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  1. #1
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Old or new best for clydes?

    Road bikes are generally available in what I'll (somewhat arbitrarily) break into two "categories:"

    "Vintage" bikes with steel or aluminum frames and 27" wheels
    "Modern" bikes with composite or carbon frames and 700c wheels

    Assuming equivalent cost for both (yes, I know it is a radical assumption, but accept it for the course of this discussion), please enlighten me as to the relative merits/demerits of each option.

    As I see it currently, advantages of the vintage bike include a potentially longer life for the frame, more relaxed frame geometry giving a softer ride and less-twitchy handling, more durable wheels (many of the vintage bikes had steel rims), generally higher spoke-count wheels, less dish to the rear wheel meaning potentially fewer broken spokes, and possibly a leather (Brooks) saddle as standard equipment.

    Disadvantages of the vintage bike include heavier weight, hard-to-find replacement parts, less sophisticated and durable parts quality (unless you get SunTour), and less effective, center-pull brakes.

    Advantatges of modern bikes include generally lighter weight, more durable parts, less expensive parts, easy-to-find parts, excellent brakes, and readily-available replacement wheels, tires and tubes.

    Disadvantages of modern bikes include unknown reliability for some carbon parts, more upright and twitchier-handling geometry, more fragile wheels, and less flexibility for fit because of threadless stems.

    Please comment on these perceptions. I am probably wrong on some things. Finally, since I buy yard-sale bikes, prices are NOT significantly different between vintage & modern bikes. Thanks for your insights!

  2. #2
    Perma-Clyde (51)'s Avatar
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    I am riding a "new" aluminum frame( 2004). I have little idea what the other components are made of. The bike has undergone over one year and 4,000 miles under my 300+ass; it still goes. 'Nuff said. My ride is a Trek 7200-Not a road bike, but those are the only miles I dare to log.
    http://www.trailerparkboys.org/forum...fault/beer.gif In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. -Ben Franklin

  3. #3
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Well, I ride vintage, myself, but then again, it's because I like the simplicity of friction shift, and the relaxed geometry. I love lugged steel frames because I look at them as useful art! Best advice I can give is define what you want out of a bike and go from there.

    By the way, (51), the 7200 is a nice bike!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

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  4. #4
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    I'm not sure your assumptions about the two types of bikes are correct. I range from about 215 to 270 (230 now at 6'4"), and I wouldn't have a bike with steel wheels. I don't know that they're meaningfully stronger, they're FAR heavier in the worst spot, rotating weight, and they won't stop when it's wet. I use good-quality alloy rims with 36 spokes, and almost never have wheel problems on either of my road bikes. You can also have "modern" wheels built with any spoke count you want--a friend of mine runs a 48-spoke rear on his tandem.
    700c wheels are theoretically stronger than equal 27-inchers because they're slightly smaller, but I don't know that you could demonstrate that on the road. A well-designed and well-made steel frame isn't a lot heavier than other materials (I'm only saying that because I have two steel bikes I love. Really, though, a pound or two is meaningless when you're talking about a 250-pound bike-and-rider package).
    Handling is a function of geometry, not age, and it's probably a mistake to assume all older bikes will be stodgy while all newer ones will be twitchy, or that "twitchy" is necessarily bad. Rename it "responsive" and you can sell it at a premium. Similarly, ride comfort depends a lot on tire size and pressure and you can change that on any bike. 27-inch tires are still readily available, and the tubes interchange with 700c.
    You can put a Brooks saddle on anything (I have three; one on a year-old Rambouillet). You don't have to replace most older parts with the original stuff--a lot of new components slide right in, if you need them (anytning French is an exception. I still have an old Peugeot, and I've been looking for cheap parts for it for five years. You can get expensive stuff, but the whole bike is only worth about $9.95.I don't want a Phil bottom bracket for it). I have a 2005 derailleur on my 1988 Trek, no problems.
    Center pull brakes with new pads and proper setup work fine--Rivendell is offering them in the catalog this year, because they allow room for fenders. There's nothing wrong with Suntour, either--I have a 20-year-old mountain bike that's been used very hard as my main MB, a mud bike and now a commuter, and it still has the original suntour driveline except the small chainring and the chain (shifters, the original six-speed indexers, still work perfectly).
    As for yard-sale bikes: Glad to hear it. I drive my wife nuts because I can't drive by a yard sale or thrift shop without checking for bikes.

