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The Great C&V Frankenbike

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The Great C&V Frankenbike

Old 03-05-17, 10:32 AM
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realsteel
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The Great C&V Frankenbike

If you could choose any frameset and components from the entire history of vintage cycling, in any combination, which would you pick to make the perfect riding bike?

Determining the all-time best components can be attempted by using the Wisdom of the Crowd
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_the_crowd). In this case, the C&V crowd.

I've been trawling the C&V forums for consensus on the components which, when put together, would make the ultimate vintage ride. All the parts are now bought and ready for assembly.

Would you like to see the monster you've created?
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Old 03-05-17, 10:34 AM
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The Great C&V Frankenbike

There have to be a few rules.

First I define 'vintage' to be everything up to the early 1980's. This is not the same as the l'Eroica cut-off of 1987, and is chosen to avoid the complexities of early indexed shifting and aero brakes.

Where I couldn't find consensus for a particular part, I searched the web at large, used the individual wisdom of a (senior) forum member, or relied on my own (limited) engineering savvy.

Finally, I had to make a few concessions to expense and availability.
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Old 03-05-17, 10:37 AM
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The Great C&V Frankenbike

I've made a list of all the required components:

Frame :
Hubs :
Rims :
Spokes :
Tires :
Brakes :
Front derailleur :
Rear derailleur :
Shifters :
Saddle :
Seatpost :
Headset :
Stem :
Handlebars :
Handlebar tape :
Pedals :
Toeclips/straps :
Bottom bracket :
Crankset :
Freewheel :
Chain :

... and I would be interested to know what you would choose for the ultimate frankenbike. Consistency or beauty is not the aim here: it can be any combination of parts from c. 1930 - c. 1980.

In fact, this has already come up for discussion before:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...-groupset.html

... but now we're going to bring the creature to life.

Last edited by realsteel; 03-23-17 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 03-05-17, 10:41 AM
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Frameset

Frameset first.

Who made the best steel bicycle frames? This can be broken down into type of steel, country, manufacturer and builder.

Steels for the tubes are Reynolds, Columbus, Tange, Ishiwata, Vitus as well as some more obscure makes.
Most vintage frames come from Italy, France, England, Japan and the US, and to a lesser degree Belgium, Holland, Spain, Germany and a few outliers.

Manufacturers notable for the excellence of their frames are:

England: Raleigh, Holdsworth, Hetchins, Ephgrave, Jack Taylor, Claud Butler, Carpenter, Rotrax, etc.

Italy: De Rosa, Colnago, Cinelli, Pinarello, Bianchi, Masi, Tommasini, Gios, etc.

France: Singer, Rene Herse, Peugeot, Le Jeune, etc.

US: Schwinn, Trek, and lots of smaller frame builders who did beautiful work in the '70s and '80s but I'm out of my depth here...

Japan: Miyata, Fuji, Konno Cherubim, etc.

Finally, there are the individual frame builders whose names a recognizable for the supreme quality of their works. These include Bill Hurlow (who was the only frame builder to appear in the Times obituaries) and Ron Cooper of England; Sante Pogliaghi and Faliero Masi of Italy; Albert Eisentraut and Tom Ritchey of the US, to name but a few.

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Old 03-05-17, 11:06 AM
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Frameset

This question comes up again and again:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...hierarchy.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...70-s-80-s.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...70-s-80-s.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...-look-out.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...ng-frames.html

... and the consensus on C&V is that there is no consensus. A well-built frame, of the right size and geometry made from decent steel will give a great ride.

So I've chosen a frameset which should fit the bill and offend no-one.
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Old 03-05-17, 11:17 AM
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Colnago Primaverile

Here it is: it's a 78/79 Colnago Mexico with its original metallic apple-green paintwork:



With beautifully shore-lined lugs:





Some of the later Colnago frames were of slightly dubious workmanship but this one is a good'un: no file marks or dodgy brazing.

Perfect for the Great C&V Frankenbike.

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Old 03-05-17, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by realsteel View Post
snip . . .

