Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Whole New World

I've been busily working away at the new Colnago Arabesque. In owning this bike for less than a week, it has taken me to places around San Diego County that I never new existed and I really regret I didn't know about sooner. I'll get into some of this new world later on in this post.

I had the guys at Nytro assemble it for me and picked it up Friday. When I dropped it off at Nytro on Wednesday I had my first chance to get all the packing material off of it and take a good look. Over all, I wasn't too impressed with the state of the bike. The guy who listed it on eBay described it as having "a couple scratches on the left of the seat tube". I'm not too sure what sort of drugs he's on, but there aren't any big scratches on the left of the seat tube. There are various dings all over the bike and a few well pitted areas of chrome (or at least were). I wasn't expecting the bike to be perfect. More so, I never wanted to buy a mint condition bike. My fear all along has been that if I buy a mint 80s bike, I'll never ride it because I'd be too afraid of doing damage to it. My hope however was that the bike would be closer to mint than it was when it came out of the box.

The good news is that there are no dents anywhere on the bike. It also has all the original parts and they're in amazingly good condition. When you look at the cogs of the freewheel they don't show any wear whatsoever. The bike is definitely a head turner. Everyone who sees it wants to take a closer look and talk about it.

The mechanic at Nytro had a couple pieces of advice for me that have since expanded into interesting experiences for me as a San Diego County cyclist. The first piece of advice was that if I ever wanted to restore the bike to brand new condition, that there is a place in Vista, CyclArt, that does top class restorations of bikes. The second piece of advice was that the freewheel on the Colnago might need to be replaced. Being that bike shops aren't putting a lot of 6-speed freewheels on bikes any more, Nytro didn't have one. They suggested that Pacific Coast Cycles might.

So, Thursday afternoon I checked out the CyclArt website and ended up giving them a call to get a better idea of what they were all about and maybe get some advice for how they would see things going with the Colnago. Jim answered the phone (I later found out that he is the owner). I was really amazed at just how much time Jim was willing to spend on the phone with me talking about the bike, sharing his experiences of what he's seen need work on 80s Colnagos, what to look out for, what to do from a maintenance perspective, etc. In the end, it all boiled down to:

1. Try to clean up the chrome with some chrome polish. Whatever corrosion doesn't come out is only going to expand in the chrome, so try to get as much pitting out as possible. Areas that do have some chrome corrosion (the only place with rust on the bike) are rusting from the outside, so there's not too much to be concerned about long term.
2. Put a good coat of wax on the paint.
3. Maybe bring the bike by, take a tour of the facility (which I'm definitely going to do) and we'll take a closer look and see what might be appropriate.

By the time I picked up the bike on Friday I still had it in my mind that I might just pack it back up again, return it to the guy I bought it from, and get my money back. On the way home I picked up some chrome polish and figured I'd at least give it a go and see where I could get things. I ended up spending about 3 hours Friday night, slowly working my way around the fork, head lugs, chain and seat stays. In the end I'd say that I got about 90% of the pitting out of the fork and head lugs. There's probably only one more session required on these guys. The chain stays are pretty much perfect. The one area that is still going to need a few sessions is the right seat stay. Bottom line here is that I'm really optimistic that the chrome is going to come out looking really good, maybe even to the point that if I do get 'er restored one day, the chrome won't need to be re-done, just the paint. The bike is definitely not going back to the seller.

On the freewheel front, I called up to Pacific Coast Cycles on Friday afternoon and ended up speaking to a guy named Chuck. Chuck definitely seemed to know his stuff and said he had some 6 speed freewheels if I did indeed need one. I said I'd come by on Saturday with the bike and we could take a look at whether or not it needed a freewheel and go from there. Before he hung up he asked me my name and said he was looking forward to meeting me.

So, today after my morning ride, I threw the Colnago onto the roof of the car and headed up to Oceanside to see Chuck's shop. All I can say is that this is easily the coolest bike shop I've ever been in. It's a tiny little shop on the corner of the 101 and Vista Way in Oceanside. If you're used to riding up the 101, it's a block north of the Angelo's Burgers that is just north of the lagoon between Carlsbad and Oceanside. What makes this place so cool is that when you go inside you don't see a wall of the newest carbon WhateverBrands. What you see is a wall of classic Masi's, many of which have been restored to beautiful condition. Chuck also has some classic Colnago's and the like floating around the shop. I arrived with two basic needs, a new seat binding bolt and freewheel for the Colnago. As soon as Chuck saw the Colnago heading his way he greeted me by name, came over and took a look and went about helping me with my "issues". After a quick ride around the block he was of the opinion that the freewheel was in perfect condition, suggesting that Regina freewheels just aren't that smooth. Chuck also did some quick modifications to my seat binding bolt. So, with my problems fixed in five minutes or so, I had plenty of time to talk to Chuck about his Masi collection.

Masi is a brand that I've heard a lot of conflicting stories about. Obviously it's much sought after brand of Italian bikes. What I'd read once was was that the guy behind Masi (Faliero Masi) had left Italy and settled in Carlsbad, continuing to make Masi's here in California. The notion being that at one point, folks were still making Masi's in Italy while they were also being made in California, and that if you wanted a "real" Masi from this time period, you really wanted the CA version, rather than the Italian one. It turns out that Chuck actually worked in the Carlsbad Masi manufacturing facility himself. The real deal here is that Masi sold the rights to sell Masi's in North America to some guys who wanted to build a plant in Carlsbad. So he came to Carlsbad to set up the plant, then returned back to Italy and merrily went about continuing to make bikes back in Italy.

The bottom line here is that Chuck's Masi collection is amazing. If you're a fan of classic bikes and you live in Southern California, you really owe it to yourself to stop by his shop and check things out. Chuck is even selling some of his Masi's at some really great prices.

Anyways, it's bed time for me. I hope to have some pictures of the Colnago up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

1 comment: said...

Ok, I can't wait to see the pics.