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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 06-16-24, 05:31 AM
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After mulling this over last night, I think I'm going to ask John if he can modify the frame to accept a modern hub. I don't want a garage queen and I can live with the brifters being non-period correct. Downtube shifters just aren't going to work well enough for me and the result would be rarely riding the bike. I found 9-speed Campy brifters on eBay (I really need a lifetime ban on eBay).
I'm sure I can make them work, and they are a pretty small deviation from period correct. Decisions, decisions.....

Anyone know what the differences are between an 8-speed and 9-speed Campy rear hub (both Athena, I think)?
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Old 06-16-24, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by bboy314
Maybe I missed it, but have you considered bar end shifters?
I have. They aren't period correct and if I'm going to cross that bridge, I'd rather use a better solution (trying to keep my irrational personal animosity toward them from showing.......I had them on a tandem for 25+ years and hated them. It was like using a pipe wrench on a bottle of ketchup).
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Old 06-16-24, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc
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.
I had a Brooks saddle back in the day and really liked it. I wonder if I'd still like one.......
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Old 06-16-24, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Fredo76
32mm or less. One hundred twenty years. About 1-1/4".
I'd go 35mm, or 1 3/8 for that 120 years. But at this point I am splitting hairs. Either way, I find 32 or 35 fat when compared to the standard 23 of 20 years ago.
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Old 06-16-24, 06:02 AM
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You and [MENTION=557277]Robvolz[/MENTION] are two lucky bastiges.

Originally Posted by merziac
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 absolutely agree with [MENTION=425004]merziac[/MENTION] regarding the rear dropouts, as that's reversible. The only reason I haven't done it with one vintage frame I own is the fact that I've never previously done it - and I have a couple of other frames I want to spread first to get some experience prior to attempting it with that frame.

I personally don't think there's a problem in dimpling the rear chainstays, either - even though that's not generally reversible. But it's your bike, so your call.

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.
Hopefully the downtube shifters work out if you really want to keep the bike all original.

FWIW: if you're absolutely dead-set against modifying the frame at all, as [MENTION=124730]SJX426[/MENTION] notes above 7-speed Hyperglide freewheels are still available and might be a viable option. Assuming one will fit without spreading the rear dropouts (it should - 7 speed freewheels and freehubs date back to the 126mm OLD time period) and doesn't cause chain rub on the DS chainstay or dropout, and you're halfway to a good, vintage-ish brifter solution. It also may not require any type of hub alteration.

Pair that freewheel with a set of RSX brifters (SL-A410s, as I recall), a RD supporting indexed shifting, and a new 6-7-8 speed chain and you should be good-to-go with your current wheelset. Though they're from the mid-1990s, the SL-A410s look quite similar to other early-90s Shimano STIs - so they shouldn't look any more out of place than other early brifters. And who knows: you might get lucky and find that your current RD (looks to be a RD-6207-GS) will shift reliably indexed (no guarantees, but maybe worth a try and might require a Centeron upper pulley to work).

Best of luck!
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Old 06-16-24, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Hondo6
You and [MENTION=557277]Robvolz[/MENTION] are two lucky bastiges.
Funny anecdote about Rob Volz and I from about 10-12 years ago. I bought an old Alfa Romeo from him! We must be related through some Italian connection!
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Old 06-16-24, 08:02 AM
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Nice bike! Great thread!

A brand I’ve never heard of before. Not surprising, as I’m mostly ignorant. Reading through this and seeing pictures leaves me wanting. C&V forum strikes again!
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Old 06-16-24, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
I have. They aren't period correct
I don’t like them either, but saying that bar end shifters aren’t “period correct” is not true.
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Old 06-16-24, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
After mulling this over last night, I think I'm going to ask John if he can modify the frame to accept a modern hub. I don't want a garage queen and I can live with the brifters being non-period correct. Downtube shifters just aren't going to work well enough for me and the result would be rarely riding the bike. I found 9-speed Campy brifters on eBay (I really need a lifetime ban on eBay).
I'm sure I can make them work, and they are a pretty small deviation from period correct. Decisions, decisions.....

Anyone know what the differences are between an 8-speed and 9-speed Campy rear hub (both Athena, I think)?
Great to hear this, make it so.
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Old 06-16-24, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
I had a Brooks saddle back in the day and really liked it. I wonder if I'd still like one.......
No C+V is correct without one IMO.

