Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ride - For Whatever Reason

Photo from BetterPhotoJim

I just got back from a ride through Long Beach, California. It wasn't meant to be a pleasurable ride, in fact, it was only motivated by the fact that I had to get home from dropping my car off at the mechanic without having to ask my wife to follow me out there at 7:45 AM on a Saturday. Turns out that it was an unexpectedly wonderful little 14 mile jaunt.

I'm so glad I was able to do this ride because it reaffirmed my belief that cycling, for whatever reason, is a great pastime. I'll be honest, the past couple of years have been filled with many activities, but riding hasn't been one of them. For exercise I concentrate on resistance training using weights and push-ups and then cardio using kettlebells. (You can read more about my exercise and eating routines HERE.) Cycling hasn't been part of my routine for a few years now. I've always loved cycling gear and bicycles, so collecting them is great fun for me, but riding has been restricted to just around the neighborhood and short errands. Getting my butt on a saddle this morning was the first step in bringing cycling back into my life. 

In my next post I'll talk about the bike I chose for this ride and why I chose it.

What about you? Do you ride as often as you'd like to? If so, HOW do you find the time?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What would YOU like?

What would you like to see on this blog? 

I have tons of content ready and waiting, but want to make sure I'm providing the content you, the community, wants.

What's missing from other vintage bicycle Web sites that you'd like to see, or what's out there that you'd like more of?

This is your wish list. Leave comments below.

Let's keep this thread going... we've got a long road ahead of us, friends, and I'm planning on enjoying every mile.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Let's talk about Treks, baby...

In the broad spectrum of bicycle collecting, it's easy to focus on the exotic, rare, and expensive, but there's an entire population of bicycles that have sat under more rear ends than all of the Cinellis, Bottecchias and Colnagos combined. I'm speaking, of course, about mass-produced, or production bicycles, and if you think these aren't worth your time as a collector, then that's fine because the people who collect these would rather keep their niche to themselves. 

Vintage Schwinn Paramount - Photo from Spoke Sniffer

In America, the most popular mass production bicycle for collectors is Schwinn. But if we narrow the collecting category to lightweight road bicycles, Schwinn has only a few models that are still sought after; the most prominent of which is the Paramount. Ask any Paramount collector, though and he'll tell you that these thoroughbreds fall far from the production line. 

There are plenty of manufacturers that manufactured great road bicycles throughout the 20th century, and many of these are still available today. That's one of the things about mass-produced bicycles - they were many, many of them made. The flip-side of this though, is that owners may not have considered them special enough to take care of for the long-term. 

I discovered a 1970s Univega Gran Premio the other day at the Show of Steel Bikes, and was pleased to see it for many reasons. Back when the best bicycle I could afford was a Univega Viva Sport, my best friend's parents bought him a brand new 1980 Gran Premio. I was so envious. His bicycle was three and a half pounds lighter than mine, and had double-butted Chro-Mo, and all the best Japanese components from the day, while mine had a frame of straight-gage steel, "safety" levers on the brakes, an outter chain ring guard on the crankset (apparently to discourage wayward pant hems from finding their way onto the greasy chain,) and a heavy padded seat. 

I modified my bike the best I could with the budget I had. I removed the safety levers and hacksawed off the mounting pegs for them and put rubber hoods on the levers, replaced the seat with a Selle San Marco that I found at a yard sale, changed out the 13 - 32 freewheel with a 12-21 and removed the chain wheel pant guard. I also put narrower tires on the Araya 27" x 1" alloy rims. I might have shaved a pound off the bike, overall, but that would have to do for several years until I saved up enough to buy my Batavus Professional in 1984. 

Meanwhile, my friend, who really wasn't all that much into cycling, left the Gran Premio outdoors and, exposed to the elements, became un-ridable after only a couple of years. What a shame, but my point to all this is that the Gran Premio, although not considered a "classic collectible" by most back in the day, is now appearing at vintage bicycle shows and finding its way into and, as in my case, back into people's hearts.

Photo from

Trek was started in 1975, and I'm not going to go into details on the company history because that's what Wikipedia is for. Nor do I have any personal anecdotes surrounding the brand. I will say that, if I were to start collecting mass-produced bicycles, I'd look seriously at Trek. The main reason for this is the vast amount of information on the company and its bikes from 

Photo from

No, I haven't been commissioned to write anything by the owners of the site. They don't even know I'm praising them...yet; although I'll send them an email with a link to this, eventually. I'm one of these collectors that loves to have the provenance and marketing materials to accompany my bikes. I've purchased brochures that match the years and models of my Kleins, and Bianchi, and love reading up on their history, in general. I'm certain Vintage-Trek would satisfy my passion for researching any of the Treks I found. 

