Friday, May 31, 2013

Patent Searching

Patent searches are tons of fun. Here are a couple of patents I found that I wanted to share:

Online patent searches provide a wealth of information about the workings of some of our favorite equipment - as well as the innovations, successful and otherwise, that preceded them. The slight variations and changes that happened from patent submission to real world implementation (note the spring setup on the Syncro patent, for instance) are really cool. Even cooler are the abortive attempts - take for instance this patent from Campagnolo, which was issued around the same time - it seems to be a slip-proof shift lever where the hinged part sort of acts as a brake on the spring (???), the need for which was probably negated by their "success" with Syncro. WTF indeed.

The pictures are truly worth the thousands of words that comprise the patents. If you come across anything cool, leave it in a comment below.

The picture-linked patents above are for the Mavic 571 face-pawl cassette hub, the Campagnolo Delta Brake, the Campagnolo Syncro 1 shifter and the original Shimano STI shifters

Monday, May 13, 2013

Photographs Lie - The Mavic gruppo that didn't quite exist

Mavic's last hurrah in the complete gruppo market came in the early 00's. Mektronik, introduced in 1999, seems to have cowed Mavic enough that I can't imagine we'll ever see them market a complete group again. Expensive, quirky, and downright troublesome, Mavic was looking just a little too far ahead when they pushed their even more futuristic replacement for the Zap to market. As Shimano and Campagnolo have demonstrated, today the world is ready for electronic shifting. 10 years ago, not so much.

But a gruppo isn't a gruppo without a full array of components. Mektronic provided the integrated brake levers and electronic rear derailleur. Lesser known, but also present was the Mektronic front derailleur - a mechanical derailleur, a pretty significant departure from their 810/860 design to work with the narrower 9 speed drivetrains that were popular at the time. Mavic also introduced their leaf-spring R3 brake at the same time. All were available, for a price, with the brakes still available up until the last couple of years.

But what about a crank and headset?

Mavic clearly had plans to offer Mektronic as a complete group. And to do that, they would need a crank/bottom bracket, and a headset. Their 2000 catalog showed just such items.

The headset, a threaded model, would be de rigueur, with 1" threadless headsets appearing on most high end frames right around that time.

The crank looks to be ISIS. It looks familiar, but I can't put my finger on what other vendor's crank it looks like. My guess? It's an FSA crank, or one of the closely related companies in Taiwan, who was probably also the source for the brake calipers and front derailleur.

Regardless of who was going to make the crank, it seems that it never happened - or if it did, it certainly never happened in quantity. I've never seen the crank (and associated bottom bracket) or headset, other than in the catalog. Everything else was produced, though certainly not in the quantity of earlier Mavic components. If you have a crank or headset, please send me pictures!

Huge thanks to John Liu for providing me the images from the 2000 Mektronic catalog!

Related Posts with Thumbnails