I'm currently riding one of the original Bianchi Volpes. A Japanese steel frame with Tange forks, it was originally positioned as a sort of crossbike. Once I took the 35cm semi-knobby off and replaced it with a 29cm Panaracer, the only thing that makes it not look like a typical tourer is the little bracket brazed on top of the bottom bracket where the cables run (protecting them from what?).
I still find it a comfortable and fast ride, able to blow past mountain bikes even on some towpaths. It has full braze-ons, and I think the steel lugged frame looks like a bike is supposed to look.
Does anybody think that makes no sense to continue using this frame and try to squeeze some upgrades on it?
I've just had the bike shop reduce the size of all 3 chainrings--should have done this years ago, but I didn't have as many hills to deal with before. I've got knee probs and like to pedal fast, but not push hard.
Whether or not the frame is out of date, the late 80s, 6-speed Suntour 4050 drivetrain components were received with giggles in the local bike shop. It would be nice to squeeze another gear or two into the back. What is the potential for upgrading the rear derailleur and migrating to a cassette with more gears? Can I find a bike shop in the London area that can do this, possibly stretching the chain stays farther apart?
I rented a cheap bike in Edinburgh recently (strongly recommend Adrian's Edinburgh City Cycle Tour) and while it felt really dead compared to my vintage Bianchi, the V-brakes were really sweet. Anybody have any experience moving from calipers to Vs? I don't have fenders right now, but it would be an appealing idea in any normal English year. What do I need to look out for when moving to V-brakes? (I sent the bike shop out to find a set of Dia-Compe 237 levers compat with my current brakes, and they came up with some used levers that seem acceptable, but why can't they just order from Nashbar if appropriate levers are not avail here?)
I'm happy with the bike now, although I wish the drive train were better. It certainly is more fun to ride than anything I've ever rented. It is adequate on towpaths, and flies on roads. That said, I'm toying with the idea of looking for a similar configuration from a custom shop. I recently met a couple with a pair of Waterford tourers (S&S couplers too) and I have to say that they were a beautiful looking pair of bikes, besides being configured with gearing, drop bars, and frame geometry just like I think I want.
I enjoy 30 mile day trips, and want to do some longer rides and multi-day trips soon. I peddle about 85-90 rpm. I don't usually dawdle much, but I don't have any burning desire to go over 30 MPH. I find drop bars a lot more comfy for back and shoulders. Bike paths are nice, but I keep wandering back to roads with better surface and fewer pedestrians & dogs.
What am I missing by sticking with a 16-yr old frame and not just starting from scratch with a new bike?
Thanks in advance for your experience and for your insight.