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Thread: Chromoly frames

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    Chromoly frames

    Hello touring enthusiasts!

    I would like some advise on steel (Renolds 531)vs chro-molly tubing. I currently have a 1987 Trek 620 touring bike with many thousand miles logged doing mostly one and two day touring trips, recreational riding and training. I average 3,000 miles each year. The has a very sold steel (Reynolds 531) frame that has held up very well through the years. Except for recently replacing the rear derailleur because of damage in a crash, all other components and the wheels are original. I have enjoyed riding this bike over the years and plan on riding it in the up coming MS 150 Bike tour in Missouri.

    I have been considering upgrading but my budget is severely limited (Less than 600.)It certainly would be nice to have a newer bike with SDI shifter and better gearing; and to divide my mileage between two bikes. Recenty, I noticed a Windsor touring bike advertised on eBay for about $560. It has a chro-molly frame. Would like some advise about this type frame on a touring bike. Has anyone had experience with the Windsor or chro-molly tubing in particular? Is it as rigid and durable as steel? Is the ride as cushioning and comfortable as steel?

    Appreciate hearing from you all. Thanks.

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    -"renolds 531" is chro-moly double butted (db) tubing!

    -chro-moly db tubing is a good choice for touring bikes (in my view).

    -i, too, have considered getting a "windsor" bike (currently use a bikenash chro-moly db for tours). check out the feedbacks and reviews of this bike. sounds like you already have a decent rig to go with!

    have a good ms150 !,
    t

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    There was no 87 Trek 620. Sure you got it right?

    http://www.vintage-trek.com/TrekBrochures.htm
    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.....Milton Friedman

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    "Chro-moly" IS steel. It's a particular metallurgical alloy,with the numerical designation 4130. Reynolds 531 is NOT chro-moly. It is a proprietary alloy used by the Reynolds company, mostly in the 70's and 80's. I don't know the exact composition, but I've heard it was more of a manganese/steel mix (maybe with some molybdenum?). Actual chro-moly steel (or cromoly, or chrome-moly, etc) is a chrome/molybdenum alloy, hence the name. These are all steels of one kind or another. They all "ride like steel," whatever that means. I happen to think that frame material is a pretty minor consideration in how a frame rides. Any differences you notice will be due to frame geometry, wheels and tires. As for strength, they are all steel, and they are all good, strong steel alloys. Draw your own conclusions from that .

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    i say keep your current bike. lugged frames dont go "bad". upgrading to anouther steel bike isnt an upgrade, its simply a trade. get better parts for your current bike, get it repainted, whatever, thats a much smarter thing to do. new wheels, tires whatever...

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    For $600 you can bring your 620 up to modern spec. If the frame fits well and you really like it, a new frame likely won't be any better. For $600 you can rebuild your new frame with modern components and end up with a better bike than you'd get for $600 new.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho
    There was no 87 Trek 620. Sure you got it right?

    http://www.vintage-trek.com/TrekBrochures.htm
    Well, I was going on memory. Just dug up my purchase receipt and, to my surprise, I actually bought the bike on November 11, 1986. Thaks for jogging my memory.

    W

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    Appreciate all the replies. I do like my old 620. I especially like the way it fits and the way my broken-in Brooks Professional feels on century rides. Hey, halfspeed, I think it would be too cost prohibitive to upgrade to STIs and to convert from 15 speeds(which my 620 has) to, say, 24 or even 27 speeds.

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldSchool1
    Appreciate all the replies. I do like my old 620. I especially like the way it fits and the way my broken-in Brooks Professional feels on century rides. Hey, halfspeed, I think it would be too cost prohibitive to upgrade to STIs and to convert from 15 speeds(which my 620 has) to, say, 24 or even 27 speeds.
    It depends upon how much work you're willing and able to do yourself. My 620 became a 24 speed for about $600, and could have been done for less. Wheels and brifters are the biggest expense and you can save a lot of money by going to barcons instead of brifters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfspeed
    It depends upon how much work you're willing and able to do yourself. My 620 became a 24 speed for about $600, and could have been done for less. Wheels and brifters are the biggest expense and you can save a lot of money by going to barcons instead of brifters.
    That's my point, for about 600 I can pick up a brand new Windsor Tourist (maybe less if I can find a use one) which would have the modern shifting and 27 speeds - and I'd be able to prolong the life of my trusted 620. Right now, I put over 3k miles on my bike per year. I do have a three-year old Giant Cypress hybrid with about 700 miles on it. Not a fun bike to ride, in my estimation.

