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Colin Laing bicycles

Old 01-05-09, 02:51 PM
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SpeedFreek
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Colin Laing bicycles

Does anyone know if the British builder still makes bikes? I know he moved to Arizona back in the 80's. I saw one for sale on the web, and wondered if he was still in the bike game. I remember he did some absolutely beautiful lug and BB work, along with nice paint schemes. Any info on Colin Laing out there? Any stories on bikes from him you have owned? Pictures of bikes?
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Old 01-05-09, 03:12 PM
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Last I heard, he's retired.

"Theotherguy" may have gotten his last bicycle from him a bit over 2 years ago.
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Old 01-05-09, 03:53 PM
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I believe he works part time at Tempe Bicycles.
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Old 01-05-09, 10:09 PM
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I've got a mid-1970s Colin Laing track bike. It originally belonged to a LBS owner in Fresno, CA.

I don't know if he ever raced on the track, but at some point he hung a reverse-claw bolt-on rear derailler, front derailler & clamp-on shifters, and drilled it for brakes, all Nuovo Record, and raced it at the Tour of Nevada City Criterium.

In 1978, it surfaced at the LBS where I worked during college. A customer brought it in for repair, still in its 10-speed configuration. He'd shifted the rear derailler into the spokes, torn the derailler in half and trashed the wheel. When I told him what it would cost to repair it, he traded it straight across, including a spare Normandy track wheelset, for a new bottom of the line $90 POS Raleigh Rampar. My boss stripped most of the Campy parts and hung it on the shop wall.

After lusting after it for a month or so, I asked my boss what he'd sell it to me for, and he said, "Just take it."

The original paint showed a lifetime of abuse, so I had it powdercoated white a few years later, and rode it without markings until 2003. I emailed Colin in Arizona and arranged purchase of a new decal set. By then he was building his frames as "Colian," so the new decals show that name.

It's enjoying life as my "good" fixed gear bike, and is my oldest bike and the one I've had the longest. Several years ago my wife asked if I was going to sell it since I haven't ridden the track in years, but I think now she's accepted my addiction.



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Old 01-05-09, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Fat Guy View Post
I believe he works part time at Tempe Bicycles.
I can confirm he works PT(as of two years ago), but not sure of the shop. Got to meet him. Quite a character.
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Old 01-06-09, 03:56 PM
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For those of you who do not frequent the CR list, Mr. Laing posted today and mentioned that his frame building days are coming to an end. Muscular Dystrophy.
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Old 01-06-09, 07:57 PM
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Not sure if this was the one you saw for sale? It is a beautiful bike with nice details. Reynolds 531SL with a full first-gen Dura Ace component group.
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Old 01-06-09, 08:01 PM
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Wow, just Wow!!!!

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Old 01-06-09, 08:22 PM
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Here's a Jr Racer he built with his son, Ian, next to a 54cm De Rosa for perspective:


The bikes he built in AZ were branded Colian, for Colin & Ian.
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Old 01-14-10, 10:03 PM
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I knew he had retired. Didn't know about MD. Too bad. I thought his son was to follow in his father's footsteps, though... maybe I remember wrong?

I remember going to see him back in the '80s at Tempe Bike. He had a small area in the back where he turned out some incredible work. I always wanted one of his frames...
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Old 08-08-11, 05:24 PM
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Colin Laing

I have a Colin Laing bicycle in my shop that i am overhauling. It was built in Tucson and the decal says CL....Racing Cycles....Tucson, USA. It is marked "Pat Gordon" on the top tube in front of the seat post. The lugs are typically ornate but are chromed on the neck and the chainstays are chromed from the dropouts to the mid-point. Can anyone tell me anything about this bike...a year possibly?
Attached Images
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laing4.jpg (97.2 KB, 764 views)
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laing3.jpg (95.5 KB, 763 views)
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laing5.jpg (95.3 KB, 764 views)
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laing6.jpg (96.0 KB, 752 views)

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Old 08-08-11, 05:31 PM
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Laing made some neat bikes. I came across a CX bike with campy bits (incl. Cobalto brakes!) up in Flagstaff being consigned for a customer. The price was far too hefty at the time; they said they'd literally had it for years, and the lady didn't want to budge on the price.
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Old 01-30-12, 03:52 PM
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I've just won a Colin Laing frame on UK eBay. Yet to collect it, but it was thanks to the posts on here that I recognised it as being one of Colin's frames (fortunately no-one else did, as I was the only bidder). It's obviously a UK built frame (so pretty early) as it was purchased from his old stomping ground in the north-east of England. I feel a renovation job coming on. Will post some photos when I get it.
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Old 01-30-12, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by olly708 View Post
I've just won a Colin Laing frame on UK eBay. Yet to collect it, but it was thanks to the posts on here that I recognised it as being one of Colin's frames (fortunately no-one else did, as I was the only bidder). It's obviously a UK built frame (so pretty early) as it was purchased from his old stomping ground in the north-east of England. I feel a renovation job coming on. Will post some photos when I get it.
Congratulations on your new acquisition. We'll be waiting for the pics, (not so) patiently.
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Old 01-30-12, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by olly708 View Post
I've just won a Colin Laing frame on UK eBay. Yet to collect it, but it was thanks to the posts on here that I recognised it as being one of Colin's frames (fortunately no-one else did, as I was the only bidder). It's obviously a UK built frame (so pretty early) as it was purchased from his old stomping ground in the north-east of England. I feel a renovation job coming on. Will post some photos when I get it.
Any guess on age? I want to say that he moved to the States before the mid 70s? I have an old copy of Bicycling that mentions him as an AZ builder, and I believe the magazine was from approx. '75?

