Monday, May 9, 2016

New Project: 1986 Panasonic Touring Deluxe

Since RAGBRAI last summer, I've been on the lookout for a touring rig. What can I say? Spending days out on the road appealed to me, and I'm hoping to do more of it. While my Peugeot PH-10 could probably do the job as a light tourer, it's not really meant for that kind of duty. Indeed, the frame geometry is pretty compact, it doesn't have front-side eyelets on the fork for a front rack, and it only has one set of mounts for a bottle cage. Plus, I've built up the bike as a commuter, so to tackle longer rides, I've started swapping out pedals and using cleats, which reduces my leg extension. Then I have to slightly raise my saddle when I use my clipless pedals. It just ends up being a pain, so I decided the best (and most fun) course of action would be to build up a proper touring bike.

I picked up this Panasonic Touring Deluxe frame on eBay for a decent price. It came with the original fork and headset and a non-original Takagi triple crankset. The frame is constructed of double-butted Tange 1000 chromoly and the fork is Tange Mangaloy 2001. They're perhaps a bit on the heavy side, but are certainly fine materials. The frame and fork are in beautiful condition, with only light signs of wear, aside from some denting and scuffed paint on the chainstays where a previous owner had bolted on and over-tightened a kickstand clamp. Shouldn't be a problem to buff out any rust spots and touch up the paint, though. According to the 1986 Panasonic catalog, the frame color is Canyon Red, and it's a really good-looking deep maroon. But what I really love about the frame are the decals, which are a sparkling white that really pop in the sunlight.

The machine has double eyelets both front and rear for fenders and racks. It also has two sets of bottle cage mounts. The relaxed geometry with long wheelbase is ideal for touring, so it really is a true touring bike. Probably not the best for heavy touring duty, but it should handle light to medium loads without too much trouble. The old Panasonics are well-regarded and are, by all accounts, solid hand-built rigs that have become sought after in some circles. I'm looking forward to getting started on rebuilding this bike, and then spending many years riding it.

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