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"Oh that's a nice bike" throughout personal history?

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"Oh that's a nice bike" throughout personal history?

Old 09-01-17, 11:19 AM
  #1  
corrado33
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"Oh that's a nice bike" throughout personal history?

I couldn't think of a good way to title this thread, but I thought of it the other day when I was selling a bike.

Before I got into bikes and fixing them, old mountain bikes were just that... old mountain bikes. They were "cheap" and crappy. "Nice" bikes were ones that "looked" nice. So an old Landshark that had a really cool paint job or something that had flashy graphics.

However, as I've gotten to know old and classic bikes better, my differentiation between "oh that's a nice bike" and "oh that's just an old bike" has gotten more sharp.

However, it's gone a step further than that. In the first couple of years getting to know old bikes I knew enough to look up the bike and know whether is was high end (in it's day) or low end. Then, I judged all "low end" bikes harshly and praised all "high end" bikes.

But now it's slightly different. I may see a relatively low end univega with a bolt on rear axle, but I know those univegas produced around that time actually rode pretty nicely, regardless of how high up on the hierarchy they were.

In essence, the number of bikes that I would consider "nice" has grown to include many older cheaper bikes. Many of you have many more years of experience than me, and I'd like to hear your take on the subject? Did you have similar realizations at some point in your life? Or have you gone the opposite direction and only consider high end brands worthy of your (and other's) time?

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Old 09-01-17, 12:08 PM
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Yup -- I had little respect for Peugeot UO-8s (we called them "You Owe Nothing" at the Peugeot-Nishiki dealership where I worked in the early 1970s), but they have grown on me significantly over the years. I built one from a bare frame for my wife because that was all we could afford as starving grad students, and it more recently became my beater/commuter/shopper after she decided she preferred mountain biking, to get away from motorists. What I have found is that almost any good old plain gauge carbon steel frame with a decent geometry can be turned into something enjoyable and practical.
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Old 09-01-17, 12:13 PM
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If someone is riding a bike that looks like they take pride in- I say "cool bike" regardless if it's a Varsity or something else that looks fancy.
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Old 09-01-17, 12:17 PM
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I don't believe that any bike that I own is worth more than $400 max. A lot of them are 3 speeds and the balance are mostly mid to low end road bikes - toss in 3 mountain bikes of a bit better quality.

I didn't intend to stick with lower end bikes. Financial reality imposed that early on; and the little voice in my head of my long deceased grandmother who was born poor and went through the Great Depression. Later when I had sufficient funds I found that I actually appreciated the Motobecane Mirage and the Fuji S-10-S and others of that type.

I just like bikes that are built well and put together thoughtfully.
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Old 09-01-17, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
I couldn't think of a good way to title this thread, but I thought of it the other day when I was selling a bike.

Before I got into bikes and fixing them, old mountain bikes were just that... old mountain bikes. They were "cheap" and crappy. "Nice" bikes were ones that "looked" nice. So an old Landshark that had a really cool paint job or something that had flashy graphics.

However, as I've gotten to know old and classic bikes better, my differentiation between "oh that's a nice bike" and "oh that's just an old bike" has gotten more sharp.

However, it's gone a step further than that. In the first couple of years getting to know old bikes I knew enough to look up the bike and know whether is was high end (in it's day) or low end. Then, I judged all "low end" bikes harshly and praised all "high end" bikes.

But now it's slightly different. I may see a relatively low end univega with a bolt on rear axle, but I know those univegas produced around that time actually rode pretty nicely, regardless of how high up on the hierarchy they were.

In essence, the number of bikes that I would consider "nice" has grown to include many older cheaper bikes. Many of you have many more years of experience than me, and I'd like to hear your take on the subject? Did you have similar realizations at some point in your life? Or have you gone the opposite direction and only consider high end brands worthy of your (and other's) time?
Not really seeing where this post is going...

