MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"  

FALCON BICYCLE - INTRO

FINDING THE FALCON

BUILDING THE FALCON

 

BICYCLES OF ENGLAND

 

 

 

 

FINDING THE FALCONS

Though several old Falcons, mostly entry to, at best, mid level, have come my way, only one has an interesting how found story.  Well, interesting to me, anyway.

Sometimes, it takes a long time to do, what takes less than a moment.  And this is the situation, that surrounded the acquisition, of this near mint old English Falcon.

Each Saturday, during the good weather that descends on Thunder Bay, sees Yard Sales present themselves.  In the area I live, Yard Sales start about nine in the morning and are, usually, all over, by one in the afternoon.  A Yard Sailor has to be quick, and organized, to get to as many sales possible, in the given amount of time.  I frequent Yard Sales, in the hunt for bicycles, sometimes bringing home as many as a dozen bikes, in a single day.

Actually, the bring home a dozen old road bikes, from Yard Sales, in a single day was a one time only event.  However, it is not unusual to score two, or even three bikes, now and again.  The too many to load into the truck thing rarely strikes.  But that is another story...

While out and about Yard Sailing on my Miele LTD one day, I pulled into a sale.  The items for sale were protected under the canopy, of a car port that was attached to the house.  I viewed the offerings with little interest, sought out the seller.  I asked him if he might happen to have an old Ten Speed road bike for sale.  The kind with the skinny tires, and handlebars that curl down.

The seller got a funny look on his face and informed me that he had just sold such a bike to his next door neighbour.  Fair enough and crap, but at least I knew.  More and more bikes are being snapped up, before I get there, these days, thanks to the growing popularity of the vintage road bicycle.

At any rate, I glanced at the next door neighbour's house, and decided to knock on the door.  No one was home, so I made a note of the situation, vowing to return, and look into the possible purchase.  Did I mention that the fellow, conducting the Yard Sale, had told me that the bike he sold, the night before, was a Falcon?

For the next year or so, every time I went for a ride, through that area, I took a moment to pass by the location of the bicycle.  Almost two summers had elapsed, before I finally found signs of life there.

On that beautiful sunny day, I was riding to a friend's house, hoping to pick up a set of straight bars, for a Single Speed bicycle, that I was building for a lady in San Francisco.  Anyway, as the Gardin Team Issue (the bike I had selected for that ride) and I passed by the house, low and behold, there was a guy disappearing into the garage.  At last...

I turned around, unclipped, and glided into the paved, but in need of repaving, driveway.  I coasted up to the garage, calling to the individual inside.  When he appeared, I apologized for interrupting his day and quickly explained why I had done so.  The rather dirty fellow smiled and said, with little explanation, that he had no intention of selling the bicycle, for less than the $25.00, he had paid for it.  No problem, as far as I was concerned but I kept that sentiment to myself.

With negotiations out of the way, he invited me to follow him into the gloom of his disorganized garage.  Stuff was everywhere and the two of us had to negotiate once again.  This time, however, the negotiation was travel oriented.  We both had to exercise caution as we picked our way through the jumble, to the dim shape of an old Ten Speed, hanging from the rafters.  The closer I got, the more excited I became.

The first thing to catch my attention was a Brooks saddle, and obviously a Professional model.  Great, that saddle alone would be worth triple, what I was about to pay, for the whole bicycle.  With the hasty saddle appraisement out of the way, I looked elsewhere on the bike.  Though difficult to make out many details, in the gloom, the bicycle which was indeed a Falcon and seemed to be in pretty nice shape.

As I looked the bike over, the owner began to, roughly, take the bike down from its perch.  I offered to help, suggesting that I would like to avoid scratching the paint up.  He understood, accepted my help, and the two of us took the bicycle down, after which it was immediately rolled out into the sunlight.  Wow!!!

The Falcon was a gorgeous piece that looked to be pretty darn close to mint condition.  The saddle was a a perfect indication of the state of preservation that the entire bicycle was in.  My guess is that the bike was rarely used and had remained in some form of storage for most of its little used life.

Reynolds 531 tubes formed the foundation of the main tube set and spread out to include both the stays and the forks.  The pressed steel drops were sturdy, to say the least, and chrome plated, both front and back.  The workmanship was not outstanding but it was quite good and it was obvious that a craftsperson had taken his or her time building the frame set.

And the frame was in incredible condition.  The candy blue paint was nearly unblemished.  The chrome plating was as close to flawless as one might ask for considering that the bike was almost thirty five years old.  There was no damage to tops of the seat stays, an area that usually falls prey to an amateur mechanic who uses the wrong wrench to tighten seat post clamp bolts.  Rust was pretty much no existent.  The bicycle seemed to be time bubble perfect.

The near entry lever Campagnolo Velox transmission was in perfect condition, sporting only the patina of age that one might expect.  Though there was a bit of surface oxidation on the alloy components, the chrome work was unblemished.  I might add that Campy's entry level offering has received many bad reports, but the simple fact is that it does work.  True, the set-up is not for the racing enthusiast, but it does look good and, as mentioned, works well enough to allow for comfortable recreational riding, or touring, duties.

Weinmann center pull brakes took care of the stopping requirements of the Falcon.  I have always liked the Weinmann brakes sets, particularly the feel and appearance of most of the offered brake levers.  Sadly, the ones supplied on the Falcon were not the ones that I prefer.  That said, the entire brake system was in great shape, with one single exception - the hoods were rotted, to the point of being almost useless.  It is rare that an old bicycle reaches today with hoods still intact.

Campagnolo Tipo high flange hubs were laced to gleaming chrome 27" Rigida rims.  Needless to say, both hubs were of quick release design, and Campy's straight blade skewers were mounted.  Sadly, the spokes were cadmium plate units and had suffered a bit from oxidation.  The spokes did, however, clean up nicely and looked to be perfectly at home, considering the rest of the bicycle's patina of age.  The tires, Michelin World Tours, had fallen prey to the passing of time but still held air and seemed to be OK to use under non-trying conditions.  All in all, an acceptable running gear set.

The cottered Milremo 52/42 crank and ring set supplied power to a medium range five speed freewheel.  Double sided Lyotard pedals, once again showing no noticeable wear, were mounted to the steel cranks.  These pedals are not elegant in any way, but they do the job nicely for the person who is into recreational riding.  I might add that no straps or clips were installed at the time of purchase.  My guess is that the original owner, who did not use the bike much, removed them immediately after purchasing the bicycle back in the mid seventies.

And that about describes how the Falcon first presented itself, to me.  A gorgeous, mid seventies, example, of the kind of bicycle, that was commonly coming out of the better bicycle factories, in Great Britain, in those days.

NEXT - BUILDING THE FALCONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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