1980's Inspired Retro Rando

17 comments by Ammon Sink

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Built in my living room while I watched snowfall in the streets of Baltimore, I present my new Rando! The first time I saw the Rando frame I knew I had to have one! But this impulsive thought led me to the question of HOW TO BUILD IT UP? The versatility of the Rando opens up a multitude of possibilities, making it both exciting and, at times, overwhelming to decide what parts to hang onto it. So after weighing all my options of new parts, parts bin, frame swap, high end, or a weird build... I decided to do a budget, retro-mod with a nod to the '80s.

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The Rando, with its classic design and thoughtful details, captured my imagination and nostalgic love for 1980’s racing bikes. Building it with a focus on looks and nostalgia allows me to enjoy both the aesthetics and the ride, creating a bike that’s not only functional but also a tribute to a bygone era of cycling style. Nostalgia played a big part in my build and was fueled by some of my favorite, iconic films like “American Flyers” and “Breaking Away''.  

Now that the theme has been set it comes down to parts. Budget is key to this build. I wanted something fast, easy and could be found at any bike shop. So with that in mind, I went with the Shimano Claris 8 speed group. Drivetrain is a compact crank (50/34) paired with a 11-30 cassette.

velo orange rando bike frameset rim brake steel is real caliper brake downtube shifters

That ratio would have been unheard of on a road bike from the '80s, but for me and the intended use, I think it's going to give me some fun top speed gears to attempt to spin and enough low gear for a rolling bike trail. The movement of the rear derailleur has a satisfying and rewarding indexed click provided by the Shimano Sora SL-R400 8sp shifter. The front shifter is friction which makes it easy to work with the front derailleur and crank.

velo orange rando bike frameset rim brake steel is real caliper brake downtube shifters

The brakes are where I did abandoned the budget mindset and went with the VO Grand Cru Long Reach Brakeset. I will be trying out and switching around tires on this bike and playing around with thread patterns and sizes, so I wanted to have no issues with doing that.

I also wanted a brake that I knew would clear fenders and these brakes will fit up to a 45mm fender. There are cheaper brakes out there that will work for the Rando frame but with these brakes I won't feel the need to change them so I went ahead and splurged there. They give me power, clearance, and are down right beautiful.

Wheels are budget but very nice and can be sourced by any bike shop. DT Swiss rims with a machined brake surface laced to a 105 hub set. Bonus is that the R460 rim is tubeless so I can try out different road tires in the future. I am currently running Teravail Telegraph 700 x 30c tire set up tubeless, and they are ok. But they match the retro theme really nicely and they set up tubeless on a regular floor pump.

velo orange rando bike frameset rim brake steel is real caliper brake downtube shifters

I went with Dia-Compe Non-Aero Brake Levers for pure aesthetics and the enjoyment of watching the cables dance around while I ride. And it can’t be a vintage racing bike without a bright white cockpit and saddle!

velo orange rando bike frameset rim brake steel is real caliper brake downtube shifters

I'm patiently waiting for the snow to melt and the streets to dry out before going on a super long ride. So in the meantime, I'm rolling around accessory choices in my mind and trying to contain the excitement of city rides and peaceful trails. It's a reminder to just enjoy saddle time and the pure joy of adventure. 

You can find the full build list right here.

velo orange rando bike frameset rim brake steel is real caliper brake downtube shifters


  • James

    Love it! Child of the 70s/80s here, and this look brings back great memories. Your build came out great. I did something similar last year and found it much harder than expected, since there are more sizes and variations to things like the bottom bracket than I realized. It’s an awesome way to level up your bike knowledge though.

  • John

    Blip, Blop, Bleep


  • Douglas M

    The legendary Sheldon Brown produced a handy gear ratio calculator; https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html which includes both traditional gear-inch ratios and his own smartly devised gain ratios, yes, Sheldon Brown had encyclopedic bicycle knowledge and was very talented in that regard.

    Now, there are many variables at play here and there is no definition of average, but depending on whether there would be wind, flat land or big hills, a rider’s physical abilities, and the total weight of the rider + bike + load being carried, etc., it has long been said that an “average” rider on a moderately loaded bike riding on more or less flat ground would find about 70 gear inches to be about right for them. Road riders could snicker about that but heavily loaded tourists could easily agree and even be envious.

  • Bill in VIrginia

    I forgot to include a shout out for the MKS Sylvan Gordita pedals. I am using them and could not be happier with the classic looks and wider/longer platforms. Bravo!

  • Bill in VIrginia

    Nice build! I am not a fan of the aesthetics of the Shimano Claris X crank, they are at least not black and Shimano crank derailleur combos just work, and work well, and are easy to set up, and very reliable even with entry level groupsets. I am a big fan of tanwalled tires and as one who used DT shifters for many, many years, I still find when I leave the brifters of my Bianchi for the DTs of my vintage Peugeot, the DTs are like old friends and totally enjoyable.

    Non aero levers and looped cables look good on this build.

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