Bikes are a tool. They should be judged at how effective they were for their purpose, and then you select the tool you want to use. Being cheap and functional is a valid purpose that some bikes could be better at than others, but it's not a tool you'd use for a fast group ride.
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Old 09-01-17, 12:31 PM
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I have a lot I could say on the subject but here's what I will say:

My awareness of "relative value" has skyrocketed in the last decade. You mention UO-8s and it's a good example. A lot of people will bash those as "low end / gas pipe / bike boom" bikes.

Relatively speaking, they were exceptional bang vs. buck. They just "worked", they lasted really well, they had a lot of excellent properties anyone who spent time on one is aware of and you didn't pay an arm and a leg to get one.

I will say, my interpretation of what is "special" has opened up quite a lot also. I still have a hard time dealing with seeing a lot of the prices I'm seeing on things, but I'm slowly adjusting as I'm starting to sell more, higher-end stuff, and I notice more of the details I had overlooked in earlier years.

In riding what comes through the doors now I have the time and money to afford a hell of a lot more, I find my "relative value" side has only become more astute than anything else. I'm realizing all those bikes that were out of reach - while beautiful - held more emotional value on me than practical value. I wouldn't have gone much faster, or had a much better experience.

At the end of the day, one thing stays fundamental: Ride. Wrench. Enjoy.

(And it's OK to admire aloud here and there with fellow cyclists and share a glass of social lube now and again)

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Old 09-01-17, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
Not really seeing where this post is going...

Bikes are a tool. They should be judged at how effective they were for their purpose, and then you select the tool you want to use. Being cheap and functional is a valid purpose that some bikes could be better at than others, but it's not a tool you'd use for a fast group ride.
At the risk of mis-speaking for the OP, I think that's kind of the point. And since this will be my answer to the OP's question I'll talk a bit about it from my perspective (though I don't have the years of experience the OP mentions).

When you first peek into the C&V world from outside, your first impression (apart from nice=looks cool) is that "nice bikes" are De Rosa, Colnago, Schwinn Paramount, and maybe a whole bunch of obscure brands that you don't really know anything about. Trying to internalize this information, maybe you start looking for Columbus SLX and Reynolds 531 tubing as easy-to-read indicators of a "nice bike" and then try to find information about whatever brand you find with that tubing. Eventually, you probably let Tange #1 into the search list.

The trouble is that while this is a useful first approximation and will probably keep you from buying any really awful bikes, it is only tangentially related to the actual experience of riding the bikes. Depending on what you want out of the bike, these "nice bikes" may not even be what you wanted and they certainly aren't the only bikes that would be great for a given type of riding.

As I said, I'm not terribly far down this road. I'm still basically a boy on the beach looking at shiny pebbles. But I have expanded my view a bit. The bike that I tell people crushed all of my theories about what makes for a good bike was my '82 Sequoia. I bought it because of its interesting place in Specialized history and because a few people seemed to really like them. I wouldn't say I had really high expectations. It's a Japanese factory-built bike with a mix of Tange #2 and Tange #3, with basic sport touring geometry. None of that shouts "great bike." But when I built it and rode it, it shouted "great bike" all over the place. I'm not saying it should dislodge De Rosas in the pantheon of collectible bikes. I don't even know if most people would share my appreciation for it. What I can say is that for me, it's a great bike.

And so having had all my romantic notions about magic tubing sets and master craftsmen crushed, I'm left wondering what makes for an exceptional bike. Pretty much the best thing I can say is, I know it when I ride it.
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Old 09-01-17, 02:13 PM
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I had been out of the fast group ride scene for quite a while. It was a UO-8 that got me back into it.

My go to bike for the last couple years has been a '71 Schwinn Super Sport. Modified with campy hubed wheels and a cotterless crank, I ride alongside guys on their carbon fiber wonder bikes. Its not about the bike.
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Old 09-01-17, 02:43 PM
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My "Nice bike!" response is elicited by bargains among sleeper bikes. The OP mentioned Univegas. In my area Centurions tend to be sleepers too, although Ironman models are sometimes overvalued.

