Monthly Archives: October 2013

Marschall 753 Frame

Quality like this doesn´t need much comment.

Mfull

Mdownttransf

Mupperheadluggap

MUpperheadlthinned

Mttcable eye

MSeethroughstayPiece of cardboard inserted in b/b shell shows up white in sunlight

Mseatlgap

Mseatcl

Mreardo inner

Mreardo

Mheadtubeinner

Mheadb

MGermanysticker

Mftderbrazeon

Mfrontdo

Mforkcr  Mchainstaybulge

Mcable rest chainstay

Mbrakebridge

Mbottlecage eye star

Mbbshellbelow

MBBinner

Mbb

M753

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Ricci´s Sport

Why is it that cycling seems to breed such a number of fascinating personalities?

One of them certainly is Richard Pratt who runs Ricci Sports cycle shop in Düsseldorf/Germany. In his early sixties, he is an expat Scot who has a great Aberdeen accent even when speaking German. Just listening to him talk about his Holdsworth conversion brings back happy memories of Scottish holidays.

Richard is a formidable racer (twice Scottish road champion) as well as a formidable mechanic, and loos back at an adventurous carreer as a pro mechanic having worked for some time with pro teams, specialising in wheelbuilding. As if this weren´t enough, he knows all there is to know about bicycle hubs and wood rims. Also he is most generous with his time, allowing me two hours of interview and then giving me a 1960s stayer front wheel with a perfect example of tyre bandaging art. Bandaging craft? Art, about which both of us can wax lyrical.

At first, approaching the shop, there is not much to see.

RShopfront

On entering the premises, however, the visitor recognizes at once that this is not your run of the mill bikeshop. The shop being small, very small for its purpose, Richard very cleverly has not attempted to cram it with modern equipment and bikes – that would be futile. He rather has created a bicycle parlour in which customers can lose themselves – if they have an idea of what is displayed. However, the quality of Richard´s collection is such that any customer notes right away that the parts and bikes he or she sees are very special indeed. Gleaming chrome and colourful, box lined paintwork never fail to create attention. That was very obvious in Apeldoorn, and it is here.

Rshoplhside

Rrowtable

But it´s not all name, wine and glass cases – there´s serious expert´s knowledge behind the shop which caters nearly exclusively for racers. It´s a pleasure to watch Richard wrench. Also look at this:

RTools

I pride myself of being a rather well educated layman in matters bicycle, but there are tools hanging from this workshop wall I haven´t even heard of.

RCampagtools

This looks definitively outmoded in comparison. The Campag tool set resides on the counter in the showroom which is resplendent with all sorts of goodies – Richard´s modern house brand Cavallo road machines as well as veteran equipment which he lovingly cares for – and which he also repairs when customers bring it in. Yesterday for instance there was a marvellous late fifties Bianchi road machine which other cycle shops would probably not even look at (“You simply must upgrade this – no spares – come back when we´re less busy…”).

Here are a few more impressions from the shop.

R1928Grubb

RBartali

Rbooks

Rbooksfloor

RHbars

RTablecampagcats

Rshelfchainsets

RHpreWWIIAirlites

RHhflfChaters

There are pictures of old racers in the glass casses behind the hubs. The picture which shows Richard leading the bunch when taking part in the seniors´ worlds in Italy a few years ago is on the shelf with the Chater light alloy shelled hubs showing nicely where his heart lies.

RHPicRicci

Here´s another item which any self respecting British expat bike shop just has to have.

RHoldswconvers

Then there´s a row of the choicest track machines one might think of. One is the 1934 Russ Richard took to Apeldoorn. The bikes hid Richard´s self made wine bottle storage hub.

Rrowtop

Rrowframes

RrowDürk

RrowCBchrome

RrowCB

One even is a German made Dürkopp. Dürkopps werent available custom made, so I guess it is not as noble as the other bikes.

Here´s a bike which really isn´t quite important – excepting its rims. They are wood, non-iron clad Lobdells and are still straight after 117 years. Richard could probably just approach any Düsseldorf University auditorium and talk about Lobdell and Fairbanks wood rims, how wood rims are made today, and so on, and he would hold his audience spellbound.

RLobdell

So let´s hope Düsseldorf cyclists appreciate what a treasure they have in the form of Richard´s cycle shop. They should be flocking there for pro service and a bit of free bike history education on the side.

