Il Progetto, The Project

It might not look much now, but wait till you see what's in store for the old girl!

I’ve spent a lot of time of late looking at ‘vintage’ road bikes on the interwebs. It all started when thinking about what my ‘dream bike’ would be, and invariably the frame material of choice was steel. Beautiful modern-day frames from the likes of Baum, Speedvagen and Italian classics Colnago and De Rosa were high on the list, and high on price, something that kept the ‘dream’ in dream bike. Then I struck on the solution;  surely people are selling off the old ‘ten-speed’ from under the house, not knowing that the old girl that had been handed on by Grandpa, who was a bit of a cyclist in his day, was worth a little bit more than the pocket money that they were asking just to save them the hassle of taking it to the dump.

Trawling the pages of TradeMe (the Kiwi EBay) started taking up my evenings, interspersed with endless forums that showed some of the most beautiful restored bikes I’ve ever seen. And like the awesome bikes my father has painstakingly  rejuvenated (and which we chronicled on this very site) they invoke the beauty and simplicity of the time. Beautiful to look at, but I wanted something I could ride as my one and only road bike. The plan was hatched.

So I found this old girl, a Columbus SL-tubed, locally made machine, and watched the auction with intent. When the time to bid came, cold feet got the better of me, and I passed, as did the cut-off with no bids put in. The next day, a slew of emails to guru of all things Euro, steel and cool, Oli, gave me the impetus to get the ball rolling. A buy-now offer was taken up, and for the princely sum of $220 NZ (about 50 bucks US) I had the Bosomworth secured. The next step didn’t come so cheaply though, but with a sale from the NZ distributor happening, the necessary group was ordered; Chorus 11 speed will be gracing the old girl, and some Shamal Ultras are being watched closely too, or I may just plump for some new Nuetron Ultras to complete the build. I’ve just bought a sweet Italmanubri quill stem for peanuts, and a post and headset are the next targets. (Wheel and component suggestions welcome.)

It may not quite be the dream bike, but it’s going to be fun to convert it into something close. So out with the carbon and in with the steel, out with the Japanese and in with the Italian. Even if the frame ends up not floating my boat, there are some back up plans in place.

I’m excited.

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44 Replies to “Il Progetto, The Project”

  1. Two for the price of one!

    I’ve seen that joke done on a couple of vintage websites in my research this week…

  2. Surely you’ve reviewed Rule #12 while hatching this plan. The Bosomworth and Chorus pairing may just be the ticket (for ANOTHER bike), but when I start reading things like “one and only road bike” and “out with the carbon” I worry for you, Bro.

  3. @Marko

    Thanks for your concern Marko, but I’m not made of money, and if I need to go back to carbon, at least I’ll have Campy to throw on it. Plus, my Roubaix is on the small side for me, and I’m over the look of fat tubes and huge logos on each one of them.

    And this will keep Jarvis and Frank happy, I’m going back to a standard crankset!

  4. This looks like a wonderful project. Can’t wait to see the finished bike and read about the rides.

    Curious – what is the shiny fitting on the top tube, just forward of the seat post?

    Have fun with it.


  5. The guy that I sold my old Bridgestone RB-1 to asked me if I wanted to buy it back (because he wants an aluminum bike – go figure). I should probably buy it back and pimp it out to as new condition.

  6. Beautiful bike, nice lugs. Going to steel and Italian is always a good move…I’ve been looking at some older steel frames myself, thinking that down the road, I might do the same thing…I could kick myself because I went into my awesome LBS, A BIcycle Odyssey, and they had just sold (on consignment, I guess), an old Molteni colored Merckx MX Leader – frame was gorgeous (even though it had DA). I, obviously, had no money to buy it, but it was a nice fantasy for a few minutes.

    The cool thing about the ol’ Bosom is how affordable it is…and when you build it up with the Campy, etc it becomes a really sweet ride that doesn’t cost you a fortune, plus it has the – IMHO – a added bonus of not being so well known. I kind of go back and forth about whether I want to find something like an old Colnago or a Masi or De Rosa or whether something less well known (and less expensive) might be a better way to go.

    As for carbon, every time I go to my LBS to test drive a carbon bike, they just feel dead to me, though Frank’s R3 looks pretty damned sweet, I’d have to say…

  7. @Mike
    I’m not sure what that little dealiebob is. Brett will likely tell us and then we’ll say something like, “oh. Duh.”

  8. beauty of a ride, looking forward to seeing it donned in campy and new hoops!

