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Restoring Custom Vintage (Columbine) Bike - Finishing the Build

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Restoring Custom Vintage (Columbine) Bike - Finishing the Build

Old 06-14-24, 04:20 AM
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Well, she's together enough to take for a spin around the block. Built the front wheel last night while me and the missus watched TV. Bike is crazy quick!!!! Feels good to ride.

I still have a few bits and pieces to place, find the right length stem, tape the handlebars, etc. Haven't decided on which 6-speed cluster to use.

Not sure I like the wing shifters as they interfere with riding on the brake hoods slightly. Probably get used to them, but I have two other options and at least I'll get some needed practice taping the bars.

Pictures this weekend.
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Old 06-14-24, 03:39 PM
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Sorry to admit I hadn't read this thread until now, I should have, it's a good one.
My two comments are late (probably too late) but here goes anyway:

Unless you are a bar-end-shifter hater for some reason, I think you'll find them about 5.3 times more ergonomic and comfortable than those goofy wing things.

At your size, you are too big to ride 25 mm tires. Even the pros, skinny as they are, and with cars full of spare bikes following them, are using much wider tires than that these days.

This bike is crying out for a 650b conversion. Even at 650b, the chainstays still probably won't allow a tire as large as I like, and smallish 650b tires might lower the BB height more than you like, so I'd strongly recommend getting the chainstays indented properly for 38 mm or larger. The Columbine builder(s) are craftsmen almost unmatched in history, but they suffered from the same blindspot as everyone else back then, thinking skinny tires were faster. That mistake should be corrected, if the bike is for riding.

Indenting the stays can often (usually?) be done without the paint cracking or flaking. Unfortunately it's risky, and repainting at least locally near the indents may be required. But for me that well outweighs the risk of not liking the bike due to those silly skinny tires.

Indenting needs to be done by a specialist; even many framebuilders have done an ugly job of it. Sorry I don't have a list handy of framebuilders whom I'd trust to modify this beautiful Columbine; maybe someone here can give recommendations. I'd offer to do it but my shop is taken apart at the moment for a home remodel project. Anyway that would require shipping the frame, so look for someone local to you.

Here's an early-'70s Raleigh Super Course (low- to mid-range mass-produced frame) that I indented, showing the paint didn't flake off. The worn paint you see at the bottom of the indent is where the tire used to rub before I indented it.



Is Rob Roberson in San Diego? I don't know if he would take this on, but he definitely has the skill. Clearly I don't know much about the San Diego scene but I assume there's someone near enough to not have to ship the frame.

Once you have indents, you "just" need wheels, tires, and longer-reach brakes to reach down to the new lower position of the rims. But starting with a modern racing bike made for 700c means you can use some pretty nice-looking and highly effective Tektro dual-pivot brakes, which come in polished silver and look correct-ish on a vintage bike.

BTW this upgrade is reversible if you decide to go back to 700c. Indents can be placed so they help with tire width on either 622 or 584 mm rims.

Oh and about the BB height, this is "650b conversion basics" so pardon me if you know this already, but it doesn't need to lower the BBhardly at all if you can get to 42 mm wide tires, which is a bit of a sweet spot, recommended if you can.
622/2 = 311 + 23 = 334
584/2 = 292 + 42 = 334
i.e. BB height is identical between 23 mm wide 700c and 42 mm wide 650b. Well, ignoring the increased drop due to tires squishing, which will be more on the fatter tires since you run them at lower pressure. But the BB will be lowered by at most a few mm, probably not noticeable unless you're starting with a bike that's borderline too low already. Even then I'd do it, and just coast thru sharp corners instead of pedaling. But I'm funny that way.
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Old 06-14-24, 03:42 PM
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Well, sheís done expect for some nits and a tune-up!
Rides very well and is quiet. Wow is she quick. Not at all laid back like my Colnago.
Iíll need to true-up the wheels after I put a few miles on them. The sounds of the spoke bedding in is nice to hear.
I was hoping the yellow handlebar tape would look nice with the green and yellow on the frame, but Iím not liking it. Any suggestions on tape color? Aesthetics are not my strong suit.
The brakes are super strong, but need to be adjusted. The shifting is nice and solid, although the wing shifters arenít my favorite. Iím looking for a freewheel that is a bit more age-appropriate than a 13-18ÖÖ.
The chainstays are super short and even with a 25mm tire, the wheel wonít fit without deflating the tire. Iíd like to use a 28mm tire, but I donít have one lying around to try. One is on order, so we'll see.




