Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Celeste e Bianca: Nice Day for a Ride!

Having finally nursed my celestial beauty back to health, I was ready to take her on a proper test ride... And the snow decided to pick this day of all days to arrive? It felt like the final act of an Italian tragicomic operetta. But since the forecast did not predict snow until late morning, I set off early in hopes of beating the odds. After all the drama with this bicycle, I was not willing to forgo a test ride!

For the past few months I had been patiently hunting for one of these, but having no luck finding anything in my size and budget. Finally, an online bike-friend found something that seemed perfect and I pounced on it immediately. When the bicycle arrived, it initially seemed that my worst fears about sight-unseen deals were realised and the purchase was a disaster: Not only did every single component seem to require work, but the frame was a larger size than advertised - possibly too large for me. I considered just re-selling the bike as-is to save myself the heartbreak. But after much debate and some outside mechanical help, things began to look up and I decided to keep it. Once the wheels were in ridable condition and we put the tires on, the moment of truth came: I did clear the top-tube sufficiently, and so continuing the renovations was deemed worth the risk.

And now here she is: a 54cm Bianchi "Nuovo Racing", circa 1983. Made in Italy, Columbus tubing, some Campagnolo components. When I got the bicycle, everything was original - right down to the water bottle, which I promptly removed.

We replaced the handlebars and brake levers with modern Nitto Noodle bars and Tektro short reach levers. (The original bars and levers were damaged. But even if they hadn't been, I have trouble using vintage ones and am only really comfortable with the Noodle + Tektro combination.)

The original Ofmega stem was 11.5cm long - which felt scary, since the bicycle was already larger than what I was used to. We replaced it with a 7mm stem.

The original 23mm tires were torn to shreds and we replaced them with 28mm gumwall Panaracer Pasela Tourguards. I might eventually switch them with the cream tires on one of my other bikes, but maybe not. The original Modolo Flash brakes on the bike were damaged, and for now we've fitted it with a set of modern Tektro brakes - but they are not an ideal fit, and I am waiting to get a set of vintage Campagnolo brakes from a bike friend which I hope to replace the modern ones with. That should look much better, so I am hoping they work out.

Otherwise, the bicycle is original, including - for now - the foam racing saddle, the shape of which feels surprisingly comfortable. The handlebars are wrapped with white cloth tape and covered in two layers of clear (not amber) shellac - which gives them a nice vintage-cream appearance. The end result is not "period-correct" by any means, but I don't think the modern parts look offensive either. It is subdued and evokes a sense of the early '80s, at least to me.

When you romanticise a particular bicycle and look forward to it too much, there is bound to be disappointment. For me, the disappointment was with the aesthetic aspects. I don't know what I was expecting, because I had poured over catalog pictures of this model before, so nothing should have been a surprise. But I guess, appearance-wise, the bike was more bland than I had anticipated.

I think that I hoped to see "Italian flare", and there simply isn't any. It's a very ordinary-looking early 80s lugged bike, painted turquoise, with a bunch of blue Bianchi decals. Well, that's okay, I thought: Now I know that there is nothing magical about these bicycles. I will either enjoy riding it, or not; either way, it will be a learning experience.

It was not until I rode the bicycle that I began to get attached to it. And make no mistake, get attached to it I did! - How could I have taken these snowy, romantic photos otherwise?  I first tried the bike a couple of days ago - with the long stem and faulty original brakes - for just long enough to determine that the stem was too long and the brakes were too faulty, but the ride quality was lovely. After having replaced the stem and brakes, I finally test rode the bicycle properly, just hours before the snow storm arrived. The Co-Habitant was worried about the bike's performance and about the weather, and so he extracted a promise from me to stay close to our neighborhood. And I did - riding for 45 minutes in loops until my hands went numb from the cold (winter glove recommendations for a road bike, please?) and the snowflakes started to fall.

First impressions: The ride quality is nicer than I had expected. There was no harshness at all, and the bicycle was surprisingly stable at low speeds for a racing-style roadbike. The 54cm frame feels large, but I like it - I hope that I will be able to go back to 52cm bikes after this! The lean, even with the shorter stem, is more extreme than what I am used to. But I think I am okay with expanding my comfort zone in this respect. I was able to use the drops and the downtube shifters without feeling too unstable. And most importantly, this bicycle has the same "smooth and comfy" feel that I love so much about my Moser.