    I have been thinking of one also, but must admit, I am diving into a new carbon endeavor. Always rode steel, aluminum or scandium, so the cervelo R3 is going to be it. Then maybe another steel steed in the garage.

  9. Nice one, Brett!!

    @KitCarson, @Souleur
    The R3 is a monster of a bike; great roadfeel, very lively, very stiff, very comfortable. My Bianchi TSX (which I got for $200 on eBay) has a totally different feel – one that was always my favorite, a truism of the saying, “Steel is Real”. But, I have to admit, in a 1-1 comparison the R3 feels better in every way than the steel. But I think that’s an anomaly; in most cases, I agree the carbon really doesn’t give a great feel in general.

    Given the choices at hand, this project has a whole-hearted V-Stamp of Approval.

    Don’t get rid of the 8spd 105 Group. I have the same generation on my rain bike and it’s absolutely bomber. Also heavy like a bomber, but the shifting is great.

    I assume this is the eBay picture, because there is no way Brett would let the Rule Violations here last even for 1 minute once entry into the house is gained by the two-wheeled beauty.

  10. Sweet! I look forward to seeing it built up…Personally, I’d go 28h 3x OPs, failing that the Neutrons over the Shamals as you’ll lose some of the steel feel through the verticaly stiff wheels. Good stuff!

  11. Cool project. Old school steel frames paired with modern running gear are pretty sweet.

    I almost upgraded my ’91 Bridgestone RB-1 with Ultegra 10 at one point – but left it stock. Having the rear dropouts spread to the modern 130mm spacing stopped me. In some ways, the RB-1 is cooler left as old school stock.

    Be sure to post some finished pics of your project.

  12. Good on ya Brett. Nice score. The Chorus is just fine. Many pros use some Chorus components as they are a little sturdier. I have mostly Chorus on my bike but had to have Record for the ergo shifters, just because. Neutrons are light and tough as nails, good choice too, if you go that way.

    Paint, that is always the toughest issue. Keep us posted on that.

  13. I contemplated buying this on Trademe, am totally sorry now, can’t wait to see what you do to it.

  14. It seems there is a strong Kiwi contingent lurking around here!

    I scored this little beauty from TradeMe today:


    Richard and I got talking about old bikes and stuff and Velominati came up. He is a regular reader, hopefully now commenter and community member. Cheers for the sweet stem mate!

    About an hour after Richard dropped off the stem, I was selling a pair of shoes to a guy, whose wife and new twins were in tow. We got talking about how they nearly named the young uns Frank and Andy, then about the Vuelta, and the VSP came up. “Is that you?!” he asked. Another long time lurker, apparently his wife found The Rules on a non-cycling site and turned him onto our community. He even referred to his new S Works shoes as ‘White Ladies’. Welcome Gianluca and Zoe (and little Frank n Andy!)

  15. @Brett
    I’m with @Russell; box-rims all the way. I would say even go with tubs (that’s what I’m doing with the Steel when I switch it to Campy). Awesome stem, and awesome story! Richard, Gianluca, Zoe, and Frandy – welcome!

  16. Brett, I ride a set of 2006 record hubs laced to open pros and alternate them with a set of 1994 shamals retro fitted with a 10speed freehub on my Merckx Max.
    They are sick wheels but you will pay plenty if you are trying to get a nos 32hole set of the silver record hubs. Mine came from ebay italy and cost more than you would pay for a small child on the Romanian black market.
    Good luck with the project – those Bosomworths like really nice.

  17. @Kiwicyclist
    Cheers mate. I’ve spotted a set of wheels on TradeMe, they are silver Chorus hubs laced to blue Open Pros. One of the rims is damaged, but they are only asking $40 reserve! Watching that closely I tell ya! I really want Ambrosio rims though, there have been a few on there, but only one at a time, a red clincher, a black tubular… But if I score thos wheels cheap even just for the hubs, I can get some OPs laced up easily. Would love the ceramic OPs, but they seem rare in these parts too.

  18. Brett, don’t take it the wrong way, but I think you should have used a polished aluminum Campy crank, in order to fit with the thematic feel of the bike.

    Gotta love Chorus & up though~

  19. @wvcycling
    I hear ya, but if I was doing a ‘vintage’ build, true to the era, then I would’ve seeked out those parts. As it is, I’m going for a ‘nuevo-retro’ build, as if I was to buy a new Colnago Master or such, which would come with modern parts. I’m mixing it up a bit. Eventually, it could end up with a carbon fork and threadless headset/stem. Or I could end up with another carbon frame, so a polished old school crank would’ve looked even more out of place. I think Oli’s bike is a great example of what I’m going for.

