Hugh Enox wrote:
> Subject: [CR]Re: late 40's Sieber track bike
> Edward says: "I am looking for help with information about the Swiss made
> I had a Sieber track bike in the mid to late 1950's. It was extremely light
> and I rode it everywhere!!! I loved that bike, my first legit track bike,
> and Irode many races on it and quite a few time trials.
> The decals were pretty much gone by the time I got it so I can't contribute
> much to your restoration.
> I was told, by whom I cannot recall, that it was made in a shop just over
> the Swiss border from Milan, near Como. I was also told that Cinelli worked
> with/consulted with Sieber before starting his own business. I'd like to
> learn more about this. Probably Jobst would know more.
> Hugh Enox
My first bicycle tour of the Alps (1959) by Jobst Brandt
(cut) In Chiasso, the famous border town, I found the once renowned name "Fabbrica Pneumatici P. Sieber" almost invisibly weathered and dusty on an old factory. The place was dead all except the office where Mr Sieber was catching up on hopelessly messed up paperwork while his factory was on "vacation". He was gracious and pleasant but sounded me out for awhile before he was sure I wasn't a spy or something. Then he showed me the whole plant and how the tires were (once) made. I discovered later that in its heyday this whole shop had been run by Mrs Cinelli before Cino swept her away as his wife.
Mr Sieber seemed to be a relic of the pre-war era and lived in this factory of dreams that will never come back. He had piles of excellent tires that were stored well but didn't seem to move out of inventory, judging from dusty idle machinery that made them. He had road and track tires, some of which he said were prized in Australia. Then he showed me his wood rims that he assured me would never melt glue on the steepest descents. We went to a nearby Stella factory that stocked stainless spokes but made primarily umbrellas. Armed with the right length spokes, I rebuilt my wheels with wood rims using Sieber's washers and one inch long brass nipples for the deep wood section.
The whole place was full of fine bicycling equipment like high quality road and track shoes. The track shoes were super light and shaped as though for high heels. The shoes all had solid steel reinforced soles and light weight uppers.
Having ridden only 57km I had much time and energy with which to unspoke my useless Fiamme aluminum rims that I hung on a nail in a dusty corner as I got to work building my first set of wooden wheels I spent the afternoon tightening and truing up my "new" elegant woods. One of the young ladies in the office that turned out to be Mr Sieber's daughter repaired my blown Clement tubulars that had ripped their stitching from piling up on the stem.
The next morning with tires glued and wheels true, I thanked Mr Sieber for all his help and rolled on to Milano where I stopped at the train station and got rid of some extra clothes into the suitcase. I headed east across town on the via Andrea Doria and via Porpora to Lambrate, to via Egidio Folli 45 where the Cinelli factory is located, producing bicycles, bars, and stems at a great rate. Mr Cinelli's office lies next to a branch of the Lambro river that is apparently a main sewer outfall.
I found a sharp contrast with the surroundings and the buzzing thriving factory that was producing such elegant machinery. Mrs Cinelli briefly mentioned her days at Sieber, and that she had been his secretary for years when a young bicycle racer from the Toscana, who dropped in for equipment on occasion, offered her his hand. Cino looked at my bicycle and how it fit me and said that he would do something about that tomorrow after giving it some thought.
In the morning he had me ride around the yard a few times and then raised the saddle a bit and moved it forward. He put his newest model 360mm extra wide bars with deep reach on a 120mm stem, placing the brake levers in a better position. Down below I got the newest Campagnolo crank spindle and 180mm five-pin Cinelli (Magistroni) steel cranks that finally gave me true running chainwheels in contrast to the previous three pin style. He was disturbed by my choice of wooden rims and tried to get me back on Fiamme aluminum but I didn't take. (cut)
Highly recommended (inspirational) reading: The Jobst Brandt's Tour of the Alps Collection http://www-math.science.unitn.it/Bike/Countries/Europe/Tour_Reports/Tour_of_the_Alps
Chuck Schmidt South Pasadena, Southern California