National Colours, I

Here are some snaps of a Gazelle motorpacing frame I found some years ago at a Dutch collectors´ meet. I have since tried to find all the parts necessary to build up the old battle scarred monster, but have not yet succeeded. I have only scored a front wheel, the handlebars and some small parts. Motorpaced bike parts are very rare, all of them, because they must be constructed or altered in very special ways to comply with the rules and/or to stand up the immense stress they are subjected to. Even the saddles have to be of special dimensions. As motorpacing is becoming more and more of a niche sport, riders hold on the their bicycles and spares as many makers just won´t bother any longer to serve this small market.

The frame is orange in colour because this is the Dutch national colour (House of Orange and all that), much the same way as the Italian flag is red, white and green, with the Italians still using blue a lot as their national colour.

The frame used to belong to the KNWU, the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Wielren Unie (the Royal Dutch Cycleracing Union), the Dutch partner organization of the UCI. The KNWU was founded in 1928, and the name still sounds a little old fashioned (“Nederlandsche“) to me. Nowadays Koga is their frame sponsor for the track, but it seems Gazelle was about 40 years ago. Sorry about the horrible quality of the first (and some other) snap/s.


The detail that catches most attention is that the front fork is for 24″ wheel size, and that the blades are pointing backwards. That is because the cyclist will be able to ride his bike further into the pacing motorbike´s slipstream.


This is also the reason why a 57cm high frame has such a long headtube: The main triangle is rather short in order to increase the effectivity of the slipstream, plus the small front wheel size. Note the “GAZELLE” stamp on the lower headlug. Nice touch.


To give you an idea of how obsessed with strength the builders of motorpacing frames are, here´s a close-up of a front dropout. It is 5.5mm thick and, I guess, surpasses even Varsities´ or Black Phantoms´ curb crashing strengths.

Motorpacing puts huge stress on bicycle components because of the speeds attained, and because of many outdoor concrete tracks being all but ice rink smooth. Even where stress is not that big, riders want to be absolutely sure that they won´t fall off at 50mph/70kph because of frame or component failure.


This is also the reason why there is a bolt in the fork crown where on a road frame one would expect a hole. The bolt holds a strut which leads up to the handlebar extension. The riders leans heavily on the handlebars when eking out the least bit of slipstream, and often the extension is also rather long. Also it is quite obvious that the first lower headbaring race must have shaken loose from its seat: Look at the punch marks on the seat, right the top of the fork crown.


The saddle nose also has a support which rests on the top tube. The small squares brazed onto the tube are there to hold it. Typical wrapover seatstay cap treatment.


It is indeed a small part of the seat tube that sticks out from the front of the seat lug. Someone also took a hacksaw to it. I can´t for the life of me imagine that meticuluos Gazelle craftsmen just forgot to clean it off, so there must be some purpose to it, but what it is escapes me.


The rear dropouts too are rather hefty, although a millimeter thinner than the front ones. Also they are Campagnolo; if one looks closely the name can be seen around the front curve of the slot.


The brake bridge which can´t accomodate a brake also is rather sturdily made. It has strengthening diamonds, and an indentation for the rear tyre.

Speaking of indentations: You need a remarkable one on the chainstay for the huge chainwheel. One photo shows it from below, the other one from the side, in which you can also see that there must have been some bad collisions between the stay and the chainwheel.




More sturdiness on the front fork, long tangs inside the blades. Round track blades, and look at the steerer tube where it appears at the bottom of the fork crown.


Also the lower headlug spells strength, not refinement. Motorpacing frames aren´t exactly lightweight, but then there is comparatively little climbing in a track race, but a good chance of a spill or two, so dainty materials and paper thin lugs are not what you want.


This also becomes apparent when you look at the heavy cast bottom bracket shell. The frame number is on the right hand side. On the left there is a “57” which is the frame height c/t, and then it says “KNWU”. There is also a “200” around of which I don´t know what it means.


The “200” reappears on the steerer tube, as does the “57” and the “KNWU”, but the frame number is not repeated. Does the frame still qualify for the matching numbers hype, I wonder? The tube looks bulged, but this again is just my photography.


Lastly, here´s a close-up of the Gazelle name on the lower headlug again.

If I had only spent a tenth of this frame´s miles on the track…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.