Perks of a nice bike

i have wanted to try a good old fashioned steel framed road bike fitted with more modern equipment than I am used to for a while, I have even thought about updating my Ian May with a set of sti’s and modern calipers and a few more gears to play with .



Ian May


As soon as I saw this John Perks road bike advertised I thought that it hit all the buttons I was looking for , i.e. steel framed , modernish componentry , nice looking  and it was a great colour with the bonus of some good condition chromed features . The only downside was the fact that it was over an hour and half away from home .




After a bit of thinking and contacting the owner with a couple of simple questions about the bike  , I decided I would make the effort to go and have a look .




Once the bike was wheeled out of the garage and into the daylight , it became apparent  that the bike had not been used for a couple of years at least with the amount of dust and cobwebs hanging from the wheel spokes . A good look confirmed that a good wipe around with a baby wipe the dust and cobwebs would be gone and a bit of chrome cleaner would get the chromed rear stay and fork crown nice and shiny along with the chromed front and rear drop outs .



 Once the saddle was lifted up to suit me I jumped on and coasted down the sellers driveway and went for a couple of laps of the cul de sac as I still believe a lot can be learnt from a short road test . A few flicks of the campagnolo sti units had both mechanisms moving the chain on to any of the 27 available gears which was nice to see and the a quick pull on the brake lever blades provided a degree of stopping power as well . A price was quickly agreed with the said bike loaded into the car and the return journey was made trouble free.



 The next morning I checked the basics i.e. tyre pressures , saddle height , handlebar position , cable runs and brake operation then went for a trundle around the block a few times before returning home and getting the wet wipes out to start removing the dust and cobwebs . Once the layers of dust were removed the paintwork had a lot more sparkle to it as did the other components. I also took this opportunity to have a good look around it and take in some of the details that I hadn’t fully noticed when viewing the bike .



It’s framework is Reynolds 531 competition tubing and was made by John Perks approx. 15 years ago to the original owners specification and was to be his winter bike hence why it’s got guards fitted front and rear. It was also equipped with a  3 x 9 campagnolo gear set up with matching brake calipers and wheel hubs that were laced on a pair of nice Mavic sup rims . The paintwork is very tidy indeed with just a few little blemishes that look to have been touched up rather than left to the elements .Overall the bike seems to have been well looked after over the years , I just wish they could talk and tell stories about what they have done in the past .




After a couple of days of gentle commuting I decided it was time for a few more miles so I did a couple of pre work 15 mile rides to make an assessment re fit and comfort level.  It soon became apparent that I needed to either swap the stem or move the saddle forward a small amount which seemed the easier option as I was due to fit one of my regular selle smp saddles to it before going further afield . Once the saddle was fitted and adjusted on the rails to give a nice line of sight through the front axle it was time for longer rides .



So far I have covered over 200 miles on this great bike and have really enjoyed using it , and so far it has not let me down . It’s surprisingly agile at times and offers a very relaxed ride under normal conditions but I must admit to achieving 24 mph on the flat at one point whilst I was out on it Sunday and it all seemed to be very controlled and easily done

Legnano Arrival

Another recent arrival is the Legnano road bike that turned up with the Shorter a few weeks ago







For those that don’t know it’s an Italian brand that were sold  or Licensed to Bianchi in the late 80’s, they began producing bikes in 1902 so they are a company steeped in history for sure . So far I have been unable to confirm when it was built or what model it is , the closest I have come to is late 70’s early 80’s for a production date due to Campagnolo Portacatena style rear dropouts . The tubing Is Falck and seems quite light and provides a very nice comfortable ride.


Legnano rr dropout


How much of the componentry is original or not is hard to say what with a mix of Shimano 600 arabasque mechanisms controlled by one suntour power shifter and a campagnolo one , both actually work well and give a nice positive gear selection operation . The superb looking triple arm campagnolo strada crankset has to be one of the prettiest on the market in my opinion . The brake set is a nothing special set of wienmann side pull calipers with matching levers , once the pads were replaced the braking feel and response improved a lot .



Legnano crank


The 3ttt bars and stem are very clean and could almost both be passed off as new items , the black leather like bar tape needed re fitting on the one side due to it having slipped over the years . The tyres the bike came with were well past their best and have been replaced with a set of Mavic Yksion tyres which I am well impressed with It’s the first time I have used Mavic tyres, my normal choice would have been Vittorio Rubino’s . The wheels are made up with early shimano 600 hubs laced on to Mavic red label clincher rims .




One of the few jobs I have done to this bike is to strip and clean the Campagnolo headset and rebuild it with some new fresh grease as it had a rather dead spot on it , this has cured the dead spot and once it was adjusted up after a few miles it now provides a nice feel when moving the bars whilst changing direction . The seat post was raised up to its maximum setting to give me the required height I needed and the fitment of my Selle smp 209 lite saddle finalized the set up of this bike once the Atom 400 pedals were replaced with some more modern Shimano clip in units .



Legnano top headset cup



The 100 miles I have covered so far have been made up with a 43 and a 24 mile ride with the rest being a mixture of daily commutes and or early morning 12 miles loops and I can honestly say it has proved to be one of the nicest bikes I have ridden for a long time and even gives my red Ian May a good run for its money  being my favourite bike to ride . Ok the paintwork has a degree of age related patina but I think it all adds up to a very nice bike indeed .


Ian May


What happens next to this bike I hear you ask , well the answer is that for the moment it’s firmly in the keeping section of the garage and I have been using the dimensions from this to both the Shorter and the Holdsworth to achieve a comfy riding position .


Holdsworth Professional sl