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Old 09-24-10, 02:27 PM   #1
lhbernhardt
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Extravagances

Back in “the day,” when I first started racing, the best bike components you could get were made by Campagnolo, and the height of extravagance (legendary US racer Mike Neel’s term for describing Record brakes when he sold me my first PX-10) was equipping your bike with a set of Campag Record brakes. In the early 1970’s, these cost a whopping $90 or so. Ordinary brakes (comparable Weinmann or Universal sidepulls), by comparison, only cost $10-20, so there was quite a sizable price differential. Don’t forget that in those days, you could buy a complete Schwinn Paramount for $400-450. and a gallon of gas cost only $0.35.

So if you inflate everything indexed to that gallon of gas that now costs $3.50, a top-line racing bike should cost $4,000 to $4,500 (about right), an everyday set of brakes should cost between $100 and $200 (about right) and a set of Campag Record brakes, with levers, should cost $900, also about right (levers $600, brakes $300).

So being both poor and miserly, my bike at the time was equipped with Weinmann sidepulls. I figured that if I became good enough, I’d win or be given Campag equipment anyway. The extravagant components were earned by the top riders, or were purchased by old guys who could appreciate and afford the stuff, and once past a certain age, you could put what you wanted on your bike.

So I never became quite good enough to win the stuff, but I did have Record brakes (second-hand) given to me at some point. When I did masters races, I actually bought Ergopower levers and used them with whatever brakes I had. I now use Campag Chorus and Centaur brakes (and an old circa-80’s Record caliper), but I’m curious to know how others who are over 50 feel about upgrading to “extravagant-level” components. Is your bike equipped with current Record-level components? Why or why not? And if so, would you insist on only the best at this stage in your life? Or, if not, why are you happy with what you have?

Luis
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Old 09-24-10, 02:43 PM   #2
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Interesting question. I'm currently running mostly Ultegra gear, but Dura Ace on two bikes. I am, however, seriously considering what to put on the Indy Fab Ti when it finally arrives. I could probably swing Campy Record, but would have a lot of explaining to do. And, the thought has occurred to me that running Shimano on the Colnago Master XL I just picked up is somehow wrong. So, there's a whole bunch of stuff wrapped up in my thinking. Performance, looks, tradition, etc. all factor in. I do remember working long extra hours in my 20 putting Schwinns together so I could afford Campy equipment even at the shops price. I don't know if it's still true, but it was nice that Campy stuff could be rebuilt.
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Old 09-24-10, 02:54 PM   #3
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When you buy this :

http://www.bikerumor.com/2010/09/15/...day-seriously/
http://www.kirkleebicycles.com/2010/...-lightweights/
for your eight year old your marbles are all over the floor.

Last edited by plodderslusk; 09-24-10 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 09-24-10, 02:57 PM   #4
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My extravagances are German, my shopping bike is a Koga WTR I got used .
put a Schmidt hub generator in the front wheel to go with the Rohloff Hub in the back

It came with Magura's hydraulic rim brakes... quite the solid bit of gear..

My touring bike got Campag's Mountain bike derailleurs bought in the 80's
before they resigned from the MTB segment entirely

Brompton Folding Bike Is quite a nice machine, futzed with it a bit ,
installed a Planetary 2 speed crank, Swiss machine shop makes them(so not cheap)
so there is a low range to use the AW3 speed again in the Hills.
Brompton and Koga-Rohloff now have equal low gear ratios , about 17"
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Old 09-24-10, 03:27 PM   #5
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You know, I can't remember if the brakes that came on my first nice bike (a french made Sutter) were Weinmanns or what. Maybe Dia-Compes. They were center pull.

I changed out every component on that bike over time, I had it for close to 25 years and put a lot of miles on it. I did get a deal on a Campy RD and FD and shifters. Changed the brake levers to Shimano 105 when the concealed cables came out. Saddles, handlebars, paint, everything.

But I never even considered changing the brakes. Just didn't use 'em enough. When I did they worked. Didn't make the bike go any faster so I ignored 'em.


