Monday, December 1, 2008

The Party's Over: Derailed by the Economy

(Bronx pawn shop window)

Things, as they say, are tough all over. Usually I try to ignore the the problems of the world, choosing instead to focus my concern on the world of cycling, and for the most part I've been successful. (While millions of people must live without food, clothing, or shelter, I find myself worrying more about the fact that thousands of fixed-gears are being ridden without bar tape, brakes, or foot retention.) However, the signs of collapse are everywhere, and even I can no longer ignore them. What speaks more articulately of economic crisis than a "Marshal Seized" notice stuck to a tinted SUV window?

I'll tell you what: a "Marshal Seized" notice stuck to the tinted window of an SUV which boasts not only a tastefully understated mauve-and-lavender plaid color scheme...


...but also seating for 40 of your closest cologne-and-perfume-drenched friends.

I came upon this scene recently as I entered Prospect Park, and I'm not ashamed to say that I flung the Ironic Orange Julius Bike into a nearby copse of trees, dropped to my knees, and cried to the heavens over the injustice of it all. It's one thing when people are losing their houses, but it's another when they're losing the very things that make life worth living, like giant purple limousines. As much as I longed to see Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White emerge with his microbrew-swilling entourage from this block-long purple party machine one last time (with appropriate musical accompaniment of course), even I had to confront the fact that the party may very well be over--at least for the time being. With this awe-inspiring vehicle curbed and bound for auction, where it will most likely be snatched up by the premiere of some faraway post-Soviet republic, there's no question we are entering a new era of austerity and sobriety. For the next few years at least, sweet sixteens, proms, and weddings in the Brooklyn/Queens/Nassau area are about to get a little less magical but a lot more tasteful.

And the blight has also reached our nation's capital (or the general vicinity anyway), where at least one person has been forced to sell his penny-farthing:



52" Penny Farthing High Wheel Bicycle - $1300 (Frederick, MD)
Reply to: [deleted]
Date: 2008-11-24, 6:17AM EST

It's the next big thing a 130 years later! Oh the looks you’ll get ridin’ this bad boy! This is the Excelsior model. Extremely unique 52” front wheel and a 16” rear wheel! Shipping is a bear with these bikes, but buying locally will save you big shipping charges. I may even consider delivery. This bike was built in California and retails for $1500 + $300 shipping = $1800. It is in great condition and has even appeared in some local parades. Even looks great as décor! They are soooooooooo fun to ride! I have another one that I ride so I don’t need two….so my wife says. These are the next big thing...real link below:
http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2008/11/penny-ante-ordinary-trend-moves-up.html
Call eRiC if you’re interested at 301-514-[deleted]...guaranteed to make you smile!

Okay, admittedly the seller appears to be bowing to spousal pressure and not to financial need, yet you've got to admit that it's a sad day indeed when a man must part with his second p-far. (Personally, I think his wife is being unreasonable. Next she'll probably make him sell that third loom. Where does it end?!?)

Given that even I have been forced to confront the fact that things are bleak, you'd think that by now everybody else has as well--but you'd be wrong. I was poking around on the website of a popular mail-order bicycle retailer recently when I stumbled upon this:

Like many cyclists, I've known for some time now that Campagnolo have both moved to 11-speed and re-introduced the Super Record group. However, like many cyclists, I also didn't really pay attention because I didn't care. For this reason, I was unaware until viewing the aforementioned link of just how shockingly expensive this stuff is. And while the whole group is expensive, for some reason it was the $500 rear derailleur that really brought it all home for me. Sure, the $480 cassette is expensive, but I suppose if you're in the later stages of syphilis or something you can rationalize it by telling yourself it's only like $43 a cog, which is about the same price as a stainless steel singlespeed cog by Chris King--plus you get the spacers free! And sure, the $625 ergo levers are also ridiculously priced, but they're really not that much more than other top-end shifters, and if you're in the later stages of syphilis or something you can rationalize it by telling yourself that your hands spend a lot of time on your shifters and so somehow it's worth it. Plus, I went to take a closer look at the Super Record ergos on the Campagnolo website, and even though they're really ugly something about them was strangely endearing to me:

I struggled to put my finger on why this was, until I realized something about the cocked inward angle of the tops and the droopy lengths of the lever blades called to mind the visage of an expectant dog with floppy ears:

Or if you prefer:

Yes, I'm proud to say I drew that myself. Freehand!