Because I have now shown a preference for several bicycles with Columbus tubing, while not being as crazy about my Reynolds 531 vintage Trek, it has been suggested that I might be a "Columbus person and not a Reynolds person". I don't know about that - or at least, I don't think that I have enough experience yet to determine such a thing. But I do know that I will be keeping this Bianchi and that I will be selling the Trek in the Spring. I won't make sweeping generalisations, such as that "I like Italian bikes" - but I do very much like the ride on the Bianchi, so far. And as beautiful as the snow is, I do hope it clears up and gives us a chance to ride together again this winter.

52 comments:

  1. Velouria: Please, whatever you do, don't put cream tires on this bike. I like them on your other bikes, but they just wouldn't look right on this one.

    Ironically, "Bianchi" means "whites" in Italian! (In Italian and other Latinate languages, adjectives have singular and plural forms. So your bike would have two whites tires.)

    As for the Columbus vs Reynolds controversy: I think a bike's design and construction are far more important than which tube is used. At times in my life, I've had bikes made from both; at other times, my bikes have been one or the other.

    About the brakes: Modolos might be my least favorite brake of all time, or at least of the ones I've used. I never understood the appeal of them, aside from the fact that they were among the lightest brakes available at the time, and one of the first to be available in colors other than silver and black. Getting Campys would be a good idea and period-correct, so would Galli brakes (which I rode and liked a lot) or Universal's CX or 77 models. All of the brakes I mentioned were commonly used on Italian bikes (including Bianchis) with Campagnolo drivetrains.

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  2. Congratulations on your bianchi! I've been looking at them only because I'd like a nice italian ride like my husband has. But I have yet to get on a drop bar bike yet. It's been years!
    Have fun with that in the spring-if you can wait that long.
    Heather

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  3. I'm awaiting the announcement of this one's name. That usually means you'll keep it. (laughs)

    There is a certain ride quality that some of the road bikes of this era possessed that is elusive, but very pleasant. Fast, but with good low-speed manners. The mid-80s Specialized bikes seemed to have it, too.

    This summer, I sold the sole remaining Celeste component I had - a vg+ condition 1986 Silca frame pump. If I had known you were looking for a Bianchi, I'd have held onto it for you.

    Congratulations on the new steed.

    Corey K

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  4. Glad to hear the bike fits, and you are enjoying the initial ride. Do you always set up your bikes so that the right hand lever runs the front instead of the rear brake? I know some people prefer this configuration because of hand strength and use. However, that set up does make for a sharper, reverse bend angle for the front cable because these side pull calipers have the cable entry on the right instead of left side.

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  5. Very nice. My main ride is a 1983 Bianchi "Limited" it originally came as a frameset. I bought it used as a frameset for $20 ...yup $20. It has a wonderful sports/touring stability. Ed Brandly converted a "Limited" to 650B - http://www.freewebs.com/650b/edsbianchi.htm - that is a twin brother to my frameset. It is so smooth, and has clearance for my SKS fenders I'm not sure there is much of a need to convert a "Limited". A slightly large race geometry frame, on the other hand, is an *ideal* candidate for conversion (hint, hint), it lowers the top tube just a bit...you could probably use your tektro brakes in a conversion too.

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  6. any advice on riding in snow for us in the UK? we're having our coldest december since 1890, im still riding every day but only tiny distances. do you have any experience with spiked tyres? i'm thinking of getting some schwalbe marathon winters, but they are very expensive, are they worth it? is it ever ok for a man to wear earmuffs? is earmuffs even a word in the USA?

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  7. I know what you mean about the aesthetics. I prefer the dark red decals on the bike at the top of your Bianchi post, not so keen on the blue. But this is a gorgeous bike all the same and I'm pleased to hear the ride quality seems to be living up to your expectations, so far. Have fun! (And be safe.)

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  8. "As for the Columbus vs Reynolds controversy: I think a bike's design and construction are far more important than which tube is used. At times in my life, I've had bikes made from both; at other times, my bikes have been one or the other. "

    Agreed. The differences between the lightweight steel formulations in Columbus, Reynolds, and other tubesets (Tange, TruTemper, etc) are negligible when it comes to the rider, and there's debate over whether even experienced racers can tell the difference. It's really more about the construction and the geometry. Some bike makers changed the tubing from year to year but kept the geometry the same, and most people owners were either none the wiser or they didn't care.

