Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Where Do The Old Components Go?

NOS 6 speed Shimano 600 Freewheel
One of the most baffling things to my mind is how perfectly decent designs made for cycling go by the wayside, never to be manufactured again. Instead, an inferior design is manufactured as a replacement part and what is worse, most of the time the replacement parts are more than just inferior. Many times the replacement parts really are bad parts. It is such a shame.

Take for instance the following: A customer brought in an old freewheel he wanted replaced on a perfectly good 27" wheel with a Wolber rim, (decent dual wall extrusion, eyeletted, and anodized), and Sun Tour hub. He produced an old Shimano box and inside was a NOS Shimano 600 freewheel. Now I have seen my fair share of Regina and Sun Tour 6 speed free wheels, but never one like this Shimano unit.

It spun so freely, with a quiet snicking of the free hub pawls that would make any mechanic smile. The finish was jewel-like, and the cogs featured beveled teeth which were slightly canted for better shifting. Compared to a new replacement 6 speed freewheel, there is no way I could honestly say the replacement is anywhere in the same ballpark in terms of quality. So, why can't we just keep making that Shimano 600 freewheel forever? Wouldn't that be nice? Couldn't that be done at a reasonable price?

Then there are things like the original 110BCD Shimano XTR square taper interface crank. Those were some of the most beautiful, functional cranks ever made. Hey- they still make decent cartridge bottom brackets, so at least we have that part! But that crank was so well made and so versatile, it just seems a bit odd that it isn't still made yet. I mean.....why not? Given the option to buy that crank or a.....I don't know,  a Velo Orange crank, just to pull something out of thin air..... Well, I know which one I'd rather get for an old bike, or heck.....a new gravel grinder!

While it is true that some real clunker parts were made in the past as well, it just seems a waste to have had something that was so perfectly functional and beautifully made go by the wayside when we really could still use those same parts today.


coastkid said...

Old 1980s Shimano stuff seems to last forever too!,
We get 600 stuff here seconhand and still fwtch good money,

Some classic stuff continues to be made-Square taper BB by Phil Wood and Middleburn cranks are one of the few brilliant designs that still work!

MG said...

Amen Brother... Both of those Shimano parts you reference are classics, perhaps never to be seen (or perhaps equalled) again. Any part in that original M900 XTR grouppo was an absolute keeper. I still have one of those cassettes (in the 12-32 version) on my Bontrager!

bicycletorch said...

I was just talking about wishing for high quality freewheels. When IRD came out with their freewheels I tried one out right away and it didn't even come close to the old ones. Good ol freewheels are underrated.

Travel Gravel said...

Behold the slotted pie plate.