Gone the way of the frame pump

A Shift In Time

by / / 103 posts

Returning to your roots can be both a rewarding and sobering experience. The nostalgia one feels for the halcyon days of youth, the memories of carefree times in the sun with the only concern to make it home in time for dinner, the hidden alleyways and secret spots where the bike would take you and not another soul in the world would know your whereabouts. To return to those very places only to find that they are gone, buried, replaced or neglected beyond redemption is a slap in the face, as if to say, times change, the past is gone, move on.

These past few weeks spent back in the stomping grounds of my childhood, youth and most of my adult life have reinforced a few things: some memories last forever, others are wiped fairly quickly, and sometimes the grass really is greener etc. Other times, the grass is burnt brown and crisp, but it’s still grass. Even with the ‘better’ choices we have in all aspects of our lives, there remains a certain romanticism and sense of ‘doing it right’ that comes with utilising the very things that were once themselves new and exciting. Like driving a Triumph Stag, or pedalling trails that you last rode under power of internal combustion in the 80s, or drinking a coffee in a building that was last used to vend goods in the 70s…

And shifting your Bicycle’s gears by taking your hand off the bars, reaching down and moving a lever.

Although it may be easier to push a button on an electronic device to play a song or shift gears, the ritualistic quality of placing a vinyl disc on a turntable or manipulating a lever and cable to achieve the same result still seems that much more… cool. We strive to Look Pro, but feeling Pro is so much harder to accomplish, even with the same equipment available to us. Jump on an 80s steel frame with 8 speeds controlled by down tube shifters, and immediately the Pro-ness quotient is doubled or tripled. Sure, you may need to employ a bit more coaxing to perfectly mesh chain and cog; granted you’ll be looking for an even lower gear that just doesn’t exist; fair enough you’ll struggle to keep up with the electronic carbon freaks as they beep and blip away up the road.

But they’ll never be cool. Not proper cool. Not Greg Lemond-playing-The Cure-on-a-Walkman-while-climbing-l’Alpe-in-the-19t cool. While those days may appear to be well behind us, we can still honour them and transport ourselves back in time by simply reaching down, not only into our memories but to a pair of small articulated levers, and shifting consciousness.

// In Memoriam // Nostalgia // Reverence // Technique // Technology // Tradition

  1. @Chipomarc

    This is the next step

    And the “this is oh so wrong” hit parade continues.

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  2. @Chipomarc I see your Cannonade is both from the same vintage and from the same LBS where I bought my first steed (MTB) in the mid 90s. Great MTB riding in the ‘Wack back then. I wonder what the condition of the old logging roads up the Chilliwack River Valley and on Vedder Mtn are now… As per the current discussion, I can not comment on the feeling of downtube shifters, as the only exposure I had to them was on my Dad’s old purple Peugeot from the ’70s. As he’s 6’5, and I was just a kid when I began my cycling adventures, there was no way I was going to fit that frame for a real ride. Not that I didn’t try.

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  3. @wilburrox

    @frank

    A DT shifter reminds you how much work it takes to shift gear; you have to sit, ease off the gear so you can shift the chain over across presumably straight-edged cogs. Then ease it back into the next gear, subtly finding the perfect position for the lever where the gear is noiseless.

    I could never resist finishing a clean shift with a little twist on the fixing bolt too just to tighten up a bit on the committed gear.

    With an upgrade to Simplex, you never feel the need to tighten that bolt.

