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  1. #1
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    True Confessions

    I have a lot of bikes. And I have some spare frames and what-not laying around.

    I decided to put together a Vitus 979 frame I had laying around and sell it because I'm fixing up a small frame to give to a friend. That would give me the dough to fix the smaller size up the way I want it.

    Anyway, I put the Vitus together and it was pretty nice. I had a couple of bites on it but nothing panned out.

    Then I decided to take it on an easy ride just to make sure that everything was working up to snuff.

    Well everything did seem to work OK. But the ride kept getting faster. At one point we were going down a hill at about 30 mph or perhaps a bit more. Then there was this winding road with a fairly large amount of traffic upon which we were riding over bumps and cracks at 25 or better for a couple of miles.

    Then we hit a flat (actually slightly rising) piece and were heading back to the car from where we planned on hitting an Irish pub for lunch. I was going about 15 mph when that Vitus frame came unglued at the downtube and seattube and fell apart!

    I slid to a halt and looked at the frame and saw what the problem was. I have to tell you that when my pedals hit the ground it gave me a fright. But luckily I kept it up and came to a halt in one piece so to speak.

    My friends took off to get their car and I started walking along on the way. This spectacularly beautiful woman picked me up and gave me a ride down to their car and we arrived just as they were about to leave and pick me up.

    All's well that ends well. I thanked that young beauty and my friends and I went to lunch (yes I invited the Babe but she had places to go and things to do) and had a great time.

    I broke up the frame and it's presently in the recyclable trash can until next pickup date.

    What bothers me the most is that someone MIGHT have bought that and not been as lucky as I. What if the frame had come apart when I was over 30 mph on a tricky downhill?

    I'll be a whole lot more careful before I try to sell another bike I'll tell you that.

  2. #2
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    This is a good case against the cheapo way of putting together bikes. Of course, the knowlege of the buyer is the key componant. A cyclist who knows what he or she is doing can do it on the cheap and probably be OK.

    Glad you made it, Tom!

    Uh, did you get the number of your nightengale? I know a couple of guys who might be interested!

  3. #3
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Back in the early '70's, I had an aging VW Microbus (the one with the little windows up near the roof) that i wanted to sell. A young marine, fresh from Viet Nam, stopped by to take a look and brought his buddies, all of whom said he'd be crazy to buy this car -- it was pretty old and falling apart. But he HAD to have it, so a deal was reached.

    In those days, back in Ohio, the buyer and seller of a vehicle would go to the DMV together to transfer title and 'fess up the sales price to determine tax, and such. We completed the transaction and he agreed to give me a lift back to my place afterwards.

    On the way back, on the Detroit Avenue Bridge, in the middle of rush hour, the VW quit running. I forget now what was the problem, but it was NOT going to start and he had owned the vehicle for maybe twenty minutes.

    Although I sold it to him 'as is' I was as dumbfounded and disappointed as he that the car had broken down, and we quickly reached another agreement that I would pay half of whatever it took to repair it. Which I did.

    I guess, looking back, I am glad I was still with him when the goods went south. I can only imagine he and his buddies looking me up after selling him a lemon!

    All that said, I have no point to this story, except that yours reminded me of mine. I'm glad you were there when it broke down, and some 'innocent' buyer didn't suffer. Maybe that's my point.

    Maybe I should just get out and ride.
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  4. #4
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Am I right in recalling that those Vitus frame were death traps? But if I could get your results, I might order a few dozen.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    Am I right in recalling that those Vitus frame were death traps? But if I could get your results, I might order a few dozen.
    No you're not. I've built up about a dozen Vitus 979's over the years but never one this large and never one with a 27.2 mm seat post size. I don't know when and where this particular frame was made but it obviously wasn't put together correctly in the first place.

    Also, remember that the Vitus 992 with multishaped tubes was used by the Lotto team at Paris Roubaix without (mentioned) failures.

    I had one of those Lotto team bikes for quite a few years and it was always completely reliable.

    Sean Kelly raced on the Vitus 979 for several years and if the strongest rider in the world at the time couldn't break them why would anyone else complain.

    I HAVE heard that they do occasionally come unglued as mine did but usually not in two joints at once.

    My suspicion is that the seat tube was unglued to begin with because when I was tearing it apart I couldn't see any glue at that joint.

