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Old 09-13-13, 03:58 AM   #1
North Coast Joe
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The Return on Possible Upgrades - Opinions?

I'm hesitant to throw these questions out there, but I should really hear what those with an opinion have to say.

I have two bikes: a stock Trek MTB which is fender equipped and used during the seemingly endless months of bad weather. Great set-up with the studded tire option when necessary. No changes planned for that one, it does everything desired as it sits.

My fair weather bike is a rebuilt department store gas pipe three speed from the 60's-70's. Most of you have seen it, but I'll post another pic for those who want a point of reference for this post. I'm delighted with this bike's speed and smoothness, but it's still sure footed enough to deal with less than ideal road surfaces.



I have about $200 in the bike, including initial purchase and replacement/upgraded components. I really don't think I could have bought as nice a rider new for that money. I ride alone for exercise and sanity, though from what I've experienced this bike keeps up with the roadies I've encountered.

I'm thinking about some upgrades over the Winter like alloy rims. I see that two new rims and spokes are going to cost an additional $100 plus the sweat equity of building them. Is the performance of these commonly available Sun ISO 590 alloy rims going to be worth the expense and effort? I'm happy with the durability of the steel rims on the bike now, and question the return on the possible upgrade .

I'm also thinking about a Brooks B17, bag and bar tape for the cosmetics and personal indulgence. Probably another $200 when it's all said and done. That makes for a near $500 used department store bike.....lipstick on a pig? I love the way the bike rides, the ease of maintenance, and the looks, or I wouldn't consider the changes.

Thanks for your opinions!
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Old 09-13-13, 06:19 AM   #2
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If you are going to be building 700 wheels, then I think that is a good idea because my experience with the steel rims was not enough breaking power. Also if you get another bike later then you will have a good set of wheels that you built. Also if you find a bike with bad wheels you might get a good deal knowing that you have wheels for it.

If you get a b17 and like the saddle, then you have made a good decision but not so good if you hate the saddle.

The items that you are getting for up grades can be moved to a newer bike later so as far as lipstick on a pig, I don't think this applies. Also the items / upgrades have the potential of making your bike safer and more comfortable. It looks like a win win in every case to me.

Now go and get the upgrades and feel good about it and enjoy them.
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Old 09-13-13, 06:21 AM   #3
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Seems like that bike does all you want it to do and you seem pretty happy with it. Is there a performance reason for wanting to upgrade, other than your personal indulgence - which is a perfectly valid reason in itself?

Whatever choice you make will eventually be the right one. If you do go with the new bike option you'll still have the old one, which is never a bad thing. N + 1 is a scientific fact!
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Old 09-13-13, 06:48 AM   #4
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Alloy rims will do a world of good for your braking (especially if damp). Are those 700c rims though or are they 27's. There are some alloy replacement rims in the latter size range but not as good a choice as one might want. If the are 27's and you want to convert to 700c look at what changes you may have to make to your brake calipers in terms of reach.
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Old 09-13-13, 07:11 AM   #5
North Coast Joe
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Alloy rims will do a world of good for your braking (especially if damp). Are those 700c rims though or are they 27's.
Oh, uh, the steel rims are 26 x 1 3/8 and currently hold 35mm Michelin Touring tires. I'd like to stay with that size to avoid brake/frame problems. I'm very happy with the safe feeling the wheel/tire combo gives me on bad or gravel roads. I'm not-so-happy with the brakes in the rain or after rolling through a patch of dew covered grass, though I can live with it, while keeping the diminished braking in mind. Will I experience better performance and faster speeds with the alloys and the same effort? There is only one type of alloy rim made by Sun that I've found in that size.
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Old 09-13-13, 07:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Coast Joe View Post
The steel rims are 26 x 1 3/8 and currently hold 35mm Michelin Touring tires.
I own a Hercules 3-Speed, same exact wheel size, and I coverted it to alloy rims maybe 20 years ago. Your local bike shop can get Ukai alloy rims in 26 x 1-3/8 from QBP in MN for a reasonable price.

In addition to better braking (very true) I noticed faster acceleration and of course, lighter weight (there's a correlation there!).

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Old 09-13-13, 08:09 AM   #7
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I feel like you are talking to me. My hi-ten Miyata commuter is a delight, purchased for $187. I changed the rims to Sun m13 (27"), Brooks saddle, new tape, powergrips on the original pedals, hondo front fender, bottle holder and rear rack and bags. Otherwise it's stock. I expect it to go for another 40 years. This winter I'm might spurge for a new chain, yo-ho!

I ride it occasionally along side my spouse, 30m weekend rides. It really needs nothing else. Rims did make a difference, primarily because I wanted to use high pressure tires. Feels much more sure-footed now.

