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Your Very Best "Bicycle Found Story..."

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Your Very Best "Bicycle Found Story..."

Old 07-08-15, 02:10 PM
  #1  
randyjawa 
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Your Very Best "Bicycle Found Story..."

Lots of vintage road bicycle have come my way, and many with, what I think to be, interesting "how found" stories. But the best of the best, for me...

What would you say if a complete stranger, who you have never met, sent you an email with a picture of this...



...asking if you knew anyone who would be interested in his old bicycle (1958 Carlton all chrome Flyer in your size).

Well, I was lucky enough, two times actually, to have just such a thing happen to me.

And that, in a nut shell, was all it took to acquire this lovely old road bicycle. Well, there is, of course, a lot more to the story, involving muzzle loaders and little horses, but that is much too much for here. Anyway...

What is your best "how found" tale (perhaps, I should say story - would not want anyone to misinterpret that comment).
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Old 07-08-15, 02:41 PM
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Mine happened during Bike to Work week when I was in grad school. I was working for a research institute at the university that provided small breakfasts and a small gift/trinket every day of the week for riders -- all 10-12 of us. Found that my commute intersected with another coworker who road a tricycle-recumbent. Turns out he'd always been into bikes, but had some serious back issues starting in his 50s (probably mid 60s by now.)

Noticing I was riding an older bike, well-beat-up single-speed Schwinn World Sport, he asked if I'd be interested in another old bike with gears. He was retiring / downsizing, and it was time to part. Said I could buy could have it for a few happy hours worth of beers and that it was "an old Trek." We were the same height, so I jumped at it.

Turns out it was quite a nice ride. I've ridden it on a few tours, though now it does duty as a century/gravel bike. Probably more miles than any other bike I've owned. Four or five years later, I still send him photos whenever I end up somewhere noteworthy.



(In its current livery, not as found.)
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Old 07-08-15, 02:51 PM
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My Mondonico was a great story, here's the thread I started with the story and before/after pictures.

Here's one of the after pics:



I had it out today for a 25 mile ride today, so fun and fast.
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Old 07-08-15, 03:34 PM
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I don't know if this is my very best story as it starts with an ad on Craig's List 10 years ago. I don't even remember the specific ad other than it was pretty vague. It mentioned an all-chrome Raleigh. The seller was a good hour's drive away, but it seemed unusual enough to make the trip. As I was heading down to check it out, the seller called me on my cell to tell me that as he was getting it ready for me to test ride, the pedal fell off and that he would understand if I turned around and headed home, but if I wanted to still come down, he'd give me the bike for free. Well, what I found was a 1966 all-chrome Raleigh Sports. The drive side pedal arm had indeed broken off, but I found one to swap in, and spent quite a bit of time cleaning the bike up, replacing rusted parts with non-rusted substitutes, sourcing replacement decals. This bike now sits in my dining room.

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Old 07-08-15, 04:24 PM
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Mine is a story of two bicycles, and started here on Bike Forums. I think it was about 7 or 8 years ago that we had an active participant from the UK who went by Sammyboy. He had a knack for finding nice, older frames from his travels around England, so I asked him if he happened to come across a frame in my size if he would consider shipping it to me. After a month or so, he contacted me and showed me a couple bikes that he'd found. One was certainly too small for me, and was made by a larger volume builder (I think it may have been a Falcon). The other looked closer, and was a J A Holland - a name that was new to me. We made the arrangements, and he sent the bike to me, and after a couple weeks, I got it, cleaned it up, and prepared to take it to Cirque with me. I was very excited about it, as it had a nice look to it, and though a bit on the small side, and had gearing I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself, it climbed like a motorized goat (bear in mind that this was at a time when I liked to refer to myself as a human brick on the bike). I still knew next to nothing about the builder, and while at Cirque, I asked a couple of folks I knew were from Britain if they knew anything about it, and specifically about the paint used on the head tube - which almost seemed as if it were translucent yellow plastic. Nobody knew about the paint, but one said that he knew that the builder was the brother of a rider who was an Olympian and a participant in the Tour de France. I thought... "cool", and left Cirque with a bit more knowledge than when I had gone.

