[CR]was: housing colors; now: originality...so what?

(Example: Framebuilders)

Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 08:24:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Tom Dalton" <tom_s_dalton@yahoo.com>
To: Classic Rendezvous <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR]was: housing colors; now: originality...so what?

Yesterday Mark Buswell posted a specific question about Campy cables, asking which brakes came with the grey housings. This list being a venue for sharing actual information about vintage bikes, and having studied this issue in some detail, I figured I’d answer Mark’s question and share my general knowledge of Campy housings for the possible benefit of others on the list. At the end, I think I made it clear that I am aware that the information that I provided is trivia, and also that I am aware that plenty of folks used whatever parts were available, in The Day. To wit:

That's about it for housings... wanna talk cables? Hoods? Pulleys? Brake shoes? Keeping all the spare parts straight is a bit of a fools errand, and I'm the fool. Obviously, a normal Campy-equipped bike would make use of whatever spare parts were available, but I've taken some pains to figure out when changes were made to the service parts so that I can use the "correct" items when possible. (NOTE THE USE OF QUOTES AROUND “CORRECT”)

In response, Dale provided some specific and useful info regarding Campy housings based on his having sold them over the last 35 year. He then added: “Of course in the shops and ateliers, there was active housing color changing and customizing; in fact, it was almost uncool to use the supplied Campag stuff, even though it was often superior to aftermarket products... “

I think this served to inform those not there at the time of what folks were using in the on-topic era. This seemed like a good point, even if secondary to the main point of his post, which was to provide additional specifics regarding the subject at hand.

Than Jerry chimed in:

I've never understood the concern with original cable housing. All the guys I rode with In The Day didn't think twice about changing cables and housings, whether because they wanted another color or because some other brand claimed to be better. It was common to change Campy brakes to lined housings when they became available, as well as to Kool Stop or Malthauser pads. Also, a lot of guys changed original Campy RD pulleys to Bullseye, usually the red ones.

I, exasperated, replied:

That's good Jerry, and I've never understood why people would mount Pep Boys tires on a Mercedes S-class.

My point being that there are a lot of things that people do that don’t make sense to other people, and it hardly warrants on-list opining every time you “don’t get” something. Moreover, reading what Jerry wrote, one would think I said, “Yes, the Grey is the housing you MUST use with your Record brakes, but absolutely not with your Cobaltos…” In fact, I gave only my best information on which housings came with which brakes, and when colors were changed. I even noted where I was not positive of my data, and asked for input from the list. But obviously this was just another opportunity for people to make assumptions about my attitudes and point out why those attitudes they ascribe to me, are wrong… And yes, the specific case of Pep-Boys tires on an S-class was meant to point out that aftermarket stuff is often inferior. So, in defense of all that is not Campy, Jerry replied:

Well the difference is that the changeout of Campy bits improved performance rather undermining it. Lined housings pull and return more easily, ball-bearing Bullseye pulleys definitely have less friction, and Malthauser pads definitely stop better than the originals. There were changeouts in the day that were cosmetic, or which actually undermined performance, but most of the ones I rememeber being common were definite improvements… Like Dale says, it was

almost uncool to have totally factory original stuff.

I then launched into a long explanation of how I came to hold totally different opinions, both on which parts worked best, and what consititued “cool,” for me and my cycling friends, in the day. I won’t reproduce it, it’s in the archives. I will reemphasize here, though, that both of the “definites” that Jerry provides are most assuredly not definite. The ad at the back of Bicycling may have claimed that the pulley saved a 76 foot climb in a 100 mile ride, but you can’t believe all that you read. One man’s powerful braking is another man’s total lack of modulation. Really, if the Mathauser pads were so clearly better, wouldn’t Campy have improved their own compound? Wouldn’t at least some sponsored riders stepped on Tullio’s toes and used them. The stuff Jerry is talking about is arguably better in certain respects than O/E, but not definitely better. This definitely better attitude, in my opinion, reflects an engineer’s need for absolutes, and a contrarian’s obsession with being too cool for Campy.

Than Tom Sanders added:

I agree exactly not only with such comments on cables, brake pads… I have tried period perfection on a couple of bikes and never found it to be as much fun. Yet, it is not uncommon to have folks treat these changes as "wrong" somehow. I think one can be overly anal about having a bike just the way it came from the factory...or ..wait...could it be the bike shop or is it the builder? Yet so many were sold as frames either to the ultimate customer or the bike shop that to attribute rightness or wrongness to the stuff on a bike unless it is way out of the time line is a bit superficial. Thank goodness that folks sought to individualize their bikes...how deadly boring if they did not!

Well, you make some good points, and some bad assumptions. I’m all for people decking out their bikes however they like, Just like yourself, if some other guy’s bike became mine, I’d almost certainly change it. Unless it was some ultra-collectible race bike used by some famous rider to win some famous race, I would at least mount my preferred crank length, bars& stem, saddle, gearing, etc. so that the bike fit me. Given that I came into this thread very close to the top, I feel like Tom is responding to my comments and making all sorts of assumptions about how “anal” I am and that I want to build my bikes with the “factory correct” medium toeclips even though I really need large. My objective with my vintage bikes is to equip the how I would have wanted them equipped if I had owned them in The Day. So, I don’t insist on all 1985 vintage Super Record because that’s what Trek spec’d on my 770. Using that bike as an example, the parts differ in many areas from “original.” The pedals, clips, straps, shifters, rims, spokes, tires, saddle, post, bar, stem, tape, freewheel, and bottle cages are all non-factory-spec. Same with the paint color, hot pink just didn’t work for me. Some of the parts are actually more “date correct” than what came from the factory, FWIW. To me the bike is correct, because it has all the stuff that I felt, then and now, was the best racing equipment of the day. I think a lot of people might look at the bike and say Hoo-hum, another SR-reduced, Cinelli-bars-n-stem, Mavic-rimed bike… How boring, how anal. Oh well, there is a lot more to all the parts that I selected than that, but I guess not playing dress-up with housing colors and squeezing out an extra 76 foot climb with some go-fast pulleys makes the bike, and me, a bit boring.

Tom Dalton

Bethlehem, PA USA

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