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WTB C&V bike to ride...your opinions, please.

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WTB C&V bike to ride...your opinions, please.

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Old 07-13-18, 07:34 AM
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motosman1
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WTB C&V bike to ride...your opinions, please.

Hello all, newbie here. I am looking for an older bike to ride in my 'hood and community for fitness and relaxation. I am a mechanical/technical geek and understand the value of quality materials, weights, rolling resistance, etc... I want an older bike because I don't want a "cookie cutter" new bike. I'm not looking to be accepted by the masses. I want something that one doesn't see every day. Although, I am thrifty and value a "smokin' deal" as much as the next miser. Because it has been decades since I rode a bicycle (been riding motorcycles for 40+ yrs), I don't want to wrap up $ in a collector's bike only to realize I like working on bikes more than riding them. So, that being said...

I became really intrigued with a Bridgestone/Kabuki Hilltopper on my local Craigslist. Listed as ready to ride for $75. Pictures tell me it needs tires and lubrication as well as overall cleanup, but it is complete. Looks like it has been stored inside, hopefully. Listed as 1970's era, it does have the Bridgestone name on the Kabuki headbadge. Orange in color with chrome lower half of fork. It looks like chrome steel wheels. High Ten decal on fork indicates a high tensile steel frame, correct? I'm curious as to what it weighs.

Also, spotted a Schwinn Collegiate 10 speed with "ram's horn"(?) bars on CL. Looks to be complete but has been sitting outside, who knows how long. Plus, it is only available as one of a group of 7 bikes that need to be "hauled away", along with a Puegot (sp?) cruiser style bike and the rest appearing to be "big box store" BMX bikes (junk), all for $100. I have a romance with Schwinn, stemming from a childhood where myself, and most my friends and foes, rode bikes from Monkey Wards, Western Auto, Huffy and such while the "rich kid" in the 'hood had a Pea Picker that we all lusted over. In my kid's mind of the '60's and early '70's, Schwinn was the Crème de la Crème! After a little reading last night I've come away with the feeling that the late '70's-'80's
Collegiate was just a heavy turd in racer disguise.

So, I pose to all with more knowledge and passion for the C&V bikes, based on the info above what is the opinion of the Kabuki vs. Collegiate and what would be a few other bikes to look for as my maiden voyage into the sea of C&V riders. I am looking for a road bike and I'm sure that as I get more confident with the bike and my level of fitness I will push both. So, I believe I want a lighter bike (as opposed to heavy) that is comfortable yet durable and relatively easy to get parts for, even if they are not brand or period correct parts. I'm thinking I want a 27 incher, the collegiate is 26" wheels. I have seen the names Masi, Puegot, Fuji, Panasonic, Miyata(?) and so on. I did see someone stated that the Japanese bikes were the smarter choice due to their standardized measuring systems and parts adaptability. I want to continue my research and also determine what size frame best suits me, but while doing that I do desire the "Cliff's Notes" from you guys to help me in my search. I am really smitten with the Hilltopper but it seems to be less desirable due to weight and steel wheels. I am competent enough purchase aluminum rims and lace/true to the original hubs but is that pushing the investment cost beyond the value of the bike if/when I decide to sell it and upgrade to another bike.
Thanks for any and all advice, opinions, facts and reference material in advance!
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Old 07-13-18, 08:05 AM
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If you're looking for a Schwinn, get a LeTour.
I had a Collegiate, best friend had a LeTour, and i ENVIED that bike.
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Old 07-13-18, 08:22 AM
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Welcome to BF and to C&V in particular! I think you're in for a great experience based on your introduction. You've done some research and you seem to have a handle on what you know and what you don't.

Indeed, the Collegiate is not playing to Schwinn's strong suit. It's not their serious attempt at lightweight diamond frame road bikes (their Paramount), nor is it their traditional bullet-proof welded steel cruiser frame (their middleweights).

While the Kabuki is not particularly significant in design, it does represent a type that will probably be more satisfying to own, use, and ride, especially as a first foray into the past. If you're smitten by the Hilltopper, don't fight the feeling. If you were smitten by the Collegiate, I'd say the same thing but there's probably good reason why you're not. I think once you've played around with a C&V project like the Kabuki, you'll approach a future Schwinn itch with a different perspective and set of desires.

