MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

P-TOWNSEND  -  INTRO

FINDING THE P-TOWNSEND

BUILDING THE P-TOWNSEND

RIDING THE P-TOWNSEND

 

BICYCLES OF CANADA

 

  

RIDING THE PROCTOR-TOWNSEND

 

During the course of building up the Proctor-Townsend, I began to think, a bit differently, about what the bicycle could be, and should be.  Though a beautiful old bicycle, the P-T could never achieve cosmetic perfection, with the chrome plating blemished, the way it was.  The paint and art could certainly be redone, and would look just great but, in my mind, the patina, presented by the chrome plating, would look out of place along side shiny new paint and art.

So, if the bicycle offered any kind of decent ride quality, I would build it as my regular ride.  The componentry suggested great potential for "user friendliness" and, if I had managed to become any kind of judge of a vintage bicycle's quality at all, the ride offered by the frame set should prove to be just fine.

With the bicycle all built up and working well in the stand, it was time for the first ride.  I love, and hate, the first ride on any old road bike.  It is a Forest Gump and box of chocolates thing, as far as I am concerned.  Will the bike offer the awe inspiring feel of a 1971 Carlton Professional or mundane experience of a lesser bike?  Will the Townsend feel just right, or better yet, will the feel disappear, vanishing from thought which, to me, is the sign of a great ride?  Corny?  I guess, but I am trying to describe how it feels to ride, one quality machine, after another.  Some, really are, just perfect.  The rest are just really good and there is an tangible difference, in my opinion anyway.

After the final going over of the bicycle, checking to ensure that everything was tight and road worthy, I slipped on my riding shoes, donned the cheap helmet, that is due for replacement, and headed for the front street.  The initial part of the first test ride is always the same...

I head up the street, testing first each brake, both for performance and noise level.  If the brakes are set-up correctly and working as required, I increase speed, seeking to test the lower transmission gears.  I am heading up a gentle slope, for phase one of the test.  At the top of the gently grade, I make a U-turn and go back down the street, covering about a three block distance.  With the first down slope pass, I slowly relax my grip, on the handlebars, feeling for any tendency, for the bicycle to pull, one way or the other.  Satisfied that the bicycle tracks true, I begin to ask a bit more of the brakes, seeking to test performance limits.  In other words, I go a bit faster and apply the brakes a bit harder, just to make sure that they will work as expected, even in panic stop situations.

It did not take me long to decide to change out the "as found" pedals that were fitted to the P-T.  Though almost brand new and certainly attractive, they were not to my liking to use.  I prefer the SPD pedal that has two sides to clip into.  Most of my personal bikes, are so equipped, and I can just jump on the bike, clip-in and go.  No trying to flip the pedal into clip-in position, something I find to be terribly annoying.

During this early part of the testing, I might have to adjust saddle height, a touch, just to achieve proper leg extension.  I will pay more attention to fitting, once I take the bike out for a longer and, certainly, more demanding ride.

The Proctor-Townsend performed perfectly, during the early test ride phase, with one frightening occurrence.  During a getting close to panic stop brake performance test, the handlebars tipped forward.  I clearly remember tightening the steering stem bar clamp, but I guess that I did not have it tight enough.  This was something to consider.  I am accustomed to using top quality steering stems, on most of my bikes.  The no name one, selected for the P-T, apparently did not work ,as well as the quality ones, I usually use.  At least I found out about the loose bars, when I was expecting problems to occur.  From this point on in riding bikes, I will give things like the handlebar stability situation the torture test.  I will put extra effort into testing, if the bars are secure or not.

And, this is something for all builders to think about.  How do you plan to test ride your bike?  Jump on it, and take off for a fifty miler, or test it in stages, close to home?  I had to learn the answer to this the hard way, and the teacher was an early eighties Olmo Grand Prix.  I strongly recommend that you test your bike in the stand, then on a quiet street, close to home, and slowly at first.  Make sure everything is actually working!  Make sure that everything, that needs to be tight, IS tight.  Make sure that you are prepared for just about anything.  And sometimes, anythings can put you on your butt, or head, or shoulder, in the blink of an eye.

With the handlebars tight, for sure this time, I returned to testing the bicycle.  Though I had achieved speed, I still had not shifted, to the big ring of the bike.  I repeated the torture test of the handlebars, as soon as I got the bike back on the street, and all was finally well in that department.  Next, it would be time to seek a longer stretch of road, and jump the chain up onto the big ring.  Back to the work stand...

