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  1. #1
    Uber Newb
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    Road Bike Building Questions.

    I have a couple questions about building a road bike. i currently have a very old Soma (probably late 70's) that i received from my neighbor for free. I really like it but it is good shape for its age. i feel that i need something better. I also have a plain Soma frame (newer that the one i have now, but still old). i would like to build upon this frame and make a semi-decent road bike so i can ride it in college. I know very little about parts fitting on certain frames and such and i was wondering if anyone had any suggestions, preferably where to start and what to stay away from. i know that newbs, like myself, can be annoying to experienced members because i know from other forums. If i am in the wrong section, i apologize in advance. Anyway it would be appreciated if someone could guide me into road building success. i am eager to learn more about bikes and how they work. Thanks.

    I can put pics in if needed.

  2. #2
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    I prefer older steel vs. new aluminum/plastic. The first question is what does it have on it now and what (if any of it) still works. When I get an older bike in, I tear it all the way down to the frame and re-build it. Paint if I want. If the old parts are decent, then I keep them and put them back on.

    If you are looking to upgrade with period parts and don;t care about price, then there are some internet dealers who deal specifically in older stuff. If you are looking to upgrade for less, then I like ebay, but there are 2-3 areas where you need to be careful.

    First, the bottom bracket threading. What you got is what you are gonna need. If its french (and I doubt yours is), if its italian or english, you will need the same, but the parts are more available.

    If you have a french BB from that era, you probably have french pedals to. If you don't like the pedals (or you want clipless), you are likely stuck buying new crank arms.

    Hopefully the headset is fine. Reuse it rather than fight over a new one if at all possible.

    The rear axle spacing (likely 120 or 126mm) will only matter if you are upgrading wheels/or want more than 5-6 cogs on the rear (again, french freewheels may catch you here).

    Upgrading to new drivetrain technology will be a bit tougher. Early index systems (specifically japanese) are your best bet, but if you don't have down-tube shifter bosses, you are going to have a hard time finding a clamp-on bracket.

    I doubt you are going to be able to get brifters to work well as they sort of arrived with 8-gear rear ends whihc have an axle spacing wider than yours. You can bend the frame to fit, but I would not reccommend it.

    Just my thoughts.
    "Where you come from is gone;
    where you are headed weren't never there;
    and where you are ain't no good unless you can get away from it."

  3. #3
    Amateur Hack
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    College campuses are notorious for bike thievery. An old bike is perfect because it's less attractive. My first suggestion would be to not invest too much money if it's going to be locked outside somewhere on campus.
    My second suggestion is to measure twice and buy once. I've got all sorts of parts laying around because I was trying to recondition some junk bike that got left in my garage into a beater bike (incidentally, so I had something that I could leave by campus). Darn old french piece of.... stem wouldn't fit... headset wouldn't fit... wheels barely fit on fork... brakes don't mount right... screwed over by the internal diameter of the 1" fork so my quill stem wouldn't fit... Now it's got a mismatched headset with some old tube as a boot, I only have one brake and there's barely enough clearance for the front wheel (I can't blow it up past 60 psi, or it rubs). It's even a single speed with 3 usable cogs out of five since I couldn't apply enough torque to remove the freewheel. What a pain in the buttocks to put together, but I'm pretty confident that nobody will steal it. It's even fun to go tooling around town on because I'm so care free when I ride it.
    But, don't let me scare you. It was very easy to put together, but it just took me a while to acquire all the parts I needed. You are doing the right thing by coming here to ask for advice.

  4. #4
    Uber Newb
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    well a question i thought of was, will newer parts fit on an older frame? Right now i just have a frame and a stem, thats it. Also is there a certain part i should look for first? I have an ebay account and i looked for parts but i didn't want to bid on anything because i don't know much about the parts to look for.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Yes, newer parts can be made to work on an older frame. It will involve cold setting, but it's not the big deal that some people make it out to be as long as it's steel. All you need is a 2X4, a piece of string and a ruler. I can walk you through it. I think people here would be happy to help you decide which parts to buy. Personally, I think that tracking down the parts for a build is half the fun. You might even find that people would be willing to contribute parts to the project. Some of us have way too many parts cluttering our shops.

  6. #6
    Uber Newb
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    Awesome. so where do i begin? Wheels? Gears? I think i am having trouble with the crank and gears. i know very little about these areas.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Start with some pictures.

  8. #8
    Uber Newb
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    i saw many on ebay

  9. #9
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I mean post pictures of your frame.

  10. #10
    Uber Newb
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    here are some pics.





  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    I don't know where you live but your best bet is for you and your frame to visit a local bike shop that's been in business for 25-30 years and ask for the old-timer. I wager he/she will be happy to measure/identify/recommend exactly what you need and most likely will be able to steer you to local riders who have lots of 70's/80's vintage stuff in boxes just waiting to be installed on your frame (Based on my experience, you can probably build up the bike for a couple hundred dollars). Even if it costs you a few bucks for the shop's help (Early-on, volunteer a six pack of micro-brews), you'll be be much better off going this route. Good luck!

  12. #12
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    It is easy to find parts for Japanese frames. (PM me if you need anything in particular, and I'll check my parts stash.)
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
    Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
    Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
    Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    It is easy to find parts for Japanese frames. (PM me if you need anything in particular, and I'll check my parts stash.)
    i'll let you know. Also, i am considering buying some parts directly off of Soma's website (www.somafab.com). But for most parts i should go to my local bike shop, correct?

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