  6. #6
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    An angel was looking out for you, cyclintom... Glad you're still with us!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    Although I sold it to him 'as is' I was as dumbfounded and disappointed as he that the car had broken down, and we quickly reached another agreement that I would pay half of whatever it took to repair it. Which I did.
    I sold an old Ford Van to a guy back in the early 70's, and he got about 50 yards down the road when it blew up and burned to the ground! And what's weird is the van had never had anyprioblems, it was just old and tired, and I just needed to get rid of it. Of course I gave him the money back, and we actually started laughing when we realized the gravity of ouyr lunacy!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    On the way back, on the Detroit Avenue Bridge, in the middle of rush hour, the VW quit running. I forget now what was the problem, but it was NOT going to start and he had owned the vehicle for maybe twenty minutes.
    I'm thinking the #3 exhaust valve head might have found it's way into the cylinder. Those things were fond of doing that.

  9. #9
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Really glad you were not injured.....that could have been very serious. I like the part of the story about the ride back to the car the best though.....

  10. #10
    Freewheel Medic pastorbobnlnh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Paulie
    I sold an old Ford Van to a guy back in the early 70's, and he got about 50 yards down the road when it blew up and burned to the ground! And what's weird is the van had never had anyprioblems, it was just old and tired, and I just needed to get rid of it. Of course I gave him the money back, and we actually started laughing when we realized the gravity of ouyr lunacy!
    BP,

    This really brings new meaning to the old expression;
    Found On Road Dead!

    Tom, what is Vitus 979 made from? PVC pipe? When you speak of "glue" I always think plastic. Glad you are OK and had no mishap. If Gary Diego had been with you, certainly the "Babe" would have follollowed you to the pub.
    Bob
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    I'm thinking the #3 exhaust valve head might have found it's way into the cylinder. Those things were fond of doing that.
    Yup. Good old number three. I had a '71 Superbug that I bought new. It was supposed to be an economy car - but I can tell you that, unless you were able to do your own enigne work, it was a money drain. Fun little car most of the time (I put 240,000 miles on mine while living/going to school in Ann Arbor), but you could count on either an engine job or a failure just about every 80k or so - and #3 seemed always to be the culprit.

    The heater cable always used to rust in the j boxe and render the heater (and defroster (no blower on thsoe) useless. I set out on more than one cold Michigan morning blowing holes in the window frost with my breath so I could see where I was going - at least the glass was close to your face - talk about unsafe, wow!

    In those days, everyone complained about fit and finish and reliability of American cars. I traded the VW for a 76 Dodge Dart (Spirt of 76 decals, LOL - saved me from more than one speeding ticket in those 'don't trust the government' days). That car with its four on the floor and slant six engine was a hundred times better in just about every respect than that little bug - and didn't cost anymore, either.

    Live and learn.

    Caruso

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    Back in the early '70's, I had an aging VW Microbus (the one with the little windows up near the roof) that i wanted to sell. A young marine, fresh from Viet Nam, stopped by to take a look and brought his buddies, all of whom said he'd be crazy to buy this car -- it was pretty old and falling apart. But he HAD to have it, so a deal was reached.
    The ones with the little windows near the roof--probably sunroof--were called DeLuxe (I think that's how VW spelled it). Anyways, if you still had it, you could sell it and buy just about any bicycle or three your little heart desired. They now fetch upwards to $20,000 depending on year and exact model and condition.

    Caruso mentioned 80,000 miles between engines--in Texas, in the heat, I always told customers 70K. But in the 60's and early 70's that really wasn't too bad. If you remember, American cars in those days were only good for 70k--100k before you at least ground the valves-- which cost just as much as a VW overhaul, and a complete rebuild--often around 100k--cost a whole bunch more than a VW to overhaul. In those days Kelly and the AAA figured that the average mileage was somewhere around 8k/yr and any car that averaged more than 10k a year was considered a high mileage car. Now my daughter's '05 Scion has 48k.

    Brings back memories--I was there--I started my mechanic's career in '69 and owned a VW shop by the mid '70s.
    "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
    George Bernard Shaw

  13. #13
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    tom: I had an Alan lugged and glued aluminum frame for about 10 years when the lugs all started to crack. Luckily I noticed before I had a similar incidient. I was down at Excel Sports in Boulder a while back and one of the sales dudes rode up on a Vitus. I mentioned the Alan thing and he said watch this. He stood up on the pedlas and the seat tube separated from the BB. He kicked back into place and said, "Guess I better get a new frame before this one disintegrates." FWIW I wanted to keep the Alan for sentimental purposes but found that it would have cost a fortune to have the lugs replaced.

