Customers bikes

Posted on March 17th, 2009 by Dave under Bikes.
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The stimulus money still has not arrived in my corner of the world and thought I’d scan some photos into the computer just for grins.

For a long time I carefully documented each frame-bike and the customer’s info, then for a long time I quit documenting as the retail end of the business consumed huge amounts of time, which relegated some tasks to the circular file. Here’s a sampling of some of my early work.

Click to enlarge photos. Click again for super size and fries..


These first three are: A Columubus SLX with full Campy group and arguably one of the first paint over weird design stuff paint jobs. Next is a 3 color fade MAX frame with internal routing of brake cable. And last in this group is a Columbus SL with brass details.


In this group are: a two tone track frame of Columbus PL ( an early Fixie, as it has H2O bosses for around town use),  a Columbus Air set with chromed fork and black anodized Campy group, then a 26″ wheeled tri-bike of clear coated MAX and lastly a MAX OR mountain bike (mine) which I still have and still don’t ride much.


The red TT bike is a bunch of assorted tubes I wanted to use up. Close inspection of the fork will reveal my earliest prototype of wind control of spinning wheels. It was/is essentially the same concept that Lance Armstrong’s aerodynamist  John Cobb subsequently did.  I recall sending a letter to Cobb offering some help on this and they responded with ugly letters from some Swiss law firm. Needless to say, I withdrew my offer.

The gray Pursuit frame has 45 assorted holes, actually perpendicular tubes, through it. Not something to ride on cobbles. It’s soooo stiff.

The last two are a tiny 48cm MAX with no toe clip clearance and another early frame with Letraset  decals and more early on brass inlay (fork crown).


Here’s a Black and White of the 1st hand made mountain bike in New Mexico. It was called the X1 …


Here’s a shot of a gaggle of Porter’s on the back porch of the 1st bike store..


This was my bike, for a while. It has the campy 50th Anniversary group.


This one is a hoot. That’s me on the door stoop of the 1st location of the Harvard (street) Bike House. The building (house) was shared with a used book store. About a block away from the University of NM. Across the street from the Purple Hippo, where Susan from the Seinfeld show used to work.


I’ll add more as time and desire permits. Enjoy.

Here’s a 80’s TT frame (Columbus AIR) that showed up on my doorstep today for a repair on the seat clamp. A common problem on the aero seatposts which had poor clamping.

I’d forgotten about this whimsical paint scheme.

Aero TT frame

Aero TT frame

from the back..

from the back..


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Retro Bicycle

Posted on March 1st, 2009 by Dave under Bikes.

I was inspired by the Classic Rendezvous mail list to reassemble an old 70’s  531 frame that I rode for many years and always kept it around because of all the good and bad times we’d spent together.

So here is today’s starting point. (click to enlarge fotos)

The Sacred Show Case

The Sacred Show Case

This old show case from the bike store days still contains a bunch of new and used stuff.  I hit the Campy Record bits pretty hard today.  It was supposed to be an easy clean and build sort of project, well you know the saying “nothing is easy” .  I had planned on using the 50th Anniversary Group for maximum bling, except that the rear brake pivot is welded to the frame and I decided that I didn’t want that group scattered about. Next I realized that nearly all the Campy hubbed wheels I have around are sewups, which got the no vote. So after finding a suitable 6 speed freewheel, which lead to a shorter axle, which lead to re-dishing the wheel, which lead to rolling some new threads on the too long spokes I had on hand to replace the broken ones, which lead to patching tubes and swapping dried out clinchers for some newer and safer tires I finally had a plan on how to use the best stuff on hand or my cleanest dirty shirt so to speak.

So here is the pile of stuff I pulled out

Bits and Pieces

Bits and Pieces

and the frame as it looks after hanging on a hook for many years..

