May 13th, 2008

Queen Bike

Ok, it's official: this bike is *awesome*

OK, what I've learned about the Stella so far:

  • I'm pretty sure the frame is a SX-73, which was sold as "a responsive machine for fast club rides or perhaps a season of local racing." It was reviewed in Nov 1974 Bicycling Magazine with mostly positive comments. There's a slim chance it might be an SX-75 or SX-76 but it's hard to find good pictures out there for comparison.

  • The downtube states: "Vainquer du Tour de France du Cinquantenaire," Winner of the 50th Anniversary of the Tour de France. Well, the winner of the 1953 TdF was a Frenchman named Louison Bobet, the first great racer after WWII, who raced primarily on Stella bicycles until starting his own line in retirement. This makes sense, because the frame also has the World Championship stripes listing his wins in other grand races such as Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Tour of Lombardy, etc., etc.
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  • And my favorite factoid since starting this whole thing so far... As far as I can tell, there were only two US importers of Stellas back in the '70's: one was in Berkeley, CA, and the other was in Madison, WI. My folks lived in Madison when they bought the bike, and dad seemed to be a fan of the European styling and quality, so it would make sense that he got it there, right? The Madison store was owned by a gentleman by the name of Bevil Hogg and had an employee Tom French (sales and marketing). When the original Stella factory in France burned down, the store had nothing more to import without, you know, changing the name or something. Instead, they were approached in 1976 by a appliance company exec named Richard Burke, they all moved to a red barn in Waterloo, Wisconsin and started a company called....*drumroll*
    Trek!

    (Sidenote: they decided on Trek inspired by the journey that Hogg had taken from his nativeland of South Africa to the states, but Hogg's original choice for a company name was 'Kestrel'. So when Hogg left Trek to start another company, guess what he did...?


Ok, now I should actually put the darn thing together. I wish I had it for Bike to Work day on Thursday, but there are parts in the mail and things yet to do. Ah well!