Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Some of my favorite parts.........older ones this time:

Over the years, many bicycle parts have had an effect on me. Some were on my bikes. Many more were on bikes I repaired. I'll not speak here and now of parts that have made a bad impression on me, but rather, the ones that have earned a place in my heart. It is a simple mind that is fundimentally satisfied by well designed and executed bicycle parts. With that in mind, here we go.

There is a part that, more than any other in the bicycle world, is regarded as the very best of what it is. Far from exotic, but neccessary it is; the rim strip. It's job is to protect the inner tube from hostile nipples (I just wanted to see how that looks in print: "hostile nipples") or the sharp edges of holes drilled in the inner wall of double wall rims. In spite of constant attempts to better it, the Velox Rim Strip is the rim strip by which all others are judged...........and found lacking. You can't do better, and it costs only $3.50 each. Can life get better?!?

Running a close second in the category of being universally regarded as being the best of its class is the Chris King headset. Grant Peterson doesn't like them. Hah! That's more for me. They are the best and they are made in the USA. On a bicycle tour of the California Coast in 1977, I stopped into Chris King's shop, which was in the back of the legendary Hendrickson's Bike Shop in Santa Barbara, to meet Chris King and see his operation. Standing ankle deep in glorious aluminum shavings, he was engaged in making, not headsets, but a flute out of a piece of electrical conduit. My shop had a couple headsets on order from him, and I was patiently waiting, because at that time, they were hard to get. I now understood why. I wondered if he could play the Kinks' "Tired of Waiting" on that flute? After all these years, they're still the best.

Campy Nuovo Record derailluer. I'm not going to argue that it's the best, but it is one of my favorite parts. I remember the first time I held one in my hand. I'd seen them on bikes. I'd held many common derailluers in my hand but had only seen Campys on bikes. Bud, from Bud's Bike Shop in Clairmont, Ca. handed me one to show me how light it was. I was bedazzled. When I got my first bike with one, it shifted better than any other I'd tried. I still love them. They are iconic. They are one of the most beautiful bicycle components ever made. Sometimes I feel like a pirate with a treasure chest full of booty because I've got lots of them. A close second place, and much less available is the Huret Jubilee. The lightest ever made and it also works great.

Campy Nuovo Record seatpost. The old two bolt type. By today's standards, very heavy. By today's standards, there isn't anything else that will hold a seat more securely. Also, the ingenious micro adjust capability is second to none. If you're curious, come by the shop and ask me and I'll show you how it works. Tighten the front bolt and loosen the rear bolt and it will lower the nose of the saddle by however much you want; literally by the width of a hair if you so desire. It won't slip. But, it's not easy to set up. The bolts you turn for that adjustment are on top. Access is difficult because the seat hides them from you. Modern seatpost that has most of the good qualities and is easy to set up and adjust: the Salsa seatpost. I know it has a clever name but I can't think of it right now.

More later.


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