I know this is a minority opinion, but I love the look and feel of rust. It's like metal going back to the soil. It's just so beautiful, especially up close. It feels so good in your hands, too. This doesn't mean I like rusty bike frames and all that. I'd rather see it on a railroad spike, for sure. But I do like bike frames and I do like rust, so I have extremely mixed feelings when I see this. Wonderful flakes, just asking to be plucked off. No? Yeah, well...OK. But this is ultimately what can happen with steel, and it can't happen with carbon. Carbon just becomes landfill. Yuck, etc.
It would be interesting to get the rust blasted off, then weigh the frame. I don't have a starting weight (it's a Sam Hillborne from 2010 or so). maybe 5.2lbs? The fork I can guess more accurately. With cantilever bosses, that long steer tube, I'm guessing 2.1.
And the thing is, this frame would still be --- well, maybe with a little work -- but being steel, it'd still be safe, even at a pound lighter. Not as safe, but safe enough for something.
If you have a child between the ages of maybe nine and eighteen, or even younger or older, there's a good story to read here
The topic is harrassment, yeah—that kind. This is an important story, and I think you'll be glad you read it.
Silver can be sparkly, dull and grayish, satin-like, polished shiny, anodized various ways, chrome, or what NITTO calls it's famous finish applied only to steel parts: Dull-bright.
Silver is the blue or green of metals. You may have a preference or a tolerance range, but it's best to be flexible these days, to not pride yourself in your highbrow silver standard, which I'll get to in a second. It's hard to match silvers with different silver-making processes from different manufacturers, so--if you're a hand-wringer you certainly have some opportunities. Just please don't do that in front of us.
The luscious Japanese silvers from SunTour especially of the '70s and early '80s have kind of an ugly story, kind of like the best lead-based paints of the same time. Kind of like plywood paneling and lots of things.
The best-looking derailers, like one brand of muffin of the same era, had nooks and crannies, which are hard to polish. They didn't just throw them in a vat.
In the late 1980s when these super finishes seemed to be disappearing and I was talking to my Japanese co-workers and playing the high-standards silver cards ("Why can't they do it like this? Why are they painting the silver now, how come it can't look like this 1982 derailer?"—squawk-squawk, etc—I got an explanation I didn't want to hear. "Hand-buffed then clear-anodized" created the look.
Forged parts were a good start (as opposed to cast parts), but then the games began. "Hand-buffing" was tricky and messy and dangerous, and for the most part, Japanese people didn't want to do it. It meant wearing a full-length white suit, like a haz-mat or death-scene suit, probably Tyvek. And a full head cover. Lesson 1: Demeaning, dehumanizing.
Then it meant hand-holding a tiny part or part of a part in front of a fast-spinning buffing wheel with tiny fingers kept regularly loaded with buffing compound. It had to be hand-held so you could turn it just so and not mar the finished, and the wheel spun upwards right atcha, coating your torso and head protection with black buffing polish. If a part slipped, it came at you, too, and you'd have wrecked. Lesson 2: Tedious, stressfull, messy and more demeaning, and dangerous.
Like many jobs in America today, especially physically demanding ones like construction or painting skyscrapers or bridges, it was hard to get "native" workers to do it, so in the case of Japan back then, they made special provisions for hiring Filipino workers to do the hand-buffing. Wages, at least. I mean, I don't know, of course, and I'm not going to look into it, AND it's kind of beside the point—that the super Japanese finishes both came at a price and not entirely Japanese.
Hearing all that made me feel like a snobby American who didn't care about people. I still LIKE the super finishes, but I never don't think about how they got that way, and now it's possible I've ruined them for you. Sorry, sorta.
I don't want to create a demand for unavailable silver derailers. I've already done that, to some extent. How to talk about it without doing that is the challenge.
I like silver for the same reason anybody does. It's pretty without being glitzy. Black has taken over BECAUSE most frames are some shade of dark gray or black or white or lime green or something that black either blends in with or contrasts starkly with. A silver derailer on a carbon frame hogs attention, but black just blends. Bike makers don't want the derailer hogging from the frame, so they like the black.
