Category Archives: Italians

Wood and Coffee

At Marten´s open day on Dec 20, there was one bike which I found highly fascinating although its human powered two wheels were about all with which it qualified to be an exhibit at the event: A late thirties Vianzone wood framed bike.

This one seems to be fully original, including both mudguards, a wood handlebar and a wood seatpin.

I can´t imagine the bike having been ridden overly much, not only because of the wonderfully preserved transfers and lining, but also because of the rather shaky looking bottom bracket, being bolted to the frame with only four none too beefy bolts. I shudder imagining the consequences of only one of their nuts shaking loose.

Also the fork legs being fixed to the crown by only two bolts each isn´t a design feature I´d voluntarily entrust my life to on a tour of the Alps.

Having said that, the bike is a thing of rare beauty, and that´s something.

 

 

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Guerciotti For Sale

Xtttransf2

This

Xfullbeauty lives quite near to me, and its current owner is compelled to sell it for medical reasons. No, it´s not that his heart rate goes up every time he sees it. I took the opportunity to play with it for an hour or so before it goes and as a consequence can share these photos.

If anyone of you is interested, drop me a line via the comments and I´ll pass your email on to the owner. The bike is 55cm c/c, and the asking price is 850 Euros. The bike needs a good service, but the chrome will clean up well.

I usually do not advertise bikes for sale on this blog, but once I had taken the photos I thought I might make an exception from my rule. Let me add that I do not own the bike, I have not fixed the price and I have no financial interests in the sale. Any agreement will be made between the current owner and the prospective buyer. My recompense will be a couple hundred views on the blog, I hope.

So, here we go:

Xbbshell Xbbshellb XbbshellrearXbrakebridgeXcabletoptube Xchainhook XchainstaycablestopXforkcr Xrearder3 XreardoXtubetransfXtttransf1The fly is not supposed to be part of the ointment, but if the buyer insists we might find another one. Now for the stuff hung from the frame.Xfronthub XftderXhandlebars Xheadset

Xrearder2 XrearderXbrakeXbrifterXcrankXrimBack to the frame. The paintwork really is nice, the colours being very subtle. From the distance the frame appears to be silver coloured, approaching it one realizes that there is a sophisticated paint scheme, albeit with a few light scratches.

XdossenaXpaintw1 Xpaintw3 Xpaintw4Xscratches

An Old Friend

Imagine you are rung by a friend who tells you he´s just bought a bike for you which he has seen in a newspaper small ad. This must either be a very good friend or chances are that he is no longer any sort of acquaintance. This one still is a friend.

Rtttransfer

So he says on the phone that he has found a very cheap but good quality road bike, Rossin framed, hung with a mixture of all sorts of stuff, but very probably originally sold by a legendary bike dealer, long deceased, in a neighbouring town. There were some telltale signs, like the choice of headset and the spacer:

Rheadset

And it´s 64 cms frame height. Built from extra strong Columbus tubing, and with an extra long top tube. Wasn´t it just what I was looking for, so shortly after getting into cycle sport again after some years absence. It was.

Rfull

The bike quickly proved to be very able, a great hillclimber (it definitively “planes” if I may use Jan Heine´s diction), and quite fast. I just loved it. The only problems with it were that it is a road bike with no space for mudguards and with a racing gear ratio. Still, I stuck with it for some seasons, with its mixed bag of bits, and it served my purpose well until I bcame fed up of being wet and muddy even after the slightest rainfall.

I then graduated to a real randonneur (https://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/work-in-progress) and the Rossin got laid off and parked in the cellar. As a recompense I had repeatedly promised the old chap to be made over with Super Record stuff, something that happened a few years later when I chanced on a bike thrown together with just what my Rossin lacked.

Rbb Rbkbridge Rbottlecageeye RbridgechainstaysRdowntube RforkcrRlwrheadlugRseatclRRonbbshell RRonlwrheadlIt is a nice frame, no doubt about it.

