Eight Is Enough

    While I may diplomatically refer to you as “readers,” you are in fact merely victims of whatever my latest fixation happens to be, and currently that’s the Green ‘Noner:

    Or is it blue?

    It’s like that Internet dress where nobody can agree what color it is:

    [See this dress? Some people think it’s black, but it’s actually yellow with purple polka-dots.]

    Since Friday’s rainy ride I’ve had more time to assess the state of the drivetrain, and thanks to my own photos I discovered something:

    See how that ferrule on the derailleur cable housing isn’t seated in the cable stop?

    That’s what happens when you pull a bike out of a box of newspaper and don’t take the time to look it over before riding it. Plus, it was raining, and wet conditions always make grimy drivetrains perform even worse. But after hosing the bike down, readjusting the cable, and test-riding it on a dry, sunny day, I think maybe the drivetrain not as far gone as I thought, and I’m hoping a new cassette, chain, and cables will be sufficient to restore it to an acceptable level of performance for a non-racing semi-professional bike blogger. Certainly I’m not expecting it to run like new:

    [From here.]

    But I like the shifters and I’m hoping they’ve got a little more life in them:

    Of course older Campagnolo shifters are famously rebuildable, as the Campy-philes never tire of reminding you, but good luck finding the parts for 8-speed shifters. Meanwhile, not only does Shimano continue to make 8-speed integrated shifters to this day, but if you’ve got an old bike you want to spruce up you can get one for like $50 or something:

    Sure, nobody gets excited about Claris, but I’m guessing it works at least as well as the high-end 8-speed shifters of yesteryear, and is probably a pretty decent replacement for your old Ultegra shifter or whatever if you’re not hung up on names. Meanwhile, Campagnolo has long abandoned 8-speed, and it’s right up there with Uniglide as far as component availability (or lack thereof):

    [Via Sheldon “Sheldon Brown” Sheldon Brown]

    Yes, unlike Uniglide, there’s still like one company that makes Campagnolo 8-speed cassettes, though it’s not Campagnolo. But at least with Uniglide you’re still in the Shimano universe, which makes mixing and matching easier. But using Campagnolo is sort of like being on an island, and using 8-speed Campagnolo is sort of like being on a teeny-tiny island in the middle of a lake surrounded by sharks (they’re fresh water sharks, okay???) on that larger island.

    Fortunately no matter how many cogs you have or how they’re attached to your hub there’s always an easy and elegant solution:

    But here’s the thing with the ‘Noner: not counting the bikes ridden by other family members or owned by Classic Cycle, here’s how my current shifting situation breaks down:


    [Old Campy antennae]






    [Silver2: The Sequel]




    [SRAM wide-range clickety-click]

    This is currently my only bike with an indexed shifter, though I even had a Silver2 shifter on that one for awhile–and it worked pretty good, too, especially considering it’s not supposed to:

    Like riding commando in jorts, that’s a lotta friction.

    The friction-ification of my bikes happened because not only do I love the feel of them, but not having to count cogs or worry about matching shifters and derailleurs is profoundly liberating. (I regularly switch back and forth between a 6-speed freewheel and a 9-speed cassette on the Cervino, and there’s nary a complaint from the 42 year-old drivetrain.) Even so, I don’t want to do the same thing yet again with the ‘Noner, and prefer to enjoy it in its fin de siècle last-gasp-of-the-steel-race-bike glory, Ergo shifters and all. Also, once you’re completely free from having to worry about stuff like cog spacing and cable pull thanks to friction shifters, it’s kind of fun to dork out over it a little and contemplate the little accidents and workarounds of indexed shifting compatibility when it’s totally optional:

    [From here.]

    For example, a Campagnolo 8-speed cassette has the same spacing as a 7-speed Shimano, which I guess means if you’ve got an 8-speed Campagnolo bike with a bad shifter and good everything else (and you’ve got an aversion to friction shifters and/or paying vintage Campagnolo parts prices) you could always stick a 7-speed Shimano shifter and Shimano derailleur on there and use seven of eight cogs:

    [Via Shimano]

    And while Shimano shifters are not theoretically rebuildable, anything can be overhauled if you’ve got enough time on your hands:

    I had enough time on my hands to watch up until he revealed the shifter’s innards, which was pretty cool:

    Then [dripping blood letters] The Algorithm [/dripping blood letters] served me this video of Jerry Seinfeld talking about his favorite things. While he didn’t mention Campagnolo (at least I don’t think he did, I didn’t have time to finish the video) he did mention this Italian coffeemaker:

    He then noted that the company that made it went bankrupt, and remarked, “That’s Italy: make the greatest thing in the world and still screw it up.”

    That’s about as good a summary of Campagnolo as I’ve ever heard.

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