Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration (Part 5)

Colnago Nuovo Mexico Bicycle Restoration

Welcome to part 5 of my Colnago Nuovo Mexico restoration. In the previous parts I have discussed the following parts of this restoration;

Choosing the Finishing Kit

There are a quite a few parts required to build a bike from scratch. I have already discussed the Campagnolo Super Record parts in part 3 of this article, so now I will discuss the finishing kit.

Handle Bars

3TTT or Tecnologia del Tubo Torino (Turin Tube Technology) started making components in 1961 and developed a reputation for lightweight racing bicycle componentry. They still manufacture biycle components today (2020) under the shortened brand name 3T.

As I have 3T carbon handle bars on my modern road bike, I wanted to see how their early predecessors performed. 3TTT is an Italian company so these parts fit nicely into my Italian build concept. These aluminium handle bars were very popular in the 1980’s and available in different ‘bends’ to suit different rider preferences.

I bought a set of 3TTT Competizione ‘Merckx’ (bend) handle bars. They are stamped 44 which is the width of the bars measured from the outside edge of the drops, they are 42cm width when measured centre to centre.

These bars from the 1980’s and in excellent condition. When buying used handle bars, there is often bar tape residue and scratches, but most of these are covered by bar tape. The area you want to be clean from scratches is the exposed middle section of the bars (where the brand engravings are located) as this area is always visible. Unfortunately people often damage this area by recklessly fitting or removing the stem without first expanding it slightly.

Looking at older 3TTT catalogues, they didn’t specify many dimensions for their handle bars. I measured the drop as 145mm and reach as 90mm. The stem clamp diameter is 26mm which was a very popular Italian standard back in the 1980’s. Cinelli bars and stems from this period however were commonly a larger 26.4mm diameter, so it is not recommended to mix ‘n’ match parts of these 2 different standards. Apparently Cinelli reverted to the 26mm standard in 1998.

Handle Bar Tape

There are a huge amount of options when it comes to choosing bar tape. You can buy traditional cloth wrap, cello tape, leather, cork etc. but I decided to use modern Fizik 2mm Superlight Classic Touch bar tape (white) for a few reasons;

  • I like the perforated leather appearance.
  • I use 2mm Fizik tape on my modern road bike and I like this thickness.
  • If you are going to use white bar tape, you want one that is easy to clean and this is about as good as it gets. But be careful when using new gloves as the black dye in the palm can stain the tape (as I found out).
Fizik Superlight 2mm Bar Tape White
Fizik Superlight 2mm Bar Tape White

Note: Vintage bar tapes were commonly wrapped starting at the stem and finishing at the drops which leaves a nice clean line without the need for finishing tape. Modern bar tape is typically wrapped in the opposite direction with a finishing tape applied near the stem. I chose to wrap my tape using modern method.

Handle Bar Tape End Plugs

Colnago Bar End Plugs
Colnago Bar End Plugs

Whilst I am using modern bar tape, the included Fizik bar end plugs are designed for the wider diameter tubing of modern handle bars. You may be able to make them fit by filing down the plastic anchor tabs, but I prefer to use a nice set of reproduction bar ends and these ones have the Colnago logo. They are inexpensive and can be purchased in a wide variety of styles. More importantly, they are sized to fit into the narrower 20mm internal diameter of vintage handle bars.

Quill Stem

I found a new old stock (NOS) 3TTT Attacco Criterium stem to match the 3TTT handle bars. This stem sits between the basic ‘Record’ stem and premium AR84 stem. I chose a black stem to match the black saddle. This stem is 100mm long which is a bit shorter than the 120mm stem on my modern road bike. There are a number of reasons I went for a shorter stem and you can read more about that in my modern vs retro bike article.

The stem has a handle bar clamp diameter of 26mm and is designed to fit into a standard 22.2mm diameter fork steerer. You can see ‘st 88 100’ stamped into the base if the stem. I believe this markings represent the manufacturing date as 1988 and stem length of 100mm. The minimum insertion line is marked 60mm above the bottom of the stem (overall height is 135mm). If you fit the stem at the minimum insertion line, the centre of the handle bars sits approx. 55mm above the headset lock nut. You can lower the stem, but not safely raise it above the minimum insertion line.

Saddle

When deciding which saddle to buy for this build, my preferences were either a Selle Italia Turbo or a Selle San Marco Rolls. Both fine Italian saddles, but I decided to buy a Selle San Marco Rolls saddle in black Rino leather. For the history buffs, the Rolls saddle arrived in 1983 and quickly became an icon. It was the saddle of choice for legendary riders like Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond and was a favourite of the pro peleton and velodrome until the late 2000’s.

The Rolls is a modern classic covered in real leather with brass trimmings. The goods news is that Selle San Marco still make this saddle today (2020) to the original specification. So you can buy a brand new authentic vintage saddle from the 1980’s without having to pay NOS pricing. If you must have a genuine 1980’s saddle, I suggest you still buy a new one to ride and keep the original vintage saddle for when you sell the bike.

Interestingly the Rolls saddle requires a ‘breaking-in’ period, so it may feel different after a bit of use. Personally I love the look of these saddles, but I find the more ’rounded’ profile less comfortable than my modern Specialized Power saddle. Riding on the Rolls I feel as though I am sitting on top of the saddle rather than into the saddle. But, riding a vintage bike is all about embracing the differences, this is what makes it so special.

Biddon Cage

Elite Ciussi Biddon Cage
Elite Ciussi Biddon Cage

There are plenty of great options when it comes to selecting a biddon cage. These early 1980’s Colnago frames only have one set of screws to mount a cage on the down tube, so there is capacity for only one drink bottle.

Essentially I don’t want the biddon cage to be a big feature of this bike, but it is nice to have some detailing, so I chose the Elite Ciussi Bidon cage. This cage is made from aluminium and the detailing on the ‘buttons’ ties in nicely with all the other vintage parts. Elite is an Italian company so this product also meets my Italian build concept. It is a modern reproduction, not vintage. Elite also make a steel version which I have on my Colnago Master.

Article Continues on the Next Page

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article so far. On the next page you can read about how the parts are installed.

Article References

I hope you found this article interesting. I have listed the following website pages as general references.

Selle San Marco Rolls
Handle bar standards over the years
Bar Tape standards over the years

Disclaimer

Please remember that this information is only to be used as a guide.
I consider myself an enthusiast, not an expert. Whilst I enjoy working on my own bikes, I am not a qualified bicycle mechanic. The content of this article is purely illustrative and does not constitute professional advice. For your own safety, this type of work should only be undertaken by a qualified bicycle mechanic. Incorrect assembly of parts could result in equipment damage, personal injury or death.

About Me.

I have been riding and working on my own bikes for many years now. I wanted to share my experiences, knowledge and research with others. My aim is to inspire people to get involved in all aspects of this amazing sport. Cheers.

Comments.

I welcome reader feedback in the comments section. Should you wish to suggest an amendment, please include a note advising the source of your information so that myself and other readers can ascertain the accuracy of your information. Note: Trolling or argumentative comments will be removed as they are counter-productive.

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