Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking

Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby open roader » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:22 pm

The following is an abridged thread detailing my current (and last for a long while) road bike build. I have compressed the past few weeks goings on and have brought the build up to date - intending to update as progress continues.

Enjoy my build process or ignore it, it's winter time and I have the time indoors to put this into a truly self indulgent thread with pictorial content..... :D

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Back in March 2013 I was ready to up my road bike fleet to N + 1 status. I was keen to build up a retro / steel frame bike after watching an online acquaintance with uber good taste and excellent technical skills build up a truly lovely steel framed bike from scratch. After looking at steel framed bikes all over the internet as well as the precious few avail. to see in the flesh locally, I decided a Colnago Master frameset was a highly likely starting point for me as I already had a Colnago C50 which I custom built to my own spec. and had been super impressed by it's comfortable ride and steady/predictable handling. As a self confessed comfort seeker I was keen to see if I could build a steel framed bike to both look special and also to be a genuine smooth ride.

I found a 2nd hand frame for sale on eBay that I liked the paint scheme on and found the condition to be acceptable and watched it for 9 days as the bids mounted and the price slowly climbed, however, I failed to stay up to 2:30am in the morning (UK auction) ........ the frame sold to someone else for well under my budget....... I had my Aesops Fox and Sour Grapes moment, thought better of the entire retro caper only to turn around and purchase another carbon frameset and build up yet another carbon bike instead. :shock:

I still ride this newer carbon bike and adore it for what it is, but the retro/steel frame bike notion had not entirely left me behind when my aforementioned online acquaintance began to preach to me about the technical merrits and self explanitory beauty of silver alloy Campagnolo Record 10speed hubs...... I was curious and found myself bidding on a 2nd hand Record rear hub which appeared to be in very good order. I won the auction and 8 days later I had this wonderful piece of bike equipment in my hands. After a light polishing the beautiful silver alloy finish came up a treat and I was hooked on shiny - I began to feel carbon lust quietly ebbing away from me as my penchant for all things metal and shiny has taken a hold of me........ In a matter of weeks I had a matching NOS front hub arrive along with a pair of alloy Campagnolo Lambda rims and a box of DT Swiss Champion steel spokes in silver.......of course.......

Mmmmmm shiny bits......
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Being all new or excellent condition 2nd hand parts these have come up a treat with some simple polishing my online acquaintance encouragaed me to open the hubs up for a look inside and a little servicing if necessary. On a rainy Saturday afternoon I cleared myself some desk space, gathered some simple tools and began to dismantle the hubs to see what condition they were inside. A simple yawn perhaps for those used to doing this, however, I found it fascinating and very rewarding being able to strip out older grease, perform a light surface clean then re-pack the bearings (all in fine condition) with some grease and re-assemble the hub without issue - great fun for a first time hub servicer such as myself!

Pack that grease.....!
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The rims yielded instant shine with the first coat of polish.....
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Could not help myself and polished the spokes too before they are laced up.
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So now with the ingredients for a nice pair of retro wheels all in place there was nothing for it....... once again, I was on the hunt for a retro steel frameset! So to cut a long story short, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this NOS Colnago Master X-Light frame with NOS Colango Precisa chromed fork for sale at Brick Lane Bikes (UK). The frame is a size 54cm seat tube with 55cm top tube and came with a rarer Colnago 'Soft Paint' finish which is a very low sheen paint finish which I felt was too tactile, quite a sticky/tacky feel to the paint despite it being 14 years sitting in a box and thus was too easily able to pick up dust, grease, road etc and gave me the distinct impression of being easily chipped or scratched.

I have immediately decided the soft paint needs to be clear coated so a couple of hours well spent with masking tape to mask off all the chrome plated sections including the intricate head tube lugs and the next day had my local automotive spray painter give the frame 3 coats of clear high gloss 2 pack and a bake in the oven. The result is an improved appearance and definately a frame I could handle, build up and most importantly ride without excessive worry about paint damage. A philistine act perhaps to gloss over a rare Colnago paint finish, but I am building this bike to ride, not as a period perfect mint investment to hang on the wall or live in a glass case.

