Have you noticed how some things are cool straight out of the box and others gain coolness over time? More importantly, cool doesn’t have to be proven because it’s gained global recognition. Cool is a social perception and not an inherent quality. A Cool thing is much more than just something good. Cool things have another dimension. Cool can be recognised and created by one person and without any concerns about achieving global coolness either. With me so far?
Here’s my example. Take a good look at my very Cool bike in the feature image. You’ll notice it carries the classic, Swiss Cilo logo. However, this wasn’t made on the shores of Lake Geneva. It was made in Asia, badged up as a Cilo and sold out of small bike shop, and not at a premium price, although neither was it on the cheap rack, which isn’t Cool in itself. The bike wears different coloured tyres. It has a pair of ultra-practical ‘Crud Road Racer’ mudguards made by the Cool Mr Crud from North Yorkshire, UK. The saddle is a British Brooks leather racing job, and whilst it isn’t comfy like a sofa, it is quite comfy and looks ace. Brooks saddles are also very Cool on their own, just hanging on a hook in the bike shop because you know that they’ve been proven of the last century. There are a pair of tri-bars bolted onto the handlebars and a little saddle pack containing spare tubes and stuff. There is usually a pair of lights fitted, but as it’s June when this photo was taken, they’ve been removed for extra ‘lightness’.
Sometimes, when this bike is used for the weekend bread run, it has an old, framed saddle bag attached to the saddle as well. The front chainring has 3 rings for climbing really big hills at a leisurely pace, so it’s not an out and out racing or touring bike either. It does have ‘Look’ clipless pedals because it’s used with proper road racing shoes. The frame carries two water bottle cages for long distance ride hydration. There is no computer on it or any form of distance, speed or power measurement. It proudly carries the name of this blog in several places, which arguably doesn’t make it Cool, but hey! So what type of bike is it and why do I claim it hits the Cool drum, really loudly?
This bike does everything, all year round, any time, any weather and at spontaneous notice. It has developed its list of accessories over a period of 3 years and evolved into its form, and a form that suits the many needs of different ride requirements. It did have a pair of red tyres, but as the back one wore out first, a black one replaced it from the cupboard in the shed. It’s delivered quite a few epic rides, some planned and some not. Some rides just happened and just turned out to be epic.
The brand, whilst being the last generation of Cilo logos, represents a once Cool, Swiss cycle making company that turned out some amazing racing bikes, as well as sponsoring that iconic grand tour team, Cilo Aufina. We all see bikes like this parked up or being ridden all of the time, but they don’t get the gasps of ‘Cool praise’ like a seafoam green thoroughbred Bianchi would. My claim is that in my eyes, it’s smashes the Bianchi in terms of Coolness, and that’s because I’ve developed a strong relationship with the bike over time. We’ve done stuff together which is memorable for the right reasons, and that makes it special and not just the ordinary bike in the picture that you see leant up against a very Cool, green, mossy tree.
So what really is the definition of ‘bike Cool’? Being cool requires a very delicate balance of doing ‘something’ that shows that you have created ‘something‘ your own way, and not just bought somebody else’s ‘Cool something’ off the shelf. I’m making an assumption that you recognise Cool, because you know what you consider normal and you know what you consider to hit the limits of abnormality. This means that somewhere within the spectrum of these two, your definition of Cool, like mine, will be clear.
I’m sure that you have owned or still have, a Cool bike just like my Cilo. So all of this stuff justifies my claim of ‘very Cool’, and which you may even agree with, now that you know the story behind it.
Want to know more about Cilo Cycles? Just type ‘Cilo’ into the search bar at the top of this page or see some of the links to Cilo posts below.
All photos by the Author
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6 thoughts on “When Cool becomes Cilo Cool”
In 1987, I was a 23 year old newly graduate electrical engineer working and living on Long Island, New York. The group I ran around with decided to try cycling and so I went to the local LBS and bought what my meager salary could afford at the time. $700 for a brand spanking new 1987 Cilo Sport. Size 60cm. It came with Columbus tubing, Shimano 600 SIS shifting, a 12-25 6 speed cassette, downtube shifters, toe clips and 53-43 Biopace chainrings. As I recall this was Shimano’s experiment in oval chainrings to minimize the “dead zone” where cranks have no leverage. Anyway, I loved that bike and it served me well through a couple of Ancient Mariner centuries, a few Biathlon’s and many rides to the beach along the Bethpage Bikeway, until I moved to the mid-west a couple years later. I enjoyed the Cilo until 2003 when I got more involved in running and cycling in the St. Louis area and upgraded to a more modern aluminum frame albeit w/ comparably inferior components (105 group set). The Cilo sat in my basement until I convinced a friend who was roughly the same size to try cycling by loaning him the Cilo. A few months later he bought a new bike and back into storage the Cilo went. I loaned the bike out occasionally over the years until this year.
