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Best Hi-Ten Bikes

Old 07-20-18, 05:25 PM
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Best Hi-Ten Bikes

So I've had a bit of a chance to ride my Harding road bike and I was a fan of the spare time I had on it before I tore it apart to rebuild. My Peugeuot carbolite 103 AE8 is also a wonderful ride.
So I'm wondering what recommendations people have for hi-ten bikes that were built beautiful and built well. General brands or specific models of brands.
Ones with forged dropouts general good quailty parts, nice lugs, brazed on downtube shifters etc.
Are there any brands that excelled at those things but stuck with the thicker "worse" grades of tubing?
I like the way my heavier steel bikes ride so far and I'd be more than happy to build up the same type of frame if it was well, and beautifully built.
Basically a bike built with the care that generally goes into a tange, a 531, or a cromo, but out of the stuff that lasts a life time and wont flex with 260 pounds cranking on it uphill.
I know plenty of bikes made of the "good stuff", when well built, would work just fine for me and dont flex, but I'm curious about alternatives
thanks for your suggestions!

note: I have ridden a 531 frame that didnt flex, it was a real beauty but it was too small so it had to go. Just to be clear I'm not opposed to 531 and the like.

Last edited by Buellster; 07-20-18 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 07-20-18, 05:40 PM
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I really like Boom era Jeunet bikes. Chrome fork and stay ends. They were made for 700c wheels so clearances are closer than most from that era. I put sew-ups on mine. They ride great. Have really nice paint jobs. Mafac Racer brakes. Decent cottered cranks. And Simplex Prestige derailleurs, that operate really well if you replace the levers with Campys.
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Old 07-20-18, 05:46 PM
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...check out some of the offerings from Sekai in their touring bikes made from butted HI Ten tubing. Also, look at frames from the major Italian makers in Tres Tubi variations, where the stays are often of a slightly heavier but thicker walled tubing. All of the Columbus Aelle frames are candidates in this regard.


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Old 07-20-18, 06:28 PM
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Here's what I think I know so far... for seventies bike boom yearish steeds, I rate the entry level fare, which usually is the high ten stuff, by country... (drum roll here)....1) French, 2) Britain, 3) Japan. And all the other smaller, lesser producing countries fit somewhere below, or possibly in the middle somewhere, or first, because I don't have much experience with them. I had an early 80's, Austrian made Puch/Austro Damlier bicycle, a Pathfinder AD model (the AD indicating that it was made by the Austrian Austro Daimler group, instead of the Japan co-group), which was made from Puch's well kept, secret sauce, "PUCH 2600 Manganese tubing". I recall that bike, it being my first "bike shop" quality bike, as particularly amazing... and I think it might be the best, bar none/any decade/never to be topped winner-winner-chicken-dinner. Though, it might just be that that bike is well doused in personal, sticky-sweet nostalgia and all.

Last edited by uncle uncle; 07-20-18 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 07-20-18, 06:51 PM
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Buellster-

There are some fine hi-ten rides out there. I agree with the Carbolite/103 Peugeot frames assessment (see here for details).The British made Raleigh Super Grand Prix and its butted hi-ten successor were both excellent rides (I had owned and enjoyed a British, Worksop built one). Carlton offered the Kermesse in 2030 tubing. The Peugeot PA 10 and PA 60 were good examples of their take on entry level sport bikes and so was Gitane's Interclub. The Italians made some really good framesets out of PG, hi-tensile Columbus Zeta. With its .9 mm walls, the frame built up to about the weight of an SP frameset. Some examples might be the Olmo Gentleman, the Benotto 850, the Basso Vignola, Colnago Sport and the Bertin C 70 to round things out with a non-Italian example. All round bikes, some made with great panache and equipment. (The Olmo Super Gentleman built with Zeta came chromed, pantographed and Campy Gran Sport.)

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Old 07-20-18, 07:16 PM
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Much depends on the frame geometry (and of course how well the frame fits you). Some of the lesser bikes from the better companies had the same frame geometry as their more expensive stablemates.