Any suggestions for handlebar tape color?

I thought the yellow tape would look better

Grip puppies for my arthritis

Front is the 2nd wheel build.

No handlebar tape yet.

1st wheel build of mine since 1981

Super record seat post from waaay back!
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Old 06-14-24, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie
Sorry to admit I hadn't read this thread until now, I should have, it's a good one.
My two comments are late (probably too late) but here goes anyway:

Unless you are a bar-end-shifter hater for some reason, I think you'll find them about 5.3 times more ergonomic and comfortable than those goofy wing things.

At your size, you are too big to ride 25 mm tires. Even the pros, skinny as they are, and with cars full of spare bikes following them, are using much wider tires than that these days.

This bike is crying out for a 650b conversion. Even at 650b, the chainstays still probably won't allow a tire as large as I like, and smallish 650b tires might lower the BB height more than you like, so I'd strongly recommend getting the chainstays indented properly for 38 mm or larger. The Columbine builder(s) are craftsmen almost unmatched in history, but they suffered from the same blindspot as everyone else back then, thinking skinny tires were faster. That mistake should be corrected, if the bike is for riding.

Indenting the stays can often (usually?) be done without the paint cracking or flaking. Unfortunately it's risky, and repainting at least locally near the indents may be required. But for me that well outweighs the risk of not liking the bike due to those silly skinny tires.

Indenting needs to be done by a specialist; even many framebuilders have done an ugly job of it. Sorry I don't have a list handy of framebuilders whom I'd trust to modify this beautiful Columbine; maybe someone here can give recommendations. I'd offer to do it but my shop is taken apart at the moment for a home remodel project. Anyway that would require shipping the frame, so look for someone local to you.

Here's an early-'70s Raleigh Super Course (low- to mid-range mass-produced frame) that I indented, showing the paint didn't flake off. The worn paint you see at the bottom of the indent is where the tire used to rub before I indented it.



Is Rob Roberson in San Diego? I don't know if he would take this on, but he definitely has the skill. Clearly I don't know much about the San Diego scene but I assume there's someone near enough to not have to ship the frame.

Once you have indents, you "just" need wheels, tires, and longer-reach brakes to reach down to the new lower position of the rims. But starting with a modern racing bike made for 700c means you can use some pretty nice-looking and highly effective Tektro dual-pivot brakes, which come in polished silver and look correct-ish on a vintage bike.

BTW this upgrade is reversible if you decide to go back to 700c. Indents can be placed so they help with tire width on either 622 or 584 mm rims.

Oh and about the BB height, this is "650b conversion basics" so pardon me if you know this already, but it doesn't need to lower the BBhardly at all if you can get to 42 mm wide tires, which is a bit of a sweet spot, recommended if you can.
622/2 = 311 + 23 = 334
584/2 = 292 + 42 = 334
i.e. BB height is identical between 23 mm wide 700c and 42 mm wide 650b. Well, ignoring the increased drop due to tires squishing, which will be more on the fatter tires since you run them at lower pressure. But the BB will be lowered by at most a few mm, probably not noticeable unless you're starting with a bike that's borderline too low already. Even then I'd do it, and just coast thru sharp corners instead of pedaling. But I'm funny that way.
Yeah, I've been thinking about a 650b conversion. Period correct rims in 650b are tough to find, and I don't want to do something goofy like black rims. Do you really think I need to go all the way to 42mm tires? I'm a new convert to wider tires and have 35mm on my Colnago and they are great (haven't tried anything wider on it). I do have 44mm on a Gary Fisher Piranha that I use for "around town" riding and I like them. I hadn't thought about a brake conversion. Hmmmm.

I'm not worried about the BB height. I quit pedaling through corners long ago. Well, I do enjoy building wheels!

What are your thoughts about handlebar tape color? I think bar end shifters are my last resort. I had them on my previous tandem, and I'm not a fan.

