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  1. #1
    Vello Kombi, baby Poguemahone's Avatar
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    What Qualifies as "Classic?"

    I'd been wondering about this in regards to bicycles lately. Exactly how does one define a "classic" bike? In other words, what seperates the classic from the rest of the bikes? Age? Beauty?

    One of the reasons I've been wondering this is I have a couple of friends who are into classic cars and they drag me (willingly) to various events, usually in the back seat of one of their classic automobiles. Perhaps not surprisingly, I've found them a good source of advice on older bikes as well-- not necessarily which models are best, but certain repair and appearance tips.

    Now the "classic" in the car department is at least twenty-five years old. This is the age at which you can get antique plates for a car in my state, and also the cut-off for classic car shows like the one in Hershey (worth going to at least once, IMHO; I may head up to the classic auto trading show in Carlisle one year, too. Too bad there's not anything on the scale of either event for bikes). So there's a certain age a car needs to be before it's considered a classic.

    Talking to these folks, I also get the feeling there's a certain undefinable esthetic quality to a classic as well. An old Ford Pinto doesn't qualify at twenty five years, but a 440 six pack Dodge Dart does... but as a car gets even older, this more aesthetic standard seems to get relaxed. For example, one friend reports her early sixties Rambler is now considered a classic, where a couple of years ago it really wasn't (her '59 caddy, on the other hand, was a classic the instant it hit 25). The dictates of fashion, I suppose, which strike me as too ephemeral to even attempt to define.

    Just curious how you lot feel this relates to bikes. What the heck is a "classic", anyway?

  2. #2
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    Well for lack of a better definition the
    Classic Rendezvous defines classic as 20 years old
    or older. They have a definate affinity for lugged steel
    frames, but the odd alu, carbon or Ti frame makes it
    into that category.
    I'd say if you're thinking Masi, Colnago, Cinelli, Bianchi,
    Legnano, Frejus, Paramount, Raliegh, Hetchins, Drysdale
    Eisentraut, Baylis, Confente you're in the right ballpark.
    (the above list for Roadbikes only, ok?).
    Hope this helps make things clear as mud.

    (oh yeah, Richard Sachs, Moon, RIvendell for modern
    "Classics").

    Marty
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  3. #3
    Bike Happy DanFromDetroit's Avatar
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    A classic can be an ordinary item with just nostalgia as a "hook". All those baby boomers on the Krate bikes have money now and want to own a reminder of their childhood.

    A classic can be the the fullest development of an obsolete technology, lugged steel frames, as was mentioned above.

    A classic can be the first of a type, thus setting the pattern for others to follow. A Schwinn Phantom cruiser comes to mind here.

    A classic can also be something that just works so well or is so elegant, it gets used for many years and is hard to improve on. An example would be a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub.

    Dan
    Last edited by DanFromDetroit; 03-17-03 at 11:25 AM.
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  4. #4
    opinionated SOB cycletourist's Avatar
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    Brooks B.17 saddle

  5. #5
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    I (along with Classic Rendezvous list members)
    received the following e-mail and link
    from Richard Sachs. I think it is very apropos to the
    discussion of "what is classic". I am attaching the
    e-mail in its entirety, with permission from The Author
    (that would be Richard Sachs). Maybe with a little
    luck we can entice him and a few of the other
    classic rendezvousers to join us here.
    Marty.

    If you are on this list, there is a good chance that you
    appreciate fine bicycles and also appreciate quality. I
    have spent most of the past year working on a project
    that I am now pleased to make public.
    I am introducing a new line of frame-making materials,
    soon to be available to all builders, production shops,
    and to folks that just want to keep them on their mantelpiece.

