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  1. #1
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Touring on a vintage bike - insane?

    So the question is: Assuming I can get a '70s touring bike in steel with '70s parts is there any reason NOT to use that puppy as a tourer? The only potential issues I see are the 27" wheels/tires/tubes (which may not be readily available if I need replacements) and the 5-speed freewheel (ditto). Assuming the bike is in new condition, and that the rubber is sound, is there any reason I've overlooked NOT to use that bike as a tourer?

    If the wheels/tires are an issue, I understand that it is feasible to replace the wheels with 700c models providing I either use a drop bolt for the existing brakes or replace the existing brakes with long-reach models.

    What other considerations have I not taken into account? Thanks!

  2. #2
    just 5 more miles 5 more's Avatar
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    I would ask myself how far and where am I going? Is the frame sound (no rust or cracks)? Can I securly fit pannier racks and fenders? Does the bike fit me and will it be comfortable over a long tour? If needed can I upgrade components on the road? Once loaded is it comparable in weight to a army tank? Will the wheels take the extra weight and abuse of a tour?

    I'm sure others will come up with more but these are the first questions I would ask myself.

    PS. I have a mid 80's Miyata 618GT that I planned to ride across Canada next year and I have all the confidence in the world that it would make it.

    Hope this helps

    Vin

  3. #3
    Senior Member bronskcloosper's Avatar
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    my friend used a 70's bike with everything original. the 27'' wheel was a pain though. that wheel sucked and broke spokes like crazy so he bought a new 700c wheel while on the trip but his brakes could be adjusted down to the right size. other thatn that everything was fine.

  4. #4
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    So the question is: Assuming I can get a '70s touring bike in steel with '70s parts is there any reason NOT to use that puppy as a tourer? The only potential issues I see are the 27" wheels/tires/tubes (which may not be readily available if I need replacements) and the 5-speed freewheel (ditto). Assuming the bike is in new condition, and that the rubber is sound, is there any reason I've overlooked NOT to use that bike as a tourer?

    If the wheels/tires are an issue, I understand that it is feasible to replace the wheels with 700c models providing I either use a drop bolt for the existing brakes or replace the existing brakes with long-reach models.

    What other considerations have I not taken into account? Thanks!
    You may not need to use a drop bolt or replace the brakes to get the frame to work with a 700C wheel. You'd probably need to spread the rear triangle to fit a modern hub, though.

    Otherwise, if the frame is sound, it'll be fine. Just replace the cables and housing and inspect and grease all bearing surfaces.

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    Old bike

    So the five speed rear wheel would be a 120mm spacing, at least mine is. Would it be safe to spread the frame to 130mm or more than likely 135mm?

  6. #6
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    27-inch tire availability isn't a big deal. Neither is the availability of 5-speed freewheels, mostly because the freewheel isn't going to fail. Replacing the wheels can be done, if you want to. Modern rear wheels are much, much stronger than old ones, less likely to break spokes and will stay in true longer. That shouldn't scare you away from the old wheels unless they were cheap and low quality or you're a serious heavyweight. Wheels are probably the place where refined and improved technology have brought the most quantifiable benefits to touring bikes, mostly in terms of the number of broken spokes you can expect over the course of a tour! Improvements in gearing and shifting have been nice too, but a 9-speed drivetrain is no more or less likely to break than a 5-speed one. Obviously, opinions vary; some believe that freewheels/freehubs with more than 6 cogs are somehow antithetical to a good touring experience . I would say, if you want to upgrade, upgrade. If you're happy with five speeds, keep 'em. Just make sure that your low gears are low enough for your taste. The bottom line is that those vintage bikes are excellent touring machines.

    And yes, Supertick, it is safe to spread a frame even as far as 135mm. It might look a bit messy around the brake bridge, and it's really best to keep it to 10mm and under, but it's not dangerous to do more. I think it's mostly an aesthetic and chainline issue. The geometry of the chainstays and bottom bracket aren't intended for that kind of chainline, so it might be necessary to get a BB with a longer spindle. Maybe. This isn't really something I know that much about, so it might be a good idea to take it up with one of the gurus.

