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The Impact of Repo on the Vintage Bicycle..?

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The Impact of Repo on the Vintage Bicycle..?

Old 06-26-17, 04:46 AM
  #1  
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The Impact of Repo on the Vintage Bicycle..?

I just had a look at a thread that introduced me to the fact that repo Simplex skewer caps are not available, thanks to 3D printing and, of course, some clever thinking. See Ebay this Ebay item 131938939527

These, and what seems to be a rapidly growing list of repo items for vintage bicycles, must be having a significant impact on the vintage bicycle scene. I see the impact as both negative and positive.

Negative because it dilutes the pursuit. Positive because it makes it far more reasonable for most people, who are interested in fixing up an old bike, much easier to reach the end of a project.

I would be interested to know how others feel about repo impact, but before leaving, allow me to say this...

Some day, if I live for a really long time, I will be the last person with an original paint/art bicycle sporting original, non-repo components. How is that for a fantasy ego run a muck?-) or ?-(, depending on individual point of view...

Note, this old Torpado is not mine anymore, but it is incredibly original, sporting a patina that will become gone, with a little cleaning and waxing...

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Old 06-26-17, 05:12 AM
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For me, it will depend on the item being reproduced. Things like hoods, bar wrap and cabe housing make sense to be reproductions, much of the old original stuff is long since gone, or even perished from exposure to the sunlight and air. But when it comes to components and most wheel parts, original or even rebuilt is necessary. And some are going to question even the rebuilt parts use.

A lot of the acceptance is going to depend as to how the bike is presented to the public by its owner/builder. If they try to pass off a bike as being correct and original in its content and it has components that are reproductions there is going to be a backlash against this. Lots of feelings about truly original and repos are going to come to the top with this question. Well asked Randy.

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Old 06-26-17, 06:56 AM
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...I know a guy here who was so into all original he even kept the original tyres on stuff. I never got it, but what the hell.
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Old 06-26-17, 07:32 AM
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Almost anything with a rubber, synthetic rubber, or plastic isn't going to hold up over time. Tires, hoods and other plastic bits just don't like UV light or ozone not the atmosphere at all. Reproduction would not bother me for these items, just say that is what they are. YMMV
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Old 06-26-17, 08:16 AM
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I'm all for reproduction everything. Anything to help keep old bikes on the road and looking good. For us cogniscenti we will continue to love and value unrestored scratched up totally original bikes.
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Old 06-26-17, 08:20 AM
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Very rare or historic bikes deserve the all-original maintenance and restoration approach, but 99.9% of bicycles originally sold at retail do not.

I was on a ride recently where I heard some criticism of a drivetrain on a bike I ride regularly. The comments came from someone who thought that all bikes built with steel frames were originally equipped with friction shifters and freewheels. I patiently explained that the bike had a cassette and ergo-levers originally. Should it matter to anyone but me if number of cogs had been updated from 8 to 10?

This all-original mentality is baloney (unless the bike is truly exceptional).
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Old 06-26-17, 08:34 AM
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I think it's great. Not everyone needs a "perfect to spec" build, and a lot of the time good enough is GOOD ENOUGH. I love having repo parts that might help keep stuff on the road and/or looking reasonably "correct".

Also, +1 to Barrett above. Very few bikes are really that special...and there are LOTS of them around.
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Old 06-26-17, 08:34 AM
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There was a time, several years ago, when repo items did not bother me a bit. In those days, a set of Campy hoods, original ones and they were available, cost an arm and a leg to acquire. Need, coupled with price point prudence, suggest the repo hoods were acceptable. However...

These days you can get just about anything that you need in repo form. Hoods, bar tape, crank sets, brake levers, brake calipers, wheel rims and, probably, a host of items I am not aware of. All this means, to me, is that anyone with the money can skip the search and buy his or her way into the vintage scene, without actually doing the work to get there and understand there when they arrive. Of course and for what it is worth...

I recently bought and install a nice set of moderately priced ($15.80 US shipped) repo hoods on one of my favorite bikes, my (now gone) Motobecane Grand Jubilee...



But I would have preferred a set of original hoods.

