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  1. #1
    Member soccerwuedo5's Avatar
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    Hi! I'm Jake! I could use some help.

    Wow. First, what an informative forum! I have spent the better part of a week reading up on as much as I can before I make this post. Truth is, I'm at the point where I could really use some experienced advice.

    Feel free to skip this part:
    My wife and I live in hilly Utah going to school and with spring approaching, we've been seriously considering cycling. We are both huge athletes (namely soccer) and think this could be a fun activity to do together and stay in shape. Last summer was spent longboarding (amazing in the mountains btw), but after 4 months out on a broken leg, I'm ready for something less hazardous to my well-being.

    I want to buy/tune up two bikes by May (one for me, one for her). My budget is around $200 per bike. My plan is to being visiting pawn shops, checking yard sales, keeping an eye on my local craigslist/ksl.com (local thing), and find something older. Problem is, I'm not sure what to look for. I think, with mountainous terrain we would prefer gears but I'm not ruling fixed gear bicycles out at this point.

    So...

    (1) What are the better frames to look for? (top 5?)
    (2) What are the better components to look for?
    (3) What are sure signs to steer clear from?
    (4) Are my budget expectations reasonable?

    I've found a wealth of good info on how to maintain the bikes and how to upgrade, but I have struggled to pinpoint what are the best bikes to look for in the first place and how to spot a good deal. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks again and I look forward to learning more from this community!

    --Jake

  2. #2
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    I went to ebay and found this one in seconds - $200 buy it now price.



    http://cgi.ebay.com/54cm-Vintage-Uni...99325355166831

    What sizes do you need?

  3. #3
    Member soccerwuedo5's Avatar
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    I've seen Univega tossed around a few times, what a great looking bike! I really like it! Thank you!

    As for sizing, I am 6'1" with 32-34" pant leg (need to do more accurate measuring before getting more serious about buying) so I understood I am somewhere between 57cm and 60cm.

    My wife is 5'8" or so and I don't know exactly what size she'd need.

    Thanks for the quick response!

  4. #4
    Senior Member auchencrow's Avatar
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    Hi Jake -

    Welcome to C&V.

    I would refer you to My Ten Speeds - a website dedicated to answering these questions from people like you, by one of our own C&V members.
    - Auchen

  5. #5
    Senior Member randyjawa's Avatar
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    Welcome to the interest of vintage bicycles. I publish a website that helps people new to the interest accelerate their opportunity to learn about the basics, and avoid making costly purchase/build decisions. Feel free to visit MY "TEN SPEEDS" - its free.

    Most, if not all of your questions are address in those pages. I hope this is a help.

  6. #6
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    Many of us have picked up fabulous bikes for under $200, and you can too. The problem is, you can't just go out and expect to find the fabulous bike you want for under $200 this weekend. The really good deals are opportunities that turn up unexpectedly. So, though your specific questions are good, we can hardly advise you on specifics. I would suggest you chose, approximately, what kind of vintage you're looking for (Im guessing late 70's to early 90's would suit you) and educate yourself on the better components of that period.

    The reason I say this is, for example, on the subject of cranks: most people would tell you to avoid cottered steel cranks. This is only good advice if you're looking for a racing bike made after the early 70's.

    A lot of people find ads for bikes on Craigslist and then post the listings here requesting our advice and comments. This gets a lot of good specific advice, but if you do this you are likely to let the best opportunities slip through your fingers.

  7. #7
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    Hello Jake, and welcome to the forums. I think one of the first things you need to do is figure out what type of bikes you want. do you want road bikes, skinnyish tires and drop style handle bars? ahybrid sort of an inbetween road and mountain bike or a full on mountain bike (although I must state I am not a huge suspension fan especially in the rear.)

    where do you plan on riding? it may be a good idea to visit a shop and explore the different offerings.
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  8. #8
    PanGalacticGargleBlaster Zaphod Beeblebrox's Avatar
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    Just a note...for not too much more than $200 per bike you can get a fully working, fairly lightweight modern thing and not have to be arsed with all the maintenance and tool buying and such. In short you can more easily avoid getting sucked in like the rest of us enablers.

