Retro Grouch Ride Report

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#1
Well, I managed to open Dillinger's Tomb and drag out some of my old gear, including my 1985 SL team bike. After some dinking around, I got it back enough into rideable shape to to do some riding.

Briefly:

Frameset is Columbus SLX with some hand formed tubes that were typical of team bikes back in the day. These bikes were made under direction of the team's DS and actually made by several small jobber factories. This is how it was done for more than 3 generations, and only a few frames were actually made by an individual, including many of the 'famous' Italian brands you know. The result was the frameset was agnostic and built to spec based on highest overall craftsmenship in the section. So - frame is from one company, tubes from another, fork another, plating, another, dropouts another, etc.

Groupset is pretty standard fare of the day. Campagnolo Super Record Ti. The Ti meant some parts were using Titanium like seatpost, derailler mount, pedal axle, BB axle. This lowered the weight a little more than steel and offered more durability that alloy.

Wheels - Being Italian, we were fond of NISI Countach and Sludi rims. The spokes were handformed, cut and threaded from Italian stock maker. Brass nipples and of course Campy hubs. Even 32h was considered pretty radical and I had most my wheels built 2X which was considered only for lighter riders. Needless to say, they were very rugged - and the weight is not so bad. Maybe 1700gr for full set - with steel axle Campys !

Gearing - not many options existed. Everyone rode 42 /52 or 53. I had a 41T chainring cause I did lots of hills. On the cluster side, we rode 6sp Regina or Campy freewheels. Any variation of 12 - 24 . More than 24T would generally require a different derailer cage to handle the teeth. Chain was almost always Regina or Sedisport . Lustfactor was a Regina Titanium !

Ride - only 1 word can describe these older bikes - SMOOTH. Compared to alloy and carbon bikes now, these bikes are maglevs on the road. A little heavier, a little slower in the sprints, but over the long haul, they are so smooth. Of course there is little attention to aerodynamics - but that was addressed with some newer versions and especially wheel designs with deeper dish. The obvious evolution of the steel roadbike must be the titanium roadbike. They are very similar in ride quality with the Ti bikes having an edge on weight.

The groupset shifts with authority and is very positive. By comparison, the 'brifter' feels mushy and only benefit I can see is the indexing, which is not really required anymore than a pianist needs to see the notes labelled on the keys.

Brakes are very positive and linear action. Clamping power is as high or low as you want.

to be cont..
 

GSAstuto

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#3
Be back next week. Just need to finish all this sorting and shipping. Hopefully get a little more riding in this week. Everything is flat until reaching the mountains. Weather kinda sucks - raining, windy and thunderstorms with hail. When it's sunny, it's also very windy. But fun, nonetheless.

Now I need to do some small shopping for decent enough toe-straps and some good glue for my shoe soles. That will get me more or less stable for longer distance rides.

I sure love riding this bike, though. Steel just improves (it seems) with age. After more than 20yr in storage, the cranks still spun effortlessly and so did the wheel bearings. Magic of Campy precision ball bearings and grease.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#6
OK - here are some pics:

https://plus.google.com/photos/1033...s/5722097859699456897?authkey=CPnEhJe5yOb4oQE

I took the bike out for a longer ride today having replaced the toestraps, glued my shoes back together and put some more sealant in the tires. The goal was to ride to Camelback Mountain - which is not so big, but has a nasty 18-20% grade and used for hill repeats. I couldn't resist. Plus, it's about 40km from our house - so it will make a good shakedown ride.

Weather was very cool - about 10-12 degrees. Crystal clear skies, less than 15% humidity and various breezes. My toes were completely numb due to the shrunken leather shoes! The rest of me was a little better.

On the flats and just cruising, this bike is very comfortable. It soaks up the road vibration and feels very smooth and supple. On the pedal it is a bit sluggish compared to modern, much stiffer rides, but for the day it was very responsive. I'm fine with it - especially as I get older.

I hit the hill section and promptly nearly crashed out. My foot pulled out of the toeclip on a stiff section and I came to nearly full stop! If one thing has changed cycling in the last 20yrs its the pedals! There is simply no comparison to old cleat/strap and modern clip-in. If I didn't want to keep this an original ride - I'd change the pedals --- TODAY! Baby-footing the pedaling probably cost me at least 30% effort. The issue with these old pedals is that of course, they only pull out when you are at max effort, and the result is generally a crash.

More gear range would be nice (even for me). This is a 6 speed with the 'rouleur' cogset. It's like a 13,15,17,19,21,24 Combined with 42 /53 chainring means you are often 'hunting' for the perfect gear. And anything over 15% grade means sub 50 cadence. (Unless you're Clay). This bike generates more Lactic Acid per ride than anything I've ever ridden. Back in the day, unless you had a pre / post massage , you were not likely to recover for the following day stages. Everyone suffered this way.

