Posted: Monday 08th June 2020
Vic Edwards built his frames in a small workshop in Crow Lane, Romford, Essex. He built under the name of Rondinella which is Italian for Swallow.
I think Vic operated in this way in the seventies to mid to late eighties until sadly a stroke rendered him unable to work.
He had an assistant called Stan Broom who filed his lugs and was a local time-triallist in the Becontree Wheelers. Stan always looked in agony even at the start and Vic ribbed him often about his style.
The Rondinella pictured was the last but one frame he built. It was incomplete and needed the headset fitted and Vic insisted his wife took it to only one other framebuilder: I believe it may have been Brian Rourke. The last frame required even more work and I believe was finished by the same person. He was also building a tandem for some local riders who were to make some sort of record attempt but I’m not sure what happened to this. (See entry below from Roger Chappell)
All Vic’s frames were enamelled by a firm called Bromar at Gallows Corner also in Romford. Prior to having his own business Vic worked for other famous frame builders: these included Hobbs of Barbican, where he told me he built a considerable number of Blue Riband frames, Alf Hetchins, E G Bates and for Monty at Condor. He was both a highly skilled framebuilder and a very good wheelbuilder.
Dave Martin ( email: causio1866(at)tiscali(dot)co(dot)uk ) would like to build up a biography on Vic Edwards and perhaps create a register of machines so he would like any information he can get from owners or viewers who have knowledge which will help him. Dave says that when Vic died he was survived his wife named Doreen who he knows was keen on horses but he has been unable to locate her.
Rondinella – frame No.3355 there is a mark in front of this but I don’t think it is significant. Hubs are Campag marked S-U. Rims Campag Victory Strada with Vittorio Olympionico tubs Levers Mafac, stirrups Shimano 600. Stem 3ttt with Cinelli bars. Cranks and triple rings TA. Gear levers Campag. Front Changer Shimano Cyclone. Rear Changer Shimano Altus. Seat Pin Brevette. It has Shimano clipless pedals fitted but I have the Campag pedals. These are marked Brevete and are fitted with Christophe clips. The components are a bit of a mix but thats how it was. It has a wide set of ratios, hence the Altus changer. It’s a nice lively ride but not so short to be uncomfortable. I did have a Time Trial bike also made by Vic but regretably I sold it.
I think I have the missing tandem built by Vic Edwards, I bought it off Vic Haines in about 1985, and have owned it ever since. It was apparently built to attack either the tandem hour record on the track, or the 25-mile record, It was built for Vic and John Patston but the attack never took place. The serial number is very hard to see as the paint over it is very thick. It looks like 22 3 81.
I was told Vic Edwards built the frame with help from Chas Roberts. The tandem has track ends with a gear hanger brazed on for use on track or road, front forks are by Roberts as they have the Roberts “R” on the crown. I also have a Rondinella solo serial no RO78187 (1978). I hope this can be of some help.
It is with interest that I’ve read your feature about Vic Edwards Rondinella cycles on the classic lightweights website. I remember Vic as a very knowledgeable and likeable craftsman. I still have 2 of his frames, the number of one being RO79238. If I recall correctly all of Vic’s frames (apart from a ‘budget’ range – pretty much standard build with lower quality lugs) were numbered with the first 2 numbers being the year of production; Thus my frame was built in 1979, and was frame number 238. I suspect the last 3 numbers just ran on from year to year ie. there wouldn’t be a frame 80238, but am unsure – it would be nice to know, and would give an idea of total production. My second frame is one of the budget ones and starts with the frame seat tube size 22.
Could it be that Dave Martin’s frame is RO83355 ?? I believe that although Vic was producing under the Rondinella brand name, that he continued to build frames for others including Condor. I recall Vic being very proud od being granted the certificate to build 753 frames by Reynolds, and building the 753 frame that Bob Cary? rode in the Tour of Britain (Badged as a Raleigh).
I have just found your site through a link on the North Bucks Road Club website. So I had a browse at the Rondinella page by David Martin. In this he mentions a tandem built for record attempts. I think 3 were built. I have the first one of the three, I think, which featured in Cycling Weekly in 1978 and have the articles. I bought it from Rina Brown of our club in late August last year and used it in three local 10m time-trials.
But in the meantime, please find attached a picture of the tandem late last year in full flight on the way to a 21.06 in the Bicester Millenium 10 at Weston-on-the-Green near Oxford, beating several 20 minute men by about 1m 20s to 1m 30s (not bad for 2 old blokes, I’m 44 and my stoker is 38).
There is 62 tooth ring on the back although Rina told me they used to use a 67 tooth one, for a top gear of 145.
The frame is still in the original colours at the moment although I am considering getting it resprayed and getting replacement stickers at the end of the season. This year will see an upgrade of the bolt-on components, aero seatpins, lower tri-bars, and new disc and trispoke front wheel, and new campag record rear mech, but I will keep all the old Campag quill pedals, Nuovo Record rear mech etc. For earlier information on the Rondinella tandem see Reader’s Bikes > Rodinella tandem 1978
Below are two scans from the article in Cycling Weekly dated November 11th 1978, page 23. referring to the tandem above:
Vic Edwards split seat tube Rondinella
This frame number RO 82327 was made in 1982 we think. It is one of only two that Vic made of this type. The frame is very light, the head tube and the short seat tube being of remarkably thin walled tubing. The following show the split seat tube in better detail:
Neil Dowie sends a picture of an old friend Paul Tomlinson Becontree wheelers riding what he believes to be the other twin seat tube bike that was made, see below. The split seat tube can easily be seen:
I have owned the frame, a Rondinella ‘road’ type from new in 1980. After stopping racing I did a bit of touring in the early 90’s (including a leisurely LEJOG), using the same bike, with clincher wheels of course. Thereafter, the frame needed a respray by this time, I had a few extra braze-on’s added, including cantilever brakes, resulting in a nice light responsive (73 degrees paralell) audax/touring frame – not sure is this was wise but its done, and the alterations were done by George Longstaff, another good builder of the time…
The bike has not been ridden for about 20 years and I started cleaning it up this week… No real rust, inside of tubes look rust-free so far, and i’ve got it stripped down – all threads are good (greased them every time I took things apart in those days). Wheels need a rebuild (chainstays are 126 mm spacing from new), but I think i’ll soon have it sorted out and helping me to lose a few, quite a few, pounds…
When Geo’ Longstaff added the braze-ons and resprayed it, we tried but could not locate transfers, but with the internet and fancy printing techniques available now, I think I might see if I can get someone to replicate the transfers for the down-tube and head-tube from photographs. If you know anyone who might be able to help?
Other than that, the clean-up is going well and importantly there are no stuck or damaged threads on the frame – always a good start. The only victims are the cheap old shimano pedals, one being well stuck in a TA crank. Tried soaking in paraffin (the best penetrating oil!), boiling water, warming with a torch, and eventually took the pedal/bearings off the shaft, put the crank in a vice with wooden cheeks, and got a big ‘record’ pipe wrench on the spindle – success (will of course crack test the crank(s) with engineer’s blue)…
Vic did have two or three models listed, my road race frame being ‘Tour of Britain’ I think.
Cleaning up is done, thankfully there is no serious rust anywhere, and I can see down inside the seat tube which is totally rust free – I must have greased the seat-post well when I put it in! I’ll forward a photo of two when i’ve finished the complete clean up…
I have obtained some correct pattern decals for the frame, the head-tube one being an original, possibly original old stock, ‘transfer’ type, but I will probably hold off fitting them for the time being as i’m considering getting the frame re-enamelled eventually in its original colour (bright red)…