Silver works best on bikes with any color frame and components of silver and black, but just not all black. Silver cranks with black chainrings, fine with a silver derailer. Silver front derailers with black or silver clamps, fine with silver rear derailers. Silver bars or stem or seat post, rims, hubs, pedals, all fine with a silver rear derailer.
Looks shouldn't rule all, but you pick your home furnishings and clothing and sneakers for their looks, so why not bike parts, too?
This next section is a look at silver rear derailers, past and present. It's a magnifying glass look at some things that you might not think about. Pointing them out isn't doing you any favors, but it's just bike stuff. ("Just bike stuff" doesn't sound right to me.) Anyway, here are five silver derailers to dive into if you're so inclined. I can't keep apologizing, I'm sorry:
Warning: I took the photos and made the captions and comments over a few days, then posted them without checking first to make sure I didn't repeat myself or muff punctuation, etc. I've done both of those things, but it's too much work and time (for the payoff) to redo, so just look at the pictures and don't read anything...rather than read it and think I'm going insane for saying the same kind of thing twice.
None of these has the super ultra Japan-Filipino hand-buffed and clear anodized finish of the early '80s SunTours. Some of the silver XTR stuff from the early '90s did, and Campy even as late as a few years ago did. It just seems to me. Here are each of them individually:
Well, I have some early 'SunTour derailers with the double-swivel feature. So, not just the Crane. Still, it's good. This is typical early '70s Japanese finish. It's not that fancy, it didn't come shamefully, it looks good, and it doesn't wow the snobs.
This derailer came on my first good bike, and even after I'd swapped it out for a touring SunTour derailer for a cross-country trip, I put it back on my racing bike and used it for several years. Lots of people "like" the Jubilee for it's tinyness and uniqueness and all, but I actually used it for about six or seven years straight (on my training bike after my team had a SunTour sponsorship. It lacks a slant-parallelogram but still shifted fine on a 13 x 22/23 freewheel when pedaling at racing cadences (which makes all shifting easy, which makes racers using indexing seem kind of unnecessary to me, but I don't care.) I absolutely love everthing about this derailer. If I were Howard Hughes or Elon Musk or Jeff Bezzos, I'd pay somebody to make a rapid rise (OM, opposite-movment) version with a slant parallelogram and capacity for 36t to 42t.
I recent read that one of those guys makes $500 per minute. So, two or three hours of sleeping time money would cover it.
This started off as a focus on the Crane, then it spread to this SILVER thing, and the four others shown. I want to harp more on the Crane. Disraeli gears sounds like an Israeli site on gears, and it might actually be, I just don't know. Maybe the guy's last name is Disraeili, like Benjamin---remember him? Whatever the truth, I totally dig the Disraeli gears site. Love it. Here's what he has to say about le Crane. He knows more about it than I do, but I remember when it was current, and I once got second place in a roller-riding race on my friend's bike with a Crane derailer, so there.
I get privately mad more than publicly mad about bike stuff and directions. I know I spout more than some publicly, but that's part of the catharsis thing I mention it seems like frequently, nowadays...and it's all deserved.
I don't hate indexing, I know it's the best for lots of people, I know deaf or hard of hearing people really like it and kind of need it, absent the clickety-clackety feedback most people get when they're slightly out of gear.
But deaf or hard-of-hearing people aside (for now, not forever), another thing about indexing that bugs me, and it doesn't have to bug you, is that the visualness of the shift lever, right there on the handlebar; and the fact that you're working it with sensitive hands, and then HEARING it with your Jimmy Durante ears, makes it hard to think straight about how shifting works. You think it's the shifter, and it's really 99 percent your ability to keep the upper portion of chain untensioned at the critical moment, so it's free to move from one cog to another. We talk about good shift levers and derailers, but there are no shifters or derailers that can compensate for a tensioned upper chain, and it's your feet and legs that tension it by pushing hard on the pedals at the wrong time.
