Sunday, February 12, 2012

Casting out Shimano

Okay, I have nothing against Shimano. They have been the driving force in bicycle components for the last 30 years and much of the time Campagnolo has been playing catch-up. But even as Campagnolo is trying to catch up, they make the most functionally beautiful components ever seen. Back in October of 2011, I replaced the shifters (combined with brake levers) on my 1999 Schwinn Peleton. I replaced the Shimano 9 speed shifters with Campagnolo 10 speed shifters, and while the two do not usually play well together, but there was a way make the Campy shifters work with a Shimano 9 speed drivetrain. Later I tried to up the ante and use a mixed drivetrain and make a 10 speed system work using a Campagnolo rear derailleur and a conversion cassette and a ShiftMate adapter. While all these measured worked, eventually I decided that the most elegant solution was to simply convert the bicycle from Shimano components to Campagnolo.

I had already switched the shifters and crankset with Campy Daytona gruppo parts (this group was later renamed Centaur). I decided to stay with the Daytona/Centaur group, however when a set of Athena differential skeletal calipers became available I jumped on them. Campy came up with the idea of differental brakes, where the front is dual; pivot and the rear a less powerful single pivot, as the rear brake does less to stop the bike than the front. To be honest, it probably doesn't amount to a whole lot one way or the other, but I just liked the idea and they are one pretty brake. I then added the front and rear Centaur derailleurs.

In order to make this all work, I would need a Campagnolo wheelset and 10 speed cassette. The cassette (Centaur 13-26 was a birthday present and I found a Daytona/ Mavic wheelset on ebay. If the truth be known I hadn't really planned to lay out the cash for the wheelset quite yet, but it was exactly what I was looking for and less than I had intended on paying. Since Campagnolo has stopped including hubs in their gruppos, it was either find a wheelset like this or buy a Campy brand wheelset; fortunately I was able to do the former.

Once this was done all that was necessary were 2 small parts to completely eradicate Shimano components from the bike (sans the peddles); if your curious the stem and seatpost are Nitto. The first were the cable adjusters and the last was the cable guide. Once this was done, the bike was a finally a campy bike. I plan however on keeping the ShiftMate and 10 speed Miche/ Shimano cassette in case I need a rear wheel on the road. Even as Campy seems to be having a resurgence since their 11 speed systems hit the market, actually finding parts is his and miss; mainly miss. So here is the bike complete with a butchered Brooks saddle (the term "butchered" is not a judgement of the quality of the modification, it simply pertains to a Brooks saddle where some of the leather has been cut off to make a more sleek saddle).