Hi there Bike Forums members!
I have recently fallen in love with cycling, and I'm hoping you can aid me in my quest to find a great vintage bike for a newbie.
A bit of my back story... I've always enjoyed riding a bike, but I only recently started riding longer distances, and I want to go much, much farther (I would love to do a century by the end of the summer). I just moved to NYC in May, and cycling has been a great way for me to explore in and around the city. I'm currently riding a great 1988 Trek 520 that I am borrowing from one of my roommates. This is the first road bike I have ever ridden, and I've fallen in love with this bike and its smooth ride. However, this bike is slightly too big for me and after about 25 miles my shoulders, back, and hands can't take much more. A friend who works in a bike shop did a fitting with me and adjusted the quill stem and seat as much as he could, but he agreed that the frame of the bike is slightly too big for someone my size. I'm a female who's 5'3" with longer legs and a shorter torso, and he measured the bike to be about 53cm/21in. I believe I need closer to a 48cm/19in frame from all the research I've done.
I've been looking on CL for a potential replacement bike for me (and I've been checking Bike Forums frequently to increase my knowledge about certain vintage bike brands and models), but I felt I should seek out your advice about what I should be looking for in a used bike.
Currently, most of my rides are around 20-30mi, but like I said earlier I eventually want to be able to ride centuries. Also, I am interested in exploring touring, so I would ideally like a bike that can carry panniers. I've been looking at vintage road bikes on CL, but I am unsure if I should be considering ladies style frames (step-through and mixte styles). A friend who has some experience in cycling told me that those styles of frames would not be able to hold up to touring - is this true? Should I be considering ladies frames or focusing on small sized mens frames?
My budget isn't very high. I could possibly splurge up to $400 for the perfect bike, but ideally I would spend closer $250. I don't mind investing some money into things like new tires, break pads, and a saddle over time rather than getting the ideal bike right now. One problem I am encountering is how expensive the NYC vintage bike market is compared to most other places. I'm in love with the Trek I'm riding - and would love to find one that is more compatible with my body size (I might go look at a 1981 Trek 610 with a Reynolds 531 frame on Monday that has an asking price of $260) - but do you recommend any other brands for someone just getting into long distance cycling/touring? I want something dependable and durable with good components that would be a great starter bike for a petite lady falling in love with cycling.
Any of your advice would be much appreciated!
P.S. Because I know the members here love photos, here's some pics of the Trek 520 and me.