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Tell me about lightweight steel road/tour bike performance models

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Tell me about lightweight steel road/tour bike performance models

Old 09-14-18, 10:04 AM
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MegMC
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Tell me about lightweight steel road/tour bike performance models

Extremely open-ended and subjective inquiry:

Recently finished a commuter bike build of a Univega mixte, which was my first foray into C&V and bike-building in general. Starting from zero knowledge I eventually learned brands and models to search for, steel frame types, shifter types etc for the world of 70s/80s Japanese and French mid-end road bikes and was eventually able to find a good deal on a well-spec'd bike to suit my transportation purposes.

In the spirit of N+1 I am gearing up for my next C&V aspiration and would like some suggestions for brands/models to start learning about for a lightweight steel road bike that I could build with more of a performance orientation.

Since I have taken up bike commuting (and obsessing) my husband has renewed his bike obsession and we've been enjoying riding together for fitness and recreation. He has a c. 2008 carbon Lemond Buenos Aires, so when I say fitness - I am getting quite a workout on my commuter mixte and he is not breaking a sweat

I am also finding that though I built my commuter with a slight aptitude for speed (not super sweeping handlebars, minimal accessories) it is not the most comfortable on longer rides and higher speeds. I find myself shifting around and curling my tailbone in all kinds of weird ways to get a comfortable but powerful position and the bike being older than me, it starts to rattle like crazy at speeds above about 20 mph.

So I am thinking at some point I would probably like to have a bike that can better keep up with my husband on these faster and longer rides. Not *totally* keep up, but *better* keep up - I'm not going carbon. Aside from the cost issue, a lot of the fun of bikes for me right now is the romance and aesthetics of vintage, the acquiring of obscure knowledge, the hunt and the satisfaction of building and customizing myself.

But at this point, I really don't know much about what I would even want to start looking into. I am by now fairly familiar with mid-level offerings of Centurion, Univega, Nishiki, Motobecane and the difference between Cromoly and Hi-ten or stem shifters vs downtube shifters.

I would like suggestions for brands/models/families of bikes that I might start learning about to achieve a lightweight, high-quality steel frame that I could build/customize for the purpose of fitness and longer day-rides on urban bike path pavement, potentially with light touring (as in bringing a camera and lunch on a day trip).

From my extremely limited knowledge I'm thinking perhaps something like a vintage Trek or an Italian steel?

No firm budget currently as I just want to learn about the options out there and maybe I will aspire to a reach level, maybe be happy with something more humble. But I'd say nothing above around 1500/1700 (including upgrades) moving on down to well, well below that. I have really no idea what can be achieved with a low budget and what's realistic for my needs.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 09-14-18, 11:04 AM
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I paid $150 for a 1984 Trek 510 in nearly 100% original, and excellent condition. In the three weeks that Ive owned it, Ive happily clocked well over 100 very comfortable miles.

The double butted Reynolds 501 (chromium-molybdendum) frame, and Tange mangalloy fork make for a lightweight, and lively feeling ride while still absorbing enough shock from the road. The frame geometry is designed for sporty cycling, and it offers exactly just that!

My rides have been focused on 8 mile total round trip work commutes, but have also included a few leisurely rides along the river bike path with no specific destination. Ive covered every urban road surface with out complaint, and have easily taken a few city foothills which would have been outside of my normal physical comfort zone.

Fast? I have no problem getting out on the main drag with this bike, where the drivers motor vehiclists appear to think theyre contestants in the Indy 500!

Talk about one fun, and very stable feeling bike! Brakes, and changed gears like a champ. I absolutely love this bike!

Near future plans definitely include fenders for winter riding, and a front rack with handlebar bag so that I can ditch my backpack. I may go with 700c wheels eventually, and I could see a possible step up from 28 to 32mm tires if that happens for a little bit of off-road versatility.


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Old 09-14-18, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by deux jambes View Post
I paid $150 for a 1984 Trek 510 in nearly 100% original, and excellent condition. In the three weeks that Ive owned it, Ive happily clocked well over 100 very comfortable miles.

