Il Gruppo Progetto: Resurrection of a Pirate

Il Gruppo Progetto: Resurrection of a Pirate

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The corollary of Rule #12 is that one focusses the bulk of their energies on upgrading Bike #1 with the result that upgraded gear typically cascades down to Bike #2 and on down through Bike #n. This is The Way of Things; Bike #1 gains the most, but in the end, they all benefit as upgrades trickle through the stable, with the oldest and most worn gear falling from the bottom where they are either discarded or await enough accumulation to justify another build.

There comes a day, however, that we find ourselves needing to inject an upgrade into the hierarchy, an upgrade which disrupts the Natural Order. This was the case when I reluctantly replaced my XL EV2 with my new Soloist frame. My EV2 holds a dear place in my heart. I built her bit by bit, from components scavenged from eBay over the course of an entire winter. She was at my side (under me, actually, if we’re going to pick nit) as I rediscovered La Vie Velominatus. She was built from scratch in homage to one of my all-time favorite cyclists, Pantani, and his elusive 1998 stallion. She was the first bike I owned that fit me the way I wanted. She was the first bike I had with compact geometry, she was the first bike that cleft my heart in two when I crashed during a crit and destroyed the frame. (I quickly replaced hers with another, identical frame, which is the one I have today.)

Suffice it to say, to have her hanging from a nail in my workshop is a dishonor to this beautiful, loyal friend who carried me back to fitness and through some of the greatest ride’s I’ve been on. Never once did she complain that I was too heavy. Never once did she cringe in agony as I pushed harder on the pedals. Never once did she point downhill when the road pointed up. She carried me through the 2003 L’Etape du Tour and up l’Alpe d’Huez on the morning of the stage. She carried me home after bonking in the heat of North Carolina. She guided my rear wheel back to safety as I was slipping to certain death under a passing semi-trailer on a rain-slicked railroad track.

We have been through a lot together; she must be resurrected. But the question is, in what form?

Bikes are meant to be ridden. I have a carbon Bike #1 and a steel Bike #2, both of which are generally ridden in good weather only, although accidents do happen and they do find their way onto wet roads occasionally. I have a sublime Alu Bike #3 which boasts an identical fit to Bike #1 and serves as my rain bike, thereby getting by far the most use. As far as road bikes go; I have the spectrum fairly well covered and I fear that adding another will mean that she lives out her life being overlooked for my daily rides and go largely unridden, a dishonor almost as great as her current state of limbo.

What I don’t have, however, is a commuter bike; a bike to ride to the cafe or farmers market. A bike to hop aboard and pedal to the office. Do I build her into a commuter which gets ridden, if not in the spirit for which she was intended? Or is this a bigger dishonor than not riding her at all? If I do build her into a commuter, do I rider her with drop bars and my old STI shifters, or do I opt for a set of commuter-friendly mustache bars which I’ve fancied ever since I spotted my first Bridgestone X0? Downtube shifters or bar-end shifters? Full funders and wide tires, I think, though how wide is possible on her tight racing geometry?

Or do I build a funeral pire and set her ablaze, allowing her noble soul to return to Merckx on Mount Velomis to be reborn to someone else’s stable?

Fellow Velominati, I submit to your input: how best to honor this noble steed?

// Il Progetto // Nostalgia

  1. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    @Minion

    You’re American, you all have to have flags flying out the front of your house, while a four fingered cross eyed child wails on the Banjo from your porch.

    What about my front porch?

    Since you don’t have to duck walking through doors and smack your head on light fittings you only get to use the little person flags, and so don’t need such an impressive flagpole.

  2. Damn phone….hell. He could throw some campag cranks, ITM bars, and classic hoops on there to channel the spirit of il pirata. And as he rode to the market or beer store he would always be reminded of L’Etape. North Carolina and great rides gone by still knowing the bike has purpose and is in loyal, regular service.

