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!

Monday, May 16, 2016

AN ADDED LETTER TO THE ALPHABET! (the Campy alphabet!)

Stumbled across this on eBay over the weekend... first time I've seen the mtb rear derailleur guard "letter".  So as the self-appointed Campy alphabet curator, I had to remake it and post it to my google album.

I can't imagine the importance this item must have held even in those unenlightened Euclid-era days! I can't say I've ever seen one of these in the flesh, however I believe some old Italian mtb ads in Bicisport had these mounted on bikes that not even I would want to ride!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Conflicting reports online as to the inspiration of this hexagonal shaped bar. "Cinelli, The Art and Design of the Bicycle" states that the idea came from a windsurfing boom while Antonio Colombo's own instagram feed quotes him as stating it comes from a tennis racket.

Both are plausible, and yet you begin to wonder why things like the undersized hex'ed Gary Fisher mtb foam grips in the 90's didn't go further even though many mtb grips remain hex-shaped.

Either way, I got a set of these for the Rossin, furthering my 'odd, rare and stylish' component selection for this Holy Grail bike build. I wasn't fortunate enough to get the even rarer purpose-built bar plugs, but that just gives me more to search for on eBay!


Monday, April 11, 2016


Always wanted one, never had a reason combined with means and the availability of today's collector's market on eBay... until now. As stated, the Ghibli will have a collection of parts far beyond any other bike I've built in terms of unique, hard to find items.

This stem is either the lightest quill Cinelli made until the Pinocchio and Grammo stems, or it may just be the most stress risers ever designed into one component, just waiting to snap off at a moment's notice!

Friday, April 8, 2016


You know how the Mrs. is always saying "but they were half price... so I bought a cool dozen!" or something to that effect?!? My standard line is usually something like "but I didn't know Pottery Barn even had an Arbor Day decoration section!"

We all justify our purchases, right? Well, I had committed to buy a set of Croce d'Aune Deltas for $300 (the going rate for a used set). But those were rough, no logos, needed wheel guides on the brake shoes, maybe a new gasket, etc etc. It would set me back another $150 to make them what I wanted. So when I spotted these for $250 with local pickup, I couldn't pass them up!

If I were to justify these, I'd say something to the effect of "this guy just basically PAID ME $200 to take them from him!"

Now, just wait until you see the bars I'm getting for the Rossin! Each part on that bike will be odd, rare or early aero!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

RECORD: the supreme achievement (LESS THE IFFY BRAKES AND PEDALS!)

1992-ish ad for the C-Record group focusing on the SGR pedal features. Yes, highly adjustable for that period and the best bearing system to ever grace a bicycle. But still, the heaviest pedals ever made, and a real bear to unclip.

That's right. I said it. After a few weeks of riding them, and after adjusting the rotation exit point to be just slightly before you tear something in a knee or ankle, these things were made for race-day-only! Sure you can unclip after the big race... when you're leaning on your massaggiatore after the big sprint finish on Via Roma!

Saturday, March 26, 2016


The next piece of my Rossin arrived this week. I always wanted a Campy Electa saddle, and it doesn't disappoint! I got a great price on this ti-railed black Electa (SD-10EL) on eBay a couple of weeks ago and was getting a bit nervous when it didn't arrive immediately.

There is some conflicting or incomplete information on the origins of the "Airdea" pneumatic saddle out there. One side attributes the design to a Swiss racer named  Silvio Fant, while another claims Fugazzi made it. Here are a couple of images of said versions. My thought is that Fant may have designed it and taken it to Fugazzi for production, who in turn licensed the design to Campagnolo and produced the Electa. Regardless, these things go from $250 - $900 (yes, that guy) on eBay. There's a lovely red version being sold right now at a reasonable price, should I decide that two would be almost enough.

Mine holds air quite well, and the air pump was included, along with the box. No instructions, however, so I dug around and found the ones shown here, along with suggested pressure chart, anticipating full suspension charts by quite a few years). I also found the letter shown below from my archives, which seems to be a Campy USA letter introducing the saddle for the trade shows at the time.

From one of my first trade shows, probably CABDA when I was still a bike shop rat. Seems to be first-year introduction, as there is no mention of the titanium version.

Silvio Fant version, from an old eBay listing

Fugazzi-branded Airdea version, from another old eBay listing

And this low-res Fant, from an expired Russian eBay-like listing

Friday, March 18, 2016


I came across this article in a 1989 issue of Bicycling as I was purging about 50 pounds of magazines with very little interesting content. Here is what they had to say about the SGR:

Campagnolo introduced the C-Record SGR-1 pedal last year with extra features for racers. In the company's words, it's a "machine in itself."

