Review: Full circle back to the Microshift RD M-55 rear derailleur

It’s funny how things go full circle. And bad puns aside, nowhere is this more true than with my constantly evolving bicycles.

The Microshift M55 rear derailleur prior to installation

Back in 2011 I had a bike by the name of Ressurectio, a steel framed touring bike that went through many iterations before finally going to a new home. And one of the many parts that graced that bike was a Microshift M55 rear mech.

Fast forward 11 years and bikes have come and gone from the EC stable. My current and probably forever bike is my 1983 Raleigh Clubman, which I bought in 2014 completely stock and have, since then, systematically and sympathetically upgraded.

One piece just didn’t feel right though. For a long while it had a Shimano Sora short cage rear mech, which jarred with the high polish theme of the rest of the components.

Then I remembered the M55. A nine speed long cage MTB mech with a pleasing, minimal, polished aluminium parallelogram. They’re no longer listed on Microshift’s website but are still available online.

After a bit of smartphone noodling I bagged mine for £20 from Upgrade Cycles, ironically the same price as I paid back in 2011 and waited patiently for the postie.

It arrived super quick and it wasn’t long before I had it installed.

Installed on the Raleigh Clubman.

Initial impressions are great. It looks perfect on the Raleigh and works a treat. Easy to set up with lovely old school nickel-plated hi, lo and b limit screws and springs.

It’s light too, weighing in at 227g, making today’s be-clutched MTB derailleurs seem most portly.

The shifting action is extremely positive, combined currently with an eight-speed cassette and Ultegra bar-end shifters.

The great thing about this mech is it gives me options. I can move up to nine speed when chain and cassette changing time comes. I have a set of nine speed Dura Ace bar ends waiting in the wings for this very day. 

It will also allow me to go to an 11-34 cassette with the capacity to team with a wide range sub compact double or a triple. So basically I’m set for future tweaks to my setup.

All in all, I’m really happy to have rediscovered this unsung hero of a mech. Is anyone else running an M55 out there? I’d be interested to hear about your setup and your impressions of it.

The polished aluminium of the M55 ties in perfectly with the shiny silver theme elsewhere.

Have nine years changed my impressions of the M55? Nope. Not a jot.



The Falcon rises, reForged…

A few weeks ago I blogged about my acquisition of a nice, 1980s Falcon touring bike. A garage find, it polished up nice, needed no new parts, just TLC. So I went about the application of said TLC and got it to a reasonable level. But I knew I could take it a step further.

Late night perursal of RAL colour charts and researching local powdercoaters quickly ensued. I would transform the Falcon and it would rise, like a, erm, falcon from the ashes of it’s grey charcoal paint, to become the first bike from my new quasi-business venture/labour of love, ‘Mill and Forge’ – rejuvinating old bikes and forging them anew, like Aragorn’s sword, only a lot more useful.

So without further ado, I give you Mill and Forge #1, the Falcon Westminster.

The Falcon, after a lot of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
The Falcon, after a lot of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
This blue-green beauty started life as a charcoal grey Falcon Westminster women’s touring bike, built in the early to mid-1980s; at its heart lies a hand-built, lugged Reynolds 531 frame and a lugged cromo Tange fork.

The beautiful, slender chromed steel rack responded well to the caress of wire wool.
The beautiful, slender chromed steel rack responded well to the caress of wire wool.
When we first saw her in a garage in deepest Cheshire, we knew she had been loved and deserved a second life. The bike oozed quality – the components, the frame, though definitely old-skool, have an elegance and quality that you just don’t get any more.

Shimano's Altus LT derailleur - early eighties vintage. A sight more elegant than Shimano's current Altus offering.
Shimano’s Altus LT derailleur – early eighties vintage. A sight more elegant than Shimano’s current Altus offering.
So we brought it back to the Mill and Forge workshop and began to strip away a few decades of dust and dirt, to reveal a bike in fine mechanical fettle, apart from the paintwork, which had definitely seen better days.

