Monday, March 16, 2020

When They Come Out "Right"

As a follow up to the post about picking colors and "attention to detail" in the finishing of a bike, I just wanted to share a few bike builds that I think came out "right" and would be hard to improve upon.

This light blue Rivendell has long been a favorite of mine, and really helped hone my bicycle aesthetic. In my opinion, the honey colored saddle, with cotton bar tape shellacked to match it closely is a timeless look. Honestly, I can't think of any way to finish this bike that would look better. The aluminum fenders, with an even line all the way around the wheels, and right down to the tan saddlebag with leather piping, pull the whole bike together.

This emerald and ruby 753 Mercian turns a lot of heads and is the one "prize winner" in my collection. On this one, I went with a black suede '70s vintage Cinelli saddle which seemed like the perfect choice for this 1979 bike built for lightness. I used black cotton bar tape with only one or two thin coats of shellac to seal it without imparting a shiny look - to better go with the suede. Here, I used vintage translucent red cable housing which is a spot-on match for the ruby contrasts on the Mercian. The lettering on the downtube is gold, which seems like the perfect complement to the ruby and emerald paint, and gold outlining around the lugs ties it all together.

My retro-mod black and blue Mercian has a modern Fizik saddle that is black with a blue stripe down the center. That blue bar tape, also made by Fizik, is exactly the same as the stripe in the saddle - both of which are almost exactly the same shade of blue as on the head tube and seat tube bands. It was really just a stroke of luck in finding a saddle and tape that were such a close match. Lastly, I went with solid red cable housing, which picks up the red pinstriping on the frame and the red Mercian lettering on the downtube.

My early '80s red Mercian came with black lining around the lugs, and black lettering on the downtube. That made an '80s vintage Selle Italia Turbo saddle, along with black bar tape and cables, the natural choice. Black toe straps with silver end buttons finish off the package.

On this recent build that I completed for one of my daughters, I had an inexpensive '80s vintage Japanese-built mixte powder coated in something similar to a Bianchi "Celeste" color. Actually, my daughter chose the color, but I strongly agreed with her choice. I then picked out a rusty brown Brooks C-17 saddle, and matched it with handgrips that I made from cork wrap, and twine - stained and shellacked to match the saddle, and for longevity. Silver plastic fenders look good, keep the bike (and the kid) cleaner - and give the bike a refined look. The stainless steel rack usually holds a pair of canvas panniers with leather trim. All together, it's got a truly classic style.

NOT MINE - but a bike that I think is a real stunner. One of my riding friends in Michigan, Jason P., is one of those guys who really knows how to finish a bike. I've seen several of his bikes, and his attention to detail is even more refined than mine. Nothing, not even the smallest item such as an adjustment screw on a derailleur, escapes his attention. All his bikes I've seen are showpieces, yet they do get ridden - as well they should. This Smolenski has a gorgeous bone white paint job with flame red contrasts. Then Jason had a vintage SunTour Superbe Pro group highlighted with gold plating. The combination of the white and red, black and gold - it's really something. Like I said - a stunner.

ALSO NOT MINE. Another friend that I know through the Classic Rendezvous group, Kevin K, has a really nice collection of bikes pictured on Flickr (you can see his collection HERE), and he's another one whose bikes just look "right" to me. This vintage Cinelli SC is just one of many that illustrate his attention to detail. Kevin's Cinelli is a great example of matching the bar tape to something other than the saddle. Here he's got the classic Cinelli saddle in black, and his bars wrapped in red cotton tape to pick up the little red details in the frame, like the lug fills, and the Cinelli lettering on the down tube. Even the rubber hoods on the downtube shift levers complete the package. A real beauty.

1 comment:

  1. Now that's a good-looking group of bikes. All of them with a timeless diamond or mixte frame, made of steel, most with a level top tube and curved forks. Ooh, be still my heart! I prefer the looks and functionality of a fendered bike, so the Riv gets my nod for the best of the bunch, but each one is a real beaut. So much better looking that the plastic bikes today.