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  4. Between the pics of that Holland belonging to @chuckp (IMO the white bar tape looked better in spite of the quality of the wrap), @brett stroking off his black Zefal, @davidhill noticing the lugz over the lady, and the image of @frank yelling into a drum… this has been one of my favourite posts of late. But this takes the cake. This is a level of pedantry I fucking love! Chapeau @KogaLover. Chapeau. @KogaLover

    Declension of Velominatus (nominativus); Velominati (genetivus); Velominato (dativus); Velominatum (accusativus); Velominato (ablativus). Male plural: Velominati, Velominatorum, Velominatis, Velominatos, Velominatis Female singular: Velominata, Velominatae, Velominatae, Velominatam, Velominata Female plural: Velominatae, Velominatarum, Velominatis, Velominatas, Velominatis And on DT-shifters: @chuckp “A true Velominatus would shift the left (front derailleur) shifter with his right hand” .I shift both with my right hand, so I am a VV (Velominatus Veritus* ;-) and can do both at the same time, if needed. “There’s nothing quite like trimming the front derailleur with a downtube shifter.” Totally agree, my Ultegra Groupsan brifters on #1 cannot match the finesse of Groupsan 600EX on #9. *veritus m ‎(feminine verita, neuter veritum); first/second declension

    1. respected, revered
    2. feared, dreaded
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  5. @TheVid

    @Chipomarc I see your Cannonade is both from the same vintage and from the same LBS where I bought my first steed (MTB) in the mid 90s. Great MTB riding in the ‘Wack back then. I wonder what the condition of the old logging roads up the Chilliwack River Valley and on Vedder Mtn are now… As per the current discussion, I can not comment on the feeling of downtube shifters, as the only exposure I had to them was on my Dad’s old purple Peugeot from the ’70s. As he’s 6’5, and I was just a kid when I began my cycling adventures, there was no way I was going to fit that frame for a real ride. Not that I didn’t try.

    The MTB bunch have been doing a lot of trail building up Vedder and Sumas Mountain over the last years. I haven’t done any mountain biking since about 1995 when I banged my shin hard enough to hurt for at least half an hour. Plus I never enjoyed getting mud all over my kit.

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  6. @geoffrey

    @wilburrox

    @frank

    A DT shifter reminds you how much work it takes to shift gear; you have to sit, ease off the gear so you can shift the chain over across presumably straight-edged cogs. Then ease it back into the next gear, subtly finding the perfect position for the lever where the gear is noiseless.

    I could never resist finishing a clean shift with a little twist on the fixing bolt too just to tighten up a bit on the committed gear.

    With an upgrade to Simplex, you never feel the need to tighten that bolt.

    I loved my Campa shifters but the Simplex…oh mamma. They are simply a pleasure to feather about. In a very not creepy way. Also, I always store them in the both-forward position to keep the tension off the shifters. Why do I not feel compelled to do that with any other shifter?

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  7. @chuckp I have zero problem with “neo-retro” ( I run a carbon seatpost and fork in my old steel Bianchi ) but if I gave you a blind test on your bike with either a carbon or aluminium seatpost I would bet good money there’s absolutely no way you could tell the difference between the two, even after a couple of hours. You’ve fallen victim to the placebo effect of the blanket call that carbon damps shock, which is dependent on many other factors than just the materials.

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  8. @chuckp

    In the early 90s, I ran a budget version of your setup: a Simplex lever for the big dog (the shifting was as smooth and as sweet as) and a Shimano indexed shifter on the right.

    @frank

    … and I was taught to ALWAYS store the shifters forward to keep the tension off.

    It’s funny how, as a novice, the cycling mates I had then were serious about showing me The Way and virtually everything they did embodied the Rules as we know them today. They were particularly unashamed about Looking Fantastic – on and off the bike.

    Gentlemen, I salute you!

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  9. I’m trying to remember exactly, but in a possible defence of @brett‘s apparent pump-fondling activities, whilst we instinctively knew where the lever should locate for a particular gear, didn’t we need a firm point of reference? I seem to recall placing the tip of my index finger on the base of the lever and dialling it in with my thumb and middle finger?

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  10. @geoffrey

    With an upgrade to Simplex, you never feel the need to tighten that bolt.

    I’m sure I’m not in a minority when I say – just look at that fork crown – the double heart. Then chrome. That is pure bike porn. It would take a helluva a rider to avert my gaze from that.

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  11. @geoffrey

    so gorgeous I have to post again and at the same time ask – is that a de Rosa?

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  12. Yep.

