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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:27 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:03 pm
Posts: 90
Location: Cambridge
My first-ever fixed gear bike! A 1954 Super Vigorelli, now starting to show her age, but a respray should fix that.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:39 am 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:21 pm
Posts: 5785
Location: Lost in Translation
Very nice. Could you post some close up pictures of the details? Is that still the original paint, with "London Road, Derby" transfers?

My Mercian's a '56 with Nervex lugs, and Campag ends, originally black with a cream head tube and gold lug lining, and the same decals as yours. My fork has a slightly different profile (curving more tightly towards the tip) and no lamp boss. The Brampton Alatet headset is stamped 1953.

I don't know which model I have. I'd assumed it was a Campionissimo, but I'm not sure how to distinguish between the early models. Any pointers?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 5:46 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:42 pm
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Location: Wakefield, Yorkshire
Didn't they used to advertise this as - 'a prediction, this will be the first bike inside 55 minutes'.

Trouble is that it wasn't! It was Dave Bonner on a Condor with 54.28.

However, nice 'Old Skool' TT bike, just like I used to ride when I was a lad.

You should get in touch with - www.classiclightweights.co.uk - they may be interested in featuring it.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:07 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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Old Ned wrote:
Didn't they used to advertise this as - 'a prediction, this will be the first bike inside 55 minutes'.

Trouble is that it wasn't! It was Dave Bonner on a Condor with 54.28.

However, nice 'Old Skool' TT bike, just like I used to ride when I was a lad.

You should get in touch with - www.classiclightweights.co.uk - they may be interested in featuring it.


Found an advert in Jan '58 'Sporting Cyclist' but it's for the 'New' Vigorelli. I wonder what the difference was?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:44 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:03 pm
Posts: 90
Location: Cambridge
Here a few photos showing some detail of the frame, complete with some Cambridgeshire mud after I rode it to work today. Sorry they're a bit dark - I'll try to take some in daylight at the weekend.

The serial number of the frame is 17754, and there are the initials 'RGP' made into a logo on the bottom lug.

The previous owner thought it had been resprayed in the 1970s, when a rear derailleur hanger and cable guides were also added to the frame. I think the transfers all date from this time, too - the one on the head tube is not the early 50s version of the Mercian badge.

The parts aren't particularly flash (especially the anodised blue seatpost bolt!) but I think it's a beautiful bike, and it feels fantastic to ride.

I don't know for certain that it's a Super Vigorelli, but as far as I can tell that's the only frame Mercian made with track ends. Thanks Old Ned for the link to ClassicLightweights and for the Mercian ad. I've seen some frames with a wraparound seat stay - perhaps that was one of the things introduced in 1958?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:05 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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Thanks for the pics. I think you'll find that the RGP on the BB shell is the make of the lugs (or at least the shell). The 'new' seat stay fitting they mention is probably the exact opposite of the wrap-over type and is the 'shot-in' style where the two seat stays meet at (or just below) the seat-pin clamp. How 'new' this was is probably open to debate as I'm sure it was used by other builders over the years.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:28 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:03 pm
Posts: 90
Location: Cambridge
Old Ned wrote:
Thanks for the pics. I think you'll find that the RGP on the BB shell is the make of the lugs (or at least the shell). The 'new' seat stay fitting they mention is probably the exact opposite of the wrap-over type and is the 'shot-in' style where the two seat stays meet at (or just below) the seat-pin clamp. How 'new' this was is probably open to debate as I'm sure it was used by other builders over the years.


That would make sense.

I found this page from a 1950s catalogue on the Mercian site. I'm still not sure whether mine is a Super Vigorelli - the bike was described as a 'Road/Path', but I cannot tell if that was an actual frame name or just a version of a frame. This one's got mudguard eyelets etc.

Maybe I need to get my ruler and protractor out...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:16 am 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:21 pm
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Location: Lost in Translation
Thanks for the pictures. I'll have to sort out some of mine - though it's in a bit of a state.

Mine is serial number 41156, stamped like yours on the left rear dropout, and also on the steerer tube of the fork. It's a 1956, and has a wrap-over seatstay arrangement. My bottom bracket shell is plainer than yours, but has the same stamp and lube nipple.

One interesting detail is that mine has a Campag shifter braze-on on the right (and came with what I assume is the original Campag "open C" lever) but the frame has braze-ons for a handlebar mounted front shift lever. Those could have been added later; in any case it's interesting that the Campionissimo is shown with a rod-operated front derailleur.

Mine's very similar to this one, from 1959:

http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/hanczyc ... 59709.html

from the register at:

http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/hanczyc ... index.html

The article here seems to say that the "new" seatstay style of the Vigorelli was the wrap-over type:

http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/bu ... cian2.html


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:07 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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Location: Wakefield, Yorkshire
Yes Jim, you're probably right about the wrap-over seat stay. I should have looked on Classic Lightweights myself before making such a brazen statement :oops:

I think 'Road/Path' was a description used by most builders to describe a frame with track ends that could be used for both time-trialling and track racing. The fork crown was drilled for a brake whereas a pure track frame would be left undrilled and it would also probably have mudguard eyes and clearances.

I think my old JRJ (early brand of Bob Jackson, Leeds) is a classic example of this. I hand painted it Red and White in the style of the Faema team bikes. That's me behind wearing the typical Jeans and Combat Jacket of the 60's!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:29 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:03 pm
Posts: 90
Location: Cambridge
Interesting stuff - I hadn't known until now about road/path bikes but it makes sense. Nowadays I guess more people are able to afford a track-specific bike and road-specific bike, and the fixed-gear bikes that do come with mudguard eyelets etc are more likely to be used for commuting than track racing.

It sounds like this would have been ordered as a road/path spec Super Vigorelli then?


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