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    I always think of a bike as a frame, a wheelset and a bunch of other parts, nothing more. There isn't some crazy rule that keeps you from swapping parts form one bike to another, or keeping a box of spare parts around for when they are needed, or trading/selling parts for other parts, or giving parts away to a buddy in need.

    So you have an old Trek you love to ride-- that's a good thing. But you feel like you might want to upgrade or at least rebuild your trusty steed in the near future. Make a parts list and start looking at ebay for good deals. If you put in the time and effort, nice parts can be found for a reasonable price.

    I also believe in Bike Karma. I give away or sell cheap lots of parts to other cyclists. Although I might need these *extra* parts in the future, I seem to keep finding parts to fix my bikes.

    About that Winsor Touring bike-- if you have an extra $560, just buy it! Build it and ride it, because you can't go wrong. If you hate it, strip all the drivetrain parts off it and up them on your Trek, and make a single speed out of the Winsor. Or keep a spare frame/parts box for the future.

    So Relax. It's just bikes. There's nothing that can't be fixed.

    Feel free to PM if you have any technical questions--
    tacomee

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldSchool1
    That's my point, for about 600 I can pick up a brand new Windsor Tourist (maybe less if I can find a use one) which would have the modern shifting and 27 speeds - and I'd be able to prolong the life of my trusted 620. Right now, I put over 3k miles on my bike per year. I do have a three-year old Giant Cypress hybrid with about 700 miles on it. Not a fun bike to ride, in my estimation.
    But you already know that your 620 fits well and rides well. Do you know that about the Windsor?

    Furthermore, for $600 you'd get a better set of components for your 620 than what comes with a Windsor.

    Steel frames don't get ridden out. As long as your 620 is protected from rust, it'll last longer than you do. All you'd =need= to replace are cassette, rear derailleur, rear wheel, chain (maybe) and shifters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfspeed
    But you already know that your 620 fits well and rides well. Do you know that about the Windsor?

    Furthermore, for $600 you'd get a better set of components for your 620 than what comes with a Windsor.

    Steel frames don't get ridden out. As long as your 620 is protected from rust, it'll last longer than you do. All you'd =need= to replace are cassette, rear derailleur, rear wheel, chain (maybe) and shifters.
    Rust never sleeps. If your bike has been around salt, I'd invest in a new frame.

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    Halfspeed nailed it: 600 is low but adaquate for the components on a bike, make it a whole new bike and you are getting cheapo stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1-track-mind
    Rust never sleeps. If your bike has been around salt, I'd invest in a new frame.
    rust never sleeps? i've ridden touring frames from the 30s that ride great. good steel is remarkably rust repellant, and when a surface does rust, the rust prevents further rust from forming. only ocean town bikes, or bikes you never clean in the winter, or bikes that were baptised at salt lake city need worry.

    in other news: why would you ever, ever "upgrade" to sti and or 9 speed shifting. A, chains, and cassettes, and therefore rings wear out fast, B. you probally will have to use either octalink or an external BB, which dont last as long as a square taper unit, C, they are more annoying to adjust, D. replacement costs are astronomical, ie new friciton bar cons are 80 dollars for dura ace, whilst dura ace sti are far more vulnerable, and cost 420 dollars more. 420 dollars! E. 9 speed hubs are weaklings compared to 6 speed hubs, in terms of wheel dish. F. Sti shifters look like unsightly bulges on the front of your bars, G. using a proprietary pin for a chain is a hassle.

