Coventry Eagle Touristique: a restoration project

With the cycling in the Olympic velodrome over I have finally got round to (almost) completing a little summer project I had postponed from last year. The frame had been very rusty when I took it for renovation at a West Yorkshire cycle shop several months ago. As with my Raleigh Road Ace, another bike I bought in the 1980s, the frame on my Coventry Eagle Touristique is a size too large for me, but I couldn't see it go to waste. It deserved better.

Coventry Eagle Touristique Reynolds 531ST

Nice paint job – the cheapest option from Ellis Briggs in Shipley

I tried to keep the cost down to a minimum so got the basic paint treatment (after being "shot blasted to the bare metal, rust proofed, primed, base coated then clear coated for a tough finish"), I decided against any extra braze-ons, and restricted the transfers to the Reynolds 531ST stickers. (Although, disappointingly, they couldn't source the 531ST sticker so it has a 531C one at the top of the seat tube.)

I reused virtually every component and accessory, but bought new bottle cages (I had been swapping the one bottle cage between this bike and the Raleigh); inner and outer gear and brake cables; handlebar tape; and mudguard and pannier rack bolts. I received a birthday present from the in-laws of 28mm Continental Gatorskins and earlier in the week I bought a pair of cantilever brake blocks and four bolts to fasten the brakes to the four bosses that secure them to the frame. (I had three rusty bolts and got Ellis Briggs to drill out another rusted one, the hexagonal head of which I had managed to turn in to a near-perfect circle.)

Weinmann cantilever brakes - before and after

Weinmann cantilever brakes. They needed a little freshening up

My only extravagance was to replace the completely rusty – but perfectly functional – original seat post clamp with one from Campagnolo costing £6.95 (less CTC discount) that you see in the first photograph. Another of the few original bits still on my bike is the Specialized saddle (in "chromed leather" – a phrase that came back to me when I fished it out of its hiding place) and those Weinmann levers with cantilever brakes. Ellis Briggs replaced the headset and bottom bracket with square taper axle.

My thumbs are just about back to normal after trying to get those Gatorskins on to the Mavic A2 Argent rims. I knew that trying to get any new tyres on to the Mavic rims would be a challenge. I just hope I never need to replace a tube more than a hundred yards from home. I had the wheels built in the early 90s on Shimano Deore DX hubs with DT Swiss spokes. I'm keeping the Shimano Deore Biopace chainset – for now at least – along with the MT60 Deore front and rear derailleurs from around that period. The classic Simplex friction gear levers were the easiest parts to fit and worked perfectly straight away. Along with the saddle and brakes they are the only survivors from the bike I bought as a teenager nearly thirty years ago for £260. Even Mrs Bailey thinks the saddle doesn't look right and should be replaced with a Brooks B17 standard. So, there is still work to do, but for the moment here are some before and after pictures:

16 comments on “Coventry Eagle Touristique: a restoration project”

  1. Mary wrote:

    That is BEAUTIFUL Chris, what a superb job! I love this bike. What are you going to do with her now? you mention she is a tad big? Be a real shame not to ride her out and about some how.

    I have put Ellis Briggs into my 'favourites' as a book mark, cos at some point I need my 'Flying Scot' respraying as well, they did a fine restoration of your frame, and they are not too far away either....

    This was a real labour of love. 🙂 Stunning, you must be very proud of yourself. I had problems getting the Gatorskins on my bike, but now have foldable tyres, which is so much easier to get on and off. Shedman can do this without tools, I still need tyre levers, but the job is easy even for me.

  2. Mary wrote:

    Oh, forgot to ask.

    Did you get the frame sprayed as powder coat, or is it enamelled? it looks like enamelled to me, but Im by no means an expert.

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Very nice indeed Chris. The new paintwork does look good. Like Mary, I've been thinking of having an old (Peugeot) frame repainted and it's not as rusty as yours was so I think I'll get on with it. I'd be interested to know if your frame was actually damaged by rust – a loss of metal I mean – and whether they can 'fill in' to make good. Mine will need a new chainstay bridge as well.