My aim is to build up a beautiful looking bike but also to balance form and function together - weight is not of interest, comfort is a high priority. I also don't want to overspend obtaining fabulous looking, well matched componantry whilst also not wanting to be scrimping on cheap parts which I may ultimately regret purchasing and replace at more cost. This road bike for me will be N+2 and will be the limit of my bicycle fleet so I intend upon living/riding this bike for a long time. The frame is a 2001 model from what I gather, however, I want to keep the bike's appearance as retro as possible so there will be no carbon bits, as much polished metal as I can manage and my first fashion call is that I will opt for a traditional 1" threaded headset (Campagnolo Record) and fit a quill stem.

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I found this lovely shaped but inexpensive 2nd hand 110mm aluminum Kalloy quill stem for sale from a fellow BNA member (Cheers Lloyd) and proceeded to remove the aged laquer finish and rub out the deeper scuff marks around the headset collar area using first 200 grit wet and dry paper cut into small stamp sized pieces. Then using 400 grit wet and dry paper over the entire stem surface, again utilising only small pieces at a time to get a rough finish over the whole surface and then using 600 grit wet and dry paper to smooth over the stem, eliminating harsh directional score marks. Then a good 30 minutes of polishing with 'Mothers' brand alloy polish and a rag and finishing with 75mm cloth buffing wheels in the end of my power drill yielded the following results. This stem is perfect for the job, stylish and inexpensive which means I have a little more to spend on other components......

Before
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and after
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It's bucketing rain here in SW Victoria and the wind has not fallen below 39km/hr for 5 consecutive days now with wind averaging above 50km/hr in daylight hours and windchill below zero in daylight hours too so I've given any hope of riding N or N+1 - time to assign one 'build up' chore per day as I have to wait for my trusted bike mechanic to lace up the wheels for me so I may have as long as 3 weeks to wait so why not savour this with one non rushed addition per day?

I have opted for Nitto S65 single bolt clamp seat post . They have a good reputation, I can afford it and it has the style and appearance I want for this build. Polished alloy and a simple design. Cut off a little of the bottom of the post to allow it to sit in the frame at my desired height (Gilco ribs impede the post shaft after the top 110mm of tube) grease applied to both seat post and seat tube and in it goes. Clamped by a ridiculously expensive (but very shiny) Campagnolo seat post binder bolt.

My cat approves!
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Next day came the fitment of the quill stem, as described above, a 110mm 2nd hand Kalloy stem, sanded and polished to suit my desired level of shine....... Tensioning bolt was cleaned off and re-lubed with grease as was the handlebar clamping bolt

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Handlebar fitment Saturday - again another affordable, brand new Nitto branded component - Mod 55 Limited handlebars in 42cm width. I had to lever the quill stem clamp open just a bit to get these bars to slot in - tensioned down nicely.

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Sunday's task is simply to add the saddle. I ride on Selle SMP saddles - the Dynamic model thus far has been the best fit for me. This is the first white saddle I have used on a bike build though the other two are both black..........

Blowing a gale outside - gusts of 90km/hr so def. an inside photo session today.......
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Today I fitted up the shifters to the handlebars. I am fitting all alloy Campagnolo Athena 11 speed to my X-Light. Another non period correct potential philistine move. I have worked out that the cost of NOS or best condition 2nd hand alloy 10 speed Record or even alloy Chorus parts was still considerably more expensive than purchasing a new 11speed Athena gruppo. I also was put off Record/Chorus/Athena 10 speed components because I cannot have compact cranks in alloy - decision made just like that......... I have Campagnolo Ultra Torque hand tools and my N and N+1 bicycles both run Camapgnolo Ultra Torque cranks so I scoured the internet and purchased a set of compact Athena 11speed cranks with the UT coupling system. So on go the alloy levered Athena shifters......

Image
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by BNA » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:33 am

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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby GaryF » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:33 am

Your build is progressing well with your 'shiny alloy' philosophy to the fore. Good job on the stem and the Nitto components are top shelf. The Athena was a good choice too but i was impressed with your initial wheel purchases and build that gave you the imputes to get the classic ball rolling.

I really like Colnago frames as I find their geometry suits me and they were the frames I lusted over but couldn't afford in the 80's - I remedied that a little later on. I too like a nice shiny paint finish and was impressed with your ability to apply the clear coat to the frame which happens to be one of my favourite Colnago schemes.

It will be nice to see your finished work and read your ride report.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby lloyd83 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:21 am

Enjoyed reading your journey behind this build up and glad the stem polished up nicely!

