[CR]Yesterday's equipment in modern races

Example: Framebuilders:Alberto Masi

In-Reply-To: <CATFOODhCLwHc9ny7BX0000000c@catfood.nt.phred.org>
Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 15:31:21 -0700
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
From: Jan Heine <heine93@earthlink.net>
Subject: [CR]Yesterday's equipment in modern races

It is interesting to compare the individual "improvements" and what they mean for performance. I limit myself here to racing bikes of the last 40 years... by 1965, alloy components, 10 speeds, geometry and everything else that makes a modern racing bike had evolved.

Shifting The fact remains that shifting has no influence on racing performance. Tour de Frances were won with friction shifting long after STI became available. Look at the videos, you don't see Indurain (Campy C-Record) frantically trying to catch up with Rominger (with Shimano Dura Ace) after each shift. (Of course, the marketing people will say the NEW and improved 2004 model is so much better than... and if Rominger only had had the latest version, Indurain wouldn't have stood a chance.)

Friction (rolling resistance, aerodynamics) For a mass-start race, frictional losses (rolling resistance, aerodynamics) have not changed measurably, either - today's hubs don't spin more freely, etc. Putting the shift levers on top of the downtube used to be aero - it made as little difference as today's gizmos (for mass-start racing, mind you - see below).

Number of gears A few more gears or less don't make a difference. Triples were tried in racing on and off, and racers found they didn't need the extra gears.

Weight Only a few pounds at best. 4 lbs. on a 170 lb. combination of machine/rider/clothing/computer/radio. Racers used to carry less water to make up for it - a full modern bottle is 2 lbs!

Tires The tires aren't any better now than they were then - worse in fact. If weight mattered, nobody would race on clinchers!

Brakes Give me a break! You don't brake much in a race, and if you do, only to modulate speed. Even a Campy NR brake would be sufficient for that. (I used to race with Campy Victory brakes long after dual-pivots became available. When racing with pros, no problem. Only if I got caught at the back, where people used their brakes in unexpected places, did I almost run into people.)

Frame stiffness Rominger rode Alans (I believe, or which other make has dropouts that fit _over_ the fork blades?) rebadged as Colnagos. If an Alan is stiff enough for him, any bike is stiff enough. (LeMond's TVT carbon bikes were so flexible that testers found them disappointing, yet Greg won Tours on them.)

True advances In my opinion, the only quantum leap in performance in the past 50 years are aero bars and associated positioning on the bike. Witness the hour record - it got faster with every improvement, before dropping back to where Merckx' distance, when the advances were outlawed.

Rider improvement Most definitely: better training, better doping, better nutrition, maybe in that order. I believe Merckx was exceptional, and that is why he set a record that only now is equalled by modern technology (of the riders, not the bikes).

I am not saying that index shifting, 10-speed rear cassettes, clipless pedals and huge downtubes with correspondingly huge decals aren't nice - that is a matter of opinion. But to claim they make a difference in performance for a skilled rider? -- Jan Heine, Seattle Editor/Publisher Vintage Bicycle Quarterly http://www.mindspring.com/~heine/bikesite/bikesite/