Sunday, September 25, 2016


It's been a blur of late, what with planning all of our Ridebiker activities for 2017, working the custom club kits for next year, and of course a very quick trip to Vegas for Interbike! On top of that, l'Eroica is fast approaching and the lists are being checked, bags are being packed.

Interbike was great as usual, bumping into old friends from all over the world. Particularly nice was seeing the crowd form around Cipo as he interrupted his selfie session and came over for a chat.

Gary had a great show with Somec, USA. I keep saying that there is an aging crowd who cares less and less about winning the sprint on the big Sunday group ride or Wednesday night world championship. There may just be more unicorns like me who appreciate the artistry in old-world manufacturing, and damn the power numbers. Sometimes, style counts WAY more than your legs!

It was nice to run into Paul from, an ambitious new website that is towards the top of my list. Brian Ignatin from HBG showed up to the Rose Bowl ride a couple months ago and posted this article on my Somec a while back. Obviously, more examples of those with a proper appreciation for Italian steel!

With that, I'm unpacked from Vegas and repacking for l'Eroica. I have a number of interesting stops both before and after the event and will have the camera rolling the entire time. More to come...

And yes, that's my Sammontana-version Masini kit!

Thursday, July 28, 2016


I'm responding on a forum about what I'll ride and wear in Gaiole this fall. Seems like the right time to upload these photos from 2014, when I failed to complete the long route on this "cancello" due to a dangerously out of adjustment front hub with a less-than-functional cup and cone assembly that prevented further attempts on the road to fix it! It's a 1919 Touring model made by Bianchi. Wood rims one usable gear, heavy, glorious!

To the point, I'll be riding this...

And wearing this...

This photo was actually the background image for the l'Eroica website for most of 2015!

Monday, July 25, 2016


It's finally done! My dream bike from my early days of pouring over Bicycling and Winning magazines back in the 80's. It took some vision, some time and a few bucks to turn this...

into this...

Paint expertly recreated by my friends at The Bicycle Stand in Long Beach. Original decals from the Joe Bell archive. Parts from all over the world via eBay. THIS was the dream bike, in THIS color, built just like THIS.

I already have a couple of metric centuries (possibly the only centuries I'm good for these days) and the ride is fantastic. The Campy Syncro II shifting leaves a little to be desired, as does the gearing. Other than that, I'm simply amazed at how well a somewhat heavy (22 lbs) but extremely well thought out and well built Italian steel bike rides. It just fits. You simply sit in and it feels like a proper bike should feel. You pour yourself into position because it puts you in the correct position.

A couple of points for the vintage crowd... Don't believe what most say about Delta brakes and SGR pedals. They both work very well if set up correctly. OK, they're heavy as it gets... but LOOK at them! Prettier components have never been designed for a bicycle. 

Here is the build:

Saddle:  Campagnolo Electa Pneumatic
Seatpost:  Campagnolo (not sure the flavor)
Rims:  Campagnolo Lambda Strada aero clincher
Hubs:  Campagnolo Croce d'Aune
Water Bottle:  Campagnolo Biodynamic
Shift Levers:  Campagnolo Syncro II
Cables:  Campagnolo
Pedals:  Campagnolo SGR-1
Bottom Bracket:  Campagnolo Croce d'Aune
Crank:  Campagnolo Croce d'Aune
Chainrings:  Campagnolo, 53 x 39
Front Der:  Campagnolo Croce d'Aune
Rear Der:  Campagnolo Croce d'Aune
Chain:  Regina 50 SL hollow pins
Freewheel:  Regina Extra 7v
Brake Levers:  Campagnolo Croce d'Aune
Brakes:  Campagnolo Croce d'Aune Delta
Headset:  Campagnolo Chorus
Handlebars:  Cinelli EXA, 44cm c-c
Stem:  Cinelli 101

Spokes are DT Swiss and tires are Clement Strada LGG 25's. Still working on alphabet icons for those!

I had fun with the build. Filling in the pantographing was fun, and the raised "Rossin" logo on the seat stay caps was another lesson in detail painting and a steady hand. Seat tube needed to have the overspray sanded out.

The headset proved to be the biggest issue. Many Ghibli's were sent to US customers built with Shimano groups. This one certainly did, as the fork threads were cut rather short. With a 10mm difference in headset stack heights between vintage Campy and Shimano, I was left with not even half of a thread's engagement! I first ordered a Tange Passage in order to use lower-stack races with the Campy Headset. That seemed logical, and was a good tip from a friend; however, the Tange uses smaller bearings so, no dice. The solution was quickly found at my grinder wheel. The Campy lock nut has a 1mm lip that fits over the locking spacer. Grind it down, file it flat, lose the spacer and add Loctite. It's that simple!

The final issue may actually be the culprit for my less-than-optimal shifting. This Ghibli's rear derailleur housing stop is unique and mine even more so, as it seems a bit "D" shaped and doesn't hold my step-down ferrule tightly.

Here are some more beauty shots, taken near Angel's stadium on the bike path. My apologies to the under-the-bridge crowd for the disturbance to your neighborhood. Hope I brought a little color to the area.

Hollow pin chain! And that odd housing stop!

Raised logo on the caps.

Great Pantographing.

ESI mtb grip caps with bubble-printed logos from Poland!

The famous Ghibli bb shell, and more pantographing.


Not-so-common Cinelli front end.

Even more uncommon Campagnolo saddle with air bladder!

Thursday, July 7, 2016


The project that restarted this blog at the beginning of the year with this post is almost complete. Some spectacular stuff coming, as soon as I can sort out a vintage headset problem... more on that later. It has also sparked my interest in the Rossin brand and especially the Ghibli as a flagship frame that set the standard in the late 1980's.

