Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wanderings of an ebay troll

The troll’s on a short leash. An iconic image I have of 1970s Australia is the backyard Hill’s hoist (a stand-alone clothes line that characterised Australia as much as the outdoor dunny before Paul Hogan and "Crocodile Dundee" came along) with the toddler leashed to it by old stockings tied around his waist and secured to the upright of the hoist.

The classic Australian Hills hoist. In this current politically-correct-lest-you-be-regarded-as-a-moral-vacuum-come-pervert climate you will have to imagine the backyard with the child on the stockinged leash.

A dog barks in the distance.

The leash might be short but the troll has good vision. And the backyard fence is short. So the troll has been able to watch the passing ebay traffic.

3Rensho keirin track frameset. Sold USD $1,725 (13 Oct)

You have to admire the broad range of lug combinations used by San Rensho (3Rensho). This is perhaps a little frustrating for the focussed collector who has to confirm provenance but fascinating for the casual observer. This example sports the famous Ohtsuya “bent plate” bottom bracket shell and Yoshi’s “Superend” dropouts. The lugs have a single long point without cutouts (for a couple of other lug variations see my previous posts under single speed). Full chrome under the (original) 'Takizawa Blue' paint yet sharp enough the reveal the typically meticulous Japanese lugwork. Apparently built for Masamitsu Takizawa.

For comparison there was this ad which the Troll found fascinating (the Troll’s backyard is a little empty of things to play with):

offered for auction is one used steel track frameset MALI SPRINT. this frame rode to a Gold Medal in 1994 World championship in Palermo, Italy, by Galina Eniukhina. i got this frame by chance. the previous owner had told me that this frame is a real champion etc. but i had my doubts, so i had it repainted in color of my choice. then later this video footage (of this particular frame winning the 1994 world championship) surfaced on youtube... and i said: "...oh S#!T, what have i done!"

here's a video footage on youtube:

well, anyhow, this frame is now offered for auction here. it's way too small for me, and i need to make room for new projects. don't miss your chance to own a piece of cycling history.

this frame does not take anything larger than a 21c tire. please make note of that!

tires pictured here are 21cX700. this is a real professional track sprint frame without any provisions for brakes etc. bb threading is ENGLISH.

tubing is ORIA.

included in this auction are frame, fork, bb and headset. nothing else is included. the picture of a complete bike is here for reference purpose only. also, picture of frame in "before" condition is also for reference purpose.

i will update the rest of the info shortly.

here's a "before" picture

Mali track frameset. Starting bid USD $995 (no bids)

The ad comes across as frank, educational and entertaining as anyone with a fetish for bicycles could have made the same mistake. There are some among us that believe that old bikes should look and behave like old bikes while others are more progressive, replacing components that have worn out (or updating with newer technology that simply works better) and repainting when necessary (to protect the frame in some cases, or to freshen up a dated “colourway”). However, it is a sin to knowingly repaint a frame with significant provenance (the seller is excused but not forgiven by his failure to confirm provenance). Even worse if the frame build isn’t particularly exceptional (check out the overfill/ underfill in the struts at the admittedly tight BB junction, even the lugs haven’t had any refinement whatsoever).

And therein lies the Troll's fascination, nay admiration, of this frame and the sequence of events that has brought it onto the ebay market. Races are won by cyclists not bicycles - in this case a hardened and experienced cyclist trumps a younger rival on a fancy carbon frame. Her weapon of choice is customised to simply get the job done and nothing more. A great counterpoint for all those artisan bikes that get displayed rather than used for their intended purpose (my humble collection included). Then it got resprayed. And the statement lost its voice.

Speaking of collectible bicycles, quite a few made it through ebay (as usual, the Troll assumes all sales are prima facie)

Colnago C35 with Campagnolo Record groupset and Bora wheelset, NOS. Sold USD $4,450 (3 Oct)

Colnago Master with Campagnolo 50th anniversary groupset, mint. Sold USD $4,000 (18 Sep)
Campy 50th groups are getting harder to find so this appears to have been a good buy (even if the hubs were plain SR rather than having the privilege of Tullio's signature)

Gold-plated Pinarello with gold-plated ICS-modified 1984 Super Record groupset. Sold USD $6,100 (26 Sep)

This and the C35 and were sold by benotto69, who like speedbicycles, hails from Switzerland. How fabulously desirable road bikes cluster in a country renowned for its snow and precipitous alps is completely beyond the troll’s understanding.

