We all know that bicycles manufactured in Italy, France, England and Belgium are special, however it's easy to overlook the fact that the Spanish also have a serious love affair with bikes.
The Spaniards are as passionate about cycling as the rest of us and their cycling history clearly shows this to be the case.
The 'Zeus' brand (pronounced Zoose i.e. Loose with a 'Z') was founded by Luis ARREGUI in Spain around 1926. This makes the brand about 10 years older than Campagnolo.
Zeus was a complete bicycle manufacturer and was the only bicycle manufacturer in Europe to make its own bicycle frames and bicycle components, thus manufacturing complete bicycles.
Zeus made many attractive and exotic components, and in the eyes of some were often accused of copying Campagnolo - perhaps the Italians were a little jealous! Zeus ceased manufacturing bicycles in the early 1980's due to the highly competitive bicycle market.
The brand had many outstanding features, the most obvious feature was that because they made their own components many of the components were pantographed with the Zeus branding.
Here is a well maintained example of a rare Zeus 2000 series bicycle from the early 1980's...it was one of their final magnificent creations!!
You'll notice The Zeus pantographing on the headset, brake calipers, derailleurs, fork crown, cranks, and even the crank bolts....if they made it, they had it pantographed!!
And for your ongoing pleasure there's also a bit of 'drillium' on the chainrings, rear derailleur and brake levers.....
...and this fine example supports a brown suede Zeus racing saddle and is presented to you in the famous colour of Molteni orange!
James @ PVC
Very interesting article. I've seen Zeus front and rear derailleurs that look almost identical to early Campag Gran Sport. So which one is the original?ReplyDelete
Zeus (Spain) went defunct on June 15, 1988. They were founded in 1926. The "pantographing" of the brand name you speak of was actually forged or stamped into the part, not added after manufacture. All of the milling and drilling was done by hand- it is not uncommon to find an occasional misplaced hole or marks in fluting.ReplyDelete
Their component lineup included Alfa (no Zeus markings), Super Alfa (no Zeus markings), Gran Sport, Criterium, 2000, 2001 (brakes only) Amateur (VERY tough to find), Supercronos, New Racer, and the almost non-existent Cosmos. It is rumored that the Cosmos group (FD, RD, crank, pedals, shifters) were made by Simplex (France) but there is virtually no information since there doesn't seem to have been any catalog or even official mention of it.
From about 1971 to 1978 the component specs for the high end stuff changed so much that it was possible to find some nearly one-of-a-kind component variations.
Regarding similarities to Campagnolo, it was relatively well known that Zeus used Campy as a basis and then improved upon it whenever they could, then Campy returned the favor by doing the same to them. Some Zeus innovations are still seen today... like the braze-on front derailleur, the use of titanium, using allen-key bolts instead of hex head, and the microadjusting seat post.
It seems that the reason Zeus dissolved was because of the contention in the ranks of building complete bicycles. Since the boss wanted to continue building them their destiny was sealed.