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Making an old road bike lighter

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Making an old road bike lighter

Old 11-24-23, 05:34 PM
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Making an old road bike lighter

My girlfriend has an old 1980s Miyata road bike. Itís not a high end bike, but it rides well and has a lot of sentimental value. The only problem is itís HEAVY, like over 30 pounds (over 35 with a rear rack, basket, lock, etc. attached). Iíd like to make it lighter for practical purposes, like carrying it up and down the stairs.

The best solution would probably be buying a lighter bike, but given the sentimental value Iíd prefer to keep the current frame. The reason itís so heavy (other than the heavy 1024 steel frame) is that almost all the components are steel. I think I could save a good bit of weight by switching some components to aluminum.

Here are the changes Iím considering:
  • Tires. This might be a no-brainer because the tires could use changing anyway. It currently has Schwalbe Active Line K Guard tires (27x1-1/4). I could save ~200 g per tire by switching to something like the Panaracer Pasela (going by the official listed weights).
    • Estimate: 14 oz, $60
  • Wheels. The wheels have steel rims and spokes. Iím not sure if it would be better to buy new complete wheels or swap out the rims (and maybe spokes) for aluminum and rebuild using the current hubs and freewheel. I expect this would be the largest weight savings, but also the most expensive change.
    • Estimate: 2 lbs, ~$200? (not sure on price)
  • Seatpost. Save a few ounces by switching to a cheap aluminum seatpost.
    • Estimate: 5 oz, $20
  • Handlebars and stem: change steel to aluminum
    • Estimate: 8 oz, $40
  • Pedals: change the big chunky steel pedals to cheap aluminum
    • Estimate: 6 oz, $30
  • Chainrings/crankset: It looks like the current chainrings are steel but the crank arms are aluminum. Could save a few ounces with aluminum rings.
    • Estimate: 3 oz, $50
By my estimates, I think I could save a little over 4 pounds if I made all those changes. The biggest chunk comes from the wheels, which is also the most expensive change.

Which changes seem worth it? Let me know if any of my estimates (weight or cost) look off.
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Old 11-24-23, 05:46 PM
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If you really want to upgrade your Miyata, understanding your starting with a "heavy 1024 steel frame", probably the way to go is buy a "donor bike" on craigslist, offerup, facebook, etc and swap everything over. You will need to match up specs, but the market is soft and you can likely grab a whole bike for less than price it would cost you to buy just rims.
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Old 11-24-23, 06:21 PM
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Wheels, tires/TUBES, and a hollowtech (or lighter)crankset (Much higher Weight loss than just rings!), in that order... they are all Rotating Mass and will be felt immediately when riding.

and FYI.. there are some MUCH Lighter seats available.. but convincing someone to give up a easy chair for a skinny stool is not easy... i recently test fitted 6 seats for a customer before we found the correct seat... it was much narrower than what she had been considering, But "just feels right!" and she called in to thank me again... no more chafing.!
and the new seat was almost a full pound lighter than the spring mounted easy chair that she was on previously. :-D

now i need to find another seat for my cannondale M600, but her happy smile was worth it.... ;-)

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Old 11-24-23, 06:55 PM
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Donor bike is the way to go.

​​​​​​https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...4-c42944131723
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Old 11-24-23, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by SoCaled
buy a "donor bike" on craigslist, offerup, facebook, etc and swap everything over. You will need to match up specs
^ i agree, from experience this is the easiest most inexpensive solution. find a used mid to upper level japanese 10-speed for 75.00 - 150.00 and migrate everything over.

as a side note : years ago in brooklyn NY my girlfriend was riding a boat anchor raleigh sports 3 speed cruiser with steel components prob weighed 35+ pounds. just for fun i bought a cheap small sized dave scott centurion converted to single speed it came in at just under 19 lbs. we kept both bikes around while testing out the new one. after riding the centurion the raleigh was ridden less and less until it was sold a month later. she especially liked the centurion could easily be carried up the 3 flights of stairs

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Old 11-24-23, 07:44 PM
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Cheap donor bikes are abundant. This one isn't far away.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...type=top_picks
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Old 11-24-23, 09:45 PM
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Thanks all, I will keep my eyes out for a donor bike!
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Old 11-25-23, 12:06 AM
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Aluminum rims also stop much better than steel.Especially when wet.
Since your bike has 27" wheels, that's a fly in the ointment, trying to find good, used ALUMINUM ones.

