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Aero steel frame : didn't know that existed. Any idea what is this one?

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Aero steel frame : didn't know that existed. Any idea what is this one?

Old 06-14-20, 12:34 PM
  #1  
jonny7
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Aero steel frame : didn't know that existed. Any idea what is this one?

Just picked up a very cool steel bike that seems to be designed to be fully aerodynamic. The tubes are oval, it's a full Shimano 600AX group, including the seat post. Anybody has more info on this type of bike? Why they never really became common (same thing for the 600AX), etc.

And if anybody can guess the model of this one or at least the tubing, it would make my day!










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Old 06-14-20, 01:12 PM
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Ovalized steel tubing sets existed, Columbus Max for example (as did aero steel bikes in general, see https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vintage/1183324-picture-your-favorite-vintage-time-trial-bicycles-why.html)
the seat tube of yours doesn't look as if that was a feature of a tubeset. I guess the frame builder aero'ed it some more in his bench vise

Last edited by martl; 06-14-20 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 06-14-20, 01:38 PM
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Univega also made some bikes in the early 1990s with ovalized steel tubing -- Bi-Axial Power Oval. My Via Carisma has variable ovalized top and down tubes. Not sure what the advantage was supposed to be. Looks cool.
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Old 06-14-20, 01:38 PM
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Very nice score!!!



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Old 06-14-20, 01:43 PM
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that serial number will be the best clue, especially for someone lke T-Mar but this frame was not built with one of the "aero tubing sets" such as made by Tange and used by SR Litage and Tsunoda in early '80s. Koga-Miyata had one too so they may have drawn their own "aero" tubesets.
Besides Shogun, already mentioned, and San Rensho (no chance this one's even is in the same universe) there's one I don't know about except the name: "Jupiter King" which has SOME similarities to the OP's, like the lugs and just flattened seat tube

Last edited by unworthy1; 06-14-20 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 06-14-20, 01:46 PM
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Couldn't any framebuilder make his own blocks and ovalize tubing? (Not saying it would ever pan out $$-wise.) Like framebuilders do to ends to make DTs stiffer at the BB and the headtube weld deeper and stronger.

Ben
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Old 06-14-20, 01:48 PM
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I've heard its awful hard to source replacements for those aero shifters (also hard to convert them into cable stops), so don't lose those. Based on their presence, I'd estimate it's older than the Univega described above, but I could be very wrong.
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Old 06-14-20, 01:48 PM
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Looks like an Asian serial number, maybe Merida or Miki.
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Old 06-14-20, 01:55 PM
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The subject bicycle was manufactured by Miki of Japan during 1982. There were two basic approaches to the early aero frames of 1981-1985. First was full aero, with seat and tubes that were aero profile along the full length and sometimes with an aerodynamic faring added to the head tube. While this provided optimum aerodynamic efficiency, you either had to fillet braze the frame or use expensive, dedicated lugs. Furthermore, there ere some fitting issues. You had to use a dedicated seat post and use a front derailleur hanger. The more economical approach was to use seat and/or down tubes that had been formed into aero profile only in the mid-sections, allowing the use of standard lugs, seat posts and clamp style front derailleurs, at the expense of some aerodynamic efficiency. My preferred terminology for this latter style is quasi-aero.

Aerodynamic tubesets of the era included Tange Aero, Columbus Air and Reynolds 531 Speed Stream. However, any manufacture could also easily produce quasi-aero tubes from round tubes.

Shimano's aerodyanmic AX groups were cutting edge in the day. They incorporated several innovations, beyond those to aid aerodynamics. The cycling market was quite conservative at the time and the consensus is that the AX groups were just a little too radical for market at the time. The AX groups were offered as an alternative for those who wished such a group. Shimano continued to offer their more traditional EX groups concurrently with AX. Ironically, Campagnolo jumped on the aero bandwagon just as Shimano discontinued their AX groups. AX did however, leave it's mark, with the component market trending away from flutes and embossing, in favour of a cleaner, smoother surfaces with silk-screened lettering. Aero seat posts, stems, brake levers and rims also gained in popularity after the demise of AX. From this perspective, AX can be considered to be ahead of its time.

