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Show & Tell: Mann-Libertas

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Show & Tell: Mann-Libertas

Old 01-03-18, 05:22 PM
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Show & Tell: Mann-Libertas

On a rather beautiful Sunday in October I was in Herentals, Belgium for a vintage bike meeting, and I stumbled upon a Mann-Libertas. Both Mann and Libertas are famous names (in my reality anyway ).

Mann
Mann, or rather Doctor Mann, was the fictitious inventor of the "Wondrous Mann Powders" that would cure just about anything, from a simple headache or flu to mental disorders or an unhappy family life in general.



They would make you as happy as a bird:



The recipe was invented by the Antwerp apothecary Maurice Gemoets, and marketed very successfully in the fifties and sixties. Part of the Mann marketing approach was the sponsorship of a professional cycling team. They were active from the late fifties to the early seventies and big guns such as Briek Schotte and Herman Van Springel rode for Mann:



Libertas
The brand was started by Jules Spagnaerts in Niel, Belgium, in 1919. He was sponsoring riders as early as 1931 and from the late forties to the mid eighties Libertas was a regular in the pro peloton. Most famous riders in their ranks were Stan Ockers (world champion in 1955) and Rik Van Looy, the emperor of Herentals, and world champion in 1960 and 1961:



Mann and Libertas
They did a couple of spells together, and this combination is probably best-known from the Mann-Grundig period (1968-1970). They looked good, with their golden bikes and yellow shirts:




Back to the bike on that Sunday in October. It was my size, the price was reasonable and the seller a nice man, so the bike ended up in the back of my trusted WJ a couple of hours later. When I got it home it looked like this:



It is from 1970 and not a particularly high end frame. It had seen better days, the fork had been replaced at some point in time, the last mechanic that had worked on it had obviously thought zip ties far superior to braze-ons and the eclectic mix of parts parts ranged from rather exquisite Zeus shifters and the pretty TA Professional cranks to a cheap Shimano Tourney rear derailleur and matte black Saccon brakes.

It took me a while to decide what to do with it, and I ended up spending most of December rebuilding it as a rider, while trying to retain the charm that made me buy it. I didn't dare use the old butchered saddle it came with, so I replaced that with a well-used Brooks. Brakes are the ubiquitous MAFAC "RACER"s and the transmission is taken care of by Huret Allvit. The first test rides were a nice surprise. It feels quite nimble and much lighter than it actually is: 11.6 kg as pictured.



BTW, there's nice Mann-Libertas on this forum that actually has the correct team colors. It's owned by fellow member @Munny and can be seen here, but is best sampled on this forum.
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Last edited by non-fixie; 11-16-19 at 10:48 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-03-18, 05:50 PM
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Great history/background post N-F, and the refurbishment of the Libertas is not too shabby either. Love that orange livery and the components, especially the MAFAC brakes. Nicely done sir, very nicely done.

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Old 01-03-18, 05:57 PM
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Yes, great looking bike with a healthy dose of history with it. Glad to read that you got a nice riding bike from all that figuring.
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Old 01-03-18, 06:00 PM
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Beautiful job paint matching on the fork. Nice looking ride!
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Old 01-03-18, 08:09 PM
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Another wonderful completed project from the unfixed one!

Queries -

What did you employ for the round things? Noticed they differ from what came with it.

Has it taken much getting used to to operate the Freres Huret mechs with the standard size drums on the King-Of-The-Gods shift levers? Would expect the RH lever to be just about parallel with the DT when la catena in on the large cog. ("Don't try this with a conventional 6V gear block boys and girls.")


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Old 01-04-18, 03:14 AM
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Nicely done!
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Old 01-04-18, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
snip....
Queries -

What did you employ for the round things? Noticed they differ from what came with it......snip
Man, all these "Technical" terms
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Old 01-04-18, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
Man, all these "Technical" terms

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Apologies if I wax to esoteric. Think it important we use proper terms here on C&V out of respect for our subject.

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Old 01-04-18, 09:03 AM
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Cue Rodney Dangerfield.....
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Old 01-04-18, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
Cue Rodney Dangerfield.....
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Hope he is getting some in his present abode.

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Old 01-04-18, 09:51 AM
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The pump completes the picture.


A most excellent post @non-fixie.
Now all we need is Dr Mann's formulation for smiles. Any ideas there????
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Old 01-04-18, 12:56 PM
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Thank you for the kind words, my friends. Much appreciated.

@qpcmsame: The MAFAC brakes were a no-brainer. They were the de facto standard for bikes like these, they work well and look the part. The only real room for improvement is in the levers. They are very effective ("un doigt suffit!"), but require big hands. I've been told that in the early days riders with smaller hands often combined MAFAC brakes with Universal levers, which sit somewhat closer to the bars. Weinmanns would be even more comfortable, IMO.



@satbuilder: the credits for the paint color on this fork goes to a very young girl who was standing in for a colleague (who couldn't be bothered to give up his coffee break) at the paint counter of a local DIY store. I walked in one Sunday afternoon with a couple of frames under my arms, asking for matching paint. She was WAY out of her comfort zone, but ended up doing a perfect job, at least on this can. (Watch this space for a light blue bike to see how the other color turned out.)
I ended up doing just one coat with a paint brush, as I didn't want it to look too perfect, in order to match the patina on the frame. All in all I'm really happy with the result.

@juvela: the original round things were somewhat miss-matched and needed a lot of attention. Not to mention that they also were tubular round things. As I was just refurbishing another pair of round things that also had high-flanged little round things (which I like better than low-flanged little round things on a bike like this) at the same time, I chose the easy way out and used those for the time being. The hard big round things are a bit too modern, and if I like the bike (and it currently looks like that) I will go one of two ways: either restore a nice tubular round thing set or, should I decide to take it with me to Eroica Limburg and/or Britannia, replace it with a nice set with high-flange little round things and clincher big round hard things, so I can use my favorite folding soft round things. For the Retroronde, which seems to be back on this year (hurray!), I might actually try a 27mm tubular soft round thing set, as Belgium has always been a "tubular soft round thing country".

WRT the Allvit rear mech: it does indeed take a man's size throw of the lever to shift it from the smallest to the largest cog. And if I were a racer I might find that a little cumbersome. But I'm not, and since it works quite smoothly otherwise, I'm happy with it.

@Wildwood: that pump was a stroke of luck. I'd picked it up at another sale and had not put it away yet when I was building this bike. I just picked it up, mounted it and spent all of thirty seconds being very pleased with myself.

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Old 01-04-18, 06:31 PM
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Thanks very much for the response non-fixie!

Can you say something regarding decision to change pedals?

Is Herr Mann's pillar now a Sakae Ringyo P3?

wrt young lady and colour matching -

Anyone who has ever watched a woman at the cosmetics counter will know just how fine is their sense of colour, whether experimenting with new ones or matching an existing... They are in their element there and time stands still, no matter how long it takes to get things to their liking; much like us looking at rusty cycle fittings.

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Old 01-05-18, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
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Can you say something regarding decision to change pedals?
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The one that came off it were Mikashimas. And as I had a pair of Lyotard 15S pedals lying on my desk that I wanted to try anyway, I thought this to be a good opportunity. Didn't give it too much thought, really.

Originally Posted by juvela View Post
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Is Herr Mann's pillar now a Sakae Ringyo P3?
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Yes. A little too late for this bike, but the only 26.2 post (or at least identified as such) I had at hand.
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