The Red Emonda

The Red Emonda

Guest Article: The Emonda and the Montello

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It is important to have a steel bike and a carbon bike and maybe a titanium bike. It just is. The steel bike might not be ridden too often but it is worthy bike to ride. A steel frame will be heavier and less stiff but it will feel great. For many of us, we still have ridden more kilometers on a steel bike than our newer carbon bike and that body memory will always be there. And this glossy red paint job makes me want to ride my old steel bike long enough to strip down my carbon frame and send it off for a glossy red paint job. That is another good reason to own a steel bike. Thanks to @sboney for sending this in.

Yours in Cycling, Gianni

To the extent career and lifestyle have led to even a modicum of financial security there is some consolation in knowing that many of the challenges of middle age can be solved, still, with a checkbook. The aching knees and various other signs of mortality are assuaged by the credo of the baby boomer, “50 is the new 30.” And so I have found in cities like mine, where life is spent outdoors, the compensation for all this aging takes a different form that in my former abode in one of America’s largest and least outdoor friendly cities. Here in Denver you rarely see dentists in a Porsches driving around top down with shiny new wives who have recently taken vows, “for healthier, for richer, for better.” Instead our own brand of compensation for the coming unknown is usually in the form of a bicycle collection and depth of gear that leaves the twenty somethings working in the LBS muttering about the unfairness of life.

Approaching fifty I find myself with some available mad money and thankfully a cache of free time that earlier in my career had been spent preparing for Monday morning and the various requests partners and clients made that previous Friday evening. Such are the vagaries one encounters when defining, “a misspent youth.” I have found redemption in the form of a shiny red Trek Emonda SL6 which has become what amounts to my own fountain of youthiness. By who I see riding alongside and from what I hear in talking to people, I am not alone in this. The Emonda is my first experience on a carbon frame and my first time on a bike with any serious intent since my undergraduate days thirty years ago and thirty pounds ago. In the late eighties I would frequently spend five or six hours on a Dave Scott Ironman Centurion with the dead reliable Shimano 600 groupset traveling long distances quickly on the streets of Austin, Texas. The Centurion was a faithful and much appreciated companion I purchased after a short and misplaced grieving period that my student budget did not allow for Pinarello Montello. There was nothing about the Centurion save weight, and not much at that, holding me back from perfect days seeking personal bests among friends who shared my interest in helmetless bombing at freeway speeds down Capital of Texas Highway.

Still with Colorado being a biking community and me being a believer that all karma should be burned in the current life, I scanned Craigslist and Ebay for a Montello of my own in an effort to check a box that had been left unchecked. I purchased a red mid-80’s version from a fellow traveler now on the other side of knees, back, and finances where once cherished purchases have devolved into “cool stuff I seem to drag from move to move.” I assured him of a loving place in a good home and so the deal was sealed. After a thorough going through by the LBS (not doing my own work anymore is also a characteristic I have noticed in other folks of my age and ilk) I began my own personal tour of thirty years of bike development.

To put it simply cycling has come a long way but from a deservingly well regarded past.

Both bikes are a joy to ride and the Emonda in particular has been a revelation. I have never experienced such a direct connection between any effort in my legs and motion at the contact patch. There appears to be no slack, no give, and no hesitation at any level. Likewise the tapered steering has been as precise and surgical as any mechanical device I have encountered and the brakes remind me of an older 911 where the brake pedal does not move much but modulation is easy and shockingly effective. I assume those who grew up on carbon are rolling their eyes at this point but I feel a little like Tarzan flipping a light switch off and on. Less a burden than just noticeable the smallest variation in road or path travels straight up the frame. Rather than wearing I find it invigorating so I am guessing the carbonistas at Trek dialed in stiffness in a purposeful way. I usually hop off the bike smiling and clear in my understanding that this is more bike by a wide margin than I will ever be able to fully appreciate.