My lowly Peugeot UO-8 beater is a joy to ride.
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Old 07-20-18, 07:33 PM
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I really liked the ride of this 1977 Gitane Gypsy Sport, shown here is SSCX configuration. (No, really, I swear I'm not a hipster.)



I sold it and got a Surly Cross Check, which I ended up not liking nearly as much.

The Gypsy, which as I understand it was actually built in Japan, had pretty nice lugs for an entry level bike.



The dropouts were pretty good quality too, though I don't have a picture to prove it.
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Old 07-20-18, 07:38 PM
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Entry level Pinarello from the 90's. Here's mine:





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Old 07-20-18, 08:25 PM
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That pinarello, and that super gentleman are real beautys! Pricey too!
The Sekai and the Gigante are pretty reasonable where I'm at in portland. I'll have to keep an eye out for those!
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Old 07-20-18, 08:26 PM
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High-tension tubing isn't what makes a frame better for a larger rider; it's the physical characteristics of the tubing that make the difference. High-tension tubing isn't as strong as chrome-moly or manganese-molybdenum (531) tubes, so they have to be thicker and therefore stiffer than the more exotic alloys. Reynolds 531,Tange Champion, Columbus, Ishiwata, and other tubes were available in a range of thicknesses for various purposes. Reynolds and Columbus tubing decals didn't generally indicate these differences, but Tange Champion and Ishiwata did. E.g. Tange Champion #1 was the thinnest, lightest, and flexiest of the Champion series; Tange #5 was the thickest and stiffest. The material was otherwise the same: seamless chrome-moly double butted tubing. Same with Ishiwata: Ishiwata 015 was the thinnest and lightest; 022 was in the middle, and 025 was thickest and stiffest. Otherwise the same: seamless chrome-moly double butted tubing.

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Old 07-20-18, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
Here's what I think I know so far... for seventies bike boom yearish steeds, I rate the entry level fare, which usually is the high ten stuff, by country... (drum roll here)....1) French, 2) Britain, 3) Japan. And all the other smaller, lesser producing countries fit somewhere below, or possibly in the middle somewhere, or first, because I don't have much experience with them. I had an early 80's, Austrian made Puch/Austro Damlier bicycle, a Pathfinder AD model (the AD indicating that it was made by the Austrian Austro Daimler group, instead of the Japan co-group), which was made from Puch's well kept, secret sauce, "PUCH 2600 Manganese tubing". I recall that bike, it being my first "bike shop" quality bike, as particularly amazing... and I think it might be the best, bar none/any decade/never to be topped winner-winner-chicken-dinner. Though, it might just be that that bike is well doused in personal, sticky-sweet nostalgia and all.
There is a Puch for sale here thats dropping in price because no one is interested. I wonder if it's a decent model...
I've been eyeing some raliegh bikes but the years are mostly 80s which I hear are when they were downhill from the initial quaility.
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Old 07-20-18, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
High-tension tubing isn't what makes a frame better for a larger rider; it's the physical characteristics of the tubing that make the difference. High-tension tubing isn't as strong as chrome-moly or manganese-molybdenum (531) tubes, so they have to be thicker and therefore stiffer than the more exotic alloys. Reynolds 531,Tange Champion, Columbus, Ishiwata, and other tubes were available in a range of thicknesses for various purposes. Reynolds and Columbus tubing decals didn't generally indicate these differences, but Tange Champion and Ishiwata did. E.g. Tange Champion was the thinnest, lightest, and flexiest of the Champion series; Tange #5 was the thickest and stiffest. The material was otherwise the same: seamless chrome-moly double butted tubing. Same with Ishiwata: Ishiwata 015 was the thinnest and lightest; 022 was in the middle, and 025 was thickest and stiffest. Otherwise the same: seamless chrome-moly double butted tubing.
Oh most definitely. There are plenty of amazing options that would work great. I'm just trying to get a understanding of the other options.
I'd like to be someone who can spot a nice bike without always looking for a 531 or tange sticker.
The vintage bike market is hot in Portland so those types of frames go fast and expensive. I'd like to be ableton pick up a quality bike that's flying under the radar so to speak.
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Old 07-20-18, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
Much depends on the frame geometry (and of course how well the frame fits you). Some of the lesser bikes from the better companies had the same frame geometry as their more expensive stablemates.

