Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Vintage Cyclocross bike; more Campy!

Yes, another multi-gear post. I have been wanting a cyclocross bike for a while, but couldn't decide on a frame of if I wanted it geared. Once I settled on this items, the bike came together in about 2 weeks. While I have considered racing, I just don’t see me voluntarily riding in mud. So the concept was a nicely lugged frame that can take 30mm tires, with Campy Gran Sport (GS) components. Gran Sport components were the sport components during the Nuovo Record (NR) era. They tend to be less finished, but many of the parts are interchangeable and a little more affordable, but due to their scarcity in the US you often have to buy them from a European supplier. The Gran Sport derailleur is built on the same platform of the Nuovo Record and old Super record.

While part of me likes the cohesiveness of a full gruppo, I ended up using some parts I had in the old parts bin including a set of Triomphe brake levers and a (NR) Italian BB (the bike came with NR headset and shifters). Triomphe (and Victory) replaced GS during the C-Record era; post 1984/85). Unless I say differently, most of the parts I acquired for this project were from ebay suppliers.

The first items I looked for was a Gran Sport rear derailleur and I ended up with two, seeing one about to expire for $5. I also had a lot of fun tearing them down and rebuilding them (I enjoyed it so much that I did the same with a NR rear derailleur I had on another bike. It was a good thing to, as the spring was almost rusted solid and need to be replaced; I used the spring out of one of the GS derailleur). Next I started looking for brakes. While I had some Triomphe levers, I was still looking toward a GS gruppo. I was also looking for a crankset. I found a supplier in Poland with GS brake calipers and a very nice crankset.
During this time I also found a supplier that was selling a pair of once mounted never ridden Tipo hubset. Tipo were the hubs used with the GS gruppo. I also found someone selling a Record rear hub where the spokes had been cut with a 13-24 Suntour 6 speed freewheel still attached. It looked like a good bargain for the freewheel and it turned out to be more than that as the hubset had a 120mm rear axle and I needed 126mm, which is what the Record hub had. Interestingly, most of the NR hubs had the same flange spacing, and campy simply used a longer spaced axle to change from 120mm to 126mm. I also I found a frame. It looked to be an early 70’s Italian frame with some beautiful lug work. The chain stays were crimped looked to be able to take 30 mm tires. I actually had bought a set of Kenda 30mm cross tires several years ago and I was happy to able to use them. This build eventually allowed me to use up a lot of parts from the parts bin. One conundrum is figuring out who made it. There is residue from stickers on the downtube and seatube that said "RECORD". To my knowledge Record is not a model of a known Italian bike maker. The best information I got was the frame may have been made for a bike shop, specifically Palo Alto Bicycles. I did some looking into Palo Alto Bicycles and found they had several supposed suppliers, , so this is definitely a Biemmezeta and Romani. While the Biemmezeta bikes are easily identified by the initials "BMZ" on the bottom bracket shell, the Romani's are not as easily identified. Since my bike does not have the BMZ identifier, I tried to fine examples of Romani 1970's bicycles. While this was fruitless, I did find some 1980's Romani's and they were very similar in many ways to my frame. For now I'm still searching.

Edit: Well after much searching there is little dobt the bike is a 60's or early 70" Olmo most like made with SL Columbus tubing. Olmo Made some very nice bike and this is certainly one of them. Since the piant appears to be original and shows up on many Olmo vintage bikes, I still have tracked down the history as to why it was not stickered as an Olmo.

As I waited for the brakes and crank, I realized the calipers were the recessed variety and my frame was not drilled for recessed brakes. While it’s a simple matter to drill the fork, trying the same with the rear boss can be problematic, especially with a frame like mine, where the boss is simply a tube welded on the brake arch and the tube diameter looked to be the same as the recessed nut. I was then fortunate enough to find someone selling some standard NR brake posts that would work with my GS calipers. When the brakes came in, I discovered I had another problem; I had bought short reach brakes. The short calipers have a reach of 42 to 52mm and while this was fine for the front, which was right on at 52mm, the rear needed a 55mm, so the rear caliper had too short arms. At this point I could not find any standard reach GS brake calipers, so I ordered a NOS set of Triomphe calipers 52 to 63mm; they even match the levers I have! And of course they were from Hungry. As I write this I’m waiting for Triomphe calipers, while the GS calipers are on ebay.

