Sunday, 23 January 2011

Before & After

So here are the final before & after pictures:

Part 1: The Aim

After many years of cycling daily in London I had decided it is time to build my perfect ride.  I emphasise "my" because these things are always subjective, and I had a very clear budget and criteria in mind of exactly what I wanted to achieve, so I am not expecting it to be everybody’s idea of perfect by any means.
I have ridden all kinds of bikes around town over the last decade, and have always preferred the road bike, so that is what I decided to build.  No, I wasn’t going to go fixed/single speed, for many reasons which I am not going to go into because the idea of this blog is to respect individual preference, suffice to say that they don’t appeal to me personally, so will be going for a setup with gears.  One of the positive aspects however, of the fixie culture is that it has highlighted how good a lot of the older components were, and still are.  Also style-wise they can be more understated than today’s modern carbon counterparts.  Remember this is a town bike for everyday use rather than a dedicated racing bike, so it doesn’t need to be as light as the latest material technology allows.

Part 2: The Criteria

The following was the criteria I had been developing in my mind over a long period of time until I had reached the point where I was clear enough to begin putting it into action!

The Frame:
Being English I wanted the frame at least to be made in this country, and decided that I wanted to go with a high end Raleigh frame.  Rather than a brand new frame, I wanted to go with a late 80's / early 90's Reynolds steel frame, in particular 653 which was a hybrid of various types of Reynolds tubing, to give what I always felt was a perfect balance between weight, stiffness, flexibility, and ride comfort.  A quick Internet search will show that arguments rage over which are the best frame materials/tube sets, but having tried bikes with 653 frames in the past, it was what I had decided on.

The Group-set:
In my mind when it comes to a road bike there is only one real option for the group-set and that is Campagnolo.  All my road bikes have been Campag, and all my mountain bikes have been Shimano or SRAM, so I don’t have anything against other manufacturers.  I also wanted to go modern and not “period” with the group, but in an understated way, which fits in with the overall look I had in mind, so opted for 2011 Veloce 10 speed which is sadly the only group-set they still offer in all natural aluminium finish.

The Bars & Stem:
For these I wanted to keep it Italian, in particular Cinelli who in my mind always made the nicest bars and stems especially of the period the frame was made in.  So for the stem I am going to go with a Cinelli 1A, and for the bars Cinelli Criterium 40cm, of which it is possible to obtain with cable grooves (important as I will be running geared).

The Wheels:
These were going to be based on a pair of perfect condition Campag Veloce 36 spoke hubs which I had on some old wheels, but thankfully recent enough to be able to take a 10sp Cassette.  Having had experience of them in the past I opted to go with silver Mavic Open Pro’s with silver DT Swiss double- butted spokes.  This was also going to be a job for the LBS as I have never attempted to build my own wheels, so leaving this to the pros!

The Saddle:
For a LONG time I wanted to haemorrhage the cash on a Brooks “Swallow” titanium saddle, and now was the time!  I have ridden one before and the combination of style, comfort, low(ish)-weight, the fact it’s handmade, and the history, meant it had been the only option in my mind for quite some time.

Part 3: The Donor Bike

This, I knew was going to take the longest amount of time and the most searching.  As the frame I was looking for was so specific, I had to rely on one becoming available second-hand, in the right size and at the right price!  Still, where is the fun without the thrill of the hunt!  Also, until I had found the right starting point I didn’t know what components would be re-usable, and which I would need to replace.

After a few months of looking I finally found and bought a secondhand Raleigh, which appears to be based on that which the late Laurent Fignon won the Milan San Remo on, in the 1989 Giro d’Italia, so not a bad starting point for the project then!


Frame Serial Number = WH 90 01308 (Worksop June 1990 frame 01308)
Frame size = 57cm
7 speed, mix of Shimano and Campagnolo components

Part 4: The BEFORE Photographs

So here are the photos of the before mentioned bike, which has seen better days!

Part 5: The AFTER Photographs

So here are the photographs of the finished bike, the frame of which was renovated by Argos cycles using a custom paint colour I had in mind for years, which is called Aviator Grey, and was originally used on the Audi TT in 2000-2001.

