Have a sore back from a weekend full of riding or racing? Today’s entry, Phil H’s Vista Espada, should soothe even the most nagging back pain.
1984 Vista Espada
A little bit about it: A couple of years ago, someone at work advertised two bikes for free in our employee bulletin. He lived about 5 miles from me, so how could I refuse? One was a badly bent Schwinn, which was a loss. But the other, a Vista Espada, looked salvageable.
He told me that he was the original owner of the Vista, having paid $250 for it in 1984. Intending to use it as a touring bike, he had the shop immediately upgrade the derailleurs — the front is a Shimano 600 and the rear is a Shimano 105 – and move the shift levers from stem to downtube. The Dia-Compe side pull brakes are still the originals.
After it was used it to tour parts of Europe, including the Black Forest and Alps (also, inadvertently, on the Autobahn 8-o), “Arrow” (his nickname for it) served as a commuter/recreational bike in Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and finally California before ending up on Long Island.
When I picked up the bike, it was in very rough shape, having been stored in a barn/garage for years. Wish I had thought to take photos of it covered with cobwebs and dust. Even after I cleaned it up, it was a mess. The paint was badly scratched and pitted, and the rims were bent and cracked. But from what I could tell, the frame was undamaged.
Looking to make a usable beater bike, I bought “new” wheels off a friend’s vintage Gitane, as well as brake pads, saddle, stem, seat post, and some other parts. It took a while, but I got it to ride pretty well, even though it still looked lousy.
That was all last year. In admiring some of the vintage bikes on OTSG, I thought I’d see about repainting it and generally cleaning it up on a shoestring budget. Here is the result.
It now rides and handles remarkably well, although I’d never want to go back to downtube shifters on a regular basis.