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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2020 4:08 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 2:55 pm
Posts: 10
Hi all :) I'm Barney, from Kent. Just posted my hello message a moment ago.

I'm an almost complete beginner to bikes, and I've decided to take on an old Falcon as a project, half for fun and half to get myself something to ride. I would welcome any comments anyone might have for me!

I wanted to start cycling more due to lockdown, and my Dad's hybrid is pretty awful, so I decided to go for a road bike. I was thinking new and cheap, but I saw a rusty old bike for £30 which I could collect that day, and I couldn't resist. It's a Falcon something - seems like it might be 70s according to the searches I've done. I can only find one other bike with the same logo online, and the owner thought it was from '73. I think it's a city bike but it also looks like a road bike to me.

I've relatively little experience with bikes, although I did used to ride a lot as a kid. I've been being a bit more active in doing minor car repairs etc lately, and I get mechanics fairly well. I've got a Haynes bike book at my disposal and most normal tools plus a few bike tools.

It's in seemingly good condition. Some surface rust, nothing bad, and apart from the bearings all being knackered, everything else is in working order - albeit much older gear than I've ever used or even seen. The frame looks like it's in alignment.

I have a few vague ideas for what I want to do with the bike. Obviously, a clean and de-rust are needed - the rust is all surface and not really bad at all, except on the wheel rims. It did have panniers and a dynamo rear light, however I think I'll keep those off as I don't need them or the weight.

Starting with the easy bits, the handlebars are fine, will just need a sand and taping up. I've got a seat to replace the ball crusher which it had, and the post came out fine. Brakes are straddle wire cantilevers - wires need replacing but the calipers and pads seem ok.

It's a 5-speed bike, and I think the bottom bracket and hub bearings will need replacing (I'll probably replace all the bearings I can) - but I'm thinking of getting rid of any or all of the freewheel, hub or indeed whole wheel(s) and/or crankset, to upgrade it to a cheap modern drivetrain. I did look briefly and found a full groupset online with drivetrain and brakes for £200ish. I'm guessing compatibility will be a hurdle here though? No idea!

As I say, the wheel rims are pretty rusty on the braking surfaces. I'm sure they're probably miles out of true too, although they look ok to me. Spokes don't look in bad shape but then again my eye is very much untrained. Dad reckons I might be best getting new wheels, but I'd at least like to see what can be done. What else... oh, the gear lever is on the down tube - just a little 2in lever. Never seen anything like it before - Dad assures me they all used to come like that. The derailleur (rear only) is a *Shimano Tourney** edit - it's a Huret, the brakes are Shimano Tourney*, and looks pretty rusty at the moment. It seems to move ok.

The brake levers are the metal kind, with two levers each side so they can be operated from the horizontal or vertical parts of the bullhorn handlebars. I like the dual-lever feature, but not the metal especially. The groupset I looked at included both derailleurs as well as brake and shift levers, so I was thinking I might go that way.

So, there you have it. Not 100% sure what to do with it - I would love to hear any ideas, suggestions or comments. I have no idea if it might be old enough to be worth something? Not a clue about the retro bikes market. I gather Falcon is somewhat downmarket but who knows. Mainly, I just need a functional bike ASAP to get riding. If it's fast and rides well that would be good, if it looks great that would be a bonus, and I guess if there's reason to, I would actually enjoy restoring the old parts properly.

I wonder, however, if I might bump into issues I hadn't considered? Could sizings and spacings be a problem, especially if I decide to install a groupset? Are there modifications that I could make with relative ease to make stuff fit?

And lastly, I didn't consider this at the time, but would be interested if anyone knows anything about the history of this bike, what model and/or year it could be? Does the Falcon brand mean something for anyone reading this? It seems quite old-styley, and has a bit of charm to it. The dynamo is interesting, I've not seen one on a bike before although I know they exist. Will be sure to add pics shortly!

