Look before you leap? Too late for that as I've just bought myself a frame with a pedigree perhaps best described as uncertain!
I bought the frame from Classical Bicycles
, where it was sold with the following information:
This is a frame used by a professional team in the 70's. Used by lots of Dutch and international pro's. Frisol was the sponsor and was an oil company near Rotterdam. The frames where always hand built Gazelle AA models with Frisol Decals. This one is used by: Luis Ocana. Very nice lugged and made out of 531 Reynolds. It's a 58 cm frame.
What do we know? Luis Ocana raced for Frisol Gazelle in 1977, the last year of his career. The bike is badged as a L. Guerra. Learco Guerra was a successful Italian racer who put his name to frames in the forties and fifties (some perhaps built by Faliero Masi
although the text is unclear as to whether he made frames for Learco the racer or Learco the company). In the 70s, apparently, Gazelle bought either the company or the rights to the name.
And as for this particular bike? If everything checks out, the frame was built by Gazelle (almost certain?) for their race team (likely?) sometime in 1977 (a reasonable guess?) and was used by Luis Ocana (hmm?). At some stage (but not necessarily at the start of its life?) it was badged up as a Learco Guerra, but perhaps (cue optimism!) Gazelle was still working things out here, for the decal on the downtube is not of great quality (and it has a headtube decal, not a headbadge). Extra info (inconsequential perhaps, but at least incontravertible with it
), the frame has the number 58 stamped on the underside of its bottom bracket shell and the undercoat appears to be orange.
I'd welcome your thoughts on this. I will be writing to Gazelle in a 'finger's crossed' kind of way, but it would be great to get some input.
One thing I'd very much like to know is what year it's from. I intend to go the non-traditional Japanese componentry route when I build it up, but this changed so much through the late 70s that it would be awesome to have a set year. Actually, I'd settle for a solid three year range!
Some photos below, please ask for any specific shots that you think might aid the investigation. I console myself that even if the frame turns out to be a scaffold pole dog
at least the wet weather is making the lawn look good!
As an aside, I've always liked this photo of a classic era racer, and it turns out it's Learco!
Thanks all (hey brother!)!
all of the experts say you've got to start them young
MKM Dominator 1977
Kona Explosif 1994