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My winter build completed: 1986 Vitus 979 Road Bike!

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My winter build completed: 1986 Vitus 979 Road Bike!

Old 05-10-16, 04:02 PM
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Areion
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My winter build completed: 1986 Vitus 979 Road Bike!

Here's my winter 2015 project--a complete overhaul, refurbishment and upgrade of my 1986 Vitus aluminum road bike.

I created custom graphics for the bike (I'm a professional designer), since the old decals were ugly and scratched. I had a local signmaker cut the vinyl film for me. While purists may recoil at this, I make no apologies--it's my bike, and I like the way it looks!

I also decided to add orange accents to the bike, not just for some bling, but also for a little added visibility to drivers. Silver and black tend to be somewhat muted, and the orange helps with that.

I replaced the bottom bracket with a ceramic bearing one, which I got for half-price! But, the crankset then had to be replaced, because the new BB only fits Campagnolo cranksets. I found a Record alloy crankset that was rebranded as a Chorus, which was another decent bargain, for a top of the line crankset. Pedals are clipless Mavic Zxellium SL's (made by Time), which are half the weight of the Look clipless pedals the bike used to have.

The drivetrain retains the original Dura Ace 7400 derailleurs, which were cleaned up and overhauled. They're in very good shape, as are the brakes, which received the same amount of TLC. The freewheel is a SunTour Winner Pro 7-speed which is brand new, and has been in storage for 30 years. I did swap out a couple of cogs with lightly used ones on it, to get better gearing. The chain is a KMC X8.99.

The Mavic CXP Pro wheels and Dura Ace 7400 hubs were also built from scratch with Sapim Laser DB spokes, and they wear Continental Attack & Force tires. I replaced the Dura Ace quick release skewers with lightweight Halo allen key skewers.

I also replaced the headset with a sealed bearing Woodman--it's really elegant, lightweight and economical. Handlebars are Modolo anatomic X-Tenos which are NOS, fitted to the bike with an SR Sakae quill stem I've had forever. The carbon-look tape is capped with chrome bar ends which I customized with orange anodized paint, to match the other orange accents on the bike.

The shifters are another blast from the past. The bike originally had Dura Ace 7400 indexed shifters, but they were broken. I've never been a fan of indexed shifting anyway, so I changed the shifters to friction Modolo Kronos levers. I had a pair of these once before which I loved, and managed to find a pair online. They are also modified with orange anodized dome bolts (secured with some low-strength threadlocker).

The Specialized carbon fiber bottle cages I've had on my steel bike for 29 years were transferred to this bike, and are bolted on with the same style fasteners I used for the shifters.

The saddle is my faithful Viscount titanium rail model, which was also on my steel bike. It is significantly lighter than the one that was on the Vitus previously.

In total, I managed to shave another twelve ounces off the bike's weight. It weighs 18.45 pounds without the pack and bottle; 19.2 lbs with. My steel road bike by comparison, is 23.6 lbs, so I'm sure this bike will feel much different. First ride of my renovated baby will be this week!
Attached Images
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1. Three-Qtr View.jpg (71.5 KB, 162 views)
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2. Side View.jpg (65.2 KB, 171 views)
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3. Top Tube Label.jpg (54.6 KB, 139 views)
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4. Headset Label.jpg (56.9 KB, 134 views)
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5. Seat Tube Label.jpg (49.7 KB, 107 views)
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6. Crank.jpg (73.0 KB, 115 views)
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7. Freewheel & Derailleur.jpg (70.5 KB, 128 views)
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8. Bar End & Shifters.jpg (61.2 KB, 108 views)
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9. Water Bottle Cage.jpg (46.0 KB, 105 views)
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10. Seat Pack.jpg (63.5 KB, 102 views)
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11. Cockpit.jpg (59.7 KB, 104 views)
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Old 05-10-16, 04:06 PM
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Wow, this is an absolutely beautiful bike. I'm restoring an old racing bike (a '78 Trek TX 900) but I think you just set the bar on a restore job. Nice job.
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Old 05-10-16, 04:10 PM
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Thanks, bikemig!
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Old 05-10-16, 04:12 PM
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Simply beautiful! There's nothing on this I don't like. Very inspirational.
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Old 05-10-16, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Areion View Post
Here's my winter 2015 project--a complete overhaul, refurbishment and upgrade of my 1986 Vitus aluminum road bike.
Job well done. Both on bike and post. Thanks (post).

Are you comfortable with the saddle in that position? It looks as it is in a somewhat far back? If it is by choice - do not pay any attention to me. If it is by chance - try it a little more to the front.
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Old 05-10-16, 04:59 PM
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Thanks for the kind comments, carbomb and styggno1!

Yep, I am comfortable with the saddle position--but I appreciate your input, nevertheless. I use the forearm plus 1" rule for positioning the saddle relative to the handlebars. I've been riding for 38 years, and have no complaints.

The frame of this bike is slightly smaller than what I normally ride, but many people who rode Vitus bikes back in the day did that to reduce frame flex. Sean Kelly rode Vitus bikes when he raced, and he too, rode a smaller frame than his usual.
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Old 05-10-16, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by carbomb View Post
Simply beautiful! There's nothing on this I don't like. Very inspirational.
+1. Couldn't have said it any better.
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Old 05-10-16, 07:22 PM
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Were the main tubes and stays polished from the factory?