The SGR-1 allows the foot to "float" outward 5 degrees to minimize pressure on the knee. There's an adjustment that varies resistance to this rotation and the amount of force needed to release. However, even at its lightest setting the SGR-1 has much more resistance to load than the other systems with this feature (Time and Avenir).

Another adjustment governs the amount of flood (up to the 5-degree maximum). This also affects the release point, as you must take up the flood (by rotating the heel of your foot outward) before the system will disengage.

It's an easy system to enter. Put the front of the cleat in the pedal and slide your foot forward. When exiting, the pedal maintains its position on the axle for easy re-entry. The lean angle is excellent - 4 degrees better than  Campagnolo quill pedal. It uses 2 cup-and-cone bearings on the inside and a needle bearing on the outside.

However, even at the minimum setting the required exit torque is high. (This doesn't bother racers.) And all the features come with a cost - these are the heaviest, most expensive pedals available.

The article's comparison chart is shown below. Note the $400 retail price. In the same issue, I found them for sale $249 from Cycle Goods, $219 from Excel, and $199 from Colorado Cyclist!

In addition, I found this Diadora ad... if you're going to pitch expensive Italian shoes to the masses, you better picture them clipped to the most expensive and over the top pedal system!


While tomorrow may be my favorite race of the year, I should be writing again about it being my first big pro race I ever saw live way back when. However, it also ties to today's topic, my cycling idol, Costante Girardengo, born March 18, 1893. Girardengo won in San Remo six times - seven if you count the time he was DQ'ed for going off course in 1915.

Gira loved San Remo like no other race. Much like myself!

Part of my shrine to Gira... thanks, Brett Horton!

I found this online somewhere and grabbed it a while ago. It's Girardengo's ten points to be a perfect racer...

Quick translation below:

  1. Love your bike and care for it as best you can
  2. Submit your body to the strictest control and avoid, with equal fervor, the excessive wear and tear from unnecessary tasks
  3. Get to bed no later than 10:00 and wake early in the morning, even if you don't have to train
  4. Don't ask from your muscles more than they can give
  5. Stay well away from alcoholic drinks, don't abuse coffee, and never get drunk from wine. Well water is the drink of champions!
  6. Remember to abhor drugs. Taking drugs will age you in no time. You must smoke as little as possible(!).
  7. Don't forget, when racing, to act fairly. Winning from cheating has a toxic stink.
  8. Don't believe you a fuori classe. Don't confuse the desire to win with the certainty of winning. The first is a macho virtue. The second is an ugly swagger. 
  9. Don't just bring your legs to the race, but also your brain. Always have a clear and lucid mind. Only like this can you react to those little moments of difficulty that no racer can avoid, not even the greatest.
  10. Pay your dues according to the rules. If you lose, don't blame the jury. If you win, don't boast to your rivals. Tomorrow could be your turn. Don't complain but consider your sport for what it is:  master of nobility and provider of wellness.
Still applies 90 years later! Well, apart from that smoking bit!

Gira... l'omino who was Italian national champion NINE times, San Remo SIX, fought the Spanish flu, raced until he was 43, "friend" of public enemy #1 Sante Pollastri (of which the famous ballad was written by Grechi), 106 wins on the road and 965 on the track, and DS to Guerra and Bartali.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


My SGR-1 pedals arrived and I've been staring at the box and mix of parts for a few weeks. I finally decided to mount them yesterday and thought I'd document the proceedings.

"... and that's the only thing I need is *this*. I don't need this or this. Just these SGR-1 pedals... And this paddle game. The SGR-1 pedals and the paddle game and that's all I need... And this remote control. The SGR-1 pedals, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need..."

Letting 25-year-old Vicenza air out of its bag is never easy on me...

So am I missing something here? Using the provided hardware, you could NEVER mount these to a shoe. The spacers slip right through the cleat and the screw head and washer do as well! I had to take the grinding wheel to some old spacers and I was back in business. But seriously, you just made the heaviest, most expensive pedals - you add mysterious mounting hardware to them mix? Easy to see why these didn't take off!

Yeah, but can your pedals do THIS!?!

The pedals are stable and provide a nice large platform that I'm not real used to (Speedplay user here). Clicking in is easy, out as well once I stiffened the release adjustment. I also lubed the bearings and loosened up the float as instructed in the manual, presented here --->