This week I see on CL a 1980 Chicago made Schwinn Super Le Tour in good condition for $150. My size too. That definitely piqued my "Nice bike!" response. If it wasn't such a far drive I'd grab that puppy pronto.

At the other extreme, a Paramount with the asking price of $1,200 did not elicit my "Nice bike!" response.

And a Univega Alpina 5.5 with AMP fork only nudged an "Interesting bike" from me even at $50. If I had room for a proper shop to replace the fork that might have entered "Nice bike" territory.
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Old 09-01-17, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
In my area Centurions tend to be sleepers too, although Ironman models are sometimes overvalued.
I don't know if the CL sellers in my area just aren't very savvy or if they're just irrational, but for the most part they don't seem to distinguish between different models within a brand when setting their asking prices. I've noticed this with Centurions in particular. Right now there is an Ironman listed for $300 (which seems about right to me). Meanwhile, there are two Accordos: one listed at $285, the other listed at $375. I expect the Accordo is a fine bike, but not at those prices.
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Old 09-01-17, 04:16 PM
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I tend to look at C&V bicycles in terms of value. If, back in the day, the bicycle was considered to be above average compared to it's direct competition in ride characteristics, mechanical function and/or finish, while not being below average in any, then I consider it a "nice" bicycle. The price and type of bicycle don't matter. It all depends on how it fairs against the competition in it's category and price point.
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Old 09-01-17, 04:33 PM
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I like old bikes, but not low or mid grade ones. Upper to top of the line is more my preference, excluding some Raleigh models. Having sold and serviced new models since 1983, I am particular as to what is acceptable quality.


Craigslist and Ebay are mine fields, buyer beware. Pricing is subjective, and on most of what I see, overpriced. Perhaps open to negotiation?
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Old 09-01-17, 04:53 PM
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Hmm. "Nice", like a diamond, has many facets to reflect light. Not to disagree with KASnake but "just a tool" doesn't hold for a bike any more than it does for any other well-designed vehicle, or even a well-designed tool. A bike as a tool, yes, but the "just" part? Utilitarianism is fine, but a "nice" thing can be a work of art too. That's why we like them shiny, or with patina that tells of loving use, or just plain awesome design. I've seen bikes that speak of all those things, and some that are just very efficient can opener which are nice for only that reason, and some which aren't necessarily nice at all.

Don't mind me. It's the Perpetual IPA talking.

If I didn't think a bike would be nice I wouldn't bother to build it, certainly not keep it.
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Old 09-01-17, 05:41 PM
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I like old bikes, including some low end stuff. They're not tools to me, they're more like big erector sets LOL. Some of my builds have been totally illogical but I had fun scrounging for the pieces and making it all work. I'm excited when each build is done but I'm instantly looking for the next project and some of my favorite builds have been "pigs with lipstick". The high and low ends of my pending projects........

'86-ish Ten Speed Design Guerciotti



1970's Montgomery Ward Open Road by Steyr-Puch-Daimler, looks like Hell but the paint and graphics are actually very good. Not worth a dime but there's something about it I like.

