If you've ever considered getting your hands on an old touring bicycle or frame, this is a great starting point: a 2013 post on Bikepacking.com about restoring a vintage Panasonic Pro Touring model.
I should point out that while the finished bike looks fantastic, I'm not a huge fan of some of the methods employed in this project. Most notably, I'm not big on powdercoating vintage frames. Powdercoating ends up looking thick and gummy and tends to soften the sharp details - lug intricacies, embossing, etc. - that make old steel frames such beautiful works of art-meets-engineering. For older frames, repainting beats powdercoating any day. But the 'before' pictures show what appears to be a perfectly serviceable frame, so I probably would've opted to touch up the paint, polish the shit out of it, and then protect it with a hard shell wax.
I'm also not so sure about using low-load front and rear racks on a frame that's designed for medium-to-heavy touring. The Pro Touring is known to be an extremely sturdy frame, so it seems like a waste to not set it up for full touring loads. And what's up with converting it to bar-end shifting? Why does everyone suddenly hate on the tried-and-true downtube shifters?
On the other hand, there's a lot to like about this project. It's a beautiful machine. And they appear to have reused the original Shimano groupset that came on the bike, which is a plus. While not particularly functional, I have to say, I love the Iris bottle cages with classic steel canteens. That was certainly a nice classy touch.
But the bike restoration isn't really the reason that I've called out this post. The reason I've gone back to the site so many times over the past few months isn't because of the Panasonic Pro Touring restoration itself, but because of the unexpectedly comprehensive list of vintage steel-frame touring bikes at the bottom of the post. It almost seems like an afterthought - just a list of old bikes right before the comments section - but it was an extremely useful guide as a I was looking for what would eventually become my Panasonic Touring Deluxe project. In fact, I haven't found any other resource that was as helpful in identifying makes and models of vintage tourers than the list at the bottom of the Bikepacking post. So when you're ready to pick up an old touring rig, be sure to bookmark the above post and use it as your guide as you search for your next iron steed (I've also copied the list below for convenience).
- Bridgestone RB-T; T-500; T-700
- Centurion Pro Tour; Elite GT
- Centurion Elite GT
- Fuji Touring Series
- Kuwahara Caravan
- Lotus Odyssey
- Miyata 610; 1000
- Nishiki Continental; Cresta GT; International; Riviera GT; Seral
- Panasonic PT-3500; PT-5000; Pro Touring; Touring Deluxe
- Raleigh Portage; Alyeska; Kodiak; Super Tourer; Touring 18
- Schwinn Paramount P15-9 Tourer; Passage; Voyageur
- Specialized Expedition; Sequoia
- Takara Overland
- Trek 520; 620; 720
- Univega Gran Tourismo; Specialissima