First Timer Tips with Chuck Teixeira
Chuck Teixeira might have only three Eroicas under his belt; the past two Eroica California and the original L’Eroica, but don’t let that fool you. Chuck has been a fixture in the vintage scene long before there was an Eroica California to attend, and he now happily lends out the bikes in his stable to allow new riders to experience the event. We asked Chuck for a few of his tips for someone new to vintage equipment and a first time rider at Eroica California.
For someone thinking about riding their first Eroica, how do you recommend finding a vintage bike, or at least one that’s vintage-inspired?
You have two choices when you start out, either outfit a modern steel bike, or go with something truly vintage. There are a lot of guys having handmade steel bikes made these days, so simply making sure bosses are added on for downtube shifters allows you to have a separate handlebar setup that could easily be swapped out if you’re doing an Eroica event. Then you don’t need an entirely new bike in the garage. Reach out to other riders and see if anyone is willing to loan one out, especially if you are just looking for something to ride at an event.
If you really want to be true and period correct, then I suggest finding a bike already complete rather than building your own. Buying it a piece at a time gets to be much more expensive. Often, people part them out on eBay, but on Craigslist it’s easy to find complete bikes.
Is there a specific bike or equipment out there that people should look to steer clear of?
French bikes are interesting, I have an old Peugeot, and if you think there are too many standards on modern bikes all you have to do is look at a French bike to see how much worse it can be. They use metric for absolutely everything, including the pedals. As far as other options, mostly Italian and British, there’s probably not a bad choice out there. Pick a brand that you’re drawn to because those bikes are all relative to themselves, there’s not much difference in technology.
How about componentry, is Campagnolo the go-to?
Vintage Shimano and SunTour arguably work better than Campy of that era so don’t turn up your nose to them. Shimano made great Dura-Ace stuff all the way back in the 70s. The older the bike is, the less gear selection you’ll have, so if you plan to ride in the hills look for 6 or 7 speed instead of 5. The vintage rides tend to be hilly so you want a wide range gear. A 28-tooth upper cog is recommended since 42-tooth would be the normal size for an inner ring.
What are some of the things a first-timer should consider when riding a vintage bike?
It’s important to understand that the bikes are completely capable, just nuanced. They can be a little quirky to shift; they go out of trim easily and need an occasional snugging of the shifter’s wingnut to maintain friction. You also have to plan ahead because you can’t shift the front derailleur under under load since there aren’t any shift ramps. On the rear, you have to over shift then bring it back to keep it from being noisy. Old bikes have different fasteners, there’s different nuts and bolts than what we’re used to now, so make sure you have the right tools with. Most old racing bikes have tubulars, which is what I ride every year. Typically tubulars are less prone to flats, but riders need to be prepared to deal with tubulars or swap out their rims to clinchers rims and run a 26mm or larger tire.
When you do an Eroica event, do you wear modern apparel or are you vintage through and through?
I like to have all the stuff be period correct. I use a hairnet helmet and leather steel shank shoes, and keep my Garmin out of sight in my pocket for that photo opp. It brings me back to my youth. We didn’t have vests in the old days, so I use a Tyvek FedEx envelope under my jersey to stop wind while keeping the vintage look. You have to remember that toe clips don’t work with shoes that have buckles, but there are a number of modern lace-ups that work with a three-bolt cleat and have the right look and functionality with toe clips.
What are some of the bikes might we find in your garage?
Photo Credit: Beth Welliver (@bethwellie on Instagram)