Can’t imagine we'd see many hands! Every vintage cycling enthusiasts must be chomping at the bit to pull on the retro wool, lace up the old shoes and pedal their classic steel bike to one of the many wonderful vintage rides around the world. We’re not only talking about the Eroicas of course, it could be Anjou Vélo, Retro Ronde, The Mighty Corinthian or one of the many other fantastic events that were sorely missed in 2020.
One of our favourites in the calendar however is L’Eroica Limburg, and we have a wonderful bike from probably the most famous bicycle brand in The Netherlands for sale at the moment. Although Gazelle are perhaps more famous for their no-nonsense upright transport bikes ubiquitous across mainland Europe, they also made a very fine line of professional quality race bikes. Following the formation of the 'Special Racing Division' in the mid 60s, a team of highly experienced craftsmen built bikes at Gazelle's factory in Dieren, including this top spec machine in 1966.
Before the better known Champion Mondial frames arrived on the scene, the 'Race' was Gazelle's flagship road bike, a model seldom seen nowadays due to its scarcity and low production numbers, but these were serious machines, so good in fact that the likes of Rik Van Looy, Harm Ottenbros & Peter Post all raced on them for the Willem II team in the 1960s.
The one we have here is an early model from 1966, kitted out to the highest spec just like the ones ridden by the Willem II team back then. Every so often we’re lucky enough to find examples like this and seriously wonder whether they were actual team bikes, but as is the case with this one we rarely have any background information, so we're left wondering (and perusing the internet for old team images).
George Drewell riding for the Gazelle-Willem II team in 1967 (image courtesy of www.ronnydeschepper.com)
The frame is built with the legendary Reynolds 531 butted tube set (including the forks), which was the absolute cream of the crop back then. The drivetrain is full Campagnolo Record, including the rare bar end shifter option that was enjoying something of a renaissance amongst the pros at the time, including Rik van Looy during his Gazelle years.
The Universal Mod 61 centre pull brakes offered better stopping power than the single pivot racing models with only a small weight penalty, a welcome sacrifice we’d say! The Universal brakes also allow the use of a wider tyre, which may be attractive to some, but we have added a lovely pair of new old stock Gazelle tubulars so it would be a shame to change! The handlebar and stem are both early 3ttt models, and the early two bolt Campagnolo seat post is topped off with a classic Brooks B17. We decided to finish the bike off with shellac on the handlebar tape too, the perfect finishing touch!
Of course we’d love to see this wonderful machine let loose on the hills of Limburg, but the joy of an original race machine with this setup is it’ll perform exceptionally even by today's standards. The finely crafted light-weight frame combined with great braking and easy to use bar end shifters make it a joy to ride, whether it's riding one of the Eroicas, kept for Sunday best or getting in some serious miles on a club run.
You can see more photos below, and you can see the full spec with the option to buy here.
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There are a number of parts you’ll need to put a bike together that can be slightly complicated if you don’t have the old part to hand, and one that we are often asked about is headsets.