Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bella Bicicletta - How I built my Ciocc San Cristobal

I've been eyeing classic Italian steel bikes for awhile now.  Always on the lookout for a Bianchi, a De Rosa, a Pinarello, a Colnago...  I hadn't even heard of Ciocc until my friend Todd mentioned that he had one in his basement.  I told him I might be interested and a few days later he introduced me to this lovely early eighties frame and fork.

I love the chromed seat stays and fork, the original paint and decals were in very good condition, and it had a Campagnolo Record headset and bottom bracket that were both in excellent working order.  I found out more about the history of Ciocc- The signature on the top tube is that of the frame builder Giovanni Pelizzoli.  His nickname was "Ciocc," meaning "poker face" in his local dialect.  The model San Cristobal was made in honor of Claudio Corti's 1977 amateur World Cup victory in San Cristobal Spain atop a Ciocc bicycle.  Giovanni Pelizzoli sold the Ciocc brand in 1980, but still makes bicycles today under the brand name Pelizzoli.  He was the subject of a documentary called "Anima D'Acciaio," Soul of Steel.  I've found the trailer on YouTube, but I have no idea how to get ahold of a copy of the full documentary.

I'd thought about building it with a mid-nineties Campagnolo 8 speed ergo group I have lying around, but decided instead to look around for more period-correct eighties parts.  My first stop was Bryan Hoffman, I knew he had some boxes of vintage Campy stuff.  He let me pick through his stash and I left with a pair of C-Record downtube friction shifters, a Record brake set, some C-Record brake levers with white hoods, and a pair of Record 8-speed hubs.  So far so good.  Some of the parts were more of a mid-nineties vintage, but I told myself that an original owner might have upgraded the shifters, brake levers, and wheels anyway.

Next stop was eBay.  Soon I became obsessed with vintage Campy stuff on eBay, but I did well and in short order I had won auctions for a Super Record crankset and a matching Super Record front and rear derailleur.  Man, Campy made some beautiful bicycle components!

I sprayed the inside of the frame with Frame Saver to prepare it for the build.  I also decided I just had to restore the one decal that was missing.  Todd told me that a previous owner had removed the Columbus tubing decal from the seat tube, and with it had peeled off some paint.  He had covered it with some electrical tape.  I found the correct decal by matching it to the Columbus decals on the fork, and found a place online where I could order the replicas.  After peeling off the electrical tape I could see that someone had scraped the old decal off.  I filled the scrape marks with touch-up lacquer and sanded the area smooth before applying the replica decal.  Amazing how satisfying it is to fix something so small!

I already had an Italian 3TTT stem and handlebars from the Kona, so I filled out the rest of the parts bit by bit.  I bought brand new Mavic Open Pro rims from All-Star Bike Shop instead of trying to source vintage rims.  I'm going to ride this bike, not just hang it on a wall, so I wanted a good solid wheel set.  I took the hubs and rims to Matt Lodder to build the wheels.  I ordered a San Marco Regal saddle in white perforato and a set of Vittoria Open Corsa Evo SC tires.  I went to Cycles de Oro in Greensboro for their swap meet, looking for a Campagnolo seatpost and a pair of skewers, but didn't find them.  I did get a pair of Classic Rendezvous vintage looking bottles, though!  The last couple of bits came from Gilbert Anderson at North Road Bicycle Imports in Yanceyville- he had the perfect Nuovo Record 2-bolt seatpost and a nice pair of wheel skewers.

I think the bike turned out beautifully.  It rides like a dream, too.  I love to take it to club rides and show it off.  It turns heads at the coffee shop too!  I couldn't be happier with my first Italian steel bike!


  1. Replies
    1. I have other bikes for randonneuring. I'll ride it on 100K's and probably 200K's, but the long rides will still be on the LeMond for the time being.

  2. what are those funny round things attached to the ends of the crank arms... they look alien!?

  3. FINE piece and nice build. kudos.

  4. FINE piece and nice build. kudos.