Still, I could find nothing endearing about that stupid, ugly, overpriced, $500 rear derailleur no matter how hard I tried. Instead, I just sat there smoldering and quietly hating it. It actually bothered me that I hated it so much, so now that I was on the Campagnolo website I decided to read more about the Super Record group in the hopes that understanding it might make me hate it less. Here's what I learned:

Hmmm, "non plus ultra," you say? I don't know what that means, but I've heard that phrase used alongside other mind-blowingly expensive things and it sounds desirable. And what's that you say? "Sans pareil?" I freaking hate pareil! My last road group had pareil and it was totally making my shifters jam up at crucial moments, so perhaps it is worth the extra money for a group that doesn't have it. I think I'll read on:

Okay, now you're losing me. If Super Record was introduced in 1973, and it's now 2008, how can today be "21 years later"? Wouldn't that be 1994? Also, "umpteenth"? Really? If I'm going to pay all this money to get rid of pareil I expect precision. Using the word "umpteenth" is only slightly better than using the word "gazillion." I'm surprised they actually specify "11 speeds" and don't just say it's got "gobs of gears." This is all disappointing to say the least. And what about that rear derailleur?

Okay, it's $500, and all you can say is that it's "completely black" and that it's got "parallelogram geometry"? It's now 2008--or 1994 in Campagnolo time. What derailleur doesn't have parallelogram geometry? According to Sheldon Brown, the parallelogram derailleur has been around since like 1964. That was 44 years ago--or 30 years ago in Campagnolo time. Wait, don't tell me--the shifting on Super Record is indexed too, and it's fully compatible with round wheels that roll on pneumatic tires. Well, if Campagnolo is breaking this much ground, I certainly won't hesitate to break the bank.

Ah, wait, I know. It must be light. Really light. Sure, paying lots of money to shave grams is ridiculous behavior, but then again road cycling in general is ridiculous behavior. And while I certainly don't believe in spending lots of money for ultra-light components, I also get irritated when people condemn the practice by saying things like, "You know, the difference in weight between those two components is the same as a mouthful of liquid from your water bottle," or, "If you want to remove weight, lose it from your body, not your bike." These are bad arguments. I mean, you need liquid to ride competitively. Why would you shave weight by carrying less of it? And as far as the body thing goes, if you're truly competitive you want both your bike and your body to be as light as possible. Still, I do agree that it's important to keep component weight in perspective, and that's why instead of those tired old arguments I use New York State marijuana law:

It just so happens that drug weight penalties are a good yardstick for bike weight penalties. As you can see, being caught with 25 grams of marijuana or less merely results in a civil citation in New York State, and is only punishable by a $100 fine. That's less than half of what I had to pay when I ran a red light on my bike. In fact, I probably would have been better off being caught with some Wednesday weed instead. So if the police can't even be bothered to arrest you for having 25 grams of marijuana, then by extension it's kind of ridiculous to worry about a 25 gram weight difference in a bicycle component. And as the pot penalties increase, the chart can still be applied to bike weight--I think it's reasonable to consider carrying two unnecessary ounces on your race bike a misdemeanor, and I also feel that lugging ten extra pounds with you on a race bike is indeed a felony.

Given this, it would stand to reason then that the Campagnolo Super Record rear derailleur is astoundingly light, wouldn't it? Well, you'd think so, but it's not. I compared it to the other rear derailleurs on the popular retailer's site, and it turns out it's not particularly light at all:


In fact, the cheapest rear derailleur on the page was only 16 grams heavier than the Super Record, which in terms of weight penalty keeps you safely in civil-citation-with-no-jail-time territory:


Not only that, but it's also $421 dollars cheaper. That should buy you enough marijuana to get you some jail time.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I can't use that cheap derailleur with my Campagnolo puppy dog ears." Well, even if that's true, you can of course use a Chorus rear derailleur, stay under the 25 gram number, and save enough money to buy yourself a couple of Rival derailleurs to experiment with. (Or three months in jail if you buy marijuana instead.) You're also thinking, "Some of those cheaper derailleurs aren't 11-speed." Well, so what? Firstly, I'm guessing that in practice the only thing that makes that derailleur 11-speed is that it says "11" on it. Secondly, I have yet to find anybody who feels compelled to go to 11-speed anyway. Sure, people rushed to go to 10-speed, and to 9-speed, and so forth. But when Campagnolo came to the party with 11-speed it was kind of like when you meet an old friend who's still way into building bongs. "Hey, look what I made!" It was pretty cool in freshman year, but now it's just kind of pathetic.

