Several months ago, I posted a call on a handful of Facebook groups I belong to that cater to fans of vintage steel road bikes for a Gios Super Record bike or frame. Generally, my calls for things go unanswered. Or I get offers of things I don’t want. This time, within a few hours, two bikes popped up. Both my size. One of the bikes looked like exactly what I was looking for.
After studying both bikes for a while, it occurred to me that I wanted one without the white panels—like the bikes the Brooklyn Team rode between 1973 and 1977. Both bikes had white panels. I needed to do some research and better educate myself, obviously.
What I discovered, according the Interwebs, was that the Brooklyn Team bikes were called either Record (pre-1973-1974) or Super Record (1974-1977). The graphics on both bikes had no white panels and the forks were chrome plated with a slightly sloping crown. In 1978, Gios added the white panel to the seat and down tube decals of the Super Record. In 1979, Gios painted the fork and swapped the crown for a flat one embedded with two Gios coins.
I started looking at bikes on eBay. There were a lot of Gios bikes for sale. A couple were my size, but everything I found was a 1979 or newer. Things went that way for a few weeks.
The Perfect Frame Found?
Then I found a frame posted on one of the Facebook groups. It wasn’t original finish like I wanted, but it looked interesting. I contacted the seller, Andre Delagrense of Belgium. Mr. Delagrense told me the frame was built by “Gilardi of Torino” and had belonged to the Belgian Sprinter Julien Stevens. He raced it in 1972 when he was on the Dreher Team. When Dreher became Brooklyn in 1973, Stevens and several other Dreher riders, used their Dreher bikes, repainted Brooklyn blue by Gios, for part of the year until Gios could build new frames for all the riders.
I liked this.
The frame appeared to be my size, but it took several days to get confirmation. It was.
I exchanged many emails and messages with Mr. Delagrense. He told me he was good friends with Aldo and Alberto Gios. He owned a handful of beautiful Gios bikes. He had been a mechanic with the Raleigh T.I. Team. He was friends with Mr. Stevens. He knew Roger de Vlaeminck. He sent me a dozen or more photos of various bikes he owns and had for sale, photos of himself with famous cycling industry folk and photos taken at Belgium’s Six Day Races and various swap meets and local events.
At my request, he also sent me more photos of the frame before it was refinished. And he answered most of my many questions. After a week or two of exchanges, I decided I wanted to buy the frame, but on the condition that he sold it to me as a complete, built with a list of 1972/3 components I wanted. He agreed, but asked me to give him time of collect the parts and build the wheels. I agreed.
When I asked how long he needed, he suggested he ship the frame first and he’d send the parts separately a week or two later. It wasn’t ideal for me, but I agreed.
Lost in Transition
Using the tracking number provided, I estimated the frame would arrive on a Monday, about 10 days after he shipped it. Sure enough, on that Monday, the UPS truck pulled up with a big box. Bigger than I expected. And it looked heavier in the arms of the driver than I expected. As I signed for the package, I glanced at the box and noticed a wheel and tire through one of the hand slots. Odd.
I dragged the box inside my garage. Sliced through the tape. Pulled up one flap. And, to my surprise, saw a dark green frame with the tallest head tube I’d ever seen, a set of 10-speed Campagnolo Ergo Power levers and an Eddy Merckx logo on the head tube. I had the wrong bike. I immediately began to worry I was going to have to ship this to Japan or Norway or some other faraway location. And, where was my frame?
As it turned out, the owner of the green Merckx lives in Long Beach, about 30 minutes away. He and I connected, but he didn’t have my frame. After two days and my frame still MIA, he asked if he could pick up his frame? Of course, he could.
About two weeks later, a delivery notice left at the home of the Merckx owner said my bike was in Long Beach. The following day, Mr. Merckx Owner stopped by the Post Office to pick it up. They couldn’t find it. Two days later, they still couldn’t find it.
Frustrated, I reached out to my friend, a fellow collector who used to be our mail carrier and was now and assistant manager at our local post office branch. I asked if he could help. He and his boss called the Long Beach post office for several hours and amazingly, no one picked up. He was blown away. The following day, the Merckx owner finally got someone at the post office to find the frame. I went to his place that night to retrieve it.
After I got it home, I discovered that the drive-side, rear dropout had pierced the box and was damaged. Luckily it was just paint damage and a bent axle adjuster, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed. The frame had a beautiful new paint job applied by Gios and the damaged dropout was a drag. I let Mr. Delagrense know the frame arrived and I had it in my possession. I also told him about the dropout. He offered to take it back, but I wasn’t giving it up. In that case, he said, he’d ship the parts for free. Score.