Let's leave this post right here for now. I want to talk about Specialized, Raleigh, GT, and Fuji bicycles as well in the follow-up to this post. If you have anything to say about these brands or other mass-produced bicycles, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For Forks Sake!

Finally getting down to detailing the Mystery Klein frame, which includes removing the idiotic decals someone plastered to the forks.




Folks, please, if you have a beautiful bike frame, don't disgrace it by turning it into a billboard. If you are racing and have a sponsor, it's another situation, but otherwise, leave the bumper stickers for you Jaguar. 

This has been a public service announcement. 

The Management

Monday, December 12, 2011

Show of Steel Bikes - All the Photos

Here's a LINK to all the photos from the Show of Steel Bikes in Orange, CA last Sunday 12/4/11. A special thank to Jesse from TorelliFan Web site and his team/friends for making this show happen. 

Jesse and I have been in touch since, and he's looking to bring another show to our area in the Spring. You can be sure I'll promote this and report on it for the community. 

I've added captions to as many bikes as I could within the photos, as best as my memory allows. If you have any specific questions on a bike pic in this collection, shoot me an email or comment below and I'll do my best to find an answer. Thanks.

If you know of any other shows that highlight vintage road bikes, chime on in; we'd love to hear from you.

Here's the video animation of the photos. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Potpourri of Parts off the Mystery Klein

I've stripped the parts Klein mystery bike (turns out it's NOT a Stage, as they had fender eyelets. Hoping it's a Klein Team Super or the like - more on this in an upcoming post), and cleaned them. 

Missing from these photos is the Shimano Titlist front derailleur (This is NOT a typo, Shimano Titlist.... let's continue, shall we?) and some generic Shimano downtube shifters. 

There was also some SR bars that were scratched beyond recognition or comprehension, frankly, as I don't understand how drop bars can have scratches on the tops of the drops unless someone was riding the bicycle upside down or wore gloves made out of steel wool, but I digress.

As mentioned in a previous post on this bike, the SR stem's 5mm allen bolt was rounded out, so that was recycled along with the bars. The prize of the component haul is the Campagnolo Super Record derailleur. It's in excellent shape, and will be placed proudly in the museum, until I work up the courage to use it in a build sometime down the road. 

The Sugino cranks are the second set of Mighty Competition cranks I've acquired recently, the other off of the Alan. These cleaned up very well, and have been zip-locked for safe keeping. 

The brakes are black Weinmann Type 500, which still fetch about $25 for the set on eBay. I don't see using them in a future lightweight build, but they look nice and represent a piece of cycling component history, so I'll hold onto them.

The rims are semi-aero Araya tubulars and are very light and true. A nice spare set of wheels is always welcome. The seatpost is branded Cannondale, but looks like it's missing an adjustment bolt. I'll investigate further tomorrow as I begin cleaning and polishing the frame. 

Stay tuned for more edge-of-your-seat gear geek speak! Ouch... that was painful.

Quick Tiip Tutorial - How to Find Vintage Bicycles on CraigsList [Video]

Part two of "Where to Find Vintage Bicycle Parts." (Part One here).

This video shows how to search on CraigsList as well as how to set up RSS feeds of your searches on Google Reader. 

Have any more tips? Please chime on in with a comment.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where to find vintage bicycle parts

I received a tweet today that read, "Hey @RacingBicycles where does one shop for vintage parts? I am a Bianchi nut and have 4 new and looking to rebuild 1 early 80's."  

I love questions like this, because, unlike many other things in my life, I think I have a pretty good system in place for searching for vintage bikes and parts.

I have several ongoing searches in eBay. With each search, I opt for eBay to email me when it the item is listed. Some of these searches are category-specific, and others are general searches across all categories. The latter is great for catching items that people may not know how to categorize. For example, I won the auction for my 1973 Nuovo Record rear derailleur by simply searching for "campagnolo deraileur +rear" in the eBay general search. This search returned most of the hits in the Sporting Goods>>>Outdoor Sports>>>Cycling>>>Road Bikes and Parts, but there were also several in Collectibles and Art>>>Collectibles>>>Transportation>>>Bicycles>>>Bicycle Parts. Since this category gets less traffic, there's a good chance fewer people will bid on the items, and you'll get a better price. This doesn't always work, but it's proved effective in many instances for me.

In addition to eBay, I use the RSS feature in CraigsList. I'll post a video walk through on this soon on this, so stay tuned, but the process is simple once you get used to it. The RSS feed is a subscription for a particular search. That feed is aggregated within Google Reader, although you can use any RSS reader you wish, including many new good ones available for iOS mobile devices. 

