Someone wrote to me asking my opinion on this curious track frame which he has recently bought. It has horizontal rear dropouts and lugs that I don’t recognise, but it is not an Italian frame. As you can see from the bottom bracket cup, it has a 35 x 1 thread, which is French. I believe the headset is French as well, which means that this frameset has been rebranded to look Italian.
What is the Original?
Check out the double plated fork crown, which is a cool and quite unusual feature on this track frame. Does it help with the identification of this frame? It doesn’t help me, to be honest, and neither do I recognise the lugs on this frame, with their longer sleeves and shorter tips. It has horizontal rear dropouts and is certainly a track frame, but I’m rather bemused as to what French brand it is.
A Battaglin By Contrast
Take a look at this late 1980’s Battaglin to compare the differences between the genuine and the imitation. The Battaglin has its name stamped on both sides if the seat stay cluster, as well as having a “B” motif stamped on the fork crowns. It has beautifully detailed dropouts, chrome forks, a pantograph on the top tube and is made of Columbus SLX tubing. The details are what makes it so desirable, as well as expensive.
The Roche Factor
1987 was a great year for Stephen Roche. It was the year he won the Giro D’Italia, the Tour of Romandie and the Tour De France. He was a cycling superstar, the best rider in the world at that time. His wins were his bike’s succeses too; he rode on the Battaglin team with their distinctive blue, white and red colour scheme, and Roche’s bike has become an icon of his triumphs across Europe. I could easily understand anyone who wanted to rebrsnd their bike as this celebrated ‘80s frame.
Was it Built in Belgium?
If you take a close look you can see a decal on the chain stay, which looks like Villagran. I’d never heard of this brand before, but it seems that Villagram was a small bike brand based in Brussels that was founded in 1981 by a frame builder from South America. The company didn’t last very long, perhaps less than 10 years, and they are rare these days. It seems to me that this could be a Villagran track frame, resprayed and rebranded to look like a Battaglin, perhaps in Stephen Roche’s celebrated colours. Am I wrong?