Europese Kampioenschappen

It´s bloody well the greatest sport on earth.

While you watch the cyclists race past at great speeds, you can get so close you feel the air moving. Competitors attain speeds of 50 kph easily, and race past in bunches so close that their bodies nearly touch.

AWomens

And the banks. Racers sweep up high above the inner sanctum where the teams reside, to swoop down and to gather still more momentum for the all out sprint.

AMadiill

There is Keirin racing…

AKeirin… and Madison…

AMadisonchange… and of course scratch.

AMadison

The national teams all have their own little spaces…

AInnenr

… with the British proclaiming a Sovereign Area of their own.

ABritishSBATo be honest, the Georgians and the Slovakians also displayed their flags.

There´s the VIP balcony right next to the finish line…

AVipStart… with of course the best spaces reserved for the Press…

APress

APressbank

… although I´m not sure I envy this photographer his job.

All of this took place last weekend at Apeldoorn/NL in the Omnisport, a five year old multifunctional sports and leisure complex belonging to the Libéma group, Netherland´s biggest leisure concern.

AComplex

The big hall with the wooden 250 m track can seat 5,000 spectators.

Atotale

And then, tucked away in a corner of the foyer, there was a row of 27 vintage and veteran bikes, all track machines, cared for by a dozen collectors, turned out in gleaming chrome, colourful paintwork and also authentic battle scars in the form of rust, dents and dullness, but all of them veterans of countless heats on the track.

Harrie Hofstede (find his blog at http://stalenrosklassiekebaanfietsenshow.blogspot.nl/), a track cyclist and avid collector of track bikes, had had a brainwave and organized this rather different but hugely successful veteran bike event under the auspices of Stalen Ros. He had actually managed to obtain complimentary tickets for all owners of veteran track machines, and not only this guaranteed that all non-participants owning vintage track bikes will start wearing paths in their front lawns running in ovals in desperation wishing they had been at Omnisport. The combination of world class sports and its added historical dimension was very special.

ARowAud

All members of the audience had to walk past the display on the way from the entrance to their seats, many becoming sentimental when viewing the machines, 27 of them, with their headbadges telling of past glory. Some actually asked for a machine to be pulled out of the row to have their photograph taken in front of a veteran bike. Fame at last.

ABP61Pog ABPChavz

ABPGermi ABPGios

ABPJabo ABPLocomo

ABPRaleigh ABPReco

ABPRIH ABPRuss

ABPSportSeatt

One machine really stood out, a perfectly restored 1934 Russ with Chater-Lea equipment.

ARussCLchainset

ARussforkcr

ARussfthub

Collectors had of course brought their finest bikes, rendering the display resplendent in items like a 1961 Pogliaghi, many famous Dutch marques like RIH and RECO, a wonderful O´Donovan built Raleigh, an old ChAVZ battle horse from Ukraine, a RIH rebadged as a JOCO and many others.

Rick Jansen had brought his marvellous modern machine, the frame of which is self made, excepting the front fork, and which looks great. The photos are his – plain to see.

Rickfull

Rickachter

Rickdreiviertel

It was a shame that my camera again was not up to the task, with the added problem that the many visitors were looking for input so that I didn´t have much time to snap the old bikes. Also I had brought some copies of my book on track cycling (Disclaimer: The following is shameless self promotion.), and sales also took time.

Theilmeier_Cover.indd

I actually sold five of the last few copies remaining. Hooray!

Anyway, Harrie has good photos on his blog.

AReuzefietsOld or new bikes, it is the biggest sport on earth.

Reminiscences

When I was young and still more folish, more than 35 years ago, I used to spend a month of the summer holidays in France with my parents. We went to the Landes département (40) to the beach, often to get rained on, but sometimes for fantastic weather, too, and I still remember many great people we met and many happy hours in the restaurant. In those days, Landes was provincial in the best sense of the word.

Sometimes I was sent shopping for Gazeuse, sparkling water, and my parents handed me a 10 Franc coin, like this:

10Fr front

When I asked our French acquaintances what the strange things were you could see on top of and below the denomination, they said it was a symbol of la France industrielle, a phrase I couldn´t understand at all – France and industrial? With square miles of pine forest around me and not much else, it didn´t occur to me to ask myself where all the Citroens and Renaults came from, leave alone ships and planes and all the rest of it.

