Monday, February 28, 2011

1982 Ross Gran Tour

Last fall, when I was acquiring bikes to keep me busy over the winter, I came across a Ross Gran Tour. The Ross bikes were not known for being either exotic or highly desirable. However, their road bikes were decent and nicely equipped. The Gran Tour was a mid-range touring bike known for it's comfort on the road.
Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures of the bike when I first got it, so I'll refer you to this link that fairly accurately represents the overall appearance of the bike. The main differences were that mine had red Ross lettering, red cable housings, the handle bars had foam padding, and it had different tires.

1982 Ross Gran Tour Original Components

As you can see by the components, a lot of rust had been allowed to accumulate. Still, what you see here are Shimano Altus LT front and rear derailleurs, Diacompe center-pull brakes, Shimano stem shifters (not pictured), Hatta bottom bracket, and a crankset of unidentified origin. The brake levers are also Diacompe with the old "suicide" levers. In other words, this bike came comparably equipped to most of the competition.

Faced with some salvageable components and a great frame I had a decision to make. I could restore it as is and end up with just another road bike or see if I could do something special with it. Single speed/fixed gear conversions seem to be gaining in popularity and this bike had a lot going for it, so I decided to go that direction.

Polished brake on right

I began by making sure that the components I was going to use would be acceptable. First, I polished the center pull brakes and was pleased with the result. The frame looked good from a distance but needed some touch up and while my efforts improved the appearance, it was clear I need to develop my skills in this area. Luckily, black is a very forgiving color!

The original wheels left a lot to be desired. While the aluminum rims were salvageable, the spokes were really dingy and worse, the freewheel was rusted onto the rear hub for probably the duration of mankind. Luckily, I had a few spare wheels I had picked up along the way and they were perfect for this project. 

So now my challenge was to locate a single speed crank, decide on what rear cog would work best, and what aesthetic changes I wanted to make. Amazon and eBay provided the answers along with Sheldon Brown and many hours spent looking at bikes on line to get a feel for the look I wanted.

I had a nice set of Bontrager Sport tires with the tan sidewalls that were like new and really looked nice with the black paint so I decided to go that direction. The original cable housing was red and that got replaced with black to make it blend more with the bike frame. Since the lettering on the bike was red and the pin striping on the lugs was red, I thought that was enough red. I then set out to find the right seat and handlebar tape to finish it off.

Origin8 Classic Saddle and Cork Handlebar Tape in Brown

So here's a look at how that turned out. You'll notice a couple of other things. First, the Diacompe brake levers (quick release is open on one) have been altered with the elimination of the "suicide" brakes. Secondly, with those being gone, I added some Cane Creek non-aero brake hoods to spiff it up a little.

Sunlite Cotterless Crank 44t x 170
Here's a look at the drive train. I agonized over what would be the best combination and ended up with this 44 tooth crank in front and a 17 tooth cog in the back. The day I finished we had a snow storm (one of many this winter) so I had to wait a few days to see how the bike rode. As soon as the roads were dry I got out for a neighborhood ride just to see how the gear ratios worked out. The bike rode like a dream! The gearing was just right - at least for what I was after. Standing starts were reasonably easy and I could cruise at 15-17 mph with a normal cadence which is what I wanted for riding around town.

Ross Headbadge, Pinstriping, Center Pull Brakes

The Finished Product

Now I'm waiting for the weather to break again to take a longer ride. I can't wait!


  1. i have a new one. could be yours

  2. Doing the same thing. How big were your wheels and tires? What sort of hub did you use? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Blue Clifford, I pretty much made it up as I went along. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted the bike to look like and the rest seemed to fall into place over the course of the winter. I used 27" wheels that I had as spares with the rear being a "freehub" instead of "freewheel". I got the cog and spacers for it online from eBay. The crankset I got very inexpensively from Amazon. Everything ended up going together fairly easily, meaning no major issues just some tweaking of the spacers to get a good chain line. It ends up being a very nice riding around town type of bike. Just last week I put mustache handlebars on which make it more comfortable and adds a little wow factor.

  4. I did the same thing a few years ago and the Ross-cinante is holding up well. However the frame and fork on mine has a fair amount of chipped paint, some surface rust, and the decals are chipping away. So basically, it leaves something to be desired in the looks department. I've never done a full paintjob and I'm a little intimidated by the process. I have done a bit of touch up but wasn't thrilled the results. Plus that doesn't solve the decal problem. Any suggestions?

  5. Natale. I found the headbadge decals on ebay. take a look!

  6. I am the original owner of a Ross Grand Tour Professional Emporer model. I think it's a 1980 , but I'm not sure how to tell. This bike has great balance, in my day I could ride it no handed for miles. The handle bars have been retaped and the tires replaced, everything else is original. I would like to find out what is worth.