  3. If he does a build up as a SS might I suggest these cranks if not Campy? Specifically the Royal Flush version.

  4. @Marko
    I hear you. I just think that he should rebuild it classic, use it if he will and, if not, sell it/gift it to someone who will appreciate the beauty of it.

    Anything less is an insult to it, in my opinion.

    He is, afterall, taking suggestions and that is mine.

  5. Go for the full freak build with the mustache ‘bars and whatever parts you can dig up. You already have a stable of cool “normal” road bikes. Make this bike one of a kind.

    You can always change it back to normal down the road. I’d bet after riding it in freak mode, it stays that way…

  6. @Frank
    Re-bild her Pantani style. If you find your not riding her, do what some of the pros have done – sell her for charity to a worthy rider.

  7. Heh, heh.

    Nipple lube, nipple lube, nipple lube, nipple lube, nipple lube, nipple lube, nipple lube.

  8. @Minion

    @Jeff in PetroMetro

    @Minion

    You’re American, you all have to have flags flying out the front of your house, while a four fingered cross eyed child wails on the Banjo from your porch.

    What about my front porch?

    Since you don’t have to duck walking through doors and smack your head on light fittings you only get to use the little person flags, and so don’t need such an impressive flagpole.

    Seatpost envy is the new stem envy. I have a 140mm Cinelli 1a on my Mercian from the Dark Ages. Just sayin’.

  9. @DerHoggz
    I think Frank is something like 194cm. Can’t remember, actually.

    @Jeff in PetroMetro
    @minion–While I was typing about my stem, that sounded absurd, so I measured. My Cinelli 1a is 130cm center-to-center. The older I get, the longer I was.

  10. Ok, that was even more absurd. What I meant to type was 130mm. Hobson, where’s my drink?

  11. I really should stop drinking and getting on the internet.

    Nipple lube.

    That is all.

  12. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    I say the same thing every time I drunk text or drunk facebook.

  13. @RedRanger
    Oooooo! Drunk text. Heh, heh. Who can I drunk text? On a Sunday night. Where’s my boss’s cell phone number?

  14. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Haha. Careful with the texting. There have been many a morning I roll into school to hear that my previous nights texts have gotten there before me. At least with Facebook you can scramble to delete those posts.

  15. @RedRanger
    Too late. Heh, heh, heh, heh. What’s the best text ever? “Nipple lube.” Heh, heh, heh.

  16. @minion
    Yes. Yes I did.

  17. I’m coming late to the discussion, but unless I have not been paying attention, I don’t believe that you have any bikes in your stable with 28mm pave friendly tires. If her fork can accomodate such rubber, it would give you a great machine for commuting, and for hitting the occasional gravel Strade Bianca.

  18. I once made the mistake of setting up a bike with moustache bars, and made the further mistake of riding it for about a year. Moustache bars are an abomination, pure jackassery. Now all bikes set up for pavement, pavé, or fire roads have proper drop bars. That includes the commuter/utility bike.

  19. @Semilog
    What Jeff in PetroMetro said.

  20. @all
    Thanks for all the input, insight, and advice. Here’s my plan:

    I’ll take a two-pronged approach. In the interest of using it in the short-term, I’m going to set the bike up for commuting; drop bars, simple gears (maybe downtube, maybe old STI), a chain protector, pedals with clips, mud guards, the widest tires that the frame will accomodate.

    In the long-run, I’ll collect an old, inexpensive Campa groupo – Veloce for instance – and build her up in the style in which she was intended, if not with the gear. As a bike that won’t get much riding, it doesn’t make sense to build her with Record from an investment standpoint, but the idea of having her as closely as is reasonably built to her original specs makes sense. I will certainly use a dt shifter on the left, Ergo on the right. Just because it’s fucking cool.

    @DerHoggz
    Quite an entrance. At this point, I’m just not feeling quite ready to part with her. She’ll continue to be well-cared for and if I ever do feel she’s in need of a new home, I’ll keep you in consideration. Cheers.

