Tag Archives: Woodrup


How to build a retro bike for around a grand?

I’m not talking about a fixie or classic bike complete with Campagnolo C-Record… What I’m talking about is finding a decent steel frame and building a bike up with sympathetic components which won’t break the bank.

You might say it can’t be done!  But it can I’ll show you how.

Frame and Fork (budget £200)

Ellis Briggs Favori racing frame

First of all you need a frame and fork.  Now in order to save on our budget, we are ideally looking for something which has paintwork in a decent condition, will take allen key brakes and an 8 speed wheel.  Forget Italian frames as these nearly always go for extortionate amounts of money.  Mass produced frames such as Dawes, Raleigh, Falcon etc. are not worth chasing either as they are generally of poor build quality and the better models tend fetch high prices with collectors.  So I would suggest you look for something made by a small British framebuilder such as Ellis-Briggs, Woodrup, Mercian, Argos or Roberts.

If you struggle to find something late 80s or newer, it is possible to renovate an older frame but your budget for a frame should include framebuilding work to modernise it as well as a respray.

Now your wondering where to start looking? Well the obvious is Ebay, but make sure you know what your looking for.  The other place to have a look is Hilary Stone, he often has some bargains within our budget.  Plus he gives you all the info you need to know, such as dropout spacing.  Also Chris Marshall in Keighley usually has a few for sale hung up in his workshop, but you’ll probably pay more than £200 as they have usually been renovated.  If you do go down the ebay route, be careful to avoid a frame with a stuck seatpost, stem or bottom bracket.  My previous article will help retro rides finding a good un part 1.

Wheels (budget £230)

Ambrosio Evolution wheelset

To stay within budget I’ve looked through a number of options with wheels.  Since we are going to go with a Campagnolo Veloce groupset (more on that later), the best wheels I can find are Ambrosio Evolution rims built onto Zenith hubs.  These will take a Campag 10 speed cassette no problem.  The hubs look very similar to Campag hubs and come in polished silver.  The rims are good quality light rims. £190

Within our budget we can only afford basic tyres.  I’ve chosen some Vittoria Rubinos at £14.50 each.  2 tubes and a couple of cloth rim tapes will set you back about £12. £41.00

Groupset (£450)

Campagnolo Veloce Groupset

As I mentioned before, we’ll be looking for a Campagnolo Veloce groupset in polished silver to stay with our retro theme.  Although it will continue our retro theme it is a modern groupset with 10 speeds and dual pivot brakes.  A full groupset will set you back £450, and will include, brakes, ergos, front and rear gears, chain, chainset, cassette and cables.  Its a shame but Campag no longer do hubs, except for Record, and they only come in black.

If your frame is mudguard clearance and you need a deeper brake, then you’ll have to forget Campag.  But both Ambrosio and Tektro do deep brakes in polished silver which will keep us on budget.

Finishing Kit (£120)

System EX stem

That just leaves the finishing kit.  Bars, stem and seat post can be bought from System EX in matching polished silver for £50.  I’ve chosen the Bucket saddle from Charge, which is similar to a Selle Italia Turbo, only a lot cheaper at £25.  That just leaves headset and bar tape.  For the headset, I suggest a Tange Levin Alloy at £30 and for bar tape I like Fizik at £11.99 but you could chose whatever you prefer. The only problem with the System EX stems is they only come in 2 lengths, 80mm or 100mm. So if you need something longer you’ll have to look at Cinelli or Nitto but of course that will add to your budget. All that lot comes in at just under £120.

Summary (Total £1000)

So there you have it!  A complete bike for nearly grand to wow your mates.  I’ve deliberately left everything at full RRP because although you’ll be able to get it cheaper on the internet, your local shop may offer to build the complete bike if everything is at full RRP.

Article courtesy of VintageLighweights.co.uk

Nervex Seat Cluster

Retro Rides – Finding A Good ‘Un Part 1

Gorgeous 70s Favori with full Campag

So your after a nice retro bike, you know you want one.

…but it is truly a minefield if you don’t know what your looking for.  Not only does quality vary massively but also bikes over 20 years+ often have a dubious and unknown history.  With a few pointers from this guide you should be able to find yourself a nice frame.

This week I’m going to cover the differences between modern frames and frames of 20+ years old.

The first thing to remember when buying any old frame is that although bikes essentially look the same, things have changed quite a bit in the last 20 years.  If your planning on fitting period equipment, then its no big deal.  On the other hand if your wanting a retro bike with modern equipment then you need to be careful what frames you look at.


The first thing to bear in mind is what wheels the frame was originally built for.  Depending on the age and the purpose of the frame it may have been built for 27 x 1 1/4 wheels.  Unlike the 700c wheel that your probably used to on your modern bike, 27″ wheels are basically an obsolete size. 27″ rims are also slightly bigger diameter than 700c rims which means it will be hard to find modern brakes which are deep enough. Finding a frame that was made for 700c wheels doesn’t always get you out of trouble either.

The best rule of thumb is to measure from the brake mounting hole to the center of the axle, and it should be around 365mm or less. The forks are most important, because if the measurement on the forks is too high then there is nothing you can do really and you will struggle to get brakes that are deep enough to work.

its this measurement that is key to what width dropouts you need

Frames have been built with diferent axle spacings over the years to fit anything from track hubs, to 5 speed screw on hubs and right up to current 10 and 11 speed hubs.  Modern road wheels need 130mm between the rear dropouts. If the frame has anything less than 130, it will need to be opened up if you intend fitting a modern wheel.


Measuring fork column for stack height, you need at least 1″ 1/2 for a modern headset

Another little, often forgotten detail is fork column length.  Generally if your talking about older frames, they will have been designed for a threaded headset and quill stem.  Now, all headsets are not the same.  The amount of space the headset needs above and below the head tube is called stack.  Modern headsets tend to need more than older ones, so you can end up with a for column that isn’t long enough to fit a modern headset.  Again it’s not the end of the world but having a new fork column fitted is another cost to add to your build.


Allen key and nutted caliper brakes

Aside from the wheel size problems that I mentioned earlier, modern caliper brakes all fit with a hidden allen key nut, where as older brakes fitted with a normal nut.  Now it doesn’t sound like much of difference but the frames brake bridge and fork crown are slightly different.

Courtesy of Paul Gibson @ vintagelightweights.southcraven.co.uk