MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

QUALITY - INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS BETTER?

OLD vs NEW

WHO MADE IT - ???

CAMPAGNOLO

SHIMANO

SUNTOUR

SIMPLEX

OTHER MANUFACTURERS

SEAT POSTS

PEDALS

SADDLES

RIMS & TIRES

HUBS, SPOKES , SKEWERS

HANDLEBARS & STEMS

BRAKE CALLIPERS

BRAKE LEVERS

DERAILLEURS

 

WHAT IS BETTER - RIMS AND TIRES?

During your travels, you will come across many bicycles that have wheels attached, usually two, one rear and one front.  Of course, this is not news, however; there are several things to consider when looking at wheels.  And wheels, be they tubular or clincher, are made up of three fundamental components: rims, hubs and spokes.

There are two fundamental "Ten Speed" wheel sizes and two fundamental configurations.  The two most common rim sizes or diameters are 27 inch (27"x1 1/4") and 700mm (700c), with the twenty seven having the larger diameter of the two.  Generally, the rim's diameter will be indicated on the rim itself.  Each size has its own advantages, however; the more popular with collectors is the metric or 700c wheel rim.  To add a touch more confusion...

There are two fundamental wheel configurations - Tubular and Clincher.  Tubular rims, commonly called "Sew-Ups", are a pain in the rear end to maintain but offer wonderful ride qualities, when compared to clinchers.  The tubular tire has the inner tube sewn into place.  Actually, the inner tube is fitted inside the tire and then the tire edges are sewed together, trapping the tube in place.  This "Sew-Up" assembly is then glued onto the wheel rim.  Pain in the butt!  A flat tire, on a "Sew-Up" system, often times means buy a new tire/tube assembly.  And tubular tires are not cheap.  Even the cheap ones are pricey.

When I first started collecting and riding vintage road bicycles, I wanted nothing to do with the infamous "Sew-Up" design.  So strong was my conviction that I failed to give a wonderful old Italian bicycle a fair chance when test riding it.  My early eighties Basso Gap, a beautiful full Campy Nouvo record fitted Italian ride, was ridden by me for less that ten minutes.  Though I am ashamed to admit this, it is true.  Today, after learning a good deal more about the tubular tire system, my feeling have changed dramatically.  Without any doubt in my mind, the tubular or "Sew-Up" wheel will offer the best ride.  That said...

I would never recommend the "Sew-Up" wheel for a regular ride, but if you want to set up a special bicycle that offers the best possible performance, consider the tubular system.  Just make sure that you always carry a spare tire assembly with you when out on the road.  I am so convinced of the tubular systems ride quality value that I am starting to set up some of my riders with this Old School design.  Time and use will tell if I have made a good choice or not.

Two wheels sets have been prepared for my 1975 CCM Tour du Canada.  The wheels, originally issued with the bicycle, were 700c Sew-Ups.  The spare set of wheels that I built up for my TdC are 27" clinchers.  The difference in weight between these two wheel sets is approximately 1325 grams or 2.9 pounds, with the tubular sets winning this particular light weight contest.  Three pounds weight difference is a lot!  And we are talking about rolling weight!  Rolling weight will have a much greater impact on performance feel, than will stationary weight.  The heavier the wheel set, the more sluggish the bicycle will feel.

 Prior to the mid seventies, the Tubular was the wheel rim and tire was the combination of choice, simply because there was no choice – 700 tubular or nothing (except the 27 inch rim mentioned).  If you wanted to go fast, you rode a 700 tubular set-up.  But that changed with the introduction of the 700c clincher rim in the later half of the 1970’s.

Clincher rims are designed to grip a special style of tire, which has a stiff bead all the way around each inner edge of the tire.  Air pressure forces this tire bead to engage, or fit to, a special hook that goes around the inner sides of the rim.  This system clinches the tire pretty solidly into place.  No need for sewing or gluing.  Needless to say, the clincher rim presents a more "user friendly" approach to tire use, when repair and expense are major factors.

In today’s world, the performance differences between the tubular and clincher are much smaller, than in days gone bye.  I do believe, however, that there is a difference, both in feel and ultimate performance.  Though I have shunned the "Sew-Up" set-up for most of my riding career, I have changed my opinion about the tubular wheel.  My CCM Tour du Canada will wear the original  tubular wheels the bicycle was issued with back in the mid seventies.  But the Tour du Canada will only be ridden for pleasure, not errand running.  Errand running or around town riding will always see a good solid set of clinchers under me.  And probably twenty seven inches at that.  With puncture resistant inner tubes.  Lots of rolling weight, to be sure, but very few flat tires - ever!

Putting the Tubular vs Clincher thing aside, there are other factors that need to be considered when evaluating a set of wheels.

NEXT - WHAT IS BETTER - HUBS, SPOKES & RELEASES?

 

 

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