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 .

 

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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 .

 

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Perks

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 .

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Perks

 

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 .

 

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Perks

 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.

 

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Perks

 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 .

 

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Perks

 

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 .

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Perks

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

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Legnano Arrival

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

 

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Shorter

 

 

 

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.

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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 .

 

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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 .

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Legnano

 

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 .

 

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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 .

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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 .

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Holdsworth Professional sl

Me and Alf Engers

How many current cyclists even know who Alf Engers is and what he did for cycling?

 

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Alf Engers on his Shorter

It’s a name I have heard of over the years and often linked to tales of his epic time trialing skills and  the different ways he used to lighten his racing bike by drilling holes or trimming excess material away . He is often seen riding a “ Shorter “ bike in a lot of the pictures when you do a “google image” search .

 

So when I saw a Shorter & Rochford for sale a few weeks ago locally it was too good an opportunity to miss , an appointment was made to go and view the bike that the original owner had used for time trialing and as far as I was told he was sponsored by Shorter & Rochford , so he must have been quite good at it .

 

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Shorter

 

Once I saw the bike in the flesh I knew it was coming home with me , things like the chrome front forks , shot in rear stays , fantastic colour and the general condition were all plain to see and made the decision for me .

 

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Shorter rear mechanism Hurett Jubille

 

A quick look around and I spotted that most of the components fitted were all from the late 70’s to early 80’s era and were all of the quality you would expect . The gear train is a mixture of Simplex levers ,Suntour front mechanism ,Huret rear Mechanism , Campagnolo chain set that were  all nice and clean with little sign of use .

 

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Shorter Hurett Challange / success Gear levers

 

The brakes are what appear to be first generation black dura ace calipers operated by matching drilled dura ace levers. They even had the original dura ace brake blocks that squealed at the slightest touch, I should think that they have aged over the years, so these have been replaced by more modern Clarkes items .

 

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Shorter Rear Shimano 1st generation Black Dura ace calipers

 

It was fitted with a set of sprint and tubs of mixed origins , sadly the tubs were well perished and a gentle ride around the block soon revealed that these were not safe to use . I decided not to use sprint & tubs so found a nice set of Clinchers wheels in the garage and fitted them , these are made up with Shimano Exage hubs laced on to Wolber GTX rims . This wheelset is slightly more modern than the rest of the bike but I don’t think they look out of place .

 

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Shorter

 

The only other changes I have made have been to suit my set up i.e. swapping the 70mm quill stem for a longer 115mm 3TTT unit , replacing the short and nicely fluted Sr seat post for a longer modern black one and then a swap of pedals . These changes have enabled me to mirror the set up dimensions of a couple of my slightly larger framed bikes I have in my collection that I find so comfortable .

 

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Shorter

 

A couple of short round the block rides confirmed that the set up felt good and the three 10+ mile rides I have covered so far also felt good .

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It’s a lovely looking bike that should be a pleasure to own and keep . I am certainly looking forward to doing some more miles on this as time goes by . As for whether it’s a keeper or not it’s too early to say for sure .

 

Conquest Saddle

I am sure like me you have heard of the Norman Conquest that happened way back in the 11th century when Norman, Breton, and French soldiers led by Duke William II of Normandy invaded England .

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However, I had never heard of the Brook’s Conquest saddle before last Sunday when I collected a second hand mid 90’s Giant Ladago mtb bike that the previous owner had fitted. By the look of the bike and saddle neither had seen a lot of use over the years .

 

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Giant Ladoga

 

Since getting the bike road ready on Monday I have used the bike every day as my main commuting machine racking up 35 miles in total , hardly earth shattering but enough to get an idea if a saddle is comfortable or not . I have found it very comfortable indeed and I intend to fit it on to one of my road bikes to see how it is with narrow road tyres compared to wider and softer all terrain tyres .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

As with most of the Brook’s saddles its made with a leather seating area on a metal sprung chassis with a front adjuster so you can keep the leather tensioned to suit your requirements . The one thing I did to it straight away was to apply a coating of leather treatment to the upper side and then a day later I applied another coating to the underside as well .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

It’s got the typical hand hammered rivets and name badge on the rear face that are synominous with the Brook’s range of saddle’s , it’s just a shame it hasn’t got saddle bag loops as well .

