Monday, January 28, 2008

Parlez vous rollercam...

I don't know exactly why that oh so influential magazine of the mountain bike so dissed rollercams in the late 80's, but it seems that once MBA proclaimed they didn't like the rollercam, manufacturers were afraid to spec it for fear that their bike would get a poor review. That was a prevailing fear among manufacturers that probably hampered development during the early 90's. Mountain bikes were designed to please the editors in Valencia.

It was called a mud collector. The same thing could be said of chainstays and the chainstay bridge. After all, the rollercam simple sat in the shadow of the chainstay. If your bike was going to get clogged with mud, it would, in all likelihood do so irregardless of the type of brake on your bike. In fact, forks were also notoriously lacking in the clearance area.

It was difficult to install and set up. Nope, can't buy that one either. Once you knew the proper set-up technique, they were a breeze to dial in. However, you also had to want to learn how to set them up and get them working perfectly. Charlie Cunningham published a fantastic primer for rollercam set-up. All you had to do was follow this and your brake was adjusted.

So why was the oft maligned rollercam doomed? After all it was way more powerful and had better modulation than any other brake available at the time. It's ironic that the rollercam is now desirable among the vintage mountain bike congnoscenti - especially the WTB Speedmaster. Personally, I blame its demise on Yeti. Indirectly at least. MBA was so into Yeti that if your bike didn't have dual cantilever brakes, top tube cable routing, heavy "aircraft grade" tubing that was prone to didn't seem to stand a chance under the Wrecking Crew.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little harsh, but dang, back in those days, there was a definite bias in their testing. Just seemed to lack objectivity.

Well, dang! What started off as a post about what I worked on yesterday and how cool the rollercam is ended up as more of a rant. Here's what I initially was going to write - darn fingers always doing what they want to...

Worked on this brake yesterday. Adjusted the brake pads a bit. Used some emory cloth to "sand" the pad to contact the rim squarely (with a wee bit of toe-in). Got the cable housing trimmed to the perfect length. Made sure the ends of the casing were nicely filed and there were no burrs. Fit an in-line cable adjuster right at the same relative location. Adjusted the spring tension so it was sufficient only to return the brake arms (and had a snappy feel at the levers). Wow, this brake feels really good.

(What's playing: KGSR Volume 12. KGSR a radio station in Austin, TX puts out an album each year - usually of live, in-studio performance of some great artists and they are all excellent.)