Sunday, 17 April 2011

My Prize Colnago

This is a story about how sometimes good things come into your life when you least expect it. I just loved surprises.
If there was one bike on my wishlist I’d always wanted to own as a teenager, then that would have to be Colnago. Among the very many names of sports bike manufacturers, perhaps the most loved & known manufacturer is the Colnago founded by Ernest Colnago in 1954 in Cambiago, Italy. The firm has been making frames for over fifty years & this has resulted to make a mark on most of the biggest races in the world. Legendary & great riders like Merckx, Lemond, Moser, Museeuw, Argentin, Saroni, Rominger & Bartoli have favoured and appreciated Colnago. This was the pedigree of bike that would always be on my bike radar they were handmade with either Columbus or sometimes Reynolds tubing; which was & still is a well respected name for frame manufacturers all over the world. Would I ever be lucky enough to own a Colnago myself? It was then I would later discover after moving to Melbourne that question was about to be unexpectedly answered - so if you could imagine to my surprise whilst going to see the Cecil Walker (see Cecil Walker project) owner for the first time would I be fortunate enough to also find sat there in the corner of his garden not one gem but two, at the same time. This was rare, rarer than rare to find two classic road racing bikes of this caliber together in the same place & they were both in a state of disrepair - something had to be done. There before me sat a very sad sight indeed.
This bike looked unloved,  but it was a noticeably vibrantly coloured bike with the official logo & the proud black letters ‘C O L N A G O ‘ stamped on the down tube. It was jumping straight out at me like a subliminal message, had it always been there waiting for this moment to happen?
Is this what I would call my bike fate?
“You’re a sick puppy”, the grumpy old man at work would keep saying to me, he still does.
 Yes but my love for classic bikes was part of my DNA. Such a passion for bikes has been with me since a young age watching the Tour de France in the 80’s. Riding for my local cycling club we would always discuss the different bikes that were on show as well as the riders who were racing towards the finish in Paris. So after finally picking up my jaw from the floor it was agreed I would receive the Colnago as part payment towards restoring his Cecil Walker. SWEEEEET!!!!!!!
My mind went into overdrive with the thought of what I could or would do with the latest addition to my growing collection of bikes. So after I had finally completed all my work on the Cecil Walker which was an awesome enough project in its own right, the Colnago was finally mine. It was time to get creative. The teenager in me was jumping up & down with joy -  I was now the proud owner of my very own Colnago. I had already amassed quite a collection of spare bikes & parts since moving to Melbourne along with all my other bicycle paraphernalia that I had shipped over from the UK; it was just a case of seeing what I had at my disposal to get the Colnago back on the road again. As I began to rummage through my assortment of parts I slowly started to find what would make the bike look cool, it was already shouting out with its fluorescent paintjob so I didn’t want to add too much color. Most of the original parts on the bike were Shimano 500 series & were still in good working order - I didn’t want to bastardize it of too many of its original parts after all.  I had pair of silver 42mm deep v wheels fitted with white randonnuer  tyres that I’d purchased whilst feeding my bike kleptomaniac habit. They  were yelling out ‘pick me’ so they fitted. I only had to remove the derailleur & its original wheels -they would be useful at a later date after all; there would be a time when they’ll come in handy for another project. A single speed crank was later fitted which makes the bike look awesome.

It’s now on loan & in the safe hands of a fellow pommie mate of mine called Nick who arrived in  Melbourne 6 months ago, & like myself was into cycling as well. I told him there was no better way to explore & discover the city unless he had a bike & that’s what we’ve both been doing ever since. The Colnago is turning heads once again but I believe it is still a working progress. So watch this space!!!!!!!  