 The Brooks "Swallow" saddle with titanium rails.

Campagnolo Veloce brakes.

Replacement Reynolds 653 fork decals supplied by the Reynolds factory.  These were the only decals I decided to put on the finished frame.

Campagnolo Veloce hubs salvaged and cleaned up from an old set of wheels I had.

Wheels built using the above hubs, Mavic Open Pro rims and DT Swiss double-butted spokes, finished off with Continental GP4000s tyres.

Campagnolo  Power Torque cups.

Reynolds 653 replacement down-tube decal, again supplied by the Reynolds factory.

One of the few things still to be altered are the skewers, which are a temporary solution until I can obtain suitable Campagnolo concealed cam skewers.

Cinelli Criterium 400mm Bars and Cinelli 1A 75mm Stem.

Brooks honey leather bar-tape, finished off with Hope aluminium end caps.  These still need to be turned down to reduce the diameter slightly as they are a fraction too big, but you get the idea.

These aluminium Campagnolo cable stops are getting harder to find as they seem to have been replaced by a black plastic version, which look nowhere near as good.

The original Campagnolo threaded headset from the original donor bike.  This was a keeper from day one for obvious reasons, and cleaned up nicely!

Campagnolo Aero seat post, which is relatively easy to source second-hand, and the one which I felt suited both the choice of saddle and overall look of the bike best.

Campagnolo 2011 Veloce 10 speed group set.  The pedals still need to be replaced with something more appropriate though!

One result I was particularly pleased with was the head badge, which was stripped back to the natural aluminium so that it matched the rest of the bike, and still left the detailing of the logo in relief.  This was stripped using the (pretty dangerous, but effective!) sulphuric acid method which you can see details of how to do online, which is at your own risk!  When I tried this on the original badge I discovered it was actually plated plastic, so I found a proper aluminium example on eBay for very little, which is the one you can see here.

So there you go!  See below for the full spec.

Part 6: Detailed Specifications

1990 Raleigh "Castorama" Reynolds 653
Frame Number: WH 90 01308 (Worksop June 1990 frame 01308)
Frame Size: 57cm
Down Tube Diameter: 28.6mm 
Seat pin diameter: 27.2mm
Head Tube Length: 142mm
English Bottom Bracket

Renovation done by Argos Cycles who did an unbelievable job. Cannot recommend them highly enough.  Apart from the paintwork they also removed the pump-peg, and widened the rear drop out distance from 126mm to 130mm, as far as possible because the frame won't coldset very easily being Reynolds 653, so needs springing out very slightly to fit the rear wheel.

Paint Colour: Aviator Grey (Audi TT 2000-2001)
Paint Code: LZ7W (Slightly pearlescent)
Many thanks to Mike Murphy at Audi (Reading) for all his help tracking down these details.

Decals: Supplied by Reynolds as per the originals

Cinelli "Criterium" 40cm with cable groove (Sourced from eBay)
Bar tape: Brooks "Honey" leather, with Hope alloy endcaps

Cinelli 1A 75mm (Sourced from the London Fixed Gear Single Speed classifieds forum)

Seat Post:
Campagnolo "Aero" 27.2mm (Sourced from the London Fixed Gear Single Speed classifieds forum)

Camapgnolo (from the original bike which I reconditioned)

Brooks "Swallow" Titanium in "Honey" leather (Bought new online)

Campagnolo "Veloce" 10 Speed 2011 apart from the front mech which is 10 Speed "Chorus" due to the fact that the Veloce wouldn't fit the narrow downtube diameter (Sourced from various websites new, as and when components were on offer, but mostly from Parker International)

As the bike originally had STI shifters on the down tube, a pair of Campagnolo alloy cable stop adaptors were also required (Sourced new online)

Gear Ratios: To follow
Crank Length: 172mm

Hubs: Campagnolo "Veloce" (reconditioned by myself from an old set of wheels I had)
Rims: Mavic Open Pro Silver 36 Hole front & back (Sourced new online)
Spokes: DT Swiss "Revolution" Silver
Handbuilt by Condor Cycles (Standard 3 Cross pattern)
Tyres: Continental GP4000s 23mm (Bought new online)