Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ron Kitching Crono Express

  Ron Kitching, a name well known in
the UK during the sixties-eighties, as being
the biggest importer of cycle racing components
and in the country.
Ron was also known as a generous and enthusiastic 
sponsor of top riders in Cyclo Cross, Time Trialing,
and even had his own sponsored teams .
Barry Davie, Ron Kit Cyclo Cross team

 Ron Kitching (R) with Andre' Bertin and Eileen Sheridan
 photo courtesy of Bertin classic cycles, who have a great piece
on Ron Kitching here. 
Ron Kitching also had a range of bikes built under his
name on the market in the early seventies.
Of course every item in the bikes manufacture was 
gleaned from the Ron Kit inventory.
This could make for quite an interesting array of
tubes, lugs and components on the one Ron Kit
machine..witness the Crono Express.
 The Crono Express as it arrived, tatty, but as far as I can tell
mostly original.
according the original add for the Crono Express, the frame
was constructed from the following components;
Tubes Vitus 971
Bocama 'sport' head lugs
Milremo 'Trident' bottom bracket shell
Milremo' Super Corsa Fork crown
Zeus 'Gran Sport'drop outs
Milremo 'Classic de Luxe' head set
TA Professional bracket set.
  Crono Express add International Cycle Sport
May 1974.
Notice that they have the rear wheel set at the very
front of the rear drop out, to make the wheel base of this TT
bike look a bit shorter I assume.

My Crono Express seems to have been brought as a
frame set, and built up independently from the suggestions
made in the Ron Kit add, which is a bit of a shame.
I think I will build this up (one day) as it is in the add.

Quite an unusual seat cluster, I am sure that I have read
elsewhere that this was also a Milremo part.
Note the Ron Kit badged seat bolt.
Bocama lug and decal, bot the prettiest lug profile I have seen. 
Mafac Tiger brake caliper, with Milremo fork crown, plenty of 
light between the tyre and bottom of the crown.
 Early version Campagnolo Record R/D.
Zeus drop out.
Vitus 971 decal, very unusual to see on a English bike.
 Cinelli steel stem/bars, non original brake levers.

Even though Ron Kitching bikes where heavily 
advertised at the time, often with full page colour adds.
I could only find a bare few examples on the internet, 
whether this means that they didn't sell well, 
or just that not many have survived I don't know. 
However after talking to my pommy pals, 
I have the feeling they were not that
highly regarded by most serious riders.

Still Beryl Burton was sponsored by Kitching for quite a while,
so they couldn't have been all that bad.
Although that being said, Burton would have probably still
kicked everyone's arse riding a Raleigh MK 1 Chopper.























Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Raul Mesa Columbian road bike.

A couple of days ago a chap walked into
the Bookshop and asked if I buy bikes..
sometimes, I answered, what have you got?
Dunno, he replied, they are on the back of
the car, come and have a look.
Both bikes were covered in years of dust 
and grime, so difficult to assess.
 However I sort of liked the look of one of the bikes.
 and I could just make out the name Raul Mesa 
on the down tube which I had never heard of, 
and as I love a bit of bike detective work I 
couldn't resist.
Raul Mesa early in his career steering the Freskola team
motorcycle.
It turns out the Raul Mesa is the name of one of Columbia's
greatest Directeur sportif, who, after a brief career in the 
saddle found his gift for leading cycling teams 
and guided both the Cafe De Colombia and later the 
Manzana Postobón teams
to considerable success during the 1980's-90's.
Mesa with the Postobon squad.
It also turns out Raul has his own bike shop, and built bikes
under his own name and maybe at some point for the
RDM team.
All the information I have here is from the incredible
Alps and Andes Colombian cycling blog.
Here is the Raul Mesa after several hours of cleaning and
re-greasing.
A very nicely built frameset,with a almost full 
Shimano 600 RD-6207 EX group set, which dates the frame 
from around 1984-'86ish.
I am not sure what it is made of, but with the Columbus 
drop outs, and weight, probably Columbus SL.
Quite an unusual fork crown, not a profile I have seen before.
The seat stay caps also have a subtle difference of their own.
All in all a very nice machine,with a good back story
 and equipped with one of the nicest 600 group sets 
Shimano ever made in my opinion.
I will take it out for a couple of rides 
then pass it on and get back to my current vintage
English TT obsession
 Raul Mesa still active in Colombian cycling.



 



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Roy Thame TT with O.M.A.S.

I have been obsessively  collecting after market 
component lightening items from O.M.A.S and
Cobra over the past couple of years, with the
view of building the mythical period TT bike
you might have built in the late seventies had you
the money and inclination.
This after market lightening gear was horrifically
expensive at the time, hence it's rarity today. 
 
Part of the O.M.A.S and Cobra collection.
 
Of course the big problem was finding the right frame set
to fit this gear to, it had to be something special, and
preferably a purpose built English TT bike...
When I saw a late seventies Roy Thame TT in my
size, well I knew the search was over.
I will expand on the Thame history when I have finished 
the build, for now let's look at the crazy set of parts that
will go into making up this straight line 
dragster seventies TT replica.
Roy Thames after refurbishment, including a decal
set I had made, I have to say I am really pleased with the 
colour, which I mixed from some leftovers.
 OMAS alloy head set
Cobra alloy chainring bolts
Cobra allot bottom bracket bolts


Full OMAS alloy replacment set for Campagnolo
Super Record seat pin.
 Full OMAS alloy kit for Campagnolo Nuvo Record
 
Regina Extra Superleggera hollow pin chain
 
Regina Alloy Superleggera Extra America Freewheel 
 CLB Professional brake set, one of the nicest and 
lightest on the market at the time.
Now all I have to find is a lightweight stop watch....

