With my cleaning duties at Mathieu's Cycle, I handle hundreds of bicycles every season. Everything from grease-covered clunkers to two-wheeled machines that still shine like new. Cheap bikes. Expensive bikes. And everything in between.
But every so often, a real treasure shows up at the bike shop that genuinely grabs my attention. Such was the case just a few days ago.
Nash, one of my colleagues at the shop, came rushing outside — where I washing another bike — and said I needed to feast my eyes on a just-arrived gem. A customer, named Dan from nearby Gardiner, had brought it in for a tune-up.
The name gracing the frame's down and seat tubes was Carlos, a brand I had never heard of before. But here's the best part of the story. This particular bicycle had been ridden in the Tour de France. I was so intrigued, I phoned Dan to find out more about this vintage visitor to our Farmingdale store.
He had purchased the bike, which he figured was a 1983 or 1984 model, about a year ago on Craigslist. When I inquired about the cost, he said, "It was very, very expensive." He ended up paying more than $1,000, but considering the high-end components that came on the bike, I believe — in my opinion — he received a pretty good deal.
Getting back to the Tour de France surprise, Dan indicated the seller told him that the Carlos had been bought in Paris and that it had, indeed, spun its wheels in the Grand Tour event. No one knows what year, though.
Examining the Carlos, here are some of the details about the bike:
— 57cm in size
— 6-speed, 14-20 cassette
— Index shifting
— Master Pro brakes by Modolo. Side note: American Greg LeMond won the World Championship road race in 1983 using Modolo brakes.
— Super Record groupset ... one of the top lines from Campagnolo.
— Sannino steel frame. Side note: Mauro Sannino was a well-respected frame builder. Once amongst the best craftsmen of Turin, Italy, he started his own company with some friends in 1979. It was a small operation, building just 1,500 frames per year in the mid-1980s. Mauro was taught by his grandfather.
— Bike weight: 21 pounds, 2 ounces
Doing a bit of research, I learned that the Carlos cycling team did participate in the Giro d'Italia — another Grand Tour — but with no victories. That was in 1979, I believe.
Dan indicated that he does ride quite often and his main source of cycling enjoyment is on another vintage model. A Basso bike, an Italian brand, founded in 1977 by Alcide Basso. Dan decided to get the Carlos in working order, having not ridden it much yet.
Thanks to Dan for the opportunity to view — and clean — such a beautiful bike. One of the benefits of working at Mathieu's. Its visit to the shop is rather timely, given the fact that this year's Tour de France begins soon — on July 1. Stay safe, everyone!