    So Velouria, which fenders are this bike going to get?

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  9. It would be fun to know how the ride on the Bianchi differs from that on the Trek. It is the handling at low speeds?

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  10. While I have yet to try them, my brother swears by 'lobsterclaw' mittens for winter riding on his road bike. Shifting and braking are easier due to the split and the mitten aspect keeps his hands much warmer than straight gloves do. That and a good ibex sweater see him thru a 15 mile per way commute all winter. I'm still working on my winter setup.

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  11. It looks like your bike has exactly the Campag gear levers I had on my road bike when I was a teenager, late '80s, early '90s. I can't recall any of the other components except those. They were really nice to use, in the days before indexed shifting came in, you could throw the lever and select a gear perfectly every time. They were mounted on a handbuilt steel frame of unknown provenance, (as the previous owner had painted it all plain black) which I sold in about 1995 in favour of a mountain bike.

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  12. Campy shifters sure are purty to look at!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7516215@N03/4334456767/in/set-72157622877327944/

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  13. My main ride is a 1983 Bianchi "Limited" it originally came as a frameset. I bought it used as a frameset for $20 ...yup $20. It has a wonderful sports/touring stability.

    I bought a complete 1985 Bianchi Limited with the idea of keeping it as a sports-tourer, full Shimano 600 kit, Italian-built Columbus frame. But, it simply didn't speak to me. I ended up parting it out (it would have needed a lot of work to re-sell as a refurbished bike, and I didn't feel like spending the time on it). Upon disassembly, I was surprised to see that the tubes had been poorly mitered before being fitted into the lugs. However, the lugwork itself was nicely done, if plain looking, and the brazing clean. It had nice looking Bianchi-branded dropouts, as well.

    Justine: I too wonder why some components get elevated to "grail" status despite mediocre performance. I have a Huret Jubilee rear derailleur, whose claim to fame is being the lightest derailleur ever (and damn nice looking). The thing is, its performance is so poor, shifts are so sloppy and noisy, that I won't use it on any of my bikes. It occupies a permanent spot in a cardboard box in my basement. Yet, these things command premium prices on the 'bay.

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  14. Anne Welch - I am reluctant to draw conclusions after just 45 minutes of properly riding the Bianchi. But it is mainly 2 things:

    . This Bianchi seems to handle better than my Trek at slow speeds - which was a surprise, because the Trek is a "sports touring" model and the Bianchi is a "racing" model. Granted, the Bianchi now has a shorter stem and different handlebar-saddle height proportions than it was designed to have and these alterations might have made it tamer. But on the other hand, the Trek has an even shorter stem, with the same handlebar/saddle height proportions...

    . The ride on the Bianchi felt "softer" and more comfortable than on the Trek. The tires are the same on both bikes and the Trek has much better quality wheels, so I am not sure what to attribute it to other than my reaction to the frames. I should also add that people *love* my Trek when they try it and find it very comfortable, and the model has an excellent reputation in general, so this is not to say that I find the Trek un-comfortable. Perhaps the Bianchi and Moser just suit my style of riding better.

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  15. samuel chilbolton - I am only comfortable riding in snow on a heavy, upright bicycle with wide tires. I have ridden on Marathon Plus, Delta Cruiser, and no-name Dutch bike tires in the snow, and they have all been good. I have not ventured out in proper snow since last winter, but will be testing my Gazelle and Bella Ciao shortly to see how they do!

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  16. For winter riding I wear a thinnish pair of gloves, and then a big pair of pearl izumi shells over that. I haven't seen these shells in years (got them in the mid-90's) but they are the cat's meow. That keeps me happy down to freezing. If its really cold I'll put another pair of gloves over the first pair. This combo keeps me very very warm into the 20'sF for a 90 minute ride.

    Speaking of missing old gear, does anyone make a hooded lycra jersey anymore? Its about my favorite piece of gear - not too hot, not too cold - but haven't seen one in years.

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  17. Velouria, I wonder if the difference in ride quality between the Trek and Bianchi has anything to do with the Bianchi's larger frame? It's an interesting comparison since both bikes are being compared with the same tires. Generally speaking, the larger the main triangle, the more flex a frame has. I don't know how much, if any, difference 2-3cm in frame size can affect flex, but it's one idea, especially since you used the word "softer" in your description of the ride.

