Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

13 December 2016

No, That Hole Is Not In Your Pants

Many, many years ago, I took chemistry.   Let's just say it wasn't my best subject.  I think I realized as much when I had to memorize the ninety-nine thousand elements of the  periodic table.  ( All right, I was exaggerating just a bit.) I think I remembered about five or six. Then we had an exam in which some of the questions consisted of a single word, which we had to spell with the elements from the table.  One of those words was a synonym for excrement, which of course, is spelled with Sulfur, Hydrogen, Iodine and Titanium.  Oh, right, Titanium is Ti.

It's also not the only element ending in '-ium":  lithium, sodium and potassium are among the best-known.  One thing I learned from working in bike shops, though, is that you shouldn't get all of your education, even in the sciences, from school.  Indeed, in those velocipedic variora, I found out there were other elements besides molybdenum and titanium.  Like "can't-affordium", that mythical material used to make bikes for those who spend more dollars than miles (or even kilometers) on their machines.  And then there was that material that developed holes whenever it was made into bicycle parts.  I am referring, of course, to drillium.

Now, some drillium bits were stylish and, on occasion, even made sense.  Drilling brake levers often improved their grippability:  That, I think, is one reason why Campagnolo and other companies actually made lever blades with holes or slots built into them.  Interestingly, the slotted Campy Record brake levers actually weighed a few grams more than the plain ones.  Someone from Campagnolo explained that the material was actually slightly thicker so that strength wouldn't be compromised. 

While drilling didn't serve any purpose, other than minute weight reduction, on chainrings, I think those are the components that looked best when touched by drill bits.  Some derailleurs also looked good with it, though on some components--like the Huret Jubilee--drilling was impossible and, really, pointless because they were so light. 

Believe it or not, there were also drillium saddles.  I was reminded of them when I came across this photo:




I wonder whether Monsieur Herse punched the holes in that seat.  Or was it made that way?  Back in the '80s, Tioga--the maker of some of the best parts and accessories found on early mountain bikes--offered a seat for BMX that wasn't what most of us would think of as "drillium", but was in the spirit of it.  The "Spyder" seat was very popular on the BMX circuit--and, interestingly, is still made today:




From what I've heard, some cyclists--time trialists, mainly--even took took off the covers and padding of Cinelli Unicanitor seats and drilled out the plastic base.  Of course, most people never saw their handiwork, at least if the padding and leather cover were glued back on.  But a few such cyclists took the plain plastic-shell model (without the padding and cover) and drilled that out.  Hmm...I wonder what it was like to sit on such a thing with unpadded shorts!




I imagine that not even those Unicanitors survived the treatment for very long, which may be the reason why we don't see very many "drillium" or "spyder" seats today!

Is the symbol for "drillium" "Dr"?  Or just "D"?  As I said earlier, it's been a while since I took chemistry!

12 comments:

  1. Can't-affordium, drillium, hurt myself laughing! I used to read chemistry books like others read novels, few decent novels for folk like me...

    Have to agree about the chainwheels, I sometimes look longingly at VO chainwheels, especially the black. On the brightside someone who understands me has just given me bicycle earrings for my birthday, for a moment the world feels fine.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Coline--You read chemistry books like others read novels? Wow! You're better than I am.

    Yes, those VO chainrings are quite nice. And getting a gift like the one you described is a pretty good basis for a relationship, in my book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Half a century later drillium sounds like a real element... I can no longer remember the difference between ferrous and rerric oxide, I think that they are both bad...

      Delete
  3. "Rerric" sounds like something that elicited scorn from authority figures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! Dyslexic commentator who is too lazy to check before tapping post.

      Delete
    2. Coline--Comments like yours keep my mind from getting rusty! LOL!

      Delete
  4. The ultimate frame material is Unobtanium.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Shouldn't the plural of "varioum" be "variora?"

    ReplyDelete
  6. Cats are made of the elements iron, lithium and neon. FeLiNe.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mike--"Unobtanium". I love it! And you're right about variora. I'll correct that.

    Phillip--My beloved Max and Marlee would be very happy to know what they're made of!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have heard that the drillium craze was started by Merckx who had his bike used to set the hour record in '72 drilled out in many places. Can anybody recall drillium components from before '72?

    Mike -- isn't Unobtanium from the Yahuda Moon comic strip? I seem to recall flying bicycles that would suddenly evaporate out from under you.

    Leo

    ReplyDelete
  9. Leo--I think you're right about Mercx and the drillium craze. At least, your explanation makes sense.

    ReplyDelete