Tuesday, December 4, 2018

3 Out, 4 In This Year

I promised not to n+1 (or s-1) too hard this year, but I failed. Out went the Colnago C60 - I got such a great deal on it that I actually made money on selling the frame. The Campy Record 11v EPS group stayed for the next project (more on that later). Such an amazing frame, why would I sell it? Well, I have another super light carbon, and I don't really ride that bike either! I'm never going to race (and crash) a frame that nice, plus they just came out with the C64, so...

Out went the Vianelli, to Australia of all places! There is a box dimension limit there, so shipping this was quite the experience. I had to split it into 2 shipments and customize the boxes to get them to fit!

And out went the Somec MS! I love the MS, but not to fear... there was a plan.

The main reason for the Leader MS sale was that an internet friend of mine from Russia, Alex, had another MS in my size and too small for him. A deal was struck and the long wait ensued. Evidently this frame was in Holland with a friend. Once Alex had it, he wasn't happy about the fork's chrome condition. What to do... the main reason I wanted this frame was that it was painted by the master, Mario Martini. It's what I really needed to have. Alex is a big fan as well, and he found the solution - chrome paint! It was the only way to get it back to looking near original while preserving the Martini details on the fork. Had I not written it here, nobody would ever notice!

I'm building it up with my new sweet spot - 10v downtube indexing shifters, Delta brakes and SGR pedals. Alloy 10v Campy! I have new decals and some neon housing on the way in both yellow and pink... this frame won't be subtle... just like the late 80's!

Speaking of Somec, the previously mentioned EPS parts will go on this new custom Somec Multistrade alloy gravel frame. The Lauf fork has been waiting in the garage for almost a year now, but will soon hit the road... and they're all gravel around here, so it's so appropriate!

I'm waiting on a few parts to finish it, but it may hit the "road" this weekend already! Gold ti bolts will be added over the winter, to match a gold KMC chain and a few other bits. Will also get a Leonardi seatpost, and there's one more little surprise that came from the C60's loose Ferrari connections/history.

So that makes 2 of 4. What else did I get on the plus side this year? Oh yeah, the Wolhauser and the alloy Colnago. N+1 is great when it is profitable or pays for itself over the long run! I guess I need some more photos...

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Colnago Master Ibex

I've been searching for a Tommasini Monte Amiata to hang my Record OR group on for a number of years. One failed attempt with a Yo! Eddy that was too big got me to rethink my options. While any Columbus-tubed Italian frame could work, to really have something special, you need to start with a special frame.

I've disliked, or rather been non-plussed with, Colnago's 80's and 90's colors for quite some time. Most likely I was jaded by the silly top tube rider or their odd fades and color combos. Whatever they got wrong on their classic road bikes, however, they got totally right on their mtb offerings.

The Master Ibex is now something that I'm going down the rabbit whole with. They can be had for good prices (the latest Monte Amiata frame is listed for $1700) if you know where to look, and come in a variety of tubing configurations (toss in a Gilco tube somewhere in the main triangle or even find an alloy version). So long as it's post U-brake (so, 1988 and on), I think I have a winner. I mean, just look at those gaudy colors!

I've read that the Master mtb frames are heavy as can be. No worry, so was the Record OR group! Also, scroll down far enough and you'll see the shoes that MUST be worn with it!

Friday, September 14, 2018


99 years ago today, in a tiny village called Castellania above Novi Ligure, Fausto Coppi, the second Campionissimo, was born (the first being my hero, Girardengo, born just down the hill in Novi some 26 years earlier).

I was lucky enough to make a pilgrimage there in 2012. You begin to sense the history on the long road up the hill towards the town in the middle of (or on top of) nowhere. Around twisty bends, 100-year-old buildings are covered in mega posters of their champion.

I was able to talk my way into his childhood home, normally a museum and closed for most of the year and certainly on a January evening. A modest donation to the caretaker and the guided tour was on by a cousin of the great Coppi! Honestly, I think everyone in town claims to be a close relative. Why not?

