Re: Fw: RE: [CR]State of the Art restorations

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Date: Sat, 15 May 2004 05:59:12 -0700
From: Jan Heine <>
Subject: Re: Fw: RE: [CR]State of the Art restorations

>The questions I have on the restoration issue are as follows:
>[1] How often were bicycles from the pre-70s era sold as complete
>bikes as opposed to just bare frames?
>[2] Were European manufacturers making bicycles differently for
>domestic consumption versus export?
>[3] How can the equipment truly be verified as being original ?
>I will present an example of what I think is the most original
>bicycle I currently own. It is a late 50's -early 60s
>lightly used Legnano Roma which I purchased from the grandson of the
>original owner. The owner lived in England and even though the frame
>is Italian in origin; the bottom bracket and headset have British
>threads. All components are period correct for the era and all
>appear to be what was in the Legnano catalogue, but the brake
>calipers are Universal Mod.61 and the brake levers are Balilla. The
>bar/stem is a badged steel Cinelli with steel handlebars.[These do
>not appear as standard items in the Legnano catalogue]
>I have every reason to believe this bike is as it was sold 40+ years
>ago but how can you really know?
>More questions than answers.
>Nick Zatezalo


I do not know the answers to your questions, except for [2]: Many of the top-end-bikes sold by Spence Wolf of Cupertino - Cinellis and Alex Singers come to mind - were imported as frames only, and built up by Spence with the parts he preferred. TA cranks and Mafac brakes on Cinellis, for example. (Campy, too, of course.) The same with half-step gearing - he used that quite frequently, and those 14-28 freewheels were quite common here. He even used triples, with his "Alpine" gear modification.

For the Singers, Spence got frames that were different from what the Singer shop typically built for French customers. Usually, and this has to be stressed before somebody flames me, usually because with these custom bikes you could get anything you wanted - a French Singer either would be a racing bike with Campagnolo dropouts or a randonneur/touring bike with integrated fenders, etc. and vertical dropouts. Spence ordered "sport-touring" frames in the British tradition, sometimes with racks, sometimes without, usually without fenders and lights, almost always with Campagnolo dropouts. (Of course, there are exceptions to any rule - Mark Petry had one with fenders, lights, brazed-on centerpulls, etc., but still with Campy dropouts.) And then there is the "all-option" Rene Herse in VBQ Vol. 2, No. 2, which really "should" have vertical dropouts, but has Campy ones. Clearly, the owner spec'd that, and Herse built it.

Restoring a Spence Singer back to French "catalog" spec would be difficult if you want to get all the details correct. I prefer to appreciate them for what they are.

Nick's bike appears to reflects the country where it was bought and ridden. I am sure some of the British listmembers can tell you whether those components were common back then.

[3] gives me headaches all the time. Especially wheels get moved from bike to bike, so I have seen more than one bike with two different generations of Maxi-Car hubs (front and rear), different mis-matched Herse cranks and more. And then there is the super-light Ondet mixte with steel upright bars and brake levers. I suspect that one used to have drop bars...

Jan Heine, Seattle
Vintage Bicycle Quarterly