The Tour du Canada is a top of the line frame and fork set, available in four common sizes (21", 22", 23" & 24").  Other sizes were available as special order items.  The entire set is Reynolds 531 tubing and the drops are forged Campagnolo units.  This is about as good as it gets from a vintage materials used point of view.  The workmanship, on the other hand, is not what one would expect from a top of the line frame set.  Take that comment with a grain of salt.  Very few top of the line bicycle frames, be they English, French or Italian demonstrate great craftsmanship.

The Tour du Canada's frame set is really quite plain.  There are no pantographs.  No unusual features that capture the eye.  Nothing to say this bicycle is special.  The stays and fork blades, however, are unusually thin, almost to the point of being fragile looking and do add little something extra to the frame set.

Though I have been warned that the CCM Tour du Canada frame sets were poorly made, often times not even straight, there were no assembly issues present with this frame.  Everything measured up bang on the money and no tweaking was required to straighten anything out.

I have built the bicycle up a couple of times already, in an effort to get it the way I want it.  At the time of this writing, the CCM TdC sits, as a bare frame beside me, in my makeshift computer room.  It waits patiently for me to get to the full restoration, paint, art work and all.

I did built the bicycle up completely, when I first got it.  It was very early in the riding season, I might add.  I paid very little attention to cosmetic issues, for this build.  My purpose, in this first build, was to determine if I liked the bicycle as a rider.  If it did pass the test, a full restoration would be undertaken.  If the TdC proved worthy, I planned to change-out the down tube shifters for Campagnolo Barcons, identical to the ones that I had on my 1971 Carlton Professional.  The Barcons are very user friendly for vintage friction shifters, although I don't like the looks of the extra cable length running from the handlebars to the down tube cable guide.

The CCM was torn down, cleaned, measured, lubricated and put back together in fairly short order.  I wanted to be sure that everything was working, before I took the bicycle out for a test ride.  Everything on the bicycle was original issue, with the exception of  the Campagnolo Nouvo Record brakes.  The Tour du Canada that I have was issued with Universal 68 brakes, not the Campy set presently mounted and cleverly disguised with Modolo hoods.  I might add that the original Universal 68 brake set, complete with hoods, was include when I purchased the bicycle. It is quite acceptable to run the NR brakes, since the Tour du Canada could be ordered with the Campagnolo brake grouppo.

For the initial build, I decided to run the tubular wheel set that was originally issued with the TdC.  Though I used to despise tubulars, I have decided that I will mount a set on the CCM for its final build.  But this build was not to be the final one.  With that in mind, I rebuilt the Campagnolo high flange Record hubs.  With both hubs rebuilt, each wheel was checked in my home made truing stand and both were found to be well with-in riding tolerances.  The sew-up tires looked old but still held air and they too were use "as is" for the test rides that would soon follow.  I also decided that the original five cog freewheel had an adequate spread, and it too became part of the build once it had been thoroughly cleaned and lubricated.

The saddle that was originally installed on the TdC was a period correct Brooks "Professional" unit but it had seen better days.  I did, however, choose to run it for test rides.  It would later be replaced with a period correct Brooks B17 Narrow and finally with a NOS Brooks "Professional".

Assembled and tuned, looking pretty much exactly the way I received it, the CCM was ready for a test ride.  I had been looking for a Tour du Canada in my size for some time.  I was anxious to see what the TdC had to offer and I decided to brave the early Spring weather.  Though it was very cold, the roads were clear for the most part.  And, I had no intention of going fast or far.  I just wanted to experience the TdC's ride qualities.

The ride proved to be pretty much uneventful.  I had to tweak the saddle position a couple of times to find the "spot" but that was about it.  Everything worked just fine and the bicycle ran straight and true.  At least the frame's geometry was intact with nothing was bent or built out off spec.

Though I didn't push the bicycle in the cold weather, the CCM did seem to accelerate well.  Manoeuvring was a treat and the TdC responded well to the slightest body input.  All in all, a pretty nice bicycle and certainly worth the restorative effort that I was planning on investing.  However, I wasn't satisfied that such a brief test ride actually warranted pursuing such a time consuming and costly decision.  With that in mind, I decided to ride the CCM for one season, pretty much the way it was, with one exception.  I had no intention of spending the summer riding the highways, near my summer cottage, on tubular tires (sew-ups).

These days, I know that tubulars are a great deal lighter than clinchers and offer a nicer feel when ridden. And best possible performance was to be a target for my CCM Tour du Canada.  But performance includes dependability and I don't trust tubulars for a guy my weight.  I would build a bike up with tubular tires one day but not that day.  That said, I did put the original tubular wheel set aside, Campagnolo NR high flange hubs and all.  I just might want to compare the feel to the set I built for the seasons ride.

