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  1. #1
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    Vintage Bike Build

    I just posted something similar in the Classics/Vintage thread but here's my situation.

    I live in Chicago and I want to rip my hair out from trying to find the bike that I want. The market is so competitive that unless you are neighbors with someone, there's no way to jump on a deal quick enough and I'm car - free in the city.

    I'm sick of it and I'm considering doing my own 'build'. I want to get is a nice steel frame that I can strip and do raw with a clearcoat. I can do that myself. The problem I run into is I don't have the tools nor knowledge to do the rest of the build. I may consider a single speed since I live in flat Chicago but I figure if I take my bike outside of the city I might want gears depending on where I'm at. Plus I have another little beater commuter that I can make into a single speed if I want.

    I have just emailed a bike mechanic to see what he would charge for the build up. But beyond that - how much do you think I could reasonably end up dumping into this bike before it's finished? I don't need the best of the best and I don't mind getting used parts at all.

    Just trying to get thoughts an ideas. Thanks for any input. I realize I may be over my head but I'll be dammed if I spend $275 - $300 on the Schwinn Varsity's that are advertised regularly in Craigslist. I'll spend that $300 on building something I REALLY want. Is that feasible/possible?

  2. #2
    The Fred Menace! RI_Swamp_Yankee's Avatar
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    You can do 85% of the work you need with a set of hex keys from the Dollar Store. 90% of the work if you add in a ratcheting screwdriver set, crescent wrench, a pair of lineman's pliers, and a set of channel-lock pliers, maybe $15 worth of tools at a Job Lot or discount hardware store, $30 at K-Mart. The rest - headset remover, crank puller, pinhead wrench - you may be able to rent from the LBS, or buy online for not too much. I got mine for around $30 for the lot. So, $46-$61 in tools if you want to DIY.

    The other stuff - here's a build sheet:

    Headset
    Stem or quill
    Handlebars
    Grips or griptape
    Brake levers
    Shift levers.
    Brake and shift cable sets (I got mine from the hardware store - $7 for the set.)
    Brakes, front and rear.
    Brake pads
    Seatpost and binder bolt (or collar)
    Saddle
    Crankset
    Pedals
    Bottom bracket
    Wheelset
    Cassette or Freewheel
    Tires
    Fenders(essential! )

    While you can source these parts new and used, it will be a major undertaking to find and buy everything you need, and then many hours of bikeshop labor. You're not going to get a bargain (tho you will get a very nice bike.) I'd budget closer to a grand, and do it only if I really wanted the satisfaction of doing it, otherwise just pony up for the classic ride. They cost that much because they're desirable.

    But, if your budget can be stretched a bit, a classic-looking frame with modern running gear is definitely do-able.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I just finished a bike build last week, I purchased the frame on ebay from a guy in Joliet, IL. 10 year old steel high end bianchi I have built 8 of my 10 bikes. Only the Cannondale and the Jamis were purchased as complete bikes. Look at the link at the bottom of the page to see them. If you have access to a bike co-op, they have the tools and free advise to help with the build. This way you will do all the mechanics yourself and be knowledgeable if a mishap occurs.

    i normally only purchase parts if they are on sale and frames if they are a good deal or something special or by a dumb accident (I placed 1 bid on the eisentraut with 8 hours left never expecting to win it). I purchased my last frame in Oct 2010 and completed the build last week. Do you have time to build a bike or do you need one now? I take my time and wait for good prices on the parts that I want.

    Do you know what components you want on a bike? I pour over the components on what I want my finished bike to look like. I spent 2 months to decide what to get for wheels on my bike.

    There are a lot of decisions to be made,

    1. What size frame will fit you? you need to know this before purchasing any frame.
    2. What kind of riding will you be doing. This will determine the type of frame you get and direct you in which gear you want to get. ie if you are going to tour then you are best off with a touring frame.
    3. What type of components do you like? I spent a lot of time at various LBS feeling the different handlebars to see if I liked the wing style bars.
    4. you mentioned using used parts, I don't use used part unless they are simpler components (brake calipers) or non moving parts (handlebars, stems, seatposts water bottle cages), I do not buy used carbon components.
    5. do not cut the steerer until you have ridden the completed bike for a while and you are comfortable with fit.


    Swamp Yankee is correct that most of the build can be completed with only a few tools. I normally use a mini tool and some longer allen wrenches.

    Be sure to look for the co-op, they can help quite a bit.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  4. #4
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    You need to look further out and hop on the Hiawatha.
    http://milwaukee.craigslist.org/bik/2324639203.html

    You can spend a little or a lot dependiing on what you want and how much of a hurry you are in. I did this one last year for my daughter $150 total cost, mostly used stuff. I bought a complete donor bike for $40 and sold the frame for $20.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1006313...33176/Entry_01#

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...entries-are-in

    The one I'm currently doing will be around $1500 with a mix of new and used but all ultegra and reynolds 531 frame. All wrenching myself but outside paint and LBS for stuff like facing the BB.

