on a test ride
Repco is a long standing name in this country, mostly known nowadays for its automotive products, and as far as cycling goes they once had a range of 10-speed bikes ranging from this model right up to superlight and triathlete chro-moly racing bikes. Of course the exotic models are much more rare, though there are plenty of Travellers still getting around. The Traveller was the basic “pressed steel everything” model, and exists today in name as a vastly different freewheeling single speed commuter – a cheap, aluminium framed, department store bike selling for around $100.
This bike was bought for twenty bucks with a straight 58cm frame, a lot of component rust, and without me initially knowing what I would do with it …
a nice touch
So then, thinking how to approach a rebuild, given that I already have both a ten speed light roadbike and a heavy-ish commuter that I’m reasonably happy with. Keeping things simple I have opted for a five speed by removing the front deraiileur and small ring, sacrificing low gear but retaining simplicity and some flexibility.
I have to confess, I like my gears, I can only ride single speed for so long before I start to pine for them. I’m not greedy about it, I mean, an uphill gear, a neutral gear, and a downhill / tailwind gear and I’m pretty happy. A few more than this is a bonus but only until overkill is reached …
With my resto’s, a lot depends on the parts that I have on hand… and my ‘semi – conservation’ style may not appeal to the perfectionists … I like to keep some character or imperfection here and there.
These are roughly the steps involved in this case :
Frame : Basic lugged hi-tensile “1020” steel, some surface rust, some scrapes on the paint and decals though the overall condition is not bad. Finish is a slightly metallic black with silver lettering on the decals which have started going opaque. I personally dislike new paint jobs on original frames, as uniform “perfect” paintwork lacks character and the bike can easily become prettily anonymous.
another person’s take on the humble traveller – as a commuter
Removed all fittings and bearings for overhaul or replacement, and to access, clean and inspect the frame. Fish-oiled the inside of tubes, steel wool and phosphoric acid converter on the rust spots, lined the lugs gold (always nice on black) and touch-up the worst scratches by hand, including the silver decal lettering where scraped off.. Clear coat the paint areas to regain some lustre and conserve the finish.
Wheels : Original Femco steel rims, very rusty chrome on the front one, replaced with a Shimano/Araya overhauled steel 27″ Q.R. Nutted rear cleaned up nicely with some TLC and I fitted new gumwall tyres.
Stem : Heavy chromed steel stem swapped for Nitto Dynamic 10 alloy 100mm – a beautiful looking stem makes such a difference. I overhauled the original headset as it was reasonable.
synthetic cork is comfy but lacks the looks of leather
Bars : Unappealing rusty chromed drop bars replaced by the unused steel drop bars from my Malvern 2-star coaster braked bike. These have an old-fashioned deep drop and an unusual dappled finish, courtesy of some brutal rust removal and clear coat. I had some Serfas brand spongy black bar tape which I twined on the inner end and fitted with home made “shellacked wine cork” bar end plugs. These give a bit of character and don’t cost.
Luckily the frame is relatively large so the bar drop relative to the seat height is not too bad for me, though I am stretched out a bit.
Cranks and bottom bracket : Removed the bolts holding on the small chain ring and guard, keeping the original 52T chain wheel and crank. Replaced the original square BB with a slightly shorter used square tapered to help with the chain line. Tried to get the chain wheel as close to the chain stay as possible so I could use first gear 28T cog with the large ring. It works well without chattering. New SunTour 5-speed chain fitted. MKS Sylvan pedals fitted to replace steel rat-traps.
team pro – hard, but a free pedalling shape
Saddle and seatpost : I kept the original chromed 25.6mm seatpost. I find the variation in seat post width really amazing on older bikes e.g. 25.4, 25.6, 25.8 then into 26’s and 27’s, unlike say, with 1″ quill stems, there are so many slight variations … and you really need a snug fit with these. The saddle was a throwaway plastic item on base model bikes of this vintage, and a Brooks is always called for, of course ! I happened to have a spare team pro model on hand. These are as hard as rock to begin with, but even then, they are still more comfortable than plastic…
Brakes : As I have no suitable light replacements, the heavy steel callipers have been retained for the time being, fitted with new basic Jagwire road pads. New cable inners fitted. Recycled Dia-compe alloy road levers of a similar vintage with the “suicide” levers removed.
Derailleur : Original Shimano “Skylark” rear derailleur replaced with a better quality used Shimano. (The models were all named after various birds at one time ).
A Quick Ride :
The bike is heavy-ish, but fairly comfortable, and much more stable than my smaller, lighter Cecil Walker.
Sure, it would be better if a little lighter – alloy cranks, brakes, wheels and bars would have helped here. The 5 gears work well on the flat, but are a little limiting on steeper hills.
The ride is rough, but I think softer tyres would help here. More testing to do … well, someone has to do it !
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