    Now, why stick with friction: cheaper, lighter, sexier, more mechanically sound, longer lasting, easier to adjust, more durable, less hype

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridelugs
    rust never sleeps? i've ridden touring frames from the 30s that ride great. good steel is remarkably rust repellant, and when a surface does rust, the rust prevents further rust from forming. only ocean town bikes, or bikes you never clean in the winter, or bikes that were baptised at salt lake city need worry.

    in other news: why would you ever, ever "upgrade" to sti and or 9 speed shifting. A, chains, and cassettes, and therefore rings wear out fast, B. you probally will have to use either octalink or an external BB, which dont last as long as a square taper unit, C, they are more annoying to adjust, D. replacement costs are astronomical, ie new friciton bar cons are 80 dollars for dura ace, whilst dura ace sti are far more vulnerable, and cost 420 dollars more. 420 dollars! E. 9 speed hubs are weaklings compared to 6 speed hubs, in terms of wheel dish. F. Sti shifters look like unsightly bulges on the front of your bars, G. using a proprietary pin for a chain is a hassle.

    Now, why stick with friction: cheaper, lighter, sexier, more mechanically sound, longer lasting, easier to adjust, more durable, less hype
    A) Marginal differences to cassette and chain wear and I can't think of any reason why chainrings would wear faster because of a nine speed drivetrain.
    B) Nope
    C) I'll go along with that
    D) There's no requirement to go with DA brifters, although even 105 are still more spendy than barcons and levers
    E) I haven't done the math, but I don't think a 135mm spaced ATB hub with a 9 speed cassette has a significant difference in dish from a 126mm spaced old skool hub with a 6 speed freewheel.
    F) There's no accounting for taste
    G) That's why sensible people use SRAM chains.

    All that said, I agree that price/performance puts 8 speed way ahead of 9.

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    Rust never sleeps indeed! But the places where it might be a problem are pretty easy for a good mechanic to find. Down in the bottom bracket and around the lugs. If that's OK then the rest of the bike will be OK in most respects.

    If you WANT a new bike then by all means find one within your budget. I would have no problems touring on a Windsor Tourist but let's face facts. If you want to UPGRADE then buying the Windsor would be little more than a sideways shift. (Well, to be frank, it would be a slight downwards shift - a downgrade from the Trek.)

    I would suggest that you use the money to upgrade the Trek. And then start saving money for a REAL(tm) touring bike such as a Mercian (http://www.merciancycles.com/complete_king_mercia.asp)

    Notice in the picture that there's isn't a 6" drop from the saddle nose to the handlebars? Anyone that advertises a "touring bike" that isn't nearly even doesn't have a clue what a touring bicycle really is.

    Buy SpD pedals, barend shifters, and low rider rack eyes. You're looking (today's prices) at about $2800. Plainly you can see what a very nice touring bike will cost.

    BUT, your Trek can take you anywhere that Mercian can take you and it'd only cost you the price of upgrading. You DO NOT need STI or Ergo. You DO NOT need 10 speeds. You DO NOT need a leather Brooks saddle (in fact a lot of people HATE them).

    Barend shifting works as good as anything else on a touring bike. I have these installed on two cyclocross bikes, a touring bike and two road bikes now and I've had ONE time when I would have liked to have Ergo.

    A good Regal saddle will last forever.

    The rear triangle can be respaced for $40 and you can put in a set of Mavic Classic Elite wheels IF THE CANTILEVERS WILL ADJUST TO THE SLIGHTLY SMALLER RIMS. Otherwise you can get along fine with the original 27" wheels and come good Continental or Specialized touring tires.

    I don't know which cranks you have on your 620. Depending on the year they came with doubles and triples. I like the Rivendell offering here: http://www.rivbike.com/webalog/crank...ngs/12067.html My experience tells me that you'd be hard pressed to beat this on a touring bike.

    It would be nice to use an 8-speed setup but all that is so hard to find now that it's better to go with the 12-27 Shimano cassette although I have a 13-27 that I got somewhere and can't find a single reference to which is even better.

    You'd probably need to update the brake pads on your cantilevers and that's definitely something I'd recommend you have a shop do instead of trying to do it yourself unless you're a good mechanic. The alignment on brakes is a pain in the butt unless you've done it a million times.

    Fancy, expensive racks are the cat's pajamas, but that cheap Blackburn aluminum racks are a pitance and if they break a new one costs next to nothing. What's more, if you don't overload them they simply don't break.

    We ALL get the hankering after a new bike. That's normal for most people. But I suggest that you save up and get the best instead of throwing away a perfectly good touring bike just to get another none better.

