Two Downtubes For The Price Of One

Two Downtubes For The Price Of One

It’s November, which means Thanksgiving’s coming, which means Black Friday sales are coming, which means Christmas is coming, which means New Year’s is coming, which means it’ll then be 2022, at which point the whole consumer cycle will begin again.

All of this is to say it’s time to buy stuff for yourself and those you care about, and with those supply chain issues everyone’s talking about you’d better get on that now, otherwise you’ll wind up with nothing. NOTHING.

To that end, I’d like to let you know that Osloh’s having a big, big sale:

In addition to their fantastic cycling jeans, which I wore all through the past winter, they also sell various cycling accessories, such as the Tex-Lock:

This has in fact become my go-to lock, for the following reasons:

It’s lightIt doesn’t scratch your frameIt’s long, so you can also lock your wheels, or else easily lock up multiple bicycles as seen above

So how strong is it? Can you leave your bike locked up all day in the middle of Manhattan with it? Well, I don’t know, but I’d imagine if you used both a Tex-Lock and a U-lock in that scenario you’d be in pretty good shape. As for me, I’ve been using it by itself, though admittedly most of my up-locking these days consists of local errands and beach runs. Regardless, I just throw it in my basket, and because it’s made out of some futuristic rope-type stuff it doesn’t bounce around and make a bunch of noise. So if you need a long and light lock that also seems to be pretty darn robust I highly recommend it.

And whatever you buy from the Osloh site, use discount code “BSNYCFANCYPANTS” and you’ll get $5 off.

You’re welcome.

Moving on, as you know, I am currently the temporary custodian of this Colnago Bititan from Classic Cycle:

Colnago is obviously One Of Those Brands, and it’s synonymous with racing bikes in the same way Ferrari is with performance cars, or De’Longhi is with espresso machines–it looks cool, it’s Italian, and it’s been around forever, so you just assume they know what they’re doing. If you’re a bike dork, different brands speak to you in different ways. Personally, a Colnago has never been my dream bike in the same way a Ferrari has never been my dream car, but you can be sure both of them are still going to turn my head, even if I am smirking at the Douche Factor just a tiny little bit. And I would argue that the Colnago C-40 was possibly the coolest race bike of all time:

Anyway, never having actually ridden a Colnago before, I was very curious, and I admit it was a thrill to look down and see that iconic cheesy paint job on the top tube:

Less thrilling were the Spinacis:

Which made the bike look like some kind of neon earwig:

[I saw Neon Earwig play at the Ritz in ’89, they were awesome.]

By the way, for the true nit-pickers among you: Yes, I realize I oriented the front brake and rear shifter cable wrong when assembling the bike, I noticed while riding and fixed it later. But thanks for noticing.

Speaking of dated bike accessories and neon, check out that sweet Avocet computer!

You’ll notice it has me going one (1) mile per hour:

That’s because Paul forgot to include the special ring-shaped magnet that goes with it so I put a regular spoke magnet on the wheel in the meantime to see what would happen–and in a way it works fine, since my speed registered between 1 and 3 the whole time, and if you multiply it by 10 that’s probably right in the ballpark.

Prior to this bike, I’ve ridden three (3) titanium road bikes in my life: my Litespeed; a Moots they lent me when I visited Steamboat Springs, and a 1975 Teledyne Titan. All three had that pleasant sproingy quality people are always claiming titanium possesses–though in addition to that the Teledyne flexed disconcertingly, a characteristic of the material subsequent manufacturers have clearly managed to address. Given this, I wondered if the Colnago would also feel pleasantly sproingy…and the answer is that it does not. That’s not to say it’s unpleasant, but it’s also not what I would call a smooth bicycle. Rather, I’d describe it as “punchy”–stiff, but if you get out of the saddle and “attack” it wants to go, and only then do you start to sense the sproing.

So it’s a race bike built for racing by a company with a long history of building race bikes, go figure. Also, it gets a million irony points because the Spinacis and the split downtube make it illegal for racing. IT’S TOO FAST!!!

Now, I should say I’m extremely wary of oeniphile-esque attempts to describe the ride qualities of various bicycles, and of ascribing certain characteristics to certain materials. The way a bike feels can be attributed to all sorts of things, including components, bar tape, tire pressure, differences in bar height, and of course your fitness (or lack thereof) on the day. Still, for whatever reason, that’s how I perceived the bike on the first ride–a bike you’d want under you if you like to jump from wheel to wheel, or change direction quickly, or push the limits on a twisty descent. But who knows, it just could have been the paint.

Anyway, at the turnaround point of my ride, I stopped to appreciate the bike in the crisp autumn light:

Like the Davidson Impulse, the Bititan has a Dura Ace 8-speed transmission. (The left lever is sticking slightly; Paul recommends warming it with a hair dryer and then giving it some lube, which I will heretofore refer to as the “STI Honeymoon.”) There’s a perception among Freds that Colnagos must have Campagnolo components, but I prefer them with Shimano, partially because it irritates them, and partially because Mapei. Also like the Impulse it has a 39/53 crankset:

And a 12/26 cassette:

In fact, those are the actual wheels that were on the Impulse, and Paul sent me a pair of Heliums along with the Colnago which I forwarded to its new owner, along with some stickers:

[Photo: John Klein]

Its color scheme complete, the Davidson now lives happily in Buffalo:

[Photo: John Klein]

The plaque under the statue says, “The Indian Hunter,” and you’ll note that he’s positioned perfectly to pick off the golfers.

Of course the most distinctive characteristic of the Bititan is the split downtube from which it gets its name:

As I understand it, the idea was to reduce flex, and that would seem to jibe with my impressions of how the bike rides:

Diamond-shaped tubes are another Colnago trademark, also ostensibly to enhance stiffness:

How much that affects the bikes’ ride I don’t know, but it certainly “enhances the stiffness” of the sorts of people who lust after Colnagos, if you know what I mean.

And if you don’t, it means they get an erection from it.

Sorry.

As for the frame material, lest the paint mislead an uninformed onlooker, there’s a decal for the avoidance of doubt:

Back in the ’90s it seemed like all the high-performance bike companies had to offer at least one titanium model, and it also seemed like they all contracted Lynskey/Litespeed to build it for them. I don’t know if Colnago made their own titanium frames, or if they outsourced them, but if you’re a Weld Fred and would like to compare the ones on a Colnago to the ones on a Litespeed, here’s the former:

And here’s the latter:

I’m sure someone somewhere will have a strong opinion.

Regardless of who welded the Colnago, it does feature Ernesto’s Giovanni Hancock:

Which comes in very handy if you ever need to forge a check.

Naturally the Colnago logo is present throughout the frame:

There’s a popular misconception that it’s a club, but it’s actually an aerial view of Ernesto Colnago’s hairline:

And yes, I realize that makes no sense, and that I have no business making fun of anybody’s hairline.

Regardless, Colnago is one of the few bicycle companies that can get away with putting their name really big on the non-drive chainstay:

Unsubtle? Yes. Gaudy? Probably. But it’s a Colnago, which makes it totally badass:

So there you go. I’m looking forward to deepening my relationship with it, which I will endeavor to do this weekend.

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