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Old 03-01-09, 11:01 PM   #1
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There's just something about a durable bike

So new tires have been ordered for The Old Gentleman, my Raleigh DL-1 Tourist. Thanks for all the help and suggestions on finding 28" tires.

I decided to take the tires off in preparation. Pulled the wheels off, trued the rims (as best I could) and tonight I cleaned up the bike.

This bike is over 40 years old. As far as I can tell, everything is original except for one of the two tires (and that tube), which were replaced by a previous owner, and the shifter cable and saddle bag (which I replaced). Everything else is original- the chain, everything.

Yeah, it weighs 40 lb. (maybe not quite that much, but could be)... it's a tank. But this bike will likely still be in working order with most of its original components long after the vast majority of 15 lb. road bikes sold this year have worn out or broken into carbon fiber splinters.

I can admire current road bikes. I can appreciate the design considerations that produce such light bikes that go so fast. But I have no desire to own one. Give me steel. Give me cogs and chains that last 40 years. Give me a classic.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-01-09, 11:24 PM   #2
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Amen to that! I just bought my first bike since childhood a couple months ago (a '69 raleigh sports). After much looking around at what seemed like every available modern bicycle, it was only the old school throwbacks (electra amsterdams, and gary fisher simple cities,) that really got me. So after some research on where these "styles" came from, I decided to hunt down an original three speed- and thank goodness! No matter now light nor how fast modern bikes are, there's nothing like cruising around in a 45+ pound vintage tank. It's got history, meaning, and above all, a certain patina that brings a smile to my face each and every time I ride. What more can you ask for?
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Old 03-01-09, 11:25 PM   #3
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Well, something to keep in mind is that the bike is in such wonderful shape after 40 years because it wasn't used much. I think most of today's better bikes will be in fine shape years from now if the riders don't ever wear out the original tires and store them inside.

You see this with cars, too. There's some wonderful old 40-year-old cars out there. But 99% of the cars of that age have been worn out and scrapped by now.
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Old 03-02-09, 08:11 AM   #4
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Don't burst my bubble, Stephen.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-02-09, 12:51 PM   #5
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All my bikes are 40 to 70 year old vintage steel.
I have never in my entire life ridden anything other than vintage steel.
I will only ride vintage steel as long as I live.
There is absolutely no reason to ever change that.
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Old 03-02-09, 01:00 PM   #6
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Its great to ride a strong bike you can trust, I think this is why I get so attached to my beater bikes
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Old 03-02-09, 01:30 PM   #7
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Steel, schmeel!

I would not want a 40 lb beast as my bicycle - period.

Strength and durability do not derive from weight. Strength derives from a good design. Durability is probably determined more by maintenance than any other single factor. Stoarage conditions would be second on that list. Neither has anything to do with the bicycle itself.

I have seen steel bikes rust to dust. I have seen aluminum rust to dust. I have seen composites rust to dust. It not the material that makes something great. Certainly, it's not the weight.

No bicycle is very good if you do not ride it. Anything that contributes to gettting you into the saddle makes a bicycle great! If you get a kick out of your beast, that's great.
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Old 03-02-09, 02:08 PM   #8
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I have seen aluminum rust to dust. I have seen composites rust to dust.
I do not understand those comments.
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Old 03-02-09, 02:39 PM   #9
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Well, something to keep in mind is that the bike is in such wonderful shape after 40 years because it wasn't used much. I think most of today's better bikes will be in fine shape years from now if the riders don't ever wear out the original tires and store them inside.

You see this with cars, too. There's some wonderful old 40-year-old cars out there. But 99% of the cars of that age have been worn out and scrapped by now.
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Don't burst my bubble, Stephen.
I have a 1972? Raleigh Sports that has well over 15,000 miles on it, probably closer to 30,000 but I can only document the 15,000. Paid $25 for it in 1982 and it has had the crap ridden out of it and it is still ridable today. It is not what I would consider wonderful shape and probably would benefit from a couple of new rims, but it can still make the 5 mile loop at my house without fail.

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Old 03-02-09, 02:50 PM   #10
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I do not understand those comments.
I think he means that they wore out not that they actually rusted.
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Old 03-02-09, 03:33 PM   #11
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No, weight does not equal durability. However, high-end bikes sacrifice durability to achieve low weights, with the expectation that some components have limited life and then are to be disposed of. I like compenents that last, well maybe not indefinitely, but for a very long time with normal use. A racing bike with a bottom bracket that needs to be replaced every thousand miles is of no interest to me.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-02-09, 04:49 PM   #12
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Steel, schmeel!

