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1981 Motobécane Grand Touring

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1981 Motobécane Grand Touring

Old 02-05-23, 02:11 PM
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1981 Motobécane Grand Touring

Learned Friends:

This thread won't show anything y'all haven't seen before... I'll use it to document the rehab of my 1981 Motobécane Grand Touring. That will satisfy both my narcissism and my OCD tendencies, plus I don't have a better place to take notes that'll stick over time.

I was made aware of the bike by @thumpism on the Enabler Thread and posted at #70 here -- don't want to repeat too much.
Show us bikes bought via the "eBay/Craigslist Finds" thread!

Facts:
1981 Motobécane Grand Touring
Serial# 5870050 other codes are 1962 (model?) and 1280 (12/80 build date?)

Catalog information:
Frame "Vitus 172 double butted throughout, flat top seat stays (diam) 16, oval chain stays, brazed-on bottle cage bosses, cahin rest and cable guides, forged tunnel."

Fork "Delta crown, semi-forged tips, Vitus BBB [sic] blades (should be 888), Italian style, chrome-plating."

Most of the parts appear original, except the brakes.
The wheels are Weinmann A124 on Normandy hubs.
I found the catalog here (Thanks, @bulgie!):
bulgier.net - /pics/bike/Catalogs/Motobecane/81/

The weather cooperated enough that I could take a little spin around local trails, paved and otherwise, and it felt fine, unremarkable handling, though it rode a little small for me.

It's my first French bike in a long time -- I had an '86 Carbolite Peugeot in the mid-80s -- and I was leery of the weird sizes. As luck would have it, it all came apart with conventional persuasion.

Rideable:


Not so rideable:


There was nothing remarkable about the ride, except I'm no fan of 38 cm handlebars.
Handling seemed quick for a tourer but not nervous.
I'll have some more details in the next post.
cheers -mathias
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Old 02-05-23, 02:27 PM
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The frame could be the same as my 78 Grand Jubilee. I have Oxford bars on it right now and just raised the price on CL so I could ride it more.
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Old 02-05-23, 02:32 PM
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Here are a couple of things I found noteworthy, though they may be completely standard for French bicycles.

The headset had loose balls that seem very small, and there are 50 of them. Fifty! I have to measure them but haven't cleaned them yet. The gunk is pretty thick after forty years.

I knew I wanted a wider handlebar on a taller stem. Enter the cockpit I'd been using on my 1997 Cannondale R200 -- I moved the bike along but put back the original parts first. Sheldon encourages the sanding down of 22.2 mm stems to fit the 22.0 steerer tube.. so I did. THAT was 40 minutes of my life I won't get back. But it looks like we're getting somewhere:




This is good recycling, by the way -- the 43 cm Modolo bar came originally with my 95 C'dale tourer. The brake levers I put on in 2007 and drilled and tapped the left one for a Mirrycle. This is a great setup, so long as the bike doesn't fall on it. I rode a century with this bar & stem and was quite comfortable.

The magnetic bubble level was an idea that came to me as I was setting up the frame in the stand... that's a pretty accurate tool, so why not use it to figure out the frame angles? I've got this angle device I bought to help in carpentry jobs around my 100-year-old house, and then never really used it. It comes in handy for this business, and I believe it to be accurate.

Before we go on, here's a catalog picture of this frame, and it happens to be the same 23" size. The top tube is level.





Here's the head tube angle, as measured along the stem -- I'm getting 74.5 degrees, and I'll believe anything between 74 and 75.
The seat tube is a little more upright still, at 75.
That is mighty steep for a "Grand Touring" bicycle, and I believe it's just an illustration that bicycle geometry is about balance, not individual numbers. It'll be instructive to ride with a front load.
cheers -mathias

Last edited by steine13; 02-06-23 at 05:24 AM. Reason: English major stuff
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Old 02-05-23, 03:07 PM
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I always thought these looked so nice, and your example is no different.