  14. #14
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by old99
    The ones with the little windows near the roof--probably sunroof--were called DeLuxe (I think that's how VW spelled it). Anyways, if you still had it, you could sell it and buy just about any bicycle or three your little heart desired. They now fetch upwards to $20,000 depending on year and exact model and condition.

    Caruso mentioned 80,000 miles between engines--in Texas, in the heat, I always told customers 70K. But in the 60's and early 70's that really wasn't too bad. If you remember, American cars in those days were only good for 70k--100k before you at least ground the valves-- which cost just as much as a VW overhaul, and a complete rebuild--often around 100k--cost a whole bunch more than a VW to overhaul. In those days Kelly and the AAA figured that the average mileage was somewhere around 8k/yr and any car that averaged more than 10k a year was considered a high mileage car. Now my daughter's '05 Scion has 48k.

    Brings back memories--I was there--I started my mechanic's career in '69 and owned a VW shop by the mid '70s.
    It's amazing the see the increase in the longevity and durability of vehicles. It used to be they'd be trashed after 100k. Now I'm buying them when they already have 100k on them. My van has 422k and just keeps on gettin on down the road.

  15. #15
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carusoswi
    The heater cable always used to rust in the j boxe and render the heater (and defroster (no blower on thsoe) useless.
    Heat in a VW Beetle? Whats dat? Didn't make any difference if the heater cable was good or bad on my 64 Beetle, my first new car; paid $1,710. The only heat was what I worked up exercising that goofy heater knob on the floor; must have taken at least 10 turns to deliver no heat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carusoswi
    In those days, everyone complained about fit and finish and reliability of American cars. I traded the VW for a 76 Dodge Dart (Spirt of 76 decals, LOL - saved me from more than one speeding ticket in those 'don't trust the government' days). That car with its four on the floor and slant six engine was a hundred times better in just about every respect than that little bug
    I've got a soft spot in my heart for the 76 Plymouth Volare with a Slant Six I bought new for $3,200. The only option on it was the 4 speed and an FM radio. Though Volares had a zillion recalls I never had any problems and that Hurst Shifter that came standard with the 4 speed was an elegantly designed stick. Came right to hand and then my hand could easily slip onto the leg of whomever (pre marriage days) was sitting next to me on the bench seat.

  16. #16
    Yet another vegan biker
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    and never one with a 27.2 mm seat post size. I don't know when and where this particular frame was made but it obviously wasn't put together correctly in the first place.
    Yes. That is odd. Most have 25mm posts. Is there a chance it was a look alike by someone else?

    I've got a frame by Sakae that is quite similar to the Vitus but uses a 25.8 post.

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j7...eldt/sakae.jpg

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    Banned. Gary Diego's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh
    If Gary Diego had been with you, certainly the "Babe" would have follollowed you to the pub.
    What makes you think I wasn't, and that there was only one babe?
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh
    Tom, what is Vitus 979 made from? PVC pipe? When you speak of "glue" I always think plastic.
    In the late 70's and most of the 80's there were quite a few aluminum frames glued together. The Trek 1000-1500's for instance. Also the Alan (great cyclocross frames) and the most publicized and popular - the Vitus 979.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by silversmith
    Yes. That is odd. Most have 25mm posts. Is there a chance it was a look alike by someone else?

    I've got a frame by Sakae that is quite similar to the Vitus but uses a 25.8 post.

    http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j7...eldt/sakae.jpg
    It was a genuine Vitus:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
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    cyclintom, I'm happy to hear you escaped a possible disaster without a scratch. You should have bought a lottery ticket.


    Gulp, ...I am the owner of a bonded aluminum Trek 1500 that I still ride occasionally, I'd better get a rabbit's foot, a horseshoe and a four leaf clover before I ride that baby again.


    Ah yes...good old VW Beetle's. I had two, a '64 and a '71 both purchased new. The awful heater/defroster especially the '64--I remember pounding on the inside of the windshield trying to knock off the ice buildup. I've heard stories of guys actually putting a fist through the glass doing this.

    The wind sometimes would nearly blow the thing off the road, what a trip. Of course, being young and devil-may-care, those things were only a minor inconvenience. They were a lot of fun in spite of their shortcommings.

