Look Who Got A Makeover!

Back in March I sent my Milwaukee back to Ben’s Cycle for refinishing:

While I don’t keep track of these things, since receiving it back in 2015 it may have been my most-ridden bicycle, since a road bike with long-reach brakes (technically medium-reach if you’re pedantic) is up for pretty much anything. However, as a consequence of this heavy use–and of course my own caustic perspiration–it had developed a case of the bubonic plague that erupted from beneath the powder coat:

Since sending it off, I returned the Vengeance Bike to Classic Cycle. I also gave the Litespeed to my elder son. That left me with the Normcore Bike for all my Fredly endeavors, and I tried to tell myself I didn’t mind, since this is all anybody really needs out of a road bike anyway, right?

Then, yesterday morning, the UPS guy arrived, and guess what he had?

Even before unpacking it I knew that the once-utilitarian Milwaukee was now something special:

You can’t really appreciate a bicycle’s finish until you get it in the sunlight, so I held the fork to the window and tried to get a sense of it:

The “ill” is for “illusion,” not “illness:”

Though in the parlance of the young people it is pretty sick.

I’d been telling myself that when the frame finally arrived I’d take my time assembling it, since I wanted this to be my “nice” road bike, and it’s not like I don’t have lots of other bikes to ride in the meantime. Nevertheless, as soon as I opened the box I knew I had to get it together RIGHT NOW. So I proceeded to do so in my usual rushed, workstand-less fashion:

Even in my haste the care Ben’s had taken with the frame did not elude me. The surfaces were faced, the threads were clean, and they’d even fitted new cable guides, stops, seat clamp, and bottle bolts. I’m not certain, but based on the drips you see on the cardboard I’m guessing they also treated the inside of the frame.

Since I’ve been obsessed with friction shifting lately I’d set aside a pair of Rivendell Silvers in anticipation of this moment. I also had a cockpit from one of the many iterations of the Ironic Orange Julius Bike that I hoped I could graft right on there:


Alas, the cable lengths were all wrong, so rather than deal with unwrapping and re-wrapping bars, cutting new housing, and all the rest of it, for expediency’s sake I figured I’d just put all the old stuff right back on there and make any changes further down the line:

This proved to be a pretty straightforward operation, and before too long I had everything together. I was even able to reuse all the old shifter and brake cables. (Yes, a refinished bike at least deserves new cables and housing and bar tape and all that stuff, but remember, I’M IMPATIENT.) Then I finally took it outside for a test ride, which is when I began to fully appreciate what I had:

Come on, that’s a good-looking bike:

It’s amazing what a little color can do:

Yes, in a perfect world, I’d fit it with silver components to make it into more of a modern classic, and I certainly reserve the right to do that at some point in the future. I’ll also freshen it up with new cables and tape, maybe when and/or if I do my friction shifter retrofit. But in the meantime this’ll do just fine, and there are still plenty of little details to entertain the eye:

I’d also suggest that the worn parts help bring the sparkly bike down to earth:

As does the mixing of Shimano and Campagnolo:

I’ve been using Campagnolo-splined wheels on this bike for quite awhile now with good results. Plenty of people use Shimano wheels with Campagnolo drivetrains, but I’m one of the very few people who does the opposite, since Shimano-splined wheels are ubiquitous and there are like a gazillion cassette options, whereas there’s absolutely no reason to seek out Campagnolo-splined wheels if you’re not already using Campagnolo shifters. In fact, it’s so rare that if you do an Internet search to find out whether it will work, nothing comes up. So if you’re doing an Internet search wondering if your Campagnolo 10-speed wheels will work with a Shimano 10-speed drivetrain, I can tell you emphatically that the answer is “maybe,” since it’s been working just fine for me.

I suspect at some point I’ll also fill up some of that generous brake clearance with more rubber:

But for now anyway I plan to ride it exactly as is:

Until now I’d have said there’s nothing more fun than a new bike, but it turns out there is, and it’s a newly painted (or powder coated) one, since it looks completely different, yet it’s still exactly the same bike you’ve always known and loved.

Anyway, I think the finish turned out great, and I look forward to ruining it.

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