    Also, racing bikes use thinner tubing than touring or sport-touring bikes, since they are not designed to carry luggage or any weight other than the cyclist, and strive to be as light as possible. Thinner tubing will definitely flex more and may contribute to increased ride comfort. I don't know how many variations of Columbus tubing existed back then, but Reynolds made their 531 in several versions, depending on whether the bikes were to be used in racing (531c), touring (531st), or general "sport touring" (531). Logically, the racing version was the thinnest, and the touring version was the thickest. The infamous "531" that we all know and love is the standard thickness, in between the racing and touring thicknesses. And butting is a whole other story...

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  18. The Bianchi is as well....lovely!

    I just got some pearl izumi womens full finger riding gloves and rode last weekend in the cold damp weather and my hands stayed incredibly warm (my feet froze) but my hand were really warm, fringing on hot!

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  19. Reynolds 531 is not that amazing of a tubeset, in any variety. There's a reason it's been replaced. Rumor has it that modern 520 has much better feel, quality, and weight. The more amazing thing about it is that 531 was a set of steel tubes made specifically for bicycle framebuilding, rather than stock 4130 for general applications or hi-ten steel. People just get boners for old stuff regardless of its quality.

    Have fun with the bike while it lasts. I hope you have a new wheelset and drivetrain planned out for when you wear out the freewheel.

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  20. Somervillain: I actually had a Jubilee on one of my bikes because it was so pretty. It may well be the nicest-looking bicycle component ever made. But, as you say, its looks and light weight are its only attributes. Those may be fine qualities for a supermodel, but they won't help a bike down the catwalk, let alone across the finish line!

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  21. Lucienrau: I second your recommendation. My ideal hand covering for riding in very cold weather would be "lobsterclaws" with a leather or nylon shell and a wool liner. For a long time, I rode with something that came close: an Army surplus pair of leather gauntlets with wool liners. I actually prefer the shell-and-liner system to an insulated mitten as they feel less bulky and, more important, do a better job of keeping heat in (via the layer of air between them) and conducting moisture out.

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  22. If you like the ride it's going to be hard to give it up. Yes, I just became acquainted with Cloumbus SL tubing after riding Reynolds 531 for a long time and my reaction was similar to yours -- it's very nice. After the purchase and renovation of a circa 1970's Malagnini I almost sold it without ever riding it. I'm glad that I kept it. Mine is also a little larger than I'm use to but that's o.k. the ride is that good. I hope you get the Campy brake calipers.

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  23. Velouria said...
    " riding for 45 minutes in loops until my hands went numb from the cold (winter glove recommendations for a road bike, please?) "
    For really good cold weather gloves you will find that hunting gloves are always the best choice. This vendor is all about hunting.......
    http://www.cabelas.com/insulated-hunting-gloves.shtml

    This is a well known/respected vendor for both men & women.

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  24. these are them

    http://www.rei.com/product/803542?preferredSku=8035420036&cm_mmc=cse_froogle-_-datafeed-_-product-_-8035420036&mr:trackingCode=843A9C1C-F6CB-DF11-98FF-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA

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  25. OH! Do enjoy. How does this Bianchi compare with your Sam Hillborne? Or would you use them both so differently that there is no comparison?

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  26. Question for those recommending shells/mittens: How do they do when squeezing brake levers from the "hoods" position? I tried that in a pair of wool mittens and did not do too well; would not feel safe braking in them on a roadbike.

    Emma J - Hmmm, how to describe that... Well, the Bianchi (and the Moser) are fun and educational. The Rivendell is a bike I can live on. The Bianchi and Moser encourage me to exert myself, to ride more aggressively, to gain handling skills, and then to collapse of exhaustion when I am done. The Rivendell encourages me to go on cycling forever at my own pace and still have the energy to set up my photo equipment when I arrive. The vintage Trek is somewhere in between, but I don't feel the need for an in-between. Does that make sense?

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  27. somervillain - Regarding the larger frame: That might play into it, but it does not explain why the Moser also feels more comfortable to me than the Trek (same tires as well). The Moser is the same numerical frame size, though with a more compact "racing" geometry, than the Trek. But as you say, I would very much be interested in trying different types of Reynolds tubing and comparing. It does not make a lot of sense to me that I am more comfortable on racing bikes than on what is considered an excellent sports touring bike.