Maybe your "donor" bike will be enough of an upgrade, she'll willingly ride it and put the old bike up in the attic?
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Old 11-25-23, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun

Maybe your "donor" bike will be enough of an upgrade, she'll willingly ride it and put the old bike up in the attic?
This is what I think I would explore first. If the Miyata has some sentimental value, will she be OK with so much of it being replaced?
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Old 11-25-23, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
Aluminum rims also stop much better than steel.Especially when wet.
Since your bike has 27" wheels, that's a fly in the ointment, trying to find good, used ALUMINUM ones.

Maybe your "donor" bike will be enough of an upgrade, she'll willingly ride it and put the old bike up in the attic?
Going from 27" to 700 is really a fairly easy fly to deal with and 700 is usually considered an upgrade.
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Old 11-25-23, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by djcunningham0
Here are the changes I’m considering:


Tires. This might be a no-brainer because the tires could use changing anyway. It currently has Schwalbe Active Line K Guard tires (27x1-1/4). I could save ~200 g per tire by switching to something like the Panaracer Pasela (going by the official listed weights).
Estimate: 14 oz, $60
Wheels. The wheels have steel rims and spokes. I’m not sure if it would be better to buy new complete wheels or swap out the rims (and maybe spokes) for aluminum and rebuild using the current hubs and freewheel. I expect this would be the largest weight savings, but also the most expensive change.
Wheels and tires are probably where you'll find the best bang for the buck. I'd switch to 700C wheels with aluminum rims as this will give you a much broader selection of tire to choose from. The Paselas are probably one of the best tires available in 27" diameter, but they aren't particularly light, and aluminum rims will both reduce weight and improve braking performance, especially in wet conditions. You may need to replace the brake calipers if the current ones don't allow you to lower the pads by 4mm to reach the smaller diameter 700C rim. Tektro makes a nice, affordable long-reach dual-pivot caliper if you need to do so.

Seatpost. Save a few ounces by switching to a cheap aluminum seatpost.
Estimate: 5 oz, $20
Handlebars and stem: change steel to aluminum
Estimate: 8 oz, $40
Pedals: change the big chunky steel pedals to cheap aluminum
Estimate: 6 oz, $30
Chainrings/crankset: It looks like the current chainrings are steel but the crank arms are aluminum. Could save a few ounces with aluminum rings.
Estimate: 3 oz, $50
By my estimates, I think I could save a little over 4 pounds if I made all those changes. The biggest chunk comes from the wheels, which is also the most expensive change.

Which changes seem worth it? Let me know if any of my estimates (weight or cost) look off.
If you go to the trouble of replacing all that, why not consider a different bike?
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Old 11-25-23, 10:26 PM
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Originally Posted by djcunningham0
My girlfriend has an old 1980s Miyata road bike.
Nothing you do will make these steel bikes lighter, and doesn't help that there's a ton of crap fastened to it.

Get a 2nd bike with nothing on it with the target weight you want, that way you can hoard the first bike without letting it go.

You'll see the new bike get used more, and heavy bike used less, or at least, when you need to buy bulk cat litter.

I too am sentimental with my high school bmx, but there is no chance in hell I will ride more than a mile on it, let alone 25 or 50.
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Old 11-26-23, 06:41 AM
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I had an Oschner, late Ď80s, I was sure I would never part with. I did just that 2 years ago, giving it to a nephew. I do not regret it, and do not miss it. Still sort of a connection, being that my nephew has it. I am sure he would allow me to ride it when I visit my hometown, which seldom happens, and I am pretty sure I would not ask. I always take a bike with me.
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Old 11-26-23, 07:19 AM
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Find a more practical bike. This bike is old and of little actual value beyond maybe sentimental value. While you could go to the trouble of spending ridiculous amounts of money on a bike boom style bike and you could lose small bits of weight mostly from the wallet, the bike is just not a great candidate for it. Plenty of awesome vintage bikes with decent components and nicer frames or even better plenty of great modern bikes that give you better gearing and braking and will likely be lighterweight. You can save this and still ride it but don't pour a ton of money towards it unless the sentimentality is that great and even then strip the bike completely and put the frame on the wall so you can look at it daily.
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Old 11-26-23, 09:06 AM
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I had a friend in college who had a Schwinn Varsity that he'd swapped aluminum wheels (rims and hubs) in for the steel. I think he'd also found a kit to replace the Ashtabula forged steel one-piece crank for alloy.

It still had the heavy, crappy Varsity frame but as i recall he kicked my tail (and I had a 531-based Raleigh Competition).