As far as the bottom bracket goes, I have a used Triomphe but it is British thread and this frame is Italian. I did have a nice used Italian spindle and wouldn’t you know I found a supplier with the cups and bearings for sale. When the cups and bearings arrived I found I could not thread the drive side all the way in. I went to a nearby LBS, Amsterdam Cycles, that has a lot of vintage parts and the owner, Tom had the die to chase the threads. Apparently there are shallow and standard BB cups; it looks like the previous cups were shallow and I had the standard, which left a bunch of gunk on the deeper threads. After Tom was done, there was a lot of sludge and some metal on the die; the cup then screwed in like it was supposed to.

For a stem I found used Aria Japanese stem that I don’t know much about but it does look nice and the handlebar appears to be a Japanese Cinelli 64 knock off.

I had a NOS Gran Sport seatpost I wanted to use, by it was 26.8 and the frame turned out to be 27.2 (the diameter of the seatpost is determined by the ID of the seat tube. Saying this, although the ID was 28.6 (industry standard at the time), the ID can be anywhere from 25mm – 27.2; 27.2 became a newer industry standard. Found a Record post for $20 as the aluminum needed a lot of work and it was missing the lower clamp supports. I then found a supplier that was selling the clamp parts for a NR seatpost so I was set.

While I was at Amsterdam, the owner showed me a Gran Sport “pillbox” front derailleur. Practically every front derailleur you will see will be a parallelogram. However two of the Gran Sport front derailleur were rod actuated; one was hand operated and the other was the pillbox (the hand operated is extremely rare). This pillbox actually works very well and will easily be the oldest part on my bike.

In order to make it ride-able I scavenged a wheelset and a mis-matched set of brakes. The front brake was off the same bike as the wheelset. I converted my Peugeot to a fixed gear and bought a new fixed wheelset. I also replaced the front brake, an older Shimano BR-105 (BR-1050) with a newer 105, as the new wheelset made the older brake too long; it worked great on the project frame’s fork. I also needed a rear brake, which can either be a standard rear or a recessed front (the recessed front caliper has a long enough post to work as a standard rear). What I found was a recessed front Suntour caliper (Cyclone 7000). The Suntour caliper is as high quality as the Shimano 105, but the aluminum was discolored from corrosion. However I have a little experience with cleaning up aluminum which involves 320 grit sandpaper, followed by 400 grit and then some light polishing with a Dremel tool and it buffed out amazingly well (used the same process on the seatpost, again with good/great results).

A near catastrophe occurred on my first ride when I sucked the rear derailleur, meaning when I shifted to the lowest gear, the rear derailleur went right into the wheel spokes and chewed it up like a blender. Fortunately I had another derailleur in the wings that I bought on a whim. Besides a slight wobble in the rear wheel that took 5 minutes to true and a slightly bent hanger that straightened with little effort I actually cheated it out a bit, which is not a big deal with these in-line parallelogram derailleurs), I was back on the road. I'm thinking the cause was a bent backing plate on the derailleur that I forgot to check before I went out for the ride. The second derailleur worked like a charm and I went on a 3 hour ride including about 8 miles of a fire road. This one of the smoothest and comfortable bikes I have ever ridden. It also seems I always get a frame 2mm or 3mm too big and I have grown used to it (I'm 5'10" and the frame is a 57cm). Maybe there is something to some of the Rivendell school of thought.

Things that took longer than expected were; for some reason one of the recesses in the downtube shifters not drilled as deep as it needed to be. I had to drill out the shifter and grind the cable ends (not unusual) to make it work; I already mentioned I had to have the bottom bracket chased. There also the brake housing clamps. Many older frames did not have any braze-ons to hold the brake cable so clamps were used to hold them on. There was already one of the bike and I found two more at Amsterdam. the problem is the nuts and bolts were rusted together. Since the nut is pressed into the clamp, I had to cut it out without destroying the clamp. These nuts are tiny so it was no small chore, but a Dremil tool made it easier. I then replaced them with a small nut and bolt.
While this might not be someone else's idea of a cross bike, it is exactly what I wanted. I still not sure about the Brooks saddle and I have a feeling I will miss the front Shimano BR-1050 and the Suntour brake calipers. I also have some near new Tipo hubs (with a 126mm rear axle) that I hope will be a wheelset someday. However, the Peugeot wheelset is a Shimano/Mavic ala 1985 with a Uniglide freehub. The current cassette is a 13-24, but Uniglide had loose cogs, so I have am going to change the 24T to a 26T for a lower gear (26T is the largest cog the derailleur is rated for).

For further posts about this bike see Vintage Cross Bike

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