After swapping out the wheels (yet again!) for a vintage NOS Maillard wheel set and 27 x 1 1/4″ Panaracer Pasela clinchers that I left slightly under-inflated, is my 1966 Paramount P-12 the most comfortable, best fitting classic lightweight I’ve ever owned?
Close. Pretty damn close.
I’ve now fitted a more appropriate five-speed freewheel in back – well, more appropriate that the six-speed I had on a few days ago anyway. Similar to the six-speed that I removed, this NOS SunTour Winner freewheel has a range of 13-16-19-23-28. And believe me when I say that the 23 and 28 tooth options certainly make the 52/49 chain ring racing combo a whole lot more palatable!
The evening was hot and quite muggy, and I really seriously debated with myself about staying indoors, my butt securely attached to the couch so as to best take advantage of the air conditioning.
Instead, I changed into a battered pair of cycling shorts and an even more battered pair of cleated riding shoes and headed north on the Paramount. Even if they’re short jaunts, I really love heading off with no destination in mind, no pump or bag or pack, no phone or camera. Just me and a bike, daring the world to throw a chunk of glass under the front tire, goading me to hit that pothole and duck walk home in click-clacking, slick-bottomed cycling cleats. I will get burned one of these days.
But not tonight.
With darkness falling more quickly each day, and no lights or reflectors, it would be stupid of me to head through and out of town – which, of course, I do. Coming down a steep hill, I am going fast, but nowhere near maxing out the taller side of my gearing. I tuck and stop pedaling, getting as aerodynamic as my fifty-ish year old form allows me to do, and pick up a little more speed, leveling out and easily shifting into an appropriate gear. I think that’s what I like about this bike: it’s simple and easy to ride. It doesn’t fight me – none of the three Paramounts I own do, as a matter of fact, but this one – this one, it’s especially true. My Boulder Brevet is a terrific slow rider (but not terribly slow, if that makes any sense at all – just slower and more comfortable than my speed bikes.) My Gazelle Champion Mondial is a real speedster.
And this Paramount is just easy.
Which is just fine tonight, since I’m going to have to climb a tall hill to get back home again.
In the dark.