Bikes of the Bunch: remake of 90s racer Baum Cortado
If you were a budding racer in the 1990s, you probably dreamed of owning a custom steel frame built with the best of Campagnolo. This was certainly true for Paul *, who coveted such a steed as a junior but didn’t have the budget to make this dream come true.
Fast forward to today. Paul was successful in business and to celebrate this fact he chose to build the bike of his dreams of yesteryear. Built with many rare and new old stock (NOS) parts, this new Baum is designed to be ridden, and yet you would be hard pressed to try and replicate it.
Fresh out of the paint booth, this bike was on display at the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia. At a show of this caliber, there isn’t a single show-stopper, but this one certainly had more than a few breaks in their tracks.
* Not his real name. The owner of this bike wished to remain anonymous.
A returning runner
“The inspiration for this bike came from a steel tube Coppi that I raced as an under-17 in the early 2000s,” said Paul. “I had a steel bike because they were common, and that’s what I could afford, but it was awesome and fun.”
Rather than just buying a version of this old bike, Paul wanted something modern, yet old. “I wanted to marry that classic feel with a few modern touches, but putting the old and the new well together is a lot harder than it looks.”
And getting your hands on a like-new Campagnolo Record Titanium nine-speed groupset or the matching Shamal 12-HPW wheels is certainly no easy task. And then find a top level builder who shares such a vision to produce something a little more traditional? It probably wasn’t that simple either.
It took over a year of reflection before Paul found himself in contact with Baum’s team based in Geelong. “I was looking for the right person to tackle the project,” he said. “[They] fully understood what I was trying to accomplish.
According to Paul, Darren Baum (the founder and owner of Baum Cycles) quickly took over the project as if it were his own. “[He] ran with the project from the start, owning the design, and produced a stunning product, ”said Paul. “There is obviously a reason why people wait a long time for his bikes: he is a real craftsman.
Those familiar with Baum’s model line are probably not familiar with the Cortado. This is a model that has existed from time to time in Baum’s range over the years, it has replaced the Cappuccino and has often lived in hiding on what the company calls its “secret menu”. In other words, the Cortado has been around for a long time if you knew how to ask.
Essentially, the Cortado is a classic road bike designed to match the best steel road racing frames before things quickly switched to aluminum and carbon fiber.
“Cortado is pretty much the top of what I’ve seen in steel tubes that roll well,” Baum said. “Round steel tubes peaked in 1996.” For Baum, the Cortado is something of an ode to the best years of steel racing bikes. “[It’s] a round tube bike built with a huge selection of tubes that really suit the rider. It’s barely stiff enough for them. It’s not an oversized bike. If you liked 531 at the time, it’s for you.
Baum started building steel frames before the company naturally shifted to titanium. These steel bikes (like this Cortado) continue to circulate around the workshop and Baum has stocks of deep tubes from Dedacciai, Columbus and Reynolds to fill orders.
“Since 1998, I have never bought [steel] set of tubes, ”Baum said. “I normally buy tubes in boxes of 20 that have a certain diameter and wall thickness. We select the tubes based on diameter and thickness, and use a welding rod that can connect any tube to any tube. After all, stiffness is purely dictated by diameter and wall thickness, not by the name on the tube.
For Paul’s bike, Baum paired a polished stainless steel rear end with Columbus tubes. Baum then added a personal touch, courtesy of another legendary frame builder.
A personal touch from Darren Baum
“It was probably one of my smileiest moments when Dario called me up and told me he’s been stalking my job for a long time,” Baum said of the day over 15 years ago that Dario Pegoretti, a builder he idolized, called him out of the blue. “We had an amazing conversation, there were only questions about my work. [It was] one of the highlights of my career.
This call was the start of a working friendship and it wasn’t long before Pegoretti personally handed over two of his first carbon fiber forks for Baum’s feedback. These highly prized forks have been treasured items in the Baum factory for years. That is until the Cortado de Paul project arrives.
Knowing what Paul was trying to achieve with his build and the parts in it, Baum decided it was time to part with one of Pegoretti’s forks and finish building the NOS. By making this decision, Baum has personally invested in this unique race.
- Frame: Baum Cortado – custom steel, painting by Baum
- Fork: Carbon Pegoretti Falz, painting by Baum
- Helmet : Chris King Wireless
- Pair of wheels: Campagnolo Shamal 12-HPW NOS
- Controllers: Campagnolo Record Titanium nine-speed
- Crankset: Campagnolo Record Titanium nine-speed
- Lower support: Campagnolo Record Titanium square taper
- Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record Titanium nine-speed
- Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record Titanium nine-speed
- Cassette: Campagnolo Record nine-speed
- Chain: Campagnolo Record nine-speed
- Brakes: Campagnolo Record Titanium
- Tires: VeloFlex Master tires, 23 mm
- Handlebar: Deda Newton (NOS from the Baum collection)
- Stem: 3T Arx 2 Team, painted by Baum
- Saddle stem : Campagnolo Record
- Cage : Stainless steel king
- Bar tape: Busy men’s leather, personalized
- Saddle: Selle Italia SLR with Busyman leather cover
- Pedals: Campagnolo Record