RE: [CR]State of the Art restorations

To: (Classic Rendezvous)
Subject: RE: [CR]State of the Art restorations
Date: Fri, 14 May 2004 23:10:26 +0000

I've been reading the various posts and have had my daily chuckles. Just a few points taken from various random posts:

"A 52-48 with a standard 14-28 Regina 5-speed freewheel makes sense."

This is a truly odd statement, as 14-28 was not a 'standard' in Regina's Italian home market, so any bike having this freewheel would not be respecting what the freewheel maker determined to be 'standard'.

"if people spun back then or conversely, used huge gears, the bike won't be the same if ridden differently. "

Typical rpm have remained remarkably similar over time, with far more variability between one and another rider of a given age than between one age and another, so this statement obviously holds little sway. There have always been the 'grinders' and the 'spinners' in every age. The sole change that seems to have occurred of late is that in sprints, the now much stronger riders with far more gear ratios at their disposal now more commonly grind away for the final sprints.

"Many builders have a preferred stem length. "

I wonder where this statement comes from? Does anybody have any information about this? It is my experience that frame builders built frames taking into account the components available at the time and the design parameters needed to achieve proper balance and ride. A variety of stem lengths is a reasonable recent feature (from 60's onward.) I have also noted that more old-time builders were far more concerned with handlebar width and shape than stem length.

"... Only when I started thinking "How would they have fit me back then" did the bikes start to make sense. When you realize how they were ridden, many perceived limitations disappear."

This to me is completely wrong way to look at things because the bikes were built for the conditions of the day, including roads, clothing, weather etc... Today's roads are very different than they were back in the day. The same holds true for clothing (gloves, shoes, shorts, jerseys, head coverings...) If you use racing shoes of 40 years ago, you must ride lower than you would with a bike from 30 years ago. If you raise the center of gravity of your bike by adding weight up top with a helmet and subtracting weight from your shoes, the handling of the bike will change. Weather also plays into this. So you can replicate the set-up but the bike will still ride differently.

"I strive to replicate the original in look, quality and materials. For example, if possible, I want the paint to look like the original, not like modern paint. "

Positions like this always make me chuckle. At what period in the life of the bike are you trying to replicate the paint from? If you have never seen the original as it was in original state, how do you determine what the original looked like? I have seen old photos of then new bikes from almost all ages that look just like paint-jobs of today. They have many of the same colours, the same depth of gloss, the same sheen. What therefore is 'modern' paint?

"If parts were added/subtracted by a well-meaning, but not to (sic) competent owner, I'd say put it back to how it used to be. "

I don't understand such a position. If conditions change, parts get substituted all the time to respond to these changes. There is nothing here that is tied to competence.

"That was the only change from original spec. I replaced that with the correct (according to the original invoice) Campy Record... (snipped) I think it comes down to whether the bike has an identifiable history. In that case, I'd keep the alterations. If the alterations don't make sense... "

Isn't it great that in certain cases, the original owner's decisions merit to be followed simply because they were original, but in others the present owner has the 'knowledge' to decide that the original, as opposed to subsequent, thought isn't sensible.

My personal take is that it all boils down the what you want the bike for. I typically think of three types of bikes being owned by CR listmembers: Concours, daily riders, 'experience' bikes. If you want a concours bike, you must follow every 'original' element of the bike, right down to the wheel reflectors if they came on/with the bike. Concours bikes generally rarely or never get ridden, so there are not worries regarding size, set-up etc... If you want the bike to be your daily ride, you might as well make use of some non-period adaptations to make your ride 'better'. These adaptations can be made to overcome changes in conditions, whether in roads, clothing, weather etc... Lastly, the 'expereince' classification. I believe this is where most CR member bikes fall. They are bikes that were not originally made for the present owner or the present conditions. They have appeal because they offer an experience, whether complete or partial, of how things used to be. Maybe they allow one to go back to relive their childhood dreams, or perhaps to get a better appreciation of where today's bicycle came from. Perhaps, they are a return to a time in one's past. Personally, I know that I can no longer be competitive on a modern bike, so I look for my special rewards and pleasures out of riding odd and obsolete bikes and equipment. Other listmembers get their pleasure by 'challenging' unwitting youngsters on bike paths or by making competitions out of events like the PBP or other brevet rides, that are by definition non-competitive and individual challenges. To each his own, just make sure that you enjoy the bikes.

Steven Maasland
Moorestown, NJ