The Weinmann 730 sidepulls after some attention with the metal polish. Teamed with alloy rims and new cables, stopping is up to modern expectations.
So it was off to the power-coaters for a media-blast and a nice durable coat of ‘Bianchi celeste’ – a lustrous pastel bluey-green, or greeny-blue , if you will.

Is it blue? Is it green? I dunno…
Back from the painter a few days later and the bike was lovingly put back together. Every component has been cleaned and polished for that ‘better than new’ look.

High quality and utterly elegant SR bars and stem.
We also supplied brand new Michelin World Tour tyres and tubes and new cables throughout. The headset and bottom bracket have been re-greased and all bearings have been adjusted to perfection.

Comfortable, classic Selle San Marco saddle.
The results are, as we’re sure you’ll agree, pretty special.

We offer this stunning, ‘fully-reForged’, ready to ride bike for just £170, local pickup only from Liverpool or Manchester. She’s too lovely to post, we’re afraid.

Look for a comparable new bike (e.g. the Cooper Aintree) and you’ll be parting with around £900, for a bike with none of this old girl’s charm.

Full specification

  • Frame: Reynolds 531 lugged and handbuilt in Britain – fully media blasted and powder-coated
  • Fork: Tange chromoly lugged crown with double eyelets
  • Size: 21inch (54cm) – would suit rider from 5ft 5in to 5ft 8ins approx
  • Colour: blue/green powder-coat
  • Headset: Tange threaded chrome plated.
  • Stem: SR Sakae quill type – hand polished
  • Bars: SR Sakae Road champion vintage with original bar foam
  • Brake levers: Weinmann short reach (good for smaller hands) with extension levers. Black hoods.
  • Brakes: Weinmann 730 sidepull – hand polished
  • Crankset: original SR Sakae Custom 52/42 teeth with built-in chainguard – hand polished
  • Pedals: Lyotard alloy rat-trap style
  • Bottom Bracket: Original Tange full adjustable cup and cone – rebuilt and re-greased
  • Chain – Sedis 5 speed
  • Freewheel – 5 Speed
  • Gear levers – Shimano Altus LT in polished aluminium (old skool friction shift – very low maintenance)
  • Front derailleur – Shimano Altus LT original spec
  • Rear derailleur – Shimano Altus LT original spec – polished aluminium
  • Hubs – Maillard of France, nutted axles front and rear
  • Spokes – rustless
  • Rims: Rigida polished aluminium (better braking than cheaper chrome steel rims and lighter too)
  • Tyres: Michelin World Tour 27 x 1 ¼ brand new with new tubes
  • Seat pin: Fluted aluminium
  • Saddle: Original Selle San Marco Anatomica in suede/split leather
  • Mudguards: Bluemels style chromoplastic in chrome/black with front flap and rear reflector
  • Rear rack: Chrome steel vintage ‘randonneur’ style
  • Price: £170
  • Buy now

All Hail El Resurrectio!

My Plain Jane commuter bike has been crying out for some detail ever since I sourced the frame over a year ago. I’ve wanted to decal it up for a while, but didn’t want to misrepresent the bike and apply Surly stickers (nice as they are) or the like. Originally the frame came from an early 1990s Saracen hybrid, but Saracen decals didn’t go with the image of the rest of the bike.

Country bike before decals

So I was rummaging around the and came across these excellent Resurrectio decals, which are expressly made for bringing an old-but-good frame back from the dead.

The stickers come in two varieties, one for under laquer, one for over. I chose the over-laquer version and after a few emails to Riv’s shipping guy, Vaughn Dice, the stickers were on their way from Walnut Creek, CA, to Liverpool UK.

Applying the decals was a little daunting, as they could easily rip and were pretty much a one-hit affair. Thankfully, Vaughn sent me a link to this excellent How-To, which saved me a whole lot of trial and error.

I think that the result is excellent – the cream and gold of the decals tones perfectly with metallic British Racing Green of the frame.

I give you El Resurrectio

A big thanks to Riv for an excellent product – now when someone asks me what type of bike it is, I say, “Why, sir, it’s a Resurrectio”.