MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"  

CARLTON PRO -  INTRO

FINDING THE PRO

TEST BUILDING THE PRO

RESTORING THE PRO

RIDING THE PRO

 

BICYCLES OF ENGLAND

 

 

RIDING THE CARLTON PROFESSIONAL

As silly as this will sound, the Carlton's ride was almost magical!  I can honestly remember having that exact thought one day as the Carlton and I headed out one of North-western Ontario's secondary highways.

When riding the bicycle, I would have to actively consider how this and that worked.  Everything worked so good that my attention was rarely pulled to one component's or another's performance.  The bicycle and I just went, without incident, anywhere we wanted to go.  The ride was as smooth as any I have experienced.  The bicycle's handling did not feel responsive, but it was.  Acceleration was impressively quick.  The bicycle just was and I paid little attention to it once trust for its capabilities had been allowed to set in.  All in all, the Carlton Professional was the best riding, nicest looking and most valuable bicycle I have ever owned.  But it was too big!

Now the Carlton was Old School all the way.  The Campagnolo Nouvo Record transmission was friction only but finding the next gear seemed almost automatic.  I can only suggest that this is because I have owned and ridden several bicycles sporting the NR transmission.  I must be used to them by now.  Then again, it could be because the transmission is just right - for me anyway.

And this transmission had something no other Campy unit had offered to date - Barcons!  The Barcon shifter is mounted on the ends of the drop bars.  No need to reach all the way down to the down tube to switch gears.  Simply slide either hand to the end of the bar and push or pull.  Simple as that and like the Campy down tube shifters, the Barcons offer just the right amount of movement to easily and positively find the next gear.

Campy's Nouvo Record side pull brakes worked as expected - just fine, although they are not necessarily the best Old School side pulls I have been lucky enough to use.  That honour falls to the early Shimano Dura Ace set up first experienced on my Motobecane Grand Record.  But the NR stoppers work very well and are as comfortable on my hands as most.  I do like the side pull results but I am always leery of them banging into the down tube and causing a dent.

With the little worn 53/42 Campy rings installed on the cranks, the drive noise and vibration dropped off to almost zero.  Had the rings been brand new both of these issues, if that is what they were, would have disappeared completely.  Though the drive never did draw attention to itself, I do know that new teeth and chain would have proved beneficial.

The Brooks Professional saddle was not all that comfortable right out of the box.  I had to go through the discomfort of breaking it in, something that I did not have to do with my first NOS saddle from Brooks, a B17 Special.  There was no break in needed for the "pecial.  I was comfortable right from the word go.  All that said, the Brooks Pro is indeed a comfortable perch these days.  When I let the Carlton go, I kept the saddle that I had purchased for it and installed the original for the new owner.  Today, my CCM Tour du Canada wears the Brooks Pro.

The GB Randoneer bars that I installed in the first were used again but I later decided to go back to the bars that were originally mounted on the Carlton.  Lucky for me, I never did get around to installing the original bars again and they sit waiting for another bicycle.  I have given considerable thought to installing them on my CCM Tour du Canada, however, the jury is still out on that issue.  But my bet is that is where the bars will end up.

The 27" wheels proved to be a joy to use, when compared to the make shift set I had installed to get the bicycle on the road.  I cannot help but wonder how great this old bicycle would have felt had I gone to the original sew-ups the Carlton was issued with.  Sew-ups, or tubulars, are absolutely the way to go if performance is the target.  Though I would not have even considered using sew-ups when I built the Carlton up, I would not hesitate for the briefest moment in time to install and run a set today.  And I would so so just to see if I could actually impart any level of improvement on what was already a wonderful ride.  But that was not to be...

One morning at my summer cottage, the telephone rang.  It was a fellow from the US who had somehow learned of my bicycle interests and offerings. He called me at just the right moment and asked if I had anything super high end from Europe for sale.  Because the Carlton was too big for me, I had been thinking of letting the it go.  Perhaps this was the time to do it.  The gentleman and I worked our way towards a deal, and into a box the Carlton went.  Two weeks later, a second call came in inquiring about the Carlton.  The fellow who called that time was horrified that he had missed purchasing the bicycle by only two weeks.  Apparently, he had been looking for a Professional for several years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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