Two really wonderful bicycles entered the Old Shed on the same day.  A 1958 Carlton Flyer that I had been looking forward to picking up for nearly a month and the Atala Record 101 Professional stumbled across on my most recent trip to Duluth.  Which one to build?  The Atala Pro hung unattended in The Old Shed for the balance of the summer but interest picked up once the summer's pace of living at the summer cottage and commuting to and from the city began to slow

Once moved back into the city, I turned my attention to the nearly forgotten Atala Pro.

Based on information found at a popular vintage bicycle web site, I equipped the Atala with an original issue component grouppo.  The grouppo started with the Campagnolo Nouvo Record transmission, the rear derailleur stamped as a 72 unit which comes pretty close to the Atala's 1971 vintage.  The Campy cranks, set up with the common 52/42 ring combination, delivered power from the Campy pedals through to the five speed narrow range freewheel.  Though I would have preferred to go with a set of side pull Campagnolo units, the original issue items were Universal Model 61 callipers and levers.  Again, I just happened to have a set or two on hand and I even had a pair of NOS Universal hoods.

The Universal Model 61 brake system was a fairly common offering on many early seventies Italian bicycles, from entry level on up.  I have been fortunate enough to come across Torpados, Bottecchias and even the odd Bianchi sporting these beautiful Old School Italian brakes.  I find the simple and clean appearance of the Universal lever to be more than pleasing.  Though the drilled look of many other levers of the time do present a certain appeal, the clean lines of the Universal offering is refreshing.  And to that add the comfort factor.  The levers fit my hands well and are easy to pull.

The Model 61 callipers were completely disassembled and machine polished.  It is really not at all difficult to machine polish the Old School unanodized alloy that the levers are made from.  A little sanding, followed by a careful polishing will reveal fantastic results.  Both the levers and the callipers were polished and suited the Atala perfectly.  I even managed to dig up an original set of brake pads for these old center pull beauties.

Though I was anything but impressed with tubular rims at the time, I decided to set the Atala up with the tubulars, known also as "Sew-ups".  I happened to have a set of Fiamme tubular rims that were laced to Campagnolo High Flange Tipo or Grand Sport hubs.  In all honesty, the wheel set really suited the appearance of the bicycle and I decided to run them until a set of Record hubs came along.  Expressing even more honesty, I did like the ride these old wheels offered.  And my appreciation for the tubular wheel grew another notch.  That said, I had decided that the Sew-ups were just temporary until I could afford to build up a decent set of clinches.  A build that, I might add, never happened.

The original TTT Grand Prix steering stem was miserably seized.  Try as I might, I could not get it to release and I finally resorted to a sure fire way to remove a stuck stem.  I cut it out of the steering tube, exercising great caution as I did so.  I would be later surprised to learn that the Grand Prix stem was much harder to find that its more sophisticated sibling, the Record.

And I did struggle to find was a TTT Grand Prix steering stem.  One did finally surface on Ebay and I was quick to snap it up.  I must add that I paid a pretty price for that old Italian stem but I thought it worth it at the time.

A set of old logo TTT bars were fitted to the steering stem.  Before taping the bars, I tried a couple of rides to find the best position for these beautiful old levers.  That defined, I wrapped the bars with a modern cushion tape and considered the control center complete.  Next, attention turned to the saddle and seat post assemblies.

In keeping with the rest of the bicycle's component theme, a Campagnolo Nouvo Record seat post was chosen to support a 1965 Brooks Swallow saddle.  The old style seat post, coupled with the shallow lines of the saddle, added considerably to the appearance of this fine old Italian bicycle.  The question that presented itself was how comfortable could this antiquated and unappealing looking saddle be?  The answer, pretty darn comfortable though in all honesty, I never did sit on the Atala for an extended period of time.

The Swallow looks like it would be best described as the saddle from Hades but it is just about as comfortable as any Brooks saddle I have owned.  And I have owned a few.  I would have to question the Swallow's ability to go the distance, fearing that it might be prone to failure through prolonged use.  That, I suppose is a moot issue, since the saddle is designed for racing, not touring or, in my case, recreational riding.

Once built and set up to my fit, the Atala proved to be typically Italian.  The ride was extraordinary.  It felt just right, smooth, quite, nimble and stable all at the same time.  And then there was that extra, elusive quality that defies description.  Try as I might, I can never put my feeling for a really good ride into words and every time I attempt to do so, one word comes to mind - magic.  Some bicycles seem to have a magical quality that makes them perfect for me.  The Atala Record 101 Professional was one of those bicycles.  The reason I let it go was simple then and seems absurd to me now.  Sew-ups!  I did not want to be bothered with the hassle of tubular tires and I let the bicycle go.  My loss to be sure.