A nice woman asked if we might possibly be interested in working on her "old racing bike." Of course we would. We assured her she should bring it in. She displayed the modesty verging on shame that seems to afflict many owners of older bikes. We are constantly urged to scorn and discard old products in favor of new ones. If we did not succumb to this pressure the economy would grind to a halt. Right?
What she brought was this fascinating Alex Singer Mixte-frame touring bike. The mix of componentry suggested it was made between 1979 and 1982. I'll dig deeper as I go forward with the overhaul and other work.
I grabbed a few quick shots when I checked the bike in. The afternoon darkened rapidly as rain clouds thickened.
The barcon shifters are an excellent choice. This bike would be far less fun to ride with down tube shifters. Notice that this master builder, known for clever innovation, did NOT put the cable stops right at the head tube.
Alex Singer's shop was known for making many parts beyond just the frame and fork. This stem bears his name stamp. I suspect the seatpost is Singer work as well.
Look at those nice long dropouts!
The wheels have Super Champion Arc-en Ciel rims, for sewup tires, laced with 36 stainless spokes to Campagnolo Record hubs. I'm going to rebuild those to nice clincher rims for her, so she can run a little wider tires on the challenging road surfaces she will encounter here.
She said she bought the bike to ride with a racing-oriented club in California in the early 1980s. Her husband picked it out for her. Then they had to move, so she never really rode it as much as she hoped she would. Now she wants that chance.
I had the little front rack that bolts to Mafac brakes, but I gave it to a friend of mine for one of his bikes. He's an eccentric character who is spending his under-funded retirement building and maintaining a small fleet of odd bikes. He's been a lot of things: prep school teacher, dish washer, bike mechanic, coma patient...when I show him this jewel he may decide it needs the rack to complete it. In any case, he'll like it.
Cheap production versions of the standard 1970s mixte bike were a dime a dozen back in the day. Even so, this bike just looks classy, even with its hard grips, center-pull brakes and bland aluminum brake levers. The frame details and componentry give it elegance like the deceptive simplicity of a designer suit.
When the owner asked what it might be worth I sounded like Antiques Roadshow as I explained what I have read about the vagaries of the collector bike market. According to the little I've gleaned so far about this particular brand, the fancy randonnee models with custom racks, fenders and light sets can go for thousands of dollars. The more stripped-down performance models draw less interest. And bike value is very subjective. To many people this would just look like a used "ladies' bike" they wouldn't buy for $20 at a yard sale. "How come the shifting doesn't click?"
It has some paint flaws and pinpoint rust in the chrome on the stem. I hope I can clean most of that off. It's great to have something in very good condition as a starting point. We're not equipped to handle a restoration project.