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Long term ride report for my Panasonic PT-3500

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Long term ride report for my Panasonic PT-3500

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Old 11-26-09, 01:48 PM
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Kommisar89
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Long term ride report for my Panasonic PT-3500

Iíve been commuting daily on my í88 Panasonic PT-3500 for a little over 2 years now and have chalked up a couple thousand miles on it. Hereís a link to the thread when I first set it up: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ight=Panasonic. There have been only some minor changes since that thread: the Nitto Technomic Delux was replaced with a regular Technomic, the 46T half-step middle ring was swapped for a 40T cross-over setup, and the 14-28 6-speed cassette was swapped for a 13-32 6-speed.

The bike has been rock solid. The only issue Iíve encountered was a problem with the Shimano UG 14-28 freewheel which was purchased NOS from the LBS when I set the bike up. The bike developed a knock that corresponded to the pedal down strokes. I looked everywhere for the origin of that noise to no avail, pulling out and servicing the crank and bottom bracket, checking the frame for cracks, inspecting the chain and derailleurs but everything was fine. It happened that I had the 13-32 freewheel in the parts box and wanted to change the gearing so I bolted it on and Voila! no more knock. Apparently something had gone wrong with that freewheel though it never caused me any downtime.

Iíve learned a bit about setting up a commuter/touring style bike in the process. Some of you may recall my previous posts about the Brooks Champion Flyer saddle. The bike originally came with a Brooks B17N which was extremely comfortable but also extremely dry rot. It soon ripped in half and I wanted to try a sprung saddle, hence the Champion Flyer. Alas the regular B17 style top of the Champion is simply too wide for my anatomy and while it has broken in to the point that it is acceptably comfortable it has never been my favorite and I would not buy another in that style. The original B17N as well as my Team Professional and Ideale 45, all in the 150-160mm width range, are quite comfortable for me. The fenders are another area where I got an education. Since the aluminum fenders didnít come predrilled and I had never set up fenders before myself, I looked at pictures on the Internet and took some guesses. They work fine, keep the water off, and have not come loose or cause any problems in the two years which I consider a good thing but I could have done a better job of attaching them, particularly the front. I placed the fender stay roughly horizontal which puts it at just about the worst place possible for toe to fender overlap so when track standing or maneuvering at very slow speeds I need to be careful less my shoes hit the mounting bolt. I plan to fix that as soon as I have a chance. I donít carry extreme amounts of weight and havenít noticed any differences in handling when I do load the panniers but I would certainly get larger ones if I had to do it again. Those can carry small items or books and things I need for work or carry a couple bottles of wine or a six-pack of beer but they wonít hold many groceries. They were given to me for free however so I canít complain. Finally, the Cateye HL-EL-510 light is just adequate for the slow uphill rid home in the dark during the winter months. Fortunately the times when I run errands at night it is generally in areas where the streets are well lit but I would need better lights for night riding.

The bikeís performance probably leaves something to be desired. Well, I should explain that. Its function, for me, is to get me to and from work reliably and without getting wet, and to enable me to carry miscellaneous things I might need and it does those things admirably well. Much like a minivan carries the kids to daycare but itís not what youíd want to cruise the town in. Itís God-awful heavy. With the sprung Brooks, fenders, rack, panniers, lights, and a few misc. items in the panniers (flat kit, CO2, tools) it weighs in at 33.7-lbs and here in mountainous Colorado you feel every ounce of it. And because of that I found the original half-step gearing with a 14-28 freewheel less than optimal. Since there was effectively no middle ring, just about any hill required that I drop into the granny gear. I replaced the 46T with a 40T and that allowed me to handle most hills without the granny. Now that Iíve switched to the 13-32 I can tackle almost any hill on the middle ring and I donít spin out on most downhills. It has touring geometry which makes it quite stable and you could easily ride hands-off but the Tange 1000 tubing seems rather dead compared to the SL tubing on my Bottecchia. The bike came with 27Ē wheels which Iíve shod with cheapy Cheng-Shin tires. They are quite functional, long wearing and have never flatted but Iíve come to decide that I would prefer 700C wheels. Why? Because after two winters I would really like to run studded snow tires in the winter and they donít make them in 27Ē anymore. Unfortunately swapping to 700C could be problematic (not to mention expensive) since the canti brakes might or might not line up with the new wheels. The Shimano cantilever brakes have been somewhat of a disappointment. I really expected them to be more powerful especially with the aero-levers but the center-pulls on my Bottecchia and Peugeot are much better and the dual pivots on my Bianchi are in another league altogether. They are adequate but I will be trying better pads to see if that improves them.

Overall Iíd say that a modern purpose designed commuting bike would be superior to the Panasonic as it is today though perhaps not enough to justify the expense but it has been a solid, reliable machine. With the experience of two years of riding it I could do a much better job of setting it up today than I could then and I probably will at some point.