Last edited by T-Mar; 06-14-20 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 06-14-20, 02:18 PM
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I feel like I’ve seen a Nishiki in this colorway before.
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Old 06-14-20, 03:12 PM
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Thanks for posting this bike. What I've been told is that Shimano rounded up a few manufacturers in the early eighties to build frames to their specifications so there would be frames available to put their new AX groups on. Araya was one, and apparently Miki was another.

I am guessing this paint job is a repaint and that originally it was silver with the period blue-green Shimano colors.

Like this:

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Old 06-14-20, 04:16 PM
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Not relevant to identification of the bike, but aero-shaped steel tubing is readily available. Nova shaped tubes link.
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Old 06-14-20, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
Thanks for posting this bike. What I've been told is that Shimano rounded up a few manufacturers in the early eighties to build frames to their specifications so there would be frames available to put their new AX groups on. Araya was one, and apparently Miki was another.

I am guessing this paint job is a repaint and that originally it was silver with the period blue-green Shimano colors.

Like this:
I've heard that story too. However, Shimano had their full aero-profile seat post available right from the beginning and its section would have to match the aero seat tube. Consequently, the plan to introduce the aerodynamics movement was probably a coordinated campaign by Shimano and Tange. Being a tubing supplier, Tange was probably the partner who arranged the original prototype aero frames manufacture, if they didn't do it themselves.

Your Janssen reminds me a lot of another MIki manufactured frame that turned up under the Faglum brand owned by the Swedish Petterson family of team time trial fame. It was unique in that the down tube was aero at the top and middle but but round at the BB end. The seat tube was also round allowing a standard, clamp style front derailleur and semi-aero seat post. The top tube was oval. I speculated that the round BB end of the down tube allowed for a standard BB shell and provided more lareal stiffness. Aerodynamics of the BB and seat tube are upset by the turbulence from spinning cranks and legs, so its not as important in the BB and seat tube region. An oval top tube with the major axis oriented laterally would offset some of the lateral stiffness lost by the (mostly) aero section down tube. It struck me as a unique compromise of aerodynamics, stiffness and cost effectiveness.
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Old 06-14-20, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by shoota View Post
I feel like I’ve seen a Nishiki in this colorway before.
Nishiki had a similar but orange to yellow fade on one of their Altron models. The OP's frame is almost certainly a repaint as it predates the rise of fade paint schemes. As previously noted, silver was the most popular colour for the Japanese aero bicycles, as it was the colour used by Shimano for the aero bicycles featured in their catalogues and their display models used at bicycle shows. The silver provided a good background for the sky blue, royal blue and green of Shimano's corporate colours, which represented sky, sea and land.
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Old 06-14-20, 04:47 PM
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.
...I've seen a Benotto 5000, with aero steel frame tubing, put out for the triathlon market, I think. Not sure where the frame was made, and it's an unimpressive bicycle. And let us never forget the Huffy Aerowind.


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Old 06-14-20, 05:08 PM
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Someday, someday... someday, maybe I'll come across a steel tubed areo frame. A grail find it will be.
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Old 06-14-20, 05:31 PM
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Thanks (again) T-Mar for the insight!
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Old 06-14-20, 07:12 PM
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This is my McBain 'Record' track bike (aka fixie) built in Tasmania, Australia, with (what I think are) Tange Aero tubes. The AX seat post is 'clamped' with a grub screw and has enough space around it to open a cafe.