    I agree with Mrs Bailey re the B17. Not in black though.

  4. Chris wrote:

    Thanks, folks. I've focused on the best bits – where the black enamel paint shows off the lug work nicely. Around the bottom bracket/chainstay area the metalwork is pitted by the rust. I don't think there was anything they could do about that – the chap said he had seen worse. The current price for what I had done is £87 if you take the bike stripped down. Transfers/stickers – including the Reynolds ones – are extra. It will have to be a black Brooks.

  5. Doug wrote:

    I was just about to ask how much this cost and then I read your comment! That seems a really good price for that work and the result makes it look very worthwhile.

    All that kit (Weinmann cantilever brakes which I have on my Dawes Galaxy from that period) is all very nostalgic and that chainset is a real gem. Nice to know it'll have a B17 – some things don't change thankfully.

  6. l wrote:

    Very well done indeed!

  7. Kern wrote:

    Great job!

  8. Hilary wrote:

    Very nice Chris and a very reasonable price too. A friend of mine recently had his Touristique (tho I think his is a British Eagle) refurbished by Argos of Bristol and it came to £600 altogether. His wife paid for it as a retirement present for him and I think everything was replaced except the bars and stem and the saddle. I don't know what the respray cost but I'm sure it was a lot more than £87 for a single colour (dark blue) with no lug lining.
    Ellis-Briggs have always done lovely paint jobs.

  9. Steve wrote:

    Fascinating article, I have a British Eagle Touristique awaiting the same/similar treatment. Found in an awful state, but after some t.l.c. rides like a dream.

  10. geoff wrote:

    I have a Coventry Eagle/Campagnola jersey; dark blue no pockets; long sleeves; been trying to trace its history

  11. Steve wrote:

    Would you happen to know what brand (and width size) the mudguards are.
    Thanks Steve

  12. Chris wrote:

    Steve wrote: Would you happen to know what brand (and width size) the mudguards are.

    I've had a good look and there is nothing to say what make they are outside or inside. In any case, I wouldn't recommend them as I don't like the way the stays fasten to the mudguard. They are also too short. I did think about replacing them, but I will live with them for now at least.

    For what it's worth they are 35mm – measured in a straight line across from the underside of the mudguard. I have 28mm Gatorskins on this bike and there is enough room for these tyres. Sorry I can't be of any further help.

  13. Steve wrote:

    Thanks Chris, just picked up another one, mechanically awful due to neglect....but all decals intact !

  14. Andrew Bellis wrote:

    Sorry to be picky, but unless I'm missing something, the frame (as sold by British Eagle) is a 'Randonee' model. The 'Touristique', their top touring model, had threaded eyelets on the front fork blade for a front carrier. Interesting to see it transferred as a Coventry Eagle though – my Randonee is the same, even with a Coventry Eagle head badge!

  15. Chris wrote:

    Hi, Andrew you cheeky monkey. The bike is a Coventry Eagle Touristique. I suspect the later British Eagle Touristique was a beefier affair, with front fork bosses for panniers, and maybe the Randonee was a lighter model. Dunno.

    I had the bike from new. I did have a magazine review from the time, but I can no longer find it. If you look closely at one of the images (when the bike is on a bridge and the bike is photographed on the non-drive side) you can just make out the rubbed frame transfer on the top tube with the letters T & O and Q, U E. Hope you are still getting enjoyment from your Eagle 🙂

  16. Jeremy Patton wrote:

    Almost exactly 4 years later, I have my Coventry Eagle Touristique frame back from Ellis Briggs. Thanks to your recommendation. It is beautiful. I was aiming for the same metallic green it was originally but it is a touch bluer. Now to put all the original parts back on. I have replaced the saddle with a Brooks B17 and have bought a rack so I can fit panniers to turn it into a real toured.

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