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Show Me Your Mid 1950s Pro Level Road Race Bike

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Show Me Your Mid 1950s Pro Level Road Race Bike

Old 09-27-20, 06:58 PM
  #1  
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Show Me Your Mid 1950s Pro Level Road Race Bike

And how/where to find one. If I going to do a vintage ride with a tubular over my shoulders and not look ridiculous, I need some ideas.
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Old 09-27-20, 07:18 PM
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Lots of various online sites showing the TdF winners through the 1950s and a few have what bikes they rode, such as this from here:

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Old 09-27-20, 08:22 PM
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...this one is a late 50's Follis TDF I reworked from the frame up. The top level import frames from this era are not all that commonly encountered in the USA, IME. Certainly not common enough that you can coiunt on finding one in your size. This one just turned up as a fluke on the Bay Area Craigslist. You might try over on the CABE. It's mostly old balloon tyre Schwinn's over there, but there are a couple of forums for imports and lightweights.

If you can afford the shipping, the ebay and auction sites over in the UK and Europe are the places where these bikes show up the most.

Youi might want to consider the gearing you'll need for your chosen ride, because a lot of these bikes from this era are geared pretty flat, and some of the vintage rides are pretty hilly. It would be difficult for me to adapt this Follis to anything larger than a 24 cog in back, and chainrings for cottered cranks are not as common as they once were to lower the gearing that way.
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Old 09-27-20, 08:28 PM
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Old 09-27-20, 09:31 PM
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This is my 1959 Fiorelli Campione del Mondo. Like 3alarmer, I found it on my local Craigslist. It's a bit large for me but I just had to grab it. The rack, kick stand, and reflectors were later additions, and they were the first to be removed. It's now in line for a thorough, sympathetic refurbishment.

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Old 09-27-20, 09:49 PM
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60 year old pictures of fantasy bikes is not what I’m looking for. I want pictures of BF member bikes and where they were found to inspire my search. Of course, luck plays a part and I need to research technique regarding European EBay. Stella and Helyett are targets and I can make a 24 in the back work. If there is also a 42 in the front, I’ll feel right at home. That foils is nice. I’m not familiar with the significant features of a Professional level bike in 1955, Looking at EBay France, I would have difficulty distinguishing a 1955 UO-8 and a PX-10.
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Old 09-27-20, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
60 year old pictures of fantasy bikes is not what Iím looking for. I want pictures of BF member bikes and where they were found to inspire my search. Of course, luck plays a part and I need to research technique regarding European EBay. Stella and Helyett are targets and I can make a 24 in the back work. If there is also a 42 in the front, Iíll feel right at home. That foils is nice. Iím not familiar with the significant features of a Professional level bike in 1955, Looking at EBay France, I would have difficulty distinguishing a 1955 UO-8 and a PX-10.
...look for chrome socks as a starting point, but the construction features for the better ones are not always obvious in a photo. For example, my bike has Simplex Competition rear dropouts, which don't look like much until you compare them against the stamped stuff that was on a lot of bikes. But yes, I don't find it easy to distinguish the better ones in a photo, probably because I don't know what to look for, like I do on a 60's or 70's bike.

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Old 09-28-20, 12:02 AM
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Classtime

Its mostly about luck IME, and you have to be ready to jump which can be hard to do if you're not sure what to look for.

You say 50's which is a good start but many of them were hard to tell from mid level until the end of the 50's and even then many still had plate style RDO's with some higher level components for the day, chrome socks and lugs with them can be a tipoff but many lower models also had them.

Pretty much anytime you see forged dropouts on a bike that has a headset like old style Bianchi or Cinelli and the branded ones like Follis, Legnano, Olmo, then you are getting close.

You'll also know your getting close when the $$$ make you pucker.

I think this is an outlier and there certainly are some but this is somewhat as good as it got IMO.

Also, this was on Washington DC CL, outed here and scoffed at for the price $1300 I believe, I didn't have the $$$ to begin with but lucked out while everybody was scoffing and got it for quite a bit less, I could not make it happen fast enough for me and would have gladly paid full ask if I had to.

So just like any bike we really want, you have to wait and jump when it comes up, hope you got it right and be prepared when you don't, its all about tempering your expectations, if you know exactly what you're doing, looking at, etc. then you may get away with high hopes.

If you don't know, aren't sure, get screwed, whatever then if your hopes were unreasonable you are not going to be happy, especially if you step way up.



1958 Paramount and I know nobody rode these in the TDF but this was heady stuff for the day even if it did come with clinchers, it could be ordered with tubies I believe.

Good luck, I'm on a similar quest but mine is a bit more particular and not necessarily looking for top of the line, just the rest of the bike to go with this.




Last edited by merziac; 09-28-20 at 12:14 AM.
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Old 09-28-20, 08:44 AM
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Sorry, my littermate 1960 Siegers are 5 years too new, but here is a 1952 Sieger, complete with rare Capo brand derailleurs. This is similar to what Austrian pro Adolf Christian rode to a 3rd place overall finish in the 1957 Tour de France.

Note also the through-frame routing of both rear brake and rear derailleur cables, something Otto Cap abandoned by the late 1950s. (Just as well, in my book.)

