Classic & Vintage - What to look for.....
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06-01-08, 07:50 AM
I'm realy getting into this whole commuting thing (Used TREK 750 Multi-Track), and am interested in getting an old(er) road bike.... the problem, is I dont know what to look for.... I saw an old Schwinn (late 70's, early 80's by the looks of it) at a thrift store for $20 the other day... Didn't know if it was worth it, and passed.... I'd like to get something that is quality and is easy to get parts for (I'd like to tear it down and re-build it completly).... Any sudgestions on what to look for? What to stay away from? Brands? Things you think I should just know?
06-01-08, 08:35 AM
You will probably want to provide a little more info. Stuff like budget range (i.e. >$200), and it may also help to indicate what you like or dislike about your trek. There's a wide range in bikes - so it's hard to make a recommendation.
For me, as a commuter, I street park and initially preferred 80's japanese bikes (panasonic as an example). Parts are easy to get and less expensive. These bikes may be a good value. I stay away from french bikes, not because they're not good quality, but because with my limited knowledge on them, parts and tools may not be standard.
I am not sure if this helps - but with a liitle more info you may get a better response. It's difficult to know exactly what you're looking for. However, for commuting - vintage bikes are the way to go.
Are you looking for the old(er) bike to commute on, or just for riding?
Mid-range Japanese frames are probably still the best value out there. Tange #2 or #1 (1 is better than 2) tubing is common on this range of frame. Best things to look for when sourcing a decent quality vintage bike are (usually, depending on age of the frame) downtube shifters, no 'auxiliary levers' attached to the brake levers (aka: chicken wings), and an integrated rear derailleur hanger on the rear drop out. By the 80's most mid to upper level frames had integrated derailleur hangers, but before then it often depended on the brand what models did or did not have them. There are a lot of factors to consider, however SIZE is the most important. If it doesn't fit, doesn't matter if it's the nicest bike out there, you wont' enjoy it. ;)
06-01-08, 04:48 PM
First thing to look for is probably forged dropouts, like this:
Next is signs of front end crash damage. Beware the bent back fork.
06-01-08, 08:17 PM
Good advice above. French bikes have threading that makes it more difficult to find replacement/upgrade parts. Raleighs are great, except stay away from the ones that have Raleigh's proprietary 26 tpi threading on steerer tube and bottom bracket. These are the 3-speed models, and most (but not all) Grand Prix road frames. Here's a link about it
Best value and easiest to work on and find parts for will be Japanese bikes from the 80s (Nishiki, Univega, Panasonic, Centurion, Bridgestone, Japan-built Raleighs and Bianchis) with forged dropouts (that have raised faces where the quick-releases and locknuts make contact). They are well-constructed, can be found relatively lightweight, and they're undervalued, typically. Plus, they came with good components that you can reuse.
06-02-08, 05:17 AM
I'm looking for something that is
1) Faster to commute on than my TREK 750 (its a Hybrid)
2) Something that I can tear appart and re-build (I'm a Mechanic, and I like to do stuff like that)
3) Something with drop bars (They just look cool :D)
Are 70-80's Schwinn's any good? They seem to pop up all the time around here......
Speaking of Japanese Bikes, is this a good example of what you are sudgesting
That Nishiki is exactly the sort of bike you're looking for. That frame appears to be a pretty big one however, likely a 60cm I'd guess. How tall are you? 60cm usually fits people 6'1" and taller or there abouts. Schwnns can be good for what you are looking for, depending on the model and age. Look for one that has TruTemper or 4130 Cro-Mo tubing stickers on it. http://www.geocities.com/sldatabook/contents.html is a very good resource on Schwinn models up through the end of the 70's. Lots of information about the different models here on the forum as well.
06-02-08, 08:18 AM
Take a look at the stickies up here, and look at the pictures, and the craigslist finds. It can give you an idea of what to look for. Have fun.
The one quickie indicator is to look at the rear drop-out like Danny suggested. Good bikes have good quality dropouts and cheap bikes have cheap (often simple stamped steel) dropouts.
If you find a bike with good dropouts, you will probably also quickly recognize that the rest of the bike is high quality. Just look at a lot of bikes. Also, go to the bike shops and look at bikes from cheap to upper-end. Pretty soon, you will be able to tell the difference between cheap and good bikes.
06-02-08, 11:19 AM
Also size matters. You need to figure out what fits you best and limit your search to that size. My commuter is this '77 Schwinn Le Tour II that was dug out of the trash by a friend.
I really enjoyed tearing it apart, cleaning everything and putting it back together. Spent less than $50 on tires, tubes, cork tape and cables. Everthing else I had laying around including a rack and rack bag I added when it took on commuter duty. It isn't light but makes a sturdy commuter.
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