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George Banke with Columbus Minimax

Old 02-25-13, 04:56 AM
  #1  
spicywith
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George Banke with Columbus Minimax

Hi there, I'm new to the forum, so pardon any faux pas.

I just moved to San Francisco, from the East Coast and I'm ecstatic to say the least that it's February and I can ride my bike without my fingers falling off due to frost bite. Well, I can't say that New England blizzards have stopped me in the past. It's just a lot more pleasant. I've never really owned or spent a lot of money on a bike mostly because during college I got used to picking up bikes from friends for $50, which was most of the money I had. I'm not highly acquainted with hardware and bike components, but I would love to learn about it, hence this post.

To frame what I'm looking for in a bike, I want something I can ride every day around SF, mostly the flat parts of SOMA and Mission to go to work, run errands, and sometimes just go for a bike ride in the middle of the night when the streets are empty. I'd like to be able to go on longer bike rides on weekends, but the bike is mostly going to be for everyday use.

I've been waiting off for the right bike for a few weeks, which have been plain suffering not having a good bike, but I recently came across a George Banke bike for sale. I didn't know much about these bikes so I started digging around for some research. There really isn't much info about him or his bikes out there other than this article from the LA Times. The other posts brought me back to this forum.

I'm including the add for components and such (the C-C size is actually more like 57-58, C-T is 61, top tube is 57-58 as well (I don't have a good measuring tape):
Rare 59 cm custom frame made by George Banke of Texas. Full Dura Ace 7400 8 spd Group. Topline cranks. Bontrager Racelite wheelset. I upgraded the fork to a Lightspeed carbon fork (made in france by look or time). Equipped with top of the line rare columbus minimax tubing (one of the lightest and strongest grade steel with uniquely shaped tubing. American Classic Seatpost. Bike is tuned and ready to go. A comparable custom steel frame starts at around $1000. Looks similar to a Serotta, Davidson, Mikkelsen, Steelman, Rock Lobster, Independent Fabrications, Sycip, etc.
And here are the images:



I actually put a deposit down on the bike and have it at home now. It's pretty light(?): 21.2 pounds as is in the picutre. It rides well. I think it needs front brake pads or adjustment. It may be that I'm not used to the shift, but I had a hard time getting it to the highest gear if at all. What worries me the most is the paint and the frame. It's full of small dings (I'll include pictures in the morning light). Apparently the paint jobs were not the forte of Banke bikes according to David Cheakas. The tubbing is supposed to be Columbus Minimax, top of the line and almost as rare as Banke bikes themselves.

My question is how much is this bike worth?
Is the frame something I could sand blast and repaint to make sure it doesn't rust?
Would it loose whatever value it has right now?
Although I'm sure there isn't a more knowledgeable community out there about bikes, I know it may be hard to tell from pictures how good this bike is. The other thing that worries me given that it's a custom fit bike is whether it's right for me. I'm 6 1, with a 33 1/2 inch PBH - 85 cm. Do you know of anywhere in San Francisco that's not an overhyped, overpriced hipster-infested bike shop that you would recommend me taking the bike to for a checkup, valuation and fitting?
What upgrades if any would you do to it?
Are the components any good?

The bike is beautiful and rides amazingly. I really have a crush on her.
</end noob>
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Last edited by spicywith; 02-25-13 at 05:14 AM. Reason: Added more details
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Old 02-25-13, 05:56 AM
  #2  
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I see the guy's explanation on that Lightspeed fork, unless I know the person, I don't believe it. And its a value killer. If his explanation is right, he should be able to pull out the original, undamaged fork. Grab it!!! You will never be able to get an original match. Who doesn't save the original fork on a high end custom built frame?

When I see a fork that does not match, I start to wonder why. Its not like a fork gets stolen or lost. Often, forks get changed as a result of a crash. Sellers of course avoid the word crash, and use update, or upgrade, or whatever.

To me, I am fanatical about paint. "Fixing" bad paint is a costly process to do right, and then of course the bike is not original. Where do you plan to find the original decals?? Line them up before starting the stripping/painting process. How "good" the bike is really starts with the paint and fork. The frame is the heart and soul of a bike. Components come and go, can get changed out or upgraded. The frame is the permanent part of a bike.

Bike shops give nonsensical values. Either they low ball you to get you to buy a new bike from them, or more often, they tell you its super valuable so that you are willing to spend $$ doing service and upgrades that they want to sell you. Plus most shops sell NEW bikes, not older bikes. Its just not their expertise. I've been to a lot of bike shops, I have yet to have found a single one that was anywhere close on valuation.

In general, custom builders are underappreciated and undervalued. So they can make terrific buys if you buy right. On the other hand, custom builds are designed for a specific rider. Everyone is built different, so depending how different that rider was, it can have some unusual proportions.

Sharp looking bike! In a red hot market! Price is going to be up there. But do not mistake "RARE" for "VALUABLE". A lot of rare stuff is not that valuable. And unless you can get the original fork, your bike is not complete, huge value hit.

SF is perhaps the most expensive bicycle market in the USA. If not #1, its in the top 3.

Kind of an odd mix of parts, seller calls it full DA. Well, I see some DA, but I see some other parts too. Full DA to me means everything: wheelhubs, pedals, seat post, headset, crankset, etc. Those look like Shimano 105 pedals, Bontrager wheels, etc. Lots of non-DA parts. Now at the right price, such a mix does not matter. As the price goes up, it does matter.

"Bike is tuned and ready to go" = should not have shifting problems. Shifting problems on older Shimano STI can be a can of worms. Could be a simple fix, could be something more challenging. Hopefully its just an adjustment problem.

As a commuter/errand bike, I really much prefer a rigid frame mtb, with room for fenders, racks, etc. Bullet proof, meant to take a beating, and with a drop bar conversion, they are good riders too.