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  13. @Oli @davidlhill Another glimpse or two.

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  14. Now you’re just showing off! In the first picture I thought the treads looked very new. In the latest I can see the little rubber bits that state “these are virgin tyres”. Please tell me that you will actually ride this bike, and it’s not an exhibition piece? Joking apart – that is one beautiful bike.

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  15. Beautiful!

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  16. @davidlhill Photos from about 6 months ago. I’ve ridden L’Eroica since then (Gaiole).

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  17. At L’Eroica. Just to be perfectly honest, I was carrying the tub for my mate. I had clinchers.

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  18. Excellent! Bikes like that are meant to be ridden, not merely dribbled over. Eroica in Gaiole is possibly the best event I’ve ever attended (2004), for so many reasons. Living in the UK I’ve now done the UK version (not too bad either!) and am hoping to do the Spanish one in 2016. Instead of the heart of Chianti land, it is in the heart of Rioja land. What could possibly go wrong?

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  19. @Oli

    @chuckp I have zero problem with “neo-retro” ( I run a carbon seatpost and fork in my old steel Bianchi ) but if I gave you a blind test on your bike with either a carbon or aluminium seatpost I would bet good money there’s absolutely no way you could tell the difference between the two, even after a couple of hours. You’ve fallen victim to the placebo effect of the blanket call that carbon damps shock, which is dependent on many other factors than just the materials.

    My butt might beg to differ. FWIW, I probably several tens of thousands of miles riding and racing my Hollands with its original DA seat post. When I installed the CF seat post, I rode the same roads I had ridden the day before and, however small, I could feel the difference. It wasn’t like night and day, but the “hits” were more damped with the carbon fiber. Just enough to take some of the edge off. As I said, it was done as an experiment so if I didn’t feel (I know that’s subjective as opposed to base on objective data) there was a difference, I would’ve happily put my DA seat post back in (since sold to a guy who was doing a period correct re-build).

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  20. @KogaLover

    Declension of Velominatus (nominativus); Velominati (genetivus); Velominato (dativus); Velominatum (accusativus); Velominato (ablativus). Male plural: Velominati, Velominatorum, Velominatis, Velominatos, Velominatis Female singular: Velominata, Velominatae, Velominatae, Velominatam, Velominata Female plural: Velominatae, Velominatarum, Velominatis, Velominatas, Velominatis

    This.

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  21. @geoffrey

    At L’Eroica. Just to be perfectly honest, I was carrying the tub for my mate. I had clinchers.

    I spy a modern bidon on there! You faker! (great bike, I love Italian steel bikes with proper thin tubesets.)

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  22. @KogaLover A gentleman and a scholar. Well played. And @Chuckp: thanks for posting that brilliant Monty Python clip: must have seen that a hundred times – and it still has me in stitches. Excellent stuff.

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  23. Since I’ve never had the chance to own some Shamal rims, I’ve gotta say on the right bike CXP 33s look excellent. My VMHs DeBernardi has some 105/33 wheels and I catch myself checking out the bike pretty often.

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  24. @chuckp I concur re the carbon seat post. There’s almost a foot of carbon sticking out of the compact frame of my alloy Giant Defy 9-bike (yes, I know: some disdain for that type of machine around here, but I happen to like it a lot). Anyway: as much as I enjoy pootling about on vintage steel, there’s a beautiful steam-roller like feeling about the Defy – and I’m convinced the post has something to do with it. While I still notice rough patches in the road, of course, the bike seems to iron them out in a beautiful manner and there’s hardly any road buzz at all. Considering that we’re talking about an aluminum frame here, I must confess I’m hugely impressed… (Just my $ 0.02 )

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  25. @Ron
    Yep. The aluminium bidon with the cork plug stayed in the hotel room.

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  26. @Ron Now used to hold olive oil.

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  27. That is far more awesome than my olive oil jug. However, might I suggest a pourer top, like the ones used for spirits in a bar. That’s what I have and it’s really damn nice to use. Makes cooking that much more fun. Plus..I spy a drop of oil that is likely to be wasted. The pourer tops solve that issue!

