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Old 02-21-08, 10:34 AM   #1
howsteepisit
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Equipment Improvments over the years

Since I starting cycling in the early '70's, some equipment has really improved, and some seems to have changed more for marketing effect. The two things I notice that are the most improved are the mid range and low end component really work well now (anybody remember Huret Alivet and Simplex derailleurs Classic non-working components) and tires. Now people talk in terms of thousands of miles between flats. WE used to go hundreds. The most common clincher back then was the Michelin 50 with a live of about 1000 miles, but we all rode tubulars.

No old guy grousing, what do you find is better on bikes these days?
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Old 02-21-08, 10:40 AM   #2
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Clipless pedals and STI. I also agree about better components and tires.
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Old 02-21-08, 10:51 AM   #3
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How about sealed bearings?

I used to overhaul my hubs every month or two or immediately after any rainy ride. Now I go for at least a year or so on my sealed mechanism hubs and forever with my cartridge bearing hubs.
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Old 02-21-08, 10:52 AM   #4
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I just bought a new bike (encouraged by many on this thread - thanks all).

Steel main triangle, carbon on the ends, Ultegra throughout.

I still ride my lugged steel 1990 bike. It reminds me of my 1965 Dawes. That one did everything - as a schoolkid, I got into national championships in road, cyclocross, time trial (by coming 10th and last in the heats where the first 10 went national!) - and it also took me touring!.

To be honest, I prefer .... the one I'm on
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Old 02-21-08, 10:53 AM   #5
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Stronger rims, better spokes, disc brakes, better rim brake pads, teflon coated cables, hollow forged crank arms, sealed cartridge hub bearings..........................................
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Old 02-21-08, 10:55 AM   #6
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I agree about the clipless pedals. This is a huge improvement over having your feet strapped down with no possibility of quick release.

Other things that I really like that we didn't have in the 70's are:
more than 10 speeds.
STI shifters
Hyperglide cassettes so that shifts are quicker and more pleasant
Pinned and ramped chainrings, so that shifts are better
Better high pressure clincher tires
Better brakes and brake pads
Better cushioned handlebar tape.
Lighter bikes overall, my 73 Raleigh weighed 28 pounds.

I enjoyed biking then, but the new bikes are more fun to ride.
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Old 02-21-08, 10:56 AM   #7
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Cartridge bottom brackets were a big improvement in simplicity of maintenance over loose ball bearings. Many other changes came at the price of increased complexity.
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Old 02-21-08, 12:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
Cartridge bottom brackets were a big improvement in simplicity of maintenance over loose ball bearings. Many other changes came at the price of increased complexity.
Sealed bottom brackets- Sealed Bearings in headsets and wheels are One of the big improvements made to cycling today. Only problem is that they are not fit and forget- No adjustment possible so it is fit now and change Next???? year.

To be honest- Other than the quality of parts fitted and the weight of bikes now- I don't think a great deal has changed. They still have two wheels and are great fun to ride. The same as they were 17 years ago when I started riding.
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Old 02-21-08, 12:36 PM   #9
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Things I don't miss:

Fiddling with the fr. der. to avoid the chainring rub due to frame flex at the BB,

Taking pliers to a fr. der. to customize it for better shifting.

Repacking pedal bearings (Speedplay injector now),

Downhill corner fork deflection, esp. with panniers

Having to swap out handlebars and cranks on a larger frame because they all got shipped with same with same width HB and length cranks.

Things I miss:

Reasonably priced wool

And the fact that I can't quite fit my summerweight wool racing jersey.
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Old 02-21-08, 12:36 PM   #10
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Aluminum rims have gotten better. I had one on the front wheel of my white Peugeot in the early '70s. When it tacoed under normal braking, it was decades before I'd ride on aluminum again. But the current ones on my commuter bike have proven themselves to be durable.
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Old 02-21-08, 01:09 PM   #11
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Well STI shifters are a mixed bag. I like shifting up on the hoods. It is easier to shift routinely than fooling with down tube shifters. But STI shifers do have a limited life span of just over 20,000 miles. The old down tube shifters were virtually eternal.
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Old 02-21-08, 01:33 PM   #12
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From the commuting perspective, good drum and disk brakes, 7, 8, and 18 speed internal hubs, LED headlights and taillights, efficient hub generators, Nokian carbide studded tires for winter, Schwalbe Marathon Plus summer tires, sealed bearings, and technical fabrics for outerwear.

It's true that good commuter and utility bikes are a lot harder to find than in the 1960s (although much easier than they were in the 1990s.) However, compared to an old Raleigh, my Kettler is faster and easier up hills, brakes better in snow and rain, and has vastly better generator lighting. All of this is with no sacrifice in convenience or reliability/maintenance - you just jump on and go, just like in 1965.