10FR rear

When I found this 10 Francs Mathieu coin, named after its designer, in the fleamarket last weekend for the princely sum of 20 Euro Cents, it was the rear of the coin however which struck my fantasy: Don´t the bolts of lightning remind one of the Diagonales, vaguely?

To the Wall!

Some weeks ago I thought I could rescue a bike from a scrap yard where it must have reposed in the open for decades. The bike is/was a Torpedo from Frankfurt. There was no connection between them and Fichtel and Sachs who produced the famous Torpedo hubs. Lately, Apple Germany has taken a childrens´ café to court over an apple screen printed onto their mugs – there seems to have been no problem about the two Torpedos, due perhaps to a little more sanity in those times.

The frame and mudguards had been refinished, my guess is in the sixties, after having been made in the early fifties. The bike was in such a state that the tyres had become gluey-soft and the rubber could be pulled off the wires by hand. Spokes would snap when bent only slightly. I thought the frame could possibly be saved, but even the bottom bracket shell thread had rusted away and some stays were bent.

So, what to do with the thing? I had for some time had the idea that hanging a bare, sandblasted frameset on my study wall would be great. One is able to see all the places where it has been brazed, and I find the grey surface of a sandblasted frame appealing. Only, you wouldn´t do something like this to a frame you would later want to use for anything else, of course.

Now I was stuck with this frame which had once been quite nice, but was no earthly use to anyone anymore – unless used as an ornament. So I had the thing blasted, and here is the result:

TFull  There is a number of interesting and typical details on the frame, like the indented forkblades, chain- and seatstays, which were supposed to strengthen the stays and which were all the rage in Germany in the fifties:

Tchainstay

Tseatstaytop

TforkcrI must admit, I like those pronounced ribs on the chainstays.

Tfrontdo

TfrontdotopHere´s one of the beautiful cast or drop forged dropout ends. It´s clearly visible where it was inserted into the fork blade. The rear is not quite the same:

TreardoThe three holes in the dropout are there to rivet a Fichtel & Sachs derailleur into place, and the serrations will fit the F&S three speed torque washer´s serrations perfectly. This frame was equipped with a single speed Torpedo coaster brake, so none of the special features of the dropout were needed; indeed, the serrations were damaged over the years by nuts being tightened hard.

Tseatclbronze

TUpperheadl

Tseatcl

TlwrheadlOld fashioned keyhole lugs show varying degrees of braze penetration. The hole in the lug pictured immediately above is for the port of the internal wiring. There was a little screw and nut assembly which cleanly and easily disconnected the internal from the external wiring.

TpumppegHere´s a a pump peg of the classical type…

Tchainguardbo… a tab used to fasten the chain guard…

Tbrakebr… and a somewhat disfigured brake bridge. The damage must have been done while building the frame; the l/h side seat stay is about the only straight tube now.

TforkcrbottomThe fork crown shows a lot of bronze underneath. Was it perhaps dip brazed?

TbbThe b/b shell is nicely thinned.

TheadbLastly, here´s a view of the steering head with its two badges. Strictly speaking, they and the alloy mudguard mascot were the only pieces which could be reused on the whole bike.

One Careful Owner

Gdownttransf

Here´s a bike which I was able to buy (for a very moderate sum) last Sunday. It is special in its equipment, the frame however and especially its preservation leave something to be desired. I have decided to take the photos of the uncleaned, unrestored “dans son jus” bike because of its history.

The bike was bought new in the summer of 1957 by the man I got it from, and he used it extensively for about 40 years, until it was left in a damp shed, where it received its corrosion damage. The best thing is that the former owner has promised to try and find the bill of sale which he thinks is still somewhere among his papers. Keep your fingers crossed.

Göricke is a rather famous Bielefeld brand which was known for a pretty good balance of quality and price. The bikes were nowhere near as good as Miele or Dürkopp, but then these two stood head and shoulders above the other Bielefeld makers.

Here are two full views.

Gfull

Gfullback

Gcockpit

The bike is the 28 inch wheel version which was rare in the late fifties when 26 in was all the rage. It was the most expensive bike in the provincial Bersenbrück, North Germany shop at the time, according to the first owner, and he remembers drawing a crowd when first turning up on it in the center of that small town.

