|"VINTAGE LIFE CYCLES"
CANADIAN & VINTAGE LIGHTWEIGHT BICYCLE
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|1971 CARLTON "PROFESSIONAL"|
|Believe it or not, this beautiful old Carlton "Professional" bicycle was found at the local landfill site, the dump. It is the rarest and highest end bicycle found there to date.|
|FINDING THE CARLTON|
|Arriving home from work one day, I noticed an unusual blue frame sitting in my backyard. There were several frames sitting there at the time, waiting to be hauled away as scrap. I couldn't remember parting out a blue frame but thought little of it since my fifty six year old memory fails me, from time to time.
A short while later, on my way to get a hair cut, I passed by the frame and took a quick glance through the window of my pick-up truck. A Carlton... A Carlton!!! I couldn't believe my eyes and the first thing I thought was probably a lower end model. I was wrong...
I jumped out of my truck and took a closer look. Wow, to say the least! Chome lugs, seat stays, chain stays and fork ends. Campagnolo drop-outs, Stronglight "Depose" crank set, Campagnolo "Record" rear derailleur and a Nouvo "Record" front. There was, of course, a down side - no wheels! I put the bicycle into the shed and went for my dream filled hair cut.
It turns out that a friend of mine had spotted the frame and fork set at the local dump and picked it up for me, wondering if I would be interested in it. Needless to say, I was and still am. In fact, I can honestly say that, at this point in time with my collecting activities, the Carlton is the number one keeper in my collection. There are six other bicycles that make up my collection, an Olmo "Grand Prix", a Miyata 1000 "Grand Touring", a Bianchi "Trofeo", a Motobecane "Grand Record", a Miele and the trusty Raleigh that I use for commuting.
|???1970 or 1971???|
|This Carlton "Professional" is serialed numbered as a 1971 model. Apparently, Raleigh "Professional" and Carlton "Professional" frames were identical, both being built at the Carlton "Workshop". This Carlton "Professional" should then have the "fast back" seat stays and dimpled chain stays, common to Raleigh "Professionals" of this vintage. The Carlton "Professional", shown here, does not have either of these defining features. Half wrap seat stays and non-dimpled round chain stays suggest an earlier frame. Additionally, the 1971 Raleigh "Professional" had the Reynolds triangular decal on the forks. This Carlton has just the barest remnant of a Carlton Workshop ribbon decal, once again indicating an earlier vintage.|
|Is this the decal that should appear on a 1971 Carlton "Professional" fork set? Later models sported the Reynolds triangular tubing decal. An attempt to reproduce this Carlton decal is underway and, with luck, a repo item will soon grace the beautiful Carlton fork set.|
|Carlton bicycles were know for their quality and careful preparation. It seems that one of the requirements to work at the Carlton Workshop was twenty years experience as a bicycle builder. Great care and effort went into each and every high end Carlton bicycle made. An example of the care to achieve best results is best noted by the time spent filling and filing Carlton lug work. Most bicycles would experience less than an hour of finishing in these areas. The Carlton was treated to between two and three hours of craftsman like finishing, ensuring that the completed product would look like the beautiful lug work pictured in these three pictures..|
MATERIALS AND CRAFTSMANSHIP
|Chrome lug work at its finest. Almost thirty five years old and still that deep rich look that defines the quality of material, effort and craftsmanship that went into every high end Carlton. The entire bicycle speaks to this level of quality. The one thing that cannot be shown on these pages is the quality of ride. The ride, superbe, to say the least!|
|STRONGLIGHT "DEPOSE" CRANK SET|
|Even though the Stronglight "Depose" Crankset is a beautiful and functional unit, it is not original equipment to tthe Carlton. It was the first component to be changed out after getting the bicycle up and running. A Campagnolo Nouvo Record set took its place, the first move in an effort to go to a full Nouvo Record grouppo.|
|NOUVO RECORD TRANSMISSION|
|A Campagnolo Record rear derailleur came with the bicycle, as found. Unfortunately the original derailleur did not work well. Years of use had caused the pins to become sloppy and the chain would not track correctly. The Record derailleur was replaced with a 1974 Nouvo Record model that works like a charm and is in proper keeping with the Nouvo Record grouppo that was offered for the Carlton "Professional" in 1970-71. Campagnolo "Barcon" shifters handle gear changes in a comfortable and, all but flawless, manner. Barcons are a pleasure to use and have been in use on other bicycles in the collection for some time now.|
|THE SADDLE & SEAT POST|
