Calla Randonneur Restoration - Part 1 Posted on 5 Dec 14:24 , 0 comments


Possibly named after a famous climb in Tuscany or maybe the Calla Lilly. Calla was a cycle manufacturer from Alsace just on the French side of the Franco-German border. Not a large factory, nor a "Constructeur", but this little Randonneuse is loaded with charming details from the the early post 2nd World war era. Looking through old photos, it is entirely typical of an old French tourer. Custom Front and rear carriers in the same paint as the frame; a large bottle dynamo driving 2 beautiful polished alloy headlights and a tail light integrated into the aluminium mudguard. The Velo Orange parts we sell, seem to be faithful copies of the mudguards and carriers fitted to the Calla. It came to me in part exchange for a new bike and was alleged to have been bought from the original owner, having not been ridden for decades. Further research indicate that it might have been "flipped" a couple of times, but apart from new tyres, its originality is not in doubt. 

Calla's condition is remarkable. There is no rust on the frame and even the Rigida Chrolux rims are only slightly pitted and carry the original stickers. I haven't stripped the bearings yet, but my instinct tells me it has not covered too many miles in its 65 years of life.

Despite the originality of the paintwork, there is not much of it left, with nearly every square cm having a chip or scratch. The paint that is left isn't too good either, so despite encouragement from friends on both sides of the channel to keep her "in her juices", I have decided to get a top quality respray from Darron at Sven Cycles in Weymouth Dorset (UK). My friend Andrew at Seventy2 Design is recreating the decals for me from photos. Current thoughts are the same metallic midnight blue and double box lining in silver and white, but to skip the sky blue head lugs, which look like they were hand painted afterwards anyway.

I want this bike to be a usable Randonneur too, so for me it will need a larger range of usable lower gears. But I do want to keep the original "look", so it will have an Alfine 8 hybrid drive - with a difference. The Alfine 8 Premium hub will built into a new wheel with an alloy 650B rim. A new front wheel will also be built with a large flange hub with wing nuts of course. The difference will be that the original Simplex front and rear derailleurs will be retained: the front as a derailleur with the gorgeous integrated chain guard, but the rear just as a tensioner. So at first and even second glance the bike will look original. Tyres will of course be Grand Bois Hetres. The original wheels will be carefully stored so the bike can be returned to original condition in less than an hour


Still to be decided is the chainset. It has a cottered steel double clanger in fine condition, but I truly hate cottered chainsets from a maintenance point of view, so it may well be changed, either for a Stronglight 49D, which would be contemporary and appropriate, or a René Herse replica from SunXCD, which would look very well on this bike. Otherwise Calla will be original. The saddle might have to be swapped for a Brooks though, if it isn't comfortable. The moulded plastic handlebar covers will be replaced by stitch-on leather covers from Velo Orange. The originals are just too horrible to contemplate and have already been covered with cloth tape!

Comments and suggestions are welcome, as the build progresses.