Thursday, June 16, 2016


New bike week!

From Somec:

In the 60's, Oliviero Gallegati worked as a mechanic for the Giro d'Italia. Seeing a need to establish standards for Giro mechanics, he established the Società Meccanica (Mechanic's Society) thus creating the acronym for SOMEC frames which he began building in 1973. Not naming frames after oneself in Italy is a rarity among Italian frame builders. 

SOMEC adopted two symbols to identify its brand: the tulip and the prancing horse. The tulip chosen for its elegance, sweetness and variety of colors. The prancing horse, symbol of the famous aviator Francesco Baracca Lugo. When you see the SOMEC logo, do not be confused with Ferrari. As the story goes, back in ancient history when Oliviero and Enzo Ferrari both wanted to show the Cavallino on their product, they came to an agreement as fellow "Romagnesi": Ferrari would put the tail up, SOMEC the tail down. They have never argued from that day.

While the Rossin goes in for paint, the "last" bike from my youth (how many times have I said that before plunking down more space credits for another 30 year old bike project?) popped up on the Bay.

Across all my internet message boards I'm amazed that there isn't more discussion about Columbus MS tubing. Preceding the MAX tube set that even has its own appreciation blog, the MS is relatively unknown... or maybe just that rare? Only the Tommasini Diamante was sold in numbers here in the US and I can't really recall any other builder that used it as much as Irio and Oliviero (maybe the Basso Ascot).

Before getting into details, let's look at what was posted at the Zonconato Racing site regarding Columbus in this time frame...

Here’s some history: MAX was the first Nivacrom tubing from Columbus.  Prior to MAX, Columbus' high end offerings had been made of Cyclex steel.  Cyclex steel was internally reinforced with ribbing to provide strength for stronger and bigger riders.  This made the tubes heavier than their non-rifled counterparts. In 1989, Columbus MS tubing was the next evolution. MS (which stood for multi shape) introduced swages and unique shapes to maximize stiffness. MS brought us the famous Diamante chain stays and asymmetric shapes on each side for drive-train stiffness. The only issue with MS was, you guessed it... weight.  Enter MAX, MAX was made of a new steel.  A stronger and lighter steel.  Such that it could be drawn with thinner walls and shorter butts.  In addition, MAX was bi-axially ovalized at the head tube, the seat tube, and at the bottom bracket.  It was oriented in such a way that the cross section where it intersected the seat tube required a unique lug as the sides of the top tube stuck out on both sides of the seat tube. I think you get my point:  MAX was cooler, and stiffer than any tubing Columbus had yet made.  

So back to Somec. THE wildest paint jobs of my bike porn youth were certainly the Ghibli and almost anything made by Somec and Tommasini. So like the Ghibli, this Somec Leader is made of Gilco Cyclex tubing by Columbus, but with the craziest tube shaping ever attempted by the cycling industry at the time. This had to be the most expensive tubing to be drawn, and certainly the most radical lugs made. A triangular non-drive chainstay and ovalized, flattened and teardrop shapes in the main triangle... no wonder I always wanted one!

From Germany comes this Somec Leader, size 56. Perfect other than the non-radical 80's paint job and missing MS decal. I fixed that, though! As the pantographed logos are 90's style and the paint job and decals are 2002 color code C11, I am going to assume this was repainted then. MS Leaders disappear from the Somec catalogues in the mid to late 90's, so let's call this a '94, repainted in '02!

The component build is all Campy, mostly record, as little carbon as possible. It also features Ambrosio clincher rims and new Clement LGG 28's. File this under "things rarely said", but this is the first set of clinchers I've had in years!

While waiting for a few other parts to arrive, I repainted the pantographing on the frame. In addition, thanks to my new friend Gary at Somec USA, I have a Deda pantographed stem and Deda bars and a pair of old pantographed Record brakes, not to mention a slew of stickers, old catalogues, bottle and a new matching jersey.

MS tubing takes a 25mm seat post, go figure. The only other frames that quickly come to mind that use this post are Alan bonded frames. My pals at The Bicycle Stand just so happened to have a C-Record post in 25mm!

How about more details? Someone on eBay sells these logo bubbled stickers, used here to dress up a Prologo saddle and bar tape plugs.

Ride report: It was worth the wait, the build and the childhood dreams. Yes, it's dreamy!