Fast forward to 1960, and the Sieger looks like this, with Campag. Gran Sport derailleurs and quick release Campag. high flange hubs.
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Old 09-28-20, 09:31 AM
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Does the lack of chrome socks on this Urago indicate "lower" level? And what about the spoke protector, pedals, and 27" wheels? Do they mean any more than they would on a 70s or 80s bike? It's at least 3 cm too small but only a few hours away.


53cm. S.B. CL
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Old 09-28-20, 09:37 AM
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These are not too difficult to find on ebay, provided you are willing to invest the time in learning and searching. You have to educate yourself on what a high quality frame looks like, and what brands to look for from the countries you are interested in (France and England for me). When I find something that looks interesting, I try to get a bare frame weight from the seller, as this is usually a good indicator of whether it's a high quality race frame (along with lug details). I have some automatic daily searches set up for the fr and gb ebay sites, for lists of brands I'm interested in. I won't provide my lists, but you can build your own after some research. I also do a more general search for "vintage bicycle frame" or "vintage racing bicycle" (translated to the appropriate language). This will sometimes uncover a gem, like the unidentified frame I got for for 51 euros that turned out to be a 1950 Rene Herse Competition, or a great frame built by someone I'd never heard of before. I love the 1950s racing frames, but some of the 1950s racing components (for me) limit my ability to enjoy riding these bikes in hilly Vancouver. So I convert most of them to Stronglight 49D compact doubles or triples, rear derailleurs with more chain wrap capacity, and somewhat more modern saddles, handlebars and pedals. The 1950s racing brakes generally work OK, but have their limitations. Here are some of the bikes I've found:

50s Metropole:

1949 Gillott:

1946 Herse Competition:

50s Cattaneo:

1949 Carpenter:

50s Blondin:

Late 40s Le Greves:
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Old 09-28-20, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
Does the lack of chrome socks on this Urago indicate "lower" level? And what about the spoke protector, pedals, and 27" wheels? Do they mean any more than they would on a 70s or 80s bike? It's at least 3 cm too small but only a few hours away.
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That bike showed up in one of my daily searches. I would say it is a mid-level racing bike with a few good components. The paint and decals seem to have survived quite well, which is a big plus in my book. Although chrome socks can be a useful general indicator of frame quality, I would say this is less significant on a 50s race bike. The wheels don't look original, but I can't tell from the photos exactly what has been changed. Not a top-level bike, and if it's not your size I don't think it would be a great choice. The top level Uragos were very nice.

Last edited by Duke7777; 09-28-20 at 10:52 AM. Reason: corrected info
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Old 09-28-20, 10:25 AM
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Here's another one that I really like, although I'm still not completely sure it's even a Condor. I bought the frame from Hillary Stone, which is a good place to check for high quality British classics. This was my first 50s British race bike, and it really opened my eyes to how fantastic these bikes are to ride.

mid-50s Condor:
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Old 09-28-20, 10:33 AM
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This 1952 E. Christophe pro bike changed hands three times for zero dollars in 2011, arriving to me in a quite rough but complete/original condition.

I had to straighten out the rear end of the frame and tune up the eight-speed drivetrain and cables, but it rides quite well in my hilly area despite having ridiculously-upright frame angles.

Before and after:


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Old 09-28-20, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
This 1952 E. Christophe pro bike changed hands three times for zero dollars in 2011, arriving to me in a quite rough but complete/original condition.

I had to straighten out the rear end of the frame and tune up the eight-speed drivetrain and cables, but it rides quite well in my hilly area despite having ridiculously-upright frame angles.
That's a beautiful looking frame, and a very nice preservation you've done. It's also a good example of a high quality French brand that almost nobody has heard of today. There are many French brands like this. Norris Lockley's Flickr site is another good place to learn about some of the great (but less widely known) French brands (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cyclecrank/albums).

The upright frame angles are interesting.
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Old 09-28-20, 12:30 PM
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Ooooooh yeah ....the era of cheeseburgers, girls on roller skates, Chuck Berry and Bill Haley and His Comets, kids have no idea what they are missing these days....and bikes like this not to mention the classic cars. Oooooh yeah....
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Old 09-28-20, 02:17 PM
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The Classic Lightweights UK website has a lot of good info on (mostly British) bikes and components from the postwar era. There is a big section on members' bikes with some great photos for inspiration. A lot of folks set them up with Stronglight 49 cranks and Campagnolo Gran Sport derailleurs, which are easier to deal with than cottered cranks and pull-chain derailleurs but still period correct. Many high-end British road racers of the late 40's and early 50's had single-speed fixed-gear transmissions, so you could go that route too. I have found 2 nice postwar English frames in the US, one from a BF member and the other on Ebay, so they're out there if you're patient and persistent. I won't show them here because they're not done yet: finding vintage components and learning how they work has been a slow (but very enjoyable) process for me. You could put out a want ad here and on Classic Rendezvous, I second the recommendation on Hilary Stone, you'll learn a lot about postwar bikes from perusing his website, and he has a lot of nice frames and bikes for sale at quite reasonable prices. After a while you'll develop a pretty good idea of what to look for and what to avoid.
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Old 09-28-20, 04:56 PM
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Just (finally) finishing up my 1958 Rabeneick "Model Campagnolo"...


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