About a year ago I was fortunate to get to speak to a small audience of bicycle enthusiasts about bicycles and my "greener" approach to acquiring a bicycle, namely restoring an existing one. This took place at our local public library and Greg, the branch manager, I discovered was a strong supporter of the bicycle culture here in Pictou county. We had a wonderful discussion about cycle touring and he expressed interest in doing more of it.

So when I received a message from Greg recently saying he had a frame he wanted built into a sport-touring road bike for an upcoming week long tour, I was excited and envious; excited for the restoration and envious of the trip.

Greg's bike was a c.1981 VeloSport Escapade 10 speed originally designed as an upright city bike/commuter. The frame geometry was very typical of road bikes of that vintage so it was ideally suited for the intended conversion.

VeloSport was a truly Canadian bicycle company that made bicycles of all styles during the 80's. In my opinion they were some of the best valued bicycles made.  The fact that 36 years later this bicycle could be easy converted is evidence of that fact. Not only did they make quality entry level bicycles, but some rather well designed and equipped road and touring bicycles

So Greg and I met over coffee to discuss details of what he wanted.  After about 30 minutes we had decided what stays and what goes, identified the quality of components he was looking for and the budget and time line to work within.

Velo Sport Escapade Velo Sport Escapade Frame Velo Sport Escapade Conversion FreeLander Bicycles

Original VeloSPort Escapade

Credit: Stephane LaPointe

Greg's Original Escapade Frame

Sport Touring Conversion

This first order of business was to get the wheels turning.  The rear wheel is an Araya (Japan) rim laced to a Suzue (Japan) hub. The front wheel consists of a Weinmann (Belgium) rim with reinforced eyelets laced to a Mallard (France) hub. Both hubs were completely disassembled, cleaned, polished and repacked with Mallory marine wheel bearing grease and the rims were cleaned/polished and checked and adjusted for “true”. New 27 x 1 1/4” (32-630) Kenda Kwick Tendril tires were installed. These tires are a blend of durability, efficiency, and control. They now turn beautifully.

Drive Chain

The original steel, cotter crankset was replaced by a Sugino #6 52/40 crankset consisting of alloy arms and steel rings. The bottom bracket was upgraded to a sealed Shimano 122 mm cartridge style.  These units require zero maintenance and the length provided a near perfect chain line. A very nice indexed Shimano freewheel was installed.  Indexed freewheels provide smoother shifting even on non-indexed drive trains. A new KMC Z33 5/6 speed speed chain was cut to length and installed. The Vintage Shimano RS rear derailleur (RD) was removed, cleaned and reinstalled. The front derailleur is a Shimano FE model in very good condition both mechanically and cosmetically.  Shifting on the front rings is smooth and precise. A set of vintage Shimano stem shifters controlled the new front and rear derailleur cables. The cables and the cable housing were sprayed with a rust preventing lubricant.


A vintage set of Dia-Compe road brakes were installed. These are a quality brake set that include quick release cable tension levers for conveniently removing wheels. Two sets of new Alhonga 50mm brake shoes were installed. The cables and housing are all new. A period matching set of Dia-Compe brake levers completed the setup. The stopping power is very good.

Handle Bar, Stem and Headset

What make this a road bicycle in  visual terms is the alloy road (drop) handle bars that were installed. I used a short reach alloy stem and wrapped the bars with red foam tape. It was double wrapped around levers for extra cushion. The headset was in very good condition. It wa disassembled, cleaned and polished to make it sparkle.  Mechanically it was repacked with Mallory marine wheel bearing grease. A second spacer was added to compensate for the removal of the centre-pull cable stop of the previous brake set.

I took this bicycle for a test ride on my commute to work one day and absolutely loved how it performed; I didn't hurt that it was the perfect size for me. It was quick, agile and responsive.  There was a great transfer of power from the pedals to the road. It also had that perfect bit of flex that softens the bumps in the road.

I have two other Velo Sports in my inventory to be restored; After riding this one they will need to get done sooner than later.

Take care, Daryl


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