  5. #5
    Perma-Clyde (51)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
    By the way, (51), the 7200 is a nice bike!
    Thanks! We have had quite a year together.
    http://www.trailerparkboys.org/forum...fault/beer.gif In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. -Ben Franklin

  6. #6
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (51)
    Thanks! We have had quite a year together.
    Well, it's treated you well! By the way, have you named your bike yet and does it have a male or female name?

    I tend to name my bikes....I guess it might be a tad odd, naming an inanimate thing, but it just helps me "connnect" to the bike, if ya know whay I mean.

    My main bike, for example, is the Schwinn Passage. I named it "The Wanderer"
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  7. #7
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    yes and no!

    I'll answer in the text!


    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Road bikes are generally available in what I'll (somewhat arbitrarily) break into two "categories:"

    "Vintage" bikes with steel or aluminum frames and 27" wheels..... theres others 650 B,700c to name two"Modern" bikes with composite or carbon frames and 700c wheels......same as above

    Assuming equivalent cost for both (yes, I know it is a radical assumption, but accept it for the course of this discussion), please enlighten me as to the relative merits/demerits of each option.

    As I see it currently, advantages of the vintage bike include a potentially longer life for the frame, more relaxed frame geometry giving a softer ride and less-twitchy handling, more durable wheels (many of the vintage bikes had steel rims), generally higher spoke-count wheels, less dish to the rear wheel meaning potentially fewer broken spokes, and possibly a leather (Brooks) saddle as standard equipment.......
    .......steel has better fatigue life but it can rust if neglected but aluminum can corrode and Carbon can snap, Titanium is expensive and needs to be designed with larger tubing which crowds the frame for using wider tires in conventional designs.

    Disadvantages of the vintage bike include heavier weight, hard-to-find replacement parts, less sophisticated and durable parts quality (unless you get SunTour), and less effective, center-pull brakes........Some vintage steel bikes are around 20 pounds and new bikes with newer, more advanced tubing are lighter yet. Centerpull brakes are pefectly fine with the newer thicker cables and better rubber compounds in the pads.Advantatges of modern bikes include generally lighter weight, more durable parts, less expensive parts, easy-to-find parts, excellent brakes, and readily-available replacement wheels, tires and tubes..................On the contrary, my last vintage bike cost me $50 and after powdercoating and new cables I have less than $300 total. You can still find any part for any lightweight vintage derailleur bike, you just have to look.Disadvantages of modern bikes include unknown reliability for some carbon parts, more upright and twitchier-handling geometry, more fragile wheels, and less flexibility for fit because of threadless stems.........True on the carbon but its slowly improving, steel has been in development for over 1000 years. Fragile wheels do exist because riders obsess about weight too much. The use of threadless stems and too short, factory cut steer tubes make it harder to get the bars high enough.

    Please comment on these perceptions. I am probably wrong on some things. Finally, since I buy yard-sale bikes, prices are NOT significantly different between vintage & modern bikes. Thanks for your insights!
    ........Thats the best way to buy a bike if you know what you are looking for.

    My bikes: http://www.myspace.com/eccentriccyclistcharlie

  8. #8
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    Tom - naming bikes is the way to go! I affectionately call my Specialized Hardrock "Beast" - it has certainly earned that title. I'm expecting lots and lots of miles with that one.

    My new bike, a Trek 7.3FX I've also named. THis one very appropriately "Zing". That bike.. wow. It's definitely "responsive" and just a blast. Although I've only ridden it on the demo rides.. snow and ice don't mix with the road slicks.

