Saturday, August 29, 2009

De Rosa Professional SLX

De Rosa Professional SLX. My original 'specialissima'.

So ladies and gentlemen, today I would like to take you for a ride down memory lane. Yes, indeed, that is a 1993 De Rosa Professional, Columbus SLX tubing, built up with a mixture of Campagnolo Corsa Record (8 speed), Super Record and a wee bit of Shimano.

She (all my bicycles are females) has a rather interesting history. I was attending graduate school at the time, and British Airways bent the back triangle of my previous bike to the point that a wheel would not fit into it. This De Rosa was therefore purchased at a bike shop in Manhattan, NYC, where I was living at the time, with my components switched over from the previous frame (a very nice Rossin SL). Yes, an Italian specialissima bought by an Italian in the United States. A bit complicated, but you get it.

Columbus SLX. Wonder-ride...

So, for the ignorant (or the very young) amongst you, Columbus SLX tubing was the top of the top in terms of steel (really the only serious option, beyond some funny 'beer can' alu frames by some American company called Cannondale... or a French Vitus not to be taken seriously by roadies at the time) and far better, in my humble unbiased Italian opinion, than the similar high grade stuff being made by Reynolds. The peculiarity of SLX tubing was that it was quite light for its time, but without losing its rigidity. This was accomplished by making the tube walls thin, but strengthening the 'high stress' sections with helicoidal (spiral) reinforcements inside the tubes. The ride was (is...) very nice, with little power lost to frame flex.

The geometry was classic pro for the time, and this was rumoured to have been developed by Ugo De Rosa for some Belgian guy named Eddy who won a few races here and there on De Rosa frames (occasionally rebadged)... Which translates into a relatively relaxed frame on which you could pedal all day with no aches or pains. And that was stable at any speed, although probably not the quickest steering bike around (criteriums, what are criteriums? we raced road races!).

Yup. Flat-head fork, along with some dirt and Dura Ace brakes, 1994 vintage, if I recall correctly.

Although there were some sleeker, 'modern' designs coming out at the time, this frame came with the flat-head fork, which was more rigid and never gave anything but the greatest feedback downhill (I descended the Iseran on this bike and hit speeds in excess of 90 km per hour... I was also younger and more reckless then).

Corsa Record derailleurs, 8 speed set-up, with 53x42 Super Record cranks. Look pedals

Components? Well, as I hinted in the introduction to this post, the bike is a bit of a mish-mash - remember, I was a grad student, and had to ask my dad for the cash to buy the frame. I was not exactly in the position to pick up a ful C-Record groupset (although I desperatly wanted to!). So 8 speed C-Record seatpost, derailleurs, hubs, freewheel and chain. Plus the Super Record cranks and bottom bracket that I already had.

Super Record cranks. Still a thing of beauty today.

I then opted for Shimano Dura Ace brakes, which were far cheaper than Campagnolo, as I was hearing rumours about trouble with Delta brakes, and the last thing I wanted riding in Central Park was trouble with my brakes (BTW, are the NYC yellow cabs as homicidal today as they were then?). I had regular Campagnolo friction shifters, which were replaced at a later date with Synchro II (Campagnolo's second attempt at index shifting, works ok, not great).

The original seat was a San Marco Rolls. Replaced by a Flite Titanium and later by this Flite Gel when I became old and fat and worried about my prostate. Hubs were mounted on Mavic GP4 rims and Clements. Replaced four years ago with a set of Open Pros (the GP4s were beyond truing salvation by that point).

The chromed chainstays are suffering...

The bike needs a bit of tlc, and I should probably contact De Rosa about repainting it (the chromed chainstays are starting to rust).

So, you ask, how was the ride. Yes, that good. Still is, matter of fact. I keep this bike at my parent's house, in hill country about 90 kms north of Rome. Quiet country roads with quite a bit of climbing. The bike is wonderful to ride. Really nice. Very comfortable. Descends on rails. A pleasure to look at. Takes a few minutes to get used to the levers on the frame, then you are fine.

My only complaints are the weight (clearly, it weighs a LOT more than my Cervelo) and the gearing - I don't remember, but I think my bailout gear is a 42x25? But that has more to do with my legs and fitness. Or lack thereof.

Still puts a heck of a smile on my face each time I ride the bike (which is not often enough!).

Ok so, tell me about your classic bike (only if it is still regularly ridden)!


  1. I can't say I have a classic bike. Just The Noble Steed, which was put out to pasture when I bought The Beast.

    I love your description of the bike. It obviously has a very big place in your heart. And any bike that makes you smile is a good bike :) I love the bar tape, BTW!

  2. Thanks. And yes, the bar tape is from a few years ago. I would probably go for something a bit more conservative this time around!

  3. That's a gorgeous bike...and I'm always sorry to hear about a Rossin lost to the damages of history.

    I still regularly ride the Bianchi I purchased in Milan in 1983 -- it's a mid-range model (Rekord?) using Bianchi's house-branded tubing (made for them by Columbus). The only original parts are the frame, fork and headset, but the rest of it is a "showcase" of sorts of fairly-period-correct Italian components: Regina Oro freewheel and chain, Ofmega Super Competizione crankset, Gipiemme brakes, Campagnolo hubs built onto Velocity Aerohead rims, Campagnolo shifters, seatpost and derailleurs. You can see a picture of it here:

  4. Ciao Ghostrider and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! I checked out your Bianchi and it is very nice... and allow me to add... much, much better maintained than my De Rosa. Time for careful cleaning and detailing and posting some new pics!

  5. I'm an obsessive polisher of that bike...while it desperately needs a repaint, I think it looks pretty good for a 26-year old bike that has well over 20000 miles on it!

  6. All I have to offer is a GT Pro Performer and a Haro Master that I will, on occasion, take out and bust a few old school freestyle tricks on. Prob not the kind of classic bike you are looking for though.

  7. Thanks 100poundsago... although I will now have to google both of those bikes as I have no earthly idea what they are (BMX?)...

  8. They were both freestyle bikes that I used when I used to ride ramps.

  9. Wouter, a serious offer will receive serious consideration!

    Please enable your blog profile so i know where to find you...