The Montello on the other hand has been less responsive due to frame flex (no chainstay bridge!) and its rear brake is suggestive of stopping power in a way that gives me great appreciation of those who rode it downhill for a living. Nevertheless the steel frame glides over road imperfections reasonably well and the steering is sharp and lively. I find I do not miss the retro charm of shifters on the down tube when the alternative is a trigger like flick of the index finger. Riding to work there is a ringing sound like a bell when a strap on my backpack hits the top tube. I have not tried to fix that as I find it soothing. When the temperature falls into the 20’s a more utilitarian weekday ride also causes the aluminum bits to fog up and the frame is ice cold so there is, in a sense, a connection between rider, bike, and nature, even on the streets, in a way that carbon does not provide. There is very little about the Montello that I would change other than the bar tape which was my fault and which does not fit the vintage. On a whole other front, purchasing this bike felt like an accomplishment after 30 years of some kind of ember burning. Rather than for what it does, I appreciate the Montello most for what it is. I can stare at the Pinarello after a half hour with a rag and mag polish admiring the delicacy of Italian design and the appreciation they put into aesthetics. For all its utilitarian perfection, the Emonda does not have it style wise on vintage Italian.

So today, like most days, I will drag what is left of my athletic pretensions to another ride and seek the redemption that comes from feeling the pavement move beneath me faster and more elegantly than I would be able to do on two feet. I find most of the time I ride the Emonda since I am nuts about the brakes and the thrill of its immediacy. Still the other day my wife remarked that it had been awhile since the Pinarello had gone out and I felt almost guilty. “Don’t worry,” I told her, “on every ride both bikes come with me.”

// Guest Article // The Bikes

  1. @sboney

    Agreed on the fixed giving the kick. I’ll post up a picture of the Montello in the article tomorrow. Saw this one online and it blew my mind. Chrome underneath the paint and one hellacious polishing job. Nice work bringing vintage up to today. The sand blasting instead of decals was a nice touch.

    If this bike was a woman, that pic would be NSFW. Wow . . . .

  2. @Ron

    Mr. Trek himself, errr COTHO, will cheat at some things…but not golf!

    Love how he implicates the entire sport of cycling as dirty, but not golf. I guess he doesn’t know Judge Smails.

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/dec/19/lance-armstrong-cheat-golf-heartbroken-cycling

    In other words, he doesn’t think about what he did in cycling. Blasted through Cycle of Lies by Juliet Macur over the holidays. Wow. What a read. Incredibly researched and lays bare the full hoax that was the LA story. Sure, everyone was doping but USPS did it better than anyone. The UCI come off very badly too. Ultimately, the lie was unsustainable but LA was such an arrogant prick and a bully that he pissed off the wrong people who would not be intimidated: Travis Tygart, Betsy Andreu and the SCA guy. Even Floyd was left with nothing to lose and he filed the whistleblower suit. Thereupon the charade crumbled. Recommended.

  3. @Bruce Lee

    But as with all personalities, the steel bikes have had highs and lows.

    Inspired by this article to take my Columbus MAX off the garage wall, give it a wash, lube and a new set of tyres and looking forward to a ride with a smile on my face. No smile, it was to be my last ride on my old 90’s war horse. At 11.6kg with a wheel base longer than a Harley Davidson I wondered how the heck did I even race this thing. No wonder I sucked on it.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/sthilzy/2015.01.05.14.12.13/1//”/]

    However, there is another. From the 80’s and custom built. The ride after each rebuild, I recall, always brings a smile to my ride. Looking forward to that steel ride.

  4. I’m a sucker for a classic. I bought a 30yr old car when I was 19. I also had a 40yr old Ute in my 20’s. My motorbikes which are sadly all sold now were 15yrs old at the youngest. That was a few years ago now but I still gravitate to the vintage stuff. I commute on an early 80’s steel with DTS and am currently restoring a 1994 Merckx. I train and race on a modern Carbon and love the responsiveness with surprisingly good ride.

