make/manufacturer: Alex Singer model name/number: Bicycle
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This is perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity. Offered for sale here is a very special Alex Singer Bicycle. This bicycle was a personal bicycle of Roland Csuka, the man who was known for being the family member that brazed the frames of perhaps most Alex Singer bicycles from the 1950's until his death. Roland was a nephew of Alex Singer, and the brother of Ernest Csuka. Our understanding is this bicycle was built around 1960 or so.
Frame size is 57.5cm center to top, with a roughly 56cm center to center top tube. The bicycle is 700c.
This frame has some amazing features, and is different from "typical" Alex Singer bicycles. The stem alone may be worthy of inclusion in a museum. It is an early ahead style stem made with greater diameter tubing than seen on typical Alex Singer stems. By use of a toothed washer Stronglight headset arrangement, the stem clamps down against the washer, preventing rotation. This may be the first time a stem/headset of this type without a locknut has been used.
Note that the unique large diameter top nut is inscribed with "R. Cuska".
Also note the atypical lug shapes as well as the star re-enforcements for the braze-ons. These details show up in Rebour drawings, but not typically ever on Alex Singer standard production bicycles. As a the personal bicycle of Roland Csuka, special liberties and time was taken for these details.
The provenance of this bicycle is impeccable. It was hanging in the Alex Singer shop many years ago. Ernest Csuka befriended a young American, Grant Handley, and while Grant was apparently working at the shop, Ernest and Grant restored this special bicycle. The frame was repainted and the frame built up (not sure how many of the exact parts are original, the wheels and derailleurs are not original to the bike but are what Roland apparently used originally).
The serial number of the bicycle as we would expect is not of the usual sequence. There is what appears to be a xx, and then a 255 below (on the left dropout).
This does bring up some issues of condition. The bicycle was apparently well used, and Ernest thought the bike was being restored primarily for display. An area of concern is the underside of the top tube which shows some pretty deep rust pitting. I scratched some paint away in this area and while the tube still looks pretty solid, the corrosion was deep. Other experts I've shown this area to think it is probably fine. But we believe that if this bike was used a lot, the possibility of a problem (i.e tube failure) developing remains. If the lucky buyer likes, we can supply a spare French diameter top tube "just in case". But since the tube is currently fine, and may never give a problem to the next owner, it would be silly to do anything to it now.
In contrast to the top tube underside (and some pitting on the sides as well), the inside of the tubes near the bottom bracket is amazing! We were expecting typical rust and scale inside, but what is there instead is smooth well protected metal. Apparently, Roland must have used a rust inhibitor inside the frame. So the rust on the top tube must be from sweat. We do not know what the inside of the top tube looks like.
This bicycle really needs to be gone over and carefully re-assembled. It was assembled quickly for a ride around the block, but not carefully enough for longer use. One could also detail and polish up the bicycle better. Again, the bicycle still looks wonderful, but has a fair number of paint blems. The chrome on the top cap and in general is so-so. the chome on the frame, though, is quite nice! It is best to look at the photos as there are lots of them.
The seatpost tightens by an expander at the top of the post, which is common for the more exotic Alex Singer bicycles. We did notice that the top of the post where the saddle tightens seems to have some cracks in it. So the next owner will probably want to prepare a new seatpost if the bicycle is going to get ridden.
One other issue remains. This frame has a stem which is clamped directly to the steerer tube. This is neat, but is not a good idea. Clamping to a threaded tube is bad as the tube can fail. There appears to be a reinforcement inside the steerer, but I don't believe it extends deep enough. If I was to ride the bike much, I'd double check the length of the reinforcement, and if it is not extending below the area of the bottom of the stem clamp area, the internal reinforcement should be removed and a longer one put in its place.
Finally, the paint and decaling that was done really isn't all that great. The bike is very appealing just as it is, but there is a lot of decal damage and some paint discoloration at the headtube, and there are other paint chips on the frame as well. But, this finish is what was done at the "official" restoration, and as it does look very nice overall right now, it probably is best left as it is.
Now for the other parts - the crank arms look nearly new and have the fun adapter plate. The front light is a very desirable JOS, and the taillight is really neat and is mounted on the seatstay. Roland Csuka liked Campagnolo hubs. The bike came to us without wheels. The wheels we've selected for this bike are Campy hubs with snazzy Mavic early tubular rims. The tires are very old Clement Del Mundo that hold air! The tires are stunning! The sidewalls could use some clean-up, but they are amazing. The threading on the freewheel and hubs, we believe, is Italian.
The handlebars are Philipe. The saddle is an Ideal alloy rail, with the Rebour inscription. The pedals are TANK, which was another Roland favorite. The front derailleur cage we believe is a later one that fits but which has a different logo that the original.
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