Out of interest, here’s a short (ish) blast on building up the Performer Toscana.  I tend to change things away from the manufacturer’s recommendations but don’t think this is any slight on Performer.  I had one for years, and have confidence in their brand and manufacturing.

This particular bike is destined for a short person.  Who will one day be a not so short person, and I would rather like the bike to grow with him as far as possible.  I think we will get it comfortably rideable with plenty of growth potential.

The Performer build has changed in many subtle ways in the past years, with quite a few nice touches now incorporated as standard.  The bike has fittings for both disc and caliper brakes, mudguards, rear rack, cable securing clips, and a return idler pulley instead of relying on chain tube.

First steps.

The frame comes with the fork already installed, so it’s a simple job to slip the wheels in place and put the bike in the trainer while working on it.

Next up is the seat, and here we have a little win.  The frame has hard points for two seat positions.  I chose to use the forward ones to start with. 

The seat shell has pre-drilled holes in a strengthened section, positioned nicely in the middle of the doubler area – plenty of room for another set of holes to move the seat even further forward.  So that’s what we did.

The fork steerer tube is overly long.  It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t do anything either since the tiller steering is tilt adjustable.  Off with the fork then, and lop 30mm off the steerer tube and refit the fork.

With the seat in position, we can now invite the would be pilot to climb aboard and size up the legs for length.  A neat 6” is taken off the bottom bracket boom, and the assembly slid back into place.  Near enough to start with.  At this point we just avoid hard interference between the crank arms and the front tyre.  I think a modification to shorten the cranks might be in order in the future.

Chain & cable gang

With all the visual progress out of the way, we come to the business end of the build – making it all work.  Standard equipment is Avid BB5 disc brakes, Tektro levers, Deore rear derailleur and trigger shifters, and a microshift front derailleur hovering over a Tiagra triple chainset.  All quite serviceable stuff.

Performer has put cable stops on the tiller, and on the right chainstay.  I can’t imagine why, it seems pointless to have such short sections of exposed cable when the rest has to be inner and outer.  The stops on the tiller I drilled through and used as guides, the chainstay I used as designed as I couldn’t see a safe way to drill them without risking the paintwork.

Brake and gear cables went in and adjusted as normal, the big surprise being the rear brake cable just too short to comfortably reach.  Oddly, a spare rear gear cable is supplied in case the one fitted as standard to the shifter doesn’t fit although that didn’t cause a problem.

Last up we have the chain.  Lots of it.  Performer supply one continuous length, and a quicklink to join it all up.  Chain management is always a challenge on a rear wheel drive bent, and it takes considerable skill for the designers to get it right.  Performer are close with this one, but no cigar.  The power idler is a metal toothed item, and looks reasonable.  The return idler is a typical nylon unit, but the positioning is not quite right. Being too high and close in to the frame. 

Fortunately removing it completely and fitting an over/under arrangement under the seat looks to be the easiest answer.  I had a spare idler so a spacer and longer bolt soon had that sorted.  A short length of chain tube to guide the return past the fork might be in order.  I simply put some protection on the fork leg.  The chain is in close proximity to the riders right leg, and serious thought should be put into choice of chain lube.

Subsequent to the above photo, the cranks have ben replaced with 150mm items and there is now much more clearance between cranks and front tyre.

Thoughts on design.

This is a tall bike, no bones about it.  700c wheels lift it up, but Performer have managed to keep the seat height manageable.  The recline of the seat is limited to around 25 degrees, so for those thinking a more reclined seat is better for speed may look elsewhere.  Offsetting the seat angle is a high bottom bracket, a full 120mm higher than both my M5 and previous Performer.  This nicely puts the feet/legs and torso in a very aero position – don’t be surprised if the Toscana proves to be a surprisingly fast bike despite a potentially “slow” seat position.

What would I change to improve it?  Very little.  Closer work on the chain line maybe.  If you want to chase weight or aero, replace the wheels and tyres, and opt for caliper brakes over disc.  The rest is a sound enough package to carry equipment upgrades over time.  Maybe a carbon seat would be a nice to have for the weight chaser….

Not having any other convenient bikes, here’s a merged overlay of the M5 and the Toscana.

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Replies to This Discussion

Very interesting - thanks. I'm gobsmacked by the difference in wheelbase between the Toscana and the M5.

The M5 seems to be genuinely longer and it's not just rake (in fact the Toscana appears to have more rake than the M5)

I think Doc, that's why the M5 is known for its stability and comfy ride ... the wheelbase and right amount of flex in that long frame.

Yes, the M5 CHR is noted for it's long wheelbase.  I think it contributes to the comfortable ride in that you sit very much between the wheels.  I don't notice the long wheelbase unless the going is very tight - and I probably should be walking by then anyway.

The head tube angle on this one is 71 degrees - ish, as close as I can measure anyway.  My previous Performer had a much steeper 75-76 degrees.  Obviously Performer tweaks and modifies over time

This is the M5 and the Performer Goal in it's "go fast" guise, ie with the suspension modified to lower the back of the bike about 6", a very similar configuration to the M5 actually.

And compared to a road bike:

Impressive attention to detail James. The boy has no chance of going slow with you around :)

Thanks JamesD.  It's great that you shared this.  It's very informative for newbies like me.

cheers Recrider.


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