01 May, 2012

What about NERVAR?

Here is another blog post from 2006, slightly updated. I've been re-reading those early post; good memories. Of course many of the items we used to look for on E-bay are available new today, 50.4bcd cranks from VO, centerpull brakes from Dia Compe, etc. But it's still cool to recycle the classic parts.

Many connoisseurs and restorers of fine French bikes seek out old TA Specialties and Stronglight cranks. This is understandable as both companies made beautiful and practical cranksets that were fitted to the finest bicycles. But there is a third brand, Nervar, that also made top quality components and whose cranks were occasionally used by even the best constracteurs.

The relative anonimity of Nervar cranks makes them a bargin. I bought the 50.4bcd crankset in the first photo for about $20 on E-Bay (in 2006). Yet it is as well made and takes the same chain rings as a TA Cyclo-Tourist or a Stronglight 49D crankset, either of which usually sell for much more. As for appearance, I think the the 49D is a bit more elegant, but I find the Nervar prettier than a TA.

An additional benefit of Nervar cranks is that they use standard-taper axles and standard crank removers, no special tools required. And yes, they work fine with 9 or 10-speed drivetrains.

The great thing about this 50.4mm-bcd bolt pattern is that you can run a wide range double, say a 46 and 30. This means that with a modern 9 or 10-speed 12-27 cassette you'll have the equivalent of a triple with only two chainrings and standard cage derailleurs. And most riders will find that they stay in the big ring 90% of the time with plenty of gears on either side of a normal 15-19 mph cruising speed.

The lower photo shows what may have been the last model of crank Nervar produced. They are pretty 122-bcd cranks that makes a fine single on my Motobecane. They are very light, lighter than Campy record cranks, or so I've read. I paid $15 for them.

Do you have any favorite old component brands?


Anonymous said...

I miss the old Softride suspension stems. One of those would be great on a Rivendell Hunqapillar.


Anonymous said...

CLB made great stuff.

dwainedibbly said...

My Polyvalent has Nervar 50.4 cranks (with a 44T ring driving an Alfine-11 hub). They polished up nice with a bit of Simichrome. The bike also has a vintage French Alu-Dur chain guard, Mavic cantilevers, and a cool vintage gendarme's bike bell as well as a number of VO components (fenders, racks, bars, rims, pedals). The front hub is a SON-28. I like a mix of old & new stuff.

Marc said...

Like most, I regret letting my old Follis go with all it's classic components, but I was just looking through your sight and realized that if you produced derailleurs and shifters, VO would be the only company I could find to produce a totally branded bike.
You came a long way in a big hurry from importing bells.
Very impressive!


Lewis3000us said...

I invented Simichrome.

Anonymous said...

I just got rid of my old 50.4 Nervars. They seemed flexier than I like. Fortunately I found an old 50.4 bmx "Alero" arm to carry my rings.

Anonymous said...

Potts and Cunningham-era WTB.
M Burdge

John I said...

I love the Nervar Star crank on my Raleigh Gran Sport. I don't love the 128bcd they used, making chainrings rather impossible to source. I've modified some 130bcd rings, but it's a hack.

Unknown said...

Two items: edco bottom brackets - a top quality alternative to phil woods.

Simplex bar end shifters - I actually still use a pair on my tourer.

Gary Yogurt said...

I'll take the Spaten too.

Anonymous said...

Shimano Deerhead. Not the lightest, but beautiful, reliable and functions nicely. I also love the first gen Suntour Cyclone deraileurs.