The double butted Reynolds 501 (chromium-molybdendum) frame, and Tange mangalloy fork make for a lightweight, and lively feeling ride while still absorbing enough shock from the road. The frame geometry is designed for sporty cycling, and it offers exactly just that!

My rides have been focused on 8 mile total round trip work commutes, but have also included a few leisurely rides along the river bike path with no specific destination. Ive covered every urban road surface with out complaint, and have easily taken a few city foothills which would have been outside of my normal physical comfort zone.

Talk about one fun, and very stable feeling bike! I absolutely love it.

Near future plans definitely include fenders for winter riding, and a front rack with handlebar bag so that I can ditch my backpack. I may go with 700c wheels eventually, and I could see a possible step up from 28 to 32mm tires if that happens for a little bit of off-road versatility.
Love it! What tires are you currently running there?

I am thinking I would likely upgrade any frame to 700c and at least 28, maybe 32 tires since our pavement conditions can be sketchy even on bike paths.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Old 09-14-18, 11:19 AM
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To me, the sweet spot for what you are looking for is mid-late 80's stuff. Pretty much every major manufacturer here and abroad made a model or range of models to do exactly what you want.

I'm a big fan of late 80's Shimano products, as they work well, index properly, and last a long, long time. You don't specify whether you are going to use downtube shifters or STi/Ergo brake/shifter levers, but the Shimano stuff is pretty much dead reliable riight through today. Some folks prefer Campagnolo, but personally, once they moved beyond friction 6 speed I lost interest.

So...
1987-1988 Schwinn Tempo, Super Sport, Peloton, Prologue, Circuit, Paramount
1986-1989 Centurion Ironman
Most any 1983-1989 Ciocc, Tommassini, Merckx, DeRosa, Bianchi, Colnago or similar well known overseas brand
1987-90 Cannondal SR
Any road Trek or Specialized from that period.

There are plenty more possibilities out there, and channces are you will be able to buy/build exactly what you want within your stated budget, although finding frames that will easily fit tires larger than 25 will be a challenge.
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Old 09-14-18, 11:23 AM
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At your price point, few bikes are off limits. If I were you, my first goal would be finding a bike that fits, which size do you ride? Members here are likely willing to make suggestions from your local Craigslist.

After finding a well-fitting frame (or bike), I'd go about modernizing the components. While I don't necessarily agree that integrated shifter/brake levers make you faster, since your husband is riding on those, you could match. Check out the Retro Roadie thread for inspiration.

Regarding brand, you can't go wrong with vintage Trek or Italian (mind the long TT on some Italian frames), but don't rule out Japanese or other European marks. Also depending on your size look into Georgina Terry bikes like the Symmetry which is designed for shorter riders with the smaller front wheel.
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Old 09-14-18, 11:27 AM
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Hi-ten is short for high tension. Tension refers to the strength of a metal. High is a relative term just as delicious is. They use the term hi-ten on the lowest tension tubes. They get away with that because it's relative. It's stronger than, say, grass, so it's high. Get it?

Chrome-moly, (aka cr-mo, chromoly, etc) is short for chrome-molybdenum, and it means they added chrome and molybdenum to the steel to make it stronger. It's the most common type of steel for better bikes. Reynolds made a different alloy which they called 531, which stands for the ratio of manganese, molybdenum, and carbon added to the iron to make the steel. (Chrome-moly also has carbon added.) A few other brands made manganese-molybdenum tubes.

The point of these alloys is to make them stronger so they can be made thinner and thus lighter without sacrificing necessary strength.

But don't choose a frame by the tube set. Many do, and it's a waste of energy. The geometry and the quality of the build are equal factors in how a bike rides and holds up. If you know a frame is made of some brand of premium tubing, you know the ingredients are good.

But with all of that said, some bikes made with hi-ten, which we pejoratively call gas-pipe, ride darned well.

I don't think it makes much sense to start with a model in mind with your search. Search and see what you find. Ask about the bikes you've come across, and the collective wisdom will give you feedback. That's the best way to build a list of bikes you know about.

