Neck And Neck

As you can imagine, since receiving the Vinershiki I’ve had Italian Steel on the brain, so yesterday I commuted on the Pink Faggin:

The Homer is considerably more comfortable over the course of a 30-plus mile round-trip commute, but sometimes it feels good to skip the pannier and get on something light and nimble:

Also, somehow the Faggin has the quietest drivetrain I’ve ever experienced:

I don’t know if it’s the close-ratio chainrings that are so close in ratio they’re effectively pointless:

The 12-25 cassette I used to think was for “training” and “climbing” but now makes me wonder where the hell my low gears went:

Or the fact that the derailleur pulley teeth are worn to fine points:

Then today I got right back on the Vinershiki. I’m off Strava now and there’s no computer on the bike…

…but fortunately I had ample opportunity to see how fast slow I was going:

Though still mostly in dirtbag mode, I mitigated the effect somewhat with a Vulpine merino pullover:

I also figured I’d see how the Pearl Izumi Canyon shoes did with the toe clips and straps:

The Vans clown shoes I’d worn on my first ride fit in there well, though the sole is a little soft for an old-timey pedal meant for a slotted cleat, which you can kind of feel digging into your foot a little bit on climbs. As I suspected, the firmer sole of the Canyon was better in this regard, but as I also suspected the bulkier upper wasn’t great for getting in and out of the clips. (It’s a shoe meant for flat pedals, after all.) Rest assured I’m making arrangements for more appropriate footwear as I type this, but until then I think the clown shoes are the way to go.

Footwear aside, so far it’s hard to find fault with the bike. Really hard. Like, it’s almost the Platonic ideal of a road bike. But if I had to pick something, I guess it would be…what, the aero-mounted shifters maybe?

Objectively speaking, it’s just better to have a little more distance between them. In the normal position there’s more room to grab one without hitting the other, especially on rear downshifts when you kind of palm the lever for, uh, lever-age. But of course there’s nothing objective about vintage bikes, and the aero shifters also make the bike even more cool and interesting, which arguably outweighs the (extremely tiny) inconvenience of the shifters being a little too close together.

Also, it’s really easy to shift the right lever with your left hand or vice-versa if you ever need to do that, so that’s something.

Meanwhile, the shifters on the Vengeance Bike were separated by a great wall of plastic, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the set-up on the Vinershiki, though ironically in both cases the goal was aerodynamics:

Funny how that works.

Oh, I did have to snug up the bolt on the shifter mount just a tiny bit:

I have no idea if that’s something that regularly works its way loose, or if I’m the first person who’s had to touch it in 41 years.

Other than that, what’s not to love?

If I were a writer for “Bicycling” in 1982, I’d of course rhapsodize the Italian-made Nishiki Cervino by describing it as a “Guido wrapped in a kimono,” a stereotype-laden description which would never fly today. But just imagine opening this:

And reading all about how riding the Cervino is like opening this:

Only to reveal this:

By the way, speaking of hiding stuff, for those of you who were wondering about the cable routing…

…they disappear here:

Then the front derailleur cable reappears down in the bike’s crotchal region:

While the rear derailleur cable doesn’t emerge until the very end of the chainstay:

While we’re back here, let’s admire the Super Record derailleur:

It looks like something you’d use to give a tattoo, and it’s as mechanical and purposeful as the C-Record derailleur is bulbous and smooth:

And yet I’d argue that both are equally compelling.

Consider also the brake calipers…

…and what followed a few years later:

The Delta is much-maligned for its supposed lack of stopping power, but I found the opposite to be true, and if you want proof, consider that I took the Vengeance Bike to Switzerland, rode it through the mountains, and never launched myself off an Alp. It’s certainly a more powerful brake than the one on the Vinershiki–which will also stop you just fine–though this comes at the expense of a more complicated design that eats up pretty much every last millimeter of tire clearance.

Speaking of tires, the tubulars triggered my long-dormant tire-wiping impulse:

I suspect it does about as much as throwing a pinch of salt over your shoulder.

Maybe I should carry some salt.

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