Colnago Master Piu 35th anniversary Gold Edition, NOS. Reserve not met USD $7,300 (30 Sep).

Colnago Master with gold highlights and gold plated C Record group. Ad posted by radmatrose (haliling from Germany) who also sold the Master with 50th group.

The Troll understands that Mr Campagnolo never really liked Mr Granzotto of ICS (Italcicli Cycle Systems based in Zurich) modifying his components then chrome-plating or gold-plating them. If anyone has seen an ICS groupset (or, even better, adorning an ICS-made Magni Exclusiv) then they will understand the meaning of an immaculate "bright finish" (the Troll did once look upon an ICS group but scampered back into his burrow to rest his eyes - for a week). Maybe this was Mr Campagnolo's counter-attack, teaming up with his good mate Ernesto?

Clearly, in this current economic climate, many collectors, like their investor brethren (they may indeed be one and the same given the level of the playing field) are looking to the security of gold in place of the flagging American dollar. Screams style and money. Like putting a Mercedes-Benz emblem on your forehead.

Then there are those relatively rare bikes that never really made any sense to the Troll.

1983 Colnago Master "Equilateral" with Super Record groupset. Sold USD $3,500 (1 Oct)

Something appears to have been lost in the translation as there isn’t anything "equilateral" about this frame design. And if it was I suspect that anything written in the Paterek manual would have to be thrown out in the search of geometric accuracy. The Troll has heard various reports that such a design is meant to stiffen the rear triangle (by virtue of a smaller rear triangle) and soften the ride (by virtue of a longer unsupported seat tube). Even if this were true an Italian bike should never sport an industrial look at the expense of aesthetics. That is simply not the Italian way.

However, if it is made by GT, called a “triple triangle”, and looks likes this...

GT Zasker LE. Brash American with a shiny ball-burnished aluminium frame

... then the Troll will probably try and dry hump it.

Besides anything made of Italian steel should really look more like this:

Colnago Master Olympic frameset in good used condition. Sold USD $1,277 (16 Oct)

Preferably with a 53-54cm cc TT because that size just looks right with 700c wheels (and and just happens to be the Troll’s ideal size).

And not to forget C Record track componentry which continues to command high prices especially since fixed-gear riding hipsters have started to place them on their alter (read retro or retro-look track bike) for adulation and worship.

Campagnolo "sheriff star" pista hubset, NOS NIB. Sold USD $950 (5 Oct)

We all needs shiny iconography.

And for those that want brakes there is, of course, the delta brakeset.

Campagnolo C Record Delta brakset, NOS NIB. Sold USD $835 (18 Oct)

Yep, 4th generation delta’s still in the box. Not a bad price given what the Troll has seen over the past few of years. Especially since the 4th gens are probably the pinnacle of the delta brake evolution when Campagnolo was still in denial and thought they could make the concept work. By the 5th generation Campy accepted their failure to sell this beautiful but frightfully expensive bicycle decoration and focussed instead on their dual pivot brakeset.

And (with a sigh of finality) if you must have the ultimate in hand-stitched cow skin stretched over titanium rails there was this:

Brooks Swallow Limited Edition, NOS NIB. Sold GBP 330 (16 Oct)

There can be only one king.

(All photos and details taken directly off the ebay postings)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

5 AM (or thereabouts)

Joy is...

Heading north into the mountains.

Eighties hits blaring in my left ear.

Sun rising over my right shoulder.

I’ve already ridden for an hour.

With the best yet to come.

Yep, I got an iphone yesterday. With easy access to a pocket multimedia device I can now take (mediocre) photos of my (mundane) life and post them on the internet. I will now allow myself to lull into a belief that someone (anyone) could give a rats about how I live my everyday life.

Tomorrow I will post about my bean and rice diet (with photos).