  21. @Scaler911 – embrace the japanese duds on an Italian frame. Wonderful combination.
    Check out big JM absolutely tearing the shine out of his dura-ace. I loved the Mapei bikes.(sorry pic link fail)

    http://www.sirotti.it/foto2/PIC51710WM.jpg

  22. @frank

    Finally sense prevails.
    Late to the thread but if my humble experience is anything to go by you are doing the right thing. Bike no. 1 for me is my training and racing carbon steed. Bike no.2 is the Merckx max steelie that only gets ridden on special occasions. The bike I probably ride the most is bike no.3 a Nos Motta SL that I built up with 9 speed chorus and mavic open 32 open pros. I commute on it about 4 days a week for a 26k round trip, ride it in the rain, events like Melburn Roobaix etc and consider it the ‘thrash’ go anywhere bike. I ran it as a singlespeed for a while but grew tired of it – the gears help.
    For the ill informed out there converting a road frame to fixed is a compromise that for most is not worth the hassle – the bb height is somewhat lower and the risk of pedal strike much higher than riding a track frame (with a higher bb) on the street – you have to take corners extra wide to be safe. I found that out the hard way after running a road frame as a fixed conversion for a while.
    Frank, you can’t go wrong putting nice functional campy gear on the bike and then riding it everywhere whenever you need transport. You will still love riding the bike (each time you swing a leg over and spin the pedals you will be reminded of all those good memories) and frankly the lower specced older campy stuff (eg Chorus 9spd) works fantastically.
    As a friend recently said Life is too short to ride shit bikes.

  23. @kiwicyclist
    Since when did you get yourself a humble opinion?

  24. You had my respect until you mentioned “compact geometry”. Pfft! A real bike doesn’t have gimmicy geometry. A real bike is either custom made steel or a classic carbon (read C40).

  25. @pistolpete
    Classic…
    Carbon…
    Hmmmmm…

  26. @kiwicyclist

    @frank
    Finally sense prevails.
    Late to the thread but if my humble experience is anything to go by you are doing the right thing. Bike no. 1 for me is my training and racing carbon steed. Bike no.2 is the Merckx max steelie that only gets ridden on special occasions. The bike I probably ride the most is bike no.3 a Nos Motta SL that I built up with 9 speed chorus and mavic open 32 open pros. I commute on it about 4 days a week for a 26k round trip, ride it in the rain, events like Melburn Roobaix etc and consider it the ‘thrash’ go anywhere bike. I ran it as a singlespeed for a while but grew tired of it – the gears help.
    For the ill informed out there converting a road frame to fixed is a compromise that for most is not worth the hassle – the bb height is somewhat lower and the risk of pedal strike much higher than riding a track frame (with a higher bb) on the street – you have to take corners extra wide to be safe. I found that out the hard way after running a road frame as a fixed conversion for a while.
    Frank, you can’t go wrong putting nice functional campy gear on the bike and then riding it everywhere whenever you need transport. You will still love riding the bike (each time you swing a leg over and spin the pedals you will be reminded of all those good memories) and frankly the lower specced older campy stuff (eg Chorus 9spd) works fantastically.
    As a friend recently said Life is too short to ride shit bikes.

    Thanks mate – point well taken. The SS conversion is weird as well with the chain tensioner gimmicks as well…and, in a town as hilly as this, it just doesn’t make sense. But simple, easy, low-maintenance is all good. Then on to a nice build when the money works out for it.

    @Marcus

    @kiwicyclist
    Since when did you get yourself a humble opinion?

    I don’t know @Kiwicyclist, but that comment makes me feel like I do.

