Book - The Dancing Chain
Author Frank Berto was a Marin County-based Chevron Oil engineer, bicycle rider, and in the 1980s, a technical/freelance writer for Bicycling! (magazine). He was also, as he’d be the first to embrace, the original extremist gear freak.
His particular obsessive over-the-top passion was the rear derailer, and what made a good one. He made derailer-testing device from meccano, and with that he proved that all Japanese derailers worked better than all Campy derailers, and only one French derailleurs was worth a hoot. He was tough of derailers.
He combined his engineering background, his cycling interest, his journalism fame, and his naturally friendly-pushy personality to round up a crapload of notes and old French newspapers to create this one-and-only history of the rear derailer. Because there are so many sources and no original film, the book takes on a scrapbook-look that isn't at all irritating. It's way better organized than any scrapbook ever made; it just looks odd to see, on the same page, a photo and two different styles of illustrations.
I knew Frank, went to his memorial service a year and a half ago, almost spoke at it but chickened out…and I’ve always thought “The Dancing Chain” was a dumb name for this book, and hurt sales. It IS a history of the rear derailer, and is an excellent book for anybody who wants to know. You can learn a fair amount just by flipping throught it, reading dates and captions and the odd paragraph here and there. Five stars, if rear derailers are up your alley.