Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Hardware - Il Campione del Cantina - Basso Gap

The Basso Gap is so named from Mariano Basso's World Championship win in 1972, in a narrow sprint over the one and only Eddy Merckx, a notable feat by anyone's standard (Merckxs Overall classification, Points Classification, and 6 stages in the Tour de France, overall classification and 4 stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and setting the hour record at 49.431 km in 1972 should have been enough for him anyways).

So when you have a victory of that magnitude, why not name a bike after it?

But hey, Basso was no one trick pony, and actually had a pretty decent career:
1966 1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1967 2 stages, Tour de France
1968 1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1969 Giro del Piemonte
Tre Valli Varesine
1 stages, Tour de France
4 stages, Giro d'Italia
1970 3 stages, Tour de France
2 stages, Giro d'Italia
1971 Points Competition, Giro d'Italia
2 stages, Giro d'Italia
1972 World Pro Road Race
1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1973 GP Gippingen
1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1974 1 stage, Giro d'Italia
1975 6 stages, Vuelta a España
1977 Coppa Placci
1 stage, Giro d'Italia

That said, let's not read anything into the title of this entry - The Champion of the Basement. It's my basement, I'm referring to, and this bike is the prettiest one I have.

It's Circa 1984, I bought it in new at the old Bicycle Exchange on Mass Ave in Cambridge in the spring of '85. Columbus SL tubing. This wasn't a top of the line bike. I was told after several frame alignments that the build is 'soft'. This is true, after riding several frames over the years, it certainly doesn't have the snap one would expect from a high-end bike. In fact, my '84 Kellogg frame has a better race quality (more on that in another post).

This is a 'club racer'. It's built for local hacks like me, wanting a reasonable race bike to keep up with the weekly local races. A task it fulfilled nicely.

A few years ago I decided to restore the bike - let me back up.

In the late '80s I stripped the bike and painted it. It was a red candy apple metal flake. I simply took it to a local auto body shop and asked them to paint it a deep blue metal flake. The fork was originally red like the rest of the bike, and I discovered while stripping it that the entire fork was chrome plated, but it was a pretty lousy job. There were pits and file marks, no wonder they painted it. I took the fork to a local metal fabricator that specialized in plating parts for cars and motor cycles, then asked the guy to strip it, plate it, and polish it. It came out fabulous.

In about 2002 I decided to 'restore' it. I took the frame (only) to Ted Wojciack and asked him to do a "showroom" paint job, in the original candy apple red, and put on a complete set of new decals, Again, it came out fabulous. Then I set out collecting old parts, to bring it up to a level slightly higher than what I bought. I went for a complete period Campagnolo Nuovo Record. It originally had a mishmash of Italian parts - modolo brakes, ofmega hubs, cranks, and BB, campy NR shifters and dérailleurs.

I still had some of the parts, but what the fuck, they were used and abused, crashed, scratched up, fuck it. I just decided to get everything as new-looking as possible.

I think I succeeded.

I have the frame fitted with the following:
Cinelli stem, bars, and cork tape

Campagnolo Nuovo Record: brakes, derailleurs, cranks, seatpost, bottom bracket, 52/42 chainrings, shifters, and headset (yes, those are Bullseye red jockey wheels. Hey, as James Bond would say 'as long as the collar matches the cuffs, I don't mind')

Campagnolo Record hubs

Campagnolo Record Pave rims with newer vittoria sew-ups.

Sachs-Regina 13-18 six-speed freewheel.

A genuine Campagnolo seatpost bolt!!

And, Ya diggin' that gay white San Marco saddle with gold trim Solo?

The frame has details your rarely see on a production bike anymore, Note the logos cast into the bottom bracket shell, seat stays, brake bridge, and fork crown. There are a few little problems. The stickers aren't exactly period, they are from a much newer vintage, but I don't care.
There are a lot of chain-slap dings on the drive-side chain stay, but I don't care.

Ah thank it's real puuurrrrrty.



solobreak said...

Maybe. I don't load images at work... The green background is conspicuous enough!

And all this time I thought you were a Chuck's Bikes tightwad. I'd have never guessed you'd have an NR restoration. Record Pave's are sweet. I have a pair, but they're laced to DA hubs (sacrilege!)

The whole paint over chrome was SOP for the Italians in those days. My Rossin is the same way (rear triangle too). It also has the cast in logos, but they put about 27 "R" and Rossin decals on it just in case you missed them. That frame has some pits too, under the top tube from the pump. Plus the dropout broke (discovered it while taking the bike off the trainer at the Andover crit, rode it in the race anyway, Duano crashed in front of me and I ran him over) and I just had it brazed to fix the crack instead of replacing it. It's a fixie now.

Sweet Basso though. I think I'd like to have an 80's Derosa or a 90's Merckx someday.

zencycle said...

Blogger solobreak said...
And all this time I thought you were a Chuck's Bikes tightwad.

Really? What about the two posts showing my merlin and IF Ti mountain bike would have given you that idea?

Wait for the post on my complete Mavic Mektronic gruppo.

el dooglas said...

very nice...i have a similar bike but in flake green, see it here:

i just broke my rear dropout tonight and am wondering what it cost you to restore...which i had been thinking about as well. i have been riding this bike hard since 1984, and it deserves a strip, bath, repaint and re-decal. AND return the chrome outside as well.

i am looking at a deRosa or a Ciocc also to restore from the era, since i am a dork.

zencycle said...

Hi Dooglas,
I had it restored some time ago, and in stages. I first stripped and painted it in '87, and that was when I took the fork to be rechromed. I gave it a number of 'krylon' paint jobs after that, and in about '97 I took it to an autobdy shop for a blue metal flake paint with no decals or stickers. Finally in about 2002 I took it to Ted Wojciack for a complete restoration, including a frame alignment and his top-of-the-line 'showroom' paint job. All told I think I remember giving him $600, about 5 years ago.

If yours is broken, you need to take it to a frame builder in your area. The problem you're going to have with a 'restoration' is that the Gap has Basso dropouts. You could have them replaced with cinelli, campy, or columbus, but it won't say 'Basso' on it. That and remember what I wrote about the 'soft' build. If you abuse this bike as much as you claim, you _definitely_ need an alignment at the same time.

So a frame repair and alignment will probably run you $200-300, plus a paint job for another ~$300. I don't really ride this bike, so I felt OK splurging on the high-end paint, but if this is your main bike, just go for the utility work