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Are Vintage Components = Modern Junk

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Are Vintage Components = Modern Junk

Old 10-10-16, 05:57 PM
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Are Vintage Components = Modern Junk

The big things about components that the manufactures tout is ever evolving technology that gets pushed down from top of the line to the entry level group sets over a few years time. If that's true after each cycle the current bottom end set would be better than the top end 5 or 6 years ago. Multiply that over 30-40 years and anything modern should crush anything old. Is that true or false? Too much hype from the manufacturers? Or are the frames and wheels much more important than the rest? Even the cranks?
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Old 10-10-16, 05:59 PM
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Top end Campy and Shimano components, for example Super Record, Record and Dura Ace, have always been manufactured to high quality standards.

While the technology migrates downward, the quality standards do not.

Also, Suntour Superbe was once of the finest, most beautifully finished and produced groups ever made.
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Old 10-10-16, 06:17 PM
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with the admission that most of my bikes have 30 year old parts, I do have one modern bike with carbon fiber bits. My impression is that the improvements have focused on less weight and more gears. After a certain point, I really don't care about that stuff. I'm happy to have more robust parts and fewer gears.

Maybe there's something wrong with me??


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Old 10-10-16, 06:22 PM
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Higher groups have lighter designs, better materials, better finishes, higher tolerances.

Just an example using rear derailleurs...
Tourney is plastic and painted steel. The mounting bolt is black oxide coated.
Claris has an aluminum rear knuckle and a plated mounting bolt.
Sora has an aluminum outer link and rear knuckle, stainless mounting bolt, otherwise painted steel.
Tiagra is all metal with an aluminum front knuckle and all the steel pieces are stainless or plated.
105 adds an aluminum cage and one pulley bearing
Ultegra is mostly aluminum except for a carbon fiber front knuckle, and has two pulley bearings
DA has the front knuckle and cage plates made of carbon fiber and is otherwise anodized aluminum
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Old 10-10-16, 06:58 PM
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False, in my experience. Case in point, my 3 fastest avg pace rides of the year. I ride solo and they are the same route with an extra mile thrown in on the one.

Fastest - 1997 (?) Giordana Superleggero running a 2015 Campagnolo 11-speed Athena Groupset and Shamal Ultra wheels. 23.3 miles at an average pace of 20.3 mph.

Second Fastest - 1987 Schwinn Circuit running a 2016 Campagnolo 11-speed Athena Groupset and fairly heavy Mavic Open Pro Wheels on Miche hubs. 23.3 miles at an average pace of 20.2 mph

Third Fastest - 1987 Schwinn Prologue running a late 80s Dura-Ace 7400 series groupset, 7-speed, DT shifters and an old Mavic Open 4 CD wheelset. 24.3 miles at an average pace of 20 mph.

And pretty much anything I got I can run the same route in the 19 mph range with no issue. Does not matter what groupset it is or how old it is.
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Old 10-10-16, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak
False, in my experience. Case in point, my 3 fastest avg pace rides of the year. I ride solo and they are the same route with an extra mile thrown in on the one.

Fastest - 1997 (?) Giordana Superleggero running a 2015 Campagnolo 11-speed Athena Groupset and Shamal Ultra wheels. 23.3 miles at an average pace of 20.3 mph.

Second Fastest - 1987 Schwinn Circuit running a 2016 Campagnolo 11-speed Athena Groupset and fairly heavy Mavic Open Pro Wheels on Miche hubs. 23.3 miles at an average pace of 20.2 mph

Third Fastest - 1987 Schwinn Prologue running a late 80s Dura-Ace 7400 series groupset, 7-speed, DT shifters and an old Mavic Open 4 CD wheelset. 24.3 miles at an average pace of 20 mph.

And pretty much anything I got I can run the same route in the 19 mph range with no issue. Does not matter what groupset it is or how old it is.
Makes perfect sense to me. It's about the engine. Yes, in side-by-side racing, other things matter, such as split second shifting, as well as the placebo effect of believing that your equipment is at least as good as you are, not to mention your opponents' equipment. But, IMO, based on no statistically significant data whatsoever, in solo and non-competitive riding, subtle nuances such as shift latency, gearing steps, and a few dozen ounces of mass have little effect on the average speed. Now there will be equipment proponents that come up with counter examples such as hill climbing, sprinting or what-have-you where modern equipment makes a noticeable difference, but I and I believe jamesdak are referring to more general riding conditions.
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Old 10-10-16, 08:11 PM
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I rarely visit new bike shops with the exception of my home shop (Buchanans Bicycles, Norman OK --- they are heavy hitters locally - great guys )

