My Record 10spd Bianchi TSX

Evolution of a Plan: Bianchi TSX

Evolution of a Plan: Bianchi TSX

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It wasn’t created from nothing by the concentrated will of an obsessive Velominatus, nor by the grace of Merckx out of pure ether. No, as with all of our stables, mine started simply, and grew over the years.

My first honest bike was a Cannondale SR600 with hot pink decals that I bought in 8th grade of my own money. Bit by bit, it became my own bike – cobbled together of bits I fancied and as I could afford them. First with some Scott Drop-ins I bought for it, then a Cinelli stem, then Time pedals, then my Regal saddle.  Yes, I was a LeMan fan.

That Cannondale – or the ‘Whale, as I called it – was my one and only bike through college and well into my responsible life, or such as it is. The parts changed (Superb Pro, GripShift, SunTour Power Shifters), but the frame remained. In the early 2000’s, my commitment to Il Pirata demanded that I finally eBayed together my first dream bike, my cherished Bianchi XL EV2. That bike served as my one and only for several more years until I got the idea that I simply had to have a steel frame; after all, I still had the Mektronic group that had been rejected from my EV2 like an unwanted organ after a transplant, as well as the Shimano 105 group that had most recently adorned the ‘Whale; these parts were just gagging for a frame to be installed on, so logic dictated that I start trolling eBay for the right frame.

Several years and missed opportunities later, I stumbled across a Bianchi steel with Columbus TSX tubing which the buyer knew almost nothing about; he’d got it from Bianchi who allegedly told him it been custom built for a Pro in Italy but the rider changed teams before it was delivered, so Bianchi unloaded it by using it as a warranty replacement. It’s one of those impossible-to-verify and easy-to-love stories that aren’t worth questioning. As far as I’m concerned, this frame was built by Pegoretti for Bianchi.

I missed the auction the first time around – the lot had a starting bid at $300 and I let it go; money was tight as it always seems to be, and I felt the money was better spent elsewhere. The regret was as palpable as it was instantaneous. But like a glimmer of light off a Delta brakeset, the item was re-listed on eBay with a Buy It Now option for $250. A simple click, and it was mine. It’s funny how eBay together with PayPal doesn’t even feel like actual money. I waited with baited breath for the frame to arrive – assuming I was to discover I was the victim of a wild fabrication. The frame arrive and was in perfect order, aside from some chips in the paint.

After acquiring a few more bits along the lines of bars, stems, and seatposts, I tossed the Mektronic on there and immediately set about never riding the bike. Eventually the Mektronic got dumped again and the 105 found a new home. But since no one rides a 30-pound bike with crap components, it spent most of it’s time on the trainer in the basement, alternating between collecting dust and soaking up loads of sweat whenever I mustered the discipline to ride the trainer.

But I always knew what I had; the perfect steel frame that would one day be built with parts worthy of it’s glory.

Then Gianni – whom I didn’t know at the time – arrived in Seattle to visit Jim and needed a loaner bike. He looked at the Alu EV2 and then spotted the TSX sitting in the corner and said without hesitation, “I’ll take that one.” Over ales at Brouwers, Gianni told me he loved the bike and complained what a waste it was that the bike only ever sat on the trainer. Here was a man who understood the shame of this machine’s state. This was a man I could work with.

Something inide me stirred. My crime was brought into sharp relief suddenly and acutely.

Several months later, I bought my R3 and had to pull the components off the EV2 because I couldn’t afford to also buy a new groupo.  At that moment, I determined that when I upgraded the Cervelo, I would move the Dura-Ace over to the TSX, and convert the EV2 to a rain bike built with the old 105 group. The plan was sound in principle, and although I didn’t like demoting the EV2, it made sense that the aluminum bike was the rain bike and that the TSX should hold a place of honor in the stable as the ranking steel bike.

Almost as soon as that plan was realized, two problems were immediately obvious.  The first was that a rain bike running an 8spd 105 group (which I presume is made of solid lead) and mud guards (which, I believe, are made of recycled boat anchors) weighs in at an estimated metric fuckton and is much too heavy to be enjoyable to ride. The second is that a stunning, handmade Italian steel bike looks as out of place with Japanese components as a big slab of Spanish beef at a Tour de France rest-day banquet. Something had to be done, and a new plan was hatched: I would buy up cheap Campy Chorus bits on eBay – taking my time, of course – and once a set was completed, I would rebuild the TSX in it’s fine Italian suit and restore the EV2 to her previous Pantani-inspired glory.

As it turned out, this plan was not so easy to operationalize for the simple reason that 10spd Chorus is as hard to come by as mermaid with a useful bottom half. What is available is expensive, and – as it turns out – the market is saturated with Record gear.  A few crafty purchases, some help from a friend in the know, and a free chain thanks to the kind folks over at Wipperman (review of the ConneX chain to follow), and I suddenly and quite unexpectedly found myself with all the parts I needed to execute my plan.

