DISRAELI GEARS

Countries

Gambato Gran Sport derailleur main image Kharkov derailleur (2nd style) main image Elgin American derailleur (1st style) main image

While ‘brand’ is an imperfect basis for a taxonomy for derailleurs, ‘country’ is truly excreable. However, in a (western) world dominated by just three manufacturers, people are often amazed to find that there was once a multiplicity of manufacturers based in a huge range of different countries. For example I have lost count of the number of times that I have been assured with total confidence that ‘nobody has ever made derailleurs in Britain’. If the idea of a British derailleur is odd to many people born after 1970, the idea of an Argentinian or Ukrainian derailleur is usually completely alien, even to people who are mad about bikes.

So the past is full of diversity, but even the present is not the Shimano-SRAM-Campagnolo oligopoly that we may think it is. A few years ago I had an interesting experience in Hanoi, trying to find a Shimano part in some of the thousands of bike shops in that fantastic city. Not only did no one have the part, but most cycle shops at that time had no Shimano parts at all, and appeared not to have even heard of Shimano. They did, however, have copious stocks of numbers of other brands, mostly from China, and mostly completely unknown to me. They existed in a rich and complex parallel universe that had virtually nothing to do with the world of bicycle components that I thought I knew so well.

So what does ‘country’ mean in this context? How can you classify a Shimano gear manufactured in Singapore? I have decided to proceed on the basis of where I think the ‘design control’ lies. So a Shimano gear manufactured in Singapore ‘belongs’ to Japan (not Singapore).

It is an arbitrary scheme but it seems to work for me, maybe it will work for you.

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