73 D Lang

So I removed the old rear rack, carefully saving the old Blackburn dropout adapters.. I washed the mud and dust off the frame and gave it quick coat of wax.  This frame has been repainted at least 4 times that I remember and it could use a respray again. Not this week though.

inlaid silver

I’m still searching for the box with all the discarded Campy brake blocks and wheel guides, they’ll turn up eventually.  I always liked the Haden crown. I understand they are quite scarce now days. I inlaid silver strips on the lateral edges. It may have been the 1st for my “jewelry” treatment. The lugs are Prugnat, the BB shell is Cinelli, the tube set is Reynolds 531 and the dropouts are Campy.

rear brake bridge

Here’s the brazed on brake stud and see through bridge.

Below are the unscathed brake levers (out of focus-trust me) Even the hoods are reasonably serviceable.

front end

And the complete package (I added the Binda toe straps this morning)

'74 Criterium Frame

there are a few mismatched odds and ends that I’ll deal with as I come across them in the shed.

Now comes the painful part, probably for my readers, not for me as there was a reason it’s been on a hook for 20 years.  I love steel, I love old bikes, I love the old parts, all the stuff that we grew up with and molded our impressions of what a bicycle should look like and how it should perform.

The first two pedal strokes told it all.  I knew immediately that I was on an old friend, an old friend that was, well, OLD. It handled predictably,  the gear changes were as good as Campy made in those days. But it does not begin to compare with the “connectedness” of the new frame steels and components. After 531 and SL came True Tempers and MAX another  huge leap in tubing performance and now Spirit makes the MAX seem antiquated. I haven’t tried the heat treated stainless tube sets and likely won’t unless asked to use them as I think they are a bit gimmicky but no doubt they have another level of performance characteristics too.

I can understand the nostalgia involved with these bikes of eras past, but as a builder who has seen the progression of materials and components I will not dwell very long on the enthusiasm of owning old bikes for much other than the historic value.  The performance of new steels and components is far, far superior to the old stuff. Sorry guys, but that’s my take.

In an honest attempt to give the bike a fair shake I decided to take it out on my daily ride. The best part of getting prepared to leave was lacing up the old Vittoria leather shoes. No doubt that they’re  more comfortable than the CF soled shoes with goofy latches and Velcro straps.  I almost used the hairnet “helmet” but decided I’d save that for the next parade ride.

I spent the first 75 feet of my gravel driveway trying to flip the loose pedal to get my foot in, so score one for click in pedals for stop and start safety. I managed to nick the bony protuberance Maleala (sp?) once, haven’t done that in forever! I settled into a 52 x 17 and set off on my route.

I noticed the slightly different hand position on the hoods and the less natural reach for the brake levers. Score another safety point for the ergonomic designed new levers and bars. One simply does not have the leverage with the old style.

On stopping and starting at intersections the difference is a little more subtle for me as I began doing track stands so as not to wear out the plastic cleats years ago and have carried the process over to clipless for the same reasoning. I will add, however that with toe straps there is that extra step to release the tension and that down shifting to a start off gear is another. So rather than watching for nitwit drivers, the rider is busy bending down or reaching down. Score another safety issue for the new systems.

I had a Campy alloy freewheel and chain that had been used together previously so the drive train was as smooth as the day they were removed. Shifting was smooth, quiet, and took more lever movement than I remembered at first, but the rhythm soon returned. Here is where the new stuff really shines. Shifting with 9-10 speed indexing is so reflexive whereas the down tube  shifters require a more conscious decision to reach down, break rhythm and change gears. So, an obstacle or grade change  when pedaling “in the zone” is disruptive to the mental and physical flow when a gear change is required versus powering through the obstacle.

Anyway, after I got back into the ride and started to enjoy the day and look to see if anyone else on the bike route noticed that my bike had cables that weren’t taped down (they didn’t) I found that I was enjoying the ride except for the very noticable harsher ride imparted by the thicker walled frame tubes. So, rack one up for the new steel designs.

I’ll ride it again soon. Probably a ride to the local bike store so I can come clicking in on the old cleats and wool jersey treatment…smiles all around.


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