Friday, November 13, 2009

1996 Mario Cipollini Cannondale Finally on the Road

Several years ago I became the owner of a made-for Mario Cipollini Cannondale frame. The frame dates to 1996 when Cannondale became the first U.S. bike manufacturer to sponsor a European pro team. As best as I can determine the SAECO sponsorship by Cannondale began in late 1996. More about all this later. Cannondale confirmed that this is a genuine made for Cipollini frame based on photographs I sent. The BB engraving is very unique and matches their records. The "o1" is very interesting, this could possibly be the first bike made for Cipollini.

I was torn between doing a "period correct" build but the big obstacles to that were 1) it would be impossible to paint match the fork with the frame, the frame is white with gold flashing, 2) I didn't want to use one of the early aluminum forks (been there, done that on another Cannondale I had years ago), and 3) even Cannondale couldn't tell me what fork might have first been with the frame. So, I decided to build it as Cipollini might build it today as if he had the frame hanging around. Perhaps in the future I'll build it as period correct as possible (those details later as well).

The build as it is now:
Columbus full carbon 1" fork
Campagnolo Record 10, full gruppo including a full titanium cassette
ITM Millenium carbon stem
Full carbon handlebars
Selcof Ti seatpost
Gipiemme Stealth 2000 carbon saddle
DEDA gold handlebar tape
ELITE 24k gold water bottle cage(s); these are the oddball .66 size***
Custom wheels by Cicli Fontana built on Campagnolo Record hubs, DT Swiss spokes and Mavic rims
Vittoria 320 TPI Open Corsa Evo CX tires
Continental Race Light 700 tubes
Look carbon CX pedals with titanium spindles

***where can I find the Coca-Cola water bottles in this size?

My goal was to build a reasonably light bike with a bit of Cipollini-type bling within certain budget constraints which required that I make some compromises. The bike weighs 17.5 lbs.

After a short test ride last week I was finally able to get in a long ride on Wednesday. The bike is an absolute rocket, it was a WOW WOW WOW kind of ride. Amazing efficient. This is going to be fun! Another result that was nice is that the ride is actually quite civilized. Very smooth, in fact. I attribute that mainly to the 36 spoked wheels and the Vittoria tires, and perhaps the full carbon fork contributing as well. Down the road I'd like to try some ultralight wheels with tubulars...

Now back to 1996 for this press release:

"November, 1996
GAGGIO MONTANO, Italy -- Saeco, international maker of pump-driven espresso and cappuccino machines, has engaged bicycle manufacturer Cannondale to sponsor its Italian-based Team Saeco professional cycling team. Cannondale will provide the team with bicycles and clothing throughout the 1997 season. The Saeco team is a top-level European team, with the world's fastest sprinter," stated Scott Montgomery, Cannondale's vice president of marketing. Cannondale is the first U.S. bicycle maker to supply frames under its own name to a European professional team......".

The 1997 cycling season did indeed become very special for Cannondale. Their flamboyant Tuscan won five stages in the Giro d’Italia, and also won two stages at the Tour de France where he also wore the yellow leader’s jersey for four days.

Cipollini raced an "R4000" model in the 1997 season according to Cannondale. Their catalog has the bike spec'ed as follows:

Colors: Speed Yellow
Frame CAAD3 Road (note: my frame has no CAAD designation)
Fork Cannondale Slice carbon fiber
Rims Mavic CXP30, TIB finish w/UB Control, 24 hole
Hubs Shimano Dura Ace, 24 hole (28 hole rear on 56-63 cm bikes)
Spokes DT Swiss stainless steel, 15 ga., DT aluminum nipples
Tires Continental Grand Prix foldable, 700 x 23c
Pedals n/a
Crank Shimano Dura Ace 39/53
Chain Shimano Dura Ace
Rear Cogs Shimano Dura Ace 9-speed, 12-23
Bottom Bracket Shimano Dura Ace
Front Derailleur Shimano Dura Ace
Rear Derailleur Shimano Dura Ace
Shifters Shimano Dura Ace STI
Handlebars Profile Hammer w/Profile cork tape
Stem TIG-welded butted cro-mo, titanium finish
Headset Tange Seiki Vantage
Brakeset Shimano Dura Ace
Saddle CODA 1000 w/titanium rails and leather cover
Seatpost Syncros Titanium
Sizes (in. or cm.)48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 63
Weight18.1 lbs/8.2 kg

Photos: as currently built, click on photos to enlarge

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