Thursday, March 09, 2017

In memory of Sachs Sedis

Ordering chains the other day, I sifted through the offerings from SRAM, KMC, Shimano, and others. Our default chain has been SRAM, because their chains are descended from the legendary Sedisport, the sleeper deal chain of the 1980s.

Very little can be seen of the original Sedisport in the SRAM chains of today.  The formerly flared inner plates are now straight.

The outer plates are shaped very similarly to Shimano's Hyperglide and Uniglide chains, which the Sedisport once outperformed. The change was gradual, and the chains are still functional and durable. But the reflex to choose them is probably more emotional than anything else.

Vintage Sedisport. Burly side plates, cleverly flared inner plates to facilitate shifting. Born when drive trains were moving to six speeds. My, my. What will be next? Gears that click into place?
Look at the opportunities for advertising, recklessly squandered. The side plates of the chain are completely blank. It's as if they expect their distinctive design to speak for them.

The 1990s saw the introduction of the Sedisport ATB. The links shown here date from after the merger with Sachs, as the stamping on the side plates shows.
The outer plates were straight, with beveled edges. The pins were starting to be riveted in ways that led to the development of closure links. Shimano, of course, had their persnickety special pins. Sachs developed a closure link shortly before they were bought by SRAM.

Ten- and eleven-speed drive trains need straight-sided chains because the spacing of the gears is so tight. Differences, if any, are subtle. Because I don't indulge, I depend on the feedback of those who do to decide what to supply them with. I know what I favor, but that can change every year as the industry removes options.

Chain shopping was tangential to larger games of componentry chess I started last fall, when a couple brought in their Seven touring bikes to be reconfigured with more practical drive trains, and another customer wanted to dress a new frame with an 11-speed racing group. His Specialized Roubaix had cracked, and Specialized had sent a warranty replacement. Same brand, same model name, but of course it had some different specs. That game was more a matter of cost-benefit analysis, working within his budget and a couple of specific requests.

Interesting indoor activities help pass the time as winter reclaims March. This happens every year. We complain that the mild weather won't stick around, but 20 years ago these conditions would have looked like the beginning of April, not the beginning of March.

The hard freezes after springlike warmth have pretty well wrecked the cross-country skiing, even in the nearby woods. This limits alternative training activities to things that are more boring, and therefore less likely. Despite the fact that I can literally feel that sitting on the couch is killing me, I still slouch in front of the computer, teasing my mind with little jabs of electronic stimulation. Old friends, new friends, hopeful signs, terrifying trends, ads for diseases you, yes you, probably have...

Back to the hunt for bike parts. Look at that: Specialized has multiple road models that list for $10,000. Way to grow the sport! When civilization collapses, where will we charge our electronic shifters? I know, I know: personal solar systems will continue to work, as long as you can find a place to soak up some sun in between attacks by various desperadoes unleashed by the apocalypse. And you'll be able to scrounge hydraulic fluid for the brakes for quite a few years before things have reverted to more medieval conditions. Brake pads, on the other hand...

I've gotten out for a few fixed gear rides. The return to cold weather puts me back to scrounging kindling and pine cones to start the evening fires in the wood stoves. Scavenging wood is best done on skis, as long as there is any snow cover. It's not a high-intensity workout, but it combines some basic exercise with a practical need. That's been my guiding principle for my entire adult life.


Justine Valinotti said...

I miss Sedis chains, too. Like you, I buy SRAM chains now, mainly for their connection to Sedis/Sachs. Also, I find that they do last longer than Shimano or KMC chains.

cafiend said...

Justine -- Since I haven't run anything else, I have no longevity comparison. But since performance is satisfactory and durability is a plus, the great-grandchild of Sedis is still a better choice. Excellent!

mike w. said...

Nothing but good results with SRAM - and Sedis- chains for me. Mind you, i do only have 6 and 7 speed friction-shift bikes- i've seen more than one rider on the side of the road with broken 10-11 speed chains.

Mike C said...

@Mike W -

> i've seen more than one rider on the side
> of the road with broken 10-11 speed chains.

As in, sprawled flat by the side of the road? :-)

The one time I broke a chain (7-speed), I was standing up to power through an intersection from a dead stop (the light had just changed) so when my chain let go, I went down In. A. Heap! (But fortunately at very low speed, and no harm done except to self-esteem).

I made it a point to carry a few spare links with me for years and years after that, though I've largely stopped that habit now since my commute is so short I can easily walk it.

cafiend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cafiend said...

Shimano Hyperglide ushered in the golden age of the broken chain. The "special pin" has been a headache since its introduction. We would receive notices from manufacturers to physically verify the proper setting of every chain pin on a new bike with Shimano chains...which was virtually every new bike. Needless to say, many shops did not bother. Let the customer find out the hard way. The mountain bike boom brought a flood of sketchy operators into the business, looking for a quick payoff from the feeding frenzy. In addition, small shops under tremendous competitive pressure would cut corners just to keep up with increasing workloads and decreasing margins across the board. It was a textbook case of competition hurting rather than helping an industry and its customers. Too much money too fast creates a gold rush mentality. The swarm descends, the profiteers circle them, and then it collapses as the vein is played out.