<This is probably not true. Upon reflection I guess I did change the brake calipers at the time I changed the levers to Shimano. Memory is an unreliable ally at best. Nevertheless brakes are not the most important components on a road bike. Utility bikes, Oh Yeah. >


My next bike was a lugged steel Bianchi eqipped with 8 speed Veloce (the entry level or maybe just slightly above) and it was my entry into "modern" bike components. I finally wore out the drive train on the steel Bianchi and if I wasn't having serious frame issues (rust at the seat/top tube lug) I might have put Chorus 10 speed on it. Instead I bought a wonderful plastic frame Bianchi 928 with 10 speed Veloce. Best riding bike I've ever owned but certainly nothing exotic or over-the-top.

If I can wear out the Veloce on the 928 it will be replaced with Chorus or Athena. Unless some one gave me (or I found some incredible deal on) Record or Super Record I wouldn't buy it. I don't think my abilities at my ripe old age would do it justice nor is my bike "taste" advanced enough to appreciate the "extra" that the top of the line promises.

I would like the extra Fred points Record or D-A would bring.

Last edited by ahsposo; 09-24-10 at 10:26 PM. Reason: memory is such a fickle teacher.
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Old 09-24-10, 10:11 PM   #6
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In my 20s and 30s, I lusted after Campy equipment but it was too expensive. And it seemed like you had to buy a frame and then build it up which seemed to be even more $$$. I ended up with Sun Tours brakes and derailleurs. Then Shimano started to offer better components on stock bikes.

I ended up going Shimano mainly due to buying it initially on a complete bike and then buying extra wheels. Now I have so much Shimano stuff a change to Campy would be very expensive. I use D/A and I have SRAM Red on my wife's bike. On my track bike, I use Sugino 75 cranks and Nitto bars. Other than wheels, there is not much else.
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Old 09-25-10, 08:31 AM   #7
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Seemed kind of extravagant when I put a two-hundred-buck Velocity Thracian wheel on the front of my commuter recumbent - it's a nice wheel. The X-9 trigger shifters on the same bike are top-of-the-mid-range for SRAM but they sure do the job nicely - plus they were on sale so not nearly extravagant.
The Avid BB7 brakes I recently put on my other 'bent didn't cost nearly enough but are the standard for mechanical disc brakes.
Campy? I did use some Campy cable housing clamps on a bike several decades ago and still have a Campy chainring fixing bolt wrench in my tool box.
Just not an extravagant guy, I guess.
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Old 09-25-10, 10:01 AM   #8
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I typically buy the best I can afford. So if my wallet was fatter it's not likely to change. Whatever floats yer boat. You do work hard for the $$$ don't you? As long as other parts of your life don't suffer (kids,mortgage,ect...) what's it matter?
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Old 09-25-10, 01:55 PM   #9
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I typically buy the best I can afford. So if my wallet was fatter it's not likely to change. Whatever floats yer boat. You do work hard for the $$$ don't you? As long as other parts of your life don't suffer (kids,mortgage,ect...) what's it matter?
I'm a relative newbie with a question. So, using your post as an intro I've a question: What makes a piece of bike kit "the best"?
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Old 09-25-10, 02:14 PM   #10
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I can't really answer that.A very subjective question. i can offer this. Ask around,see what others use. Generally a reputation is earned by producing consistently good products. Names like Phil Wood,Campy and the like are still around after all these years for a reason. And then there's others who went away but still made good stuff...............Suntour comes to mind.
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Old 09-25-10, 02:26 PM   #11
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I'm a relative newbie with a question. So, using your post as an intro I've a question: What makes a piece of bike kit "the best"?
Best Bike kit? Quality- price or reputation. Take your pick.

There are parts that are good enough and parts that would do the job better. Then there are parts that May do the job better than the parts that will do the job better, but are better made- made of better materials but cost a LOT more.


