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Old 10-23-05, 02:20 PM   #1
MarkS
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List of old good bikes to own/work on?

How do I know which bikes are worth working on and/or owning? The local thrift stores have a continous supply of bikes, but I'm not sure what to look for. See a lot of Schwinns, Peugeots, Magnas ... but don't know which are "disposable" and which are worth investing in. In most cases, test riding is out of the question (no space, flat tires, etc.) Has anyone composed a guide or list? Or can suggest a good book about various bike models?

Thanks!
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Old 10-23-05, 03:23 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkS
How do I know which bikes are worth working on and/or owning? The local thrift stores have a continous supply of bikes, but I'm not sure what to look for. See a lot of Schwinns, Peugeots, Magnas ... but don't know which are "disposable" and which are worth investing in. In most cases, test riding is out of the question (no space, flat tires, etc.) Has anyone composed a guide or list? Or can suggest a good book about various bike models?

Thanks!
Look at the bottom of the seat tube. If the manufacturer was proud enough to put a sticker on it to advertise the material that the frame was made from the chances are it's a worthy bike to work with.
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Old 10-23-05, 04:36 PM   #3
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schwinns are a good choice, continentals and varsities are easy to come by, but therefore not as unique as some of the other models, though still nice to ride and work with. Also, pretty much anything italian or french (bianchi, peugeot, motobecane).
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Old 10-23-05, 04:47 PM   #4
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There's a thread called "Catch of the day". Those guys know everything about thrift store bikes. Everything!
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Old 10-23-05, 04:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
Look at the bottom of the seat tube. If the manufacturer was proud enough to put a sticker on it to advertise the material that the frame was made from the chances are it's a worthy bike to work with.
Good advice.

Given that we're probably talking about bikes more than 15 years old, your best bet is to stick with steel. Older aluminum and carbon frames are MUCH more suspect. Look for stickers indicating frames made from double-butted, cromoly-steel tubes manufactured by Reynolds, Columbus, or Tange (in no particular order). If you find such a sticker, you can be 99% confident that the machine was at least of reasonably high quality. You might even find some real beauties. Assuming no rust, you can set yourself up with a very fine-riding machine. Just keep in mind that such projects rarely make economic "sense" -- but what labor of love does?

--Doug
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Old 10-23-05, 05:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkS
How do I know which bikes are worth working on and/or owning? The local thrift stores have a continous supply of bikes, but I'm not sure what to look for. See a lot of Schwinns, Peugeots, Magnas ... but don't know which are "disposable" and which are worth investing in. In most cases, test riding is out of the question (no space, flat tires, etc.) Has anyone composed a guide or list? Or can suggest a good book about various bike models?

Thanks!
"Investing" implies that you are looking for something that will appreciate in value. That's way harder to find than a useful rider and probably well beyond the scope of a handful of posts on a forum to describe.

If your goals are a little more modest there a few rules of thumb that can help you.

1) Avoid stem shifters, suicide levers, and steel rims. Not only do they indicate a low-end bike but they present safety concerns which means that the cost to upgrade them is far more than any value they may hold.

2) Be cautious of French bikes because their non-standard parts can be difficult to source. (Not impossible, just difficult.)

3) Look for frame decals indicating tubing from the likes of Reynolds, Tange, Ishiwata, Columbus or Vitus.

4) Anything from Huffy or Murray is likely to be very low-end.

5) Look for alluminum, rather than steel, components like handle bars, stems, seat posts, rims and cranks.

6) Anything ever sold from a store with the word "mart" in its name is a poor choice.

7) Learn how to tell the difference between forged and stamped dropouts. You want forged.

Finally, despite the passion some have for Schwinn Varsities and Continentals, I still say avoid them unless you have a nostalgic attachment. There are better old bikes available that won't cost you any more to acquire and will cost you less to turn into decent riders.
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Old 10-23-05, 05:25 PM   #7
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The advice above is all good. One addition: "hi-tensile steel" sounds like a good thing, but really it just means "cheap." It'll give similar riding characteristics, but be heavier. Oftentimes, cheap 10-speeds had a "hi-tensile" decal where a reynolds or similar decal would be.

Also: stem shifters aren't BAD, they just came on bad bikes.
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Old 10-23-05, 05:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eatadonut
schwinns are a good choice, continentals and varsities are easy to come by, but therefore not as unique as some of the other models, though still nice to ride and work with. Also, pretty much anything italian or french (bianchi, peugeot, motobecane).
For boat anchors.
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Old 10-23-05, 05:41 PM   #9
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^Nice troll.^
The seat binder bolt is a dead giveaway for most older bikes. If it's just a normal nut and bolt-pass on it.
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Old 10-23-05, 05:45 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by genericbikedude

Also: stem shifters aren't BAD, they just came on bad bikes.
They were banned for sale on new bikes in the US by the CPSC because they were unsafe. That fits well enough for my definition of "BAD."
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Old 10-23-05, 05:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by halfspeed
They were banned for sale on new bikes in the US by the CPSC because they were unsafe. That fits well enough for my definition of "BAD."
So what do you make of these? They're like some kind of high mounted stem shifters.

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Old 10-23-05, 06:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sydney
For boat anchors.
Sounds like someone's mommy bought him the Sears 10 instead of a Stingray as a child

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Old 10-23-05, 06:02 PM   #13
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Why are they unsafe? Does the secret bicycle-snob illuminati have a powerful k-street firm working for it? Don't give me the nuts argument--thats hooey.
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Old 10-23-05, 06:03 PM   #14
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Sounds like someone's mommy bought him the Sears 10 instead of a Stingray as a child
It was probably a yellow Free Spirit.
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Old 10-23-05, 07:10 PM   #15
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Why are they unsafe? Does the secret bicycle-snob illuminati have a powerful k-street firm working for it? Don't give me the nuts argument--thats hooey.
I started this response with a sarcastic reply to match yours in tone and content, but I thought better of it. Some things aren't worth doing.
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