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  1. #1
    Plastids
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    Modern Zeus frames

    Dear Gearheads,

    I’ve been digging around for a few months trying to get some information on late-90’s/early 2000’s Zeus bicycles. Here’s what I know, and some/all of this might be wrong.

    Zeus was an independent manufacturer of medium to high quality Spanish bicycles from 1926 to about 1986, noted for making frames and almost all of the components needed to build up a complete bike. Frames used either Columbus or Reynolds 531 tubing, Zeus dropouts and fork crown, and were usually French threaded. Their component lines included Racer, New Racer, Criterium and 2000. The higher end parts towards the end of their lifetime included both titanium bits and a heavy reliance on drillium. Zeus (or what was left of it) was bought by Orbea (also of Spain) in the late-80’s. Orbea had a similarly long lineage of making medium range road bikes but they were of no particular distinction or not imported to the US, or both.

    Now this is where it gets fuzzy. Apparently, Orbea entered the high-end bicycle market in the late 90’s by reintroducing the Zeus name. Somewhere around 1999, Orbea began selling Zeus-branded frames with Shimano Sora or Ultegra components. Most were aluminum with aluminum forks. Zeus/Orbeas were not imported to the US until about 2003, when Orbea USA was established, by which time Orbea had dropped the Zeus line and began labeling all of their frames “Orbea”. To further muddy the waters, Orbea bikes are now available with Zeus carbon components—stem (Zarpa or Cat 3), bars (Zeta), seat post (Zaga), forks (Ziccs AC/FM/SL) and crankset (Ziclon—actually a rebadged FSA). Zeus branded or Orbea branded brakes are currently available. Orbea also makes Zeus branded components for their mountain bikes—at least stem (aluminum), seatpost (carbon or aluminum) and bars (carbon).

    I recently purchased a steel Zeus frame reputed to be a 2002 Accelerator. It is a phenomenal ride, and I am trying to find some more information on it. So my question is this: Can anyone provide some details on the rise (1999?) and rapid fall (2002/3?) of the modern (i.e. post-1986) Zeus frames?

  2. #2
    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    pictures of the new zeus?
    When in doubt, style it out.

    How to post full size pictures

  3. #3
    Plastids
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    Never done this before (yes, I'm a photo posting virgin). Let's see if this image comes through.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    Senior Member yellowjeep's Avatar
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    I have nothing good to offer other than that is a sweet looking steel bike. I would love to have one like that. Congratulations
    When in doubt, style it out.

    How to post full size pictures

  5. #5
    juneeaa memba!
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    Orbeas, of course, are major contributors to the Euro pro peleton, sponsoring a bunch of teams at various levels. It makes sense that they should (and do) promote their product under their own name. So what you have here is a rare and beautiful collector piece. Is is going to accrue value like, um, a Cinelli, for instance? Probably not, because these were just too rare for the collectors to get excited.

    I have probably the last aluminum Vitus made; an Argal. From what I've seen, there was only one ever made, and it was made for a trade show somewhere. I have scoured all of the likely references, and have come up with exactly one reference to a 56 cm frame, sold in Europe. I am guessing that that reference and my bike are the same.

    So, did the collectors get all excited when this frame came up on eBay? They did not. I was the only bidder at $199, and it came with a new Mavic headset and seatpost, probably worth more than half the price. An example of "too rare". But I built it up with late model Mavic components and it is fun to have a bunch of headscratchers trying to figure out "what that bike started out as..."

    (btw, if anyone knows anything about the Argal, I'd love to hear it)

    This bike is beautiful, and begs for the latest campy stuff (and all of those Zeus goodies). I've ridden an Orbea and it is a very sweet ride; I'll betcha that this one is just as good.

  6. #6
    Plastids
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    Thanks for your reply. I have been a Zeus-o-phile for 30 some-odd years so this one really caught my eye when it appeared on eBay last June as a complete bike with full (used) Ultegra components. It was listed for $900 and got zero bids (I already have too many bikes--couldn't justify one more). However, all will power went out the window when it was relisted for $800, so I nabbed it. Seller claimed the frame alone sold for $1,000 when new.

    Having slightly more money than sense (and being prescient of your advice) I have replaced most of the Ultegra with either the proper Zeus (brake calipers), Zeus carbon (bars, seat post, stem), Orbea carbon (water bottle cages) or Campy carbon 9-speed (derailleurs and brifters). I am tempted to replace the Reynolds Ouzo fork with a Zeus model (just because), but the Reynolds fork is awfully nice. Still trying to decide what wheels and crankset to hang on it. Pedals are Look because I had them in stock. Complete bike weighs ~18.25 pounds.

    I own about a dozen vintage rides (1961 Libertas, 1973 Peugeot PX10, 1975 Raysport, 1979 Gios, 1979 Raleigh Pro, 1978 San Rensho, 1975 Zeus, 1978 Razesa and others of lesser bloodlines) so this was my first modern bike. I cannot compare it to a carbon frame velo-pricey, but it is by far the sweetest thing I have ever ridden. And the pedigree is to die for.

    Quote Originally Posted by luker View Post
    Orbeas, of course, are major contributors to the Euro pro peleton, sponsoring a bunch of teams at various levels. It makes sense that they should (and do) promote their product under their own name. So what you have here is a rare and beautiful collector piece. Is is going to accrue value like, um, a Cinelli, for instance? Probably not, because these were just too rare for the collectors to get excited.

    I have probably the last aluminum Vitus made; an Argal. From what I've seen, there was only one ever made, and it was made for a trade show somewhere. I have scoured all of the likely references, and have come up with exactly one reference to a 56 cm frame, sold in Europe. I am guessing that that reference and my bike are the same.