  7. #7
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Thanks for the feedback. In my case, I'm a Clydesdale, and will put serious stress on the wheels.

    The bike in question is a new, in-the-box, 1970's vintage, Japanese (MASA brand), 15-speed touring bike with straight-ga. tubing. It is sturdy enough, it fits, and it will cost $165 after tax. It has high-quality (for 1970s) SunTour parts, and plenty of eyelets for racks, fenders, etc. if needed.

    I believe that if I let the LBS put a Park tensionometer on the spokes, tighten and true the wheels, and provide me with spare spokes, that this bike will fill my needs. Since I can't come close to anything new (in a current model) for under six times the price, this seems like a good deal.

    The shop selling the bike will lube, adjust, and replace any dry-rotted parts (including cable housing, tires, tubes, and brake hoods) as part of their sale. I see no down-side to this purchase. If I wanted to go more up-scale, I could buy a Raleigh Gran Sport 10-speed (with Reynolds 531 tubeset) for the same price. Other alternatives would be a Panasonic Sport Deluxe 10-speed or a C-Itoh 10-speed. All are new, all same price, all with similar setup and service.

    Shoot, at $165 each, I'm tempted to buy one of each!
    Last edited by FarHorizon; 08-26-06 at 10:53 PM.

  8. #8
    The Wheel is Turning The Figment's Avatar
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    where is this LBS...That sounds like a deal even I could afford!!

  9. #9
    Arrgghh me hearties! damian_'s Avatar
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    I'm a clydesdale too, and regularly ride a 70's touring bike with mid-to-good-range Suntour and Dia-compe components. Have never toured on it, but put in 1000's of kilometers cycle commuting.

    I would trust this bike for touring, except for the wheels and freewheel!

    One day when cycle commuting, the gear cluster tore off, and ball bearings were scattered everywhere. There was no way I could salvage them all and get the thing back together. I did manage to get everything back into place and ride home safely (with working gears) but the rear cluster would wobble back and forth about 1 sprocket or so - i.e. it would jump up and down a gear. I only used the center 3 gears fearing the chain would slip off and get jammed up.

    Note: This was the only component that has ever failed on this bike! Other than that, the headset did develop a little play, but that was easily adjusted.

    The wheels were good 27-inchers, with good Araya rims, and never caused me any problems. However, I would not have trusted them for touring.

    I have since cold-spread the rear fork to accept modern road hubs, and have installed new 700c wheels that are great. The brake pads adjusted to fit 700c wheels without any problems.

    Other than that, its a great bike.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    It Could Be Great!

    My old early 70's Raleigh Gran Prix was what got me started in touring. It worked fine! I took several tours on it. I loved that old bike. However, there were some things that needed improvement.

    1) The rims were cheap. I dented them a couple times.
    2) It tended to break spokes.
    3) It only had 10 speeds. The Simplex derailleurs always worked, but I would have been much happier on hills with a granny gearl.
    4) The downtube shifters were fine, but I now like bar-end shifters much better.

    If I were considering an old classic for a tour today I would

    1) Make sure the frame was sound - no cracks - and that it was a good fit for me.
    2) Buy a triple chainring setup if it didn't have one.
    3) HUGE - Take the bike to a good shop and tell them to build me a bulletproof rear wheel. You may end up paying more for it than the bike cost, but I think it's worth it. I've had tours ruined by repeated spoke breaking.
    4) I'd consider switching to 700mm wheels, but it wouldn't be a big deal, although I think it could be preferable to have them both the same. My understanding is that the same inner tube will fit both, but if I'm going to be riding many miles from nowhere I like to bring a spare tire as well, and if you had one 27" tire and one 700mm, wouldn't you have to bring two spares. (But then again, I've never heard of anyone suffering a blowout on their front tire. Am I right?)
    5) Consider bar-end shifters - though not a big deal.