|This old leather saddle is another gift from the local landfill site. After careful cleaning and copious rubbing with "Proof Hide", the saddle all but gleems. Its patina of age is obvious but, somehow, seems to fit the bicycle's appearance and charm. The make of the saddle is unknown and will probably be replaced soon with a Brooks "Professional", which was offered on Carltons at the time. The seat post installed did not come with the bicycle and will be replaced with a Campagnolo post as soon as one of the correct type and vintage is found. For now, an SR does the job.|
|SLOWING THE CARLTON DOWN!|
|As found, the Carlton got its slow down stuff from a set of first edition Dura-Ace brake calipers and levers. These were changed out for a set of Campagnolo brake caliper and levers that do an excellent job of slowing this relatively fast bicycle down. The present Campy levers are drilled, however; a set of undrilled levers have been acquired and will soon grace the bicycle's handlebars. Unfortunately, the bicycle will probably never have a set of Campy hoods - they are just too expensive today!|
|CONTROL THE BICYCLE!|
|The bicycle was found with a set of Italian bars mounted. The handlebars were most likely made in Sicily and have a very large drop built into them. Most handlebars in the collection use a 50mm drop but the Carlton bars have a full 70mm and a bit more. Two different handlebar sets were offered by Carlton at the time, plain and GB etched. As soon as a set of GB bars are located, for a good price, they will take the place of the present Italian ones. Ebay will most likely prove to be an invaluable parts source, once again.|
|For a bicycle that is thirty some years old and that was found at the dump, the condition is very good. There is little or no rust on the bike and the paint work, though scuffed, chipped and scratched, is not all that bad. A good paint touching up would probably be the best way to go, however; a full blown restoration would really look good also. And here-in lies the delima, to paint or not to paint? How does the saying go? You can resotre a bicycle a hundred times but it is only original once! That one sentence just about says it all. That consideration when coupled with the fact that the bicycle is to be ridden frequently suggests that touching up the paint work is the way to go. The present patina of age is not at all unacceptable and even adds to the character of the bicycle.|
|CONTENDER FOR THE NUMBER ONE SPOT!|
|For some time now the Olmo "Grand Prix", pictured to the right has been the most cherished bicycle in the collection. Great to view and even better to ride made the Olmo a true favourite. The Carlton will most likely take the Olmo's place for the number one spot. Both bicycles offer terrific rides!|
|RIDING THE CARLTON|
|A local bicycle guru suggested to me once that few bikes have the ride quality that is offered by a high end British mount. I have owned and ridden quite a few vintage lightweight bicycles in the past few years and I can honestly say that only one bike, that I have owned and ridden, rides better than the Carlton "Profesional". The best rider in my collection, to date, has got to be my Miyata 1000 "Grand Touring". The Miyata is magic and no other can compare, in my humble opinion. That said, it is only fair to mention that I have not yet finished dialing the Carlton into my personal comfort preferences.
For the most part, the Carlton is a very nice bicycle to ride. It is quite responsive and, even though I have not installed a computer yet, the bicycle seems to be very quick. The bicycle seems to be extremely smooth and it is certainly quiet to operate. As far as comfort goes, there is no saddle that I like better than a leather one and my favourite is the Brooks B17 "Special" that presently sits on the Miyata. With this in mind, it seems unreasonable to expect a saddle, picked up at the local dump, to offer top level comfort and any comparison seems unfair.
I am running Campagnolo Nouvo Record quill pedals, without toe straps. Most of my other bikes are fitted with quick release Shimano M515 pedals, once again making it difficult to compare the ride quality of the Carlton to other bicycles in the collection. I believe that I will leave the Campy pedals on the Carlton and I might even give those stupid straps a try. So far I have avoided using toe straps. They seem unsafe and inefficiant to me. However, I would like to experience a full vintage ride quality and, I suppose, that using toe straps is the only way to go.
I expect the quality of the ride to change once I install a set of Campagnolo high flange hubs and better wheel rims on the Carlton. The Suze hub and Ambrosia wheel set, covered with 700c x 28mm tires were salvaged from a low end Bianchi some time ago. Lighter wheels with 23mm tires will make a big difference. I am presaently running a five speed rear kog set with a 13 to 24 range. This seems to be just about perfect for my riding habits and I havn't had to get of the bike and walk yet.
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