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1974-ish Carabela – Pics and questions

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1974-ish Carabela – Pics and questions

Old 03-10-17, 02:41 PM
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AfterThunk 
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1974-ish Carabela – Pics and questions

First, I am relatively new to this forum, with just a few posts. I have recently started buying, restoring, and trying to flip old steel bikes. I’ve been to the C&V forum here very often and have learned a lot. This forum great and the community of members is awesome. Big thanks all around.

This bike popped up on the local CL. Title simply said “Vintage 10 speed”. Two low quality pics of the full bike. The ad basically stated: original owner, purchased in 1970s, worn but ready to ride, Carabela, $90. I had never heard of Carabela brand bikes before so I searched the forum. Found a few posts, but not much info.

Met the guy the next day. He was a really nice older gentleman. He couldn’t ride traditional geometries anymore due to a wrist injury so he was selling his old trusty roadie. The bike was not much to look at, but the chrome bits and components caught my eye. He said he bought the bike new in 1974 (give or take a year) from a bike shop in Bozeman, Montana. This gentleman clearly had lots of fond memories riding that bike. He was struggling with the process of letting it go. That kinda made me even more determined to take on the project and make it into a nice ride again. The bike fit me, though maybe a bit on the small side. I made an offer on the bike bundled with some extra components he had and we made a deal.

So now, I am the new owner of an early-to-mid-70s Carabela and I come to you with pics and questions.


More about the bike…

It is a hodge podge of sorts. Italian tubes (?), Mexican assembly, Japanese components (mostly), and American slapdashery.

First, before any pics are referenced, I have to address the obvious and unfortunate mistreatment you’ll surely notice. The paint- the American slapdashery. Looks like the original owner one day decided to address a chips and nicks in the finish by slapping on a bunch of paint. Didn’t bother to color match - or try to even get kinda close. Just slapped on something he had on hand and called it good. It looks pretty awful.

I might give a try at undoing the paint abuse, but I am leaning toward getting the frame powder coated (excluding the chromed bits).

Ok, now you can go look at pics

Any tips on getting a powder coating and keeping the chromed details?
I have not researched this much yet, but one site I visited said the media blasting process to remove the paint would remove any chrome.


What is it exactly…?

I learned here that Carabelas (and the original Windsors) were manufactured by Acer-Mex in Mexico. It seems there is much more info available on Windsors than Carabelas. There is not a decal distinguishing the model of this bike – not that I can see. It could have come off years ago or it maybe covered with paint. Or it may have never had a model decal - I don’t recall seeing any pics online of Carabelas with model decals.

I have searched the internet pretty intensely and have not found another bike with the same tubing decal and components as this one. It does seem like it is pretty close to a variation of a Carrera from Windsor. The Carreras had lugs like these, I believe. But the Universal brakes were on the higher-end Windsors, right?

There is some good info on Classic Rendezvous that mentions Carabela in discussion of the Windsor models - (I can't post urls at this point, but you can find it if you look).

Any idea what model this bike is or most closely matches from the Windsor line?
Did Carabela-labeled bikes have model distinctions?

Frame construction…

It has a Falk decal. The bottom of the decal was damaged, so I am not 100% certain what the bottom line says, but I am pretty sure we can guess what the missing letters were. There are two pics of the decal. I used Google to translate the Italian and got:

“Tubi Conificati” (Tapered tubes)
“Falk”
“Acciaio Temperato” (Tempered steel)
“Mar”?? “Depositata” (Would this be Marca Depositata? Seems to be on other Italian bikes. Google translation of Marca Depositata is Mark Registered)

The bike is definitely lighter than I expected. Lighter than my daily lunker - Surly Cross Check.

Anyone ever seen this decal?

Can I assume tapered tubes means butted? (The original owner did say he recalled the salesman telling him it was a double butted frame).

Would tempered steel mean hi-ten steel? Or something a little better maybe? … hopefully?


Components…

With the exception of the brakes, all Japanese.

Weinmann brake levers
Universal Model 61 center pull brakes (front and back)
Suntour Japan downtube shifters (model ?)
Suntour V-Luxe RD
Suntour Compe-V FD
Sugino Maxy Crankset
Sunshine 5345 rear hub
Shimano front hub (Likely a replacement)
Handlebar ???
SR stem
Suntour GS rear dropout

Does this grouping of components give us any clues about the specific model or at least grade of the bike within the Acer-Mex lineup?


Dating the bike…

Again, the original owner said he purchased the bike in 1974, give or take a year. There is a serial number stamped in the non-drive side seat tube lug – 1874.

Maybe the last two digits are the year the frame was produced? Or maybe just a coincidence?

Anyone know anything about these serial numbers for Acer-Mex bikes?

The only other dating evidence I’ve seen so far are codes on the Maxy crank arms and the code on the Shimano front hub. The crank arms are coded “47-3”. Based on what I read on Vintage Trek, that would indicate 1972.

The Shimano front hub has a year/month date code of F F, which (again based on info from Vintage Trek) either makes it an 1981 or 2007 part. Must be 1981. I am guessing this was a replacement hub. The entire front wheel was probably replaced. The front rim is Araya. The back rim has no sticker or stamping that I have found. I think they are different.

