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Do The "Little Things" Matter To You?

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Do The "Little Things" Matter To You?

Old 01-24-16, 10:18 AM
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Do The "Little Things" Matter To You?

I love bikes. I love learning about bikes. I love learning about the things that interest me about bikes.

The stuff about what makes something "better" than something else is interesting. Adding in the historical context of something is also fun and exciting. Looking at what parts an owner swapped out, what they kept, or what they added... it speaks about the part, it speaks about the time, it speaks about the owner, it speaks about what's "good" and what's affordable.

Looking at stuff like aftermarket parts- something like Bullseye pulleys is really interesting to me. They were not ever cheap. Those seem to often get put on high end derailleurs- pieces that already have sealed bearing pulleys... I can only think either the original pulley was damaged, or the owner was going for the prestige of the Bullseye pulleys.

Looking how bikes are specced is interesting to me. Beyond the racing/touring/sport/ATB stuff- where a particular group gets placed on what level frames... You look at something like the Grant era Bridgestone bikes, where a flagship level bike is wearing a groupset 3rd down from the top.. interesting. Thinking of my bikes- I get a kick out of throwing top of the line parts on a second from the bottom level bike. IMO- it's a nice frame, IMO it was specced to get it to a price point.

The recent discussion about discrepancies in published tube thicknesses is interesting- my head spins with the numbers- but realizing that has a direct impact on weight, and therefore price and therefore prestige... it all makes a difference.

I just was reading a thread where someone referred to people looking at stuff like an episode of "House." It is.

I've naturally got an interest in the bikes I have, as well as similar bikes. I love discussing the little things about these bikes. While there's a place for going "it's a bike, it's good- yay!" IMO- there's a place for appreciating it on the level of a full-on bike dork.

Being a full-on bike dork is fun.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:29 AM
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You F.O.B.D.

I like the details, and the minutiae ...a bit too much sometimes. Get wrapped up in it.
And take it to extremes. But it's my nature.

It's been a long time since I held a Bullseye pulley in my hand, but I know what you mean.
They were very well made pulleys. And the reason they were never inexpensive is evident when you look
at one closely, and then read up on what it takes to machine a gear like that. Not an easy set-up.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:38 AM
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Do the little things matter?
In a word, yes. But more for functionality reasons than for restoration accuracy. A bike is a collection of little things. If a little thing doesn't work, then there's a problem!
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Old 01-24-16, 10:48 AM
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Yep, I look at things like that. Sometimes, not on purpose.

Once in a while, I get a bike in for parting out or flipping, and the teardown lets me know how well it was taken care of, perhaps some builder was really good and the bike is just neglected, etc. I'll find a pulley replaced on a DA RD, FSA star-nut bolts on an older chainring set, or shifter cable liners run through the BB cable guides. In particular, I notice a clean, even wrap on the bars, perhaps because I see so many botchers in that regard. I look at fork ends to see if the owner set the front on rough pavement with the wheel off; I check the grease to see if anyone's actually serviced the headset or bottom bracket; have the rear axle adjusters been removed; does the rear rim show too much brake wear, etc... I often find mismatched bolts on calipers, FD's, and RD's; mismatched skewers, bar end plugs; missing cable tips with frayed cable ends; rusted seatpost binder bolts, etc.

From another perspective, a friend of mine flips higher end road bikes, carbon or nothing, from Dogma's to BMC's to Madone's and up. He is not a stickler for attention to detail, cleanliness, or torque specs. Once in a while I get a frame or bike from him, or look at one he has for sale, and I always notice he'd swapped in a lower end wheelset, Shimano R561 calipers for 105's, and very often, mismatched cable securing bolts, mismatched headset parts, etc. He's a former bodybuilder, so I often find stripped bottle cage threads, stripped cable securing bolts, etc. It's my caution when inspecting them that leads me to discover what may be prior wrecks, etc. I've not found any compromised frames, but I have seen some where the world of eBay buyer bias would treat him unfairly.

