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  1. #1
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    A vintage "tri" bike--how to make one?

    So I did my first sprint triathlon last weekend. I was pretty happy with with my performance on the bike, but my swim and run times were weak.

    Anyway, while I was being passed by several tri-bike riders, I wondered if there wasn't something to their special triathlon bikes. So I did some reasearch on the subject. I found this nice little link

    http://www.bikesportmichigan.com/bikes/difference.shtml

    That link describes the difference between the tri bike and road bike. The major differences seem to be the aero bars, a shorter top tube, a shorter head tube, and a much steeper seat tube angle.

    So I was thinking of trying something like this out. But I don't like new bikes, and I don't want to spend any significant money.

    So my question is-- could a person build a decent fitting tri bike from a nice cheap vintage frame??

    If so, what would I look for in a frame?

    It seems like you could approach this in two ways. First, you could try a road bike that is one size smaller than normal. That would give you the shorter top tube. A maybe find one with relaxed fork rake.

    But maybe you would be better off just going with normal sized frame and using a short stem. My circuit was set up with tri bars and short stem when I got it.

    And then there is the question of the seat tube angle. Did any vintage bikes have steep seat tube angles? Can you use a seat post backwards to make one? The article I linked to says that the bottom bracket on a tri bike is moved back, and not with the seat tube moved forward, so maybe this would not work.

    Anyway, this may be a dumb bunch of questions, but I ask anyway. I considered asking this in the tri forum, but it seems like the vintage guys would know what frames are out there that could work.

    Thanks

    Jared
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    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    I'm in the process of doing so, but if you want to keep it C&V in mentality, you kind of have to work with what they had available in the 80's.

    Base of the build is an '89 Centurion Ironman frame, geometry is the best I can find, 2cm shorter than I usually ride, to make the aero's fit better.

    Seat post will be the minimum set-back or none, try to get me forward a bit. A little higher than normal and tip the saddle a bit nose-down.

    I'll cut off the bars just below the brake lever clamp, so I can use the std brake levers or brifters. Keep the stem down a bit to keep the forward-tendency.

    Scott old-school aero bars on that. If they're too narrow, I'll simply cut them in half and mount 'em wider.

    Skip the FD and small chain ring, terrain here is not hilly. 12-24 rear will do. If I go 7-sp, use R DT shifter only. If I go 8-sp, R brifter only.

    That's the start. Things will change, I'm sure.

    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻

    I'm not a doctor, but I watch them on TV.

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  3. #3
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    Not like this:

    '04 Giant OCR2|'87 Schwinn World Sport F/G conversion (6,129)|'92 Trek 820 MTB|'85 Schwinn Super LeTour
    "People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles." - Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

  4. #4
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    I would encourage you to start with a complete bike. Starting with just a frame can run the cost up a lot. Start with a complete bike, seek one with the geometry closest to what you want. And then over time, upgrade as the budget allows (and keep the original stuff so that when you move on to your next bike, you can sell it in original condition).

  5. #5
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    Reading the tri forums I found this pofile design seat tube that moves the seat forward:

    http://www.bikepro.com.au/ProductDet...WARD-SEAT-POST

    It would seem to solve the seat tube angle issue. But it looks a bit goofy.

    Robbie-- I was thinking that a bike one size small would also be the way to go. I don't know if that would be true if you were going to use this seat post-- since that would move you forward as well.

    Jared
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    Ridin dirty riva's Avatar
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    I don't know if they are classic.. but with some luck you might score a decent 90's 3.0 or 2.8 cdale tri bike complete for cheap. Like wrk101 says, building up a bargain frame usually isnt..

  7. #7
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    +2 on starting with a bike.

    I didn't have one, but I've got the frame and a variety of parts just sitting here waiting for me to screw them up...

    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻

    I'm not a doctor, but I watch them on TV.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjpitts View Post
    Reading the tri forums I found this pofile design seat tube that moves the seat forward:

    http://www.bikepro.com.au/ProductDet...WARD-SEAT-POST

    It would seem to solve the seat tube angle issue. But it looks a bit goofy.

