I finally got my bike put together at took my first ride in at least fifteen years; I rode for exactly an hour at a pretty brisk pace and it felt good. I could have gone further but decided not to do too much on the first day.
I have had the frame for about six weeks now; a 52 cm. Fuso that I built in 1986. It had a brand new paint job in the 1990s and the previous owner never built it up after that. Very tastefully finished in a royal blue with understated black decals; I bought some Vittoria Corsa tubulars with blue sidewalls and found some blue and black handlebar tape. Black brake cable housing finished the job.
The components are all Campagnolo SR from the 1980s; the hold up in getting it finished was in finding a bottom bracket spindle the right length. It finally arrived on Friday and I put the whole thing together over the weekend. Also arriving on Friday was pretty rare NOS Super Record 48 tooth chainring that I had found on eBay. This gives me a much more usable range of gears with a six speed 13 – 18 freewheel.
Old bikes are like old cars; you can work on them yourself. I love the simplicity of down tube mounted friction gear levers. I read a statement by someone who said “Indexed shifting is like frets on a fiddle.” I’m inclined to agree. I adjusted the gears in the house expecting to have to do some final adjustments as I rode it, but it all worked perfectly.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not knocking the new stuff and if you are racing the bar mounted shifters are probably a huge advantage. But for someone like me who’s just riding for pleasure and exercise; why get complicated?
I love the beautiful lines of the older bikes; they look so flimsy with the thin tubes and rims and yet are so very strong. It is what started the whole love affair in the first place.
I will admit that I do like the new clothing; the padded shorts instead of chamois leather insert that was a pain to wash and dry. (Of course you could clean your windows with it.) I haven’t gone clipless yet but probably will in a few weeks when I have got used to riding again.
And the helmets; they finally got that right. Do you remember back in the late 1970s early 1980s when the Bell helmets were the thing? Looked like a fucking great white mushroom stuck on your head. These new helmets actually look cool so I am wearing one for the first time.
Alright so I’m a poser; what can I tell you? But you probably figured that out when I said I’d bought blue tires to match my blue frame.