Road Frames c.1975-85.. Un-vague us!


Senior Retro Guru
As we know, the massed-start bike frame went through a few detail changes in the second half of the '70s thru the first half of the '80s. I thought it would be useful if we could collectively ascertain a useful 'not before' date for the following features that distinguish the late '70s-early '80s frame from its early '70s counterpart, and maybe establish a timeline for these changes. In brackets are my provisional best guesses for each- if you know better, speak up!

1)Brazed on bottle cage bosses. (1975)
2)Short Campag. dropouts, possibly with portacatena holes, as opposed to the old 'long' Campag. dropouts. (1977)
3)Rear brake bridge and fork crown counterbored to accept Allen key brakes. (197:cool:
4)Brazed on rear brake cable tunnels on the top tube as opposed to the old three chromed clips. (1980)
5)Under the bracket gear cable runs as opposed to over the bracket. (1981)
6)Brazed on gear lever bosses. (1981)
7)Brazed on front mech. bracket. (1983)
:cool:130mm rear end spacing for seven speed block (1987)

Maybe you can think of some more? Or those with a wider time-frame can take this backwards (and forwards) through the other decades..

I am thinking of the bike frames ridden in the pro peloton(s) here, or at least the frames built for those who aspired to the pro pelotons. I doubt if any of these changes were innovations in the strict sense of the word- i.e. someone could doubtless find examples of each from decades before, but that is not the purpose of this enquiry. In the sense I mean, these were irreversible changes, in the sense that, once they had been introduced, it would have been self-consciously 'retro' for any pro or aspiring pro to commission or be seen riding a frame without these features.

p.s. the smiley with shades is a typo... :cool:


Retro Wizard
I think it's probably only doable by a multi-year span (early/mid/late) for most details. Any more accurate timing will vary by builder. Brazed on gear bosses I would put as late 1970s for example, similarly Allen key brakes as early 1980s.

Probably there is also a country differnece - so French frames differed to Italian for example.


Senior Retro Guru

My Allin Belgique has braze-ons for gear levers, the rear brake cable and for cage bosses on the downtube - likewise my late 1960s Roberts.

Many frames as early as the 50s (Benelux) had braze-ons for gear levers; later for Campagnolo etc.



Senior Retro Guru

Fair points Hamster, and I tend to agree. Nevertheless I think the dates can be firmed up. If, for example, anyone can link to a picture from a 1974 season continental stage race or classic which shows a preponderance of brazed on bottle cage bosses in use, I will modify the 'not before' date accordingly. My dates are placeholders, and I'm hoping someone can improve their accuracy. By the same token, if anyone can link to a 1981 season picture in which brazed on gear lever bosses are manifestly not yet in use I will do the same.

This is basically the 'Super Record' era, and probably 90% of the peloton were using it. Some of these 'innovations' are self evidently 'component led'- there is no point in having a front mech. bracket brazed on if Campag. haven't designed and produced a front mech. which can be bolted onto it? But it is a kind of chicken and egg situation too- what would be the point of developing a seven speed transmission unless you can first sound out the frame builders, or their clients, and persuade them that it is on balance desirable to increase rear end width to 130mm?

Thanks Roadking, I get that. You know what I mean. In 1970 a pro road bike invariably had three chrome clips on the top tube. Some time after 1980(?) they were gone. What year did they 'go'? Dig out your back issues of International Cycle Sport and help us out.. ? :)


Retro Wizard

I'll post later but frame design sort of depended how much of the above was to be used :)



Old School Grand Master

Second set of brazed on bottle bosses (seat tube) 83ish?..
Picollo drop brakes 75 ish ?.


Senior Retro Guru

Thanks pigman- those can be included.

The Campagnolo timeline at Velo-Retro, (with its disclaimer about accuracy) lists 'short drop brakes' under 1974, which probably means 1975 for most of us (and most of the peloton too.) Did frames 'catch up' with piccolo brakes? How does this work? Do Campagnolo alert the frame builders: "We're reducing brake drop by 5mm next year- you might want to build your frames accordingly?" or is it left to the framebuilders to judge whether this is a 'flash in the pan' or here to stay? I guess this is what 'trade shows' are for...

The same source (Velo-Retro) tells me that Campagnolo produced the first(?) 7-speed freewheel in 1984, which is around the same time as the Shimano(?) introduction of 'indexing' and 'freehubs'.

I notice two bikes in RBOTM- an '81/'82 Merckx and an '81 Zeus- that both still have over-bracket gear cable runs. Maybe my '81' is a bit premature? The blurb for the '81 Holdsworth Professional (courtesy of nkilgarif, as ever) lists under-bracket cable runs, but the accompanying picture shows a bike that still has over-bracket runs, so presumably the re-route was at least 'in the air' in '81? (And I don't reckon Holdsworth would have been the innovators- if they were re-routing the cables, they were likely catching a wave that started in the continental peloton.)

Here's a revised timeline:

1. Brazed on bottle cage bosses. (1975)
2. Piccolo brakes. (1975)
3. Short Campag. dropouts, possibly with portacatena holes, as opposed to the old 'long' Campag. dropouts. (1977)
4. Rear brake bridge and fork crown counterbored to accept Allen key brakes. (197:cool:
5. Brazed on rear brake cable tunnels on the top tube as opposed to the old three chromed clips. (1980)
5. Brazed on gear lever bosses. (1981)
6. Under the bracket gear cable runs as opposed to over the bracket. (1982)
7. Additional seat tube bottle cage bosses (1983)
8. Brazed on front mech. bracket. (1983)
9. 130mm rear end spacing for seven speed block (1984)

Another change that occured some time within this ten years is the advent of cast lugs, as opposed to the old pressed/welded Prugnats etc.


Retro Wizard
There was a fad in the early 70's to have no braze ons, likely due to cost cutting in the face of economic blight. Before and after that braze on gear bosses were widespread.



Senior Retro Guru

Well.. like anything else, there are arguments both for and against braze ons. On the downside, they are usually non-adjustable, and beyond the ones that simply hold cables, often component brand-specific.

Any observations about my timeline, Shaun, or links to evidence that it needs tweaking?

I guess there is a progression at work with some of these changes- Someone makes a prototype, some domestique gets to put it through its paces, if it seems to work no worse than the thing it replaces then it might become common in the peloton. It is probably not until the year after that it gets marketed to the few people beyond the peloton that actually keep up with this stuff..


Retro Guru

Great subject,but def agree with the comment that in those days pro team bikes wer'nt always the first to receive new gear etc,my Gios Super is an ex Isjboerke{plse excuse spelling can't be arsed to look it up}team frame, the team was '78 after Brooklyn, frame has over bracket guides,one set of bosses but still uses nutted brakes I assume it might be a spare or whatever handed down from Brooklyn days