Saturday, September 16, 2017

Time for a Gravel Bike!

Since moving back to Iowa - you know, the state with more gravel roads than any other - I discovered the need for a proper gravel bike. The past seven months have seen me tackling gravel and B roads aboard a variety of bikes like a new Colnago C60, an 80's Tommasini SL, 70's Ciocc SL and even a 1926 Maino Model G! Something had to be better than a 28mm Clement tire pushing through the dirt of a B road. Side note - I've known Irio Tommasini for 25 years now. He made my first real Italian road bike... one I still own and have more miles on this year than any other ride.

All my bikes have a story. In what may be the longest-ever blog post, this is the story of "Linda". Named after the first song that popped up on Italian radio while on its maiden voyage. Yes, I listen to odd 70's Italian ballads at times!

I placed a call to my friends at Tommasini to go over the details and found that their Fire model would fit not only huge 700c tires (40mm passes easily), but that it would also take a 650b x 47mm tire, also known as Road Plus (as coined by WTB). Not only that, but the model they made for catalog photo shoots and trade show display just happened to be in my size! Only one thing was left... I just couldn't do a drab green Tommasini, so I broke out Illustrator and began... if I'm gonna do a gravel bike, a Salsa won't do... I need it to be a modo mio.
Hey Irio, please turn this...
into this!
A few more phone calls and emails and my new repainted Fire frame was here!

Three months start to finish! I usually reserve beauty shots BEFORE a dirty ride but in this case...
A nice thing about taking your time to build up a bike is that new opportunities arise, like the amazing wheel set built by my friend Pete from Ride Maple Wheels. While at the Boston Rebellion, Pete and I discussed wheels and my choice was easy... using my DT rear hub, Pete built me an amazing set of XCX wheels: Front is 408 grams, rear is 458 grams! For sneakers, my friend Roger at Kenda sent me a great hookup with a set of Flintridge Pro's in 40mm! He says they are the hottest thing going and after one ride, I can see why.

The same day the wheels arrived (after an anxious week checking UPS tracking), so did a mysterious package from China... containing my RISK titanium bolt set. I love the name. When I start my ti bolt company, the last name on my list will be "RISK". However, as much as these folks can't name a brand, they can certainly make beautiful ti bolts that left me wondering: "What happened to the ti bolt craze?!"  Regardless, many many rainbow-colored anodized ti bolts are now on my Fire.

Some RISK ti bolt love!

Count only 10 cogs and note the buried limit screw. A slight miscalculation that will soon be resolved!
"Niobium Doped Tubes"
Cheap-assed brakes that were laying around. Light and with a strong sprint, add Ti bolts, all good.
Prototype pedals that raced Paris-Roubaix. How do I know? Because I do.
Love the signature. I used to hate the horses. Love them now, too!

My latest trick: clear Gorilla Tape on the chain stay!
How do I take my beauty shots? Hula hoop and Photoshop!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

eBay Hunting the Elusive Tommasini Diamante

I always wanted a Columbus MS frame. The unique, hyper-expensive shaped tubeset and its equally costly hen's teeth lugs were the thing of teenage dreams (ok, a certain, focused section of very few teenagers' dreams). The Tommasini Diamante in the Colorado colorway was, of course the ideal target and it seems that at least a few people have recently decided to get rid of theirs in order to afford a new carbon wünderbike. In the meantime, I'm enjoying my Somec MS Leader and yes, it does provide a nice ride. Unfortunately, the late 80's and early 90's tightened things up in the tire clearance category, so these end up being road-only bikes (no gravel).

It seems that $2500 will get you a decent-shape Dura-Ace or Record bike, while $5000 is the going rate for NOS, which I can't believe even exist! Here are four that can currently be had on eBay:

1. $5000 for this NOS(!) Colorado painted bike that was "purchased for a collection". OK, I get it... someone in MI had enough money to buy an amazing bike and stare at it for near 30 years before deciding it just wasn't for them, or their collection! Size 58, if you're so inclined (I'm not).

2. $500 is the starting bid on this 56cm. Honestly I'm tempted. I have a C-Record group on its way that would fit this perfectly (and it would fit me perfectly), but I get the feeling this may not be what it seems. Either this seller has no idea what he has or he has some silly $3000 reserve! Oh, and the fact I have two more frames on the way to finish doesn't leave room for this project. Maybe it'll still be there in a year's time!

3. $2500 OBO for this oddly colored version. I've spoken with this seller about this before. I'm not into paying for another Kara Ginther saddle, lovely as it is. But brown just doesn't work with the pink and green, IMO! Also, it a 55 and yet another ShimaNO Tommasini, which just won't do for me. OK, Campy rims and seatpost, but...

