Update: This bicycle has been sold, due to my hands not being happy with the road bike position. Read on for more info on the bike as it was…
Bicycle of the Gods!
The Panasonic is my fancy road bike, and it has been quite an adventure setting this bike up to fit me. I didn’t know I wanted a road bike, until we moved into our new house, which is high atop the tallest hill in town. Riding my Raleigh Sports around my neighborhood is nigh impossible, much less to the nearest store (I tried, but it involved too much walking and not enough riding!). One day, I was casually surfing Craigslist, just looking at what was available, and I saw a beautiful purple-and-white racing bike listed in near-mint condition.
I definitely didn’t want a racing bike. I was purely a 3-speed kinda gal… but I was smitten. I couldn’t stop thinking about that pretty racing steed, and how sad it was that no one had bought it. It must be lonely, right? I was sure it was sniffling pathetically in the darkness, longing to be riden again. By me. I realize this is irrational, and rather like my friend who is convinced that Brad Pitt is doing the same thing, somewhere, for her. But rationality knows no relation to infatuation. After two weeks watching the ad, I decided to post on Bike Forums and ask if I should buy the bike. That’s akin to asking an alcoholic if you should have another bourbon. So of course I went to “just look” at it, fell even harder, and came home with the bike.
It was indeed in near-mint condition. Perhaps someone had ridden it, once, then put it in their garage. Or it may have never see the light of day. I cleaned off the dust, and there was just one spot on the entire bike where the paint wasn’t pristine, probably from being leaned against something in transit to the seller’s market stall.
As you can see from the photos above, the tires were flat, but after pumping them up, they were completely rideable. One of the kind fellows on Bike Forums swapped me a vintage Selle Italia Turbo saddle for the giant black Avocet saddle that was on the bike when I got it. I added new pedals with no cages: MKS Sylvan Touring pedals, so that I could easily hop on and off the bike without falling over dramatically at stop signs. Other than that, I had it tuned up at my local bike shop, and rolled the handlebars up… way up… to get them more even with the seat.
In the 1980’s, folks believed that being down in a crouched position was the best way to ride. Today, many people prefer to be a bit more upright as they ride a bike. Given the problems I have with my neck and back, this bike has been a challenge to fit. With the stem raised all the way, I still felt too low and lifting my head up to watch the road ahead of me for a more than a few miles was painful.
After much debate, I decided to put a new stem on the bike. Nitto makes a longer stem, called a Technomic Deluxe, that worked nicely. I picked a slightly scratched one up on Craigslist for half of retail. My bike bell covered the scratched area. I rewrapped the bars as well, in new white tape from Fizik.
I also got a new Bagman support to hold a black and white Carradice Barley saddlebag. Very capacious, and beautifully made!
The Panasonic has a smooth, easy ride. It’s quick, but stable. Though it’s taken me a few months to build up the confidence to let it out with a bit of speed, I’ve gradually adjusted to going down hills at something above walking pace! I even pass folks, on occasion. While I will never actually race this bike, I really enjoy the rides I take on it, at my own pace. It’s great fun. I can’t wait to get it fixed up and find a sunny day to take it out and stretch its legs some more.