MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

198? VITUS 979 - INTRO

FINDING THE VITUS 979

BUILDING THE VITUS 979

RIDING THE VITUS 979

 

BICYCLES OF FRANCE

 

 

 

 

RIDING THE VITUS 979

With the rebuild complete and the eye candy components added, the bicycle was ready for the final tuning.  Followed shortly thereafter with a test ride and final fitting chores.

The test ride was pretty much uneventful and proved to be exactly what I had hoped.  The bicycle's ride was spectacular, when compared to many other bicycles from that era.  Acceleration was crisp, to say the least.  However, I would later discover that my strength and weight were causing the bicycle to flex considerably, probably robbing me of some of the power invested.  The bicycle all but handled itself, responding immediately to my slightest handling whim.  The Mavic SSC brake callipers slowed the bicycle down as effectively as any brake set used, and looked great doing it.  The Vitus was something special.

It was not until the third, or forth, ride that I noticed something that troubled me.  The bicycle was very flexible and I began to investigate the bottom bracket area.  And it was then that I discovered the cracked crank.  A crack that rendered the crank set useless.  I was quick to change it out for another Mavic set.  Though the set I managed to find was not the beautiful SSC model, it was none the less more robust.  Certainly better capable of dealing with my strength/weight combination.

Though I will never be able to help another person understand my riding impressions of the Vitus, I can at least share the visual beauty that personifies this wonderful old road bike.  Alas, I cannot keep every bicycle I develop an appreciation for.  I did ride the Vitus for a season and a half before convincing myself that something nice from my collection had to go.  Letting a hard found Canadian bike go was pretty much out of the question.  Some of the other high end, and relatively rare European bicycles, seemed to be too precious, also.  But only one or two rode as well as this nice old French bicycle.

Ultimately, I let the Vitus go for one reason only.  I was too heavy and strong for the frame set.  This is, of course, my opinion and is not substantiated with fact.  I was afraid that sooner or later my bulk and strength would damage the beautiful and flexible old frame set.  The Vitus now fulfills its purpose under the Texas sun.  A gentleman purchased the Vitus, for a considerable sum and wrote back about how much he liked the beautiful old French bicycle.

LIGHTEST BICYCLE OWNED?

I have used to have no means, to properly weigh each of the bicycles, that have come my way, over the years.  I realize now that it would have been a good idea to begin recording weights right from the start.  However...

Without a doubt, and based on my feel, the Vitus 979 was the lightest bicycle I have owned, with perhaps two exceptions.  The first, a sixties or early seventies something Legnano and the second, an lovely old Italian ALAN.  And this brings up a comment on light weight and the pursuit of it.

Many people who buy bicycles from me want to know how much the bike weighs, and that is fine.  But do keep in mind that as you pursue light weight you sacrifice strength.  Know also that a bicycle's weight is a product of the frame set plus the choice of components.  A light frame set will cost a lot.  And so too will light components.  Loosing weight costs lots of money.  Finally, consider your weight.  If your weight exceeds the two hundred pound mark, consider seeking strength and function first, followed only then by weight reduction.  And if weight reduction is really the goal, ride a heavier bike.  The extra effort required to ride it will help YOU loose weight.  And that to me is a very practical weight loss goal.

And, this is all not to discourage people from trying to find a nice light bicycle to ride.  But do not compare today's bicycles against those that were built a quarter of a century or more, ago.  It cannot be done fairly.

 

 

 

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