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Old 09-01-17, 06:42 PM
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Nice to me is the Panasonic Tourist 5 with color-matched fenders and Shimano Front Freewheel System, chromed steel rims that always trued perfectly and hella strong. Every one I ever built, when I completed it and rolled it out I'd say, "That is a nice little bike." The other guys in the shop got sick of hearing it and began saying it before I did.
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Old 09-01-17, 07:07 PM
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I'm loving my '73 Raleigh Super Course. My bro in law found it in an alley scrap pile as a bare frame, fork and crank missing chain wheels. I have had a '64 Legnano since new, and didn't need another vintage ride. I started doing some research on the SC, mostly here on the forum, and decided to make a project of it. It was the first bike I ever built, all me, except paint and decals, which next time I would probably try myself. I spent way too much, all in, but I love the bike, and its done 1200 miles since building it up. It's no Italian Stallion, but as a garden variety boomer bike, it works for me. It's smooth, yet responsive, and has become my "go to" bike for all kinds of rides. I'm looking forward to next year's Eroica CA, since I built it up with hill friendly gears, more as a useful riding machine, than as a totally original museum piece. It started as a blank canvas, and I'm extremely happy how it turned out. As found and finished pics below.
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Old 09-01-17, 08:24 PM
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I'm, like, only interested in mid-range sports-tourers and old MTBs these days. I can still be kind of snobby about integrated derailer hangers and cotterless cranks, but that is fading recently too.

I would like to have one really fancy bike, but I don't know what it would be as I'm not really interested in race-y bikes (I have had one in the past but it wasn't a great fit [Trek 720]).
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Old 09-01-17, 09:12 PM
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My views were set pretty early but did evolve.
A Peugeot PA10 caught my eye when I was 9, I asked a lot of questions about those tires that needed to be glued on.
Soon, I was scouting the local shops that I could ride to-
A top end Legnano in a light aqua blue, full Campagnolo save for the brakes was very cool. So was a yellow Helenic stayed Hetchins... In short I was warped early. Chrome Schwinn Paramount....
First Club ride, An early Masi GC, Colnago Super and a Pogliaghi... My views were set before the age of 13.
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Old 09-01-17, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
My views were set pretty early but did evolve.
A Peugeot PA10 caught my eye when I was 9, I asked a lot of questions about those tires that needed to be glued on.
Soon, I was scouting the local shops that I could ride to-
A top end Legnano in a light aqua blue, full Campagnolo save for the brakes was very cool. So was a yellow Helenic stayed Hetchins... In short I was warped early. Chrome Schwinn Paramount....
First Club ride, An early Masi GC, Colnago Super and a Pogliaghi... My views were set before the age of 13.
My old Legnano has been my "nice bike" for 53 years. I think it might be jealous of the newcomer '73 Raleigh.
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Old 09-02-17, 12:55 AM
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I'm not into the high end stuff, mostly because too many others are interested in them. Which means high prices and - funnily enough - little exclusivity. At the latest Retroronde I counted more than twenty-five blue GIOS Torinos. Meh.

My latest "Oh, that's a nice bike!" acquisition was this one. No special brand, no special tubing, no special parts. Just one of the many decent mid-level offerings from the late sixties. If only it were my size.

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Old 09-02-17, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
I'm not into the high end stuff, mostly because too many others are interested in them. Which means high prices and - funnily enough - little exclusivity. At the latest Retroronde I counted more than twenty-five blue GIOS Torinos. Meh.

My latest "Oh, that's a nice bike!" acquisition was this one. No special brand, no special tubing, no special parts. Just one of the many decent mid-level offerings from the late sixties. If only it were my size.

snip . . .
That's a cool bike.
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Old 09-02-17, 01:15 AM
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When I first got into bikes in high school, I really wanted a reynolds 531 bike. I couldn't afford one and rode my hi-tensile nishiki happily.

Now most of my bikes have some sort of double butted tubing.

A nice bike is one that gives me pleasure to look at, to fix up, and to ride.
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Old 09-02-17, 03:25 AM
  #23  
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One of my other hobbies is vintage mechanical wrist watches. I have noticed a lot of similarity between bicycles and watches.

One (of many) similarities being a very wide span of executions basically tending for the same purpose.

A cheap mechanical watch tells time and can be very good at it when new or well maintained. A high priced watch tells time, is expected to do it accurately - and can be very good at it when new or well maintained. They both fail if neglected/not getting serviced regularly.

In this there are also some other things. There were cheap watches made to very high standards and designed technically sound - and there were expensive watches that were low quality and not very well designed from a technical viewpoint.

