A Ponderosa Cyclery Eisentraut Road with Mavic Zap
Photos by Kyle Kelley, words by John Watson
If you think Shimano and SRAM were the first to the e-shifting market, you’re mistaken, my friend. Mavic blazed that trail over a decade before Shimano put its tires down on it. Back before they shifted focus to wheels and apparel, Mavic developed and manufactured component groups. Their “Starfish” cranks are as iconic as their unique headsets, but one group stood out from the rest of Mavic’s catalog. Zap was the name for Mavic’s electronic shifting system and while it was way before its time, it wasn’t underused, making several Tour appearances. Even Chris Boardman secured several victories in the Tour back in 1994 and 1997.
Peloton Magazine interviewed Chris for an article in Issue 05. Here’s an excerpt:
“The Zap system was both very crude and elegantly simple. There was a small toggle switch glued to the back of a standard break lever and a remote button that could be put either on the tops of the bars or on a pair of tri-bars for TT events.”
Boardman continues: “All elements of the system were hard-wire linked. The beauty of Zap was that electricity wasn’t used to shift the gears, the battery only had to send a signal to the rear mechanism where a solenoid engaged the jockey-wheel and the rider’s pedaling action changed the gear. This meant, unlike today’s systems, the battery only had to be tiny and could be stored in a bar end.”
You can read more at Peloton.
Ok, so back to Zap and this bike. Kyle recently visited the fine folks at Ponderosa Cyclery + Tour in Nebraska on a road trip with his girlfriend Liz, en route back to LA from Indiana where Kyle is from. While on the road, he swung through a few shops and shot a few bicycles, first of which is this Eisentraut with Mavic Zap. Now, for those unfamiliar with Eisentraut, he’s regarded as the grandfather of California framebuilders. He’s been building since 1959 and in that time, he’s trained many notable builders including Bruce Gordon and Joe Breeze. His sons eventually took over the shop, so as the saying goes: “if the frame has the Eisentraut name on it, an Eisentraut had his hands on it.”
Eisentraut’s frames hold their value and many collectors don at least one frame in their quivers. This one just so happens to reside at Ponderosa Cyclery + Tour amongst many other unique and rare machines. It’s a 650b conversion, thanks to some long reach Tektro brake calipers and is built with a mix of period correct and modern, yet classy components.
Thanks to the team at Ponderosa for hosting Kyle and Kyle for the photos!