So here she sits, built up and proud though she hasn’t been ridden yet – dry roads only for this beauty, and those are at least a week away – but she’s leaning against the wall in my living room, wagging her rear triangle like a puppy ready for a walk.

Aside from the switch to Record, she underwent some other cosmetic changes: the frame was carefully washed and waxed and the chrome polished, while the silver saddle and bar tape were replaced with Spinal Tap Black. The only remaining outstanding issue is the procurement of rims, hubs, spokes, and tires to go with it for maximum Love.

Ah, vive la Vie Velominatus.

Detail photos of the rebuild:

[album: Galleries/]

Evolution of the TSX and Restoration of the EV2:

[album: Galleries/ of a Plan/]



// The Bikes

  1. frank :
    I’ve also been lamenting the lack of tall riders in the bunch these days…where are the likes of Urs, Big Mig, Ullrich…10 or 15 years ago there seemed to be a lot more tall riders than there are now…

    Lennard Zinn had a peice about this some time ago when Magnus Backsteadt retired. I think he was about the last of the Big Men. At 2m or so, the UCI dimension rules really put a cramp(!) in the ability for uber-large men to get maximum power out of the machine. I’ll bet Graem O’Bree could come up with something, but sure the UCI would can it as “ugly.” One suggestion was to make larger wheels – 740’s or larger – but the realities of neutral support limit this.

    Cycling is a sport for the eggtimer sized guys.

  2. Frank – What pedal are those? Can’t make them out.

    General question here: I sometimes use Shimano spd mtn. pedals on my rain/around town bike. Like the ease of double sided on wet roads and winter road. But, the only shoes I have for those pedals are some older Shimano mtn. shoes with kind of cleated soles. Makes it very hard to get my cold/rain booties over them.

    Do they make mtn. shoe booties? Or do mtn. riders not use overshoes. I can pull my neoprene winter booties over them, but the bottom cleats make it hard (not just the pedal cleat, they are like walking/hiking shoes) Enjoy riding in the rain, but wet cold feet gets annoying.

  3. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    30 years of love and then we grew apart. But we’re staying together for the kids.

  4. @Ron
    Time Impacts. Compatible with the Cafe Cleats for the Impacts I use on all my other bikes. Actually, the Impacts are nicer than the RSXes…they are a little more positive and I like the feel of metal under my foot. But they’re basically the same. Got these for ti Impacts for $5 out of a bin at Recycled Cycles…the girl checking me out didn’t know what they were and there was no price on them, so she just said, “How does $5 sound?” “Sounds great, actually.”

    As for your MTN shoe cover question. This question can be circumvented by asking whether Sven Nijs uses overshoes or not when he’s layin’ it down during the ‘Cross season. Since the answer is “none”, the question is neutralized.

  5. frank :
    @allThanks for the kinds words on the bike and suggestions on the wheels. Its done nothing to help me come to a conclusion, though.
    @roche kelly

    But how the heck tall are you to have the saddle so high on such a big frame? Last time I saw a saddle that high the bike was a gate like creation ridden by a 6’6″³ German called Remig Stumpf from the 89 Toshiba team, or like the bikes Swiss rider Urs Freuler used with the head tube of his frames about 40 – 60mm higher than the top of the cross bar so the stem didn’t snap off! Surely the stem in the photo is a Cinelli Titano?

    6’4 or so, but lots of inseam. I’ve been meaning to get around to those old frame designs…such an interesting deviation from today’s slammed down positions everyone is riding.
    I’ve also been lamenting the lack of tall riders in the bunch these days…where are the likes of Urs, Big Mig, Ullrich…10 or 15 years ago there seemed to be a lot more tall riders than there are now…

    Good point Frank & yeah you are pretty tall @ 6’4! With steel being out these days and the moulded standard carbon frames the teams are riding now in the ProTour, how do you work with a tall(er)riders, and how much energy is being lost due to the frame? The seat post would be almost dangerous sitting out so high on these bikes. This does show the limitations of these compact frames for anyone at the short or tall end of ‘normal’ & highlights the stupidty of what the UCI is doing by stopping one offs and innovation.
    Back before everyone was the size of Andy Schleck or Contadoper there seemed to be more taller & bigger riders in the teams. Personally I prefer to see a rider with the build & size of a Thor, Hayden Roulston, Phil Anderson, Sean Yates or Hendrik Redant riding as they look so physical & strong. Not like some wimpy Spanish steak eating greyhound, or anyone from BeNeLux that is so dainty that they can’t change gears properly. On Sunday BMC had a really tall kid riding for them in Flanders, so perhaps there is still hope for us taller guys. BMC also have Hincapie who must be 6′ 2″ or more, so obviously their frames are suitable. Look forward to having Frank posting on the larger frames/ riders in the future, especially the Colnago & Pinarello frames for taller riders like Big Mig, Eddy Bosberg et al.

