2015 NAHBS – March 6-8 - The Kentucky International Convention Center
“The Best Thing I Saw at NAHBS” – Day One

Although my colleague Anna Schwinn beat me to the punch by profiling it first, I’m sticking with my nostalgic choice: the Team “Z” LeMond bike circa 1990, made by Calfee, and with Campagnolo C-Record components, including the beautifully sculpted Delta brakeset.

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When you look at the bike, if not for the brakes and the downtube shifters, you could roll up on the start line of a race today and fit right in – that’s how advanced Calfee’s design was twenty-five years ago. It proves that a custom, handmade builder can make the template that a thousand corporate copycats will try to emulate.

OK, so the paint is a little nineties-gaudy, but it brings me back to a happy time in my life. I was twenty, in college and spending my summer working the occasional shift at a bike shop between crisscrossing the eastern and midwest U.S. in search of glory at the latest downtown criterium or back country stage race.

Our Washington D.C. area sponsor bike shop had a deal with LeMond bicycles, and they got me on a mint green Columbus TSX frameset. For a nearly six-foot five gorilla like myself, LeMond’s production geometry fit the bill, and I could get a stock frameset with a 60cm top tube – pretty common today but rare back then. No, it wasn’t a rebadged steel Della Santa or carbon Calfee that LeMond and his Coors Light and later “Z” teammates used, but it was a solid workhorse that gave me five years of loyal service at the height of my racing exploits.

And what’s so bad about bright paint anyway?  The Great Recession is over, people, at least here in the U.S.. We’re riding our bikes for fun and fitness, not to attend a funeral. I, for one, hope that bright yellow will become the new black.

Now as I’m older and think back wistfully on those times twenty-five years ago, I wish I had kept that LeMond frameset, that first-generation 8-speed Campagnolo Record groupset, the Mavic GP4 rims and Vittoria CX/CG tires, the SwissTex fabric jersies (I still have a couple of those!) and my Brancale shoes.

I really wish I’d kept my Campagnolo Cobalto brakeset. Predictably, the (faux) cobalt jewels popped off the front nuts and I simulated them by painting the hollow with a brush and enamel paint labelled “cobalt blue”. I think I sold them to someone 15 years or so ago for pocket change after dual-pivot brakes had changed the game of stopping a bike.

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But I really wish I’d gone for the Delta brakes. I’d been warned to stay away from them: they squeal like a hog in mud, they’re heavy and very difficult to adjust.

Whatever. If I’d sprung for the Delta brakes, I could sell them on eBay. And comfortably retire.