Bike of the Month – October 2020

This months ‘Bike of the Month comes from John Farmer of Bristol, England. I am sure we all remember the incredible feeling of satisfaction when we can finally afford to buy our first new bike. John certain remembers that wonderful experience as he recounts the story of his first ‘new’ bike bought on impulse from Steve Bees  cycle shop Horndean, Hampshire where he lived there late 1970’s.

Bicycle Make:           Viking

Bicycle model:          European

Date of Manufacture:    1977

Here is what John has to say about his Viking: ‘I just loved the metallic leaf green colour (and still do !). I rode it extensively around this area but it got banished to the back of a succession of damp garages as I travelled around UK working in different places and it deteriorated badly .

My cycling interest was renewed about 20 years ago and I  bought a ‘new’ GT steel framed bike with STI gear change which was much easier to ride in modern day conditions and is now a sort of later classic in its own right. However, I promised myself that I would restore the Viking one-day.

Retirement presented me with the time to actually do this. I explored getting the frame repainted by Argos cycles in Bristol , which is near by and has quite a reputation for their work. However, a frame re-spray  is quite expensive and I fancied having a go myself anyway. I happened to be visiting their little factory outlet one day when a delivery van arrived from their paint supplier , a local auto paint company. I made a mental note and took my Viking frame to them for a colour match. They supplied an aerosol can for about €20.  I took a lot of time bead blasting the frame and giving it coats of red oxide primer, silver undercoat and finally the topcoat and lacquer. The transfers were not available ‘ex stock’ but did a good job reproducing them from the samples I sent them at a reasonable price. The Reynolds transfers came from the ‘only’ source.

In retrospect I would have been better getting the bike powder coated.  Modern paint is much less durable than the original enamels used and I have had to resort to helicopter tape to prevent the frame scratching. All the components are original .

The saddle was very scuffed and torn but I have patched it up and it doesn’t look too bad and has the Viking branding. The ‘awful’ Weinmann side-pulls are back on for originality  (I replaced them at some point in the past with Shimano dual pivot brakes for safety reasons).

The SR chainset polished up well as did the stem and ‘Viking’  longship engraved bars. The Mavic Rims on Campag hubs are original , a friend kindly gave me a nice shiny skewer to replace my rusty front hub one.  I bought 3 sets of the Vittoria 28 mm tyres from Wiggle many years ago  and have fitted the last remaining set.

The Campag ‘Nuovo Gran Sport’ levers and rear derailleur are original . The bike came with a Nuovo Grand Sport front derailleur but this never worked from new. I took the bike back to the shop and Steve Bee replaced it with a ‘Matchbox’ Gran Sport mech. I was a bit peeved about this and this didn’t work either so I replaced it with a cheapo Shimano which finally worked well. Somewhere along the way I lost the Matchbox mech – a shame as they now fetch a fortune on e-bay ! I wanted a  correct mech and was lucky to find the ‘Bools’ bicycles in Bristol had a s-hand one which he sold to me for a very reasonable  price (great bloke). 

I have subsequently restored an old Carlton frame but with more modern components (the Shimano dual pivot brakes removed from the Viking and 8 speed Shimano STI gears which makes for a more practical bike …..’

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