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The Austro-Daimler that wasn't

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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

An Austro-Daimler branded bike that was actually made by Albert Eisentraut (Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

Beautiful frame construction by Eisentraut (Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

No internal cable routing here (Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

Campagnolo brakes (Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

Austro-Daimler branding and Campagnolo downtube shifter (Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

Campagnolo crankset (Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

Campagnolo rear derailleur (Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

Alfredo Binda toe clips (Image credit: Daniel Benson)
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Austro-Daimler branded bike from Vecchio's

Another view of the beauty (Image credit: Daniel Benson)

This frame wasn’t made by Austro-Daimler. It was actually built by Albert Eisentraut and was raced on by both Connie Carpenter-Phinney and Davis Phinney. 

Eisentraut built his first frame in 1959 and would become known for his "Model A" frames in the '60s and '70s. In addition to the aforementioned, Eisentraught had a client list full of other professional racers, like George Mount and John Howard. Eistentraut didn't just build frames, he also taught the craft. One notable student was Joe Breeze, who went on to create the first purpose-built mountain bikes. Eisentraut is known as the "dean" of modern American frame builders. 

The mystery of why the bike is branded as an Austro-Daimler starts in the cellar of a bike shop in Boulder, Colorado, called Morgul-Bismark, which was co-owned by Phinney. The Austro-Daimler branded frame sat in the cellar for years, in pretty rough condition. When the shop closed in the ‘90s, somebody decided to save the frame from getting tossed in the dumpster. 

The frame ended up in the ownership of Vecchio's Bicicletteria, a shop that offers its customers custom-builds and expert mechanical service. Vecchio's is also known for an impressive collection of vintage cycling memorabilia, including this bike. They sent the frame to get repainted and refinished, built the bike up with a Campagnolo groupset, and hung it from the ceiling.

One day, Phinney, the two-time Tour de France stage winner and winner of the 1988 Coors Classic, was at Vecchio’s and recognized the bike. He asked if it was the old frame from the cellar at Morgul-Bismark. The staff at the shop said yes, slightly nervous since they weren’t sure if they were even allowed to have it. 

Phinney expressed relief, saying he was glad the bike was saved. He then revealed that it was originally built for Connie when she rode for a team sponsored by the Austrian manufacturer Puch.

Puch had started the team in 1981 in anticipation of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, which would be the first games to host a women's road race. Connie had briefly retired from cycling in 1979, but after some deliberation, she came back to the sport of cycling. That was a good decision since she won the gold medal in the Olympic road race. 

The frame was built by Eisentraut, one of the greats of American frame building, and rebranded as a Puch.

The same year that Connie joined the Puch team, Davis was without a team. He would travel with Connie to races and serve as a mechanic and soigneur, and after the women’s race, he would race in the men’s race on Connie’s backup bike.

Eventually, a marketing person from Puch offered Davis a sponsorship and he became a one-man team riding for Puch’s sister brand Austro-Daimler, which is how the frame got its Austro-Daimler decals.

“Lord only knows how many race wins are inside that bike,” said Jim Potter, owner of Vecchio’s.

The bike is built up with a Campagnolo Nouvo Record groupset. The Italian company had already made its Record groupset, so when it came out with a new version, it was named with the Italian word for "new" - nouvo. 

The Nouvo Record groupset was made out of aluminium and set the standard for manufacturing derailleurs and other components out of the material. The groupset also had an impact on cycling culture. It can be credited with creating the trend of treating the latest and greatest cycling components as "jewellery" or collector's items.

The American-made frame is adorned with Italian components. The Mavic rims are built around Campagnolo hubs as well, and the handlebars, stem, and seat are from Cinelli. 

The components were installed by Vecchio's, so none of them would have been ridden back in the 80s. 

  • Frame: Custom built Albert Eisentraut
  • Components: Full vintage Campagnolo Nouveau Record 
  • Handlebars: Cinelli handlebars and stem 
  • Wheels: Mavic rims build with Campagnolo hubs 
  • Saddle: Cinelli