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Purple & Gold Christmas

It was a cold winters morning in London of 2009 & I’d just come off of Skype after talking to my wife in Melbourne, we were both on a different side of the globe from each other & we’d been making plans for the upcoming Christmas of 2009. We’d decided she would be coming over to my snow covered city as this would be my final Christmas in the UK before moving to my new exciting home in Melbourne.
My next thought was. "What would make a great present for Christmas?"
Mmmm!! A real silly question was the answer from most of my good friends who know me very well. Design & build her a bike was the call from a young disciple of the fixed gear culture who I was lodging with at that time. He also was hooked like me, I was already up to designing & putting together my third bike by now & I was enjoying every moment of being able to creatively express myself with all these colors & parts available to complete my work as well all the miles I was covering on my new rides across London come rain or shine. Well it was actually snow & ice covered roads so it made my ride to work interesting & rather suicidal at times.
Purple & gold was the request from my wife I had to get my creative brain cells working again to try & create this purple & gold vision, I didn’t want to disappoint this was going to have to be special. It was special to me already & I had 8 weeks to pull it off.
I purchased an old Raleigh mixte frame & fork set from the bay. I was already searching locally & overseas for gold bike parts to see what was available for me to buy.
I’d been recommended to use a local powder coating company in Hackney by the local bike fraternity; these guys had over 200 colors available & can blast before they paint to give a perfect finish. I had to jump on my ride & check these guys out. A purple was chosen & with metallic finish just to add that extra sparkle, it was Christmas after all.
A week later the frame was ready for collection. I had already began to start receiving a steady stream of parcels containing various shiny gold parts waiting to be unpacked & put into their required place on the finished bike.
As you can see from start to finish there’s so many different ways I can make a bike look it will certainly turn heads. As a witness out cycling around London together on New Year’s Day this bike got plenty of attention, it still does today in Melbourne as well.

The original bike in the top picture looked just like this before I worked some Dspoke magic & transformed it into what you see in the picture below. 

My wife’s purple & gold prezzie ready in time for Christmas.                         

Sunday, 3 April 2011

cecil walker project

From This

To This

This old 1980's Cecil Walker had been sitting outside in a garden for a few years, it was heart breaking to see this bike so neglected especially after its owner had informed me he had done nearly 1000km riding about Melbourne on the Cecil before deciding to buy another bike.
It had a history & some how still some sentimental value to him he explained.

"Was it worth anything"? He asked.

After closer inspection I found it was fitted with Campagnolo parts, this then made my pulse jump & started to race alot faster.
This was a blast from the past as a teenager growing up I used to be a member of a cycling club & I've always been a bike nut since I could first pedal.
So whenever you saw a bike fitted with campagnolo parts fitted you would stand there & admire, we all wanted our bikes to have campag parts but could never afford it.The frame & forks were also made with Columbus tubing & handmade Haden brazed lugwork. To me this bike was a piece of art work that needed to be brought back to life. The owner agreed & was excited when I told him I would do my best to restore this bike back to its original look when it was purchased from Cecil Walker.
I collected as much information from the owner as I could get about how the bike looked before its demise to the Melbourne weather. It was then time to start researching looking for the right colour, replacement parts that needed changing,etc etc. I got alot of information & help off good friends in the bike fraternity & as well a source of knowledge from the guys from Cecil Walker in Fitzroy.

After collecting as much info on costs & availability of parts I was ready to start the project. I made sure I  kept in constant communication with the owner with the information I had found with the total costs to complete the project.

The first phase was to dismantle the bike,removing all of the parts which are then inspected for wear & tear. All parts that were to be refitted were then labelled & boxed, these were to be cleaned & repolished at a later phase of the project.
With everything removed the frame was ready to go to phase two which was the blasters & then the paintshop.
Johan from Sprayaybike is a magician with a spray gun he was the man with all the right colours, thank you Johan for your patience & understanding of my needs to get the paintwork spot on.
Now let's head to the finished frame below but only after you've taken another look at a neglected bike.

This was the finished product with original Cecil Walker stickers
 It was time to start rebuilding, out came the oils & pot of grease before assembling all parts together to be cleaned & repolished this did take up a good part of the time before installing, but it was all well worth it. Plenty of elbow grease does go a long way? Oh yes!!!
Let the parts commence

 Wheels & other moving parts were all regreased & polished ready to sparkle

After putting all the extra parts on like a new Selle Royal saddle,700c tyres, a new chain & Brooks leather handlebar tape the completed bike looked stunning, it was ready to be taken out for a test ride for final checks & adjustments before calling the owner ready for collection

The owner came to collect the bike later that week but I got to ride the Cecil out to the shops a couple of times before I had to say goodbye.
When he finally arrived he was very happy with the finished bike, quite ironically so much so that he has now mounted on the wall in his house in Coburg for all to admire.
Although he does take the bike for a short ride on occassions as I'm still told. 

Who said bikes weren't art? 

Saturday, 2 April 2011