Serotta: King of the Fades

Things we think about when we look at this 1991 Serotta – Columbus SLX road bike

1. Tenspeed Heroes love finding intact photo albums from the early 1900’s that have not been raided and disassembled by the local antique dealers. Be they found in an old junk shop in Nebraska or a flea market in Berlin, aligning unknown faces, and locations often with handwritten captions reveals a compelling history of family + home + landscape. When we look through one we feel like a parade of elephants tossing around the old bones of its ancestors in the Namib Desert. Sometimes ordering a bike from eBay reveals such emotions. We see pained choices in component selection, paint selection that channels the vanity of a decade and we see the first time a bike appeared during a group ride. This Serotta was picked up from the The Pro’s Closet in Boulder a week ago. We bestow a million pounds of Karma on this eBay store for not disassembling this masterpiece of authentic early 90’s HIGH-VIZ FADE.

2. This Campagnolo Headset is really shiny. Whenever we think about a classic build we really-really-really want a NOS Campagnolo headset on it. For instance, lets say you are having a dream. In this dream you are driving around a posh neighborhood looking for yard sales in the hopes of finding a vintage De Rosa, fully built with unblemished 1982-84 Super Record. You find it! It is there! They only want $25 because whoever bought this bike forgot what it was. Oh my! Can you believe this is happening… Its perfect. It is sublime and yet at the last moment you notice this bike has what looks like a Shimano 600 headset hidden amongst the campagnolo groupset. There is a tremor in the force as you consider this anomaly. Yes this is when you wake up and you question what this dream means. Dare not look at the pedals and find out they lost the original pedals. Why you ask? Nightmare!

3. This brake-set, be they Chorus or Athena, does not really matter as they are a TSH favorite. Yes we know Delta’s are the crème de la crème but these brakes deserve more love than they get. Mono-planar, swept by the wind, it has been at least 5 years since we looked at the listings on Weight Weenies, but they must be lighter than Delta’s by 1/2 a pound. Ok we exaggerate but we like to imagine there were two camps of designers at Camapagnolo, the Athena/Chorus brake camp and the Delta Brake camp and they did not sit at the same table at lunch time.

4. We read somewhere that Serotta does not make steel bikes anymore. Is this true? Serotta’s are still built in the US and this sticker means a lot to us. There seem to be two ways to go in the US bike industry. Make bikes in the US as the foundation of your business philosophy or get so big that your Ad-Budget, Marketing-Budget, Instagram-Budget, Pro-Team-budget necessitates that you start moving all your production to China/Taiwan. At first you start with lower line stuff and then one day you wake up and and everything is made in China/Taiwan and you are looking at employees whose only chance of getting their fingernails dirty is if they do not clean their Apple keyboards. Of course there is nothing wrong with building bikes overseas or anywhere but it is still cool that a young bike obsessed guy or gal near Saratoga Springs (Serotta’s home) can dream of getting a job building bikes!

5. Look at those brake pads. We did. They look brand new. We asked ourselves, “Are they original?” If they are, then this bike has barely been ridden. But maybe they are fresh brake pads that the Pro’s Closet installed because the other ones were crumbling and worn. The weird thing is the wheels on the bike have a bit more wear so it makes us think these maybe the second ever brake pads installed on this bike, maybe the third. Or maybe the owner never had to break. Maybe they always coasted to a stop. Yes, over and over they climbed up to Nederland, Colorado and never braked coming back down Boulder Canyon and they finally stopped way out on East Baseline Road. Yes this is what we think about when we stare at this bike’s brake pads.

6. Ok our last thoughts go something like this. Ben, BEN SE-ROT-TA, you were the king of fades in the early 90’s! The King! You were the original HIGH-VIZ. You must have been moonlighting as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s fashion consultant, because you channeled a fashion moment in steel. Yes we remember some killer Ritchey Super-Comp fades but he mostly stuck to yellows and reds. By the way Ben, we really love your yellow and red fades as well. Thanks for making this bike and painting it this color. It has been at Hero HQ for three days and we cannont stop looking at it. This is what you were thinking back in 1991 right? Tell us it is so. Tell us you knew this would happen in 2013.