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  1. #1
    x37
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    Ranking Vintage Bike Manufacturers

    How would you rank the different vintage bicycle companies? For instance, generally speaking, which is better: Trek or Miyata? Raleigh or . . . ? I realize that ranking bikes in this way is very subjective, but I want to get a better idea of what to look for in the vintage market. Thanks.

  2. #2
    * vpiuva's Avatar
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    Gitane has the most TdF wins, so in my ranking it's first

  3. #3
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I would go: 1; Bruce Gordon, 2; Miyata, 3; Raleigh. Sure there are lots of others, these I have ridden a lot. The Raleigh was as a teenager. Yes, Gordon is vintage, got to his site and look at some of his lugged frames. Extreme eye candy.
    This space open

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    The problem is comparing builders vs. manufacturers. I think one has to keep the classes separate. That and over time, perhaps by decade.

  5. #5
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    It depends on one's application (e.g. loaded touring vs. long-distance road racing vs. criterium), body proportions (e.g. long torso, long legs, etc.), aesthetic tastes (e.g. plain and clean vs. ornate), and desire for uniqueness vs. a well-known pretigious marque. If you want a vintage racing bike, you can't go wrong with any of the first-tier Italian names, such as DeRosa, Cinelli, Masi, or even the oldest brand out there, Bianchi. For head-turning appearance, there is arguably nothing like a Hetchins with the curvy stays.
    "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
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    If you learn how to spot quality, it will not matter who made it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member OrangeOkie's Avatar
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    Schwinn, Holdsworth, Raleigh, Cannondale, Trek . . . because I don't yet own any other brand.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Snordalisk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otis
    If you learn how to spot quality, it will not matter who made it.
    This is the truth.

    There are plenty of undervalued, or under regarded bikes out there merely because they have a particular brand on them. Conversely, there are plenty of over valued/regarded bikes out there merely because they have "531" on the seat tube or "Campagnolo" on the dropouts.

    It's all about the workmanship and quality of that frame, brand names shouldn't really enter into it until later.

    I'm the proud owner of a quite well regarded frame that is certainly "top tier". It has crooked downtube shifter posts, and an improperly aligned front derailleur braze on.

    This is a touchy subject for me.

  9. #9
    x37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snordalisk
    This is the truth.

    There are plenty of undervalued, or under regarded bikes out there merely because they have a particular brand on them. Conversely, there are plenty of over valued/regarded bikes out there merely because they have "531" on the seat tube or "Campagnolo" on the dropouts.

    It's all about the workmanship and quality of that frame, brand names shouldn't really enter into it until later.
    I'm new to the vintage bike market and I'm just trying to get a general idea of which brands and models to look for and which to avoid. I do most of my browsing on eBay and Craigslist, so I cannot inspect every bike in person to judge the workmanship.

    If you feel certain brands are under or overvalued, I would love to hear about them.

  10. #10
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of anything hand built in England. That's usually enough for me.

  11. #11
    Novist senior member tolfan's Avatar
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    Toy store bikes: Huffy, Murry, Ross, Free Spirit
    There are some things a man needs to believe in wether they're true or not;

  12. #12
    PRD
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    Smoked Chrome

    I think Austro Daimler's smoked chromed models are very special.

  13. #13
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Just too many variables. As an extreme example, I'd take a Ben Serotta built Huffy, over any Raliegh ever built. The very top of almost any brand would be better quality than mediocre to bottom examples from some very good brands.

  14. #14
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Schwinn is in!
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  15. #15
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Duh. Everyone knows that the Nishiki International with full Suntour is the highwater mark of civilization. And not that fancy pantsy double butted stuff. One butt is all that a person needs.

  16. #16
    Lanky Lass East Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa
    Duh. Everyone knows that the Nishiki International with full Suntour is the highwater mark of civilization. And not that fancy pantsy double butted stuff. One butt is all that a person needs.
    Oh, I think I've got one of those. Well, maybe. I'm not certain of the components. And I'm not certain how many butts it's got. But I do know it's an International .Bigbossman knows what it's got. I'm looking forward to riding it in a few weeks.

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  17. #17
    Evil Genius oopfoo's Avatar
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    Sammyboy--

    Got a 58 Carlton, myself. All Campy, too.
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  18. #18
    Lanky Lass East Hill's Avatar
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    Oooh, that's bragging. Where are the pics?

    East Hill
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  19. #19
    59'er Mariner Fan's Avatar
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    It's pretty hard to rate different manufacturers since alot of them make different levels of bike frames. That said, I'm pretty impressed with the workmanship on all my vintage bikes.
    1985 Trek 520
    1976 Schwinn Voyageur 2
    1989 Pinarello Montello

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snordalisk
    This is the truth.

    There are plenty of undervalued, or under regarded bikes out there merely because they have a particular brand on them. Conversely, there are plenty of over valued/regarded bikes out there merely because they have "531" on the seat tube or "Campagnolo" on the dropouts.

