A couple of new pages at the BIP. Firstly, a bunch of material about Carpenter Technology’s Aermet 100 steel alloy for bicycles (and landing gear). Man, did I get a hard one when this stuff came out. It was 1994 and aluminum and titanium were pretty much the bee’s knees for frames. Carpenter found a way to mill Aermet into tubing and make it braze-able. No butting, 0.5mm from one end to the other. I ordered some and built myself a new road frame. I used Hank James’ mountain lugs and built it in a ‘compact’ style. Super hard, my files would not scratch it and I used grinding wheels to mitre the tubes. End result was a 3.5 pound frame that my 250 pounds could ride. Well, for a while. After about a year I got a creak and discovered a crack in the seat tube where the front derailleur clamped onto it. The tubing was so thin that the clamp deformed it just enough to cause trouble. I replaced that with another aerment tube but with a ‘ring’ of chrome-moly pushed into the bottom to reinforce that area. Did the trick. I put a few thousand miles on it but then one of the chainstays rusted through (non-aermet) due to my lack of frame prep after the build. Someday I’ll fix it.
I consider Aermet to be the grand-daddy of today’s high strength steel tubing like 853 an OX from True Temper. I think that Carpenter had hoped to sell this technology to a bike tubing manufacturer. They only made small amounts in an experimental mill. I never saw very many frames made of it. I think Bilenky played around with it for a tandem, but my memory is hazy.
Zeus. Or the Spanish Campy. I have put up a Zeus catalog from around 1985 that has their groups plus a bunch of other odd stuff in it. I remember seeing my first Zeus bikes back in the seventies. They seemed to be a lot of bike for the money. The Zeus components were a blatant copy of Neuvo Record, but for a few dollars less. Someone in Philly must have done well in selling them as I used to see a large group of African-American riders at the club rides on them. We referred to them as the “Zeus Guys”. I remember doing a century around ’75 or ’76 and riding on River Road just north of New Hope. The road back then was horrible, narrow and filled with pot-holes. Rain was coming down in torrents and I was with one of the Zeus Guys. The weather and the road were so bad we rode down the center of the lane to avoid the pot-holes near the shoulder. We would build up a line of cars and every once in a while someone would honk. We’d both turn and glare and that would settle matters. Between the two of us, we must have totalled around 45o# and over 6′ 3″ apiece.
Six inches of snow and my daughter is playing on her computer so time to put up some more stuff. Another Suntour catalog from 1988 has both road and ATB in it. Some highlights include the (I believe) last edition of roller cam brakes and a very confusing chart of what Accushift parts will play nicely with others.
Index shifting was still pretty new and in order for Suntour to get around Shimano’s patent, they designed the ‘play’ that index shifting needs into the shifter. (Shimano had the floating upper jockey pulley that did this for them.) Unfortunately, by putting it into the shifter, you could never be precise. In addition, Suntour, for some bizarre reason, made several versions. This would require matching a rear derailleur with a matching shifter. Shimano, on the other hand, only made the Dura-Ace line unique and you could mix or match the rest without too much of a problem. At this point I think that one can begin to see the decline of Suntour. Beginning around this time, shops started to see less and less bikes coming onto the sales floor equipped with Suntour parts. I don’t think it was a quality issue. More than likely it was due to more aggressive marketing from Shimano. But I cannot help but think that Suntour’s lack of technical development was also a contributor.
And now on to another departed manufacturer; CLB Brakes. This brochure/newsletter from around 1989 is a hoot. The brochure, “Top” Line, shows the three different brakes by CLB; Space Line, Olympic, and Elite. Apparently all came in plastic ‘attache-cases’. According to Steve Griffith at the Classic Lightweights UK site; CLB at this point was part of Sachs and this was probably the last ‘hurrah’. Check out this marketing: Beware! The new CLB levers are so good-looking that they will blind you to alternatives! Wow. I wish I was that talented. I might have a job.
I finally got my UMAX working with Windows 7 (x64) and took her for a test run by finally scanning this old Suntour catalog. There are some interesting tidbits in this one, but one big problem; the catalog is almost entirely in Japanese. If anyone is brave enough to attempt translating, please let me know. Gratitude is all you will receive.
Remember the early days of BMX? Anodizing! Blue, red, and gold. Suntour has some early examples of that in this catalog. The “Hole Shot” two speed set up of BMX is in this as well. I vaguely remember one or two kids using it, but it never caught on at the track. Also of note, the “Mighty Click” system. I don’t recall seeing this on any bikes here in the US, but from what it looks like, it is an early version of indexing. Ultra-6 chains and Ultra freewheels show up in here as well. I remember them well when I was in college. Broke not only a bunch of chains, but several freewheel cogs as well. It was at this point that I decided that Suntour was too “lightweight” and began migrating over to Shimano. But in hindsight, the Superbe is, well, superb!