    That said...if you think Vintage bikes are cooler and the idea of working on them appeals to you or at least doesn't turn you off...go for it!

    That Univega is OK, but its not a 200 dollar bike. Its a 200 dollar bike with an 85 dollar shipping charge. If your Budget was 285 I think you might be able to get something nicer.

    @the OP: whatever you do, buy a complete bike. A cheap frame might seem like a deal but you'll spend $$$ building it up.
    --Don't Panic.
    My bike is a lot like your mom.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    Excellent advice from all above.
    Bikes on Flickr
    I prefer email to private messages. You can contact me at justinhughes@me.com

  10. #10
    Designer steppinthefunk's Avatar
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    One thing you might want to consider is what type of bike you prefer from what origin.
    For example, over the years I have realized that I have developed a strong liking to English/British
    makes. To me they seem to be less "racy" and more "gentlemanly". I like Italian bikes but I don't
    really care for owning one as they seem a bit too serious for my taste. I feel Italian bikes almost require
    proper cycling attire like spandex and jerseys. I love French bikes. French bikes have lots of style but
    require a bit more knowledge and patience due to their odd standards. Japanese bikes are nice too
    and are great value for the money.

  11. #11
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Here is the thing.... GET OUT AND RIDE...

    Any old or new bike will do as long as its safe... I have ridden with guys riding a solid crank Huffy that were having just as much fun as I was... There is a guy down the street that can't ride anymore but has a blast just putting together old bikes for the local kids...

    Maybe a cheap Walmart special is all you need for now, and then as you tinker and play you may find you are a steel, aluminum, or carbon guy - Who knows - Maybe a C&V aficionado...

    What I am saying here is welcome to the forum - Have fun - Don't be afraid of starting out with some off the shelf bikes that you may sell or give away after you get into it...

    And please keep us posted...

    On the medical side I have lost count of how many older bike riders started off in Soccer...

  12. #12
    No, your OTHER left!! bikenut2011's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soccerwuedo5 View Post
    I've seen Univega tossed around a few times, what a great looking bike! I really like it! Thank you!

    As for sizing, I am 6'1" with 32-34" pant leg (need to do more accurate measuring before getting more serious about buying) so I understood I am somewhere between 57cm and 60cm.

    My wife is 5'8" or so and I don't know exactly what size she'd need.

    Thanks for the quick response!

    If you go with a traditional steel frame bike, I would put you at 60cm minimum for comfort and you may be able to go larger than that. For comfort get the biggest frame you can still straddle comfortably. dont ask me how i know...

    also, as far as ebay bikes go, try to find something you can go pick up close by, thats always better than a shipping charge and possible damage. And don't forget craigslist! Good Luck!!

    andy
    Bike Hoarder in Training :)

    1988 Schwinn Circuit (Red, White, 'n' Chrome... American made Hot Rod! )
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    2011 Motobecane 18 spd Cross Bike turned road bike (my "modern" ride)
    1973 Schwinn Continental... 36 pounds and yellow (for my son) :)

    My C&V pics here
    My daily mile page is here

  13. #13
    Member soccerwuedo5's Avatar
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    Wow! You guys are awesome!!! Thanks for the replies!!

    Quote Originally Posted by auchencrow
    I would refer you to My Ten Speeds - a website dedicated to answering these questions from people like you, by one of our own C&V members.
    Quote Originally Posted by randyjawa
    I publish a website that helps people new to the interest accelerate their opportunity to learn about the basics, and avoid making costly purchase/build decisions. Feel free to visit MY "TEN SPEEDS" - its free.
    Heading straight over there right now! Thanks for the tip!

    Quote Originally Posted by rhm
    Many of us have picked up fabulous bikes for under $200, and you can too. The problem is, you can't just go out and expect to find the fabulous bike you want for under $200 this weekend.
    I definitely understand that. That's one of the main reasons I have begun my serious research into different bicycles at the turn of the new year instead of around May. I want that time to make a good decision.