That's sort of where I'm at right now coming off a couple of 70's Raleigh builds. I may do a Schwinn, but it will be more about interesting mods like drum brakes and springer fork and/or seat, etc.
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Old 07-13-18, 08:23 AM
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Neither bike would have any interest to me. At that price range, the proverbial 1980s rigid frame MTB trounces those bikes. First, it will be lighter than those bikes. Secondly, it will have a better frame, better wheels, better components. Add smooth tires and you should be set.

I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. While Schwinn held a lot of respect, my respect went away when Japanese bikes started showing up in the early 1970s. For the same price of a 40 pound Schwinn, I could buy a 28 pound Japanese bike with cromoly frame, alloy rims, better derailleurs, etc. At that point I realized Schwinn must have known how to make better stuff, but they didn't bother as there were waiting lists for their bikes. Profits hide problems, continually improve or die, make your own products obsolete by creating new and better product, sit back and someone will enter your market and dominate; these are lessons Schwinn didn't learn. So they went bankrupt instead, twice.

Went through the same transformation with American cars. All of a sudden, the Japanese cars started showing up in the 1970s, higher quality, better fuel economy, etc. Compare a Chevy Vega or a Ford Pinto to a Toyota Corolla from the same era.

Now of those two bikes, I'd pick a Hilltopper over a neglected Collegiate.

At the $100 price point +/-, its hard to find a decent road bike, but good to very good older MTBs can be found (depending on your market). A cheapie road bike is no bargain. For some reason, people think a heavy road bike with crappy parts is better/faster/more efficient than a really good rigid frame MTB.


Yeah, the rich kids in my neighborhood had one of the Schwinn Krate bikes. As they got older, they moved onto Honda Mini-trail 50s and 70s. Meanwhile, I had a POS garage sale Murray clone.

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Old 07-13-18, 12:55 PM
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Stop looking for specific vintage bicycles and develop an rudimentary understanding of Vintage Bicycle Quality. Armed with the information contained there, you will be much better prepared to recognize a really good bike when one presents itself, and, just as important...

You will be prepared to avoid buying a mutt and then spending way to much to build or refurbish it.
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Old 07-13-18, 02:37 PM
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+1 for Randy's comments. Schwinn sold a ton of LeTours so they are easier to find. I worked in a bike shop at that time and it is true that the Japanese bikes of the time were a far better value than the Schwinns. Keep in mind that you may end up with a LeTour or Traverler, like I did, because they were available in the used market. The Fuji's, Panasonics, Miyatas, Bridgestones, Lotus' et al. are more difficult to find for the right price in the used market.

Wrk101 has a good point. The bike that I ride the most is an old mountain bike. A Trek 800. It is not fancy or especially good, but with smooth tires and racks and better brakes and shifting than an '80's 10 speed, it is a good option. I cannot say anything bad about these rigid moutain bikes. They work great. I picked up a Cannondale mountain bike frame that I am hoping to turn into a road bike.

I think I mainly like these '80's road bikes because that is what I liked when I was in my 20's.

So, do some research. Buy something and ride it. If it turns out you want something else, buy another and then either sell the first bike, or like many of us, keep it and now you have a choice of what to ride.
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Old 07-13-18, 02:41 PM
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I'm a big fan of French bikes, especially Motobecane, which always seemed to have the best fit and finish of the French offerings. Until recently I was riding a Grand Jubilee, which was one of their better touring-style bikes. My wife has a Mirage Mixte, a "lower end" Motobecane, which although kind of heavy is still smooth, stable and rather elegant looking. If you look for a Moto from the late 70s or early 80s they tended to use standard (not French) threading, so it's easy to find replacement parts.
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Old 07-13-18, 05:18 PM
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Thanks to everyone, sorry for delay in reply. Good point, wrk101. I just didn't know if there were differences in frame/fork geometry that discourage the crossbreeding of Road and MTB's. Just what I know from involvement in various other motorsports, I think a cr moly frame makes more sense for weight savings. As far as the Japanese, I make my living working on Harleys. My, and the wife's, daily driver are older Toyotas. I'm a mechanic by trade, I don't want to work on my utilitarian vehicles.