    Anon 11:29 - I might end up harvesting the wheelset from one of my other bikes, because the one on the Bianchi is "well used". The derailleurs on the other hand, have not seen much use at all from the previous owner, and will likely not see that much use from me either. If I keep the bike in the long-long run, I would like to find a Nuovo Record crankset eventually to replace the Bianchi-branded Ofmega.

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  28. Of course I have not ridden it but if someone had scrubbed off the decals it is hard for me to imagine that anyone would be bothering with this bike. Looks bog standard and uninspiring. Colour ok. Nothing special at least via the web. I cannot help wondering if the ride would not been as "special" if this had been a blinded test?

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  29. Velouria, the split is what makes them work well from most hand positions, or at least better than mittens. Something like this:
    [link]http://www.rei.com/product/788067[/link]

    I haven't seen any that aren't completely plastic looking though.

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  30. ann ladson - Thanks for the link, I think I'll make my way over to REI and try those!

    Lucienrau - Oooh, of course! And wow : ) Thanks for the link.

    Anon 2:42 - I agree about the aesthetics, as I myself wrote. I will never know about the blind test. But I wanted to like the Trek as much as I did the Bianchi. I also wanted to love my previously owned gorgeous Pashley, yet ultimately was not 100% comfortable with it. On the other hand, I don't think my Moser is that attractive, and it feels great. Either way, I can take any bike and paint it my favourite shade of sage green, so I doubt that wishful thinking is influencing my perception of ride quality.

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  31. Justine - Is your suggestion against the cream tires based mainly on linguistics, or do you think they will look bad? I think they look over the top on my Moser, so that is the bike I was considering switching with. Here is a Bianchi with cream tires - you don't like?

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  32. It's hard to generalize about Reynolds vs. Columbus. For one thing the tubes can be of different thicknesses, and that's not written on the stickers. You can have really thin tubes that aren't called 531C, those designations came later. Even if the tubes were exactly the same thickness there's other factors involved like geometry, fit, and build quality.

    I've had a friend who swears up and down that he prefers Columbus SL over 531. However, he's comparing his light Italian racer to a Trek sports tourer which probably wasn't even all 531 (most had 4130 stays) and likely had thicker tubes. Apples and oranges.

    Reynolds 531 was actually originally made for aircraft frames, so it's not really any more bicycle specific than 4130.

    High-end Modolos are nice brakes but they made plenty of low-end models. Plus, if they are adjusted poorly, even the best brakes can feel awful.

    I wouldn't feel too bad about putting modern dual-pivot calipers and aero levers on a bike especially if you're going to be riding on anything more challenging than dry pavement.

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  33. Velouria said...
    "Question for those recommending shells/mittens: How do they do when squeezing brake levers from the "hoods" position? I tried that in a pair of wool mittens and did not do too well; would not feel safe braking in them on a roadbike. "

    THIS is precisely why I recommended hunting gloves. Hunters have to be able to handle and fire a weapon in the field safely so hunters glove allow that. No different that gripping brake levers. Choose with care and you'll enjoy warm hands that allow your fingers to flex/grip at will.

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  34. Winter riding -- spiked tires are necessary on ice. I doubt they will fit your Bianchi, though. They tend to be wide and bulky. I use the Nokian Hakkapeliitta. They are expensive ($50+) but last a long time since they are quite thick and you only use them in the winter.
    I find it necessary to use a range of gloves depending on the weather, from lobsterclaws to insulated regular gloves. You don't want your hands to get sweaty.
    You don't seem to use cleats, but if you did I would suggest winter boots if you ride over say 1 hour in temperature less than say 25. The hole in the bottom of regular biking shoes, not to mention the holes in the uppers, will make for cold feet otherwise.

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  35. I have a version of the Pearl Izumi lobster gloves that Lucienrau linked (from about four years ago) and I love love LOVE them. They've lost a bit of their water resistance, but that can be rectified with a bit of Nikwax.

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  36. Walt - A-ha, I see. Will have a look at hunting gloves as well.

    I am getting encouraged that I might be able to continue riding a roadbike this winter. I don't seem to be experiencing the cold-breathing problem quite as badly as last year, and have finally got the wool-layering more or less figured out.

