It appears I’m going down this rabbit hole. After 53 years of making my own way re: two-wheelers, I’ve enlisted the help of harnessed electricity in an effort to make riding fun again.
One could ask why someone who absolutely adores old bicycles would consider an e-bike, arguably the polar opposite in so many ways. The simple, honest answer is that I needed help getting back on the road. Over the past 7 years I’d found myself coming up with innumerable excuses to not ride on a regular basis, and during the last two years I’d discovered plenty more to justify riding at all. Loving old bikes and working on old bikes, but not riding old bikes wasn’t working out all that well. Who knew a new bike would solve the problem.
I’d felt a loss of stamina and output over the years, not uncommon for sure, but maybe more dramatic. I was having a hard time getting up enough energy to pedal anywhere, ever. Added to the mix the usual busy work/family life excuse and my particular brand of frequent and inherent sloth and what we had was a first-rate Catch 22. Not riding, after all, leads to more not riding, which eventually leads to not being about to ride, at least not comfortably. Even short rides were painful. After I contracted Covid the modest little hill on our street positively winded me. Something, as they say, had to change.
By pure chance and luck, I was offered an E-mt. bike from “The Dropout”, Chad and Yvette’s happy little bike shop in downtown Reno. Yvette was considering an upgrade so I got to ride her 2017 Scott Strike E-Ride for a month.
There are those moments that you just know are going to change your life. I was in the hills above Reno just noodling along on a sidehill road when I realized I was really having a fantastic time. Not a good time, but a fantastic time. By the end of the 1.5 hour long ride I’d visited terrain I hadn’t been on in twenty years. Best of all, I’d seen it and ridden it without feeling like my heart was going to go off like a grenade. I was tired and sweaty, but I wasn’t miserable. The heavens had opened and I had been enlightened. Glory, Hallelujah!
I told everyone who would listen about my epiphany. Friends, acquaintances, distance relatives, the grocery bagger at Raley’s… Most smiled and nodded politely, unaware of the true substance of my revelation. Isn’t that always the case? You feel the hand of God reach down and touch you and nobody else seems to think all that much of it. We’re all the main actors in our own plays, I guess.
After giving back Yvette’s e-bike I ordered my own slice of heaven and then promptly went back into horizontal mode until it arrived. With post-pandemic supply chains stressed to the limit it would take nearly 7 months for the Ransom to arrive.
When it finally hit Reno I put it in the living room and stared at it for a whole evening. What a majestic beast. I rode it a few times then panicked about getting it scratched (I’m awfully good at panicking when I want to). After ordered BikeWrap I put off-road riding until I could ensure some protection. I can deal with patina on an old bike, but I hate (with a capital “H”) scratching up new stuff. The clear film would help but wouldn’t totally alleviate this, something I’m still quite aware of. I’m trying to resolve the issue, telling myself that this bike, beyond all others requires that I ride the heck out of it.
So far, so good. If you’re wondering if I still get the same sense of exuberance when I go out for a ride, the answer is a resounding yes. It could be from lack of oxygen but I often feel giddy. Bless the bike that causes that.
(All hail The Dropout. Thanks to Yvette and Chad <pictured> for getting me back on the road, dirt, whatever.)
I fell in love with this Fiorelli the moment I saw it on the ol’ online auction monopoly. It’s old Campy bits, its whitewall Fiorelli tires, its rain catchers, and of course, its redness. Soooo, red….
Regarding the crazy position of the brake levers, rather than move them to a more convenient (i.e. less deadly) position I left them how they came. They’re not terribly functional in that state but who am I kidding. I’ll never subject those tires to pavement.
A by-product of Covid must be Raleigh 3-speeds.
In the past I’ve usually run across one locally every year or two. Sierra Cyclery sold Raleighs in the 1960’s-70’s, but the population of Reno was only 50,000 so there were never too many out there to begin with.
Since Covid started Raleighs have been coming out of the woodwork, to the tune of 8 in as many months. The first two arrived last March, a pair of beautiful deluxe Sports. Next came a Raleigh Twenty, then a women’s Superbe followed by a pair of black men’s Sports, and then another pair of Sports, this time blue and red. All but the Twenty had stickers from Sierra Cyclery.
If my three-speed overhauling skills had ever fallen off they’re certainly getting refreshed now. I’ve been overhauling Dyno hubs, re-keying locking forks, re-dyeing Brooks saddles and generally having a fantastic time.
I also got Covid which wasn’t so fantastic. …Not much of a fan of the virus but I do love the Raleighs so in some small sense it’s been worth it.
(The green Raleighs are done, the Twenty is mostly done and all the others are most certainly not done.)
e been spending time in the cellar, sanding out minor blemishes on the non-anodized Campy parts, followed by some serious work with the buffing wheel and rouge.
Though it’s dark, hopefully you can see that some of the parts are really beginning to shine.
I also spent an hour on the rear Campy brake caliper digging grease out of crevices. It’s very meditative with hints of dental care mixed in.
Since there are no windows downstairs I’m left with my Hamm’s rotating sign. It has a 5 minute rotation; mountains, waterfall, canoe. Mountains, waterfall, canoe.
This Bertin was supposedly owned by a California bike shop owner’s wife. Based on its overall condition it looks like it was only modestly used, but very well cared for. The bike is nearly 100% original with the tires being the only update I can see.
How’s it ride? Well, from my short time spent on it, I’d say just about typical for a lower-to-mid range 1970’s bike. I don’t feel a lot of difference between the Bertin and, say, a Peugeot UO-8; that is, with the exception of the rims. Where most 70’s bikes ran soft, heavy steel hoops, the Bertin has wonderful aluminum Milremo rims. It might seem a small upgrade, but the wheels do feel stiffer and braking is much more “grippy” (see, “much less scary”). …And though the rim sides still have perforations, they don’t have the jet engine scream of textured steel rims. The Milremos sound more like a modern business jet as opposed to a Century-series fighter.
