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Vol. 2, Issue 52 – July / August 2014

Posted: Monday 14th July 2014

Author: Peter Underwood

First, I must apologise for the fact that all of the content in this edition consists of my ramblings. No-one else sent in any copy, which is unusual – maybe the holiday spirit has taken over.

This edition is a few days later than the publication date due to me participating in Anjou Velo at Saumur in France (Patricia was in Latvia at the time) and also the Tour de France starting its third stage here in Cambridge. Here is one picture I took, more at the end of the newsletter.

Start of stage three - Tour de France, Cambridge Polka dot (King of the Mountains) - Cyril Lemoine Yellow Jersey (Overall leader)- Vincenzo Nibali Green Jersey (Sprint points leader) - Peter Sagan

No sooner had we uploaded Lightweight News 51, and the piece on what I thought were mystery Tevano cranks considered for my Colnago build, than Alan Woods from Oregon USA sent me a link to Velobase’s section on cranksets, and by searching under TA Tevano I found the following which clearly shows the globe and feather I mentioned in the Colnago pantographed chainset. It shows up best in the catalogue image.

I also had a call from Andrew Swanson (andrew.swanson(at) who says that he has a right-hand Shimano Octalink crank similar to the one I used on a recent build, and a Campagnolo seat pin – as shown in my piece on the Colnago Master build. They are surplus to requirements so should you need one send him an email.

I didn’t mention in the piece that I already had an Octalink chainset from a previous build but it had got rubbed with use. I started to ‘sand’ off the anodising (leaving the inner sides which were perfect) but not having any mechanical means for stripping and buffing I soon gave up when I saw a NOS chainset for sale in Ireland. My workshop is in a garage some distance from the house and it is without electricity. I didn’t fancy the mess inside the house created by power polishing so I took the easy way out.

Out of interest, I did start to collect as many Colnago Master frame numbers as I could in an attempt to make sense of them, or even start a time-line. When I realised that I was getting nowhere with the information I gleaned, I had a look at Classic Rendezvous to see what they said about it. They had also given up trying as there seems to be no logic in the numbering. I have heard that Colnago had no numbering for their frames until they started exporting to the USA; here legislation meant that all imported frames must be numbered. It is noticeable that of the many Colnagos offered for sale every week hardly any mention the year of manufacture or have a reference to the frame number.

May is a big month for us as on one weekend we had both the Tweed Run in London and the annual Reading Lightweight Ride the next day. Two contrasting events but both very enjoyable in their own way.

We had to combine the two events over two days travelling by train from Cambridge to London for the Tweed Run and on to Reading in the evening for the Lightweight ride. Because of this we each had to take one bike to cover the different terrain, i.e. gears for Reading whereas normally we would use fixed-wheel/single-speed for the Tweed. I ended up with my 1957 Cinelli which always attracts a lot of attention as it is earlier than the most often seen examples of this model. It was also a chance, I suppose, to show off my new retro Cinelli jersey. Patricia rode her 1964 Carpenter Olympic Massed-Start so by coincidence we had his-and-hers dark green frames.

The Tweed Run is a social event as much as anything and we met a lot of interesting people and several of the Italian contingent checked out the Cinelli. One photographer was working on a portfolio for the Cinelli factory and so was particularly interested but sadly we met up in an area at the start where we were without the bikes.

The Reading Ride is one of the UK’s longest standing lightweight rides and was initiated in 1993 by Terry Pearce who lives near Reading. Terry’s wife Pauline always organised the catering and between them they did a lot of work over the years to keep it going as the UK’s premier lightweight ride. When we set the section calendar we always make sure we keep the date free for them out of respect for all the work put in over the years.

Last year Terry announced that it was to be his final year of organising and kindly allowed Gary Higgitt and Rikki Pankhurst to take over the reins so as to keep the show on the road. This time around there were some fifty riders who completed the course, to say nothing of the time they spent over coffee and lunch talking about classic lightweights.

A few of the bikes temporarily abandoned at the coffee stop- Bates in foreground. Ciocc to right, Barry Morris to left. Unable to identify frame in Background.

