I decided to build Seventeen up, with a full Campagnolo Super Record group. Over time, I had managed to put together a, near complete, SR grouppo and for very little cash outlay.  Much of the Super Record group had been mounted on my mid eighties Gardin Special.  When a Team Issue Gardin frame set came my way, I decided to let the Special frame set go.  The Gardin Team Issue now wears most of the components that were originally mounted on Miele #17.  However, the Gardin Team Issue has not been built up yet.  Since I retired, I have been busier than two flies on a pig's butt, and time, for personal builds, is precious and rarely available.

Most of #17's Campagnolo Super Record transmission was a New Old Stock (NOS) set that came with a NOS wheel-less 198? Bianchi Trofeo.   I had acquired the Trofeo, in even trade, for an early fifties CCM Motobike.  Sadly, I never did take many pictures of the Bianchi, once I had finished building it up.  As it turned out, a close friend expressed serious interest in the Trofeo, and I built the bicycle up for him.   Today, the Bianchi is his special ride, that he takes out on special occasions, such as a Saturday.

The origin of the Super Record crank set is a mystery, to me, these days.  For the life of me, I cannot remember where the 52/42 crank and ring set came from.  The rings are showing their age, but still grab and pull the chain forward with little incident.  That said, I am looking for a good set of Campy rings.  I am, however, not in the mood to pay the present prices, that they are fetching.  And, to make matters worse, I know that the cost of Campy ring sets will continue to soar.  I really should get off of my butt and get the set I need.  Right now, is the best time, to buy anything associated with vintage road bicycles.  Anyway, hope looms.  I am positive that a nice set, will come my way, if I just exercise patience.  I did find one set last season, but the 56/48 ring combination is not for my old legs.

I can only assume that the Record brake set was acquired, at the same time as the cranks.  The calliper, and lever origins, are information lost in time.  I doubt that I will ever recall where these old stoppers came from.  The Campy brakes do work well enough, but have never stood out as a great performers, in my mind.  When compared to the "light action" brake set, that I built the Miele up with originally, the Record set comes in a distant second.  The Campy brakes also come in second to their Shimano counter parts, the Dura Ace stoppers which are the best Old School brakes I have used to date.

As they sat, the Record brake levers were in great condition, but the hoods had long since departed.  In those days, a set of Campy Record hoods would sell for, approximately, fifty dollars.  I had no intention of spending such a sum, on such an item.  I did however, much to my joy, run across a set on Ebay with a "Buy It Now" price of twenty dollars.  I bought the set immediately.

Well, you get what you pay for, I suppose.  Actually, in today's business community, I don't even believe that old adage anymore.   I did not get what I thought I was paying for.  The hood set was an after market copy!  I should add that, the copies are every bit as fragile, as the Campy ones, and will deteriorate just as quickly.  I will also add that the seller lacked scruples.

The seller had, purposely, failed to disclose the fact that the hoods were copies - and poor ones at that.  When challenged on the authenticity issue, he threw the ball into my court.  He said that I didn't ask if the hoods were authentic or not.  True, I didn't ask that question, because the hoods were advertised as Campagnolo units.  Not the best way to do business, as far as I am concerned.  I have since marked that seller as dishonest.  I will never do business with his outfit again.

I wanted my Miele to perform flawlessly, if at all possible.  With that in mind, I opted for the best wheel set, that I could afford, at the time.  A couple of years earlier, I had purchased three sets of sew-up wheels, all three sets being fitted with Campy Record low flange hubs.  The hubs I selected were striped, carefully machine polished and rebuilt with new ball bearings.  And a little something else...

When I am building wheels, for my own bikes, I go way out of my way, to do the best possible job that I can.  Starting with the hubs, they are completely disassembled, cleaned, inspected and rebuilt with two sets of new ball bearings per hub.  Why two?

