This was long time in the making.
Charlie picked up the Rocky with the Wildgrippers and its complimentary bottle of Mountain Dew (for real) during the Sweet Magic pop-up show and we began discussing a winter project to build him a touring bike for the new year.
Our process for big custom jobs typically involves starting a Facebook thread with our client and sharing images and ebay listings back and forth as we suggest colour options, components, and build styles. In this case we chose mid-eighties touring bike made by Panasonic. While the brand may not signify bicycle manufacturing for most people, Panasonic did in fact make high quality bikes in what Sheldon Brown calls the “glory years” of Japanese touring bikes, roughly 1984-1986. Like John's Bianchi, the Panasonic “Touring Deluxe” was built with a full set of braze-ons for racks, fenders, extra water, and cantilever brakes.
We had Charlie come by to fit a mock-up with the frame to check for stand-over and reach. We collected parts slowly and built the bike up over a period of months.
Typically things don’t take nearly this long, but this year’s heavy winter allowed us to take our time and really fine tune the choices.
The result is that Charlie got exactly what he was looking for, by being part of the process from the ground up.
Charlie wants to be able to take the back roads down to Port Stanley, or wherever, so we wanted to give it some wide tires to handle gravel and rough asphalt. The challenge with these 80s touring frames is that they are often built for 27” tires and the canti bosses limit switching things up. With the Tektros we were able to get a good surface on some 700c rims and after some laboured problem solving we were able to get a good fender line with the very wide Schwalbe Road Cruiser tires. Again, the seductive VO hammered alloys were Charlie’s choice for fenders.
The bike is equipped with a set of H+Son rims on Shimano 105 Hubs, and the drive is 7-speed indexing Deore derailleurs against a beautiful vintage triple TA Spécilités crank. The bars are Velo Orange’s Grand Cru Randonneur bend with Dia Compe aero levers on a great triangular Dia Compe “Drop Forged” stem. With the tastefulness of the deep red frame, honey Brooks Pro saddle and cream Schwalbe tires, Dickson proposed the left-field choice of hand-dying the handlebar tape olive green. Art school stuff - because when you stop along the shoreline mid ride and crack open a beer from the handlebar bag you lean the bike up between you and your view.