    Robbie-- I was thinking that a bike one size small would also be the way to go. I don't know if that would be true if you were going to use this seat post-- since that would move you forward as well.

    Jared
    Already had the frame. Thought it was a 56cm when I bought it, it ended up a 54. The 2cm pretty much got me where I want to be over the tri bars, but I'll give that stem some thought, because I'd like to get my hips a bit more forward, more power, at least feels that way. Thanks for thinking of me.

    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻

    I'm not a doctor, but I watch them on TV.

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  9. #9
    RFC
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    To answer your primary question, yes, it can be done quite easily. I have built up both road bike based and tri specific triathlon bikes. The opinions stated below are all based on first hand experience, as well as research into the subject.

    There are a couple of things to remember:

    1) A properly fitted tri bike will give you up to a 10% increase in speed. It's an undisputable fact.

    2) There are many mods you can do to a bike and frame to incrementally reduce wind resistance and increase speed, but wind tunnel tests show that, by far and away, you get the greatest benefit from riding in the tri tuck position.

    3) In order for the tri tuck to be effective, you also need to be comfortable. Then you can ride forever -- faster, farther, and more comfortably than on road drops. But, the key is that you have to be comfortable, even if you need to raise the position for better breathing. You will still get most of the benefit.

    The world is full of aerobar combinations. It's a matter of picking up a few used ones and finetuning your fit. Aerobars have changed little over the last 10-15 years. The only possible vintage bar I can think of is the old Scott "big loop" bar and I haven't seen many of those around.

    The best investment you can make is the Profile FastForward post pictured above. It will give you an additional 3-5 degrees of angle in order to allow you to roll forward and open up your form a bit while still riding on the aerobars. The posts are readily available on the Bay.

    Oh, and one more thing, I wouldn't worry a great deal about top tube length. You can adjust for that with the stem. Go either with your standard road size or one size smaller. The TT of my Quintana Roo Santo is the same as my standard road frame. It allows me to stretch out a bit for better comfort and breathing.

    BTW, what were some of the early tri specific bikes? Any pics out there?
    Last edited by RFC; 05-30-09 at 09:00 PM.

  10. #10
    Ridin dirty riva's Avatar
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    Design from the early 90s isn't exactly early, but its definately tri specific. I picked up something like this one in the pic for peanuts. So keep an eye peeled. Don't tri myself but should be fun try'in it anyway. Frame is on the big side of what I fit in a std roadbike but I bought a shorter stem and I'm hopeful it will be comfortable.
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  11. #11
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    I built my own "tri-bike" back in the early 90s: 78deg seat angle and 74deg head angle, short top tube, aero bars &etc. Alas, I've never done a triathlon, but when its windy and I want to ride, this is the bike I grab.


  12. #12
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    The more I read, the more the little black 54cm Ironman frame is just going to have to go tri...

    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻

    I'm not a doctor, but I watch them on TV.

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  13. #13
    Large Member urodacus's Avatar
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    run a 650 c front fork and wheel. That'll steepen up the front and seat tube angles a few degrees. maybe a different seat post, or just push the seat all the way forward on the rails. and drop the quill stem all the way down.

    Oh, and try, try and try again!
    05 Giant TCR Composite; 83 Colnago Saronni; 81 San Rensho Katana Super Export track #A116-56; 89 Zunow Pentaglia: SOLD; 85 Tommasini: SOLD; 83 Guerciotti: SOLD

  14. #14
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    Here's my semi-vintage tri/TT machine:

    Improvised FF tri post and Fisik saddle
    Mavic Cosmic Expert 30mm clincher wheelset with a Wheelbuilder cover
    Ritchey Probiscus bars with NOS GripShift 7-speed.
    Shimano 600EX (?) groupset, Biopace crank. Keo pedals.

    Lots of fun. I averaged 44.5 km/h on my last time trial, a 20km course, beating loads of expensive and exotic machinery.

    Flipping the seat post round works, but it's not as radical a change as the Profile Design Fast Forward seat post (which I have on another bike).