As is always the case on the Reading Ride, just about every bike was the machine you would want to take home given the chance, but yet again I am going for an Italian as my favourite – this is getting boring I know! The bike in question was a beautifully restored 1984 chrome Faggin Campione del Mondo, originally built up by the master, Bob Johnson, but now owned by a friend of his. Can I be your friend too Bob?

We had recently spoken to some of the Faggin ( family at the Bespoke show held in London at the Olympic Velodrome. We were told that ‘mother’ Faggin did most of the brazing herself at the factory, as shown on some of the poster photographs on their show stand.

This tradition was carried on as Marcello’s daughters came into the firm and became involved in all aspects of production, eventually taking over the reins in the 70’s. Just my luck that all my mother produced was knitting. I would have been better pleased with a hand-brazed road or track frame than an ill-fitting jumper knitted with recycled wool (child of the wartime years!).

1984 Faggin Campione del Mondo - always tricky to photograph a chrome frame, especially in sunshine.
Matching pantographed chainset

A week after this ride we held our own annual lightweight event here at Cambridge. We organise two lightweight specific rides per year: this one is flat hoping to entice fixed-wheel machines and the other starts a few miles from Cambridge in order to reach some hills to please the ‘grimpeurs’ amongst us.

For this ride we only had 16 riders as there were clashes with other events. Purely by coincidence we had five Bates including my 1951 Bates Vegrandis on fixed and with ‘Bacon Slicer’ hubs. Patricia rode her Pat Hanlon which was built for her (PH) by Tom Board, well known for producing high-class frames. I assume he has stopped building by now as will be getting on, as they say. This frame is fitted with all-Campagnolo equipment of the era as Pat Hanlon was a stickler for this.

The entry was as follows:

Hamilton Road/Path1946
Hobbs Superbe1949
Bates BAR1950
Rensch Champion du Monde1950
Bates Vegrandis1951
Ernie Clement Mixte1953
Bates Vegrandis1954
Hetchins Vade Mecum1966
Holdsworth Italia1967
Pat Hanlon1970s
Raleigh Mixte1984
Colnago Master X-Light1998
Bates Jubilee2009
Maclean Eclipse

Just a couple of weeks after this event we left for another cycling holiday using our Airnimal folding lightweights. It involved another visit to the Bodensee (Lake Constance) where we stayed in a hotel in the village of Nonnenhorn (lovely local Nonnenhorn Spatebürgunder and Muller Thurgau wines at dinner). In the next village of Kressbraun, just two kilometres away, Nonnenhorn wines were never to be found, only those from their own rival wineyards. Cycling around Germany we often discover these excellent local wines which seem to be sold only in the areas they are produced. It is very hard to find them exported to the UK.

We had two weeks of sunshine and rode every day through some fabulous hilly countryside on perfect roads with few cars. Many of our routes went inland through the Allgau region but we often dropped down to the lake for refreshments, either in Germany or Austria, or very occasionally in Switzerland.

I prefer dry lubrication for chains and use a produce known as GT 85 which is similar to WD 40 but lasts a bit longer thanks to silicone additive. Using this system I oil the chains every two or three days of use which entails a quick spray and possibly a wipe with a rag if the chain is grubby. When we go on holiday the airport security rules do not allow aerosols so after a few days the chains begin to sound a bit dry.

Although both lubricants are made by international companies, it seems that they don’t exist in Germany and all products offered are more ‘oily’. This soon becomes very black and gungy after a few days use which is a problem when packing clothing around the bikes in the travelling cases. We always pack the clothes and shoes in plastic bags but the problem is unpacking at the other end as the outside of the bags gets very oily. In one case at the end of the holiday the lubricant was so messy that I chopped the chains and left them behind – this was an extreme case though. I have searched both bike shops and other outlets for GT 85 in Germany but without success.

In a couple of weeks the Tour de France visits Cambridge so we will get a grandstand view of the start. The rest of the race will be on television and I shall watch the highlights each evening. I do find some goings-on in the peleton quite intriguing as something significant is obviously going on which we only hear about years later in cyclist’s memoirs.

I have recently read a copy of Reading the Race by Chris Horner and Jamie Smith who team up to deliver a master class in bike racing strategies and tactics. Armed with the experience gained in hundreds of races it is possible to learn how to read a race as seen on TV. It explains how riders will start breaks, form alliances, manage a lapped field, and set up sprints.

