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Thread: Proteus Century

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    Senior Member 1oddmanout's Avatar
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    Proteus Century

    A housemate was looking for a classic bike, and I found this on the local CL. Very clean, except needing a new rear wheel. I'm envious, but I just don't need another bike, and will enjoy cleaning and maintaining this. Campy dropouts front and rear.
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    Imagine a country where the schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to conduct a bake sale to buy a bomber.

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    Senior Member Chicago Al's Avatar
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    Search the forum here (admittedly a frustrating exercise at times) and you'll find at least one Proteus thread with lots of information, including photos of a Proteus catalog (I think) and a booklet the group wrote on framebuilding. Classic example of 70s idealistic post-hippie DIY Whole-Earth-Catalog back-to-basics engineering, man.

    oh, and a better search method is using google but limiting search to this forum, for example, typing into google:

    proteus site:bikeforums.net

    yields a bunch of threads. Note no space between site:bikeforums.net.
    I never think I have hit hard, unless it rebounds.

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  3. #3
    Proteus College Park
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    Nice to see an old Century in such clean condition. This would have been made in the early to mid-70's, 7-8 years before I was with Proteus. Parts package looks mostly original, their entry level sport touring rig. This was made during the era of maximum production and lowest pricing. Century's were offered through Bikeology at that time (the precursor to Nashbar) and a dozen or so dealers across the US, but most were sold locally.

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    Senior Member 1oddmanout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ethebull View Post
    Nice to see an old Century in such clean condition. This would have been made in the early to mid-70's, 7-8 years before I was with Proteus. Parts package looks mostly original, their entry level sport touring rig. This was made during the era of maximum production and lowest pricing. Century's were offered through Bikeology at that time (the precursor to Nashbar) and a dozen or so dealers across the US, but most were sold locally.
    Thanks ethebull. The rear wheel has to be rebuilt; I found a nice rim at Velo Classique, and having my favorite wheel-builder lacing it to original hub. Will post more pictures when wheels on it. I am envious!
    Imagine a country where the schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to conduct a bake sale to buy a bomber.

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    Senior Member pcb's Avatar
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    I took the Proteus framebuilding course in College Park in Feb of '81 or '82. Were you there then?

    Quote Originally Posted by ethebull View Post
    Nice to see an old Century in such clean condition. This would have been made in the early to mid-70's, 7-8 years before I was with Proteus. Parts package looks mostly original, their entry level sport touring rig. This was made during the era of maximum production and lowest pricing. Century's were offered through Bikeology at that time (the precursor to Nashbar) and a dozen or so dealers across the US, but most were sold locally.
    Fuggedaboutit!

  6. #6
    Proteus College Park
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcb View Post
    I took the Proteus framebuilding course in College Park in Feb of '81 or '82. Were you there then?

    Yes, my name is Erik Ewald. Good chance I painted your frame too.

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    Senior Member pcb's Avatar
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    Cool, Erik---my name is Paul Brodek. David Pollock was my instructor. I probably met you, but even in Feb everybody there was busy, and I just had the week to crank out my frame, so there wasn't a lot of socializing. My bike shop employer paid for the course, I had to cover shelter and food. Being broke and cheap, I camped out in the nearest state park (maybe 10-11mi away?), showered in a trailer park located halfway between, and caught dinner most nights at the Arby's on the way back to the campground. Good times.

    There was one other guy taking the course, can't remember his name, he was a waiter from North Carolina IIRC. We took David out to dinner on the last night, Chinese joint. Somewhere along the way we got the idea to sneak hot peppers into David's bowl when he wasn't looking. We took turns distracting him while the other one tossed in another coupla peppers. David started sweating up a storm, saying: "Damn, this is much hotter than usual."

    Real life intrudes now, gotta run, but I'll PM you later on.
    Fuggedaboutit!

  8. #8
    Senior Member pcb's Avatar
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    Found a back-in-the-day photo of my Brodeus, probably less then a year after building it. At my height of artsy-fartsy artistic pretentiousness, I shot this on 4x5 Polaroid sheet film with some crappy lens. Yay art! Bike on the left is the Brodeus, bike on right is a '76 Fuji Professional.

    Fuggedaboutit!

  9. #9
    Senior Member KOBE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcb View Post
    Cool, Erik---my name is Paul Brodek. David Pollock was my instructor. I probably met you, but even in Feb everybody there was busy, and I just had the week to crank out my frame, so there wasn't a lot of socializing. My bike shop employer paid for the course, I had to cover shelter and food. Being broke and cheap, I camped out in the nearest state park (maybe 10-11mi away?), showered in a trailer park located halfway between, and caught dinner most nights at the Arby's on the way back to the campground. Good times.

