Modernising a Colnago

Discussion in 'Vintage and Classic Bikes' started by Specialeyes, 16 Aug 2018.

  1. Specialeyes

    Specialeyes Über Member

    So, I was thoroughly enjoying this morning's commute when my mind began to wander, as it does, and ponder the possibilities of modernising - i.e. fitting brifters, new wheels and a more modern groupset - to my Super.

    It's such an ace frame that I want to ride it more - I love the ride quality and ridiculously agile handling of the 80's steel and its general grin-inducing quality. I don't feel obliged to keep it 'Eroica-ready' as it's not likely to get ridden at any strictly vintage events, so don't really have any qualms about modernising this one a bit. It probably also feels more nimble as it's a size too small, really, but I love the geometry as-is and could ride it all day.

    I'm contemplating something like a Chorus or Veloce groupset in silver, some slightly squatter bars and maybe some deeper section Campagnolo wheels but have the following to overcome:
    • Bottom bracket standards - it's square-taper at the moment. How up-to-date can I achieve?
    • Dropout spacing - I'd want to go 10-speed minimum, so it's cold-setting time. Is that a compromise that would result in permanently slightly-off shifting? Is it possible to re-set it back down?
    • Apathy / getting distracted / cost.
    I'm thinking aloud while waiting for a client to turn up at work really - what are your thoughts / experiences folks? How hard would it be to fit a modern groupset and wheels to a 1981 frame?

    ChrisEyles, Illaveago and Mrs M like this.
  2. Smokin Joe

    Smokin Joe Legendary Member

    That looks so good I hate you for owning it.

    To answer your questions, a good frame builder or restorer would be able to open the dropouts for a ten speed wheel with no issues, it is commonly done. Any modern screw in bottom bracket would fit straight in, though if it were mine I would stick with square taper as it is just as good (Better IMO) and is far nicer to look at. Everything else would just bolt straight on, cable stops on the down tube would allow you to fit brifters. You'd have to stick with the older calipers as there won't be a recess for the nut on dual pivot brakes on the forks or rear the bridge, but that isn't a big issue.

    I've just had another look at the picture and I hate you even more now. Nothing personal, you understand :okay:
    Drago, winjim, dan_bo and 2 others like this.
  3. Cycleops

    Cycleops Guru

    Accra, Ghana
    That looks very similar to the one I brought over for @biggs682 . I'm sure hell have some ideas.

    You can of course change to Hollowtech BB and Brifters very easily. 10 speed should be east to achieve as well. Do you have seven speed now? This might help you from RJ the bike guy

    Last edited: 16 Aug 2018
  4. booze and cake

    booze and cake probably out cycling

    What is the rear spacing currently, 126mm?

    I had my Eddy Merckx respaced from 126 to 130, I didn't trust myself to do it on such a nice frame, so got a local London bike shop to do it for me, cost me £30-£40 but I had it done before I built the frame up, so bear in mind you are probably going to have to strip it all down to do this. My shifting has been perfect since I built it up, I've not had to touch it since initial set up. I don't think its recommended to repeatedly stretch frames and squeeze it back smaller again, just seems more likely to weaken any welds to me, but I guess in theory you could do it each way once, seek further advice on that.

    My Bottecchia has 128mm rear spacing and a 130mm wheels fits in fine without the need to cold set, and again the shifting has been faultless so far.

    Bottom brackets will depend on what crank set you want I think, I've always stuck with square taper on my Merckx, Bottecchia and Simoncini, but my mid 80's Denti has modern Chorus Ultra torque crank, don't ask me what the bottom bracket is, the bike shop sorted that for me, so unless your bottom bracket is some really obscure size I think you'll be able to find a bottom bracket for a Veloce or Chorus crank easy enough, but check before you buy.

    You do have a lovely bike as is, but I must admit I love sti-shifters so I don't think you'll regret the move.

    And just a note that classic deep section Campag wheels like the Shamals go for silly money these days, and that is for the 8 speed ones. The Shamals with 9/10 speed free hubs are now as rare as hens teeth, especially in clincher form, so I'm sure it would be cheaper to get a set of new hand builts.
    Last edited: 16 Aug 2018
  5. YukonBoy

    YukonBoy Extra solar

    Ultima Thule
    Why take the backward step from down tube friction to brifters?
  6. woodenspoons

    woodenspoons Über Member

    North Yorkshire
    If it were mine I’d just leave it alone.
  7. SkipdiverJohn

    SkipdiverJohn Über Member

    I wouldn't do anything to it at all. You say it rides nice, it certainly looks nice. Why spoil a classic machine just for a couple of extra cogs on the back? That's about all you'd achieve.
    dave r and Dogtrousers like this.
  8. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    dave r and Illaveago like this.
  9. OP

    Specialeyes Über Member

    I can see the argument, but it's not just a couple of cogs really - I'd think of it as a series of small improvements that add up to a greater transformation.

    I'm lucky enough to have built up a few 'classic' bikes and am still a fan of downtube shifters, so I'm not against them at all. I'm struggling for the right adjectives and qualities, but if I replay my thought process at the time the idea came to me, which was as I was approaching a downhill junction on a particularly gravelly, cruddy section of path, it was along the lines of: "wouldn't it be nice to have a bike with...
    • the convenience of integrated shifters (I was braking and shifting at the time - first-world problems, I know...)
    • the sprightly chuckability of this one
    • the ride quality:weight ratio of decent steel
    • classic looks
    • guilt-free, ride-the-snot-out-of-it winter commutes"
    It was a bit of a thought experiment really but also thinking that going all the way to 130mm/10-11 speed would mean I didn't have a wheelset just for this one and could switch more easily. It's currently 126mm.

    I shall mull this some more and follow the links and video above! :smile:

    It's really only the BB that troubles me though of course, there's probably no compulsion to change the crankset anyway now I come to think of it, irrespective of the rest of the groupset.
  10. rrarider

    rrarider Senior Member

    It's your bike, so you should do exactly what you want with it. I'd change the wheel and cassette first, then decide on the length of bottom bracket spindle that you will need. You might want to fit the new crankset before estimating the spindle length.
    raleighnut likes this.
  11. midlife

    midlife Veteran

  12. Cycleops

    Cycleops Guru

    Accra, Ghana
  13. GuyBoden

    GuyBoden Fat, old bloke, on an old bike, pedalling slowly.

    Sell the bike in it's original state and buy a modern bike.
    dave r likes this.
  14. Cycleops

    Cycleops Guru

    Accra, Ghana
    What, and miss out on all that fettling and let a beauty like that go?
    Specialeyes likes this.
  15. biggs682

    biggs682 Smile a mile bike provider

    @Specialeyes where do i start , yes it will cold set easily enough or you could send it to a frame builder to re do the back end as per new build ie 130 mm
    Once modded it wont't be L eroica ready but would convert back
    will you enjoy it as much ?
    it's something i have thought about doing to my Ian May a few times but have not done it after 5+ years of ownership
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