    Memories...

  21. #21
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    Concerning the Trek - they did fail at glue joints but almost always it was at the bottom bracket lug and it was easy to spot by looking for cracked paint at the joints. I never heard of a Trek coming completely apart - they would just get spongy and you'd look to see why. And the guys that broke them were ALL very strong riders.

    NOTE: Last night I was trying to re-use all of the components off of the Vitus and although I pulled that seatpost out of a 27.2 box I had apparently put a 25.0 seatpost into the box at some time in the past. So the Vitus had it's expected seatpost size after all.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    Concerning the Trek - they did fail at glue joints but almost always it was at the bottom bracket lug and it was easy to spot by looking for cracked paint at the joints. I never heard of a Trek coming completely apart - they would just get spongy and you'd look to see why. And the guys that broke them were ALL very strong riders.
    Thanks for the info. I've really never given it much thought until now. When these bikes first came out I was somewhat skeptical. Seeing so many happy owners sold me on this new bonding method used by NASA on their spacecraft. Also at that time there were 250lb. mountian bikers abusing Trek bonded MTB frames with no problems at the joints. At least that was the buzz around the club I was riding with at the time.

    I'll keep an eye on that BB joint.

  23. #23
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    AVA stems of death, Viscount forks of death, early Sugino and Campagnolo cranks -- there are lots of vintage parts I would not trust. I have broken plenty of bike parts (including three steel frames) in 100k miles / 160k km of cycling, but only one breakage, a crank at the pedal eye, resulted in (fortunately relatively minor) injury.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  24. #24
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    About a month before graduation from U.C. Santa Barbara. I was broke. My Pegasus had broken some spokes which sent the rear wheel into terminal taco shape. On the porch our apartment there was a Montgomery Ward 10 speed that belonged to my brother. He hated it and refused to ride it. And left it behind when he moved out of the apartment.

    I pumped up the tires, amazingly, they held air, and then I sprayed WD-40 liberally. It was an uncomfortable bike, but it could do the short commute to school. Problem solved.

    After a couple of weeks of riding, I noticed an odd sensation. Like the bike was getting soft and lower. I looked down and indeed, the down tube was separating from the head tube. If my brother had ridden the bike for two more weeks, he could have gotten a new one from our Dad!

    This soon-to-be graduate however had the problem of getting the bike to run for a couple more weeks. I got some baling wire and turn buckles and with careful work, managed to get the the bottom bracket tightened up to the head tube enough that the downtube was seated securely where it should be. I crossed my fingers, and sucess! It rode.

    That worked for several days till I came out of classes, to find that someone had taken the time and trouble to undo the safety wires I had made and undid the turnbuckles completely. What a nasty moron!

    I walked the bike home and tried to redo what I had done, but the frame had deteriorated a little and would no longer fit together again. The frame was no longer straight, but the rewiring held through graduation and for a couple of days more.

    I was pedaling to work, about half a block from it I felt the frame sag again. I walked it to work. Locked it up. Came out at lunch with an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver and took all the usable components off and threw the frame in the dumpster.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    AVA stems of death,
    A lot of people fell really hard when those AVA stems broke.
    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    Viscount forks of death
    Quite literally. There was at least one person killed and rumor quite a few more when that crappy cast aluminum fork would snap off at the headset.

    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    early Sugino and Campagnolo cranks
    At least you seldom fell when the cranks broke. And you learned that they usually broke at the pedal eye and looked for the telltail cracks.

    The C-Record cranks on the other hand had a logo cut into the arms and you'd be powering up a rise and it would SNAP! off as you climbed out of the saddle and throw you on the ground. So many of these cranks broke that Campy US started refusing to warranty them. That really was the source of the big shift over to DuraAce in the mid-90's.

    Bianchi frames to this day are known for breaking at the downtube/bottom bracket after 20,000 miles or so on the steel frames and quite a bit less on the AL frames. Those older steel bikes with the long slot rear dropouts with the large cutouts used to break all the time. I've even see two frames being repaired where both sides broke at exactly the same time.

    The long and the short of it is that bicycles are made as light as possible and hence MIGHT break at any time. You really should inspect your bike carefully and completely at least once a month and be sure to have the bike serviced by a reputable shop who will know the more isoteric failures to watch for.

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