Hi-ten bikes get a bad rap. Some ride like budda. Frankly, I get more fun and utility out of this bike than the CF Roubaix sitting next to it.
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Old 09-13-13, 08:21 AM   #8
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I guess the bottom line question is: You can really feel the difference in acceleration/deceleration with the alloy rims after riding with steel? It's easy to believe the improved braking, esp. when wet, but harder for me to fathom much of a possible difference in effort considering a weight difference of a few scant ounces.
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Old 09-13-13, 08:23 AM   #9
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Rotating weight = the difference. You feel it accelerating, bike feels more lively overall.
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Old 09-13-13, 08:42 AM   #10
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Rotating weight = the difference. You feel it accelerating, bike feels more lively overall.
More believable now, thanks! They do rotate fast.

Since you and Rick@OCRR have had them on for a while, is replacement due to brake wear on the rim walls on the horizon for you? Is that a factor to consider?
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Old 09-13-13, 08:44 AM   #11
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I built a few sets of wheels over the Winter while recouping from my broken leg.
I have to admit that I feel a certain "smugness" riding my own wheels.
Prius owners have nothing on me!
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Old 09-13-13, 08:48 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by North Coast Joe View Post
More believable now, thanks! They do rotate fast.

Since you and Rick@OCRR have had them on for a while, is replacement due to brake wear on the rim walls on the horizon for you? Is that a factor to consider?
My only bike were rim replacement due to wear is on the horizon is one of my MTBs where I've ridden the brakes too hard on downhills. I should've mentioned, I use Koolstop pads on all my bikes; I like the added stopping power and they seem to be kind to rims.
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Old 09-13-13, 09:09 AM   #13
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Not surprisingly, the overall consensus here in Fifty+ is: Go for it, Boy!

I wonder if those over in Classic and Vintage would have the same approval for shotgunning money at a circa '60's Sears bicycle? Not a classic, but certainly vintage!
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Old 09-13-13, 10:50 AM   #14
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Consider N+1

the new TIG welded steel frames out of Taiwan are nice ,
and the lighter steel tube will be a felt improvement , resilience ..

over the mild steel tubing made with a thicker tube-wall.

then you can use newer components too ..

Quote:
I'm thinking about some upgrades over the Winter like alloy rims.
Keep the steel rims , replace the hubs , with Drum brakes* .. then the weather will not effect the braking..

rim brakes have to dry the water at the top, then they just get wet again at the bottom ..

and you can have your new second bike ready in the spring.


* I have drum braked wheels built 25+ years ago. no pad wear , they will outlast Me.

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Old 09-13-13, 09:47 PM   #15
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Return on possible upgrades. Who cares?

It looks to me like you have a classic beater bike rider that you have no interest in selling. As such, you might as well outfit it in whatever manner you think is cool. I, for example, particularly admire the wood fenders. If it was my bike, I'd definitely make the changes you have proposed. The return is measured in your personal satisfaction.
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Old 09-14-13, 03:18 AM   #16
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That's a nice looking gaspipe rig. Personally I'd find a chrome moly frame to put the money into but you've already got that one looking nice. Building and riding your own wheels is a satisfying endeavor as has been said.

Just a caution here:
My old strong 220 pound riding partner ripped the welded bottom bracket right out of his Huffy after having ridden a century on it and quite a few hundred miles. That's one reason I'd personally put the $$$ into a lugged frame if I were going vintage.....Speaking of vintage there's a gaspipe thread somewhere over in the C&V forum where you could show that one off.

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Old 09-14-13, 10:58 AM   #17
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I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on updating our 1997 TREK 820's. The LBS told me I was nuts (can't argue that LOL) but the paint was still good on them and we have a lot of history with them. We had both been previously married and when we started dating discovered we both liked biking. She had a Roadmaster "bicycle shaped object" from Wal Mart and I had a few month old TREK 820. I bought her an 820 for Valentine's Day and sold her Roadmaster for her to a guy at work. We took our honeymoon riding the Sparta-Elroy Trail in Wisconsin on the TREKs and went back later that year with her 2 boys. We racked up a lot of Rails To trails mileage with the boys on them so they had a lot of sentimental value. It would have been cheaper to buy new bikes but some things are far more valuable than money. If you like the bike and plan to keep it and ride it then spare no expense to keep that fire burning.
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Old 09-14-13, 12:58 PM   #18
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If you value your bike for what you can sell it for, don't even bother with lubing the chain. Chain lube has a poor ROI on an old bike, let alone new wheels, saddle and a bag.

If you value your bike for the pleasure it gives you, then by all means, do things that will improve your pleasure.

Remember, there is no ROI on things that depreciate in value. You cannot "invest" in anything on a bike. It does not appreciate in value. You can certainly spend money on it, but that's an expense, not an investment.
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Old 09-14-13, 03:08 PM   #19
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Still a big difference between sinking money into an Imron painted chrome moly 1997 Trek (as mentioned in another post) and a Gaspipe frame. If you build wheels for that one you could only swap them into similar setup. It looks like a nice clean functional ride just like it is that you wouldn't have to worry about theft as much with If you lock it up while parking it.

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Old 09-15-13, 08:47 AM   #20
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I would tend to lean toward the "lipstick on a pig" side, but if after taking a realistic look at what else you could do for a similar price you still want to upgrade your bike, go for it.
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