So I've chosen a frameset which should fit the bill and offend no-one.
So I'm curious. Is this thread about a discussion of the "greatest" frames and "greatest" parts up to the 80s (a kind of a "wiki" discussion) or is this a discussion about what you want to build your frame up with?
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Old 03-05-17, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
So I'm curious. Is this thread about a discussion of the "greatest" frames and "greatest" parts up to the 80s (a kind of a "wiki" discussion) or is this a discussion about what you want to build your frame up with?
It's a bit of both: a genuine attempt to put together a bicycle using the best vintage equipment. The ability to do this is unique to bicycles, you can't easily mix-and-match parts for vintage cars, for example.

It's mostly just for fun, though.
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Old 03-05-17, 11:43 AM
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Derailleur

First up for the equipment, one of the least controversial parts: the rear derailleur.

What is the prevailing opinion on the C&V forums about the best ever friction derailleur? Here are the major threads on the subject:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...erailleur.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...erailleur.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...-question.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...leur-ever.html

The Campagnolo Nuovo Record gets a lot of votes for being very dependable, but it's Suntour's derailleurs which get the most acclaim on C&V.
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Old 03-05-17, 11:58 AM
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Suntour Superbe

The question is then: which of Suntour's models worked the best?

On the Disraeli Gears website (Disraeli Gears - a derailleur collection), the SunTour Superbe Pro (5200) is described as "... the finest friction derailleur of all time".

I'm going to use the slightly earlier SunTour Superbe instead, which is almost identical to the first-generation Superbe Pro:




What makes this a great derailleur?

It's a combination of Suntour's invention of the slant parallelogram:


... and outstanding Japanese engineering, in which the design, tolerances and finish are all excellent:


This particular derailleur was made in September, 1977.

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Old 03-05-17, 12:48 PM
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Front derailleur

There is not as much data for front derailleurs as for the rear. Here is the most relevant thread:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...erailleur.html

Front derailleurs are mechanically simpler and it's harder to define what makes a good one. However Suntour gets the most positive votes again.

So I've selected another Suntour Superbe:



What makes this a great front derailleur?

As with the rear version, it looks absolutely purposeful, and is beautifully designed and constructed:


This one was made in April, 1977.

Last edited by realsteel; 07-01-17 at 01:08 AM.
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Old 03-05-17, 01:43 PM
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Friction shifters

You may think that I'm going to use Suntour friction shifters for the sake of consistency. Not a bit of it. This thread is not about being consistent it's about being the best.

Who then made the best friction shifters of all time? Here are the relevant threads:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...n-shifter.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...-shifters.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...n-shifter.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...-shifters.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...-shifters.html

This was the easiest of all the components. To almost universal acclaim, the Simplex SLJ Retro-friction shifters won hands-down:



What makes these great shifters?

It's mainly because they are one of the few shifters that are spring-loaded:


... which removes some of the unpredictability of the physics of friction. They are also solidly constructed, although possibly not quite to the standard of Suntour, and were a firm favorite among Tour riders.

These are the later versions from the 1980's.

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Old 03-05-17, 01:47 PM
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I've been building my own ideal C&V machine, the few bits that I would go so far as to describe as best-of-the-best are:
Shifters: Simplex Retrofriction
Rear Derailer: Suntour Superbe Pro - maybe this ties for first place with the Cyclone, but I'd rank either above the Cyclone GT because it's possible, albeit unlikely, for a chain to leap out of the cage on the GT while riding.
And I would surmise that Superbe brakes and levers (made by Sakae Ringyo, both derived from Campagnolo models) and the front derailer (endless-band Cyclone) are on par with essentially all contenders in those categories when it comes to function, weight, and looks.

