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 - DERAILLEURS?

The "Ten Speed" bicycle does not really offer ten speeds.  It does, however, make ten gear choices available.  The number of available gears, is defined by the number of front sprockets, multiplied by the number of rear sprockets.  A Single Speed bicycle will have one front sprocket and one rear sprocket.  One times one equals one, hence the term Single Speed.     A "Ten Speed" will have two front sprockets and five rear.  Two times five equals ten, hence the term "Ten Speed".

The Single Speed bicycle has no need for a derailleur, of any kind.  However, a "Ten Speed" bicycle, has two front sprockets and five rear sprockets.  The "Ten Speed" will require two derailleurs.  One to shift the drive chain, from crank ring to crank ring.  And a second derailleur, to jump the chain from cog to cog.

Vintage road bicycle transmissions are generally made up of one front derailleur, one rear derailleur and some sort of shifting control mechanism.  To those three fundamental components assemblies, add two transmission control cables and, from time to time, an assortment of brackets, designed to guide the transmission cables.

With all of this transmission talk, keep in mind that the term "Ten Speed" is generic.  The term, in my mind, refers to all derailleur equipped vintage road bicycles.  At least one of the old road bicycles that I have owned was an eight speed.  That bike, a late forties or early fifties French Rochet, was equipped with a four cog freewheel.  Though sporting only eight gears the bicycle, in my mind, is still a "Ten Speed".  And, on the other side of the coin, I have owned lots of vintage road bicycles that offered twelve gear choices.  These too are still referred to generically as "Ten Speeds".

There are two fundamental transmissions styles - Friction and Indexed, with Friction being the more antiquated, of the two.  The Friction transmission relies on the skill of the rider to properly position, either the front or rear derailleur, during shifts.  The rider must feel for the right derailleur position, as he or she executes a shift.  Failure to feel and position correctly, will result either in a missed shift, or a derailleur position that allows the drive chain to rub on the derailleur cage during operation.  A missed shift means try again right away.  An out of position shift, results in additional drive system drag, lots of mechanical noise and rapid wear to the derailleur cages.

To visually determine if a transmission is Friction or Indexed, look first to the shifters.  Friction shifters usually have a fairly small body, when compared to their more sophisticated and younger indexed siblings.  The word "index" will often present itself, as will the word "friction".  Many early indexed shifters could be easily switched from indexed mode to friction.  Being able to switch back and forth was a bonus in the early days.  The choice was appreciated by most, and perhaps finally all riders of the time.  If the indexed system went out of tune on the road, a simple twist of the mode switch, and friction shifting was restored.  Fine tuning of the indexed system could take place at home, when there was more time for such things.  And there was an additional advantage to offering a choice...

Not all riders likes the indexed system!  Many racers felt that the loud "click" the indexed system made during shifts would warn the rider in front of a coming attack.  This audible warning was considered to be a racing disadvantage and few professional racers embraced the new "indexed" design at first.  Of course, in today's bicycle world, all bicycle transmissions are indexed, in one way or another.

The shift lever that is designed for indexed shifting will make a fairly loud "click" when moved through it arc.  The number of available "clicks" will depend on the number of gears that a shifter is designed to accommodate.  The number of "clicks" must match the number of sprockets to accommodate.  Know also, that not all indexed systems are interchangeable.  Just about any friction shift set will work with just about any derailleur.  In the case of the indexed transmission, all of the tranny's components must work together.  The shifters must be calibrated to move the derailleur an exact amount with each "click".  The amount to be moved is determined by the distance between sprockets.  The distance between sprockets changes as the number of sprockets increases.  And this brings up another means of determining is a system is indexed, or not.

Look to the freewheel and study the sprocket teeth.  If the teeth are thick and straight, the system is probably friction only.  However, if the freewheel sprocket teeth are angled and thin, the system is likely indexed.  This is certainly not a hard and fast rule.  The freewheel might well have been replaced, over the years.

An indexed freewheel will work just fine, on a friction system.  However, performance will suffer if an indexed system tries to use a friction style freewheel.  The older friction design lacks the precision required by the indexed system.  Indexed cogs are exactly and evenly spaced, allowing for the predetermined movement defined by the indexed shifter.  Additionally, the indexed freewheel cog teeth are narrower, allowing for easier tooth to chain engagement.  Finally, angling the teeth, helps to guide the chain more quickly into place and maintain tooth to chain alignment while reducing friction at the same time.

There are probably a host of other "What is Better" questions that will come to mind but those offered will be a good place to begin learning the fundamental differences between vintage road bicycle options.  Are there any rules of thumb?  Older doesn't work a well as newer.  That might be one.  Some brand names are more collectable than others, is perhaps another.  And a third, yet unmentioned, would be the condition of a component.

 

 

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