Millfield Special #2 – The Gravel Bike

Recently I enjoyed a spot of Hunter Valley riding. I took the Merckx Alu out, and quickly realised that 23c tyres at 120psi does not provide any actual comfort on the slightly-less-than-perfect rural roads.

And there’s plenty of gravel to be found, albeit in surprisingly good condition. But smooth tarmac it ain’t 😞

Steve, you’re not in Sydney anymore. Sigh.

So it’s time to pull the trigger on a Gravel Bike. It’s long overdue and I should have started one a year ago – I knew I was moving here!

I’m fortunate to have many excellent friends, and one of them (thanks Rob @Tempestbicycles) gave me a frame this week. It’s a Kerry Hopkins road frame, but with centre-pull brake mounts.

I’m guessing it’s mid-80s, and it’s no lightweight, but that’s OK because neither am I. It’s a 60/59, which is perfect for me.

It needs new chainstays and cable stops, plus some dropout modernisation – Tempest will take care of that. We’ll remove the rack mounts, and fit it with some awesome billet Cantilever brakes and a 2×10 gravel groupset.

Early signs are that it will take 32s – perfect!!

No question about colour, it’ll be white with red decals, and a red pearl topcoat.

Welcome Millfield Special #2!

1954 Malvern Star 3-Star

Interesting project into the workshop this week.

It’s a 1954 ‘3-Star’ model, made in Melbourne. Still working on the specific model, but shouldn’t be too hard to find with some research. There are lots of Malvern Star experts.

Seems to have plenty of original parts on it: BB, Headset…all under three coats of house paint.

First stop – sandblaster!

The 20th Anniversary Project

Back in 2018, I bought this frame on eBay.

Eddy Merckx Alu Sprint – 20th Anniversary

I watched it for some time before buying it, because I wanted a 20th Anniversary in the museum, but this wasn’t my first choice of frame from that year’s lineup.

This is the bike in the EM 20th Anniversary catalog of 2000:

In the middle of the EM range, the original bike was built from 7020 Alloy with steel unicrown forks and a Campag Mirage 3 x 8 gruppo.

Twenty years later, it still had the original headset, but no sign of the original gruppo. I wasn’t that bothered about the gruppo though, because triples don’t excite me that much, and there’s cool new ways of achieving the same (or better!) gear ratios than clunky old 90s triples.

The frameset is a 52, so will suit a smaller rider. It has been hanging in the shed, waiting for me to find some time to start the build. These things can’t be rushed!

So here’s the first idea for this bike. I think it’ll be a 1 x 10 flatbar – a hybrid of new wide-ratio MTB cassettes with road geometry and brakes.

We’ve re-engineered the rear hanger to mate the 105 short-cage mech to an XT 11-36 HG cassette from Shimano’s MTB range. That’s right – a 36t rear! It’s HUGE!

Because it’s a 1 x 10, the short cage will work fine, without the potential for underhang problems of a long cage. This is a road bike after all, and a long cage MTB mech will mess with the aesthetics, and we can’t have that, right? Plus, how good are those blue jockey wheels…

This bike now has a a very wide final-drive ratio range of 1.31 – 4.27, all from an ultra-simple drivetrain. That’s less than 5% different to the range of the original triple, and we’ve done away with the weight and complexity of a gear selector, a mech and two chainwheels…

…it’s no wonder that I love 1 x 10 setups!

The hybrid nature of this bike needs a high-end STI shifter, so we chose a Deore XT 10-speed shifter. It has the same 10-speed geometry as the 105 mech, a handy gear indicator, and will shift perfectly.

The bike is close to finished, and will undergo some shakedown rides before the frame goes to the painter for touchup and a clear coat.

It’ll be ready by xmas ’19, so contact us here if you want this to be under your tree this December 🙂

Bianchi Super Leggera

Recently, I was referred to a guy that had an old Bianchi in his garage. The bike had a history with an old family friend, who had raced it in Europe before it was brought to Australia.