    I don't suggest dollar store tools. More frustration and damage from crappy tools than you save in money. There will be some bike specific tools you do need for things like the bottom bracket.
    Last edited by dedhed; 04-14-11 at 10:55 PM.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  5. #5
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    I've been doing some ebay browsing.. not sure if that's a good thing or bad. I found a very nice looking Shimano 105 "mostly"-group for $51.

    Things I would still need:
    Seatpost and binder bolt (or collar)
    Saddle
    Pedals
    Bottom bracket
    Wheelset
    Cassette or Freewheel
    Tires
    Fenders

    In another forum someone mentioned we have a bikeshop that you can go to and work on your bike. I imagine you would have to rent out the time or tools but it might be worth it. Now my fenders can wait.. although I have a really nice looking set of wood fenders on Etsy that look cool for only $40 http://www.etsy.com/listing/55103662...facet=handmade

    There's also a couple of bike shops I know of (3 off the top of my head) that I could probably go into for parts.

    Another question for you mechanics - I know I have to make sure my components match and are compatible but what kind of restrictions would I need to look out for regarding components matching size and fit of the frame?? I know things like seat post & stem/quill are susceptible to that but how about other things?

    Also along those lines - would it be putting the cart before the horse if I found a great and affordable groupset to purchase that before the frame?

  6. #6
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    Buying parts ahead is OK but you need to be aware of such things as bottom bracket size & threading, crank lengths, speed compatibility, brake reach etc.

    Besides Sheldon Brown and Park tool here are some other sites to research

    http://www.shimano.com/publish/conte...ty%20Chart.pdf

    http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpeeds_1/

    http://bicycletutor.com/
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  7. #7
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    The problem with purchasing a groupset before the frame are some component sizing specifically the bottom bracket and seatpost. The older frames have some very different diameters I have 1 bike that has 27.0 and another one that I don't know the size without measureing but its not a 27,2 or 27.0 but in its in the 26. something. If the group does not include seatpost then no problem and though bottom brackets are pretty cheap but why waste $25?

    The co-op here doesn't charge for using the tools, repair stand or advice. The do charge for parts and not too much at that.

    I like the look of wood fenders but those look a little too narrow and a lot of side spray will come off them.

    As for compatibility of parts, if you get a group then you shouldn't have any problems.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  8. #8
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    speed compatibility??

  9. #9
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    So no matter what cranks I decide to get on the group I would be able to find a bottom bracket to suit them if it didn't come with the group or is the bottom bracket more specific to the bike frame? basically do I worry about frame first?

  10. #10
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    Also, regarding frame - I would want a steel mens frame (I'm addicted to lugs.. such a distinguishment on a bike) and probably more of a tour frame. I want something that I can ride around the city and it going to handle the rough under-maintained city streets but also something I can take on a nice long bike ride and be comfortable. Now for me - a nice long bike ride might only be 20 or 30 miles but the whole idea is I'm working my way up to higher mileage this year.

    Also, if it helps, I have another bike which is my commuter/beater. It's a woman's frame Schwinn World with Suntour AR. It has been sitting from the old owners and looks brand new still.

  11. #11
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    If you like lugs and want a steel touring bike then you may be looking at some pricy frames. I'm not really sure of manufacturers of vintage touring bikes except Bruce Gordon, Bob Jackson come to mind. The trek 520 but I don't know if the older ones are lugged.

    Now if you are not planning any loaded touring and are interested in long day trips or overnight credit card rides or supported tours then a vintage road bike may be the cats meow. you can probably get a road frame for riding around the city but use 25mm wide tires, the wider the tire, the better for handling the rough roads, 28mm probably won't fit in the fork or rear stays.

    I always get the frame first, I had a bunch of old components and got a frame and tried to use all of the old stuff on that frame but then the stem was too short, the bottom bracket spindle was the wrong length, the seat post was wrong diameter so I still spent some money fixing it up.

    As for the bottom bracket on the 105 cranks, if it is an old set of square taper cranks then you can just get any proper length shimano bottom bracket and it should work. I think the newer ones you can just get the proper bottom bracket. An 105 bottom bracket costs about $20.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  12. #12
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    This is the Shimano 105 'group' I'm interested in: http://cgi.ebay.com/Shimano-105-7-sp...t_10651wt_1141

    Any thoughts on this group & pricing with a bike build?

  13. #13
    but for real: bike polo
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    heyo, check out yer local bike co-op: they'll not only most likely have parts for cheap[er], but they can help you build your bike, so you'll know how everything works. you'll be able to get hands-on help from smart folks and probably meet some rad bikers in the process.

    also, just so you know, yer city has a crazy cool bike polo scene- i saw a chicago team at nationals last july who blew my mind. if you're into polo, there's a ladies' army tournament coming up in austin soon i think, and you should of course jump on the courts in town.

  14. #14
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    Bike Polo?? I seriously haven't even heard of it. Gotta check that out.

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I see three problems with this group.

    1. you are stuck with 7 speed, but 7 speed hyperglide cassettes are available for cheap but finding a hub for a vintage frame may be the problem. the rear hub spacing on older bikes is 126mm, on current bikes since the 90's it's 130mm spacing, I think a 7 speed hyperglide hub spaced at 126mm is hard to find, a hyperglide hub spaced at 130mm is readily available, but if you get an old frame it will need to be spread to fit the 130mm hub.