Just about every brand makes stuff from low end to high end. How high-end do you think you want to go? And what kind of riding do you want to do on it?

The Lovely Bicycle blog hasn't been updated much lately, but it's several years old and worth a good look. I don't say that merely because you're a woman. It's written by someone who thinks long and about stuff. She tries stuff and says why it does or does not work for her.
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Old 09-14-18, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
The Lovely Bicycle blog hasn't been updated much lately, but it's several years old and worth a good look. I don't say that merely because you're a woman. It's written by someone who thinks long and about stuff. She tries stuff and says why it does or does not work for her.
I very much appreciate the Lovely Bicycle blog - it has been one of my main sources and I think we are on a similar wavelength. Thanks again for the tips!
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Old 09-14-18, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by rccardr View Post
To me, the sweet spot for what you are looking for is mid-late 80's stuff. Pretty much every major manufacturer here and abroad made a model or range of models to do exactly what you want.

I'm a big fan of late 80's Shimano products, as they work well, index properly, and last a long, long time. You don't specify whether you are going to use downtube shifters or STi/Ergo brake/shifter levers, but the Shimano stuff is pretty much dead reliable riight through today. Some folks prefer Campagnolo, but personally, once they moved beyond friction 6 speed I lost interest.

So...
1987-1988 Schwinn Tempo, Super Sport, Peloton, Prologue, Circuit, Paramount
1986-1989 Centurion Ironman
Most any 1983-1989 Ciocc, Tommassini, Merckx, DeRosa, Bianchi, Colnago or similar well known overseas brand
1987-90 Cannondal SR
Any road Trek or Specialized from that period.

There are plenty more possibilities out there, and channces are you will be able to buy/build exactly what you want within your stated budget, although finding frames that will easily fit tires larger than 25 will be a challenge.
Most helpful! thanks a lot for that list.

I could probably be fine with 25mm on such a bike. I also don't mind sticking with downtube friction shifters.
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Old 09-14-18, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by romperrr View Post
At your price point, few bikes are off limits. If I were you, my first goal would be finding a bike that fits, which size do you ride? Members here are likely willing to make suggestions from your local Craigslist.

After finding a well-fitting frame (or bike), I'd go about modernizing the components. While I don't necessarily agree that integrated shifter/brake levers make you faster, since your husband is riding on those, you could match. Check out the Retro Roadie thread for inspiration.

Regarding brand, you can't go wrong with vintage Trek or Italian (mind the long TT on some Italian frames), but don't rule out Japanese or other European marks. Also depending on your size look into Georgina Terry bikes like the Symmetry which is designed for shorter riders with the smaller front wheel.
Thanks so much for the tips. I'll have to try some Italians and see about fit. Of course the Italians seem glamorous, but I do worry about them being a bit too aggressive for my purposes so I am happy to look into the alternatives you mention.
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Old 09-14-18, 11:44 AM
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I don't think it makes much sense to start with a model in mind with your search.
...+1. There are so many sleepers that show up regularly on CL around the country, that model and brand name recommendations will just distract you.
Here is another recent thread you should read, that addresses the questions you have put forth. Good luck, and believe it or not, it really is possible to have too many bicycles.
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Old 09-14-18, 11:53 AM
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At that budget you can and should get a top shelf bicycle. There are endless options in that range. If you are serious about getting more into cycling, I'd suggest skipping the middle and go straight to a high end bike. It will be cheaper in the long run, IMO. Once you get into that range there really isn't going to be any reason you can't keep up with people on carbon bikes. The difference will be trivial as compared to fitness, which is really about 99% of it.

I suggest looking for a vintage road bike with Columbus SL/SP, Reynolds 531, Tange 1/2/Prestige, or Ishiwata 022. Realistically these will all perform about the same. I realize I just contradicted what @noglider said, but it's not a bad first filter in picking a bike. When you have some candidates, then start looking at geometry. For general recreational use, an audax or old style road geometry is a good bet. 73 parallel, neutral trail, reasonably long chainstays. Size and TT length that are right for you. The Competive Cyclist fit calculator works really well. I fit people professionally for years, and I used it on myself when I got a custom bike. It spit out exactly what I had come to find worked best for me over decades of riding.

