Saturday, June 21, 2014

Digging the dog

For those of you with fond memories for bicycle bits the rest of the world has long forgotten this might light a (smallish) flame within that inner cave. Remember Pino Morroni? Remember his quick release skewers? Well, American Classic once made a decent copy of them. Introduced in the mid 1980s they proved to be very popular and marked the start of American-designed, mass-produced, light-weight, after-market parts made just for bicycles.

Whilst rummaging through my spare parts box in search of replacement brake pads for my Trek 950 I came across these things:

I purchased these quick release skewers some years back along with a pair of Simplex skewers (currently serving time on my 3Rensho). The seller didn’t have a set price for the stuff he was selling (and this was back in the days when old bicycles and their attached bits and bobs were worth hardly anything) and was open to negotiation. I was about to hand over $7 for the Simplex skewers when I spied the American Classic's. I picked them up and couldn’t put them back down. Unfortunately I couldn’t put down the Simplex skewers either. And I only had $10 in my pocket. Seeing that I couldn’t make up my mind (and that the whole process was going to take a whole lot longer than what he was prepared to wait) the seller decided to sling me both sets of skewers in exchange for the tenner. In the end I think we both thought we got a good deal.

American Classic quick releases were sold on the merit of their weight-reducing convenience. That and the fact that they were very, very, very cool. I generally don’t weigh bicycle components (retrogrouches, being retro-grouches, generally don’t) but I didn’t think that the heft of these skewers deserved the merit for which they were sold. I thought I might check it out.

Shimano LX (removed from the Trek) 188g.

American Classic 119g.

That’s a saving of 69 grams. Or a 36.7% weight reduction. Actually, it’s a bigger weight saving than I had expected. It’s the equivalent of forgetting to bring underpants to work.

Darn inconvenient when you forget to pack these babies before the commute.

The now superseded Tune skewer (and the Taiwanese copies made under the label of Edge/ Figmo) were arguably the last generation of readily-available, quick release skewers based on Mr Morroni’s original design. They were very nice and very lightweight. But for some reason, despite also having them in my bag of tricks, they don’t seem to hold quite the same cachet of the far cheaper and significantly heavier American Classic. It’s true. And I don’t really know why.

Maybe it’s because we look to the Germans for their technological prowess, the Taiwanese for their cost-effective competence, and the Americans for their innovation. And we place innovation above all else.

When the dog goes digging..

Digging the dog.


And that alone counts for a 500g weight reduction. Not that I need to tell a fellow enthusiast, but out in the real world, when you know that you are the only one palping such things, then any ascribed attribute multiplies by a factor of ten. 

Out in the real world you need to carry an ABUS chain that weighs as much as your leg (and costs as much as your bike) 
and a container of scrumptious, home-made banana muffins ..
.. Or the equivalent of lugging around an additional 5kg.

In the real world this becomes a zero-sum game when you palp a pair of these.

It's not how cool you are.

It's how cool you think you are.

Strap on your helmet. Today we go for gusto.