MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

BILL'S TORPADO - INTRO

FINDING BILL'S TORPADO

BUILDING BILL'S TORPADO

UPGRADING BILL'S TORPADO

RIDING BILL'S TORPADO 

UPGRADING BILL'S TORPADO LUXE

Whether it be listing a bicycle for auction or building one up for someone else, my first target is to help the person have fun with their project.  I try to keep listing prices low, giving all interested a good chance at the bicycles I offer.  And when building to specification, I try to keep clients in the loop with daily updates that include descriptions of what was done and things that need to be considered.  I try to throw in a half dozen pictures, or so, to add frosting to the "Update Cake".  It was through this process that Bill and I came to focus on upgrading, rather than just restoring the bicycle.  However, upgrading does not change the frame set.  Any bicycle I upgrade, can easily be put back into original condition, simply by installing the original issue component grouppo.

In our phone conversations, Bill and I discussed things like fit and user friendliness.  The last thing I want to do is send someone a bicycle that does not fit properly.  If a bicycle doesn't fit well, it can never be expected to deliver its best ride qualities.  A bicycle's ride depends on the bicycle as well as the rider.  Make no mistake about it.  The two must become one before function can be optimized. The bicycle must fit!

And, so too, must a bicycle be safe to ride.  And safe is a very relative term, when it comes to riding vintage road bicycles.  In the most fundamental sense, vintage road bicycles are not safe to ride in today's world.  Though technological wonders of their day, "Ten Speeds" are antiquated by today's standards.  Friction shifting down tube shifters requires that the rider remove his, or her, hand from the handlebars to complete a shift - unsafe.  Old brake calliper designs, coupled with inferior brake pad materials, reduce braking effectiveness - unsafe.  Saddle support systems lack adjustability opportunities and fail to stay in place at times - unsafe.  Tying one's feet to the pedals with a leather strap - unsafe.  And this list goes on.  However, all of this must be taken with a grain of salt.  Riding a vintage bicycle, for the average person, is just as safe as going for a morning jog.  If you know what you are doing and understand your limitations, the situation becomes safe - well, safer anyway.

And it was the user friendly aspect of our build status updates that the direction of Bill's build changed.  User friendly was important to Bill. Though he had ridden a near identical Torpado in his youth, he had did so under different traffic conditions.  In today's busier traffic, Bill wanted to have, at the very least, better brakes.

With that in mind, the first thing to go was the original Balilla Center Pull brake set, replaced with Campagnolo Record stoppers that I had been saving for some time.  Unfortunately, I did not have a set of original Campy hoods.  Bill opted for a set of Modolo contoured hoods that I did have in the Old Shed at the time.  I really like the feel of the Modolo hood and they looked just fine on the Torpado.  The old Modolo hoods are, in my opinion, more comfortable than their Campy cousins.  They also appear to be more durable, many having stood the test of time's passing, well.  The Modolos are also a great deal less expensive to buy.  However; like just about everything else in the vintage road bike field, they do seem to be becoming harder to find.  At any rate, the Campagnolo brakes bolted right on, with no fuss, and looked just great mounted.  I had no worries about how effective they would be, when the test ride day presented itself.  And the test ride was only one day away.

As mentioned, I have owned several Torpado bicycles.  Three transmissions seemed to be available, as original issue items - Campagnolo Velox, Simplex and Gian Robert.  Bill's Torpado was originally issued with a Gian Robert Campione transmission.  Gian Robert tyrannies are hardly user friendly components.  They are difficult to tune and shift, when compared to other systems available in the Torpado's day.

Bill decided that a transmission upgrade was in order.  Since he had already decided on Campy brakes, it seemed reasonable that a matching transmission was the way to go.  I had a period correct Campagnolo Nouvo Record set stored away that would do the job nicely.  The NR tranny will definitely shift better than any of the original issue options, available in the Torpado's day.  Needless to say, the NR set impacted the appearance of the Torpado positively, moving what was becoming a very nice vintage road bicycle, towards completion.

The crank set was the next big concern and the price was climbing.  Campy stuff was not cheap in the Torpado's day and it is not cheap now.  If I were the guy spending the money, I would have started to slow down a wee bit.  One of the nice things about vintage road bicycle ownership is that the bicycle does not have to be perfectly restored to be ride able and attractive, at the same time.  With the budget strings stretched near the limit, it was decided to go with a Nervar "Sport" crank set, rather than a Campagnolo NR drive.  It would have been nice to install the Campy crank set but the Nervar looked very good and performed just fine.  With the transmission decision made and the Nouvo Record brake set installed, the stop and go of the bicycle had just about been covered.  Time to pay attention to the controls...

The original stem was a TTT Touriste unit.  Even though it would have suited the bicycle better, the Old School stems were somewhat dangerous.  Protruding hex head bolts, and other relatively sharp edges, are not necessarily what a rider wants sitting right in front of him, or her.  A newer style alloy stem was selected to support a pair of ITM alloy handlebars.  It should be noted that the control center was not period correct.  But it did blend in nicely, perhaps even adding a bit more class, to an already classy bike.

The original saddle fitted to the Torpado was an scuffed up ancient hard plastic San Marco unit and that looked to be horribly uncomfortable.  It did, however, have a certain vintage appeal and it still sits on a shelf in my computer room, looking good.  If user friendliness was a target, then the San Marco had to go

I did have a few leather saddles in the Old Shed, the nicest of which at the time was a beautiful Brooks clone. The saddle installed, along with an indexed alloy seat post, was an Airbike.  Though I cannot remember where the saddle came from, I do remember that I had it tucked away for quite a while.  I always liked the saddle.  Its beautifully embossed side panels, coupled with the enchanting rows of holes, punched along the bottom of each side adds considerably to the vintage appeal.  A very pretty perch, and one that fit right into the wonderful vintage picture, the Torpado was becoming.

The wheel set had to be something decent.  Though Bill's bill was building, he agreed that the wheels are a most important component.  Wheels can make or break the look and feel of any vintage road bicycle.  With that in mind, a set of Weinmann alloy eyeleted clincher rims were chosen.  They were to be laced to a beautiful set of Campagnolo high flange hubs that I had carefully machine polished during their rebuild.  Campy straight blade skewers were chosen to add to the vintage appeal and retain as much of the period correct quality as possible.  The wheel set built up with new stainless steel spokes, turned out to be very nice and suited the bicycle perfectly.

The Torpado was almost there.  About all that was left to do, was install the drive chain and screw in the Campagnolo Grand Sport quill style pedals.  I didn't have a decent set of Record pedals, at the time  It would have been a shame, to install a banged up set, just to complete the NR grouppo.  And of course, it is always fun to keep an eye out for a good deal on that last needed component.  The Grand Sport pedals would do just fine, for the time being.

NEXT - RIDING BILL'S TORPADO LUXE

 

 

 

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