For my last few builds, I have tried to work with as few repo parts as I can. Period correct, yes, but not always model or brand correct, as can be seen on my all chrome Torpado LUXE...



And my latest project, a PX10E from the early seventies, is shooting for 100% original. Will I ever get there? Not sure but trying to do so is a big part of the fun, for me...

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Old 06-26-17, 09:04 AM
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I see no reason to keep ANY bicycle made of metal in 100% original condition. Mainly because that generally means that the bike won't be ridable. Bikes made from steel or aluminum CAN last virtually forever. I'd personally LOVE to ride a super early safety bicycle, but alas, most are in museums to never be ridden again.

My vote is to take any bike and replace the consumables with modern replacements (tape, housing, cables, leather pedal straps if you're into that, etc) and ride it or at least keep it ridable.

What use is a bike if you can't ride it? If the frame is cracked somewhere? Sure, put it in a museum, but until then?

Reproduction items make old bikes that you're trying to make look old ridable once again, so they're A-OK in my book.
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Old 06-26-17, 09:10 AM
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...I thought "repo" was what happens if you don't make your car payment, whereas a new duplicate of an old part was a "repro".

After all, priests would be upset if they found out that the ancient translators had left out an "r" and the word was actually supposed to be "celebrate"
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Old 06-26-17, 09:34 AM
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I suppose this is a good point to consider some of my saddles.

It's one thing, I think, to restore a ruined saddle; if I'm replacing the leather on an old saddle, there's no reason not to replicate the stamps, badge, even rivets, as closely as I can, right? I'll still do something to make it obvious that the saddle has been restored; I will usually stamp my initials on a rivet or on the leather somewhere, paint my initials and a number on the underside, etc. Aside from that, when I draw an old stamp for 3D printing, I don't make it an exact copy; there will be differences in fonts, sizes, that kind of thing. So, for example, this old Bianchi saddle... before:

and after:


It's another thing, then, when someone wants a saddle that is no longer made, and we don't have an original to restore. This gets us into the realm of a reproduction. So, how close should a reproduction be?

I recently did such a thing for a forum member who's restoring a bike from the 1930's. I'll let him out himself if he chooses. The original saddle, according to an old catalog, was a "Kaydex K5" which was a low end Brooks offering. Here's an entry from the Brooks catalog for 1935:


Having only that image to work with, and no frame, we decided the best thing to do was to simply restore a Wrights W3N, changing nothing but the stamp on the side; so I used a Wrights frame (which is a Brooks frame, but easily distinguished from a 1930's one), leaving the bag loops in the frame as typical of a Wrights saddle, rather than putting them through the leather as the Kaydex illustration shows. And, of course, I don't really know what the fine print on that Kaydex stamp says! I kinda had to wing it....



I, obviously, don't see any harm in it. But I'm interested in other people's thoughts on the matter.
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Old 06-26-17, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post

These days you can get just about anything that you need in repo form. Hoods, bar tape, crank sets, brake levers, brake calipers, wheel rims and, probably, a host of items I am not aware of. All this means, to me, is that anyone with the money can skip the search and buy his or her way into the vintage scene, without actually doing the work to get there and understand there when they arrive. Of course and for what it is worth...
I'm not sure it's a bad thing for someone with money to buy their way into the scene this way. You still have to acquire the knowledge to find the correct stuff, and the knowledge to put it all together. And someone who is using reproduction parts is more likely to be building up/restoring riding bikes, not wall hangers. Not that there's anything wrong with wall hangers, but one of the fantastic things about this hobby (as opposed to, say, vintage cars) is that most of these old bikes are 98-99.9% as functional as brand-new bikes. Also, how many people get 90% of the way through a vintage bike restoration, and stall out over finding just one obscure piece, and lose interest in the hobby?

And, of course, someone with enough money can just pay a bunch of money to someone who did the hard work to find all NOS parts and perfectly restore a vintage bike, or just buy an untouched museum piece. That's more of what I'd consider "buying one's way into the hobby," and even there, frankly, it doesn't have any effect on me.