A couple years back I was contemplating a more modern bike - I wasn't an over the top C&V maniac then , but I was wanting to update my ride because I just simply get bored riding the same thing all the time
--- I was riding a Litespeed Classic with Dura Ace 7800 , -

-- the clerk asked me what my current machine was so I shared that with him , and he stated "yes, it will probably feel good to get out from under an 8 year old machine--- besides that with trickle down technology, new Shimano 105 blows away Dura Ace from the last generation"

Now my experience with the 9 and 10 speed 7700 and 7800 groups was that they were some of the smoothest performing setups out there, so I was dubious --- justifiably so, -- I took the new 105 equipped carbon bike out and was really non-plussed with the shifting performance -- brakes were weak too (but they were a private label brakeset)

I didn't buy the bike from that shop and ultimately bought my late model carbon bike from a friend who ride it twice then starting using it for a dirty clothes hanger

---------- I then suffered through more horrible Shimano 105 shifting and tried to tune it myself ----- just before I was about to give up and order new Dura Ace for it --- I decided to take the bike to MY shop (Buchanans) and have them have a go at making it work right -- I had been embarrassed to before because I didn't buy the bike from them and it was a pretty new machine

I'm glad I got over it and took it in --- Its still not Dura Ace - or even equal to 15 year old Dura Ace 9 speed --- but it is very good, and good enough that I am not tempted to upgrade anything anymore unless it breaks first--- its a non-descript carbon fiber Cannondale, - if I want style points, i'll bring out one of the Italian Stallions in the stable


Bottom line is that the new stuff can work very very good if its tuned properly -- even good enough to satisfy a bike nerd like me ----
But new 105 aint the same as old Dura Ace- not even 15 year old Dura Ace ----
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Old 10-10-16, 08:13 PM
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Slickest RD I've ever used is the original Suntour Cyclone GT. Can't imagine anytbjng workinv better. Have sets of 1st gen Shimano 600 hubs. They just work.
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Old 10-10-16, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by old's'cool
Makes perfect sense to me. It's about the engine. Yes, in side-by-side racing, other things matter, such as split second shifting, as well as the placebo effect of believing that your equipment is at least as good as you are, not to mention your opponents' equipment. But, IMO, based on no statistically significant data whatsoever, in solo and non-competitive riding, subtle nuances such as shift latency, gearing steps, and a few dozen ounces of mass have little effect on the average speed. Now there will be equipment proponents that come up with counter examples such as hill climbing, sprinting or what-have-you where modern equipment makes a noticeable difference, but I and I believe jamesdak are referring to more general riding conditions.
Yep, I find that staying focused for a whole ride to keep "the power on" makes more of a difference than the bike or groupset for me. The routes in my example are flattish with only aroun 400 ft of elevation gain the whole route, couple of small hills etc.

For climbing, even I prefer something lighter and brifters vs reaching down to shift. Lighter wheels sure make the climb feel easier although time wise I don't normally see a big difference here either.
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Old 10-10-16, 09:04 PM
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Shimano and others would like you to think that all their technical innovations have made huge differences, and they have, but really what it comes down to is good parts used good and expensive materials and methods in their construction. This hasn't changed. As has been pointed out, the technologies trickle down, but the heat treated forged advanced alloy does not.
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Old 10-10-16, 10:15 PM
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Great feedback, thanks everyone
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Old 10-10-16, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by andr0id
Top end Campy and Shimano components, for example Super Record, Record and Dura Ace, have always been manufactured to high quality standards.

While the technology migrates downward, the quality standards do not.

Also, Suntour Superbe was once of the finest, most beautifully finished and produced groups ever made.
+ 1. Suntour superbe was beautiful stuff. I have one group.
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Old 10-10-16, 10:32 PM
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No "modern" pedal is anywhere near as great as the Phil Woods I had 35 years ago. After 25 thousand miles, they were still in great shape when the bicycle disappeared during my divorce. I'd like to replace the pedals on my bikes with Phils.
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Old 10-10-16, 11:30 PM
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I think that empirically, many modern components with their accompanying new technology perform better. Stiffer and lighter wheels with machined brake surfaces, larger pads with softer and modern rubber chemistry, and stronger-alloyed dual pivot calipers all do a lot to make for serious stopping power. And that's not even mentioning road disc brakes in the dry and especially wet. More robust drivetrain components allow for reliable shifting under heavy load. Modern tires have better compounds for grip, puncture resistance, and rolling resistance depending on the goal.

