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1960s Desiree

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1960s Desiree

Old 02-28-13, 09:57 AM
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Looking at the seat-cluster and head lugs (which I think are both early Cinelli) I definitely see similarities to a 50's or early 60's Masi. The seat cluster is perfect to my eyes, but I love that period Italian frame. Wherever the frames were sourced I believe it would have been a small higher end shop like Masi, and not a production house like Atala, etc.. Aside from all the cable braze-on's it really has that classic 50's-early 60's Italian "custom" look.

I really like the story behind these bikes and it reminds me of the "California oddball entrepreneurs" of this period that were piecing together sports cars with imported coach work and such. I had my own run-in with the work of Robert Alexander quite a few years ago in the form of a Olmo that was set-up like Calstar's Desiree. Modified rear der with the same giant cage and return spring, 60T 49D crankset, and mish-mash of high end period racing parts. The guy who sold it to me was originally from Santa Barbara and had bought the bike from his neighbor. He told me a similar story of the original owner using the bike to come down San Marcos Pass!

At the time I had no knowledge of Robert Alexander and the Desiree connection. The Olmo frame had been completely stripped of its original paint, decals, and badge, so I just thought it was some "mad scientist" type guy who built himself a "land speed bike" for the California mountains. Even though the build tickled me to death I ended up parting it out, as it had a few pieces I needed for some of my own bikes and some very valuble parts like a pair of Bartali brake levers. The frame went to somebody who wanted to do a proper restoration on it. I wish I had kept the rear derailleur as it went for peanuts on ebay. It did not have the modified cage front der though, just a nice early style Record.

When Calstar first posted about his Desiree a few months ago I recognized the origins of the Olmo immediately. Wish I had known more about it at the time..............
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Old 02-28-13, 11:06 AM
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another trivial thought: it's known that Masi would build frame with either Columbus or Reynolds 531 (customer's choice) and since there's no tubing decal this could be either (or even Falck tubing, but I'd doubt that).

Since the fork blades can't be 531 Imperial (wrong shape) I wonder if there are the Columbus-typical 5 spiral ridges in the steerer base...might not be a Columbus steerer, or too early to have those ridges but can't hurt to check.

If it's Reynolds, you might find the very small and faint stampings near the butt ends of the main tubes or on the steerer (have to remove the fork) but those are a long-shot and often can't be seen without magnification (or through paint).
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Old 10-30-22, 07:24 PM
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I owned at least two of these bicycles. The first of these I purchased when I was in about 8th grade. My first was a 10 speed; then later, I owned a 15 speed.

I hung around Bob Alexander's shop on lower State Street, and worked on the bikes in exchange for pieces like his custom generator and lamp kit, or saddle bags, or perhaps a different chain ring. Several of my friends also purchased Desirees, and a friend recently showed his to me, in excellent condition. We all took good care of our bikes.

Bob took trips to Europe to purchase parts. On each trip, he would buy 100 of each needed piece: 100 frames, perhaps in Italy, or sometimes in France; 100 sets of rims; 100 sets of deraileurs---always Campagnolo, and each of which he would modify, both front and read. 100 headsets, 100 sets of rims and hubs, cranksets, pedals. He used frames made from state of the art Reynolds double-butted tubing.

Bob also made Conga and Bongo Drums; he had a set of congas in the front showroom of his shop. As the spirit moved him, he would knock off whatever he was doing, and sit for a time, banging expertly on the Congas; he also played in clubs. This was in the Late 50s, and mostly early 60s. I owned a set of his magnificent bongos. His playing was terrific to listen to, and he tried to show us how to play. A great "pop" was a hallmark of his playing.

He rode his bike everywhere. As a young child I remember him riding up in the evenings on a steep and long hill to the mesa, where he owned a small house on top of a hill. His thighs were massive. He told us how he had once drilled a rim out for bolts that extended out and presented traction on motorcycle climbs---There was at least one very steep hill that motorcyclists used as a challenge. I venture he would be the only one who ever could climb that hill on his bicycle.

Alan D
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Old 10-30-22, 07:43 PM
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It's a beauty! MInt condition, right down to the fingertip controllers.

Amazing you still have this one.

Alan D
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Old 10-30-22, 11:12 PM
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Old 10-31-22, 01:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Lngndvs
It's a beauty! MInt condition, right down to the fingertip controllers.

Amazing you still have this one.

Alan D
Hi Alan, welcome aboard, looks like you're in the right place. We love it when somebody weighs in on an obscure (to us) marque.

That being said, this an almost 10 year old zombie thread, no worries but.....
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