The things I'm not sure I'd put forward as best-ever contenders, but are still quite nice: A custom-built frame made of Tange 2 steel tubing finished with quality chrome plating, Takagi Tourney AD cranks, Campy Record hubs, and a Tange Levin headset. I would also submit the Cinelli Volare SLX saddle as a contender for one of the best-looking saddles ever made:


Leaving out items that are consumable, I'd be most interested to know what other posters here would rate as best when it comes to vintage hubs, handlebars, and stems. Personally, when I'm riding I haven't found any particular difference in performance characteristics between Cinelli, Nitto, SR Royal, 3t or anything else of high quality when it comes to the cockpit, and the weight differences are slight.
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Old 03-05-17, 01:53 PM
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suntour made fine ratcheting downtube shifters
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Old 03-05-17, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
suntour made fine ratcheting downtube shifters
They did indeed, and I included a thread about them in the post above: https://www.bikeforums.net/19420332-post12.html
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Old 03-05-17, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
I've been building my own ideal C&V machine, the few bits that I would go so far as to describe as best-of-the-best are:
Shifters: Simplex Retrofriction
Rear Derailer: Suntour Superbe Pro - maybe this ties for first place with the Cyclone, but I'd rank either above the Cyclone GT because it's possible, albeit unlikely, for a chain to leap out of the cage on the GT while riding.
And I would surmise that Superbe brakes and levers (made by Sakae Ringyo, both derived from Campagnolo models) and the front derailer (endless-band Cyclone) are on par with essentially all contenders in those categories when it comes to function, weight, and looks.

The things I'm not sure I'd put forward as best-ever contenders, but are still quite nice: A custom-built frame made of Tange 2 steel tubing finished with quality chrome plating, Takagi Tourney AD cranks, Campy Record hubs, and a Tange Levin headset. I would also submit the Cinelli Volare SLX saddle as a contender for one of the best-looking saddles ever made:


Leaving out items that are consumable, I'd be most interested to know what other posters here would rate as best when it comes to vintage hubs, handlebars, and stems. Personally, when I'm riding I haven't found any particular difference in performance characteristics between Cinelli, Nitto, SR Royal, 3t or anything else of high quality when it comes to the cockpit, and the weight differences are slight.
That's interesting. We overlap on a few things, but I agree that the differences are marginal.

What would you choose for pedals?
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Old 03-05-17, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by realsteel View Post
What would you choose for pedals?
I have strong opinions about clipless pedals, but when it comes to vintage caged pedals not so much. On the other hand, I think this is a category with a clear leading candidate: Superbe Pro, which were clones of a design that had been proven successful for decades, updated with sealed cartridge bearings. I have actually ridden these, but they didn't seem any different to me than any other kind of caged pedal of the same type. Hopefully someone can comment on whether or not the cartridge bearings were good for longevity and water resistance...
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Old 03-05-17, 02:54 PM
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Freewheel

There has been a great deal of discussion on the subject of the best vintage freewheels:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...freewheel.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...tooth-max.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...l-13-24-a.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...heel-ever.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...-oro-best.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...freewheel.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...endations.html

... with many excellent makes to choose from: Suntour, Regina, Zeus, Everest and Sachs-Maillard.


One particular freewheel however, outshines the rest on these forums, which is this one:

... the Shimano Dura Ace.

Thanks to Shimano's meticulous date coding, we know this one was made in January, 1977. It's a six-speed with 13-23 teeth (the limit of the Suntour derailleur) and in mint condition.


What makes this a great freewheel?

It's very precisely engineered and more robust than its European contemporaries, and with profiled teeth that made for excellent shifting. I lubricated this with fresh oil and it ticks like a Swiss watch.

Here it is, in all of its titanium nitride glory:

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Old 03-05-17, 03:08 PM
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I have a few favorites. For pedals I prefer the Campy Record with the chrome steel cage, followed closely by Superbe & Pro Ace. Avocet Touring II saddle. Campagnolo Record hubs, Super Champion Gentleman Clincher rims. Since dual pivot brakes don't make the time cut, I'd go with Dura Ace first generation side pulls.

I'd agree that the Superbe FD is top rate, but prefer the Campy Record (without the holes) because it even works well with a triple.
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Old 03-05-17, 03:37 PM
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Chain

Here are several discussions on the subject of vintage chains:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...red-chain.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...out-there.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...reewheels.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...dis-chain.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...in-choice.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...freewheel.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...ed-chains.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...t-px-10-a.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...reference.html

According to many on the C&V forums the best chain for a vintage bike is the modern SRAM PC-870. The reasoning is that chains are consumable so it's better to avoid the vintage item, particularly if it's expensive. This is good advice.