Looking for Historical Clarification
While I waited for the parts to arrive, I reached out the Alberto Gios to see if he could shine more light on the history of the frame. He confirmed much of what Mr. Delagrense told me about the frame and answered a few questions Mr. Delagrense couldn’t.
Although I found numerous photos and a handful of short articles about Julien Stevens—he had been on Eddy Merckx’s Faema and Molteni teams before joining Roger De Vlaeminck and Patrick Sercu on Dreher and Brooklyn, and he had placed second at the 1969 World Championships—I was unable to find any information about this frame builder named “Gilardi”
I also had questions about the authenticity of the fork and if the frame really was a Gios. I had never seen any information about the red bikes the Dreher Team used—they were simply labeled Dreher, a beer brand—but maybe they were built by Gios, too. After all, the Gios Registry, (http://www.giostorino.it/registro-storico/le-gios-iscritte-al-registro) included a Patrick Sercu bike from 1973, his first year at Brooklyn, with many of the same features as my Julien Stevens frame, including the star pattern drilled in the BB shell, serial number location and style and seatstay caps.
Patrick Sercu’s 1973 Brooklyn Team bike from the collection of Gianfranco Trevisan shares many features with the Julien Steven frame from the same era. Both men raced on the Dreher team in 1872 and made the move to Brooklyn in 1973.
Alberto Gios interviewed his father Aldo, and did his best to get me answers to my questions. Here are his replies:
“Okay, the history is true. When Perfetti, the owner of Brooklyn Chewing Gum, started the Brooklyn Team, he bought the complete Dreher Team and his mechanic, Lupo Mascheroni, who was in contact with Gilardi, a frame builder based in Milan. With the riders and the mechanics also came some bikes. Yours is one of those. So, in 1973, while we were making frames for the Brooklyn Team, we took the other bikes and repainted them because we didn’t have time to provide the full team with bikes,” he said via.
“Concerning the fork, if your is for internal nuts, it has been for sure modified. We made the switch in 1980, many years later. Your fork is not original to the frame, but it is period correct. It’s very old,” he added.
I followed up with a couple more questions.
“The drilled dropouts were made by us for sure, when we repainted the frame. Concerning all the history of this frame, it’s impossible to say for sure if it is a Gilardi. Gilardi was just a man, not a brand. There are a lot of frames of well-known brands that are made by other guys. The nice thing about this frame, is that my father is alive and he told me all the history. So, for me, it is a Gios because there is a lot of my family in it,” Alberto said.
Whoever built the frame, he was a skilled builder. The lugs are beautifully cutout and feature very long, thinly tapered points. He took a lot of pride in his work.
Umberto “Lupo” Mascheroni had sold frames under his nickname, Lupo. It’s also reported that he had been a mechanic for Legnano in the 1950s and 1960s. After he retired, he started building frames. But it’s unclear if he was the main builder, or like so many others, hired out the work. In an interview, Freddy Maertens said he rode a Flandria-badged “Lupo”.
Photos of an older Lupo frame show builder Umberto “Lupo” Mascheroni drilled his BB shells with a star pattern similar to those on my Stevens Gios and the frame of Patrick Sercu. The three-digit serial number location and font are also similar.
How I Came to Own Two Gioses (Giosi?)
After several weeks of swapping emails and messages with Mr. Delagrense about the parts and when he’d ship them, he just stopped replying. It wasn’t like him. I was bummed. I really, really wanted to build the thing and ride it. I gave up after about a month and started buying parts elsewhere. Of course, it took longer and cost more money than had Mr. Delagrense supplied the parts as promised. But, once it was built up, I was stoked.
As I was gathering the parts, I reached out to a local collector from Hong Kong who had a passion for Gios. He was selling a set of cranks with a Gios pantographed chainring. I didn’t need the cranks—they were too new and at 170mm, too short—but hoped he might sell me the chainring alone. In his reply, he sent several photos of a 1979 Gios Super Record bike, asking if I was interested. When he told me it was a size 53 (Gios sizes with center-to-top measurements), I replied that it was too small. He then sent another photo of a 55.
