Where should I start? Favourite first? Most interesting first? Chronological on my ownership, chronological on their age? Hmmmm…
Well I refuse to choose a favourite as it depends on the ride, conditions, day of the week, etc.
I’m going to start with the oldest first, which I only picked up last year.
It’s a Stella SX-73 from somewhere around 1973 not sure exactly. It’s French and it is simply a beautiful looking machine. Whenever I ride it I get complimented on it all the time.
It is fairly original (ignoring the accessories) but there have been a few minor changes since I owned it; new bar tape, new straps on the toe clips, new chain (after the original snapped following a derailleur incident), new spokes in the rear wheel (due to the derailleur incident) a period derailleur after the original ate itself – everything else is how I received it and, I think how it has been for most of it’s life.
Here are the original specs courtesy of Bicycling magazine
I understand that the Weinmann brakes were not very good at the time (i think they were referred to a suicide brakes due to them snapping at the most in-opportune time). My bike has Mafic instead so either they changed the spec slightly with later units or a previous owner decided he/she didn’t want to die.
History-wise Stella were a reasonably successful small family owned bike builder from the Nantes region in France. They had Tour de France success in 1953 and 1954 with Louison Bobet riding. The company was named after the founder’s mother and they continued to make bicycles until the late 1970s when the factory burned down, at which point the ceased. A largish number were sold in the US when the market was high for european bikes. The SX-73 is the mid to high end of the range offered. The SX-74 came above this and allowed for custom components usually Campagnolo.
This was a bargain purchase on Ebay as I was the only bidder and got ‘her’ for much less than I think she’d worth considering she was in good riding condition. I don’t have much in the way for changes planned other than perhaps putting a good Simplex derailleur on there instead of the Suntour Cyclone I put on just to keep it authentic French.
I’ve done a little over 500 miles on it and found it to be a very reliable bike, everything works as it should (including the dynamo lights) and it’s not very heavy. The geometry isn’t perfect for my body but I can’t expect much different on a 40 year old bike.
So I should probably explain what happened with the derailleur, maybe it will serve as a warning. It originally had a Huret which worked very well. I rode it to work one day and chained it up with all the other bikes at work; we are a very cycling friendly company and that day the rack was full. When I came to retrieve it that evening I got on and there was a noise coming from the rear, that for the couple of yards I had travelled sounded like it wasn’t quite on in gear (common on friction changers). So a shifted the lever and started pedalling so seat it into the next gear. Unfortunately the noise was actually the derailleur catching on the spokes and as I shifted down a gear it put it even further into the wheel and so the wheel took the derailleur round a half a turn twisting it round, snapping the chain along with a couple of spokes. What I think had happened is that maybe the person who had their bike chained next to mine had caught it and bent the derailleur slightly when they were getting theirs out of the packed rack. So if you ever hear a noise coming from your bike, it’s worth a visual check before you take action.