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  37. I like my Gore part-lobster gloves from REI. I have medium women's hands, and found that the recommendations given me by men were often too bulky or uncomfortable. I also have a disease called Reynaud's, which means I can't regulate the temperature of my extremities well. My hands are either freezing, or burning up. That, combined with nerve damage that causes me constant finger pain/numbness means I'm very, very picky about gloves.

    The Gores work very well in cold temps, have a wind-blocking quality, and also breathe enough that my hands don't sweat. They are only part-lobster, with the first two fingers free like gloves and the second two in a glove-within-a-mitten arrangement. I have ridden my Panasonic, which is also an 80's racing bike, comfortably with them, and I'm big into braking! The interior of the gloves is very soft, and they weren't bulky feeling on my hands. They aren't cheap, however.

    Link: http://www.rei.com/product/789290

    I think the key is to go into the store and try a bunch of different pairs on. Because REI sells them in the bike section of the store, I was able to walk over and try squeezing various brake levers to see how much mobility I felt I had. Some gloves were too "fat" around my fingers and I didn't like that. Some were scratchy or had seams in places I didn't like. If you don't enjoy them or find them warm enough, REI's return policy for members is the best thing ever.

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  38. david...no the other one!December 21, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Velouria, congratulations on your Celestial Being (Angel?) I saw my first one about 1968 I feel in love. As to the finish, the thinking probably was that it was to go fast not look pretty. I also find that racing automobiles are very poorly finished, I guess if you are going to wreck them why waste the time on the finish. But to me, that is exactly why it is beautiful, it's inherant flaws, cosmetic and structural.

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  39. Velouria said...
    " I don't seem to be experiencing the cold-breathing problem quite as badly as last year, and have finally got the wool-layering more or less figured out."

    I've been wearing one of these covers two winters now since the cold air just tears my old lungs up. I find it to be a good all round winter cover/face mask that will aid in whatever winter activity I do and not make me look like a terrorist!

    http://www.headsokz.com/

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  40. If you're 5'7", 54 cm is about the correct size for a road bike.

    You could ride larger but you could just barely clear it. If you can barely clear the top tube, you're already at the time of what you can ride in defiance of appropriate bike sizing guidelines.

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  41. Italian road racers beg for TUBULARS!

    You will not regret it.

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  42. You say you don't necessarily like Italian bikes? I think you just fell for the quintessential Italian bike. People sometimes forget that race bikes(well, roadracing bikes, not timetrial or ctitirium bikes) first and foremost have to be efficient and COMFORTABLE. You may have been thinking that the essence of a great Italian bike is the details, the paint, chrome and stylish lugwork, but really those old steel roadracers are made for comfort on long, tough days working in the saddle, and the great Italian classics are just marvelous in that respect.

    The real classics, the Cinelli's, Masi's and Colnago's with all the georgeous details got to be icons first of all because they work so well, then they were worth making so beautiful. Who would spend what those bikes cost for racing if they didn't work? Fausto Coppi wasn't going to win all those races if his Bianchi wasn't comfy.

    I think NormanF is right about sizes, the larger end of your size range is often the most comfortable. Now go find some sew-ups for that bike and you'll be spoiled for anything else.

    Spindizzy

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  43. Agree with Spindizzy.

    If its a good bike for you on epic road rides then its features and appearance should become more endearing, then perhaps love. These things take time and many miles.

    IMO, I wouldn't use sew-ups on a road bike unless you're doing TTs or racing crits.

    STI levers are nice but god I love downtube friction shifters. Out of habit I still reach for them, but they aren't there anymore. So sad.

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  44. I loved the feel of the 23mm sew-ups on the (also Italian-made) track bike I rode in Vienna last summer. What I didn't love so much, was what happened when I got a flat 5 miles from home. I don't think sew-ups are realistic for me at this stage; I prefer options that are as low maintenance as possible.

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  45. "Reynolds 531 was actually originally made for aircraft frames"

    As was Columbus (which is a trade 4130), but in this case the relationship is a bit better hidden. Very little that comes to cycling came from cycling. I think the last things of import were the pneumatic tire, the chain and the ball bearing, all 19th century.

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  46. I would like to try STI shifters out of curiosity. But I suspect that I'd still prefer friction: I enjoy the control and the precision. Downtube shifters are frightening though, and I am far more comfortable with bar-ends. Though who knows, after another few months of riding I may get comfortable with DT shifters as well. I am in such a constant state of transition at this point, that it seems kind of ridiculous to make statements about what I "prefer".