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  28. @Ron

    Since I’ve never had the chance to own some Shamal rims, I’ve gotta say on the right bike CXP 33s look excellent. My VMHs DeBernardi has some 105/33 wheels and I catch myself checking out the bike pretty often

    If you want the Velominatus budgetatus version, Gipiemme techno 716. Low spoke count, Italian hubs, and rumour has it Gipiemme made the rims for Campagnolo. Regardless of if that’s true or not, the profile is so similar it’s probably violating some sort of copyright if they didn’t make it. Rumour also has it they test as fast as 404s as well, but almost every one of those aero tests seem like hand over fist bullshit to me. That and, you know it’s Techno. Must be awesome.

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  29. @Oli

    @chuckp I have zero problem with “neo-retro” ( I run a carbon seatpost and fork in my old steel Bianchi ) but if I gave you a blind test on your bike with either a carbon or aluminium seatpost I would bet good money there’s absolutely no way you could tell the difference between the two, even after a couple of hours. You’ve fallen victim to the placebo effect of the blanket call that carbon damps shock, which is dependent on many other factors than just the materials.

    Agreed. Diameter has more to do with comfort that material, even though modern carbon frames are so good that there’s probably not much for the seat post to do in terms of damping, and as far as good steel frames, I’ll have to defer to the wiser, older heads around. Carbon posts are still miles lighter than alloy, so there’s that.

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  30. @geoffrey

    @Ron Now used to hold olive oil.

    Some rides I still pack along a little atom bottle with a Eddy Borysewicz mix in it.

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  31. @ErikdR It’s a lot different with a long post, but even then it’s flex that’s in effect not damping. Sorry Chuck, I’ve got enough direct comparison experience myself to be quite sure that you’re imagining the difference. I like the look of your seatpost anyway, and your bike is very cool.

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  32. @Oli

    Sorry Chuck, I’ve got enough direct comparison experience myself to be quite sure that you’re imagining the difference. I like the look of your seatpost anyway, and your bike is very cool.

    Imaginary or real, my butt likes the feel of it.

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  33. @Oli That is a top draw riposte

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  34. @chuckp Fair enough! I’m being a pedantic dick anyway, so apologies.

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  35. @gilly Ahahaha! I just got that!

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  36. Properly set up there is no trimming a fd with dts. Two positions big or small no matter what sprocket your on in the back , no fucking around. I was with a group recently and a guy with di2 asked me where are the wires on your bike. I showed him a shift and he said “oh it’s like a raleigh banana” He was in the small small.

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  37. @geoffrey

    @wilburrox

    @frank

    A DT shifter reminds you how much work it takes to shift gear; you have to sit, ease off the gear so you can shift the chain over across presumably straight-edged cogs. Then ease it back into the next gear, subtly finding the perfect position for the lever where the gear is noiseless.

    I could never resist finishing a clean shift with a little twist on the fixing bolt too just to tighten up a bit on the committed gear.

    With an upgrade to Simplex, you never feel the need to tighten that bolt.

    Those Simplex shift levers were a thing of beauty. I often wondered why my Campy shifters couldn’t look as cool in comparison.

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  38. @chuckp

    A true Velominati would shift the left (front derailleur) shifter with his right hand. Still comes naturally to me when I ride my 90s race bike Hollands that is set up with a rear STI shifter and front downtube shifter.

    That is one very handsome bicycle. I love the clean, simple lug work and your color choice is near perfect. The Dura-Ace DT shifters are retro and yet look contemporary at the same time.

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  39. @Jay

    @geoffrey

    @wilburrox

    @frank

    A DT shifter reminds you how much work it takes to shift gear; you have to sit, ease off the gear so you can shift the chain over across presumably straight-edged cogs. Then ease it back into the next gear, subtly finding the perfect position for the lever where the gear is noiseless.