    Please visit this link to view the first pictures of the
    Richard Sachs lugs and fork crown:
    http://tinyurl.com/6pga
    (once there, please bookmark)

    To keep step with the times, to be able to employ the
    best of the steels currently available, and to be able to
    build bicycle frames in the fashion that I deem best—to
    do all this on my own terms and be able to share it with
    likeminded frame builders, enthusiasts, and aficionados—
    I have designed and produced a new set of frame lugs
    and fork crown that represent a high degree of style,
    precision, and elegance, sized for use with modern,
    lightweight, oversized steel tubing.

    The design of the lugs is an evolved version of the detail
    work I did on various frames built in the 1970s and 1980s
    coupled with some shapes I have explored for the last 6-7
    years. In addition to being spec’d for oversized tubes, the
    lower head lug has cast-in threaded bosses for modern gear
    systems. The upper head lug has a built in 14mm extension
    to better complement modern headset and stem dimensions.
    And the seat lug is just plain b*tchin’!
    The fork crown represents the first change to my flat crown
    shape since 1982. I widened the centerlines by 8mm and
    increased the pocket height by 6mm. The brake holes are
    pre-drilled and counter-bored, while a built-in lip exists to
    keep the steerer ‘in place’. Newly added contours on the
    crown’s shelf will help better position the headset race. Each
    pocket has a precision cast ‘well’ built in to receive decorative
    reinforcements—brazed in simultaneously with the fork blade—
    which will be supplied. Because the crown is hollow, these
    additions & revisions will not affect the overall weight.

    To borrow from the film Spinal Tap, "I hope you like my new
    direction". The first pieces should be off the back of the truck
    within a week or two. By that time I will have firm prices for
    all those interested in making a purchase. If you have any
    questions about these new pieces, please contact me.

    Lastly, a word of praise and attribution: Kirk Pacenti has
    been an enormous influence on me. While my lug project was
    teetering along nicely in the seedling stages, it occurred to me
    that I should also do the complementary fork crown. It was
    fairly easy for me to communicate my needs and desires to
    the casting house for the three lugs.. However, the fork crown
    presented a separate challenge. I made a completed mock-up
    based on my existing crown and collaborated with Kirk to
    come up with a solution that would be rational and easy to
    manufacture. Kirk’s ability to interpret my aesthetic and translate
    it into engineering drawings made all the work involved that much
    easier. He was my eyes and ears for this piece. Thank you, Kirk,
    for a job well done!

    That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

    e-RICHIE
    Richard Sachs Cycles
    No.9, North Main Street
    Chester, CT 06412 USA
    www.richardsachs.com
    Sono più lento di quel che sembra.
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  6. #6
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    In Australia, cars don't get below $1000 until they are about 20 years old, so a 25 year old car is just a 'bomb'.

    A 'classic' bicycle, I'd say you'd be talking about a bike form the '50s or earlier, as bikes last much longer.
    You'd be hard pressed to find anything other than a 28", single speed bike with coaster brakes at that age in Australia.

    The more valuable bikes would be the track or racing-touring bikes made in that era or earlier, which are made from double-butted steel, and ver light, without any brakes quite often.

    Ones imported are rare, as the import tariffs were around 300-500 %.

  7. #7
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    I agree with LOTEK. I would also throw in Ciocc. But also the components are very important, the more complete the better. Components such as anything Campy, Zeus, top line of Huret and Suntour Superbe or even Cyclone to a far lesser degree. And they all should be friction shifting-of course.

    The newer companies that LOTEK mentioned are in the same old craftsmanship league that took pride in their work-where making money is not the issue (ask Sach and Rivendell about that), and they enjoy the art of their work and reflect that artsy look in their bikes. Problem with the new guys is that they don't have an outlet to get new classically built components with friction shifting. The old Campy's, Zeus and Huret displayed very artsy craftmanship by engraving or cutting designs into their product, the Suntour stuff was not as artsy as those others but their product was much more reliable and faster shifting.

    I do feel a sense (hopefully) that some production shops might be starting to go back to some of that artsy looking stuff of the old days while using modern materials; take a look a the Merlin Cielo, Colnago Master X-Light and the Serotta Ottrott and you can see what I mean. But these newer bikes are very expensive with the Cielo costing $6k plus.

