fleamarket buys - what to look for?
I am looking to build my first single speed and am currently scouring markets and thrift stores for a frame that fits the bill. I guess that I want a nice old steel number and I know that getting a good fit's important but what sort of things spell quality and what are the telltale signs of a damaged or crappy frame?
Stay away from cheap steal and stamped dropouts.
I hear you on the dropouts... but what are the hallmarks of cheap steel?
Originally Posted by MKRG
look for the little reynolds decals!
Retrogrouch in Training
There's lots of quality steel out there. Looks for tubing decals that don't bear the bike manufacturer's name. So if it's a Fuji, you're probably looking for a Tange sticker. A Fuji tubing sticker means that it's house brand and probably some generic hi-ten steel.
Reynolds, Columbus, Tange, and Ishiwata are good tubesets. There are probably others I'm not thinking of.
Look for turkey wing brake levers, that's a signal of a cheap bike boom bike as are shifters up on the stem.
For drivetrain stuff, older SunTour stuff is good, Shimano 105 and 600 are good on older bikes. 600 is now Ultegra and you may even find some stuff marked 600 Ultegra. Most Campagnolo groups are good, though there are some clunkers at the bottom of the range. It's just that Campy's range doesn't go as low as Shimano's.
Look at the finish on the lugs. Until the late-80s all frames were lugged. The mark of quality is typically smooth edges on the lugs and extensive lug shaping (such as bringing them to a long point).
Lookout for 27" wheels. Lots of older bikes in the US and UK were 27"ers and there's nothing wrong with it, but your choices of quality rims and tires are much fewer and harder to come by today.
Last edited by bostontrevor; 06-16-05 at 09:58 AM.
Spoked to Death
This thread is one about a guy making a 'cheat sheet' to give to his friend so his friend can help him look for 'good finds' in thrift stores. There is a lot of quibbling about tubing and stuff in there, but if you pay attention to the things that people are suggesting that a non-bike person look for in order to identify good bikes, you'll find some good hints.
Help me make a cheat sheet
For the purposes of fixed gear, make sure you have good horizontal dropouts (forged are best), and preferably a crank with a spider, instead of a 'spiderless' crank where the chainring is permanently swaged to the base of the crank. That way you can change chainring sizes in order to find the best gearing.
27" wheels aren't a big problem. Its true that there are fewer rim choices and tire choices, but there is enough to be ok. And if you ever want to put on 700C wheels, they are only a few millimeters smaller, and will usually work fine. Brake reach on the front brake is the only real concern, and usually the old back brake has a longer reach, and can be moved to the front.
Cool vintage paint jobs, chrome lugs, and leather saddles are all x-tra hip finds.
Originally Posted by phidauex
Cool, thanks for that guys, must have missed that thread.