For the past few years I’ve found myself feeling nostalgic about cycling and it makes me think back to what the sport, and the machines, were like when I started racing as a young man. There was a certain simplicity to both back then that has been lost over time. I feel there was a romance to the machines at that time that is all too often missing now.
I grew up in the small Central New York State mill-town of Rome. It felt like my family was one of the only families around that didn’t have the Italian heritage and culture that was very common in Rome…families on my street spoke as much Italian in the home as they did English and the food was to die for! When I took up road racing I rode with some Italian-American guys who trained and rode in the traditional Italian way and they taught me how to ride…and I found myself drawn to the old country race bikes they rode. The bikes were cool and classy, and brash for the time I suppose, and I loved them.
The bikes were simple, elegant, handsome, and reserved compared to modern bikes…in a word – classy. They of course had level top tubes, simple classic features, and bright primary colors so that they could be seen in the pack as it rushed by. The cable runs were longer and more exposed with little thought of aerodynamic drag and this gave them a light and thin look. The components were silver, the tire sidewalls were tan, the cotton bar tape was white and the saddles were black. They looked perfect to me.
I found myself wanting to build a few bikes like that again…like the ones I first lusted after as a young man who got serious about racing. I considered doing a few full retro editions with old school tubing and dropouts but couldn’t stomach the idea of building a bike that didn’t ride nearly as well as the bikes I know how to make using modern materials. In the end I decided I wanted to build a series of bikes that looked the old-school part but that were built with the most modern materials and up to modern quality standards and tolerances.
Enter the Roma – a classically styled bike built with modern materials and to modern quality standards as an homage to the race bikes I grew up hoping to one day own. It’s built with a mix of Reynolds 853 Pro main tubes and my own special chain and seat stays. The lugs and crown are by Henry James USA. It features downtube cable routing, internal rear brake cable routing, a dead level top tube and my new head badge made by Jen Green of Philadelphia. The buyer has their choice of an old school threaded fork and quill stem or a threadless set up as well as the choice of traditional shifter bosses or down tube cable routing and adjusters. Joe Bell will paint it in your choice of Gios blue and white or Italian red and white. Like every bike I build it will be made-to-measure to fit the rider.
I’m taking orders now for the new Roma and the frameset is priced at $3800. It can be delivered as a ready-to-ride bike with your choice or components or with the “Walt’s Classic Mix” parts as pictured. I’m truly excited by this special project and look forward to putting some new classics out on the road. Thanks for looking.
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