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.
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 🙂
“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.
* * *
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.
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!