Friday, June 30, 2017

Bicycle Art: Condor Baracchi

Subtitle: 34 years in the making

Marcus and Agata are not prone to Ostentation, but we are so very proud of something exquisitely old and beautiful that is now on display to anybody visiting us in England.

Yes, it is Marcus' Condor Baracchi bicycle serial number 2583 meaning the 25th bicycle manufactured from Condor Cycles in 1983. As of the 17th June it has reached the age of 34.

The Original Aerodynamic Shimano Dura Ace
Until the early 1980's bicycle components were large and clunky but all of this changed in about 1981 when Dura Ace AX was introduced.


The AX series as compared to others in the range had some design innovations most of which set the scene for other manufacturers to follow. On the plus they were innovative. On the minus 34 years later there were some disasters

- The pedals have a non standard diameter thread to the cranks meaning that you can't mount standard pedals. So when these run out, i.e. the bearing races wear, then you are screwed.

Briefly, at the time people made some converters to attach regular pedals. I thought: I'll never need them. Oopsm that was a big mistake :-(

- The brakes require specially shaped pads, not available anywhere

From the catalog ...

Believe me, even with new pads these brakes were not very effective, even when new!

My Build

After some polishing and reworking, here is the Condor restored as best I can.  34 years later this bicycle is still a beautiful machine.

700 x 18C tyres.  Back in the day when a thinner, lighter tyre actually made you go faster.

Originally I had the Mavic SSC tubular rims, but these were not ideal (understatement++) for London riding. I gave them back to Condor (free) and bought the next best thing at the time some Mavic Ceramic clinchers.

Due to gross stupidity I forgot to clean the bicycle rim edges on my last cycle so many years ago. So today in 2017 I find the surfaces totally pitted. Eaten away. Attention to detail Marcus! Today and for all my bicycles used in the last decade, at the end of every cycle I clean the rims and even the tyres. Once bitten.

The original Aero handlebar cabling, featuring slots actually cut into a standard aluminium bar.

A truly wonderful Condor Build.  Condor Cycles of Grays Inn Road London is still very much alive. 

Thanks Condor for a superb bicycle that gave me so many years of service, at last enjoying its retirement artfully.