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HELP- Need advice about vintage bikes.

Old 04-15-10, 01:44 PM
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HELP- Need advice about vintage bikes.

Hi. I live in NYC and am considering purchasing a "vintage" bike from craiglist. Firstly, I know very little about bikes. Last summer, I found an abandoned bike that looked like it was well over 10 or 15 years old. It was one of those road bikes with thin wheels and was perfect for my height. The bike rode exceptionally well and I very much enjoyed it until it got stolen. Since I live in NYC, I have an advantage of tons of craigslist bike postings and would like to take those bikes into consideration. Some of these 'vintage' bikes are perfect for my height, have countless number of speeds, look (for a lack of a better term) perfect, and most importantly - inexpensive! I mean why would i shell out 600 or more dollars for a brand new trek bike when i could be perfectly happy with one of these vintage Schwinn (or treks)? Here is the only dilemma: I am perfectly fine if i get a bike that is in substandard condition; I am paying a low price for a used vintage bike, and i understand that. But will I be able to find wheels to replace the old ones? Will I be able to find a chain to replace the vintage one? My question really is: If i get say a Schwinn 'vintage' bike, are the parts manufactured by Schwinn today compatible with the old bikes? This question goes for all the major manufacturers. Will I be able to easily repair the bike if something should go wrong? And by repair I mean take it to a repair shop but be able to find and pay for the necessary parts? Thank you very much.
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Old 04-15-10, 01:48 PM
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Within reason, yes parts are available or newer parts can be retro fitted in most cases. Sometimes though, the value of the bike is exceeded by the cost of the new parts, so it can become a balancing act. Much of this depends on what you refer to as vintage.
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Old 04-15-10, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by jsharr
Within reason, yes parts are available or newer parts can be retro fitted in most cases. Sometimes though, the value of the bike is exceeded by the cost of the new parts, so it can become a balancing act. Much of this depends on what you refer to as vintage.
jsharr- would having parts 'retrofitted' be too much expensive? Who would do this 'retrofitting?' When you ask as to what I am referring to as vintage, you are probably suggesting that there's a certain point at which the bike becomes 'too vintage' and finding parts would be somewhat difficult. right? After which point (age) would you say that it is probably not a good idea to get a bike?

Thanks you.
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Old 04-15-10, 04:54 PM
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Spend some time lurking on the Classic & Vintage forum. It's fun and educational!
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Old 04-15-10, 05:19 PM
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all parts to my knowledge are still made. for example some old bikes used different size rear dropouts. surly makes almost every size hubs ever made and cheap! most older bikes run an 1" headset as apposed to an 1 1/8" headset but you can find an endless supply of 1" parts on ebay, dirt cheap. just remember old school aluminum frames are death traps, stick to steel and your bike will last forever.
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Old 04-15-10, 08:33 PM
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second checking out the classic and vintage section. you could probably find a guy in there to help you out.

and unless you want to work on the bike yourself for the fun of it, you probably should be able to get a bike that is ready to ride. there are plenty of dudes that pick up vintage rides on the cheap, fix them up and flip them. and the price you pay will generally be way less than a new bike.
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Old 04-15-10, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Thanatos18
After which point (age) would you say that it is probably not a good idea to get a bike?
See if you can find a nice deal on a 700c bike rather than a 27" one (check the tyres if you're not sure). Another thing to look out for is how the brakes are mounted:





The blue bike is typical of either older bikes (before early 80s) or cheap and nasty ones. If a bike's nice, but has nutted brakes, that makes it truly vintage IMO.

You should be able to find a bike more like the red one for $250 or less. It should have a 7spd cassette hub, which is good, because among other things that means Hyperglide and indexed shifting.

So if you get a 700c bike with 7spd and brakes with the recessed allen head fitting, that'll be the most bang for your buck, and the most amenable to future upgrades/replacements. One thing worth doing straight away is to ditch the old front brake for a dual-pivot.
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Old 04-16-10, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by flatt nutts
all parts to my knowledge are still made. for example some old bikes used different size rear dropouts. surly makes almost every size hubs ever made and cheap! most older bikes run an 1" headset as apposed to an 1 1/8" headset but you can find an endless supply of 1" parts on ebay, dirt cheap. just remember old school aluminum frames are death traps, stick to steel and your bike will last forever.
Originally Posted by Chris Chicago
second checking out the classic and vintage section. you could probably find a guy in there to help you out.

and unless you want to work on the bike yourself for the fun of it, you probably should be able to get a bike that is ready to ride. there are plenty of dudes that pick up vintage rides on the cheap, fix them up and flip them. and the price you pay will generally be way less than a new bike.
Originally Posted by Kimmo
See if you can find a nice deal on a 700c bike rather than a 27" one (check the tyres if you're not sure). Another thing to look out for is how the brakes are mounted:





The blue bike is typical of either older bikes (before early 80s) or cheap and nasty ones. If a bike's nice, but has nutted brakes, that makes it truly vintage IMO.

You should be able to find a bike more like the red one for $250 or less. It should have a 7spd cassette hub, which is good, because among other things that means Hyperglide and indexed shifting.

So if you get a 700c bike with 7spd and brakes with the recessed allen head fitting, that'll be the most bang for your buck, and the most amenable to future upgrades/replacements. One thing worth doing straight away is to ditch the old front brake for a dual-pivot.





flatt nuts-those technical terms went completely over my head, haha. I want just wanted to know about the parts that are most commonly in need of repair, such as chains and wheels. But what interests me if what you said about the frame. How can I tell for sure if its old school aluminum or steel?


Kimmo- #1. gonna have to look up 'hyperglide' and 'indexed shifting' #2. The old bike i rode that i mentioned was stolen in my first post, had speed shifters like the blue ones exactly. The bike was pretty good, and i don't think that it was cheap during its day. The speeds were awkward to work at first and the bike was heavy, but it rode really well. I mean, it was better than good-enough for the city. Though the bike was heavy, for me it didn't make the bike sub par (except for the carrying up the stairs part). It made me feel like the bike had a good grip on the road and made it seem more stable and controlled. It's handlebars were more up like the ones you see on kiddie bikes unlike the very low ones you see on road bikes. I don't have much experience with very low handle bars like the ones you see on racing and road bikes, but it looks like it would be uncomfortable, especially for longer rides.


Thanks everyone who turned me to the vintage thread; will check it out.

Last edited by Thanatos18; 04-16-10 at 01:33 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 04-16-10, 06:00 AM
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If by "vintage" you mean any bike made in the last 25 or 30 years, getting replacement parts will be no problem. However, you don't have the expertise to do the work yourself at this point so buying a bike off of Craig's list is going to be a bit of a crap-shoot unless you have a knowledgeable friend who can help.

Two points:

Steel vs aluminum is easy to determine with any magnet.

Low handlebars (aka "drop bars") are more comfortable on long rides than straight or high bars as they offer more hand positions and give you a better aerodynamic position. Straight bars are at their best for short or commuting-type rides
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