There you go. I finally get it propped up, take the picture, upload it, and I forgot to rotate the crank. I hope it annoys you.
If you’re coming into this project cold, you missed:
1. The frame
So! I have 75 miles on the bike so far, 20 of which were on the Brooks saddle.
The Brooks I own is a terrific story. Unfortunately, sometimes in life, things are just that. I don’t know what planet Brooks aficionados are from, but I am confident it is a world in which no one actually rides them. They are hard as a fucking rock. The end of that 20 mile maiden voyage left me with no choice. I either swapped that thing out for something I could actually sit on, or I was going to end up hating the entire bike.
And I’m glad I did swap it, because as it turns out, for a bike frame that was built by hand at least 30 years ago this thing is pretty damn great. Once you finish an acceleration, the bike seems to hold onto the momentum and it really cruises. We’ve done some up-tempo lunch rides and I only have two faults to note. One, that the bike isn’t exceedingly stable at high speed. It’s easy to get the front end kind of wobbly in the handling department. I could attribute this to the long stem and my positioning on the bike, which could be corrected I guess. I’m happy with the fit right now, so I’ll let that go. Either way, this wasn’t built up to be a “race bike” per se, so I file this under IDGAS. The intended purpose was to make a comfortable 4 hour round trip to work and back.
The only other fault is really my own oversight in using an external cam skewer in a semi-horizontal dropout. I pushed that rear tire right into the chainstay while sprinting up a hill, which shouldn’t happen again once I sub in a better quick release.
Here’s a rundown of everything that went into the build and where things came from.
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Frame: Early 1980s Serotta Nova, $350 + $63.25 shipping. eBay find.
Saddle: Well, the Brooks Swift I had on hand. But since it was so awful, and I had a hunch it might be awful, I sourced a backup plan a while ago from eBay. So today the bike has a gently used black/white Specialized Romin (hey at least the rails are steel), $75 shipped.
Bar/Stem: Scott branded TTT 130mm quill stem and 42cm handlebars. Age, who knows. These were a random find on eBay, and after purchasing, I discovered they had been on eBay for quite a while. No one wanted them until I did. $36 shipped.
Bar tape: Fizik’s white 2mm Superlight Microtex bar tape was the perfect choice. $20.
Seatpost: Dura Ace 7400, sourced from a random guy on a southwest craigslist. $20 shipped.
Cables/housing: white OEM Jagwire stuff, nothing special. $13.59 on eBay.
Brakes and Derailleurs: Ultegra 6500. On-hand from my first modern-era road bike.
Shifters: Dura Ace SL-7700. On-hand from a hillclimb project that didn’t really work out.
Levers: I started with a pair of 600-era Shimano levers I had once used on my Langster. But they’re as annoying as I remember them being when I swapped them out for SRAM S500 levers a few years back. And since those SRAM levers were that good, I took them back from the Langster. That bike ended up with a pair of otherwise identical carbon levers on hand from the aforementioned hillclimb project.
Crank: Ultegra 6650 Compact. On-hand from upgrading my race bike’s crank to BB30 last year.
Chain/Cassette: Both Dura Ace; 12-25 cassette. Both were scavenged from my hillclimb bike which probably won’t go far this year.
Wheels/Tires: Mavic Ksyrium SL, Vittoria Open Corsa EVO CX 25mm. Durable wheels I’ve had around for a long time that have reliably done it all. The tires are the most compliant clincher I’ve ever had.
Cages: Random silver aluminum cages that have been hanging in the garage for years.
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Total out-of-pocket was $541.84. Having extra parts lying around is clearly a really big deal, so the next time your significant other gives you hell for maintaining a weapons cache of bike pieces, be sure to remind them of the potential future savings they represent.
Overall, this was not a very expensive project. And the end result is something exceptionally unique and a really cool story. This bike was built in Saratoga, New York around 1982, did its thing somewhere for a decade or so, went back to the factory some time in the 1990s to be refinished, somehow made it’s way all the way to Seattle, Washington, only to come all the way back across the country to live here with me in New Hampshire. And while I’ll never ever really know what my first road bike was, I know it was white and old, and this bike is white and old, and that’s enough of a connection for me. And it’s a Serotta. Something I’ve wanted for a very long time.