Before introducing Olmo vintage bicycles it is interesting to find out about how this brand was founded and how it became so successful. Giuseppe Olmo was one of Italy's most famous cyclists in the 1930s. With a Italian amateur team called Azzurri he achieved second place in the World Cup in Denmark in 1931. At the Los Angeles Olympics in the following year he was awarded a gold medal in the team time races. He became then a professional cyclist, signed with Bianchi and this partnership was very successful. Between 1932 and 1938 Olmo won the Milan-Sanremo twice and many stages in the Giro d'Italia and the Italian National Road Race Championships. Olmo additionally beat the world one hour record in 1935.
When Olmo retired in 1938 he went back to his hometown of Celle Ligure, which is where he founded the classic bicycle brand Olmo Biciclette.These high quality steel bicycles can be compared to the well-known classic bikes of Colnago. Olmo used his experience as an athlete in the development of new bicycles. Olmo's vintage bicycles became very popular and the brand grew to produce not only racing bicycles, but also city bikes and mountain bikes. The production of Olmo bicycles is still located in Italy. The brand remains a very popular choice today, for both the range of vintage bicycles built in the 70s and 80s and the range of new designs which are being developed for the future.
‘Like Henry Ford, I will sell you a bike in any colour you like… As long as it’s blue.’ - Alfredo Gios
You will definitely already recognise the brand Gios and will certainly be familiar with the deep blue that goes hand in hand with the name - but how did this come about?
The iconic Gios logo and deep blue on a beautiful Super Record from 1979.
How things got going for Gios
The brand Gios was created by Tolmino Gios, born in 1916 in Tolmin - an area of Vittorio Veneto in Italy that is nowadays a Slovenian territory. However he didn’t stay here for long, as at the age of 2 his family moved to Turin, which was the eventual birthplace of the Gios brand in 1958.
In Tolmino’s youth, he was an avid cyclist and event became a rather successful rider as he was recruited for a professional team and competed in a few Giro d’Italias in the early 1930s. He was even selected to race for the Italian national team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, however due to a personal disagreement with the head coach, his invitation was later rescinded. Undeterred by the setback, Tolmino continued to race in major events and alongside some very recognisable names: Guerra, di Paco and Bartali to name a few.
After the Second World War, in 1948, he decided it was time to settle down and open a bicycle shop of his own. Initially a very small company, they gained a lot of popularity through Tolmino’s influence within professional racing, where he advised young cyclists on ways to improve as well as operating his own amateur team. In 1958 he recruited the legendary Italo Zilioli, who won the National Junior Road Championships the following year, under the watchful gaze of Tolmino.
The same year, Tolmino’s eldest son Alfredo Gios joined the family business to help them deal with the ever-increasing demand. One aspect that, surprisingly, took off for the business was interest in city-bikes. At the turn of the decade, the market was crying out for well constructed and reliable bicycles. The volume of business continued to grow well into the 1960s, so in 1966 Aldo, Tolmino’s third son, also became involved with operations. By 1968, Tolmino had handed control of the company over to Alfredo and Aldo, but still remained part of the business as his knowledge of bicycles was immense.
Brooklyn Chewing Gum and Gios collaboration
A chance encounter at the Milan exhibition in 1972 would change the trajectory of Gios and spawn one of the most iconic colours that professional cycling ever saw. When displaying a new city bike ‘Easy Rider’ at the Milan exhibition, the owner of the Brooklyn Chewing Gum company Giorgio Perfetti became infatuated with the bike. He told Alfredo that he wanted 100 right away so that they could be the prize for the boys cycling competitions that the company ran. Needless to say, Alfredo accepted and the brand began production of many Brooklyn branded Easy Riders.
Having Gios to help manufacture bicycles for them, Brooklyn decided to create their own professional cycling team the following year as a form of marketing. The company chose to use a deep, electric blue and red and white stripes for their team as a way of paying homage to the U.S. flag, as well as being colours that featured on their packaging. So when Gios were asked to design racing bikes for them, there was only one colour that seemed appropriate.
Here is a beautiful example of a 1970s Gios Super Record in the iconic Gios blue.
De Vlaeminck and the lasting legacy of Gios
One of the most remarkable and famous cyclists of the 20th Century Roger de Vlaeminck was with Brooklyn from 1972 until they ceased sponsorship in 1977. De Vlaeminck had some of his most successful years whilst riding Gios bikes:
The success of de Vlaeminck, or The Gypsy, during this time turned the dazzling styles of the Brooklyn team into not only an icon of professional cycling in the mid to late 70s, but also something of a cult-classic; with the jersey appearing on many comedy shows and television adverts throughout the 70s and 80s.
A retro Brooklyn team cycling jersey, showing the choice of colours the team used whilst in partnership with Gios.
But the Brooklyn team jersey and colours were not the only memorable parts of the collaboration: the bikes which Gios produced for the partnership and that assisted de Vlaeminck dominate the podium so much would become legendary.
Legendary Gios bikes
Gios as a brand reached legendary status through de Vlaeminck’s success. However, the build-quality of every bike that left the factory was also impeccable. The expertise of Tolmino was passed down to his sons, which was then translated into creating one of the most sought after vintage bike brands. The care taken by every person involved in the construction process is very evident with Gios, as they are all of the highest quality with exquisite componentry.
Here are some of the most desirable vintage Gios bikes that were released around the time of de Vlaeminck’s domination:
Gios Compact 40th Anniversary Bike from the 1980s
Released in 1986, the Compact is one of the best frames ever produced by Gios. Apart from technical innovations already introduced with the Professional model in the same year (such as the patented and waterproof seals for the internal routed rear brake cable and the one piece BB-shell with integrated bridge), the Compact features an adjustable dropout system, its most significant development. Tire width could therefore be changed by bringing the dropouts further to the front or to the back too.
Gios Torino Super Record
Gios Torino Super Record from the 1980s
The Gios Torino Super Record is a true monument of its time; manufactured between 1973 and 1982 in three main different versions, the Gios Torino Super Record is - thanks to great riders like Roger De Vlaeminck - one of the most decorated and widely admired racing bicycles of all time.
The first models that were built between 1973 and 1977 were ridden by the Brooklyn professional team, they were constructed with light and sturdy Columbus SL tubes. The professional success of the bike meant that this tubing was adopted for use in the bikes that were available for purchase from Gios dealers. This is a true classic road bike and a huge part of sporting history.
Gios Professional Road Bike Classic 1980s
The Gios Professional was a bike developed by Gios and the famous rider De Vlaeminck. It was a really fine design, which meant a leap forward from the former Super-Record model. The fork was Aero-tapered. The lugs were intricate and advanced, the waterproof internally routed brake cable also gave cyclists the edge. These advancements kept Gios riders firmly in contention for podium placements at major races and secured the brand as a brilliant example of a collectible vintage bike brand.