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Old 02-21-08, 02:46 PM   #13
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Improved:
Tires
Rims
Cogs with ramps
Bushingless chains

Not improved because there is no need and thankfully still available:
36 spoke wheels
Brooks saddles
Square taper BB spindles

Changed, Not improved, but at least no worse:
Clipless pedals
More than 5 cogs on the rear wheel
Brifters

Changed, Not improved, not worse, but unbelievably ugly:
Threadless stems
Compact frame design
Fat frame tubes
Modern graphics

Changed for the worse:
Frames with tight clearances
Frames without eyelets for mounting things
Low spoke count wheels
Changing fashions in BB bearing design, BB spindle interface, headsets, etc. Not that the new designs are bad, just unnecessary and cluttering the marketplace with soon to be abandoned designs that will make finding replacements twenty years from now a pain in the neck.
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Old 02-21-08, 04:26 PM   #14
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Anyone remember when only truly high-end bicycles had cotterless cranks? Cotter pins were really a drag to deal with when removing or reinstalling a crankset. I used to hate bar-end shifters. They were very sluggish in my experience. Now they're much improved.
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Old 02-21-08, 05:34 PM   #15
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Much better today:
- clipless pedals (vs. toe clips)
- STI shifters
- real options in frame materials -- steel, aluminum, ti, CF
- overall bikes / components much lighter


Also, bikes are a good value, IMO. My first "serious" bike was purchased for $365 in early 1979. Adjusted for inflation, that's about $1,400 today. I think the $1400 you spend today gets you a lot more bike than what I got for $365 way back when.
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Old 02-21-08, 05:57 PM   #16
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I know people love their STI shifter/brake lever contraptions, but I don't think anyone has made a bicycle part that works better than a Suntour ratcheting friction bar end shifter.
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Old 02-21-08, 06:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
I know people love their STI shifter/brake lever contraptions, but I don't think anyone has made a bicycle part that works better than a Suntour ratcheting friction bar end shifter.
I love all of the choices that we have today.

I've got 9-speed Ultegra STI's on my tandem and Klein and I like them enough to have bought a pair to keep for spares.

My retro grouch bike was designed for high reliability and low maintenance. It's got Suntour ratcheting bar end shifters. Don't need any spares because they'll last for the rest of my life.
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Old 02-21-08, 06:57 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
I know people love their STI shifter/brake lever contraptions, but I don't think anyone has made a bicycle part that works better than a Suntour ratcheting friction bar end shifter.
A Suntour ratcheting friction down tube shifter maybe? But I will stick with STI except on my 30 year old bike.
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Old 02-21-08, 07:06 PM   #19
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I would say that the SRAM Double Action shifters are an improvement over STI. I never liked having the brake levers double as shifters.
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Old 02-21-08, 09:33 PM   #20
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Good bad or indifferent the one thing bikes don't have today is the weight! Said before, a pro racer of 10 years ago would just about kill for what you can get on a $1500 bike today.
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Old 02-21-08, 09:40 PM   #21
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Sealed bearings aren't all that new.
Designed our first custom tandem in 1977 with Phil Wood sealed hubs and sealed Phil touring pedals.
Still using barcon shifters on our tandem and yes, toeclips. Why? We like them as they are extremely low maintenance and efficient.
Choice of frame materials are the biggest improvement.
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Old 02-21-08, 11:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKahrl View Post
Improved:
Tires
Rims
Cogs with ramps
Bushingless chains

Not improved because there is no need and thankfully still available:
36 spoke wheels
Brooks saddles
Square taper BB spindles

Changed, Not improved, but at least no worse:
Clipless pedals
More than 5 cogs on the rear wheel
Brifters

Changed, Not improved, not worse, but unbelievably ugly:
Threadless stems
Compact frame design
Fat frame tubes
Modern graphics

Changed for the worse:
Frames with tight clearances
Frames without eyelets for mounting things
Low spoke count wheels
Changing fashions in BB bearing design, BB spindle interface, headsets, etc. Not that the new designs are bad, just unnecessary and cluttering the marketplace with soon to be abandoned designs that will make finding replacements twenty years from now a pain in the neck.
Spot-on. For anyone but a professional bicycle racer, low spoke count wheels are a big step backward. Indexed front shifting is an engineering blunder. I love the durability, reliability, and interchangeability of my friction shift systems and the comfortable ride of my steel framesets. Very few modern saddles are as comfortable or as durable as my Brooks Pro, which has lasted 50k miles / 80k km and counting.

Technology has improved most markedly in the rubber and composite parts: brake pads, cable housings, tires, innertubes, and pumps. I happily defer to modern components in these areas. Otherwise, I have no desire whatsoever to drop over $1K on a new road bike -- my Bianchi does everything I need for club rides, and the Capo is fabulous on long rides.
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Old 02-22-08, 10:01 PM   #23
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One thing that has changed drastically is my ability to afford good stuff. My bike in the 70s was low-end enough that everything on my current bike is better, but almost everything on a really good bike of that era was better also.

HOWEVER, one thing I really like is index shifting, although I had a Huret front derailleur and a Simplex rear, and with friction shifting they both worked fine on my old 10-speed. (When I started touring I really wanted a third chainring for 15 speeds. Now I have 27 speeds. What a world!)
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Old 02-22-08, 10:19 PM   #24
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The acceptance of riding a helmet.

When I started riding for recreation during college on my first "10-speed" (as opposed to my earlier years of kid riding and delivering newspapers) no one wore a helmet. We were riding on rural roads with some car traffic but helmets just hadn't come along yet. Fortunately I managed to avoid a serious crash -- otherwise that could explain some of my goofiness.

I still have a pair of leather-palm Avocet gloves from those days, though, that have held up amazingly well.
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