Maybe find a used one that already has some miles.
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Old 06-16-24, 10:49 AM
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I agree with your decision to make it a rider. That's the spirit!

To my mind, the biggest improvements to bicycles since the '70s are all at the contact points: Clipless pedals, brifters, and seats with big holes in them. I softened up my Brooks Pro and tried it when I first restored Fredo - nothin' doin' - hurting after three miles, alas. They sure look great, but my butt takes priority. Selle SMP TRK for the win while riding.

Congratulations on your Columbine, however you go.
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Old 06-16-24, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Fredo76
I agree with your decision to make it a rider. That's the spirit!

To my mind, the biggest improvements to bicycles since the '70s are all at the contact points: Clipless pedals, brifters, and seats with big holes in them. I softened up my Brooks Pro and tried it when I first restored Fredo - nothin' doin' - hurting after three miles, alas. They sure look great, but my butt takes priority. Selle SMP TRK for the win while riding.

Congratulations on your Columbine, however you go.
Totally agree!
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Old 06-16-24, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by merziac
Great to hear this, make it so.
I was able to fit a 28mm tire on her this morning! Very close fit, but it works. Good thing the wheel is true; there can’t be more than a mm of space on either side.
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Old 06-16-24, 04:31 PM
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If this was my frame (and I'm a builder that likes to carve lugs so I can appreciate yours but won't be riding a frame that doesn't have my name on it), I'd use tubulars because they give the most spectacular ride. When I started riding good bikes in the 60ls they were the only good wheels/tires available so I never found them troublesome and enjoy the difference in quality of ride. A good tubular can be skinnier than a clincher and give a more forgiving ride because they don't have the weight and restriction of the bead holders coming up the side of the rim. They squish more to smooth out bumps better. And they are lighter of course because they don't need the extra bead on the rim to hold the bead on the tire. A tubular rim is lighter and the tires are more comfortable at the same width so it is a winning combination. You could find a great used pair at a coop or online fairly inexpensively because of prejudice against them - especially from those that have never ridden them or bought cheap tubular tires instead of good ones. Look for 126 spacing and a 7 speed Shimano freewheel. Or if the thought of tubulars is too scary get 28 width 700c clinchers.

An 8 speed Campy brifter (get the high quality Record or Chorus) and rear derailleur uses the same spacing as 7 speed Shimano (Suntour is different). I think you already have a Campy crank and derailleur on it now? So they will work fine together except of course you don't have that 8th cog. When we used to do our bicycle tours in Ukraine I often used this combination so older frames/wheels we took over and left there because they would work with modern (at that time 2001 to 2008) derailleurs.

Many of us builders like to equip our bicycles with leather saddles. The Brooks pro is too hard for me and I prefer the B-17. They have always been the most comfortable saddle for me. However this is personal and a leather saddle doesn't work for everyone.

Your Columbine was designed as a go fast recreational rider. In other words to feel like a race bike but with better looks that won't get damaged because it wouldn't be raced. I wouldn't modify that away and try to make it something it isn't. If you want a gravel bike with 650B wheels (that will have more relaxed angles) look for that kind of bike. I've seldom seen even good frame builders retro punch in an indent for greater tire clearance. It is hard to do because the other chain stay is in the way. Most of the ones I've seen look like they have been just smashed with a hammer. I would never take that chance of trying to indent it even if I was doing it myself. The risk is too great.
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Old 06-17-24, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug Fattic
If this was my frame (and I'm a builder that likes to carve lugs so I can appreciate yours but won't be riding a frame that doesn't have my name on it), I'd use tubulars because they give the most spectacular ride. When I started riding good bikes in the 60ls they were the only good wheels/tires available so I never found them troublesome and enjoy the difference in quality of ride. A good tubular can be skinnier than a clincher and give a more forgiving ride because they don't have the weight and restriction of the bead holders coming up the side of the rim. They squish more to smooth out bumps better. And they are lighter of course because they don't need the extra bead on the rim to hold the bead on the tire. A tubular rim is lighter and the tires are more comfortable at the same width so it is a winning combination. You could find a great used pair at a coop or online fairly inexpensively because of prejudice against them - especially from those that have never ridden them or bought cheap tubular tires instead of good ones. Look for 126 spacing and a 7 speed Shimano freewheel. Or if the thought of tubulars is too scary get 28 width 700c clinchers.