    2. with the 7 speed, when looking for hubs, do not get a set of uniglide hub, cassettes are hard to find and subsequently EXPENSIVE. do a google search for 7 speed uniglide cassette and you will see what I mean, average price is $100 or over.

    3. the crank are lengths are 175 mm, how tall are you, typically the 175mm are used on larger frames for taller riders.

    BTW do you know what frame size fits you?

    Also search for "bike co-op chicago" and a lot of them will show up. you might have one in your neighborhood. They may also have some vintage bikes for sale.
    Last edited by cyclist2000; 04-15-11 at 07:00 AM.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  16. #16
    Senior Member jeepr's Avatar
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    Build ups always end up costing more than you plan. At least that's my experience. Maybe that should be added to Murphy's Law?? LOL..

    It's fairly flat where I live. I have done a couple bikes where I turned the front double chainring into a single. Those have worked out well. I have a 5 speed for my daughter, which seems easier for her not to have to deal with two shifters. It seemed so simple, I built a 7 speed for myself. That might work well for you.

  17. #17
    Senior Member
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    Most of your questions indicate you are in way over your head. At this point buying a complete bike, either new or used, makes much more financial and mechanical sense.

  18. #18
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Most of your questions indicate you are in way over your head. At this point buying a complete bike, either new or used, makes much more financial and mechanical sense.
    I was thinking the same thing this morning, with all the compatability issues it may be best to buy a complete lugged steel bike that is setup the way that you want it.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  19. #19
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    Yes I am a bit over my head but who didn't start out a little over their head? That's why I'm here trying to learn about it.
    I do take pride in doing something myself without taking the normal girl route of buying it complete. I want to be able to work on my bike myself.

    Perhaps for my first bike I can try to get a frame with the stem/quill, seat post and BB included to help alleviate some of the stress of finding appropriate parts to fit.

  20. #20
    Senior Member
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    One way of learning to build up a vintage bike is to find trashed bikes or really cheap bikes at garage sales. I used to take pride in riding bikes made up completely of scrounged parts. But now I've gradually upgraded some parts to make them fit.

    One advantage of dump bikes is you can take them apart and not worry about making a mistake and ruining an expensive purchase.

    Keep your eyes open for older Japanese bikes from the early eighties.

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    As you say flat Chicago, single speed is probably OK, simplifies a lot,
    I recommend also looking at the long time proven 3 speed , as a core of the build.
    a start off from the light & headwind gear , a cruise along gear , and a tailwind gear..
    Sturmey Archer is the Best .. you can find every single spare part ..

    It is AKA "the windy city" after all..

    An UJB is a good frame to build from, +1 on above..

  22. #22
    over the hill juls's Avatar
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    Amid all those schwinns-raleighs/nishikis/sekai/and a way cool gitane frameset. Reasonable prices to me. Bike or frame first-group after. Wish we had a co op out here.

  23. #23
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by megarot View Post
    Yes I am a bit over my head but who didn't start out a little over their head? That's why I'm here trying to learn about it.
    I do take pride in doing something myself without taking the normal girl route of buying it complete. I want to be able to work on my bike myself.

    Perhaps for my first bike I can try to get a frame with the stem/quill, seat post and BB included to help alleviate some of the stress of finding appropriate parts to fit.
    None of the comments are to deter you but I think all of us on the forum would be happy if you wrote back and said

    " I scored a great bike last week and it needed a little work, I adjusted the derailleurs myself and it rides great!!!! I have been logging the miles and am planning on riding the trails by the Fox River in Geneva this weekend"


    I certainly don't want to read something like" AAAAHHHHHH!!!!, WHY, WHY, WHY DID I EVER GET A BIKE!! Its been strewn all over my living room and kitchen and I still don't know which bottom bracket cup goes in which side and which way to turn spindle."

    I want to read that you love your bike and all of us guys on the forum.

    Its good that you have so much determination.

    one other piece of advice is to very careful if you are looking at french bikes. lots of their parts are a little different in sized and it is hard to find parts.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by megarot View Post
    Yes I am a bit over my head but who didn't start out a little over their head? That's why I'm here trying to learn about it.
    I do take pride in doing something myself without taking the normal girl route of buying it complete. I want to be able to work on my bike myself.
    I certainly admire your initiative but the "normal girl route of buying it complete" isn't a "girl route", it's the route nearly all of us took for our first try at bicycle mechanics.

    As many of the other posters have noted, there are a huge number of compatibility and size issues with older frames and components and it takes a lot of experience to realize what fits what without frustrating and often expensive mis-steps.

    Don't be too proud to buy a complete bike as your first introduction and use it as both a good ride and as a learning tool.

  25. #25
    this side up megarot's Avatar
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    Well guys - I've made up my mind. With the amount of whining I've done I decided to buy a very nice complete bike from a BF member.

    However... I have a woman's frame mid 80's Schwinn World. I would like to convert it to a single speed so I think that will be my project build. It will need a new set of wheels (old steel ones) and I'm considering perhaps a new crankset on it. I think perhaps I'll ask a few LBS places around here about that and some part recommendations.

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