Paul Comp thumbie with a Campy lever for the front derailleur.
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Old 06-14-24, 04:04 PM
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[MENTION=575651]PromptCritical[/MENTION]

That yellow appears to lean neon, maybe Fizik microtex? I believe it has a flat finish and is not as screamin yellow as this and the like.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/19478978993...8829ffa9ec862c
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Old 06-14-24, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac
[MENTION=575651]PromptCritical[/MENTION]

That yellow appears to lean neon, maybe Fizik microtex? I believe it has a flat finish and is not as screamin yellow as this and the like.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/19478978993...8829ffa9ec862c
My artistic director (adult daughter with a killer aesthetic) is suggesting leather bar tape. https://soumaleather.com/en-us/produ...39986274795580
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Old 06-14-24, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
My artistic director (adult daughter with a killer aesthetic) is suggesting leather bar tape. https://soumaleather.com/en-us/produ...39986274795580
I have that color Brooks pleather tape on a green BG that looks pretty good, no pics handy atmo.

The fizik yellow is much more subdued than the foam yellow you have on there now.
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Old 06-14-24, 04:33 PM
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Black tape.
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Old 06-14-24, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Yeah, I've been thinking about a 650b conversion. Period correct rims in 650b are tough to find, and I don't want to do something goofy like black rims. Do you really think I need to go all the way to 42mm tires?
I'm not worried about the BB height. I quit pedaling through corners long ago. Well, I do enjoy building wheels!

.
Velo Orange (Voyageur), Soma (Weymouth) and Pacenti (Brevet) are all polished silver rim-brake rims available in 650b that look good on a vintage bike (the Soma ever-so less so, as it's got a sort of 'beveled' profile, like a Sun CR-18, but it's still a nice rim- though TBH, for a bike of Columbine caliber, the Pacenti is probably the way to go if you do a 650b conversion). 42c seems to be more-or-less the 'standard' for 650b conversions, but one can factor in tire quality as well- personally I've got 35c Rene Herse tires on one bike that feel as nice as the 42c Grand Bois Hetres on another (eventually I'll try 42c Rene Herse...).
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Old 06-14-24, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie

This bike is crying out for a 650b conversion. Even at 650b, the chainstays still probably won't allow a tire as large as I like, and smallish 650b tires might lower the BB height more than you like, so I'd strongly recommend getting the chainstays indented properly for 38 mm or larger. The Columbine builder(s) are craftsmen almost unmatched in history, but they suffered from the same blindspot as everyone else back then, thinking skinny tires were faster. That mistake should be corrected, if the bike is for riding.

Indenting the stays can often (usually?) be done without the paint cracking or flaking. Unfortunately it's risky, and repainting at least locally near the indents may be required. But for me that well outweighs the risk of not liking the bike due to those silly skinny tires.
OP: Please donít butcher this frame. The Mona Lisa doesnít need a mustache. Thereís absolutely nothing wrong with skinny tires, current fads notwithstanding.
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Old 06-14-24, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
OP: Please donít butcher this frame. The Mona Lisa doesnít need a mustache. Thereís absolutely nothing wrong with skinny tires, current fads notwithstanding.
Modifying the frame is not in the plan. I'm thinking about a 650b rear wheel, but I need to put some miles on her before I decide (rim, spokes, hub + brake....$$$). I think I'll slide a 26" wheel into the chainstays and see how much difference it makes. The price is right on that trial option.

I rarely if ever modify something in a way that can't be put back to original.
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Old 06-14-24, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
OP: Please donít butcher this frame. The Mona Lisa doesnít need a mustache. Thereís absolutely nothing wrong with skinny tires, current fads notwithstanding.
This is definitely an area where reasonable people can disagree.

"Absolutely nothing" might be putting it a bit strongly though. He has to let air out of the tire to get even a 25 mm tire out! A tire that will be slower, less comfortable, less durable, and with less traction (grip) than the best fatty. Oh add in less safety and less protection for the rim against pot-holes, more chance of snakebite punctures. More chance if slipping between the bars of a gutter grate, the bad old kind with the long thin slots. OK I'll stop now!

"Mona Lisa" might be exaggerating a bit too. They made hundreds of them, no? (Guessing, I don't know.)

And is making a machine better really akin to drawing a mustache on it? I suppose he could ask the builder for his opinion. Maybe he'll even agree to do the indenting. Would it still be drawing a mustache if the original builder does it?

My last quibble is with "fad". Mounting reasonably wide tires is returning to the sanity that prevailed before the real fad came around, the one that had everyone making bikes that couldn't fit practical tires, with no trade-off, no upside. Mounting practical tires is repudiating a fad, not following one.

