What we have here, my fellow bike geeks, is an:
Albert Eisentraut “Limited”
Size: 53cm x 53cm
Color: Metallic Green
Frame#: 75L355 (made in 1975; “L” Limited; #355)
If you don’t know right away what this is, as I didn’t, pay attention, because you’re going to love it.
Albert Eisentraut is an Oakland based custom bike builder. A true bicycle blue-blood if ever there was one. Born into a Chicago bike racing family, cycling was omnipresent throughout Albert’s young life. Apparently, Albert started toddling around bike shops at age three. As a young man, he raced and worked at famed Schwinn Paramount maker Oscar Wastyn’s shop, his father’s racing buddy. Oscar’s work first put the idea in young Albert’s head that he could make bikes. In 1959, Albert followed in Oscar’s footsteps making his first bike frame in his father’s basement with a jig he welded at a local ironworks. A swift timeline of the next twenty years includes: joining the military, moving to California, partnering up with Peter Rich, opening Velo-Sport in 1970 in Berkeley, taking a life changing trip to visit European bike builders, and eventually opening his own eponymous shop in Oakland.
Today, Albert has come to be considered “The Dean” of modern (post-Korean War) U.S. custom frame builders. He did this by building impeccable frames that were highly sought after by racers including John Howard and Connie Carpenter. More importantly, he taught his craft to the next generation. Like Rembrant’s studio, Eisentraut opened up his work-space to students who were inspired by the master. Notable students are Bruce Gordon, Joe Breeze, Mark Nobilette and Bill Stevenson.
Demand for Eisentraut custom frames grew, straining the production capabilities of a one man bike atelier. To seize upon this opportunity and provide handmade frames to those pining for an Eisentraut but unable to afford full custom prices, Albert launched a “Limited” line of production bikes. These “Limited” bikes were, like his custom bikes, hand crafted beauties that were made in standard sizes. Production was still all in-house but actual construction was entrusted to skilled builders whom he trained. It is rumored if you ride a “Limited” you most likely are riding a Bruce Gordon hand built frame. Not too shabby for a second label brand.
This particular bike was donated to Trips For Kids by an older gentleman who had purchased it for his wife to tour mainland China during Deng Xiaoping’s “Open Door” policy. This example looks to be all original including the nice bright metallic green paint. The mixed Suntour Pro gruppo, bar-end shifters, clincher rims, fender and rack eyelets all show clear touring intent. However, the scroll cut lugs with spade cutouts, semi-fastback seat clamp, and Campagnolo dropouts nod to its’ clear thoroughbred race lineage. This is a true example fine American craftsmanship.