Its a 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 bicycle.

La Vie Velominatus: One Piece at a Time

La Vie Velominatus: One Piece at a Time

by / / 94 posts

Patience has never come naturally to me – I’m more Calvin than I am Hobbes in that regard. Yet I am meticulous and demanding of myself and those with whom I journey through life. It is a conflict that has caused its fair share of grief; my childhood is piled high with memories of incidents where I made choices and mistakes that robbed me of the satisfaction of a job well done.

One such episode involved my eagerness to have bar-mounted shifters in the early nineties. STI had just come on the market, and they were priced so high it would require disciplined saving in order for me to afford them. Rather than patiently saving, I spent my money on lower-cost options which differed in their implementation but shared in their failure to quench my thirst for STI. At one point, my father pointed out that with what I’d spent on cheaper compromises, I could have already bought what I really wanted.

Some lessons in life are easily learned, but to practice them is another thing altogether. While I have learned patience, it is often stretched to its limit as I have also become more exacting in my expectations. What the Prophet giveth, he taketh away.

I have finally reached the point in my life where I enjoy the journey as much as I do the destination. I can’t imagine buying a complete bicycle and forgoing the process of hand-picking the kit to dress it up in and embarking on the quest to source it. For me, a bicycle begins as an idea which slowly materializes through the curation of its frame and components. The process of assembling it is a ritualistic undertaking, a kind of spiritual offering to the Elders on Mount Velomis. The assembled bicycle marks the end of a journey during which we’ve already bonded.

Only as this journey comes to a close are we ready to begin a new one, one where we evolve through prolonged exposure to The V. The path to becoming a Velominatus is built on taking the time to do things correctly, and building our machines is no exception.

Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Il Progetto // La Vie Velominatus // Nostalgia // The Bikes

  1. I will confess that I can’t really imagine walking into a bike shop today and walking out with an off-the-rack bike.  To say nothing of the fact that most LBS’s won’t stock my ridiculously tall size (198cm, thanks for asking — almost in Frank’s territory); more so, I’ve developed strong opinions on pedals, saddle, handlebar width, stem length, and tires.  (Merckx!  Are we finally getting past the stupidity of putting 700×23’s on every bike that rolls out of a shop, when the local pavement is shit and a touch or gravel now and then is amazing fun?)

    Perhaps I tell myself this to assuage my resentment over Velominatus Budgetatus status, but it seems more enjoyable to go piece-by-piece hunting the right component at the right price, whether through closeouts or NOS or friends or online forums.

    Of course Frank’s right that in buying things piecemeal, multiple times, I probably could buy a new bike with a perfectly functional aluminum frame and 105 parts for the same cost.  But then it would be Specialized’s bike, or Trek’s bike, or Fuji’s bike rather than my bike.

  2. @frank I can’t help but think that a polished silver stem would be the final piece, bringing the Bianchi back into the realm of gleaming metal bits.

  3. @cognition Two things going for that stem. One is that it is an inserted 3T. Two is that it is a black 3T.

  4. @unversio I get that; it’s just that with chrome stays, a chrome fork, and polished silver components, my aesthetic would be to finish off the job.  But then, I remember when the black-paint or black-ano components started to proliferate in the late ’80’s and were sought-after, rarer, “cooler”, and pricier — so I can see sticking with the black.

    I still think a polished Cinelli grammo would kick it up another notch, though.

  5. Johnny Cash and bike building discussion… the only thing I’m missing here is an appropriate beverage.

    Love you guys.

  6. @unversio

    @frank I love how it looks too. I want to replicate that bar wrap. What is it exactly “” please?

    Fizik performance black – I tried Benotto and some fake leather wrap; but this stuff just looks and feels better. I may try cinelli’s leather wrap at some point.

    I have also been nudged and inspired by your comment to take my MX Leader back to a traditional quill stem. Wiscot dug up a 140mm 3TTT glossy black quill stem “” incredible. So after Thanksgiving I will have transformed The Sword back to the future. Replaced the original build Record headset with a Chris King black 1 inch headset “” 10 year warranty. Now a stem “” 3TTT black. Next looking for 3TTT Competizione due or Cinell Giro 64 bars or ITM Super Italia Pro 2 bars “” 44 ctc. Thanx again Wiscot and Frank.

    This is the right direction to go in; I’m happy to hear it!

    @DCR

    @frank Surely your valves and tire labels are not in violation of Rule #40?

    Not a chance.

    @cognition

    @frank I can’t help but think that a polished silver stem would be the final piece, bringing the Bianchi back into the realm of gleaming metal bits.

