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Bottocchia Professional - AKA 'The Italian Job'

My Raleigh Gran Prix has served me well. It is perfectly functional, reliable, and does it's job without complaint. I'm hoping to turn this Bottecchia Professional from the early 70's into a similar machine. But one with a little more pizazz.

The first image shows the bike how I purchased it. It was given a quick safety check and then a shakedown ride around the neighborhood to make sure no serious deficiencies existed. It went straight when it was supposed to, bent into turns predictably, and passed the 'no hands' test. The test ride did reveal that the wheels weren't as true as they could have been and that the bars were awfully narrow for a bike with a 26 inch frame. Another anomoly was the 5 speed freewheel with oddly spaced 14,15,16,21,24 cogs. Not surprisingly the shift from 16 to 21 was not smooth.

The 'Professional' was Bottecchia's finest model in the early seventies and included Campagnolo components and Columbus tubing. As purchased, this one was mostly original with the only major deviation being the addition of a Sugino Super Mighty crankset and Sugino bottom bracket and a hideously ugly 'Vetta' plastic saddle.

Bottocchia Professional - The Italian Job

When the parts swapping started one of my goals was to preserve as much of the traditional look of the bike as possible. Polished aluminum instead of carbon fiber. Skinny parts instead of aero parts. At the same time the mission statement included making the machine as reliable as possible and keeping it lighter than the Raleigh Grand Prix it will replace. Some of the major components swapped over include:

  • Nitto 'Noodle' 44cm bars Deda RHM01 46mm bars
  • Q2 (house brand from Universal Cycles?) stem and Specialized quill to 1 1/8 threadless adapter
  • Well used Sora 8 speed Campagnolo Centaur 10 speed brifters
  • Velo Orange hammered aluminum fenders - 700c x 45mm
  • Shimano 600 hubs/Mavic Open 4CD wheelset wearing Michelin Dynamic 700c x 32 tires (which measure 33 to 34mm wide)
  • Low-end Dia-Compe single pivot calipers
  • Terry Zero saddle with titanium rails
  • FSA Gossamer compact crankset with 46/34 rings
  • Shimano 105 5600 Italian bottom bracket
  • Campagnolo Centaur double front derailleur
  • Shimano RX100Shimano XT M739 rear derailleur
  • Shimano 12-32 tooth XT cassette

In addition, there is a Shimano CS-HG90 13-26 8 speed cassette sitting in wait. This 13,14,15,17,19,21,23,26 will loose its 14 and gain a 30 tooth cog. I believe this combination will be nearly ideal for the intended use.

Modernized Bottecchia Professional

Front shifting, with a Shimano shifter and Campagnolo front derailleur, is indexed with this combination with no trim needed or available. Although I prefer Campy Ergo shifters, the Sora units will do for now. A set of well used Campagnolo Centaur Ergo shifters were installed. Ten speed Campy brifters pull basically the same amount of cable per shift as Shimano 8 speed shifters so the rear shifting is fine. This is helped, in part, by the fact that 8 speed systems seem to be quite tolerant of imperfect adjustment.

The image above was taken on a Thursday. The following Friday and Saturday I rode 14 and 59 miles respectively. The Bottecchia performed perfectly save a minor shifter cable adjustment. But those rides, piled on top of a high mileage month, and a coed Soccer game, rewarded me with a chronic hamstring injury. So the bike is sitting pretty waiting for its pilot to heal. During my time off the bike some minor upgrades took place and I also adjusted the bars up a tad to take some tension off my hamstrings. It was also during this time that I was able to weigh the bike. I removed the toolbag, lights, and water bottle. The cycle computer and headlight bracket stayed on. The electronic scale read 25 pounds 4 ounces.