What are you going to do about the bottom-bracket cable routing for the derailleurs? I'm not sure that type of mount up top will allow the cable to go to the bottom-side stops, where you'd normally use housing to go, again, to the topside of the drive side chainstay, without the cable dragging on the downtube. The front derailleur probably has a built-in housing stop where the cable end is fixed in the derailleur and the housing end moves to actuate it (be sure to leave some slack when setting it up...).
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Old 02-05-23, 03:24 PM
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Now how to ride it? I believe I'll start with the 27" wheels and 1-1/4 Paselas, which I don't have yet.
This is the clearance with the original tires... they meausure about 28 mm wide, never mind what the sidewall says. Seems like even with righteous 1-1/4, there ought to be room for fenders.


..and I understand these brakes are something special. Mostly they don't have enough reach for this frame, even for the 27" wheels.

Small world -- thanks, @cudak888

These tires are still fairly small -- here we're looking at 700c wheels, with tires 27 mm wide (actual) in front, and 22 mm in back.
Seems like 35 or even 38mm tires ought to fit under fenders, and I finally have a use for the Mafacs from the co-op.
This GT is quite the sleeper for modern sensibilities in tires.

cheers -mathias


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Old 02-05-23, 03:36 PM
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I forgot to add the weights:
Complete bike as ridden after purchase -- 26.2 lbs, difference method with digital bathroom scale.
Kitchen scales say
Frame 2370 g with headset cups and dropout screws.
Fork: 880 g.
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Old 02-05-23, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by DiegoFrogs
I always thought these looked so nice, and your example is no different.
Thank you

>> What are you going to do about the bottom-bracket cable routing for the derailleurs? I'm not sure that type of mount up top will allow the cable to go to the bottom-side stops, where you'd normally use housing to go, again, to the topside of the drive side chainstay, without the cable dragging on the downtube.

I had to read that a couple of times before I got it... I went and looked, and since the cable stops are at the bottom of the downtube, and the Shimano adaptors I'm using bring out the cable close to where the DT shifters did, it looks to be fine. Mostly I'm happy that the plastic inserts for the cable stops are all there.

>> The front derailleur probably has a built-in housing stop where the cable end is fixed in the derailleur and the housing end moves to actuate it (be sure to leave some slack when setting it up...).
Yes.
And yes.
And I shall.

Thanks for that. I saw the whole setup but didn't think about the movements involved. It's rather like 'interrupter' brake lever where you "push" on the housing rather than "pulling" on the cable. Good point about the slack.

cheers -mathias
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Old 02-05-23, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by steine13
>> What are you going to do about the bottom-bracket cable routing for the derailleurs? I'm not sure that type of mount up top will allow the cable to go to the bottom-side stops, where you'd normally use housing to go, again, to the topside of the drive side chainstay, without the cable dragging on the downtube.

I had to read that a couple of times before I got it... I went and looked, and since the cable stops are at the bottom of the downtube, and the Shimano adaptors I'm using bring out the cable close to where the DT shifters did, it looks to be fine. Mostly I'm happy that the plastic inserts for the cable stops are all there.
I've got an 83 Grand Touring and was surprised to see shifter mounts on yours. Looking at the catalogs, it seems that, in addition to downgrading the tubing to Vitus 888 the year after yours, they went back to clamp-on shifters.

I went the Problem Solvers/Origin8 route regarding the cable angle issue. Their cable stop puts the cables under the downtube to begin with..



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Old 02-09-23, 03:19 PM
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Beautiful bike. I had an all-Vitus 172 Grand Jubilee of about the same vintage. That's a really nice-riding frame.
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Old 02-09-23, 03:45 PM
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Nice job. These are great bikes. I really like the Vitus 172 Motobecanes. I particularly like your explanation for why you're doing a build thread. That's why I do them too. It lets me document what I've done and helps me think through the project as I work on it.
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Old 03-26-23, 07:32 PM
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Spring is coming to Michigan!
The way you know is that tonight, the forecast is for only 1/2" of "accumulation"

Meanwhile, it's clearly time to whip my Moto into shape.
Close inspection of the rear wheels shows that it's off-center by ~4 mm -- the wrong way! Meaning, there is more dish than it needs. Never thought I'd go back to 120 mm/5 speed, but the wheels are in good shape, so why not. I pulled it over, trued it to < 1 mm, and took apart the bearings. While the headset has 50 (!) 4 mm balls, the rear hub has the usual 18 quarter-inch balls.Go figure. All in beautiful shape, so I just have to be careful to not lose any. No idea where I'd get 4 mm balls.

