Entrepreneur Pete Benedict, the owner of Meridian and Metro Cycles in South London regularly attended the Milan Cycle Shows in the 1950s and was apparently known to cycling magnate Emilio Bozzi. His shop in Sutherland Road, Forest Hill boasted a genuine Italian Coffee bar which he called Café des Sports that sold Café-Carpano who were at that time the sponsor of the ‘campionissimo’ Fausto Coppi.
He had a vision to create the British rival to these famous Italian names such as Cinelli, Coppi Fiorelli, Frejus and others that had become increasingly popular. He gave the name Grandini to this new marque. To realise his ambitions he engaged the help of the innovative frame builder Bill Philbrook who came up with a frame that had fastback stays, beefy seat lugs with a novel Allen Key binder bolt, Grandini drop-outs and fully flush or barrel fork crowns of his own design in an homage to these great Italian marques. These two fork designs were a styling choice for the most expensive model – the Grandini Super Corsa whose selling point was it had better quality chrome than any Italian bike.
Further publicity was gained when the Trinidadian rider Clyde Rimple took one to the Rome Olympics in 1960 that cost £70. However, with only one frame builder these were never made in large numbers and eventually the Grandini became standardised with unique lugs of an arrow head design again created by Bill Philbrook.
Clearly the venture was not an overriding success and the Grandini name along with the Meridian and Metro marques were sold to Ernie Young of Youngs Cycles who relaunched them at the 1967 Lightweight Show. Only the Grandini survived the test of time but as Bill Philbrook was a notoriously slow and meticulous builder some frames of a different design had to be sourced from elsewhere. Frames sold under this name were made up until the end of the 1980s.
Info: Bryan Clarke