Vintage Titanium – 1976 Style

Hi Friends, sorry I’ve been away from the blog lately. Been building lots of custom ti frames as the sun has finally arrived.

Just popping in to post some interesting photos of a really old ti frame. There have been some discussions about the origins of this frame, but I can confirm that it was built in 1976. How’s that for old? We are definitely looking at one of the first generation ti builds, ever. The Campy dropouts and tig welds hold lots of secrets. All tubes are seamed titanium, probably CP. It was brought to me for a repair by friend and cycling legend Ivo Faltoni (Coppi’s bike mechanic). The components are not original.  Enjoy the pics.

 

 

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  1. Jeroen Reply

    Cool piece of history! Based on the details I recon that’s a Speedwell. Made in Birmingham UK. Engineered by the Birmingham Small Arms (yes, BSA…) and made by the Speedwell Gear Case Co.

    • darren Reply

      Yes, it’s old. But I can confirm that it was built in Italy. I thought it might be a Speedwell, ,too. Another source (the most authoritative I can imagine has said about it, ” as i can say my strong opinion is that the frame was made by Amelio Riva under the Trecià brand , Amelio Riva was a guy that had good connection with Autodelda that was the research and sport department of Alfa Romeo in the 70’s”. How that, from someone who knows bike history…

      • Jeroen Reply

        Interesting….

        As far as I knew and the interweb tells us so far, in those days there where a few frames coming from BSA/Speedwell, Teledyne in the US and a german framebuilder.

        This marks a new page in the ti history; the search for details is on… 🙂

        • darren Reply

          Here’s another viewpoint, from famed ti designer Tom Kellogg, “Wow. I’m impressed. For a Ti frame built before the mid eighties, that is pretty amazing. Beside Speedwell (British) the only other one I am aware of who made this sort of frame back then was Pino Morroni (sp). He lived in the mid-west somewhere and even had some of the Stetina brothers riding his Ti frames, at least until they broke. Back then, there was only CP tubing available. Did Pino have a history in the service earlier? I don’t have a clue. You may want to try to contact either Wayne or Dale Stetina for more information on Pino. They knew him quite well back in the day. Wayne is an administrator at Shimano American. I don’t know what Dale is doing, but his son Peter is now a Pro riding for Garmin-Cervelo.

          Of course the Teledyne Titan was built in the US starting in the second half of the ’70s, but that was a very different looking frame. I have a couple of old Speedwells here. You are right that the frame in the photos does have some similarities to the Speedwells, but there is a lot that is very different here. The Speedwells had considerably larger welds and they filed them down a lot more as well. Those dropouts are really quite impressive for the day. It almost appears as though someone got Techno Ciclo to forge them with the Campy dies as a short run. Anyway, sorry I couldn’t be more help. Let me know if you find out anything more”.
          All I can add to this is that the owner, Faltoni, stated that he purchased the frame from the original owner. His story was that the frame was made by an American (and I thought I was the first American to produce ti in Italy) on a military base in Puglia. The fabricator made a run of 6 frames and this was one of those six.

          • Jeroen

            Interesting stuff!

            Discovery Channel should pick this up and make a story on it 🙂

  2. nicola Reply

    Hi there Darren! Wonderful piece of titanium in my modest opinion!

    • darren Reply

      Ciao Nicola! It is an amazing piece of bicycle art. Such a long time ago and so ahead of it’s time. I don’t want to give it back to the owner!! 🙂

  3. Georg Anton Stipek Michienzi Reply

    I also own an Italian Titanium frame which was build in 1976
    The project (geometry) was done by Mr Monti, who used to be the chief mechanic of Jacques Anquetil and it was welded by Comepre in Settimo Milanese, near Milano.
    Comepre (they still exist today, comepre.it) used to weld titanium parts for the Reparto Corse Alfa Romeo. My frame was delivered march 1976 and has a lifetime guarantee! All original documents are still with the bike!
    The Comepre logo is on the titanium fork as well, but the difference to the frame shown here is that all joints are smoothened to perfection, even better than on the Speedwell frames. The frame was build with a Campagnolo Super Record Gruppo, but crankset, seatpost, and shifters are called Campagnolo AER (like the Campagnolo for Colnago build items).
    For further information and photos you can contact me via mail: michienzi@gmail.com
    Not only brits and americans use titanium, just check for example sports cars and their sucess during the 70s and Italy, for sure will be one of the most advenced countries in production of high end racing machinery and components. Cars, motorcycles, boats, bicycles,…

    • darren Reply

      HI Georg,
      Great post. Thanks for the comments. I’d love to see some details of your bike and will email you for that info. It’s nice to hear of others who have these treasures and to discover their origins and to get some history of these machines. I am also aware of Europe’s great tradition with titanium and welcome anything that would enrich my knowledge of the subject. Grazie mille!! -darren

  4. Adrian Knowles Reply

    Hi Darren

    I have just picked up a very interesting Italian Ti frame… From what I can tell it’s mid to late 70’s also. Italian BB Thread and 25mm seatpost dia.

    Fork is not the original but a Ti Speedwell fork of a similar era.

    [img]http://cyclebucket.com/images/1085040310.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://cyclebucket.com/images/1084167710.jpg[/img]

    Not sure who would have built it but very kool peice…

    cheers

    Adrian

    • darren Reply

      Ciao Adrian,
      Wow, great bicycle. Where did you find that deal? I’d be interested to see more detailed pictures if you have them. Specifics like the dropouts, bottom bracket stamps, cable routing and other details would help find it’s builder. Send me some of those details and I’ll scout around to see what we can find. Congratulations on your purchase of ti history and thanks for sharing!
      -darren

  5. Franz Reply

    in one comment there was a hint to a german framebuilder…
    fritz fleck (FLEMA) from mannheim maybe built the first titanium frame in 1970. you can argue with the extrawelded pieces, but back then it was a completely new thing. no data availible about the material… here is a nice interview with him from speedcycles. unfortunately he died last year.

    http://www.speedbicycles.ch/interview/fritz_fleck/index.html

  6. Franz Reply

    “SB: Could your cyclists rack up any achievments on Flema titanium bikes?

    FF: Günter Haritz (Germany) won Olympic gold team pursuit in Munich, 1972. Although his trainer was skeptical at first and did not want to use the titanium frame, riding tests convinced him.”

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