Home > bicycling, Fit Kit > Fit Kit – 1986 Gardin Road Bike

Fit Kit – 1986 Gardin Road Bike

gardinlogo (Large)  I have had this bike since I am pretty sure 1986. I was just heading off to University and was joining the University Cycling team. I had an old Peugeot at the time which just wasn’t of a level that would work in the more serious world of University cycling. I knew a bit about what I wanted and I headed down to a then well known Bike show on Bank Street in Ottawa. While a few bike shops seem to last forever, a lot of good ones come and go and this one was gone by the mid 90s so the name of the bike shop escapes me now but their high end brand was Gardin. The most important thing I knew about Gardin was that Canadian Curt Harnett used one to win the Silver in the 1000m time trail at the 1984 Olympics. That seemed good enough for me. I made my decision and started the process. Unlike my previous purchases in the bike department this one I spent a lot of time on. The bike shop folks sat down with me and asked me how I was going to use this and there seemed to be a fairly complicated fitting system!  Then they brought out the brochure. Really wish I had kept that for the bikes were gorgeous! Since I have been young I have loved things Italian, and while I was never able to get a Ferrari an “Italian” bike was a nice option.  So I knew that I wanted Campagnola parts.  But I have never been one to go all the way to the top of a given brand and Record and Super Record seemed a little over the top for me. At the time Campy was offering their Victory gruppo, a few notches below the records but still quite beautiful and definitely funcational.  There were a number of colour choices and frame choices but I decided on a Columbus Matrix frame, red and white Canadian theme and victory gruppo. Based on the fitting the 52cm frame was best for me. (Interestingly my new bike is 54cm, also “professionally” fitted) Cost was about $1200 CDN in mid 80s so wasn’t cheap, my dad gave me a loan (I choose this over a car) and the deal was sealed. If I recall the bike took about two weeks to arrive. I got hardly wait and finally the big day arrived.

Below is the bike I got.  For me it was beautiful, it was comfortable and fit me, it worked and it was fast!  Almost immediately I was winning time trails, being competitive in races, putting in 4-6 hour saturday rights and was and continues to be one of the best purchases I have ever made. Did one 40km time trial at 41kph average. Can’t do that today but goes to show you that the engine is still more important than the bike. My new bike can’t help me reach that speed without my being in the shape for it. 20+ years later I still use it on a regular basis and until I bought my new bike I was still racing this in Triathlons. I never stopped using this bike. How many things can you say that about 20 years and more after a purchase.

1986 Gardin Road Bike

In researching a bit for this blog entry I saw a number of posts from people who “knew” Joe Gardin or had Gardins and said that they could be a bit quality challenged. Well I certainly got one of the best and it has been crashed, fallen over ditches, hit curbs, and pounded on thousands and thousands of kilometers of crappy roads and still looks and feels great. It is one of the good ones and if you can find such a Gardin get it. They aren’t making any more and Joe Gardin died a few years ago. I never met him but his bike was magnifico!

Very few things have changed over the years. The rear derailleur packed it in fairly quickly, I think within 2 years of purchase. I remember talking to the bike shop where I bought this and they said that wasn’t uncommon and suggested I get the Mavic derailleur I have on it now. Mostly because it was in stock really! Since I didn’t have a lot of money after I bought the bike the Mavic seemed fine.  Haven’t really seen one before and since but it has worked fantastically for me.  Not sure what I did with my original victory derailleur but have begun a search on ebay as I would ilke it to have a full victory drivetrain once I finish “restoring” it. Amazingly the seat was only changed this year. It was a threadbare Selle San Marco which fit my butt absolutely perfectly, hated to part with it. The new one is a specialized unit and is fine, no real complaints, but just not quite right. The biggest thing keeping this bike down is the wheels. It still has the original front wheel, untrue and pretty bent, and the back wheel is one I stole off my brother’s Fiori (a Norco Italianish brand from the 80s) and its done. I have tried to true it in a number of different ways.  Still this bike was so perfect and continued to perform so nicely I was willing to overlook this, but finally when I saw just what was available in a new bike decided to shell out for something from this century.My new bike is better is every possible way but my eyes always wander to this one.

One interesting topic is shifting. I have always shifted on the down tube. My new bike, like 99% of most new bikes it seems, has the integrated shifting/braking thingees. And this is good, except that it means I can be a bit lazy in a sense. On the drop done tube shifters, you seemed more willing to keep at it and see if you can keep the speed up, now I just click. Next summer when this bike is back up to snuff will be interesting to see which appeals to me more.

Time for some pictures. Below is a gallery of some of the tasty bits.

Crank...beautiful

Mavic made derailleurs?

Brakes are beautiful and functional

Yes, we used to shift like this

Seat isn't original

Mmm..shiny

Columbus tubing

Fork

Anyways the recent purchase of a new bicycle (to be blogged on later) has meant that this bike can now be semi-retired. I still plan to ride it a lot but I plan to restore it a bit. Definitely the worst off bits are the wheels. These are the older wheel style with a screw on freewheel and 126mm spacing. I could get the rear triangle to spread but that would be wrong and really this is a bike that deserves to stay as close to the perfection that was delivered all those years ok. Thanks to the internet found these wheels up at Harris Cyclery. They have been purchased and are on their way to me and I will give a full report when I get them.

June 2012 Update

Realized that I lot of people came to this site and just saw the old tired version of my Gardin. Here is how it looks today and I still try to ride it once a week if I can! Seat is new, wheels and crank are new, color matched tires etc. I am biased but I think it’s one sweet looking ride.

Gardin Refreshed

This is how my Gardin looks today, nicely refreshed

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Categories: bicycling, Fit Kit
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  1. October 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm

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