  11. #11
    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    I inherited my father's 72(?) Raleigh Professional that has a TA triple crank and a five speed freewheel that he had already rode across the country several times. I have taken it on several tours, including a 1,700 mile ride through the Rockies from Missoula to Durango. Some shop owners have told me that it should be at home hanging on the wall, but it is the best dang ride there is. Hard to improve on perfection!

  12. #12
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    If these NOS bikes really exist, at that price, buy them all. I'd be really careful, however. Sounds way too good to be true.

  13. #13
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacomee
    If these NOS bikes really exist, at that price, buy them all. I'd be really careful, however. Sounds way too good to be true.
    They exist, they're at that price, and they're absolutely safe (legally speaking). The advice I received on other forums was that the most the bikes would sell for on e-Bay was $150 (and then, only for the Reynolds 531 frame models). The rest would probably sell for less than $100. Given that, the only way I could make money on the lot was to buy them for less (and preferably SIGNIFICANTLY less) than $50 apiece, after tax. The owner won't sell them that cheaply, so I'm thinking about just getting myself one or two of each.

  14. #14
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
    (But then again, I've never heard of anyone suffering a blowout on their front tire.
    I had a blow out Sunday on my front wheel! The rubber over the valve stem split, when I went to replace the tube (After a decent walk to a hardware store where I could find a new tube!) The whole valve stem came off in my hand!

    Can't complain too much... the tube came with the bike and I've put something like 1600 miles on it since then!
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  15. #15
    WATERFORD22
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    I am particularly fond of retro bikes with new modern drive trains. Up until a couple of years ago my main tourer was a 1969 Paramount spread to 130 with campy 8 speed triple and ergo shifting - with a drop bolt to convert to 700 c wheels. And my new bike is a 1989 Koga Miyata Mountain bike converted to road. Retro bikes make great tourers but I am in favor of more modern running gear - most of my bike are now 8 speeds.

  16. #16
    loves living in the city. Ira in Chi's Avatar
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    i love the way retro steel bikes look and handle, so my gf and i are each riding early 80s bikes on our u.s. perimeter tour. we each replaced parts of the drivetrains, and i have 700c wheels, but we stuck to the original form as much as possible. i'm carrying 70lbs of gear and weigh 175lbs, and the bike handles beautifully, on both gravel and pavement. the only problem was finding wide tires for her 27" wheels, and the clubroost crossterras did the trick.

  17. #17
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    Anyone know where to get one of these NOS bikes? I'd die for one!

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    So would a lot of other folks, northwind500--- I'm betting it was all an internet scam. My guess is somebody bought some el cheapo Indian or Chinese road bikes, the kind with steel rims, bars, ect.... and tried to pawn them off as *vintage*

    There's a sucker born on EBAY every second.

    But then again, maybe somebody got a good deal, but....nah, I'd of heard about it.

  19. #19
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by northwind500 View Post
    Anyone know where to get one of these NOS bikes? I'd die for one!
    Call G.N. Gonzales - Baton Rouge, LA. They've got a warehouse full of them. NOT an internet scam.

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    I had one of those 70s bikes, in the 70s. The only thing I would look out for big time is whether they have steel rims, that was very comon back then, and they are not great on stoping power, though I did get some sintered brake blocks that weren't bad on them. Also wheel strength has improved as I guess you know though I personally never broke one.

  21. #21
    Macro Geek
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    Does 1985 count as "vintage?" My Miyata 1000 went strong for 18 seasons before I bought a new touring bike. I still ride the Miyata for day tours. Although I replaced and upgraded components as needed, the brakes, shifters, handlebars, and seat post are still the originals. I last changed the wheels and hubs in 1989. The pedals lasted 22 years; I finally replaced them this year.

    My new touring bike is custom-built, and is the most comfortable and versatile bike I have ever ridden. But if something were to happen to it, I would not hesitate to tour on my vintage bike.