As you can see, the bike was in a fairly poor state when it arrived in the workshop.

It had good bones though – the Super Leggera was the next-to-elite model in the Bianchi lineup, so it had plenty of high-end components.

Although the Customer’s budget didn’t stretch to a full refinish on the frame, there was plenty of opportunity for a refresh, in order to return it to a rideable state.

We stripped the frame, rebuilt the steering head, BB, pedals and axles. We polished every alloy piece before reassembly.

Corrosion had claimed much of this bike, including the chainring teeth! We sourced a new outer chainring (complete with the Bianchi pantographs) and polished the crankset.

Every part on the bike was aged by neglect. Nothing we couldn’t fix, though…

Lots of before-and-after photos to keep the customer up to date on progress.

When we got to the wheels, there was some major work needed. The hubs were badly corroded (like the BB) and it looked like we wouldn’t be able to remove the freewheel.

The frame is still in pretty poor condition – lots of built-up corrosion. Every bit of chrome is damaged. Unfortunately, the customer’s budget didn’t allow for a full rechrome and repaint.

I don’t think this is the last I’ve seen of this bike though – one day it’ll come back for the full treatment!

Anyway, take a look at it now! It’s a new bike (well, sort of!).

Two new wheels built from the original hubs, every component stripped/inspected/cleaned/replaced, and now it’s in perfect working order and ready to hit the roads.

If you have an old bike that you love, we can bring it back to life. Most things can be saved, and we’ll work hard to restore your treasure because we love old bikes too.

Contact us here, we’d love to take a look.

Building the Merckx Motorola

Back in November of 2017, I bought a Motorola…

“It’s pretty,” my wife said, ”…though we’ll need some Union Jack bed linen if it’s going in the bedroom.”

It didn’t go in the bedroom.

18 Months ago, this was what I said about this bike:

I think it’ll need a repaint, there’s a fair few chips in the paint, and a ding in the TT. Nothing that can’t be fixed.

I’m going to ride it first, though. It’s got a 9-speed Record gruppo on it, and ‘Old Campagnolo’ is not The Millfield Way.

I happen to have some spare Shimano Gruppos lying around, so for a while this bad boy is going to sport a 105 5800 11-speed setup.

I’m going to keep those red Look Keos, though. They’re sick.

Stay tuned!

*                                                       *                                           *

Update Jan ‘18

Phase 1 complete.

105 5800 11sp groupset, some Mavic Cosmics and an experimental colour on the compact crankset.

Bars converted to 1-1/8”, a carbon seatpost and a nice new selle italia saddle. Checkout the layback on the saddle!

The decision is made, it’ll be a full Dura-Ace 9000 gruppo and wheels, plus a touch-up on the paint to retain the original. Crankset will be DA 7700 with Ti chain wheels and some colour – the late-model hollowtech cranks are the wrong style for this retro build.

Wheelset being built now, love that DA titanium!

Those red Keos are still sick 😎

*                                                       *                                           *

Update March ‘18

OK, we are good to go.

Wheels are done, it now sports a pair of Dura-Ace 9000 hubs, with DT Swiss rims.

Crankset is updated to a DA-7700 Octalink. Maybe ‘updated’ isn’t the right word, but the late-model crankset looked all wrong on the steel frame, so I looked around for something DA that styled right. A thorough clean-up and a fresh coat of red enamel and voila! It now looks great with a new pair of Shimano SG chainwheels, and some groovy blue bolts.

The largest problem was that the original DA-7700 bottom bracket was cool, but who likes rebuilding BBs every six months? Out it goes. I’ve put a 105 cartridge BB in it, good for 5 years minimum. Sweet!

That’s it for now, I’m going to ride it for  few months until it goes away for paint repair. When it comes back…full D-A 9000 gruppo!

*                                                       *                                           *

Update August ’18

The parts bin is now full of love from Japan. DA9100 11-speed shifters, front and rear mechs and brakes.

