggin, having found that for some reason it worked just fine on that bike despite the broken bushing thingy:

So I removed it, and while the chain was off I figured I’d also take care of something else that was bugging me:

That’s a triple front derailleur shifting a 42/53 chainring combo. It was the only derailleur I had at the time that would fit. It works just fine with the double, but I had to mount it pretty high up to keep the large inner plate from hitting the inner ring. Obviously there is no reason for a 53-tooth chainring on an urban runabout, and I did have smaller outer rings available, but since I’d be unable to move the derailleur any lower I didn’t want to use them for fear of throwing the chain.

But then triple-izing the Homer (by the way, replacing the Wipperman link has in fact cured the chainsuck problem) netted me another front derailleur–a Shimano designed specifically for “cyclocross”-type ring combos–so I dug out a 48-tooth chainring:

And now the Faggin’s frontal crank situation is considerably more usable and tidy:

Apart from all the grime that is my trademark, of course.

With that done, I turned my attention to the derailleur(s):

The one on the left is the one from the Kestrel (broken), and the one on the right is the one Paul sent me (intact). As you can see, the intact one is way more scuffed than the pristine-looking broken one, though as far as I could tell it was otherwise perfectly functional. While I think Paul’s idea was that I’d swap the bushing over to the nicer (broken) derailleur, I’d also ordered a replacement bushing from eBay, which I was still waiting for:

Yes, you could get a pretty decent used derailleur for the same money, but I’ve come to realize that vintage Campagnolo components cause you to behave irrationally, and I liked the idea of having two working derailleurs, since that would put me squarely in the One Percent.

Anyway, with the part on the way, I figured I’d just put the scuffed (intact) derailleur on the Faggin and then repair the clean one when the part arrived. So that’s what I did, and I spent lots of time futzing with cable housing and ferrules due to the old-style cable stop on the ’80s frame, the lack of a barrel adjuster on the scuffed derailleur, etc., only to finally sort it all out and then discover I couldn’t turn the goddamn limit screws. This was because the slots were extremely narrow and only the teeniest screwdrivers would fit, but then I couldn’t get enough grip or leverage to budge them, even with pliers. I tried every screwdriver I had–even a bike-themed one with a pun it–but it simply wasn’t happening:

I know you’re supposed to use JIS screwdrivers on Japanese bike parts, which like most lazy slobs I never do. So knowing Campagnolo maybe I need a special screwdriver with the requisite Italian passion. Or maybe they’re just stuck. I certainly didn’t have this problem with the limit screws on the other derailleur, which turn so easily you can practically do it by hand:

Whatever the case, I gave up trying to turn them since I’ve been known to ruin derailleurs, and finally just snatched the Ultegra off the Vengeance Bike since I was going to be replacing it eventually anyway:

This ultimately yielded me an exceedingly smooth drivetrain, if a bit pedestrian for its utter lack of Campagnolo:

Though arguably a pink Faggin is Campy enough.

I’d like to say I stopped there, and you probably wish I would, but after that I got deep into the derailleur surgery:

If you’ve ever seen “Dead Ringers” you know what it was like*:

But let’s save that for another day.

*[Don’t worry, the derailleurs are fine.]

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