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Old 03-21-18, 05:17 AM
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Two reference points in the house here. My wife's bikes. Her '73 Colnago was built at 120mm. That was as advanced a bike as you were likely to see in 1973. I said likely, there were 126 bikes already being made. Half the frames in her shipment of Colnagos were spread to 126 before they left the shop. Her '75 RRB custom was built to 126. That was automatic in 1975. Building a 1975 custom to 120 would be something like building a 2018 custom for 7 speed cassette.

The axle breakage/spoke breakage routine only existed for Shimano marketing. Yes, axles broke and 126 axles were marginally more likely to break. It was never a big deal. The axle cracks and remains in position, it has nowhere to go. You don't even know it until you have the wheel out. Most riders never broke an axle for the simple reason they never rode their bike enough. Those who rode constantly expected to work on their bike regularly and axle replacement is simple work on a cup and cone. There were always shortages of Campy, which usually meant shortage at prices you wanted to pay, but there was never a time when service parts were not totally available. Shimano eats dead bears at supplying service parts and was even worse in 70s and 80s. Campy always always had service parts. Raleigh and Schwinn always had service parts to send to the most bicycle-backward corner of the country.

The other point is riders were a lot lighter in 70s. Back then I was 6'1" and 160#. I was always the big rider in any group. 200 pounds just did not exist for young men. Guys who played football or rugby were probably under 200#. Mamils did not exist. All parts on a bike were under a lot less stress than they are now,
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