Descents are dreamy. The steel frame soaks up the road and it is very well balanced. I never had issues on this bike at speeds well over 90kph on any kind of descent. It's just that good. The brakes inspire more confidence than you can imagine. They are firm and well balanced. Campy is famous for their brakes - and if you ride this, you'll know why. Very linear pull with absolutely no mushiness. The Dura Ace brifters feel like plastic toys in comparison. I mean it.

Shifting under load or anytime is no problem. SR Derailers, while not the fastest on the block, are very positive and you can jam them into gear repeatedly with no issues. Again, nothing between you and derailer except a solid chunk of alloy lever and oversize diameter cable. Just grab it and PULL. As a side note - there are no cable adjustments required on the SR derailers. Both levers have plenty of pull to manage the full range, and as long as you have limit screws set, you are done. Period. I didn't even touch my front derailer. The cable has been on the bike for more than 25yrs!

Overall, if you want to ride like it was 'back in the day' , this is a good example of the state of the art for 1985. It carries forward today with a degree of authority and legacy that is respectable, and I believe a strong rider would still show very well compared to even today's top bikes. Especially on more technical courses with serious descents and rough sections.

I'll probably upgrade my rear wheel to a 38mm Carbon (32h) with Campy SR hub. That plus the existing Countach or Sludi I have will be a nice set. I'm considering making the jump to a 7 speed as well. This was just on the cusp of this bike's heritage - so , not pushing it into the bastard zone too far. Lastly, I'm on the lookout for an NOS Regina Titanium chain. If you know of any PLEASE LET ME KNOW! The old Sedisport I have on there now is fine - but they drag a bit and are heavy. Prefer the Regina CX or Rholoff. And the Regina TI is the ultimate!

Oh yeah - what bike of mine wouldn't be complete without a little Ti bling. This groupset has Ti BB, Ti Derailer bolt, Ti pedal axles and Ti Seatpost bolt. Maybe I'll toss on my Ti bidon cage as well.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#7
I'm surprised, too - besides the fact they shift better and allow more versatility in the brake lever choices. I have no problem reaching down to shift - and if you're naturally on the drops where you should be, the downtube lever is 'just there'. Only on the tops is the brifter more efficient. But fast forward, I'd prefer the Di2 over any of the mechanical stuff.

Feel free to ship that to my house:angel:
I am suprised you dont see more weight weenies doing builds with downtube shifters, after all they are lighter!
Great Post!
 

StuInTokyo

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Dec 3, 2010
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#9
.....
I am suprised you dont see more weight weenies doing builds with downtube shifters, after all they are lighter!
Great Post!
I'm not as most "Weight Weenies" are also "Tech Weenies" and going retro to save weight would just about be blasphemy! :p:D

And it is a great thread, you old bike there is only about three years older than my CracknFail :D
 

DeltaForce

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Sep 17, 2011
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#11
Cool ride there Tim. I've been wanting to see that since you revealed its existence. Are they Cinelli Piste bars? Concor saddle? Ah the memories.

I'm not so strict on keeping my C Record 'Bianchi' Sarronni mid eighties, as I don't have another bike to use for serious business, but I certainly am interested in keeping as close to that era without disadvantaging myself too much.

I was using friction downtube shifters with the original C Record rear deraileur (the jockey wheels have ball bearings with adjustable cups and cones!) as recently as this Christmas. Thought, if I wasn't actually racing, shouldn't need brifters. However, we stop and start so often here in Kanto (traffic lights every 500 meters), the brifters really make things simple. Pure lazyness, I know.

Any how, I'm game for a retro fest Tim. Let me know if you're gonna turn up all retro to a TCC club ride. I'll take the Bianchi right back to 1988. No brifters, no indexing. Might even route the brake cables out the top of the brake levers. The C Record levers had an elaborate internal mechanism to allow 'aero' or 'traditional' routing. Don't have my old San Marco Rolls though, sorry.

As for pedals, you are allowed to use looks Tim! Those chunky white ones. I know I've seen a photo of Bernard Hinault riding them in the 1984 season. :) I started racing in 1986 and used Keywins, which I will soon fit back to my bike to save weight, 90 grams each.

Not titanium, but I have a regina chain with hollow rivets in a tin back in NZ. It is very light, and you can see the other side of your bike through it.

