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Thread: Want to tinker!

  1. #1
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    Want to tinker!

    I'm new to cycling but, as with many of my other hobbies in the past, I want to tinker!

    My (only) bike is a new Trek 7100 Hybrid and I figure it's better left alone, unless you all want to suggest some upgrades worthy of this cheaper bike.

    What I would like like to do is buy an older bike and clean it up, repair and upgrade. I have read a lot about steel frames and that seems like the way to go on an older bike. What specific brand do you all suggest? what type of steel and how do I find out if that's the steel the bike is made of? Lastly, I would like something old enough that components can be found reasonably priced on close-out or on ebay and I would like suggestions on specific bikes suitable for that or ones to stay away from. Don't forget, this will be my first tinkering project and I don't want to have real expensive mistakes.

    Thanks to all,

    Mirko

  2. #2
    The Rabbi seely's Avatar
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    For steel, look for a sticker that has a recognizable name. Lowest grade frame I usually will consider is a "4130" frame, which is generic entry level chromoly steel, sort of the lowest end "nice" steel. Otherwise, look for brand names like Reynolds, Tange, True Temper, I****awa (sp?). A lot of time the stickers will also say "butted, double butted, triple butted" that refers to the taper of the tubing walls, esentially how heavily manipulated the tubing is. Avoid anything French, Swiss, or even Italian... Japanese bikes use mostly standard threadings that are still in use today. Brands I personally avoid are Urago, Jeneut, Renault, Peugeot, Motobecane, etc just because they tend to be French/Swiss threaded. French and Swiss are the worst to try to upgrade... they used proprietary threadings that are no longer in use. Otherwise, just about anything new will fit on just about any old bike.
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

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    Thanks for your quick reply. Here I was thinking that Motobecane was a Japanese bike!

    So what are some good Japanese names to look for? Where does one usually look to know if it's a Japanese bike?

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    I'm sort of doing something similar. I will not take my daily rider apart since that would leave me without my current first choice in getting to work. I will likely put it up on the stand to strip and clean once winter sets in fully and they've started to salt the roads since I won't be riding it then.

    I bought an essentially intact winter beater mountain bike which I briefly had up on the stand to grease, oil, etc. It finally got a new fork, fenders, rear rack and now it's all set for winter riding.

    I currently have an old Huffy 3-speed that I found on Craigslist and that I'm slowly rebuilding piece by piece as my fair weather beater bike after winter ends. The way I bought it, it was unrideable so I've never even sat in the saddle on it but I'm very close to being able to close up the new rear wheel I bought with a Sturmey-Archer hub and taking it for a spin.

    Craigslist is likely your best place to buy something cheap so that way you won't feel too bad about breaking something. Plus it'll leave you plenty of cash to buy all the tools you'll need for effective tinkering.

    If you already have a full set of automotive tools you're already off to a running start. Get penetrating oil, Goo-gone, citrus cleaner, plenty of rags. Also be prepared to spend on some bike specific tools and get to know the LBS well. I've been there several times already and I'll likely need a few more trips to get this Huffy rideable. At the very least get a good workstand. It'll make your life so much easier. You can then decide how much you want to spend in terms of bike specific tools.

  5. #5
    ride, paint, ride simplify's Avatar
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    Don't forget to check thrift shops like Goodwill and others, because you might find a real gem for only $10 or so. Also cruise garage and yard sales, and even drive by dumpsters and neighborhoods on trash day, because people will sometimes set out very nice bikes that only have some broken parts, to be picked up with the garbage. That's how I got my Bianchi, which became my teacher, and is now my favorite ride.
    No car. No TV. Three bikes.

  6. #6
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    By and large I agree with seely, but I wouldn't shy away from lower end bikes with Hi-ten, 10-20 or 20-30 or other 'gaspipe' frames. I would not fear the french, either. Nothing will teach you the idiosynchrocies of bike wrenching faster than working on an old French bike. And a nice Raleigh Grand Prix or Atala would be a good starter bike as well.

    If you must have a Japanese bike, look for Lotus, Panasonic, Shogun, Univega, or Centurion for starters. If you're lucky you might find a Fuji, Bridgestone or Miyata. All these companies made a full range, from very modest 'bike boom' models to top-of-the-line bikes as good as any mass-production bike made anywhere.

    lawked gives good adivce about keeping your eyes open for cheap bikes. This year I've aquired a Gazelle-built Raleigh Grand Prix, Peugeot U08, Schwinn World, Motobecane, and a Ficelle from the dump, all more or less ridable, and a Shogun and an Atala for under $5 at yardsales. And that's just the road bikes!

    When you do get a bike, come back here and the Classic and Vintage forum for answers. Do yourself a favor and search before you ask. You'll also find http://www.bikewebsite.com/ and http://www.parktool.com/repair/ useful.
    Good luck, and enjoy!
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    Last edited by top506; 12-10-06 at 10:29 AM.