  27. @Joe

    @Scaler911 – embrace the japanese duds on an Italian frame. Wonderful combination.
    Check out big JM absolutely tearing the shine out of his dura-ace. I loved the Mapei bikes.(sorry pic link fail)
    http://www.sirotti.it/foto2/PIC51710WM.jpg

    As in:

    @pistolpete

    You had my respect until you mentioned “compact geometry”. Pfft! A real bike doesn’t have gimmicy geometry. A real bike is either custom made steel or a classic carbon (read C40).

    Loves me some standard geo for sure, but I love the new stuff as well. Simply: bikes are beautiful.

  28. I thought all the Il Pirata fans out there might appreciate this. Found it while randomly browsing for the next bike, though this is way out of my price range… Anyone got a spare $7500? It’s an absolutely beautiful bike though I’m not sure I could bring myself to ride it.

  29. @Benj
    If you get it, ride it, because it’s not a Pantani replica, it’s a Merconne Uno team replica. No compact geometry, wrong stem, and wrong saddle. And whoever put those yellow hoods on there should be shot.

    I wish they made a replica that actually looked like his bike, but its hard to even track down designs of his original bike, let alone anything that comes close to looking like it.

    Wrote a bit on this several years ago: http://www.velominati.com/racing/il-piratas-1998-bianchi-the-elusive-stallion/

  30. Mid-term update on the XLEV2;

    I decided to use her as a commuter for now, with the idea of moving her towards a Pantani config in the future, as I find appropriate parts. Currently, she’s built up with parts I had laying around and some that I couldn’t resist from eBay. Eventually, I’ll build her in period parts with the left-side shifter’s guts removed etc.

    For now, she’s something different for me, and easy to jump on to run to the market etc.

    Slideshow:

    Fullscreen:

  31. @frank
    Nicley done man. I assume you got that bar tape as a goodie item. I can see now why you guys steered me clear of that black tape a while back.

  32. @frank
    I like it. That should shut the hipsters up when you leave the wine store on that belle mezzo. Commuter toe clips, why not? It still looks light and fast. Nice work.

  33. @RedRanger

    @frank
    Nicley done man. I assume you got that bar tape as a goodie item. I can see now why you guys steered me clear of that black tape a while back.

    Yup, thats the bad stuff – go for the soft touch and it looks much better. Just had that laying around. “Just had it laying around” is the motto for this edition of the build, by the way.

  34. @Gianni

    @frank
    I like it. That should shut the hipsters up when you leave the wine store on that belle mezzo. Commuter toe clips, why not? It still looks light and fast. Nice work.

    You gotta love down tube shifters, too. Shimano 8 speed rear derailleur, 7 speed Campa down tube shifters, 9 speed shimano cassette…it all works like magic!

  35. @frank
    wait a minute, i spy fenders!

  36. @gaswepass

    @frank
    wait a minute, i spy fenders!

    You gotta love fenders!

  37. @gaswepass
    good eye, I think we can excuse him because its a commuter bike at the moment. this bike is starting to take on the life of Black Beauty.

  38. @frank

    @Gianni

    @frank
    I like it. That should shut the hipsters up when you leave the wine store on that belle mezzo. Commuter toe clips, why not? It still looks light and fast. Nice work.

    You gotta love down tube shifters, too. Shimano 8 speed rear derailleur, 7 speed Campa down tube shifters, 9 speed shimano cassette…it all works like magic!

    I wish I could remember who I said it to during the KT (mostly because of the look that I got). Seriously, sometimes I miss the downtube shifters. I remember when Shimano moved to SIS and while it was interesting, I’d turn the ring so that I could keep it in the friction mode. Wow, that was a while ago.

  39. @Vin’cenza

    @gaswepass

    @frank
    wait a minute, i spy fenders!

    You gotta love fenders!

    Fuck those things on a road bike, but hellsyeah to them on a commuter. Those things are like a mustache with titties under those circumstances. HELLYEAH!

    Not crazy about the white hoods, but NOS Campa hoods in black cost more than the bar, stem, brake levers, and DT shifters cost me combined.