I am pretty sure the Sunshine 5345 rear hub is original to the bike. Is it likely the original front hub matched the rear?

Also, where else should I look to get more confirmation on the date?

Ok. Really long post, I know. Lots of questions. As always, any info will be much appreciated.

I have a few bikes in line ahead of this one for TLC, but I could probably strip it and get it off to the powder coating sometime soon if I get that part figured out. This will be my most extensive bike project so far. I'll post updates and will certainly be back with questions along the way.

Cheers.

AT
Attached Images
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Full Bike rs.jpg (97.7 KB, 136 views)
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Chrome Lugs rs.jpg (99.2 KB, 135 views)
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Falk decal 1 rs.jpg (96.8 KB, 136 views)
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Falk decal 2 rs.jpg (95.8 KB, 135 views)
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Frontal rs.jpg (98.2 KB, 135 views)
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Maxy Crank Date Code rs.jpg (95.4 KB, 134 views)
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Sugino Maxy Crank rs.jpg (99.0 KB, 133 views)
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Suntour Compe-V FD rs.jpg (97.8 KB, 133 views)
File Type: jpg
Suntour V-Luxe RD rs.jpg (99.1 KB, 133 views)
File Type: jpg
Suntour DT shifters rs.jpg (97.8 KB, 134 views)
File Type: jpg
Universal CP Rear Brake rs.jpg (96.1 KB, 135 views)
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Old 03-10-17, 03:48 PM
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I am familiar with those frames--know the expression "punches above its weight?" The ride of the ones I have worked on is better than most bikes in their price range. Ride, enjoy, upgrade without worrying about authenticity. It's a rider, not a restore and hang on the wall-er.
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Old 03-10-17, 04:14 PM
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Thanks for the response, Feldman. Good to know. Is this bike worthy of the expense of a powder coating? The chrome is in good shape, so I think it could be a nice looking rider with a fresh finish. And getting that shoddy paint job off manual probably wouldn't be fun, if even possible. I would just build it back with the original components.
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Old 03-10-17, 04:34 PM
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Mid-1970s Carabela Semi-Pro. The wheels are probably wired-on replacements for the original tubulars, which was common. Brakes, derailleurs and crankset are OEM. The tubing is double butted, but i'm not sure of the alloy. This model was 2nd from the top of the line.

You'll find additional date codes on the back of both derailleurs and below the insertion mark on the stem.
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Old 03-10-17, 04:37 PM
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-----

The bicycle's equipment and frame certainly look very close to the Windsor Carrera Sport of this era. Have owned a couple of those. The one frame difference is the seat stay treatment. The Windsor Carrera Sport did not have this Cinelli style treatment.

Puzzled by the FALK tubing transfer. Falck is Italy's largest steel maker. Have not before seen their name written without the letter C, save for a spelling error. Wonder if the spelling is a printer's error or if the transfer is made up to suggest Falck while it is not...

There is a bit of red colour showing in the frame's chainstay dimples. Do you think it could have been originally red flambouyant and UV exposure had resulted in this greyish colour?

Sounds like you have done "due diligence" in terms of your detective work prior to posting.

Owned one Carabela. It was a green mixte likely parallel to the Windsor Carrera (not Sport) model.

-----

Last edited by juvela; 03-10-17 at 10:17 PM. Reason: spellin'
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Old 03-10-17, 04:42 PM
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That's a very interesting "missing link" you have there! Most of us know of Carabela as the "sister" brand to Windsor from Acer-Mex. We in the US see far more W brand than C brand bikes for this co., also know that toward the later years of them being imported in quantity that Acer_mex started spec-ing some Japanese frame bits (like the SunTour drop-outs and ends) and even made frames with Tange tubing.
But 1974 would still be fairly early years for Acer-Mex in the US and I never saw a Windsor with this level of Japanese componentry (which looks to be period correct if not OEM).
Also I have NEVER seen an Acer-Mex frame made of Falck tubing (and yes, that's the way it's USUALLY spelled, with the falCk but I understand that sometimes they dropped the "C") and I have NEVER seen that particular FALK (or FALCK) tubing decal before----so please take some more close-up pix of the decal for posterity.
Anyhow, Falck (or falk) came in several flavors/specs tho was generally a "budget" tube that was substituted for Columbus to save a few Lira but there WAS a "lightweight-premium" set although not positive whether any Falck tubing was double butted (versus just better metal alloy so thinner gauge).
Anyway, it's an interesting example and I'm curious for what some more expert folks like @juvela might say about it.

D-uoh! there's my answer right above ^...he types faster than me! And T-Mar, too, it's a bonus round!!

Last edited by unworthy1; 03-10-17 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 03-10-17, 09:21 PM
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Really great info. Thank you.

With Tmar's lead on the Semi-pro model, I found a review of that model in a 1975 issue of Bicycling magazine. Mentions Falk double butted tubing and lists nearly identical component array. The model in the review does not have the ornate lugs though. Maybe that was a difference between early model years.