To randyjawa, an understanding of quality is exactly why I'm here. I don't have a horse in the race as I went from Stingray style bikes, as a kid, to mini-bikes to motorcycles to cars. I have very little knowledge of road bikes, past and present, and as I stated earlier the Schwinns were coveted as a kid just because of the "cool factor" and "hey, they're more expensive, they have to be better! Right?". Had I not come here, as well as other online research, I would have thought that the Collegiate was a "prize" that I stumbled upon. Exactly what I want to do...recognize a "mutt" when I see one. Thanks for the link to My "Ten Speeds".

Precisely why I ask about the Kabuki and Collegiate. I don't know enough, yet, to distinguish between the mutts and a quality bike, whatever the brand. I don't expect to acquire knowledge of the specifics, "overnight". I am eager to buy an inexpensive, quality bike that needs a little TLC and start riding. Sadly, one of my biggest fears is "buyer's remorse". That and having my wife say "then why did you buy it if you don't like to ride it?", lol!
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Old 07-13-18, 05:31 PM
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Motoman....for riding hood and relaxation, and simple mechanics think about mid 80's to 90's mid level road bikes, you can get a mix of relative light weight and totally functional components. think, Nishki, centurion, Bridgestone, Miyata, Panasonic

if you don't like drop bars you can do a simple new bar, brake lever, grip conversion for under $50 or so.

how tall are you? if you give and idea of where in texas your are (I here it is a fair to middlin' size state) people can give you and idea of possibilities from your local craigslist
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Old 07-13-18, 06:40 PM
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Check out a few other used bikes in your locality, and get an idea of the differences between them. Lighter is pretty much always better (if it's the same kind of bike) and used bike prices are all over the map. Some of my best pickups have been ads that read "older bike, $50" and then there are guys with so-so condition Schwhinn Varsities that think they're worth $300 (Pro Tip: They arent).

Checking out and test riding an assortment of bikes will give you a better idea of what you'd like to start off with. Road bike, mountain bike, cruiser, townie, etc
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Old 07-13-18, 08:14 PM
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post where you are in texas and your general size and I bet some here could find a few options.

edit: sorry just noticed that was already said. I leave it anyway as you could maybe use the second push. a fair bit of us have reached our buying limit, and love to shop for others
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Old 07-13-18, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jetboy View Post
[...]a fair bit of us have reached our buying limit, and love to shop for others
hahaha Ain't that the truth!
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Old 07-14-18, 06:45 AM
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Old 07-14-18, 06:56 AM
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$100 is a really tough price point, IMO. In my state (CA) $100 is usually about where used dept store bikes are priced, and no one wants those. But once you get to the $150-200 range, you start seeing some really high quality vintage stuff. But you need to know what to look for.

I think avoiding a cheap frame should be your #1 concern. If you have a heavy gas pipe frame like those old Schwinns have, no amount of fancy components will ever make it ride as well as even a mediocre cro moly steel frame.
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Old 07-14-18, 07:04 AM
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All depends on your size and location.

https://dallas.craigslist.org/ftw/bi...642690709.html

https://dallas.craigslist.org/ftw/bi...640381015.html

https://dallas.craigslist.org/ndf/bi...619930492.html

https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bi...628851827.html
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Old 07-14-18, 11:54 AM
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Of the 8 links put up, I think the Raleigh is the most obvious. In-budget, 531, braze-on shifters and front mech, Mavic rims, all small signs of quality. What I'm not sure about is that the frame looks glued and screwed. Anyone enlighten me (and of course the OP )
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Old 07-14-18, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by motosman1 View Post
Thanks to everyone, sorry for delay in reply. Good point, wrk101. I just didn't know if there were differences in frame/fork geometry that discourage the crossbreeding of Road and MTB's. Just what I know from involvement in various other motorsports, I think a cr moly frame makes more sense for weight savings.
Well, actually, a high tensile (“hi-ten”) steel frame is not that much heavier than a chromoly frame, and can often provide as good a ride. A lot depends on the wheels, in particular. Good light wheels with nice supple tires will be the best thing you can add to a bike. I have built and enjoyed low end bikes with hi-ten frames from Raleigh, Nishiki, Schwinn, and so on. They were all inexpensive, except for the wheels!

