1986 De Rosa - SLX, 56 cm. c-t-c
I've wanted a De Rosa ever since I started collecting in 1987. My ideal was an early 70's De Rosa with pantographed Nuovo Record, just like Jay Van de Velde's blue '73 (but in Molteni Orange please, thank you very much). In 1991 I found a complete set of De Rosa pantographed Super Record parts, including a 3TTT stem, all NOS. Optimistically anticipating that a late 70's frame would eventually come along, I bought the parts. 14 years later, I still had the parts but no frame. So I tossed the towel and sold all the parts on eBay last year. But I never really stopped looking, and when I saw this bike on eBay, in February 2006, I went for it and luckily I won. So finally, after almost 20 years of looking, I have a De Rosa. It's not the 70's pantographed bike I always wanted, but at least it's red!
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I had planned to build it with the "Campagnolo" pantographed C-Record gruppo which was on my ex-Bottecchia. But as much as I love pantographing, once I had the bike, I decided to build it as simple as possible, so I used the "plain" C-Record gruppo that came with the bike. I'm very happy with the result. I think it came out very colorful and flashy (like a proper Italian bike), but elegant at the same time (at least as elegant as a bright red bike can be).
The bike did not look quite like this when I got it. It had a different saddle, stem, bar, tape, chain, cage, cables, wheels and tires. It also had several years of accumulated dirt and grime.
Fortunately, underneath the dirt and grime, the paint was in very good condition, with no dings or dents, and only a few small scratches which I touched up. The chrome was also in excellent condition, with no rust or pitting. And amazingly, all the decals were absolutely perfect.
Other than hubs and pedals, the bike had a full C-Record gruppo, including Cobalto brakes, which was in very good shape. The seat post and the crank arms had some scratches and rub marks, but I knew I could polish them out.
All the parts that I replaced, including the wheelset, were parts I had on hand, except for a nice De Rosa pantographed stem (I had to have some pantographing!), that I got with the help of Lewis Ting (thanks partner!).
Check out those beefy seatstays! No wimpy pencil-thin stays here.
This brand new perforated Rolls saddle waited patiently in my storage bin for over 10 years before finally finding a home on this De Rosa. And as I expected, the seatpost polished out quite nicely.
Cool and classic De Rosa top tube decal, but I must confess that I'm a little confused by it. I assume it refers to the Super Prestige Pernod race, which Eddy won in 1973, 74 and 75. If so, what does Arc en Ciel refer to? And why did De Rosa focus on this race for the decal? It seems strange, considering how many other more famous races Eddy won those same years.
UPDATE: It turns out the Super Prestige Pernod was not a race. Click here for Brett Horton's explanation.
I chose to go with traditional cable routing based on a lasting memory I have of a red De Rosa with a beautiful brunette leaning on it (dressed in an Italian-flag-colors skinsuit!), which graced the cover of Bicycling Magazine in the late 80's. (If anyone has that magazine, or can confirm the the issue date, please let me know.) That may have been the first time that I saw a C-Record bike with traditional cable routing, and I remember thinking how incongruous it looked. Of course, now I like it. I think it makes for a more interesting setup, and that's why I went with it.
UPDATE: My thanks to Michele Francesconi, of Stockholm, Sweden, who informed me that the magazine was Bicycle Guide, not Bicycling, and the issue was October 1986. He also sent me a great photo of the cover.
This is the perfect stem for this bike. To me, the bike would be nothing without this stem. OK, so I exaggerate, but I really think it adds a lot to the look of the bike. The stem looked OK when I got it, but it had lots of small scratches, so it really wasn't up to par with the rest of the bike. I removed the anodizing, polished it with an electric buffer, re-filled the pantographing, and presto...(well, not exactly presto - more like a few hours later)...better than new! In case you're wondering, I did not add that red dot to the dust cap - it is original. And the dot to the right of the "A" is not a defect. It's supposed to be the ® symbol! This gives "too much pantographing" a whole new meaning.
Lewis Ting outbid me for the stem when it came up on eBay, but then he let me have it, directly from the eBay seller, when he found out that I had won the auction for this bike. A real class act - thanks again Lewis.
I was lucky to have a period-correct 3TTT handlebar in my stash, as well as a fresh roll of Ambrosio Bike Ribbon - still my favorite bar wrap.
An 80's interpretation of the early De Rosa logo. Even without words, it unmistakably says "De Rosa."
The Cobalto calipers were in great shape but of course the original "stones" were missing. The ones you see are an improvisation from my local arts and crafts store. My thanks to Lou Deeter, who gave me the idea to look there. (I do have one original, and I'm looking for another, in case somebody has one for sale or trade.)