To the point of your question, I'd suggest that wheels and tires (rolling weight) would be the first change. Alloy or CF stem and handlebars, seat post, and seat. But do a budget and figure out if buying a donor bike which has all the parts you want to change can be had cheap. And reflect if all that work is worth it when the frame is standard unbutted carbon steel.
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Old 11-26-23, 09:09 AM
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This is very much reminiscent of Trigger's broom
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Old 11-26-23, 10:11 AM
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I see that the op is Chicago based. Bikes like that can get down to maybe 26lbs taking all the steel and swapping alloy parts.

Is there a co-op in that area to help you find the parts at a reasonable rates? Otherwise it could be cost prohibitive vs getting a different bike.
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Old 11-26-23, 10:22 AM
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If someone just putz around town filling their basket with weekly organics, it won't matter what kind of bike they have, and I think GF is fine with it.

Sounds more like the BF is mansplaining to GF about what HE thinks she SHOULD have.
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Old 11-26-23, 01:29 PM
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Alright Sigmund!
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Old 11-26-23, 07:26 PM
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Iíd take the $300 or so that youíre going to spend on parts and look for something newer and lighter to hang the rack and basket on.
Youíll probably find that they already have most of the stuff youíre looking to install, and a lighter frame, too.

In my area, itís not uncommon to find 1990s Cannondale hybrids or rigid 26ers for $200-$250.Treks and Spesh, too, but theyíre just a little bit heavier. Even a base model H-300 would be 5-8 lbs lighter than that Miyata, right out of the gate.
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Old 11-26-23, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by djcunningham0
Which changes seem worth it?
All of them ... if you can find a donor bike for parts or if you have a co-op with used bins.

When I did a lot of bike flipping, I always fully overhauled each bike and swapped out low level junk like steel seatposts and chainrings for aluminum replacements. I would never ride nor sell a bike with steel rims. Changing to aluminum rims is the biggest improvement you can make with a bike like this, not just for the weight savings, but for operational ridability.
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Old 11-26-23, 11:00 PM
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Do not listen to the people who are telling you that an Eighties Miyata cannot be lightened.

Just this year, I built a steel '86 312 into a modern gravel bike, and it weighs only 21.1 pounds at 58 centimeters. Now, it might not make financial sense, depending on your situation, but it absolutely can be done.

In my case, I ditched the heavy 27" steel wheels, and built a set of aluminum 700s for it -- which cost me $316 and the pair weighs 1487 grams. Obviously the tires were replaced, and I went with Vittoria Terreno Drys, without tubes, that weigh 410 grams each. I replaced the entire cockpit, using an aluminum Easton gravel bar, and Shimano R7000 brifters. I replaced the rear derailleur with an R7000 11-speed unit, but I kept the original SR Sakae Signature crankset with its 52/42 chainrings, and front derailleur, because the former is cosmetically attractive, and the latter didn't really matter. Installed a CS-5800 11-32t cassette. I kept the original aluminum seatpost, which is both aluminum, and quite heavy at 341 grams -- it's a 26.8mm post, and not easy to replace. The brakes are also original Shimano calipers, with upgraded pads. It has a medium-weight saddle installed ( 292g ). I maintained the lovely original manganese steel fork, as well.

My total cost, including purchasing the entire complete, ride-able bicycle, was $883 -- then I sold the original wheelset for $75, and I still have a box of original parts that I may sell. All of the parts I installed were brand-new, except the saddle, and I replaced all the bearings as well. So it's a mostly-new 21 pound gravel bike for $808, and that makes financial sense for most people.

As you can see, had I been interested in spending more money, I could've gotten this bike even lighter than 21 pounds -- but I like it as-is. Many vintage steel bikes are simply not as heavy as many people assume.

If you do decide to listen to the people trying to tell you that your girl's bike is no good, drop me a line. I'm local, and might take it off your hands, so I can build another one.

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Old 11-27-23, 10:50 AM
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Like many above, IMO SoCaled nailed it. Considering your location you should have a plethora of donor bikes. You might look at bikes direct for one although they seem to be getting pricier these days.
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Old 11-27-23, 12:29 PM
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27 wheel set $169

https://velomine.com/products/sun-cr...-bike-wheelset
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Old 11-29-23, 11:29 AM
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With judicious use of money, you can usually shave 4 pounds off fairly easily on the older bikes. I got my 28lb. Dawes Galaxy down to 23lbs.

- Aluminum wheels, dbl. Butt spokes, folding tires, TPU tubes
- Aluminum handlebar
- Omni Racer titanium axle BB and aluminum drive line.
- lighter derailleurs and chain
- Aluminum seatpost
- Lighter saddle
- Lighter pedals

This all cost more than the bike is worth but it's my daily transportation in the summer and I like it, so don't care.
It's a 531 straight gauge triangle frame and was trying to get it to 20-21 lbs.... But that ain't happening.
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