But of course, we can't forget ceramic bearings. After all, ceramic bearings are the new gram-shaving, and if you're not using them you might as well be riding through two inches of mud, right? Well, thank goodness for $200 derailleur pulleys:


It's frightening to me that you can buy a brand-new SRAM Red derailleur and put these stupid things in it for the price of a single Campagnolo Super Record derailleur. Unfortunately, though, you will no longer be able to hire the purple party machine to take you to the bike shop.

Of course, my big question is whether the Campagnolo Super Record derailleur is compatible with Modolo Morphos shifters, as mandated by the Cosmic Kurt Loder:

Well, I'll defer to Lennard Zinn on that one, but I will say that they look less like a puppy dog's ears than they do the horrid maw of a fly:



Or if you prefer:




Yes, I drew that one freehand too. Though in hindsight, I may have had some subconscious inspiration:




84 comments:

Pack Phil said...

Podium?

Anonymous said...

Recess is over

Anonymous said...

Wurd!! Haters! Balls!!

Anonymous said...

good to be back...

ant1 said...

ant1st!

ant1 said...

Nice to have you back Snobby.

Anonymous said...

made it in there--welcome back snob!

Surly Bastard said...

Tenium!

Anonymous said...

pot 10!

Mark said...

Top 10!

Mongo Pusher said...

Top 11

Anonymous said...

CAMP THIS

Bill said...

nice, nice

ewxlt66 said...

Glad you're back...for the umpteenth time.

urchin said...

that was a week's worth of funny.
I feel completely free of my feelings about super record and 11-speed, now that they have found a voice...

hepular said...

Hey, you can use a sram rear mech with campy levers. For that matter you can use just about ANY derailleur with any lever--the derailleur will only move as far as the cable tells it to. So, as long as the shift lever and cassette are geared to the same spacing, the make of the rear derailleur is irrelevant.
For that matter, I've heard tell of people using sram levers and campy derailleurs . . . (see November or October Racing Post).

Anonymous said...

for the price of the r-der, one could buy a nice c-record group.

Krys Hines said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioqCO0VJUCk

Beautiful stupidity...Like an 11 speed drivetrain...Fuck it, I want to go back to 9 speeds!

Anonymous said...

You made my day.

Anonymous said...

hey hepular, you're wrong.

bikesgonewild said...

...back w/ a vengeance...good stuff...
...is it just me or does that suv limo look like a giant foreclosed lavender 'top-tube' pad ???...

...& since you took that art course from the back of the matchbook cover, wow...i'm thinkin' the guys at the school of 'superrealism' are more than a little concerned...

...btw...just put a pair of those new ergo shaped shifters on my cross bike...hey, don't get excited, they're the veloce level & they're designed to retro-fit 10-speed gruppos...& they're way more comfortable than any puppy dog ears but maybe not so cute...

Lucky 7 said...

I thought the party was derailed by the man crushed to death at Walmart in Long Island.


A

Anonymous said...

anon1st!
2X super record

Anonymous said...

Don't flame Campy for bad math skills (1973+ 21 years later=2008) when your own math skills are lacking: (Ultegra SL, $20 more expensive than Ultegra 109.99+$20=124.99?!?)

Ummm, should I mention that those other derailleurs AREN'T Italian? That's worth at least $200.

Also, do you know when they are coming out with Super Record Triple?

innerlight said...

Notice that the Super Record info reminds us that Campy is "Consistent with OUT mission. I thought so.

Also, I think that limo is giong to be the new Rock Racing follow vehicle. I can't wait to see the new kit.


meh.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Snob, welcome back. We snobstalkers read each post for clues as to your true identity. Are you trying to let us know that you are in the "later stages of syphilis," and that you have been in the hospital all week, and not at ypur bubbies in Ft. Lauderdale?

As for the Ergo shifters, if you think that they are ugly in the picture, wait til you see them on a bike. They are truly horrid in 3D.

Finally, Major Taylor was also "completely black," and he was one of the fastest on a bike EVER! Can I buy one of the cheaper derailleurs and spray-paint it "completely black?"

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna put those super record levers on a brakeless fixie. Just hang em off a set of Nitto NJS track drops. Maybe put those drops on a p-far and rock a hed3 on the rear wheel. Yeah my p-far is gonna rock 700c rear wheel so the front will most like be a good 70+ inch.

rest of u is poseurs

Anonymous said...

as long as you're complaining about expensive components, check this out...http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/939404740.html

Anonymous said...

