MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

TORPADO 5 SPD - INTRO

FINDING THE TORPADO 5 SPD

TORPADO 5 SPD - BUILDING

TORPADO 5 SPD - THE RIDE

 

BICYCLES OF ITALY

  

RIDING THE TORPADO FIVE SPEED

The initial after build ride on the Torpado Five Speed would, most likely, prove to be rewarding but not, necessarily, super duper.  Why would I expect anything less than a quality ride on an old Italian road bicycle?

Why, indeed, since most old Italian road bikes offered very good ride characteristics, even those of entry level quality?  The answer...

The bicycle's weight!  Everything is steel.  Steel crank set.  Steel seat post.  Steer saddle clamp.  Steel wheel rims.  Steel hubs.  Steel derailleurs.  And, of course, steel fenders.  And steel, particularly when compared to aluminum, is heavy!  In fact, this old steel bicycle weighs in at a whopping 28 pounds 18 ounces!

 

To all that weight, add yet more, with the old suspended leather saddle.  Finally, consider the tires selected - wide profile, larger air volume and bigger inner tubes - more weight.  And this time, it is rolling weight, which will have more impact on ride quality than stationary weight.

Extra weight will have a negative impact on quality of ride.  However, the impact will not be as significant as one might think.  In fact, the ordinary person, like me, will experience minimal grief because of the extra weight.  Lance Armstrong, on the other hand, might have some ride quality concerns.

Acceleration will be negatively impacted, but so what.  The Torpado is not for racing.  Quickness of handling, or agility, will be negatively impacted, but so what.  The bicycle is not for racing.  About the only real negative impact one will feel is carrying the bicycle up a few flights of stairs, to put it away when not in use.

What the rider will experience, is a vintage ride quality that encourages relaxation, as opposed to competition.  Oh, the exercise is good for you factor, will be there, but the need to go fast will not.  At least, that is how the vintage bicycle impacts me, when I am out and about.  If I want performance, I jump on my Marinoni Squadra and do my best to go fast.

Even before jumping on the Five Speed, I pretty much knew what to expect.  Make no mistake about it, even entry level Italian road bikes offered great ride quality.  And, this lovely old Torpado was not exception.

On a beautifully clear but wickedly cold March day, the Torpado and I set out for a shake down ride, coupled with some picture taking.  The purpose of the test ride was to ensure that everything was working, as it was supposed to work.  Additionally, and even though I had ridden the bicycle before Street Restoring it, I wanted to check one more time that the bicycle rode well.

And it did.  No surprises.  All Italian, smooth, crisp in a gently sort of way, and never demanding to go faster.  I love these Old School rides, and, for what it is worth, one of the nicest rides, I have ever enjoyed, was upon a found at the Dump, ugly as sin, Legnano something or other.

Though the bicycle, itself, is anything but high end, the brakes selected were top notch, for the day.  Universal Model 61 callipers work just right, slowing the old Italian bicycle down just as effectively as they do on their more sophisticated hosts.  The smooth, almost elegant levers in their simple presentation, were comfortable and easy to reach.  Though they appear hoodless for the test ride, plans are in the works to change out the plastic handlebar wrap, substituting red cotton, coupled with a set of NOS Universal hoods, all four pieces.

The saddle, needless to say, was not as comfortable as it could have been.  Being used, and broken in by another butt, the chance that it would be just right was slim.  Of course, the short time spent in that ancient butt perch, did not offer adequate opportunity to make an honest and informed judgement on the comfort offered.

All in all, the sixties something Torpado Luxe five speed is a pretty nice Old School bicycle.  It will not compete with your chrome moly, state of the art, Reynolds of Columbus, steeds.  But the bicycle will be a great deal of fun to ride.  The bicycle, thanks once again to the Old School status, will prove to be collectible and it will appreciate in value.

 So, even though we all want the top of the line offering, in any maker's stable, do not be too quick to discount the ride quality and collectible value of the Old School, closer to entry level offerings, few of which made their way, across the big pond, prior to the Bike Boom days, of the very early seventies.

 

 

 

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