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1959 Bottecchia Milano-Sanremo(frame), 1966 Bottecchia Professional (frame), 1971 Bottecchia Professional (frame),
1973 Bottecchia Gran Turismo, 1974 Bottecchia Special, 1977 Bottecchia Special (frame),
1974 Peugeot UO-8, 1988 Panasonic PT-3500, 2002 Bianchi Veloce, 2004 Bianchi Pista
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Old 11-26-09, 11:44 PM
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You've had the bike two years and have several thousand miles on it. Sounds like you had some expenses, but I would consider it a pretty good deal. After all, riding a new bike several thousand miles will usually require additional expense for upgrades and repair.
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Old 11-27-09, 09:53 AM
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EjustE
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Originally Posted by Kommisar89 View Post

the Tange 1000 tubing seems rather dead compared to the SL tubing on my Bottecchia. The bike came with 27” wheels which I’ve shod with cheapy Cheng-Shin tires. They are quite functional, long wearing and have never flatted but I’ve come to decide that I would prefer 700C wheels. Why? Because after two winters I would really like to run studded snow tires in the winter and they don’t make them in 27” anymore. Unfortunately swapping to 700C could be problematic (not to mention expensive) since the canti brakes might or might not line up with the new wheels. The Shimano cantilever brakes have been somewhat of a disappointment. I really expected them to be more powerful especially with the aero-levers
A couple of things:

-What Shimano Canti brakes are you using? Are they designed for these levers? Most Shimano Cantis are designed for the MTB type levers (which have more range than road levers. This might be the source of your problem

-I suspect that the "deadness" you feel comparing the Tange 1000 tubing with SL, is probably a factor of frame geometry and wheel size as well. If anything the Tange 1000 should give a much "softer ride" than SL.

Why don't you consider a late 80s hybrid with 700c wheels? It will probably cost as much as your Brooks saddle, will be able to accept studded tires and its MTB-like gearing will make those colorado hills easier. As far as weight goes, it will not be heavier than this Panasonic.
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Old 11-27-09, 10:12 AM
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interesting .. I've nothing intelligent to add or subtract other than the aquisiton of mid to late '80s 700 wheeled bike if you would get another bike at all ... which you've eluded to. You already have some really good bikes !
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Old 11-27-09, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Kommisar89 View Post
The Shimano cantilever brakes have been somewhat of a disappointment. I really expected them to be more powerful especially with the aero-levers but the center-pulls on my Bottecchia and Peugeot are much better and the dual pivots on my Bianchi are in another league altogether. They are adequate but I will be trying better pads to see if that improves them.
I have found that Kool Stop Salmon pads can make even flimsy stamped caliper brakes as found on cheap bikes work great. And they will hopefully last as long as the Scott-Mauthsersons (sp) that use the same material, a single set has been used on my last two bikes over the past 30 years! (Granted, it was down for 18 of those years.)

-James
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Old 11-27-09, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by EjustE View Post
A couple of things:

-What Shimano Canti brakes are you using? Are they designed for these levers? Most Shimano Cantis are designed for the MTB type levers (which have more range than road levers. This might be the source of your problem

-I suspect that the "deadness" you feel comparing the Tange 1000 tubing with SL, is probably a factor of frame geometry and wheel size as well. If anything the Tange 1000 should give a much "softer ride" than SL.

Why don't you consider a late 80s hybrid with 700c wheels? It will probably cost as much as your Brooks saddle, will be able to accept studded tires and its MTB-like gearing will make those colorado hills easier. As far as weight goes, it will not be heavier than this Panasonic.
I'm not sure what model the Shimano cantis are but they came with regular pre-aero Shimano road levers. I think the pads are probably the real culpret. I'm going to try a set of Kool-Stops pads.

The Tange 1000 tubing is actually most similar to the thicker Columbus SP tubing - 1.0mm thick at the butt and 0.9mm thick in the center. I'm sure the geometry has something to do with it too but it lacks the springiness of SL.
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1973 Bottecchia Gran Turismo, 1974 Bottecchia Special, 1977 Bottecchia Special (frame),
1974 Peugeot UO-8, 1988 Panasonic PT-3500, 2002 Bianchi Veloce, 2004 Bianchi Pista
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Old 11-27-09, 06:49 PM
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I've got Shimano BR-550 canti brakes on my Bob Jackson touring bike, and they work great with road levers.
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Old 11-28-09, 01:10 AM
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I sold Panasonic bike for many years and always had a soft spot for their touring models. Any 80's era made in Japan bike is worth its weight in gold for reliability. Great, solid and built to last.
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Old 11-28-09, 01:57 PM
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Kommisar89
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I've got Shimano BR-550 canti brakes on my Bob Jackson touring bike, and they work great with road levers.
Just checked, mine are BR-AT50 models.
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