Indexing doesn't allow you to shift when the upper chain is tensioned. All indexing does is move the derailer a pre-ordained amount, so that when in the natural course of your pedal stroke, when your feet are at 6:00 and 12:00 and therefore it's impossible to tension the chain...the shift will be made.
Racers aren't super skilled shifters. At their 90 to 115 pedal cadence, the chain is never tensioned enough to sabotage a shift. They're the last people who benefit from indexing, the last people who need it, and the last people who should be your shifting role models.
Truly actually skilled shifters are the lamebrains who can pedal up a hill at 45-50 rpms with tons of pedal pressure (and chain tension), then shift and slacken the upper chain at the same time (always when the lower pedal is between 4:30 an 7:30). They know to shift while they have enough momentum to keep going while the feet float up to 12:00 with no pedal pressure. Skills shifters can shift with low rpms up hills. That's when you're told "it's too late, anticipate your needs better" and all that, and that's good advice, but skilled shifters can walk a fine line and get out of a jam.
You can SAY that there's no need to learn to make the hard shifts, because your should always pedal at a fast cadence. I think fast-cadencing ALL THE TIME is more work. It's good to vary it, and on that topic, consider this:
One of the things efficiency-experts think about is weight, and especially weight that rotates, like wheels, cranks, pedals. It can be proved that this matters at some level, and that's a level I think is overvalued. BUT now I'll use it to make an argument---
The faster your cadence, the more often you're lifting and rotating your legs, which are heavier than any bike part. If you have chunky thighs and you climb hills in your lowest gear with high rpms--like, I'd say, 75 or 80 rpms is high for a hill--then it's plausible that you're not making each pedal stroke count for much ground gained, and you're wearing yourself out, to some extent, for not nothing, but not much.
I ride tons of hills, steep ones, and the same hills over and over several times a week on my commute to work and home. I'm almost 68 and I use my commutes to help me maintain enough fitness that I don't have to make my fun rides hurt as a way to do double-duty. For variety, I'll regulary pick a gear and stick with it, maybe too easy a gear for the gradual hills, and too hard for the steep ones. Or sometimes I'll say, "I'm going to shift just ONCE, or maybe just TWICE." Sometimes, sorry to drag you into this, I won't limit my gearing, I'll do whatever seems right for the spot I'm in.
On a roughly 3:00 stretch, there's a three-to-seven second difference.
Friction shifting allows you to learn skills, and indexing—are you sitting down and holding onto your hat?—prevents you from learning skills. Friction shifting reveals bad technique to the world in the same way that manually shifting a car does. And, friction and manual shifting are both super easy at high rpms (pedals or engines) and super-sensitive to bad technique at low rpms on hills. In both cases, car and bike, hill-shifting brings out the best and worst.
At some level, and the way most people see it, indexing is "smart shopping." Obviously, you buy the latest greatest easiest that doesn't publicly reveal your bad footwork and ill-timed chain tensioning.
Man, there's just more to it than that, though. Here's a made up concept that is easy not to consider: Net Shifting Noise. This is a game, and I know that on some level it's ridiculous, but on another, it's a fun game.
You ride a rolling course, let's say 20 miles, from A to B, and shift 100 times. With indexing, how many decibels have you created? Each shift is the same, so it's decibels per shift x 100. I'm no decibel expert, but I bet each shift is half a decibel, so the 100 shifts is 50 decibels. Ideally you'd have science gear to measure decibels, but absent that, ears will have to do.
In friction shifting, a muffed shift might be five decibels, but a perfect shift might be zero. Or, if you're going to play hardball and say "zero is impossible," let's say an inaudible shift is a tenth of a decibel. The sound of the chain plopping down on the cog doesn't count more than that.
The thing about all rear derailers is--they're all good. Nobody makes a bad one, one that doesn't shift great.Today's worst $25+ rear derailer shifts better than a Campagnolo Nuovo Record. Eddy Merckx won something like 445 races in his career, and never use a derailer with a slant-parallelogram--the magic ingredient of all modern rear derailers; so there is that.
One last thing: Comparing vertical parallelogram (old style) rear derailer and slant-parallelogram style (modern).
