Inside the Campagnolo Delta Brake

Campagnoo Delta brake overhaul 13

The legendary Campagnolo Delta brake was introduced in the mid-1980s on Campagnolo’s two top-tier gruppos, Record and Croce d’Aune. The Delta’s monolithic aluminium faceplate is iconic, one of the most recognizable components in the last 40 years. But not many people actually know what lies behind. I recently received a bike scheduled for a “full overhaul”. In my shop’s dialect, that means that if it can be disassembled and cleaned, it will be. Every bearing, every bolt. I saved those Delta calipers for last. You can follow the progress in the photos. Once I got to the c-clips holding the linkage arms together, it was definitely down the rabbit hole.

There were actually 5-6 variations on the design. The first production versions were recalled due to a flaw that could cause the brake to fail outright (and you thought that it could only happen to SRAM and hydraulic brakes?). The one I worked on was a late Record version with the improved internal fittings and modified mechanical advantage. It was noted as being a dependable item once properly adjusted. No one actually claims that Delta brakes are powerful, but easy to modulate and progressive are phrases frequently applied.

Campagnoo Delta brake overhaul 01

Once removed from the bike, you’ll note that the mounting bolt slides vertically in the caliper. Thus even though the distance to the rim can be adjust by sliding the pads in the lower arms of the caliper, the whole caliper can be raised or lowered to tune the tyre clearance under the caliper. Ideally, you’d want the caliper to sit somewhat low to favour the mechanical leverage of the arms, but in this particular case I found that the caliper had been positioned too low. The underside of the caliper casing bore scraps from the tyre. Also at the backside of the caliper casing, you can see a pair of nuts that fix the arms main pivots. Those will need loosening before you can remove the pivot bolts, but be careful because the wrench flats are quite shallow. It would be easy to slip a wrench and mar the nut. Don’t loose the thin knurled washers.

Campagnoo Delta brake overhaul 02

The Multi-Tool Paradox

MV Tool Kit

I believe that a person cannot know himself without first understanding his limitations. I’m not good at pure mathematics, and as a consequence I have only a tenuous grasp of physics properties such as wave behaviour or quantum mechanics (I’m better at Newtonian physics, metallurgy, and manufacturing processes). My omelets are mediocre (but cheese solves many problems). I’m rubbish at giving or following driving directions. I am however, better than most people at bike mechanics. And when I say better than most people, that’s me being modest. So when I talk about how useful a bike tool is, rest assured that there is a certain weight behind my statements. And something that I can state is that the more features a tool has, the less useful it becomes. I call it the Multi-tool Paradox. In short, as a tool is heaped with more and more features, it quickly becomes so ungainly that it becomes inefficient to use for any purpose. This phenomenon is something that the typical cyclist often doesn’t see.

Don’t Let Facts Get in the Way of the Media


“The 112mph BICYCLE: Bike shop owner spends £5,000 building a vehicle that has earned him a place in the record books”

This is a headline from the website of Daily Mail (UK). Granted, this is not a cycling publication, but it’s sooooooo irritating to me to see such a lackadaisical approach to simple, expository writing. I mean, a few minutes on google would have cleared up a lot of the errors.

Guy Martin is a British motorcycle racer who has had moderate success, even several podium appearances at the Isle of Mann TT, but he is perhaps better known as personality than as a champion sportsman. Recently he has been featured in Channel 4’s series Speed. The Daily Mail features Martin’s attempt at a motorpaced speed record. Beyond that, the tabloid newspaper’s writers manage to bullocks up every other pertinent fact.

Jason Rourke is the bike shop owner named, and the business includes a framebuilding operation. Rourke built the bike in “ten days”. That’s not exactly a big deal if you’re talking about fabrication; it would depend on whether or not that included design time. However, that five thousand quid price on the bicycle is rather unimpressive. I can spend that pretty easily with just 10min on the Competitive Cyclist website and have it delivered blue label within three days. Big deal. But that is just a matter of perspective. That and I’m not actually sure how Rourke, shop owner/framebuilder, actually earned a place in a record books, being that he didn’t actually ride the bike. But the rest of the article is actually wrong.

Guy Martin rode 112.94mph, but that was no “world record”. It couldn’t actually even be called a “world record attempt”. Frenchman José Meiffret rode 127mph behind a modified Mercedez….FIFTY YEARS AGO. In 1985 American John Howard (Olympic cyclist, 4x US road champion, 1x Kona Ironman Champion, 2nd place inaugural RAAM) rode 152mph motor-paced across the salt flats of Bonnevile, Utah. But the current absolute record belongs to Dutch professional Fred Rompelberg, who in 1995 motor-paced to a speed of 167mph. Daily Mail, be assured that Martin and his support staff would have known that they wouldn’t be setting a world record.

I mean, 113mph is scary fast for those of us with average size testicles, but that doesn’t pass as world class in this century. Later in the article it is stated “Mr Martin broke the previous record set by Dutch cyclist Sebastiaan Bowier who reached 83.13mph (133.78 km/h) on a pushbike in September this year.” Bowier set a WORLD RECORD for human-powered vehicles in a fully-faired recumbent bicycle, unpaced. That differs from motor-paced absolute records in that in the latter uses a motorized vehicle speeding in front to shelter the cyclist from air drag. Furthermore, motor-paced absolute speed records allow the rider to be towed by the motor vehicle till almost up to speed. So Martin’s British record has nothing to do with Bowier’s record at all.

I despise television for the most part (too many stupid people, too many adverts, too many stupid people in adverts), so I had to research a little to figure out who Guy Martin is. The message boards abound with comments saying that Martin’s personality is something that “the British nation could stand to have more of” and that he is great on television because he is so “un-telly”. Is it me, or does no one else notice the innate self-contradiction of that latter comment? You do know that reality television is an oxymoron in practice?…. like a sociological corollary to Heisenburg’s uncertainty principle.

I’m just irritated because some git wrote an article about speed records and got all the facts wrong. THEY’RE FACTS. THEY’VE BEEN RECORDED. YOU JUST HAVE TO LOOK THEM UP. WHY DO YOU THINK THEY CALL THEM “RECORDS”? That and the people who actually hold the world records and their support staff seem to have put a lot more effort into their accomplishments.

FYI, Bowier beat the previous HPV record by a scant 0.37mph (specifically flying 200M time trial), set by Canadian cyclist Sam Whittingham of BC. Whittingham, who still holds several other cycling speed records, is also the founder, designer, and framebuilder of Naked Bicycles. Thus Sam Whittingham is a bike shop owner who has actually earned a place in the record books.

PS. Wikipedia had it wrong too…..I corrected them.

SXSW 14: In the Space Where the Bike and Tech Meet


We’re in the Create tent during SXSW Interactive

We’re back in Austin during SXSW in the space where the bike and tech meet with rides, talks, and Nokia mobile photography. While we’re still finalizing the schedule, here’s what the weekend will look like:

A focus this year for SXSW is on Sports and Create where we’re hanging out with wearable tech, health, fitness, and wellness.

SXS Sports

Taking part in SXSports Too

Of course, our annual ride is happening too with our friends from Tern. That looks like this


What them MoSos look like

A PNW Roadie Has Fenders

Pacific Northwest roadies know that winter training bike in this How To Be A Road Biker video wasn’t properly fendered at all AND no mention of Tuesday Worlds or Sanctioned Racing v. NON. Riding in the rain here cleanses your soul and destroys your drivetrain, that’s why we have bikes with fenders, like this and this

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