Barcons: keeping it positively retrospective throughout the nuclear winter with a pair of Rivendell Silvers

After an unfortunate incident with a Campagnolo Xenon ergolever I have opted to go down the decidedly scenic and retrotastic route of the barcon. I have a set of shimano dura ace shifters on my TT bike, this is a fairly common set-up and even beloved of global mega-stars and super-champions like Sir Bradley of Wiggins.

The bike of Bradders gets all retro with the friction shifter

I think the reasons is something to do with the 3:1 rule or some other UCI ruling that i really don’t understand at all.

Regulation 1.3.024 (1:3 ratio) applies in this respect as a regulatory consideration. Examples: when using the maximum transverse dimension authorised for an element, namely 8 cm, the associated minimum transverse dimension is 8/3 = 2.66 cm; when using the minimum transverse dimension authorised for an element, namely 2.5 cm, the associated maximum transverse dimension is 2.5 x 3 = 7 cm.50; for all intermediate options, the maximum to minimum transverse dimension ratio must not exceed 3.

For the winter bike I plumped for a set of Dia Compe Silvers. These are badged up as Rivendells and are very lovely. Aesthetic considerations are important in these matters, often more important than any practical or pragmatic aspects.

very seemly

I’ve paired them with a set of dirt-cheap Dia Compe brake levers. I hadn’t expected there to be any issues with this set-up, but such is the nature of making changes that something always comes up. The metal loops attaching ergolevers to the bars are off-set – or more accurately, the back of the lever where it attaches to the bar is at an angle to take into account the curvature of the drops. This provides a flat and comfortable point of contact from the tops into the brake hoods where you do most of your riding. With older style aero-levers, it’s a different story. The back of the hoods and the loops are vertical, meaning you have to mount them lower down the bars, unless you carefully consider a different shaped drop. It wouldn’t work with the 3TTT set-up i was using but luckily I had some Cinelli Criteriums in the shed which were better, although not ideal. I raised the stem and then angled the bars up slightly to compensate for the lower hood position.


I routed the cables under the bars and faffed around a bit with the bar tape, tightened off the cables and left it at that. The next morning I rode to work and it was absolutely fine. The feel of the levers is smooth and they hold position. It’s also surprisingly intuitive. The fundamental difference is that you have to think more carefully about gear choice and pre-empt a little bit, having less of a bail-out option than you might have with a multi-shift STI/ergo lever.

the finished article: not the most amazing brake levers in the world but they cost less than a fish supper
very lovely

I’ve been using them since Wednesday and have managed about180 miles of winter base, including a ride to Cheltenham in the dark yesterday evening and the return leg in glorious sunlight this morning. I’ve had no issues at all and have enjoyed using them.

Cotswold Edge

With the Mercian King Of Mercia Audax Special, Rivendell barcons, Aire saddle (a brilliant purchase from Spa Cycles, more on this another day) and Carradice saddlebag I feel as though I’m slowly being drawn into a dark and scary world. This time next month I’ll be in SPD sandals; it’s a slippery slope. I suspect the Carradice may have been the gateway drug. London-Edinburgh-London here we come.

Top of Fiddler’s Elbow: Nuthill

6 thoughts on “Barcons: keeping it positively retrospective throughout the nuclear winter with a pair of Rivendell Silvers

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  1. I’m also doing all manner of strange freakgrouch stuff for the winter. Luckily my weekly base ride happens alone and partially in darkness, so I can go about my business unjudged.

      1. I’ve downgraded my crankset in order to run 165s (now on all bikes except the Brompton, which isn’t really a bike), and fitted 30mm spiked tyres that weight over 800g each. I’ve insisted they mount on the existing Open Pros with the rapidly concaving brake track, removed the full guards so they’ll fit, stuck on a tokenistic rear bumsplash protector flap, strapped the rear light to that, which in turn connects to the front light via an unsightly cable wound around the top tube, and refuse to dump my ancient 9spd Veloce shifters despite the fact they’ve abandoned their click at the small end of the cassette and don’t match the Shimano chainset. I’ll be setting off at ~6am to get 83 miles done before noon all in the big ring which happens to be a zeitgeisty third party 47t – it’s going to be fucking awesome of course, due to the internal monologue-slash-dialogue if nothing else.

  2. I too use old fashioned bar end levers at the ends of my handle bars for the winter bike. I have ended up with a campag 10 sp cassette, shimano 9 sp rear mech, and shimano bar end levers on friction mode. Works perfectly, requires minimal maintenance and still works when its covered in gunge. And it all came out of my spare parts bucket, recycling at its best 😉

    Chris Madge

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