Anything that makes it easier to keep old bikes functional and ridden, and makes it easier for people like me who don't have a parts bin built up over decades of riding and collecting, makes the hobby bigger and stronger. My biggest issue with many of repro bits is that they aren't as good as the originals, or don't look right, or don't quite fit right. Or they're sold as NOS for a bunch of money. Either of those stinks, but otherwise these new parts are just replacing increasingly rare, high-wear items.
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Old 06-26-17, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
A few very rare or historic bikes deserve the all-original maintenance and restoration approach, but 99.9% of bicycle originally sold at retail do not.
I'm on board with this thinking too.

While not necessarily repros, many of VO's products are intentionally designed to "look the part." I, for one, am quite happy to use a component that may not be original but respects the aesthetic. Antique handlebars and stems worry me for spirited riding, so a modern repro seems to fit the bill. And while I have, and have had, some pretty nice bikes in my custodianship, none of them fit the "rare or historic bikes" category. I want to ride them out on the road rather than keep them hermetically sealed away.

Now obviously we all come at this hobby of ours from different entry points. For many, the fun is in the hunt for original stuff. I get that entirely, and engage in the pursuit myself when that's my objective. My 1946 Hobbs is an example of this. While I have some decidedly period-incorrect stuff on the bike right now, as well as a repro Lauterwasser handlebar, I'm doing a long term period "resto" ...meanwhile, I'm riding that sucker with the parts that are on it and not losing a wink of sleep.

When I find myself getting overly precious about a project I am happily reminded of two things: 1. I think about the fact that BITD bikes were built and rebuilt and repainted without any thought of gruppos and period correct parts. Stuff was added to keep the bikes operating, and often because "better" stuff had become available than what was on the bike in the first place. Case in point: Paramounts sporting the pretty much junk Campy derailleur back in - what? 72 or 73? It got swapped out for a much better mech and no one thought the worse of it. 2. A conversation I had with a British collector a few months ago. He has a remarkable collection of really great British bikes from the 50's and 60's, but often has them outfitted with components that are a decade newer. Why? Because they work and make the bike more functional for his use. And I'll be darned if they don't look just fine.
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Old 06-26-17, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
I suppose this is a good point to consider some of my saddles.

It's one thing, I think, to restore a ruined saddle; if I'm replacing the leather on an old saddle, there's no reason not to replicate the stamps, badge, even rivets, as closely as I can, right? I'll still do something to make it obvious that the saddle has been restored; I will usually stamp my initials on a rivet or on the leather somewhere, paint my initials and a number on the underside, etc. Aside from that, when I draw an old stamp for 3D printing, I don't make it an exact copy; there will be differences in fonts, sizes, that kind of thing. So, for example, this old Bianchi saddle... before:

and after:


It's another thing, then, when someone wants a saddle that is no longer made, and we don't have an original to restore. This gets us into the realm of a reproduction. So, how close should a reproduction be?

I recently did such a thing for a forum member who's restoring a bike from the 1930's. I'll let him out himself if he chooses. The original saddle, according to an old catalog, was a "Kaydex K5" which was a low end Brooks offering. Here's an entry from the Brooks catalog for 1935:


Having only that image to work with, and no frame, we decided the best thing to do was to simply restore a Wrights W3N, changing nothing but the stamp on the side; so I used a Wrights frame (which is a Brooks frame, but easily distinguished from a 1930's one), leaving the bag loops in the frame as typical of a Wrights saddle, rather than putting them through the leather as the Kaydex illustration shows. And, of course, I don't really know what the fine print on that Kaydex stamp says! I kinda had to wing it....



I, obviously, don't see any harm in it. But I'm interested in other people's thoughts on the matter.
It works for me...you're, more or less, making a reasonable and functional piece, even with old rails, that replicates the spirit of the original. I'm looking forward to the Rutussi.
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Old 06-26-17, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
I suppose this is a good point to consider some of my saddles.

It's one thing, I think, to restore a ruined saddle; if I'm replacing the leather on an old saddle, there's no reason not to replicate the stamps, badge, even rivets, as closely as I can, right? I'll still do something to make it obvious that the saddle has been restored; I will usually stamp my initials on a rivet or on the leather somewhere, paint my initials and a number on the underside, etc. Aside from that, when I draw an old stamp for 3D printing, I don't make it an exact copy; there will be differences in fonts, sizes, that kind of thing. So, for example, this old Bianchi saddle... before:

and after:


It's another thing, then, when someone wants a saddle that is no longer made, and we don't have an original to restore. This gets us into the realm of a reproduction. So, how close should a reproduction be?

