Luciano’s Velo Playa Larga GIOS Torino – Sean Talkington

Luciano’s Velo Playa Larga GIOS Torino
Photos and words by Sean Talkington

I’m often drawn to things that are just the right amount of “thrashed”. That includes old cars, buildings, and even people look a lot more interesting with some character brought on from age. Of all the old things that pique my interest, bicycles might be on the top of the list.

There is something really honest about an old, weathered bike, and steel bikes are probably the best suited for “patina.” They’re probably the ONLY bikes that can look just as appealing after a lot of use versus a spotless new version. I seriously doubt it will be cool to see banged up old carbon S-Works in 30 years, but I guess you never know. I mean, as a kid everyone told me to save my baseball cards, so I did, and now they are worth nearly nothing. I’ve been lugging these things around for my entire adult life for literally no reason. I haven’t cared about baseball cards since I was probably twelve years old, yet I continue to drag 10,000 of them around like a 300-pound ship anchor. On the other hand, the Walkman I thrashed as a kid and secondhand Oakley Frogskins my friend Travis gifted me for my birthday are collectible. WTF!?

All this is to say that I have no idea what will be collectible in 30 years, but it’s probably the thing you least suspect.

The GIOS has been ridden by the original owner, Luciano, since the early 80’s. It was originally purchased from Two-Wheel Transit in Huntington Beach. Luciano started a cycling club and race team called Velo Playa Larga (Velo Long Beach) in 1985. At the height of the club’s popularity, it had over 120 members. Needless to say, this bike carries some stories with it. Below is a photo of Luciano racing (in toe clips!) at a crit in San Luis Obispo sometime in 1986.

What initially caught my eye was the kind of harlequin style paint: the team’s sponsor, Jones Bike Shop, had the frames custom-painted for them at one point, then Luciano had it painted on his own another time. I’ve got to say, I really do love it. Nearly 40 years later, Luciano is still riding it as his commuter. In fact, the day I met him, he had actually ridden from Long Beach to my shop in San Marino (roughly 35ish miles one way). It has been repainted twice since he originally bought the bike, and I hope it stays just like this. The paint is in no way perfect in a traditional sense, but when you consider its story, accompanied with the fact that it looks so unique and is still being ridden to this day makes it pretty damn close to perfection.

But, what do I know? I’m just a dummy with a bunch of stupid baseball cards.

____

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  • nothingfuture

    That’s one of the coolest things about vintage steel bikes. Most of them weren’t built right out to the hairy edge of what the material was capable of- they had margins built in. As such, they can happily live on for 40-odd years being ridden with some tiny dollop of care and they’ll be fine.
    New-fangled racing bikes, though, are right out on the edges. A chip in a carbon frame might be the end of it. They’re not meant to last 40 years- they’re meant to be as light/fast/stiff as possible and last a season (ish).
    Different priorities for different times, I suppose.

    • WheelNut

      This isn’t necessarily the case. Observe this frame fatigue test done my Tour magazine in 1997: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/frame_fatigue_test.htm
      Testing standards and engineering simulations have gotten a lot better since then, so I would suspect that modern carbon frames are going to last even longer than the ones in this test. Sure a 700g carbon frame won’t last forever, but a super light steel bike won’t last long either as both of them are on the edge of what is possible with the material. The steel bike is also susceptible to corrosion. That being said it is certainly possible to design a super long lasting steel bike, or a super long lasting aluminum bike, or carbon.

  • Dave Pelletier

    This is my favorite kind of bike. Well-loved, worn, like a tool that is relied upon regularly over a long period of time. I also love the paint. Reminds me of a Cyclops a college colleague of mine road in the late 80s early 90s. Great stuff.

  • marty larson

    There’s a whole heckuvalot thats just RIGHT about this bike.

  • WheelNut

    I bet you anything seeing a banged up old S-Works in 30 years will be awesome and bring back tons of memories of the good old days with people who are young today.

