Geoff Scott Clamont Columbus MAX bike with Shimano Dura Ace 7403 8 Speed
A couple of months ago a few of us met up for a Friday ride, Bob Christiansen was riding his 1991 Geoff Scott built Clamont Columbus MAX custom bicycle frame. While we were chatting about his bike he asked me if I'd heard of Clamont bikes and Geoff Scott the frame builder. In my case a few things sprung to mind. Once I'd been a member of the Portuguese Cycling Club in Sydney, during the mid eighties we were sponsored by Skipper Spear and Jackson Saws, with Doug Hammond and Frank Conceicao at the helm, Barney St George and Stephen Hodge were a couple of well known riders on the team at the time, although by then mostly racing in Europe. Later we were sponsored by Clarence Street Cyclery, where Geoff Scott had begun to build Clamont frames. When Geoff was building frames under his own name they were branded as 'Gefsco'. That was later. Years before, about 1981 I'd sought out Geoff in the hope that he'd be able to help build a frame for me. As anyone who knew Geoff will tell you, once you've met Geoff - there's a friend for life. I'd raced on Geoff Scott built bicycles for years and still have a reference from Geoff saying that I'd worked in his frame building business during the early eighties. I remember two things clearly about 'working' for Geoff. Once I mowed his 'lawn', the forest of grass was more than a metre high, it took about a day to mow it into submission. A couple of tins of two stroke fuel later and a hidden swimming pool appeared from Scottie's grass forest - it was obvious that Geoff's swimming pool hadn't been used for quite some time, a family of turtles had made the dark murky pond their home. Apart from that I remember doing some sand blasting for Geoff at one time and filing some lugs at Gefsco Custom Bicycles for a couple of days. So really I'd helped out a bit, raced his bikes and if you know Scottie, drank some beers with him - actually that's putting it mildly - there were some wild nights in there too.
I trained a lot with Russell and Byron Tucker who were living in Sydney at the time, we all rode Gefsco's. We spent a lot of time racing at Tempe velodrome, Russell raced at the nationals the year the team was selected for the L.A. Olympics - Geoff managed to drag himself away from his shed to come and watch Russell race. I found a picture of Scottie at the track that year, dressed in his customary dirty-white overalls, he must have lived in those overalls, maybe apart from when he jumped on a motorbike....but even then? Bob's Clamont frame is painted in the Australian team colours, harking back to that time. "The Aussie Olympic color scheme is striking and soooooo 80s" Bob's question answered we moved on to his story.
Bob was living in the US and back in Oz for a visit in 1991. Bob said "I was killing some time in Sydney before I was due to fly back to the US and went into Clarence St Cyclery to have a look around. Geoff was in the shop at the time to deliver a new frame to a client and I struck up a conversation with him and realized he was quite a character, with a long frame-making pedigree. I had been considering having a custom steel frame made back in the US but was very impressed with Geoff and the frame he had there at the time. I was interested that he had made the frames for the Australian team for the LA Olympics.
I asked him how long his waiting list was, and he told me 10 months. I told him I was leaving for the US the next day, but that my wife was returning in 2 weeks. For whatever reason, he said to me that he'd make a frame for me in time for Lorraine to bring it back to the US with her. We spent the next few hours talking about style, tubing, geometry etc etc. I decided to go with the Olympic team design and color scheme (current color scheme), Columbus Max tubing - and the straight forks - which were pretty revolutionary at the time. My wife arrived back in the US with the frame and fork and along with my American friends were blown away by the quality of the workmanship etc etc.
I built the bike up with Dura-Ace (7403 series - 8spd) with the first STI (integrated brakes/shifters) and dual pivot brakes, Mavic Stem (StrongLite headset) and Scott drop bars.
In keeping with the Aussie theme, I was able to source Velocity Alloy 6106 rims/wheels in the US, and they are still on the bike today.
Rode the bike regularly in the US and brought it back to Oz when we moved back in 1998. Moved on to other bikes, but kept the Geoff Scott, finally having it restored/repainted to it's current original condition by Joe Cosgrove in 2009.
I ride the bike every Friday and it is still an absolute delight and attracts a lot of admirers at the coffee shop. The Aussie Olympic color scheme is striking and soooooo 80s!
In it's day, it was considered a very light steel bike, but it is almost twice the weight of my Cannondale SuperSix Evo.
It's a very comfortable ride, very stable and very QUIET. We forget just how much carbon fiber tubing amplifies road and tire noise up through the frame.
The drive train is original and seems as good as the day I first rode it. Well done Shimano!"
The file on Geoff Scott is long and extensive there's bound to be more later! Stay tuned.
All photographs by Robert Cobcroft