The Roberts completed …

The Roberts rebuild has been a labour of love.

I purchased this Roberts bespoke touring frame in 1980 when I first got serious about cycling.  I have toured with it in Ontario, Quebec, Maine, England and British Columbia.  Later I built a set of wheels with tubular rims and trained on it for years on many of the same routes I frequent today.  This frame has been an integral part of my cycling experience.

This bike is the most comfortable ride I know.  The longer wheel base and steel frame absorbs the road bumps.  My son wanted to convert this to a fixie.  I wouldn’t let him.  I still want to ride it and leave it to him in better shape then ever.

There is a lot to consider when rebuilding an older bike.  Is it a restoration or updating project?  How will the bike be used?  Touring?  Training?  Commuting?  I chose to update this bike as a short trip touring and supplementary training bike.

  1. I decided to use 700 c wheels. They have become the standard and it lets me easily interchange wheels with my other bikes.  27″ wheels are much less popular today.  And, although 26″ wheels may be stronger they are heavier and slower.
  2. The 700 c wheel set required long reach brakes.  The frame was made for 27″ wheels and standard brakes would not fit the rims on a 700 c wheel.
  3. I wanted an indexed 10 speed with integrated shifters.  A 10-speed hub meant the frame had to be cold set to the correct width.
  4. I chose to use a compact chainring rather than a triple.  It is a little lighter and with an 11-25 tooth cassette, I have a wide range of gears.
  5. I chose the Shimano Ultegra group set for 2 reasons.  My other road bike has a Dura-Ace Group and I wanted similar capability and feel.  And, since all of my other bikes have Shimano parts, I have all the necessary tools and am familiar with the installation and maintenance procedures.
  6.  I chose not to repaint the frame.  I love the original colour and, although there is some wear and a few scratches, I was concerned I would not be able to match the colour well enough.  Besides, it adds character and I remember the occurrence of each and every nick.  I did wash it carefully and apply several coats of wax for protection.

Although this project took several months, most of the time was think time.  Once I had all of the parts, my son and I assembled and tuned the bike over a couple of days.  I hesitated initially because I was not familiar with the cold setting process (it was easy and inexpensive) or the installation of the newer style brakes (it required enlarging the bolt hole on the forks).  These were not difficult problems.

There are several original parts in addition to the Roberts frame.  I kept the Campagnolo headset.  There was little or no wear on the races but I did replace the bearings.  I also kept the Weinmann housing guides on the top tube.  I preferred these to any new ones I found.  I am also using a Shimano training wheel set and Fi’zi:k saddle I have had for several years.  In time, I may replace the wheels with an Ultegra set.

I will ride this bike a lot (again).  It will not replace the carbon Garneau but I will train on it, tackle longer, steeper climbs and travel with it on holidays.  Now I have 3 very serviceable bikes – a commuter, a fast, carbon road bike and a touring bike for longer rides and short trips.

Do you have an old bike worthy of a retrofit?

Here are my other posts on this project –

  1. More parts arrive –
  2. Bars, stem and seatport –
  3. Possible parts to consider –
  4. Options considered –
  5. Cold setting the Roberts frame –
  6. The Roberts frame stripped down –

12 thoughts on “The Roberts completed …

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