Eroica Bike On A Budget

February 8, 2016

Although we all appreciate classic, Italian steel bicycles they are often hard to find and nice examples can be expensive. Don’t let the absence of an elegant, vintage bike deter you from experiencing Eroica California this year. Here is an example of a project bike that meets Eroica qualifications and only cost a couple hundred dollars. 


Eroica regulations are pretty simple. Bicycles need to be in the spirit of 1987 or earlier. Most bicycles from this era had lugged, steel frames with shift levers on the down tube and non-aero brake levers. Non-aero brake levers have the cable housing exiting the top of the lever instead of under the bar tape. Finally, toe clip style pedals are a must. Even though early clipless pedals existed in 1987, toe clip style pedals were still the norm and are required for Eroica. That is all that is needed to qualify. Our goal is to transform an inexpensive, modern, steel bicycle without breaking the bank.


The project started with a late 80’s/early 90’s, lugged steel, Japanese made Paramount found at a garage sale for less than $100. It needed a little work but was already set up with down tube shifters. To make the bike Eroica ready all it really needed was toe clip pedals and non-aero brake levers. Since the essence of Eroica can be found on the gravel roads, the tires were upgraded to something that could handle the unpaved sections instead of the old, narrow, racing tires that came with the bike. The parts can be found at most bike shops but check out local bike swaps, Craig’s list or a cycling friend’s house. Here is the source list for the parts needed to get your modern bike ready for Eroica.


MKS pedals, clips and leather straps, approximately $50


Dia Compe 204 non-aero brake levers $36 plus a little more $ for longer cables and housing. (I used a set of old Campagnolo levers from a friend)


Dia Compe down tube shifters $55 (not needed for this project but will be for bikes with brake/shift lever combos)


Continental Gatorskin 700x25 or 28 tires for the gravel roads, $80


If you really want to participate in Eroica California don’t let the lack of a proper bicycle hold you back. Find a reasonable option and modify it to fit the regulations. If that still seems like too much work see about renting an Eroica ready bike for the event. I will see you this April!

Eric Benson, Course Designer
Eroica California





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