Only my 2nd vintage bike build, this one proved to be a bit more of a challenge than I’d expected; built some time in the 1970s, this old Falcon Panther was crying out for some TLC which I was more than willing to provide. My girlfriend gave me the usual “Really? You’re actually paying money for that thing?” look as I loaded it onto the bike rack on the car; I remain hopeful that one day she’ll share my enthusiasm for grimy, rusty old bikes…
Anyway, underneath all that grime (of which there was plenty) was a surprisingly decent paintjob with only a little rust bubbling up here and there, all steel 27″ wheels with white wall tyres, Dia Compe caliper brakes and the original 10 speed Huret drivetrain with some really nice engraved detailing.
The initial tear down complete and I was starting to get an idea of what I wanted to do with the bike; I was keen to retain most of the original features but with a modern twist. As is almost always the way with these things, the bottom bracket and headset bearings were completely shot, the jockey wheels in the rear derailleur had collapsed long ago but most of the other mechanicals were in need of nothing much more than a good clean.
I decided to ditch the original all steel wheels in favour of a brand new set with polished alloy rims and stainless steel spokes which give all the beauty and strength of the originals with none of the weight! I also managed to lay my hands on some new old stock narrow white mudguards (also from the 1970s) which fit the slightly narrower than normal 27 x 1 1/8″ Continental Ultra Sport tyres perfectly and I think they give it a really cool albeit unusual look.
To continue the black and white theme, I chose to keep the original stem and splurge on a set of Charge’s excellent Slice bullhorn handlebars which I fitted with some vintage Dia Compe bar end brake levers to match in with the Dia Compe calipers; the bar tape is also by Charge and is also white… or, was white for at least a few minutes!
From there, it was just a case of refitting the clamp on downtube shifters, front and rear derailleurs, new chain and all the cabling; I ended up having to replace the rear derailleur because some eejit had tried to replace the ill fated jockey wheels with the assistance of… well, I don’t think they were tools…
So, lots and lots of frustrated hours and a second replacement bottom bracket later and I finally got the chainline just right and the old 10 speed was back on the road! I took it into Manchester for a 15 mile shakedown ride, showed it off to the guys in my favourite bike shop and turned more than a few heads hopping over the seemingly endless tram tracks.
Yep, it’s fair to say this is one of my all time favourites!