I have always tried to get the best I can afford and I think it has been worth it. But there is a limit to what I will pay for an item. Internet shopping comes in very handy and If I can save a fortune by shopping around I will. But there have been occasions where I could have got by with less. Exception is the tandem where only the right product will do- but that does not always mean buying the best by reputaion or where it sits in the range of a manufacturers products. Normally does but not always.

Road bikes and I have a couple of good ones but I don't think they are extravagant. For my type of riding they are definitely at the higher end of the range- I could get by with less- but why should I?

But I do have one extravagance. Any good quality clothing. The Assos Long sleeve winter jersey- The Higher end Bib shorts- The Goretex jacket. All are worth it in comfort and fit and have proved so over many years. The Goretex for example is 15 years old. The Bib Shorts are at least 3 and so is the Assos Jacket-------But extravagant- not really- just a Pair of eyes that will hunt out the bargains in a way that means I paid less for these quality items than most will for normal quality stuff.

I may be a cheapskate but I don't always look it.
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Old 09-25-10, 02:28 PM   #12
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Yes quality and value can go hand in hand. Just takes some effort to accomplish.
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Old 09-25-10, 03:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
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..., the best bike components you could get were made by Campagnolo, and the height of extravagance (legendary US racer Mike Neel’s term for describing Record brakes when he sold me my first PX-10) was equipping your bike with a set of Campag Record brakes. In the early 1970’s, these cost a whopping $90 or so. Ordinary brakes (comparable Weinmann or Universal sidepulls), by comparison, only cost $10-20, so there was quite a sizable price differential. ...
Yeah, I remember those days, too; my first decent bike was a PX-10 also, except with the Super 68 brakes. I don't think the design of the brakes was all that bad since they were short reach and the arms looked beefy enough, but the OE pad material was just inferior IMO. True, Tullio did say brakes were not meant to stop, but merely modulate speed during a race... Be that as it may, I finally couldn't stand it and ponied up for a set of Galli sidepulls, which are probably marginally better than what they replaced, KoolStop pads notwithstanding. Yeah, the NR brakes were "the bomb" back then.

Current "nicest" bike has a Chorus gruppo; I chose it because it was the pricepoint-to-weight/function level that seemed right for my needs. Anything more would be a waste of perfectly good equipment. Ironically, the bike that I'm currently riding is a period correct bike from the late '70s, and I think it puts a bigger grin on my face than my more modern rides.
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Old 09-25-10, 03:16 PM   #14
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My first bike - a mid level Motobecane had Weinmann brakes too. I used to dream about a Campy bike with a Brooks saddle. I kept that bike in the garage for years, started running and got interested in tri's, dusted off the bike, and used it for a few. Years later, I got involved with cycling and went to the extreme - Cervelo, D/A, Zipp wheels, etc. But I can afford it with my children through college and married.
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Old 09-25-10, 03:19 PM   #15
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Strictly mid level stuff here, (except for 2 Rohloffs.), but I'm not a performance rider so I hardly need top end gear.
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Old 09-25-10, 03:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Latitude65 View Post
I'm a relative newbie with a question. So, using your post as an intro I've a question: What makes a piece of bike kit "the best"?
Useful rule of thumb when it comes to cycling equipment:
Affordable, dependable and light. Choose any two.
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Old 09-25-10, 03:25 PM   #17
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Useful rule of thumb when it comes to cycling equipment:
Affordable, dependable and light. Choose any two.
I don't think "affordable" is a variable unless best is cheapest. Durability, function, finish/quality and looks define best, "affordability," nah. That said, I like to buy old stuff or 105 because the difference in function between 105 and the "best" is inconsequential but that does not make 105 the best, just affordable.
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Old 09-25-10, 03:46 PM   #18
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Oh man, do I remember those days. Don't forget, "Richard's Bicycle Book", by Richard Ballantine, with a cover price of $1.95. I've still got mine.