    • I’ll take you up on that bet. Think about it. Steel bikes were always cool. They’ve always had panache. An old Merckx, Moser, whatever. 10-15-20-30 years after their inception, they still had style. Now look at an S-Works from 5-10 years ago…

      • Meshkat

        I agree with John and also what are the chances a carbon frame survives 30 years of use to be around at all?

      • WheelNut

        You can’t really make that comparison though because steel bikes were the only bikes until the mid 90’s. Well, there were the aluminum Vitus bikes and lots of other experiments, which are cool because they are unique. Bikes that win races and are the dream bikes of young racers are highly likely to become cool one day because they are what people couldn’t have. A carbon frame like the Time VX Edge is already scoring cool points with guys over on VSalon. The S-Works bikes with wild paint jobs under guys like Peter Sagan will definitely have street cred in the future. Not all carbon bikes will be cool, but the ones that have a reputation now as good bikes or bikes with good design will be points of interest in the future.
        It’s the same with cars: There are cool cars from every era that are or will be future collectible/objects of desire.
        Also, it is likely that carbon bikes will survive a long time. Carbon doesn’t rust and if the bike is stored in decent conditions then it shouldn’t have to many issues with degradation. Modern carbon frames are also built to much higher standards than old steel bikes as the quality of the engineering and testing has massively improved over the last 25 years.
        Oh, one more thing: Look at how many people were drooling over the green and gold carbon Cannondale that was posted here a few days ago. Carbon bike lust is alive and well and its not about to go away.

        • Sean Talkington

          Howdy WheelNut,

          If you knew me then you’d know that I love carbon bikes. I ride them a lot. I am a 100% weenie (maybe 99.9%) but there is no denying that metal is much better suited for the long haul and therefore better for use long after the owner is done being a racer. I am not saying carbon cant last or is built w/ planned obsolescence in mind…BUUUT I wouldn’t want to go 45mph down a hill and hit a bump on super old carbon fiber. Second or third hand owning of carbon that could have been over-torqued god only knows how many times etc etc doesn’t sound ideal to me on a vintage bicycle. On the other hand, I guess maybe cool old carbon wall hangers will exist? Again, I am not an expert on 30 year old resins etc and this is just my humble opinion. I think nothingfuture hit the (metal) nail on the head (w/ a metal hammer)

          Oh…

          Also, that cannondale you mentioned is mine ;)

          • WheelNut

            Hey Sean, your green and gold Cannondale is sick! Very nice custom machine.
            What makes you say old carbon gives you the heebie-geebies? Any tests you’ve seen?
            I don’t see why (after a close inspection of the frame) an old carbon bike should give someone any trouble. The fatigue characteristics of a carbon composite are very similar to steel. If there is no galvanic corrosion or crushed/delaminated parts in the frame it should last a very long time (assuming the frame is painted or clear coated). Finding a delamination could be the difficult part, but there are some basic techniques one can employ in the shop. Lueschner Technik outlines some things you can do to check a frame for delamination problems on his Youtube channel. I’ll bet one day we’ll see some shops doing detailed carbon frame inspections as part of refurbishing vintage frames.
            Steel frames are susceptible to rust, which is also something your not going to be able to see very easily from the outside of the bike. Checking a steel bike for cracks and popping the BB and headset out would be essential to getting a feel for the condition of a steel frame. There could easily be problems inside of the lugs that are very difficult to spot on a steel frame.

          • Sean Talkington

            Luckily John pays me $5 for every comment posted… ($$$)

            I guess its because I have yet to see a steel bike crack from falling over on its side. I can’t say the same for carbon. I have no data or facts. Just first hand accounts from working in bike shops and being a cyclist.

            Also, sorry, i thought it would be pretty obvious that the steertube was aluminum on a Trek bike in 2006…but its more about modern lightweight race stuff vs old steel…Go easy on me, its my first time (debating in the radavist comments). The point i was trying to make is that something like this is a lot less likely to happen on a bike like the GIOS. If you disagree, cool. I respect your opinion. Come find me in 30 years and we can go for a bike ride on some vintage 2018 bikes. Take Care

          • Hey, quite padding your paycheck!