The first set of balls, will see between fifty and a hundred miles of use.  The first set of ball bearings are installed with a lubricant mixture - three quarters high grade grease, and one part very fine grinding compound.  I ride the wheel set, this way, for a short while, allowing the lubricant/grinding compound mixture, to do its job of polishing the bearing races.  After the "grind in" ride time has elapsed, I strip the hubs, for a second time, thoroughly clean the bearing cavities of the grease/grinding compound mixture, and install a new set of balls, with fresh lubricant.  I really don't know if all this attention to detail is of any value, what-so-ever, but I think that it helps, and I have set up every one, of my personal rides, in this fashion.

Using a brand new set of butted stainless steel spokes, the Campy hubs were laced up to an unused set of modern rims.  The Ambrosia Evolution rim set, that I selected, is not period correct.  The rims, however, are very nice, certainly strong enough, for a guy my size, and very easy to work with.  They have seen a great many miles and every one has been incident free.  A question that probably comes to mind is why the Ambrosia units?  If you are shooting for the best performance, why not Mavic?  The Ambrosia rims were half the price and, since I had already spent quite a few dollars, prudence was beginning to kick in.

Even though I never had a chance to try them out, I had used an identical set of Evolution rims before.  For cost reasons at the time, I had selected Evolutions for the first really high end road bicycle I ever built up, a mid eighties Francesco Moser.  Besides, I had owned lots of older bicycles, that used the Old School Ambrosia rims. With only a single incident, that was mostly my fault.

As I continue to build bicycles, and try out what I have built, I learn many things.  I believe that I am in a unique position.  I get to compare this bike, against that bike, on a regular basis.  After, owning, building and riding hundreds of vintage road bicycles, in the past few years, I am well equipped to compare this kind of saddle, against that.  Indexed shifting vs. friction.  Old School feel, as opposed to the feel of a more modern road bicycle, and there is definitely a difference.  With this, supposed understanding, of what does, and doesn't, work, when comparisons are made, I can honestly advise that a bicycle's performance and running gear quality are directly, and inseparably, connected.  Get the best wheels that you can afford.  And the same thing goes for tire choice.

In the case of Seventeen, I did not choose the best tires available, but that will change one of these days.  The Miele is already close to my perfect ride.  But, it might be a bit better, with a set of really good tires mounted.  The twenty dollar, per tire, set I presently run, is certainly adequate, for my practical use, but not for my mental satisfaction.  I want the Miele to be perfect one day.  Suggesting that an unending quest looms on the Miele's horizon.

While on the subject of running gear, I did make one error, when deciding how to set the bicycle up.  I considered form, before function. Placing form before function, will often backfire, at ride time and I advise caution, when choosing to do so.

Anyway, and ignoring my own form/function advice, I chose a straight block, six speed, freewheel for the Miele.  My sixty year old legs are miserably inadequate for this gearing range.  I just cannot make some of the hills in my area.  This is NOT how a bicycle should be tailored to an individual.  Though I have failed to do so, I am planning on going to a cog spread, that is becoming increasingly common on my personal bikes.  For me these days, a 52/42 ring set combines perfectly with a 14-24 cog spread.  I rarely have to come out of the saddle, riding such a combo.

Another form/function choice has got to be the saddle one uses.  If it ain't comfortable, you will not ride the bicycle!  I have come to appreciate the feel, and certainly the appearance, of Brooks leather saddles, however...

A saddle came along for #17 that I just could not pass on.  I stumbled across a really big framed Miele, one day, and it had an original issue, suede leather Miele saddle mounted.  The bicycle was offered to me, free of charge, and has long since gone to a new home, but the saddle remains.  I replaced the Brooks B17 Special, that I was running at the time, and installed the Miele issue, hoping that the comfort factor would not be compromised.

Well, the original issue Miele saddle and the Miele are still together.  The saddle is every bit as comfortable as any of my Brooks, and actually looks just fine, once again blending into, rather than detracting from, the bicycle's overall beauty.

Today, the Seventeen is my favourite ride and perhaps my favourite bicycle.  That said, #17's closest competitor is my mid seventies Marinoni Quebec, another bicycle that is slowly approaching mechanical perfection.