Well, I succumbed.
After so many road rides on my commuter/road bike with its 1×12 gearing, I realised that having a proper drop bar road bike would be nice because switching the wheel set on Battle Cat, my gravel bike, becomes annoying quickly with my riding being 60/40 gravel/road, and I really don’t want to put aero bars on my gravel bike.
When I saw a good offer for a used Litespeed road bike, I pounced. It’s a 2004—I think—Litespeed Tuscany and it had a mix of Campagnolo Record/Chorus 2×10 components, Zonda G3 & G4 wheels, a 46/36 carbon FSA crankset, and a 13–26 cassette.
Hopping on the bike for the first time was a strange feeling. Not only had I never ridden a Campagnolo group1 before, the geometry was completely off. And I mean … what?
The previous owner of the bike supposedly is 2 cm shorter than I am and has a 1 cm shorter inseam length. It felt like I was lying on the bike and not sitting on it. My only guess is that the previous owner must have a long torso and long arms. I wasn’t able to do anything about the crazy long reach of the drop bars or the 110 mm stem or the 35 mm setback of the seat post but all of this was going to change anyway.
I was going to completely dismantle the bike and upgrade the components, mostly with things I still had in my workshop and some which I bought used off classifieds:
- Full mechanical Shimano Ultegra R8000 groupset with a 11-speed 11–32 cassette.
- The Easton EA90 crankset with a 46/30 chainring, that I ran on my gravel bike, because I like my legs and the hills here are steep.
- An Easton EA70 seat post and stem. The seat post has no setback and the stem is 70 mm long.
- A Canyon H17 drop bar replaces the very strangely shaped FSA drop bars.
- The Fabric Scoop Pro Shallow saddle that served me on my commuter until then.
- Specialized HD Wrap bar tape.2
I searched for a new wheel set, too, but anything that could have be seen as an improvement over the Campagnolo wheels that were already on the bike would’ve made this project unnecessarily expensive. To my utter delight I found that Campagnolo used to make (and maybe still makes) 11-speed Shimano HG free hubs for these old wheel sets and the switch was just as easy as with the DT Swiss wheels that I’ve come to get used to over the past few years. Considering that this wheel set is 14+ years old, I was rather impressed, and really; it looks hella cool.
The tyres are Continental Four Seasons in 25 mm and barely show signs of wear, so they’re sticking around, too.3
This past weekend, after I had all components and tools I needed, including a Shimano ISIS bottom bracket removal tool that was kindly lent to me by the owner of a local bike shop, and I began the process of disassembling bike, cleaning everything thoroughly, checking for as of then unseen defects, and putting it back together with new parts.
The process involved a few neat little bike maintenance firsts for me: shortening a carbon steerer tube, installing a BSA bottom bracket, and setting up modern symmetric dual pivot road bike rim brakes — and there I was thinking properly aligning disc brake pads was fiddly. I’ve learned quite a bit and I’m happy about it.
The end result looks like this:
I’m still getting used to the horizontal top tube—it kind of betrays the age of the frame—but the first proper ride this morning was gobs of fun. I picked a short but taxing route up a familiar hill with a manageable gradient to see how it climbs and down a proper descent to see how fast it would go.4
During the assembly process, I kept wondering what to call this new bike and it came to me while blasting down the road from St. Peter towards Eschbach: sticking with the „Masters of the Universe“ theme the bike will carry the name „Swift Wind“.
The aero bars are coming on over the next few days and I need different pedals for it but I am very much looking forward to all of the riding I’ll be doing with it.
Side note: For a ~ 14 years old group set, shifting is very crisp, akin to the SRAM X01 Eagle group I have on my commuter bike. Each downshift is accompanied by a solid thunk with a very positive lever action. I can understand why these components are still as expensive as they are. ↩︎
I’ve been using this bar tape on my gravel bike for a long time now and it’s not only very comfortable and grippy, it’s also very forgiving while being applied. For an amateur like me, that’s a blessing. ↩︎
They’re so skinny compared to the 38 mm–42 mm rubber I’m used to from my gravel bike. ↩︎
It went fast. ↩︎