A few days ago I finally mounted up some Shimano Dura Ace ten-speed STI to my everyday road bike, the last of my three road bikes to get the DA-10. Of course, the rest of the components on that bike are still nine-speed, and somewhat beat-down at that. But these STI are so sweet and precise. Yeah, KA-CHUNK into gear, solid like a hammer to a firing pin. I freaking love Dura Ace.
You don’t have to look far to find a flag-waving Campagnolo fan, going on and on about Italian flare and finish BLAH BLAH BLAH Tour de France BLAH BLAH Nuevo Record BLAH BLAH but DA just works soooo well. You can tell me that you like the style of Campagnolo, or the ergonomics of it are better for you. I could respect that.
But I am so over listening to people yammer on about how Campy is just so better than that Japanese stuff. Oh, yeah, before you tell me all about how you can rebuild an Ergopower shifterSTOP…I don’t care. If I have to pay to replace my Dura Ace STI after the 3 year warranty expires (hello, how long is a Campy warranty?) I will still feel satisfied. And you want to tell me how Campy Record is heirloom quality and you’ll be riding it 20 years from now you are deluding yourself, Grandpa. This ain’t 1977. None of this new stuff, Campy, Shimano, otherwise, is gonna last. I’m not saying that just about bike components. You’re reading this on the internet now, right? Do you for one moment think you’ll be using that computer 10 years from now?
Oh, but I have a dirty secret. (in a small voice) I used to be a Campy tifosi (that means fan in Italian, for you lay people out there). Yes, it’s true! When I first started cycling, I had an Italian bike with Italian Campagnolo components, Italian saddle, and Italian bar/stem. My girlfriend was even Italian (ok, so she was half-Rumanian and all legal-but that’s another story). This is back in the days of eight-speed drivetrains, when downtube shifters were still the standard on many bikes. I was so proud of my bike, but then one day nine-speed appeared on the market like an apple tree in the garden of Eden. I wanted it everyone wanted it, but then I found out that I would have to replace rear hub (I had two sets of wheels), cassettes, chain, and half the parts out of my shifter. Crap! How could this be? I thought Campy parts were eternally rebuildable and upgrade-able. My God, why have you forsaken me?
Ah, but then there was the new ‘97 Dura Ace so much sleeker, shinier, and sexier than the old eight-speed.yesssss, and lighter too. Oh yeah, and the cassettes fit on the same hubs as the old stuff. Mmmm yeah, I could get a cheap set of training wheels anywhere. Parts available at just about any local bike shop. And check out that crank! Freakin’ sweet! You know it’s the stiffest one out there! Yes, YES, YES, I gotta have it, baby! RIGHT THERE, THAT’S THE SPOT. AHHHHHHHHH!
So boys and girls, that’s the story of how I came to have nine-speed Dura Ace on all my bikes. Then eventually Dura Ace 7800, the new ten-speed components, arrived on the market, and just like Rod Stewart I had to have the latest model.
Actually, my favorite Dura Ace is the track gruppo, cause I’m kinky like that.
I love Japanese bicycle products. My current obsession is the high-flange Dura Ace track hubset, the 7600-series. But there’s some crazy stuff to be found in Japan. Like this bicycle from a company called “Spank”. I’ve always wanted a “Spank bike”.
A friend of mine bought a Japanese-made truing stand, and it included a white card of plastic to sit below the guide to make the gap ‘tween the guide and rim more visible. The manual stated that it was “for to use in the dark situation”. For years we’ve laughed about the sinister “dark situation’, imagining that it must be some sort demonic curse, like being chased by Jesuit ninjas or something even worse…
“Keirin”. First syllable should rhyme with the English word “Say”. Second syllable is half the duration of the first and rhymes with the word “Keen”, but the “r” is pronounced with the tongue right behind the front teeth, making it a blend of the the “r” in “reed” and the “l” in “lick”.
This is Japanese for CARNAGE!!!
This is a keirin race in Japan (the city of Ito, I think). What is keirin racing? A really short explanation which doesn’t do it any justice is to say that is a 2km race on a velodrome where nine bike racers jockey for position behind a pace rider until the last 1-1/2 laps, and then everyone goes REALLY fast. Keirin is a big money betting sport in Japan, like horse or dog racing. I’ve been to keirin races in Japan, and I tell you that it is so unlike anything you have ever seen.