The frame was sent to Rob @ Tempest Bicycles for a 100% inspection for straightness. All good there, phew! Rob replaced the original number hanger and set the rear dropouts to 130mm. He also faced the BB shell, and recut the BB thread.

A set of top tube Motorola team decals was sourced from Cyclomondo, and along with the frame they are now in the hands of Peter Fleming at Star Enamellers. It’ll be repaired, not repainted. I want the bike to always carry the original paint, even if it has some small imperfections that cannot be repaired. Patina is great!

I’m planning a 1-1/8″ stem conversion, with a Ritchey 30 degree stem and a set of colour-coded red 31.8mm bars. Of course, the Dura-Ace crankset will be painted to match the red lower frame, with new custom Merckx decals.

Next step – the final build!

Update March ’19: This bike is complete, view it here.

Hamish, the Shop Dog.

Some of you will have noticed Hamish in our photos and videos.

He’s a West Highland White Terrier, and there’s not much terrier in him unless you’re a rabbit.

He’s been around bikes his whole life, so whether we’re building one or off to photograph it afterwards, he’s part of the process.

When the shop is open, this is his favourite spot.

Hamish is getting two Westie pups to play with soon. He may decide that the Workshop is the only safe place to be.

Update May ’19

The new shop dogs – Molly and Dougal – posed for some photos.

New year, new projects.

Interesting project arrived in the MV workshop this week, for a customer in Perth.

Mid-90s De Rosa Giro d’Italia in metalflake silver/blue. Columbus Brain tubing with original Unicrown DR forks.

This will be the first De Rosa for this customer – and all fast Italian things should be red – so it’ll probably get a colour change.

A rechrome on the forks, some fast red paint, new decals, and Gino’s yer uncle!

Happy New Year, Eddy.

It was a good year, 2018.

New workshop in the country is nearly finished – feel the serenity.

Opened 2018 with 6 Merckxs, closed the year with 13, and on the way I sold 2.

As you can see, the 50th Anniversary Molteni Replica is finished – I’m loving the new gold rims.

Missing from this year’s photo:

The Motorola, 10th Anniversary and Millfield Special #1 (still at the painter’s)…

The Faema, The 7-Eleven, The 3-Athlete (ready to go to the painter’s)…

The Cyclocross (still looking for the right forks)…

The 20th Anniversary…

And that makes a lucky 13. Not bad, but I think 20 is probably the right number 🙂

Check out my Team 7-Eleven Replica

Fresh out of a box from the Netherlands comes this 1988 Corsa, 60cm, in a magenta pearl.

The original paint is too far gone; restoration isn’t an option.

I recently discussed the list of frames on my bucket list, so…I’m of a mind to turn this into a Team 7-Eleven Replica.

Can you see why? Might even put a ‘Sean Yates’ decal on it.

Not sure if it’ll be Shimano or Campagnolo yet…but I know it won’t have a pump on it 🙂

Stay tuned!

It’s time…for a Faema Replica.

Slowly, I’m working my way through the pantheon of great EM models.

I’ve done a couple of Moltenis, and I ride a Team Motorola. I have a 10th Anniversary restoration underway, and a Team Lotto waiting at the painter’s. My wife rides a Team Domo, and I have an AX and a 20th Anniversary in the museum.

But there’s two famous Merckx models I haven’t done yet: A Faema and a 7-Eleven. I’m determined to find suitable frames and get these done.

So when a mate of mine dropped by with a 87/88 Corsa Extra frame, I decided to tick one off the list. It’s time…for a Faema Replica.

I’m still working through some inspirations. I’m thinking of a silver gruppo with black trim, like this:

…but how nice is this red finish!

Not sure what the gruppo will be yet. The DA9000 on my Motorola is sensational…but I know where there’s a Campag Delta set for sale…

And this white trim is really good as well. Too many choices!

I’m sure there’s more to come. Feel free to post your comments!