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New Parts Better, Old Parts Not Dead Yet

Published September 8, 2009

Another one of my dubious (yet curiously seductive) theories (mail me for a complete list of all 47):
People who work in the industry, who know the MOST about bike gear, are the LEAST impressed with the techno-progress we've made over the decades.
This hit home again when I was working retail this summer. Customers who haven't bike-shopped in a decade are absolutely blown away by the variety of bikes that our industry offers now. 
They're dazzled by convenience and comfort features like gear indicators, adjustable stems, more cushy saddles, suspension seatposts, the list goes on.
Those of us who live and breathe tech specs are less moved. For one thing, we've seen a gradual evolution model year by model year, whereas consumers see a quantum leap because they pay less attention to the incremental improvements.
Secondly, how thrilled is the average shop person by gear indicators or adjustable stems? Not on my bike, thank you very much. Don't need it, adds weight, don't want it.
And now to the ACTUAL TOPIC of this blog-servation: My pal Dave Whittingham emailed me last week with a picture of a mid-'70s Maillard freewheel he was trying to remove from a Peugeot wheel. He's looking for a freewheel puller for same. His comment: "You may be the only person in Boulder who has one."
Dave's made this discovery before, the last time he needed a crank puller for a Stronglight 99 crankset and scoured the shops before calling me. The bottom drawer of my toolbox contains many widgets that are unrecognizable to a modern mechanic. 
I learned long ago: Throw away old parts (or sell them at VeloSwap), but NEVER throw away a tool. The day you do, you'll find a need for it the following day.
Anyway, back to the topic. How much things have improved. Many of you young whippersnappers have never had the delightful experience of removing a freewheel to adjust a cup-and-cone bearing or replace a broken spoke:
To get the freewheel remover inside the splines of the freewheel, you need to remove the outside axle locknut and spacers (this Maillard cogset being a welcome exception). And give that hub axle a spin, it's probably bent because an inch of it hangs outside the bearings, unsupported.
Anyway, before I start sounding like a "walked through the snow to school, three miles, uphill both ways," irritating old geezer:
If you ever had to work on antiquated crap like this, you'd have a much better appreciation of the way things are now. Another example: My Dura-Ace wheels, 2003 vintage, have over 20,000 miles on them, and they've never needed to be trued.
So celebrate our progress, you may be too close to it to notice. I do wish, though, that shops would hire grey-haired mechanics with tool-boxes full of outmoded pullers and spanners so the Junk of Old could still be kept rolling!

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