Got a couple of Pasela Protites in 27 x 1-1/4. Kinda against policy to add a tire size, but I couldn't resist the idea of riding a 40-year-old bike in its ground state, so to speak, esp. since there should be room for fenders.

cheers -mathias


Last edited by steine13; 03-26-23 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 03-26-23, 08:02 PM
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I forgot to ask -- the rear axle is 133 mm wide, so easy to bring up to 126 mm spacing and use a 6- or 7speed freewheel. Where would I get spacers from? Just add washers? I honestly have no clue what the proper way wold be. Please and thank you.

cheers -mathias
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Old 03-27-23, 11:59 AM
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4 mm balls = 5/32"
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Old 04-16-23, 06:03 PM
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Time for an update. After a couple of hops to work and back to start dialing things in, the Moto has had its maiden voyage... one of my summer standards is a 32-miler to a farm that sells fresh eggs roadside. With sun and temperatures heading for 80, I went out Saturday morning and had a good time.

Do not be concerned about the SOLD OUT sign -- an appeal at the house brought forth a couple dozen eggs to take home.
Drive side & other pictures to follow, but this gives a good impression, and the "quadruple" crank -- with the extra ring to protect long pants -- kinda looks better from this side anyway.


Last edited by steine13; 04-16-23 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 04-16-23, 06:19 PM
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Here are some more pictures from last Sunday's cleaning. Overall, it's a fun bike, and I was happy to get the centerpull brakes I got from the co-op to work. The front is a "Schwinn-approved" Weinmann that works pretty well with Koolstop pads, though they certainly don't look "correct."

The rear Mafac "Competition" works remarkably well with the supplied pads -- I have no idea how old they are but since I didn't have pads for this type brake handy, I tried them. The aggressive toe-in is built into the pad holders, which made the adjustment a bit of an adventure, but I have no complaints about the function.

I wish they didn't take up so much vertical space under the brake bridge, though. it does not look like I can mount rear fenders with the 1-1/4 Paselas. There is enough space right under the brake, but then the rubbing occurs farther forward.







The crank is lovely, except there's a good 2 mm of runout laterally. I suspected warped chainwheels, but a friend pointed out they all move together, so it's most likely a slightly warped spindle. Which sounds crazy, how do you warp a solid piece of steel that's as thick as my thumb??? Gallic quality control might be to blame. At any rate, the upshot is that it's rare not to have to trim the front derailleur after a shift, which gets old qickly on the road.



There are FIFTY of these little balls in the headset. Everything cleaned up fine, and there was no pitting, so I just greased and reassembled.



That little metal cap is what counted as a "seal" four decades ago. More grease is better.


Schwinn Approved!

Cool brakes, and I'm a fan of the Pasela Protites.



This saddle was OK in town, but I replaced it with an ancient Brooks Colt I took off an old Trek I bought a couple years back. Waste not, want not.

Last edited by steine13; 04-17-23 at 05:49 AM.
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Old 04-16-23, 09:27 PM
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Lovely thread, and bike! Did a wonderful job rehabbing it back into service. I especially love that triple crankset with the chain guard. Nothing like a sport tourer

Any plans to take it on a Grand Tour someday?

Also, too bad those gran compe brakes didn't work out for the bike, they are beautiful.
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Old 04-17-23, 03:28 AM
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Beautiful bike. I love the grand touring Motos. That particular triple is ridiculous but on the upside the inner ring is nice for making a compact double.
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Old 05-28-23, 07:11 PM
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The ~ 2 mm runout of my chainrings drove me nuts, especially when riding in a group, so I swapped in the rather excellent Sugino triple I scored on the sales thread -- thank you, @Sactown_Albert -- and now I don't have to trim every other shift. Don't look as pretty as the original, though... so I'm going to have to try to align the original. Nothing a rubber mallet won't fix.

An easy 50 km today, and a fun ride it was. The 1-1/4 (actual: 30 mm) Paselas kinda hit their limits on a couple dirt downhills. I'm running them at 50/55 PSI front/rear. I'll go down in 5 lb increments... plus I'm going to change wheels and install some 700x35c Paselas and see how that goes. It's a fun and pretty bicycle.

