Friday, June 11, 2010

A Ride On My "New" 1978 Proteus

Well, Spring has settled in, and Summer is just round the corner, so I've been trying to get out and ride, with limited success. This week, on my "weekend" (Tuesday/Wednesday) I did manage to get out for a short ride on the lovely 1978 Proteus Design road bike I bought last fall.

It was a gorgeous day... the sun was out, it was warm, but not unbearably hot, and the humidity that we'd suffered with for a few days had mercifully blown away. A perfect day for a ride. I headed out on our local rail-trail for a nice, relaxing ride.

Aside from a few trips back and forth to work (a really short ride), this was really my first ride on this bike, so I was anxious to get a feel for it. I have to say, it's everything I hoped for... light and nimble, but not squirrely. I like my road bikes to be responsive, but not stiff as a board, and this bike fits those criteria nicely. Built from the classic Reynolds 531 double butted tubing, there's just enough flex for comfort and a lively ride. There's a reason this tubing was a hallmark of fine bicycles for years, and I'm fortunate enough to own several bikes made from it.

In addition to the frame tubing and construction, the bike features very high quality components, most from Campagnolo's classic Nuovo Record group. Beautiful, durable, and smooth in operation, Campy's parts were another sign of a fine bike back in the day, and still are, although Shimano has captured the lion's share of the market today. One relatively unusual feature of the Proteus is the use of Campy's bar end shift levers, which really weren't that common back then. Most Campy equipped bikes used their downtube mounted shifters, while bikes that came with "bar-cons" tended to use the very fine SunTour Power Ratchet model. Frankly, the SunTours are better, but it's fun to have a drive train that is "tutti Campagnolo", even with bar-cons.

As it turns out, the one problem I encountered on my ride was with the shifters... Shortly after I turned for home, the tension screw on the right lever began loosening up, ultimately getting so loose that the derailleur inevitably moved to the smallest cog in back, severely limiting my gearing choices. Basically, I had two to choose from... the highest gear of about 100 "gear inches", or one slightly lower at about 80. Lucky for me the trail is pretty flat! And silly me, when I left for the ride, I grabbed only a spare tube and tire levers. Mr. Be Prepared was anything but! Ah well, it was still a fun ride.

More photos of the bike can be seen at: 1978 Proteus Design Road Bike


John Romeo Alpha said...

That bike looks really nice. Do those sliver cable guides come off? Are they original? Can you rotate them around the tube for a different cable route if you want? Do they rattle at all? These questions come from not always being happy with the cable routing on my bikes with permanent guides.

Tim said...

Thanks! It's a lovely bike, and rides beautifully. I feel very lucky to have found it.

The cable guides are original, and do come off. They're held in place with a screw that cinches it around the tube, so you can reposition if need be.

The only problem is that they are hard to find these days, since most bikes have guides that are welded in place. You might try an online vendor called "Loose Screws" for some.

Thanks for your comments!