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Old 07-15-12, 05:56 PM   #1
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Vintage bicycle cyclocross?

Anyone here use a vintage bike to cyclocross?

I want to participate in a few of the local cyclocross races, but I know my beater bike / daily rider won't be able to handle it--plus, it's probably a bit too heavy.

I can't afford some super expensive new bike, though, so I was wondering if any of y'all have turned some classic, pretty, vintage bikes into cyclocross racers.

Any advice, pictures, etc will help!
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Old 07-15-12, 06:16 PM   #2
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I know a lot of beginners just trying it out use rigid mountain bikes. What's your daily rider? If it's a Schwinn Varsity I can understand but anything decent not built out of sewer pipe and that can fit up to a 35 tire should be fine. Maybe a touring bike since you'll have the clearance to bigger tires and be able to run canti's. I would just try it out first before dumping any money into building or buying another bike. If adding another bike into your stable isn't a problem then build away and enjoy another bike!
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Old 07-15-12, 06:18 PM   #3
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a 75 Sekine SHC 270. Think it'd hold?
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Old 07-15-12, 06:28 PM   #4
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Toss up a picture. If there's ample room I'd rock it. Don't let what everyone else is riding keep you from trying it out. If you can toss on some 32c or 35c tires and if mud isn't that big of an issue then use what you have. You could always pull off the gears and go single speed to simplify things also.
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Old 07-15-12, 06:31 PM   #5
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1980-built replica of patent 1893 Pedersen.

Ridden by yours truly:

bb

And a 1983 Miyata 610 tourer also worked well (as is, but without the luggage):


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Old 07-15-12, 06:31 PM   #6
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http://www.cxmagazine.com/cheapbike
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Old 07-15-12, 11:17 PM   #7
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Grayjay uses anearly 70's Bottecchia with canti studs brazed on. I have a '96 Fondreist. We have the only two steel bikes locally. I used an early 80's Schwinn with centerpull brakes in the late 80's.
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Old 07-16-12, 01:00 AM   #8
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A good CX bike has a relaxed head tube angle combined with a steeper seat tube angle and chainstay length under 44cm.
So what inexpensive frames feature that geometry?

A lot of "sport-touring" bikes like basic Fujis, Nishikis and Miyatas, have about a 72-degree head tube angle with about a 73-degree seat tube angle and 44-45cm chainstays, which is close enough. You mainly want to avoid a too-small frame which might put too much weight the front, and cause the rear wheel to lift off of the ground when descending rough ground or braking hard while slowing for a barrier.
Bottom bracket height doesn't seem to be much of an issue, but should not be excessive or would make re-mounts more difficult.

As far as clearances for the tires, it depends mainly on whether you'll be taking on a muddy course or not. Our Sacramento series has been mostly dry events.

It's good to have a lot of off-road riding experience before trying a CX race. Otherwise, you'll need to ride slow enough to learn dirt riding at the same time you're learning a smooth barrier crossing. Trying to learn too fast will probably have you (and bike) hitting the ground, hitting a barrier, or tangling with other riders.
I would arrive early and sneak in as many practice laps as possible, to get your money's worth. You can even do practice laps without registering at many events, as long as you stay fully out of the way of race participants during and between the various classes' events. In this way, you can attempt to pace any groups of riders who have ridden past and don't have any competitors following on their wheel.

I always preferred index shifting and fairly wide-ratio gear spread on the rear wheel for CX. The wider ratios seem to allow faster acceleration out of corners and barrier sections, and the indexed shifter allows a more-continuous stream of power while accelerating quickly during the first portion of each straightaway. Clipless MTB pedals will also help lap times quite a bit.
Staying in the big ring as much as possible will greatly help prevent losing the chain on rough ground.
Gripping the bars firmly will improve your precision during re-mounts, so as to more-quickly resume being clipped in and pedaling.
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Old 12-14-12, 02:09 PM   #9
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Great thread - very helpful.