The left shifter, the one I had bought off of Ebay a couple of months earlier, was not shifting well.  The front derailleur would shift up, and then jamb.  Downshifts were a no-go.  What to do?  And, that is a pretty sincere "what to do", since I am pretty unfamiliar with the more modern road bicycle, and all the fancy tickety-boo stuff that they are fitted with.

I posed my not working Brifter question, to the Bicycle Forums and possible solutions, to the problem, were quick to come my way.  The simplest solution was to flush the lever out with WD-40 and try again.  Yep, that did the trick, and part two of the test ride was to begin again...

It did take some time, to get the shifting working, the way it was supposed to, and my thanks to the helpful people on Bicycle Forums.  Their simple advice was priceless, and the next time the P-T and I hit the road, the bicycle was shifting perfectly.  Well, almost perfectly.  Having owned a couple of other bikes, with the modern shifters installed, I have discovered that each shifter needs a bit of getting used to.  And the Proctor-Townsend's tranny was no different.  Once I had learned how to shift, shifting became a non-issue.

The bicycle works great and offers a very nice ride.  And that is it, a very nice ride that leaves little to be desired.  I cannot suggest that the P-T offered an awe inspiring ride, but my guess is that the average person would be totally impressed, with the P-T's ride characteristics.  To that, add the fact that the components installed contribute greatly to the "user friendly" nature of the bicycle, and voila - the perfect daily ride, for an old Canadian guy like me.  You know what I mean - eh?

Actually, as a regular ride the P-T does fall short in one category.  I do wish that the drops had fender eyelets.  I like to run fenders, on bikes that will see, both, good and poor weather conditions.  And, fenders are a true asset for such a bicycle.  Of course, if need be, I can always jump on my "Junk Bike" to run errands, if I absolutely have to.  The "Junk Bike", by the way is the bike I use in terrible riding conditions, including heavy rain, snow or ice.  The "Junk Bike" is rarely fun to ride, but is does get me, from here, to there.

After a few times out and about on the Proctor-Townsend, I decided that the plan to make it my regular ride was a good one.  I was testing the P-T at an unfair time.  In the space of two or three weeks, I had acquired the P-T, an earlier Proctor and an absolutely gorgeous Gardin Anniversary frame set, which I quickly built up.  The Gardin is one of those bikes that offers an unnoticeable ride.  The bike glides and swoops.  It accelerates easily and responds, almost, to thought alone.  It is truly a great feeling/riding bicycle and, to add icing to the cake, it is a beautiful bicycle to behold.  Well, I was comparing the Proctor-Townsend directly to the newly acquired Gardin.

The P-T and I have seen hundreds of miles together, at the time of this writing, and I do like to use it, around town, and commuting from town, to my summer cottage, some thirty five miles away.  I think also that the P-T will see many trips between my summer cottage and the city of Thunder Bay.  Once satisfied that the bicycle was a keeper, and regular user, I mounted a cheap, but very good, wireless computer to the bike.  I say cheap, because it costs half of what better wireless computers, I have purchased, cost.  I say very good, because it works, unlike the more expensive ones.

My modern Roadie pump has found a new home, and I guess that I will have to mount one of the cheap nylon handlebar bags on the bicycle.  But I do not mount the bar bag on the bars.  Rather, I prefer to mount it to the saddle.  These cheap bags are pretty water proof, carry lots of stuff, if one is so inclined to carry lots, and looks pretty good, on just about any bicycle that I have mounted them on.

So, the Proctor-Townsend sits in the back porch, waiting for me to select it for the day's errand running.  I must admit that there is a pretty good chance the the bicycle will be fully restored one day.  It occurs to me that the bicycle would look really great painted all black with yellow art.  Perhaps the bicycle will change again but not in the foreseeable future.  After all, I still have to finish my 1975 CCM Tour du Canada which is painted and waiting for art.  Then I have to put the finishing touches on the Proctor, which sits half assembled at the moment.  I really want to get at a fifties something CCM Westonia, that is just a touch too big for me, but I want to restore it anyway.  And finally, I still haven't taken the recently completed 1963 Peugeot PX10 out for its first ride as a restored bicycle.  And, to add even more decision making stress, what should I do about my newly acquired Tomassini Prestige and sixties something Legnano Gran Premio?  I guess the Proctor-Townsend will just have to take a number as it takes me to a number of places.

 

 

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