    It's all about the workmanship and quality of that frame, brand names shouldn't really enter into it until later.

    I'm the proud owner of a quite well regarded frame that is certainly "top tier". It has crooked downtube shifter posts, and an improperly aligned front derailleur braze on.

    This is a touchy subject for me.

    Well said!

    Tom

  21. #21
    Vello Kombi, baby Poguemahone's Avatar
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    Do we have to rank 'em? Given the startling variety of bike and personal tastes, this is almost impossible. There are many excellent bike manufacturers I don't know squat 'bout and thus am unqualified to rank.

    Unless you're talking value. Then , I dunno, Rene Herse, Alex Singer, after that some Italian dudes, maybe.
    "It's always darkest right before it goes completely black"

    Waste your money! Buy my comic book!

  22. #22
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    Well, there is a school of thought which holds that Italian built racing bikes are superior to all others, while Italian built racing bikes are all essentially identical to one another. There is some merit to this school, IMO.

    OTOH, there were/are custom builders from a number of countries that turned out superior work -- Mario Confente, Rene Herse, Claud Butler, Ugo DeRosa, etc. As far as I am concerned, any of their products are technically superior to the "mass production" frames put out the Italians or anyone else. Nishiki? Raleigh? Please...

    As far as I concerned, the very finest frames ever made, at least in terms of worksmanship, are being made right now, right here, in the shops of Brian Bayliss, Peter Weigle, Richard Sachs, Peter Mooney, and a number of others. I know that doesn't go to the thread question, but it should be said!

    IMO: If it's Italian and made with Columbus SL or SLX, it's a good frame. If it's British and made with the above tubing or Reynolds 531 or higher, it's probably good. (Raleigh, IMO, never made anything beyond barely acceptable, and a lot that falls below that. I know that ruffles feathers. Sorry.)

    If it's French it's a tossup. You simply have to know not just your names, but the individual variations within the name -- ie. you can buy a very good Gitane made with SL, and you can by a Gitane made with SL that's a total piece of crap, and it's very hard to know which is which. If it's a Herse or a Singer, it's a great frame, bottom line.

    American? Trek made a good if undistinguished frame. Keep an eye out for the better makes of tubing -- low end tubing makes low end bikes, bottom line. Pretty much anything from any custom builder is going to be very good.

    Japan? Very little of it is outstanding. San Rensho (3 Rensho) is excellent. Nagasawa is amazing. Fuji made some decent stuff but nothing to wet the bed about. Most of it is passable, like upper end Nishiki, Centurion, etc., and a lot of it is complete crap. The only way to really learrn it is to look at a bunch of it and let price be your guide. Nobody's gonna drop a bunch of money on a Miyata, and there's a reason for that. Especially learn to closely examine lugs, particularly around the seat cluster. Good quality frames will have nicely filed and thinned lugswhich taper down to the tubing. Lower end lugs will be more abrupt and square, and bottom end stuff will look like the plumbing in your house -- perfectly round lug ends with no shape, and often clumps of brazing material at the joint.

    I'd start with the list at Classic Rendezvous and go from there. http://www.classicrendezvous.com/main.htm

  23. #23
    x37
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    Six jours -- thanks for the info. That's exactly the sort of guidance I am looking for. Just a place to start.

  24. #24
    Elitest Murray Owner Mos6502's Avatar
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    I don't know what you classify as a "bunch", but my definitions of a "bunch" - I'd drop a bunch for certain miyatas.

    Back to the original question - it's incredibly vague. Are you talking about say road bikes? Mountain bikes? Cruisers? What era are you wanting to know about? Some further defining of the question is needed if you're going to get any sort of adequate answer.

    I mean I could say that Overman is better than Pope - but this opinion probably would mean nothing to you, since you probably want to know about newer vintage bikes...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours
    Japan? Very little of it is outstanding. San Rensho (3 Rensho) is excellent. Nagasawa is amazing. Fuji made some decent stuff but nothing to wet the bed about. Most of it is passable, like upper end Nishiki, Centurion, etc., and a lot of it is complete crap. The only way to really learrn it is to look at a bunch of it and let price be your guide. Nobody's gonna drop a bunch of money on a Miyata, and there's a reason for that. Especially learn to closely examine lugs, particularly around the seat cluster. Good quality frames will have nicely filed and thinned lugswhich taper down to the tubing. Lower end lugs will be more abrupt and square, and bottom end stuff will look like the plumbing in your house -- perfectly round lug ends with no shape, and often clumps of brazing material at the joint.
    Toei... The Rene Herse or Alex Singer of Japan. Expect to pay the same as well! In business for a long time and still makes bikes the old fashioned way...

    http://www.generalworks.com/toeisha/...allery_eg.html

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