Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

23 January 2012

Disraeli Gears

"Campagnolo trying to do mass-market derailleurs was a bit like the British Royal Family trying to do marital fidelity--it was never going to work because, although they knew they should do it, they considered the whole idea inherently beneath them."

So begins Michael Sweatman's page about the Campagnolo Nuovo Valentino extra derailleur on his site Disraeli Gears.  He says it's about half-complete; I almost don't want him to finish it because so many of his entries leave me in eager anticipation of more.  

His pages include his own wry commentaries, as well as photos and technical information, about derailleurs that have been made during the past 80 years or so.  Disraeli Gears is arranged by models, brands, countries and decades, as well as by several of his own themes, such as the ever-popular "A Riot of Colour."

Now I'm going to answer the question some of you are asking:  Yes, Disraeli Gears is named for the Cream album released in November 1967.  According to Ginger Baker, the album got its name when Eric Clapton talked about getting a racing bicycle and Mick Turner said, "Oh yeah--Disraeli Gears."

My guess is that Turner was high when he made that remark.  (For that matter, Clapton and Baker probably were, too.)  I won't speculate on whether or not Sweatman was high when he wrote any of his entries (or whether he ever was).  However, he does reveal one of his food vices in this entry.

Even if all you know about derailleurs is whether or not your bike has one, Disraeli Gears makes for a lot of interesting and entertaining reading.


  1. Very interesting link. I didn't know those Suntour VGT models were also sold under Raleigh labels and I hated the cruddy black plastic Simplex that was replaced by a VGT.

  2. Hi Steve--Actually, a number of bike-makers re-badged SunTour VGT derailleurs. I've seen them bearing the Motobecane and Fuji brands as Raleigh. Other SunTour derailleurs were re-badged by other bike makers, such as Vista.

    I agree that the SunTour was miles better than the plastic Simplex derailleur. It shifted and looked better, and lasted longer than those plastic things.

  3. I would say the Suntour derailleurs worked - and still do work really well. The one on my wife's bike is nearly 40 and works great. And we've got spares enough to last any great grandchildren into old age.

  4. Wow - I Guess Disraeli Gears could be as interesting as the story of Patti Boyd!

    Paz :)

  5. I keep hearing rumo(u)rs that Eric Clapton was/is into bicycles. Fancy ones, of course.

    (And April just finished reading Patti Boyd's auto-bio.)