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Thread: gearing history

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    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    gearing history

    Where can I find a history on the history of development of gearing?

    Deraiulers where developed in the 30's (I think) and different systems where tried.

    In particular, I was wondering how long the 5 cogs freewheel lasted.

    If I'm right it was for a long time in comparrison to todays rush through 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 cogsets.

    Has the 6 - 10 cogs rush been in the last 15 years and did the 5 speed freewheel last about 25 years? Or, was the 5 cogset just another system that lasted in popularity about the same amount of time as any other system?

    If I remember right when I was reading The Yellow Jersey, there was a passage about a race in which there was a discription of shifting through the 5 cogs and that book took place in the 60's (or am I off there too?)
    Last edited by closetbiker; 02-14-04 at 04:10 PM.
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    The Red Lantern Rev.Chuck's Avatar
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    Look for "The Bicycle" by Pryor Dodge. It is a good complete history from velocipede to present day. May be out of print. I also have a book on the history of Sturmey Archer(can't remember the exact title, and it is at work) The internal epicyclic gear hubs predate der shifting. The book is a little dry, but still pretty interesting, lots of patent drawings and background of the people involved.
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    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev.Chuck
    I also have a book on the history of Sturmey Archer(can't remember the exact title, and it is at work) The internal epicyclic gear hubs predate der shifting. The book is a little dry, but still pretty interesting, lots of patent drawings and background of the people involved.
    Hey... that sounds just like my kind of book!
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    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Thanks for the book info. I'll try to find those.

    I remember the 4 cogs sets on the early derailuer bikes in the 30's but, do you think I'm on the right track with the 5 speed freewheel?

    I have books printed in the later 80's and early 70's that show just 5 speeds and as I mentioned, The Yellow Jesey was printed in the 60's.

    That system worked really well for 25 plus years and then, all of a sudden, BAM, new systems faster than it takes to wear out a cog!
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    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetbiker
    That system worked really well for 25 plus years and then, all of a sudden, BAM, new systems faster than it takes to wear out a cog!
    Yes... I think that was the idea... quite the marketting strategy the component manufacturers have isn't it?
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    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's kind of sad when you find replacement of a part of something (that is built to last a lifetime) will cost almost as much as an entire bike, rendering the well built bike useless.

    Woudn't we think it terrible when this would happen to other items? Throw away a stove perhaps beacause a heating element has to be replaced?
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    JRA...
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    Derailleurs are older than that, the 30s is when you start to see production models. Try these sources:

    Dancing Chain and Data Book. Both are supposed to be incredible, both are strangely out of print. I've paged through the Data Book and what I remember was very good.

    Vintage Bicycle Quarterlyhttp://www.mindspring.com/~heine/bik...ite/index.html.

    Awesome scholarly journal! A little OT but mandatory nonetheless.

    Tony Hadland:

    http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~hadland/

    Rob van der Plas publishing:

    http://www.cyclepublishing.com/

    I'm forgetting lots of others but these are all good.

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    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetbiker
    Thanks for the book info. I'll try to find those.

    I remember the 4 cogs sets on the early derailuer bikes in the 30's but, do you think I'm on the right track with the 5 speed freewheel?

    I have books printed in the later 80's and early 70's that show just 5 speeds and as I mentioned, The Yellow Jesey was printed in the 60's.

    That system worked really well for 25 plus years and then, all of a sudden, BAM, new systems faster than it takes to wear out a cog!
    I remember the 5's from the late 40s or early 50s and they weren't re[laced untill the late 70s or early 80s.

    Now that the marketing guys took over....

    Joe

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    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    I went up to by book shelf and pulled out Richards New Bicycle Book - revised 1987 and on the 5 vs. 6 or 7 cogsets he doesn't give too warm a review to 6 and 7 speed sets:

    6- and 7-speed freewheels (which give 12 and 14 speeds with double chainrings, 18 and 21 speeds with triple rings) are not uncommon on production bikes. Set up with close-ratio cogs they are great for competition, but are more trouble than gain when set up with a wide range of cogs for a town or touring bike. For one thing, gear ratios have a greater tendency to duplicate, negating the point of the exercise. For another, a narrow chain is required, which makes shifting more fiddly. To make room for the 7-speed model freewheel, and certain of the 6-speed model freewheels, the wheel must have more dish (off-set of the hub) and is therefore weaker - not the thing for bumpy urban streets or heavyweight touring. Finally, a 7 -speed block matched to double chainrings in actual practice gives 10 speeds at most and not 14. Why? Because even with a 5-speed block and double chainrings you should never run the big front chainring to big rear cog, or small front chainring to small rear cog- It causes the chain to cut across at too severe an angle, creating excessive wear, a tendency to rub the derailleur cages, and reduced efficiency. With a 7-speed block the problems are even worse. At most you can use only 5 of the 7 rear cogs on each front chainring, and it is better to limit the number to 4 - a rather anemic total of 8 speeds out of a possible 14. Throw in a couple of duplicated gears and you are down to 6 usable ratios - the minimum that even a poorly designed 5-speed block/double chainring combination will produce!

    Before I went to work today I email Sheldon Brown and asked when the 5's started to show up.

    At work (I work on aircraft at Vancouver International Airport) I found a European cycling magazine (in what language, I don't know) that had a feature on Jack Antiquile's bike from 1960. It had a 5 speed cogset.

    I got home from work and Sheldon responded:

    5 speeds came in in the late '50s. Before that there were 3- and
    4-speed freewheels.

    I also asked:

    >Is the reason
    >behind the multiple changes in gearing in the last few years just to sell
    >more product?

    and he said:
    In one sense, any manufacturing process or design is for the purpose
    of selling more product, but more gears were a genuine improvement,
    especially for folks who live in hilly regions.
    "My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything" -Peter Golkin
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