I have just uploaded a page for Gino Bartali with a copy of a magazine, the whole of which is dedicated to a retrospective of Gino Bartal’s career.  He had a remarkably long career, mostly riding for Legnano, but ending on his own brand bikes, and won two Tours de France, with the longest ever gap between them – the first being before the Second World War and the second in 1948.  And there was this great rivalry with Fausto Coppi that had Italy divided.  Altogether an amazing racing cyclist.

I have just added a page for Wolsit with just a few details about the company.  I will add more when I can dig out my notes and collate them.  Also added is a circa 1950 Wolsit parts list.  This includes parts for all Wolsit models, a couple of which are racing bicycles – Mezzo Corsa (literally Half Race) and Corsa (Race)

I have just added some photos and bits of information on a recently acquired Motobecane Tour De France model frame.  It is a production frame that looks very much like the 1970-72 Bic Team bike frames. but I need more information in order to be able to say whether it is from that era or later.  I do know that Motobecane used the same decal style on later models, but I have not seen them on a later racing frame similar to this.  The jury is out.

Motobecane do not seem to be as well-documented as some other bicycle brands, so I would appreciate any information that anyone can provide – catalogue scans would be especially welcome.  I would be very pleased to receive anything that I can post on this website.

I have just uploaded an obituary of Brik Schotte, who died in 2004, on the Belgium page.  I found it in my files and thought that I really should include this sort of information on great factory racing cyclists.

I am not sure how this will turn out.  It started as a bicycle website, but there is just too much associated information of interest to leave it there, but I do not know where it will end.  If this site is primarily about factory racing bicycles, then information about the factories that produced them clearly has a place, as do the people who rode them.  Perhaps there needs to be some information on the components too.

I have just added details of my circa 1962 Coppi to the website.  I had not ridden this bike since shortly after I purchased it a couple of years ago.  I then took off the “wrong” components – the wheels, bars and stem, brakes – and put the frame up in the attic and put it out of mind.

Then, with this website, I thought I should build it up, photograph it and take it for a spin.  I built it up with what I had to hand – all appropriate parts that I had previously mounted on a Legnano frame now sold – and I took it for a ride.  CLICK HERE to see it.  It really does ride very nicely.  Coincidentally I just found a picture of a similar bike – same colour – on flickr with very similar components and with the finish in better condition.  That one had a Reynolds 531 sticker, so that is probably what this is.

I think I may need to sell this bike to make a bit of space, but if I were to keep it, I would definitely have it refinished and I have already got new “Coppi” medallions for the fork crown.  This bike was clearly meant to flash and gleam in the sunlight which, for me, takes precedence over preserving what is left of the original finish.

I have just added details of my 1977 Gitane.  I really like the fact that this bike is virtually new and similar to the machines that won the Tour de France in 1976 and 1978.  Gitane has a great racing history beginning in the early 1960s when Anquetil won 2 of his 5 Tour de France victories on a Gitane.  Since then they have picked up loads more Tour, Classics and World Champion wins.  One of the all-time great marques.

I have just added photos and a specification for a Wolsit – a once quite famous Italian brand that has just about faded into obscurity.  I want to add some details about the history of the company when I have found out more.  The name itself is curious and is a combination of Wolseley (the British car manufacturer) and Italiana – it being a joint venture to build Wolseley-based cars in Italy.  There is/was a giant-engined “Wolsit” being campaigned in Vintage car racing in the UK – a sort of Targa Florio type car I believe.  I am not sure how original it was, but it certainly looked very impressive.

It has become a slow job adding bikes because I am taking measurements as I go along and having to sort out photos, so they will probably be added at the rate of only one or two a week.

Kessels was a Belgian bicycle manufacturer (I say was because my internet searches have not come up with any evidence that the company still exists).

They are probably best known amongst classic cycle enthusiasts for making bikes for Eddy Merckx and for making Eddy Merckx branded bikes in the 1970s – some of which were high-end racing bikes, generally well thought of (I shall be adding one to this site) and some distinctly low-end bikes too.

But information on the company is hard to come by.  I would be really pleased if someone out there can give me any information on the company – who started it and when; where they were located; what their production volume was; scans of catalogues; anything.

Just about all I have discovered is that it was owned by a man called Kessels and the company acquired the Alcyon and Main d’Or brands and made Eddy Merckx bikes.  Not a lot.

I do not describe myself as a bicycle collector because that implies conducting a series of deliberate actions to acquire specific machines.  My accumulation of bicycles did not happen that way – I just acquired bicycles that resonated with me in a particular way and I have kept them so long as that resonance was there and I have disposed of a few when it faded.

I have also made the mistake of buying bikes because they were considered by others to be desirable – a Hetchins which I couldn’t get rid of soon enough; a Cinelli Super Corsa which was beautiful but left me cold; a couple of Gillotts, nice to look at and nice to ride but we just didn’t connect; a Carlton Flyer track the same.  But others enthuse about those bikes and rightly so – bicycles are a very personal thing and I expect many of you not to think particularly highly of the machines that I have accumulated.

My hope is that this site will develop into one with something for all enthusiasts of classic factory lightweight bicycles – I will steadily add my own bikes and then start adding other people’s so that we get a good cross-section of the world’s great bikes.

Stay tuned and please give me your comments on this site, good and bad, so that I can try to make it better.

 

Welcome to my new website devoted to the great classic factory lightweight bicycles that have provided so much pleasure and good racing over the years.  My particular passion is for factory replicas of the bikes ridden to victory in the Tour de France and I seem to have accumulated several without actually setting out to do so.  Their details will be added to this site:

  • Frejus SuperCorsa (Ferdie Kubler – 1950)
  • Helyett Speciale (Jacqes Anquetil – 1957, 1961, 1962)
  • Eddy Merckx Molteni (Eddy Merckx – 1971, 1972, 1974)
  • Motobecane Bic Team (Luis Ocana – 1973)
  • Peugeot PY10 (Bernard Thevenet – 1975, 1977)
  • Gitane (Lucien Van Impe – 1976; Bernard Hinault – 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982)
  • Raleigh (Joop Zoetemelk – 1980)

That list indicates that I have got the years 1971 through 1982 fairly well covered.  Admittedly there were some specification changes over the yearts so that my bikes are not 100% representative of every one, but I have only shown the years for which the specifications were fairly similar – for example, Laurent Fignon won theTour in 1983 on a Gitane, but by then the spec had moved on from the bikes riden by Van Impe and Hinault, so I have not included his victory.  I cheated a bit with Anquetil because my bike is a 1959 model with cable operated Simplex LJ23 front shifter.  In 1957, Anquetil was using a rod operated front shifter and in 1961 and 1962 he had moved on to Simplex’ new parallelogram rear derailleur, the JuyRecord 61, from the Simplex 543 model fitted to my bike.  The ads even say that in 1962 he rode some stages with Simplex’ new Delrin Prestige rear derailleur.