    I would strongly recommend getting the shifters up on the ends of the aero bars. If you're tipped forward in an aero position, reaching down to DT shifters is inconvenient. There are various solutions to get the shifters up there. Old GripShifts work well.




    Search for 'funny bikes' in the forum, it should give you some inspiration.
    Last edited by Barchettaman; 06-01-09 at 08:22 AM.

  15. #15
    French threaded PDXaero's Avatar
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    I have some of the curly loop Scott bars that I don't need if you want them.
    Keep in mind that depending on the era, you could use bullhorns for a base bar and some older clip on aerobars too.

    I no longer tri but my '89 long distance bike is a pseudo tri setup.

  16. #16
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    I have been looking into this some more. First, I found that profile design makes another another one of the seat posts, this one in carbon. See the picture. It looks pretty cool.

    Second, about frame sizing--the general consensus seems to be that if you are making a tri bike you should go down a size. But I wonder if that is correct when using one of these funky seat posts.

    I did some math (warning--my math skills are not what they used to) and figured that using on of these seat posts is oging to move the seat forward between 4 and 6 cm. That was based on a 23 inch seat tube, and maybe five inches of exposed seat post. That was also based on the alleged fact that the seat posts give you an "effective seat tube angle" of 78 degrees, and remembering SOH TOA COH from college.

    My road bike is a 58 cm bike, with a 56.5 cm top tube.

    By comparison, a size 56 cm Cervelo P2 has a top tube of 54.7 cm, and a size 58 cm has a 56 cm top tube.

    Given all that, my question is--if the profile design seat post shortens the "effective length" of the top tube by 4cm, am I really going to want a smaller sized road bike to put it in? It does not seem like it. What do you guys think?

    Jared

    PS-- one more question for the centurion experts. I am considering picking up a centurion ironman expert for this little project. I am not sure of the year, but it is a red/white expert, with the aero fork, and tange 1 tubing. Does anybody know what seat post diameter it would take. The profile design posts are 27.2 mm. I searched and found that some people said the ironman used 27.0, but others thought it was 27.2. Anyone know for sure?
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    Profile Design make a 27.0mm fast forward seatpost in aluminium, Im not sure if they do it in carbon.

  18. #18
    French threaded PDXaero's Avatar
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    picked up an 87 schwinn prologue TT frameset for $40 today with a post, BB HS, Stem, and bars.
    Looks like I'm starting another Tri bike project too.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Barchettaman's Avatar
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    Hope you have a good relationship with your local osteopath, those Prologues look pretty wild :-)

  20. #20
    slow as I ever was Ex Pres's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjpitts View Post
    I
    PS-- one more question for the centurion experts. I am considering picking up a centurion ironman expert for this little project. I am not sure of the year, but it is a red/white expert, with the aero fork, and tange 1 tubing. Does anybody know what seat post diameter it would take. The profile design posts are 27.2 mm. I searched and found that some people said the ironman used 27.0, but others thought it was 27.2. Anyone know for sure?
    Unless my mind is totally gone (which is a distinct possibility), my '86 had a 27.2 post

  21. #21
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    There's this.


    Or This

  22. #22
    www.onecycles.com douchebagonwhlz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by txvintage View Post
    There's this.


    Or This
    great shots, what the hell is the 2nd one?!
    condor is very attractive, the day I have clean hands I am going to put on white tape, it looks so good.

    Back to the topic, slightly small frame so it is compact, long stem, long post, saddle forward, 53x11 SS (depending on the course, perfect for short ones). The less stuff on your bike, the less weight and wind resistance, how many gears will you really USE?

  23. #23
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjpitts View Post
    I have been looking into this some more. First, I found that profile design makes another another one of the seat posts, this one in carbon.

