Three Appropriate Bikes for Eroica California

Selecting the appropriate bicycle for an event like Eroica California can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. While these three bicycles don’t represent your only options, they do present some interesting notes. Ranking these noble steeds in rarity (i.e. cost) helps put things in perspective. As stated however, these are not your only options…

You’ve got exactly two months to find yourself a bike. Start by looking local. Craigslist, your local shop, swaps, flea markets, classifieds and eBay. Don’t go overboard. If this is going to be a one-time deal for you, why not ask a collector friend to borrow their bike? Or, if you want to go down the vintage bicycle rabbit hole, there are two options in this trio that are sure to whet your whistle. Or bell…


1950 Umberto Testi
Frejus cottered cranks
Universal 50 Side Pull Brakes with Gloria Bartali Levers
Campagnolo Paris-Roubaix shifter with 5-speed Regina Freewheel
(2nd Gen “suicide shifter” – first gen was “cambrio corsa”)
Ambrosia Bar and Stem
Wood tubular rims laced to 36 hole Campagnolo 1st gen hubs
Brooks Swallow Saddle
Minerva Rally Timer


1972 Jack Taylor Tour of Britain
Still has the original Fulton St. Cyclery decal from SF.
Nuovo Record gruppo
Cinelli 1a stem
Giro d Italia 64 bars
Zeus seat post
Phil Wood CHP pedals
Regal Saddle

1970’s Bianchi
Painted frame pump
Original bottle
Original Pirelli Gran Premio tires (!!!)
Lower end, stamped dropouts, chunky cast lugs, straight gauge tubing.
Not the rarest, or best model from that era, but it’s a looker and it photographs well.


What am I riding? You’ll have to wait for that one. Still undecided about the Eroica? You’ve got a few days to decide whether or not to register. Maybe my course reportage will change your mind.

  • Charles Southgate


  • c_j_drawbridge

    Over the weekend I came across a 1970’s complete Colnago that had been posted on Craigslist for $650 – the posting was only 8 minutes old. I quickly responded to the ad with some basic questions. He replied to my email with “Sold”. 8 minutes. Sheesh.

    • Tommaso Gomez

      Are you sure it’s authentic? I’m not an expert but $650 seems curiously low for any vintage steel Colnago. Either way, if it even looks even remotely authentic, it’s probably worth more than $650.

      • c_j_drawbridge

        I agree, which is why I suspect it sold within 10 minutes. For every ten vintage Colnagos listed on Ebay selling for thousands, there is likely another sitting in some persons cellar, the owner of which has no idea or care about it’s value – they merely want it out of the cellar.

  • Morgan Taylor


  • Edward Mather

    I bagged a mid 80s Bianchi for this summer’s L’Eroica Britannia via GumTree. £100. Nice! (Mind you its black, not Celeste.)

    • c_j_drawbridge

      Maybe I am mistaken, but I thought (I had read) these bikes had to be older than 1978?

    • c_j_drawbridge

      Sorry – I had that backwards – nothing newer than 1987. Apologies.

      • John Watson


  • writertype


  • Tinj

    That Minerva Rally Timer is AWESOME. Definitely enjoying the personal details on each of these builds.

  • brad lewis

    Shouldn’t you already have a bike for this event. I’m hearing suggestions on how to get a bike. The people that don’t have a bike already are posers. It is a passion , something that evokes emotions from years of cycling old school.

    • John Watson

      I don’t have a vintage bike because I sold all of mine when I downsized the stable. It’s not about being a “poser.” Ever hear the expression, happy wife, happy life?

    • shona

      Dear Brad Lewis,
      People like you are what keep new people from getting into the sport. I am from bike polo I see such stupid ideas all the time. What often happens is people who start are called posers then they end up being superstars and more passionate then the people who called them posers. Just remember you were once a poser. Maybe you still are. Actually I am pretty sure you are. I am tired of people like you in cycling.Who cares. Just be supportive that people want to ride their bike.

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  • Bob Freitas

    There are lots of places to find old bikes. I have bought them at Thrift Stores,local non profits, Ebay, Craigslist. Try asking at a Bike Shop they might have something out back. My friends have tipped me off to bikes for Sale (My Jack Taylor came to me after I lamented to a Taylor owner about having looked for one for a long time, he said he had seen one of Craigslist. I talked to the seller and had a friend go and give it the eyeball. Now its mine) Even my Wife, who frequents Estate Sales has called me about bikes she sees ($ 200 Mondia Special) Bike Swap meets are another great place(There will be one as part of the EROICA California )

    • John Watson

      Yep – all of which I recommended doing in the post… ;-)

  • Area45

    Good post John. I don’t have a vintage bike but maybe in the future. I wish I could use my Pelican as is. Maybe next year.

  • Jim Schuster

    That Bianchi looks a lot like my first road bike.
    Is it Campy Valentino eqipped?

  • Bob Freitas

    I have seen people buy a bike at the Bike Swap before the event and ride it the next day. Probably works best if you ride a common size, are a good mechanic ,know a good bike when you see it and are one lucky person.