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 Post subject: My "new" Orbit road bike
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:32 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:04 pm
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Location: Completely in the dark, thanks to me good mate Terry....
OK, photos to follow shortly, but for now....just finished building up an early 90s Orbit America (from the Brierley Hill era) which I bought for a bargain price off the LFGSS forum. Admittedly, in terms of the headset, fork, stem, brakes and Ergo levers it has a few more recent touches but otherwise it's largely retro and for a lugged steel bike very light to boot - it climbs incredibly well. The silver/metallic purple colour scheme is definitely "of its time" (I visited the Orbit factory a few times and they seemed to specialise in rather outre paint jobs) but I like it and minimal touching up was needed in time to get it serviceable for the current road season; I'll probably get it stripped and refinished around Christmas and try to get the existing paint scheme reproduced. Spec as below:

Frame: Orbit America, 58cm c-c, 57cm top tube, lugged Reynolds 531c tubeset

Fork: Time Millennium 1" threadless carbon, steel steerer column

Headset: Stronglight Headstrong 1" threadless, needle roller bearings
Stem: Ambrosio Lite alloy, black, 12cm
Handlebar: ITM Millennium Ergal, black, 42cm
Bar Tape: Black cork, unbranded

Brake Levers/Brifters: Campag Mirage Ergopower, black, QS type

Brake Calipers: Campag Mirage dual pivot, black
Brake Pads: Aztec cartridge
Brake Cables: Fibrax

Shifters: See above
Front Derailleur: Sachs-Huret Rival 7000 clamp-on double
Rear Derailleur: Mavic 840
Derailleur Cables: Fibrax
Cassette: SRAM PG850 12-23
Chain: Union 810 with Wippermann Connex link
Cranks: Sugino/Ritchey 175mm silver alloy, 110mm BCD, square taper, fitted with self-extracting bolts. Actually a MTB component adapted for use as a road double!
Chainrings: Stronglight 110mm BCD, 52/38, black alloy
Bottom Bracket: Shimano 110mm UN52, square taper
Pedals: Look PP396, black

Rims: 2 x Mach1 CFX silver clincher, 32h
Hubs: Middleburn 32h front, Sachs-Maillard New Success cassette 32h rear
Hub Skewers: 2 x Hope silver, steel shafts
Nipples: Mach 1 alloy
Spokes: Mach 1 d/b stainless
Tyres: Vredestein Fortezza front, Michelin Krylion Carbon rear, both black/grey
Tubes: Specialized (I think)

Saddle: Gipiemme Nitrec pro, Cr-Mo rails
Seatpost: Shimmed USE Alien 25.0mm to suit 27.2mm seat tube, black alloy
Seatpost Binder: Allen bolt

Bottle Cage: Tacx alloy x 2
Extras: Sigma BC800 computer; Sapo mini-pump

Weight: TBA

David


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:48 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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Location: Wakefield, Yorkshire
Wot, no piccie? :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:25 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Location: Completely in the dark, thanks to me good mate Terry....
Old Ned wrote:
Wot, no piccie? :wink:


Only just got round to doing some (whilst parked at work; note unsightly cable lock) - apologies for the delay;

Image

Image

Image

David


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:02 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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Location: Wakefield, Yorkshire
That looks fine. What's wrong with the paintwork? A clean and polish and Robert is your father's brother (or your Mum's :wink:)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:09 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:04 pm
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Location: Completely in the dark, thanks to me good mate Terry....
Old Ned wrote:
That looks fine. What's wrong with the paintwork? A clean and polish and Robert is your father's brother (or your Mum's :wink:)


Nothing to my eyes, but may not suit all tastes. It's already been cleaned, touched up, lacquered, polished etc. - the angular pattern on the lighter purple and silver bits is deliberate.

David


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:30 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Oxfordshire
My first "made to measure" frame was from a small specialist builder in Cheltenham. Well, I thought it was. When it needed a respray I had it shot-blasted & there at the top of the seat stays was stamped "Orbit". Not a very "in" manufacturer in the early 90's (that's 1990's).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:37 am 
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Joined: Tue May 11, 2010 4:13 pm
Posts: 636
Location: Scarborough
I know Orbit moved up to Sheffield at some point, but I gather they were based in the Midlands before that. I'd love to know more about the company - I keep getting tempted on ebay by bikes like David B's...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:32 am 
Old School Grand Master
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Location: Completely in the dark, thanks to me good mate Terry....
Goldie wrote:
I know Orbit moved up to Sheffield at some point, but I gather they were based in the Midlands before that. I'd love to know more about the company - I keep getting tempted on ebay by bikes like David B's...


Bits and pieces I can recall from memory:

Not sure when Orbit set up shop but probably late 80s with considerable involvement from Frank Clements, brother of Ernie. The original workshop was near the Merry Hill shopping complex in Brierley Hill, later on they moved to an industrial park part-way between Dudley and Kingswinford. They built the frames that Roger Hammond used to win his 1992 junior Worlds cross title, not all that long after this they merged with Coventry-based Sirius, both brands being used on framesets for a while until all frames were badged as Sirius, presumably about the time (1995-1996??) that Simon Gershon bought the Orbit interests and started producing frames with the Orbit brand in Sheffield (I think there might have been an overlap period when the Dudley factory built frames under licence for fitting out in Sheffield). Sirius kept going until Frank retired in about 1999-2000; I almost ordered a frame from them in early 2000 when they were having a clear-out.
In about 1995-1996 they were amongst the first builders to use Reynolds 853; I was lucky enough to get a test ride on an 853 road bike belonging to Frank himself.
My America frame (so called because the Orbit 531c frames apparently did a decent export trade in the States) dates from the very early 90s Brierley Hill era as far as I know.

David


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:07 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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I believe Andy Thomson moved to be a frame builder at Orbit in Sheffield after his Huddersfield business folded. Andy built some nice frames (Mandy Jones won her World Championship on one) but he couldn't sustain his company.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:07 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:04 pm
Posts: 3364
Location: Completely in the dark, thanks to me good mate Terry....
The West Midlands framebuilding scene in more recent times seems to have witnessed the same sort of personnel "merry go round" that you sometimes get in the world of football. Most of the main names in small to medium volume building (Orbit, Sirius, Bromwich, LA Cycles/Lee Cooper, RB's own Andy Perks, etc.) seem to have some sort of connection between them in terms of employees.
There's probably bags of scope for a detailed if convoluted history to be written somewhere.
Over on the CTC forum I've been following an interesting and lengthy thread on another one-time Black Country cycle firm, Viscount/Lambert (the old factory's down the road from where my Nan lives) - and their history is more complex still! :shock:

David


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