José, can you see?

José Appaloosa enjoying the view from the upper end of Tramway.

José Appaloosa enjoying the view from the upper end of Tramway.

Busy, busy, busy: And just think, I’m not even at Aqua Rat in Monterey, where all the action is.

For instance, scope out Richard Masoner’s shots of the 2017 Masi Speciale Randonneur, one of them with down-tube shifters. Verrry nice, except for those death-dealing disc brakes, which even St. Eddy and the UCI have deemed a tool of Satan.

Me, I’ve been fooling around with a Rivendell Joe Appaloosa, and a very nice machine it is, too. No down-tube shifters, but thumbshifters, and a handlebar so upright and swept back that you can see yourself coming from miles away.

None of them devilish discs, neither. Tektro V-brakes, thank you very much. In point of fact, the José is so retro I had to buy myself a hipsterish red-plaid shirt to ride around in (the baggy shorts I already own). When aboard the USS José Appaloosa the uniform of the day is very much not the skintight Lycra.

Riding a bike with nice grippy V-brakes reminded me of how much I still dislike the Shimano cantilevers on my Soma Double Cross, and in a fit of pique I pulled them off, planning to replace them with the Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis on a Steelman Eurocross that I haven’t been riding much.

I forget how old these Spookys are ... probably nearly as old as the bike they now adorn.

I forget how old these Spookys are … probably nearly as old as the bike they now adorn.

Alas, it turned out that the Paul’s are in need of maintenance … a missing O-ring here, a scored brake pivot there, and some really old pads — and thus I found myself staring at two brakeless bikes to no particular purpose.

Then, eureka! I remembered having an old set of barely used Spooky cantis with Kool-Stop pads squirreled away in a box somewhere in the garage. And soon, hey presto! They were on the Steelman, because black and red are the key components of the Mad Dog livery. And off I went for another installment of Ride Your Own Damn Bike Day.



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26 Responses to “José, can you see?”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Good morning! Aqua Rat? Cute trick.

    That Joe Appaloosa is a beauty! i was thinking one of Jones’s H bars would work well on it. Is this a test for Adventure Cyclist magazine?

    Is there any technical reason that bicycle disc brake rotors have sharp or sawtooth edges? I know the holes and slots in the rotor help dissipate heat from the pads. But, why can’t they just radius the edges on the rotors and have a completely round edge. That should mitigate or solve the safety problems during crashes.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yep, Pat, it’s another road test for the Adventure Cyclist gang. Pretty bike, hey? It’s kinda-sorta their Sam Hillborne but with more clearance, a ride-anywhere bike (which is to say, “a bike.”).

      I’m too damn dumb about discs to answer your question, though I’ve seen a few theories on the Innertubez. Any smart folks out there want to tackle Pat’s question?

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I thought it was similar to the Hillborne when I saw the double top tube for larger frames. If you could only have one bike, that might be the one to get. But, I will wait for the review.

        I’m interested to hear what others have to say about disc rotors. I went out and checked the ones on our mountain bikes. Parts, but not all of the edges are sharp, like they were cut or stamped out without any finishing work. Both have cutouts around the circumference, for what purpose I do not know. The set on my Niner are TRP rotors; Sandy’s Salsa has Shimano rotors. I don’t know if the road rotors the peloton are using, higher end stuff for sure, have sharp edges or not.

  2. Mike Frye Says:

    The next question is: Do they work? I think that those breaks remind me of an old pair of Mavic’s I used to have on my old cross bike(back in the days when dinosaurs still ruled the earth). and hopefully you’ve got a set of brake levers that match those particular cantilevers. None-Vbrake levers are pretty rare nowadays.

    With a good pair of Kool Stops I wouldn’t worry too much(I still have a set that looks like green sneakers). Granted,
    disc brakes are really neat way to go but, they do add a bit of complexity to the system And do you want to work on your bike are ride it?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Mike, they work fine with my aftermarket STI levers, and are reminiscent of the old Mafacs (IRD does an homage called the Cafam). The Spooky got popular with the ‘cross crowd in the Nineties, if memory serves.

      I’m not certain why I never used them; probably ’cause I had Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring brakes on the other bikes. (Also a nod to the venerable Mafacs.)

      Remember the Weinmann cantis? I used those on a Pinarello, which was the first real ‘cross bike I ever owned.

      After that, I think, it was mostly Dia-Compe 986s and brakes that looked a lot like them until I installed Paul’s throughout the fleet. I still have a 986 on the townie’s rear wheel. The front uses an Avid Tri-Align salvaged from the ’95 DBR Axis TT.