  22. #22
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    I'm normally doing 75-80 mile days on a 1969 Magneet Sprint (plain gauge steel - gaspipe) that originally came with Campy Valentino and cheap steel wheels with wing nuts. However, it's a very nicely made frame. Did a period correct upgrade to SunTour Compe-V/V-GT and Weinmann alloy rims on Maillard hubs, Weinmann brakes, added mudguards, racks, etc. and I have a wonderful tourer.

    At the moment, I'm trying to sort out the gearing - on the flat using the big chainwheel, 2nd gear is a bit low, 3rd is a bit high. I'm probably going to change the rear cluster to a 14-34 or 14-36 (five speed, of course) first, possibly look into a TA three chainring crankset.

    I love it. Dutch frames have always been very comfortable to me, and it gets me down the road very nicely. I'm using 27x1-3/8 clinchers with a very aggressive tread, almost cyclocross (70lb pressure) and they work very well if you don't mind a muted hum as you go down the road.

    Right now, all that it misses is what I call 'tree climbing gear' to be something that I'd happily take for two weeks or so on the road. Not quite my old beloved World Voyageur of 35 years ago, but a really wonderful bike.
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  23. #23
    accidental tourist
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    >>>>I could buy a Raleigh Gran Sport 10-speed (with Reynolds 531 tubeset) for the same price.<<<<

    The shop (it's now a motorcycle shop) does have left over NOS bicycles.

    The Raleigh Gran Sport I bought from them was made in Japan and had "Raleigh High Tensile" tubing in it, not 531. It came with the Sun Tour/Dia-Compe/SR all Japanese componantry of the period, although every piece is Raleigh badged. Even the tires. A ten speed, but the gearing has a decent range for unloaded commuting.
    It's definately not a Nottingham Gran Sport. Those were the lower end of the high end Carlton frames made at the Worksop shop. They always had 531 frame tubes, and often forks and stays as well. And never came with stem shifters and suicide levers that this Japanese Gran Sport has.

    Gotta love those suicide levers.

    The serial numbers start with an N, which some have suggested means Nottingham, and that these bikes were british frame parts sent to Japan for assembly during the last days of TI. I suspect not.
    I don't know what the serial numbers mean, but I suspect this bike is from the early eighties.

    Before Derby bought Raleigh from TI, TI licensed the rights to the Raleigh name in the USA to Huffy. Huffy then had Raleighs made in Japan and they sold them here. As far as I can tell, from about '82 to '86 a Raleigh sold in the states was actually a higher end product Huffy contracted out to a Japanese builder to sell in the Raleigh dealers. These bikes have a Heron headbadge without Nottingham on the bottom. Huffy may have ordered some of these with higher end tubing, even 531, because of it's reputation, I don't know. They were trying to get some of the high end bike market when they licensed the name. They found it wasn't were the money was, and let the license go.

    It came in it's original (and just about disintegrating) box, with a little assembly manual and a warranty card. It says "TI Raleigh (USA) 1170 Commonwealth Ave. Boston, Mass." as an address and all of it is printed in Japan, but no dates.

    If anyone knows anymore, or can correct me, feel free to speak up.

    It's a pretty nice bike really. The paint is very nice with some fading in the gold pin striping around the lugs because of the years. And the frame is probably more precise then some of the handmade Carltons you may see.

    When I called the place I got connected to this really, really, old sounding guy. When he said yes, he had a new, in the box, blue Gran Sport in my size, and he would ship it, I just jumped on it. I thought the Gran Sport was discontinued before all the non British funny business and were all British made with at least 531 frames. Somehow, I new that just wasn't going to be for this price, but I had to see.

    What can you buy in the new bike market for two hundred bucks (including shipping) these days? A far, far, lesser quality Chinese bike at best.

  24. #24
    Senior Member ultimatekiwi's Avatar
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    I have an old (unsure of specific date) Panasonic Pro-Touring handmade bike which I am using. My first touring bike, and it's done great so far! However, it was quite a trial just trying to find a front rack which fit as the fork is really weird, and the eyelets use really big screws--not the standard ones... Oh, and you can use 700c tubes on 27inch wheels in a "pinch"

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