I am redoing this 1993 Koga Miyata TerraLiner as a CX starter bike.

Any suggestions welcome ... (just don't suggest a different bike please!)

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Old 12-14-12, 02:16 PM   #10
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I'd start with drop bars, clipless pedals and indexed shifting.
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Old 12-14-12, 02:23 PM   #11
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thats a good bike to start with. basically a cyclocross bike is a road bike with stouter chainstays, slightly less bb drop and canti studs.... kind of hard to find if you want a super lightweight one, but i would also suggest a touring or sport-touring bike. it'll be lighter than a mtb. that koga looks pretty great though. i'm sure you'll have fun no matter what bike you're on
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Old 12-14-12, 02:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dddd View Post
1980-built replica of patent 1893 Pedersen.

Ridden by yours truly:

Mind == blown. I could tell that your avatar was from a 'cross race, but I had no idea there was a Pedersen replica in it! How does it perform?
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Old 12-14-12, 02:35 PM   #13
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I don't race but I do ride a lot of cx conditions and a lot faster than my friends on mtbs, with a 72 gas pipe Centurion Le Mans, outfitted with some bomb proof wheels and 38's on them I think it weighs something close to 30 lbs and it really doesn't present a problem in that sense.
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Old 12-14-12, 02:36 PM   #14
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1980-built replica of patent 1893 pedersen.

Ridden by yours truly:

Bb


wow!
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Old 12-14-12, 02:50 PM   #15
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Bikes do not have to have a steel frame to be strong enough for cyclocross....
Alan aluminum framed bikes had been a mainstay for many Cyclocrossers for many decades already, and the company made models specifically for the sport with the proper canti brake mounting studs plus the aluminum frame's ultra light weight that makes them easier to porter over obstacles. Some Alan cross bikes even sported ovalized (in the horizontal plane) top tubes so they are easier on the racer's shoulder when they are being carried....
People continue to this day to re-build old Alan cyclocross frames to use them for on cyclocross courses....and maybe even for racing

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Old 12-14-12, 03:10 PM   #16
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Subscribed because this is exactly the situation I am in. Curious to try Cross , don't really have a bike for it.
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Old 12-14-12, 03:42 PM   #17
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Well, I can't say that I am into racing of any kind, but I did pick up this near mint Gary Fisher at the Dump this summer past...



The bicycle is a hoot to ride and has since become my cottage bike. It can handle the gravel roads and paved surfaces with near equal ease...

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Old 12-14-12, 04:54 PM   #18
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Mind == blown. I could tell that your avatar was from a 'cross race, but I had no idea there was a Pedersen replica in it! How does it perform?
The Pedersen performs extremely well for a 29-lb bike. I worked my way up into 2nd place in 2 different series this season (Sacramento B45+ and Folsom A/B45+) by mid-season. I've since cut back due to weather and longer travel distances to the late-season races.

I've tinkered with and raced this bike since late 1996, startng with a San Jose hillclimb series. The riding position was less than favorable for climbing but I did ok on the season with better than mid-pack finishes at most events.
I then tried a few criteriums, even Cat's Hill with it's nasty steep climb (with barbeque smoke to breath while climbing).
I moved up to the Expert class for the Grundig (UCI round one) XC events in the lat 1990's at Napa, and fell just short of mid-pack in the combined Expert/Elite 35+ field. I also riode to 11th place in the Sea Otter XC in '97 and got 7th the following year in the Dirt Criterium.

I've managed to crack the steel frame twice over the years, but at least wasn't one of the riders at Napa who had to carry their bike out of the woods with a broken-off head tube (I found the cracks days later). That Skyline Park (Napa) course was brutal on equipment.
I've used 38mm tires for 'cross and 45mm "Smokes" for XC, with a 20mm/23mm F/R pairing for all the crit's.
For Centuries, I use 28/32mm Nimbus commuting tires on wide Module-4 rims. There is a heavy weight bias toward the rear tire, so spoking is 28/32h for 'cross, 32/36h for XC and 28/36h for road racing (here using very light CTL370 rims). My heavy century wheels are 36/40h just because those are the parts I found at swaps for building a very wide-rimmed wheelset, which calms the steering (if mainly because of the added mass).