  3. Steve O Says:

    What’s that a picture of? Looks vaguely familiar. Name’s on the tip of my tongue.

    Gianluca Gimini:

    Back in 2009 I began pestering friends and random strangers. I would walk up to them with a pen and a sheet of paper asking that they immediately draw me a men’s bicycle, by heart. Soon I found out that when confronted with this odd request most people have a very hard time remembering exactly how a bike is made. Some did get close, some actually nailed it perfectly, but most ended up drawing something that was pretty far off from a regular men’s bicycle. […]

  4. khal spencer Says:

    Wow. That bike has an honest to God triple crank. Nice. We had Shimano cantis on our Trek T50 tandem. They were astonishingly effective. almost as good as no brakes at all.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yup, a triple instead of a 1-by-whatever or compact double. Old school, yo.

      And yeah, I tried everything I know to make those Shimano cantis better performers, but clearly I don’t know enough (this will not surprise The Readership, which is well aware that I have never been and never will be smart).

      I’m looking forward to getting my parts from Paul’s so I can refurb the Neo-Retros and Touring cantis and have some proper stoppers on the old Double Cross.

  5. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Downtube shifters and disky brakes? Makes zero sense to me, but Faliero Masi must be doing 360’s in his grave with what they’ve done to his name. Son Alberto just shrugs and keeps plugging away under the Vigorelli velodrome.
    The Riv’s cute, but kind overkill for a shopping bike, like my dream Umberto Dei. I find my upright shopping bike makes my back hurt on every bump – like my spine is a stack of checkers with nothing between them. Bent over a road bike my back’s just fine, thank gawd.
    Shimano canti brakes were rarely very good, I finally got sick of the cast-offs I had on my ‘cross bike and replaced ’em with some Campagnolo….er…Tektro as far as I can tell, especially as the packaging said Made in Taiwan…canti’s which are much better…but there’s no mistaking ’em for dual-pivot calipers.
    Perhaps the road discs are thinner than their MTB cousins? The irony about ’em to me is nobody was clamoring for these until carbon rims came long – with their notoriously bad braking and munching of brake pads. As ol’ Eddy said, they oughta go back to a metal braking surface where rim brakes work pretty well – then these disky things are not worth the hassle. Seems like plenty of ‘cross guys are winning races without disky brakes? But what do I know? I think EROICA is a great idea, unlike a certain blogger who posted a whiny, anti-Eroica rant recently. Don’t like the idea? Stay home!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Riv’s Appaloosa is more of a go-anywhere tourer than a grocery bike, Lorenzo. I think its parents were the Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar, but I’m not certain.

      Here’s a video explainer from the Rivendell elves.

      And disky brakes? I can see their value in certain applications, but the industry’s rush to add them to everything, from double-boinger mountain bikes to 24-inch kids’ bikes and all bikes in between, strikes me as more than a little bit ridiculous.

      I know shop guys who want nothing to do with hydraulic disc brakes, and yet I’m seeing them more and more on review bikes. I don’t ride with a ton of weight, and I’m not real aggro, so I don’t see the value, frankly. A decent set of rim brakes — unless they’re Shimano cantis — usually works just fine for my style, if any.

      • Larry T Says:

        “Go anywhere tourer”? Really? Everything about that photo says shopping bike or something that would have been great during my paperboy daze.
        Cheapo disky brakes I understand, they’re probably as cheap to make as a caliper rim brake and the wheel building machines can now be set to way less accuracy since the rims’s no longer the braking surface. I noticed this the last time at my LBS in Iowa where a guy was working on some cheapo disky braked thing with a very wobbly rear wheel. When asked why that wasn’t getting fixed the reply was it doesn’t matter, the owner brought it in to fix the shifting!!! Expensive disky brakes I sort of understand too, but the push for those is more about marketing mavens and making current non-disky bikes obsolete. Not many new cyclists out there these days so they gotta sell the guys and gals out there who already have 8 bikes the 9th.
        That’s why I like EROICA – more about pulling that old, classic road bike out of the attic and riding it again rather than buying another new one.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Given my double boinger riding is up here in Bandelier Tuff Country, I see the value of disk brakes in some instances. When I had my old Trek mountain bike, the rim brakes (linear pull Shimano, and they worked great) were also good at using the dust from the tuff to grind away at the rims. Basically, every ride was an experience in rim-sandpaperation, if I can make up a work.

        Likewise, long steep descents tend to heat things up. I think I warped a disk rotor once descending Camp May Road on a ride on my commuter after work, but it beats melting a brake pad.

        The hydraulic calipers on my Stumpjumper have been flawless performers for about a decade. God help me though if I ever have to work on them.