Photos, please!
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Old 01-30-12, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by bibliobob View Post
Any guess on age? I want to say that he moved to the States before the mid 70s? I have an old copy of Bicycling that mentions him as an AZ builder, and I believe the magazine was from approx. '75?

Photos, please!
When I met Colin in '86, he told me that he'd been in the States for a little over 10 years. So that'd put him in England in the mid-'70s sometime, which jives with the magazine article.

Truly, though, I remember WELL the works of cycling art he created. His frames were just incredible! His lugged frames were amazing, and though I never really cared for fillet brazing, his were superbly done, and I'd have taken one of those in a heartbeat. Mind you, at the time, I was racing on a really nice Pinarello... and I really wanted one of his frames!
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Old 01-30-12, 06:52 PM
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Found the article, and here it is, from March 1975:





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Old 01-30-12, 08:27 PM
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My newest grail bike. spoke to him a couple of years ago. Cool guy. People told me about him when I lived in Phoenix but I never had a chance to meet him.
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Old 01-30-12, 08:36 PM
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There's a track bike on the Phoenix CL right now. Carbon fork, though. The guy has it it "fixie" style. Asking $600 for it.
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Old 01-30-12, 09:30 PM
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I met him a few times at Tempe Bike, what a wonderful person to talk to. The bikes I've seen of his are completely "grail" worthy.
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Old 01-30-12, 10:03 PM
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MiamiJim had a HUGE Colian frame, 73cm I think, with a badly stuck BB, a while back. He very generously offered it for the cost of shipping to someone who could use it.

I happened to know just the guy: one of my son's former jr high Montessori teachers, who is something like 6' 9" and big boned, an enthusiastic cyclist, but with a history of breaking frames. He has the bike now and is very happy with it. Here it is in the rack outside the school. I should really get together with him and help him do a nicer build on it.

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Old 01-30-12, 10:45 PM
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According to an email that I received from Colin, his last day of his long (frame building) career was June 13, 2009. He had been instructing "a couple of fine young men" in frame building and they had "expressed an interest in making off with all of my stuff".
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Old 01-31-12, 02:20 AM
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Many thanks for posting the article, frpax. A great read and Colin's comments show typical understated and quirky British humour. It will be a couple of weeks before I actually get hold of the frame. A friend of mine is collecting it from the north-east of England on my behalf next week and storing it for me until we get the chance to meet up. The young lad who was selling it sounded like a nice enough bloke but it's not something I want to entrust to a courier service. You'll have to wait a while for the photographs, I'm afraid.
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Old 01-31-12, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by frpax View Post
Found the article, and here it is, from March 1975:

Thanks for posting. Very cool!

I was actually thinking of different article that profiled a lot of American builders, and simply had a few paragraphs on him....
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Old 03-01-12, 04:26 PM
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A few more bits and pieces

I got to know Colin when I was racing in the 80's, he had been building bikes for specific teams / racer "under label" for years, and so I had actually raced on his bikes albeit with different stickers.

Colin had always been on the forefront of testing new designs, and in the early 80's he started building 753 Reynolds bikes with a monostay at the top of the rear triangle to reduce the flex in the rear that would sometimes be found in that very light tube set. His 753 bikes were truly magnificent - lots of guys can build with 531, but it takes a master builder to make 753 hum.

I was told by people at Reynolds that they thought they had kind of "stolen" the monostay idea from Colin, but Colin pointed out to them that he had actually gotten the idea from some bikes back in the early 1900's and so it wasn't really a new idea at all.

There are a good number of Colin's bikes all over the country, and I know that he built team bikes for Arizona State University at a steep discount for at least three years in order to support the team, so those would have the Colian stickers on them. If it's a 753 bike, it was built by Colin alone, as I don't believe Ian was certified for 753. I could be wrong on this, but that's my best recollection.

Towards the end of the 80's he got into running very seriously, and his younger son ran as well (tall, red headed kid, not sure if he stayed in running or cycling in any way).

Great guy, great story teller, and always giving back to the sport.
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