Here's a picture I took on today's ride, along with subliminal message
I especially like the "indivisible" part. Be good if people everywhere took that to heart.
/politics

cheers -mathias

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Old 05-29-23, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by steine13
The ~ 2 mm runout of my chainrings drove me nuts, especially when riding in a group, so I swapped in the rather excellent Sugino triple I scored on the sales thread -- thank you, @Sactown_Albert -- and now I don't have to trim every other shift. Don't look as pretty as the original, though... so I'm going to have to try to align the original. Nothing a rubber mallet won't fix.

An easy 50 km today, and a fun ride it was. The 1-1/4 (actual: 30 mm) Paselas kinda hit their limits on a couple dirt downhills. I'm running them at 50/55 PSI front/rear. I'll go down in 5 lb increments... plus I'm going to change wheels and install some 700x35c Paselas and see how that goes. It's a fun and pretty bicycle.

Here's a picture I took on today's ride, along with subliminal message
I especially like the "indivisible" part. Be good if people everywhere took that to heart.
/politics

cheers -mathias
That crank is way superior!
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Old 05-29-23, 01:56 PM
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Sharp build!

Originally Posted by steine13
The ~ 2 mm runout of my chainrings drove me nuts, especially when riding in a group, so I swapped in the rather excellent Sugino triple I scored on the sales thread -- thank you, @Sactown_Albert -- and now I don't have to trim every other shift. Don't look as pretty as the original, though... so I'm going to have to try to align the original. Nothing a rubber mallet won't fix.

An easy 50 km today, and a fun ride it was. The 1-1/4 (actual: 30 mm) Paselas kinda hit their limits on a couple dirt downhills. I'm running them at 50/55 PSI front/rear. I'll go down in 5 lb increments... plus I'm going to change wheels and install some 700x35c Paselas and see how that goes. It's a fun and pretty bicycle.

Here's a picture I took on today's ride, along with subliminal message
I especially like the "indivisible" part. Be good if people everywhere took that to heart.
/politics

cheers -mathias
I am a real softie when it comes to French Randonneuring style setups so this really catches my eye. Very similar approach to how I set up my Peugeot PRN10 as a rando/credit card tourer. Glad the crank was a good fit. I think the Sugino looks great, as is but you did wind up giving up a chain guard in the switch. You could tap holes in the outer ring since they are both 5 arm, and borrow the chain guard from the original crank set.
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Old 05-30-23, 12:49 PM
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Very similar to my Moto Super Touring which I have had since new. If you look closely at the front lugs, you may also find a 74.5 stamped in small numbers reflecting the unusually steep head tube angle. I've never measured, but the bike geometry project said 73 degrees for the seat tube angle. Despite the name and the marketing from 1980, these weren't really designed for loaded touring like the touring bikes sold just five years later. Mine is very whippy with loaded panniers. (But that may relate to the thinner double butted vitus tubing.) I think the designers were thinking randoneur, or fast lightly loaded group rides carrying a nice picnic. Touring through the Loire about that time, I remember clubs blowing by at speeds I couldn't touch weighted down with camping gear.
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Old 08-07-23, 08:18 PM
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It's high time for an update. We've become good friends, my Moto and I, but we've had to talk about a few things, too. After the Brooks Pro shown above chafed, how to delicately say this, the back of my legs just below the cheeks absolutely raw, it had to go. I replaced it with an ancient Idéale -- the obvious choice -- but I won't even mention what suffered with that setup.

It is now wearing a new Brooks B17 -- $85 from backcountry.com back in spring, that didn't last long -- because those are where it's at, even though they ain't very French.

Fenders were mounted over the weekend [SKS Longboards, I like] and the rears are good, with sufficient clearance and a decent line. The front fenders need work, and I have to trim the stays.

In an attempt to keep everything vintage, I discarded the 90s Modolo bar and Aero levers for a 40 cm Cinelli Giro d'Italia and Dia Compes. That bar is too narrow for my taste, and the round "shoulders", whatever those are called, where the bar bends forward to become "the ramps", rob me of a hand position. I'm a Noodle man, and I love the cockpit of my ST600 Cannondale...see Slowest Cannondale build thread.

I've got a few of these in 44 to 48 cm, and they've spoiled me for other bars, 44 being the sweet spot for the road, and 46 for mixed-road riding.

