Is this art, or can I chuck it?

There´s been a running gag in Germany during the last few months, “Ist das Kunst oder kann das weg?”, alluding to the recurring problem that cleaners in museums and galleries have been destroying works of art because they hadn´t recognised them as such.

What do you think of this? Is this horrible 1980s kitsch, or beautiful?

To begin with, underneath the debatable paintwork, fashioned by the first owner after the John Player Formula 1 design of the early eighties, there is a very able bike, luckily only raced for two and a half seasons. Let´s have some looks at bits before the unavoidable story which comes with it.

The heart of the groupset, an SR crankset with black anodized and engraved big chainwheel.

All Chesinis come with these, don´t they?

And a number with these. Very nicely done gear levers, and some interesting ads, …

… one of which is repeated on the rim.

Gold on chrome – well. No accounting for taste, is there? Beautifully executed, though, …

… just like the other end. It´s a shame the clear coat over the chrome is throwing in the towel; no idea how to fix this one.

And here´s some more anodizing and engraving. Do I hear you say “sad about the nice SR seapin, though”?

I took the liberty of changing the original NR rear mech out for this beauty which I found in Maarsen a year after getting the bike. The first owner, who I got the bike off of, had built the bike when an art student a back in ´81 and only gotten the Chesini marked SR parts, the rest were NR (see headset).

Yet another proof that the bike has seen very little action.

Engraving even on the bottom bracket.

And lastly, the typical Chesini headtube treatment.

And now the story:

About a month before the first Dutch collectors´ meet was staged at Rotterdam, a Dutchman from Amsterdam posted his first and last message (last post always sound a bit morose) on the CR mailing list. First, because it was his first, and last, because Dale promptly booted him for not signing off correctly, and not giving the price of the bike he was selling. Thing was, I had seen the post and rung the chap straight away. The price he asked was very fair, and as Amsterdam is more or less on the way to Rotterdam from here, I transferred a down payment and wanted to pick up the bike en route to the meet.

The seller lived right in the middle of Amsterdam, next to one of the famous “grachten” canals which crisscross the city, so, helped by my then 10 year old son, a very able map reader even then, I threaded my way though the narrow passages that go for roads in Amsterdam. We were, BTW, in our 1976 Citroen AK400, a sort of 2CV van. We actually found a place for plonking down the van right opposite the house where the bike was. In doing so I nearly drove the van in the canal, which gave me a start I still remember. Anyway, the deal was struck, and off we went to Rotterdam, where the Chesini attracted some attention only hours after having changed hands. The seller gave me the original sales leaflet (scans below) and promised to look for the bill of sale which he also thought he had kept but could not then lay his hands on.

The Rotterdam meet was remarkable for number of reasons; it was perfectly organized by Freek Faro and his clubmates, we met a number of people we had only exchanged emails with before, and much as I like visiting its Neerkant “Stalen Ros” (steel horse) successor, I remember the Rotterdam meet fondly.

More than five years after selling the bike, the seller remembered that he had promised me to send the bill of sale when looking inside a carrier bag he hadn´t used for years. The envelope was in it, together with some more sales leaflets of Nishiki and Koga Miyata provenance. It said on the bill of sale that the bike was to be built up with Campag and was to have wire on rims/tires, which for an out-and-out racing bike was something special then. The order was taken on June 10, 1982, and the bike was delivered 13 days later. There is a practically invisible cash register imprint which states that the actual price was 2558 Guilders, quite some money then, and 123 Guilders more than planned, it seems.

Here are some impressions from the early eighties Chesini brochure. I haven´t contacted Chesini yet to ask if it´s OK to post the scans here, and if it isn´t, I´ll take them down forthwith.


  1. henk
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    Did you check your snailmail lately?
    And did you find the original receit to this one.

    • Posted April 27, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink | Reply

      Sorry Henk, nothing has arrived yet. I had been planning to scan the original leaflet which you gave me with the bike in a series of updates to my posts, and had actually thought of tackling this today, so here´s a coincidence. I´ll wait for a couple more days before I´ll start crying.

  2. Björn Ostrowski
    Posted June 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Echt ein Hammer Rennrad !!! einfach nur schön 🙂

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