Forward a couple years, and Cirque was approaching, and the fellow who had told me about the builder was agonizing over whether he would be able to make it to Cirque. He lived out west, and I knew he'd sworn that he'd never make the drive again, so with myself living quite close, offered to bring the Holland for him so that he would have something to ride (it happened to be exactly his size). Well, he decided to not make the trip to Cirque, but he told me something quite astonishing. Not only did he happen to know about the builder and his brother, but he had also ridden in the same club as them as a junior rider. He said that when he saw my bike at that Cirque, it triggered nostalgia, and that he had searched and searched for another J A Holland - even one that wasn't the right size - but had come up empty. He was not a young man, and he was despairing of ever finding one. Literally, as I was preparing an e-mail to offer it to him as caretaker of the bike for as long as he wanted, I received an e-mail from him that surprised me... he had a Hetchins Magnum Opus that was a bit large for him... would I be willing to trade him for it?

I didn't know what to say, but I was concerned that such a trade was too monetarily inequal for me to accept it in good conscience. So $200 and a week later we had our respective bicycles. Here is what he did with the Holland (it looked way nicer after he was through with it than it did when I had it).



and here is the Hetchins (which many have seen here on several occasions)

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Old 07-08-15, 04:25 PM
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What a beautiful Raleigh, Neal!
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Old 07-08-15, 05:06 PM
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I came across an abandoned Ross Mt. Whitney in Baltimore some years ago, complete with full Shimano Deer Head and weave tangled in the front hub.
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Old 07-08-15, 05:32 PM
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I replied to a CL ad for an ultra-sonic jewelry cleaner. On my way out to the car, the seller asked why I needed the jewelry cleaner. I told him that I planned to use it for cleaning bike parts. He replied, "Well, I got something for you then!" A short trip to the attic and he comes back with a neglected titanium bike. I didn't quite know what I was looking at but knew it was special and could be a diamond in the rough. A bit of haggling later and I walked away with both the jewelry cleaner and a '73 Speedwell Titalite (though it needed A LOT of work) before looking like this:



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Old 07-08-15, 06:04 PM
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I was cruising teh interawebz for about 4 years looking for a prewar Frejus when I came across this, posted only a couple days before I saw it,

paramanubrio: Frejus, Vittoria!

I immediately sent a message and got the owner's contact info. So I contacted the owner, Enzo, and found out, yes, the bike is for sale and he wants serious money for it. Since it was serious money, I thought I would contact a serious collector I know for his .02.

I sent him the pictures in the blog. Not in his wheelhouse and he noted the condition was not the greatest. He asked about the seller. I told him it was Enzo, in Italy. Well, as it turns out, my friend the serious collector was in Italy to attend a couple of scambios (swaps) to load up on supply. And he was meeting Enzo the next day.

Small world.

So he had a chance to see the bike in person and do a little in person negotiations for me. I am more than please as punch with the purchase.

_MG_8990 by iabisdb, on Flickr
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Old 07-08-15, 07:17 PM
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I have a neighbor/friend who started and runs a very successful (success meaning number of people helped and ongoing outreach) Bicycle focused charity. I have helped volunteering, connecting to our corporate community sponsorship, and just being a guy to bounce ideas off. When they were based out of a van and a pile of bikes (large) in his back yard I encouraged this person take a leap and move into a warehouse that he had been offered. At some point i mentioned in passing that if he saw something interesting in a 58 for a frame, i was looking for a project. the charity moves to the warehouse, his backyard has not bikes, his wife is happy and a torpado showed up on my front steps. It had sat outside for years and took TLC (seatpost removal was 6 weeks) but it is a super fun bike with lots of character and patina





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Old 07-08-15, 08:56 PM
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My dad's very distinctive Raleigh (mid 80s, black, sprung saddle, 5 speed...would love to know the model now that I think of it) was stolen. A few days later I am walking down the street near my home and lo and behold there is the Raleigh in someone's backyard. A bit of stealing back and a year later it gets hit by a snow plow while parked outside.
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Old 07-08-15, 09:03 PM
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Great thread, great stories!

