My Bike

Jon ‘Gear Ed’ Min­ster’s 1990s Sancini.

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Contents - Con­tact BMC if you’d like to re­store an old bike, or if you’d like a new paint job to spruce up your cur­rent ride: bi­cy­clere­

II bought this bike be­cause of an In­sta­gram post. Emile Kruger from The Whip­pet Cy­cle Com­pany in Brix­ton, Joburg, posted a pic of it about two years ago. I was at a kids’ birthday party sur­rounded by scream­ing, sticky tod­dlers, and my wife Jess couldn’t un­der­stand why I was glued to my phone and not help­ing her con­trol the sug­ar­mad chil­dren. It was be­cause I was busy do­ing an EFT.

I’m a huge fan of clas­sic steel-frame bikes, es­pe­cially those built in South Africa dur­ing the bad old days when sanc­tions pre­vented the im­port of Euro­pean frames. Home­grown he­roes like Le Je­une, Peter Al­lan, Alpina, Han­som, Sancini… yes, they’re heavy com­pared to mod­ern car­bon bikes; but they have her­itage, and they ride so

smoothly and silently, it’s like the tar melts be­neath your wheels. And those lines!

It was love at first sight, but the Sancini was in a bit of a state. The frame had been in stor­age for nearly 30 years, ex­posed to light, and the paint was peel­ing. Rust had clawed its way in. There was only one thing to be done: a full restora­tion.

And there was only one man to do it: Jared Ma­haf­fey at the Bi­cy­cle Main­te­nance Com­pany (BMC) in Salt River, Cape Town. Jared is a true artist, and he did a spec­tac­u­lar job.

This Sancini isn’t new – it’s bet­ter than new!

Frame: Back From The Dead

Sancini might sound Ital­ian, but the bikes were built right here in Mzanzi – in Joburg, to be pre­cise, by the Bloch fam­ily. Ap­par­ently, they had a con­tract to build bikes for the Post Of­fice; Sancini was their racier side pro­ject. The busi­ness seems to have pe­tered out in the early 1990s when democ­racy ar­rived and sanc­tions were lifted, open­ing the door to cheap alu­minium im­ports.

All the lo­gos on the orig­i­nal bike were stick­ers. Ex­tinct stick­ers. If you want to re­store a Col­nago, for ex­am­ple, you can or­der pe­riod de­cals. If you want to re­store a Sancini… you ask Me­lane Ma­haf­fey, Jared’s wife and busi­ness part­ner, to cre­ate be­spoke sten­cils that Jared will use to paint new lo­gos. Yes – paint! Like I said, he’s an artist.

The orig­i­nal flu­oro yel­low was so bright, the bike prob­a­bly glowed in the dark when it was new. Paint like that fades fast, how­ever; which is why Jared chose some­thing very sim­i­lar, but longer last­ing.

Hey, it’s all about be­ing vis­i­ble on the road.


The frame is made from Colum­bus SLX tub­ing – top-end, light­weight stuff in its day. But it’s a lit­tle rough around the edges. The bot­tlecage bosses on the down tube, for ex­am­ple, aren’t cen­tred; so the cage leans out to one side. The top tube also seems to be slightly bowed. The seat tube is flared where the seat post goes in, so I’m us­ing a hor­rid Coke-can shim un­til I can make a bet­ter plan.

Jared is a per­fec­tion­ist, and these things freaked him out a bit. But I like that the bike isn’t per­fect. It speaks to a mo­ment in time when a frame-builder got bored with churn­ing out clunkers for post­men, and started ex­per­i­ment­ing with rac­ing bikes.

The Other Stuff

The groupset is Shi­mano 600, the pre­cur­sor to Ul­te­gra. The com­po­nents might be vin­tage, but they’d never been used when Emile at Whip­pet did the orig­i­nal build. Be­sides the odd scuff mark here and there, ev­ery­thing is pretty pris­tine.

The rims are Gran Com­pes by Dia-Compe, a Ja­panese com­pany that makes retro parts, laced to Shi­mano 600 hubs. The tyres are 28mm Pa­naracer Pase­las. The TIME ped­als are a spe­cial ‘World Cham­pi­onship’ ver­sion, which I’ve owned since the 1990s. (I think they were on my old Gi­ant Iguana.)

A clas­sic bike needs a clas­sic sad­dle – in this case, a Brooks Cam­bium C17. It’s the sec­ond­widest in the Cam­bium range, de­signed for max­i­mum com­fort over long dis­tances.

I never planned to hang this bike on the wall. It’s my go-to road bike for events like the Cape Town Cy­cle Tour, and I do a cof­fee ride on it al­most weekly. I know that I’ll even­tu­ally scratch or chip the paint – and I’ll be sad – but luck­ily Jared is just down the road for touch-ups…

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