If my research is correct, this Bertin is a model C31. Hopefully someone will chime in if that’s not right. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong, nor the one-thousandths, nor the millionth…
(Thanks to the gang at the Reno Bike Project for providing both parts and some really special bikes over the years.)
This poor old Sterling showed up at the Reno Bike Project a couple months back. Raymond Eliot was nice enough to call me to come get it before, well, I’m not sure what would have happened to it. Probably nothing good. (Thanks, Ray!)
As you can see, a fair amount is missing or is wrong; I’d need to hunt down wheels and grips (the existing are incorrect). I’d need tires, saddle, seat post, grips, chain, pedals, parking stand, parking stand clip, rear reflector, some missing bearings, spacers, etc… Also, an original chainguard in matching blue and white with the right amount of patina, the hardest part by far.
I was thinking I’d pass it on to someone who’d be willing to find all the missing parts and put it back together all original-like, but then again, uhhh, isn’t that what I’m supposed to be able to do?
Damn. I guess I’m now working on an old Sterling.
Yep, not one but three of these cherished beauties just arrived (when does that ever happen?) The burgundy racing bike was acquired second-hand, but the same owner bought the two touring versions brand new. What a lucky dog!
All three are Campy-equipped, with the Gran-Turismos employing Nuovo Record triple cranksets and Rally rear derailleurs. I’ve always had a thing for Campagnolo triples, probably because they don’t turn up very often. …And those Rally derailleurs. Who couldn’t fall in love with them.
Medicis are cool not only because they are desirable and their production was relatively low, but also because the bikes are linked to the storied Masi franchise. Rather than re-hash the history of the Medici and how it morphed from Masi USA, I’ll simply post a link that give a ton of background, and at times heated debate over the origin of the brand.
It’s good news when a bike doesn’t fit. To be clear, it’s good news only when it doesn’t fit you, but it does fit me, and obviously, at that point it’s only good news for me. Such is the case with this candy apple red Croll. My friend Noah originally bought it on CL for his girlfriend as the height (52cm) was just about right. At nearly 57cm, turns out the bike was more akin to a top-fuel dragster in the length department, not even close to right. For me, however, it was pretty much a custom fit, so here it sits. Hopefully I’ll even swing a leg over it from time to time (If only my riding habits matched the energy expended in such acquisitions).
From what I’ve gleaned, later Crolls were decent enough quality, but the early ones were fantastic as they were handbuilt by Walter himself. The Croll name was eventually sold, and as so often happens, when the namesake isn’t involved the product suffers.
I’m guessing this bike was commissioned in the early 1990’s based on the Shimano tri-color component group if nothing else. Also, the paint is as brilliant a red as I’ve ever seen and Walter’s bikes were known for their paint jobs. When you get this bike out under the sun it looks like it is plugged into an outlet. The old saying that the photos don’t do it justice is more than applicable here.
Schwinns could be badged and sold under a host of different names. Everyone from big department stores to little bike shops could contract with Schwinn to put their name on the bikes. One of my favorites is Haack’s, a little shop out of Madison, Wi. Their badge had a top-hatted little character named, “Mr. Bicycle” prominently positioned on the head badge. To make it clear who he’s working for, his body spells out the shop name. Fantastic.
From what I’ve seen, other Haack’s badges don’t feature him, which is why I like this particular one so much. …And with a name like “Mr. Bicycle”, you can bet he knew his stuff, even if it looked like he hadn’t been on a bike in a while.
This particular Schwinn also has the “Hat in the Ring” graphics on the seat tube. Not sure if this was a nod to Eddie Rickenbacker’s Flying Circus or not; nevertheless, I put a little Schylling monoplane on the handlebars in case any Pfalzs or Fokkers cross my path.
I recently went to Carson City to pick up an old British Dayton 3-speed. My attention quickly switched to this Faggin, which accompanied the Dayton in the storage unit. The current owner had bought it to turn over. The Faggin thus joined the Dayton for a trip back to the shop. It hadn’t seen the road in some time and was a bit roughed up. It was also missing some of its original bits, but I suspected it would come around well enough. It did, too: Heck, even the Cateye computer fired back up.
The biggest problem with some older Italian framesets like Faggins is that their decals aren’t placed and then clear-coated over. The decals, more like stickers, can also be put on crooked, or barely at all. I briefly considered a repaint since that would have solved the decal issue, but it would have created the “what’s this bike going to have to sell for now?” issue. So, it stayed as-is. Call it being cautious, or if you’re feeling more generous, sticking with originality. I do tend to get up on that soapbox at times, so go with that.
That other shop…
The frame sticker on the lower downtube states that the Faggin was originally built up and sold by Stewart-Hunt Cycles here in Reno. Back in the 1980’s the shop was a direct competitor to College Cyclery which is where I worked/lived. Among the bevy of competitors, S-H owner Jim Patterson was considered more kindred spirit than adversary, though. Stewart-Hunt was actually the first shop I frequented upon moving to Reno and I often think I might have ended up working there if College hadn’t picked me up.
Stewart-Hunt is long since gone, but I’m hear to tell you that the cycling community still misses Jim terribly. A Tuesday night race will never be the same without Jim’s happy demeanor and heavily mustached smile, drops of Moosehead beer hanging from the latter. The cycling community garners more than its share of one-of-a-kinds. Amongst them, Jim was the One-est.