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  1. #1
    eternalvoyage
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    How much improvement in quality and durability over the years? Is older sometimes....

    Older high-end componentry -- SunTour XC Pro, for example -- seems very well made, and is often simpler and more durable than much of the more recent stuff.

    Then again, there have been real improvements over the years, in some cases at least. The seals, for example, on hub bearings (among others) have apparently improved greatly.

    My guess is that some of the more recent higher-end, better-sealed bearings will be more maintenance-free and lasting.

    ****
    Then again, there are issues of simplicity and serviceablity. Some of the old SunTour thumb shifters would probably outlast the more recent brifter designs, which have many more parts and much more to go wrong.

    ****
    Some people say that some of the older stuff was really built to last, unlike the newer. Then again, I'm pretty new to all this, and don't really know if this is true or not.

    Can anyone tell me: If you were choosing components for a reliable commuting bike, would you veer more toward newer designs, or older ones? (assuming higher-end components in both cases -- top of the line, or a step or two down)

    If a person were going out on a long tour in third-world countries, simplicity and durability, or components that are trouble-free, would be important. Would older componentry or newer componentry be a better choice for this?

    Sometimes the older stuff can be found at great prices -- a small fraction of what the newer stuff costs. I don't know if it's worth it though, if it is more troublesome or high-maintenance?

    ****
    I'm not so interested in keeping up with the latest. And I'm not so interested in old for the sake of old. Either one will do -- old or new, or even a mixture. I'm mainly interested in quality (in the sense of reliability and trouble-free longterm performance).

    What I'm not so clear on (and maybe some here know more about it, and can help on this), is where that can best be found.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 11-19-07 at 07:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Your mom
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    I would probably go with newer stuff based solely on availability.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Every generation claims "they don't make them like they used to" and decries the loss in quality of the newest products. This has been going on since the cave man.

    Sure the newer components are more complex, they do a lot more. Sun Tour thumb shifters, Campy record DT shifters, etc, were a lot simpler than current brifters or MTB shifters but the shifting was much worse and less precise.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Sun Tour thumb shifters, Campy record DT shifters, etc, were a lot simpler than current brifters or MTB shifters but the shifting was much worse and less precise.
    One could argue for individual components. For instance, SunTour or Mavic retrofriction dt shifters were/still are very durable, simple as a toothpick, and, I would argue, more surgically precise than a generalized click. Yes, they are less convenient. FWIW, I ride both the dt shifters and Ergo and DA barends. Each has its own virtues and choosing one or another depends on need and taste.

    ** I would never go back to the "overshifting" days of NR shifters & dr's!
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  5. #5
    Senior Member hotbike's Avatar
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    As judged by function, I liked the old thumbshifters. They were the best in the days of "friction" shifters, i.e., before indexed shifting.

    But "Ouch!!!", one or two times, my thumb got caught under the thumb shifter over some rough terrain or jumping a curb (kerb). My thumb ached for three weeks afterward.
    So my newer bikes have twisting "grip shifters". (with indexed shifting.)
    So instead of dislocating my thumb, I might accidentally shift gears.

    I learned to shift with friction shifters. It's a learned skill. Some people could not master the shifting and they made noise from the deraileur . Some people shifted their chain into the spokes, no matter how many times I told them to listen to the noise, and leave the shift lever where it's the quietest.

    I wish there was an alloy grip-shifter, instead of this darned plastic.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I also started riding when dt friction shifters were the only game in town and got what I thought was pretty good at using them them. My shiftts were pretty predictable, the chain ran quietly and I never had the chain spill to the outside or go into the spokes.

    However, I've considered each step since then an advancement. DT indexing shifters were more convenient than friction and brifters were nirvana when they first arrived and still are.

    Unsynchronized automobile manual transmissions were a learned skill too and required a good degree of finesse to use properly and quietly. Anyone want to go back to them for their simplicity, strength and low cost?