    So, did the collectors get all excited when this frame came up on eBay? They did not. I was the only bidder at $199, and it came with a new Mavic headset and seatpost, probably worth more than half the price. An example of "too rare". But I built it up with late model Mavic components and it is fun to have a bunch of headscratchers trying to figure out "what that bike started out as..."

    (btw, if anyone knows anything about the Argal, I'd love to hear it)

    This bike is beautiful, and begs for the latest campy stuff (and all of those Zeus goodies). I've ridden an Orbea and it is a very sweet ride; I'll betcha that this one is just as good.

  7. #7
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    Nice looking frame. Just a few points:

    In addition to the Zeus Reynolds and Columbus frames they also used French Durifort and Vitus tubing, at least in the '70s. In fact, I've never seen a Columbus Zeus, but that doesn't mean they dont exist. Some (all?) of the high end Zeus frames in the '70s and '80s were said to be made by the Spanish builder Razesa.

    Like many of today's producers, I would bet that the Zeus components on the current Orbeas are the usual contracted out to Taiwan stuff (not that there is anything wrong with that), rather than anything made in-house by Orbea. Compare the Zeus brakes to Tektros.......

  8. #8
    juneeaa memba!
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    v light for steel...what is the frame made of?

    and I feel ur pain about the fork. I really like things just because, and that character flaw keeps me in the poor house, but what is money for, anyway?

  9. #9
    Senior Member jet sanchEz's Avatar
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    I have a Razesa and I was told that the Razesa company was contracted to make the higher end frames for Zues. I haven't confirmed this but the details on my Razesa are very nice and it is made of SLX so I know that they make a fine product.

    Lets see pics of your other bikes Oh, and since you are a Zeus-o-phile, have you ever seen Zeus or Razesa decals anywhere?

  10. #10
    Plastids
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    There are no metalurgical decals on the frame (not sure that's the right language, but I've always wanted to work "metalurgical" into a sentence). All I know is that magnets stick to it and if you look at the derailleur hanger you'll see is is an integral part of the drop out. I 'think' that aluminum frames have to have a steel derailleur hanger as a bolt on. The drops out carry the "Tecnociclo" name. I just did a quickie web search and see they are are a major producer of frame components, based in Italy. Probably well known to most of you, but news to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by luker View Post
    v light for steel...what is the frame made of?

    and I feel ur pain about the fork. I really like things just because, and that character flaw keeps me in the poor house, but what is money for, anyway?

  11. #11
    Plastids
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    Yes, my Razesa is Columbus SLX. Probably why I erroneously reported in a previous post that Zeus frames were made with Colmbus tubing.

    Banana Brain has a whole lot of the same Zeus decals for sale on eBay. They are not the proper ones for my 1975 frame. I have never seen Razesa decals but I'm sure someone on this list knows more than I about how to get custom decals made.

    I'll try to get some pics up soon, but I'm pretty new at this.

    Quote Originally Posted by jet sanchEz View Post
    I have a Razesa and I was told that the Razesa company was contracted to make the higher end frames for Zues. I haven't confirmed this but the details on my Razesa are very nice and it is made of SLX so I know that they make a fine product.

    Lets see pics of your other bikes Oh, and since you are a Zeus-o-phile, have you ever seen Zeus or Razesa decals anywhere?

  12. #12
    Plastids
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    Yes, the "Zeus/Orbea" brakes are exceedingly average in appearance. I have always suspected they are a rebadged something-or-other but they stop the bike every time I slam on the gription. The Ziclon carbon crankset is an FSA with "Zeus" emblazoned on the arms. However, the carbon stem, seatpost, and bars seem to be of an in-house design (based on my limited knowledge). Certainly the Zarpa stem is the most unique, and butt-ugliest, thing I have ever seen. I went with the carbon Cat III stem instead--about the same weight as the Zarpa and you can actually ride around in the daylight without people throwing rocks at you. Yeah, I like Zeus components but as Mason said to Dixon, "We've got to draw the line somewhere".

    Quote Originally Posted by jemoryl View Post
    Like many of today's producers, I would bet that the Zeus components on the current Orbeas are the usual contracted out to Taiwan stuff (not that there is anything wrong with that), rather than anything made in-house by Orbea. Compare the Zeus brakes to Tektros.......

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by luker View Post
    Orbeas, of course, are major contributors to the Euro pro peleton, sponsoring a bunch of teams at various levels. It makes sense that they should (and do) promote their product under their own name. So what you have here is a rare and beautiful collector piece. Is is going to accrue value like, um, a Cinelli, for instance? Probably not, because these were just too rare for the collectors to get excited.

    I have probably the last aluminum Vitus made; an Argal. From what I've seen, there was only one ever made, and it was made for a trade show somewhere. I have scoured all of the likely references, and have come up with exactly one reference to a 56 cm frame, sold in Europe. I am guessing that that reference and my bike are the same.

    So, did the collectors get all excited when this frame came up on eBay? They did not. I was the only bidder at $199, and it came with a new Mavic headset and seatpost, probably worth more than half the price. An example of "too rare". But I built it up with late model Mavic components and it is fun to have a bunch of headscratchers trying to figure out "what that bike started out as..."

    (btw, if anyone knows anything about the Argal, I'd love to hear it)

    This bike is beautiful, and begs for the latest campy stuff (and all of those Zeus goodies). I've ridden an Orbea and it is a very sweet ride; I'll betcha that this one is just as good.
    Luker, the Argal is certainly one of the last "true" Vitus frames, before they went over to Columbus alu.tubing etc like everyone else, but the one you have certainly is´nt the only one, I´ve seen several of them over here in Europe. I don´t think they produced many of them though. Could´nt you post a good picture of yours, please?

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