4. $2500 will get you this 57cm Diamante with early Record Ergopower in the Magniflex Blu color way. 

And just to keep things interesting, there seems to be enough people out there with parts and know-how to pantograph and/or gold plate! Here are some Tommasini-themed examples that may come in handy with the restoration of a friend's Tommy that I've been asked to help out with:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Rest In Peace, Luciano

One of my favorite people in the world is no longer with us. This morning, Luciano Berruti, Mr. l'Eroica, suffered a heart attack and died while doing the thing he inspired many of us to do... just ride!

Fundraising for the film about his life have been ongoing for a little while now, and I'll post links to it once I can locate the correct place. In the meantime, I urge you to watch this trailer, even if you don't understand Italian. You don't need to know the words to understand the type of person Luciano was.

I ask that we all honor his memory by striving to be as kind to each other as he was to us, by appreciating the old school values and history of cycling and by riding your bike... whatever bike it is, old or new, high end or decrepit.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Getting The Ciöcc Up And Running

Got the Ciöcc back up and running thanks to eBay and a pretty beat up Concor saddle. I also threw on a set of "new vintage" wheels (if that makes any sense) built up around a set of polished de-badged Sun clinchers and some 28mm Clements. I'm getting more and more away from all those old tubies just from a cost and practicality standpoint. I still have way too many, but more and more am hitting gravel aboard new wide clinchers.

Here's how she looks at the entrance to one of my local B-roads!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Maino "il Postino"

After my last trip to Gaiole for l'Eroica last year, I made my way to Enzo's place, where we dug up some fossil remains of three Maino's. Two ancient road racers he would never sell (not in their current state anyway), so I made an offer on the old city bike frame. It still had some of the original grey paint patched in with a bunch of rust. Unfortunately, the fork dropouts looked like they had been glued back on with gum. So, it was off to Ciocc, where a quick fix lasted all of one ride once home. A final fix would be performed by Rob Roberson down at Joe Bell's place. New dropouts were put in place properly.

I built it up rather uniquely. I found a Sturmey Archer S2C hub that shifts two internal gears by kicking back a little, and has a coaster brake. It's a 138% drive ratio that makes it perfect for this application... gears and brakes with zero cables.

Aluminum foil and WD-40 cleaned up the rust a bit and I found some great Maino decals from Enzo to boot. Add a big coil sprung leather saddle, some huge Clement tires bar/stem/bell and pedals from Velo-Orange and it's a hit! The real kicker for this bike was the Condorino-style handlebars that just fit perfectly. It rides like a dream and the best thing about small town middle of nowhere is that it looks like a real clunker and I don't think anyone will be tempted by the "Maino" - what the heck is that, anyway, right?!?

ps - it doesn't show well in the photos but I also have a SOMA-fab bullet light mounted to one of the rear rod-brake mounts for just a little bit more retro style. Haven't used it yet, as the post office isn't open at night, and I haven't ridden this thing for any other purpose yet! Who knows, maybe it'll make an evening run to the Mexican restaurant downtown sometime in the fall!

The finished product on one of its post office runs

Three gems

I get turned on by rear ends like these!

Proof of concept

No amount of money was going to pry these bars from Enzo! 

Ubiquitous hero shot

Let's see... 1930's cranks, 40's chain, with new pedals and S-A kickback shifter hub. OK...

Friday, July 7, 2017

2016 l'Eroica find for the Rossin

If only I had €1500 burning a hole in my pocket in Gaiole last year! The Ghibli would've been a hit with gold-plated C-Record on it. But, alas, yet another one that got away.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Ciöcc Finally Getting the Miles In

Finally got the chance to shoot the Ciöcc recently. I've been riding ALL the old Italian steel lately, especially on the local gravel (ghiaia). This week, at the end of one such ride, the Selle San Marco Concor shown here snapped at the rail. Luckily I only had six or seven miles to home, standing all the way. At that point, it was time to wash this baby and get it out to photo it in this incarnation, as it may be a while before it returns to this somewhat period correct look (eBay has only a few 3TTT suede saddles listed, and they go for north of $150).

This is the rare pre-CPSC era Ciöcc that was built for Milanese sprinter Musone (his name stamped into the rear dropouts) and a very rare team frame built with Nervex lugs. I documented its restoration on youtube, which to date has 34,000 views mainly because Giovanni can be heard pronouncing and explaining the name Ciöcc. Comments have always asked to see the finished product, so I'll link them back to this post.

My last trip to Giovanni's shop led me to the guy that most likely built these team frames. He remembered the vintage and told me a few things that had I scribbled on a note somewhere around here.

The bike rides great. Now, I just need to find a new saddle...

As I found it...

That great Musone dropout