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PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:04 pm 
Pumpy's Bear
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Fantastic stuff and great to see that Kelly is still 'the man' as his Eurosport commentary can somewhat taint the legend.

And those French guys recreating a stage from way BITD is beyond awesome - chapeau indeed.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:18 pm 
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Isn't there an annual race somewhere in France with vintage machines and the riders in vintage kit?

As for the fixed versus freewheel debate in pre war tours I've often wondered about the quote attributed to Desgrange in 1902, he apparently said "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!" But of course he would have said it in French. I know that fixed wheel fashion victims (sorry fans) like to trip out this quote as if it were gospel, but I'm not so sure he meant what the fixie crowd think he meant. Notice he speaks of "variable gears" in that context does "fixed gear" just mean "not-variable gear" rather than "fixed wheel"?

What was the terminology like back in 1902? The word freewheel is after all used as opposed to fixed wheel, not fixed gear. A fixed wheel is something has no freewheel, but is can have variable gears. However I suspect that Desgrange used the phrase "fixed gear" to mean what we would call single speed.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:34 pm 
Pumpy's Bear
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Hmm, I'm with Andrew and Paul above although freewheels had been around over 30 years when Desgrange made his anti gears statement.

Can anyone find the definitive version i.e. fixed wheel or ss?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:41 pm 
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Quote:
However I suspect that Desgrange used the phrase "fixed gear" to mean what we would call single speed.



Obviously Desgrange used a French phrase, apparently "pignon fixe", not "fixed gear".

From http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixeda.html

Quote:
I still feel that varable gears are only for people over forty-five.
Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer?
We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!
--Henri Desgrange, L'Équipe article of 1902


This paragraph has been repeated on so many websites that fixie-hipsters seem to think that Tour riders had to use fixed wheel before 1937. You can even get t-shirts printed with the quote, word for word. But has anyone actually look at where this quote (in English) came from and who translated it?

I agree with the previous replies, the freewheel would have been around at the introduction of the chain driven safety bicycles, if not before.

I've always thought that quote is talking about a single gear, ie a single gear ratio, not fixed wheel (fixed gear to the Americans).


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:47 pm 
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fiks wrote:
Quote:
However I suspect that Desgrange used the phrase "fixed gear" to mean what we would call single speed.



Obviously Desgrange used a French phrase, apparently "pignon fixe", not "fixed gear".



Er, yes, I did point out that he would have said it in French.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:54 pm 
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GarethPJ wrote:
fiks wrote:
Quote:
However I suspect that Desgrange used the phrase "fixed gear" to mean what we would call single speed.



Obviously Desgrange used a French phrase, apparently "pignon fixe", not "fixed gear".



Er, yes, I did point out that he would have said it in French.


But isn't that the problem? It could have been translated into "fixed gear" to mean a single gear ratio, perhaps in a book or magazine, and then some time later someone uses the translation on some website and thinks "fixed gear" means fixed wheel.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:05 am 
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fiks wrote:
GarethPJ wrote:
fiks wrote:
Quote:
However I suspect that Desgrange used the phrase "fixed gear" to mean what we would call single speed.



Obviously Desgrange used a French phrase, apparently "pignon fixe", not "fixed gear".



Er, yes, I did point out that he would have said it in French.


But isn't that the problem? It could have been translated into "fixed gear" to mean a single gear ratio, perhaps in a book or magazine, and then some time later someone uses the translation on some website and thinks "fixed gear" means fixed wheel.


Which was part of my original post. And we're not just dealing with a translation, but a historic translation. The common usage of English with regard to cycling has changed since then as I'm sure has French. Which makes interpretation even more of a minefield.

However I've always taken it to mean single ratio, but the fixed mafia won't have it. Looking at it in the context of the whole paragraph and the term "variable gears" it's the only interpretation that makes sense to me.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:18 am 
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Old Ned wrote:
Didn't they use double sided hubs with large and small sprockets, stopping to turn the wheel around at the top and bottom of climbs?


How would they have made up for chain slack? Did they have two front chainwheels too, and did they manually move the chain to the bigger one when they turned the wheel around to use the smaller sprocket and the other way around?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:03 am 
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PIGEON wrote:
Old Ned wrote:
Didn't they use double sided hubs with large and small sprockets, stopping to turn the wheel around at the top and bottom of climbs?


How would they have made up for chain slack? Did they have two front chainwheels too, and did they manually move the chain to the bigger one when they turned the wheel around to use the smaller sprocket and the other way around?


They just moved the wheel forwards or backwards in the dropouts/track ends. Just as you would today if you had a flip-flop hub.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:34 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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They also had double toothed sprockets on each side giving the potential for 4 different ratios. I reckon it was the idea of the derailleur mechanism that old Henri didn't like. To much of an artificial aid to performance for his liking. I'm sure they were freewheel sprockets, I can't see even the hard-as-nails old-timers pedalling their nads off coming down an Alp!

Mind you, the braking effect of a 'fixed gear' would have probably been just as effective as the type of brake on Kelly's bike. Not much tread left on the tyre after coming down the Tourmalet I'll bet!


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