Whenever I receive an older bike, I find myself thinking the same thing: “this one isn’t going to be that great.”
I know about steel wool, yet I continue to doubt it. I have seen the transformations now, many times, but I can’t seem to hold onto this knowledge in the face of filthy-bike reality.
Don’t get me wrong, The Gazelle Champion Mondial was never really filthy. Dusty, rusty (in a few spots) and a bit neglected, but not filthy. Still, I was as unprepared as ever for the transformation.
I got it back from Gregg’s yesterday, without the new pedals (they called me to say it was done, not realizing that I was still waiting for the pedals to arrive. I wasn’t about to leave it there, so home it came to await the pedal-ing here). Today, with the sun shining brightly, I thought… I’ll go for a ride. But before I go, I’ll just test that stand-over height on the new bike… yeah, it’s big, but how does it ride? I’ll just test that out in the cul-de-saq… yeah, it’s nice, but the saddle needs to come way down… maybe I’ll roll the bars up… no, roll ‘em back down… can the stem come up a bit? Okay… boy, I should clean this thing up.
So much for the ride.
Here are some “before” shots:
So… three hours later, with many Windex wipes, some 000 steel wool and Mother’s Mag for the aluminum, we have this…
Yes, that’s a bottle cage, and yes, I realize the seat is crooked.
Those formerly-rusty Mafac Racers!
Simplex derailleur, with its PINK wheel. Crazy talk!
The Dura Ace cranks are super sexy, aren’t they? Swoon.
The gleam! My eyes! The goggles, they do nothing! (It’s a Simpsons reference).
Lovely dynamo, gorgeous brakes, shiny headset! I love the fork lug details.
So gorgeous! I’ve ordered some “vintage” red-rubber grips from Amazon, which should look amazing. My initial thoughts on the size are that the standover is high, but eh… with the saddle where it is, my legs fit the bike perfectly, and since it’s low but not jammed down into the seat cluster or anything, I think I’m okay. I’d like a shorter stem, and possibly one that can be raised even more, like a Nitto Technomic with a shorter reach, maybe 90? Otherwise, we’re good to go once the pedals come in. I’m going to ride it as is for a while and get a better feel for what it needs. The ride is very smooth and silky. Hurrah!