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October 31, 2010

I came across this original 531 tubed Viner Special Corsa on ebay the other day. The mid eighties bike looks to be original, and despite a few scuff marks is in very good condition. Interesting as the frame is, what got me more excited was the original Shimano 600 AX groupset that adorns it.

When I first started cycling in the mid-eighties, Campagnolo was king. If you didn’t run the Italian groupset on your bike then somehow you didn’t seem ‘serious’! And if you had Super Record then you could hold your head up high. There were other manufacturers around, including Mavic, Zeus and japanese firm Suntour, who’s Superbe range was very highly regarded. There was also another japanese firm producing cycling equipment, but they were seen as a bit of an upstart. Especially when they brought out their AX groupsets.

I always remember the first time I clapped eyes on Shimano AX. In 1985 my club mate Mark Rogerson rolled up one day with his new Raleigh 531, decked out with these strange futuristic parts. Little did I know I was glimpsing the future. Shimano’s AX stood for ‘aerodynamics’ and Mark’s groupset made my Campag Record seem like it was from another era. Brake levers with concealed cables, a rear derailleur with aero fairings that concealed the jockey wheels, ergonomic platform pedals and even an aero bottle! But the piece de resistance were the centre pull brakes, whose slim profile meant nothing extended outside of the fork and headtube. So aero was this design that 2nd hand AX brakes that turn up on ebay are keenly fought over by time triallists for their latest aero carbon frames.

The Dura Ace and 600 AX groups weren’t just designed to look fast, they were fast. Shimano engineers built the industries first wind tunnel, helping to develop the components aerodynamics, resulting in 20% less drag. This sort of engineering and product development is taken for granted today, in 1981 when AX was developed, it was revolutionary.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jon Patrick permalink
    March 15, 2011 4:54 pm

    Very nice bike, I just bought a very genuine, orange Vinner from an older date (ca. 1975) these also has an 531 reynolds frame and classic shimano 600 gear……… looks wonderfull.

    good luck with it from Amsterdam (Holland)

  2. Victor Olausson permalink
    May 29, 2012 5:53 pm

    What a coincidence! I own exactly the bike you portrayed here, I bought it from the same guy who up it up on ebay but on an ad on LFGSS (London fixed gear/singe speed forum) about a year ago. It was sent to me from Poland wrapped on two thin plastic waste bags (!!!) and came to me in a horrible shape with a big dent right in the middle of the seat tube. I was so sad, but I didn’t give him the sort of money he asked for on ebay anyway and I got the 600-AX gruppo for a cheap price which was the main thing at that point anyway.

    I bought it thinking it was one of the Colnero/Colner Viner:s because of the lack of star cut outs my Viner Pista Professional from the same era has. But you proved me wrong on that point. So I just bought the bike for pillaging the parts of it. The wheels and spokes were rusty/oxidised and the paint was, and still is, in a horrible state and some rust started to show on the fork crown. So I figure he took the pictures a great while ago.. Not very honest.

    I sent it of to a Swedish frame builder to have it repaired and while he fixed the dent I asked him to put eyelet’s for attaching fenders on the fork and frame. So now the paint is in even worse shape and the decals on the seat tube are half way burnt off. The frame itself is a bit to small so I’m building it up as “townie”, but now that I know that it’s actually a legitimate Viner Special Corsa I really should re-paint it and contact the Viner office to we if I can get hold of some new/remade decals.

    If you’d like I can send you some pictures of the Viner Pista Special Professional (long name there) and the Special Corsa when it’s done.

    And I think you might be interested in knowing that there is 3 Viner Pista Special Professional from the 70’s here in “small” Sweden, all three in reasonably good shape and two of the same colour!

    Thanks for a great blog on the Viner brand and all things Viner.


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