MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

SITE INDEX   FINDING   BICYCLES   WORK SHOP   TRADING   WHAT'S NEW?

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

OLMO GRAND PRIX - INTRO

FINDING THE FIRST OLMO

BUILDING THE FIRST OLMO

RIDING THE FIRST OLMO

FINDING THE SECOND OLMO

BUILDING THE SECOND OLMO 

 

BICYCLES OF ITALY

 

BUILDING THE FIRST OLMO GRAND PRIX

After crashing the bicycle, I decided to give my new - almost wrecked it myself - Olmo a thorough inspection, which turned into a full rebuild.  By the time I was finished, the entire mechanical picture was in accord.  Everything was working perfectly!  I should add that I did nothing to alter the appearance of the bicycle initially.  Later on, when I was thoroughly satisfied with my bright orange Italian bike, I purchased a set of orange tires, hoping to compliment the Olmo's appearance.  Everything else, even the slightly worn yellow bar tape is "as found".

The Grand Prix's frame is made of Falck tubing, pretty good stuff found on many Italian bicycles of the Olmo's vintage.  The stays and fork blades blend smoothly into forged Gipiemme drops, front and rear.  The lug work is extremely well done, displaying no poor workmanship flaws of any kind.  The Olmo's frame set was built by a knowledgeable person who obviously cared about the results of their effort.  Like many Italian bicycles of this vintage, and certainly earlier, the Olmo is a quality machine, both in function and presentation.

The semi pointed lugs with heart shaped windows are a treat to view and add considerably to the beauty of this old steel road bike frame set.  So too does the gorgeous chromed semi-sloping fork crown which, I might add, boasts a very nice pantograph.  Chroming the crown, and including the Olmo star pantograph, increases the quality of the vintage statement that this old road bicycle makes.  Though today's road bicycles are beautiful but they are so in a much different way.  Somewhere along the line, the boundary between function and form blurred.  Today's bicycle derives part of its ride character from form and form alone.  The carbon fibre aero dynamic tubes being an example of form defining function.  Something that was not nearly as possible in the Old School days.  To set a quality bicycle apart in Old School days, little visual treats like fancy lugs and intricate pantographing did the trick.  Today, it is the overall form that draws the eye.  After all, form can be easily modified when working with carbon fibre moulds.  Only so much could be done with tubing in the Olmo's day.

But for me, the Old School stuff is just fine.  I am an old guy and I will never be able to extract all of the performance that any of my high end vintage bicycles have to offer.  I am content to enjoy the feel of feeling the transmission into gear.  The Gran Prix's Campagnolo Nouvo Grand Sport transmission, friction shift all the way, allowed just such an opportunity.  Like any other Campy tranny I have used, the unit seemed to function flawlessly.  Both derailleurs were easy to adjust and both stayed adjusted.  Becoming accustomed to feel was a non-issue.  They just worked and the Nouvo Gran Sport transmission is not top of the line issue for the period.

Perhaps the Olmo's most striking feature, at least in my mind, is the color.  I think the correct name is Italian Red, however; I have no idea where that notion came from.  What I do know is that the rich orange/red paint contrasts perfectly with the bright yellow art.  The orange Grand Prix can be seen coming, from a long way off.  Brightly coloured bicycles are more noticeable!  And noticeable helps prevent the need for the "I just didn't see him, officer" argument when the car driver is explaining his or her side of the accident to the police person who had just called for an ambulance.

I own two other bright orange road bikes, a mid seventies Marinoni Quebec and an eighties something Miele LTD.  Though both are beautiful in their own right, neither managed to achieve the vintage appeal that the Olmo so boldly presents.  I like the orange/yellow theme and I am pretty sure that I am not the only one.  When I come upon a really nice bike painted silver or grey, I have to wonder what was going through the designer's mind when the colors were chosen.

The Olmo, like many other Italian bicycles of its time, relied on Modolo brakes for stopping power.  Modolo Sporting brake levers activate a matching set of side pull callipers.  The callipers mount to the frame with Old School hex nuts, a feature that helps to date the bicycle.  And in keeping with period correctness, the brake cables exit through the top of the levers.

The Sporting system worked really well, something that I have come to expect from these fine brakes.  I should also add that the original issue Modolo contoured hoods, had started to fail.  This later proved to be a bit unusual.  Generally, Modolo hoods stand the test of time well, requiring little more that a good cleaning to put them back into shape again.

Ofmega supplied a number of components for this nice old Italian bike.  Power passes from the Ofmega pedals to the 52/42 crank and ring set.  A fairly tight six speed cog set turns the power into motion.  As I recall, the cog range spread between 14 and 22 teeth.  These days, I prefer a 14/24 combination, spread over five or six cogs.

The black anodized Rino hubs were laced to Rigida 700c rims with eyelets.  Once again, a not uncommon choice for better bicycles in the early eighties.  I found the drive train and running gear to be more than adequate.  I road with this set-up for three years and did so without incident.  Today, I would likely replace the cog set, with one of a more forgiving nature.

Ofmega also supplied both the head set and bottom bracket.  As is the case with Modolo making good brakes, Ofmega can take great credit for supplying decent rotating elements.  Rarely is it, that I run across a badly deteriorated set of bearings, in one of their products.  To the more than acceptable function, add form.  Ofmega products look every bit as good as they work.

TTT handlebars, supported pantographed stem, take care of control requirements.  Both were clean and blemish free, suggesting that neither had ever been removed.  And that did indeed prove to be the case.  The stem was seized and had to be cut out of the steering tube.  Removing a badly stuck steering stem is a two hour job.  And great care must be exercised, at all times, when cutting the stem out.

Not long after completing the rebuild, I mounted a computer.  Though I hate the look of these attachments, I do like to know what I am doing performance wise.  I have tired a number of different units, including the cordless ones and found one that I really like.  Believe it or not, I buy them at a local department store and they work as good, or better, than anything else that I have tried to date.  However...

The addition of a computer will tend, for me anyway, to detract a bit from the vintage ride quality that I seek.  I always want to push myself to go faster, or further when riding a bicycle set-up with a computer.  One of my favourite rides, a mid seventies Sekine, is no computer equipped.  I do not care how fast or how far the Sekine and I go.  Ride pleasure is the only performance criteria I seek on such a bicycle.

NEXT - RIDING THE FIRST OLMO GP

 

 

 

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