If we are talking if modern components feel better or work better than others via a specific metric, then it can get all over the place. Recently I've switched all my Ergo/STI bikes to quill stem adapter+100mm 1 1/8" stem+short & shallow 31.8mm clamp diam. drop bars--"slammed stem" look with a threaded headset. Does it steer any better? If no height or reach changes, it doesn't. But I changed them to address some reach and aesthetic theories/concerns. They feel amazing, and "sure", and the front of the cockpit is the best it's ever felt to me.

10s Ultegra (6700-era) felt just fine to me on a perfectly good carbon Fuji Granfondo 2.3 last summer. 10s 7800-era Dura Ace shifts so lightly and smoothly that I find myself not shifting in integer fashion (over- or under-shifting) as often as I'd like. Call it rider error in spite of my best attempts--it's easily and quickly remedied, of course--but the more deliberate effort required of 7700-era 9s DA coupled with its more 'positive' feedback is something I prefer.

Since we are not TdF riders, I think the feeling and preference and aesthetic sides of the component situation get more of a voice--and perhaps appropriately so--in comparison to measurable performance increases from prior generations of components. I enjoy this luxury...and the much lower prices of still nice older components. Cheap(er) speed.
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Old 10-11-16, 01:39 AM
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fact that Campagnolo technology, at least in their mid-to-low end groups, regressed a bit in recent generations. I've only personally used 11-speed Athena components to this point, but I've got a set of 2002 9-speed Centaur levers in the garage waiting to go on a bike and it has some features that the 11-speed Athena stuff lacks, not the least of which is that it can be rebuilt when it wears out.
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Old 10-11-16, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller
Slickest RD I've ever used is the original Suntour Cyclone GT. Can't imagine anytbjng workinv better. Have sets of 1st gen Shimano 600 hubs. They just work.
I'm not going to argue either of your observations, but I just built a wheelset out of 6800 hubs, and they are way nicer than early 600. I've used 6200, 6400, and various iterations on the later groups. Earlier is not better, imo. That said, the technology is the same: cups and cones. If something isn't working, you can use a later cone to your advantage in an earlier hub.

Again, the Cyclone GT is a fine derailleur, but it pales in comparison to anything after the 5500/6500/7700 Shimano groups. They are much tighter and better shifting.

Of course, it's up to you and what you want to do. Riding on the rail-trail doesn't require super top end performance, and enjoying the ride can be done with any kit.
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Old 10-11-16, 06:12 AM
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Yes, the trickle down in technology does make a big difference. A bottom of the line Shimano Tourney with slant parellogram, indexed shifting and Hyperglide cogs is going to outshift any Tullio era Campagnolo derailleur, by a wide margin. Similalry, the cheapest Shimano SLR, dual pivot brakeset, is goping to stop you quickly and with better modulation that a a set of Cmapagnolo Record sidepull or pre-SLR Dura-Ace.

Now, in my mind shifting and braking are the two most important aspects of a bicycle and we've had tangible improvements in both areas. primarily thanks to Shimano, who believes in the trickle down of technology. Sure, maybe some of the lower, modern models don't have the durabilty of the older, higher end components but I can also afford to buy five modern Tourney rear derailleurs for the price of a vintage Nuovo Record.
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Old 10-11-16, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by andr0id
... the technology migrates downward, the quality standards do not.

...
Yup.

Aside from that, many older components were built to last, and could be repaired if damaged. This is less frequently true of newer stuff. Similarly, older components were made to be almost universally cross-compatible (if your Campagnolo derailleur broke, you could replace it with a Dura Ace without a second thought), while today they are made to discourage that kind of thing.

And then of course there's the odd fact that once upon a time components were designed to look good, whereas today ...
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Old 10-11-16, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm
Yup.

Aside from that, many older components were built to last, and could be repaired if damaged. This is less frequently true of newer stuff. Similarly, older components were made to be almost universally cross-compatible (if your Campagnolo derailleur broke, you could replace it with a Dura Ace without a second thought), while today they are made to discourage that kind of thing.

And then of course there's the odd fact that once upon a time components were designed to look good, whereas today ...
Spot on. You have just summarized why I am sticking with my "obsolete" vintage gear.