I ride steel bikes mainly for their function so I'm all for what you're doing there. Build it up and ride her hard!

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1972 LeJeune World Champion - Nuovo Record
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby thecaptn » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:38 am

I don't think this bike should ever be ridden, it should be hung in an art gallery!
Beautiful.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby Jean » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:06 am

:D Looking very good. What is it about Colnagos that seem to really attract everyone? Something about the combination of paint, chrome & straight forks.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby Dan » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:28 am

I agree - looks great.

I also applaud the effort on the stem, but wonder at the wisdom of spending that kind of time on a 25.4 stem - surely the nitto bars are 26.0 clamp, hence your issues fitting them?
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby singlespeedscott » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:00 am

thecaptn wrote:I don't think this bike should ever be ridden, it should be hung in an art gallery!
Beautiful.

Sacrilege. No bike should be hung up and never ridden.

Bike looks nice. I think a new Cinelli stem and bar with a Campagnolo seat post would suit the Italian build better though.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby lloyd83 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:46 am

singlespeedscott wrote:Sacrilege. No bike should be hung up and never ridden.

Bike looks nice. I think a new Cinelli stem and bar with a Campagnolo seat post would suit the Italian build better though.


True, true but Matthew acknowledges that some of the componentry would lose some C&V street cred :)

I just look forward to his ride report and when he realises that carbon frames are a step back in performance :D Oh no, I didn't just open up a can of worms...
1972 LeJeune World Champion - Nuovo Record
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1995 Serotta Legend Ti - SRAM Red
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby lloyd83 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:49 am

Dan wrote:I agree - looks great.

I also applaud the effort on the stem, but wonder at the wisdom of spending that kind of time on a 25.4 stem - surely the nitto bars are 26.0 clamp, hence your issues fitting them?


The stem is 26.0. Maybe he didn't want to scratch the Nitto bars while sliding it on? Am I right Matthew?
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby Dan » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:02 pm

lloyd83 wrote:
Dan wrote:I agree - looks great.

I also applaud the effort on the stem, but wonder at the wisdom of spending that kind of time on a 25.4 stem - surely the nitto bars are 26.0 clamp, hence your issues fitting them?


The stem is 26.0. Maybe he didn't want to scratch the Nitto bars while sliding it on? Am I right Matthew?


Fair enough dude. 99% of the forty billion kalloy stems ever produced were 25.4 clamp diameter, though.

Similarly, if someone wants to spend 3 hours polishing a kalloy that's their choice - I'd be going with Scott's suggestion and getting a nice cinelli for it, though.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby lloyd83 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:18 pm

Dan wrote:
lloyd83 wrote:
Dan wrote:I agree - looks great.

I also applaud the effort on the stem, but wonder at the wisdom of spending that kind of time on a 25.4 stem - surely the nitto bars are 26.0 clamp, hence your issues fitting them?


The stem is 26.0. Maybe he didn't want to scratch the Nitto bars while sliding it on? Am I right Matthew?


Fair enough dude. 99% of the forty billion kalloy stems ever produced were 25.4 clamp diameter, though.

Similarly, if someone wants to spend 3 hours polishing a kalloy that's their choice - I'd be going with Scott's suggestion and getting a nice cinelli for it, though.


I agree on both fronts Dan and I had mistakenly thought Kalloys were mainly 26.0 (or maybe that's just the recent stuff that I'm aware of). That's a lot of polishing work and could only admire the commitment as I probably would have gone of Cinelli (or 3T) front end myself :)
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby Dan » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:20 pm

I'm shuddering at the thought of keeping that high polish finish intact - partly the reason I mostly have black stems ;)
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby spirito » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:48 pm

So much conjecture for a stem :lol:

perhaps we're all passionate, mad and obsessed with this stuff. :mrgreen:
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby briztoon » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:54 pm

I'm drooling all over my keyboard.

Beautiful.

This is my dream bling bike.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby open roader » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:00 pm

I did consider all options re- compontentry and I could have stretched the extra dollars to spend on hunting down parts to make up a period correct Campagnolo 10 speed groupset, but I'm now set on compact cranks so funds and sourcing nice pieces aside, once the penny dropped that there was no compacts avail. then the decision to go with 11speed was a minor relief of sorts and gave me freedom to choose some slightly more practical bars, seatpost and stem now that the need for conformity was no longer there.