I've gotten nice C&V frames, and found frame dmgs, etc.

Yep, Mr. Hornung, I like the little things. For example, there is a "mystery" frame right now with a thread open. I have no clue what it is. The lugs look either nicely done or similar to a K-Mart All-Pro. It's light, so likely not K-Mart. The wheels are Phil Wood hubs, and all the parts "read" like a person's specific build to last. A lot of what I look for is due to my mistakes, my oversight, or what I've learned here.

I once followed a guy for about 35 miles that had a big grease spot on his R seat stay. Couldn't take it any longer, whipped out a Grime Boss wipe and got rid of it. Same trip, I followed someone else; his rear caliper QR was open. Bugged me. Don't get me started on pace lines with a guy on a wobbly rear wheel.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:54 AM
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Yes. I'm very detailed. Love research and learning about everything.

My grades were much better in grad school vs undergrad., and it was much more interesting because the topics were specific and deep. Unlike broad, more general classes in undergrad. school.

I'm fairly certain that some think it's "charming" that I get so enthusiastic discussing bike details. I sometimes fail to recognize when a listener has lost all interest or sense about what I am so enthusiastically explaining. I can get so lost in the minutiae that I don't see their eyes glazing over......

It's sad...........


Well, maybe not too​ sad.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Being a full-on bike dork is fun.
Yes. And sharing the proceeds here with other dorks is even better.
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Old 01-24-16, 11:12 AM
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Sure, details are great and can/do make the difference between 'good' and 'almost good' for a given set of needs (however pragmatic that list of needs may or may not be). I don't have any date-code matched bikes, but I have at least one that I'd like to get there in the long term.

Unseen details (such as in wheel building) can be equally interesting and have just as much, or more, effect as component choice, etc.

After all, a 'thing' can be seen as a conglomeration of details, each having an effect on their sum.
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Old 01-24-16, 11:22 AM
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The little things and not so little matter to me for sure . It makes me crazy that I can't afford some of the higher end , little/big things . But then on the other hand it makes me appreciate that kind of stuff even more .
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Old 01-24-16, 11:52 AM
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When I acquire another classic I tend to let it "talk" to me in regards to it's past and the intent. The Colnago score is an example. Most guys would have restored it to showroom "Ebay" condition. To me, that would be beyond the intent. This Super is about racing, the last ride it had was a state record ride. So I leave the patina and clean up the paint, shine components and make it rideable. The Trek 760 is left alone because it's the way it came to me, nothing major changed.

I love "intent", specific purpose. Criterium, road racing geometry captures my imagination.
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Old 01-24-16, 12:15 PM
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To me it's 90% about the details....in a sense, without the details they are all just tubes and wheels and ... The high end details like the dropout and seat stay ends on that Rochet in the French bikes thread, or the low end details like lug cutouts in bike boom frames are all fascinating to me (on the high end, I suppose the builder is expected to do things to distinguish themselves, but on a bike boom frame who even looked at the cutouts back then?). I just spent the last hour swapping wheels between a couple of bikes I got in a single deal from one family....clearly they were moved around between bikes but I just couldn't take having one DEA rim and one Rigida when their opposite numbers were on another bike....so yeah, details --> OCD is part of the fun!
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Old 01-24-16, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
Yes. And sharing the proceeds here with other dorks is even better.
There's another thing...

When I get interested in something I look for more information about it.

I would see posts and pix about bikes I liked- but NEVER enough. One of my first "grail" bikes was the 1987 Schwinn Paramountain- a frame that was offered for one year only. I looked for stuff about the Paramountain- and, man, there's like 15 pictures of Paramountains on the internet.

When that interest started moving into touring bikes, I'd see a few pix here and there... When I got things that I was looking for, I like posting those pix. I'm thinking *someone* thinks this is cool and wants to see pix of it, just like I did. I know I'm excessively lucky to have a Trek 720, I'm aware that fewer than 8,000 people in the whole world can have one of these things. I love putting pix out there of that bike- Just because *I* loved seeing pix like that.

