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.

Goeland 650b Date Mystery Solved

Goeland Mixte 650b

When I first purchased this Goeland in 2013, I was told by the seller that he thought it was all original.  Later, I discovered photos of this same bike on the web, but with a different, and apparently much nicer wheelset – Maxi car hubs on Rigida Chrolux rims – instead of the heavily corroded no-name set that was shipped with the bike.  The seller insisted that that wheelset was just an idea for a rebuild and that the bike he shipped was likely all original, but that he wasn’t sure of the manufacture date.

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I photographed the bike, then began disassembly in the summer of 2013.  I noted that there were a number of “41’s” stamped on the bike – on the rack tang, on the steerer tube, and on the bottom bracket.  But, since the seller was fairly sure that this was NOT a date code, I proceeded with my assumption that the bike was a late 40’s or early 50’s model.  And, there was also a 305 code stamped on the drive side drop-outs, front and rear.  In retrospect, it is interesting how one can ignore the obvious.

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When I purchased the bike I knew it needed a few small frame repairs.  Since I hadn’t yet made up my mind about how to proceed on that front, I set the project aside.  Then, the seasons passed.  Finally, the right moment came so I turned my attention first to the funky looking wheelset.  Right away I noticed some unusual features.  First of all, the rims are actually painted yellow, inside and out, with parallel black stripes running along the spoke bed.  When I removed the braided rim protector, I noticed a starburst pattern on the spoke nipples, and the use of washers.  I then noticed that the spoke heads bore the same pattern. Then, to my surprise, I noticed that the spokes were double-butted!  As I was handling the wheel I became aware of how light weight it was, even though made of steel – in fact, I had to use my magnet just to confirm this for myself. The unbranded hubs are very nicely machined, although the chrome plating is now rusted and pitted.  I started to work on removing the corrosion from the hub’s outer surfaces, and on trying to remove the crud and corrosion from the rims.

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I tried all kinds of products, and ended up using Menotomy’s oil with some super fine steel wool (Grade 00000).  As I was patiently (sort of) working away at the corrosion, I spotted what looked like some lettering, and started to feel a sense of excitement as I gradually rubbed away enough gunk to make out the writing:  Rigida DECO B Fabrication 1940-41!!!

I had to do some research on the web to confirm that DECO was indeed a Rigida model, and that it was Ridiga’s practice to put a date of manufacture on its rims – both things turned out to be true.  The rear wheel has what I think is a Cyclo model 3 speed freewheel, but I cannot make out the model name, nor the engraving on the spoke protector:

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Meanwhile, the work on the rims is coming along.  They will never look great, but they will have an interesting “patina” and the hub cones and axles are definitely salvageable.

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And, it was fun to bring the frame back out to look at it again and to appreciate its build quality.  I had forgotten about this nice finish work on the seat lug and mixte seat tube stays:

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I ended up concluding that the “305” code stamped on the drive side drop-outs is the serial number.  One idea is that they used a simple sequential numbering system, but I don’t have a way of knowing how many frames per year the Goeland company would build.  I haven’t been successful at finding any information about Goeland serial numbers.

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1941 Goeland 650b Mixte

But now that I know the date of manufacture, I really am impressed by how well this bike has survived, and now feel more motivated to bring this project to completion.