I could share a story about a nice rack I received today, but there are women participants in this forum.
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Old 07-08-15, 09:17 PM
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Cool thread--
My best story is actually on-going and still developing. And it is thanks to these forums actually and the weird way the world folds back on itself sometimes.

8 years ago when I was living in Wisconsin, I went to a conference down in Key West where I met some people in the same line of work and struck up a friendship with a woman who lived in Miami. Despite the distance, we stayed in touch through the years, even through my own major move out west. Two years ago when my brother was sick (now passed on), she and I talked and I mentioned how I had gotten into vintage bikes as a sort of cheap, harmless therapy (my brother was a cyclist) during tough times. She mentioned her brothers were both cyclists as well, and then we talked about the importance of siblings in life and what it was like to lose a brother. I recall the conversation well.

Fast forward to this past winter, when, itching for a new project, I posted on here that I was looking for an Italian frame in my size. I got a few offers for frames, one of which I fell in love with. It just happened to come from a forum member with a familiar looking last name (same last name of my friend from Miami) and from what I could tell from our initial email conversations, he had background remarkably similar to what I recalled my friend telling me about her brother. So... long as the odds might have been, when we were negotiating out the purchase I had to ask if there was any chance they were related. Lo and behold, amazing coincidence, the forum member was/is her brother.

I've had to wait until this summer to get the frame-- here in the next month or so, I think-- but it's definitely been worth it, since I figure something in the cosmos really wanted me to have this bike frame. Crazy to think of how small the world is sometimes. A story sort of 8 years of time in the making, with an entire continent of twists and turns.
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Old 07-08-15, 09:25 PM
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I picked up a mid '80s Basso Gap for my daughter from Goodwill. I saw a frame in the bike rack where they store their bikes for sale. I looked at it and thought it looks good but too bad there were no wheels to go with it. I went inside and paid for it. When I went outside with a sales clerk to get it unlocked another worker showed up with the wheelset. The bike was just being put out for sale. I ended up with a complete Basso for $14.99. Here is a picture after the overhaul.

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Old 07-09-15, 12:40 AM
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I was getting ready to head out for a ride on a fixed gear conversion I use to have (Falcon San Remo) and was parked in a Lowe's parking lot. A car drove up behind my truck as I was getting ready. I asked if I could help him. I figured he might have been lost and needed directions. He said he had a track bike he wanted to sell. He pulled over and we talked for 30-45 mins about bikes and stuff. He had a 25" track bike and a road bike plus some parts he wanted to sell. Oh ya did I mention they are my size and both are Schwinn Paramounts! We exchanged phone numbers and I was able to get ahold of him and set up a time to go check out the bikes and parts. Well I bought both bikes and all the pile of parts he wanted to get rid of. I ended up selling most of the parts over the years and eventually sold the 1973 P13 Paramount (in pieces) as well. But, I still have the 1976 P14 and will never sell it.

Both are older pics, but you get the idea:


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Old 07-09-15, 01:07 AM
  #16  
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awesome stories! this is a huge part of why I love the classics.

When I first started getting into bikes (freshman in college) my dad saw my roommates raleigh mixte and told me a story about my grandpa and bikes.

My pops has had lots of bike stories and him and his brothers went through a bunch of em on their paper routes and my uncle raced a lot so bikes have always been around. But one in particular was a real shame that it was stolen. My grandpa being an working class immigrant from mexico in the 40s was never a rich man and the family always struggled. But when he finally made his first real big purchase that was beyond just getting by, it was a brand new raleigh that sat in a storefront of some shop here in bakersfield, ca. Bikes were important to him and that one was the one to get. So it was a significant bike, but as mentioned before, was unfortunately stolen (anyone with a lead on a 58-60 lenton grand prix out of bakersfield, probably blue, probably has a Snyder's Cyclery sticker on it, pm me!) in the 60s or 70s.