    Quote Originally Posted by bianchigirl
    I think one of the first things you need to do is figure out what type of bikes you want.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox
    That said...if you think Vintage bikes are cooler and the idea of working on them appeals to you or at least doesn't turn you off...go for it!
    Quote Originally Posted by steppinthefunk
    One thing you might want to consider is what type of bike you prefer from what origin.
    Quote Originally Posted by zandoval
    Maybe a cheap Walmart special is all you need for now, and then as you tinker and play you may find you are a steel, aluminum, or carbon guy - Who knows - Maybe a C&V aficionado...
    From what I've read, I think I do want a mid-70's to early-90's Italian or Japanese road bike with rather aggressive frame geometry and bullhorn handlebars. I've owned plenty of mountain bikes (just had one stolen from my complex in November actually!) and LOVE to ride. I've done trail rides and 50 miler scouting trips, etc. but around here all the best mountain rides are paved and FAST so I think this would be the natural transition time for me into something more quick and nimble.

    AND I can't afford to drop $1,000+ so I'm willing to go old school and wrench a bit to have a great compromise.

    Quote Originally Posted by zandoval
    What I am saying here is welcome to the forum - Have fun - Don't be afraid of starting out with some off the shelf bikes that you may sell or give away after you get into it...

    And please keep us posted...
    Thanks! As I find new information and have questions I will definitely be posting here because of this incredibly positive response!

  14. #14
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    ^^Excellent, sounds like you know what you're looking for, then. A few remarks:


    --As a general rule, you're better off buying a bike that hasn't been "upgraded," because many people can't tell an upgrade from a downgrade. I'm talking about bullhorn handlebars here. I don't mean they're bad; I've never used 'em, so cannot comment on that. But classic / vintage bikes didn't come with them. Any bike that has them is either not classic/vintage, or has been "upgraded" (and very likely downgraded). So when you buy your bike, get one with drop bars. Then, if you want to change them to bullhorn bars, that's your call (but I recommend you get to know it as is, first).

    --at the $200 price point, you are sure to find a good Japanese bike, less likely to find a good Italian one (but then again, you might). I wouldn't worry too much about place of origin, though; local / national traditions in bicycle design disappeared over time. They were already declining by the 60's and had pretty much disappeared by the mid 70's. If you want a good deal, don't set limitations on what you're looking for.

    --Aggressive geometry follows the above. While certain brands (early 80's Trek, for example) offered a range of specific geometric options (racing, sport touring, fully loaded touring) the trend has been for more aggressive geometry. Any road bike will be more aggressive than your MTB, and among road bikes the differences will be subtle: we're talking about a degree or two difference. At your price point, I wouldn't sweat it.

  15. #15
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    A decent quality, $200 steel-framed bike from the era you mentioned will almost certainly be Japanese or Taiwanese in origin. If it is European, it will most likely be a Raleigh.

    Regarding frame size, you have to straddle the bike to know if it fits. There are subtle variations in fit for a given frame size due to bottom bracket height. You should be able to stand over it without having it grind into your crotch or lift a leg. I am your height. My inseam measures 34" from the floor to the crotch. I am able to comfortably straddle a 58 cm frame with 700C wheels. 60 cm is too large.

    I posted the Univega ad above to point you towards ebay (and because it was a nice bike). At ebay, be careful of the shipping charges. Your local Craigslist is also a good place to check because, well, they are local bikes and you can go see them befoire you buy.

    Don't waste too much time looking for the perfect bike or you will regret passing on bikes that are more than good enough.
    Last edited by Mike Mills; 02-02-11 at 10:27 AM.

  16. #16
    Oh Snap, not again... atmdad's Avatar
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    Hi Jake,

    I took a look at the Salt lake City Craigslist, didn't see much too offer, mainly mountain bikes. What did catch my eye was an ad for a Bike Swap/Expo at Utah State Fairpark coming up on March 5th. I have no idea where that is in relation to your locale and what they exactly have to offer but it might be a good idea for you and the wife to go. It could quite possibly give you an opportunity to look over different bikes and sizes to get a feel of what size is a good fit for you and your lady. Also a chance to make some contacts with local C&Vers that might help you in your quest.

    Bike Expo/Swap

    note: Being in SoCal, I am not affiliated with this group in anyway, just passing along some possibly helpful info.

