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Bike collections No.1: Kadir Guirey

Jordan Gibbons
2 Nov 2016

Cyclist rummages through one man’s hoard of bikes and paraphernalia, and gets the story behind a minor obsession.

Kadir Guirey is an eclectic man. He was once a skateboarding pro; he was the lead singer of the band Funkapolitan (appearing on Top Of The Pops in 1981); he spent some time as a record producer; and he’s second in line to the former throne of Crimea. He also has a collection of around 20 bicycles, 30 frames, 60 jerseys as well as an unending collection of components, ephemera and minutae.

‘I mean, I chucked a lot of stuff away and really regretted it, so now I just keep everything,’ says Guirey.

‘It drives everyone insane and I’d like to edit it down really, but when you chuck something away, 15 years later it becomes the one thing you should have kept. So now I just keep it all and it takes up all my life.’

Guirey has kindly invited Cyclist into his home to search through old boxes and cupboards to get the stories behind some of the bits and bobs in his impressive cycling collection. 

Our first question is, obviously, where does it all come from?

‘Well, I used to do a lot more eBay trawling back in the day, and of course people hadn’t really cottoned on to buying things from auction sites internationally,’ says Guirey.

‘You could find things a lot easier, or you would just come across them. Like my Merckx book. It was just some bloke in Ghent who had it.

‘I was searching for some Merckx chainrings on Belgian eBay and suddenly this book just popped up. I knew straight away that it was really interesting as Eddy had signed it. I sweated over it for ages and I put about £500 on it. Anyway, no one else bid on it so I didn’t have to pay that much. I can’t really remember now.

‘With collecting it’s a gamble because you don’t know what you might get. Like these forks, for example. I wanted them replated but they sent them back to me, saying, “They’re full of holes, they’re like cheese.” So I had them sent up to Cliff Shrubb [the late, great London-based framebuilder] and he put some new blades on it in the correct way and the next week another set of forks appeared online in perfect condition. It cost me just as much to get my set repaired, but I’ve saved them because it’s the last bit of welding Cliff did. He died about 10 days later. Heart attack, I think.’

By his own admission, Guirey’s collection has no particular direction. It’s not specifically rare bicycles he’s after, or items from certain periods in pro cycling history. Instead it’s the people and the places that the items represent that Guirey loves: ‘What’s wonderful is that you find people’s stories. I found this Vitus once, or maybe an Alan, I don’t remember. Anyway this chap had this bike, an old Cafe de Colombia one, and I asked him how he got it. Turns out his father was a DS and I said, “Well, the only Cafe de Colombia DS I know is Rafael Jimiani,” and he said, “Yeah, that’s him.” We had this lovely conversation, and you make contact with all these fantastic people. Or you used to anyway, it can be quite few and far between now.’

One thing Guirey isn’t lacking is enthusiasm. We’ve barely finished looking at one item before he puts it down and picks up another, only to be immediately distracted by something else that’s caught his eye.

‘I did go through a phase of buying a lot of shoes,’ he says. ‘This is a fun bit of memorabilia. These Pumas, look, with the recessed moveable cleat. It’s the first example of an aerodynamic shoe I’m aware of.

‘Let’s look at some jerseys. No wait! How about these shoes? Original Puma with the leather soles. From the era where people wore white socks. Cav wore these once actually. I dressed him up for a shoot in a full Molteni kit and he loved the shoes: “Oh these are f***ing great, aren’t they?” he said.’

Glorious chaos

Some collectors can be rather private with their possessions, as if they don’t want others to see them. Guirey is clearly the opposite, although keeping everything in a cellar does present an obvious logistical problem.

‘I like keeping this stuff so I can share it with people and, who knows, they may enjoy it. You wouldn’t want to live with it, though. It’s a bit like a museum, except I have to pack it all away again myself afterwards. A lot of my stuff is in the cellar. You can look around but you can’t really get to anything. “This is the state of Kadir’s life,” you can say. I’ve got this backlog, you see. Other people are much better than me at sorting their collections out.’

The eternal question with any collection is at what point will it be complete? Can it ever end? Guirey thinks not. 

‘I love a window on the past. I can’t help myself,’ he says. ‘Maybe I’ll stop one day. I like finding things but I’m sort of hoping now I could get someone to buy the whole collection from me. It would be a shame to break it all up, you know. Maybe I could sell it all to Bradley Wiggins.’