A crazy and short conversation, as good as I can remember it — it was about ony 20 minutes ago on the day before Mother's Day—with a grocery checker, not the Grocery Guy of Blahg fame):
Me: Hey, how you doing?
He: I'm 70, would you believe it? About five years ago, in 2005, I bought myself a sweet condo in the Philippines, and in two more years I'm gonna live there for good. But you know what?
He: They got only two temperatures there: Hot and hotter.
Me: Yeah, so I hear...
(the risk of small talk)
A bummer about being open and on the internet is stuff like this, a letter from an immigration attorney who read a lot of heinousness into our "support of Ukraine." My wonderings to myself, not responses to him, are in bold italic.
Hi Grant - (Name) here. I’m aware you and riv get more than your share of indignation from customers about your stances on non-bike issues.
which reminds me of this song. I'm not sure whether he thinks this applies to us or the other way around. The combo attaboy/scold has me befuddled*. For the record: Our giving to Ukraine doesn't have anything to do with how we feel about immigration.
*"befudddled" has a special place in my life (and that of my wife, and we as a couple). In 1982, and I know this because we'd just gotten home to our apartment from our first tandem ride, our next-door neighbor, a college guy just a few years younger than us, was just getting home, too, and he was really mad about something. Usually, in my experience, when somebody is mad they might just fume or hold it in some, but he was overtly expressing his anger, I mean obviously, to the point where it seemed he wanted us to notice. It wasn't directed at us, and, for the record, I didn't know his name. But his obvious show seemed to be for our benefit, so I asked, "What's wrong?"
He told us a story along the lines of, he was trying to return something at a store, a new thing. He didn't have his receipt, but he was a regular customer, the thing was still in the box in perfect condition, and it was clear to all that he hadn't just picked a fresh one off the old shelf and brought it to the register to return it. He was aghast that they couldn't help him without his receipt, and this is what made him so mad. I felt I should take his side and he'd given me an opening, so I said, "I wonder why they didn't just refund you.." or something harmless like that. My wife said, "Yeah" or some other short answer, to show solidarity.
Then he said, addressing us both, "I'm as befuddled as you are!" as though he detected, in what little we said, not just sympathy, but befuddlement.
I was thinking, hey man, I don't want to be hearing this at all, I'm not involved enough to even BE "befuddled," and I just want to go inside. But we stuck there while he tapered down, and eventually escaped. "I'm as befuddled as you are!" has come up several dozen times in our conversations since.
Time for more bike stuff. Here's an actual photo of twelve of the roughly 21 parts of our rear derailer:
We're working on five variations of cable housing tops. I wish I could say we're working on dozens, but alas, only five.
Here's a modified prototype. This one has a grafted-on Shimano Altus cage, and the lower knuckle is held on with a brake cable. The reasons and details don't matter. This is a working, educational prototype, there will be many changes, and we've already moved beyond this:
Is this (below) gonna happen? Nobody knows:
In ye olde days this would be top secret stuff. The thing HERE is, no big shots care about this style derailer. If they want to copy it or make their version, I hope they do, and we'll buy them and then we can quit doing our own. But I am morosely confident that won't happen, and this has been fun. It has NOT been "a long strange trip," it's been long and fun and it's getting funner all the time. I don't know why people love to say, "Funner isn't a word," when it clearly is.
There are many unanswerable questions. Some answerable ones follow.
a. Shimano has twice, early 1990s and early 2000s, introduced RapidRise derailers, and both times ye olde markete rejected them...so they gave up rather than strike out. RapidRise derailers default to low gear, make shifting easier, smoother, and just better IN EVERY WAY. There is no good argument against them ("I'm not used to them" is not a good argument for us not to make them).
2. You think people will take to them this time? You think Rivendell can succeed where Shimano failed?
a. Goals are differerent, bar for "success" is lower. Shimano has to sell hundreds of thousands of anything it produces to make it worth it. If we sell 500 of the fancies in three years, and a thousand of the plains in five years, I/Grant will consider that a success.