 
 




Monday, November 21, 2016

Welcome to the Future..Shimano AX/Shogun Aero

A few years ago, after reading a Shimano 
AERO dynamics brochure from 1981, 
and ogling a few Cycle magazine adds for the 
Lotus Aero with full Shimano AX Dura Ace group set, 
I was suddenly seized by a strong desire to experience 
for myself, the wonderful future that this aero bike
 and it's wind slicing component set offered us mere mortals
battling the wind on our old fashioned round tubed machines.
From the Shimano AX catalogue, actually not to far off 
what a few pommy TT riders looked like 
on race day in the early eighties.

Anyway, the chances of tying out one of these bikes
of the future seemed pretty remote as I don't believe
there where any importers bringing Japanese Aero bikes
into New Zealand during this initial aero moment.
Then out of nowhere this completely original 
Shogun Aero came my way, suddenly the future
was the present...so to speak.
These early eighties aero bikes were made by a number of 
different Japanese frame builders, it seems that 
tubing manufacturer Tange and Shimano must have worked in
conjunction to give the local builders a lead on the market with
Tange building it's complete Aero tubing set to coincide with
the release of the full group set range of AERO dynamics
components from Shimano.

 1981 Shogun Aero with full (nearly) full
Dura AX group.
In usual Shimano thoroughness, the bottle
and cage are integrated into the package, 
it is little wonder Shimano went on to dominate
the bike component industry with the kind of
money they must have dropped on R/D
during the eighties.
 Shimano seat pin is specific for the Tange Aero tube set.
 Seat cluster was a big disappointment for me, more thought
should have gone into it's finish and execution.
Must be one of the first top mounted gear levers?
Rear derailleur is thing of beauty, 
and works well to.
Very pretty Nitto Crystem blue stem, hidden brake
cables of course.
 Unfortunately bike didn't come with AX brakes,
which is a shame as these calipers are one of 
the highlights of the AX range for me.
Love the Shogun logo.
 Here are some overall shot to give you an feel
of how the aero tubes and components look.
 The bike rides very well, Dura Ace works well, of course.
I know this sounds stupid, but the bike did actually feel..
well aero, it certainly doesn't feel light and aggressive in
the English TT manner, but definitely stiff and pretty quick.
Maybe it could have saved you a second or two over
a relatively flat course, I don't know, but maybe just the 
the morale boost to know you where riding the bike 
of the future in '81, would have made the difference.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Comet Cycles Road and Track bike and sad news.

Sad news on Jackie Hayes, owner and frame builder of 
Comet Cycles frames since the early 1960's and son
of Comet Cycles founder Slater Hayes.
Unfortunately Jackie is now in a retirement home
after his condition of a dementia became to 
much for his wife to manage.
Comet add from a 1952 NZ cycle sport Magazine.

I was in Auckland a week after hearing this bad news,
so took the opportunity to track down a very original and 
extremely pretty mid 1950's Comet road/track
bike, that I had tried to buy several years ago. 
However the owner had wanted quite a bit to much 
money for it at the time.
Unfortunately the owner had in the intervening years
moved house, and left the frame on a damp floor
underneath their new house, the rust, which had only
just started biting into the chrome when I had last
seen the frame, had now completely destroyed
the chrome, a real shame.
I really shouldn't have really brought the frame in the condition 
it was now in, as I do already have a couple of Comets, but 
what can I say, I was feeling pretty sad about Jackie, 
so I decided that I would buy this one (for still way to much!) 
and fully restore it back to it's full glory as my homage to 
my friend Jackie Hayes and Comet Cycles.
Jackie was a great guy, and I always enjoyed visiting him,
hitting the record button on my Sony TD-D5
and listening to his memories of the cycle trade, 
frame building and cycle racing.
The real bummer about this bike, is that the beautiful original 
paint,handpainted writing and box lining was in pretty 
good nick, but the rust is just to far gone on the 
front forks and rear stay's.
Comet writing is sprayed on using an alloy stencil, then hand lined
Chrome Nervex lugs always look the business.
This is the early Karangahape Rd shop decal,
with the subtle fades, and nice light blue, 
compere this to the later Great North Rd
decal here.
Another thing that I really liked about this frame is that
it was custom built as an actual dual purpose bike.
It has track rear drop outs, and also cable guides for rear brakes,
and two sets of forks, road with light boss, for night training 
rides, and track forks for the weekend track meets.
This wasn't uncommon in New Zealand, cycle racing wasn't
really a rich man's sports in the 1950's, most riders where
young, and had to make what money they did have, stretch.
Many competitive riders could only afford the one racing
frame, so rather than go for the compromise, like  the 
Carlton path bikes, some would have a custom built frame
with two sets of forks made like this. 
Classic Slater Hayes half wrap seat stays.
Looks good with the Red Airlites, it didn't come with these,
but I will have to use them in the final build, they suit the 
frame just right I think.