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Too Tall Atala

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Too Tall Atala

Old 11-27-13, 03:24 PM
  #1  
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Too Tall Atala

In 1979, I bought an all chrome Atala (according to the head badge still on it) from a guy who had it chained up outside a restaurant on State Street in Madison, with a "For Sale" sign on it. All chrome (oh, did I mention that already?), 100% Campy NR. Full 27, 1 1/4" wheels. The serial number on seat tube starts with a 72, so I'm assuming that's the frame date. The patent on the RD is 1974.

With two exceptions, the specs as I bought it match up with an early seventies Record Professional 101 model.

The first is the Campy NR side pull brakes, rather than the center pull Universals that the catalogues and pictures I've seen mentioned. Totally makes sense, since the components appear to have gone on well after the frame was built, and my vague, 70s tinted recollection of the conversation is that the guy said he had recently built it up.

The second anomoly is a bit harder to explain. From the get go, this bike has been way too big for me. I'm about 6 ft. tall. My new bikes, very well fit, are 58 and 59cm, respectively. The Atala by contrast is so tall that I need to do stretching exercises before swinging my leg over, although that hasn't stopped it from providing 34 years of varied and extraordinary service. I bought it because it was shiny, another 70s thing I suspect.

Recently, after researching the pedigree on this wonderful site, I was pointed to the bottom bracket for sizing info. My bike is stamped with a 26, which I'm led to believe denotes a 26" frame. Every catalogue and reference I've seen, from 71 to 75, show the largest Atala men's frame to be a 25" (btw: why would an Italian maker in the 70s be marking its frames in inches?). Anyone here have any insight into how I ended up with a frame larger than than the largest Atala made?
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Old 11-27-13, 03:57 PM
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What is the actually measurement of the seat tube, center to top? Sounds like a lovely bike. We need some pictures, please?
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Old 11-27-13, 04:10 PM
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Pictures and measurement tonight. Got the itch to send this from work not thinking that the images are all on my home computer.
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Old 11-27-13, 04:17 PM
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Sounds like the frame is indeed WAY too big for you. I'd be glad to help you dispose of it. :-)

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Old 11-27-13, 04:30 PM
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I don't think the 26 on the BB denotes inches. Doesn't make too much sense. But if the bike turns out to be a 66 cm I will stand corrected.
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Old 11-27-13, 04:37 PM
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66cm sounds about my size;-)
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Old 11-27-13, 04:40 PM
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my atala stamped with "23" on both bottom bracket and fork steerer tube measures at 57cm center-to-center seat tube. The top tube is also 57 cm. So it may be the size, the question is how did they measure it.
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Old 11-27-13, 05:15 PM
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I'm pretty sure the 26 is indeed the nominal frame size, in inches. I would not be too worried by the literature that says the largest one they made was 25". The frames and the promotional literature came from different departments at different times.
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Old 11-27-13, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by tigat View Post
In 1979, I bought an all chrome Atala (according to the head badge still on it) from a guy who had it chained up outside a restaurant on State Street in Madison, with a "For Sale" sign on it. All chrome (oh, did I mention that already?), 100% Campy NR. Full 27, 1 1/4" wheels.

Are there 1/2 27" wheels?
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Old 11-27-13, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Are there 1/2 27" wheels?
So totally got me with this one, and I did laugh out loud.
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Old 11-27-13, 07:59 PM
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Nice score, congrats. The only Atalas I've found so far, in my price range, turned out to be lower-end Italian steel, possibly Columbus, but still definitely lower-end. The last one was definitely bent, with a broken fork, LOL. But it's good, it was clearly advertised as a parts bike, so I took the parts.
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Old 11-27-13, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
What is the actually measurement of the seat tube, center to top? Sounds like a lovely bike. We need some pictures, please?
Measures 26" (66cm) as advertised.

Before y'all come down too hard on me, I rode it rain, shine and snow, on road and occasionally off, in fast team rides, up and down mountain passes, with loaded panniers, and for many years with kids strapped to front and rear mounted infant seats, and with a 40 lb. trail a bike, all with one hand and only a front brake with a suicide lever (not showing off--the left arm went missing some 39 years ago--the stem mounted Suntour shifters were also a concession to my disability). It is a member of the family and I never noticed it was so much too big until I bought the Bianchi three years ago. Like a friend told me last season when I showed up on a powder day with skis 15 cm too long, "that's commitment."