    PS-- one more question for the centurion experts. I am considering picking up a centurion ironman expert for this little project. I am not sure of the year, but it is a red/white expert, with the aero fork, and tange 1 tubing. Does anybody know what seat post diameter it would take. The profile design posts are 27.2 mm. I searched and found that some people said the ironman used 27.0, but others thought it was 27.2. Anyone know for sure?
    All my Ironman bikes use 27.2. In my experience, Tange 1 27.2, Tange 2 27.0. Based on a dozen Ironman bikes and 5 Lemans

    Your post is exactly as I've been thinking. I went 2cm smaller on the frame and if I go on a forward seat post, I'll have to lengthen the stem or my elbows will be in my ribs. I don't want to make a change in one place that necessitates another change somewhere else. So I'm stickin' with the smaller frame.

    However, no bullhorns, bar ends on aero bars....yet. I'm chopping the drop bars just below the clamp of the brake levers, sort of like a flop and chop, but no flop. One R STI and one L aero lever. No FD. I'll run 53 up front, 12-19 corncob rear.

    Haven't decided on fork. I have a CF threaded, but it weighs about the same as the OEM Ironman fork, and if I cut it off to fit the smaller frame, I'd not be able to use it on my normal-sized frames if this project ends up in the File 13.

    And it won't be finished until after Bike Virginia.

    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻

    I'm not a doctor, but I watch them on TV.

    1982 Lotus Classique
    1987 D'Arienzo (Basso) SLX
    1995 Hot Tubes TT
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    2008 BMC Roadracer SL01
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  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
    All my Ironman bikes use 27.2. In my experience, Tange 1 27.2, Tange 2 27.0. Based on a dozen Ironman bikes and 5 Lemans

    Your post is exactly as I've been thinking. I went 2cm smaller on the frame and if I go on a forward seat post, I'll have to lengthen the stem or my elbows will be in my ribs. I don't want to make a change in one place that necessitates another change somewhere else. So I'm stickin' with the smaller frame.

    However, no bullhorns, bar ends on aero bars....yet. I'm chopping the drop bars just below the clamp of the brake levers, sort of like a flop and chop, but no flop. One R STI and one L aero lever. No FD. I'll run 53 up front, 12-19 corncob rear.

    Haven't decided on fork. I have a CF threaded, but it weighs about the same as the OEM Ironman fork, and if I cut it off to fit the smaller frame, I'd not be able to use it on my normal-sized frames if this project ends up in the File 13.

    And it won't be finished until after Bike Virginia.
    You have the frame already. You should get the seat post and aero bars, and see how it feels. It may be too small, but if so I am sure you will get a larger one soon enough.

    I would basically love to hear from someone that has tried the seat post with aero bars, and find out how the frame fit relative to regular road bike sizing.

    Jared

  25. #25
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjpitts View Post
    You have the frame already. You should get the seat post and aero bars, and see how it feels. It may be too small, but if so I am sure you will get a larger one soon enough.

    I would basically love to hear from someone that has tried the seat post with aero bars, and find out how the frame fit relative to regular road bike sizing.

    Jared
    I would, too. I do plenty of my own trial and error, would be nice to hear someone else's.

    I'm trying not to buy anything, as I have everything I need right now if I don't buy a seat post.
    I'm sure hoping the smaller frame and aero position work out.

    A CF seat post is out of the question right now. I'm trying to stay metallic.
    (And if I went with a CF seat post, it would be on my Kestrel, which seems to deserve it more)

    Once I see how it fits, I may try a seat post and then see how it affects the proper stem length.
    I'm a little unsure how the stem length is a factor when you have the adjustable aero bars, too.

    Plus, having 3 areas of forward-back adjustment (saddle, stem, bars) seems like a crap shoot.
    Am I looking for a "sweet spot" on the base bar where a certain part of my forearm is supposed to be?

    Long stem are pretty twitchy, and your weight is already out there, to to speak, but jeez Louise, I hate to ask the local tri guys about bikes. They say "P3" and "Zipp" every other sentence.

    My reluctance on the aeros, and asking the local tri guys, is based on the only 4 times I've ridden with them, in a pace line. Each time, one of them went over the bars while in the aeros. I almost ran over one the 2nd time out, and I would hate to mess my bike up running over a physically fit idiot.

    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻

    I'm not a doctor, but I watch them on TV.

    1982 Lotus Classique
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