Saturday, January 20, 2018

Minus Ten Review- 3

Nothing is new: A Campy Record OR cassette crankset.
Ten years ago on the blog I was yakking about 29"er stuff, as usual. One of the topics that came up was gearing. See, when 29"ers came around, everything was focused on 26" wheels. That meant that the gearing, optimized for almost two decades for that wheel size, was too high for 29"ers. The gearing ratios were about 10% off. So a typical early oo's 26"er might have a low gear set up at 22T X 32T. That wasn't low enough for many on 29"ers. Interestingly, the focus back then was not on ultra-range cassettes, as it is now, but on lowering the range of triple crank sets.

Triple ring crank sets, you remember those, right? Well, the idea was to go to a 20T/30T/42T triple set up with an 11-34T cassette. That prompted some ideas from myself back then and a memory. First off- did you know that Campagnolo once made off road groups? They did, and despite their clunky, funky beginnings, toward the end of their run they actually had some brilliant ideas. Their cantilever brakes were better than many on the market, and they had a cassette style crank that would influence Shimano and later on, SRAM. Not to mention the after market companies.

The Campy Record OR crank set is probably one of the rarest "unicorn" components in mtb history. I've never seen one, nor have I ever heard about anyone having a set. But be that as it may, the Record OR crank predated the "spiderless cranks" of the early 00's which Shimano made and the later ones by SRAM and all the aftermarket companies. The Campy crank had only a big ring bolted in the typical manner to a hidden arm type, five arm crankset, not unlike the road version of the time. However; the inner two rings did not bolt to the crank spider, nor to the big ring. These two rings, the middle and the granny, were held on to the crank by a lock ring, the rings having a splined interface, not unlike a cassette cog. Campy claimed gearing could quickly be customized for different XC courses simply by swapping "cassette" crank rings.

Unfortunately, the next year Campy pulled out of the off road marketplace, so we'll never know if their ideas were really worthy. However; Shimano didn't wait long to take this idea and tweak it. In the very late 90's, XTR came out with a big ring which the other two rings mounted to. The whole assembly then was held on by a lock ring arrangement, not unlike the Campy design, to the driveside crank arm. This was trickled down to the other levels and I actually have a version which is the Deore, square taper crank take on that design. Most of those were the Octalink design interface.

Trans Iowa v4 Recon: 10 below zero craziness!
I also gave a brief report on recon for Trans Iowa v4. Unfortunately a huge Winter storm came only days before our planned trip and we couldn't see a whole lot of the course. It was -12°F below and all I really recall from that recon was seeing some young Amish/Mennonite children playing in the snow with their bonnets and hats on, all bundled up against the cold weather.

That Winter storm really put a kink in our plans but it portended an even wetter Spring. With the Winter run-off combined with copious amounts of Spring rains, we saw a lot of flooding pre-Trans Iowa. This also ended up being the last Trans Iowa out of Decorah, and those wet days were another reason for the change in venue, although for a reason one might not expect. In fact, it didn't have a thing to do with Trans Iowa other than I was connected to that. I'll leave it at that for now as that tale will figure into a Minus Ten Review this Summer.

Anyway, we ended up doing another big recon in the Spring in my wife's SUV. Then I had to go out a few times by myself doing recon of other sections of that course. There is another great story coming up concerning that while I was driving my "Dirty Blue Box". Who out there remembers that car?

1 comment:

Ari said...

The dirty blue box has probably rusted to a fine powder and is floating around some gravel road somewhere. Fine memories, thank you!