Below are a few pics. I'll do better tomorrow with some natural light.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg
Bottom Bracket LR.jpg (86.1 KB, 62 views)
File Type: jpg
Side view LR.jpg (100.2 KB, 85 views)
File Type: jpg
Head Set LR.jpg (93.6 KB, 65 views)
File Type: jpg
Serial No._1.jpg (87.1 KB, 57 views)
File Type: jpg
RD LR.jpg (94.8 KB, 61 views)
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Old 11-27-13, 08:48 PM
  #13  
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I rode my father's 25" Atala Grand Prix as a teen. Then I built a 25" frame up for him a few Christmases ago to replace same. I had gotten it stolen back in the day while marauding around in the middle of the night...

The frames had 70/70 degree geometry, which might have something to do with your sense of fit.

edit: yours is definitely not the gaspipe 70/70 bikes I've played around with. A very cool Atala! Looking forward to daylight photos.

edit 2: put a shorter stem on it and then reassess the fit. I wager you'll like it a lot better.
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Old 11-27-13, 09:27 PM
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If that's your proper saddle height and reach, it's none too big for you, especially given that the "ideal" frame size for a given leg length has changed over the years. Keep it, and keep on enjoying it.

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Old 11-27-13, 09:41 PM
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Oh yeah, that's a good one. I just now saw the second set of pics. It looks like Campagnolo dropouts, definitely not the cheap stamped dropouts mine had. And your lugs have cutouts, like that round one near the BB shell. Definitely a keeper, if it fits & nothing's bent.
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Old 11-27-13, 10:27 PM
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Nice bike, although I would replace the stem shifters with barcons. (I understand that downtube shifters can be a bit of a reach on a frame that tall.)
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Old 11-27-13, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Are there 1/2 27" wheels?
No, but there are 622/630 27" wheels, i.e., 700C.
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Old 11-27-13, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
Nice bike, although I would replace the stem shifters with barcons. (I understand that downtube shifters can be a bit of a reach on a frame that tall.)
The stem shifters originally went on so that I could either use my thumb with my hand on the center of the bar, or if shifting from a no hands position, I was more upright. For downtube shifters, it wasn't so much the height of the bike as it was reaching down there while riding no handed. As the guys I was riding with got faster, the bent over no handed routine, while I was huffing and puffing, got dicier. I have the same problem now fetching a water bottle on a fast group ride.

I'd say barcons are only a 50% solution for a one-handed rider, although, on my Bianchi I have one mounted on a snubbed off extension bar and running the front derailleur.



If that's your proper saddle height and reach, it's none too big for you, especially given that the "ideal" frame size for a given leg length has changed over the years. Keep it, and keep on enjoying it.
Not looking to part company quite yet. As I mentioned, the Atala is a member of the family whose flaws are easily overlooked.

I converted it back to a two hander when I let my son take it off to college a few years ago. There it accumulated most of the corrosion now visible, and one of the rims on the original Campy hubs was badly bent, something I never managed to do in 30 years of riding it. Saving the hubs for a future rebuild.

Debating right now whether to do a conversion back to my needs--a cockpit with all controls on one side--or take it back to full original and hang it on the wall. One of the reasons I posed the original question on the 26" frame was to see if there was something unique enough about it to tip the scales toward refurbish and retire.
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Old 11-28-13, 06:55 AM
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Certainly not a common sight at that height. A very nice bike. I have a fondness for Atala's - build a somewhat newer, and shorter, one up for my girlfriend as a gift a while back. I always keep an eye out for them, and this is definitely a class apart from practically all I've seen from that decade (more high-enders pop up from the 1980s in North America, it seems). Coincidentally, I spotted a nice all-chrome Atala track frame of similar quality for sale recently, same era...but they're not exactly all over the place, that's for sure.

While yours is fantastic, and certainly worthy of display, I'd say set it up to suit the possibility of taking it out for the occasional spin. Though it may have done enough service over the years deserve some some time sitting looking pretty, there's nothing to exercise that nostalgia like a rip around the neighborhood from time to time, eh? I'd say rebuild the wheels, clean everything up...but set it up so that you can take it out and enjoy that chrome in the sunshine.
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Old 11-28-13, 07:22 AM
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I do stand corrected. 26 is a big frame, but I suppose it is not too surprising as back then taller frames were sort of de rigueur. Still find it somewhat odd an Italian bike company would stamp the frame size in inches. Maybe something requested by the importer. Very nice bike.
If you can still ride it, and reach everything, I'd say don't retire it. It's a beauty.
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Old 11-28-13, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for all the compliments on the bike. A few sunshine pictures are attached.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg
Atala non drive LR.jpg (106.1 KB, 48 views)
File Type: jpg
Atala down tube LR.jpg (90.3 KB, 39 views)
File Type: jpg
Atala front fork LR.jpg (107.9 KB, 40 views)
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Atala head tube LR.jpg (95.9 KB, 37 views)
File Type: jpg
Atala top tube LR.jpg (92.6 KB, 37 views)
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