I was at his house within the hour. When I left, I was the proud owner of a 55cm 1979 Super Record, which had the cranks and Gios chainring I called about originally. I also picked up a set of wheels for the Stevens Gios. The bike wasn’t in the plan, but the frame was all original and a perfect fit. I took it for a spin the following day and was more than pleased with the ride and fit.
The Stevens Gios is also a 55 center-to-top, but unlike the 1979, it has a 54.5 top tube, a half centimeter longer than the newer frame. My ideal bike size is a 53mm center-to-center with a 54.5 top tube. But as far as I know, only Greg LeMond sold frames with this as a standard measurement. One of the main reasons I jumped on the Stevens Gios was because of this extra half centimeter.
Several weeks later, I had all the parts I needed to complete the Stevens Gios build. I picked up a range of Nuovo Record parts, including a 1972 rear derailleur, 172.5 cranks and a set of NOS brakes. The stem was a well-used Cinelli 1A with old logo and the correct external nut (not the recessed Allen) I bought a year or two prior, just in case.
I had been looking for a set or three of 64-42 Cinelli Giro d’Italia bars with the older shield logo. But all I could find were 38s and 40s, both too narrow for me. I did, however, find a very clean set of the deeper-drop Campione del Mondo bars with the old logo. I hadn’t ridden deep-drop bars for many years and was worried they’d be too deep and have too much reach, especially with the extra half centimeter on the toptube. I was wrong. They were actually quite nice.
A New Favorite Bike
My first ride on the Stevens Gios was a thrill. I kept it short just in case I had any mechanicals as I had on the first rides on my Colnago Roger de Vlaeminck and the 1979 Gios, when the drive-side BB cups backed out on both bikes. But the ride was problem-free. I loved the longer toptube, although the 54 of the 1979 and all my other bikes doesn’t bother me.
After almost a couple months of riding the bike several days per week on progressively longer and hillier rides, I’ve come to really enjoy it. I feel the same about the 1979, although I prefer the Brooklyn Team bike to the IJsboerke-Warncke team bike. I’m not sure why. Despite the top tube length and handle bar reach differences, the bikes (as well as my Colnago Roger de Vlaeminck, which is set up nearly identical to the 1970 Gios) feel very similar on the road.
Although I prefer the performance of the newer Super Record on the 1979 and RdV bikes to the Nuovo Record on the Stevens Gios, the 1972 Dreher/1973 Brooklyn, Julien Stevens, Gios is definitely going to be my 2018 Eroica California bike.
I have the older bike geared better with 53 or 52/41 x 13-15-17-19-21-24, compared to the 52/41 x 13-14-15-17-21-24 of the 1979 and the 52/42 x 14-15-16-17-19-21 of the RdV, so it climbs better/easier. I originally tried to run a max 26-tooth on the Stevens Gios, but the Nuovo Record rear derailleur couldn’t handle it.
I have been told a Super Record can handle up to a 28, but I haven’t tried this and am unsure it this refers to the first or second generation rear derailleurs. For next year’s Eroica California, I hope to get the biggest rear cog on there as possible.
I have been training on the Stevens to build strength and lose weight so I can complete the ride without too much discomfort. My legs cramped to the point of locking up twice last year when I used a low combination of 38×28 on my Merckx. I am stronger than last April, but am I strong enough? If not, I am prepared to swap the correct 1972 Novo Record derailleur with a newer Super record if necessary to use a 26 or 28-tooth cog. Or, in the worst-case scenario, I have a Super Record triple crankset and long-cage Nuovo Record rear derailleur just in case.
I never did, by the way, hear from Mr. Delagrense regarding the parts he promised to sell me. I’ve sen him post several items for sale on Faecbook, but he never relied to any of the dozen or so emails and PMs I sent him.
The One that Got Away
I know I shouldn’t have, but yesterday, I inquired about an original-finish, 55cm, 1976 Gios Super Record frame located in the Netherlands. It was in the possession of a seller I have done business with on two occasions. He sold me the Colnago RdV. He also sold me a Pinarello Treviso. Unfortunately, he said the Pinarello was a 54 when it is really a 55. And too big for me. I’ve been sitting on it for a year and half trying to sell it for what I have into it. I swore I’d never buy from him again.
The 1976—my holy grail of Gioses—however, was enough for me to reconsider.
The seller, in his usual manner, was slow with his replies and coy with his answers, never giving me a price or confirming it was still available in the OG paint. He had mentioned sending it out for refinish. I wanted the original paint, even if the BB shell was a rusty wreck.
Lucky for me, it sold to someone else today.