    Walt - Last winter, even covering my mouth and nose did not work. I will spare you the details of why not. But basically, once freezing temps arrived last winter, I could cycle for transportation on an upright bike at 10mph tops; anything more strenuous was out of the question. This winter, I am thinking that maybe I slowly trained my lungs to get used to fast rides in colder and colder temps. That's my theory at least.

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  47. Jon - There really isn't that much ice on the streets in Boston during the winter. At least that's been my experience.

    Velouria - Here's my experience with covering my face. First, I don't think I'd be able to cycle with an uncovered face, at all. Second, I've noticed that I need to get at least four layers of material over my face, or else my breath condenses and freezes and becomes burning icy cold.

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  48. Spindizzy - Re Italian racing bikes... I think the mistake I made, based on my earliest experiences, was in equating "aggressive" with "uncomfortable". I rode my Motobecane and a couple of other roadbikes of the same caliber and decided that what I found painful and unmanageable about these bikes was their "roadishness". Now it's clear that this could not have been it, and it must have been something else. Stiffer frame? Cheaper wheels? Poorly designed geometry? No idea, but maybe I will understand eventually.

    lyen - The problem is that my nose runs. Profusely. Even with my face covered. I leave you to imagine the rest...

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  49. Velouria - "I would like to try STI shifters out of curiosity."

    I rode them for about ten years. The idea of the brake lever moving in multiple planes weirded me out a bit, but it turned out to be a non-issue. On the whole I'd say they're OK, and I suppose I'd use them for racing, but I'm glad the frame has bosses instead of just cable stops so I can convert it to downtube friction shifters. Still my favorites overall and mechanically simple.

    "I may get comfortable with DT shifters"

    When first getting used to them the tendency is to lean down, but learn to just drop your arm.

    The Motobecane may have been "roadish," but it wasn't really a road bike. It was a Parisian bike, a city bike. Sort of like a sports car made up of sedan parts from the bin. Something to zip around town with the top down, but not really for sports driving.

    The Bianchi and Moser are more like a Ferrari GTO. Real made for the purpose go far and really fast cars. Cars like this look uncomfortable to the untrained eye, but they're set up ergonomically to let a real driver do his job no matter and are actually far more comfortable in use than the eye suggests they would be.

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  50. Velouria , This site will help you and others with info about activities that will stress your body in the cold (lungs also).

    http://www.drpribut.com/sports/spcold.html

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  51. A few thoughts:

    -the bike looks great. maybe nothing *special*, as you and one commenter mentioned, but it doesn't have to be special to be great.
    -moving to the 70mm stem vs the 115mm stem will make the steering more responsive/twitchy. Still a good move if it improves overall fit, but as far as stability goes, the longer stem has an edge.
    -the tektros might not have the look you're going for, but those dual-pivot calipers will outperform all the single-pivot vintage options you're considering. So, i guess you have to decide whether you want more effective brakes, or ones that better please your aesthetic preferences.
    -you mention liking friction shifting for "precision and control". I've found, for rear-shifting, that indexed shifts are more precise when the cables and derailers are in proper tune. Friction requires more finesse and trim, but once the indexed system is dialed, the rear shifts are perfect every time. That being said, i prefer DT and bar-end shifters, mostly for reliability/durability/repairability. I understand that doubletap and ergo brifters are rebuildable, but most who've tried to rebuild STI brifters have met little success.

    good luck with the new bike!
    -rob

    ps-i've recently discovered a strong preference for road bikes that are "too big" for me, as well
    -rob

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  52. Take a look at www.bikespecialties.com>products>used bikes. View a fully restored late '60s Specialissima. A very special bike presented by a hallowed vendor.
    My guess is if you could accept a few scratches and could live without perfectly preserved 40 year old gum hoods a similar bike should be half that cost (or less). And you will find it.
    Don't spend money on #1049 cranks. Way too high.
    Maybe give your Italians some better rubber. Challenge (formerly Clement) Parigi-Roubaix would be perfect. I weigh 180 pounds, usually have some load in the Karrimor, and get 3-4000 miles flatfree whilst bashing Chicago potholes. At your weight the fast tires should roll near forever.

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