3. Waste of time/money/resources?
a. It's our time, our money, our resources, and we don't answer to bean-counters, shareholders, or a BOD. We DO have a BOD, three people, I'm one of them, and the other two are friends and fully supportive. If they turned against me (no way, ever) I have the majority vote. Anyway, let us have fun, no skin off your schnozzola.
It's not about the money, anyway. Not everything is or has to be. There are some things we need to just do, and some things I want to do before I can't.
4. Will it index?
a. That wasn't and isn't a goal. We are using indexable derailer geometry, and early tests with plastic prototypes suggest it might, but it's not a concern.
5. So...it's friction? Who does that anymore?
a. You're late to the party. We do. We sell indexing also, but the law allows us to develop and sell friction shifters, and so we do.
6. How much will it cost?
a. We don't know. Ideally we'll have a fancy first model, the SILVER OM-1; and then cheaper other models, maybe OM-2, OM-3. Maybe $300 for a fancy, and $30 for a plain? We have zero idea, but a derailer too expensive to buy is no fun and misses the point; and a super cheap derailer that doesn't account for the cost of developing and making it is ... not gonna happen. We'll just see.
7. Why OM? And isn't OM-1, etc...Olympus camera models? Isn't that like against the law?
a. You clearly are not a copyright lawyer. Yes, Olympus made cameras with those model names. Olympus (brand) Maitami (developer, engineer). These are derailers. If we were making cameras, that would be a problem, and insane to boot. But copyright laws protect consumers from being fooled by names, colors, logos, and signature features on similar products. We are certain that nobody will mistake this derailer for a camera.
8. Why OM, then?
a. Opposite Movement. See #1 above. And for the record, we are fans of the Olympus OM-series cameras.
9. Why not Rivendell something? Why SILVER?
a. We'll have our name in smalls on it here and there, but the brand will be SILVER. SILVER is a brand we concocted in the late 1990s, and a goal all along has been to flesh out a line of parts under this brand—focusing only on parts that weren't being made by the big slick hotshots.
The Silver friction shifters were the first. Then we did Silver sidepull brakes with clearance for 48mm tires (the TEKTRO 559 was originally the SILVER brake for one year, but since we didn't buy the tooling, the agreement was that TEKTRO could rebrand it and sell it as they liked, and so now we, too, sell TEKTRO 559 brakes).
There's a SILVER crank (two models), and Silver non-disc rear hubs. Silver thumb mounts for the Silver2 shifters...and so on.
We target voids that the biggies either see as too niche-y or not high-techy and futuristic enough to bother with. The bikes of the future will have everything inside and out of sight, where they can't scare people who can't figure out how they work, and nothing does that more than a rear derailer.
The bike of the future will have one fork blade (Cannondale has already done that), and one chainstay and seat stay, and the wheel will pop off sideways in a second at the push of a button, and remount in two seconds with positive click, or maybe a beep or a voice (pick your accent and gender) telling you "good job." On one hand, what's wrong with THAT? It's dreamy and makes bikes more accessible. On the other hand....the beautiful mechanical parts will disappear. Mechanics will be replace by magic, and you like something in a different kind of way when you can't understand how it works.
10. You make them right there in California? So cool! Righteous! Right on, brothers and sisters!
a. They're going to be made in China. Nobody makes derailers in Japan anymore. Well, maybe Shimano makes Dura-Ace and XTR there. But Shimano doesn't want to make these. The Taiwan makers--SunRace, MicroSHIFT, and now SRAM--they're so busy and booked years ahead with current models, and have no desire to make a "backwards" product in low volume, and certainly aren't going to work with us on development, prototypes, and so on. So we found a maker in China, one who used to make SRAM derailers, a "friendly eager beaver maker" who seems wonderful in all ways, and by god, that's who's going to make it.
a. We're hoping the fancy by Spring 2023, and the plain by Fall 2023.
12. Well that's damn boring and I feel like you've waisted my time.
13. Do you need me to test it for you?
a. Everybody here rides and can test it, and the maker has its own test lab. Functionally, we can test it in fifteen seconds, just by riding it and shifting it through all the gears. Durability is another matter, but we're using excellent materials, so that shouldn't be a problem.