The great Italian sports writer (and much more than that) Gianni Brera described Fausto Coppi:

“The bicycle is his the other half. He forgets about his looks, with his breastbone that could be stolen from a chicken, his short neck, his shoulders practically attached to his face, and his two feet that look like seal fins. The bike becomes a part of himself and his lopsided bones.”

Not what you would expect from someone who would become the most important sporting icon in Italy and the cultural symbol of a postwar nation trying to enter the modern age. He seemed fragile, but unbeatable on a bike. The kind of thing that every scrawny kid imagines when turning his pedals in anger...

Fausto and Serse's final resting place.

Fausto's childhood bedroom.

Serse's room.

Local shops still post his photo in the window.

Guide to monuments around Italy dedicated to Coppi.

To the left of il Gira, Coppi's wall at the Museo dei Campionissimi in Novi Ligure.

Friday, April 6, 2018

il Drali, Marnati and Fantini. Classic Italian Cycling Videos for your Friday Enjoyment

Masters of the trade. An artisan industry that today's market can't comprehend. True innovators of a process that may get lost in today's hyper technical world. Personalities. Legends.

This is the music we should all listen to in our shops! OK, either this, Vasco or RPI (Italian Prog)

il Drali's new partners reached out to me recently to discuss the US market and get my advice. Life is odd. Were I to stop in to il Drali's shop, I would sit and ask him about his father's work with Stucchi and listen for hours. I just put down another bullet point on my next l'Eroica trip planner!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Pelizzoli, Ciöcc, Gion Italia and John the Star U.S.A.

I posted a reply in a Ciöcc thread over at Bike Forums and thought it should be on here as well. I typically go in the opposite direction but the content from a long phone call was too good to pass up. Here is the post in all it's glory...

Yes, that's my old video of Giovanni finally pronouncing and translating his nickname. I just got off the phone with him and after a LONG conversation, have a few more things I can offer... I hope ANY of it is useful or at the very least, interesting!

Gio was born in 1942 and at 25 built his first Ciöcc in 1967.

Here's an interesting one... my friend Claudio wasn't the first Corti to win aboard a Ciöcc. His brother Mario won the Vuelta de la Juventud Mexicana in 1971 for C.S. Fiat as a dilettante. Check out this image...

The Corti's, like Giovanni, were born in Curno. The first Ciöcc frames had just a "C" decoration, taken not from the nickname, but from the town Curno, which then merged with two other locales to form Curdomo, a model name used today under the brand Pelizzoli. Evidently, as Italian towns expanded there was plenty of name shuffling - reminds me of the direction Iowa schools systems are going!

Branding: The "C" with tail was inspired when Giovanni saw a Cimatti model with a similar tail. His new logo was met with consternation by the moto brand but was easily explained away in that his tail was curved while theirs was straight. When asked the exact timing of this, his only recollection is "Certainly after Claudio's win". Take that with a grain of salt though. I have seen mixed frames where the seat stay cap has no tail while the original decals do. Italian inventory planning of small raw materials was never precise!

Iper: Yes, literal translation is Hyper, supposedly "better" than Super. BUT - this name was applied to bikes sold in a local Curno/Bergamo bike shop owned by a close friend of Giovanni's! If you see this on a bike... I suggest buying it, as it represents a very narrow production range for a local marketer, hence rare and likely of top production - reputation locally was everything!

He names his Golden period of Ciöcc as 77-81 or 82... top of his head, he can't remember exactly when it was sold! He still retains the rights to the brands Gion Italia (Italian spelling of John) and John the Star U.S.A. I've been in his shop a number of times and have literally spent weekends there fishing around his piles of old junk frames - I've never seen evidence of a John the Star frame. It also deserves a good story, and there is one...

He got a phone call from a company in Milan threatening to file a suit against his use of U.S.A. Not sure the legal validity of such a case - we're talking Italy here. Giovanni replies with a question... 'well, what do you think U.S.A. means?!?' and the reply is obvious, followed by 'well, what do YOU think it means?' to which Giovanni replies his unassailable use of "Unione Saldatori Artigiani". The agent goes silent and the Union of Artisan Framebuilders never hears another word about the case.

The crew...

Hope this was interesting!