MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

ZEUS ALPHA - INTRO

FINDING THE FIRST ZEUS

BUILDING THE FIRST ZEUS

RIDING THE ZEUS ALPHA

FINDING ZEUS #2

BUILDING ZEUS #2

BUILDING THE FIRST ZEUS ALPHA

The Zeus sported no tubing decal, indicating what material the frame and forks were made of.  I assume that a high tensile steel would have been the tubing of choice for such a bicycle.  The drops were Zeus's own, pantographed with the Zeus name, very simple or plain in design and cleanly installed.  The Zeus head badge, a brass affair and nicely done, added that touch of class to the old road bike.  I like head badges, even though I know that they are a form issue only and serve to detract from the original intention of the light weight bicycle.  Bolting or riveting a piece of metal that serves no functional purpose to a bicycle goes against the "keep it light" grain.  But I like head badges, some of which are so ornate and interesting that people actually collect them.  I even have a box full myself though it has been a long while since I fed the box.

The unusual 50/45 ring combination, transmits power through the dripping with oil drive chain to the five speed freewheel.  The spread of the rings is hardly adequate.  I fail to understand why such a combination would have been offered, on a non-specialty bicycle.  Interestingly enough, the ring spread is nearly identical on my 1975 CCM Tour du Canada.

Sadly, the Zeus cranks did not match.  The non-drive side had been replaced with an unmarked crank many years earlier.  These old crank sets do become available on Ebay from time to time but they are pretty rare.

Other than the crank arm issue, the rest of the bicycle was quite original and in pretty good shape.  The original owner, a Millwright like myself, believed firmly in good lubrication.  In this case, good simply meant lots.  The Zeus was coated in still sticky oil and grease.  Good!  Grease cleans off with relative ease and prevents the formation of rust.  And, I don't mind a bit of cleaning when  presented with a new and unusual find.

The transmission was Zeus Alpha.  It worked well enough, but was not capable of executing fast shifts.  The Super Alpha series of components appeared to be mostly entry level.  I found myself comparing the tranny to an entry level Huret or Simplex.  I could even go so far as to compare the system to Campagnolo's entry level Velox series, which once again works well enough, under non-demanding conditions.

The Zeus Super Alpha brakes completed the modest Zeus grouppo.  The center pull brakes were anything but out of the ordinary.  They did, however, bear the Zeus "Super Alpha" pantograph and looked just fine on this old Spanish bicycle.  I can't help but believe that properly cleaned up, the set would look really good and add considerably to the vintage quality of this nice old road bicycle.

The choice of saddle was hardly unusual, opting for the ever so common plastic wedge that many early seventies bicycles were fitted with.  Even thought this saddle looks to be incredibly uncomfortable, it is incredibly uncomfortable.  Not necessarily because of the unforgiving shape (this guy will not break in!), but because of the hard plastic used for construction.  I have found that the plastic absorbs body heat and then reflects it back into the body.  This is hardly an issue, if going to and from the Coffee Place, but it does become very uncomfortable when saddled for a few hours or more.

Adding to the level of discomfort defined by the saddle choice, were the "take em as they are" handlebars.  Both the handlebars and stem are steel and one piece.  By one, I mean the two components are one unit leaving no opportunity for adjustment and accommodation of individual comfort requirements.  The bars can be tilted, neither back nor forward.  They are integral with the stem.  Not having this adjustment latitude can, and in my case did, create comfort issues.  Why Zeus would have chosen to go, with this departure from the norm, is beyond me.

Few pictures remain of the unusual old bicycle from Spain.  Though I was most interested in the bike, the first Zeus was sized for a person well over the six foot mark.  The original owner stood six four and a bit.  I don't!

Then there were the comfort issues associated with the saddle and handlebars.  All in all, the bicycle and I were not meant for each other.  However; with a decent saddle set up, I just might have tolerated the fixed bar position.  Sadly, the Zeus and I parted company.  This neat and unusual old road bicycle now lives out its life in sunny California.  Kinda wish I did too.

NEXT - RIDING THE ZEUS ALPHA

 

 

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