|WHEN I was given a Falcon
San Remo Equipe to test I felt that it was a task which should only be done by riding it
in an event like the Tour of Britain; or, perhaps, by riding a time trial series with a
view to winning a B.A.R. But, of course, the Tour of Britain is out as far as I'm
concerned; and I have an idea that as far as time trials are concerned both the editor and
Falcon Cycles think that the San Remo Equipe's capabilities are on test, not mine!
However, you cannot properly test a T.T. motor cycle by taking it on tour in the South of Ireland and this San Remo Equipe, virtually identical with that used by the team of Falcon independents, had to be tested, I felt, at least against the watch.
Ever since I was a youngster with a bicycle of my own, I have taken an interest in place-to-place records, though in those early days neither national nor club ones attracted me; my records were all my own. Each one was duty recorded in my diary with a note on the weather condition and, of course, particulars of the machine ridden were not overlooked.
As I reached my teens distances grew longer and later, when club life began, place-to-place efforts gave way to 25, 30, 50 and 100 miles, even the longer 12 and 24 hours. Nowadays none of the records of my club days are within my reach, but I do occasionally look at some of the earlier ones with an "I reckon I can still do better than that" eye.
A Real Challenge
And to my mind, one of these records, over 30 years old, offered a real challenge: Oxford to Henley and back, then 46 miles but nowadays with Benson airfield astride the old road halfway the resultant deviation - makes it nearer 471 miles. It had plenty of hills to test the San Remo Equipe's complete ratio range of 58.9 in. to 100.2 in. As my notes on it indicated that I had used an 81 in. fixed gear, I was certain that this superb Falcon machine, and its equipment would prove a tremendous improvement on the mount of three decades ago, even though it was the best of its day. On a few occasions prior to my "record attempt," therefore, I proceeded to get myself acquainted with the San Remo Equipe. First, I removed the standard Dunlop No. 2 (cotton) tubulars and substituted a pair of No. 9s. This job was made easy by the Campagnolo quick release hubs. Anticipating quite a bit of out-of-the-saddle riding, I attached a pair of toe clips and straps to the Brampton B8 quill pattern pedals. The all-chrome finish to this ace Falcon bicycle is set off by flamboyant blue head and seat panels. It attracted attention everywhere I went, and on more than one occasion I found myself answering searching inquiries about Falcon machines and their designer, Ernie Clements-even some on San Remo.
I frequently made use of the lower ratios in "training" - 58.9 in., 63.5 in. and 64.8 in. and when the going was hard, it drew my attention to an apparent weakness in gear selection through near overlapping, caused by the four-tooth chainring variation : 63.8 in. with 64.5 in. and 70.2 in. with 72 in. But the choice of top ratios perhaps outweighed this - 87.7 in., 92.6 in. and 100.2 in.
The rigidity and responsiveness of the frame quickly impressed me, as did the liveliness of the wheels and general smoothness of the transmission as a whole. The 221/2 in. frame,of Reynolds 531 butted tubing throughout with Falcon-designed Prugnat lugs has 73' parallel angles. It has a 22 1/2 in. top tube, 17 1/4 in. chain stays and wrap-over seat stays. The only brazed-on item is a gear lever clip stud; brake and gear cables are affixed with G.B. clips. Mudguard eyes are incorporated in the fork ends, but the mudguards themselves are not included in the standard specification. Front fork rake is 1 7/8 in. and wheel-base 41in.
Steering, consequently on the short rake and the lightness of the wheel, was lively yet without excessive vibration, and reaction- of the Campagnolo head set was all that could be expected. The 15 in. Ambrosio Champion bends were the acme of comfort; their blue tape added to both efficiency of grip and attractiveness.
But it was in the transmission that the San Remo Equipe felt so superior. I felt certain that every ounce of effort was being transmitted through the Campagnolo chainset with its cotterless cranks, through the 3/32 in. Brampton chain and, with the aid of the Huret Allvit 1900 gear, to the Atom freewheel block and the well built wheels - Weinmann sprint rims, butted spokes and Campagnolo large flange hubs. When I replaced the Dunlop No.2 tubulars to tackle the near 50 miles "record" it seemed as if the machine itself was "trained toi the last ounce."
And the record? Conditions were good, the standard Reg feeding bottle had its quota of liquid and my schedule, set for a minute off, was taped to the top tube. The ascent was achieved on 78 in., without a groan from the cotterless cranks, and the HunterCombe descent was made on 100.2 in., as was the sharp drop into Crowmarsh, where a stray dog almost brought the attempt to a quick end - saved by the efficiency of theWeinmann Vainqueur 999 brakes. Thence to the turn at the Plain round about, adjoining Oxford's Magdalen Bridge, it was 81 in. most of the time - and the watch showed half a minute down on schedule. At Crowinarsh returning the loss was identical, with the dreaded HunterCombe climb ahead. Down to 72 in. and every bit of the San Remo Equipe suffered with my 13-stone struggling upwards; comfortable as I had found it I had no use for the Brooks B17 narrow saddle on this hill.
At the crest I was 11 minutes down with almost an eight miles drop to the finish and little or no wind to contend with, after Netdebed it was either 92.6 in or 100.2 in. all the way, the last mile or level going apart, over which I found 87.7 in. all I could manage. And at Hetiley's clock tower, in spite of the one-way detour, :which adds almost another quarter of a mile, I was 35 seconds inside my fitst. I had beat the "record'"-or did the San Remo Equipe get it for me?
SPECIFICATION (as tested)
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