Classic & Vintage - New Italian Steel!
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Just bought this Torelli frame today for 100 bucks. seems like a good deal, but I close to nothing about this name. I was hoping some of you guys could shed some light on this thing. I know its columbus, but not sure what since the decal was removed at some point. It has Campy dropouts and a cinelli BB shell with "62MO" stamped on it. The TT has the words "la bicicletta che vince" on it and it came with the original laminati foderi fork. I've also noticed down near the BB shell there seems to be what looks like rifling in the seat tube. http://i903.photobucket.com/albums/ac233/jbherlihy/IMG_1125.jpg
02-18-11, 12:38 AM
Just bought this Torelli frame today for 100 bucks. seems like a good deal, but I close to nothing about this name. I was hoping some of you guys could shed some light on this thing. I know its columbus, but not sure what since the decal was removed at some point. It has Campy dropouts and a cinelli BB shell with "62MO" stamped on it. The TT has the words "la bicicletta che vince" on it and it came with the original laminati foderi fork. I've also noticed down near the BB shell there seems to be what looks like rifling in the seat tube.
That rifling means it's probably SLX, which would be about right with that Cinelli "spoiler" BB shell. Torelli was a California importer's brandname, some of these were made by A. Mondonico, but I can't tell if yours was or tell you how to tell. They are nice bikes, you did great to snag one for $100!
EDIT: One thing to check is that Mondonico supposedly made his frames "pinned", so check a bit up in the tubes near the BB shell for any pins. Even if made by another contractor these were usually pretty nice Italians!
Alan, by pins do you mean nail-type things in the tubes? My Mercian has them.
What's the point of them?
02-18-11, 12:58 AM
Nice looking frame! Howya gonna build that bad boy?
Not that it makes that much difference, but I think I remember reading somewhere that SLX tubing had the spiraling just towards the ends of the mainframe, TSX was grooved all the way through. That might have been mentioned on Equus, I'll have to check. Anyway, nice catch.
02-18-11, 12:59 AM
Yes they are wires or finishing nails (thicker than a pin used for sewing) but the process is called drilling and pinning. A builder can put the pieces together and aligned using the pins and just a drop of brazing to hold it while he brazes the joint up. No jigs or fancy alignment table needed, it can be done "in the air", or rather held only in a repair stand or vise...it's old-school and requires skill to do it well, whereas jigs and tables make some of the process easier for those who use them (and have to use them). Richard Sachs is one of the current builders who still uses pins in his frames.
That is a sweet looking project you have on your hands.
Well the frame definitely has pins, but they seem to be a bit bigger than a finishing nail. There's one in each tube that connects to the BB shell. Does this mean that this frame was made by Mondonico? I've also noticed that the seatstay caps are pretty unique. I'm hoping to build this bike with 80's Record or SR, but taht could take a while... All I have right now is a full 600 groupset and I want to get this puppy on the road! So it will have to do. Not sure on wheels yet, possibly mavic open pro and white industries hubs? Give me some ideas!
02-18-11, 02:45 AM
02-18-11, 03:09 AM
I bought a 56cm version of this exact frame from some dude in SoCal for $90, although it had rust on the chromed parts (nothing an Oxalic Acid bath wouldn't fix)
Mine came with a Columbus SLX sticker
02-18-11, 03:33 AM
You stole it! Nice Goin!! :thumb:
02-18-11, 07:59 AM
Torelli was a California importer's brandname.......
I think they're still there, doing basically the same thing as always. Nice folks with some nice products. We saw them at Interbike a couple of years ago, and they had their line of bikes (steel frames of various types) and a whole line of parts and accessories.
@modernfuturist: Nice! Thanks for the confirmation of it being SLX. How does she ride? How'd you build it up? Looks nice!
02-18-11, 11:11 AM
It was a smooth ride, but the frame was a little big for me, so I transfered the parts over to a Gios Compact Pro.
As pictured above, I had it built up with Campy Record 9 speed alloy components (except the bottom bracket and rear derailleur, which have carbon), Record threaded headset, Campy Chorus Hubs laced to Mavic CXP 33's, Cinelli stem/handlebars, a fluted Campy seatpost, and I even had Italian Veloflex Pave tires on there before some glass shredded them.
02-18-11, 11:13 AM
Does this mean that this frame was made by Mondonico?
I'd say it was a strong clue toward that conclusion, but if he didn't sign it (and he didn't sign any Torelli AFAIK) it's still just a claim, not fact. But for $100, even if it was made by some unknown, it's a great deal. I think getting it on the road with 600 and those wheels sound fine, once you decide you love it (probably) you can start upgrading...lots of folks here like to buy new Campy Centaur gruppos for their vintage Italians...whatever, it's all good.