    But I'm one of those weirdos that just never have liked the look of a weld around the tube look, nor can I get into black wheels and spokes, handlebars seat post etc. It looks to industrial for my taste; sort of cold and unimaginable.

  8. #8
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    My original list was just a starter, there are tons of
    others (Frejus, Bianchi, Hobbs, Gios, Colnago, etc.).
    I agree with Froze about components and lets add
    Simplex while we're at it, Huret anyone?
    My experience is that builders like Sachs and
    Rivendell have a good supply of NOS friction shifting
    gear, and well, the new ergo/sti isn't all that bad.
    (see Sachs' headtube lug with headson ).

    Marty
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  9. #9
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    The expression "Classic" seems to associated most with what people are interested in collecting and paying or receiving significant sums of money for. I like lugged frames and own five road bikes all but one of which are older than 20 years. I ride all of them switching back and forth depending on each bikes state of health. I have bought other old bikes strictly for their components.

    Only two of my road bikes have cr/mo frames so they really don't have value to any one but me. Are they classics? The oldest is a 35 year old Peugeot UO-8 with high carbon frame tubes. So is this a classic? Im riding this bike using Simplex Delrin derailers and shift levers and continues to be one of my two favorite rides.

    One of the frames I stripped was a 1976 Schwinn Superior. It has fillet brazed cr/mo frame tubes. I have tried to find a collector interested in buying it but with no luck. This frame was hand fillet brazed (a nearly lost art) in Schwinn's Chicago factory more than a quarter of a century ago but I'll probably wind up giving it away free to a good home because it's too tall for me (60cm). So is this a classic?

  10. #10
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    by my definition yes.
    I'm speaking of classic as opposed to "collectable".
    The U08 is a classic french frame.
    The Schwinn sounds very interesting, but way
    large for me. You might want to get onto the Classic
    Rendezvous list and see if you get any buzz about it.
    I think you'd be surprized about what CR considers
    classic, one poster just restored an early schwinn
    varsity, not what you'd call high end or collectable, and
    there was considerable buzz about this one. Lots of
    older frames get bantered about, and sold/traded that
    in reality have little or no monetary value. Its not about
    the money. Sure you can go get a Colnago Arabesque for
    about $3000, or a Confente (starting about $7k ), but a
    recovered from the trash Trek, or schwinn or whatever
    still is classic (like one guys restored Free spirit).
    So yeah, I'd say classic has little or nothing to do with
    cost/materials etc.
    Marty
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  11. #11
    Banned.
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    Lotek is right about this. I have a small collection of old mens watches, not worth much if I were to try to sell them, but I like them because their unique with a style not found in todays watches and they don't ever need batteries. So I collect them not for an investment, because it's a bad investment, but for fun. I also have a small coin collection that I started when I was a very young child and finished when I was a older teenager. Again not worth a whole lot more than the face value but it was fun at the time and now represents old times gone by so I keep it for that reason not for making money trying to sell it. These things are more like heirlooms you hand down to your children (hopefully they will take an interest).

    The UO8 bike is a classic, but most people will not want an old bike with a possible worn out frame, but to a person who collects old French bikes, this bike could be worth a lot to them. I ride a older bike not because it's a older bike but because it runs very well with never a problem and looks classy, so why get rid of it or replace it with a newer bike? Does this mean that I will never buy a newer bike...no, but it does mean I am not in a rush to do so thus I can make a better more informed decision when I do buy another one.

  12. #12
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    This is a classic, I don't think it cost $100 when
    it was new (someone have an old catalogue?)
    anyhow here is a picture of the 1960 Schwinn
    Varsity I mentioned above.

