Things I Like: da Vinci Custom SRAM Derailleur

There are a number of ways to mix-and-match Campagnolo Ergpower levers with an otherwise-Shimano drivetrain.  Options include from alternate cable routing, conversion cassettes, and cable-pull adapters.  I’ve experimented with several of those methods, but my favorite way to pair Ergopower levers with Shimano running gear is da Vinci’s custom SRAM derailleur.

Starting with a medium- or long-cage SRAM X9 derailleur, da Vinci replaces the stock cable guide with a special CNC-machined guide that allows the different brands’ components to play nicely in the same sandbox.  The derailleur is available in versions for 10-speed Campagnolo or 10-speed Shimano levers (both are compatible with Shimano or SRAM 9-speed cassettes). gravel bike sram davinci rear derailleur shimano shimergo campagnolo
da Vinci’s custom SRAM derailleur waiting to be paired with 3rd-generation Centaur 10-speed levers.

Installing the custom SRAM derailleur is similar to installing any other modern derailleur (and takes less trial-and-error than cable-pull modifers or alternate routing)  The only real difference is that you’ll need to account for your particular shifter’s “extra” click.  On my bikes, I usually set them up so that the phantom click occurs after the shift to the largest cog.

The da Vinci derailleur controlled by 2nd-generation Centaur levers (with an 11-32 cassette).

Shifting with the da Vinci derailleur is spot on.  I’ve used the derailleurs successfully with 2nd- and 3rd-generation Ergopower levers, and both Shimano and SRAM 9-speed cassettes (with KMC, Shimano, and SRAM chains).  And because the standard SRAM X9 derailleur is targeted to mountain bikers, it can easily handle 32- and 34-tooth large cogs (and wraps plenty of chain for double- and triple-chainring cranks).

If you’re a Campy fan and you want wider-range gearing, compatibility with 135mm rear hubs, or the increased longevity from 9-speed cassettes and chains, the da Vinci custom is definitely worth considering.

For more information, contact da Vinci Designs.

Things I Like: Jagwire Cables & Housing

Let’s face it, cables and housing generally don’t top the list of sexiest bike parts.  People either buy what’s cheapest, or they opt for the color that best matches their frame, handlebar tape, or sunglasses.  Now, I’ll admit that I’m both thrifty and a fan of color-coordination (in moderation), but what I really like are parts that I can essentially ignore.  That’s especially true when it comes to cables and housing, and that’s why you’ll find Jagwire cables and housing on all of my bikes.

Jagwire is one of the largest producers of cables and housings, and as you can imagine, the company offers products for nearly every type of bicycle control system.  For smooth braking and shifting (and minimal maintenance), I run Jagwire’s Teflon coated inner wires with their compression-free cable housing. gravel bike gravelbike salsa vaya avid bb7 jagwire cable housing
Jagwire housing on the author’s Salsa Vaya.

New cables and housing always feel great when you first install them, but what about six months later?  Well, approximately nine months ago I built up my Salsa Vaya with Jagwire’s Racer kit, and I can’t detect any noticeable degradation in braking or shifting performance.  Even more impressive are the two year-old Ripcord cables and housings on my full-suspension mountain bike that are still going strong (and are smoother than many new bikes on the showroom floor).  This is definitely a testament to the quality of the materials used, but some of the credit to the system’s longevity is due to the sealed end caps and nosed ferrules.  These fittings–unlike cheaper stamped units–do a superior job of keeping crud and water out, and reducing friction (and wear) at cable stops and guides.

For more information, including installation videos, visit Jagwire’s website.

Striking A Balance

Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick two.
Keith Bontrager

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve started gathering parts for the rSogn.  Some of the choices have been harder to make than others, and some have been no-brainers.  Like every other bike in my stable, the Rawland will see duty on pavement, gravel roads, and dirt trails.  Aiming towards versatility, I’ve been invoking Mr Bontrager’s holy trinity when making my component choices. Keeping my inner weight weenie in check has been a struggle at times, but my wallet almost always steers me in the right direction.

The best is the enemy of the good.

Spec’ing a bike is fun, and everyone wants to end up with that mythical, perfect bicycle. It’s important to remember, however, is that riding any bicycle is–or at least, should be–more fun than trying to pick the best components. Campagnolo, Shimano, and SRAM all make good stuff, and everyone has their favorites, but don’t make the mistake of falling into the “analysis paralysis” trap. Make your own choices, and form your own opinions. Internet message boards (or bloggers) aren’t riding your bike–you are.

Nothing exceeds like excess.
Al Jourgensen

The media and marketing folks spend lots of time money trying to convince us that we absolutely must have a separate bike for every possible terrain or discipline. Pavement can only be ridden on skinny, rock-hard tires. Dirt roads require suspension with at least 5″ of travel. Only a Dutch bike will do for commuting or errands.  Bicycles are versatile machines. People have been riding the wrong bikes in the wrong conditions for over one hundred years (whether they know it or not).

Ride lots!
Eddy Merckx

Eddy knows what’s up. We should all try to follow his advice.