Sunday, January 5, 2014

1960s (?) Torpado Alpha

Yesterday (Saturday) I spent the morning breaking down donated bikes for Bicycles for Humanity Seattle or B4HS for short.  Now I have this issue in that sometimes I just can't get out of my own way, especially in relation to vintage 10 speeds, as much I as dislike quoting washed-up pop stars in this case the shoe fits.. "Oops, I did it again (I picked up a bike...where will I begin? oh baby, baby)".  I brought home another project bike to add to the ever lengthening queue. A 1960 something made in Italy Torpado Alpha.

I am guessing 1960s based on the following; wing nut style hub nuts, cottered crankset, and a stamped steel pump bracket.  Torpado made some high-end race bikes with fully Campy components, this does not appear to be one of those.

When I think of Italian components the first name that springs to mind is of course Campagnolo, however there are/where other Italian makers and this particular bike seems to be a whose who of those companies:

Brakes from Balilla

Shifters from Gian Robert

ttt Stem

Like most bikes of the 10 speed era its got its issues and its quirks; the main decal is pretty chewed up, there is surface rust on a lot of the chrome and we will have to see how the paint comes through after a thorough clean and wax, the Italians didn't have the best reputation for paint.  On the other side of the coin; its a cool green color, it has internal cable routing (which I have never worked on before) chrome head tube lugs, chrome fork ends and the aforementioned raft of Italian parts.
the ol' disappearing cable trick

Should be fun but I need to finish the Peugeot AO-8 project currently hanging in the bike stand, the last little lost 10 speed I brought home from B4HS, before I even think about taking apart the Torpado.
seat tube decal 

Down-tube decal- really its Torpado, Not Tornado or Torpedo

A very small freewheel group must have belonged to a racer.

Until next time I hope to take my own advice and ..


  1. Interesting bike. I really like the wing hub nuts. I can see why they replaced those with the quick levers, but they still have an old school look. What happens with the internal cables? Do you have to fish through new housing?? I can see that is potential mind-numbing tedious work. I also like those lugs with the cool cut-outs.
    It will be something to see what you come up with as a restoration of this bike.
    Keep stepping it up!

  2. Hey Jim, happy new year! I took like the retro look of the hub nuts and I plan to keep them on the bike and let the buyer decided if they are scary or not. I have zero experience with internal cable routing however since so many modern racy bikes and CX bikes use that system I am hoping there is lots of good advice on the inter-tubes.

    I had this idea I could braid one end of the new cable into the end of the old one while its still in place and then pull the new one int place using the old cable as the "pilot fish" but I will see what the experts have to say first.

    I am really not sure how well this is going to clean up, at the very least I will come out with a mechanically sound, clean bike sporting lots of hard earned "besauge" at best it I might get the frame to sparkle again.

    Well see, first off is finishing off the Peugeot AO-8 where once I get the wheels cleaned up and the hub bearings rebuilt will be an assembly job. Thanks as always for stopping by Jim - you find yourself a project to keep you off the streets yet?

    1. No projects. I did send out a few "feelers" with local people on the bike treasures in that fellows estate. Walking softly on that as I don't want to seem like the creepy opportunist hanging around dead guys stuff. I really will not have spare time until March because along with work I have my basketball team to take care of and that is about all my spare time. Or, street time.

    2. Easiest way to replace the cable housing on old internal-route bikes (or new ones) is with the old housing still in place, use a wrap or two of some packing tape to attach the new cable to the end of the old cable and carefully pull it through.

      The packing tape is thin enough to get through the hole and sticky enough to not come off the housing, if you do it right. Then just run the new cable thorough the housing the usual way.

    3. Thank you for that advice it will probably be less bulky than my harebrained scheme of braiding the old and new cables together

  3. Wait..what? Braiding cable ends together? i have a hard enough time just getting them through the clamps without producing a rat's nest. You must have really small hands or infinite patience or you have lost your mind. The winters are getting longer though, so I understand. Knit one, pearl two...

    I am impressed by your community service, however. Good for you, Ryan. Or is it part of your probation? Either way, you have my support.

    That head tube from whatever obscure internet photos you dug up indicates to me that the Torpado is worthy. I have noticed that those old bikes have geometry that works just fine and somewhere there is an afficionado looking for just that bicycle.

    Stay out of trouble and good luck with your projects. By the way...where's Hugh? I'm starting to worry.


    1. Also, did you know that Torpado is Old Italian for "trailer?"

      The Tarpado Parco Cyclisto

    2. I did not know that (said in my best Johnny Carson). I like the Cyclisto moniker sounds suave and macho.

    3. Tim Joe in answer to your first question above - its C) I am insane. In Answer to question two I do it because it feels good to help and (sadly) feeds my addiction to find derelict bike boom era 10 speeds to take home and add to my project que.

      Thanks as always for stopping by its great to hear from the TPC, as for brother Hugh if I read the weather correctly and his Facebook posts homeboy is hibernating! winters in the middle states are Nasty and I would not want to be working on bikes out in a garage when its 2 degrees outside.


    4. I also like that....Cyclisto.

  4. Authors note: After a little more internet research I have determined this bike is a Torpado Alpha the entry level bike in their line.