 

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Brooks Conquest

 

I am sure there will be loads of cyclist’s out there that swear that Brook’s saddles are the best thing since slice bread , I must admit I am not a great user of their products as I prefer the more modern looking range of Selle smp saddle’s especially the lite 209 model which has the added bonus of being prostate friendly .

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From the land of the rising sun

“You ride a what ?”

 

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Panasonic dx6000

“They don’t make bikes do they ?”

 

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Panasonic dx6000

Over the last few months I have been lucky enough to track down a Bridgestone Synergy RB02 and a Panasonic DX6000. Both of the above reactions have been some of the replies I have had from people who have asked me what I was riding at the moment .

Bridgestone Synergy rb2

 

Both the parent companies are better known for products not normally associated with Cycling , although Bridgestone do make tyres and bikes use tyres I am not aware of them making pushbike tyres , Panasonic are better known for electrical products .

 

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Panasonic tv

 

Both of these bikes are built around steel lugged frames , the Bridgestone is made with Ishiwata 4130 cro mo tubing whilst the Panasonic seems to be made with Tange 1 tubing and both provide the very smooth ride you normally get when riding a quality tube set . They both tip the scales at under 11kg so even though they are not the lightest they are far from the heaviest bike out there .

Bridgestone Synergy rb2

 

It would be a tough decision to decide which one is the better of the two bikes as both are very similar. The Panasonic has the slightly better spec out of the pair in my mind with Shimano 600 Tricolour as standard fitment. Although over the years mine has lost the rear wheel and the chain rings are not the normal round rings but Bio space items.  The Rb 02 has Shimano exage equipment and a set of unidentified hubbed wheels that I added to replace the original Wolber rimmed items , which are finding their way on to my Shorter .

 

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Shorter Rochford

 

So far the Bridgestone has covered more miles but then I have only owned the Panasonic less than 5 days and has so far only covered about 25 miles in my ownership whereas the Bridgestone has done nearer to 200 miles . I don’t think either have had an extra hard life prior to them coming under my ownership , they both have a fair degree of age related paint defects and marks on them which I think adds to the character of a bike .

 

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Panasonic dx6000

Neither of them have mudguard or rack mounts which is a real shame as they would both make ideal winter or wet weather bikes never mind touring machines . I am hoping to get a few more miles in this weekend on the Panasonic which I will hopefully enjoy covering . At present the Bridgestone is sat in the garage not being used and has been advertised for sale a couple of times but has so far not found a new owner but then I have not tried too hard to sell it .

 

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Panasonic dx600

Carrera by Podium

You know how some bikes look like they are moving fast even when they are stationary……

 

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Carrera by Podium

 

I think the Podium Carrera is one of those bikes , whether it’s the paint job that does it or the actual appearance of the whole machine, I am  not sure.

 

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Carrera by Podium

 

Please do not mix this Carrera up with same name branded bikes that are sold by Halfords in the Uk as this is made by entirely different company who are based in Calcinato in Italy . They were formed by the ex pro rider Davide Boifava and Luciano Bracchi in 1989 and have gone on to notch up over 500 victories around the world in some very prestigious events .

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From what I can make out my bike dates from around 1998 – 99 and if you look on the hall of history page on the company web page a few pictures show the same colour scheme being ridden by people a shade more famous than me in cycling events around the world .

 

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Carrera by Podium

 

Mine is fitted with an almost full Shimano Ultrega 6700 group set apart from the brake calipers from the same era , so all in all a well specified bike . The crank is an octalink version which combined with Italian threading on the bottom bracket made life fun obtaining a new unit to replace the rather worn one fitted when I purchased the bike but Chain Reaction Cycles came to the rescue . The only other issue I have had with this machine was a rather tight quill stem that took some getting out but Plus gas saved the day but also washed away a lot of the grease in the headset so as a matter of course I have stripped and regreased the headset bearings .