    There was one other guy taking the course, can't remember his name, he was a waiter from North Carolina IIRC. We took David out to dinner on the last night, Chinese joint. Somewhere along the way we got the idea to sneak hot peppers into David's bowl when he wasn't looking. We took turns distracting him while the other one tossed in another coupla peppers. David started sweating up a storm, saying: "Damn, this is much hotter than usual."

    Real life intrudes now, gotta run, but I'll PM you later on.
    Nice story on building the Brodeus. It looks like a nice frame, Do you still have it?
    75 Kobe Capri,'85 Bridgestone 400, '93 Mongoose 450, '03 Serotta Colorado III,'13 Black Mountain Cycles Cross

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    Senior Member pcb's Avatar
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    It's the only frame from this era I still have. I don't ride it much anymore, though. I've been a Clydesdale for a long time now, and there's more than one cold-brazed joint on that puppy. I didn't get the hang of generating enough heat to trigger capillary action in the brazing rod till the 3rd or 4th joint. I chased a lot of brass into the lugs, until I got to the seat lug. I finally got everything hot enough there, and when the rod got sucked into the lug from one end and seeped out the other, I nearly wet myself. I thought: "Oh, so that's how it's supposed to work?" Never had any issues hammering on it when I was in my 20s, but there's the weight of almost two 20-yr olds sharing my skeleton now, so I'm not so confident any more.

    It's mostly built and somewhat rideable, I think. I'll dust 'er off tonight and see what's up.
    Last edited by pcb; 07-26-14 at 01:23 AM.
    Fuggedaboutit!

  11. #11
    Senior Member 1oddmanout's Avatar
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    20140725_123043.jpg20140725_150634.jpg20140725_151905.jpgGreat dialogue, guys - thanks. As promised, photos of completed bike, weighing 24.6 pounds. I just "turned over the keys" so to speak to the owner, and glad that someone I knew could own such a nice bike.
    Imagine a country where the schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to conduct a bake sale to buy a bomber.

  12. #12
    Proteus College Park
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcb View Post
    Cool, Erik---my name is Paul Brodek. David Pollock was my instructor. I probably met you, but even in Feb everybody there was busy, and I just had the week to crank out my frame, so there wasn't a lot of socializing. My bike shop employer paid for the course, I had to cover shelter and food. Being broke and cheap, I camped out in the nearest state park (maybe 10-11mi away?), showered in a trailer park located halfway between, and caught dinner most nights at the Arby's on the way back to the campground. Good times.

    There was one other guy taking the course, can't remember his name, he was a waiter from North Carolina IIRC. We took David out to dinner on the last night, Chinese joint. Somewhere along the way we got the idea to sneak hot peppers into David's bowl when he wasn't looking. We took turns distracting him while the other one tossed in another coupla peppers. David started sweating up a storm, saying: "Damn, this is much hotter than usual."

    Real life intrudes now, gotta run, but I'll PM you later on.

    So 81-2 was early on for me there. I was painting frames, turning a wrench, some sales, plus doing frame finishing for David. Finishers would take the basic brazed frame and clean the joints, filing lug points to a taper, braze in both bridges and do all the braze-on bits. Larry Dean was the owner, Chris Tuccinardi was managing frame materials sales for our retail and wholesale tubing and frame parts business, as well as finishing some frames. My girl friend may have been there then, Tamara, helping Larry with payroll and book keeping. Bob, Lowrie, Chip, Fred, Craig, etc. may have been around, but the class was pretty all consuming for you I'm sure. It was a great shop to learn so many facets of all things bicycle.

    Funny story on pranking David with the peppers
    Last edited by ethebull; 07-28-14 at 10:08 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member pcb's Avatar
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    I made it roadworthy last night, spun the commute today, nothing broke. Dodged rain and had some wet roads on the way home, shame to get it dirty so quick after not seeing the road for 20yrs(?). Got rid of all the Shimano that crept in, back to pretty much all Suntour. We had very little time for cleanup when I built it, so there was very little extra lug detailing and lots of sloppiness.









    Thanks for the rundown on staffing when I was there. Definitely met Larry. I was a big John Waters fan, and since Larry pal'd around with John's group he had photos of them on his wall. Never figured I'd meet someone in the bike biz who knew Divine. Somebody, probably you, showed me the sandblasting station and let me blast a small bit of my frame. I don't remember seeing the painting area/room, didn't see my frame getting sprayed. Was it around-back or off-site? The rest of the daily operation was pretty much a blur to me. Part of that, I'm sure, was me trying not to trash my frame. Part of it was probably also that I was working full time in a bike shop, so it's not like I was all wide-eyed and curious about all the other stuff going on. Looking at the total scope of the operation, though, retail, wholesale and framebuilding, you certainly had a lot more going on than we did. Sounds like a perfect place to learn the biz, big enough that you had that scope of operation, small enough that you got to do a lot of it yourself.