  17. #17
    Senior Member tugrul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
    I am your height. My inseam measures 34" from the floor to the crotch. I am able to comfortably straddle a 58 cm frame with 700C wheels. 60 cm is too large.
    I'm barely 6'1", but have a cycling inseam of about 35" (per the instructions at rivbike) and have no issues on at least one 25"/63.5cm frame**, so it's important to measure.

    The length of the top tube is arguably more important, as you'll be spending a lot more time riding and reaching for the handle bars than dismounting and standing over a bike.

    ** Bottom bracket height (clearance underneath the cranks), seat tube angle, etc, change overall top tube height.

  18. #18
    Designer steppinthefunk's Avatar
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    just for reference, here's my Cilo with bullhorns:

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    I'm talking about bullhorn handlebars here. I don't mean they're bad; I've never used 'em, so cannot comment on that. But classic / vintage bikes didn't come with them. Any bike that has them is either not classic/vintage, or has been "upgraded" (and very likely downgraded). So when you buy your bike, get one with drop bars. Then, if you want to change them to bullhorn bars, that's your call (but I recommend you get to know it as is, first).
    Wouldn't be surprised if the OP was talking about drop bars, which you occasionally see referred to as "ram's horn" bars.

  20. #20
    Member soccerwuedo5's Avatar
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    You guys are so AWESOME! Since the last barrage of posts, I've spent my free time perusing the pages of mytenspeeds.com. What a resource!!! I've about read everything there is to read on that website (sans the find stories for the different countries of origin) and feel much more educated now.

    Many of my preconceived ideas about what I liked have broadened while a few have narrowed, and all this continuous input is a real life-saver. Thanks again!

    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    As a general rule, you're better off buying a bike that hasn't been "upgraded," because many people can't tell an upgrade from a downgrade.

    I wouldn't worry too much about place of origin, though; local / national traditions in bicycle design disappeared over time.

    Aggressive geometry follows the above.
    Quote Originally Posted by steppinthefunk View Post
    just for reference, here's my Cilo with bullhorns
    Yup, I totally misspoke when I said "bullhorn." From my shallow reading thus far I had interpreted the drop handlebars as bullhorns. While they look functional, I prefer the look of the dropped bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
    Don't waste too much time looking for the perfect bike or you will regret passing on bikes that are more than good enough.
    Certainly not looking for perfection here (if I was I'd better have a larger budget! haha) but I've made enough rushed decisions in my life where my emotions outweighed my logical considerations that I'm trying to inform myself fully before investing.

    Quote Originally Posted by atmdad View Post
    What did catch my eye was an ad for a Bike Swap/Expo at Utah State Fairpark coming up on March 5th.
    I saw that as well! Also, Craigslist is very sparse here in Utah (I grew up just outside the Bay Area in Northern CA) because of the prevalent ksl.com classifieds that is used around here. Don't know why they use it, but that's where I spend most of my time for various other hobbies.

    Quote Originally Posted by tugrul View Post
    The length of the top tube is arguably more important, as you'll be spending a lot more time riding and reaching for the handle bars than dismounting and standing over a bike.
    From what I've read, I totally agree. I'll bring a tape measure with me as I begin my search.

  21. #21
    Member soccerwuedo5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FuzzyDunlop View Post
    Wouldn't be surprised if the OP was talking about drop bars, which you occasionally see referred to as "ram's horn" bars.
    Nailed it. Whoops!

  22. #22
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    WOW I was just looking over CL for Provo and SLC, looks like slim pickins (not the actor) for old road bikes. might be better off with an MTB with slicks for a few months.
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  23. #23
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    You're definitely going to want gears.

    Do you have the occasion to travel to neighboring states? If so, checking Craigslist in cities in those areas before you travel might open up some more opportunities. You might also get lucky at that swap coming up.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  24. #24
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 Forget Italian bikes, won't fit in that budget, unless you get extremely lucky. The more aggressively you look, the better you will do. I would start AS SOON as you dial in your size. I would work on that first.

  25. #25
    Senior Member happytramp's Avatar
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    You guys are extremely helpful and a goldmine of information for noobs like us. The responses on this thread further my belief that this is the best (and most good natured) resource on the net for C+V help. I only wish I'd discovered mytenspeeds sooner! (I'm also posting because I want to follow this thread and see what bike soccerwuedo gets)

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