Gbell

The bell still gives the name of the shop, long defunct.

Let´s have a look at the frame which betrays a lot of price point and saving thought, 1957 being at the beginning of the motorization boom with commuting bicycles having been replaced by mopeds for some years already and small cars beginning to come into reach of middle income households.

GsteeringheadAFAIK the lugs are Série Légère from the Nervex catalogue. The wording on the headbadge says “Göricke Works, Bielefeld” and underneath it gives the name of the works owners and founders, Nippel & Co, “Nippel” having the same funny double meaning both in English (nipple) and in German.

Greardo

The rear dropout ends are stamped sheet metal and obviously meant for both pencil stays and wider seat stays, giving them a rough and ready appearance in a pencil stay. Remember the beautiful drop forged ends on the Miele Sports? the next post will be on a early fifties Torpedo sports frame which also shows the nicer dropout ends. The front ends on the Göricke show the same treatment.

Gfrontdo

Gbbshell

Also the b/b shell is rather simple. There is the de rigueur oiler on top of it, but that´s it.

Gseatcl

It looks as if the seatlug ends were long enough to allow the use of unmitered tube ends. Also the seat stay top is just a heavily indented and rounded tube end. No braze in top is used as in Miele frames.

GcableeyeThere are three cable eyes under the top tube, they are just open wire rings. They needed to be open as some derailleur and hub gear cable setups would be easier to fit if there was no need for a clean end to thread through a closed eye.

GPumppegThe punp pegs are stamped sheet metal; there would have been no need to drill a hole in the tube to accomodate the usual pegs (see following post).

Gfront

Here´s the front end with the special Göricke fork crown which looks curiously inverted: the sharper end points towards the front. The front fork isn´t cheaply made at all.

Gforkcrtop

Now a few looks at the numerous transfers, mascots and other ornaments.

GBIcoatarmsThis is the Bielefeld coat of arms.

Gchainguard

GcrankGCranks.

GdowntmedaltransfDown tube.

GforktransfFront fork.

Gmudgmasc

GrearmudgRear mudguard.

Gseatttransfer

GTopttransferThis one is on the top tube and used to say “Warranted for best quality workmanship”.

At a time when people wouldn´t spend serious money on a mere push bike, and if they did, a three speed hub with coaster brake would be the order of the day, it must have been quite unusual to buy this:

Grearder

GrearderD

Grearderfull

Gshiftlever

This is not a standard French Simplex; it was made under licence by PWB, Präzision-Werke Bielefeld, under the Durex-brand. Look out for the little “D” as the giveaway.

This was what the box would have looked like when you decided to fit an aftermarket derailleur:

Gboxfull

I found this box more than 20 years ago on the rubbish heap of a bike shop being shut down.

GboxAusfuhrThe nearly cut off words say “Ausfuhr nicht erlaubt“, “Not for Export”. The licence seems to have been valid only in Western Germany.

GboxRennsport

GboxSymbol

GboxTyp

GBoxupper

Now for some more equipment details. First there is a lock which doesn´t really deserve the name. If you have the key (which I don´t) you can push the lock a few centimetres towards the spokes, so that the bike can´t be pushed or ridden away. It can, however, be carried away without a problem, and the rear wheel can also be stolen as it will not be secured to the frame. This lock really is an example for the fact that there were cheap, useless bicycle components even in the good old times. There were versions of these which were bolted on the frame, but this one can´t even be removed.

Glock

GrimbadgeRims are rather simple Weinmanns.

GrearhubGfronthub

The hubs are real atention getters, but their quality isn´t overly special. Wing nuts were definitively on the way out on quality bikes in the late fifties.

GbrakehangtagBoth brakes still have their little hang tags. At first I thought that the former owner must have taken the bike on a foreign tour with the tags being customs seals, but it says “Weinmann” on them.

GLampholderThe lamp holder has two holes with rubber grommets to accomodate the brake cables – clever idea.

GRearbrakeThis is something you really would expect on a French bike.

GrackThe rack is fixed to the frame with braze on tabs – unusual for the late fifties and perhaps a sign that the bike had retained a few quality details after all.