  7. #7
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    Older high-end componentry -- SunTour XC Pro, for example -- seems very well made, and is often simpler and more durable than much of the more recent stuff.

    Then again, there have been real improvements over the years, in some cases at least. The seals, for example, on hub bearings (among others) have apparently improved greatly.

    My guess is that some of the more recent higher-end, better-sealed bearings will be more maintenance-free and lasting.

    ****
    Then again, there are issues of simplicity and serviceablity. Some of the old SunTour thumb shifters would probably outlast the more recent brifter designs, which have many more parts and much more to go wrong.

    ****
    Some people say that some of the older stuff was really built to last, unlike the newer. Then again, I'm pretty new to all this, and don't really know if this is true or not.

    Can anyone tell me: If you were choosing components for a reliable commuting bike, would you veer more toward newer designs, or older ones? (assuming higher-end components in both cases -- top of the line, or a step or two down)

    If a person were going out on a long tour in third-world countries, simplicity and durability, or components that are trouble-free, would be important. Would older componentry or newer componentry be a better choice for this?

    Sometimes the older stuff can be found at great prices -- a small fraction of what the newer stuff costs. I don't know if it's worth it though, if it is more troublesome or high-maintenance?

    ****
    I'm not so interested in keeping up with the latest. And I'm not so interested in old for the sake of old. Either one will do -- old or new, or even a mixture. I'm mainly interested in quality (in the sense of reliability and trouble-free longterm performance).

    What I'm not so clear on (and maybe some here know more about it, and can help on this), is where that can best be found.


    You mention touring in remote places, are you asking these questions in the context of building up a touring bike?

    If so, and you check out what modern bicycle tourists usually prefer, you'll find that while they may not necessarily prefer components that are truly old, they tend to prefer "old school" much more than most other folks.

    I would say, again if you're talking about a touring bike, to go down the list and take each item on its own merits. Some things that I would recommend for durability and reliability are a cassette hub over a freewheel hub, the design of a cassette hub makes for less chance of breaking axles. And if you take that one step further, I'd say go with a 135mm OLD hub vs. a 130mm. 135 is the current mountain bike "standard", and because the wider hub makes for less dish, the wheel is inherently stronger, all other things being equal. Less chance of broken spokes, etc, and again, very popular on modern touring bikes. In the "old school" camp, I would recommend going with high spoke count wheels, for a true touring bike, ideally 40 spokes rear/36 front. As for shifters, there's a nice old school/new school compromise that works beautifully, and that's indexed bar end shifters. Very simple devices that allow indexed rear shifting, and friction shifting for the front. Or there's a mode for friction rear shifting as well. Again, very popular with modern bike tourists.

    I won't get into frame materials and brakes right now, but as you can see it can be a blend of old school and new to make the most durable and dependable bike-
    Last edited by well biked; 11-19-07 at 08:47 PM.

  8. #8
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by well biked View Post
    You mention touring in remote places, are you asking these questions in the context of building up a touring bike....
    Yes, that is one type of bike I am aiming toward perfecting my approach to.

    There are also a couple of others, including a fast and reliable commuter.

    Reliability is the one of the top priorities, or main values -- for now at least.

  9. #9
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    You'll get lots of opinions and there are lots of subtle differences in each category depending on need. For light touring I won't give up those handy and comfortable brifters, but for loaded and unsupported remote touring I would likely go with bar-enders and canti post brakes, etc.

    My commute is short, year round, and the bike sits outside at the train station. So I built up a purposely unattractive beater (albeit well equipped with nexus-7 rear and dynamo front hubs).

    Regarding old equipment: I think there are incentives toward cheaper production costs while still barely meeting longevity goals, ..that compromise quality. And I believe that trend is increasing. So it's nice to find components built with quality and pride. But I'm not sure how discover them besides user recommendations and trial-and-error. And it's only older equipment that can have a demonstrated track record. So I tend toward the proven stuff. But I don't go crazy about it.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

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