Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Hands that Held and Made Them


I have these old stem shifters

I have these forty year old stem shifters which I stripped off the Interex Rebel ten speed as part of the Flatland Commuter project. The parts of that old bike fall into several distinct categories: A) non-working, B) working but not going to be used ever by me, C) working and generally please me while using them, D) not quite sure. Category A included such things as the old cracked brake pads and tires. Category C includes the frame, fork, handlebars, brake calipers, and crankset. Category D includes the saddle, which is a stout Japanese-made steel affair, the Shimano Titlist derailleurs, the stout steel Japanse-made pedals that are more like bear traps, and the kickstand. Firmly in category B are these stem shifters.

Since these stem shifters still work, but I know I'm never going to use them, I have to ask myself, what the heck am I doing holding onto them? I hold onto parts which have value to me as potential replacements, fun projects, or future use, none of which apply to the category B items (or A for that matter, although I still have the salmon colored useless brake pads labelled "Weinmann Brev." attached to the currently non-used rear brake calipers, for old time's sake). 

I could swap them. That will probably be their ultimate fate. Perhaps someone will want them, even if I express my serious, grave concerns about stem shifters. Some ten speed resurrectionist may desperately need them. Heck, sold along with the quite acceptable Titlist derailleurs, they may even make someone happy. 

On the other hand, I can't seem to bring myself to just throw them away. They've made it this far, still working. I may change my mind some day, and move them to the C or D category. And when I pick up and hold them, clean them up a little, turn them over in the light, contemplate their finer aesthetic points as well as their clunky mechanical faults and advantages, I think about their fabrication 40 years ago, and wonder about the hands that held and made them. What mind and person was that? What did they think about? What was their life like? What did they feel? Questions for a long ride in the sunshine, on a hot summer day. On a fixie.

 

8 comments:

  1. They're cool because they're old.
    Bicycle history and all that.

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    1. The steel rims which came off this old bike also have some history to them, but also have several faults, which land them solidly in the B category. Part of me does want to put on tall white sox with bold red stripes, mount an AM radio on the handlebars, and go ride around with no helmet or lights, for old time's sake, but only a small part.

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  2. You know how I feel about stem shifters...a thing of simple beauty that has it's place on old bikes. I presume you can't get rid of them because of their style? They look pretty classic.

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    Replies
    1. From the aesthetic perspective I totally agree. I tried to capture that in the photo. But mechanically they have been surpassed by other designs. As shifters go, these are near the bottom of the functional evolution pile.

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  3. You can always donate them to rusty spoke in phoenix or bike saviours in tempe if you aren't going to use them. I go to those places to look for old parts every now and again and donate what I don't need. Someone could take them off the stem mount and they would probably work well as friction shifters on a downtube. :)

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    Replies
    1. Tanner, that's a great idea, certainly category B and possibly D should be handled that way.

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  4. bolt 'em to these [http://www.roadbikeaction.com/New-Products/content/122/1034/Jagwire-BarCon-Triathlon-Shifter-Mounts.html] and make 'em into rad barcons!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...which on my butterfly bars could be considered "thumbies", thus rounding out the Whole Picture.

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