I have settled in on mainly CX since late 2000, with only a couple of local crits or mtb races since. The CX races are short and our local series' have most events within a half-hour drive.

I consider the Pedersen a sort of semi-recumbent bike, which seems antithetical to racing but which has kept me from crashing on the sketchier parts of many a CX course. The ride feels a bit un-hinged (or hinged), but the bike is inherantly stable and actually sprints pretty well due in part to a wide-ratio 8-speed mtb cassette and a well-positioned (and direct-acting) XT thumb shifter. I get a tremendous workout staying up there with the fast guys and the spectators seem quite enthusiastic about the "flying machine".




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Old 12-14-12, 06:20 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by sekaijin View Post
Great thread - very helpful.

I am redoing this 1993 Koga Miyata TerraLiner as a CX starter bike.

Any suggestions welcome ... (just don't suggest a different bike please!)

For your first race you can ride it just as it sits. But if you decide cyclocross is for you then Colonel Lloyd's advice is all very good:
Clipless pedals because the power transfer is so much better. (You can apply force on the upstroke as well as the downstroke.)
Index shifting because the exertion a of cyclocross racing is so great that you're half brain dead most of the time. Not having to think about trimming your derailleur adjustment is a real blessing under such circumstances.
Drop bars are a matter of personal choice. There are some very successful 'cross racer using flat bars but the majority opt for drop bars.

I would also suggest a narrower saddle. In your typical 'cross race you are dismounting and mounting your bike 5 to 10 times. The narrower saddle makes it easier to do so.

But be careful. Cyclocross can be very addicting. Mid-June Withdrawal, when 'cross season is at least 3 months away, can be excruciatingly painful.
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Old 12-14-12, 08:45 PM   #20
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Those hybrid bikes have very good geometry for CX and are extremely durable, if heavy.

The stock shifters on that bike should already be indexing, and I'm not sure of what benefit it would be to switch bars, especially since the stem length and shifters would likely neet to be changed as well.
There's still time to get in a CX race or two, but this late in the season it would seem a waste of resources to do a lot of changes. I agree that clipless pedals make a huge difference for any kind of bike racing, and can be carried over to a better bike later on if you like the sport.

Tires and tire pressure can do a lot to suit a bike to the particular local terrain. It helps to get in as many practice laps as possible, both to learn the course and get the bike setup (incl. tire pressure). Most races allow doing practice laps during one of the other, earlier classes racing (even if you're not yet registered to race) which can help you decide if you want to enter a particular event.

Cyclocross is a blast because it's a relatively short, closed-course race, which means you get very familiar with the terrain as the race wears on.
After the manic first half lap, it settles into a fitness contest just like road or XC racing or even running.
Races are typically 30, 45 and 60 minutes for the beginner, B and A classes, with each lap being perhaps 5-8 minutes in length.

Last edited by dddd; 12-14-12 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 12-14-12, 11:50 PM   #21
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i know 1996 isn't quite vintage, but it was certainly the among the eldest of the bikes at all the races I a participated in.
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Old 12-15-12, 12:18 AM   #22
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What kind of Peugeot is that? A Europe only model, I'm sure not familiar with it. How did you get it?
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Old 12-15-12, 01:14 AM   #23
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Well, I can't say that I am into racing of any kind, but I did pick up this near mint Gary Fisher at the Dump this summer past...
I love that bike. We need a better dump here.
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Old 12-15-12, 01:41 AM   #24
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Here is my diamond back hybrid conversion. Pretty heavy but I raced it few times with no dramas.
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Old 12-15-12, 03:07 AM   #25
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In case you guys haven't seen this:

http://mtb2cx.com/
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