    Marty
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  13. #13
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    I think that's the slackest headtube angle I have ever seen in my life

  14. #14
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    I had a Schwinn Varsity and I can tell that it's not just the head tube but also the seat tube that's slack. I have a 30 inch inseam and had to place the seat clamp forward of the seat tube in order to get my knee over the pedal when the crank was at the 3 o'clock position.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Lenton58's Avatar
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    A worthwhile topic. I think that we relax the definitions in order to include a lot more people in the community than would otherwise qualify as owners of "classics". According to the definition cited above from Classic Rendezvous, my Trek 560, Simplon 4 Star and even my Vitus 979 qualify. In fact the latter may be a true classic in the sense that was an innovation that saw the great Sean Kelly ride to victory in the TdT ahead of a field of lugged steel bicycles. I think that my Trek 560 is "classic" only in terms of its age — 26 years. The Simplon as a frame is a classic, but as a build it falls down as it uses so many new, retro parts. I had a budget.

    My Woodrup is currently a frame set only. When it is completed as a build with mostly vintage SunTour and Campy, will it be a classic machine? It was handmade in Leeds, Yorkshire by one of only three people to ever braize up Woodrups. This bike in Reynolds 531c is totally faithful to the classic tradition of the clubman racer — race on Sunday and ride to work on Monday, rain or shine. But ... it was made in the early 90's! I hope to present it on C&V, but count on the tolerance of members for stretching the criteria.

    I really respect the efforts of a lot of people on C&V who strive to restore classics and even vintage bikes in their true, unalloyed (), contemporary gruppos. They keep us all on track and yet embrace us who cannot follow for one reason or another — often times budgets for projects
    Me: I've learned a lot about cycling by my mistakes, and I can repeat them perfectly! My Bikes: Vitus-979, Simplon-4-Star, Gazelle-AB, Woodrup

  16. #16
    Cisalpinist Italuminium's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenton58 View Post
    A worthwhile topic. I think that we relax the definitions in order to include a lot more people in the community than would otherwise qualify as owners of "classics". According to the definition cited above from Classic Rendezvous, my Trek 560, Simplon 4 Star and even my Vitus 979 qualify. In fact the latter may be a true classic in the sense that was an innovation that saw the great Sean Kelly ride to victory in the TdT ahead of a field of lugged steel bicycles. I think that my Trek 560 is "classic" only in terms of its age — 26 years. The Simplon as a frame is a classic, but as a build it falls down as it uses so many new, retro parts. I had a budget.

    My Woodrup is currently a frame set only. When it is completed as a build with mostly vintage SunTour and Campy, will it be a classic machine? It was handmade in Leeds, Yorkshire by one of only three people to ever braize up Woodrups. This bike in Reynolds 531c is totally faithful to the classic tradition of the clubman racer — race on Sunday and ride to work on Monday, rain or shine. But ... it was made in the early 90's! I hope to present it on C&V, but count on the tolerance of members for stretching the criteria.

    I really respect the efforts of a lot of people on C&V who strive to restore classics and even vintage bikes in their true, unalloyed (), contemporary gruppos. They keep us all on track and yet embrace us who cannot follow for one reason or another — often times budgets for projects
    Wow, that's the biggest leap in resurrection I've ever seen! Anyway, I think that racing heritage has a lot to do with classic status, at least here in the heartland of cycling fandom. For instance, GIOS sells very well in Belgium, due to the exploits of the famous Brooklyn chewing gum team, and Concorde does well here, due to years of affiliation with TVM.
    Pass the Dutchie on the non-drive side.
    Rather a 100$ bike with 1000$ wheels than a 1000$ bike with 100$ wheels.

  17. #17
    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    Thankfully all kinks are tolerated at your local BF showroom.

    The Veterans Cycle Club says "if you have a bike, it was therefore built at some point and it is part of history" or something along those lines. It's good to know of places where "anything goes" and places that have strict rules for those who enjoy that too.