Last edited by wrk101; 02-25-13 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 02-25-13, 06:09 AM
  #3  
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Hello Spicywith, Welcome to the forums. I can't recall ever hearing of Banke, so I'll definitely have to read that article.

As for Columbus MiniMAX that is very good tubing but you don't see it much at all. MAX, MiniMAX, EL, EL OS and a few other tube sets were developed by Columbus in the late '80s from a different blend of steels. These tubes are made from a NivaChrome steel rather than a type of Chromoly steel and are better suited for luggless construction techniques. MiniMAX is a EL tubset reworked to the ovalised profiles, but I suspect that once EL oversize came along it performed just as well and was cheaper to make since it omitted the ovalizing process. It should be a fabulous riding frame.

I hope that helps with the tubing and some of the rarity questons. I'll let others speak to the value of this. However I would be looking for a older Hybrid or mountain bike to streeterize for commuting and save this for serious riding.

I can't wait to see more and better pics but the paint looks pretty good sofar. Providea reputable shop did the work I don't a repaint would hurt the value of this like it would a '60 Herse or early Masi.







I would love to have a MiniMAX frame or atleas the chance to ride one for a few days.

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Old 02-26-13, 02:40 AM
  #4  
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Hmm, internet was too slow during the day and couldn't upload pics + previous reply.

Thanks for the replies wrk101 and Bianchigirll - You're right, I will ask the seller about the fork, sounds fishy, although it is a custom bike, which makes me think they may have just used a third party fork from the beginning. I spoke with the guys over at Westcoast Powder Coating and seemed pretty positive about making it look perfect again. I've ridden it all day today and it rides like a dream (maybe because I've only been riding horribly heavy unfitting bikes). Everyone I've spoken to says the same thing - it's more of a pure race bike than a daily commuter. Oh, bummer, I guess that means I'll have to look for another one to add to the collection as daily commuter?
The componentry is all over the place, you're right, but without any major issues outside of proper adjustment - bad gear shifting due to cable housing being gunked up. One of the guys at Valencia Cyclery was "geeking out" with the crank arm and set (hopefully you can see it in pictures) but the frame is great as Bianchigirll says. Any guesses as to wow much you would pay for all of it?

More pics here
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Old 02-26-13, 06:52 AM
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Contrary to the others, I'm not overly suspcious of the seller's advertisement. While it's not a full Dura-Ace group he does disclose what isn't. I wouldn't be suprised that it started out as full Dura-Ace, as it does have the lesser Dura-Ace parts like pedals and headset. All the non-Dura-Ace parts were common upgrade items. The only thing that suprises me, given the era, is that the pedals aren't clipless.

As the fork, normally I'm suspicious of replacements, if they are similar materials. However, carbon fibre upgrades were quite common, so it my be a legitimate (i.e non crash related) upgrade or, as you say, an OEM 2nd party fork. Frames rarely survive a crash that damaged a fork without some other signs of the crash. Typically, there's frames damage in the area immediately behnd the head lugs or, in your case, a coupole inchs behind the head tube. Generally there is cracking or chipping of the paint on the top surface of the down and top tubes. The underside of these tubes often exhibit wrinkling or creasing in the tubes themsrlves. Riders also rarely stay upright in such crashs and there is genrally some other signs of damage. Ripped and abraded tape is common but easily replaced. Brake levers and hoods typically exhibit scrapes and scuffing. The same with the pedals. A frame, especially something as light as MiniMAX, also would be unlikely to stay aligned. Without taking it a LBS or framebuilder, the simple test for alignment is to ride it with no hands (or a very light touch on the bars if you're uncomfortable about riding with no hands). Misaligned frames invariably pull to one side. If the bicycle is devoid of the any of thes signs, I'd feel quite confident in saying it has not been crashed.

Personally, I really like the Dura-Ace 78400, 8 speed group. It shifts really well, having the benefit of HyperGlide and the dual-pivot brakes are fantastic. I really like the freehub too, but that's a moot point given the wheelset, which is very nice. The only real drawback to 7400 is that it uses a slightly different cable pull ratio than other Shimano groups.

The crankset is the real component star, It is highly desirable. Given you height, I hope you're not a heavy gear masher. If you are, you may have some problems with flex and chain rub on the front derailleur cage. The inner chainring does appear to be quite worn. If so, you may also need a new chain and rear cogs too.

I do agree that the bicycle is overkill for commuting. I certainly wouldn't want to leave this outside while I was at work.
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Old 02-26-13, 06:57 AM
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Nice bike. It's worth whatever you paid for it.

I too have a rarely seen custom frame (Mandaric) and like you I love my bike. I find it to be a blessing and a curse. It's great to know you have a one of a kind racer and that you'll likely never see another like it. On the other hand, it would also be nice to compare your bike to others of the same model, get inspiration from them, compare notes, etc. Regardless of how you look at it though, none of it matters when your in the saddle.

One last note - DON'T PAINT!!!
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Old 02-26-13, 07:31 AM
  #7  
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I thought George Bank was famous for yummy New England seafood! Mmmmmm!
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Old 02-26-13, 08:32 AM
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I would press for inclusion of the original steel fork if it existed. Back in the day, the carbon fork upgrade was the way to go. I'm curious why it is a Litespeed rather than a plain Time fork.

looks like a really nice bike at any rate. I wouldn't leave that locked up. Forget about painting it.
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Old 02-26-13, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
I thought George Bank was famous for yummy New England seafood! Mmmmmm!
I believe you mean the Grand Banks which is where Tupelov's boat the Konovalov, lies at rest.
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Old 02-26-13, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
I believe you mean the Grand Banks which is where Tupelov's boat the Konovalov, lies at rest.
I hear ya, we're both right!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Bank
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