Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Colnago Arabesque - 30th Anniversary edition

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the famous Colnago brand in 1984, Ernest Colnago produced a limited number of steel framed bicycles called the 'Arabesque' model. These masterpieces are highly sought after by bicycle collectors and have often been considered the most desirable of all collectable bicycles.

Most of the Arabesque frames were originally sold separately except for a few that were adorned with a special edition Campagnolo Super Record group set that was pantographed with Colnago 30th anniversary markings. 

Here is an advertising image from the day which promotes the sale of a limited number of models being sold with Colnago special edition 30th anniversary group sets made by Campagnolo.

Here are some images of an original 1984 Arabesque bike taken recently for an online auction:  

The Arabesque lug work on these frames was considered to be exceptional at the time of production in 1984. The lug detail is quite beautiful and this attention to detail has never been replicated by any other bicycle manufacturer to date.

Beyond the beautiful lug work Ernest Colnago wanted to add something special to his design to further enhance the desirability and beauty of the frame. He decided to add a solid gold 3 leaf clover inlay at the top of each seat stay as pictured below.

Here are some more images of the bike...

As you can see on this particular build the group set fitted to this Arabesque frame is the Campagnolo 50th Anniversary Super Record set that was produced in 1983. This famous and also highly collectable group set was made to commemorate Campagnolo's 50th anniversary.  Incidentally this was also the year that the founder of Campagnolo, Tullio Campagnolo, passed away at the age of 81.  

Colnago commenced re-making Arabesque frames in 2015 after factory workers discovered some Arabesque lugs that were left over from the original production. Although the new issue is almost identical to the original issue collectors still regard the 1984 editions to be superior in quality to the newer models. 

Thanks for your interest, until next time....

Safe riding,

James @ PVC

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wilier Triestina Ramato

Another well known and highly respected Italian cycling manufacturer is Wilier. 

Wiler was founded in 1906 by Pietro Dal Molin. After World War II Wiler formed a professional cycling team led by Giordano Cottur of Trieste, Italy. In 1945 the name of the brand was changed to Wilier Triestina, and the distinctive copper coloured finish became a trademark of the brand.

At this time, of course, all frames were made from steel and the copper coloured finish was quite unique.

Here is a fine example of a Wilier Trieste steel framed bicycle from the early 1980's using Columbus tubing.

Due to the resurgence of retro steel frames Wilier have reintroduced the copper coloured 'Ramato' finish on modern steel, and the modern version is absolutely amazing.

There is certainly something special about fitting a modern Campy groupset to a modern steel framed bike....and a little bit of chrome rounds off the deal nicely!

Wilier are calling the most recent edition of this model the "Superleggera". Producing a copper finish on the frame is quite an expensive exercise, so the pricing of this model is not accessible to all cyclists. 

Thankfully Wilier have produced the same frame in alternative finishes that allows the bike to be more affordable to us all. The frame also comes in black, red, and white.....same frame, with the same impressive detailing.

See the Wilier website for further info....

...a beautifully crafted steel bicycle for the modern retro rider!

Safe riding.

James @ PVC.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1990's Colnago Super - Part 1

I was keen to build up a vintage steel Colnago bike with a modern Campagnolo group set so I hunted about for an early 1990's Colnago. After hours and hours of trawling the regular bicycle internet haunts I found an early 1990's Colnago Super for sale at a bike shop in Belgium. 

I was totally in luck! The price was good, and the frame looked excellent except for the fairly average paintwork. There were a few scrapes, nicks, and scratches on the frame but this was expected of a used steel frame of about 25 years old. 

The blue frame had all the good bits: chromed forks, chromed lugs, forward facing dropouts with adjusters, a threaded headset, and Colnago pantographing on the areas you'd expect of a Colnago steel frame from the era.

The best part was that the rear wheel spacing was 130mm which was just perfect for a modern group set. So after a bit of negotiating with my new Belgian friend I bought the frame and had it shipped to Perth, Western Australia.

After a couple of weeks the frame arrived in a big box on my front doorstep...very exciting! After unwrapping the frame I looked closely at it and was very pleased as it looked better than I had expected.

The frame needed re-finishing so after a bit of research I chose a colour scheme, acquired some new Colnago Super decals, and got in contact with my friend Cameron at Cyclecolor. He has a small workshop near Fremantle and his re-finishing of bicycle frames is amazing.

Cameron treats all restoration jobs as if they were his own, he is very professional, and meticulous in the quality of his work.

Check out the before and after images of the frame below...click on one of the images and that will allow you to tab through larger images.

The photos of the finished frame here are quite average in quality and don't do the frame justice. In the flesh the quality of the job is beautiful in every respect. Thanks Cameron for an excellent job with my Colnago frame.

Cameron has his own website at Cyclecolor which is well worth a look if you are in need of a bike frame re-finish, vintage or modern.

So my next decision for the built relates to group set choice. Campagnolo it will be, but I'm not sure whether to use a silver Potenza group, or an older Chorus group.

