MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

BASSO GAP - INTRO

FINDING THE BASSO GAP

BUILD/RIDE THE BASSO GAP 

 

BICYCLES OF ITALY

BUILDING/RIDING THE BASSO GAP

The Gap is a beautiful bicycle, filled with great little and well executed features that draw the eye.  I was immediately taken with the bright color of the bicycle and the wonderfully contrasting art work that covered the full Columbus SL chrome moly frame and fork set.  The yellow on red theme just works for me, even though my favourite color for a bicycle at the time was black.  Enhancing the beautiful contrasting paint and art theme was the presence of pantographing on both the seat stays and gorgeous chrome plated fork crown.  Even the seat stay brace, one of the nicest I have ever seen, had its own pantograph.  I like this sort of thing and feel such attention to detail adds both to the appearance and perception of quality when included on a bicycle.  But that is just me.  Too bad there was no head badge to go with the lovely presentation.

Though the art was really nice and in great shape, I have few pictures to demonstrate the point.  As mentioned, the Basso came into my possession early in my collecting career and I failed to properly document this great old bicycle.  The Basso name appeared in several places including the down tubes sides, the front of the seat tube and even on both chain stays.  The fact that the decal on the drive side chain stay was in excellent condition is a testament to how carefully or little, I'm not sure which, the Basso was used.  Normally, the drive side stay gets pretty chipped up thanks to chain slap.

I guess the thing that most impressed me about the Basso Gap was the component grouppo.  Being new to collecting vintage road bicycles, I was totally taken with Campagnolo.  Campy components were the absolute best of the best in my mind at the time and, quite frankly, still score lots of points when I view a bicycle that is fitted with them.  In the Basso's case, the full Nouvo Record grouppo did indeed impress.

And the components were in great shape, matching the overall condition of the bicycle itself.  The chain rings showed some wear but hardly enough to be considered excessive.  The drive system was quite clean, suggesting that the owner knew enough about maintaining his bicycle to look after both critical performance and wear prevention issues.  It was, however, quite obvious that the bulk of the Basso's ride time could not have been all that fast since the small ring had seen more use than the large.  My guess was that the bicycle spent most of its time in the city rather than cruising the beautiful secondary highways that cut paths through the Great Canadian Shield, a gorgeous series of rock outcrops that spring up all over the place where I live.

There were no scratches on the brake levers, once again suggesting careful use.  The hoods, remarkably enough, had not even reached the totally perished state so common with these Campy gum rubber offerings.  Though a bit crazed and certainly not as supple as they once were, they could be used with a reasonable degree of comfort.  Adding to the beauty of the brake system were the Nouvo Record callipers that were in all but mint condition.  These guys frequently show up with a touch of oxidation here and there, particularly on the springs and acorn nuts that help secure the brake callipers to the frame.  Though these items were a bit dirty, they were not oxidized.  Even the alloy retained its original lustre.

And the brake pads showed little if any wear.  I know how easy it is to replace pads and they cannot always be used to help determine how a bicycle was used, but in this case my bet is that the pads were original issue items.

A TTT steering stem and matching pantographed handlebars made up the control center.  A cutting edge computer for its time was included but it never did work thanks to batteries that had died with the passing of time rather than use.

And completing the cock pit was a absolutely unblemished leather covered saddle.  The saddle was mounted far back on the Nouvo Record seat post.  This, to me, indicated that the Basso was really too small for its original owner who had spent a great deal more time riding his 1972 Motobecane Grand Record.  The Motobecane was a bigger bicycle that did fit him properly.  Proper fit on any vintage road bicycle is paramount when selecting a vintage road bicycle to ride.  But the Basso was a pretty good fit for me and with that in mind, I prepared to see what this fine old Italian bicycle was all about.

Simply put, all I did to the Basso was take a quick look at the bicycle, pressurize the tires and hop on.  I did not even complete a careful and complete inspection of the bicycle's state of mechanical repair.  Something I have learned to do today after visiting the "School of Hard Knocks" once or twice for failing to do so with other bicycles.  I removed the pedal straps, hopped on the Basso and headed down the street for an all too short test ride.  I should add that the pedals, dust caps and all, were nearly mint once again offering testament to the bicycles little used history.

The Basso "Gap" and I did not get along all that well.  After what amounted to less that a fifteen minute ride, I decided to put the bike up for sale.  The fact is, I could not justify having several hundred dollars invested in the bicycles I had purchased.  I had to sell one or two to cover my investment.

Actually, there is an even more important reason for my not keeping this beautiful old Italian racer.  Sew-ups!  I found the Basso fairly early in my collecting endeavours and had not had a chance to begin to develop an appreciation for top of the line ride quality.  And Sew-ups tend to deliver a much better ride feel than today's more popular and user friendly clincher system.  With that in mind, and driven by what I now view an obvious bias, I decided to let the Basso Gap go.

The Basso was quickly listed on Ebay and sold for twice what I had paid for all three bicycles.  As luck would have it, a fellow from Texas saw the Basso listing and contacted me, asking if I had any smaller bicycles.  It so happened that his fit needs matched the size as the Velo Sport Prestige that I had acquired along with the Basso and Motobecane.  The Velo Sport was sold over the net to the fellow in Texas and he seemed to like the bicycle.  And who could blame him, the Velo Sport with its full Shimano 600 Arabesque grouppo was gorgeous.  It was a gift for Mike's wife.  The Velo Sport was very little used.  The 600 Arabesque grouppo added considerably, not only to the function, but also to the appearance.  The 600 first generation stuff is beautiful with its ornate scroll work, W-Cut sprocket teeth and great function ability.  My Sekine SHT 270 wears a full Shimano 600 first generation grouppo also.

There is also a bit of a sad tale associated with the Basso Gap.  Once shipped the shipping company damaged the bicycle, claiming that the damage was a product of "glue flap failure".  Not likely!  The shipping container was soaked through as was the lovely suede leather saddle.  The end of the box was crushed and the resulting damage to the frame set was bent stays.  Though it took sometime to clear this up with the shipping company, they finally did go good for the damage and the Basso was repaired and repainted by a couple of true professionals who the new owner happened to be friends with.  When all was said and done, the new owner commented on the "bitter-sweet" story surrounding his acquisition of the bicycle and I learned a great deal about shipping them.

There is one final piece of information that pertains to the finding the Basso story.  As it turned out and even though the Motobecane Grand Record was too big for me the ride, it was one of the best rides I have ever experienced, ranking right up there with the 1971 Carlton Professional and my eighties something Miele LTD.  Too bad I didn't realize that then!

 

 

 

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