I cannot post urls yet, but I found the review on velo-pages. I downloaded the pages as images and attached here as well.
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Old 03-10-17, 09:49 PM
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you got yourself a sombrero special. You did good.
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Old 03-10-17, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
-----


There is a bit of red colour showing in the frame's chianstay dimples. Do you think it could have been originally red flambouyant and UV exposure had resulted in this greyish colour?


-----
Juvela - The red accents are decorative detailing, I believe. There is also red paint inside the circlular detail of each lug as well.

I would hate to loose those original embellishments. I'll give a good effort to removing the shoddy touch up paint and see if I can save the original finish.

Thanks
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Old 03-10-17, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by AfterThunk View Post
Juvela - The red accents are decorative detailing, I believe. There is also red paint inside the circlular detail of each lug as well.

I would hate to loose those original embellishments. I'll give a good effort to removing the shoddy touch up paint and see if I can save the original finish.

Thanks
Thanks so much for the explanation.

A somewhat unusual scheme but not unheard of.

Will look forward to following your progress with the bike.

-----
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Old 03-10-17, 09:58 PM
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.
...I have a couple of Windsor Pro's AND I like the ride of them. The only Carabela I've ever owned is a track bike that came to me pretty much cosmetically a nightmare. I think the guy painted it with a brush, and there was plenty of rust....so it's one of two or three bikes I've ever oxalic acid bathed and powdercoated. It turned out pretty OK, but a couple of caveats if you do this.

1. It's probably easier and possibly cheaper to just have them media blast and PC the whole frame and lose the chrome. But you can find guys who will mask off the chrome if you want to try to save it. But you end up with a transition area between the PC and the chrome (like on the stays) that can be problematic.

2. You want to decide beforehand which of your old components you can and plan to reuse. You can run into some nonstandard (by today's standards) dimensions, like the fork crown race seat, that can be hard to reassemble without extra time and money if they get accidentally powdercoated.

Anyway, if it was an Acer Mex Semi-Pro, it's probably worth the effort to rework for personal use, just don't expect to get all your time and money back if you decide to sell it. They fly under the radar, mostly.

Here's the PC'd track bike:
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Old 03-10-17, 10:41 PM
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-----

Fine job locating and posting the magazine review.

Noted a couple small differences between your example and the magazine article specifications.

You mentioned the difference in the lugs and T-Mar noted the difference in the wheels.

Suspect pedals on your machine may have been changed as they appear to be Lyotard model 36 and article specification was for KKT ProAce. Magazine mentions stem controls while your bike has downtubes. Your cycle appears to have a nicer headset than the one seen in the magazine. It looks to be a Tange Falcon while the magazine machine wears a Tange MA60.

Cited above the Cinelli style seat stay treatment. Below is an image of an edition of the bare lugset used for your frame. Note that the seat lug shows plugs for a malaguti style treatment. Seat lugs were often offered in more than one configuration regarding seat stay attachment and binder. They could be completely bare with no binder and no malaguti plugs or in varying combinations thereof. The seat lug in the illustration also has a bit of a curve/wave to its lower edge while yours is straight across in this spot.
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Last edited by juvela; 03-10-17 at 10:48 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 03-10-17, 11:16 PM
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That's a fine bike and this is a good thread. A sombrero special. Why am I not surprised that @3alarmer owned a carabela.
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Old 03-11-17, 12:29 AM
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Well I'm gob-smacked that there was a magazine review of this very bike and I thought they were rare as hen's teeth! And with "FALK" tubing no less...wonders never cease.
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Old 03-11-17, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by AfterThunk View Post
Really great info. Thank you.

With Tmar's lead on the Semi-pro model, I found a review of that model in a 1975 issue of Bicycling magazine. Mentions Falk double butted tubing and lists nearly identical component array. The model in the review does not have the ornate lugs though. Maybe that was a difference between early model years.

I cannot post urls yet, but I found the review on velo-pages. I downloaded the pages as images and attached here as well.
The lugs in the road test appear identical to yours. I believe they just look less ornate because the contrasting, decorative dot, is not clearly visible in the road test photo, because it is a black and white photo. However, if you look closely, you'll see that it is there. It's just in a light colour that almost blends in with the chrome. It's more visible on the seat lug, in the overall photo.
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Old 03-11-17, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
...Magazine mentions stem controls while your bike has downtubes....
This is obviously an error. The road test photos clearly show down tube shift levers.
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Old 03-11-17, 09:10 AM
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Thanks again, T-mar. I was looking at the image on my phone, so couldn't make out that detail. I really appreciate you solving this mystery.
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Old 03-11-17, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
Well I'm gob-smacked that there was a magazine review of this very bike and I thought they were rare as hen's teeth! And with "FALK" tubing no less...wonders never cease.
I was thinking the same thing. Who knew.
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Old 03-11-17, 10:51 AM
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Carabela also made a 125cc motocross racer in the early 70s'
https://www.google.com/search?q=pict...1RVAW2zo9wNOM:
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Old 04-21-19, 01:05 PM
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I have an identical looking frame, I always thought it was a Windsor - it was sold as that, but no stickers or decals...
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