Thursday, April 21, 2011

Steel showcase...

Dropped in to the Velo this past weekend for my weekly visit, and while a bright red [2002] Lemond Buenos Aires initially caught my eye, I forsook its Siren call in order to affix my attentions on the lineup of steel frames arrayed in the back patio area. While these were all of the workhorse, rather than the thoroughbred variety of bike, it was kind of cool seeing that older steel all lined up.

From closest to furthest in the photo they are a Cycles Gitane mixte, a Nishiki mixte, a road bike carrying Sears branding, a Motobecane Grand Touring, and finally, a Univega Gran Turismo. The one steel treasure awaited when I walked back out front, for there sat in all its shrinking violet glory, a Land Shark, Road Shark model with full Dura Ace enhancements.

Land Shark has been around for a while now, and is a well respected name in the hand-built bicycle world. Land Shark founder John Slawta began by building frames in his parents backyard shed, and made the big time when, in 1986 he made custom frames for American professionals including Andy Hampsten, Roy Knickman, and Steve Hegg. Then, in 1988 Hampsten rode a Land Shark to victory in the Giro d'Italia. Yes, that historic bike does have Huffy stickers on it, Huffy was bicycle sponsor of Hampsten's 7-11 Team. Hampsten's team-issue frame had broke at an earlier race (Fleche-Wallone); Slawta's custom creation filled in. That, as they say, sealed the deal, and Land Shark frames became highly sought after by racers in the amateur ranks. But you can read all that and more on the Land Shark website. Back to the frame at hand: Frame stickers have seen better days, and nicks contrast to the satin paint job like old battle scars, but this is a bike that still demands attention.

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