Monday, September 26, 2016

Built For The Long Haul: 1986 Panasonic Touring Deluxe

For nearly 5 months now, I've been working on building up a 1986 Panasonic Touring Deluxe frame. I could've pretty easily done it in half that time, if not less. But I had no budget for this project, so much of the delay in getting the bike built was due to continuously searching for steep discounts on components and parts. This project was also a bit of an oddity. It's a vintage bike and I wanted to stay true to its origins. But it's also a machine I wanted to reliably put thousands of miles on. For this reason, I struck a balance between new and old - seeking out used, vintage-era components when I felt that newer parts weren't needed, and bolting on brand new parts when I needed the advantage of a modern component.

So this was not a restoration project. Think of it more as a resto-mod. Whatever it is, this is my personal tourer and I can't wait to start cranking out some mileage on it.

The Frame: In a previous post, I discussed details of the frame, so I won't rehash those. Before I started buying parts for this build, though, I wanted the frame to be in top condition. I picked up some automotive touch-up paint from my local auto supply store and hit the more worrisome spots on the chainstays and fork with a couple coats. Once it had been touched up, I hosed down the inner surfaces of the tubing with Frame Saver. Then I used a polishing wax to clean it up and make the paint shine, followed by a coat of hard shell wax to protect the paint and minimize further oxidation in the areas where the paint was chipped or scratched.

The Drivetrain: The front and rear derailleurs are period-correct Shimano Light Action derailleurs (FD-Z204 and RD-L523, respectively). They're controlled by a set of clamp-mount Shimano L412 Light Action downtube shifters. A Shimano TZ20 6-speed freewheel, Hyperglide chain, and UN26 bottom bracket round out the Shimano-heavy drivetrain. The whole thing is pushed by a Takagi crankset. I don't know much about this crankset, as it came with the frame when I bought it. What I do know is that it's not original to the bike. However, it's in very good condition and a perfectly serviceable crank. I may someday replace it with something closer to original, but as for now it will do nicely.

The Brakes: As I discussed in a previous post, I had some issues finding suitable brakes for this build. Stopping power is provided by a beautiful set of Shimano 600 EX BL-6208 brake levers that I picked up on eBay and Shimano Altus CT91 cantilever brakes. While the CT91s don't quite have the vintage look of brakes like the Tektro CR720s or the Paul Neo-Retros, they're decent brakes that can be purchased for shockingly low prices, so I'm sufficiently satisfied with the end result.

The Wheels: This was one of my favorite parts of this project: building wheels. These particular wheels are a creation of my own design. I picked up a pair of vintage Shimano 105 HB-1050 front and rear 36-hole hubs that match the OLD on the old Panasonic frame for a great price from my LBS. I laced them to a set of brand-new Velocity Dyad 700c touring rims using DT Swiss Champion 2.0mm straight-gauge spokes. After all, it's a heavy duty bike that deserves heavy duty wheels. These fully custom, hand-built wheels are the ultimate in old-meets-new for the purpose of maintaining a vintage look - as well as compatibility - while maintaining maximum performance. Not so different from the rest of the machine!

The Accessories: In typical touring style, the saddle is a honey color Brooks B17 saddle, with matching honey color Brooks Microfiber bar tape. The tires are Schwalbe Marathons in a 700x32c size, and I'm currently using Shimano A530 pedals. I topped the whole thing off with a Racktime Add-It rear rack and a set of Jenson stainless bottle cages that give the bike a nice vintage - and slightly wonky - flair.


  1. I'm a big fan of old Japanese bikes in general, and Panasonics in particular, as the quality is always top-notch. You put this one together nicely, it should give you tons of good adventures.
    I look forward to future posts about where it takes you.


  2. Lovely work on your Panasonic giving it a new life. I had a '78 Panasonic DX-2000 for many years and it was a good and faithful ride because they made such solid frames. Here's wishing you many happy miles on yours!

  3. That is great, have a look at this bicycle Hybrid Cycles

  4. How are those brakes working out for you? Isn't this a 27 inch to 700c conversion?