I recently did such a thing for a forum member who's restoring a bike from the 1930's. I'll let him out himself if he chooses. The original saddle, according to an old catalog, was a "Kaydex K5" which was a low end Brooks offering. Here's an entry from the Brooks catalog for 1935:


Having only that image to work with, and no frame, we decided the best thing to do was to simply restore a Wrights W3N, changing nothing but the stamp on the side; so I used a Wrights frame (which is a Brooks frame, but easily distinguished from a 1930's one), leaving the bag loops in the frame as typical of a Wrights saddle, rather than putting them through the leather as the Kaydex illustration shows. And, of course, I don't really know what the fine print on that Kaydex stamp says! I kinda had to wing it....



I, obviously, don't see any harm in it. But I'm interested in other people's thoughts on the matter.




I think your approach is fine. Nobody is then taking the item and trying to profit from passing it off as original.


I see bikes as use items and as such, am more about function over form. That said, people should pursue what makes them happy. If that is doing historic level restorations and then hanging the bike on a wall so be it.
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Old 06-26-17, 10:14 AM
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this masking tape looks repro

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4171/...864d46de_z.jpg
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Old 06-26-17, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by fender1 View Post
I think your approach is fine. Nobody is then taking the item and trying to profit from passing it off as original.


I see bikes as use items and as such, am more about function over form. That said, people should pursue what makes them happy. If that is doing historic level restorations and then hanging the bike on a wall so be it.
I think Rudi was just fishing for compliments; he already knows the answer
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Old 06-26-17, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
I suppose this is a good point to consider some of my saddles.

It's one thing, I think, to restore a ruined saddle; if I'm replacing the leather on an old saddle, there's no reason not to replicate the stamps, badge, even rivets, as closely as I can, right? I'll still do something to make it obvious that the saddle has been restored; I will usually stamp my initials on a rivet or on the leather somewhere, paint my initials and a number on the underside, etc. Aside from that, when I draw an old stamp for 3D printing, I don't make it an exact copy; there will be differences in fonts, sizes, that kind of thing. So, for example, this old Bianchi saddle... before:

and after:


It's another thing, then, when someone wants a saddle that is no longer made, and we don't have an original to restore. This gets us into the realm of a reproduction. So, how close should a reproduction be?

I recently did such a thing for a forum member who's restoring a bike from the 1930's. I'll let him out himself if he chooses. The original saddle, according to an old catalog, was a "Kaydex K5" which was a low end Brooks offering. Here's an entry from the Brooks catalog for 1935:


Having only that image to work with, and no frame, we decided the best thing to do was to simply restore a Wrights W3N, changing nothing but the stamp on the side; so I used a Wrights frame (which is a Brooks frame, but easily distinguished from a 1930's one), leaving the bag loops in the frame as typical of a Wrights saddle, rather than putting them through the leather as the Kaydex illustration shows. And, of course, I don't really know what the fine print on that Kaydex stamp says! I kinda had to wing it....



I, obviously, don't see any harm in it. But I'm interested in other people's thoughts on the matter.
We are all so darn fortunate to have rhm as part of the community.

Work of that calibre is priceless.

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Old 06-26-17, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
These days you can get just about anything that you need in repo form. Hoods, bar tape, crank sets, brake levers, brake calipers, wheel rims and, probably, a host of items I am not aware of. All this means, to me, is that anyone with the money can skip the search and buy his or her way into the vintage scene, without actually doing the work to get there and understand there when they arrive.
If reproduction items are not available then only those with the money will be able to acquire the items necessary for their restoration as the supply becomes fewer and fewer. The difference between finding a repro item that works and waiting for the right ebay auction/CR listing/C&V sales to come up at the right condition and price is just time and a few different clicks. If a 100% original restoration is your cup of tea for the hobby then that's something to aspire to individually. I don't see the vintage scene as a rite of passage or elite club that only those that have found the right metric sized 1962 Simplex washer can know the secret handshake to. Anyone can buy a 100% original and restored C&V Confente or Rene Herse - the hobby is broad and far ranging and some delve into all of it, some browse the periphery. At the end of the day they're just bicycles we all happen to like some aspect of and that's why we're here.
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Old 06-26-17, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
I suppose this is a good point to consider some of my saddles.

