Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Let's build a bike!

A while ago I noted that I was missing playing in the garage with my tools, and that I was starting to think about something to keep me occupied...

Well, rather than doing something constructive, I thought I'd build a bike. Not just any bike though... a recovery ride bike.

You see, sometimes I need to ride gently. Bimbling along, getting overtaken by 12 year olds on BMXs. Doing this on my current road bikes grates a little as it feels slightly "expensive bike, unfit bastard". I've nothing against unfit bastards on expensive bikes - let's be clear here - yet I feel odd riding the Orca slowly.

Another option would be to get a jersey made with "recovery ride" on the back, evoking those "Wide Load" signs you see on enormous trucks on the motorway. That way people would realise that I was actually a super-fit rider who was doing 10 mph for a reason. They'd probably come alongside and congratulate me on my excellent adherence to a structured training plan.

Or not.

Which brings me to the recovery ride bike plan. The bike had to be stylish, comfortable, geared, and in my mind, cool. This meant steel, retro, Italian. A bike I could cruise on to the coffee shop, lean it against my table and deal with the hordes of admirers who would ask to have their photo taken with it. They'd then buy me espresso and cake, to express how grateful they were that I'd enriched their lives.

Or not.

Oh, I can be a cheapskate sometimes too. That ruled out some of the more exotic options (Cinelli Supercorsa for example) and I was drawn in by a relatively cheap frame and fork - a Guerciotti Record from Planet X. It met the requirements pretty well, although I wasn't sure how they looked in the metal. I also spent some time deciding on the colour - red/blue/orange/black/white/gold was too much choice for me. I went for blue in the end - the colour of the Italian football team shirts.

When the frame arrived, I was glad I chose the blue. The pictures on the Planet X site didn't do it justice - it was metallic as well. Think of "Subaru Impreza Blue".


Then the fun started - shopping for bits. I had an image in my mind which influenced most of my choices. Italian frame = Campagnolo groupset. The need for silver bits meant it has to be Veloce.


Bars, stem and seatpost had to match. Again, looks were more important than anything else (apart from availability) so I ended up with almost the cheapest option - some generic chromed versions (these will probably get replaced with something good in the future). Here they are on the frame, with the groupset.


Ah, fitting the cranks. Campag - what's going on there? Do you have to be so different? Why do the instructions mention a 17mm allen key when I need a 14mm one? What's the deal with that silly wire clip? I know you're trying to be quirky and different but honestly... And don't get me started on your chain joining method. Thank the heavens for KMC and their Campag quick links.

Now, wheels. Again, selected entirely because they were the silvery-ist wheels I could find: Pro-lite Bracciano. It was a happy coincidence to find they are very well reviewed too.

The saddle had to be Italian (not really a problem considering the number of Italian saddle makers), brown leather and retro looking. Oh, and not super heavy. I give you the Selle San Marco Vintage Regale.


That just left bar tape (Fizik), valve caps (Middleburn), down tube cable adaptors (Shimano - I know, but the Campag ones are rubbish apparently) and tyres (already hanging on the wall). Put them all together and you get this beauty.


Matches the plant pots too.

How does it ride? Slowly, so everyone can admire it.

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