Exchange “watch” for bike and “tells time” for… you get it.

When it comes to vintage watches I have them all. I have cheap low quality, cheap high quality, expensive low quality and expensive high quality. And they all have their purpose/designated use, historical significance and within/between all this they satisfy my collectors heart.

Brand value/awareness is as big or bigger in the vintage watch world as in the bicycle world. There are watch equivalents to De Rosas, Colnagos, Cinellis, Univegas, No names, etc. The cheap/low quality, cheap/high q, expensive/low, expensive/high applies to both worlds.

I have really put some thought into why I tend to go “brand religious/top of the line” when it comes to bike frames and components when I am more into price worthy when into watches.

I have come to the conclusion that for me it has to do with dreams. I never dreamt of a watch when young. I never thought - “when I can I will get a Patek/Vacheron/etc” or “if I only could I would get a…”.

I did however dream of top of the line frames and parts. All of the time.

Last edited by styggno1; 09-02-17 at 03:37 AM.
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Old 09-02-17, 05:17 AM
  #24  
dan3324 
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I got into road bicycles really more out of necessity than anything else. It was my senior year of high school and I needed a way to get to school but I couldn't rely on my mom since she was working all the time, and no one wanted me to get a car for me. So i searched up on craigslist and found myself a Centurion Sport dlx from 1979 i believe. It was actually advertised as a Schwinn Centurion so I figured it was a "nice bike" because of that Schwinn name drop. I grabbed it and instantly fell in love with it.

This new found love eventually led me to look it up and how good of a bike it was, and I was bummed out to learn it was a entry level bicycle for Centurion at the time. This made me see it as a bike that had no real value so I never really took care of it. I believe the gear shifters broke off at one point and I was unable to shift gears effectively making it a single speed. That bicycle eventually got stolen and it didn't bother me. I think because I didn't see it as "nice bike" anymore. But as time went on I began to miss it, especially after I got a "nicer bike", a 1970 super course.

Now I define one to be a bicycle that I can relate to, either through the way it looks or how I feel riding it. I feel a nice bike should reflect off my personality. But boy if i could have that Centurion again I would give it the love and attention it deserved.

Recently I bought another bicycle which can be said to be better than the super course, a 83 panasonic dx 4000. But that doesn't mean i will see my super course as a lesser bike. I already learned my mistake of mistreating a bicycle
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Old 09-02-17, 06:19 AM
  #25  
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When I thought I might get serious about bikes, I immediately struck a deal with my grandson to purchase new skateboard stuff in trade for my old Crosscut (I purchased new in 1990) that he'd had for three years. I went after it because I knew I'd ridden it off and on for so many years, there was history (had it shipped to me in Japan, carried it aboard ship, rode it on foreign soils, etc), and frankly, the bike fit thing had me initially stymied. Being a diy'r and mechanically inclined (which is different than being a mechanical genius it turns out) I reasoned I could get it on the road cheaper and quicker than trying to buy a new bike (sometimes the voice of reason isn't...it's some other voice). So in January this year (staring a Century challenge in the face in early May), the project began...what fun sorting through and picking the pieces to get it on the road. Recalling my younger hot rodding days and the wasted money on bling, I resolved to only purchase/change things that increased performance, reliability, or comfort...so frankenbike (a tool) returned to the road in February almost new end to end, but with original factory paint and decals plus years of battle scars. I can't remember hearing "nice bike", but accept the substitutes of "old school", "steelie", and "I wish I still had my Crosscut". I'm on the fence about "nice wheels"...LOL. Could I have bought a better bike for that $1000? For my purposes, I doubt it--and I'd have missed putting it together myself.

Noting I have since purchased a Domane, but frankenbike remains in ready standby as that bike that will do it all at any time, just add rider...maybe some touring bags?

Last edited by Stormsedge; 09-02-17 at 06:23 AM.
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