A year or two after first hearing the story, my dad didnt know the year or colors but eventually narrowed it to a 58-60 (or was it 59?) lenton grand prix because of the rod actuated front derailleur and decals. Fast forward 2 or 3 years and I'm ALWAYS checking craigslist, living in south central LA and super into riding and wrenching. I seem to find that the best way to find great deals is not by searching, but by simply opening craigslist and just flipping through the pages, there's always something hiding in there that was spelled wrong or you didnt know you were looking for. One afternoon I see the title "Lenin rode a Lenton!" and open it up to find a 59 the model I figured was probably right. I double checked my email and find where my dad had indeed narrowed the year range and models complete with pictures and was on my way. I hit the LA traffic for an hour+ just to get 15 miles away from work and buy the original paint, fine decals, with original and non-original drivetrain (also pm me if you've got a bargain on four speed rear derailleur, chain, freewheel, and wheelset!) raleigh for under 4 bills, though price wasn't really a factor.

Its a rider, and my grandpa having passed my junior year in college, its a special one in my dads collection. Really cool part was that this was just about christmas time, so it was a good holiday for him. Will certainly post pictures soon as I can snap some this weekend!

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Old 07-09-15, 01:45 AM
  #17  
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I had noticed a red road bike leaning against some bushes at my friend's neighbor's house. It was still there, with flat tires, after a few visits. I finally asked the neighbor about the bike and he asked if I wanted it. I took it home, started researching and found out that a Gitane Tour de France is actually a really nice bike. After removing the stuck seatpost, and putting on a new wheelset that wasn't tubular, I rode it as my secondary bike for a few years. I sold it on to a couple of kids that were wanting to get into road biking and were looking to restore it even further. Not a great pic, but there she is.


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Old 07-09-15, 06:01 AM
  #18  
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In the spring of last year one of my friends on the forum sent me an email entitled something like "Free Fuji for Rudi" that contained nothing but a link to a thread here on this very forum. Some of you may remember it:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...no-jersey.html

The deal was the original owner of this bike was emptying out the contents of his parents' house in Rutherford NJ and the bike was going into the hands of the first forum member who could come get it, or onto the street the next day. I immediately responded by PM, got his phone number, and made contact. His main concern was that he had a lot to do in two days, and didn't want to spend it waiting around for some bike forums dude, possibly flakey, who may or may not come for a free bike. So, as I explained to him on the phone, I was just going to leave work an hour early (I didn't mind), take an
NJ transit train to Secaucus, the first stop, transfer to another train and get off at the next stop, Rutherford. I was able to tell him exactly when my train would arrive at the Rutherford station, and estimate how long the walk would be. Okay, sez he, that'll work, but it'll be easier if I just meet you at the station. Uh, okay!

When I arrived at the Rutherford station, armed with a few tools and an air pump and directions to his house, what did I see but...



A guy with an orange bike! We talked for a few minutes. Really nice guy, obviously. He gave me the bike and headed on his way. I pumped up the tires, adjusted the seat to my height, gave the bike an overall check, and my train came. An hour later I was riding the bike around the local roads near my house, getting the feel of it. As is, it was a good sensibly built bike, but I couddn't resist the urge to put it back to original configuration and find out what all the Dura Ace buzz was about.

Over the next couple months I mooched some Dura Ace parts off other forum members (@nlerner supplied brakes, @redcaymatt supplied a crank, @esthreetee supplied a Crane derailleur...) and bought a few more on eBay, and eventually had the bike pretty close to original.



I don't remember exactly how much I've ridden it... a 200km brevet this spring, a 300 km ride around eastern PA a year ago, a couple other imperial centuries and a couple metric centuries last year... nice bike. Here seen at the top of Blue Mountain:

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Old 07-09-15, 06:03 AM
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Well...my current best story involves two bikes...and I may have relayed here already...but...what the heck!

