Thursday, December 4, 2014

More Resurrected Classics

After looking at the new frames from the resurrected Holdsworth brand, I thought I'd take a look at some other resurrected classics that are available now from memorable older brands. Like most bike companies today, these brands have made the shift mostly to carbon fiber frames -- most likely popped out of molds in Taiwan or China. But in an effort to recapture some semblance of heritage, they have come out with vintage-inspired lugged steel frames. Like the new Holdsworths, I believe these are brazed in workshops in Italy, rather than being mass produced in Asia. It's possible that some of them could even have been built in the very same workshop, as I don't think these companies are likely doing a lot of brazing themselves nowadays.

Checked out Bike Nashbar lately? Among all the inexpensive and generic-looking Nashbar-branded bikes and frames, right now one can find two very interesting vintage names on new lugged steel frames:
Guerciotti Record -- $999! There's a great old name that I remember well from my younger days -- known for some really beautifully made road racers. They also gained a lot of popularity for their cyclocross bikes (the Guerciotti brothers, Italo and Paolo, were avid cyclocross racers, and Paolo was a national champion, though most of their cyclocross bikes were lugged aluminum frames built by ALAN). Built with Dedacciai ZeroUno steel, the bikes have internal brake cable routing through the top tube, and English-threaded bottom bracket and headset. I'm not crazy about the fork crown with its rounded shoulders -- but at least it isn't a welded unicrown. Available only in silver on the Nashbar site, it may be available from other sources in a variety of colors -- but that price is pretty good for a hand-built lugged steel frame. In doing some digging, I've found confirmation for my hunch that the Guerciotti family is not building these frames, but that they are built in an Italian workshop that specializes in building steel frames for several brands.

Ciocc San Cristobal -- $1599 (shown here in an awesome orange, but only available in black on the Nashbar site). I remember lusting after Ciocc bikes back in high school and college. The bikes I remember were known for tight geometry and X-Acto-like handling designed for American criterium racing. The Ciocc brand was created by Giovanni Pelizzoli in the late 60s, but the brand has changed ownership a few times since its inception. Beginning in the 90s, they started shifting first to aluminum, then later to carbon fiber, just like the rest of the industry. Recently, they have introduced their "vintage" line of lugged steel, though the company website isn't very specific about whether the frames are built in-house, or contracted out (I'm guessing the latter). Nevertheless, the workmanship looks quite nice. The new San Cristobal is made from Columbus Niobium SL tubing, has a 1" threaded fork steerer, and Italian threaded bottom bracket. 

Not available from Nashbar, but another "resurrected" frame of interest, is the Pista Classica from Bianchi.
I doubt that Bianchi still has anyone brazing lugged frames in-house, having shifted most of their focus to carbon fiber, but the Pista Classica has a nice vintage look to it, with the familiar celeste paint with cream head tube and panel. They also offer the "regular" welded pista that is so popular with the urban fixie crowd -- but why would anyone get one of those when they could get this pretty piece of work? Ok, maybe it's the fact that at $850, the Classica frame costs as much as a complete welded pista bicycle, ready to ride. Then again, I know which one I would choose. One thing about the Classica that track-bike purists might notice is that the rear fork ends appear to follow the line of the chain stays rather than being purely level (as in, level with the top tube, or the ground). Most people probably wouldn't notice or care, as that's a convention that seems to fallen by the wayside. It's a trifling matter anyhow, and shouldn't detract from what is a nice looking frame.

I can only speculate as to why there has been this resurgence in popularity for lugged steel, but I can say that it's a development that I feel pretty good about. Maybe in this time of molded plastic, and boring welded frames, some people are finally looking for something that reflects a certain level of craftsmanship, or just a bit of aesthetic personality. 


  1. this Guerciotti Record is on sale for $499

    1. I just looked at that -- and this is interesting, as the specs of the frame on the Planet X site are different from those on the Nashbar site. Different tubing. Italian vs. English BB threading. Also interesting that the Record model is on Planet X's USA site, but not their main, U.K. site (the one where the new Holdsworth frames are listed). I looked at Guerciotti's website, and the specs listed there for the Record model match those from the Nashbar bike, not the Planet X one. I'm wondering if the one for $499 is an older model?

  2. What's regrettable about the Pista Classica is that it utilizes a modern threaded headset. Why go through the trouble and not make it compatible with a lovely quill stem? Ugh.

    In contrast, I think Fuji gets it, and their Fuji Feather is a nice classically-styled alternative to the Bianchi Pista, complete with lugged fork and quill stem.

    1. A reasonable critique, as nice looking, svelte threadless stems are tough to find. There are some out there, though.