When you find something cool- something like the criss-cross cable routing... I love sharing that.

As an aside... the other day I was looking for information about the 'Milwaukee Ice War.' Basically, in 1901, two rival ice companies battled it out on the Milwaukee River for several weeks. One ice company would score the ice and get ready to harvest it, and another ice company would drive an ice boat through and eff everything up. People tried sinking the boat, pummelled each other... all while a brass band played on the shore. Anyway... in looking through a scanned newspaper I ran across a story about a young lady who was being harrassed on her way home from church... I caught my attention, and I started searching her name... I found her entry in the 1900 census, with her parents' names and where she was born... I didn't see her or her parents in the 1910 census... (of course, she most likely married)... I'm sure if I had more genealogy experience I could probably dig up more about her... but it was really interesting.

I hate when there just is no more information. There was some luggage from a Titanic passenger... for whatever, that just caught my fancy- but there's nothing else I could dig up about this guy before he died on the Titanic... Just a guy who got on a boat, died, and his luggage was displayed to the world 100 years later...
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Old 01-24-16, 03:08 PM
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Ahh, the details. I greatly enjoy seeing others work and craftsmanship. It could be something from a longtime ago and now with patina OR just the same, someone today who's flawless restored a part or entire bike. Cool to see and much appreciation.

Another detail and wonder in my head is how much was involved in the tooling, the making of a single part. Mind boggling. Also what is the total sum of bits and pieces to it? Take a close look at a pedal, or a derailleur, a brake lever. How many little itsy bitsy pieces in a complete bicycle? The parts of a tire, a valve, etc. Don't forget each and every ball bearing, spoke nipple, the parts of a saddle, a rivet holding the headbadge...
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Old 01-24-16, 03:43 PM
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It was all those little ball bearings, springs and pawls that got me into freewheels! I'm surmising now, but is there any part smaller on a bike? Not even screws to mount fenders are that small.
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Old 01-24-16, 04:44 PM
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Pretty much anybody with basic mechanical skills can build a bike from a pile of parts.

Someone with better skills who's willing to pay a little attention can build a bike that performs well and looks good in the aggregate.

But to me, a really well put together and properly maintained bike looks better and better the more you look at the details. The little things definitely make a difference, take the most time and require the most intellectual investment.
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Old 01-24-16, 05:09 PM
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My wife would say too much sometimes.
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Old 01-24-16, 05:55 PM
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I'll be the odd man out. I rarely notice details, except when building and/or adjusting. If the bike functions correctly and rides nicely, that's all I want. When building wheels, I could care less if the tension is exactly even or "specced correctly"; if they're round and don't wobble that's all I need. I have no issue with re-truing them occasionally, using the brake pads as guides. I have no concerns for paint jobs, or carradice bags, or period correctness. Or polishing. Heck I don't even wash my bikes, and wipe them down only occasionally. I ride them and enjoy it immensely. and maintain them as needed and enjoy that part immensely too.
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Old 01-24-16, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
.....
Looking at stuff like aftermarket parts- something like Bullseye pulleys is really interesting to me. They were not ever cheap. Those seem to often get put on high end derailleurs- pieces that already have sealed bearing pulleys... I can only think either the original pulley was damaged, or the owner was going for the prestige of the Bullseye pulleys.
nah... except for a few Simplex pulleys, all the other ones used bushings in their pulleys. Bushings don't retain lube well, get gunked up, and are just waiting to turn into a source of drag.

I started using Bullseye pulleys shortly after Roger Durham started selling them in the mid 70's. They replaced functional pulleys on my SunTour Cyclone GT derailleur. I still have Bullseye pulleys on a few bikes, and am still running a SunTour Cyclone GT on one bike (and that has Bullseye pulleys too).