Yeah, save 0,7 Watts with the ceramic bearings. I'll be about 0,07 seconds faster on the mile, won't I?

Anonymous said...

If you want to remove weight, lose body parts, not bike parts.

mary poppins said...

I had no idea new bike parts were so expensive. hurra for another week of bsnyc

Anonymous said...

25g....that's not quite an oz, right...guess I'm good then.

Oh, and Urchin, you have a fan now

jimmy said...

21yrs is how long I've had to wait for some new SR bits, as they were last made in '87

leroy said...

Welcome back BSNYC!

I know many readers will view the sign in the Bronx pawn shop and think, "well that offer of a free condom would seal just about any deal involving the sale of precious metals for me provided, of course, I could be assured of a proper sized model."

But readers, please remember that while reasonable minds may differ on whether sizing is important, no one should consider the offer unless one is assured that the condom is in its original packaging.

Ride safe, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Ric Ocasek fly! Arghhhhh!

Critical Ass said...

If the premium for Campy over SRAM is $421 per 16 grams, then it is $746 an ounce. More than twice the going rate for kind bud in the Denver area. So I ride a 9-speed 105 group.

Anonymous said...

hepular- SRAM and Campy use a 1:1 ratio of cable pull to der. movement. Shimano uses 1:2, so it is not compatible with Campy or SRAM. This is why one cannot use SRAM shifters on a Shimano drivetrain on either mountain or road.

Did anyone else notice that the Campy site actually reads "Consistent with out mission" instead of "Consistent with our mission"? Pretty bad typo.

SRAM Red der. actually comes with ceramic bearing pulleys.

Anonymous said...

If you want to remove weight, lose body parts, not bike parts.

streepo said...

DOGS EARS

slappy said...

Welcome back!! Now I have something to look forward too all week.

Did you take art lessons in your time off? Those are some great freehand drawings.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:57pm,

Oops! To be honest, the entire post stretched my math "skills" way beyond their limits.

--BSNYC

red neckerson said...

when i sees someone using a commer when they was supposed to use a period i know they is a foriner. period.

Bandobras said...

I have to admit that I'm non plussed by the lack of pariel but i'm going to try to adapt to the situation.

Commiecanuk said...

It's good to learn some things from this blog. First, I learned that the Super Record is sans pareil, and given that it's 16g lighter, we can conclude that pareil weighs 16g.

THIS is why Lance won't win the TDF this year..they'll all be climbing up and up running through the gears, 7,8,9,10...and then..and then..NOTHING, but the other teams, they'll have 11, and 16g less. Factor in the massive amounts of drag from the steel deraileur pulley bearing, and it's like pedaling uphill in a swimming pool full of hummous. Foul! I cry, Foul!

From what I understand of road racing, that will make a HUGE difference that no amount of doping can overcome.

But you underestimate the sophistication of the people Snob. On black friday, the crowds at the long island Walmart were trampling towards the deeply discounted Super Record Gruppos, ironically located in aisle 10, at the low low price of $3289.99, marked down from $3299.99.

non plus ultra
sans pareil
avec beaucoup de merde


Pro tip: avoid the Super Record, buy the SRAM RED, and with the money saved you can by a half season of HGH and CERA.

frilly said...

Welcome back Snobby--hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. You were missed.

Is anybody signing up for Team Fatty? I am signing up for philly. So, it'll be Frilly in Philly!

And for my 'friends' out there, be forewarned as I will be asking (hounding) for $. I want that Masi.

Commiecanuk said...

is the opposite of non-plussed gobsmacked?

Rantwick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
db said...

Wow. Nice return, Snob.

New rule: Nothing on a bike can be uglier than Ric Ocasek.

Anonymous said...

The Campy website reads like they just dumped the Italian version into a web translator to get the English version.

Phelim Burgess said...

...yeah but these go to 11
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d54UU-fPIsY

Jim said...

I wish to make it perfectly clear that I do not approve of people rocking the new Campy Super Record gruppo on their bikes.

I suppose it's okay, however, if they chose to run the new Gruppo.

Cameron said...

Funny ass post!

Now will that 11 speed stuff fit 120mm rear spacing?

brent said...

Dang. If you need a snobattical to write that well...then take one every week.

erik k said...

all hail Loder

Rantwick said...

Welcome back snob. Great post.

However, those morphos shifters are actually Giger-inspired new-age rock'em sock'em robots

you might think... said...