That research led me to a recent discovery. Other than the fact that Rossin catalog scans don't seem to be very common online like those of Bianchi, there seems to be quite a bit to discover about the Ghibli.

A recent eBay post led me to a conversation with Enrico about his listing for a beautiful (in an 80's way) Rossin "Super" Ghibli. I questioned where he got the "Super" from and his response included a scan previously ignored on my prior searches. It doesn't show in the 1988 catalog scan that seems to be out there, even though the layout and graphic seems very similar.

The Super Ghibli then, seems to be a Ghibli with a fork from a Prestige, which creates an even more striking combination. The Prestige fork is stunning and quite a departure from other microfusion lugs/crowns of the day. They also call out exclusive RC 40 dropouts. The dropout/hanger in the photos matches mine at the cable stop. Could mine be a Super without the Prestige fork crown?

Enrico's listing. Thank goodness it's not a 56 - I'm out of room in the paddock!

The Prestige crown mated to a Ghibli.

Stunning Ghibli paint job, the gorgeous BB shell... yep, it's a Ghibli!

Grezzo forks can be had on eBay... should I?

That ad. Other than the fork crown it boasts of exclusive RC 40 dropouts.

So I'm calling all Ghibli experts... William, any ideas?!? 

Thursday, June 16, 2016


New bike week!

From Somec:

In the 60's, Oliviero Gallegati worked as a mechanic for the Giro d'Italia. Seeing a need to establish standards for Giro mechanics, he established the Società Meccanica (Mechanic's Society) thus creating the acronym for SOMEC frames which he began building in 1973. Not naming frames after oneself in Italy is a rarity among Italian frame builders. 

SOMEC adopted two symbols to identify its brand: the tulip and the prancing horse. The tulip chosen for its elegance, sweetness and variety of colors. The prancing horse, symbol of the famous aviator Francesco Baracca Lugo. When you see the SOMEC logo, do not be confused with Ferrari. As the story goes, back in ancient history when Oliviero and Enzo Ferrari both wanted to show the Cavallino on their product, they came to an agreement as fellow "Romagnesi": Ferrari would put the tail up, SOMEC the tail down. They have never argued from that day.

While the Rossin goes in for paint, the "last" bike from my youth (how many times have I said that before plunking down more space credits for another 30 year old bike project?) popped up on the Bay.

Across all my internet message boards I'm amazed that there isn't more discussion about Columbus MS tubing. Preceding the MAX tube set that even has its own appreciation blog, the MS is relatively unknown... or maybe just that rare? Only the Tommasini Diamante was sold in numbers here in the US and I can't really recall any other builder that used it as much as Irio and Oliviero (maybe the Basso Ascot).

Before getting into details, let's look at what was posted at the Zonconato Racing site regarding Columbus in this time frame...

Here’s some history: MAX was the first Nivacrom tubing from Columbus.  Prior to MAX, Columbus' high end offerings had been made of Cyclex steel.  Cyclex steel was internally reinforced with ribbing to provide strength for stronger and bigger riders.  This made the tubes heavier than their non-rifled counterparts. In 1989, Columbus MS tubing was the next evolution. MS (which stood for multi shape) introduced swages and unique shapes to maximize stiffness. MS brought us the famous Diamante chain stays and asymmetric shapes on each side for drive-train stiffness. The only issue with MS was, you guessed it... weight.  Enter MAX, MAX was made of a new steel.  A stronger and lighter steel.  Such that it could be drawn with thinner walls and shorter butts.  In addition, MAX was bi-axially ovalized at the head tube, the seat tube, and at the bottom bracket.  It was oriented in such a way that the cross section where it intersected the seat tube required a unique lug as the sides of the top tube stuck out on both sides of the seat tube. I think you get my point:  MAX was cooler, and stiffer than any tubing Columbus had yet made.  

So back to Somec. THE wildest paint jobs of my bike porn youth were certainly the Ghibli and almost anything made by Somec and Tommasini. So like the Ghibli, this Somec Leader is made of Gilco Cyclex tubing by Columbus, but with the craziest tube shaping ever attempted by the cycling industry at the time. This had to be the most expensive tubing to be drawn, and certainly the most radical lugs made. A triangular non-drive chainstay and ovalized, flattened and teardrop shapes in the main triangle... no wonder I always wanted one!

From Germany comes this Somec Leader, size 56. Perfect other than the non-radical 80's paint job and missing MS decal. I fixed that, though! As the pantographed logos are 90's style and the paint job and decals are 2002 color code C11, I am going to assume this was repainted then. MS Leaders disappear from the Somec catalogues in the mid to late 90's, so let's call this a '94, repainted in '02!

The component build is all Campy, mostly record, as little carbon as possible. It also features Ambrosio clincher rims and new Clement LGG 28's. File this under "things rarely said", but this is the first set of clinchers I've had in years!

While waiting for a few other parts to arrive, I repainted the pantographing on the frame. In addition, thanks to my new friend Gary at Somec USA, I have a Deda pantographed stem and Deda bars and a pair of old pantographed Record brakes, not to mention a slew of stickers, old catalogues, bottle and a new matching jersey.

MS tubing takes a 25mm seat post, go figure. The only other frames that quickly come to mind that use this post are Alan bonded frames. My pals at The Bicycle Stand just so happened to have a C-Record post in 25mm!

How about more details? Someone on eBay sells these logo bubbled stickers, used here to dress up a Prologo saddle and bar tape plugs.

Ride report: It was worth the wait, the build and the childhood dreams. Yes, it's dreamy!