The Falcon rises, reForged…

A few weeks ago I blogged about my acquisition of a nice, 1980s Falcon touring bike. A garage find, it polished up nice, needed no new parts, just TLC. So I went about the application of said TLC and got it to a reasonable level. But I knew I could take it a step further.

Late night perursal of RAL colour charts and researching local powdercoaters quickly ensued. I would transform the Falcon and it would rise, like a, erm, falcon from the ashes of it’s grey charcoal paint, to become the first bike from my new quasi-business venture/labour of love, ‘Mill and Forge’ – rejuvinating old bikes and forging them anew, like Aragorn’s sword, only a lot more useful.

So without further ado, I give you Mill and Forge #1, the Falcon Westminster.

The Falcon, after a lot of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
The Falcon, after a lot of reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
This blue-green beauty started life as a charcoal grey Falcon Westminster women’s touring bike, built in the early to mid-1980s; at its heart lies a hand-built, lugged Reynolds 531 frame and a lugged cromo Tange fork.

The beautiful, slender chromed steel rack responded well to the caress of wire wool.
The beautiful, slender chromed steel rack responded well to the caress of wire wool.
When we first saw her in a garage in deepest Cheshire, we knew she had been loved and deserved a second life. The bike oozed quality – the components, the frame, though definitely old-skool, have an elegance and quality that you just don’t get any more.

Shimano's Altus LT derailleur - early eighties vintage. A sight more elegant than Shimano's current Altus offering.
Shimano’s Altus LT derailleur – early eighties vintage. A sight more elegant than Shimano’s current Altus offering.
So we brought it back to the Mill and Forge workshop and began to strip away a few decades of dust and dirt, to reveal a bike in fine mechanical fettle, apart from the paintwork, which had definitely seen better days.

The Weinmann 730 sidepulls after some attention with the metal polish. Teamed with alloy rims and new cables, stopping is up to modern expectations.
So it was off to the power-coaters for a media-blast and a nice durable coat of ‘Bianchi celeste’ – a lustrous pastel bluey-green, or greeny-blue , if you will.

Is it blue? Is it green? I dunno…
Back from the painter a few days later and the bike was lovingly put back together. Every component has been cleaned and polished for that ‘better than new’ look.

High quality and utterly elegant SR bars and stem.
We also supplied brand new Michelin World Tour tyres and tubes and new cables throughout. The headset and bottom bracket have been re-greased and all bearings have been adjusted to perfection.

Comfortable, classic Selle San Marco saddle.
The results are, as we’re sure you’ll agree, pretty special.

We offer this stunning, ‘fully-reForged’, ready to ride bike for just £170, local pickup only from Liverpool or Manchester. She’s too lovely to post, we’re afraid.

Look for a comparable new bike (e.g. the Cooper Aintree) and you’ll be parting with around £900, for a bike with none of this old girl’s charm.

Full specification

  • Frame: Reynolds 531 lugged and handbuilt in Britain – fully media blasted and powder-coated
  • Fork: Tange chromoly lugged crown with double eyelets
  • Size: 21inch (54cm) – would suit rider from 5ft 5in to 5ft 8ins approx
  • Colour: blue/green powder-coat
  • Headset: Tange threaded chrome plated.
  • Stem: SR Sakae quill type – hand polished
  • Bars: SR Sakae Road champion vintage with original bar foam
  • Brake levers: Weinmann short reach (good for smaller hands) with extension levers. Black hoods.
  • Brakes: Weinmann 730 sidepull – hand polished
  • Crankset: original SR Sakae Custom 52/42 teeth with built-in chainguard – hand polished
  • Pedals: Lyotard alloy rat-trap style
  • Bottom Bracket: Original Tange full adjustable cup and cone – rebuilt and re-greased
  • Chain – Sedis 5 speed
  • Freewheel – 5 Speed
  • Gear levers – Shimano Altus LT in polished aluminium (old skool friction shift – very low maintenance)
  • Front derailleur – Shimano Altus LT original spec
  • Rear derailleur – Shimano Altus LT original spec – polished aluminium
  • Hubs – Maillard of France, nutted axles front and rear
  • Spokes – rustless
  • Rims: Rigida polished aluminium (better braking than cheaper chrome steel rims and lighter too)
  • Tyres: Michelin World Tour 27 x 1 ¼ brand new with new tubes
  • Seat pin: Fluted aluminium
  • Saddle: Original Selle San Marco Anatomica in suede/split leather
  • Mudguards: Bluemels style chromoplastic in chrome/black with front flap and rear reflector
  • Rear rack: Chrome steel vintage ‘randonneur’ style
  • Price: £170
  • Buy now

7 thoughts on “The Falcon rises, reForged…

  1. Aha! I have been trying to find out more about a lovely old bike I took in from a friend, and I think this might be the same make – between the Falcon headbadge and the Elswick sticker under the seat post, I was thinking early-mid eighties, but couldn’t find an indication of which make it might be or any other details, and I wanted to get an idea so that I could get an idea of sizing (which seems to be a bit off what every bike mechanic expects it to be, everywhere I’ve been), as the whole casette/chain/derailer (and posisbly cranks) needs replacing… (and don’t get me started on the brakes – oy vey!). This is the first thing I’ve seen that looks like my Myrtle, a lovely pale purple version of this one. How very exciting – I love what you’ve done with her, and am feeling quite inspired by all your hard polishing work. You might also mention that, with that crankset (appears to be the same as Myrtle’s), she just flies along – so deliciously fast!! 🙂

    May I ask whether you had any trouble with the mud gaurds? I was told this line were built with very low clearance, and that it might prove problematic (they’re in desperate need of replacing too, held together with gaffer tape and hope at the moment).

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      Thanks for your kind words about the Falcon. The mudguard clearance was good but it could have done with wider 45mm ‘guards instead. The 35mm ones they fit on these bikes are just too narrow for 32mm tyres. That’s my advice.

  2. Kath

    Great job you’ve done there, and nice to read some Falcon appreciation!
    I had that exact bike in the 80s, to replace a pale blue Falcon Olympic destroyed in an RTC. Picked up the same Olympic but with men’s frame secondhand in Cambridge for £190. Great fun to restore, and a blast to ride. The geometry is built into my muscle memory from hours of riding to school, and its been cool to restore, tracking down parts, cleaning and reassembling
    Super blog, very interesting, and great to see the component specs – weren’t we lucky with Falcon, early Shimano, Weinmann brakes, that 531 frame – all built to last!
    All the best

  3. Cantonette

    Glad I accidentally found your blog!
    I recently acquired a vintage bike blessed with a Weimann 730 and see that on this Falcon, you have not changed it.

    So I must ask, how does one adjust this particular brake as it always seems to need adjusting. I’ve had to take it in a couple of times but within a day it’s out…tried myself and the front cable popped out of the brake lever!

    I’ve searched and searched but all guides are a bit above me & I keep hearing that i need a special tool to adjust this brake.

    I’d be so grateful if you could dumb it down for me or point me to a suitable online guide so I can sort it and escape from the horrors of public transport!

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      If you mean the cable adjustment you do that at the calliper. There’s a knurled barrel with a locknut. If you mean curing brake rub I just slightly loosen the nyloc nut that secures the brake and it self centres.

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