I can vouch for the downhill qualities of steel, too. Over 2,000 meters of climbing yesterday, descents were just fantastic. Smooth and sure footed. No problem keeping up with the modern wonders. Weight and lack of responsiveness on the uphill is quite a problem though. I figure I'm 4 - 5 kilos heavier than my buddies. I have some Mavic GEL 280 wheels up my sleeve though. The whole bike weighs in at 9.2 kg all up, with titanium axles and all.

But, 'Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades'. is surely my motto for the time being.
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#12
Tim,

This has inspired me to get my parents to ship me out my 1986 Concorde PDM Team bike. This was an actual bike used in the Tour De France that I bought from one of the team mechanics who after the tour was paid off in bikes as they couldn't afford to pay him cash, it was actually my first ever road bike.

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not my actual bike but the same bike as what I have
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
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#13
Beautiful! Looks like a 1st generation C-Record! If this is 1986 bike - then you got a special bike, cause I don't think that gruppo was release to consumer until 1987 (???) Delta Force???

Tim,

This has inspired me to get my parents to ship me out my 1986 Concorde PDM Team bike. This was an actual bike used in the Tour De France that I bought from one of the team mechanics who after the tour was paid off in bikes as they couldn't afford to pay him cash, it was actually my first ever road bike.

proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fspinwell.files.wordpress.com%2F2010%2F09%2Fspeed_001.jpg&hash=1d896ac060456ded0d4ec5d45e1d2b5c

not my actual bike but the same bike as what I have
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#14
Tim, it is a special bike, like i said this is the real deal and used by the PDM team in the 1986 or possibly 87 Tour.

More specail because it was my first ever road bike :D
 

joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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joewein.net
#15
That is some heritage, James!

My first bike was a red 10-speed French Motobecane touring bike with drop handles and downtube shifters (non-indexed). Finding the right gear was not a problem, you got used to it very quickly. What I didn't like was having to move one hand from the handlebar for shifting during a steep climb.

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proxy.php?image=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2F-1ESV4c3sbrA%2FTmVwfBufAYI%2FAAAAAAAAyFY%2Fyn6DaN_fpkg%2Fs400%2FIMG_0340.JPG&hash=9e4f0f82315a7ea6a72aadeeefd6934b


On my last trip back to Germany my cousin said he was still riding it as his commuter bike, he got it off my uncle who I gave it to when I moved to Japan. He had it refurbished, with new bottom bracket bearings. So I got all excited, thinking I'd see it again after years and years... but the bike he showed me wasn't my Motobecane, it was a complete different bike. :eek:

So I have no idea now what became of the bike that got me started on cycling. Hopefully somebody out there is still riding it.

When it came time to buy my bike for the new Tokyo home last year, I was considering my shifting options. With Bike Friday even with simple bar end shifters (which I had not used before) I was at my original budget limit. My son said nothing less than brifters would do. Should I break my self-imposed limit and dig deeper into my savings?

I didn't really have to think hard, because traffic in Tokyo is not like rolling along on a country road or going up a steady climb. It involves too many traffic lights that turn, cars that pull out, lanes that get blocked, pedestrians that move around -- all reasons for changing gears frequently. So brifters it was, because they make it so easy to switch, without removing your hands from near the brake levers. I'll probably have electronic shifting on my next bike.

I always use what works, whether it's with computers, cars or bikes. I've worked with computers for over 30 years, but once their motherboard RAM limit becomes too small to be practical I throw them out. No space for a museum here!

I would still like to ride my old Motobecane again, to see what it was like, but I am happy with my Bike Friday.
 

Wolfman

Speeding Up
Jul 31, 2007
631
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Suginamiku
#16
Really enjoying this thread.

A mist of sentimentality for retro-grouch frames has begun to descend upon me, particularly for my old Peugeot now sitting patiently in my parents' shed for the past 20 years.

That said there's much to be said for modern bikes and equipment. Is it even possible to get modern bikes with shifters on the down tube now? For instance, the latest materials and components, but with some archiac bits.

It would certainly be a novelty.
 

GSAstuto

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#20
Do you mean those wing shifter things they had? Those were kinda cool - mounted on the inside of the lever. Actually, they make a little more sense in terms of durability that the Retroshifters which are on the front of the lever. Imagine crashing on that! Both my brake levers have numerous 'battle scars' on the front - so, if your shifters are mounted there - they will most certainly take a hit. The way Suntour had them -, you could shift withyour thumbs and they were shielded from crash damage.

Another great idea from Suntour! In fact Suntour had THE PATENT for years on the un-equal parallelogram rear derailer. No other derailer on the market shifted as smooth or handled as many teeth - I loved mine for touring because of this.

Actually I think SunTour did.