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Vipch de España - Surprising Cinelli Connections

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Vipch de España - Surprising Cinelli Connections

Old 09-04-21, 10:13 PM
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CriticalThought
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Vipch de España - Surprising Cinelli Connections

So another unloved bike fell into my lap recently, a Vipch. It had all of the typical qualities that make a bike unloved and overlooked. It was pretty rough for a start, with a bit of a large frame. It was from a maker that's comparatively unknown (was to me anyway). And it clearly hadn't been ridden or taken care of in quite a while.

I have a soft spot for Spanish bikes, as I have many connections to Spain and have done so much cycling there. The usual trendy ones always catch my eye... BH, Orbea, Zeus, and Razesa, but there are loads of other obscure Spanish makes out there (most of which are obscure for a reason). I came across this one recently and I hadn't heard of it. I did some digging around and was surprised to find it that the make has an interesting, if a little odd, history.

From what I can tell, this is an early 80s Vipch, hand made in Peñacastillo, Santander, in the middle of the North coast of Spain. From what I've read, Vipch (kind of a curious name if you ask me) comes from “Vulcanizado Internacional del Parche” which is apparently the type of automotive product that the founder, Alberto Valiente of Cantabria, made his wealth manufacturing. Being a keen cyclist, he took that wealth and started a company building bicycles, Vipch, in Santander.

Apparently Alberto was friends with an Italian named Andrea Pesenti who had been working for Cinelli for 25 years (and impressively had designed the Laser? - see photo of him below). Alberto brought Andrea to Cantabria, and he helped get the workshop set up and production going. A couple of Spanish employees also spent time training in Italy. The initial tubes and equipment were purchased in Italy from the Columbus Group and with that they were off. The frames were built in Peñacastillo and then painted in the Navali facilities (of Albertos automotive company), in Herrera de Camargo. Then a showroom was opened on Calle Alonso Vega in Santander for sales.

It sounds like as business grew
Vipch bikes were built other tube sets in addition to Columbus (mainly Reynolds but others as well). From what I can tell, the business didn't last beyond the 1980s and there is very little written in English about them.

I'm curious if anyone can shed any light on the one I've picked up. The frame is surprisingly light (though in fairness, I have yet to strip and weigh it). I don't recognize the lugs. I think it has decent Gipiemme dropouts (I could be wrong, I'll have to take another look). It has a chain hanger on the seat stay. French Maillard pedals and Stronglight crank, Spanish Olimpic brake levers. Ofmega headset. The brakes themselves are black and branded Vipch Sport. Any thoughts on who made them? I don't recognize the seatpost.

At a glance, I don't recognize the hubs (no maker indicated that I could quickly see). The wheels are Weinemann 16x622 700C Made In Belgium with (Spanish?) Cursa quick releases. I don't recognize the unmarked stem, but it has really nice Italian ITM bars. Oh, and Simplex derailleurs. First quick ride was surprisingly promising. I'm really looking forward to cleaning her up and getting some miles on her. Funny how excited I am about this oddball bike.

Here are my "as found" pics, plus some other interesting pics I've come across online.

If any of you have thoughts or knowledge on any of the bits or of the history, I'd love to hear it! Thanks.


























Andrea Pesenti working on the Laser at Cinelli

Last edited by CriticalThought; 09-04-21 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 09-04-21, 10:25 PM
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my size !!! wrong side of the world darn it !

Almost looks like someone pillaged a Peugeot to equip that frame .
Simplex derailleurs and levers , stronglight cranks , maillard CXC pedals .
That "olympic" lever looks to be a close match to a CLB lever I have .

All good fun !
Thanks for sharing .
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Old 09-05-21, 11:53 AM
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A new one for me, and thanks for introducing us to it.
A couple things of note: tho the DOs are "shorty style"; internal cable routing in the TT, and the lugs look more 1980s era, but the brakes are nutted.
The fork crown also looks unfamiliar but (hard to confirm) the blades might be more of a "Reynolds/Imperial oval" profile rather than the Columbus/Continental" oval profile.
Can you measure across both axis at the top of the blade?
Is there the typical Columbus "rifling" in the steerer butt?
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Old 09-05-21, 04:58 PM
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Spanish Mystery Forks & Tubes

Thanks unworthy1

It was (is) a new one for me as well. I appreciate your comments. From what I understand it was made in the early 80s so that makes sense about the lugs. I also read that Vipch invested in their own fork crown. What that means specifically is anyones guess, but it could explain why it's unfamiliar.

