Shimano Airlines (AR01)


This weirdo downhill derailleur, operated by compressed air, was the famous product of Shimano’s Skunk Development Team. This was modelled on the legendary Lockheed Skunk Works, which is popularly assumed to have acquired its name as a result of spectacular achievements in the field of personal hygiene by the engineering geniuses who worked there (this is not the ‘real’ story).

Shimano’s rationale in developing Airlines was explained to me as being that compressed air lines flex with long travel suspension (which makes using cables difficult) and are not affected by water (unlike electrics), and so control by compressed air was particularly suitable for downhill bikes. 

more info:


It’s been a long time since my last update. A lot has happened in the last few weeks, a lot of painful issues and hurdles to get passed.

I had planned to complete the build on my own, at least the main part and leave the tubular glueing and bar tape wrapping to the pros. I managed to get the groupset, the levers and cabling all done. But I ended up having to source a new RD because the spring in the one I had didn’t provide anywhere enough tension. Also found out that I needed a special step down ferrule for the rear derailleur cabling.
So back to eBay and the sources I had found through the process.


Pro Bike: Tony Martin’s Specialized S-Works Shiv


Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the Tour de France’s time trial with a healthy buffer aboard this custom painted Specialized S-Works Shiv. Martin rode the stage with a 58-tooth chainring, combined with SRAM’s long-cage Red WiFli rear derailleur and a wide 11-32 cassette. The big rear cog was mounted so that Martin could stay in the big ring over the entire course. He raced on custom painted Zipp tubular wheels. Specialized had previously announced that he would be racing on the company’s new Turbo Cotton clincher, but he ended up riding the tubular version instead. Photo: Caley Fretz |

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