Words & Photos by Sean Talkington
This Vitus Kas Team bike belongs to Chuck Schmidt from Velo Retro. I first met Chuck when we opened the doors to the original Cub House a few years back and am pretty sure we have seen him every day since. He is a graphic designer/lettering artist by trade and quickly became a shop legend when we discovered that Chuck created the coolest Eddy Merckx logo ever. The guy is also responsible for the lettering on some of the most iconic album covers and posters spanning across multiple generations of the world’s best stuff. Take your pick: Star Wars summer release poster, re-design of Hot Wheels logo, re-design of Road & Track logo, Parliament/Funkadelic, John Denver, Donna Summer, Sports Illustrated 25th Anni cover, fonts for ABC and CBS… It’s wild!
On top of his talents with a pencil, Chuck also happens to have quite a wild collection of bicycles that he slowly trickles into the shop for all of us to drool over. He likes to dangle the fancy bike carrots to keep us chomping at the bit (and it works). The most recent to roll through is this Kas Team bike from the late 80’s. The bike was produced in France by Vitus. Kas was a Spanish-based professional cycling team which was active from 1958 until 1979 and again for three years 1986-8 and they have been sponsoring pro teams since the late 1950’s.
The anodized and lugged aluminum made them quite unique when Vitus began producing aluminum lugged frames in the late 70’s. I have never owned or ridden one but have heard some mixed reviews on the ride quality. (Ride quality great, handling on steep descents not confidence inspiring.) Regardless of what it’s like to ride, the build and sponsor stickers make this bike one of my personal all-time favorites. Kas was a Spanish soft drink company with some upper management who happened to fancy the Tour de France. When the person who dreamt up the team from Kas passed away, the team was disbanded soon after. Once Kas was finished the remaining framesets from the team were then sold to Euro Asia Imports where Chuck bought this frame in the 90’s. Most Americans had zero connection to a Spanish beverage company and removed the stickers but good ol’ Chuck kept them on (luckily for us) and the finished product has remained intact. Some people might say that this bike is a French noodle and that could actually be true, but Sean Kelly raced on one and even won The Vuelta in 1988 while racing for Kas, plus it sure does look cool, so whatever…IT’S RAD! If you know Chuck then you know that he has an eye for the details. Nothing is ever overlooked and this bike is no exception.
Velo Retro hosts a monthly vintage bicycle ride from the Rose Bowl on the first Sunday of every month and I highly suggest you visit if you ever find yourself in the area. All types of bikes are welcome but you will most definitely see some great old bikes if you happen to partake. Find out more at Velo Retro!
See more of Chuck's Vitus in the gallery below.