    I had a silver bar/stem on it but ultimately didn’t like it as much as the gunmetal. Just a call of taste – who’s to say I won’t change it back some day.

    @revchuck

    What’s your opinion of those Gommitalia Calypso tires? They look interesting, especially at the price (~$80/pair).

    They are good tires. Very supple and vittoria-esque. I would have to validate this, but I think the company was started by some old Vittoria people. They are handmade, light, and cheap. What’s not to like?

    My only complaint is the sidewalls were a little yellow at first; they eventually darkened, but it took a year or two.

  7. @Gianni

    Frank, I met that Bianchi before I met you! How amazing is that? And what a good impression that bike made on me, once I lowered the saddle. This guy rules if this is his number 3 bike and he is loaning it out to a stranger.

    …And then during our actual meeting at the pub after your ride, you promptly chastised me for having crap components on it and leaving it on the trainer all the time. I promptly started upgrading and riding it.

    @Nate

    Great topic. Pandora served up One Piece at a Time to me Sunday night. Hilarious song.

    I had such a good time building up my Kirk this summer after it arrived. Being in the build/paint queue for over a year, I had plenty of time to stew on the component choices and make my purchases.

    I’m itching to do some more wrenching this winter. Might have to transfer the 11s Chorus group on my plastic bike over to the Pegoretti.

    This is the sort of thing that occupies a Velominatus’ imagination constantly. It is our lot in life.

  8. @zeitzmar

    @frank Is that a Velo Orange seatpost? I love their simple, elegant components.

    Yeah, this is my first component from them. Its a very nice one.

    @Buck Rogers

    Is your seatpost Campagnolo as well? Looks like it.

    My steel ’92 Merckx is only a 53 frame (told it was a 56 when I bought it on line and I ride a 58) and it came with the aero Dura-Ace post from that year’s Group-san which does not extend at all secondary to being very short.

    I have the same issue with the Campa posts with them being too short so I have to resort to substitutes that have the same overall look and shine to them. That Velo Orange post is reasonably priced and is very simple and elegant looking. I can recommend it.

  9. @frank Although to truly embrace the spirit of the song, one would have to do the new build with a kludgy mix of components of many different vintages.

  10. @frank

    @zeitzmar

    @frank Is that a Velo Orange seatpost? I love their simple, elegant components.

    Yeah, this is my first component from them. Its a very nice one.

    @Buck Rogers

    Is your seatpost Campagnolo as well? Looks like it.

    My steel ’92 Merckx is only a 53 frame (told it was a 56 when I bought it on line and I ride a 58) and it came with the aero Dura-Ace post from that year’s Group-san which does not extend at all secondary to being very short.

    I have the same issue with the Campa posts with them being too short so I have to resort to substitutes that have the same overall look and shine to them. That Velo Orange post is reasonably priced and is very simple and elegant looking. I can recommend it.

    Tracking!  I’ll be ordering one shortly as long as they have the correct diameter for my Merckx!

  11. @CFADave

    In my process of building I have included my VMH on HER builds. What a cool process AND gets you more negotiation with your own builds! Thus, My wife’s girley ride!

    Ah, the entanglements of Rule #12. I am a huge proponent.

    (You have to log in to be able to post photos.)

  12. @frank

    @Gianni

    Frank, I met that Bianchi before I met you! How amazing is that? And what a good impression that bike made on me, once I lowered the saddle. This guy rules if this is his number 3 bike and he is loaning it out to a stranger.

    …And then during our actual meeting at the pub after your ride, you promptly chastised me for having crap components on it and leaving it on the trainer all the time. I promptly started upgrading and riding it.

    Did I? Oh bless me.

  13. @frank Beautiful.  Ordered the VO seat post.  Should be here by the weekend.  Thanks!

  14. @Barracuda

    @frank

    Excellent, again.

    Having bought my last three steeds “off the shelf” then proceeding to change them to something that I like i.e. different wheels, different saddle, different cranks, different pedals, you would have thought that the penny would have dropped by now.

    The differential between just a frameset and a complete bike is not that big a gap when you take into account the post purchase changes and cost involved.

    Well, I have recently found another way with a good LBS…

    I just bought an off the peg, BUT I sat down with the store owner and had them change quite a few parts; cranks/wheels/bars/stem/tape/cable routing. All the parts were exhanced at or very close to FOC, with the cranks costing an extra $50 for the change over. Custom bike for off the peg prices.

  15. @Puffy

    @Barracuda

    @frank

    Excellent, again.

    Having bought my last three steeds “off the shelf” then proceeding to change them to something that I like i.e. different wheels, different saddle, different cranks, different pedals, you would have thought that the penny would have dropped by now.