    My older son is at American Univ in DC, when we were looking at schools I drove from DC to UM and passed right by Proteus. Three years ago, so just after Jill bought it? I had to spin around and stop in. I remembered the location, but nothing inside was familiar. No surprise that things might have changed over 30yrs. Haven't been back since then.

    Quote Originally Posted by ethebull View Post
    So 81-2 was early on for me there. I was painting frames, turning a wrench, some sales, plus doing frame finishing for David. Finishers would take the basic brazed frame and clean the joints, filing lug points to a taper, braze in both bridges and do all the braze-on bits. Larry Dean was the owner, Chris Tuccinardi was managing frame materials sales for our retail and wholesale tubing and frame parts business, as well as finishing some frames. My girl friend may have been there then, Tamara, helping Larry with payroll and book keeping. Bob, Lorna, Chip, Fred, etc. may have been around, but the class was pretty all consuming for you I'm sure. It was a great shop to learn so many facets of all things bicycle.

    Funny story on pranking David with the peppers
    Fuggedaboutit!

  14. #14
    Proteus College Park
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    In 81-2, the retail space was "around the corner" at the top of the complex (managed by Fred). The front space that became our primary retail was occupied at that time by a print shop. This only lasted another year or so. We took over the print shop and kept the middle space as offices, operations, and service / repair for a time. The paint booth and oven was right behind the compressor, just forward of the frame shop.

    Over the next ten years, the retail and service areas were consolidated and reached deeper into the complex. Once frame building ceased, that area became built bike storage, and everything was in support of retail, as it is today.

    Jill sold the business to a local couple about two years ago, so Proteus continues under a third owner.
    Last edited by ethebull; 07-29-14 at 11:46 PM.

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    Hey Gang!

    I'll jump in here... for several reasons...

    First, because the original poster is a customer/friend of mine, and I've seen that Proteus Century his friend scored and can say it's in really great shape, and a very nice bike. Oddly enough, it was later discovered the bike had French threaded pedals and cranks. Weird!

    Second, the same week that bike showed up on the local Craig's List, another one showed up in a 25" frame... my size! And I was lucky enough to snag it. Mine's not quite as pristine, but still damned nice. Similar mix of low/mid level parts, with some minor differences. I get the impression they used parts they got good prices on, with the aim of offering a more economical bike that still had a 531 frame. The one very odd feature of mine is that it has chrome ends on the forks and stays, which I've never seen on any Proteus. Still, everything else about it, including the serial number, shows that is what it is. Pics of my Century are here:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/1060262...ProteusCentury

    Now, that's not my first Proteus. See, I grew up in the DC area, about 10 miles from their shop, back in the 70s, so I've long had a fondness for their bikes. When I was 15 or 16, I could only dream of owning such a bike, but now that I'm in my 50s, I have more than one!

    In addition to the Century, I managed to get a very nice custom Proteus a few years back, in my size, for a very good price. Mostly Campy NR equipped (except for CLB brakes), it's a gorgeous bike, and a great ride. The finish work is definitely nicer than the Century, and obviously the parts are better. Pictures are here:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/1060262...usDesignCustom

    Finally, a few years before I got that custom Proteus, I found another local seller with a bike he claimed was a '75 Proteus, and I'm more than reasonably certain that it was in some way a product of their shop, but there's some mystery around it. The parts mix is eclectic, but that doesn't mean much, since they sold complete bikes and bare frames. Many of the frame details are similar to one or the other of my known Proteus bikes, but there are no decals except for remnants of the 531 decal (and a police registration sticker). There's a serial number stamped in the bottom bracket shell, and it matches the letter and number pattern of my custom Proteus (which is different from the Century series)... but the overall quality of the brazing and fitting of the tubes is, to put it politely, crude. Honestly, the dropout joints are downright sloppy. I've wondered if this was perhaps a frame built from one of the tubing kits they sold, but the serial number seems odd, if that were the case. On the other hand, the quality of the brazing looks so bad it's hard to believe it was really a product of the same folks that built my other two bikes. An apprentice on a bad day, after one too many beers or joints (not the brazing kind)? I doubt I'll ever know, but it's a curiosity. If anyone has any thoughts, I'm all ears. Pictures of this bike are at:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/1060262...MysteryProteus

    Anyway, congrats to Bob's friend for scoring that blue Century! And thanks to all for the info on this forum.

    Tim

  16. #16
    Is a real super guy. Henry III's Avatar
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    I have a kinko's copy of the frame building manual. An old cycling book I have called "The Custom Bicycle" covers Proteus for the American frame builder section. Never knew the story about Dr Proteus and it cracked me.

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