Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

On Saturday afternoon I dropped by Cicli Spirito, the workshop of Ben ‘The Maestro’ Kamenjas. Ben is a well-known personality around Sydney’s classic bike scene, and I remember first meeting him at Deus Cycleworks many years ago.

Cicli Spirito is an oasis of authenticity and integrity in the corporate wasteland that is North Sydney, and it’s always a pleasure and an honour to enjoy his hospitality — and have him service your bike at the same time.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

My old Ricardo Nuovo can be best likened to a Holden LX Torana or Kingswood. Ain’t nothin’ flash, but solid as hell and goes pretty fast… downhill. It’s just a fun, classic bike and I love it.

It was due for a replacement Shimano 600 rear mech and freewheel and while I could have installed them myself, I’m glad for any excuse to hang out with Ben.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

The ‘tricolore’ 600 series is up there with my favourite groupsets from the Japanese manufacturer.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Lubed up!

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Man, the Ricardo has never run as well as it does after Ben worked his magic. But he doesn’t just work on crappy old ten speeds like mine: he applies a watchmaker’s precision to modern bikes and modern components as well.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Good to go!

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Once the work was done, there was an opportunity to look around the workshop and see what was new. I spotted a Zullo frame with an amazing ‘smoked’ paint effect. Has anyone got an idea how this was applied?

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito
Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito
Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Ben can take care of all frame building requirements and steel repairs. Shelves of tubes wait patiently before being called into use.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Cicli Spirito is a stockist of the well-engineered Spurcycle bell.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Favourite colour swatches:

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Ben’s favourite old Brooks saddle — lined up in front of the brand new C15 Cambium…

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Which was being mounted on a Wraith Fabrication by Adam Eldridge. It was great to see one of these frames in reality and it sure looked like a solid unit. A Sydney customer is building this one up to take on a Transcontinental Divide ride.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito
Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

LOOK’s Piet Mondrian-inspired livery is still one of my favourites, no matter where it’s applied.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Ben has a strong affinity for all things Italian, and particularly loves those well-designed Milanese commuters of the 50s and 60s. He’s got a small collection of the one-piece stem and bars — with integrated brake levers. The back of this one reads ‘Legnano’, a familiar name.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Here’s a Torpado frame, ready for restoration:

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

A head badge is the final touch for any classic bike!

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

We listened to Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen all afternoon, but the tempo does speed up, depending on how many people Ben’s entertaining. ‘Fatto a Mano’ has nothing to do with fat men, it translates to ‘Made by Hand’, a philosophy that underlies Cicli Spirito.

Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito

Make sure you drop by the shop next time you’re on the north side, or just make it a destination for a ride. Drop by for a vino or an espresso while you discuss your next bike project. See more photos from the visit in the Cycle EXIF flickr album.

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Insight: An afternoon at Cicli Spirito