A Bike for Séraphine
I’ve only ridden an Atala bike once, back in the days before the housing market in Seattle was still affordable and the Capitol Hill district of the city was more bohemian than tecchie. I owned it for a few weeks, but there was no lack of Atala, Bianchi and other Italian bikes on the city’s streets. Atala joined in the export of mass produced bikes during the bike boom and beyond, so they’re not a rarity in the USA and Europe. This junior model, however, is quite unusual. It was sent to me by Felix who has done a great job restoring it.
Italian bikes are always admired for their craftsmanship and style, but some are more admired than others. People go wild for a celeste Bianchi, a Colnago or a Masi, brands that always seem at the top of the vintage bike heirachy. Yet, Atala were just as strongly involved in professional cycling and sponsored a team for decades, winning many stages in the Giro and other prestigious European tours. They were building bikes as far back as 1910. There are three examples of beautiful Atala bikes here. It just seems that some brands get more love, but it doesn’t mean they’re any more deserving of it.
This bike is called a “Rizzato”, named after one of the founders of the company, Cesare Rizatto, who was instrumental in the company’s involvement in professional cycling. The frameset’s monocolour reflects the simple functionality of a junior bike, with only the fork crowns having chrome caps. I don’t know its age; it has post 1980 braze-on mountings, yet the Campagnolo Valentino components look older, but that groupset was made up until the mid 1980’s.
Is this a Legnano cottered crank? I’m not sure that Campagnolo ever produced a cottered crankset, but Legnano did make some quality ones for many years. The Campagnolo Valentino derailleurs and shifters are a perfect fit for their functionality and robustness. Just having a bike with the most prestigious Italian brand’s derailleur set would have been awesome for a young rider. The Valentino shifters have the large adjustable thumb nuts and not the screwdriver adjustable nuts from pre-1974.
In Felix’s Words
From here I’ll let Felix take over with his story, as he tells it best:
The bike was extremely dirty but this was at the same time like a protection against rust. And in fact there wasn’t a lot of!
So I dismantled the bike completely (really completely) – in every single screw!
Further I degreased and cleaned every part, even the bearings from both wheels and fork. I used 95% alcohol for this – very efficiently!! (However I did it outdoors)
The only part I didn’t open was the cassette! Because I never really did it before and very simply: the sound was perfect! So why open Pandora’s box…?
The parts looked after rebuild like new – that was very satisfying. But for me the contrast with the frame was to big. The frame was full of major scratches and the decals not anymore existing. So I decided so revarnish the frame.
Respraying the Frame
Good decision? A lot of work!! Especially if you do it by hand like I did. So no professional sandblaster but hours with wet sandpaper.
But I have to say: it’s actually a beautiful job especially because you discover all these beautiful details from Rizzato’s masterwork! What a genius !
Like you see on some photos, someone in the past drilled holes in to the frame to fix mudguards and maybe a carrier… I filled them with a liquid metal (thermal paste) – this was the easiest solution.
Later I sprayed with normal car spray cans. (Several primer and color layers). I found nearly the original metallic color! Most important: never shake the cans during coloring and: very very little and fine layers every time!
Before the last varnish I putted the decals on – I found the reprints online.
Mistake : unfortunately I messed it up to keep the original Rizzato decal you see on the early photos! It just broke in pieces…
But I was quite proud: the result is really nice! No drops or lines!
Putting it Back Together
Then started the nice part: rebuilding the bike – that’s fun!!
The only problem I had is to find the 600-28A pneus! Impossible to find in Switzerland! Finally I found some NOS in Milano.
Compromises I did for comfort and security was a modern lady-like saddle and pedals with reflectors.
Voilà that’s it!
Perhaps the most important thing for me was a brilliant book from Gianluca Zaghi! I saw it also in English!
The book is full of inspiration, beautiful pictures and useful tips from a fine amazing specialist and artist! I recommend this book for everyone!! By the way, it was my first complete bike renovation! I even contacted Luca via Facebook for questions, he’s such a nice guy!
Did I forget something?
Ah..perhaps this: the first ride was beautiful!! 🙂
- Atala Rizzato Junior Road Bike
- Size: 49cm, 12cm Headtube
- Date: Early 1980’s?
- Serial Number: 78 B1 163
- Campagnolo Valentino Extra Derailleurs
- Campagnolo Valentino Shifters
- 600 Ambrosio Clincher Rims
- 600-28A Tyres
- Weinmann 730 Long Reach Side Pull Brakes
- Legnano? Cottered Crankset
- ITM handlebars and Stem
- Hubs: Low Flange Campagnolo?