My 1973 Jack Taylor Tourist

1973 Jack Taylor

I seem to be on a 70’s Brit-bike craze!  But it has lasted a while, as I have had this Jack Taylor Tourist Mixte for about 8 years.  At the time I purchased it from Hilary Stone, he thought it was a 1960s model.  After the bike safely made its crossing over the Atlantic, I disassembled it for cleaning and was able to read the matching serial numbers at both the rear dropout and the steerer tube more clearly, and have now dated this bike to 1973.

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The build quality of this bike is classic Taylor brothers, with incredibly smooth brazing at all the joints.  It is made, of course, with Reynolds 531 double butted tubing, and features Campagnolo dropouts, hand-hammered fenders, through-the-frame dynamo wiring, and those beautiful and colorful Jack Taylor logos.  The Taylor brothers followed the practice of building their mixte frames with a single sloping standard diameter top tube fillet brazed at the seat tube with the two extra mixte stays of fairly narrow diameter.  Having ridden all kinds of mixte frames, I have to say that this method is likely not the most ideal in terms of adequate frame stiffness.  On this bike, the head tube feels somewhat independent from the rest of the bike.  Mixte frames are best, in my opinion, when built with twin lateral sloping down tubes that extend to the rear dropouts, or if a single tube is used, extending the mixte stays beyond the seat tube also helps keep the frame adequately stiff, such as this design by Peter Weigle.

Stronglight 38T drilled

Sachs Orbit hubStronglight crankset

This is one of the few bikes I have ever ridden that was geared too low for me.  It was set up with a Stronglight 99 crankset carrying a single drilled 36 tooth ring (pictured first), mated to a Sachs-Fitchel Orbit 2 speed hybrid hub with a 6 speed cassette ranging from 14 to 28 teeth.  The hybrid internal hub is meant to take the place of the front derailleur (or add to it, if you are Sheldon Brown and want 63 gears), and it provides a direct drive, and one lower gear that is about 25% lower than the direct drive.  So, with this set-up, the lowest gear was around 24 gear inches – wow!  Unfortunately, the gearing topped out at 65 gear inches, and that meant that I didn’t have much in the way of a comfortable cruising gear, much less any way to power up to speed on a sprint.  Since I didn’t want to change out the Stronglight 99 crank, I replaced the 36 tooth ring with a 38, (pictured second), and that helped a bit.  Even so, I rarely engage the lower internal hub gear, as I really don’t need it, so I ride this bike as a 6 speed, for the most part.

1972 Jack Taylor

The photo above shows its original configuration as shipped, but it is very likely that the Sachs Orbit hub set up was not part of the original build, but was added later.  I don’t think these hubs were made until the 1980’s, and the 27 inch (yes, not 700c) rims do not match, with the rear being a Weinmann and the front rim remaining unbranded and probably the original wheel built by Ken Taylor.

This is one big mixte!  The seat tube measures 54cm and the effective top tube length is a whopping 55cm.  With its large wheels and big frame, it cuts an imposing  shadow.  The bike came equipped with no-rise French-sized mustache bars shimmed into a Milremo stem.

1973 Jack Taylor Tourist

So, I changed out the bars and stem to bring them closer to me using a tall no name stem with very little reach and some Soma Mustache bars.  I also swapped out the Madison leather saddle, which was pretty worn, with the Ideale Model 75 saddle pictured above.  Unfortunately, while looking very pretty, this leather saddle, though vintage, is still hard as a rock and needs some breaking in.  Here are photos of the rest of the components:

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Suntour V-GT rear derailleur

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Mafac cantilevers, of course.

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Milremo front hub with very stylish wingnuts.

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Soubitez dynamo

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Constructeur racks front and rear, mounted only to the fenders.

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Seat stay brazing, nice and simple. The paint now looks great after weeks and weeks of cleaning and polishing.

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This photo was taken before cleaning and polishing.

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Original French mustache bars. SunTour Stem mounted shifters.

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Another broken reflector

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She’s a beauty!  I commuted on this bike for a few years, but haven’t ridden it much lately, as I still have not made ergonomic peace with it.  With spring coming, I think I will dust if off and see if I can’t make this ride a bit more comfortable for me.

1977 Jack Taylor 650b Tandem

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This is an unrestored Jack Taylor Touring Tandem, built for 650b wheels.  I had it shipped from England several years ago, but haven’t started work on it yet.

Even in its present state, it’s quite a pretty bike.  The frame color is silver, but with plenty of bright highlights that include red, yellow, green, blue and white.

The frame is built with Reynolds 531 tubing, and is fillet brazed.  It features a sloping top tube, giving 23″ and 21″ seat tube lengths for the front and rear positions.  Components include Maxi-car hubs, Campagnolo shifters and derailleurs, Weinmann 650b rims, Taylor Bros hammered fenders, front and rear constructeur racks, Mafac cantilever brakes, plus a front Maxi-car drum brake.

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Double front brakes – cantilevers + drum; Mafac levers and hoods in great shape.