          • WheelNut

            Hey man, I’m not trying to give you a hard time or anything. I was just honestly curious what made you feel the way you do about carbon frames.

            A road ride in 2048- You’re on! Hahaha

    • Jared Jerome

      If this happens I’ll be the first to go to the landfill and dig ’em all back out!

  • reminds me of the fixedgeargallery.com days.

  • AdamBike99

    Such a cool machine and an equally great backstory, Sean!

    The geometry looks more “track” than “crit,” but back in the day, the numbers weren’t necessarily too different. Especially if the rider could deal with the deadly toe-overlap. Photo #11 has my palms sweating… Luciano needs a new chain and chainring, eh?!

    • I was wondering who’d notice that!

      • Sean Talkington

        haha…me too!

      • Tim

        Any bets on whether or not there’s a dimple dent on the bottom of the down tube behind the head tube? Front tire looking a little tight in there. I think this saw a crash in its awesome and now, storied history.

        • nothingfuture

          I’m not seeing evidence of a bent head tube here- it’s a lugged frame (with fairly long lug points), so it’d take quite a crash to do it (and the damage would be pretty obvious).
          Rather, I’d guess it’s a fairly small frame- and built with 700c wheels, with period geometry… yeah. Loads of toe clip overlap and some very tight clearances.

          • Tim

            Front tire clearance is about an inch on these late 70’s steeds. It looks like it ran into a wall, the head tube would not be affected, the forces go through the steerer, headset to the top and down tubes which kink down slightly, dimpling the bottom of those tubes. Easy to miss but when the tire looks tight like this one, it’s probable. Look at the clearance in the picture of Luciano racing it, the photo is probably pre-crash. These Juicy Torino’s have a great heritage, Roger De Vlaeminch ran them in the pro tours on the Brooklyn chewing gum team against some guy named Eddy and this bike and those guys also appear in A Sunday in Hell, an awesome film about the 1976 Paris Roubaix.

          • Nah, the fork is slightly turned and the shot wasn’t completely flat. You can see the arch of the crown and the blade. If the photo was completely flat, you wouldn’t notice it. See how you can see both hoods/levers? If it were a completely flat elevation, you’d only see one and you’d see the fork’s true curvature.

          • Terry Dean

            i noticed the chain/chain ring right away, but since it’s a single speed (not fixed like i first thought), i figured it’s probably fine. as for the tight tire/frame clearance – the fork looks a little bent back to me.

          • Tim

            Yeah, I agree, it actually makes me wonder if the bend is in the steerer, just above the crown (that’s common bmx crash damage from a head on) – the fork, above the rake angles back slightly, indicating the bend. These bikes’ forks and head tubes parallel and this one doesn’t. Could be the photo but that’s my feeling. I’ve ridden on a bent fork like this and the bend makes the ride snappy. Steeper HT, it’s like insta-pista.

            That said, it’s a great looking bike. I really like the history of these and to see them ridden.

  • I helped a co-worker score a 1992 Trek 2300 garage queen for next to nothing, and at 26 years old, it’s a carbon (bonded) frame that is still perfectly rideable, and brings her loads of joy.

  • That was a fun build. Luciano has just as much style as the bikes he rides.

  • M.R.

    Very cool bike. I know a guy who rode with this same club back in the 80’s. If I remember correctly, those who started the club had a falling out of sorts with the Long Beach Velo club. So they started their own club: Velo Playa Larga, (Long Beach Velo in Spanish).

  • O.Carltop

    Awesome. Reminds me of the bikes I lusted after in high school. Love to know why Luciano keeps the downtube shifters in place when running it as single speed. Pure Campy love, or a more practical reason like to cover the holes? Who cares, they look great.

    • Mark Beaver

      As the old saying goes, “chicks dig scars but not that empty hole where your eye used to be”. Best covers for Campy shifter braze-ons are… Campy shifters.

      • O.Carltop

        Well, said, brother. Now someone get this guy a Campy track crank to match!

  • E Richter

    Rode bikes are the best bikes.

  • Ņino Ess

    Fork seems bent.