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    By the way, I've done this upgrade myself so I know what it entails. I ride a 620 of approximately the same vintage with modern parts.

    cyclintom is mostly right, but getting an eight speed setup is easier than he implies. Really, all you need that's "eight speed" specific are shifters and cassettes. MTB 8 speed cassettes are still very common and 8 speed barcons are also widely available from a number of sources.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfspeed
    A) Marginal differences to cassette and chain wear and I can't think of any reason why chainrings would wear faster because of a nine speed drivetrain.
    B) Nope
    C) I'll go along with that
    D) There's no requirement to go with DA brifters, although even 105 are still more spendy than barcons and levers
    E) I haven't done the math, but I don't think a 135mm spaced ATB hub with a 9 speed cassette has a significant difference in dish from a 126mm spaced old skool hub with a 6 speed freewheel.
    F) There's no accounting for taste
    G) That's why sensible people use SRAM chains.

    All that said, I agree that price/performance puts 8 speed way ahead of 9.
    a: marginal differences? an 8 speed chain on a 6 speed freewheel, its almost impossible to wear out a properly maintained 6 speed freewheel... chainrings wear faster cause the chains wear faster, which isnt an issue if you replace chains often...
    b: nope? nope what? nope you have to have a octalink or nope they dont last as long? they cant last as long. they have smaller bearings, faster wear...
    d: i was comparing apples to apples, parts level wise. also, diacompe gran course levers are sexy, lite, and have that dope barrel adjuster on top....
    e: they do
    f: i know, people dont have any
    g: quite

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    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    I'm also with halfspeed on this one; you can buy components that are probably going to be a little better, plus you have the knowledge of a frame that you know is right for you. The only caveat would be your current frame integrity and of course, you'd save considerably if you could do the mechanics yourself.

    But I also understand if you want to buy a new Windsor -they seem to be a pretty good deal (and in any case, you could always swap those components out to the Trek, right?). And of course, there's nothing quite like a new bike.....

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    >A, chains, and cassettes, and therefore rings wear out fast
    Depends on your definition of fast.... since the teeth on the cassette (and usually crank) are thinnner, I'd think they'd wear faster, but of course "faster" is all relative. Not enough to worry about IMHO.

    >B. you probally will have to use either octalink or an external BB, which dont last as long as a square taper unit
    You got me there. I have no idea why that would be. Too much would depend on the quality of BB and bearings rather than the crankarm interface. Course, it's easier to round off a square taper bb if not properly torqued up.

    >C, they are more annoying to adjust
    Nope. Not from my experience. You still have to adjust the top/bottom gears and the rest take care of themselves. Of course an argument could be made that friction shift is easier to adjust in that you don't need to finely tune them -until one day you forget and push the lever too far and the chain goes into the spokes!

    >D. replacement costs are astronomical, ie new friciton bar cons are 80 dollars for dura ace, whilst dura ace sti are far more vulnerable, and cost 420 dollars more. 420 dollars!
    I got my STI shifters for $85 inc. shipping from ebay. While quality brake parts don't come cheap, I don't consider the costs to be astronomical.

    >E. 9 speed hubs are weaklings compared to 6 speed hubs, in terms of wheel dish.
    I'm not sure about that. Got to say I've never had a 9 speed hub fail, but I have had a 7 speed hub if that makes a difference.

    >F. Sti shifters look like unsightly bulges on the front of your bars
    Very subjective. Older style thinner hoods can't really be used comfortably, but the later non-sti models really don't look that much different in my opinion.

    >G. using a proprietary pin for a chain is a hassle.
    Not necessary for 9 speed stuff.


    And... you're forgetting another cost, the cost of enjoyment. I get loads more enjoyment out of effortlessly shifting rather than my old friction shift stuff. Granted, friction shift is cheaper, less complex and probably less prone to breakage, but this is outweighed for me in performance. When you have to mow your lawn, an old push model that you power the blades is probably going to do the job and is far less complex and more reliable than a powered lawn mower, but I know which one I use......

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    Rust never sleeps...

    While changing out a skewer for my Bob trailer, the mechanic asked when I went to the beach.
    He could tell I'd been there by the condition of my 94 steel frame even though it was just for a week.
    He felt the frame was still ok for a 1,000 mile trip, but he wouldn't take it cross-country.
    If the bike in question has had exposure to salt, I'd be reluctant to spend more money on it.