If it sounds like I don't know what I'm talking about, I probably don't - please correct me :D

**Edit** - Here are the images, hosted on my cricket club's website as a gallery: http://cowdreycc.co.uk/barneys-falcon/


Last edited by Barns150 on Sun May 10, 2020 9:40 pm, edited 13 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 4:55 pm 
Devout Dirtbag

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:38 pm
Posts: 105
Sounds like a mid to low range Falcon judging by the steel wheels and "safety" levers (which are anything but if not adjusted and fitted correctly). Pictures would help tremendously but I'm not convinced this is a good starting point for spending 200 quid on a groupset for; I've seen a few 531 frames going for around £50 on ebay (a complete Dawes Mirage for £40!) and that would give you a much lighter starting point. (531 is a steel alloy that it's maker, Reynolds, produced with varying inner tube thickness to suit different applications from racing to touring. In a nutshell sweeping statement it makes for a much better riding experience that the "gas pipe" steel tubing found on budget frames. Columbus made equivalent tubing but less often found in UK market.)

Falcon were a good mass produced brand, arguably better in quality than what Raleigh were turning out at the time of yours. They must have sold 1000s of "Black Diamond" models which were a bog standard no-frills drop handlebar bike. They also made shoppers, tourers children's bikes etc. Top end stuff was usually 531.

Personally, I'm not convinced in the sense of putting modern bits on a bike of this age though I'm sure many will disagree. You can run into various compatibility issues for tube sizes and spacings that don't need to happen if you select decent period parts for precious little benefit. That said, I built an alloy Bianchi frame up with Campagnolo Veloce for my wife and that was pretty straightforward.

It all depends on your objective. A pub bike that nobody will want to nick (is there such a thing?) is one thing but if you are planning on riding any distance and particularly if there are hills involved its worth keeping the weight down (which, incidentally makes alloy rims a must; they also provide a MUCH better braking surface than steel) and paying some attention to the drivetrain - as in planning for a suitable range of gears and gear mechs that are up to the job. Sure, the modern combined brake and gear lever with indexed (click, click you're in gear) system is technically superior to the older non-indexed system but actually, gear levers on the down tube are at a very natural position (far better than the brief fad for mounting them on the handlebar stem) and once you know what the gear mechs are tasked with doing, friction based systems are dead easy to use and maintain. If you want to restore to original spec, that is another thing again and prepare yourself for spending countless hours searching for, say, a particular make of pedal that with either be in a sorry state after 50 years or cost as much as a car. Unless you have a particularly masochistic streak, I'd shy away from this path for a first project.

Finally a point (rant?) about those metal brake lever bodies. They're only metal because they have the daft safety levers. Many bikes of that era had Weinmann brakes on which you can remove the additional lever, swap the pivot bolt and fit (comfortable) rubber hoods. They came about because straight handlebars matching (efficient) straight brake levers would lose you a lot of fashion points in the school bike shed and did nothing for your "racer" image, yet parents viewed racers as inherently dangerous and lapped up the "safety" tag. When the lever body was mounted too low on the drop handlebars, the extension lever could easily run out of travel well before the brake caliper was exerting anything like its maximum force on the wheel. Result? braking distances far longer that this distance to the car that had just pulled out on you. Hopefully, they weren't accelerating too fast in their sporting Austin Allegro or Marina when you ploughed into them, gripping your safety lever for dear life... </rant>.

Pictures, pictures, pictures.


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 6:55 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:04 pm
Posts: 387
As a first project I would suggest stripping it down and replacing what needs replacing, bearings, cables etc. Possibly consider upgrading to alloy rims or buying an old complete wheelset with the alloy rims. You can get budget new wheels in the 27 by 1/4 size as well. Fitting a new groupset would not be a good use of your money and there will be several compatability issues.


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 7:05 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:55 pm
Posts: 48
And can we see some pics too please? :D


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2020 9:12 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 2:55 pm
Posts: 10
Thanks for your replies! Here we go - see **edited** http://cowdreycc.co.uk/barneys-falcon/ for images. I've hosted them as a gallery page on my cricket club's website as I couldn't think how else to do it! If anyone has better suggestions please fire away.

Ok, cool. Yeah, that makes sense. It definitely feels a heavy frame. There goes the dream of the super rare barn find, but oh well :lol:

Thank you for the advice guys. I was wondering how much to invest, or not, in it. I've seen a few ok looking modernish road bikes online for about the same money as the groupset, so I could get one of them if I wanted to - but I'm kind of wedded to the idea of at least doing something with this bike now. So, in terms of parts, they don't necessarily need to be modern, I could happily go for older stuff (I'm guessing used/refurbushed stuff on ebay etc is the way to go here?) - but I would like to up the number of gears at some point down the line.

