Monday, February 25, 2008

Eddy Merckx 1990 Catalog

I'm always on the hunt for primary sources for information about the bike stuff I'm interested in. Pictures, catalogs and the like. Words may lie, but pictures...well, they can lie too, but I'd rather be fooled by a period picture thats been retouched than by the recollections of a guy who worked in a store with a guy who worked for a manufacturer who's founder was a mechanic of another guy who's cousin rode with Eddy Merckx. Sure, I'd still like to hear their story, but I'd take whatever I heard with a grain of salt.

I recently picked up a 1990 Merckx catalog, that isn't (yet) in the enormous bike catalog archive that Mark Bulgier has. I've seen this catalog a few times on eBay, and loathed the fact that it wasn't scanned and available online.

It's up on in full resolution now. Get it here.

If you have this catalog, and never made it available to me and other Merckx addicts, I'm very dissapointed in you.

Anyone who's read this blog knows it was a Grand Prix that got me all excited about Merckx bikes. Mine is an 88/89, so it predates the above, but its very, very similar. My current thought is this catalog is from early 1990, as I believe they switched the way they did internal routing in 1990, from both cables on the top of the top tube, to the entrance tunnel being on the lower side of the top tube. I guess 1990 was when they decided non-aero brakes were dead.

10th anniversary frame. Whats interesting about these is a large percentage of them bear a B date code, which indicates they were actually built in 1988/89. I'm guessing late 1989 is more accurate, which makes sense -- model year 1990 frames are usually available prior to the end of the previous year.

Century TSX. Note the different internal routing. The entrance tunnel is out of sight, on the under side of the top tube.

New team color scheme too? Team Forum? Never heard of them -- can anyone tell me more?

The Team 7-11 frame. I think this is effectively a Century in 7-Eleven colors. Note the presence of a 7-Eleven Team decal on the top tube.

Corsa Extra, in the 1990 Weinmann color scheme -- perhaps my favorite of all the color schemes. Someday one will be mine. Also present is a color scheme I assumed was a team one which just appears to be a stock color scheme.

Corsa. The Faema reproduction is a beauty, and you can't go wrong with either the 7-Eleven color scheme or the blue. No 7-Eleven Team sticker here.

Pista in SL, sporting a Corsa decal. Simple + attractive in blue.

Have any Merckx catalogs that aren't at the Bulgier archive? If you don't have a scanner, I'm more than happy to scan for you. There's no good reason for people to pay ridiculous amounts of money for an 8 page catalog, when its so easy to scan and make them available to others.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Somewhat hard to find Mavic piece

I love buying from the French sellers on eBay. They've got all sorts of NOS Mavic bits, and while shipping isn't cheap, they're usually happy to combine shipping, and stuff gets to me FAST -- from the Paris area to NYC seems to take less time than from California. Being an impatient type, its always great to receive a package before I expect it.

This is an 821 shifter. Its the later packaging for Mavic components. Earlier parts were shrink-wrapped to a yellow, Mavic-logo'd card if they were on the small side. I'm sure stocking meant both were available in parallel -- but this packaging for the 821 was later.

The front 821 shifter is a retrofriction unit, not unlike the older 820 shifter. I don't think the 821 was made by Simplex, but its a possibility.

The 821 isn't hard to find, but the mount for non-steel frames isn't a piece I've seen before.

One of my dirty bike secrets is that I do, in fact, own a composite frame. Its an old Specialized Epic, that I refuse to love or care about too much, as its meant to be my commuting bike. It's sporting a Sachs 8-speed brifter indexing to a Sachs 7-speed freewheel, which works great, along with a normal Shimano downtube shifter for the front rings. It's unlikely I'll ever use the Mavic shifter on it, but its nice to have the option to. Now to track down a right-side mount...can't ever have too many options.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Who makes a better French brake, Italy or Japan?

It's a poorly kept secret that Mavic never made their own brakes. They didn't make their own shifters in some cases, and some of their cranks may have started as unmachined blanks from other companies...but their brakes they didn't even machine at all. From their earliest days, until the late 80's, they sourced all their brakes from the Italian company Modolo. In the early 90's, they switched to Dia Compe sourced brakes, produced in Japan.

Being a Mavic junky of the late 80's/early 90's variety, I thought I'd show off some of my brakes of the era.

The Mavic 440 brake was made by Modolo. As I detailed in a blog post about 2 years ago, they're the same design as Modolo used across their product line in the late 80's. They're good, solid brakes, which feel great when stopping.

In the early 90's, for reasons unknown, they switched from using Modolo brakes to using Dia Compe ones. These were the same brake as the Dia Compe BRS500, the Suntour Superbe Pro, and seem to be related to the currently available Cane Creek brakes. People either love them or hate them. They're very light, have adjustable tension, and perform admirably. But the hidden spring design makes them prone to problems where the head of the spring bends, and causes the brake to no longer maintain tension. Adjusting them is also difficult -- its done while the brake is mounted to the bike. One arm is pushed counter-clockwise to put it under tension, while the tension cone is turned counter clockwise with a cone wrench. Then, using your third hand, you tighten a hex bolt to cinch it all down, while maintaining just the right amount of tension.

Which is the better brake? Who knows?! They're both pretty cool if you ask me.

Just to head off a question I'm sure to receive...I don't know who makes the current Mavic SSC R3 brake. If you know, let me know!

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