Thursday, February 28, 2008

A little bit of history sold on eBay

A custom 'dave moulton' touring bicycle that featured in a "Bicycling" magazine road test in January 1983, sold on eBay last evening.

There were only 20 of this particular model built; I put in a call to the seller last week to ask for the serial number. Confirming the number 4823 in my serial number record book showed it was indeed the same bike.

This story goes back a year earlier to January 1982. I was building frames for Masi in their San Marcos, California frame shop.

I became a victim of my own productivity, and was building frames faster than Masi could sell them. The inventory of frames became so large I was temporarily laid off. I had essentially worked myself out of a job, and was sent to the unemployment office to sign on for benefits.

I got as far as standing in line at the office, wondering what I was doing there. My pride or maybe my ego told me this was not right, and I left without ever signing on. I went back to the Masi shop and asked if I could use their equipment to build my own frames.

An agreement was reached on rent, etc. and I started calling bicycle dealers all over the US, telling them who I was, and offered to build custom frames. I started to receive a few orders; I could deliver a custom built frame in two or three weeks at that time, which was unheard of.

I was also unheard of for the most part. I had gone from being one of the best know builders in England in the 1970s, to an unknown entity in the United States in 1982. The Masi name on my resume helped, but I still desperately needed publicity; I contacted "Bicycling" and they agreed to do a road test.

They chose the Touring model because it was different than the usual bikes they tested and wrote about. I built the frame in April of 1982, I contacted various component manufacturers for donations of components to complete the bike. The bike was assembled with a strange miss-match of Avocet, Sun Tour, Modolo, etc.

Fellow Brit Steve Aldrige, who had worked with me at Paris Sport, now worked for "Buds" Bike Store in Claremont, CA. Steve was also the US National Team Mechanic; he built the wheels, and assembled the bike. Bicycling did their road test in the summer of 1982 but it would be the following January before the article appeared in the magazine.

After the road test, Steve Aldridge got the bike as repayment for his work and it was subsequently sold. I never saw or heard of it again until it showed up on eBay last week. The bike was up for sale by The Drop Off Store a consignment store in Rancho Cucamonga, a few miles from Claremont where the bike was originally sold.

The drive train has been upgraded with Campagnolo components, but it still appeared to have the same Modolo brakes. The paint appears to be original and in fair condition, and the original color matched pump was still in place. The bike is in need of a thorough cleaning and probably the tires and handlebar tape need replacing. I appears the bike has been stored for many of its years.

In 1983 the retail price on this frame was $925, the complete bike went for $1600. Yesterday on eBay there were 14 people bidding and the virtual hammer fell at $1,330.30. The item number was 350029129880. You can read the Bicycling road test article here in PDF format.

This is the highest price I have seen on eBay for one of my bikes. I think it is fair given the rarity and history of this bike. Incidentally, I didn’t reveal the history before the sale because I didn’t want to influence the price.

There was another seller on eBay asking $4,000 for a Fuso, which is way out of line. There are still plenty of Fusos out there, (I built 3,000.) so if you miss one, another will be along. I don’t want to see anyone screwed, buyer or seller.

This particular bike and the subsequent road test in Bicycling played an important part in getting my business out of the Masi shop and into my own facility in San Marcos. It not only gave me the publicity I needed, but was one of the things I used to convince my bank to lend me the money to finance the operation.

Another interesting footnote: If you look at the Masi Registry, you will notice there were only a few special order Masi frames (Like track frames.) built in 1982. That’s because they were still selling the backlog of frames I built in 1981. It would be well into 1983 before production began again. About the time I moved into my own facility, and David Tesch took over as Masi’s builder.


DarwinOSX said...

I was in the market for a new bike in 86 or 87 and was stationed at Camp Pendleton in Southern cali. I had read about the Tesch 101 in Bicycle Guide and went to a shop to look at one. Ended up buying a Fuso instead. The Tesch geometry was a little too twitchy for me. More of a crit bike. I was sad to see he lsot his business and died at an early age.

Anonymous said...

I love "LOST & FOUND" stories like this!sweet bike, great find!

Ron George said...


I realize when you built this particular frame, I wasn't even born! This is a good post, I can now see some connections on how you started your work here.

Btw, a post at 6 in the morning?! Wow..

Anonymous said...

Love those Modolo brakes and levers. Had a set on an old Raleigh.

Anonymous said...

I was following that auction on Ebay too and thought $4,000 for the Fuso was a mite out of line, too! Of course, earlier today a Japanese Lotus bike fetched $950 on Ebay, so who am I to say?

As a guitarist, I look back on how the value of vintage guitars has ramped up from the 80's to the incredibly high prices today. I'm wondering if there'll be a similar trend in vintage lightweights. I'm just glad I snagged my Fuso frame when I did, before I got priced out of the market.

Anonymous said...

Those Campy record triples were typical of them not producing what was really needed. A 36T inner ring min.? Just because thats all the wrap the Rally RD could handle. Thankfully Merz and other produced rings down to 31T to make the crank more usefull.

Anonymous said...

Another one of yours

Anonymous said...

Trying to trace a Dave Moulton.
DB60 which I assum is 60cm
1819 -January 1981 9th frame?

Appears all original, tire are shot. Has Worcester Englant stickers, no made in USA. Rides like it was stolen. Very interesting background to it as well.