As far as little things... the bike is full of little things. When you do your own maintenance, overhaul all of the bearings, build your own wheels, and build up your bikes from the bare frame, then you definitely notice and appreciate all of the details.
It's a good thing.

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(built my first wheels 40 years ago)
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Old 01-24-16, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
It was all those little ball bearings, springs and pawls that got me into freewheels! I'm surmising now, but is there any part smaller on a bike? Not even screws to mount fenders are that small.
I've overhauled my SPD pedals and was amazed/worried at how small the bearings in those things are! They certainly seemed smaller than the 1/8" bearings that I recall in my SunTour freewheels (especially the Perfect freewheel cones that would unscrew themselves)

Steve in Peoria

edit: the magic of the internet tells me that the SPD pedals use 3/32" bearings. I would have bet that they were 1/16".
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Old 01-24-16, 06:22 PM
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For a while. Once I learn enough, I stop caring so much. Being the "smartest guy in the room" when it come to vintage bikes, is more work than its worth. In addition, to use the knowledge you have to have conversations with some really annoying people.....not here mind you....
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Old 01-24-16, 08:31 PM
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Yep! Bikes and riding bikes is cool. Vintage functional equipment is the coolest. My relationship to fishing and fishing tackle is similar. Pfeuger 1494s on my trout rods and 6 speed friction SR on my favorite bike.
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Old 01-24-16, 09:41 PM
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I love making a cheap(ish) bike work flawlessly, I'm fascinated with building mostly period correct hot rods.

Ideally, when I'm out on the road everything should be set up "just right" from the label placement on the tires to the cable routing. The rules are there for a reason, and even a cheap bike should represent the best practices of the era it was built in. So, turkey wings and dork disks and reflectors are quickly disposed of.

This year, before I take a (main) bike out, I'm rebuilding all the wheels with stainless spokes, I have a few wheels with good rims and hubs that are still running plain spokes. I do keep steel rim/steel spoke wheels for some of the relic bikes.

Good maintenance is #1
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Old 01-24-16, 09:59 PM
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Yes. I love the "whys and how" to be sure, but there is an innate "pleasantness" to things finely made from the best or scarcest materials by exceptionally skilled hands that just makes me smile--on the inside
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Old 01-24-16, 10:10 PM
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I once literally put a friend to sleep while going on and on about tires.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by seedsbelize View Post
I'll be the odd man out. I rarely notice details, except when building and/or adjusting. If the bike functions correctly and rides nicely, that's all I want. When building wheels, I could care less if the tension is exactly even or "specced correctly"; if they're round and don't wobble that's all I need. I have no issue with re-truing them occasionally, using the brake pads as guides. I have no concerns for paint jobs, or carradice bags, or period correctness. Or polishing. Heck I don't even wash my bikes, and wipe them down only occasionally. I ride them and enjoy it immensely. and maintain them as needed and enjoy that part immensely too.
I have found my self envying that mentality at times, I have a brother like that. It seems every time I do something it's a cluster unless I double check everything. Argh.

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I once literally put a friend to sleep while going on and on about tires.
Haha. Yea, I have seen peoples eyes glaze over on more than one occasion and then have to resuscitate them with something they want to hear.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:58 PM
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As the saying goes, "the devil is in the details". For me, that is where salvation is too. At a glance, a bike is a bike is a bike. That is true of anything.

On a bike, details often indicate innovation. Somebody thought "Hey if I do this this way maybe...". It is in the details that you either see a craftsman's artisan-ship or you see that some 'Joe' was eager to get home one Friday afternoon. One of the reasons that I love vintage bikes is they have more details and nuances. The first time I saw a Colnago with crimped tubes or the seat stays with the tapers turned in rather than out I knew I had to have one. The bike that I bought to ride as a beater that rides like a dream, it's in the details over looked and undervalued by another. Head badges, components, lugs, seat clusters, I want one of every kind and variation.
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