Also, Roypercy is right that French bikes can offer a good ride even at the lower end. And contrary to what many people say, it is not hard to deal with French sizes. I currently have four low-end French bikes and they are superb riders.
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Old 07-14-18, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by MiloFrance View Post
Of the 8 link put up, I think the Raleigh is the most obvious. In-budget, 531, braze-on shifters and front mech, Mavic rims, all small signs of quality. What I'm not sure abbout is that the frame looks glued and screwed. Anyone enlighten me (and of course the OP )
Raleigh made at least some Technium frames using 531 tubing, so it would be a mix of steel and aluminum.
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Old 07-14-18, 12:57 PM
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If you want a bike for 100 bucks today, this isn't bad. https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bi...642050919.html
And it is a Schwinn. While you learn about it and increase your fitness be on the lookout for a Tempo, Supersport, Circuit, Prologue, or Paramount.
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Old 07-14-18, 01:14 PM
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If this trek fits, get it and you will never 'need' another road bike. https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bi...639924180.html
235 dollars is a deal.
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Old 07-14-18, 01:56 PM
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And contrary to what many people say, it is not hard to deal with French sizes.
Unless you are unaware of the differences. To this day, I still have a Stronglight 49d crank set fitted with a 9/16" pedal. Try and get that sucker out! My point is the differences are there and, as stated, not that difficult to deal with. Sadly for many people, they don't have a clue about the potential problems that can crop up.
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Old 07-15-18, 09:20 AM
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Thanks to all for the very helpful input. To Aubergine, that was exactly my thinking when looking at the Kabuki. From the pics and my online research it has steel wheels. I have found rims and donor wheels that I could rob rims from and relace to the Kabuki hubs (just cause I think the hubs are cool looking) or replace the complete wheel set, in an effort to reduce weight. I just don’t want to start spending money “to polish a turd”. I like the Schwinn Worl Sport in the above link but I remember reading in another thread that there was something undesirable about either the front chai wheel or derailleur system. I am going to go back and find out specifically.

I am 6’ tall, with a 33” inseam (long torso) and currently 230 lbs try to get to 205-210 lbs.

I live about 10-12 miles NE of downtown Dallas. Thanks again for all the help!
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Old 07-15-18, 09:25 AM
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About that Schwinn chainwheel/derailleur, I don’t remember if it applied to the higher end bikes. I was actually researching the Collegiate when I read it.
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Old 07-15-18, 09:56 AM
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A few questions, please:

I noticed on the World Sport the sticker that says 4130 Cromoly “Maintube”. So only the maintube is 4130? Are they referring to the toptube, front downtube or seat post tube? And why just one tube?

I see on a lot of the bikes the tubes appear inserted into forgings (?) where two or more tubes come together, but I don’t see welds. One poster used the term “glued and screwed”. How are these tubes and forgings held together?

How can a frame have steel AND aluminum components?

I’m also noticing “side pull” brake calipers on some bikes. Are these really effective or is that something I will find myself wanting to upgrade? I remember, as a youngster, that our Montgomery Wards 5 speeds came with side pulls and we cursed them and coveted the much more effective center pull or cantilever brakes.

These questions are more for my understanding and education than for narrowing down my selection.

One thing regarding my selection, though, is the frame size. One of the CL posts stated that the 23” frame was desirable for 5’10” - 6’1” riders. Is that assuming a “standard” upper torso-to-inseam ratio? I think I saw, on this forum, a section for sizing and fitting a bike to rider. I’m headed there next!
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Old 07-15-18, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by motosman1 View Post
One thing regarding my selection, though, is the frame size.
My 2c after being in the local bar watching France win the world cup. Size isn't everything, nor is tubing. There are people on this forum shorter than me (I'm near 6'2" and ride a 58/59cm) who love a 60/61/62cm frame, and there are taller that ride a 56cm.
Find out what size gives you comfort on a decent ride. I'ts about enjoying the ride no matter what size or materiel it's made from. As a direct example, the Peugeot mid range U08 seems to come up more than any other C&V as one of the best ride quality bikes out there. Test ride at a coop, beg, borrow, ask for a loaner on the forum (if you can get to France you're welcome to test all mine) and see what you like.
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