CAMPAGNOLO SUPER RECORD

‘What’s in here? Oh, first generation Super Record. I had some other lovely Campagnolo stuff but it all seems to have disappeared. I’ve got Simplex shifters though – they had a much better pull on them. A lot of pro riders in the 80s, like Fignon, used these and they just put the little Campagnolo rubber tips on them.

‘You do sometimes hear disaster stories, of course. My friend found the rarest Campagnolo rear mech, which they only made for about six months. It was a little bit pitted so he decided to get it rechromed. He sent it to these chromers and they melted it. He was nearly in tears.’

DRILLED SEATPOST

‘Oh, what have we got here? Look, drillium. This was the fashion once in the Alf Engers era. I wouldn’t ride it, though. I mean, look at it – it would just fall to pieces. I’ve got all these transfers too. They’re rubbish, old transfers – they just rot.’

MERCKX PHOTO BOOK

Perhaps the most unique thing in Guirey’s collection is a signed photo album of photographs of Eddy Merckx. Whoever took them was close to Merckx, but his identity is a mystery. 

‘This is it. The original l’Album d’Eddy. You know we never found out who the photograher is. If you watch La Course en Tete, there’s a bit where Eddy kicks a football and you can see a guy taking a photograph that’s here in this album. It’s in the film. He’s somewhere in there, taking this picture.’

SUNGLASSES

‘What else have we got here? Ah yes, some Rudy Projects and some Oakley Eyeshades. It’s Hinault and LeMond, really. They’re the most uncomfortable things in the world, you know. Who wore glasses back then? Ferdi Kübler maybe? The Swiss guy who foamed at the mouth. I think he wore Persol.’

PRO RACING PENNANTS

‘There was this old pro called Roberto Poggiali or something – he was in the Salvarani team with Gimondi. One of the early super-domestiques, I think. He went on to be a DS at Highroad or something. Anyway, I managed to buy this job lot of musettes off him, but there were also these pennants too.

‘You get these from the Tour de France. This one [on the right] is when you win a stage – I think it’s from a team time-trial or something – and this one is from when you win the GC. The one thing I didn’t get, which I was really upset about, was every dossard he’s ever had from when he was racing. I’d really have liked those.’

JERSEYS

‘Oh God, jerseys. Do you want to look at jerseys? Look at them all. But this is small fry to some of those guys [other collectors] – they have thousands, apparently.

‘I’ve got Jean-Francois Bernard’s skinsuit from when he won the Ventoux stage and wore yellow in 1987. That’s rather special. And a Sean Kelly one – I think it’s Skil.

‘And do you remember when Moreno Argentin won the World Champs? He had this amazing jersey where it looked like the stripes were painted on. I have that somewhere. Of course there’s nothing like that now, they don’t let them f*** with it. In those days you could just make your own one up.’

ALAN FRAME

‘Do be careful of the low roof. I really should tidy up. This is nice – a carbon Alan with lugs. I’m sure I heard a story about all the bonds failing and the tubes falling out.’

CYCLING MEMORABILIA

‘So this is a box I found in Portobello Road and it’s literally somebody’s life in cycling. He’s called Leonard Crickmore and it’s got everything. Look, here’s the invite to his club’s summer dinner dance in 1958. He was part of the BLRC, which was the British League of Racing Cyclists and they promoted road racing, rather than time-trials. They were quite the bunch of rebels in their time. They were really vilified and called a communist organisation. All these guys wanted to do was road race – they didn’t want to get up at 6am and go to the V718 or whatever.

‘Look, here’s his leaflet from San Remo, so he obviously went there. It’s quite moving in a way. I do wonder what became of him. The worry is of course that these sorts of things disappear because you know most people would just chuck it in a skip. It would be a great shame if all this sort of stuff was lost forever.’

BUILDING THE COLLECTION

Guirey has been amassing his collection for years, often picking things up from all over the world. He has an assortment of pre-WW1 Tour de France posters that he ‘picked up in a job lot in Italy’, although it hasn’t always gone to plan.  

‘French auction houses are weird, you know. They’re like cowboys. I was at this one auction and they put the hammer down, then someone said, “Actually, there’s a bid over there,” and they set off again. They just make it all up.’

CHROMED COLNAGO

‘Ah yes, the Colnago. It’s quite something, really. With the titanium parts it’s very lightweight, only 7kg or so. And this Molteni bike, I had this restored years ago but it’s much too large for me to ride. Great shame, really. ‘I like this. It’s a Moser De Rosa. And these are Delta brakes. Everyone loves them but you needed a special 3.5mm allen key and even then they were terrible. 

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