It's one thing, I think, to restore a ruined saddle; if I'm replacing the leather on an old saddle, there's no reason not to replicate the stamps, badge, even rivets, as closely as I can, right? I'll still do something to make it obvious that the saddle has been restored; I will usually stamp my initials on a rivet or on the leather somewhere, paint my initials and a number on the underside, etc. Aside from that, when I draw an old stamp for 3D printing, I don't make it an exact copy; there will be differences in fonts, sizes, that kind of thing. So, for example, this old Bianchi saddle... before:

It's another thing, then, when someone wants a saddle that is no longer made, and we don't have an original to restore. This gets us into the realm of a reproduction. So, how close should a reproduction be?

I recently did such a thing for a forum member who's restoring a bike from the 1930's. I'll let him out himself if he chooses. The original saddle, according to an old catalog, was a "Kaydex K5" which was a low end Brooks offering. Here's an entry from the Brooks catalog for 1935:

Having only that image to work with, and no frame, we decided the best thing to do was to simply restore a Wrights W3N, changing nothing but the stamp on the side; so I used a Wrights frame (which is a Brooks frame, but easily distinguished from a 1930's one), leaving the bag loops in the frame as typical of a Wrights saddle, rather than putting them through the leather as the Kaydex illustration shows. And, of course, I don't really know what the fine print on that Kaydex stamp says! I kinda had to wing it....

I, obviously, don't see any harm in it. But I'm interested in other people's thoughts on the matter.
I completely agree with you-

IMO- there are so few bikes that are worthy of the expense and effort of making completely "original."

I get there's the whole "game" of doing up a bike, or a car, or guitar rig, or whatever... it's out of love for the hobby and activity to hunt. However you see the bike is what determines your course of action. If it's an just an old bike- make it rideable; if it's a cool old bike, find cool parts for it; if it's rare or special- do something special with it.

I've been fortunate enough to get a few bikes that I would consider collectible, and were very stock. However, over the course of time, instead of concentrating on making them stock- I've modified them to my ideals. Whether anyone views it as good or bad- it doesn't matter... they're my bikes. But I do try to maintain a spirit of "classic and vintage" and I try not to do anything that would permanently alter the bikes.

Now, as far as the "grey area" around replacement parts... There's a part of me that says you shouldn't brand something as something else- on the other hand, you're branding it for that display- not to misrepresent the item. Where it can get goofy is when it passes hands and it stops being represented as a reproduction item.

Around 26 years ago- I received a guitar in parts- it had been smashed- the neck was in several pieces, the electronics had been all pulled out, it was completely destroyed. The case had a bunch of stickers on it. I started pulling off the stickers and found the word "FEAR" stenciled on the case. So I'm thinking I have a guitar that used to belong to one of the guitar players from the old punk rock band FEAR. I got a new neck for the guitar, replaced a bunch of parts, but the guitar was never as cool as I wanted it to be- I played it for around 10-15 years. During that time I ran into a guy who had been the bass player/singer for a band that was a regionally legendary band in the mid-late 80s. He saw the stencil on the case and said "you have my old guitar!" Basically, the story was they liked FEAR, so they made some "FEAR" stencils and stenciled a bunch of stuff, pallets, cases, boxes... The bass player guy owned a gold top LP Deluxe- the guitar player didn't own a guitar, so he was borrowing it- guy breaks the guitar, bass player guy loses the guitar, loses track of it- it gets totally smashed and sanded down I end up with it. I sell the guitar 20 years later with the whole story, it changed hands a few times and found out a few years after that that someone was representing it as a guitar from the guy from FEAR.

I guess the only time I would have some sort of moral problem (which wouldn't matter, as it's not mine) is when the parts/items are fabricated to intentionally misrepresent as original.
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Old 06-26-17, 11:59 AM
  #21  
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Well, that ^ reminds me of something I heard... I am not sure of all the details, so someone may correct me here....

