Re: [CR]New Member

(Example: Production Builders)

From: "Kris Koller" <>
To: "Classic Rendezvous" <>, "Scott Sweeney" <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: [CR]New Member
Date: Sun, 8 Jun 2003 10:28:18 -0700

Hi Scott, Welcome to the list I think will enjoy what goes on here. But the main reason I'm replying to you is that I had as a kid a very similar introduction to lightweight "10 speed" bicycles as you did. Reading your story had a deja'vu effect on me and brought back fond memories when lugged steel bikes ruled and summers lasted forever. I assume we are approximately the same age (I was in 8th grade in the 1972) and my first experience with a lightweight bicycle was in the summer 1970. My brothers girlfriends friend left a Schwinn Continental 10 speed in our garage to store for him while he was on vacation. Knowing I liked tinkering with bikes my brothers girlfriend told me I could ride it all I wanted with one condition that I didn't wreck it. For days I would go down into the garage and just stare at the bike but it scared me. I'd never ridden a bike with skinny tires and such a tall frame, so I would just look at it. Finally I got up the courage to ride it one Saturday morning but first I cleaned up and oiled the chain with my favorite lube of the time (30wt motor oil). When I first straddled the saddle I could barely get on the bike. To best of my recollection it must have had a 23" frame and my brothers girlfriend friend must have been tall because I remember seeing a lot of seat post showing. I don't know I never saw him but I do know that I had to put the seat down all the way to the frame to enable me to ride the bike. And Oh what a ride that bike was, I rode that bike all day every day for a week, then as mysterious as it appeared in our garage it disappeared. The friend had come home from vacation and picked up his bike but the memory on how it rode and how I felt lingered on in me throughout the remainder of the summer. Now I know there is no comparison between the two bikes we rode but the feelings we had when we rode them for the first time must have been the same. To a 13 year boy knowing nothing about 10 speeds and use to riding Stingray type bicycles, riding that Schwinn for a week was quite a revelation that still lingers with me to this day. One more thing I'm also assuming you grew up in Menlo Park and if so do remember the name of the Schwinn dealership on the El Camino Real in Menlo Park? Do you know if that shop still is in business today? Once I got the 10 speed bug that's all I could talk about and my father finally bought me my first one the following year for my birthday. We were visiting some friends of my parents in Menlo Park and on the way home we stopped in at a Schwinn dealership on the El Camino Real just to looked around. Low and behold not only did they sell Schwinns but they had a new shipment of $79.99 Japanese wonders that had lugged steel frames, Shimano Lark or Crane derailleurs, Dia-Compe centerpulls, and came in four colors. Now I wanted the Schwinn Continental but I think my father had a hard time paying a $120 for a bicycle and the dealer would not come down on the price. Being a car salesmen himself my father was always looking for a better deal so the dealer directed us towards those new Japanese bikes. He said we might be surprised on how good they were especially for the price. The bike was call a "Premium" and later on I was told by a local dealer that it was the entry level bike in the American Eagle (later Nishiki) family of bicycles (Premium, Jewel, American Eagle). One ride and I was sold, like I had any choice after all it was a birthday present! It was a was 23" Root Beer Brown one that I rode for two years before buying a Gitane Interclub with sew ups, but I sure missed that Premium and I wish I still had it today! Thanks for stirring all the great memories!
Kris Koller

----- Original Message -----
From: Scott Sweeney
Sent: Monday, June 02, 2003 9:02 PM
Subject: [CR]New Member

My passion for fine bicycles started on a fall day in 1973 (8th grade), when I rode my friends 1971 or so Raleigh Professional after school. I just could'nt believe the difference going from my 40+ lb Schwinn Deluxe Breeze 3-speed to a 21 race bike. It was an epiphany for me which has lasted to this very day. I don't know if kids today share the same feelings today because most bikes are relatively lightweight and not as extreme as in the 1970's.

I think the turning point for me were the handling, responsivenes, exotic graphics; flags of the world, and olympic stripes, to fancy chrome work,, and silky smooth Campagnolo hubs. I never knew how bad hubs could be until I spun a Campagnolo Nuovo Record wheel in my fingertips for comparison. I knew I had to have one, but the best I could muster was a new Gitane Grand Sport on my next 14th birthday. My desire did not fade, in fact it intensified. Over the next two years I rode my other friends Gitane Interclub which was a real treat with sew-up tires, but not in the same league or feel as the Raleigh Professional. To gain knowledge, I would carefully stop to observe every race bike I saw in passing on the street, or parked in front of a bike shop. On weekends, I would visit Sugden & Lynch bike shop in Menlo Park, CA ask questions, and look at the overflowing dozens of Cinelli's Pogliaghi's, and Masi's they had for sale, not to mention the glass cases full of pantographed Campagnolo parts. After learning about tubing materials, Campagnolo parts, seat tube and head tube angles and the like I headed out to buy my first used Italvega Super Speciale. I logged many miles over 3 years and sold the bike to buy a car when entering college. I longed to own another race bike and eventually bought a used Gitane Tour de France my sophmore year in College which I was very proud to own. I rode the bike daily to school and found it stolen my senior year. It was'nt until I graduated that I bought a used Masi Gran Criterium which I have to this day. In the past 15 years I've purchased 2 more Masi's, a Gios Professional, and a Raleigh Professional,and a Gitane Tour de France, which I tend to fiddle with more than ride.

I stopped riding for about 8 years after several job moves with my bikes disassembled in storage. The aesthetic appeal of Tig welded bikes from the late 80's & 90's just did'nt draw me into showrooms. Finding Campagnolo parts or knowledge at the local bike shop was an impossibility. Everywhere I go it's mtn bikes, BMX and Dura Ace, or try them down the street. It has been the last 6 years that I have gotten back into biking partly with the need to exercise, and the enjoyment of riding a conversation piece.

Only recently after finding your website, I'm delighted to know that others feel as I do and appreciate fine vintage lightweight bikes. My mother would often tease me in high school when I snuck out of the house early Sunday mornings to go on a ride only to ask me "are you wearing your ballerina slippers?" Now I don't feel as awkward as I did back then.
Scott Sweeney
Salinas, CA