Remember, you can always mount skinny tires on a frame/fork that has clearance for fatties. You just can't go the other way.

Other than that though, I completely agree with what you wrote.
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Old 06-15-24, 07:32 AM
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Does anyone know of brifters for an old school 6-speed freewheel cluster?
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Old 06-15-24, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Does anyone know of brifters for an old school 6-speed freewheel cluster?
Don't think anyone ever made 6-speed brifters. If someone knows of any, please correct me.

Regarding vintage brifters: Shimano made the first brifters in 8-speed (Dura Ace ST-7400, 1990). Campagnolo followed suit with Ergopower (also 8-speed) in 1992.

Only 7-speed ones I'm aware of from Shimano were ST-A410s (RSX, 1995) and Tourney (available now). You might be able to get one of these to work with a 6-speed cluster if you fiddled with them long enough - but I'm not sure, and I personally doubt they'd work well (working from memory, about 0.35mm, or 11%, difference in cog spacing between 6- and 7-speed).

Further: RSX brifters seem pretty scarce. And would you really want to put Tourney brifters on a Columbine?

Don't know if Campagnolo ever offered a 7-speed brifter, but I don't think they did.

There are some more recent offerings in 7-speed from MicroShift and MicroNew (if you can find them), and possibly some others. Not vintage, and again: would you really want to put those on a Columbine?

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Old 06-15-24, 08:08 AM
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Since you enjoy building wheels, before I would consider doing any other modifications for more comfort of wider tires, I would build some tubular wheels and try riding some nice 25mm tubular tires. I feel that a tubular tire rides as comfortably with better road feel as a clincher that is 5mm wider than the tubular. You can experiment with getting a much improved ride without messing with the originality of your frame. I do like 28's best but do have one bike I have to use a 25 on the rear and like it well enough to have no desire to alter the frame. Just another option to consider? I'm in San Diego, let me know if you'd like to check out the feel of a tubular wheel. Hmmm, may not have a wheel with the appropriate OLD though.
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Old 06-15-24, 08:22 AM
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[MENTION=575651]PromptCritical[/MENTION] - My '83 Colnago accepted a 7 speed FW.

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Old 06-15-24, 01:21 PM
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I love this frame and the period vibe with it ,how tied in to the old components are you ? I know this suggestion won’t appease the 650b Jim Jones contingent but if you went to a good shop/frame builder you could get stays indented enough to take 28’s and at same time get rear end spread and dropouts aligned to 130mm which will open you up to brifters (does the frame need to be drilled for Allen key brakes at same time ? )pretty sure they started with 8 speed (both Campag and shimano) though much later on I think shimano offered 7 speed bottom end group sets [rx-100 ? ]with them ,I didn’t catch if your wing shifters are to have shifting same time as braking a kind of home brifter cludge or to have shifting higher up ,if you really don’t want barends could a correct stem shifter mount be tracked down ,anyway blah blah blah I vote for minor metalwork and a relatively modern brifter build with 28’s and levelling out the saddle ha ha
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Old 06-15-24, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
My artistic director (adult daughter with a killer aesthetic) is suggesting leather bar tape. https://soumaleather.com/en-us/produ...39986274795580
That was going to be my suggestion. Brown Brooks saddle and tape would make it classy. Not sure if the thick padding would work with a stiffer tape however.
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Old 06-15-24, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Does anyone know of brifters for an old school 6-speed freewheel cluster?
There arenít any unfortunately. You could use thumb shifters and indexing. Or even SunTour power shifters (thumb, down tube, even stem)
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Old 06-15-24, 04:48 PM
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What is the distance between your rear dropouts at present? My three drop-bar bikes are of similar vintage and are all at 126mm now. I run Fredo, a 26" frame similar to yours, with friction stem shifters, with either 6-speed or 7-speed wheels (without changing the RD stops, btw). The other two are step-through mixte frames, and both have MicroNew 7-speed brifters fitted. I either approach looks fine. You can judge for yourself:

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Originally Posted by bulgie
This is definitely an area where reasonable people can disagree.
My last quibble is with "fad". Mounting reasonably wide tires is returning to the sanity that prevailed before the real fad came around, the one that had everyone making bikes that couldn't fit practical tires, with no trade-off, no upside. Mounting practical tires is repudiating a fad, not following one.
I agree that having track-bike clearances on road bikes was a fad, a silly one that started in the mid-'70s, and that lasted way too long, imo. But skinny tires were not a fad at all. They've been the sensible choice (for road racing) for about a hundred years.