And today, there are two sets of wheels ready to be installed on the TdC.  The original sew-up set remains intact but will soon be rebuilt, with stainless steel spokes joining the Campy hubs to the original Fiamme rims.  But a second wheel set was prepared for the bicycle and that wheel set has already seem plenty of use.

I had a spare set of Campagnolo Record high flange hubs tucked away.  These I pulled out and laced up to a set of Weinmann concave alloy rims that, while not necessarily period correct, do look as if they belong.  The concave rim is very strong, something a guy my size needs.  The rims are clinchers and 27" in diameter.  I should note that the original tubular rims were supposed to be 27" also.  My bike came with 700c tubulars (thank goodness - where would I find 27" sew-ups today?).

This exercise of having two set of wheels for the bicycle turned out to be a very good idea.  I have finally learned why the sew-up system is so popular.  Tubular wheels just plain work better than their clincher counterparts!  And here is a bit of information to help understand why.

The wheel sets are pretty much identical except for rim and tire choices.  The Weinmann clincher wheel set outweighs the tubular set by a good two and a half pounds.  This additional weight, approximately 10 percent of the total bicycle weight, makes an incredible difference in ride feel.  I have made the decision to run the TdC with tubulars even though the clinchers will certainly prove to be more dependable.  At any rate, I did run the clincher wheel set for a full season and found them to be just fine.

I mounted a set of Michelain World Tour tires on my newly built up wheels and installed the set.  The World Tour tires have a very large profile and were just a tad too big, with the front tire picking up gravel only to have it wiped off by the brake calliper.  Annoying, to say the least, and destructive to boot.  I changed the tires out to a set with a smaller profile.  Tire clearance is no longer an issue and the bicycle performs better with the smaller tires.

Everything else on the bicycle was left in original condition.  The handlebars, later model TTT offerings were left in place for the time being, even though I do not like their appearance.  A set of older, and more appropriate, bars sits, waiting to be installed at the time of full restoration.  The Modolo hoods will disappear at that time, also.  I actually bit the bullet and paid nearly a hundred bucks, for an original Campagnolo NOS set of hoods.  They will be installed, before Spring arrives.

There was certainly no need to change the TTT Record steering stem.  I really like the looks and feel of these old stems and have them mounted on several of my bicycles.

There is one major change in order for the control center.  I am seriously considering replacing the original down tube shifters with the Campy Barcons, mentioned earlier.  It was my great pleasure to experience these shifters on my 1971 Carlton Professional.  I have used Barcon shifters before on an early eighties Raleigh that shared an entire season with me, commuting to and from work.  The Barcons, in the Raleigh's case were Suntour units but they worked every bit as well, and perhaps even better, than their Campy cousins.

One of the few things that I don't like about riding vintage road bicycles is the need to remove one's hands from the handlebars to complete shifts.  This, to me, is dangerous, particularly in busy traffic.  The Barcons remove this need to let go of the bars and I really like that.

The Campagnolo Nouvo Record transmission is in excellent condition and will be part of the final picture, once restoration is complete.  Both front and back chain jumpers are in great shape and there is no reason to look elsewhere for another tranny.  I might, however, change out the rear derailleur pulleys.  The original Campy units are in great condition but I have had a set of NOS vintage Bulls Eyes set aside for a few years now.  The set was acquired at the same time I purchased a gorgeous early eighties Basso Gap and are reputed to work much better than their Campy counterparts. 

The restoration of the CCM will see another major change.  The 50/46 ring combination on the crank set is not to my liking.  I have already found a good deal on a 52 tooth ring and still seek a nice ring with 42 teeth.  However, until I do find a good deal on a 42 tooth count Nouvo Record ring, the 46 will stay.  Once again, compromises will be made, even for the full restorative effort.  I am not a rich guy and I do not like investing a great deal of money in any bicycle.  The CCM Tour du Canada is no exception even though I did pay a good dollar to but it to begin with.

The original Regina five cog freewheel, however will remain.  It offers an adequate 14-22 spread that is to my liking.  However, if I run across a 14-24 spread, it will take the original freewheel's place.  There was a time when I could run straight blocks but those days are no more.  By the end of a riding season, I can push a straight block fairly well but I do prefer a wider gear range these days.

I also intend to leave the original Campagnolo pedals in the box where they are presently stored.  Though the pedal set is indeed period correct and original issue to the TdC, they are not safe to use in my opinion.  I do not like the idea of strapping myself to a bicycle.  If something does go wrong, it is impossible to quickly disengage ones self from the pedals.  Under crash situations, I want to be able to separate myself from the bicycle as quickly as I can.  Straps will not allow that to happen.

I now run modern pedals on all of my personal bicycles, vintage appearance and feel can stand aside, in this instance.  The modern pedal and matching shoe system is superior to anything that preceded it.  I might add, that the pedals I use are not road pedals.  Nope, they are mountain bicycle issue and great for my riding needs.  For those who have been thinking of going modern in the pedal department, do so.  You will not be disappointed.