|"VINTAGE LIFE CYCLES"
CANADIAN & VINTAGE LIGHTWEIGHT BICYCLE
TORPADO: MADE IN ITALY
e-mail [email protected]
|HOME THE BICYCLES FIX IT UP ARTICLES LINKS|
|ALMOST MISSED FINDING THE TORPADO|
|On the way to the local landfill site, one Saturday morning, I caught a glimpse of a pair of down swept handlebars, sitting partly behind a camping trailer parked in a driveway. A home-made sign, at the head of the driveway, proclaimed a �Yard Sale� to be in progress. I made a mental note to stop on my way back.
Of course, the mental note was about as good as the nothing that it wasn�t written on and I completely forgot about the bicycle. It was, and still is, my good fortune to have married a wonderful woman who frequently finds truly interesting things for me to do. And this particular Saturday was no exception.
Upon returning home from the landfill site and after completing a number of errands, my wife asked if I would rip out a dilapidated old rug that had served us well for the past fifteen or more years. A cup of coffee later saw me on my knees, pulling up the rug.
I figured that since I had the rug out, I might as well take it to the landfill site right away, allowing me one more chance to discover �treasure�. (I have learned to really like going to the landfill site these days.) I loaded the rug remnants into the pick-up and headed out to the dump.
As you might expect, I caught a glimpse of the �Yard Sale� bicycle again and re-wrote the mental note. This time I would not forget�
And I didn�t! Travelling home with a newly acquired Peugeot UO9, which I found at the dump after discarding the rug, I pulled the truck to a stop by the curb and crossed the street to the �Yard Sale�.
At first, I was all but unimpressed, then I saw the Torpado. I couldn�t believe what I was seeing. A beautiful bicycle, in very good condition and sporting the most beautiful chrome lug work that I had ever seen. I looked the bike over carefully and decided that the $20.00 price tag was no deterrent. (To be absolutely honest, I had no idea of the bicycle�s value at the time.) I knocked on the door and waited. A second knock roused the elderly lady who, as I found out later, conducted her �Yard Sale� every second Saturday, weather permitting.
She told me that she wanted $5.00 for the old bicycle and then joined me in the drive-way. When she realized that I was talking about the other old bicycle, she informed me that the price was twenty dollars. She qualified her request by informing me that the bicycle of interest was a hand made Italian racing bicycle that her husband had owned. She went on to add that she still rides a Torpado! Sure she did! Remember her description � elderly, perhaps even ancient.
Well, she did own and ride a Torpado, which she proudly showed me a moment later, complaining that she wished she had a carrier on it. I was impressed, to say the least.
Returning to the drive-way, we finally agreed on a price of ten dollars for the bicycle that she was selling. After giving her the cash, I offered to return and install a carrier on her Torpado. She was surprised at the offer and even more surprised when I showed up a few days later with a used but perfectly useable luggage rack.
I did mention that if she ever came across a "Gian Robert" rear derailleur (the one that came stock with the bicycle), I would be more than happy to purchase it from her. I�ve since stopped back a couple of times, but no derailleur. The problem is now academic, since I was lucky enough to get a new old stock derailleur on E-bay for under twenty dollars.
I have had the Torpado for about four months now and not ridden it. I did discover that there were two broken spokes in the rear wheel and for this reason alone, the bike has not yet had its test ride.
Two more Torpados have been added to my collection since then � a Torpado �Luxe� and an unpainted one that has had components changed over the years. The �Luxe� was received in trade for a late seventies Peugeot UO6 that was manufactured in Canada. The third Torpado was purchased at a local Police Auction as part of a �lot� sale, which included thirty five bicycles, in various stages of disrepair.
|1961 OR LATER TORPADO
HAND MADE IN ITALY
|This Torpado, purchased for a few dollars at a "Yard Sale", remains unridden to date. It is presently undergoing refurbishment in preparation for test riding.|
|When first found, this Torpado was thought to be something really special. Months of searching the Internet have produced very little information on the bicycle. Some preliminary dating suggests that the bicycle was manufactured after 1961, however; no definite date has been determined. The bicycle was found in exactly the condition seen here and the restoration process will include mechanical refurbishment only. Perhaps some paint touch-up work will take place in an effort to repair some of the scratches that now mar some of the bicycle's surface.|
|BEAUTIFUL LUG WORK|
|It was the beautiful ornate lug work that first attracted attention. The nicley chromed lugs are intricate, having numerous cut-outs to add a little something extra to the bicycle. The entire frame has been chrome plated and then painted with a translucent candy orange color. The decals, like the paint work, are showing signs of deterioration thanks to, what looks like, careless stroage over the many years since this old hand made Italian racing bicycle first hit the streets of Canada.|
|IS IT SOMETHING SPECIAL?|
|Judging from the component selection, this bicycle is nothing special. No tubing decal, cottered steel cranks and stamped drop-outs usually suggest low end, however; age often has something to do with how a bike is fitted out. Older machines might well lack some of the normal indicators of high end quality. This bicycle, and the other two in the collection, are still the subjects of investigation until enough is known to determine their quality levels.|
|The shifting chores are handled by "Gian Robert" components. Unfortunately, the rear derailleur has been changed out to the more common "Simplex" model of the time. When talking about the Torpado, with a long time local bike shop owner, it was made clear that Gian Robert did not necessarily make the finest transmissions available back in the sixties and early seventies. In fact, setting up the rear derailleur was often accompanied by so much frustration that they were often changed for something that worked better. It was not many years later that Torpados made the predictable move to Japanese components. One of the three in the collection sports Shimano derailleurs and controls. A fourth Torpado viewed and obviously unchanged was completely equipped with Shimano stuff.|
|A COLLECTION FAVOURITE|
|The sleek lines of the Tropado are evident in the head on view. The bicycle, with its small set of rear sprockets, was obviously intended for racing. The front wheel is made easily removable, thanks to the large wing nuts, once again common for the time that this bicycle was manufactured.|
|TORPADO NUMBER TWO
|The Torpado "Luxe" was the third one to join the collection. A Peugeot UO6 was refurbished and traded straight across for the "Luxe". Both new owners are happy with the results of the trade. The "Luxe" does little in helping to determine what original components were used since there was no front derailleur mounted at the time. The previous owner had removed the front derailleur because it got in the way of the chain guard that he had installed. The rear derailleur, Simplex, had not seen a shift in years thanks to a badly seized control cable. The rest of the bicycle, however, was in good condition. Even the decals are in reasonably good shape.|
|THE TORPADO'S FUTURE|
|Who will ride this bicycle in the days to come. The grandfather or the grandson?|
|HOME THE BICYCLES FIX IT UP ARTICLES LINKS|