An 8 speed Campy brifter (get the high quality Record or Chorus) and rear derailleur uses the same spacing as 7 speed Shimano (Suntour is different). I think you already have a Campy crank and derailleur on it now? So they will work fine together except of course you don't have that 8th cog. When we used to do our bicycle tours in Ukraine I often used this combination so older frames/wheels we took over and left there because they would work with modern (at that time 2001 to 2008) derailleurs.

Many of us builders like to equip our bicycles with leather saddles. The Brooks pro is too hard for me and I prefer the B-17. They have always been the most comfortable saddle for me. However this is personal and a leather saddle doesn't work for everyone.

Your Columbine was designed as a go fast recreational rider. In other words to feel like a race bike but with better looks that won't get damaged because it wouldn't be raced. I wouldn't modify that away and try to make it something it isn't. If you want a gravel bike with 650B wheels (that will have more relaxed angles) look for that kind of bike. I've seldom seen even good frame builders retro punch in an indent for greater tire clearance. It is hard to do because the other chain stay is in the way. Most of the ones I've seen look like they have been just smashed with a hammer. I would never take that chance of trying to indent it even if I was doing it myself. The risk is too great.
Tubulars are in interesting idea. I loved them when I raced in college. I still use them on my track bike, and I have an extra set of tubular rims, so maybe I should go down that road.
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Old 06-19-24, 03:26 PM
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I used black handlebar tape until my leather tape arrives.


Still need to replace the “wings.”
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Old 06-20-24, 09:24 AM
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Taking the Columbine out for a ride!

Sweet, sweet bike! Very fast and smooth; well, it's steel!
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Old 06-28-24, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau
That is a beauty. Great find. I think I'm going to go with Wing Shifters on my next build (touring/commuting bike).
I don't really like the. Would probably be happy to sell them to you for a song.
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Old 06-28-24, 11:35 AM
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Leather handlebar tape (Father's Day present). Need to deal with the shifters and then put this on. There is some sewing thread in the box, so I'm a bit concerned about why it is there........Hopefully Google or someone on BF can help out.

Brooks saddle is on its way.

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Old 06-28-24, 12:12 PM
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Bikes and Alfas.

Next you'll tell us you are also into Mac stereos.

Brother from another mother!!
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Old 06-28-24, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Robvolz
Bikes and Alfas.

Next you'll tell us you are also into Mac stereos.

Brother from another mother!!
Well, close. I built this Heathkit SuperAmp (the one on the bottom - the one on the top is an eBay unit I brought back to life) when I was in High School with supervision from my Dad. I took it to college and have some vague recollection about conversations with the Dean of Students about it........The amp and a pair of Klipsch horns was an awesome combination. Pity we didn't have CDs back then as isolating the turntable was a challenge.


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Old 06-28-24, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical

Taking the Columbine out for a ride!

Sweet, sweet bike! Very fast and smooth; well, it's steel!
Nice Guilia you have there. The quintessential classic Alfa to have.
I wish I could carry my Davidson on my MX-5 RF GT-S, but the retractable roof might not be happy carrying any sort of load on it....


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Old 06-28-24, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
There is some sewing thread in the box, so I'm a bit concerned about why it is there........Hopefully Google or someone on BF can help out.
Probably to wrap the ends instead of finishing tape.
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Old 06-28-24, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
Nice Guilia you have there. The quintessential classic Alfa to have.
I wish I could carry my Davidson on my MX-5 RF GT-S, but the retractable roof might not be happy carrying any sort of load on it....
That's a beautiful combination! Yeah, you're probably right about the roof!
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Old 06-29-24, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by steelbikeguy
I hope you are just trolling us, but...
the only choice are the silver wheels!
A bike as classy as the Columbine deserves some dignity, and those Khamsin wheels just don't offer that.

Steve in Peoria, (imho, etc)
I'd say good box-section sew-up rims regardless of where silver or gray ano like a GP4 or Nemesis. And gum sidewall tires are a must.
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