I’ll get some better pictures in the next week or two and get them posted, but I’ve been riding the 770 a bit lately. I took it out to North Central Cyclery for a couple weeks, to have them do a few things for me. First, because it’s a 30 year old bike, I wanted to have a more experienced set of eyes look it over and assure me that it wouldn’t explode under me. The frame is in great shape. Second, I wanted to get some new bar tape on it, and notwithstanding my various skills and abilities, a good bar-taper I am not. Third, while they were at it, the bike needed some new cables and housing. That’s firmly within my wheelhouse, but they had the bike and the housing I needed, so why not. Fourth, and most importantly, wheels.
The bike came from the factory with 32h tubulars on it, and the wheels it had when I got it were not the originals. They were super-heavy, vintage 36h Wolber clinchers with some old, cruddy Shimano hubs and non-butted SS spokes. Those wheels were super-heavy, and were an unknown pedigree…given that I plan on riding this bike, I wanted wheels I could trust. I talked about doing something light and spiffy, and Tobie and Chad insisted on a vintage look for a vintage bike. We ended up meeting in the middle, with silver Mavic Open Pro rims (32h), some vintage Campy NOS hubs, and silver Sapim CX-Ray spokes. Unless you look closely, you can’t tell that the spokes are bladed, and CX-Rays are my favorite spokes. The wheels came out fantastic, and even for 32h with vintage hubs, they’re only about 1600 grams.
I’m running a set of Continental Grand Prix Classic tires…gumwall, 25c, vintage tread design…but coupled with a modern technology casing.
Sorry…click through for the pic.
How does it ride? Pretty fantastic. These are initial impressions, and I want to get a lot more miles on the bike before I come to any conclusions, but thus far:
- I’m amazed by how zippy it is. It’s a fast, responsive frame.
- It feels like you’re sitting directly over the rear tire. I want to compare geometry with my Madone, but this feels like the chain stays are non-existent. I have the wheels as far back in the dropouts as they go, and nonetheless, it handles FAST.
- The steel frame is a dream over bumps and irregularities. It really, really dampens vibration nicely.
- That said, the flexibility of the BB is palpable. Under hard, sprint efforts, you can feel the BB moving (and can objectively measure that movement by chainring rub against the derailleur, timed to downward force on the pedals). It’s not “flexible” per se…but it isn’t nearly as stiff as the Madone (or the Moots).
- Wowsers are the stock bars narrow. Sprinting or standing up when on the hoods or tops seems like a death-defying action. Any hard effort means getting in the drops, just for stability. I’ll perhaps get used to it–it reminds me of what it first felt like to ride a bike with drop-bars.
- Also in the realm of unusual is the feeling of the brake levers and their placement on the bars. From someone used to a nice comfortable grip and brifter, classic brake levers are a change.
- I had thought shifting was going to be a problem, but it’s amazing how fast you adjust to down tube shifters. I can’t quickly shift huge amounts (because of the need to use both hands), so it’s not as easy to sprint as with the Madone or Moots…and if you’re going to sprint, you’re going to give that away when you reach for the down tube…but you get used to the actual shifting quickly. The shifting isn’t indexed (obviously), but it’s very intuitive to figure out how much to move the lever to shift a single gear. The front derailleur cage is pretty narrow, so get used to trimming that front chainring, even with a 6 speed rear end.
- Speaking of 6 speed rear end…I’m running a 13-21 cassette and 53/39 chainring. 53-21 feels a LOT different than 53-25 or 53-28. I find myself exploring the little chainring a lot more often. It’s also funny how easy it is to feel geared out on a gentle downhill with a tailwind or no wind. 53-13 is good for about 29mph at 90rpm and 38mph at 120rpm. So in reality, I should be good for up to around that 38mph zone under a light load (e.g. downhill, tailwind). But with narrow handlebars and very fast handling, rolling along at 90+rpm and 30+mph is a surprisingly brave undertaking. Local “descents” that are non-events on the Moots or Madone at higher speeds are a bit more unnerving on the 770, even at lower speeds. A significant chunk of that is getting to know the bike and its handling…but I’m surprised at how big of an adjustment that is.
- The wheels are fantastic–Chad did a great job on them, and they spin up really nicely. They also look awesome on the bike. (Thanks Chad and NCC). That shouldn’t come as a surprise…Chad has built wheels for me for the Madone, the Moots, the Vaya, the Spearfish and more…and they’ve all been fantastic.
So what’s the preliminary conclusion? I’m surprised at both ends of the spectrum. I’m surprised by how ‘fast’ it handles and how narrow the bars feel, but also surprised by how fast it rolls and how modern it feels. With wider bars and a more modern drivetrain, it could pass as a modern steel racebike.
I’ll keep updating as I ride more…it’s a really fun bike to ride, and surprisingly engaging.