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridelugs
    a: marginal differences? an 8 speed chain on a 6 speed freewheel, its almost impossible to wear out a properly maintained 6 speed freewheel... chainrings wear faster cause the chains wear faster, which isnt an issue if you replace chains often...
    I'll buy that.
    Quote Originally Posted by ridelugs
    b: nope? nope what? nope you have to have a octalink or nope they dont last as long? they cant last as long. they have smaller bearings, faster wear...
    Nope, you don't need any special crankset or BB for eight or nine speed drivetrains.
    Quote Originally Posted by ridelugs
    d: i was comparing apples to apples, parts level wise. also, diacompe gran course levers are sexy, lite, and have that dope barrel adjuster on top....
    Fair enough, but barcons and brifters are enough different that there isn't really a need to try to keep "component levels" the same.
    Quote Originally Posted by ridelugs
    e: they do
    You're going to make me do the math? OK, it turns out there is a difference in dish... a modern LX hub with an 8 or 9 speed cassette (makes no difference which for this discussion) has LESS dish than a 126mm spaced hub with a 6 speed freewheel.

    Let's look at the numbers. First, to determine how much dish you're going to get, you find the difference between the distance of the left flange to the hub center and the distance from the right flange to the hub center. Whichever difference is greater, is the hub that's going to require the most dish.

    I happen to have those numbers handy because I needed them to build a couple of wheels. One is a LX/CR18 and the other is a Sunshine/M13II. So, for the LX it's 36.8-23.2 = 13.6. For the Sunshine it's 35.7-19.3 = 16.4. Since 16.4 > 13.6 there's less dish for the modern wheel. Don't like my choice of old hub or don't trust my measurement? There are plenty in Rinard's spoke calculator database. How about this one: Shimano 600, 35 - 19 =16. Even a Deore DX at 130mm has more dish: 38.1 - 22.5 = 15.6.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with old school stuff, some of it is even better in some circumstances. But where function is paramount, both nostalgia and novelty sometimes have to give way for a better solution.

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1-track-mind
    While changing out a skewer for my Bob trailer, the mechanic asked when I went to the beach.
    He could tell I'd been there by the condition of my 94 steel frame even though it was just for a week.
    He felt the frame was still ok for a 1,000 mile trip, but he wouldn't take it cross-country.
    If the bike in question has had exposure to salt, I'd be reluctant to spend more money on it.
    Good thing he has some nice new bikes you could buy to replace that dangerous old steel bike!

    Seriously, how was he able to determine the amount of internal rust on the frame?

    I'm much more likely to be convinced that he found some sand and repeated the same mythology about the fragile nature of steel that is so popular among bike salesmen than, say, he happens to have a surgeons scope that he uses to inspect the internals of every frame, even when they are brought in to have a skewer changed.

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    Hi,
    Shimano has yet to make STI shifters for touring bikes. You can put a 34T rear cassette on; but the front will have a 30T small ring. A lot of tourers use bar end shifters and Mtn bike cranks for that reason. If you do mix 9 speed brifters with a Mtn bike rear you need a rear der that is not Rapid Rise.
    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...erailleur.aspx

    I see poor people riding 30 and even 40 year old bikes all the time. Steel lasts.
    So I see no reason at all to change a nice frame you like unless you can also afford to buy better. That would be over your budget.

    You can get brand new 8 speed stuff real cheap on Ebay. Sugino makes some nice cranks.
    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/cranks/11074.html

    If you go 9 speed and look on Ebay, some of the cheaper Shimano cranks have steel rings. These are heavier.

    The wheels depend on how much ruggedness you want and how much you
    feel like spending. In the cheap category you might try some cheap cyclocross wheels. I like Ultegra hubs on rugged rims, hand built, but it's more expensive
    doing it that way. But you can get some of the parts on ebay and have a bike shop put them together.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/2-Black-Ambrosio...QQcmdZViewItem
    http://sporting-goods.search.ebay.co...Z1QQsofocusZbs
    Mavic A719 rims are also a possiblity.

    Tires have changed a lot over the years. If you aren't familiar with what's available, it's time to do some research. I like Pasela with Tourguard. They are a bit light for a touring tire but also quicker for that reason.

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