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    +1 on not shunning a frame just because "It's not Chromoly." I picked up a Specialized Crossroads Steel frame from a friend that is made of just plain old steel. Guess what, it's pretty dang durable, not too heavy and has a decent enough ride quality...

    Remember that non-CRMO steel doesn't necessarily have to be used in excess to be strong. Part of a 'good' frame is the engineering of it in addition to the material used, I.E. I wouldn't really want to ride a seamed tube CRMO Frame.

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    Senior Member Bikedued's Avatar
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    Nothing like a peugeot to teach tinkering 101, that's for sure No reason at all to avoid them, though. If you find one, it will usually be Carbolite or HLE. HLE is a little lighter overall than carbolite. All three of mine are one or the other of the two. There's a high possibility of finding one, as they were a high selling brand.,,,,BD

    I have found good bikes fairly easy to find, just not higher end 531 and up. Hit your local flea market if you have one. 90% of my bikes came from Craigslist and thrift stores though.
    "Whale. Oil. Beef. Hooked!" The Rumjacks

  9. #9
    Gone, but not forgotten Sheldon Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mirkee
    Thanks for your quick reply. Here I was thinking that Motobecane was a Japanese bike!

    So what are some good Japanese names to look for? Where does one usually look to know if it's a Japanese bike?
    See: http://sheldonbrown.com/japan

    Note that many of the brands that were Japanese in the '70s and early/mid '80s moved to Taiwan in the late '80s. Current Taiwanese bikes are fine, but older models were often cheesy, like current mainland Chinese bikes.

    Sheldon "Japan" Brown
    [COLOR=blue][CENTER][b]Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts[/b]
    Phone 617-244-9772, FAX 617-244-1041
    [URL= http://harriscyclery.com] http://harriscyclery.com[/URL]
    Hard-to-find parts shipped Worldwide
    [URL=http://captainbike.com]http://captainbike.com[/URL]
    Useful articles about bicycles and cycling
    [URL=http://sheldonbrown.com]http://sheldonbrown.com[/URL] [/CENTER] [/COLOR]

  10. #10
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mirkee
    I'm new to cycling but, as with many of my other hobbies in the past, I want to tinker!
    Props to you... be aware that once you get started, it's a slippery slope

    What I would like like to do is buy an older bike and clean it up, repair and upgrade. I have read a lot about steel frames and that seems like the way to go on an older bike. What specific brand do you all suggest? what type of steel and how do I find out if that's the steel the bike is made of? Lastly, I would like something old enough that components can be found reasonably priced on close-out or on ebay and I would like suggestions on specific bikes suitable for that or ones to stay away from. Don't forget, this will be my first tinkering project and I don't want to have real expensive mistakes.
    I recommend a sport-touring type road bike from the 70s or 80s. They're durable and versatile and fun. I'd aim for something from the late 80s... for maximum tinkerability, get one with downtube shiftes, lots of braze-ons, cranks with REPLACEABLE CHAINRINGS (meaning not the low-end crap), and a decent lugged steel frame (not plain hi-ten steel but 4130/chromoly or better).

    I've bought such bikes for $10-75 in the DC area. Craigslist is your friend! Get a full set of tools too, I recommend the Performance kit ($100) or the Nashbar one (about $80), though there was one for about $50 that looked really complete and apparently contained the same tools as the Performance kit a few months ago.

    Specific brands I've had fun with: Schwinn, Fuji, Lotus, Shogun, Nishiki, Trek, Raleigh, Panasonic, Miyata... and pretty much every other Japanese brand.

    PS- I would suggest avoiding French bikes (Motobecane, Peugeot, Gitane, etc.) simply because they often use many non-standard threaded parts (BB, headset, pedals) which makes interchangeability a nightmare. Not very tinkerer-friendly. Sure, some of them may be nice and all, but if your goal is to learn a lot and tinker a lot, they're just a PITA. Older Japanese and British-made bikes are a lot more compatible with modern parts.
    Last edited by moxfyre; 12-10-06 at 03:12 PM.
    My bikes | Linux and Python stuff | Photo gallery

    Sheldon Brown, I miss you. Thanks for the advice, ideas, humor, and infectious enthusiasm for everything bikes...

  11. #11
    Death fork? Naaaah!! top506's Avatar
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    I'm glad Sheldon chimed in because I had lost the link to this very useful page of his:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/articles.html

    Having Sheldon log on is like having Carol Shelby show up at a muscle car rally.
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  12. #12
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    I am honored that Sheldon has answered my post! I am learning so much, you folks are great.

    I'm going to take Sheldon's article with me as I look for a bike.

    Love the input and looking forward to more.

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