Archive for the ‘Campag’ tag
It is not often that my day job in arts education and my interest in bikes overlaps, but on Friday it happened twice. Firstly, I was still musing on whether to buy a Brompton for the World Championships on eBay. The thing is – I really do not need the Brompton as an ongoing addition to my modern lifestyle - just need to get used to riding it, compete and then get off. The trouble was that while eBay seemed like the obvious answer I was worried about provenance. Familiar to art historians, provenance is basically, ‘is this what it claims to be?’ If I suddenly put what I claimed was a Picasso up for sale, it would be greeted with great skepticism. It would be down to me to prove that there was a history of the canvas going back to when Pablo gave it to his dealer. On eBay you tend to see lots of things that doubt the provenance of bikes up for sale – one obvious clue is when the bike is photographed in a public place rather than in the house or the back garden. Another is when there doesn’t seem to be any understanding on the part of the seller of the specialised nature of the bike. You can always ask questions, and honest sellers shouldn’t be upset. But if the answer to the obvious question ‘Do you have proof of purchase?’ comes back with a tale worthy of Tolkein, probably best to stay clear.
Helen Pidd has some useful advice on spotting stolen bikes for sale in her new book Bicycle: Love Your Bike: The Complete Guide To Everyday Cycling which I also received on Friday. And what should be on the title page? An illustration of a Brompton by Olivier Kugler who I hope my colleague Jane will be interviewing for our new Illustration course very soon. A small strange world.
As I say Helen’s book is useful, a great present for someone new to cycling. It is clearly from the cyclechic rather than lycrachic perspective, but none the worse for that. Just one thing – 16 inch wheels do not mean you have to pedal faster (p26) – it’s a gear thing Helen.
BTW the way one thing eBay is very good for is vintage bike parts, so if you want some 1990 Campag Chorus brake callipers you know where to go – and I still have the receipt!
Gloop. It gets on your chain and onto everything the chain touches and then grinds away at all the surfaces. Before you know where you are, it gets expensive – new chain, new cassette….
In the bad old days I would regularly break a chain, stick it in a tin with a load of Gunk, shake it about, rinse it and then bake it in the oven. Once it was dry and still warm I’d put the new oil on and it would flow into the bearing surfaces. Join it back up, a quick wipe and you were good to go.
Now with Campag chains it is not so easy. First of all there is the cost of the chain tool, then there is the risk that a chain which has been slimmed right down you will weaken it and then suffer the consequences Bad enough if you are in the final kilometres of a Tour stage, pretty diabolical if you are 25 miles from home.
Now you can get snap on chain bath thingies which do a pretty good job of stripping the gloop off the chain. There are two problems with them I think. Firstly, you are left with solvent inside the links of the chain and run the risk of ending up with an oil/solvent mix on the chain. Secondly, I have never been able to use a chain bath without getting spots of disolved gloop over other bits of the bike and the floor.
So my approach now is use oil to chase out the gloop. Firstly with an old cotton T-shirt I get as much of the bad stuff off the chain run.
Then I apply a liberal drop of oil to the top of each link. Then I leave it overnight. The next day I use a clean bit of the T-shirt to wipe off the excess. This is because I want oil in the links not on the surface where it will attract new dirt.
I’m not sure if this the best way to do it, but it seems to work.
There are essentially two ways to remove old Campag brake blocks; the very slow way and the slightly less slow way. The very slow way is to remove the blocks and holders from the bike and attempt to slide the blocks out. They have been in there a while and every time you applied the brakes you tightened them into position. They are happy where they are, don’t want to come out and swearing will not help. The web is full of forum posts from desperate people who have started on the very slow way and lost the will to live
The slightly less slow way is illustrated above. Use the pliers to pull the free end of the block away from the holder then a small screwdriver to lever the block out.
Then clean the holder with a brush, making sure that every bit of grit is removed. Old toothbrushes are good for this. Then carefully lubricate the back of the block – soap, washing up liquid or a child’s wax crayon also work – you have to be careful to avoid any of the lubricant getting on the braking surface. Then slide the new block into place, making sure that you have the appropriate block in the right direction – they are labelled both left/right and forward. You might need to use a vice to do this.
Bolt them back in place, adjust and test ride. Do the test ride immediately. Now wash your hands. In fact, you might be advised to wash your hands before doing the test ride, especially if you have white bar tape.
I’m starting to wonder if Campagnolo have lost the plot. I should declare an interest. I am a lifelong fan – well so far anyway.
William Morris said: have nothing in your house you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. A Campag equipped bike seem to tick both boxes. Twenty years ago I found I could afford a bike in Columbus SLX tubing with a full Campag Chorus groupset. Actually I couldn’t really afford it, but that’s another story. I got it anyway and it was a thing of beauty. The bike has now gone, rust never sleeps. But many of the Chorus parts were still in beautiful condition and made me quite a few quid on eBay. 18 months ago I bought a bike with the 2008 Chorus group. Still beautiful, still worked beautifully. However, it didn’t take long to see that some changes in the equipment market over the period are not necessarily for the better.
Firstly, as anyone who puts the miles in knows, taking care of and replacing the chain regularly is essential to protect the rest of the drivetrain. The Campag ten speed chain needs a special chain link extractor. List price £103. Ker-ching. Second, the original Chorus bottom bracket was effectively fit and forget – certainly I put thousands of miles in before it needed new bearings. The modern Ultra Toque bottom bracket unit may be lighter but certainly wasn’t as well weatherproofed and lasted less than one full season. I was rapidly gaining the impression that the needs of the professional rider was driving everything and the keen amateur was just expected to go with kit which was difficult to service and lacked the earlier robustness.
However the best was yet to come. In a move which was redolent of software industry practice, the 2009 innovation was 11 speeds. A narrower chain, a new chain tool (list price an even more eye watering £137) and no backwards compatibility. I have met no one who wanted this innovation. It might be age, maybe if I hung out with young roadies I would get a different impression, but I rather doubt it.
What Campag have now done, according to their director for the French market Christophe Soenen quoted in Le Cycle, is to stop production of their mid-range 10 speed chains – no Chorus, no Centaur – just a choice between the high end Record and the entry level Veloce. They’ve stopped making the 10 speed Chorus cassette, for the moment they have retained Centaur cassettes – which is good news given a Record 10 speed cassette will set you back two hundred quid.
Oh dear, maybe it is time to consider the rather less beautiful alternatives. That’s me in the corner, losing my religion.
OK so here’s a thing. You buy a new bike and love it. You look after it and keep it for best. In particular you only use it on sunny days. Unfortunately days that start sunny sometimes don’t end that way. This is England after all. But nevertheless when you put the bike away in the autumn you are pleased that you have taken good care of it. You have ridden perhaps 1500 miles and you have only got the bike wet twice, once for 15 miles of a return trip the second time for about 45 miles.
So when you come to retrieve the bike from its nice warm spare bedroom in the spring and inspect it, what do you think you need to replace? Click to see the components which leave you smiling and bouncy and the other one.
Grr! And it seems I am not alone, see here