Regarding modern wheels, unless one is racing, I do not regard a reduced spoke count as a benefit, because I value the robustness and repairability of a good old-fashioned 32- or 36-spoke wheel laced in a 3X (or even 4X, with 36 or 40 spokes) pattern.
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Old 10-11-16, 06:46 AM
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There is nothing wrong with older brake calipers, either, if they are equipped with KoolStop pads, low-compression cable housings, and aero handles. The fulcrum leverage has always been somewhere around 1.0 for sidepulls. One can boost the leverage of a set of centerpulls by using a shorter straddle cable, assuming the longer handle travel is not problematic.
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Old 10-11-16, 06:57 AM
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T-Mar, you are so correct. Example:

I recently built up my new Pelizzoli frame, and the inital build used an S/R top end (brakes, levers, friction DT shifters, HF Campagnolo wheelset) with a Shimano bottom end (Deore RD, CX70 FD, 6206 crankset, Shimano freewheel). This was to acommodate a compact crankset and large freewheel for Cino Heroica. It worked exceedingly well, with no missed shifts or dropped chain. When I returned home, the big tires and large freewheel came off and were replaced with 25's and a 13-28 freewheel. I had intended to change out the crank, FD and RD to Campagnolo SR as well, but...the darn thing shifts SO MUCH BETTER with the Shimano bottom end that it would be difficult to justify doing it.
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Old 10-11-16, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fact that Campagnolo technology, at least in their mid-to-low end groups, regressed a bit in recent generations. I've only personally used 11-speed Athena components to this point, but I've got a set of 2002 9-speed Centaur levers in the garage waiting to go on a bike and it has some features that the 11-speed Athena stuff lacks, not the least of which is that it can be rebuilt when it wears out.
Campagnolo for some time has with purpose made the subordinate groups have less features.
With Record or above multiple cog shifts are no problem. I have not kept track completely but other groups only let you shift one cog at a time.
I think the most recent, Potenza has fewer feature deletions than in years past for a subordinate group.
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Old 10-11-16, 07:02 AM
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You also need to decide if the emotional attachment to many of the C&V components is ignored, or taken into account when you ask someone this question. If you leave the notions of emotional attachment out, the advances in design, engineering and manufacturing make this a straight forward decision, to me. I'll fully admit to my own fondness for the appearance of the classic Nuovo and Super Record components, and even the middle of the Shimano upper level components.

Yes, I feel that technology has trickled down, and that most of the contemporary components work better, at the lower levels, than many of the upper level things of the past. Granted the precision of lower level group's manufacturing isn't near what say the upper two levels of the big threes' components, it is still better than what was best practice for the C&V things. The advancements in manufacturing at all levels is remarkable, so was the level of quality for what the vintage makers had to work with, in the upper levels, just not nearly what you see from the makers now.

And, its all an opinion in my case, I tend to take the Engineer's view point, that gets colored with some fond, and even some not so fond, memories of the past at times.

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Old 10-11-16, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by jorglueke
The big things about components that the manufactures tout is ever evolving technology that gets pushed down from top of the line to the entry level group sets over a few years time. If that's true after each cycle the current bottom end set would be better than the top end 5 or 6 years ago. Multiply that over 30-40 years and anything modern should crush anything old. Is that true or false? Too much hype from the manufacturers? Or are the frames and wheels much more important than the rest? Even the cranks?


Components don't crush anything, they are ultimately a only small part of the equation. Often C&Vers are maligned as living in the past with rose tinted glasses, but what a lot of us know is that quality endures, and the bicycle in all its forms is still a pretty simple machine. It's the engine that makes the real difference, and it has the capacity to excel on many platforms.


Of course modern low end stuff is functionally 'better' than old top of the line components. But this isn't the full measure of bicycle performance that some techies would like it to be.
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Old 10-11-16, 07:35 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Hardy, VA
Posts: 17,924

Bikes: Mostly English - predominantly Raleighs

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I run a range of technologies on my bicycles - old IGH hubs, front derailleurs operated by a lever, downtube shifters, bar ends, thumbies and brifters. I also have a range of wheels and hubs. My assessment is that it depends.

My observations - absolutely nothing wrong with quality older components, and in fact, some of it I prefer to modern stuff. If I could, I'd take good vintage hubs and cranksets any day. They are durable, beautiful and most acceptably functional. My old Sansin ProAm hubs spin as well as modern hubs. Also, the evolution of downtube shifters and bar-ends hasn't resulted in any improvement of aesthetics or function since the 70's. The new ones have better housings, but otherwise, the main difference is that they cost more these days.

Tubular rims? Give me vintage. The modern ones are ugly.
Frames? Carbon can be crazy light, and sculpted aesthetically, and modern custom steel frame builders offer construction quality that is phenomenal, but the aesthetics, comfort and value of a quality vintage steel frame are pretty much untouchable.
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