Trying To Keep My Thumb Off The Scales

Further to Friday’s post, I’ve now got my modern slotted cleat situation together:

The key (in addition to a pair of shoes with laces) is this cleat from Yellow Jersey:

Also, a reader informs me that you can also get slotted cleats with float:

It’s a clever idea, though I do object to it on the basis that the entire point of using clips and straps an slotted cleats is to inconvenience yourself as much as possible and this seems like a violation of that ethos.

If you’ve never used slotted cleats before, getting in and out of them takes a little getting used to, and of course you’ve got to remember you’re strapped in before you try to put a foot down or you’re going over like a felled tree:

Oh, and to the reader who left this comment, I’ve fixed the strap.

Anyway, I’ll repeat once again that I’m not in any way advocating for a return to this setup, and I’m merely using it in the spirit of enjoying the bike in its proper historical context–and it is more fun to ride the bike with “proper” shoes than it is with sneakers or even vintage bowling shoes, just as long as you remember not to fall over:

By the way, I’m assuming the bike once belonged to someone named Alfredo Binda, because he put his name on the straps:

Anyway, now that I’ve got not only one but two pairs of shoes for this thing, I can really get down to the business of enjoying it–and I am greatly enjoying it, even though the shifters are close enough together that I shifted the wrong one the other day:

It’s almost like they’re flipping me off:

Speaking of shifting in particular and obsolescence in general, I am now deep into the Classic Cycle 21st Century Friction Shifter Shootout…which should more properly be called a derailleur shootout, but we’re specifically evaluating how they each work with friction shifters on a modern bike, so I’m sticking with it:

After being pleasantly surprised with the performance of the Altus LT, the oldest derailleur of the bunch, I moved onto the next derailleur in the test:

The Shimano 600 is of course the predecessor to Ultegra, and it’s impressively sleek and elegant, especially in comparison to the very mechanical-looking Altus LT. Note the cable anchor bolt:

The head of which is hidden in the parallelogram:

I believe Shimano introduced this derailleur in 1982, and it wasn’t even their top-of-the-line model. (That distinction of course went to Dura Ace.) Meanwhile, here’s what Campagnolo was doing in ’82:

You can see that they were in trouble.

It’s impressively light, too, at just an eyelash over 200 grams:

Of course it doesn’t have a barrel adjuster, but on a friction drivetrain you don’t really need that anyway.

I was very excited to test this derailleur, and was rooting for it on the basis that it’s simultaneously vintage and ultra-light, which makes for a high “cool” factor. Alas, when I tried to install it, I found that the little retainer thingy that holds the derailleur in place on the dropout tab and maintains spring tension is out of position:

As far as I can tell, the spring itself works just fine, so I’m not sure what’s going on here. Maybe someone overhauled it at some point and put it back together wrong, I dunno. Whatever the reason, the upshot is that I couldn’t install it properly, and so I was forced to sideline it until I figure it out. So if you’ve got any insight feel free to let me know.

In the meantime, I moved right onto the next deralleur, the so-called “Deerhead” Shimano M700, which was the first iteration of XT:

As Disraeli Gears notes, it’s similar to the 600 in design, and it also has that Centeron arm that may or may not be important:

Even with the longer cage, the barrel adjuster, and the Centeron thingy, it’s still lighter than you’d think.

Once installed, shifter position in the lowest gear is roughly 90 degrees in relation to the downtube:

Here it is in the largest cog and in the small chainring:

And here it is in the largest cog and the large chainring:

The fit was good, the cable pull was good, and it had retro-cred practically dripping from its antlers. Unfortunately, as I shifted through all the gears, I discovered a problem: even with the high limit screw all the way out, I couldn’t shift into my highest gear.

We all have our hang-ups, and given the sorry state of my bikes its may surprise you to learn there are certain things I simply can’t tolerate. I don’t mind dirty bar tape, or scratches, or dings, or mismatched components. (My Rock Combo has two different shifters and it doesn’t bother me in the least.) However, I can’t deal with unusable gears. It’s bad enough I have to ride around without and end cap on the derailleur cable while I’m doing this test–something else that drives me crazy, even though it’s meaningless. But if I’m riding a bike it had better be able shift into all the gears, even if I don’t actually use them all. I wouldn’t even be able to ride a bike with 10-speed shifters shifting only 8 cogs, because even though it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do if that’s what you’ve got, the knowledge of those unused clicks would prey upon my tiny brain. So obviously in practice not being able to use your highest gear on a 10-speed drivetrain is almost a non-issue, but still, I don’t like it, and certainly if a derailleur is going to win a Friction Shifter Shootout it had better demonstrate maximum compatibility and full usability on the test-cycle.

So I disqualified it:

Though it’s a DOHS (derailler of historical significance) and so I do plan to try it on another bike in the not-too-distant future.

I did find it surprising that the Altus LT worked on every cog but the M700 didn’t. So I took a closer look at the Altus LT and found that it was at its absolute maximum high limit. The difference between making that last shift and not making it is probably a matter of less than a millimeter, so it’s basically luck that one antique derailleer could do it and the other one couldn’t.

Next up chronologically would have been the Suntour XC Comp, with which I have experience because it’s the same derailleur that was on my Rock Combo when I got it:

By this point however I was eager to ride the bike and I couldn’t deal with the risk of yet another ’80s derailleur not working, and so I decided to save it for later:

Instead, I went to the Campagnolo Veloce:

I had high hopes for this one. In particular, it’s the closest match to the 10-speed Campagnolo cassette on the test-cycle, and I wondered if that would still matter without indexed shifting. Of course, an actual 10-speed Campagnolo derailleur has a crucial mechanical difference, which is that it says “10 speed” on it:

[Thanks, eBay.]

Other than that I think they’re pretty much identical, and I didn’t even have to adjust the limit screws after installing it.

At 255 grams, it was the second-heaviest derailleur I’d tested so far, which obviously means nothing, but is still worth noting:

And lever throw was about the same as the 5700:

The medium cage was perfect for the test-cycle. Here it is in the small ring:

And here it is in the big ring:

Then I went for a ride:

My first impression of the Altus LT was that it shifted at least as well as the 5700. From this I concluded that maybe stuff like a slant parallelogram doesn’t matter all that much once you add modern tooth profiles and all the rest of it. But my first impression of the Veloce was that it shifted better than both of them and that this was the best the bike had ever felt:

Maybe it’s the slant parallelogram, maybe it’s that the cable pull ratio is a better match for the Campy cassette (though with friction shifters I still can’t see why that would matter), or maybe it’s just the psychological effect of putting a nice shiny silver Campy derailleur on a sparkly red bicycle. Whatever the case, it felt perfect and I barely missed a shift:

Seems like things can only go downhill from here.

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