    I could never resist finishing a clean shift with a little twist on the fixing bolt too just to tighten up a bit on the committed gear.

    With an upgrade to Simplex, you never feel the need to tighten that bolt.

    Those Simplex shift levers were a thing of beauty. I often wondered why my Campy shifters couldn’t look as cool in comparison.

    Yup. I switched over from Campa for that very reason, having no idea how much smoother they actually shift as well.

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  40. @frank

    @Jay

    @geoffrey

    @wilburrox

    @frank

    A DT shifter reminds you how much work it takes to shift gear; you have to sit, ease off the gear so you can shift the chain over across presumably straight-edged cogs. Then ease it back into the next gear, subtly finding the perfect position for the lever where the gear is noiseless.

    I could never resist finishing a clean shift with a little twist on the fixing bolt too just to tighten up a bit on the committed gear.

    With an upgrade to Simplex, you never feel the need to tighten that bolt.

    Those Simplex shift levers were a thing of beauty. I often wondered why my Campy shifters couldn’t look as cool in comparison.

    Yup. I switched over from Campa for that very reason, having no idea how much smoother they actually shift as well.

    I think that most of us had seen milled out Campy shifters that had a similar appearance, but still didn’t top the Simplex. Simplex had some really nice looking alloy derailleurs too, they just couldn’t overtake Campy, Shimano, or Sun Tour. Speaking of which, Sun Tour made some nice stuff and are probably under appreciated…

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  41. @Chipomarc

    @TheVid

    @Chipomarc I see your Cannonade is both from the same vintage and from the same LBS where I bought my first steed (MTB) in the mid 90s. Great MTB riding in the ‘Wack back then. I wonder what the condition of the old logging roads up the Chilliwack River Valley and on Vedder Mtn are now… As per the current discussion, I can not comment on the feeling of downtube shifters, as the only exposure I had to them was on my Dad’s old purple Peugeot from the ’70s. As he’s 6’5, and I was just a kid when I began my cycling adventures, there was no way I was going to fit that frame for a real ride. Not that I didn’t try.

    The MTB bunch have been doing a lot of trail building up Vedder and Sumas Mountain over the last years. I haven’t done any mountain biking since about 1995 when I banged my shin hard enough to hurt for at least half an hour. Plus I never enjoyed getting mud all over my kit.

    Ah, this takes me back. I used to fly paragliders in the early ’90’s off Elk Mountain from Chilliwack Lake Road and from Vedder as well. Good times.

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  42. @ErikdR hi Erik, I did not see this clip before, but agree it’s brilliant. When I saw the title “Romanus eunt domus”, I was thinking, what’s that… My oldest son started this schoolyear with Latin, so it all comes back to me.

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  43. @Oli

    @chuckp Fair enough! I’m being a pedantic dick anyway, so apologies.

    No need to apologize. We’re all friends here. And if we’re going to do blind tests, let’s do wine.

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  44. @Oli

    @chuckp You’ve fallen victim to the placebo effect of the blanket call that carbon damps shock, which is dependent on many other factors than just the materials.

    BTW, no disagreement that it’s not just the materials but also the construction. Just because a part is CF doesn’t necessarily mean it will be compliant (or stiff). Depends on the layup. I only have one data point (mine). You have more. That’s fair enough too.

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  45. @chuckp Haha, I defer to you on that one!

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  46. @chuckp

    @davidlhill

    Has there been a reverence article on beautiful lugwork? Proof positive that in some respects I’m the wrong side of 50 came when I was Boris Biking recently. A rider stopped beside me at some lights on an Olmo which had beautiful lugwork, which I just had to stare at and admire. Only when the lights changed did I realise properly that the rider was female and gorgeous. Sigh.

    Now that’s just wrong.

    may not be an article, but there’s definitely a term within the lexicon. Luggs is the description you’re looking for.

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  48. A non Gios blue Gios

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  49. Ooosh, to the last two bikes.

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  50. @Mikael Liddy Didn’t someone once propose Luckx?

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