[CR]Never Knowingly Influenced By Progress

Example: Production Builders:Peugeot

From: "Norris Lockley" <norris@norrislockley.wanadoo.co.uk>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Date: Sat, 27 May 2006 02:26:52 +0100
Subject: [CR]Never Knowingly Influenced By Progress

There's a member of the Veteran Cycle Club in the UK, who worked all his life as an orthodentician. It's a very skilled trade but one which like many other craft skilled industries has witnessed many changes in techniques as well as materials over the past fifty years or so.

Over a few beers after a Bike Jumble at which the new-fangled mega-tubed alloy frames outnumbered the traditional steel ones by at least ten-to-one, we started reminiscing about "..the good old days" of Nervex lugs and 531 and of dental plaster, cuttle-fish bone and centrifugal casting. As he got up to leave for a long journey back south he handed me his business card. Beneath the company's name and above his own I noticed the statement in bold italics "Never Knowingly Influenved by Progress"

He had , he explained, adopted this as his workaday maxim and adhered to it rigidly throughout the almost fifty years of his working life. Never once had he regretted not moving on quickly, riding the new wave, adopting the latest "thing" because it was just that, the latest of many.

I often think about Tony's house motto when I read some of the contris on the List and think about my own craft skills for building bicycles. I suppose I haven't been affected much either, like Tony.

The recent hotly debated thread on the List concerning oversize tubes, and their ability to make frames perform ever better,came back vividly this evening as I read the Miroir-Sprint for 11 April 1955. On its cover displayed in wonderful sepia tones is a picture of the Frenchman, Jean Forestier pounding his way over the cobbles to carry off the victory in that year's Paris-Roubaix.

On his Vitus-tubed or Rubis-tubed, or possibly 531-tubed Follis frame equipped with its Simplex 543 rear mech, Simplex rod-type front "clanger" TA adaptor rings fitted to cottered steel cranks to provide him with 10 gears, Beborex brakes etc, Forestier, clad in his cotton shorts and shirt, ground out victory over the likes of Coppi and Bobet, finishing the 249 kms in a time of 6h.6m.42s at an average speed of 40.82km/hr

Just slightly over five weeks ago I watched the lycra-clad Swiss, Cancellera, win the same race on a carbon-fibre frame displaying a panorama of differently shaped tubes, using a range of twenty gears driven via components also made up carbon-fibre and titanium alloys. His time in beating the rest on similarly equipped bikes was 6h.7m.54s for the slightly longer 257kms..an average speed of 41.90 kms/hr!

In this last case the average speed was not significantly affected by the relentless progress in design, technology and materials to which today's racing bikes are subjected. So much for progress!

I think it was another Frenchman who observed "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose"...Sums up my point superbly.

Norris Lockley, UK