It looks like I wasted one roll of Newbaum's today. It's not like I didn't enjoy the 30-mile ride after work, but I'll be swapping in a Nitto model 177, thank you very much. The Microshift bar-ends will be replaced by Suntours, and the only thing keeping me from being Eroica-compliant will be the modern freewheel, which fixed the terrible shifting. I could go back to be correct. The Shimano adaptors for the downtube bosses might raise eyebrows, too -- anyone know? Not that I have any plans.

cheers -mathias




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Old 08-15-23, 07:35 PM
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We are finally getting somewhere.
I replaced the too-narrow-too-low 40 cm Cinelli Giro d'Italia with yet another Nitto 177 Noodle (44 cm) and mounted ancient Dura Ace levers with a Mirrycle. I love me a good mirror.

This feels like a whole 'nother bicycle with the wider bars and the Technomic extended fairly high. It's comfortable and still feels fast.
I've mounted Suntour friction bar-ends shifters, and together with the original derailleur and a modern 14-28 freewheel, the shifting feels great.

Last week I had plans to turn this into mustachio'd singlespeed but I think I'm going to leave it as is.

The DALMAC ride to the Mackinac bridge starts in two weeks and I'm going to try out some classic 700c wheels with 32 mm GP5000s. Then I'll decide whether I want to just stick with the Paselas for sheer 80s righteousness. So many choices.

cheers -mathias
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Old 09-10-23, 08:12 PM
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Hrmph.
For the past three years, my practice has been to obtain an orphan bike in the fall or winter, and make it mine for the season. Over Labor Day, I ride the DALMAC organized tour from Lansing to Mackinac city, which is always a great time with old friends, and that's the real test for that bike.

In 2021, it was a 97 Cannondale R200, and it did fine, but I learned I'm not into racy bikes, and I like more tire than that bike could take. I gave it to a friend.
In 2022, it was an 87 Cannondale ST600, and I'm keeping that one., Great bike with 700x32 tires, and can take 650x38 if needed.
For this year it was going to be the Moto.
With ten days to go before DALMAC, I broke a spoke on the rear wheel. Of course I could have fixed it, but to do it right, I would have had to rebuild the wheel, and I'm not riding 350 miles on a new build. So I took the 95 Cannondale T400, which did great. It always does.
Yes I'm in a rut, but I was trying to get out of it.

I do love the Moto, and I've been commuting on it all year as well as riding most of my miles, so I spliced in a new spoke today and re-trued the wheel.

To do that, I had to put in a new nipple as well, which meant taking the tire and tube off. I was a little put out, because who ever heard of different spoke thread standards on French bikes...????

I had no idea. I got mad enough to take this picture. The spoke on the left is the original; the one on the right is a double butted 2.0/1.8 DT Swiss.
Between the orange lines, there are 22 threads on the left, and 19 on the right.

Should I have known this? I'm questioning my judgement in buying French now.
Anyway, it's ready for going to work tomorrow, and I got some studded tires for it for the winter. We'll see.

cheers -mathias


Last edited by steine13; 09-10-23 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 05-06-24, 03:23 PM
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Learned Friends:

Since last year's hissy fit about French standards, I've started building up another bike as my main ride.. an ancient Trek I'm converting to 650b.
Alas, I'm dead slow.

So I decided to make some changes to the Moto and see if I could make it work for me as an efficient roadie. I hesitate to call it "fast", but speed = efficiency, so always worth some effort.

A Hobson-Zingo bottom bracket tool -- the one with the articulated claw -- dealt with the weird French standard bottom bracket, so I could finally adjust it properly. That quelled the wobble in the BB without causing any binding.

Then I used the leftover Suntour/Rigida wheels from the '78 Trek to "convert" to 700c. As you can see, it's a nice fit for GP5000 700x32, my favorite tire for decent roads, with fenders. This would even make a decent gateway drug into randonneuring .

Yesterday's ride was pretty flat, 32 miles, 8-10 mph wind from the North, 16 mph average. For me that's pretty speedy. Fun ride, even picked up a dz. farm fresh eggs as a bonus.

I'm glad I gave the old girl another chance.
cheers -mathias


Last edited by steine13; 05-06-24 at 03:48 PM.
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