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Jack Taylor transfers in really nice condition

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Smooth brazing and a U.K. touring club sticker

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Simple cable stop,, elegantly brazed seat stays

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Reynolds transfers in great shape

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Pin striping is still in really nice shape

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Maxi Car hubs, Campagnolo dropouts – with SN 7183

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TA crankset – there are two cranksets and each has at least one chain ring mounted on each side

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A type of presta valve I hadn’t seen before – there’s nothing under this cap – just an open valve – but I popped my presta fitting on anyway and pumped air into the tube.

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TA triple crankset with 50/40/28 rings

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Eccentric bottom bracket plus internal routing for the dynamo wiring

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Redundant chainring on the drive side front crank

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Campagnolo front derailleur

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Very cool Zefal pump

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Mafac cantilevers

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Campagnolo Rally rear derailleur, with Suntour Perfect 14/24 freewheel

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Color matched Milremo stem, Stronglight headset

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Dynamo and wiring

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Brooks saddles – a B-72 in the back and a B-17 in front

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Some pitting in the top tube’s stoker section.

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Fork blades feature brazeons for the drum cable routing.

One of the things that surprised me about this bike was how similar it is in many ways to my 1973 Jack Taylor.  That bike is is also fillet brazed, and sports the exact same lighting system and rack design as this tandem.  In fact, its rear reflector is also broken, just like this.

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Another broken reflector

However, this reflector got broken in the shipping process.  One thing that I did was to have the bike shipped intact from England.  It boarded the Rio Mediera in Southampton, but was detained when it reached port in New York as suspected contraband.  The large container, built by Sheffpack, bore a suspicious resemblance to an arms shipment, and so it had to be x-rayed before it could continue its journey to the Port of Portland.  Consequently, the bike spent many weeks inside its shipping container, before it was finally literally broken open by port workers using hammers and tire irons.

However, it is safe and sound now, and with the fall and winter months looming ahead, this might be the perfect project to occupy the colder and wetter days ahead.

Theresa’s New (Old) Raleigh

1976 Raleigh Gran Sport

1976 Raleigh Gran Sport

My partner in all things, Theresa, has been riding a Raleigh Alyeska touring bike for the last decade or so.  While it is a great bike, it is a touring bike and relatively heavy.  So, when we ride together I often feel that I am cheating by zipping around on one of my nimbler machines.  And, the Alyeska’s top tube is just a bit shorter than she prefers, so I decided to build up this Raleigh Gran Sport, which has a longer top tube, into a lighter weight iteration of its original self.

The early 60’s version of the Gran Sport was something of a sought after machine, with Sheldon Brown describing his lust for its Campagnolo components, even though at this time the frame was built with standard tubing.  This model, which I have dated to approximately 1976, is built with Reynolds 531 tubing for both the frame and fork, and it sports a Carlton logo as well.  However, some of its original components left something to be desired, such as the low end plastic Simplex derailleurs and shifters.

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I admit to a great fondness for this beautiful sky blue color scheme.  It is reminiscent of my 1976 Centurion Pro Tour.  With the white accents, I decided it was really necessary to use white cable housing.  I set up the drivetrain using Suntour components.  I had a NOS Suntour V-GT rear derailleur that I mated to a single bar end shifter.  I used a vintage Sugino crank with an SR drilled 42 tooth ring.  The freewheel is an early index version 6 speed 14/30 Shimano.  Index freewheels actually work better with friction shifters than non-index versions.

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I wanted to keep this bike very light and simple, so there is no front derailleur or extra shifter.  To add to its elegance and feathery weight, I decided to use my treasured Campagnolo/Mavic wheelset.  This was one of the first sets I built, using smooth as butter vintage Campy hubs laced to new Mavic Open Pro 36 hole rims.  That meant a conversion to 700c, from the bike’s original 27 inch wheel diameter – not a problem at all.

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The blue color in the Mavic logo nicely accents the sky blue frame.  For the riding position, Theresa expressed a preference to be more stretched out as well as upright enough to make city riding safe and enjoyable.  I was thinking of using these big ol’ Soma bars, but I knew I would need a pretty long reach for the stem.  I found this Nitto stem with a whopping 130 mm of reach, but it had to be shipped from Japan!

Soma Oxford bars Cardiff saddle

I also ordered this very pretty Cardiff saddle, a brand which I have come to love (one is installed on my Meral), and I will be curious to see how she likes this compared to the Brooks on her current bike.  I used Mafac Racer centerpull brakes, and installed a small TA randonneur rack to mount to the front calipers.  Probably we will add a minimalist rear rack at some point, as well as some fenders.  These 35 mm Panaracer Paselas will be perfect for the kind of riding we do.  One of the very nice features on this frame is the elegant cable stop for the rear brake.

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I found some light blue cloth bar tape from Velox that matches the frame perfectly.  To keep with the vintage appearance I used Velo Orange’s City brake levers.  Now this nice old Raleigh has a new look and a new lease on life.  I am looking forward to Theresa’s first test ride!

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