02-18-11, 11:14 AM
www.torelli.com (http://www.torelli.com) is still going strong. They sell their own and Mondonico frames; steel(TIG and lugged), aluminum and carbon. Wheels, stems, handlebars, and nice forks(threaded or threadless).
02-18-11, 11:25 AM
I used to have some Torelli Master rims made by Ambrosio. They were awesome! Is that the same company?
02-18-11, 11:25 AM
Do you plan to race it? Because it's the "bicycle that wins". Funny how such cheesy marketing looks romantic in Italian.
02-18-11, 11:34 AM
Same company imported the rims, but Ambrosio (later bought by 3TTT) did not build their frames...or any frames. I seem to recall that those Masters were really hard to mount tires on, hearsay: never tried any myself.
02-18-11, 03:38 PM
Alan, by pins do you mean nail-type things in the tubes? My Mercian has them.
What's the point of them?
They hold the tubes in place while brazing. Most frame fixtures are not intended to hold the frame during brazing, so once the frame is assembled in the fixture it is either pinned or tacked in place and removed from the fixture to complete the brazing.
02-19-11, 04:09 PM
I don't plan to race it, but I definitely plan to ride it really fast. I was told that the rear spacing has been changed to 130mm, does that mean I can only fit newer 7,8,or 9 speed cassettes on it?
02-19-11, 04:17 PM
CAMARILLO, CA—Bill McGann started Torelli Bicycles 20 years ago because he loves bikes—plain and simple. "Is there anything more beautiful than a bike? They can be absolutely beautiful works of art and, even if they come off an assembly line, they can be wonderfully efficient," McGann said. And while his passion helped Torelli grow over that time, it also set him apart from the rest of the industry. Then again, McGann has always done things his own way. "I was the only kid who rode my bike to high school. All the other kids laughed at me," he said. But by the time he was 22 he had already started his own bike shop. It was at this time he began importing a few parts from Italy. Word got around the local racing community. Soon, he was unable to keep the parts in stock (http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/miscellaneous-retail-miscellaneous/4153822-1.html) and the importing side of the business began taking up more of his time. In 1981 he went into distributing full-time and started Torelli; it was quite a change from the world of installing sew-ups and Campagnolo cranks. "It turned out to be vastly more challenging than I thought. More and more of what bike shops do now is futures oriented. But we didn't have that in the 1980s. It was the distributor's responsibility. Now we put it off on the shops," McGann said. McGann's love of all things Italian grew exponentially. He was importing more parts and even a few bikes from Italian builders. But availability of Italian product in the United States (http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/miscellaneous-retail-miscellaneous/4153822-1.html) was spotty for the expensive machines. McGann thought he could do better, so he started the Torelli bike line, sourced it all from Italy and brought them in less expensively than his competitors did. Master Italian frame builders, like Mauro Mondonico, make some of his Torelli bikes. His bike line covers the range from aluminum with carbon fiber stays to chrome lugged and brazed steel—a niche that is still successful in this age of technology. "Bill has found a niche with Torelli. As far as sourcing out of Italy, he is one of the most knowledgeable," said Glen Spiller, founder of Sinclair Imports. McGann is just as passionate about bikes today as he was in the early days. He loves riding his bike. He loves selling bikes. Talk to him about bikes and he beams an infectious enthusiasm that can make anyone smile. "How could you not like Bill? He's a total bike nut. And all this time he has managed to stay really fit," Spiller said. But in a business where passion often far exceeds business acumen, McGann's company has continued to grow for 20 years. During that time, the Torelli brand of frames and parts has become as dynamic as McGann himself.
McGann: Even though my name and my father's name was Semonian, My father always suspected that we had different blood. At my grandfather's funeral, my father saw that everyone had dark hair and eyes. My father and I do not. Although a man named Bagdasar Semonian raised my father as his own son, my actual grandfather was an Irishman named McGann. It was an interesting challenge tracking down census records and information from half-remembered stories. I changed my name in 1996. Why are you so in love with Italy and its bikes and parts?
02-19-11, 04:20 PM
McGann: My belief is that the best bikes still come from Italy. The country has a cycling culture and bike makers are all clustered together. It used to be the French were also leaders, but they dropped the ball and the Italians never did. To this day, Italian is synonymous with the best in cycling; I think of a pro bike, and I think of Italian names: It's the heart and soul of the world's cycling culture. If you want a beautiful hand-built frame, you can go to Italy to do it. And if you want a modestly priced frame, you can get it there, too. There is a great big pot of producers, and Italians are easy to work with.
