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A Significant Restoration

1970's Chris Chance Road Bike

Story by Fat Chance Bikes March 11th, 2017

This blog post is written by vintage restoration specialist Nick Kazmaier from Commodore Cycles.

Notice anything special about this bike? Most likely not. Why? This bike is super-rare; built before Chris Chance was Chris Chance. Compare it to finding a Robert Zemeckis film before he made Back to the Future. I had the honor of restoring this unique ride.

This frame set, and a similar one built for his brother Martin, was built by Chris Chance for Michael Bruhn in the late 1970s. Michael raced this bike in Canada for the Canadian National Cycling Team. He raced in the states for the Connecticut Yankee Bicycle Club and Ten Speed Drive/Guerciotti.

While on the C.Y.B.C., Michael and Martin struck up a friendship with frame-building guru, Richard Sachs. Richard once said if it wasn’t for the Bruhn Brothers, he would not have gotten the idea for forming the race team, which he still has to this day.

From fifteen feet away, the C.Y.B.C. livery resembles many other bikes painted the same over the years. Once you get close enough, the similarities end. This frame has what seems like paper-thin lugs. Diamond-shaped reliefs in the lugs (which eventually became star-shaped). The lug work is subtle at first, but after looking at it for a while, it not only has a beautiful design but is as light as possible.

Michael Bruhn and his brother Martin racing aboard the bike for the Connecticut Yankee Bicycle Club (Photo credit Richard Sachs).
Michael Bruhn racing the bike in Boston in the early 1980's (Photo credit Phil Chin).

My intent during this eight-month restoration was to let the patina speak for itself. This bike was ridden very hard and then was stored for many years. It was showing plenty of surface rust in between the tube and the paint - much like an old dirty tool in the tool box. This bike had been to battle many times over.

I removed a vast majority of the rust. After inspecting the main tube set, it was a relief to see the inside still very clean. The frame was bathed in a product called Metal Rescue, which is safe on paint and decals. The Metal Rescue removed the rust, leaving clean steel behind. I was not going to erase the wear marks and scars from this bike. I used a white primer to cover the bare metal spots, then covered that with a matching red paint. Once dry, I wet-sanded the areas then buffed it to a shine, leaving some of the white to show through. This technique is used on restored old cars that are meant to replicate patina. The difference here is that I replaced the rust with a protective finish that looks worn and patina’d. I’m not sure if many past race bikes are refinished like this. I’m sure this doesn’t fit everyone’s taste but I didn’t want to lose any of the character this bike has earned. I wanted to celebrate it.

The parts that make up for the bike are period correct – Campagnolo Super Record and Nuovo Record. Mr. Bruhn was nice enough to share with me some of the brands he was using back in the day. Some parts may not be exact due to the expense and time-consuming nature of restoring vintage bikes. There was some liberty taken in parts selection. Parts may be changed over time once more correct ones turn up.

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Overall, I think the balance between a restored road race bike and a well-used tool was carried out successfully. A bike that has seen those early training rides; the excitement of racing all over the world, the crowds and podium finishes; the sparkling trophies. The bike stored for ages in the corner of a basement now gets its moment in the spotlight. To be displayed with all the great machines built by Chris Chance.

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Footnote: Written by Nick Kazmaier with photos by David Kazmaier.