    The differential between just a frameset and a complete bike is not that big a gap when you take into account the post purchase changes and cost involved.

    Well, I have recently found another way with a good LBS…

    I just bought an off the peg, BUT I sat down with the store owner and had them change quite a few parts; cranks/wheels/bars/stem/tape/cable routing. All the parts were exhanced at or very close to FOC, with the cranks costing an extra $50 for the change over. Custom bike for off the peg prices.

    Same here, your LBS has more room to move on a manufacturers “package deal” out of the box, I changed stem and bar and tyres but was more than happy with the rest

  16. Calvin,

    I can’t comment on the finer points of componentry,  but that frame will always be my favorite among the legions here.  Rosebud.

  17. Nicely put.

    I’m in the middle of a build, frame-set in hand, wheels and saddle on the way, cockpit chosen. Bro-set being debated.

    The hours of research, web site perusal, chats with other riders and mechanics will be missed when it’s put together and on the road, but I suppose that’s where the n+1 comes in.

  18. One piece at a time

    – Baum Ristretto Ti

    – ENVE fork

    – 3T seat tube and stem

    – 3T bars

    – DA 9000 running gear

    – Lightweight Obermeyer wheels

    That outta do it !     Now, where did I leave my cash ?

  19. On the Bugetatus side of One Piece at a Time, I present my track steed:

    The day I bought it: a previously-owned entry level steel frame. Nothing special, but I am new to riding on the track and this is what I could afford.

    Mid transformation: true (budget) track bars, used DA pedals, new tires, higher gearing, and a new headset to replace the finicky one that came with it.

    Current state: I took the advice of other Velominati and finally found a longer stem so I could set the bars at an appropriate reach to achieve la posizione.

  20. @scotjonscot

    Nicely put.

    I’m in the middle of a build, frame-set in hand, wheels and saddle on the way, cockpit chosen. Bro-Set being debated.

    The hours of research, web site perusal, chats with other riders and mechanics will be missed when it’s put together and on the road, but I suppose that’s where the n+1 comes in.

    Exactly. Bro-Set is not as bad as they make it seem. Just don’t fuck around with normal cables and get the Yokozunas straight away.

    @Gianni

    @frank

    @Gianni

    Frank, I met that Bianchi before I met you! How amazing is that? And what a good impression that bike made on me, once I lowered the saddle. This guy rules if this is his number 3 bike and he is loaning it out to a stranger.

    …And then during our actual meeting at the pub after your ride, you promptly chastised me for having crap components on it and leaving it on the trainer all the time. I promptly started upgrading and riding it.

    Did I? Oh bless me.

    Oh, bless Hobbes.

  21. @xyxax

    Calvin,

    I can’t comment on the finer points of componentry, but that frame will always be my favorite among the legions here. Rosebud.

    Shit! You beat me to the joke!

  22. @Barracuda

    One piece at a time

    – Baum Ristretto Ti

    – ENVE fork

    – 3T seat tube and stem

    – 3T bars

    – DA 9000 running gear

    – Lightweight Obermeyer wheels

    That outta do it ! Now, where did I leave my cash ?

    Johnny had the advantage of it being his last name.

    @zeitzmar

    Perfect example of how to progress along the path. Even if you are buying a built bike, take your time to adjust and adapt it. You are on the Path, Pedalwan. Strong work.

  23. @Buck Rogers

    @unversio LOVE that version.

    Someone posted a helmet cam vid of a mountain bike hill climb race set to that music over on faceplant around a year ago and I have been trying to find it ever since. It was amazing. Wish I could find it again somewhere!

    Here you go mate…

    Whiskey Offroad: Hurt from Mark Challoner on Vimeo.

  24. @brett FUCK YES!  That’s it!!!

    Made my day right there, Mate!

    If this doesn’t qualify for the non-existent V site theme video I do not know what does.

  25. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something is missing;

  26. @xyxax V cuff links???  I hear that brett has an extra.

  27. @Buck Rogers

    Hmmm.  All my cuff money is lying on that dirty rug.

  28. @xyxax I would say you are missing the yokozuna cables that frank mentioned earlier. This holiday season I will be upgrading both the +1 and +2 bikes with yokozuna.

  29. @xyxax grease, carbon paste, and nipple lube?

  30. @DCR Excellent point.  DA housing was sent with the brakes but were a take-off from a new bike that must have been a 48cm.  Like wearing my daughter’s shirts. Though they’re supposed to be the best thing in cable since “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, time for plan B and I had my eye on the Yokozunas.  Thanks for the tip.