    My #1 will always be the latest and greatest, but the stable will always house at least one classic. To me they are horses for courses. I wouldn’t content the local crit on the Merckx, but the Merckx is first choice for the social ride.

  5. Puffy – I think the true sign of someone who really has a passion for cycling is the type of bikes they have (or wish they had) and want to ride. Most of us have new carbon but if we’re really just out to have fun and ride a bike for a few hours, well, we keep a special steel back on hand.

    I’ve met more than a few dudes who have slick new carbon machines but you get them talking…and it’s all about watts and dieting, not bikes and gear and passion.

    I was about 28 years old when I bought my twenty year old Tommasini.

  6. @sthilzy

    Inspired by this article to take my Columbus MAX off the garage wall, give it a wash, lube and a new set of tyres and looking forward to a ride with a smile on my face.

    Be sure to post up your impressions after you ride your Columbus MAX. It will be interesting to hear how old compares to new.

  7. @DeKerr

    “Don’t worry,” I told her, “on every ride both bikes come with me.”

    Beautiful.

    Agreed. Very well put – and a very nice article altogether, @sboney. Thanks for that.

    I’m the proud owner of two vintage steel bikes (an ’87 Moser, ideal for the shittiest roads and weather imaginable, and an early eighties Koga Miyata for sunny Sunday cruising), plus an Alu Giant Defy (surprisingly good, and a fine all-weather bike) and something carbon (fully DA-equipped; details may follow at some point…)

    The Giant and, in particular, the carbon rocket are used for riding as fast as I’m capable of (which is not very fast nowadays), and interval sessions and such: they’re responsive, edgy, exhilarating… But on the steel bikes, I just cruise. Hard to tell what I get out of riding those old, heavy, cumbersome relics – but while they cannot hold a candle to the modern machines, performance-wise, they put an equally large grin on my face every time.

  8. @Ron

    Puffy – I think the true sign of someone who really has a passion for cycling is the type of bikes they have (or wish they had) and want to ride. Most of us have new carbon but if we’re really just out to have fun and ride a bike for a few hours, well, we keep a special steel back on hand.

    I’ve met more than a few dudes who have slick new carbon machines but you get them talking…and it’s all about watts and dieting, not bikes and gear and passion.

    I was about 28 years old when I bought my twenty year old Tommasini.

    This.

    By the way, @Ron, how did you manage to be demoted to ‘Level 4 Velominatus’-status, I wonder? FWIW, you, sir, are a Velominatus ‘Hors Catégorie’ in my humble opinion – never mind the numbers.

  9. Thanks for the comments! I enjoyed writing the piece. Captured some thoughts that had been rolling around in my head over the past few weeks. Here is the bike. I could not get home early enough for an outside shot. A little grimy too but I have to admit, honestly come by, I like some dirt.

  10. One more of the Emonda. Oh to be 18 again. I would live on it.

  11. The tiny logo on the derailleur hanger.

    . Who does that kind of thing anymore…

  12. @sboney

    V nice Montello! Always lusted after one.

    Please put front wheel QR skewer on other side.

  13. @sboney

    Very nice indeed.

  14. @sboney a beauty indeed. Only ridden a carbon frame once… It was a rental. It was good, I was out of shape, but in the end I appreciate the look of steel too much. I don’t race so I don’t feel the need for the latest trend (and most accurately the money is not there).

  15. @sthilzy

    @sboney

    V nice Montello! Always lusted after one.

    Please put front wheel QR skewer on other side.

    hahaha, nothing gets past the peanut gallery!

    Also, bel mezzo @sboney.

  16. @sboney

    Agreed on the fixed giving the kick. I’ll post up a picture of the Montello in the article tomorrow. Saw this one online and it blew my mind. Chrome underneath the paint and one hellacious polishing job. Nice work bringing vintage up to today. The sand blasting instead of decals was a nice touch.

