Classic Cycle Thursdays: Off The Chain

On Wednesday I undertook a formidable mechanical challenge by overhauling a shifter on the Cervino:

There’s more to being the Classic Cycle Old Crap Test Pilot than riding the bikes, and it is also my duty to identify problems and service them when necessary. In this case the thumb screw on one of the shifters was working its way loose and required retightening maybe two or three times per ride. People on the Internets will tell you to just use Loctite and be done with it, but that’s just a cop-out, and after some experimentation I deduced that a worn washer was probably the culprit. So I requested spare washers from Classic Cycle:

Overhauling an old Campagnolo friction shifter is not for the faint of heart. First, using no tools whatsoever, you’ve got to remove the thumb screw. Then, you must switch the washers. Finally, you screw it all back together again. And, uh…that’s it.

You don’t even have to disconnect the cables. (Or download an app.)

According to the latest marketing, electronic shifting is all about simplicity and freeing yourself from “distractions.” However, I’m not sure there’s anything more simple and less distracting than an old-timey friction lever. Sure, if you don’t have the right connections it may be hard to find the proper washer should you need one, but the original lasted over 40 years and I’m hoping to get at least another 40 out of this one too–and yes, the “new” washer does seem to have done the trick, because both thumb screws now seem to be staying put:

The rest of the drivetrain is almost as simple:

And since my trip to Switzerland I now look at six-speed freewheels differently:

Whereas others see limitations, I see only possibilities.

Removing the frame pump from the Cervino reveals some decal grooviness:

As well as more clues as to its Italian origins:

When you look at its crotch you can totally see its Viner:

Speaking of packages, I’m also doubling up on spare tires for additional peace of mind:

I’m not new to tubulars, but it’s been quite a long time since I’ve changed one, and hopefully I don’t have to relive the experience anytime soon–though having just typed that I’m sure I’ve jinxed myself:

Today there’s virtually no such thing as a road wheel that isn’t at least moderately aero, though when you account for crosswinds I wouldn’t be surprised if a good old-fashioned low-profile setup is more efficient overall:

It also feels good to look down at your bike and see shiny silver stuff:

Which, like low-profile wheels, has also almost completely vanished from the modern road bicycle:

As have shiny lugs and fork crowns:

Is there anything more tragic than what’s happened to the front end of the road bike in recent years?

The list of atrocities that has been committed in the name of “aerodynamics” is far too long.

Oh, sure, it started innocently enough–let’s simplify things with a threadless headset. But threadless begat integrated, and integrated begat internal cockpit cable routing, and now a simple stem change requires a visit to your authorized dealer.

Of course not all change is for the worse. Consider pedals:

I’ve returned the original pedals to the bike because sometimes its fun to indulge in period-correctness. However, just after taking these photos I remounted the bike, started heading uphill, and realized I’d forgotten to shift into the small ring. I had no momentum, my feet were stuck to my primitive pedals, I couldn’t get on top of the gear, and I had slowed to the point where I was in danger of falling over. Desperately, I attempted to change gears, but in 1982 the concept of “shifting under load” had not been invented yet, and instead the derailleur just said “Fuck it” and threw the chain like David Millar throwing his bike:

By this time the bike had rolled to a stop, and there I was spinning my legs in vain. In moments such as these, time stands still, and keeling over like a tipped cow seemed like an inevitability. Fortunately I hadn’t cinched up the straps yet, so at the very last second I managed to extricate a foot and save myself.

So yeah, pedals have improved quite a bit. Okay, and maybe drivetrains too. And I guess gluing your tires to your wheels is a little ridiculous…

But other than that, what has the bike industry ever done for us?

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