Smith and Horner break down errors seen even among European pros, guiding riders with lessons learned from decades of racing experience. Reading the Race reveals the veteran’s-eye view on:

* Assembling the best possible team
* Crafting strategies around the team, course, and rivals
* Reacting instantly to common scenarios
* Making deals and combines
* Breaks, echelons, and blocking
* Pack protocol and etiquette
* Finishing in the prize money or on the podium
* Winning the group ride

Reading the Race: Bike Racing from Inside the Peloton
Jamie Smith with Chris Horner
Paperback with illustrations throughout.
178mm x 229mm, 256 pp., 9781937715106

Reading the Race retails in the U.K. for £13.95. Available at good bookshops or direct from

Having read the book I can now see the reason behind some of the previously unexplained goings-on in the peleton. Some winning riders who have earned the respect of others are able to exert a certain amount of control on what goes on each day. A good example was when Bradley Wiggins neutralised the Tour after saboteurs had spread tacks on the road that delayed Cadel Evans who was in second place at the time. Wiggins didn’t want to take advantage of Evans’s misfortune. Not everyone thinks like this and when the was a mass pile-up behind Evans in this year’s Giro, he called up his team to power away from his challengers who were delayed by the crash.

Readers will know that I own two Colnagos, a classic 2002 Master X-Light and a modern carbon CLX which was bought new as a complete machine as I wanted a monocoque main triangle at a time before the M10 was produced. I assume the M10 was a result of the demand created for a high-end monocoque frame. The CLX came with Shimano Ultegra equipment and for various reasons I wished to upgrade my titanium winter bike to Ultegra. I decided to upgrade the Colnago to Dura Ace and switch the existing Ultegra over to the Van Nicholas – are you with me so far? The Colnago had come with colour co-ordinated and Colnago decalled brake stirrups so I decided to leave them on as they were obviously twin-pivot and after all what can you do to improve such a basic concept that isn’t cosmetic. However, I was never really happy with the braking and tried various brake pads to get an improvement to no real avail.

In the meantime I had finished my steel Colnago build, again with Dura Ace – this time the 7700, slightly older, group set. The first time I rode this downhill I realised just how good Dura Ace brakes are but I did persevere with the X-brake One stirrups on the newer machine for another couple of weeks. The crunch came when I was descending a steep hill in a group and oncoming traffic caused sharp braking. I felt I only just avoided the machine in front by swerving to one side allowing me to overlap.

This was the catalyst and as soon as I got home I ordered a matching set of Dura Ace 7900 stirrups for the carbon machine that arrived in a couple of days. The switchover was painless but I was left wondering if I would really feel an improvement for the money. In fact the difference was amazing. Whereas before I had been clawing at the levers to cut back speed, now it was just the gentle caress characteristic of Dura Ace and this makes it much easier to modulate the retarding effect when needed.

I can see that the structure of the stirrups is probably stiffer, which would make a slight difference, and the design did somehow look beefier without looking heavy, but there is a new factor in modern brake design which affects cable throw that I do not fully understand. In the old days lever movement was basically what you got at the cable end. Nowadays there is more science in balancing cable pull and it is quite important to have matching levers and stirrups, which is where I had gone wrong. I am sure someone will come up with the explanation for this so look out for the next edition of L News.

When I built the Colnago Master I particularly wanted to use an ITM pantographed stem and bar set that I had kept stored in my garage for several years. It does look the part and really compliments the build. The only setback is that it is 11cm long which gives me a slightly stretched out position. I would like to exchange it for a 10cm version. This is a genuine piece and not one of the current range of home-pantographed versions which are on the market. The stem is the version with an ovalised extension as can be seen in the image below. I would be prepared to buy a 10cm one if in really good condition. As you can see, we are talking of the silver version and not black one.

Janet Hempstock is helping a friend dispose of his tandem. He brought it second hand around 1972. The frame is a Higgins but that is the only original feature. The rest of the components are 7-speed Campagnolo gears, Campagnolo hubs, the rims are Weinmann.

Price would be £1,200. The seller lives in Horsham, Sussex.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Monday 14th July 2014

Author: Peter Underwood

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