Sunday, September 20, 2009

Colnago - Second time around

I can't seem to help myself, but all my toys seem to be 'works in progress'; for example the Colnago Master Olympic below was built earlier this year as a fixed gear, but has already been pulled apart to make way for a new 11 speed Chorus groupset. As an engineer, the nuts, bolts, and workings of bikes (and cars) entertain me as much (or more) than the riding itself. Something about the mechanical precision, detail, as well as the aesthetic of objects has always held my attention.

Some might say that it was a travesty to build such a nice steel frame as a fixed gear, but as taste is unique to everyone, one man's love will be the scorn of others. I liked the look of the Colnago as a fixed gear, but with the Concorde track build waiting in the wings, it seemed like a good time to build up my first road bike.

As mentioned in the previous post, I have two pairs of the Campagnolo NOS Atlanta 1996 rims, the second set of which have also been built by Shifterbikes. This wheelset has Campagnolo record hubs, with DT Swiss Revolution spokes (they're the superlight double butted ones!), and the NOS Atlanta rims.

An expensive table of goodies that will find their home on the Colnago. Again, many will say that a period Chorus or Record groupset in alloy would be a much nicer complement to the early 90s frameset - and in some ways I would tend to agree. However, again part of the engineer in me loves new technology, and a brand new carbon groupset looks just brilliant. Another reason for a brand new groupset is my fear of buying a second hand groupset that 'runs like new' to find out that it is more of a lemon than "the bachelorette".

Hopefully it's not the worst decision in this build and provide proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Chorus d-skeleton brakes - still can't believe that Campagnolo refuse to go to a dual-pivot rear calliper, opting to stay with the single pivot, and therefore inferior performance, rear calliper.

The Campagnolo rear derailleurs are a seriously pretty piece of machinery. In many ways, there is the perfect blend of form and function; something that is often unseen in the Shimano equivalent. While there is no doubt that Shimano make excellent (and sometimes better) functioning components, they seem to be driven moreso by function. Furthermore, if history is anything to go by, Campagnolo components are easily overhauled, providing the owner many years of enjoyment - while Shimano components tend to be 'single-use-to-be-discarded-when-broken'. The sheer number of hits on eBay for Campagnolo vintage components, versus Shimano vintage components, evidences this somewhat.

Decided to round out the groupset with Chorus pedals as well. They aren't often used (from what I have read), perhaps due to their ridiculously high price, and perhaps also from receiving some poor reviews online. The reviews have criticised the pedal cleat retention system wearing quickly, and also the cleats wearing quickly. I'm under no illusions that I will do thousands of kms a year, so I think these will be just fine for my purpose.

As my comments above, Campagnolo are brilliant at form and function. These ergo levers look fantastic, and are surprisingly well made. It may put to bed the common impression that Italian build quality is described as 'built with passion', which really should be read 'beautiful but rubbish quality control'. In anycase I still prefer the look of these over the Shimano equivalents.

Yes, I went for compact (50/34) for the cranks, given that I've had one knee reconstruction and meniscus repair (bucket handle tear), RHS, and more recently a meniscus repair, LHS. Compact will be better for spinning and climbing, and, I have chicken legs. Matched to the 11-25 cassette above, this should provide a nice range of ratios.

What is not to like about these Campagnolo carbon cranks? Superb. Yes, I agree that the non-compact cranks actually look nicer - the spider section doesn't look as cramped as the compact version; the radius of the arms flowing down to the chainrings is shallower, which looks better in my opinion.

1 comment:

  1. Perforated leather colnago logo on the saddle, no problems. Stick with the Rolls Normal though, the Due (as used on the original Casino Royale) is really uncomfortable.