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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lets do the time warp again!

My friend Rhoda is reliving his youth in style. He recently completed this beauty, a custom Retrotec with just a smitch of gilding.

He's been all smiles for weeks. So have I and I haven't even ridden the damn thing. All that glorious anodizing took me back a looooong way. Back to the first custom bike I ever laid eyes on. It was (and still is) owned by Monsieur Rick. At the time, M. Rick was the head wrench at GypinNRippin. He later owned the other shop I worked in for many years. I met him and his bike on rides he and BIG DAVE led outta the Y. The bike really had an influence on my 16 yr old brain. I had no idea something like that could exist. He let me ride it. I swooned. M. Rick and I have been friends for nearly 30 yrs so it was without hesitation on either end that I asked for and received some bad pics and even worse copy from him. Here's what he sent.

"here is what I can remember about the history of these bikes. (remember, my brother Jim has a fraternal twin to mine. The geometry is not the same (tighter rear triangle) and his has a different patern of panels on the seat tube.)
I am pretty sure I built these in 1974. we picked Proteus design company of College Park, MD because they would build a frame to my dimensions, they used DuPont Imron paint, they could chrome plate the dropouts (only the dropouts - this was for durability, not flash. I didn't want 8 inches of chromed stays & forks which was common on high end bikes of that era.), and we could afford them.
I wanted my bike to feel sporty & be fairly quick handling so I went with 73 degree head & seat tube angles & 1 5/8" of fork rake. I also was doing some bike touring at that time and I wanted to be able to mount by frame pump behind the seat tube so I had fairly long chain stays. with the horizontal Campi dropouts I could push the wheel all the way forward & get a fairly normal (so I thought) feel to the back end. I remember us swapping bikes one ride & you commented that the bike handled like a full size Porsche station wagon, quick handling front end & the rear follows along a while later. after riding other stock high end bikes later in my life, I realized just how much truth there was to that assessment. but, I digress... the frame was made of double butted Reynolds 531 (remember, that's 5 - 3 - 1, not 5 - 31) tubing, silver brazed with (I forget whos) cutout lugs & a fastback seat cluster. I am pretty sure the BB shell was a Cinelli that they cut out to my pattern. The fork had a Cinelli slopping crown. (pretty, but not very stiff. I straightened the fork a couple of times - no crashes, just hard riding knocked it out.) after I converted this bike to a single speed commuter, I put on a carbon fork (Michigan roads are soooo smooth).
the groupo was full Campi Nuovo Record (they came out with Super Record a year or two later.) I dismantled the components & took them to a local machine shop that did anodizing. we had to be careful that NO steel was included, as the anodizing gave the aluminum parts a beautiful color that resisted corrosion, it would have turned any steel (pivot pins, hub cups, etc...) into disfigured junk. we went with a combinatioon of gold & black parts because we thought it looked cool (& we were from Detroit.) these were also colors that came out of the anodizing tanks with pretty consistant color. blue, red, etc... may come out lighter or darker shades, depending on the alloy (at least that is what the anodizing shop told us.) when I swapped forks I had to do away with my Cinelli handlebar & stem. (no one makes a direct connect stem with the 26.4mm clamp size that Cinelli used back then) I didn't mind too much since they were only 38cm wide (again, the style back then.).

I should point out a few things:
  • M. Rick was 16 in 1974. How many 16 yr old do you know with the savy to purchase a custom frame? In 1974 no less?
  • M. Rick was not born with a silver anything in his mouth so he obviously had his priorities straight. That's a lot of lawns to mow.
  • Imron was light years ahead of the crap paint coming out of Italy in those days, but growing up in Detroit, Imron was known to even 3rd graders.
  • Dig the saddle...Is that an avocet!?!?
  • 35 years later, the bike is still in service as a daily commuter!
  • It's the same Proteus Design that authored the framebuilding handbook.
  • Proteus was also one of the 1st US builders to be certified to silver solder 753.
  • Missing are pics of the custom cutouts, and the gold and black anodized F. & R Ders!
  • Later revisions of the Nuovo Rec. R. ders wouldn't allow for anodizing as the steel spring was held in w/ a non replaceable pin instead of the small steel nut and bolt.
  • M. Rick plays some fine Bass.
  • Those ARE some really crappy pics!
M. Rick, I'm even more impressed than before. You were a nerd when I met you. You must have been one really nerdy 16 yr old. Coming from me, that saying something! Wear it proud!
You and your bro were really at the head of the class. Take a bow.
That is still one great looking bike. I do miss the original fork though. I'd love it if you restored it and had everything re-anodized but I know that's not your style.

Way to go my man, way to go.


fhfr436 said...

M.Rick? I've never even thought of him as a Rick, much less a "Monsieur". I only figured it out from the brother reference and ... what is that, a 12-inch head tube?

MORGAN said...

My name is MORGAN, not Rhoda. More pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25470661@N08/sets/72157616610447050/

I like the Proteus. Lots about them here: http://search.bikelist.org/?SearchString=proteus&Scope=classicrendezvous

tjh said...

no offense meant at all. on the contrary. I only use knicknames in my blog. But now that you've outed yourself. Rhoda was code for Rhoda MORGANstern. I DO have pictures of you in a dress you know...