Steel is Real
I've always had a bike of some sort. I started riding a little red and white Schwinn around age 6. I guess I had kind of a knack for riding. When my mom brought it home, she first went inside to change into more appropriate riding teacher attire. Being oh, so patient, I hopped on and took off — no extra hands or training wheels required. Then somewhere around 1968, give or take, my little red and white Schwinn evolved into a green Schwinn Sting Ray. The Sting Ray lasted forever. BMX bikes didn't exist yet, but we liked dirt riding and jumping. So, a 10-speed seat was installed in place of the banana seat, and knobby tires were thrown on — an early BMXer if you will. By the mid-1970s, the Sting Ray had given way to an orange, Schwinn Varsity 10-speed. (5-speed by today's nomenclature). The Varsity led a good life, but gave way to 250cc and 480cc two-stroke motocross bikes. The late 1970s and early 1980s found me, hair on fire, racing 40-plus horsepower dirt missiles, but that's another story for another day.
In 1985, I started University studies. This was just about the time of the mountain bike explosion. I bought a mountain bike for commuting; I also fell in love with off-road riding. I've had a mountain bike ever since. Over time, I developed an interest in road riding. In 1994, I purchased a Cannondale R600. Then, in 1996, I upgraded to a Serotta Atlanta (named for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics). I retired the Serotta in 2002. It's been in storage ever since, including climate and non-climate controlled storage. Several weeks ago, I decided to bring it back from the dead. This is that story.
The bike's tubing is Reynolds 531 steel, from across the pond in England.
Serotta builds beautiful bikes with clean lug work, highlighted by an awesome, durable finish. The bikes are American built, using Serotta proprietary tubing from England (Reynolds) or Italy (Columbus). In 1996, component choice was Shimano (Japanese) or Campagnolo (Italian). My build was Reynolds 531, double-butted, lugged steel, size 54cm. It was a comfortable and stable bike sporting a 73.5-degree head-tube angle, and 73-degree seat-tube angle. I spec'd Campagnolo Chorus components and a Mavic Open Pro wheelset.
You can kind of see the beginning of classic Serotta swaging of the chain stays. I believe Colorado Concept Tubing is a nice way of stating proprietary swaging and butting of steel tubing.
Here's a better view of swaged chainstays. Notice the symmetrical curve of the steel.
I don't see a lot of American lug work like this anymore, except from small, boutique, hand-built frame companies.
I wasn't sure what I would run into. I planned on lots of rust and corrosion, but was surprised there was not more. The headset bearing cups were in good condition. This headset is not original (Shimano) for a reason to be disclosed in part II. Nonetheless, it hasn't been tinkered with since 2000, give or take.
The crown race was in good shape. The steerer tube was a bit corroded, but not bad. I cleaned and greased the heck out of everything.
Threaded steerer tubes are becoming fewer and fewer these days.
New brake and derailleur cables and housing were installed.
If anything was to be mated for life in rust, it would be the bottom bracket and shell. The left cup of the bottom bracket came out easily, wagging its tail all the way.
The right bottom bracket cup, however, decided to be a red-headed stepchild. What can I expect after 14-years of neglect? I had to employee "little Bertha" for some leverage. Thankfully I didn't have to call upon "Big Bertha" — she scares me.
I've seen worse. The bottom bracket had not seen the light of day for a while. I think I've only replaced it twice. If I recall correctly, I wrote the okay that is seen in the photo. I had a bad creak and thought it was the bottom bracket, so I put this one in. I found the creak to be something else and reinstalled the initial bottom bracket because it still had a lot of life left. I probably installed this bottom bracket around year 2000.
Ferrous cannibalism was not too terrible, considering what it could have been.
The bottom bracket shell was scrubbed and cleaned as best I could. Check out the old guy age spots.
Most likely, I won't ride this bike too much. So, I tore into the bearings and tried to refurbish them the best I could. Yes, I got a little grease happy. If I find I'm putting miles on this bike, I will replace these bearings.
Yeah baby! It even spun smooth, not gritty and in need of replacement. I always liked square tapered spindles, they are good candidates for a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).