Always check your SQL version before an upgrade! Locked myself out when I upped to WP 2.9.2 and because I’m on a shared server, my provider would not upgrade the SQL to work. C’est la vie. At last I figured out how to downgrade so I could access my posts. And delete all the spam. Amazing. Almost 200 comments. Only one was valid. Hello, Hello, anyone home?
In any event, while I have not added any new content to the Bicycle Info Project, I have (as in past years), put up my photographs of the TD Bank/International Cycling Championship. You can view the 2010 race here. Or you can view previous years here.
It’s hard to believe that the race is 26 years old. I’ve been to all of them. (I even saw a lap or two in 1999 when my oldest was in the hospital at CHOP.) When I first started back in the eighties, three or four of us would head down with the Sunday paper, some lawn chairs, and a cooler full of beer and hang out at The Wall. No guard rails and you could walk easily up and down the street. Now, I only go for the first lap as it has turned into the annual block party for Manayunk. As the years went by, I began to ride down with people from the shop I worked at. Always took pictures, but got more serious about it around 2000. I then started to post the shots on the web and sent out blurbs to Velonews, and others to try and hawk one or two for publication. Nada. In all the years I have shot and displayed, I managed to sell one shot. Robbie Ventura bought an image of himself coming into the corner in 2001(?) and used it on his coaching site. Nice guy. Shot on film as well. Even had an interneg made so he could get a couple of prints for his folks. Hope it is still hanging somewhere in the den. I also got a nice note from a dad of one of the racers who could not make it who was thrilled to see a great shot of his kid. Sent him a full size gratis. You gotta love a proud parent.
The Wolber brochure is mostly tires but does have the Super Champion rim line as well. Perhaps the most interesting item that merits the “what the hell is that for?” prize is the Mixte rim. This rim could accommodate both clinchers AND tubulars. Sounded pretty neat when launched but after thinking about it a while, what purpose did it serve? For all the time and effort it takes to mount a tubular, it’s not worth it to use as a combo race/training rim. Granted, if you destroy a tire in Outer Godknowswhere, and only have access to one kind of tire, you’ll be thankful for it. But how often does that happen?
On the other hand, the Sugino Tension Disc was pretty cool. I only saw one in my bike shop life. Aero for wheels make some sense if you are time trialing/racing. This was a little bit more economical than a full disc from Mavic or HED, but there were nylon covers at the time that did the same thing (‘tho not UCI legal). So the Tension Disc kinda fell in the middle. I do wonder how hard it was to have built up into a full wheel and how durable it was. Did it go out of true a lot? I don’t know, maybe someone who had/has one will chime in.
From the eighties, I believe.
The introduction of SIS. Shimano Indexing System. It had been done before, by Suntour a few years prior, but Shimano really made it their own. I remember the complaints I heard from back then. My favorite? “The clicks will tell your competitor what you are doing.” Didn’t bother me. I never raced. This is the gruppo that I feel really brought the Dura-Ace line together. It was cohesive and attractive, without the “sqeezed in the vice” look of AX, the nuttiness of EX, or the copycat qualities of the earliest Dura-Ace/Titlist. I’ll admit it; I’m an unabashed fan of DA and still ride a bike with the first eight speed group. And with prices the way they are, I’ll probably be riding it for quite a while into the future.
Excuse my french but I just put up a 1988 LOOK catalog.Â Remember the Mondrian years?Â Ah, mais oui.Â It’s a big glossy book, great printing.Â Those must have been some good years for LOOK.Â It has the usual lineup of pedals and shoes, and two carbon frames (a road and a mountain).Â Was this the first year they offered carbon fibre?Â I doubt it, but it’s the oldest reference material that I have from them.Â Also inside the front cover is a big splash about a carbon crankset.Â I don’t think it ever was produced, but again, I did not have a lot of customers that used their equipment.Â ( The cycling industry has a history of vaporware just like the software industry.Â My favorite is the Shimano Dura-Ace TENÂ road group which I will discuss at some future time.)
I, like many other ugly americans, have a bad habit of railing against French design and engineering.Â Citroen, Eclair; great stuff that breaks.Â A lot.Â Yet I have to give a big french kiss to LOOK.Â I have about six pairs of their pedals from many different years and all of them work.Â Never had one fail on me.Â I’ve used cleats that you could see through and could still click in and out with ease.Â Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a broken one.Â And they have not changed the design!Â I can still get cleats.Â Â C’est miracle!
You know; it’s either feast or famine around here. And right now it’s a feast. I put up two early 80′s brochures from the British frame component manufacturer, Haden. I never built with any of their lugs or crowns so don’t have a real clue as to what the level of quality was. I doubt that they are still in business. But please let me know if I’m wrong. Happy Ho, Ho.