    However, I will say, there is an elegance to vintage. My Dad has an old Schwinn LeTour that is just a wonderful lugged steel ride. Smooth, fast, and just downright cool. I'm hoping some day to inherit it, although I doubt I'd ever ride it. It's just too cool.

    For me, it's all about the ride. I ignore makes, models, and years but focus on the ride. When I have fun, that's what matters. Be it on my new Trek or a old Paramount, I just go for the ride and forget the rest. It's mechanical, it will fail weather it's a new Ultegra'd carbon fiber flea fart under a 120lb french dude, or a old lugged steel beast under my butt.

  9. #9
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    THANKS to all for the thoughtful replies. My (unique) situation is as follows:

    I can buy a NOS 70's bike (several makes & models) still in the box for $165 from a local dealer who has them in his warehouse. The frames are NOT double-butted tubing, but ARE fairly light, lugged, straight-ga. steel.

    However, in my parts box, I already have the components of a new bike (other than the frame). My parts box also includes a true set of 700c-sized, 32-spoke, Dura-Ace wheels. Having evaluated e-Bay, I see frames in my size typically go for $100 to $150.

    Including the misc. sundries that I'll have to add to build a "contemporary" bike, (and valuing my labor at zero), the two options become roughly equivalent.

    I could just wait & eventually find a road bike, in my size, at a yard sale, but it may take several years. Optionally, I can drop $150 to $165 now & end up with a new or the equivalent of a new road bike now.

    I'm very tempted by the nice lugs on the old steel frames, but I hate to waste those Dura-Ace wheels! What say ye?

  10. #10
    Bike Tinker
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    The '70s bike you can buy... is it a frameset, or the whole bike?
    You could buy the bike and build it up with your contemporary parts package, including the D/A wheelset. Coldsetting the steel frame shouldn't be too hard.

  11. #11
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philipw
    The '70s bike you can buy... is it a frameset, or the whole bike?
    You could buy the bike and build it up with your contemporary parts package, including the D/A wheelset. Coldsetting the steel frame shouldn't be too hard.
    True enough!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  12. #12
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    The 70's bikes are all complete Raleighs and Japanese (C-Itoh, etc.) new and in the box. The rubber parts are probably dry-rotted, but other than that, they're new.

  13. #13
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    The 70's bikes are all complete Raleighs and Japanese (C-Itoh, etc.) new and in the box. The rubber parts are probably dry-rotted, but other than that, they're new.
    Frankly, that's the route I'd go then. That's just me though!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  14. #14
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    ^^^^

    In full agreement. Wow, what a find!

  15. #15
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    70's huh?

    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    The 70's bikes are all complete Raleighs and Japanese (C-Itoh, etc.) new and in the box. The rubber parts are probably dry-rotted, but other than that, they're new.
    I might be interested in one of those Raleigh bikes. On my web page I show a photo of a Centurion I purchased for $50. I bought it for the frame but the wheels and some other parts where very servicable, so I'm riding 27x11/4" for now until I respoke the hubs with a 700c rim at which time I will buy a better crank etc. The frame is Champion #5 straight guage about 1.2mm thick which is perfect for me since I am 260 pounds. Its a stiff frame with a longer wheelbase which makes for a sweet ride. Some of those lower end lugged bikes out of Japan in the 70's were very nicely made frames. Don't get hung up on the straight guage tubing either. I'd rather have thicker steel since it will take longer for it to rust through (probably not in my lifetime) unlike some of the super thin in the middle double butted tubesets. Plus it won't dent
    as easily either. Its only a pound difference at the most and if you are not a skinny pro rider you'll never notice. Good wheels are very important as is a proper fit. If you are not young and flexible get a frame slighty larger than you would be advised to get on a modern bike. If you can barely stand over the top tube with maybe an inch at max, clearance,while wearing your prefered riding shoes, you'll be fine.

    My old bikes: http://myspace.com/eccentriccyclistcharlie

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