Your point about the (un)safety levers is interesting - it's reminded me in fact, I used to ride a bike with a similar style, and yes, they were prone to letting you down at hairy moments. I recall a scenario similar to the one you describe.

I think I'll take the advice given and go with the strip down and replace option. Certainly for now.

Image gallery: **edited** http://cowdreycc.co.uk/barneys-falcon/


Last edited by Barns150 on Sun May 10, 2020 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 7:35 am 
Devout Dirtbag

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:38 pm
Posts: 105
I get a 404 on that linked page but it might just be me.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 10:11 am 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:55 pm
Posts: 48
I get a 404 too.

I'm getting a single speed/fixie vibe about this frame, might not be best solution for OP but the bike sounds like a good candidate for it.


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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 12:32 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 2:55 pm
Posts: 10
Ah sorry, I'd saved it as a draft! Here we go: http://cowdreycc.co.uk/barneys-falcon/

Single speeds - I hadn't heard much of them until a few weeks ago, but I've seen loads when I've been looking on Gumtree. Don't think I'd like one for myself, but I guess it depends... I could, for instance, spend £200 on an ok used road bike to ride, and do this up as a single speed in the meantime - if I was going to be able to sell the single speed for, say, £100 or so? I don't know what a likely price would be for it.


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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 7:27 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri May 08, 2020 2:55 pm
Posts: 10
Quick update - I've now taken the parts off, besides the crankset (waiting for a puller which I should get on Thurs) and bars/stem/fork.

Am I right in thinking the stem is just jammed down inside the fork tube (as opposed to threaded in or anything), and that it may therefore be seized? Admittedly I've not put any leverage on it to properly test it out yet, but I don't think I'll be able to separate forks/stem from headtube without taking the stem and fork apart first. I understand a bit of melting might be necessary if they're too bad...

I had a bit of a go at the rusty parts of the frame with a wire brush and steel wool, and it's largely cleaning up nicely. The chrome on the fork especially looks in good shape now. For the steel, I'm wondering about a respray, or even just a touch up to match the current colour.

I said above that the derailleur was Shimano Tourney.. in fact it's the brakes that are Tourney - the derailleur says "Huret" on it.


Last edited by Barns150 on Sun May 10, 2020 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2020 7:49 pm 
rBoTM Winner
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Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2016 11:31 am
Posts: 725
Location: North Kent Coast UK
Barns150 wrote:
Quick update - I've now taken the parts off, besides the crankset (waiting for a puller which I should get on Thurs) and bars/stem/fork.

Am I right in thinking the stem is just jammed down inside the fork tube (as opposed to threaded in or anything), and that it may therefore be seized? Admittedly I've not put any leverage on it to properly test it out yet, but I don't think I'll be able to separate forks/stem from headtube without taking the stem and fork apart first. I understand a bit of melting might be necessary if they're too bad...

I had a bit of a go at the rusty parts of the frame with a wire brush and steel wool, and it's largely cleaning up nicely. The chrome on the forks especially looks in good shape now. For the steel, I'm wondering about a respray, or even just a touch up to match the current colour.

I said above that the derailleur was Shimano Tourney.. in fact it's the brakes that are Tourney - the derailleur says "Huret" on it.

Yes that's a bog standard average Falcon but none the worse for it, I wouldn't spend a lot of money on it but you should either be able to make a usable machine out of it or worst case use it as a learning exercise for something better.

The bits on it all look pretty standard equipment for that level of machine and should all be perfectly reliable once you've stripped them down and given them a good clean. The crankset isn't though as that's much later than the rest of it.

For the stem as you undo the bolt it should rise out of the stem and when its out about a centimetre give it a whack downwards with a mallet which will drop the internal clamp down and then you should be able to move it. They do seize as its alloy inside a steel tube bit seized stems are generally easier to release than a seized seat post.

As someone who does loads I would say a respray is a good idea. I did a bit of a step by step on rattle can resprays here so take a look at that if you're thinking about going that way with it.

Have a bit of fun with it, it won't win the tour but it will be an interesting project.


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