there's a possibility i may be repeating some of the following anecdote less accurately than ought to be the case; many stories that started out quite innocently behave contrary to that rolling stone, and gather more moss than is strictly admissable. this relates mostly to two distinctly notable additions to the bicycle that the great tullio campagnolo would likely scarce understand.
racing in november 1927 through the superbly named croce d'aune pass in italy, in the days when derailleurs were barely a sparkle in someone's eye, a set of ten numb fingers prompted one of those eureka moments in the snow. bicycles in those days were possessed of flip-flop hubs on the rear wheels, allowing the rider to leap off and swap the wheel round to access either a smaller or larger fixed rear sprocket. tullio's frozen fingers prevented him carrying out this relatively simple task, bringing him to invent a quick release mechanism that has developed across the years into something few of us would survive without.
the anecdote that has almost put paid to the efficacy of campagnolo's invention concerns an american teenager who, legend has it, attempted to bunny-hop a kerb without having properly closed the front quick-release mechanism. when the front wheel dropped out the fork, the hapless fellow suffered an uncomfortable level of injury. as often seems the case in north america, litigation was hiding just around the corner and either he or his parents took the cycle manufacturer to court for failing to advise that the q/r ought to be closed in the proper manner.
as you may imagine for yourselves, the law was apparently on the side of the errant youth, awarding substantial financial damages and instigating not just a little decal on the top tube advising that the cycling newbie ought to acquaint him/herself with the correct q/r closing procedure, but something far more insidious; lawyers' tabs. these consist of two small extensions to the front fork dropout that retains the wheel even if the q/r is left wide open. these innocuous little bits of alloy have effectively rendered tullio's excellent invention all but worthless on the front wheel, for now it's necessary to substantially loosen the skewer nut in order to remove the front wheel.
that's sort of the bit that didn't quite endear me not only to the apocryphal american teenager, but the pair of aerozine skewers currently gracing the mavic wheelset on my colnago c40. this may seem a tad harsh, particularly when these skewers share the same iniquity proffered by several other q/r devices on the market. the nut fitted to the opposite end from the lever is very small, presumably to lighten the load, so to speak, but it is also quite harshly knurled. prior to the instigation of those lawyers' tabs, screwing these up tight would only hurt thumb and forefinger on a solitary occasion, but now that this nut has to be loosened and tightened on each and every front wheel removal, i long for a skewer nut that is kinder to my fingers.
bizarrely, the lever end of the skewers exhibits exactly the opposite sensation, being pencil thin, smooth and impressively light in action. once correctly in place, the skewers carry out their job with innocuous ease. even allowing for their minimalist design, no matter the effort placed in their path when climbing, the rear wheel did not once slide to the left and meet with the chainstay. i'm not a weight weenie, so the few grams that these have undoubtedly saved over the manufacturer's original skewers is of no real nevermind to me. that is not to say others will think likewise.
however, on a bicycle with colnago's art decor flashes of blue, a similarly coloured pair of wheel skewers is a particularly pleasant addition to the overall look, and their titaniumness of axle is silently encouraging in both strength and corrosion resistance. however, should your velocipede be of a different hue, the skewers are also available in silver, orange, pink, black, green, gold and red. if the guys at aerozine are ever of a mind to scrabble about for suggestions as to improvements, might i respectfully suggest they take a leaf from tullio's book and do something smooth and ergonomic with the nuts.
aerozine skewers are available in the above mentioned colours at a cost of £29.99 per pair. similarly constituted mountain bike sized skewers are available in the same colours and at the same price.
sunday 24 november 2013