    Compels me to get my frame off to Velocolour — 3 to 4 months without no. 1

  17. @sboney

    You and I sound like kindred spirits. I got back on the bike last year after 15 years off of it after I quit racing when riding a bike wasn’t fun anymore. Re-discovered my joy of riding just to ride with no goals or aspirations. And I did it on my 90s Hollands custom race bike. Reynolds 653 steel is real. The more I rode (and the more I rode with other riders on modern livery), the more I wanted to give carbon fiber a go. So I ended up building up a Felt FC frameset that has near identical (I mean down to the mm) to my custom Hollands. I love my Felt but my Hollands hasn’t lost any of its appeal. And, last year, it was fun being an “old guy” (55) riding an “old bike” but out with “youngsters” almost all of whom were riding carbon fiber. Fausto Coppi was right: Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill. :-)

  18. Test

  19. @chuckp

    Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill. :-)

    I remind myself of that everyday in my office full of youngsters. Memory is shot, can’t concentrate, everything aches but I still have my clever moments so respect is properly paid. On the road, a different, sadder story. Them, “On your left.” Me, “Shoot.”

  20. @sboney

    @chuckp

    Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill. :-)

    I remind myself of that everyday in my office full of youngsters. Memory is shot, can’t concentrate, everything aches but I still have my clever moments so respect is properly paid. On the road, a different, sadder story. Them, “On your left.” Me, “Shoot.”

    My best moment last year was the old “I’m cramping” ploy and I Clouseau’ed a bunch of the youngsters. They got way ahead of me going into a stair step climb. I got all but the few strongest by the top.

    My second best was when I was out with a couple of “old guy” riding buddies from years gone by and we got swallowed up at the base of a climb by a big club ride. Only nobody went. So I slid out to the left and in a pretty big gear just rode a hard tempo (seated) and gapped everyone. A group of maybe six guys caught and passed me about halfway up the climb. But that was it. I paid a price for the effort, but it was well worth it.

    But otherwise, I know my rightful place. :-)

  21. I’m still riding the same steel bike (Merckx Strada with Chorus groupset) I brought in 97. It was my first decent bike after being a poor student and in typical cyclists fashion, it was worth more than my car. I couldn’t quite afford a MX Leader or a Colnago Master Olympic. Its pretty heavy compared to the modern carbon bikes but is still a sweet ride and it has never let me down. I have never ridden a carbon bike and I never felt I needed anything else after buying the Merckx. Its funny to see my bike now listed as a retro bike

    I stopped racing a few years after buying this bike and it languished in my garage for 10 years until I got back on it last year. I took a quick snap at work so I apologise for the unclean state of the bike and the poor picture.

  22. @Kieran

    can just tell there’s something beautiful there…then we come to the bar tape!

  23. @Mikael Liddy

    @Kieran

    can just tell there’s something beautiful there…then we come to the bar tape!

    Also a fine point on aligning the logo on the tyre with the valve – but as that should be from the drive side we’ll assume that they do align on the other side……………which should give you time to fix them for a proper Rule #26 photo.

    There’s nowt wrong with Steel especially when it’s an old friend.

  24. @Teocalli

    @Mikael Liddy

    @Kieran

    can just tell there’s something beautiful there…then we come to the bar tape!

    Also a fine point on aligning the logo on the tyre with the valve – but as that should be from the drive side we’ll assume that they do align on the other side……………which should give you time to fix them for a proper Rule #26 photo.

    There’s nowt wrong with Steel especially when it’s an old friend.

    My apologies, I was rushed taking the photo. I will clean the bike and take a better photo worthy of the Velominatus

    Mikael, the bar tape was the closest match to my bike the LBS had at the time. However it is old and in need of replacement.