I also have an upright bike with 48mm tires. I have no idea why I would be fine with brifters or stem shifters on the Columbine, but fat tires on it would make me cringe. To each their own, I guess.

So, OP, build it however you like it. I think the brown leather seat and tape would look good too.
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Old 06-15-24, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Fredo76
But skinny tires were not a fad at all. They've been the sensible choice (for road racing) for about a hundred years.
Define skinny?
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Old 06-15-24, 09:33 PM
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It's all relative, but...

Originally Posted by iab
Define skinny?
32mm or less. One hundred twenty years. About 1-1/4".
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Old 06-15-24, 10:40 PM
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Bikes: Columbine, Paramount Track Bike, Colnago Super, Santana Tandems (1995 & 2007), Gary Fisher Piranha, Trek Wahoo, Bianchi Track Bike, a couple of Honda mountain bikes

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So, I was on a ride in Carlsbad this morning and John Murphy of Columbine Cycles returned my call. We chatted for a few minutes and he gave me his thoughts on frame design and asked a few questions about the bike. I’m going to send him the serial number and he will provide me with some details about the build.

Now that I realize what has dropped into my lap (I was just looking for a frame that fits my long leg short torso body), I’m not going to make any modifications.

I’ll put downtube shifters on it and see if I can reach them (fingers crossed).

I can live with the narrow tires. I’ve been riding on 23 or 25mm tires for 45 years, so even though I agree wider tires are preferred, I’d rather keep the bike period correct.

If I can’t reach the downtube shifters, I can live with 8-speed brifters. I can modify an 8-speed hub so the OLD doesn’t require stretching the frame. My ‘76 Colnago Super has an Ultegra 10-speed group and works fine, but I’d rather keep the Columbine original.

A 6-speed cluster is good enough to hang with the group on Tuesday Fiesta Island rides.

I do have two vintage tubular rims, so maybe a set of tubular wheels is pending.

This has been fun and thanks to everyone for the advice!

Final pictures coming soon!
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Old 06-16-24, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
So, I was on a ride in Carlsbad this morning and John Murphy of Columbine Cycles returned my call. We chatted for a few minutes and he gave me his thoughts on frame design and asked a few questions about the bike. I’m going to send him the serial number and he will provide me with some details about the build.

Now that I realize what has dropped into my lap (I was just looking for a frame that fits my long leg short torso body), I’m not going to make any modifications.

I’ll put downtube shifters on it and see if I can reach them (fingers crossed).

I can live with the narrow tires. I’ve been riding on 23 or 25mm tires for 45 years, so even though I agree wider tires are preferred, I’d rather keep the bike period correct.

If I can’t reach the downtube shifters, I can live with 8-speed brifters. I can modify an 8-speed hub so the OLD doesn’t require stretching the frame. My ‘76 Colnago Super has an Ultegra 10-speed group and works fine, but I’d rather keep the Columbine original.

A 6-speed cluster is good enough to hang with the group on Tuesday Fiesta Island rides.

I do have two vintage tubular rims, so maybe a set of tubular wheels is pending.

This has been fun and thanks to everyone for the advice!

Final pictures coming soon!
Right on man.

We love it when a plan comes together, so cool John got back to you, nothing better than keeping one like this on the road forever.

And FWIW, if you ever see a Merz or even a Gorden that looks to be your size, get after it, all my bigger Merz's have good clearance as many were touring, from full on to somewhat, a lane that Jim excelled at like most everything he did.

I also have a Gordon that is similar.

And also FWIW, I would not hesitate to have a competent frame builder stretch this for wider hubs and maybe indents for tire clearance.

I get the do no harm rationale but can tell you that the Merz's will be with me forever haveing made the transition to 9 speed with 32mm tires.

Had this not been the case they would likely get moved along at some point for not being able to hold their own in the modern world.

Its like Jim saw the future, these bikes are amazing in their own right, but retro "upgraded" is a whole other thing with these, a whole other level of more amazing IMO, easily one of the smartest things I've done to collect these.

Last edited by merziac; 06-16-24 at 12:50 AM.
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Old 06-16-24, 05:27 AM
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Maybe I missed it, but have you considered bar end shifters?
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