The first bike involved is my Miyata 1000 (pics below)...I had been searching for a 1000 in my size for a while (and at a price that I thought was fair). So, was actually looking at the "Looking for one of these" thread here...and, lo and behold, there was one! Catch was...it was in Cleveland (I live in Atlanta). But, my wife and I had a vacation planned for the next week that would take us within about an hour of Cleveland...so I was like "what the heck?" This was on a Friday, so I started emailing, texting, calling the guy. No response...so I despaired that the bike was already gone.

Well...after dozens of emails and texts...the gentleman finally called me back on Monday. He had been away for the weekend...and did not stay connected electronically! He was "off the grid" entirely...and liked it that way. So...told him my situation and he wanted me to have the bike...so we got it set up for when I would be in the Cleveland area. That Saturday I met with him...and we hit it off immediately...he had replaced all of the cables, tubes, tires and chain during the week...then he insisted that we fit it to me before I left. I was planning on using the bike for a metric century as part of that vacation...so he wanted it ready for that! What a great deal...but...it gets better...



So...fast forward to the Metric Century...a friend of mine and I rode the Lighthouse Century in Maine...



Me on the Miyata 1000...

My friend agreed to ship me the Miyata...so, my wife and I got on a plane and headed home!

About two weeks later, my bike shows up...or at least I thought it was my bike. The bike shop my friend used was a bit of a pain...and when my bike showed up, it was in two bike boxes...or, at least there were two bike boxes that showed up. I thought, wow, that bike shop really does not know anything about shipping bikes! So, I opened the first box...and my beautiful blue Miyata 1000 was PURPLE! I was furious...they had shipped me the wrong bike! Well...then I opened the other box...and there was my beautiful blue Miyata. So, what was the purple bike?

It was a 1985 Bianchi Veloce...my friend's old bike! This was at the time of my 50th birthday...and he was giving me the Bianchi as a birthday present...he no longer rode it and wanted it to be in good hands! He would not even let me pay for the shipping on either bike! The Bianchi was in pretty pristine shape...all I had to do was start riding it some!

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Old 07-09-15, 06:29 AM
  #20  
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Cool story. Looking forward to seeing the pictures.
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Old 07-09-15, 01:51 PM
  #21  
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Some of you may know this one....
Somewhere back in the early 1980's I went into a shop in McLean Va. and was introduced to Zieleman bikes. The owner of the shop and his family were distributors, prior to this I had
seriously lusted after Italian steel. One quick test ride and I was hooked, had to have a Zieleman. Being a new parent and young I didn't have the $ for it, so i started saving. When I finally
had enough to go buy the frame I returned to the shop only to find the owner had died, and all of the good dutch bikes had been sold off.
I started looking for Zieleman's which were about as common as hen's teeth. I did research found that there were only 235 bikes imported to the US and they did not come up for
sale often.
With the advent of the internet, around 2000 I was browsing another bike forum when a person posted pictures of a Zieleman he had restored. I contacted him and he told me
he knew of a Zieleman for sale in my size. He was in the Netherlands and I told him I'd buy it and pay shipping. He bought the bike for me for 15 Euro, unfortunately he wasn't
too keen on shipping the bike, I kept contacting him but never heard back. I went back to searching the internet being out nothing.
Fast forward two years and I was in contact with another Dutch collector. I related my story and he asked for the contact information of the guy who bought the 15 Euro bike.
He drove a considerable distance, picked up the bike and packed it to ship to me. My cost? the shipping only. I guess the original guy felt bad or something but he just gave me
the bike. sr70Guy (member here) and I have become friends since he shipped me the Zieleman, he's been instrumental in my getting a RIH and Jan de Reus, and another free bike
a Remy.
the Zieleman:



A few years ago I contacted a person who was selling a Zieleman on a dutch web site. I wanted photo's of her bike since I'm sort of obsessed with Zieleman. We got into a discussion
and she had been getting really stupid low offers for the frame. It needed a lot of work but was worth more than what was offered. She gave me the frame! (I again paid shipping).
We've become facebook friends and keep in contact.
That one has been refinished completely and traded to another BF member.
I guess I'm really lucky when it comes to dutch bikes, not just in appreciating them but in being gifted them.

