Raphael Geminiani

When I saw this bike hanging from the roof of a pawn broker’s warehouse I knew it was something a little bit different. I immediately recognised the name on the frame – albeit as the name of a rider rather than framebuilder, and it was fitted with exotic parts that I’d never come across.

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Raphael Geminiani was a French champion (of Italian extraction) in the ‘50s. He is one of only two men to have finished on the podium of all three grand tours in the same year, and was a teammate of Fausto Coppi, and later directeur sportif to Jaques Anquetil and Tom Simpson. Geminiani Bicycles were originally made by Gitane in France before production was moved to Italy – I’m not sure which company took over.

“Gem” wears the French champion’s jersey

This bike was also in really good shape when I picked it up – more servicing than restoration was required. It originally was built up with decent quality aluminium components -mostly Italian; ITM bars and stem, Ofmega crankset, Gian Robert derailleurs and Weinmann brakes with Belleri levers. The wheels are lightweight Record P.R. tubulars (on noname chrome hubs – the only bottom-dollar component) keeping the total built weight under 10kg / 22lbs. The frame itself is a lugged construction from unlabelled tubing – nevertheless it has a nice feel to it. The bike dates from around 1980 – the style is definitely that of the 60’s/70’s though. It seems to have been stored indoors all this time, and either meticulously taken care of, or more likely, hardly ridden (original Weinmann brake pads had very little wear).

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As found…

I was able to keep the bike in almost it’s exact original setup. Thanks to the Italian freewheel threading, I was able to fit a modern Hyperglide type 14-28 freewheel in place of the Regina 13-21, making the bike much more rideable day to day. The plastic Simplex shifters were broken, so I replaced these with a set of Huret.

The Ofmega chainset and Gian Robert derailleurs on this bike are pretty rare – they have a Campagnolo air to them (though they are not as light, or as expensive). It is even said that Campagnolo Gran Sport was copied from Gian Robert design – regardless of who came up with it, it’s a great looking derailleur.

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Once reassembled, the bike is a very nice ride – even though 42-28 is a bit of a high bottom gear for the hills where I live! This bike will make someone a lovely Sunday rider or period sportive bike.

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