Good morning from sunny Tokyo. It's a typical winter's morning, freezing but with hardly a cloud in the sky.
I have only recently become a fan of cycling having bought a 1982 (I think) Dawes Galaxy 4 years ago. This is the first bike that has made me go, 'Wow!'. Since 1990 I'd been nuts about early 1980s BMW motorcycles and have 3 of them, including one that I bought as an accident victim to build up and race. I hardly ride them these days but I cycle every day, rain or shine.
The Dawes is made of Reynolds 531 and is so supple you can see the frame twist if you hold the front brake and stand on the pedal. I became aware of this when I took the bike to my local bike shop to have a squeak in the crank looked at. The owner happens to be an ex-Japan Olympic team member from the 1968 Olympics who prefers the older bikes and has taken a shine to mine. He keeps giving me unasked for discounts, due I think, to the fact that I thoroughly clean the chain once a month and re-oil it and generally keep my bike waxed and polished. Bicycle maintenance is a doddle after years of maintaining 3 motorcycles.
The bike shop owner, Mr Sugiyama (henceforth referred to Mr S for brevity's sake), happens to be a fan of Campagnolo and has infected my with his enthusiasm. They really are very beautiful. My Dawes has SunTour deraiileurs, Sakae Ringyo cranks, seat post and stem, Weinmann brakes and levers and I don't know what kind of headset except it's chromed and the chrome is lifting a bit. These parts are also very nice, in my opinion, and will stay on the bike. Mr S rides a frame he made himself with a Nuovo Record rear derailleur which to me is a work of art. Admiring that one day, and hearing the normally v. quiet Mr S launching into a 20-minute exposition on his derailleur and his mods to it, was the start of a growing obsession with 1970s frames and Campy parts.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, this interest has coincided with me discovering eBay. In the past 3 weeks I have bought a 1976 Mercian frame, a complete 1978 Woodrup with Campy NR groupset, a complete NR groupset from a 1978 Trek and 2 Trek frames from 1978 and 1982. Oh, and I also bought a 1980 Specialized Allez with NR groupset for my girlfriend who presently rides a 1990 De Rosa which is too big for her. I bought it with her money. I've also been buying 'new-old-stock' Campy parts here and there.
This all may seem rather extravagant but there are 2 things encouraging this behaviour - one is that thanks to Mr S my Dawes is now set up right. Setting the pre-load on the steering head bearings is easy for me after 17 years of motorbike maintenance but I have no idea about centering the brake callipers or setting pre-load at the bottom bracket, or even how high my saddle should be. With everything sorted out the bike is really comfortable and easy to ride fast.
Ms S is also educating me on the effect the drop has on how easy a bike is to pedal and gear ratio effects... stuff like that when I'd never heard of 'drop' before. I find it all very interesting... something to get my mechanically interested mind's teeth into.
With my bike set up right I find myself interested in trying different bikes with different frame geometry and in different sizes. For instance, my Dawes has a 58cm frame but I suspect a 60cm frame would be more my size. This is the reason for buying so many frames and bikes.
The other thing encouraging this behaviour is that I've discovered that vintage frame and Campy part prices are higher in Japan than in the US or Italy so that anything I end up not needing I can pass on and not lose money on and in some cases even make a profit and so cover my expenses. It's like a 'no-risk' hobby.
I'm also looking forward to building (or should that be 'assembling'?) the frames I've bought. It's great being able to work on your bike in your sitting room.
Is there anything else I should put in this intro?