Marty
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Old 07-09-15, 02:14 PM
  #22  
KonAaron Snake 
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
I was cruising teh interawebz for about 4 years looking for a prewar Frejus when I came across this, posted only a couple days before I saw it,

paramanubrio: Frejus, Vittoria!

I immediately sent a message and got the owner's contact info. So I contacted the owner, Enzo, and found out, yes, the bike is for sale and he wants serious money for it. Since it was serious money, I thought I would contact a serious collector I know for his .02.

I sent him the pictures in the blog. Not in his wheelhouse and he noted the condition was not the greatest. He asked about the seller. I told him it was Enzo, in Italy. Well, as it turns out, my friend the serious collector was in Italy to attend a couple of scambios (swaps) to load up on supply. And he was meeting Enzo the next day.

Small world.

So he had a chance to see the bike in person and do a little in person negotiations for me. I am more than please as punch with the purchase.

_MG_8990 by iabisdb, on Flickr
I don't care what you paid - it's worth more. I'd be terrified of trying to shift this, but man it's just a gem.
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Old 07-09-15, 02:48 PM
  #23  
Robofunc
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I have a friend who's boss owns several rental properties and self-storage facilities. People leave things behind all the time, and when he has something he thinks is worth money, he gives it to my friend to sell on Ebay.

One day he gave her a crusty old road bike and told her to try and get $150 for it. She knows I ride and work on bikes, so she asked me before posting if I would be interested. She sent along a couple of low-quality phone pics. I could just make out a couple Campy logos and figured it'd be worth a look.

I went to see it and was instantly excited. The paint and chrome were in rough shape, but it was an '89 Bottecchia SL/Chorus in my size. There was a hideous mountain bike stem with about 6 miles of rise and a bent up old Modolo compact drop bar flipped into full upright bum position, but otherwise the original Chorus group was all there. I paid the $150 without hesitation.

I don't have a good before pic on-hand but after adding a 3t Record stem, Cinelli Criterum bars and a thorough teardown and cleaning, things are looking much better. The paint and chrome are still far from perfect, but it's still a beautiful bike in my eyes. Plus the ride is quite wonderful, which really is the main thing, don't you think?





Last edited by Robofunc; 07-09-15 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 07-09-15, 03:34 PM
  #24  
callig
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I was asked to run a cycling club at a Bible school in western Canada. Kids from the school showed up with their bikes and we would go out riding. One student had a bike that caught my eye it was a Gios with campy and Shimano Dura Ace parts on it but one look at the lugs and I said to him this is no Gios. He told me I was right his friend in Hong Kong was a racer and he wanted a Gios so he had it painted and decaled as a Gios even to the Columbus tubing decals. His friend had stopped racing and gave this guy the bike exchanging tubular wheels to clinchers for him to cycle with us. I told him if he ever was going to get rid of the bike I'd be interested. About a year later I moved back east and gave the bike no thought until I got a letter a few years later from a friend who said he had a bike left for me at his place. As we were planning a trip out west that spring I told him I would pick it up when we came out west. fast forward a bit after I discovered it was a Condor Superbe I began the process of restoring her to her true form. She is now once again a Condor
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Old 07-09-15, 05:15 PM
  #25  
iab
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I don't care what you paid - it's worth more. I'd be terrified of trying to shift this, but man it's just a gem.
Money is irrelevant.

Happy = good deal.

Not happy = bad deal.

You'll pry that bike from my cold, dead hands. I have been thinking about contacting Enzo lately to get some of those Ambrosio city bars with the reverse levers for when I get old.
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