  40. @frank

    @Gianni

    @frank
    I like it. That should shut the hipsters up when you leave the wine store on that belle mezzo. Commuter toe clips, why not? It still looks light and fast. Nice work.

    You gotta love down tube shifters, too. Shimano 8 speed rear derailleur, 7 speed Campa down tube shifters, 9 speed shimano cassette…it all works like magic!

    I’d love downtube shifters on my errand-runner. It has the shifters up by the stem, right at the perfect location to hit with my knees when I jump out of the saddle for extra power – I’ve hit them before while climbing on accident. Nothing better than being knocked into a harder to pedal gear while climbing a hill on a ~40 lb bike…

  41. @Bill

    @frank

    @Gianni

    @frank
    I like it. That should shut the hipsters up when you leave the wine store on that belle mezzo. Commuter toe clips, why not? It still looks light and fast. Nice work.

    You gotta love down tube shifters, too. Shimano 8 speed rear derailleur, 7 speed Campa down tube shifters, 9 speed shimano cassette…it all works like magic!

    I wish I could remember who I said it to during the KT (mostly because of the look that I got). Seriously, sometimes I miss the downtube shifters. I remember when Shimano moved to SIS and while it was interesting, I’d turn the ring so that I could keep it in the friction mode. Wow, that was a while ago.

    You didn’t say it me, brother, cuz you and me would have gotten yelled at by William for pouring some Malteni on the ground in homage to our fallen brother, the DT Shifter.

    First indexing, then the brakelever-mounted shifters (STI/Ergo), now electronic shifting. Its all part of a plan that takes us inexorably farther from being in touch with our machine.

    That said, I love my Ergos and for any serious bike would never opt for DT shifters over those little hunnies. Can you imagine how hard it must be to shift on the pavé with those things? Good luck. I was shifting purely by making contact with the Go Buttons and not caring how far they depressed. Bigger gear, please, I’ll take whatever I land on. Merci.

  42. @frank
    Oh hell no. I had to sit there and contemplate simple moves like moving one hand at a time from the hoods to the top of the bar, from the top of the bar to the drops. Screw downtube shifters.

  43. @frank

    @Bill
    I do kinda miss the left DT, right STI combo though. Not hard to reach down and flip the switch to go to the dinner plate.
    Doesn’t take long to get used to the difference in the way the hoods feel either.

  44. @frank

    @RedRanger

    @frank
    Nicley done man. I assume you got that bar tape as a goodie item. I can see now why you guys steered me clear of that black tape a while back.

    Yup, thats the bad stuff – go for the soft touch and it looks much better. Just had that laying around. “Just had it laying around” is the motto for this edition of the build, by the way.

    Or stick with white and problem is solved.

  45. @frank
    Shifting on the pavé must have been a bitch with DT shifters but shifting De Vlaeminck style with your knees (intentionally) on the pavé is incomprehensible.

  46. @Chris

    @frank
    Shifting on the pavé must have been a bitch with DT shifters but shifting De Vlaeminck style with your knees (intentionally) on the pavé is incomprehensible.

    I may have misread the article in Rouleur; didn’t he only do the knee-shifting jibe during sprints? I thought that was the case, anyway. With index dt shifters (at least the shimano ones with their resounding click) we used to do that a bit as well. Not to the extent that we would do it while sprinting, but climbing out of the saddle, we could do it for fun.

  47. @frank
    I think you’re right there, shifting with your knee doesn’t make much sense unless your out of the saddle and fairly forward on your bike. I should have checked the article.

    You need a -1 fucktard of the week posting badge, some denim bibs perhaps.

  48. @Chris

    @frank

    You need a -1 fucktard of the week posting badge, some denim bibs perhaps.

    +1 – Brilliant!

  49. @Chris

    @frank

    You need a -1 fucktard of the week posting badge, some denim bibs perhaps.

    With one shoulder torn and hanging down.

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