Saturday, December 4, 2010

Weight Weenieism, Charlie Cunningham-Style

A sickness has befallen our intrepid staff here at The Cycle, so I'm lazy-blogging today. Instead of writing something (attempting to be) cool myself, I'll point my loyal reader(s) to this post about a nifty Charlie Cunningham-modifed bike on the Black Mountain Cycles shop blog. I know absolutely ZERO about this shop (a friend pointed me to the link) but based on what I've read, they're on my must-visit-someday list.

Since I weigh approximately 1.0 Mag (where Mag is a unit of measure equal to the weight of notably large, bald and Swedish retired pro cyclist Magnus Backstedt), weight weenieism isn't really my thing. However, my obsession with retro mountain bikes makes me a major fanboy for all things Charlie Cunningham. The bike in question is a Cunningham-modified road bike, but it shows the genius-bordering-on-madness approach he brings to all things bikes. Who would graft a Campy downtube shifter into the end of the handlebar instead of just using a Campy bar-end, machine a cable stop on the lower headlug, run the bare cable straight from there (through another machined cable guide on the seat tube) back to the rear derailleur? Charlie Cunningham, that's who.

Some of the mods look a little homemade (since they are), but I find a lot of weird charm in that. It shows me a mind at work, and a set of hands turning that mind's ideas into metal. The simple (and probably quite light) chainguide even has my mental gears turning, wondering if I can craft something similar from hardware store bits for my own single-ring bikes. Yes, I could just order up the store-bought Pauls version, but where's the fun in that?

For other Charlie Cunningham fans (or those who haven't discovered him yet but want to), check out the extensive interviews in Bicycle Quarterly volume 8, number 1 and Rivendell Reader #27 (Summer 2002).

Minor disclaimer: Your humble narrator also shares blogspace with Charlie Cunningham's wife Jacquie Phelan (a.k.a. Alice B. Toeclips), an early mountain bike legend in her own right, over at Veloquent. i don't get any benefit from plugging these folks, though, other than the giddy fanboy happiness I get from writing alongside the esteemed Ms. Toeclips.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a child of the drillium era, I enjoyed seeing the Cunningham modified Alan. The Hi-E stuff was always a favorite of mine, and it was notable that Cunningham didn't trust the Hi-E rim enough to use it on the rear.

Another favorite weight weenie detail is the use of Weinmann 500 sidepulls. Very minimal, low cost, and effective.

The custom magnesium stem, the hacking of the seat lug, etc. is all quite impressive! Pretty impressive for stuff done in the garage shop.

still using a Hi-E hub on my '82 Raleigh Team...

Steve in Peoria