Early Bird

Have you ever rung a stranger at six in the morning because you wanted to talk about a bike? Maybe you should.

My work is quite a distance away from my home, so I have to leave rather early in the morning, and when I see something tasty in the small ads of our local newspaper I normally fill the day´s swearword bin rather sooner than I should, and forget about it. Today things were different: There was a fifties track bike advertised. I waited until the very last moment before I had to get ready, and dialled the number. Someone rather sleepy answered, and luckily the elderly gentleman was far too well bred to tell me what he must have been thinking. Anyway, after about three minutes I clinched the deal on the solemn promise I would turn up ASAP after work, and this is what I bought:


Of course there´s no way this bike dates from the fifties, but it definitively is nice, and I wanted it. The price was right, and that was it.

It´s a Kotter from the time when his bikes were called Kotter´s Racing Team after the, you guessed it, racing team sponsored by former opera singer turned cycle entrepreneur Konrad Kotter between 1979 and 1982, with Didi Thurau as their most prominent rider. After the racing team era there were Albuch Kotter bikes until the early years of this millennium. The eagle on the headsticker was a bit boastful as Thurau was fired when he stopped being an assett, and the racing team had to be wound down due to financial difficulties.


Rumour has it that Kotter had most of his frames built in Italy, and this frame too screams Italian at you. It´s one of those typical medium cheap Aelle tubed late seventies affairs with lots of chrome, and whenever it´s a road bike you happen to see, it will have other nice bits and pieces on it.


It´s not a tretubi, which is something.


And it´s quite well built, too. Not much mudguard clearance here, and the bike was spared the fate of having the fork crown drilled by someone who thought he could make a hack bike out of it.


Same in the rear, and the fingerprint must be the painter´s, which is another proof that the frame was built to a tight budget, as is the not overly clean brazing.



The two K´s don´t go very far either in the way of luxury as the seat stay top definitively is a recycled cornflakes pack. Look at where the seat stay top ends and is plugged into the stay as such – there´s a line the plater didn´t have enough time to polish off.


Else, the lugs are nice, and even…


… a tad thinned if I´m not mistaken.


Here´s the b/b shell with a lot of numbers – one´s the frame number, of course, the 56 is the height, but the L83 I haven´t a clue about.


There´s a couple of nasty scratches, but there are no dents al all.


And, as always, leaving the best for the end.

A couple of shots of the mixed bag of bits, mostly Gipiemme, which fits in well with the middle price point frame.





KspokewiredsolderedAll in all, a nice worm.



  1. Charles T. Young
    Posted July 7, 2013 at 2:38 am | Permalink | Reply

    I think that the Kotter is quite tidy. No shame in some of the minor flaws and, I think it is certain that the lugs were thinned. Built to a purpose that I expect it would have met quite nicely. I’m not in the least afraid of Aelle and even my Aelle Tretubi framed bikes don’t have gas pipe for stays and seem to have been built with the same care as SL / SLX frames.

    Charlie Young

    • Posted July 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That´s right, Charlie, but the question I´ve asked myself is: Why go to all the trouble (labor, plating…) and then pennypinch when it comes to the tubing. It couldn´t have made all that much of a difference – or could it?

      • Charlie Young
        Posted July 9, 2013 at 1:53 am | Permalink

        If an additional few hundred grams in the tubing means one can’t go fast on a bike fitted with a light tubular wheelset, I’d be inclined to suspect the rider rather than the mass of the frame. I suspect that in a blind test, I’d be unable to discern the difference. Somehow, the economics must have been favorable to use name brand straight gauge tubing for lower tier but well executed frames because makers in a number of different countries followed the practice, Italy, Spain, France and Great Britain come to mind.

  2. Posted July 10, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    Nice one, Toni!
    Aelle could have been used to made the frame stiffer. Although this frame is not extremely large. Compare it with frame builders, who have used a few R531 plain gauge tubes in a frame with R531C. As you know, weight isn’t a big issue for a lot of track frames.
    L83 may be the month and year of manufacturing (L=12=December?), although it doesn’t match with your statement that kotter was built till 1982.

    • Posted July 11, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink | Reply

      I have thought about that myself, having had or been able to view several really hefty track frames. However, tubewall thickness isn´t always related to stiffness, which in itself has recently been disputed. So, yes, this is a possibility, but I think there could also be other explanations.
      In any case, I plan to bring the bike to Apeldoorn in October as my son wants to try it on the track.
      You might be right with the dating – Kotter´s Racing Team was well known in Germany in the day, and perhaps the firm could still cash in on their popularity even after the team had been disbanded.

      • Harrie
        Posted July 11, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        “…tubewall thickness isn´t always related to stiffness…”

        If it’s a steel alloy and you remain in the elastic zone (which will be the case with normal riding and not crashing) the e-modulus thus the stiffness is the same.
        Lower alloy classes have a lower treshold, where elastic deformation goes into plastic deformation, but that will not be noticed when riding.

        Hope to see it in Apeldoorn, however it’s still not sure if we can really ride on the track during that day. The track co-ordinator likes it if we do so, but he depends on the people of the orginising office (commercial people) and the UCI maybe.
        Fingers crossed.

  3. Thomas Busch
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Toni,
    just a little hint from my side. The eagle on the front is a condor. Kotter bikes changed name during the years 1979/1980 from “Kondor” to “Kotter”. I own a track bike from 1980 that still shows both names engraved/labeled. You can find it here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickelbike/sets/72157622761716156/
    Best, Thomas

    • Posted September 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Right, that´s it, a Condor. I had wondered what this ugly bird was doing on the bike.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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.