My lowly Peugeot UO-8 beater is a joy to ride.
Dang skippy, they are very nice for what they are.









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Old 07-20-18, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Buellster View Post
I'd like to be someone who can spot a nice bike without always looking for a 531 or tange sticker.
The vintage bike market is hot in Portland so those types of frames go fast and expensive. I'd like to be ableton pick up a quality bike that's flying under the radar so to speak.
So, in addition to knowing what to look for, you might consider looking off the radar. Craigslist is on everyone's radar, it seems.
I've been looking at the alternatives to Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, OfferUp, letgo, etc. First, the app on some of those automatically generates a title, which you should ignore. Learn the shape of a vintage road bike, other indicators of quality such as shifter location, turkey levers, etc. Look for forged dropouts, lug details, the look of a Turbo seat, etc . So far over the last three months I've seen a $25 Dept store cruiser, $35 Andre bertin, a $35 Austro Diamler, a $50 guerciotti, a $50 Bianchi Volpe, an $80 Houdaille, and a $100 diamondback road bike, off the top of my head. The Andre and Austro I tried for but were sold, some are flips, some I'm considering, and some are languishing unsold.
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Old 07-20-18, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rocks in head View Post
So, in addition to knowing what to look for, you might consider looking off the radar. Craigslist is on everyone's radar, it seems.
I've been looking at the alternatives to Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, OfferUp, letgo, etc. First, the app on some of those automatically generates a title, which you should ignore. Learn the shape of a vintage road bike, other indicators of quality such as shifter location, turkey levers, etc. Look for forged dropouts, lug details, the look of a Turbo seat, etc . So far over the last three months I've seen a $25 Dept store cruiser, $35 Andre bertin, a $35 Austro Diamler, a $50 guerciotti, a $50 Bianchi Volpe, an $80 Houdaille, and a $100 diamondback road bike, off the top of my head. The Andre and Austro I tried for but were sold, some are flips, some I'm considering, and some are languishing unsold.
offer up and FB are great! I need to download Letgo though.
I got a full 531 frame built by a custom frame builder for $50 of FB marketplace. It was just labeled as "bike" haha
it was too small and I'm trying to flip it but so far thats the best deal I've ever had.
nextdoor is another App thats great. It's a neighborhood information App with a seller's section. It's a good place to find garage finds.
I've been trying to get better at "spotting the geometry" I've also found that if a bike has poorly taken pictures (non drive side, grainy etc.) there is a good chance that someone doesnt know what they have or just wants it gone bad enough to make a deal.
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Old 07-20-18, 10:38 PM
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This is a great topic. Thanks, Buellster.

I can’t say I have tried a lot of bikes but I agree that the French bikes tend to provide good rides at the low end. Besides my two Peugeots, I have a Motobecane Nomade and an Astra. Both of them are peppy and responsive riders. Another bike that has surprised me is my early 70s Nishiki Olympic. Although it is riding on rather narrow Gatorskins (not the plushest tire) it also is an enjoyable bike, at least on smoother surfaces. Once those tires wear out I’ll see how it does with some more supple tires.
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Old 07-20-18, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
This is a great topic. Thanks, Buellster.