  25. Nice Gan paintjob, a la Chris Boardman. Very cool.

  26. ErikdR – Must have been a log-in thing. Thanks for the kind words. But heck, I’m just a rookie in this realm. I took up road cycling as a lifetime sport after my competitive sporting ended with college graduation. I’m just happy to learn so much from those who been Following for a lifetime. This is a great community so I can’t resist staying involved.

    chuckp – Nice story and nice bike. My main riding pal is also named Chuck, also is your age. Just had hip replacement but it went well and he’s in such great shape the doctor was excited to operate on him, said the surgery was minimally invasive and that he’ll be riding again soon. Glad you’re back out turning the cranks again.

  27. After many years as a lurker I just joined. So I wanted to publish a picture of my Pinarello Montello.

    I go the bike form a club member, after I had admired it for many seasons. He stated hi son had busted the dropout and I could have it for free if I could repair it. My mechanic fixed it and I rode it as is for some years, until I graduated to other lighter frames. It languished for a while at the bottom of the “pile”. But 2 years ago I decided it was too good to rust away so I had it repainted and chromed which took many months. So here it is in all it’s glory.

    Thanks for your time.

  28. @Graham Sharman

    Welcome and congratulations on ditching your lurker status.

    We’d love to see your bike but…

    Use the little camera icon up above the box. You’ll know it has worked when you see it in the comment box before you hit Submit.

  29. @ChrisO

    Ok Chris, thanks for the tip. Trying again. Graham

  30. @Graham Sharman

    Well it didn’t work that time either ?

  31. @Graham Sharman

    Are you logged in? Above the comment box there’s some format buttons like Bold Italic Underline and directly above those should be a little camera icon on the left and video on the right.

    if you see that and click it you should get to browse your computer files to select an image. Select, Open and then you should see the photo in the comment box before you hit Submit.

    Where is it going off the rails?

  32. Well this is weird. I have done most things on PC’s over the last 25 years but this refuses to work. I will check my security SW to see if it’s blocking the site or something. Damn perhaps the Velo SW recognizes a n on conforming picture and it’s gremlin is blocking it ?

  33. @Graham Sharman

    You’re not using IE perchance?

  34. @Teocalli

    Yes have done so for longer than I care to remember. Why ?

  35. @Graham Sharman

    @Teocalli

    Yes have done so for longer than I care to remember. Why ?

    It does not have a great record against the site, you might want to try with Chrome or Firefox and see if it works OK with one of those.

  36. Is anyone else finding page loading times super slow here? This is the only ‘site I look at that takes as long to fire up, and sometimes it even times out on me. I’m on Chrome and all other websites are super fast to load. Cheers.

  37. @Oli

    Is anyone else finding page loading times super slow here? This is the only ‘site I look at that takes as long to fire up, and sometimes it even times out on me. I’m on Chrome and all other websites are super fast to load. Cheers.

    Yes, we’re having some trouble for sure; trying to do what I can but super busy at the moment and not much time to troubleshoot. Its been a little better the last 12 or 18 hours I think – do you agree?

  38. Worse than ever, sorry! I’ve done all I can think of at this end but it’s slow as fuck.

  39. Still trying to submit this photo of my refurbished Pinarello Montello

  40. The pics still wont load on IE. So I DL’d Chrome just for Velomonati. Hope it was worth it. Rode this bike last Tuesday. Silent drive train, smooth as silk.

  41. @Graham Sharman

    Who uses IE anyway?

  42. @Graham Sharman

    stunning, so yes the pictures uploaded.

  43. Drive-side photo, please.

  44. Stunning, I do covet a steel bike with chrome rear triangle and forks. Reserved for Steel #3.

  45. That’s what I’m talking about, thanks @Graham Sharman! That is one beautiful machine you’ve got there.

  46. @Graham Sharman

    Is that a Campy number plate surround / frame on the Boxster?

  47. @anotherdownunder

    oh and yes – very nice bike!

  48. Thanks for the compliments. Yes that’s a Campy surround. Bought it at the Tour de Virginia when I could still climb a bit many years ago.

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