MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

 

SITE INDEX   FINDING   BICYCLES   WORK SHOP   TRADING   WHAT'S NEW?

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 - SHIMANO?

Many Shimano components are of comparable quality to Campy stuff, but not nearly as valuable, from the vintage or collectable point of view.  But that situation is changing, in some cases.  Shimano targets all riders from entry to full race levels.  With this in mind, the assortment of Shimano component offerings is huge.  It becomes necessary to research the Shimano component grouppo attached to any bicycle before attempting to assign collectable value.  As the interest in collecting and riding vintage road bicycles grows, so too will the information available.  For the purpose of this discussion, only the components that I have actually used will be mentioned.

Generally speaking, if the vintage part is Shimano “Dura-Ace” you will be dealing with the best vintage Shimano stuff available - from the collectable perspective.  I might add that you will see great similarity between Shimano's earliest offerings and Campagnolo's stuff of the same vintage.  I have owned on full first generation Shimano Dura-Ace bicycle, a very original and complete early seventies Fugi The Ace.  I rode the bicycle a few times, even though it was far too big for me.  What I can say is that everything worked well, though I did not test the grouppo enough to really form an opinion.  However…

From a user’s point-of-view, the absolute best vintage brake set I have used is an early Shimano Dura-Ace side pull lever and calliper set, that was mounted to my early seventies Motobecane “Grand Record”.  These wonderful brake levers fitted my hands perfectly and very little pressure was required to effect braking.  The side pull callipers slowed the Motobecane down without incident, every time.  Both the levers and the callipers were well finished and pleasing to the eye.

If the rest of the first generation Dura-Ace components come up to the same level as the brakes, then we are talking about quality stuff, indeed.  That said, the early Dura-Ace components have not achieved the same level of collectability as similar vintage Campy parts.  But they will – my prediction.  And consider this...

The Shimano 600 Arabesque component grouppo, is fast becoming the most sought after from the vintage Shimano line.  Not only that, but an Arabesque crank and ring set will sell for a good deal more than its Campy Super or Nouvo Record counterpart.  An interesting observation, don't you think?  My bet is that this beautifully ornate and highly functional Shimano grouppo will continue to climb in, both value and prestige.  I am lucky enough to have found a full set for my 1975 Sekine SHT-270.

What is special about the “600 Arabesque” component?  Built-in mechanical and cosmetic quality!  Mechanical quality – everything, the transmission, brakes, hubs, bottom bracket and head set worked very well.  Cosmetic quality – these beautiful components were designed with aesthetics in mind.  The entire grouppo is engraved and embossed with scroll like or leafy art work, etched or forged into very nicely finished bodies.

There seemed to be a slow shift from Arabesque to full second generation 600.  I have owned a few bicycles with second generation full Shimano 600 component grouppos but only one with a full first generation grouppo.  That bike was a Velo Sport Criterium, a near top of the line model.  The bike was just a tad large, but I rode it for a while, anyway.  The components worked together in an undistinguished fashion.  In other words, they worked together so well that I never gave them much thought while in the saddle.

Developing the feel for the shifting took moments.  The friction shifted transmission slipped the chain effortlessly, from cog to cog and ring to ring.  Trimming was a non-issue.  To me, when evaluating a vintage transmission from a functional stand point, I look for two things- how long does it take to get used to and how often do I need to trim.

Moving on in vintage, it has been my great pleasure to use both Shimano “Exage” and “105” vintage component grouppos.  Both the transmissions and brakes worked all but perfectly.  Both of these grouppos offered Indexed shifting and what I call Light Action brakes. 

Indexed shifting is very user friendly, when working properly.  The shifters are set to click/stop at predetermined intervals, resulting in precise movement of the front or rear derailleur.  There is never the need to feel for the gear.  The right position is selected automatically every time, when working properly.  This, to me is sort of like the difference between a manual transmission and an automatic one, in a car.  Manual is often more precise, but automatic is generally easier to use.

I like the feel of both the Shimano Exage and 105 brake action.  I need to apply very little pressure, to achieve the same level of braking than I would when compared to the more vintage systems offered by Campagnolo, Weinmann, Mafac and even Shimano.  I call such brakes, Light Action because of the light pressure required, to effect braking coupled with the smooth feel of the pull.

It is a pleasure to use an indexed transmission, that works properly.  Click and go without worrying about trim.  That said, for me the jury is still out on which I prefer – friction or indexed shifting.  Perhaps it is OK to like both.  Then, of course, there are Ergo levers which are simply indexed shifters, mounted in a user friendly position, on the handle bars or brake levers.

I have owned three bicycles, fitted with Shimano Ergo Shifters, a late eighties Proctor-Townsend, a nineties something Marinoni, pictured, and my Marinoni Squadra.  In all honesty, when I compare the Shimano transmissions to the one Campy one I have used, the Shimano comes in an easy first.

Simply put, Shimano components are well made and work the way that they should, be they of Old School or newer, vintage.  To that comment, I must add that I rarely have taken the time or interest in using any of Shimano's lesser offerings.  Something that I cannot say about one of Shimano's earlier competitors - Suntour.

NEXT - WHAT IS BETTER - SUNTOUR?

 

 

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