I canít say I have tried a lot of bikes but I agree that the French bikes tend to provide good rides at the low end. Besides my two Peugeots, I have a Motobecane Nomade and an Astra. Both of them are peppy and responsive riders. Another bike that has surprised me is my early 70s Nishiki Olympic. Although it is riding on rather narrow Gatorskins (not the plushest tire) it also is an enjoyable bike, at least on smoother surfaces. Once those tires wear out Iíll see how it does with some more supple tires.
I just see so many appraisal threads where someone puts up a bike, some which you guys have mentioned as great rides in this thread, and the conversation ends up at the conclusion of a pass based solely on the tubing. Even when the asking price is $50 or so. I wanted a more nuanced approach to the idea of "quality bike" that doesnt just focus on the sticker on the tube.
Motobecane is another brand that generally goes for pretty low prices around here. I think it doesnt have the name recognition of peugeot or the "rareity" factor of other french brands. I've been considering getting ahold of one, but my swiss threaded puegeot pushed me to an english bike for my current project. Used english parts are so much easier to come by at my LBS and the new ones are half the price of the French. I'll go back again I'm sure because so many of the French bikes are a treat to look at.
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Old 07-20-18, 10:55 PM
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I would skip Durifort, unless it feels lightweight. I read a vintage article reviewing the SemiPro and it was called a good bike at an affordable price. Maybe itís just the big frame and 27Ē and heavy tires, but the frame just doesnít do it for me even with a test ride on 700 tubies.



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Old 07-21-18, 04:57 AM
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One of the best rides of my life was on this entry level Legnano. Found it at the dump, spent exactly $0.00 on it and enjoyed a beautiful ride that carried wonderfully. For the life of me, I cannot understand why I let it go...


And though this old Torpado LUXE is nothing special, it is a treat to take out for a spin...


Foolish, I am, and I sold that lovely five speed but kept my eye open, both actually, and found this which I still have to this day...


And, though swamped with projects, I tucked this Freddie Grubb away, thinking to build it up one day...
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Old 07-21-18, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
One of the best rides of my life was on this entry level Legnano. Found it at the dump, spent exactly $0.00 on it and enjoyed a beautiful ride that carried wonderfully. For the life of me, I cannot understand why I let it go...


And though this old Torpado LUXE is nothing special, it is a treat to take out for a spin...


Foolish, I am, and I sold that lovely five speed but kept my eye open, both actually, and found this which I still have to this day...


And, though swamped with projects, I tucked this Freddie Grubb away, thinking to build it up one day...
Ive said it before, and will probably say it again, I just love that Legnano.
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Old 07-21-18, 09:07 AM
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My favorites:




Both are on tubulars. I think that makes more difference than the frame weight.

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Old 07-21-18, 09:37 AM
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No hi ten list would be complete without a Chicago Shewinn.
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Old 07-21-18, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Buellster View Post
There is a Puch for sale here thats dropping in price because no one is interested. I wonder if it's a decent model...
I've been eyeing some raliegh bikes but the years are mostly 80s which I hear are when they were downhill from the initial quaility.
You should post a link to the bicycle, if say it's on Craigslist, and let people chime on it. My original Puch Pathfinder AD was definitely "entry level", with many parts that had steel instead of alloy bits and bobs. And I immediately made some alterations to it... swapping stem shifters for down shifters, toeclips and cages, doing away with the brake extension levers, shiny Benotto tape... but those were pier-driven, and didn't have much to do with the ride of the bicycle. By the eighties, entry-level bikes were so price competitive across the board, almost all of them represent a great bike for your buck bang. The Puch/Austro Daimlers looked classy, with well finished lug work and rich looking paint, and had that foreign name mystic going for them. I paid a few more shekels to obtain the Austrian made, as opposed to the probably-just-as-good Japan made, model... just for country-of-origin aura. I think the frame was on par with other makes... just some of the part selections might have been weighty, to be competitive with larger, more established brands, like Schwinn, Fuji, etc.

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Old 07-21-18, 04:13 PM
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Old 07-21-18, 06:43 PM
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A few of my favorites are the early '70s Fuji Special Road Racers (S-10-S), '76/'77 Centurion Super Lemans and the mid-seventies Motobecane Super Mirage (with a few changes). Bike offerings for the maases,though, improved tremendously from the mid-seventies through the mid-eighties ... at least in my opinion.
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