I check Google reader as time permits each day, and scan the results. There's some secrets to searching within CraigsList that I'll share in a future post - SOON, I promise. As I said, lots to be covered in the subject of searching for vintage bike parts, and I want to share everything I know. 

Unfortunately, right now I have to run. My seven-year-old is in the bathtub at the and I think our Dachshund is about ready to jump in with him, so I need to discourage that ASAP! :)

Keep up with the tweets, comments, and emails - having a blast, and I hope you are too! 

Show of Steel Bikes - A Few Pics

Here's just a few pics from the Show of Steel Bikes this past Sunday in Orange, CA. There's another show coming soon - probably in the spring, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mystery Klein

Here's the Klein that I mentioned in a previous post. It came last night and I was able to snap a few lousy pics in my garage. I'll need your help identifying this frame. I know a little about Kleins, and have learned quite a bit from Diablo Scott's bicycle blog.

No serial number anywhere to be found on this frame, and I've looked in all the usual and unusual places that Klein hid those numbers. No rack eyelets, so it's not a Stage as the eBay auction noted. If the model is wrong, then the "1976" year that the seller quoted is also wrong. It's probably from the 1980s, but what model? I'd love it to be a Team Super Light, so extra points to the person who can prove that! :)

That half inch fracture is from the previous owner losing the seat post binding bolt and using tape around the seat post to keep it from slipping into the seat tube. That extra stress of trying to stuff a wider tube into the opening stressed the aluminum and fractured it. Shame. But... I don't think it is a deal-killer. With a long seat post and perhaps a metal hose clamp around the collar, that crack probably won't grow any.

Came with a really minty Campagnolo Super Record derailleur and a nice set of Araya sew up rims (Shimano hubs), Sugino Super Mighty crankset and some cheesy Dia Comp brakes and levers. The stem had an unusual 5mm allen bolt that was stripped, so I removed the bars (cheap, narrow and heavy) and stem and will recycle those.

So... It will be interesting to watch the comments on this frame over the months and years this blog is around to see what people think this Klein model is.

Any ideas? It's a Klein Team Super Light, right??  :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

1973* Campagnolo Nuovo Record Derailleur

I purchased this on eBay a week ago or so, and was surprised when it arrived yesterday at the overall excellent condition of this Campagnolo Nuovo Record derailleur. Very few sings of oxidation, only minor abrasions, and even the return spring action is still strong. 

Keen eyes might notice a missing tooth or two on the jockey wheels. No biggie. This isn't going on a bicycle anytime soon. I know - Gasp! Criminal, right? Fact is, I'm building a vintage parts museum that will represent iconic bicycle parts from the last 50 years, so finding decent representative parts is hard enough; I'm not going to then thrash them by putting them to use. 

There's a strong argument that bikes are meant to be ridden, and parts are meant to be used. I can make the argument that some bicycles can be considered works of art, and the same goes for parts. Tributes to industrial design, if you will. I own bicycles that I rotate out and ride on a regular basis, but I also have a couple that I like to keep in pristine condition, so I don't ride them. It's not like the world has a bicycle shortage. I'm not hording pennies, for crying out loud. 

What's your opinion? Do you keep any parts to display and/or admire? What about whole bicycles - have any that you never ride, just look at?

* Year is approximate - Brev. Int. Campagnolo

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Modolo Team Brakes - White

I bought this pair of Modolo Team brakes as NOS about seven years ago to put on my Olmo Sintex, but have since migrated them to my Batavus Professional, and now... they will be going into the Bicycle Parts Museum (soon to be a link to a fantastical array of vintage bicycle parts...totally drool-worthy, trust me.)

I'll need an expert to chime in here, but it seems that the "Team" models were simply the Modolo Professional brakes in white. As you can see, mine are now more of a cream color, but hey - makes them even more rare, right? Ahem... In any case, they have about 25 miles on them, total, and while cleaning them up for their photo session this morning, a tiny strip of white paint or acrylic coating - whatever the brake shoes are coated with, fell off. This tells me that these are ready to retire, and not destroy by using them on a bike. If paint is starting to come off of these that easy, then they would be thrashed within six months of use. 

Pretty brakes, though, ehe? My favorite brakes are these and Campagnolo Record Cobaltos. Poetry in anti-motion, I suppose. You follow? Good. :)

Here's what they look like when they are actually white. Click HERE.  

What about you? Do you like Modolo brakes? Any input on the "Team" designation? Chime on in.
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