    I would say 25 years if creating guidelines was interesting to me. 50 for vintage and 75 for antique.
    1886 Surrey machinists Invincible, 1900 Nashua, 1937 Raleigh Golden Arrow, 1938 Raleigh Silver Record, 1951 Armstrong tourmalet, 1970 Motobecane Grand Record, 1971 Raleigh Professional, 1971 Gitane TDF, 1972 Legnano Gran Primio, 1973, Peugeot PX-10, 1975 Roberts, 1984 Battaglin Giro, 1985 Grandis Speciale, 2012 FTW

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  18. #18
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    Holy Dead thread Batman!
    geez, this might be one of the 1st threads here in C&V land when we
    started this subforum, a classic! I need to check on the age thing.

    Yes, we play it fast and loose here in C&V, I'm seeing late 90's bikes being described
    as classic, and questions about newer bikes that aren't quite cutting edge anymore
    (and maybe 4 or 5 years old).
    It really is the spirit of the thing, not the hard/fast number. i.e the
    new Pogliaghi's are Classic in style and qualify that way ( KOF ).

    Marty
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  19. #19
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    This is obviously going to be very subjective...but here's my take.

    Classic isn't a function of age, though age can be a contributing factor. Bikes that are classic are the bikes that we drool over and likely can't afford when new. They're the best of the best. They began a style or were representative of that style. Classic bikes are the ones that we'd have bought if money wasn't an object and we purchased only based on our emotions. Classic bikes are often the ones that defined a period of cycling...for instance, Armstrong on his Madone is an iconic image. Classic bikes are the ones kids will want when they get middle aged and become collectors.

    Classics are timeless, beautiful and cross cycling niches in their appeal. They have something that differentiates them from the other bikes on the market. They are the best in class.

  20. #20
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    There have been 194* threads on C&V covering the same topic since this one was started.



















    *Don't go trying to vet that number, Marty.
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  21. #21
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColonelJLloyd View Post
    There have been 194* threads on C&V covering the same topic since this one was started.



















    *Don't go trying to vet that number, Marty.
    So what is your grail bike Col?

  22. #22
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    So what is your grail bike Col?
    Whatever it is I'm pretty sure I'll never own it. Steve Earle sang, "I ain't never satisfied". I can sympathize.
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  23. #23
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    well we started C&V about 2 weeks before Poguemahone started this thread. There
    are 2 older threads (as in from 2002) but they were moved here to 'prime the pump'
    so to speak.
    I can't believe that in one of those early ones I recommended someone pass on
    a 1962 Bianchi even if it was a bottom of the line bike. . .

    Colonel I think the number is closer to 197
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  24. #24
    RFC
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    This is obviously going to be very subjective...but here's my take.

    Classic isn't a function of age, though age can be a contributing factor. Bikes that are classic are the bikes that we drool over and likely can't afford when new. They're the best of the best. They began a style or were representative of that style. Classic bikes are the ones that we'd have bought if money wasn't an object and we purchased only based on our emotions. Classic bikes are often the ones that defined a period of cycling...for instance, Armstrong on his Madone is an iconic image. Classic bikes are the ones kids will want when they get middle aged and become collectors.

    Classics are timeless, beautiful and cross cycling niches in their appeal. They have something that differentiates them from the other bikes on the market. They are the best in class.
    I agree with this sentiment and want to add that there is a difference between "classic" and "vintage." So, for example, my 1998 Litespeed Ultimate is not vintage, but is, arguably, classic in the uniqueness of its design and it's place in cycling history. This was the bike that was ridden to the sprint victory in the 2001 tdf.

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    FBoD Member at Large khatfull's Avatar
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    Classic is related to style and design.
    Vintage is related to age.

    It is possible to have a vintage bike that isn't classic, think 70's Free Spirit:



    It is possible to have a classic bike that isn't vintage, think 2011 Cinelli SuperCorsa (thought I'd build it with much different components, think the frameset):



    /thread

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