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The rest of this machine has behaved faultlessly over the miles I have covered so far although to date this is less than a 100 , so early days for sure . The only other change has seen the yellow saddle being replaced by one of my Sell smp lite 209 units .

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Apart from a few little marks the paintwork is in fairly good condition and certainly looks presentable enough and a few of these marks might actually disappear with some t cut and elbow grease . The blue bar tape is a bit grubby but again is useable once I have done a few more miles I will have a go at either cleaning it or replacing it .

 

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Carrera by Podium

The frame is made with Oversized aluminum tubing along with what I believe to be alloy fork blades with a steel steerer that have a small degree of rake to them which I feel helps with the damping of the forks . It’s a nice stiff frameset that is not overly heavy and is fairly smooth on the bumpy back roads that most of my miles seem to be over .

 

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Carrera by Podium

The flightdeck sti units have a fair degree of wear on the blades but function as smooth as any other set I have tried before . The miles that have been covered so far has certainly impressed me and I am looking forward to getting a few miles in on this fine machine as to whether it being a keeper or not is very hard at the moment as there have been a couple of great recent arrivals since this one .

 

50 Miles on a Holdsworth

Last Saturday I was up and out of the house by 5.16 am with the intention of riding down and across to the market town of Olney and then making a decision on which route home I was going to take .

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Olney Town Sign

 

My chosen bike was the Holdsworth Professional sl that I recently acquired , which has been fitted with a selle smp saddle which I find very comfy indeed .  The furthest I have ridden this bike is 23 miles . I set off going through the town centre and towards Little Irchester so that I covered those busy roads before the vast majority of people were even awake .

 

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Holdsworth Professional sl

The outward bound route in my mind took in the following Villages Irchester , Poddington ,Hinwick ,Odell ,Harrold ,Carlton,Turvey where I cross over the A428 heading towards Newton Blossomville and then on to Emberton and the A509 . It was here that I decided to carry on and turn left towards Milton Keynes and then take the right turn towards Filgrave and Tyringham .

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St Peters Church just passed Tyringham marked the first proper stop of the ride where I actually got off the bike for more than few seconds to take a picture . Once back on the bike and over the Great Ouse it was a right turn on to the B526 road and onwards to Gayhurst , Stoke Goldingotn, Eakley ,Horton ,Hackleton this is another stretch of road that I always enjoy riding along in the opposite direction but today I was going well and so was the bike as my average speed over this stretch was quite often nudging 20+ mph and it’s mainly upwards albeit only slightly .

 

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St Peters Tyringham

 

At the Preston Deanery cross roads I turned right and headed for Great Houghton before a quick run on the A428 to Little Houghton and then onwards to Billing Aquadrome and along and up to Ecton where I crossed over the A4500 on to Ecton lane past all the nice big houses that exist on this road . At the end I turned right heading for home and I started to realize that I wasn’t going to be far from hitting the 50 mile mark at the end of the ride so I decided to go home via Mears Ashby once I had gone past Sywell Aerodrome . Mears Ashby is one of those lovely little villages that seem to be a plenty in Northamptonshire  .

 

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Turvey Village Square

As I went down the Mad Mile my Garmin was reading 45 miles and with less than 2 miles to go it was going to leave me just short of the 50 mark so once I entered Wellingborough I rode down Shelley Road , along Northampton road around the town centre and up Park Street along to Broad Green where I was still only showing 48 miles so I headed up the Kettering road and turned right along Kilborn Road and then around the estate where we live a couple of times to take me up to 50.17 miles in total .

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All in all a great ride on a fantastic bike at a higher than average speed and all completed in just over 3 hours in good weather on damp roads when I started out and by the time I got home they were drying out nicely .