Winter Workshop

This is a ca. 1960’s Bottecchia Special, one of the winter projects I’m currently working on. This bike came to me last summer, a complete jumble of parts, with some of the most faded paint I’ve ever seen on a bicycle before. I am guessing that it sat outside – or at least where light could consistently fall upon it for a very long time. Perhaps it was in a barn or a shed, immediately under a window, because the paint on the tops of the tubes had faded into a color that was more of a pale bronze than the original red (which was only evident in the areas where a semblance of shadow had blocked the paint-damaging ultraviolet spectrum.

I picked up the frame and some various parts – many of which were mismatched – for twenty clams. Because I had been made to understand the entire frame is chromed underneath the paint I decided to strip it and leave it naked. However, after stripping it, I discovered that the top tube was not chromed very well and that some of the chroming under the paint roughly finished. Sadly, I adjusted my original thinking and went with a repaint and rebadging that satisfied my own personal aesthetic.

The original components are Campagnolo Valentino, which don’t have a terribly good quality reputation. The derailleurs cleaned up very nicely, I have to admit, but I’m liking the pared down quality of the bike right now. I will probably keep the original bottom bracket which has a spindle for cottered cranks, but I haven’t yet located an appropriate crankset that will fit my needs (a 42-, 44-, or 46-t chainring, matching crankarms, etc.)

An eBay seller threw in a roll of Benneto bar wrap with a recent purchase, unrelated to my Bottecchia build. I thought, What on earth am I going to do with this stuff? When I was a teenager, it was pretty hot shit to have shiny Benneto tape on your racing bars. What the hell, I figured what do I have to lose: the wrap was free and if it turns out that I hate it, I can take it off and add something more conservative. In the meantime, it’s sort of growing on me.

Stripped down, this is an incredibly light bike. I’ve added track wheels and an 18-tooth track cog to the rear because I’d like to have a fixed gear to train with on the flats during the summer months. I feel that riding a fixed gear will force me to pedal all the time: I get lazy on the downside of hills and tend to coast; I’m hoping that occasional rides where I’m forced to consistently pedal will help to alleviate that laziness.

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