    @Nate
    How did you know I was making my New Year’s Eve party shopping list already?

  31. @xyxax

    @Nate
    How did you know I was making my New Year’s Eve party shopping list already?

    Hmm, I think I’ll go for the Fish House Punch instead.

  32. @brett

    @Buck Rogers

    Thats a great video but can I point it is not a single-track?

    Looks perfect for a gravur. Assuming you’re geared down enough – looks steep in places!

  33. @frank

    @brett

    @Buck Rogers

    Thats a great video but can I point it is not a single-track?

    Looks perfect for a gravur. Assuming you’re geared down enough – looks steep in places!

    Thats not a hill climb race at all. The Whiskey Offroad Challenge is a 50 Mile MTB race. One of the premier races in the US and put together by Epic Rides which is based in Tucson. They are one of the first organizers to have equal prize purses for men and women.

  34. @frank

    @brett

    @Buck Rogers

    Thats a great video but can I point it is not a single-track?

    Looks perfect for a gravur. Assuming you’re geared down enough – looks steep in places!

    Singletrack.

    Those guys are all on singlespeeds, so with gears it would be a lot easier than they are doing it. And they’re doing it pretty well… especially the guy who comes barreling through the middle!

  35. @DCR

    @xyxax I would say you are missing the yokozuna cables that frank mentioned earlier. This holiday season I will be upgrading both the +1 and +2 bikes with yokozuna.

    Talk me through the cost / benefit analysis of the Yoki’s. Ive got them in the back of my mind also.

  36. One iconic piece relaunched!

    Glad I’ve got my NOS for 80’s build

  37. Sometimes I enjoy making one piece at a time.


    The one on the left is the original.

    Scored a frame with ISP, only problem cut a couple-ish cm short for me and very crooked! By the time I machined the ISP post straight and square, I needed about 4cm. So I made one 5cm longer.

    Instead of the triangular hole, which may scratch the paint, I opted to put my name there.

  38. @sthilzy that is way cool, did you consider cutting your name right through or would that have made it too weak?

  39. @sthilzy

    Very nice! Really nice finishing on that baby.

    I’m just skilling up in Solidworks myself and finding it very powerful.

    What machine are you using to cut that out? Is it hollow? How much work has it had after machining?

  40. @piwakawaka

    @sthilzy that is way cool, did you consider cutting your name right through or would that have made it too weak?

    Did consider cutting through and first thought was that it might scratch the paint, and it might stretch on tightening if cut through.

    @harminator

    @sthilzy

    Very nice! Really nice finishing on that baby.

    I’m just skilling up in Solidworks myself and finding it very powerful.

    What machine are you using to cut that out? Is it hollow? How much work has it had after machining?

    Yep, it’s all machined finished. Still umming and arring whether to get it polished. Also umming and arring wether to get it anodized black and recut the name back to raw aluminium.

    Solidworks is a great tool. Been doing CAD/CAM/CNC best part of 20 years. Used quite a few different CAD/CAM software systems. Solidworks is fun in general. Needs more user effort in surfacing and filleting than other systems, but all round a pretty good package.

    Spoilt in the MCing department. An OKUMA MB-46VAE with Hi-Speed MCing control and 25000rpm spindle. There’s no mismatch between cutting tool and set up. I’m very fussy with setting up CNC’s.

  41. @sthilzy Simply stunning.

  42. @frank

    @unversio

    This is the right direction to go in; I’m happy to hear it!

    The bars are going to be right as well. Eubios bars straight from Italy by way of New York City — Ebay (50.00).

    Marco Pantani version came to me without knowing that he preferred these. Similar shallow drop as 3T Ergosum!

  43. @frank Good advice. The operation was a success.

    These bars ends are level and mechanic was enthused to see that I wanted the control levers exactly where they should be. Need to post overall bike setup images (later).

  44. Profile.

  45. @unversio

    Profile.

    Damn! That stem looks awesome! Superb job on the build-up. Very happy to have played a small part.

  46. @wiscot

    Damn! That stem looks awesome! 

    Inspired to move onward with the transformation — mounting this Selle Italia Turbomatic 4 (considered semi-flat or semi- round) to make a “more genuine” setup.

  47. Inspired by the Selle Italia packaging of their 100 yr anniversary.

  48. Could not resist the allure of ITM upon seeing this new 130mm stem available. 35.00

  49. @frank 42TH

  50. @unversio

    Profile.

    Cleaning some spam and saw this. Perfect. Just…perfect. So much better than the ARX you had on there before.

    Exceptional work.

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