I would not want a 40 lb beast as my bicycle - period.

I have seen steel bikes rust to dust. I have seen aluminum rust to dust. I have seen composites rust to dust.



Man where the hell do you live at??!!.........I live down here in the swamplands of Florida with high humidity and salt air, and been around bikes my whole life, and aint never saw nothing like that.

Still, I love classic and vintage bikes of all kinds, even the heavy 40 lb beasts you speak of. My wife's bike is an old 70's Ross 3-speed woman's bike she will not part with for nothin', and is one heavy SOB. But it rides like a Cadillac and she loves it. Besides, it entertains me to follow behind her and watch her ponytail flap in the breeze.
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Old 03-02-09, 06:10 PM   #13
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[QUOTE= Besides, it entertains me to follow behind her and watch her ponytail flap in the breeze. [/QUOTE]

Best reason ever to build your lady a bike!
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Old 03-02-09, 06:28 PM   #14
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Best reason ever to build your lady a bike!
Actually - the best reason is when you substitute ponytail for skirt.

(and that's my reason why I bought my wife a bike)
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Old 03-02-09, 09:00 PM   #15
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I knew I'd capture some comments with that one.

Of course, I took a little artistic license with the wording. I referred to corrosion and its products. Put aluminum and steel in direct contact. Add long term humidity and acid rain and ozone and other air pollutants and salts. I've seen inch-thick aluminum plates turn to dust. It looked like sheets of mica or slate. If you touched it it cracked loose. If you crumbled it it turned to dust.

I've seen unpassivated aluminum fittings attached to graphite get really ugly from corrosion. I've seen composite resins fracture and thoroughly micro-crack.

It really is all about maintenance.
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Old 03-02-09, 09:07 PM   #16
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Actually - the best reason is when you substitute ponytail for skirt.

(and that's my reason why I bought my wife a bike)




Absolutely.
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Old 03-02-09, 09:14 PM   #17
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I've seen unpassivated aluminum fittings attached to graphite get really ugly from corrosion. I've seen composite resins fracture and thoroughly micro-crack.

It really is all about maintenance.
How do you prevent that with maintenance??
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-02-09, 09:28 PM   #18
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Well, something to keep in mind is that the bike is in such wonderful shape after 40 years because it wasn't used much. I think most of today's better bikes will be in fine shape years from now if the riders don't ever wear out the original tires and store them inside.

You see this with cars, too. There's some wonderful old 40-year-old cars out there. But 99% of the cars of that age have been worn out and scrapped by now.
Yes, that's so true. I have a 20 year old Paramount/Waterford that loos and feels brand new. I also have a current state of the art CF bike that I'm sure will be around in 40 years.

The important thing is care and don't forget about the bike over the years.
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Old 03-03-09, 05:15 AM   #19
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I knew I'd capture some comments with that one.

Of course, I took a little artistic license with the wording. I referred to corrosion and its products. Put aluminum and steel in direct contact. Add long term humidity and acid rain and ozone and other air pollutants and salts. I've seen inch-thick aluminum plates turn to dust. It looked like sheets of mica or slate. If you touched it it cracked loose. If you crumbled it it turned to dust.

I've seen unpassivated aluminum fittings attached to graphite get really ugly from corrosion. I've seen composite resins fracture and thoroughly micro-crack.

It really is all about maintenance.
Maybe...

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Old 03-03-09, 02:03 PM   #20
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One way to prevent corrosion is to control the storage conditions. Another is to be sure that if you ride in the rain or snow, that you wash the bike clean before storing for an extended period. Salts and moisture contribute greatly to corrosion of all types. If the bike were clean (chlorine ion free), you could reduce or eliminate the corrosion damage mechanisms.

If you are doing regular maintenance, you will likely to catch problems with your storage environment before they cause a real problem.

No maintenance = oblivious to the problem.
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Old 03-03-09, 02:14 PM   #21
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Actually, raw weight is used in some areas of formal engineering to help guage reliability. In power engineering, one calculates the "power density" as one predictive factor of the reliability of a power plant. It is the rated power of the plant divided by its weight. Power plants with high power densities break down more, on the average.