RchainwhlRftchgRhbarsRrearbk Rrearchg Rreardo RrearhubRsaddleRseatpin RshiftleverNow I keep promising the bike to ride it again, or clean it, for that matter. I´ve nearly made my mind up to take it to the Haarlem/NL Tour d´Historique in June, but let´s see what happens until then.

Two reasons to be envious

Just a few photos from two bikes I was able to snap in century rides over the past couple of weeks. Wrapping up the riding season, so to speak.

There´s always the problem of taking discernable photos at control posts – people usually don´t want to spend time talking about bikes, and there´s no way anyone wants to find a suitable backdrop, so I hope you will forgive the lack in quality of my snaps once more. Maybe it will have been noted that there have been far fewer of these photos this year – here´s the reason. One particularly sad example were two wonderful American bikes I tried to snap; the pictures just didn´t come out.

The Colnago owner says he has used the frame for about 25.000km every year for the last 14 years, since he bought the frame new. I envy him, I have to say. We rode a few miles together until he proved too fast – small wonder with his training.

The Tommasini is about my size, not quite high enough, but I would be able to ride it.

Cbb

Cfrokcr

Cfull

Chead

Creardo

Cseatcl

Tbb

TColumbsticker

Tfrontfk

Tfull

Theadb

Theadlug

 

Treardo

Tseatcl

Tseatlugtop

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:

Kfull

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.

Kheadb

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.

KColumstick

It´s not a tretubi, which is something.

Kclearanceforkcr

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.

Kbrakebr

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.

Kforkcr

Kseatcl

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.

Kseatclre

Else, the lugs are nice, and even…

Klwrheadlug

… a tad thinned if I´m not mistaken.

Kbbshell

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.

Kscratchseatt

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

Kreardo

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.

Kfinishcrank

KGipicrank

Khubrec

KMavicP

KspokewiredsolderedAll in all, a nice worm.

Happy Anniversary – Sort Of

Here are some snaps of a Masi seen at the Neerkant meet. Not much to write about – good, though uninspired frame, somewhat kitschy groupset, loads of time spent on polishing. According to the owner the bike has about 2,000 km on the clock since new. Although admittedly it´s special because of that, its not my sort of bike, but perhaps there are some readers who like it. Space was too cramped for a full shot.

ZNMasichainset

ZNMasiforkcr

This bike is perfectly clean down to the slightest detail.

ZNMasiftder

 

I love the chome highlights, I must say. Great deal of skill in the paintwork.

ZNMasiheadbadge

ZNMasirearbk
Yeah, well, eighties taste.

 

ZNMasirearder

 

The adjuster bolt has been cut and a slot has been filed into it so that you need a fine screwdriver to reach into the threaded hole in the dropout in order to adjust the wheel.

ZNMasiseatcl

Excepting the engraving on the seat stay tip, not much special attention here.

For want of something better

About ten years ago, a friend offered me something I had been after for some time: A Campag Cambio Corsa (translates as “racing gear changer”) equipped bike. I had had the chance of getting some specimens earlier, but all of these were famous brands and being a fan of British bikes, I wasn´t prepared to pay money for an Italian name.

But there it was: A ridable, more or less complete short lever version on a rather nice frame, with the transfers saying “Dalcerri”. Some original parts had at some time or other been changed out, like the rims, the front hub and – small wonder – the front open “C” Q/R lever, but I still had all of these and so could make good the ravages wrought on the bike by some greedy collector. A moderate sum of money changed hands, and some days later a large parcel arrived, unbelievably with bare frame tubes and nothing to keep the wheels from scratching the frame. Huge shame.

Dalcerri 1

It surfaced that there were some repairs necessary, like changing the unoriginal three speed block for a four speed one which I luckily still had in my box, and a pair of new tubs, but when this was done and the wheels had been rebuilt with period correct rims, I could actually try and ride the bike. Try – not because I had un-learned how to ride, but because of the weird gear change mech.

Dalcerri 2

What happens is that when you want to change gears, you need to stop pedalling, open the top lever which is the quick release, and then derail the chain with the help of the bottom lever while pedalling backwards. When the desired gear has been selected, you pedal forward ever so slightly. This is because the toothed hub axle which engages in more teeth in the dropout will have rolled right back to max chain tension, and pedalling forward slightly will de-tension the chain equally slightly. Now you lock the quick release again, and off you go. It´s as simple as that. Racers in the forties became rather proficient at it and gear changes didn´t last for more than seconds. In my case, make that minutes.

