Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

12 September 2014

Shifting Reversals

When someone displays a flag upside-down, it's usually a sign of protest.

Other emblems and objects are posted with their downsides up, it can be a signal of distress or surrender--or a message to someone who's "part of the club", so to speak.

So, what does it mean when a bicycle part--a derailleur, specifically--is made with its logo turned on its head?:

This "Vic" derailleur was made in China for Sugino during the mid-1990's.  It was designed for use with six-speed index systems.  That alone could be a reason for the upside-down logo:  By the '90's, only the cheapest department-store bikes came with six cogs in the rear. Perhaps Sugino, which has made many high-quality cranksets over the years (I ride four!) didn't want people to know they were "slumming" it in the low-end market!

(Ironically, the only other Sugino-branded derailleur was a real gem:  a rebadged SunTour Superbe Pro with an even nicer finish than the original, which is saying a lot!)

In contrast, the reversed logo on this next derailleur can be seen as an example of the many lapses in workmanship or quality control to be found in products manufactured in Soviet-era factories:


 To be fair, according to Michael Sweatman (author of the Disraeligears website), this Tectoron KS-01 derailleur is well-made:  strong and tight spring and pivots, smooth-spinning pulleys and no steel or plastic anywhere in sight. It's also only about 15 grams (about half an ounce) heavier than a current Campagnolo Record or Shimano Dura-Ace rear derailleur.  Most important, I would expect it to work reasonably well for a derailleur of its time (1978):  After all, its design is based almost entirely on the Campagnolo Nuovo Record derailleur of the same vintage.  Its only real fault is that it seems to have been finished in a way only Stalin (or, perhaps, Hoxha) could love. 

The next, and last, derailleur I'm going to show lacks the nasty charm (Is that an oxymoron)--and almost every other virtue--of the Tectoron:

Triplex, based in the Spanish Basque city of Eibar (also home to the--justly--better-known Zeus), Triplex made derailleurs and other components that, from three or four meters away, looked like Campagnolo's offerings.  Unlike their crosstown rivals--and other manufacturers of Campy knock-offs--Triplex never made anything that even remotely approached the quality or durability of the venerated Italian innovator.   I can say this, having seen a few Triplex changers--as well as those from many other Campagnolo imitators during the '70's and '80's--when I worked in bike shops.

Hmm,,,Would mounting a Triplex with the logo right-side up have improved the performance or durability?

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