04 July 2014

Old Glory, The Union Jack Or Le Bleu, Blanc Et Rouge

Three years ago, I wrote about red, white and blue bicycles--and someone who had a red, a white and a blue Cannondale.

Now I'm going to show you some red-white-and-blue (or bleu, blanc et rouge) components and accessories. 

Ironically, one of greatest pieces of Americana kitsch--in bicycle components, anyway--was made in France:

When SRAM took over Sachs--which, in turn, had swallowed up some French component manufacturers such as Huret, Maillard and Sedis--they continued to manufacture components in the old French plants for a few years before moving their production to Taiwan (except for the chains, which are made in Portugal).

In a way, it makes sense that the "Betsy" derailleur appeared when it did , circa 1997.  That's when the craze for mountain bike parts anodized in a rainbow of colors hit its peak.  In some ways, it was a reaction against the gray uniformity (literal as well as metaphorical) of what Shimano was producing at the time.  Yes, their stuff worked fine (except for the early Rapid Fire shifters).  But a bike equipped with them had all the personality of, well, a Gateway computer with Windows 98 (which, I admit, I used for nearly a decade).  

Another offspring of that craze was the Paul Powerglide derailleur:

In addition to the red-white(well, silver)-and-blue combination shown here, it was also available in a "rasta" finish as well as purple, green, blue, red and other standard anodized colors. Whatever you chose--even plain silver or black (Now why would you do that if you were spending $280 on a derailleur?) your derailleur was emblazoned with the stars and stripes.

Here's another tricolore derailleur from around the same time:

Although branded "Stronglight", it was most likely made in the same factory as "Betsy" in the first photo.  Also, once the colors and badges are removed, it's pretty much identical to a Sachs "Success" or "Quartz" from that period.

Now here's a tricolore acessory that gets me misty-eyed:

This Zefal "Competition" pump is the predecessor of the HP series.  In fact, if you take away the thumb-lock valve fitting and the handle that switches between "HP" 9for pumping" and "X" (to mount it on your bike), you have a "Comoetition",

I used a "Competition" for years, on several bikes.  I had a SIlca Impero, which was about 60 grams lighter, for my racing bike, but for every other kind of riding, I used my Competition.  It worked better and was more durable than the Silca, and its color scheme reminded me about "liberte, egalite et fraternite."  Why I wanted to be reminded of those things, I don't know, but I don't think I'm any the worse for being reminded of them.

I'm sure there have been other components and accessories in red, white and blue or bleu, blanc et rouge.  Now all we need are bike parts that play "The Star Spangled Banner" or
 "La Marseillaise" (or, perhaps, "God Save The Queen") when you need a boost of energy.

Happy Fourth Of July.  Wish me a happy birthday.  (Yes, it's today!)



  1. VERY happy birthday. My mom had hers on the first - Canada Day.

  2. Accordion and Steve--Thanks.

    Steve--Happy Birthday to your mom. And I hope you'll be back on your bike (or simply feeling better) soon!

  3. Calvin Coolidge and U.S. Grant are among the famous people who share your birthday. Also, our friend Phyllis. The Exxon Valdez disaster occurred on my birthday, so I'll never forget that one. Hope you went for a ride to celebrate today. I certainly did.

  4. MT--Thanks for the info about famous Fourth of July babies. Also sharing our birthdate are Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, Malia Obama, Rube Goldberg, Eva Marie Saint, Gina Lollabrigida, Neil Simon, Geraldo Rivera, twin sisters Ann Landers and Abigail van Buren ("Dear Abby"), Irving Caesar, Bill Withers, Fredo Santana, Mitch Miller, Giuseppe Garibaldi (ironic, isn't it?) and George Steinbrenner (OMG),

    Not too many famous cyclists there. But a pretty fair number of writers, especially songwriters.