Ye Olde Rapido

Quite a few months ago, Bob and I motored out to the Silver Comet Depot to ride the trail. Waiting for us in the median in the middle of the parking lot were an ancient exercycle and this bike:

I can’t find much about these on the internet. What little I can find indicate that they were cheap knockoffs of Italian design. The frame says it was made in Czechoslovakia. The hubs and axles were unusually narrow (in width and diameter, respectively), leading me to fear that much of the componentry would be odd sizes, but thankfully everything else has proven to be standard. I used a Dremel to ground out the slots on the frame and fork to accept normal axles, and with a little muscle, the frame and fork can be spread to fit modern hubs.

When I started stripping it down, I was hoping to clean up and reuse a fair amount of it to build up a fixie, but as I took it apart and got to see what shape it was in, it became obvious that most of the components were ruined. Thankfully, I think the frame is usable. One of the seatstays is a little bent and there’s some light rust here & there, but overall it’s in passable shape. And bonus, it’s surprisingly light!

The guys over at No Brakes have been helping me tear it down, and soon they can help me rebuild it. They’ve ordered some Velocity rims and Miche hubs for me, and once the rims are in I’m going to take the frame and fork to be sand blasted and powder coated to match the rims (Ti Grey). I’ve picked up a Nitto bullhorn/stem combo, and a bunch of yellow bits: Crank Bros Candy C pedals, Selle San Marco gel saddle, Michelin Speedium tires, and bar tape. I think I’m going to get Miche cranks, BB, cog, headset, and chain. And maybe seatpost, too. Still gotta determine the appropriate diameter.

More news as things progress. Today I took a single-speed ride on my road bike to work more on figuring out what gain ratio I want to start with on the Rapido. I’m becoming keenly aware of how often I stop pedaling, even for a split second, and how different it will be on a fixie when I can’t do that.

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