Alvin Lee, guitarist in the band 'Ten Years After' did a breathtaking performance at Woodstock that got him into the original movie and made a star out of not just him, but also the hotrodded guitar that he played. And for years after that he continued to tour, playing more or less the same set, playing the same guitar every night, until he realized the guitar was actually too valuable to play any more. So he got a new one, and hotrodded the electronics the same way, stuck the same peace sticker to it, and voila! he continued to tour playing what appeared to be the same guitar, but now a reproduction. Why not? It's not like his style evolved....

I can see doing that. I wouldn't want a famous, record breaking bike, ridden by Fausto or Gino or Eddy, because if I had it, it would be too precious to ride it. A replica of no particular value, however, would be fun.
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Old 06-26-17, 12:07 PM
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It isn't quite 'repro' in the sense of trying to copy the artistry of something old with a newly built interation, but the advent of 3D printing is great for replacing little proprietary parts that wear out but which wouldn't be commercially viable to mass manufacture. After a weekend spent fishing through the bike co-op's bins for Suntour jockey wheels, the notion being able to readily acquire or 'print' worn out bits and pieces is appealing indeed.
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Old 06-26-17, 12:28 PM
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It is easy to go down a rabbit hole with completely original. There will always be someone to point out that the brake pads are not original, the tubes are not original - take it to the nth degree and the air in the tubes is not original.

I agree with Narhay here. Rarity of parts increases their value - bike parts are mainly steel, aluminum, rubber, and leather - but there will come a time when the "right" part is so rare that it is out of the reach of mere enthusiasts.

At some point in time a completely original bicycle will be a pile of dust and rust, and then it is no longer a bicycle.
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Old 06-26-17, 12:45 PM
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Not every car built in 1965 was a 250 GTO or a Hemi RoadRunner, There were thousands of Nova station wagons made that got driven every day, wore out, used up, and scrapped without a thought because they were just 'old cars'

Same for bikes, they weren't all hand-brazed, filigreed, Italian racers.
My Bridgestone (1975 Superlight) is an example of this; other than the (massively overbuilt) aluminum frame, it's in the same class as a Schwinn WorldSport of the same era. Since it came from Japan, there weren't very many of them. Even when you add in the Kabuki and Itoh badged versions, they are few and far between. I've only found one other Bridgestone-badged one, and that one is trimmed differently, and has steel wheels v the alloy Arayas on my bike.

That one was in near-mint condition; mine spent 18 years under a house before I rebuilt it. I added Shimano DT shifters, replaced the wide-5 freewheel with a 6-speed Hyperglide, and dual-pivot brakes. It's a nice bike for JRA and coffee-shop runs, I even did a century on it. But it's way heavy, and slow-steering due to the long slack angles.

The modern (NOS, mostly) hardware I put on it was much easier to find, and less expensive than the original parts, and makes the bike work 'better.'
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Old 06-26-17, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by dweenk View Post
It is easy to go down a rabbit hole with completely original. There will always be someone to point out that the brake pads are not original, the tubes are not original - take it to the nth degree and the air in the tubes is not original.

I agree with Narhay here. Rarity of parts increases their value - bike parts are mainly steel, aluminum, rubber, and leather - but there will come a time when the "right" part is so rare that it is out of the reach of mere enthusiasts.

At some point in time a completely original bicycle will be a pile of dust and rust, and then it is no longer a bicycle.
And the further down that rabbit hole you go, the more you'll impress the very small, but very influential, cognoscenti of our community. When you're selling higher dollar stuff, that's the difference between the $5000 Herse and the $12,000 Herse.

So it really depends on what your goals are.

Like most of us, I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm not spending $12,000 on a bike, but I want some bikes to look, more or less, "right". I'm willing to be somewhat stupid, but I'm not willing to be VERY stupid. If it's a 1978 bike, and the derailleur is from 1980, I'm perfectly OK with that. I'd rather have a Rudi saddle that sort of looks the part, and is comfy, than an original saddle that you'd be afraid of touching. I won't put a Shimano derailleur on a Galmozzi that I own mostly for "look at it!" value.

What are your objectives? What are your resources (both time and money)? Figure out the strategy that works for you.

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