March. Covid hit. We all locked down at home and I’m now a 57 year old IT manager living near some of the best cycling in Missouri and working from home. My regular (2003) bike has been used sporadically the last 5-10 years, but most recently in my basement workout room sitting on an old fluid trainer. I spoke to a few of the other working-from-home and retired folks in the neighborhood and tried to get a riding group together to just get out of the house. A couple had road bikes, but one guy (about my size) who was willing to give it a shot, did not. Out of mothballs came the Cilo to the rescue. Weekly rides with the group and some mid-week morning sessions later and the LBS had sold a modern bike after its new owner had fallen in love w/ cycling by riding my old 1987 Cilo. That was April. May saw the Cilo loaned out to another in the group who was w/o his bike due to much needed repairs. In late May, another “recruit” from the neighborhood took her. The Cilo was too big for him, but he bravely gave it a shot and got plenty of looks and comments on a larger 50+ mile group ride with comments like “Nice Classic dude”. My classic old Cilo had hooked another one. Another new bike purchased a month later from the same LBS and the Cilo went into that same shop for some much needed TLC. I don’t think they realized what this bike had meant to their bottom line or they would have likely done the fixes for free.
I went on vacation a little over a week ago and took my “new bike” in for repairs. It’s now 17 years old and getting a bit long in the tooth. When I got back, my bike was still in the shop, but the Cilo was back. So I adjusted the seat up and forward, found my old shoes, and for the first time in 17 years, I took her out myself. Twenty three miles and 2000 vertical feet. Boy did that bring back memories. Having to anticipate a shift well in advance and choosing the gear you want to be in before a climb starts was not muscle memory but came back rather quickly. I still pushed sideways on the brake levers several times before realizing that nothing was going to happen.
The neighborhood group graduated from texting to GroupMe for communication and is now an official Strava club. We’ve expanded outside of the neighborhood and have organized group rides every week. We have folks from late 30s to mid-60s and although most rides are nice and relaxed, some get a bit frisky. We’re even getting our own shirt — designed by our CiLO (Chief Logo Officer). What’s constant is the love of cycling that has been realized through a combination of circumstance (Covid) and opportunity — a loaner bike in the form of a 1987 Cilo Sport. After all of the riding I’ve done just this year both solo and with the group, I’m thinking of retiring my 2003 Klein for a new ride. Not sure my wife will allow another bike in the basement. But there’s another guy down the street who’s about my size and although unwilling to buy a new bike right now, he is willing to ride a couple times with the group to see if he likes it. I have just the bike for him to try.
What a fantastic story and may thanks for putting fingers to keyboard Larry! If you consent, I’ll include this story in the blog post about readers Cilo’s. If yes, could you send me a photo of your trusty Cilo to go with the text please?
Many thanks again
Sure. Feel free to use the story. Wish I had done a bit of editing before submitting now. :). How do I send you pics of the bike?
If you want to edit it, you can send an updated version and a pic to [email protected]
wow. wonderful story.
I Am an owner of the Cilo frame that I to equipped with the mixture of `70 -`80 parts focussing on CZ brand Favorit. I come form Czechia.Last Sunday 16.8.2020 I gave it ride 70km course on vintage races InVeloVeritas (Hollabrunn Austria)
It took me a while to collect parts and finish the build, therefore I had given it test ride just one the weekend prior the races. I went my familiar course (most of it on gravel in the woods) that I use as a benchmark for my shape (riding my modern gravel bike). I was surprised how well my 7978 CILO drives, I was not that much slower except braking, which is compliant to era of bike production.
It has recently been added to Guy`s list of CILOs, you may check a picture on his web pages.
Having more vintage bikes: Ronchini from late `60 (bulit by Diego Ronchini, team mate of Fausto Coppi on 1958 Giro d`talia), Bares (cz frame bulder) tailor made for me in 1994, I go addicted to them more and more 🙂
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