However, I'd like to get something properly vintage, and the most popular vintage chain in the threads above is made by Sedis.

Sedis was bought by Sachs, and subsequently by SRAM. Thus the SRAM chains have a vintage heritage.

I bought two chains for use on this build, Sedis and a later Sachs-Sedis:


... I'll use the Sachs-Sedis because the Sedis chains are now too expensive for use.


What makes this a great chain?

Sedis chains were inexpensive and shifted very well because of their contoured plates:


... and consequently were very popular among professional riders.

Update: @T-Mar describes what makes Sedis chains great much better than I did: https://www.bikeforums.net/19435042-post36.html

Last edited by realsteel; 07-01-17 at 01:50 AM. Reason: Added link to @T-Mar's description
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Old 03-05-17, 04:04 PM
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Bottom bracket

Now we reach some tricker items, in that it becomes difficult to determine the general consensus on C&V.

For the bottom bracket I've chosen this engineering tour-de-force from Galli:


You get the feeling looking at this, that Galli knew it was playing second-fiddle to Campagnolo and compensated by over-engineering its components.

There has been some discussion on C&V about this bottom bracket:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...questions.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-me...m-bracket.html

... and it's assumed to be in a class of its own.


What makes this a great bottom bracket?

Aerospace-style tapered roller bearings and very high quality machining:


Both cups are also adjustable for accurate alignment of the chain-line.

(I ground, polished and re-anodized the outside of the cups and everything is now in almost mint condition)

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Old 03-05-17, 04:46 PM
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Rims

I'm going for tubular rims and here are some of the threads I searched:

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...ssic-rims.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...ular-rims.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...-wheelset.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...ight-rims.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...wheelsets.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...ood-avoid.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...m-choices.html

There were several highly regarded manufacturers: Super Champion, Fiamme, Nisi, Ambrosio, FiR and Wolber.

Mavic appears to have the most admirers on C&V though, and I've found some of the best Mavic rims of all, the grey-anodized Special Service des Courses (SSC):


These are 32 hole rims and in good condition with slight rim wear. I cleaned them up and replaced one of the stickers.


What makes the Mavic SSC a great rim?

These were built for professional racing and were made from the best quality alloys with special heat treatment. They were considered to be the finest racing rim of the 70s and 80s.

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Old 03-05-17, 06:01 PM
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I like where this is going. Please continue.

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Old 03-05-17, 06:14 PM
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I built this Frankenbike up from parts on hand:



Frame : mid 1970s lugless Viscount, steel Taiwan fork
Hubs : front Shimano XT, rear Sturmey-Archer S3X
Rims : front black Rigida 1320, rear black Campagnolo Omega Strata, Planet Bike mudguards
Spokes : Wheelsmith
Tires : Panaracer Pasela 700C x 25mm
Brakes : CLB sidepull with guidonnet lever.
Front derailleur : N/A
Rear derailleur : N/A
Shifters : Sturmey-Archer
Saddle : Brooks Professional
Seatpost : Viscount 2-bolt (the only original component on the bike!)
Headset : Tange Levin
Stem : 3TTT
Handlebars : Nitto Randonneur
Handlebar tape : Bike Ribbon
Pedals : Lyotard mod. 23 "Marcel Berthet"
Toeclips/straps : Christophe
Crankset : right arm SR Royal 165mm with 48T Sugino Mighty Competition ring, left arm Zeus 165mm, Campagnolo dustcaps, SunTour Superbe cartridge bottom bracket, Italian thread Phil mounting rings and Dura-Ace lockrings
Freewheel : N/A
Chain : HKC track chain
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Old 03-05-17, 07:19 PM
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"Most vintage frames come from Italy, France, England, Japan and the US, and to a lesser degree Belgium, Holland, Spain, Germany and a few outliers." -- Austria (mostly Steyr-Daimler-Puch and Capo) exported more bikes to the US than any of your four "lesser degree" countries.
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"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." --Theodore Roosevelt
Capo: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger (2), S/N 42624, 42597
Carlton: 1962 Franco Suisse, S/N K7911
Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
Bianchi: 1982 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069
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