Buying a vintage road bicycle or frame set, unseen, is a risky business, at best.  Old road bicycles are flimsy when compared to just about any other style of bike.  They are fragile and the frame or fork sets can be damaged quite easily.  It is not all that often I run across a vintage road bike frame set that does not need some realignment.

The geometric integrity of the frame and fork set was checked immediately.  Everything checked out exactly as it should, and I heaved a sigh of relief.  The frame set was straight and there was no structural damage of any kind.  No deep scratches.  No dents, and as already mentioned, no bends that didn't belong.  But there was still the need to test ride the bicycle, before committing to restoring it.  Restoration can be costly and there is no sense dumping lots of time, energy and cash into a bent or damaged frame set.

With the frame's integrity checked, component choice became the issue.  Normally, I will install what ever is on hand, at the time, for a test build.  But, when the opportunity presents itself, I go with the final intended component grouppo.  In this case, the group selected was a very clean Campagnolo Super Record set with the exceptions of the pedals.  I would be running clip-in for both the test and final riding experiences.  Sadly, I did not have a complete grouppo when I received the frame set.  I was missing the cranks, however...

While yard sailing one day I ran across a Marinoni for sale.  The asking price was pretty high, and some negotiations ensued, but the bicycle did come home with me and for a pretty decent price.  Not only would the Marinoni supply a lovely Campy SR crank set, but a wheel set would also move from the Marinoni to the Cyclops.  The build, after months of owing the Cyclops frame, finally began.

Though sorely tempted to do so, I resisted the urge to wax the frame and fork set.  The Cyclops displayed some paint adhesion issues "as purchased" and it would have been foolish to coat the frame with wax, only to have to remove it for paint touch up later, if the bicycle proved to be worth while in the ride quality department.  So, the frame set was cleaned.  The cavities were checked and repaired, as required.  And then the components were installed.

The build went without incident, all the Campy parts fitting perfectly.  The wheels, pirated from the Marinoni, were not a matched set.  Though both rims were Mavic, they did not match but neither demonstrated appreciable hop or wobble.  That said, the wheels, though not twins, would work just fine for the test build.  Even the tires that came with the Marinoni were good enough to use.  And, perhaps, "good enough" demands a bit of defining.

Old road bicycle tires are usually pretty tired, by the time they get to today.  Though the tires might look little used, and this is often the case, they are, none the less, probably rotten.  Cracked side walls, or even a sometimes melted appearance, are common signs of tire rot.  Exposed fibres are an even more serious woe that can plague the vintage road tire.  And the tires on the Marinoni offered both.  Risk would present itself if these old tires were to be used.  But the risk was taken anyway, though this gamble is not recommended.

In preparing the tires for use, I trimmed what exposed nylon fibre I could, pumped each tire to its maximum pressure and allowed both to sit for a day.  No issues.  When installed, the tires would not be run at max pressure, but mid pressure, evenly splitting the difference between max/min suggestions embossed on tires.  The final component of this Using Used Tires Procedure, is the serious finger cross when out and about on the bike.  After all, a tire could blow and do so very suddenly, as it did on my Peugeot PX10.  With this in mind, all test riding would be done with great focus and imaginary caution.  The last would, of course, be thrown into the wind once the bicycle began to show me what it had to offer.  Sixty two years old - will I never learn???

With the grouppo installed, and the tires falsely blessed, the only concerns left were cockpit issues.  What saddle would work for the build?  Handlebars and steering stem needed to fit, both me and the bike.  And did I really want to keep a set of red tires on a blue bicycle?  That tire thing was driving me nuts.

The recently acquired Marinoni Special supplied the Cinelli Giro de Italia bars and a lovely old logo Cinelli steering stem.  More time was spent, cleaning the old glue off of the handle bars, than it took to put most of the rest of the bicycle together.  But the end result was worth it.  Once cleaned and installed, time was spent positioning the brake levers, leaving only the need to install handlebar tape.

But what color should be used.  If the test build went well, then there would be no need to change the bars or the bar tape.  With this in mind, and knowing that I had more yellow bar tape than any other color, I choose yellow, telling myself that it would go well with the predominantly yellow art work, on the frame set.  To that, add the fact that I had already selected the saddle to be installed, and it was yellow.

Though Brooks suspended saddles have prevailed as my saddle of choice, the Turbo and Rolls have both found a special place in my vintage heart, or bottom, is perhaps a better anatomical example.  Though I can no longer remember where the saddle came from, a perforated and somewhat worn, yellow Turbo saddle was fitted to the gorgeous Campy SR seat post.  Installed according to previously defined measurement, all that would be needed, once the bike was on the road, would be a bit of fine tuning to ensure comfortable fit.  Sadly, the saddle was one of those temporary installations.  The patina of age did not match the condition of the frame set or the component grouppo selected for the build.  With that in mind, should the bicycle prove to be a keeper, a more appropriate saddle would be selected.

The finishing touches to the build would include drive chain selection.  Cable replacement.  And, of course, final tuning prior to test riding this near legendary vintage road bicycle.  I couldn't wait!