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Old 05-10-16, 07:58 PM
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+2. Nice component mix, beautiful restrained frame graphics. I always admired the Vitus frames but couldn't ride one - a bit too flexy for me.
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Old 05-10-16, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Areion View Post
Here's my winter 2015 project--a complete overhaul, refurbishment and upgrade of my 1986 Vitus aluminum road bike.
Awesome refurb!

You did a beautiful job.

I have a Vitus 979 of similar vintage with odds and ends for parts, but nowhere near as clean as yours.

Here's a pic of it after I'd cleaned it up, best I could.

Vintage Vitus by RanchoRunner, on Flickr
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Old 05-10-16, 08:01 PM
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Really nice work @Areion! I like the new graphics. The whole package really works. With a Campy crank and Shimano derailleurs and brakes its a whole new take on Shimergo. Or would that be Shimagnolo?
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Old 05-10-16, 09:16 PM
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Very tastefully done restoration. The colour accents work as they're isolated from each other so you don't get a visual mismatch.
By isolating the orange you've created an intensity too.

Last edited by Vintage Raleigh; 05-10-16 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 05-10-16, 09:22 PM
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I agree with the others, it looks great. It also looks unique, which is a nice thing in the often cookie cutter world of vintage bikes. I'm curious how you'll like the stiffness of the frame compared to your steel bike. I remember when those bikes were new, that Vitus tubing was considered quite revolutionary. And I have heard people say the frames are flexy but who knows, sometimes the rep is undeserved. I've never had the opportunity to ride one myself.
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Old 05-10-16, 09:43 PM
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That is very nice indeed! I have a real soft spot for 979s.
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Old 05-10-16, 09:55 PM
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Thanks everyone, for the kind comments. Here are the answers to the questions asked:

@top506--As best as I can tell, the frame tubes were anodized, with maybe a clear coat on top? When I removed the factory graphics, I could see a slight ghost of the old decal where the finish had lightened around it from UV exposure. Vitus sold other colors, but the rear stays, connecting lugs, head tube and the fork were always left as natural aluminum. I did hand polish my frame, but there are still some nicks and scratches that I couldn't get out from the previous owner (my late best friend). For me, those add to the bike's character, and will always remind me of my friend.

@fishwatcher--Nice bike! I love the light blue color! What frame size is yours, a 54cm? Mine is a 52cm.

@eastbay71--LOL, yeah, the drivetrain components are an interesting mix. The freewheel is a SunTour Winner Pro, so maybe it should be called a Shimtourolo?

@exmechanic89--Yeah, after riding a steel bike (Reynolds 531 tubing) for so many years, I'm also curious as to how the Vitus will feel? I have heard many people love the way they ride, but they're better suited to lightweight riders, like myself. I weigh 143, so I'm hoping there won't be much flex? I'll let you know--I'm taking the bike out for its first ride, tomorrow!
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Old 05-10-16, 09:58 PM
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Yeah definitely post your first impressions of the frame after your ride. I had always heard those frames were best for lighter riders, too.
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Old 05-11-16, 04:12 AM
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I knew they offered silver ano but I'd never seen one in the flesh.
I've never noticed much flex, but mine is twitchy on fast descents. Still one of my faves, though:



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Old 05-11-16, 04:14 AM
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Beautiful Build!!
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Old 05-11-16, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Wow, this is an absolutely beautiful bike. I'm restoring an old racing bike (a '78 Trek TX 900) but I think you just set the bar on a restore job. Nice job.
Whew! that is stunning.
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Old 05-11-16, 04:48 AM
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Beautiful bicycle and well done Areion!

I have a soft spot for both the Vitus and the ALAN bicycles. At 240lb, both were too flexible for me to ride with any degree of confidence. Now, at 182lb, I wish I had kept one or the other.
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Old 05-11-16, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Areion View Post
I use the forearm plus 1" rule for positioning the saddle relative to the handlebars.
I don't know this rule - can you please elaborate?
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Old 05-11-16, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Vintage Raleigh View Post
I don't know this rule - can you please elaborate?
Sure--to get the appropriate distance between the saddle and the handlebars, place your elbow so it just touches the nose of the saddle horn. With your fingers fully extended toward the bar, the centerline of the handlebar (perpendicular to the bike frame) should be about an inch beyond your middle finger. Some people go as far as 2", but that is too much for me. It's an old rule, which I think I originally found in Eugene Sloane's book, The New Complete Book of Bicycling. I have the 1970's edition, so it's not so new anymore.
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Old 05-11-16, 07:33 AM
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Tres Belle! I have a 81 anodized in red waiting for it's close-up on my work bench. I bought it off Ebay and it is in excellent original condition with just a few tiny nicks in he decals. I have all period Campy Nuovo record for it with excpetion of newer Campy skeloton style dual pivot brakes and a Sugino maxy crankset. Planning on white saddle/barwrap.
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Old 05-11-16, 07:34 AM
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Nice bike, top506! I have never seen one in purple before!
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Old 05-11-16, 07:43 AM
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Very nice. I always liked the Vitus aluminium and carbonfiber bikes. Unfortunately they are to small for me, they were made up to 61 cm and I need at least 64cm.
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