This is Tomoko’s wonderful aluminium Barra dating from around 1950. It is badged ‘Urago’ who were the retailers in Nice, but was built by the great Nicola Barra. The tubes are the trademark Barra vertical oval at the head, to round in the middle, to horizontal oval at the bottom bracket and seat tube. See my randonneuse of similar construction here. In my opinion Barra was THE master of aluminium construction and this is a fantastic example of his extraordinary skills. The bicycle is fitted with all the best kit of the period….. Stronglight chainset, Cyclo gear, Maxicar hubs, Mavic rims, Trois Etioles spokes, Lefol ‘Le Paon’ mudguards. Brakes are Barra’s own design cantilevers with adjustable toe-in, and it is fitted with his typical fillet brazed steel stem and combined seat post clamp/brake pulley. The saddle is a rare ‘Elaedy’ made by Ideale. Condition is completely original and unspoilt. The machine is very light indeed, around 21lbs, and Tomoko reports that it rides beautifully!
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A very rare example of a Nicola Barra bicycle built for Garin cycles during the Second World War. From the frame number it can be dated to c.1941/2. It is built from plain aluminium tubing, beautifully gas welded. The fillet brazed steel stem is a Barra speciality, as is the combined seat post clamp and brake cable guide. The brakes are the rarely seen early cantilevers, marked ‘Savoie’, made by Barra. Other parts include some rare items….. Simplex Champion du Monde 3 speed gear, Super Champion Picardie sprint rims on aluminium Pelissier Plume hubs, Jeay brake levers and Philippe Professionel bars. Chainset is the early pattern Stronglight, Lyotard quill pedals and Duralinox alloy toeclips, and an AM aluminium saddle. Dynamo wiring is internally routed.
I can find little information on Garin cycles, and I thought at first that the ‘Garin’ was perhaps Maurice Garin, the first winner of the Tour de France in 1903. Maurice Garin ran a team in the Tour de France just after the War and his home was in Lens, to the North West of Paris. However, the Garin here is Charles, probably unrelated, who had a bicycle company in the Pantin district of Paris. Barra apparently worked there for a while as works manager (see Bicycle Quarterly Summer issue 2008 – Thanks Tom!) Another example of a Barra Garin frame is here.
The bicycle is in excellent condition with no damage to the frame, and the original transfers and head badge are in a remarkable state of preservation. It is incredibly light… I would guess at about 21lbs, fully equipped.
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A very rare steel light touring bicycle by constructeur Nicola Barra. Original finish and transfers. Fillet brazed Vitus tubing. Barra front and rear racks and Barra handlebar stem. Duprat Professionels cranks and Stronglight alloy ring. Tank pedals. Cyclo aluminium 3 speed gear. Alloy 650B rims, Maxi hubs and Trois Étioles spokes. Grand Bois Hetre tyres. Durex mudguards. Mafac cantilever brakes (probably replacements) Ideale 63 Cyclo-Touriste saddle. Later Jos lighting. Almost finished with just a few details to sort out….. nice papillons need to be found, a couple of the cyclo cable tabs are broken and do I change the handlebars to drops?
Better known for his Aluminium bicycles (Barralumin), Barra also made porteurs – http://velo-porteur-ancien.over-blog.com/article-velo-porteur-barra–42730275.html – and steel bicycles such as this one. Steel machines of his are rarer than the aluminium ones. He is also credited with inventing the first modern cantilever brake around 1936. These brakes even had adjustable toe-in.
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