        Otherwise, agree with Larry. I hate when companies find solutions in search of problems. The idea of disk brakes on a road bike seems weird. Campy calipers are elegant. I can see disks on a loaded tourer or tandem as the braking can be taxing (I’ve yet to find rim brakes I am happy with when descending NM-4 on the Co-Motion at speed), but would prefer cable calipers for ease of maintenance.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      There is no question of the value of disc brakes on mountain bikes. None. Hydraulic or mechanical is the only choice. The 2 mile dirt road, switchback, descent from Paradise into Portal in the Chiricahua mountains on rim brakes will quickly make you a disc brake believer. I assume that tandem or fully loaded touring riders will tell you the same thing after a long and steep descent. Frankly, I don’t give a shit what the pro peloton uses. My riding is as far away from that as it can be.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I got the impression that at least some of the bike companies have slowly gotten the message that not all of us are training for Le Tour. Especially old geezers.

        The rim brakes on our Trek tandem were OK in Hawaii when we were usually on the flats. The only time they gave us heart failure was on the descent to the Windward Side on the Pali Highway, where we could easily hit 45 mph without trying hard. Here in Los Alamos where everything is either going up or going down, disks on a tandem would be a real blessing. If we replace our Co Motion Primera, it will be for a disk-capable twofer. I think Co-Mo runs 180mm disks on their tandems.

      • khal spencer Says:

        p.s. I suspect that Larry and I both rode motorcycles long enough ago that we experienced drum brakes. Well, I did. I thought the drums on my first Honda was good insurance against riding too fast because those brakes sure weren’t very good at scrubbing off speed. My second Honda at least had a single front disk and it usually worked better, but it was still quite a thrill stopping that beast in heavy rain. Especially when it was loaded up with stuff from one of my long trips.

      • khal spencer Says:


      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        I think “hydrolic dick breaks” (borrowed from Bike Snob) are just fine for MTB and can be the same for road bikes but the bike industry claims customers are demanding them while the road bike riders seem not to care much, making it look industry sales/marketing-maven driven rather than any big performance advantage.
        I don’t buy the motorcycle analogy because motos by nature are far more complex and heavy machines capable of far more speed. Perhaps tandems and MTB’s are more like motos, so disky brakes make plenty of sense there but I won’t be trading in my ancient 26″ wheeled, v-braked, hardtail MTBs any time soon just to have disky brakes. The industry weeps.
        In two weeks I’ll be debating wood vs aluminum rims, plastic vs aluminum water bottles or Binda Extra vs Christophe at EROICA Primavera 🙂

      • khal spencer Says:

        Not suggesting an equivalence, Larry. Rather, that in the case of MC, high speeds and much greater mass made disks a huge improvement over old designs rather than being a bicycle company’s marketing solution in search of a real world problem.

        If there is an analogy to bicycling, it is to tandems, because you have about twice the mass trying to stop on the same rim cross-section if using rim brakes. At high speeds typical of racing tandems or down the mountain runs, that means a whole shitload of kinetic energy trying to be scrubbed off by four little pads on rims converting speed to frictional heat. It worries me at times.

        In the case of mountainbikes, at least where I live, the constant collection of grime and rock dust on rims makes rim brakes a poor solution as far as rim longevity. My old V-brakes worked great on my old mountainbike up here, but they did grind away at things.

        For my road bikes, all disks mean is that a whole rack of stuff hanging in the garage is suddenly obsolete. Which is, I suppose, the bike biz’s main point. Force more consumption.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        “Racing tandem”? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Just like the drag brakes they used to have, I think disky brakes are probably great for tandems which are like motos in weight and speed potential. For roadracing bikes, even for those of us who no longer race, discs seem to be little more than a way to make current machines obsolete. Which is why I’m such a fan of EROICA, where the obsolete is celebrated and venerated despite the protestations of “industry shills” pretending to really care about the sport and activity of cycling rather than consumerism.

      • khal spencer Says:

        There is a tandem category for the Red River Century Tour. Some of the tandem pairs around here are amazingly fast. In our case, its more like the Tour de Slow.

  6. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Leonard Zinn and industry people addressed (sorta kinda) the disc brake rotor safety question I asked in his April 19th piece on that other cycling website.

  7. Kevin Ferguson Says:

    I stopped in at Bike Coop to inquire about ordering a KHS 747. This Appaloosa or it’s twin was sitting awaiting service. “Hey, hey, thats not for sale!” The “I want that!” must have been radiating from my pores.

    Really stunning machine. One day! Of course I’d have to choose between it and the A. Homer Hillson.

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