1980's Inspired Retro Rando

17 comments by Ammon Sink

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

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.

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

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


  • LISA

    schweeeeeeet! buttery sweet! 🧈 🧈

  • Andy

    So much more beautiful than what’s for sale these days in the big-brand owned and sponsored shops. My everyday road bike is either my 1973 Fuji Finest or my 1983 Nishiki mixte frame bike. Both with all-Suntour drivetrains and shifters. Well, the Fuji has its original Sugino crank. I found a Suntour crank for the mixte bike on ebay. I agree a retro-looking crank would complete this VO build.

  • Derrick

    I did mine a bit different. I started with an actual 80s touring bike (a 1988 Panasonic PT-3500) and collected a few Velo-Orange items and some parts from eBay to upgrade it. The wheel set is from VO with 25mm wide Mavic rims in 700C replacing the original 27" wheels. They have sealed bearing Shimano hubs and 135mm rear spacing which required cold-setting the rear triangle. The rear has a 9-speed, 12-32 cassette with a long cage Ultegra derailleur. Bottom bracket is sealed bearing from VO. The crankset is original Shimano including the 50t Biopace outside chainring but the gearing is now 50-40-26 instead of the original 50-46-28. Shifters are 9-speed Ultegra downtube. Tires are 38mm. Saddle is VO. I considered going with a Brooks or Selle San Marco Turbo but I knew it would be outside a lot and decided the synthetic saddle would be better for that environment. Handlebars, stem, and brake pads are also from VO. Really the only other thing I’d like to do, if I could figure out how to do it safely, would be to modify the chainstays for more clearance. There is ample room for the 38mm tires and more room in the front but the rear stays are round with no dimples for clearance. If I could modify it like many bikes to ovalize the stays or put dimples in them, I could fit even larger tires but I’m leery about trying that. https://photos.app.goo.gl/pCnvz1q9D8t4bZQP8

  • Rando

    somehow you successfully combined the look of an NJS track build, retro italian “Classic,” , “cool silver titanium look,” and parts bin special commuter look.

  • Ronald

    Very elegant, except I agree that the crank does not fit the aesthetic.
    Why not use a used Sugino with 46/34 chainrings , though even a 46:11 high gear is too high for any but peloton racing situations. Like the 8 speed approach with a wider more durable chain than>10 speed cassetes,

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