As I mentioned in another thread, I'm a headlight weenie. I just "upgraded", if that is the correct word, from a Planet Bike blaze, to a Busch and Muller Ixon IQ. Yep, expensive, but I'm riding well into the evening now, and I consider it money well spent. Not that the Blaze was a bad light at all, but this just has,,,, More Power! Best feature: It's regulated, so it doesn't get dimmer as the batteries run down. All self-contained, no battery bag. I can't explain it logically, but battery bags drive me nuts.


Quote:
plodderslusk

When you buy this :

http://www.bikerumor.com/2010/09/15/...day-seriously/
http://www.kirkleebicycles.com/2010/...-lightweights/
for your eight year old your marbles are all over the floor.
Holy u-know-what!

Looking at those, I'm amazed that in the area where I grew up, in the early 60's. you were lucky and damn glad to get a hand-me-down bicycle from an older friend or relative.
That one kid, the one with the Schwinn Lemon Peeler, was the envy of everyone.
Sorry, had to digress a little there.
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Old 09-25-10, 04:30 PM   #19
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I've never been at an income level to be able to play in the Record, Dura Ace, Red, XX or XTR arena, other than an odd part or two here and there. My extravagance comfort level is more Ultegra, Chorus, Force, X.0 or XT. Most of my bikes are not at that level, but when I can find a way, I try to get my best bikes up to that level. That is where I feel that I am treating myself well and can be sure that my equipment is not limiting my performance or enjoyment of cycling. Higher than that and I would feel that I was denying my family what they deserve.
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Old 09-25-10, 04:45 PM   #20
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Nice toys are expensive. Get used to it. I watch E-Bay for deals on chains, cassettes & other expendables. I do my own installation and maintenance, so more savings there. Still, it adds up, but that's the way it is. Considering the health benefits, it's actually very reasonable. bk
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Old 09-25-10, 06:35 PM   #21
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I'm 51,single and no kids. Chosen lifestyle. Selfish if you like. I have an $800 fishing rod. It's all a matter of choices. My next bike will be the one of a lifetime. Saving up now.
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Old 09-25-10, 07:00 PM   #22
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Luis, Suntour and DiaCompe among some others made great groups 'back in the day', but Campy was always number one. A Campy equipped bike is what most people I knew, including myself wanted to have and have it as soon as we could afford it. Light, functional and aesthetically pleasing are descriptions that all apply to Campagnolo.

Low and behold in the 80s Shimano entered the fray, fully commited. Light, functional and aesthetically pleasing though in a non traditional way. I switched to Shimano because it's integrated shifters were more comfortable for me. Now SRAM has entered the road group market and I've no experiance with them. The competition has been good because no longer is the most expensive group required to have a great group, regardless of the bikes planned usage. That last sentence probably sums up my OT reply.

Brad

PS My main three road bikes are: 105 equipped, 600/Ultegra equipped and DA equipped.
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Old 09-25-10, 07:00 PM   #23
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Nice toys are expensive. Considering the health benefits, it's actually very reasonable. bk
I have friends that spend lots of dollars/month on health clubs, I at least have something to show for it.
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Old 09-25-10, 08:50 PM   #24
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I have friends that spend lots of dollars/month on health clubs, I at least have something to show for it.
If they actually use the clubs then they have their fitness to show for it.
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Old 09-26-10, 04:46 PM   #25
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People that don't know me that well will frequently comment/question on how "You're so thin! Which health club do you belong to?" They look at me with the standard deer-in-headlights look
when I tell them I don't belong to any, that I simply ride a bike. They either don't respond, or else they say "oh", and walk away quickly.

Don't know how things are on the left coast, but here in the Boston area, health club memberships can get expensive quickly. Often, there's a "deal" of some sort, to get you in the door for a few sessions, then it's time to hook you with a contract of some sort. I suppose if it keeps people reasonably healthy, it cannot be a bad thing. But, here is something to ponder:
Every winter, almost everyone I know who goes to a health club gets ill frequently. Lots of bugs
go around this area in the winter, and some of them are damn unpleasant. Health clubs seem to be petri dishes for this sort of thing. Am I wrong here?
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