14. Is there a prototype already?
a. Yes, and we're riding it every day. It works as good as a Shimano.
15. I had no idea Grant was so smart and skilled enough to do all this engineering and CAD stuff. Much impressed!
a. Don't be. The "guy" is Dan Falvey. He's a fellow baby boomer with a long history in bikes. He started a bike painting company (D & D Cycles) with another guy, Dean. He's been a custom frame builder. He designed tubes for Easton. He worked at True Temper. He was a freelance designer for Scientific Anglers and Invisalign (braces). He has eaten dinner with Mario Andretti and had something to do with a helmet he (Mario) wore once. He's been around and has learned a ton. I think he has more all-around bicycle knowledge than anybody I know, if "all-around" includes manufacturing processes and invisible mechanics that we all take advantage of but don't think about.
About seven years ago Dan called me -- I hadn't spoken to him in 30 years or so, but we still "knew of" each other--and asked if it was OK for him to do a watercolor of a Rivendell bike. I didn't know he did that sort of thing, but I said sure, yes, and was impressed that he'd even ask. It's not like I'd consider it a violation or anything, but I know that in the art world there are some rules to follow so people don't get pissed off and sue, not that I would, but anyway, he asked.
He came over one day and showed me some of his watercolors, and I said wow, and I said, hey, can you do a line drawing of a wrench or something for me, and let me know how long it took you? Here's that drawing:
You can see in the notes that it took him less than an hour.
He told me that he did this stuff for fun and as an antidote to CAD (computer-aided design). The CAD remark intrigued me, and he worked on some lug and the HubbuHubbuH projects. He designed the ball-n-socket seat lug/seat stay joint. He did some FEA (finite element analysis) on the HHH frame, to prove that it was strong enough. He did the drawings for the Silver2 shifter clamp, and the shifter itself.
His contribution has been immense, and he's made us look smarter and better than we actually are. It occurs to me that I'm writing this kind of like a eulogy, but I'm happy to say he's still with us and working on the rear derailer...and a front derailer, too. He can DO ANYTHING, and we're lucky to have him working on stuff for us. Viva Dan Falvey!
We got some wack-a-doodle pedal modification kits for hippie woodworkers or pedal revolutionaries. I don't consider myself either, but I do tend to modify parts that are modifiable without risking life. I ride these, they're...what's the world? — marvelous! Although I can just barely tell the difference. The stock Monarch pedals are fine. This is the "fun kit."
It's easy, but we hesitate to recommend it if you don't have a tacklebox full of tools that get regular use, or the prospect of working on stuff like this makes you nervous.
The blocks were made by customers. They work equally well. They're both lightly treated with oil, and you're free to go "all crazy-paranoid-overkiller" with pine tar or beeswax or both, but in general, just relax and let 'er rip.
The blocks cost $4 per pair, and you buy them in pairs, so you can mix-and-mismatch if you like. The bolts are $8 for a pack-o'-eight.
We have 20 pair of each color block. When we're out, that's it. This is a fun, quirky, totally sensible, do-able, and functionalistic project, but dear lord, if you think it's a moneymaker for us that is worth it for us to continue, nope.
I think you'll like the results. Snug the bolts tight. We don't grease the threads. Here's a video:
Every few years a natural and sometimes unnatural disaster intersects a Rivendell frame, and for some reason or other, we get the frame back, or photos of it. This time it was a fire, then rain and exposure for many months. We don't have the full story, but are assuming the owner is fine.
We show this in good faith, assuming that you won't think we're reveling in or somehow (?) capitalizing on somebody's personal disaster. When true disaster strikes, don't worry about your bike, just get the heck out of there. For the record, sincerely.
This is an early Rivendell Rambouillet, the first of our models named after a breed of sheep. In the photos below, the lightish stuff is what's left of the aluminum component that was bolted to that part of the frame. Derailers, chainrings or bottom bracket cups, and so on. It's a guess, at this point:
Rear der and dropout
Cassette, rear der, etc.