I don't like 2 bolt seat posts, the post on my C50 is lovely to look at but was a PIA to set up and I'm one that likes to remove the saddle occasionally for undercleaning and clamp bolt thread cleaning as I tend to get road fling up and under the seat/clamp area and don't like it to stay there too long. So a single bolt Nitto post with a strong repuation for holding fast and less than half the price of a similar Campag. post was an easy decision to make.

From looking at lots of bar/stem combinations I quickly learned that getting an exacting degree of poilished finish on both items was going to be difficult. I like reasonably short drops on my bars but did not want to detract from the retro/classic lines of this bike with a tight ergo design bar but also knew I could not happily live with the deep drops of a trad. bend bar. I did not like the mostly anodised finish on the Cinelli bars avail. nor did I like the price. I spend a good 10 days deliberating on a handlebar purchase. The Nitto Mod 55 bars come in my width, have a reasonably short drop of 135mm and a reach of 95mm which I also can live with and they polish up nicely to compliment the stem.

As for the stem, I looked at 3T, Deda and Cinelli but none of their stems offered anything visually more than the Kalloy stem i had polished up. The Kalloy stem is perhaps a low brow brand for a build like this, however, the shape takes my fancy with a partly hidden clamp bolt, the angle of the stem is spot on, it cost me a fraction of the Italian alternatives and it performs the same function. Admittedly had I reaslised it was a 24.5mm clamp I'd have overlooked it but with a small amount of leverage the bars slid into place and shall remain there......

Matching polished finish is acceptable to me.
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I like the Kalloy stem's profile
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby jacob_T » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:17 pm

I'm normally not really in to Colnago's but that is a seriously nice looking piece of kit.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby open roader » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:24 pm

Dan wrote:I'm shuddering at the thought of keeping that high polish finish intact - partly the reason I mostly have black stems ;)


I'm relishing the thought...... :wink:

It is quite possible I like looking at my bikes more than riding them.......... 8)
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby open roader » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:33 pm

The one build item for today was front brake caliper bolt on. No big deal, the medium length grub nut fitted the fork just so with plenty of thread contact made. I'm interested to see how long the printed lettering remains on these brakes as I like the non drive side pic here with no lettering visible......... Again, another wet and windy day today so indoor natural light photos only.....

Forgot to wipe my greasy thumb print off the fork shoulder..........
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I like the plain no printed logo look of this side on shot.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby Dan » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:57 pm

Hey, I agree on all points. You've more patience than me, that's for sure.

Now, I promise I'm not being picky, but what's the gap between the crown race and the lower headset cup? Just a test fit?
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby The 2nd Womble » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:35 pm

Open Roader, I hate you. This is more or less the colour scheme I'm planning on for the Concorde minus the Colnago graphics. Watching this build with UBER interest.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby open roader » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:43 pm

Dan wrote:Now, I promise I'm not being picky, but what's the gap between the crown race and the lower headset cup? Just a test fit?


I want picky in case I have not got something right so cheers! However, in this case it's the 2 or 3 turns the headset is backed off to as I want to pack more grease onto the bearings before closing off.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby familyguy » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:44 pm

Dan wrote:Hey, I agree on all points. You've more patience than me, that's for sure.

Now, I promise I'm not being picky, but what's the gap between the crown race and the lower headset cup? Just a test fit?


This. Looks like it's not seated properly. Shiny bike is shiny, oooooh.

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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby grantw » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:49 pm

Am enjoying this, great looking bike thus far. I might also add that your photography skills seem every bit as good as your stem polishing.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby open roader » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:01 pm

grantw wrote:Am enjoying this, great looking bike thus far. I might also add that your photography skills seem every bit as good as your stem polishing.


Thanks - I do my best.

I sell succulent plants online via mail order - have done so for just over 10 years so I have learned a little on how to present a product. I use natural light where ever possible and take a custom white balance setting before shooting and save my images in the correct colour space for web presentation. I also make use of a tri-pod where possible. Currently using my trusty old Nikon D700 and a truly fabulous Micro Nikkor Ai 55mm f/3.5 lens which is the lens I use for all my online sales.
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Re: Colnago Master X-Light build - let it shine....

Postby munga » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:06 pm

bottom bearing in upside down?
pitty43 wrote:Thanks all for your help. Better change my Gumtree add now.

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