  20. @wvcycling
    I’m with you here. Much prefer the polished aluminium. It’s a real shame that modern cranks are so ugly. Surely someone can make the carbon look good. Particularly disappointed with Campagnolo for releasing something ugly.

    I’d read a few years back an interview about electronic gruppos with a guy at Campagnolo who said they’d mastered the technology, but couldn’t release it since it wasn’t beautiful enough. I guess he was on holiday when they designed the cranks.

  21. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? Or did I miss the memo? I love the look of the pre-84 Super Record cranks with their stunning satin finish and the aluminium Record cranks also, but I like the look of the carbon ones too…

    I’ve noticed a lot of people seem pretty adamant that they are the arbiters of style, but to me they just look closed-minded.

  22. Oli,
    i quite agree with your sentiment here, but I think that the beauty one beholds can fall into several categories:
    1. Timelessly classic
    2. Beautiful at least partly because it’s the highest performance equipment / top of the range / newest technology.
    3. Beautiful because it’s different and new now.
    Cars and bikes often fall into categories 2 and 3, and I fear the cranks do too. Let me leave you with this:
    There are several machines in here, that we might have thought beautiful in the 90’s….?

  23. , @George
    I disagree whole-heartedly that the Campy carbon cranks are ugly; they are stunning and, aside from being slightly larger in diameter (which is a nice look), they are nearly identical to the earlier alu versions.

    I like your list; 3 is bullshit, I call 2 “form follows function and function is beautiful”, and 1 is just right. The Campy stuff fills both #1 and #2 nicely.

    That TT bike is actually from one of the most exciting eras in bike innovation. They were coming out with truly innovative and crazy designs…they were unhitched from conventional thinking. Sure, that’s an ugly fucking bike, but that is a representation of a bygone era.

    I have a similar TSX to Oli’s, and I’ve gone the same way (mostly) as Oli; carbon fork, seatpost, modern wheels (Ksyrium). I’m going to switch to Campy and 3x wheels as well, but the important bits need to be modern if you’re going to ride it a lot. I had the old steel fork in there with a quil stem, and I just couldn’t get my position to be identical to the other bikes, so I wasn’t riding it. Tossed in the carbon fork (found me a Bianchi carbon) and I was good to go.

    The steel will feel amazing, but the modern components have to be added to the mix to make it a true daily-use steed. That said, I’m using my old Record alu crankset on it, and doing my best to find the alu Chorus 10spd shifters…

  24. @ George; how about beautiful because it please your eye and no other reason? And I never liked the yellow on Pantani’s machines, but wouldn’t presume to criticise it if someone owned a bike in that colour scheme.

    My point about beauty is in the eye of the beholder should have had the added statement that if you haven’t got anything nice to say, perhaps don’t say anything at all. Especially when you’re talking about someone else’s taste in bicycles.

    That’s just how I roll…Cheers, Oli

  25. @Brett
    The carbone cranks are beautiful(to me) and will look great on the rebuild. I’m getting a little carbone thinking about it. And the new external bearings seem like an improvement. Who wants to install a square taper BB on any bike anymore? Not me. I have a slightly used Campy record sealed square taper BB if you ever want one, English threads. Or you Frank? eh?

  26. Agreed, beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. People will always disagree on what bike looks good, what doesn’t, which riders rule and which ones suck. And a lot of time we say things that may be not very nice. But that is why we have such a good little community here, and spirited discussion is always welcome. In the end though, no matter who we call a douche, we are inherently pretty good folk.

  27. I’ve been riding a combination of steel bikes for about 2 or so years with modern running gear – managed to get a great deal on campy record 10spd with alloy cranks from for two bikes and had ops laced up by shifterbikes in Melbourne. I didn’t like the skeleton brakes on frames of that era and wanted the combination of a period ‘look’ (e.g. 32 hole box style rims, alloy cranks etc) with modern running gear and reliable performance – weight was less of an issue given these frames are ‘relatively’ heavy anyway. My latest is as per the attached link as posted up by Marcus previously
    I’ve raced these bikes and they go as good uphill or on the flat as any modern carbon bike in my view. My track bike is even older and all pretty much period ‘correct’ – 1983 Falcon formerly owned by Shane Sutton fully restored and raced regularly. Its good to keep these old beauties going….

  28. Brett,
    Welcome to my world.
    I can’t think of a way to say this without sounding like I’m bragging…I own a pretty mint Bosomworth that was made by the man himself and this might well be the inspiration to blog how it arrived in my life.
    Thanks for sharing.

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