I'm crazy. But who needs a derailleur these days, anyway? I shift gears by unbolting flipping around my rear wheel. Then I just take a link out or add a link depending on the gear, and I am ready to roll!

Johnny Sprocket said...

"...and I also feel that lugging ten extra pounds with you on a race bike is indeed a felony."

If only! That'd be a fitting penalty for all those fat guys on Cervello's I see on the week end.

Andy Pandy said...

Chances are if the dope was any good you would not have bother to cross the road , with or without the yellow chicken or the egg , and stop and stare at the pretty coloured lights and walking man…. And eat cookies

SkidMark said...

Okay, Snob, I'm guilty as charged - I've used BOTH statements:
1)dif in weight between those two components is the same as a mouthful of water...
2)if you want to remove weight, lose it from your body

I feel better...now back to my marijuana

Anquetil's Mother said...

I wonder smoothly the ceramic jockey wheels will spin once they are covered in heavy road grime....

I say, if you want to shave grams, clean and lube your bike.

AMRcyclist said...

BSNYC,

Good come back post. Saddly, it looks like you spent your recess learning how to draw little faces.

That limo, it should be sent to a country in the developing world to be used as mobile health clinic. I can't think of any other reason for its existance.

"Ugly" must be the new thing, check the new D-A, it looks cheap too... Then again, who needs it?

As Critical Ass, we should go back to 9 speed.

AMR

Anonymous said...

I think I'll grab a super record 11 group and use 11 16tooth cogs in the cassette.

Russ said...

Is it bad that I'm sort of disappointed that limo wasn't covered in faux Burberry plaid?

kale said...

I'm wrong again...
I thought the goal was to increase the weight of your bike, get stoned and drunk, and use only Forté brand components.

Besides, everyone knows Campagnolo is for CX spectators, and that pro racers are too doped up on foofy espresso drinks to even know what team they're on.

But really? 500 bux ain't bad for something you'll ride with 20 times a year around the Park. Nobody wants to hear that screeching sound those Oriental components make when you're already nonplussed by the dearth of horse refuse. Indeed!

Anonymous said...

BRILLIANT!

Der Blaue Reiter said...

My friend figured out a way to make new record gear look appealing!

Though in his defense the picture's free.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't mention the $1000.00 crankset. Four figures for a crank! I hope for these prices they at least come with dutch tulip bulbs...

MarvinK said...

SRAM Red actually already COMES with ceramic bearings in the derailleur and bb. It looks much nicer than the Campy stuff, too! :D

libertyonbikes! said...

FRILLY! -Philly is ON! (on in about 8 months though).

ERIK- what's not up with you and SANJOSE? You going east?

all you podium racers need to get on & support.....

moonshiner said...

you all got's problems with the weight, i'll give ya something to take it off, how about a three day meth binge... bouts the same price as a derailleur

Anonymous said...

maybe the pennyfarthing got sold to this porn outfit for use in their swinger orgy.

This video is NSFW porn, but it's marginally bike related...

http://www.pornhost.com/9504972167/

Guttersnipe said...

Sorry Blaue Reiter, your handle, and that image, suggest comfortable familiarity with early 20th Century art, but perhaps not with shifty bits. I am afraid your friend has not made Super Record look appealing. That is a Record 10 derailleur circa 2003 to 2007 - it is not completely black at all.

Dangleberry said...

Epic fail Campy. Mine is not only twice as expensive, but actually branded "Lightweight" too. I win. I really do.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am the only one who is still lusting after campy 11 spd. By next summer price will come down and price of the full groupo is not so much more than sram red.
BSNYC - you didn't mention the ability to have an 18 tooth cog which I believe was requested by the pro's.

Anonymous said...

I own the new Super Record groupset. It's better than the previous groupset. Notably! I owned the last Super Record from the 80's. That was a great groupset too. Laugh all you want some guys like me actually ride and can appreciate the precision and could care less about the price.

Der Blaue Reiter said...

Guttersnipe:
Doh! I just got sonned. I'll make sure he upgrades for next season. :)

Anonymous said...

FREE HAND

Anonymous said...

Jackass meets a penny farthing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3ti6ZyLnuw

"why would anyone ride this shit"

"why wouldn't they make 2 wheels the same size?"

LOL. pretty good points

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that Campy's math is just fine.

Super Record was introduced in 1973.... but was discontinued some time later(1987).

It's been re-introduced 21 years later... In 2008!


Come on Snobby, you're better then that.

Anonymous said...

"...yeah but these go to 11"

And it's none more black.

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