Will's 65cm Cuevas

Will's 65cm Cuevas

This frame belonged to Grant's friend who passed away a couple years ago, and it's been hanging in one of our warehouse bays ever since. Every time I'd pass by it, usually to grab a wheelset for a build, I'd pull it off the hook and ogle it. There's a tendency, when you're long legged and few production bikes (outside of Rivendell of course) fit you, to accumulate them. It's the rule of scarcity, or maybe I'm just a bike nut. I had been itching to build up a vintage bike and maybe I was fishing a little when I told Grant I was considering buying a Rossin frame, that, in retrospect, would have been too small at 62cm. Grant suggested the Cuevas and I immediately grabbed it from it's hook and started tacking parts onto it. Mark spread the rear triangle from 126 to 130, Rich got me a 130mm end cap for my rear wheel, and I was off to the races, so to speak.

A couple weeks ago, after all the parts I needed had arrived, I got it mostly assembled, took it for a test ride around the warehouse, and decided I wasn't too happy with it. The 28mm tires felt too skinny, the bars felt too low, and it felt like I might get pitched off of it on a bump that my Roadini would barely register. I almost scrapped the whole build, but since I was just a rear brake and some bar tape away from finishing it, I figured I might as well wrap it up and see how it felt.

That was two weeks ago and I've had so much fun riding this bike since then. I think my initial impressions weren't good for two reasons, mainly:

  1. I'm not used to setting bikes up like this anymore. I know exactly what I need for a Rivendell but this is a totally different geometry (it's steep!), and the window of acceptable set up seems to be a lot smaller. On a Platypus, for instance, the difference between a 10 and 12cm stem isn't that big of a deal. On this bike, however it would be huge. It needed more dialing in than I'm used to nowadays.
  2. It doesn't handle well at slow speeds, which makes sense, because, despite it's steel and lugs, it's a race bike. It's not great for toodling around a warehouse at 8 miles per hour.

The first ride I took it on was to the summit of Mt. Diablo with Mark, James, Antonio, and a couple other buds, and by the time we got back to the bottom I knew I had a keeper. This bike is addictingly fun on smooth pavement. I felt like I could really lean into corners and it never felt unsafe. I could point my head in the direction of the line I wanted to take and the bike would go exactly there. It lacks the all day comfort and potential trail-ability that my Roadini and Homer have, but there is some roady racey magic to it that's fun if you're in the right mood. I wouldn't want it as my only bike, but it's a great bike to have in addition to my others.

Plus, I love how it looks, and it feels like some kinda bike homecoming riding a vintage frame again. Nothing can replace the Rivs, but there's good bikes to be had out there, for sure. 

Just yesterday I unlocked the magic of the TRP brake levers: they require a looser brake set up than you'd ordinarily use with a Shimano Tiagra lever. That way, you can brake from the hoods using just your index and middle finger without using a ton of hand strength.

Love the signature decal.

Rich gave me a set of NOS Suntour Superbe DT shifters - I ended up using a Silver bar end for the rear because it felt treacherous to reach all the way down there.

Good, subtle decals. It's not flashy, but I'll never get sick of it.

I did a little research on Francisco Cuevas. He was born in Barcelona, fought in the Spanish Civil War and ultimately fled to Argentina when Francisco Franco was in power. He built frames in Argentina and coached some bike riders there, but ended up moving to NY for more economic opportunities. He built frames in the back of a bike shop in Brooklyn and, although he didn't achieve the popularity of some of his peers, was known as a top tier builder. Ultimately he moved back to Barcelona where he passed away in 2005. I'm going to Barcelona at the end of the month and I'll be on the lookout for some Cuevas frames.

I pulled this wheelset off my Homer (I'm building a different set) and, if I were starting from scratch, I likely wouldn't have included a dynamo hub, but in the brief time I've had the bike, it's already come in handy a couple times. I can't feel it when the light's turned off either, so what the heck, I might as well have it.

I dig the cheap(er) EYC. It flickers when I'm going uphill but I don't need a steady beam when I'm going that slow anyway.

The front tire is backwards. Whoops! So far, no ill effects.

These are my favorite era of Dura Ace calipers. Why anybody would want a uncouth disc brake on a road bike when caliper brakes this nice exist, I'll never know. These stop extremely well, even if it's wet. 

I love this crank. The DA triples from this group are the same as the doubles but with a tripilizing middle ring. There's no 74 BCD mount on the spider, which is inconvenient when you wear out the stock chainrings. Fortunately TA still makes a 130 tripilizer ring. This is a 42/32 and I've found that I like having the front chainrings closer together in size, with only a 10 or 12 tooth difference. More on that in a later blog.

I like over-the-top cable routing. It's all fine, but this way makes sense.

I'm used to Rapid Rise and I won't go back. This was a gift from my friend John and it couldn't have come at a better time. Grant bought a bunch of ceramic bearing pulleys for cheap off ebay and I swapped them in since the original ones were a little long in the tooth.

Another bike, another p-clamp pump peg.

It looks all scrunched up after staring at Rivendells for so long, but it rides really well. I'm glad I finished it up.






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