So I measured (roughly) the fork blades at the top and came up with 28.5mm x 17mm. Does that give you any clue? The forks don't feel particularly light and don't have any sign of rifling anywhere in the steerer.

The frame on the other hand feels really light for a 25+ inch frame. I weighed it (also, very roughly) and it was under 5 lbs. The dropouts, front and back, are definitely Gipiemme. The bottom bracket is Nervar. The stem, like the bars, is ITM.

When I had it apart and was washing it off a bit, I took a closer look at the tubes to see if there were any identifying stamps, etc. There were none that I could see. No signs of a serial number either.

The frame feels so nice and light though that I'm really looking forward to touching it up, getting it back together, and riding it!











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Old 09-05-21, 05:05 PM
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Another example of the marque

By the way... I poked around online and found some stunning examples of the marque. Stunning enough that they put my example to shame. Here's one...











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Old 09-06-21, 01:27 AM
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Nice writeup on the marque CriticalThought. I don't think anyone covered this brand on the forum before.

You were asking about the lugs on your frame - they are Bocama Professionnelle Luxe lugs with B4 lug cutouts:



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Old 09-07-21, 12:35 PM
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As usual, Maurice Moss nailed the lugs!
Sounds like the fork blades are most likely "Imperial" dimension, so could be Reynolds, not sure about the dims of other tubing set blades (such as Vitus) but very unlikely to be Columbus:
"Reynolds 531 "Imperial" (but sometimes called CO) 28.5 x 16.5"
So little chance that Vipch used a Columbus steerer on your frame but what are the main tubes' OD dimensions?
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Old 09-07-21, 03:42 PM
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MauriceMoss Thanks for IDing the lugs. (and for including the catalog images... very cool).

I did some looking around on some Cantabrian cycling sites and found some cool pictures, but even in Spain it seems like Vipch was a brief and obscure brand.


















Rider in front for team Vipch Hercos de Cantabria - maybe 1989

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Old 09-07-21, 11:21 PM
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I don't, think its been asked?,..... but..... how the heck does one pronounce "Vipch"??
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Old 09-08-21, 09:02 AM
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Mystery Tubes

unworthy1 I took some rough measurements and the main tubes outside dimensions are:

Top Tube : 26mm
Seat Tube : 28mm
Down Tube : 28mm


Also, I found some grainy pictures of another Vipch prior to being painted and it has an odd sticker on it that looks like a Reynolds style tube sticker, but not like an actual Reynolds one. Curious if anyone recognizes it. I have definitely seen Vipch with legitimate Columbus stickers, but this one caught my eye as I didn't recognize it at all. Thought the picture is at an angle and so poor that it's hard to say what it is.



Anyone recognize this sticker on the seat tube?


Anyone recognize this sticker on the seat tube?









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Old 09-08-21, 12:09 PM
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at a glance you "probably" have metric tubing, since the calipers shows what seems to be even millimeters with maybe slight additional thickness of the paint. Did you mention the seatpost size already? Many Spanish frames from this era use metric tubing, and often French threading, but there are exceptions. Never seen that tubing decal before, could be something "custom" for that Vipch model, tho it seems to have some color similarities to Reynolds decals, it does not really look like any of them, not even the Reynolds "A" tubing that early Zeus frames often used.
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Old 09-08-21, 01:58 PM
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Thanks unworthy1 . That's good info.

The seatpost is 26mm.

And I think you're probably right about it having French threading as well.

Most of the other Vipch bikes I've managed to find online that still have their original paint seem to have Columbus stickers. I notice that the ones with the Columbus stickers all have the same lugs (longer and more pointed than on mine)... though not all have fastback seat stays. Perhaps they are the higher end frame and mine a step down. Even so, I'm surprised at how light mine is, hence my curiosity about the tubing!

One other thing to note, the Columbus ones all seem to have brazed on brake cable guides on the top tube. Mine has internal. Not sure if that sheds any light...














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Old 09-09-21, 06:57 AM
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The shop sticker on there showing the bike was sold in Rota... I looked up the address and am pretty sure that shop is where I used to get my moped serviced wen I lived there in the late 80s.
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