  6. Fort Awesome! That is some funny stuff right there.
    The Bianchi gives me considerable carbone, it is so money. You are a mad genius and those durty shimano 105 levers were an abomination unto da baby jesus. Yes, a different headset, but still, what a nice bike and it rides like buttah. Speaking of money, those mavic tubular rims I gave you are fucking money laddie. Sure, a wee bit-o-rust on the eyelets but the anodized rims should be fine. Use ‘em up. If not you, who? I’ve given up on tubular wheels. I’m switching to 25mm michelin pro 3 clincher tires and rather excited about it.

  7. @G’rilla

    We all revere Frank as the founder of this site, but I’m increasingly convinced that Jim is the Keyser Soze of this whole operation.

    * He rarely appears, yet seems to be the kingpin of all the relationships between the Keepers.
    * While we’re chatting away on our computers, who is out there putting rubber to pavement? Jim is.
    * When Jim posts, people don’t recognize that he’s a Keeper. “The smartest thing the devil ever did was to convince people he didn’t exist.”

    You are wise and very perceptive. Jim is Keyser Soze with a bad attitude.

  8. @Gianni
    if they are safe still, they will be used. Trust me. Just don’t want them pulling out under my immense weight. I came within $2 of winning a set of Record hubs today. I shed a tear. And was also relieved that I didn’t have any explainin’ to do as to why I suddenly was the new owner of a set of hubs I promised I would not rush into buying.

  9. @Gianni

    Jim is Keyser Soze with a bad attitude.


  10. Fuck!

    Frank, I knew that was coming. I’d had the question in my head for a long time, but realized I should let it be.

    I ask, and I get the simplest reply possible: a photographic reminder of The V.

    Gotta keep the Followers in line.

  11. And, I really enjoy that I’m not the only one who sets a limit on bicycle spending.

    To the VMH: “I’m going to bid $175 on these hubs…but that’s my limit.”

    “That’s your limit?!”

    “It’s a steal!”

    I think setting a limit is, in a way part, of La Vie Velominati. Sure, you can buy that most expensive part you want and still not have to sell the house. But, the bike you pieced together, angling your bids, being sly, and kept below your mental build project price point, now those are the bicycles you have just a bit more of a connection with.

  12. So effectively its quite a long process getting forks of a similar rake/length etc; unless you are lucky enough to drop on a pair?!? Have to keep looking then I’m in no major rush as I would rather do it right then just do it.

  13. @atothep
    Exactly. These are very long processes, and it’s almost a letdown when you’re done…kind of like the day after Christmas.

    Brought some burgers down to Jim’s place tonight as we were both sans our VMH’s. Jim, of course was chillin’ with their 2 year old son. I didn’t feel like driving to Red Mill, so I jumped on the bike most handy – which happened to be the TSX as she’s still got a front-row seat in the living room. I got the grub and tucked the bike on the front porch before letting myself in.

    We ate and afterward Jim brought Graham over to the bike, sat him down, and starting taking him through all the bits.

    This is the top tube. Can you say “Top tube”?

    This is the down tube. Can you say “Down tube”?

    This is Campagnolo. “Can you say Cam-PAH-ngolo”.

    This is the little ring, and since Uncle Frank’s chain is on it, can you say “You’re a big Dutch pussy?”

  14. @frank
    Jim: A+1

  15. @G’phant

  16. @xyxax
    You should work things out. Love never completely dies. It would be a Cosmic Shame.

  17. frank :

    This is the top tube. Can you say “Top tube”?
    This is the down tube. Can you say “Down tube”?
    This is Campagnolo. “Can you say Cam-PAH-ngolo”.
    This is the little ring, and since Uncle Frank’s chain is on it, can you say “You’re a big Dutch pussy?”


  18. Nate:
    A lovely tale. Ambrosios, obviously.


    pls. URGENTLY remove these horrific Mavic “wheels”

  19. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    An inspiration.

    As an aside, JB doesn’t play a note but has the balls of a performer which can take one a long way even on meager talent (pop music is rife with examples). And that is something that is never true in cycling.

  20. Woops. Just picked up a pair of Record Open Pros. Now I have to explain this to my VMH. I was going to take my time, but this was a deal too good to pass up. Thank Merckx she was asleep in Vietnam and I can’t possibly have asked her.

    Gonna tear off the rims and build up Gianni’s MP4 tubs around ‘em. Then I’ll chuck the Open Pros on a set of wheels I’ve got on another bike that really needs new rims. Win-Win, with the only loser being my wallet.

  21. @frank
    A worthy alternative to the Ambrosios.

  22. Very nice. Regretfully my celeste and chrome EL/OS did not survive past 8spd gruppos.

  23. For some reason all the pictures in these older articles have gotten messed up.

  24. @Oli Brooke-White

    To clarify, I wouldn’t have Dario on the pedestal I and thousands of his other converts have him on if my TSX was an example of his workmanship. And I fucking LOVE my TSX.

    I was just looking at my old cracked TSX frame and having a wry chuckle about how the chainstay bridge isn’t on the same plane as the bottom bracket and how the front derailleur mount is also crooked. You don’t get that sort of crap on a Pegoretti.

  25. Damn, that would have been better with the photo it was meant to come with…

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