The new Potenza group set is very nice however it only comes with the new 4 arm crankset design which is a bit too modern for this frame. Perhaps I could even chase down a NOS Athena group set with a more traditional 5 arm crankset from a few of years back!

Well, it looks as though I'll be spending a fair bit of my time trawling the regular bike internet sites again!!

Ride safe.

James @ PVC.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Raleigh Golden Arrow

In 1934 the Raleigh bicycle company started mass producing their 'Model 41' bicycle. It was a sturdy but stylish bicycle that was designed to appeal to the sportier type of gentleman. When the 'Model 41' was released to the market it was labelled "The Super Sports".

The Super Sports of 1934.

This was a truly beautiful bicycle of its time. It consisted of an entirely brazed up steel frame with a parallel top tube and cut away lugs. It had tapered fork blades and rolled on 26 x 1 1/4 chromed rims. It had a chromed head clip stem fastener and racey drop handlebars that were covered in a plastic covering known as celluloid. It had front and rear caliper brakes, ivory coloured steel mudguards, a Brooks saddle, a leather saddlebag, and rat trap pedals. 

Luckily for the lady folk, the bicycle also came in a step through version that was named the 'Model 42' bicycle.

This was a true 1930's racer and was available with two gearing options. The first option was a single speed, and for a little extra it came with a Sturmey Archer close ratio three speed hub.

This was a popular and sought after bicycle that soon became the envy of many cyclists. After a good year of sales in 1934 the bicycle continued to be produced at the Raleigh factories in Nottingham. 

During production in 1935 the 'Model 41' changed its name to "The Golden Arrow". The 1935 model was almost identical to the previous years design although it came with a sportier type of handlebar that was more like a Lauterwasser style handlebar. These handlebars were also covered in celluloid.

The Golden Arrow of 1935.

Sales continued to soar as The Golden Arrow became a popular choice of bicycle.

The 1936 model was very similar to previous models although the celluloid covering on the handlebars was removed and replaced with shiny chrome. What a stunning machine!

The Golden Arrow of 1936.

The year of 1937 was Raleigh's Golden Jubilee that saw them tweek many models for this memorable occasion. The Golden Arrow saw a few minor changes, and this year included an option of a chrome plated front fork. The 1937 model also came in a 'golden' colour to mark the special event!

The Golden Arrow of 1937

Production continued during 1938 and 1939 which saw The Golden Arrow bicycle readily available in many bicycle stores throughout the United Kingdom.

Late in 1939 the United Kingdom was drawn into World War II and production halted as industry focused their resources on the war effort. 1940 saw the last of all sales of The Golden Arrow which was not produced again. 

A 1937 Golden Arrow with chrome plated forks.

A true collectors piece with a link to modern history!

Safe riding.

James @ PVC.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Masi Gran Criterium Classico 2018

Masi Bicycles (USA) have just released their 2018 range of bikes at the 2017 Interbike Show that was held in Las Vegas. Amongst the various new Masi models is a definite standout for 2018 being the Gran Criterium Classico.

With the renewed interest of vintage cycling Masi have reissued an authentic vintage replica of its ever popular Gran Criterium model.

To show you how authentic this replica is I have posted an image of a 1972 Masi Gran Criterium directly below this text....and below that is an image on the new 2018 replica model.

1972 Masi Gran Criterium

2018 Masi Gran Criterium Classico

Quite an astounding likeness that should resonate very well with vintage cycling fans. 

Although the 1972 model was fitted with only Campagnolo and Cinelli components, the 2018 model carries a mixture of Campagnolo, Ene Ciclo (by Dia Compe) and Cinelli components......a well selected mix of what todays market offers in terms of 'new' vintage cycling componentry.

The frame of the 2018 model is a faithful reproduction of its original edition. Here are some images of the new model...

Cinelli 1A quill stem and Giro D'Italia handlebars.

1 inch threaded headset

Forward facing rear dropouts

Masi "M" cutout on bottom bracket.

Chromed crown on the replica fork.

The champagne colour of the new model is a very traditional Masi colour which has been beautifully replicated. 

For me the outstanding features of the frame are the long forward facing rear dropouts and the Masi "M" logo that has been cut into the underside of the bottom bracket.

The decals are fantastic replicas and I also love the front fork with a traditional chromed crown that is true to the original GC models.

Previous Masi Gran Criteriums have only carried A-head stems so it's great to see that this more traditional model has a threaded 1 inch headset for quilled stems.

The new model has only just been released in the US so it'll available for purchase from the Masi Bikes website fairly soon. I notice that it is sold as a complete bike on the Masi website for US$2720.00, but I'm hoping that they will eventually sell the GC Classico as a frameset as well.

The 2018 Masi Gran Criterium Classico is currently available at Adrenaline Bikes in both forms: The complete bike can be purchased for US$2499.00 and the frameset for US$1099.00.

Frameset available at Adrenaline Bikes

Well done Masi....

Ride safe.

James @ PVC