Why this strange system, when other, simpler systems had been in use for decades when the Cambio Corsa was first seen in the thirties and early forties? Exactly because of that. Patents must have had to do with it, but the Cambio Corsa and its successor, the Paris-Roubaix changer, were also renowned for their ruggedness. Hardly a crash, and certainly no mud, would disturb the functioning of the mech. Chain wrap around the rear sprockets was very good, compared to most other derailleur systems, even at least as good as on the famous Cyclo.

Also the frame build quality on my Dalcerri is quite good, one example must suffice:

Dalcerri 3

I just love the way the seat stay top vanishes into the seat lug. Also thinning is quite noticeable.

I don´t know if Dalcerri made their own frames. I found out that there still was a cycle shop at the  address I found on the hear transfer, but my letter, translated with the help of a very kind CR member, was never answered.

BTW, good thing the French made the race for the English name for the gear change mech: Imagine the Italians had won and we´d be stuck with “deraliator”.

Peter on the Mountain

That´s a real name, belonging to a restaurant, and for not overly strong riders like myself it´s the day´s highlight to cycle up to the hilltop, and of course race downhill afterwards. This time I took a minute to snap the group of people I´ve been cycling with a lot recently. Thanks for some great days out, boys and girls.

Of course, a ride wouldn´t be complete without marvelling at some steel. Last weekend at Bielefeld it was a marvellous Gios and some unknown Italian frame with a seemingly quirky geometry, but first some details of a beauty of a Cinelli.

Here´s the Gios, a relatively modern Compact rear d/o frame, but beautiful nevertheless. Built up with an eye for detail, too.

A real, albeit printed alloy, headbadge. There used to be a time when I told friends who asked what bike they should buy, to get one with a headbadge and they would be alright.

And here´s the colourful Italian, ridden hard in all kinds of weather.

There also was a time when I told friends who asked what racing frame they should get, to buy one with a headbadge and chrome plated headlugs and they would be allright.

Whodunit

When taking the yellow Lüders to bits recently I found a pair of most unusual (to me) brake levers.I have since asked several people who are rather experienced with older bike parts, they had never seen any like them, either.

The idea behind anchoring the brake inner cable to the brake lever is that it should do its job safely, and once it has outlived its usefulness, should be changed quickly. None of this applies to the brake levers at hand; when I took them off the bike both brake cables had started to break. This is why:

Yes, this is really in there. It´s a pulley held by two bolts rather resembling chainwheel bolts.

They look professionally made, quite worthy of Campag originals, and also the hole in the brake lever is well executed. Definitively no aftermarket conversion, to my mind.

Here´s what the bolts and pulley look in- and outside the lever.

And here´s where the cable is secured to the lever. The pulley can´t do it, so it goes in the bottom of the lever base:

Again, the execution looks professional, there is obviously original gray paint in the hole you have to thread the inner cable though. It then is somehow fiddled round the pulley, which of course will move forward when the lever is pulled, thereby pulling on the inner cable and actuating the brake calipers. The bad thing is that the inner goes round the pulley at a relatively sharp angle; it won´t last long.

And also this is where it gets complicated. Fitting an inner cable is impossible without taking the bolts and pulleys out, and of course the complete lever off the handlebars. Dangerous and completely misconceived, I´d say.

Nevertheless the whole arrangement is Campag, no doubt about that.

Any help putting a year to these levers, or explaining the reasons behind the daft construction, anyone?

Well developed awareness, luckily

Another chance encounter on the 623 participants ride in Schloss Neuhaus last Saturday was the owner of this beauty:

There´s not much to a Cinelli SC, outwardly. Plain, straightforward purebred looks. So not many snaps, either.

What I find out of keeping here is the Stronglight headset, but I guess it´s better than the original Campag one in any case.

My, how I wish for a decent summer, for a change.