By Lennard Zinn

Liberty's custom-painted Record levers
Liberty’s custom-painted Record levers

Photo: Lennard Zinn

First, a question or two:

Dear Lennard,
The Liberty Seguros shifters: What’s up with them? They aren’t any Campy ones I’ve seen before. Are they the 2006 edition? I first noticed them on the stage to Courcheval.
Ignacio

Dear Lennard,
I noticed today while watching the Tour that Liberty Seguros’s Record shifters didn’t look all carbon. They appeared to have a metallic streak of some sort near the top of the actual shift lever. Did you see anything like that? The rider’s bike I saw was Jorg Jaksche’s. Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me, as I was going crazy with Lance Armstrong’s display of dominance on Courchevel.
Pete

Another angle
Another angle

Photo: Lennard Zinn

Dear Pete and Ignacio,
Dang, you guys have sharp eyes. Yes, those do not look like standard Campagnolo Ergo Power levers because they are not. I snapped these photos of them last week. At the time, I asked Liberty Seguros’s imaginative and hard-working chief mechanic, Faustino Muñoz, about them. Muñoz explained in Italian (a second language for both of us, but at least one that we share) that he had “made” them, although the Italian verb “fare” (fah’-ray) means both “to make” and “to do,” and therein lies the larger question.

The levers certainly look very cool, but I don’t have much question about who actually “made” the levers. I would have to say that it sure looks to me as though Muñoz “made” (or “did”) some changes to standard Campagnolo Record levers, rather than “made” new levers from scratch. It appears that a clear coat with a blue tint has been sprayed on the brake-lever blades and the little carbon patch on the upshift lever behind it. The silver detailing on the front of the lever blade, on the upshift lever, and on the lever body surrounding the levers has been painted on. I peeled the rubber hood back a bit on this lever and saw that the silver paint only goes to the edge of the hood; beyond that, it sure looks like a normal Record lever body, and the shape of the lever blades is also classic Record. This is a cosmetic change only, I am quite sure.

I asked Muñoz about the logo on the lever, the sort of upside-down swoosh with a bump under it, and he said it is the logo of team director Manolo Saiz. You can see that it does sort of resemble an “M.” Notice that it also appears on the down tube of the BH team frame and on the rear brake caliper, which sure looks to me like a standard Mavic caliper.

Now, a little bit about BH: Based in Vittoria, Spain, Beistegui Hermanos (named for the Beistegu brothers) started as a weapons manufacturer in 1907. After the Great War, when demand for guns slowed, it moved into producing bikes, since both were made of steel and involved precision machined parts.

Today, the BH Global Concept carbon road frames and Global Aero carbon time-trial frames the Liberty Seguros team races on are extremely similar in many ways to the Giant frames raced by T-Mobile. Each frame has an integrated aerodynamic seat mast, for instance, which is cut to length for the specific rider, and is only adjustable through the use of shims. You would be impressed to see how hard Muñoz torques that bolt to make sure the seat never loosens up; he reefs on it with every bit of his considerable strength.
Lennard

Lance’s downtube shfter
Dear Lennard,
Lance’s bike had one STI shifter and a downtube shifter for the front derailleur. Is there a performance advantage in this setup?
Tom

Dear Lennard,
After looking through photos of Lance Armstrong riding his bike, I can’t help but notice the small shifter-like lever on the left side of his bike. And I doubt he still uses downtube shifters. Do you know what this lever is? I saw on a bicycle before one of these that activated a switch for a hub generator on a light. And I also doubt Lance has some light hidden away.
Ian

Dear Ian and Tom,
In all of Armstrong’s Tours since 1999, he has used a standard (non-integrated) left brake lever and a downtube shift lever for the front derailleur on mountain stages. Given that a standard Dura-Ace, non-integrated brake lever weighs 130 grams and a Dura-Ace 10-speed STI lever weighs 210 grams, you are looking at a simple weight savings. The downtube shift lever can add as little as 30 grams, plus you save a bunch of grams in extra cable and housing you don’t need looping around the front of the bike. You don’t shift the front derailleur often on a mountain – once at the bottom and once at the top – so there is not much efficiency lost. So you can give up looking for a hidden light on his bike, Ian.
Lennard

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