Wednesday, 24 October 2012

de rosa professional slx

i recently spotted a tweet sent from my local bike shop which got me very excited. it was of the rear end of a red de rosa fitted with campagnolo delta brakes.  i quickly got in touch with will spurgeon, the owner of cadence bike shop to ask him if the bike in question was a primato.  i thought i was the only person in the locality lucky enough to own a primato albeit the newer neo primato but there appeared to be another!  i passed by cadence soon after and was able to take a close up look at this beautiful italian machine.  shortly after that my wife betty headed over to the shop and took some photographs of the bike.  here is a selection of those photos along with will's own story of how he put the bike together.

i have done quite a few bikes from scratch like this over the years to a blueprint in my mind, but this is probably the most appealing to look at! they have mostly been the bikes i lusted after but could not afford as a teenage racer, and nearly all were hanging on the wall at my local haunt then - dauphin sport on box hill in surrey. we all studied winning magazine with hungry eyes, and the italian builders had turned their attention to the usa market by then. the bikes really put mine and my club mates raleighs and holdworths in the shade i can tell you, the sheer craft and pedigree in their makeup was jaw dropping. clearly it left its mark... a definitive aesthetic for a racing bike. so when a friend moving home to seattle gave me the delta brakes i knew what i had to do.....

my approach is more akin to the hot rod style rather than pure vintage correct. i often use current but sympathetic parts in the mix with old machines to make them safe and rideable while the ride shines through from the frame. i have played around with this mix quite a bit, and i use handling improving parts where they are less obvious and very practical (modern spokes being an essential ingredient) or where it is a safety issue (i really don't trust 30+ year old alloy bars!).

this is a frame i came by a few years ago which really needed some love. i am sorry i did not photograph it at the time - it was hung with dead 105 and ultegra parts and there was so much rust i nearly did not start the project at all. i walked away from the wheels completely! then i started to see the details of the frame, not just the cast and engraved lugs but the chunky late 80s stays and the super strong sloping cast crown on the fork. it was built for high speed handling at the peak of steel frames' production in italy, and from my all time favourite tube set - columbus slx. from my research it is an '88 professional model - the precursor to the primato.

after i had stripped it and given away most of the parts (i am being polite, it was all of the parts!) i got my friends at argos racing in bristol to blast the paint off and give it the rosso corsa paint it so desperately needed. gary there is a great craftsman and i got him to put a new steerer into the forks for me as it had been cut down to suit a super low shimano headset as was the style.  it certainly would not take a period campagnolo headset with the high stack heights they invariably have. we used h lloyd for really excellent replica decals, and i am as pleased as i could be with the result. i skipped re-chroming as it has so often removed a lot of material on frames i have owned with the polishing required. lots of jp weigle frame saver inside the frame just to make sure i had killed any rust was the final touch after i chased the threads and faced the head tube.

for the build up i used the following mix of parts, many of which i had stashed from the time, some new old stock and some swapped with old friends.

headset: campagnolo record
grouppo: campagnolo c record with delta brakes (chorus '03 brake pads) 7 speed
wheels: campagnolo c record on ambrosio giro d'italia rims, sapim db spokes
tyres: vittoria corsa cx tt pro team, michelin superlight tubes
freewheel / chain: regina syncro 7 speed
stem / bar: cinelli exa, deda 215 deep silver
seatpost: campagnolo chorus '03 chromoly
saddle: 1991 san marco rolls white

it rides just like it looks, impeccably - although it may take a quite a few sunny sundays to wear in the block and chain.... very pleasing to get the finished article out of my head and onto the road!  the only problem i have with this one is that it was born too late for the eroica cut off date of 1987.... still.

will spurgeon
cadence bike shop

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