1997 Colnago Crystal, Built And Ready To Roll!

Upon seeing an ad for a Colnago with Campagnolo components for sale in another country, with a very reasonable shipping price and a “make me an offer” request, I had a beer. After another beer, I threw out an offer that I thought was a bit ridiculous… the seller obviously didn’t think it was so ridiculous, and the next morning I emptied my Paypal account.

Wow, was it ugly. What was I thinking?

Wow, was it ugly. What was I thinking?

I rummaged through my “box o’shite” (something I think every cyclist acquires over time) and started getting down to work. Off with the seat, stem, bar tape, bottle cages, pedals and tyres. The previous owner didn’t even bother to take off the old bar tape; let’s hope there aren’t any other surprises…

Well, there was one more surprise: the rear derailleur. Something called a “mounting sleeve”, which always cracks, was cracked. Better than the dropout being broken, at least this is fixable.

The Shimano Exage 500 brakes worked just fine, but what were they doing on a bike with everything else Campy? Who knows – but I had a set of Campagnolo Mirage brakes that weren’t doing me anything after a Chorus upgrade to the Bianchi M Alloy Pro, so they now have a home.

Happily, the seat was a Rolls, and looks fantastic on the old Bianchi Sprint 76 – and comfortable too!

After some inexpensive improvements, such as new bar tape, new shifter & brake cables, new tyres, nice bottle cage… and some less inexpensive improvements, like a new stem, seat, and rear derailleur, and we have a fine-looking Italian steel machine!

As much as I enjoy riding the steel-framed Bianchi Sprint 76, I thought this might overtake my aluminium Bianchi M Alloy Pro. But after a testride to ensure everything works flawlessly, I think this one is destined for a new home. The frame rides beautifully, but I’d need to upgrade the wheels and the components to make it better than the Bianchi, even on the rough Dublin roads. The Xenon 9-speed shifters do the job, but they don’t have the same feel as Chorus 10-speed.

Another fun project done, but now it’s time to move this one on.

UPDATE 21-NOV-2016: After a +100k spin this summer, I didn’t like the Cinelli Criterium 65 handlebars, so I changed those to a nicer shape; I also decided a white seat would look better. I could feel some flex in the stem and it felt long, so I changed that out for something a little shorter and beefier.  The cassette was a weird Miche 14-26t ratio, so I upgraded it with Veloce 9-speed 12-23t (we don’t have massive hills around here and I’m fairly used to those gears anyway), and I got a new chain while I was at it.

UPDATE 08-FEB-2017: I’m liking the Colnago more and more: it’s the steel frame, and the chrome lugs, it’s just a nice bike, both in ride quality and appearance. With that in mind, I’m considering it as a long-term keeper, so I’ve taken the marginally-nicer Chorus 10-speed groupset off the Bianchi M Alloy Pro and swapped it onto the Colnago. This will allow me to advertise the Bianchi for sale at a more competitive price, and justify keeping the Colnago – because after the first testride, I am in love with the Litespeed Catalyst I just put together.

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