>Improvements in the bike year by year for the past 100+ years have been
>made in _exceedingly_ small increments, but to say they have made no
>"difference in performance for a skilled rider" flies in the face of the
>race results in my opinion Jan.
>South Pasadena, Southern California
Chuck, if you take the last 100 years, yes, the introduction of derailleurs alone made a difference. There were a few quantum leaps, and the times on various courses show that. But if we take the last 40 years, since 1965, you'll find much less improvements.
I think the 1980s were instructive, because you saw the old equipment - whether Super Record or the first C-Record (all of which basically was mildly warmed-over 1960s Record equipment with a few minor improvements) - racing against the new-fangled indexed Dura-Ace. Click-shifting should provide a huge advantage, also cassette hubs and later STI. In fact, it did not, and more races were won on Campy because Campy sponsored the right guys.
Or consider this: Rominger's hour record was faster than Indurain's, Rominger used the modern Shimano, yet it was Indurain who won 5 Tours (and only one or two on Ergo, if I remember correctly), Rominger none. In the very least, it shows that race results aren't too instructive.
I firmly believe that Fausto Coppi, given some good EPO or whatever is the rage today, would equal or beat Lance on most stages - even on his old bike. Yes, he would have been limited in the finishing sprint by his gearing, but that is easy enough to change.
While it is impossible to find the money to buy a good racer, randonneuring can be pretty competitive. And there, the results speak for themselves. If I felt that modern equipment would make me faster, I'd use it. I have tried it, but keep coming back to older stuff.
But really, bicycle racing is about racers, not about bikes. Why can't we enjoy it as such? What they ride doesn't matter - it is what they are paid to ride. Then and now.
And as a list-member suggested, ride what you like. Whether it is faster or not doesn't matter. Drill out components if you find it appealing. Install Ti spindles and axles. Performance? It's in the legs and lungs. -- Jan Heine, Seattle Editor/Publisher Vintage Bicycle Quarterly http://www.mindspring.com/~heine/bikesite/bikesite/