Don't the Italians have a reputation for spotty delivery? McGann: I don't find that to be true. My friend told me a story about a distributor that ordered a ton of frames and the builder sent a note saying, "We don't make donuts here." If you want frames built by artisans, you are not buying donuts. You have to anticipate demand, get used to the culture and plan. I have never had a problem. I think distributors that complain are making up for their own shortcomings.
How did you meet Mauro Mondonico?
McGann: In 1983 I had been importing Faggin frames. They were nice but I wanted something else so I went to the Milan show. I saw a candy apple red Mondonico and just stopped. Have you ever seen something and everything about it looks so right? This bike just stopped me in my tracks. At the time he was doing work with Guerciotti. We hammered out an agreement and I have been working with him ever since, buying most of what he makes.
He uses some rather old world methods. Do his bikes appeal to today's high-tech consumer?
McGann:There are tools in that shop that his father used, and he opened shop in 1929. He still pins and brazes each frame. He still uses lugs. Torelli does more than just steel lugged frames, but most of our business is in steel. We are one of the last companies devoted to steel. My heart may be owned by the lugged steel frame, but my customers aren't necessarily there with me. Some people want to get as close to 16 pounds as possible. But the other thing about a bike is the sensual aspect. How does the bike feel? I find myself immediately attracted to steel bikes because of their superior ride. The fact is we are booming with lugged steel frames—and you have to realize that we are a small company. There is a core of people who want a bike that feels good to ride.
Are you as passionate about the sport now as you were 20 years ago?
McGann: Believe it or not, I would say more so. It's hard to find something as enjoyable as spinning out 45 miles before
02-19-11, 04:22 PM
riding through fields. For vacation (http://www.allbusiness.com/retail-trade/miscellaneous-retail-miscellaneous/4153822-1.html), I go to Italy, meet Mondonico and we go riding. It has become worse over time.
Tell us about your jersey collection.
McGann: When I go to trade shows, whether here or Italy, I meet lots of old and new pros. If I get the chance, I get a jersey signed. Sometimes people give them to me. I went to dinner in Belgium once and was talking about Roger de Vlaeminck with a distributor. He said he lived just down the street. Two months later he sent me a signed jersey.
What goes into developing a product for the Torelli brand?
McGann: I sell things that I like myself. We are a small company and don't really have the resources to develop lots of products, so I find something that I like, and take that and change it a little and then I'm happy. Most of our parts we have made to our specs. We offer thousands of SKUs but our chunky tape is the most popular product.
How has business been for you?
McGann: I'm sitting here happy with the way things turned out, but I can't help feel that I'm sitting on heap of dead bodies. Business has grown, but at the same time there are so many people that have gone away over the last few years. Only a few people have come in to take their place. But this business attracts a lot of hobbyists who don't do well financially. Road is doing well. It has taken a long time to get things sorted out. When mountain bikes came, everyone ran from road. But now road is, from the retail point of view, owned by the people who specialize in it. It was just background noise for a long time.
Where do you think the road market is headed?
McGann: I have friends who say Super Record bikes were as good as it was going to get. But they couldn't get out of town without breaking a spoke. Dropouts used to break because of spaced-out freewheel hubs. Now look at how good things are: Bikes are so reliable and easy to service. I think things are headed for greater utility. They are lighter and more reliable than ever before. To get the equivalent quality of only a few years ago is less money. Daytona is so much better than a Record group from six or seven years ago.
Adam Vincent, the magazine's senior associate editor, conducted this interview.
Very interesting stuff, seems like McGann is a pretty passionate guy. I sure hope my frame is a Mondonico :D. In the shop where I bought this frame I saw a mondonico, the frame without fork was 1600$! It was also hand signed by Mauro himself.
02-21-11, 03:07 PM
My understanding is that Bill retired a couple of years ago and sold the business. From articles that I've read, your bike could be any one of a number of Italian builders.
After a little more research, everything is pointing to Mondonico: the pins, lugs, and the "62MO" on the bottom bracket shell and fork. Even the Fork crown lug was pinned in place! I called up Torelli hoping they could tell me what it is, but their cache of catalogs only goes back to 1992 (wierd). So they told me to visit Bill McGann's website, where I shot him an e-mail about the frame. I'm still awaiting a reply but I'm sure Bill will know exactly what this frame is!
Well, I got a response from Bill, heres what he had to say:
Even without pictures, I'm still pretty sure you have a Mondonico produced Torelli Express built in the mid-1980s and it should indeed be built with SLX.
This is a very special frame from a very special builder.
He kept is short and sweet. I'm even more excited to build this bad boy up now!
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