ca. 1980’s Gazelle Champion Modial Special

I’m not usually a big fan of fades, yet I find this to be both tasteful and sexy. For those not in the know, this Gazelle frame and fork was handcrafted in The Netherlands. There’s some real racing history behind this model and the company, as well as some infamy. (All great drama needs a little infamy, right?) I found some great information here.

I decided to build with parts I had on hand. In particular I had in mind a mixed bag of components that I really like. I’d originally thought to run a Suntour Superbe rear derailleur but it wouldn’t throw eight speeds. Instead I went with Shimano 600 tri-color (RD-6400), which indexes six speeds but I am very successfully running eight speeds in friction mode. I discovered that the securing bolt on the 600 front derailleur I planned to use was stripped, so I’m running a newer Ultegra instead. The shift levers are 600; the brake levers are Exage; the brakes are 105. Stepping away from Shimano, the crankset is a Sugino Mighty Aero 52/42 which uses a 110mm bottom bracket, thus I have both a light crankset and a nice, tight Q-factor. I am very pleased with the shifting of the 11-21 rear: it is like butter! The front shifts equally smoothly. The saddle — a Flite — is a bit more modern than the rest of the bike, but I’m good with that.

The housing is Jagwire and if you look closely you’ll notice that there is an intentional mix of red and white to sort of match what is taking place with the paint scheme of the frame.

Even though I experimented with several different components, this build has come together very, very quickly. In fact, the only snag has been that the payment I sent to the previous owner has somehow gotten delayed or lost in delivery. (Thank you very much, USPS.) So now I have to figure out how to cope with a potentially lost cashier’s check.

I’ve only ridden up and down the street a couple of times so far, barely shifting through the range of gears. (And these are pretty tall gears too.) But tomorrow morning we go out for a real ride.

EDIT: Koninklijke Gazelle NV of Holland has conclusively dated this frame to 1982. I, however, remain a little unconvinced as the paint scheme, graphics, and construction details seem to me to better jibe with 1989 catalog specification. The rear spacing and the serial number, however, seem to be the factors most driving to the fine folks at Gazelle.

I’ve also maligned the USPS for a delivery snafu. Turns out I simply addressed the envelope incorrectly (What? You mean those numbers are actually important???) and caused both the seller and myself some anxious moments. Hats off to the seller, who had the patience and understanding to deal with my dyslexia!

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5 thoughts on “ca. 1980’s Gazelle Champion Modial Special

  1. I knew it wouldn’t be too long before you had this beauty built and posted. I really enjoy the very small but effective touch taking in advantage of the split cable housing opportunity on the rear brake. That is the first time I’ve seen anyone pull that off well. Bravo!! Well done machine!

  2. I wish I could say that the cable idea was an inspirational stroke of genius, but here’s how it really played out: I checked my drawer filled with cable housing to see how much red Jagwire was left. Three pieces! I checked the longest piece to see if it had sufficient length to reach between the rear brake lever and the front entry port… perfect fit, with no cutting! I check the second longest piece and bingo! it is a perfect fit for the front brake connect – and again: no cutting! The third – and last – piece fits perfectly between the stay and the rear derailleur… I must be living right!

    But hold on a moment… Crap! There’s a fourth piece of housing needed, of course. Well, I’m out of red, so let’s stick this white piece in for length so I know how much I need… and… well, hold on just a minute longer… that looks pretty darned good… I wonder…

    And that’s the true, unadulterated story!

    Stay tuned, btw. Ride report will be forthcoming – I posted my initial reactions to bike forums this morning, but I’ll wait until I get a few more miles in before jotting down more complete thoughts.

  3. Paul says:

    I too have a Champion Mondial with similar graphics to yours (circa 1989 onwards) but the BB stamp reports a 1984 frame! I actually wondered if these frames languished for 5 years unpainted. Oh well! Mines a pearl white with blue-ish graphics and is awaiting a budget modern build (Soras and Tiagras)

    • I didn’t think about that possibility, but you might have something there. I’ve heard about Raleigh and Schwinn frames that wound up getting built-up years after they were actually welded. It would sure explain what seems to me to be otherwise a pretty major discrepancy.

  4. Gerard says:

    Fun to see that there are others that Experience the Same problem that in Running into at the moment. I’ve Just bought myself an AA Special Champion Mondial. Als in the Same paintscheme. Same decals and not able to identify the correct year. Mine had campy Chorus groupset With 1st gen c-record rear derailleur, 3t stem, cinellr vottom bracket guard and has the racenumber braze on. I also saw your bike at velobase. One thing i noticed is that your bika has a framenumber that has 6 digits instead of 7 gazelle usually used… Mine has the Same thing! I Will try to contact gazelle (in from holland, so that Will be Easy) and Will try to figuren out what is going on. Will Keep you informed

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