This is a really old photo, I need to get an updated shot as it now sports harlequin bar tape and sensible gearing.
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Old 06-14-20, 07:36 PM
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The Lotus Super Pro Aero was very aero, as you can see here: Super Pro Aero





And then they had the diet version in the Aero Sport : Lotus Aero Sport


Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
Someday, someday... someday, maybe I'll come across a steel tubed areo frame. A grail find it will be.
There was a Super Pro Aero for sale recently, I think on local NYC CL (but maybe it was Ebay). About $1,000 and it was in nice shape.
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Old 06-14-20, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Couldn't any framebuilder make his own blocks and ovalize tubing?
Sure. But before Columbus, Tange, Reynolds, etc. came out with their full aerodynamic tube sets (not just ovalized in the middle like the OP's frame), builders would source teardrop strut tubing from aircraft suppliers, e.g. Aircraft Spruce and fillet braze or TIG weld the frame. This would get you straight gauge main tubes, anyway. Columbus "Air," Tange "Aerodynamics," Reynolds 531 "Speedstream" eventually provided butted tubes and aero-profile stays and fork blades, and proprietary lugs, fork crowns, and bottom bracket shells to match to allow lugged aerodynamic frames.
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Old 06-15-20, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by jonny7 View Post
Thanks (again) T-Mar for the insight!
D'oh! I just noticed that you're from Quebec! Your bicycle is almost certainly a Velosport, a Canadian brand out of St, Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec by the company later known as Procycle. I've seen other higher end Velosport models from this era with Miki format serial numbers. Velosport had a Shimano 600AX model with a quasi-aero frame called the Super Aero, which is a good match for your bicycle. The OEM colour was called "Metallic Grey" but I recall there being a slight blue tint to it. I had one of their Mirage models with Dura-Ace AX, back in 1983 and the attached Super Aero scan is from that year.

Ironically, the Tour de Beauce stage race would have been held this week, if not for the pandemic.
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Old 06-15-20, 05:02 PM
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Woah! Even the saddle seems to be a fit. But I wish the PO kept the original color scheme! Funny how I thought Vélo Sport made mostly low end bikes.

Do you actually have the 1983 Velo Sport catalogue? Does it say more about the bike (e.g. its place in the line up) and about the components?
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Old 06-15-20, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jonny7 View Post
Woah! Even the saddle seems to be a fit. But I wish the PO kept the original color scheme! Funny how I thought Vélo Sport made mostly low end bikes.

Do you actually have the 1983 Velo Sport catalogue? Does it say more about the bike (e.g. its place in the line up) and about the components?
The Super Aero was top of the line in 1982, 3rd in 1983 and 4th in 1984. It was not manufactured in 1981 or 1985, despite 600AX being available those years. The only year for which I have a price is 1983 - $599,95 CDN.

Components were consistent across all the three years. The only mentioned components which are not 600AX were the SR Custom handlebar, Kashimax Aero saddle, Araya Aero rims and Sedisport chain. It appears to have the full 600AX group consisting of stem, headset, brakeset, hubset, crankset, pedals, derailleurs, shift levers, seat post and even the water bottle, though the stem, headset and seat post are not mentioned in the specifications.
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Old 06-15-20, 08:14 PM
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I've had a few opportunities to get locally made Standish aero bikes but they weren't my size



There was also Gemini locally. Panasonic had them, Koga Myata, Shogun.



Shogun
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Old 06-16-20, 12:30 AM
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Back around 1985 I was able to buy a salmon colour aero tubed Velo Sport Dura Ace AX bike from Bloor Cycle in Toronto Canada. I'm really sorry I sold that bike.

One thing about 600 AX and Dura Ace AX derailleurs is that neither the front or the rear used external cable housing. Also, the braze-on models of the 600 AX and Dura Ace AX used a special mount that incorporated the cable guid on it's rear. They came in two types, one for a round tube and one for the aero tube.


Cheers

Edit. I've heard that the AX series died out because Shimano perfected and introduced S.I.S.* and the AX stuff couldn't be adapted to index shifting.

*S.I.S. = Shimano Index Shifting

Last edited by Miele Man; 06-16-20 at 12:33 AM. Reason: Added comment
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