The same can be applied to bikes. Obviously, there are other factors, like quality of manufacture and design, but all of them being equal, my money is on the 23 lb bike lasting longer than the 17 lb one with the same rider/conditions.
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Old 03-03-09, 03:11 PM   #22
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Yes, that's so true. I have a 20 year old Paramount/Waterford that loos and feels brand new. I also have a current state of the art CF bike that I'm sure will be around in 40 years.

The important thing is care and don't forget about the bike over the years.
Yeah, and I have a 1983 Raleigh Marathon that, when I pulled it out of a dumpster, looked like it was rode hard and put away wet for 25 years... which it probably was. I cleaned the rocks (yes, literally) out of the hubs and regreased them and it's been my daily rider since. Cosmetically it's no beauty but it functions just fine, thanks.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-03-09, 07:33 PM   #23
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Actually, raw weight is used in some areas of formal engineering to help guage reliability. In power engineering, one calculates the "power density" as one predictive factor of the reliability of a power plant. It is the rated power of the plant divided by its weight. Power plants with high power densities break down more, on the average.

The same can be applied to bikes. Obviously, there are other factors, like quality of manufacture and design, but all of them being equal, my money is on the 23 lb bike lasting longer than the 17 lb one with the same rider/conditions.
Power plants??? Well, in that field, you might be right. Would that generality also hold true in computers? I think not. Here, we are discussing bicycles.

My money would be on a relatively light weight, high quality build that uses higher strength materials such as Reynolds 531. I'll take a quality, hand-built wheel using good bearings (hardened, polished races, etc), well made and tensioned spokes and durable (not light weight racing) rims.

I am not referring to an ultra-light weight racer here (18 lb versus 23 lb). My experience with bikes is that a 40 lb bike is lower in quality than the one I just described.

I think tires are one area where, all other things being equal, weight = relaibility (puncture resistance, long life, etc). Weight = more rubber, more cords.

I prefer a leather saddle but if you let one sit for 20 years with no maintenance, don't expect it to be in very good shape.
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Old 03-03-09, 07:56 PM   #24
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Power plants??? Well, in that field, you might be right. Would that generality also hold true in computers? I think not. Here, we are discussing bicycles.

My money would be on a relatively light weight, high quality build that uses higher strength materials such as Reynolds 531. I'll take a quality, hand-built wheel using good bearings (hardened, polished races, etc), well made and tensioned spokes and durable (not light weight racing) rims.

I am not referring to an ultra-light weight racer here (18 lb versus 23 lb). My experience with bikes is that a 40 lb bike is lower in quality than the one I just described.

I think tires are one area where, all other things being equal, weight = relaibility (puncture resistance, long life, etc). Weight = more rubber, more cords.

I prefer a leather saddle but if you let one sit for 20 years with no maintenance, don't expect it to be in very good shape.
Again it depends on the bike. A Nottingham built Raleigh Superbe tips the scales at a solid 40#. And it is a well built, (prior to about 1970) solid bike, that used what was top notch materials and production methods at it's inception.

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Old 03-03-09, 08:47 PM   #25
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Power plants??? Well, in that field, you might be right. Would that generality also hold true in computers? I think not. Here, we are discussing bicycles.

My money would be on a relatively light weight, high quality build that uses higher strength materials such as Reynolds 531. I'll take a quality, hand-built wheel using good bearings (hardened, polished races, etc), well made and tensioned spokes and durable (not light weight racing) rims.

I am not referring to an ultra-light weight racer here (18 lb versus 23 lb). My experience with bikes is that a 40 lb bike is lower in quality than the one I just described.
You actually sort of summed up what would be my response. A bicycle is a lot closer to transmission components of a power plant than a bicycle, a major purpose of it is a transmission/translation of force. A little of that goes on in a computer in some of the mech. parts like drives, but isn't the overall purpose of the machine. The variable/value may actually be meaningful for some of the sub components of a computer. And it isn't just power plants, but most machines that generate/transmit motive power, like cars, for instance. This is a truism for mechanical engineers, fwiw.

Keep in mind that I said all other factors being equal - this is a very key point, not a casual remark. There is a strong correlation between heavyweight bikes and low quality, so all things aren't equal there or even close enough to invite comparison. But consider this case, maybe Riv bikes, bombadil vs. some other frame, which is going to take more abuse, which is heavier? Or say old Trek steel, which is going to take more abuse, Trek 870 or Trek 760? Both lugged steel frames, built by the same people, etc. Still differences in materials/geometry, but getting closer to that "all other things being equal".
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