From this angle, the fork blades look pretty beefy too.
Small details, like the white pinstriping between the paint and the chrome on the fork tips, add a lot to the overall aesthetic appeal of the frame.
The wheelset also came from my ex-Bottecchia. The rims are Campagnolo Record Crono.
I love the look of the flat fork crown - too bad it's not chromed like on earlier bikes (when did they stop chroming the crowns?). And those retro-friction shifters...they are beautiful and they work great!
The lug work may not be the most exquisite or refined ever, but it ain't no PX-10 either!
I think that to this day, this graphic has not changed.
I don't know if the Effeti cage is period-correct, but it's cool and unusual, so there it is.
The heart of the C-Record gruppo is the drivetrain, and the crankset is the gruppo's piéce de resistance.
First generation rear derraileur with "aero" outer pulley cage.
The outer pulley cage reminds me of a modern abstract sculpture. It had a few small scratches, so I removed the anodizing and polished it.
Check out the reflection on the top of the pulley cage.
The famous De Rosa diamond-shaped chainstays. Again, note the nice white pinstriping, which I think is hand painted.
The anodizing had come off the crankset in a couple of spots, so it was an easy decision to remove all of it and polish the crankarms to a mirror finish. It's not original anymore, but it looks fantastic, so what the hell.
When I say "mirror finish" I really mean it. The finish is so bright that it made it difficult to photograph the crankarms.
The Vittoria Corsa CX tubulars are not new, but they are presentable and period-correct, so I used them. Vittorias CX's are the tubulars I have used the most, and as of the late 80's, I considered them superior to Clements.
This bike reminds me of an old Ferrari I once saw. It was red with a black interior except for bright blue seats. You wouldn't think so, but the color combination worked very well.
Of all the photos on this page, I think this is my favorite.
Did I already mention that the seatpost polished out very nicely?
I even polished the inside of the crank spider! By the way, the date code on the crank arms is 31 inside a square. Can anybody confirm what year this date code represents?
Notice the difference between the polished finish on the crankarm and the chrome on the chainstay. See what I mean about the crank arms being difficult to photograph?
That is a 7 speed Campagnolo aluminum freewheel, which I believe was introduced in 1986.
This is another example of small aesthetic details that make a big difference. The dropout treatment, with the red paint, the white pinstriping and the chromed borders and faces, is very detailed and fancy. But in the context of the entire frame, it becomes a flourish which enhances the look of the entire bike in a subtle way. The more I consider this paint scheme, the more I appreciate it.
With white and red graphics over polished aluminum, these rims are aesthetically perfect for this bike. If they were built with large-flange C-Record hubs, they would be the ultimate wheels for this bike. This is what the large-flange C-Record hubs look like on this bike.
I do have a set of wheels with large-flange C-Record hubs, but the rims are black Omega Aero rims, and in my opinion, those rims don't look as good on this bike as the Record Crono rims. This is what it looks like with the Omega Aero wheels.
I've only ridden the bike once so far. It is lively and very responsive, but solid and stable when sprinting off the saddle. I don't know how it climbs because I haven't made it to an an Intracoastal bridge yet. And I don't know how comfortable it is on long rides, because, quite frankly, I'm too out of shape to find out. But any day now..
Anyway...some final thoughts.
After building this bike and putting together this page, my appreciation for early C-Record has been revived. I had forgotten how beautiful it is and how much I like it.
I love the seatpost design. I don't see it as aerodynamic, I see it as graceful.
Like many, I believe the crank is simply the most beautiful crank ever designed.
The rear derraileur is a mechanical jewel.
Then there's the brake calipers - who doesn't like the stylistic touch of the faux Colbalto stones?
And while the small-flange C-Record hubs are two of the prettiest and most elegant hubs ever produced, the large-flange hubs are downright drop-dead gorgeous. Some guys will do almost anything for a set of the large-flange C-Record hubs - ask Tom Sanders (he's an self-confessed Hub Ho).
I'm also impressed with how well the early C-Record design has aged. I'm sure the gruppo is destined to become a true classic, and highly collectible. The market seems to agree, as early C-Record rear derraileurs and large-flange hubs command higher prices every day on eBay. And who knows, Dale Brown may even make an off-topic exception for it one day (hey, it could happen!).
That's it, I'm done. Thanks for checking out my new De Rosa. I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I enjoy sharing them. And if you actually read all the stuff I wrote, thanks for indulging me.
May 21, 2006
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