This is my ‘go-to’ bike, for when I am in a hurry to get somewhere, and it’s also one of the bikes I actually paid good money for ( ! ), due to it having an ideal personal frame size, the paintwork’s excellent condition for age, and its curious mix of components.
After spending some time on a bike, I like to think of ways to improve and / or personalise it, and so it was with this one, as follows :
I swapped the crank set from the lone Shimano 105 Golden Arrow 52/42 ‘Bio-pace to Shimano 600EX ‘Arabesque’ ( early 80s ). This required a change of bottom bracket from 119mm to 116mm for chain line, and so I fitted a new Shimano cartridge BB.
The Golden Arrow and Arabesque designs are two wonderfully decorative Shimano series. The Arabesque chain wheel retains it’s original “W-cut” 52T big ring but I had to replace the worn inner with a T.A. 39T.
I retained the Arabesque front derailleur and also the RX100 rear derailleur. I thought of fitting an Arabesque rear derailleur as well, but so far have retained the RX100 7-spd., and even though it isn’t as good a visual match, it works effectively. RX100 sat between the 500 Exage and 105 series from the late 1980s – for those who care about such things !
The down-tube shifters were changed to Dura-Ace 9 speed as I don’t have any indexed 7-speed ones. This may be temporary as the indexing is not correct in the larger cogs, though I can use them as friction shifters, if necessary, for hills.
I’ve tried a couple of sets of wheels as the original Mavic MA40s seemed a bit heavy so I tried Ambrosio Extra 19 Elites ( which were definitely lighter ), then finally ( ? ) the pair of greenish bronze 32H Arayas from the Shogun. The front is re-laced to a new Shimano 105 – 5700 hub while the rear is a Shimano RX100 – because it is the correct width ( 126mm ) and takes a 7-speed cassette which is the theoretical max. for 126mm dropouts. I fitted a 12-28T cassette to replace the 13-23T on the old 6-speed threaded hub. I prefer the look of silvery rims to the black/grey Mavics on this bike too.
The single pivot 1990s Campagnolo Veloce brakes were swapped with the RX100 dual pivots from the Shogun, and there’s no comparison – the RX100s are great stoppers with better modulation.
The older EX Arabesque levers with round drillings also feel better in the hand than the original ‘newer’ 600 slotted models, and are more reasonably comfortable without their gel hoods. This bike is easy for me to ride and brake in the ‘drops’.
The saddle is a beautiful Brooks B15 Swallow ‘select’ which is the ‘sportiest’ and least restrictive Brooks, yet it still has a decent amount of ‘give’ in the leather.
I replaced the Cinelli XA 80mm stem and ‘Criterium’ bars with the more comfortable ‘Giro d’Italia” bars and a Nitto 100mm stem for a better personal fit. The new red Jagwire cables are a spot on colour match ( i.m.h.o. ! ).
The bar tape is thicker Cinelli Gel Cork in Natural finish – it’s easier on both the eye and on the wrists than the previous white tape.
With the little Brooks saddle bag fitted, I had trouble finding somewhere to fit the rear light so I went for a Moon ‘Comet” rear light that comes with a saddle rail bracket. It’s very discreet when off and very bright when on, and it has a nice permanently integrated appearance on this bike, albeit being a bit difficult to access.
I also had a brainwave to use the Soma bar end flashers for an extra bit of bling-y-ness ( pretend read : safety ! ).
Tufo ‘tubular clincher” tyres complete the build, and if you haven’t heard of these, they are a tubular style integrated tube / tyre that fit a normal clincher rim and therefore don’t require tub tape, or glue, or even rim tape !
I decided to try these because I was so impressed with the S33 24mm tubulars on my Shogun. Though maybe not quite as ‘floaty’ as the pure tubulars they are very supple for a 23mm tyre and, in common with other Tufos I have now tried, they change direction effortlessly and quickly, and are very fast rolling and confidence inspiring tyres. The ‘C Hi-Composite’ version has a higher casing thread count than the S33 which means it should be relatively more supple.
The restrictions being the recommended rim sizes ( these ‘C-Hi’ also come in 26mm for wider rims too ) and that you need ‘thumbs of steel’ to initially fit them. The only way to repair a puncture is with sealant so they may not be for everyone but I do recommend trying them. I’m running these at 90 psi rather than the recommended 115+ and they seem fine at this pressure…
Also with these tyres there is a rubber lip that sits atop the rim walls and this needs to be kept clear of brake pads.
As it stands now, the Vectre is my best ‘long distance’ steel road bike, along with the smaller, slightly lighter Shogun Samurai and it’s quicker than my larger and heavier ( but comfortable ) ProTour. I just wish I knew more of its previous history…
See Ya !