What I'm saying is figure out what size you need first, then start hitting Craiglist, the for sale board here, ebay, whatever. There really are endless options. You might narrow it down a bit by deciding if you want to go Italian, English, French, Japanese, American, or other.

When you are at that point, then start thinking about components. Can't go wrong with Campy NR/SR, or Superbe, or Dura Ace 7400 or later, or Ultegra tri color, or a mix of good parts. Don't rule out old Frenchie stuff either. It can be more of a hassle to work with, but it's right up there.

Yeah, there are lower and midrange steel bikes that ride nice, but in Los Angeles, lighter is better. You will probably be riding up and down hills most of the time, whether you're doing trash truck or the climbs in the San Gabriels. This is no place for a UO8.
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Old 09-14-18, 11:53 AM
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Do you have an idea of what size you are?

Do you want modern indexed brifter shifting?

How many speeds?

You also need to pay attention to the drop out spacing? is the bike 126 or 130 if you are doing 8 speed and above you want 130 (if it is steel you can either cold set a 126 to 130 or just hand spread when putting the rear wheel in)

Lot's of options....One is find a bike that is your size and equipped the way you want.

Another is find a frame, then if you want modern gear get a full group from a uk bike shop. The C&V for sale section and a WTB gets really good results

Look for double butted tubing and forged dropouts as a basic indicator of mid level or higher

Personally I like the mix of steel frame with modern gear...... at a rough estimate of a really nice build, Frame and fork ...$300 to 500 so call it $400 for what ifs. 105 group from uk bike shop...varies think $450 to $550, call it $500, wheel set $300 ( right now velomine has 5800 105 hubs, mavic open pro, 36 spoke for $219 (works 8 to 11 speed) Mavic 36h Open Pro Black Rims Road Bike Wheelset 8-11 sp Shimano [741117] - $219.00 Velomine.com : Worldwide Bicycle Shop, fixed gear track bike wheelsets campagnolo super record vintage bike)

so $1200 at an estimate, plus head set if needed and cockpit (seat, seatpost, stem and bars) which can varie widely depending on what you want but call it $1500 for really nice bike that is all your spec
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Old 09-14-18, 12:02 PM
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DeRosa is what you need.
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Old 09-14-18, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...+1. There are so many sleepers that show up regularly on CL around the country, that model and brand name recommendations will just distract you.
Here is another recent thread you should read, that addresses the questions you have put forth. Good luck, and believe it or not, it really is possible to have too many bicycles.
Thanks for the thread recommendation! I do take your point about brands models but Craigslist results in my county of 10 million can be so overwhelming, I thought it might help to narrow things down a bit or think of certain eras or families of bikes that might serve the purposes I have outlined.

Hopefully with some of the leads I've got here and from other threads I can come back to forum with a more specific idea of what I'm looking for and continue from there.

MY SIZING:
My last modern road bike was size 51 cm and was fitted at LBS. I am 5'6" with a 31" inseam and not particularly long arms or legs.

Anything I should keep in mind looking at sizing for late 80s bikes vs my sizing for modern bike?
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Old 09-14-18, 12:06 PM
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Or a Mondia Super
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Old 09-14-18, 12:12 PM
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Austro Daimler always gets good reviews.

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Old 09-14-18, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by MegMC View Post
Anything I should keep in mind looking at sizing for late 80s bikes vs my sizing for modern bike?
First, if the 51cm sizing was for a modern slant top tube bike, it doesn't really translate. You are better off comparing the virtual top tube length.

In the 70s and 80s, bikes had level top tubes. You found your size by standing over them. Typical stand-over clearance was 1 to 1.5". You found this by standing over the top tube, and lifting up the frame and noting how far the wheels (both of them at the same time) came off the ground. Once that was sorted, you picked bike that had a reasonable top tube length for your physique.

Note that there was a trend towards smaller frames and larger clearance through the 80s, but people still rode bigger frames then now.
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Old 09-14-18, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Or a Mondia Super


Yeah, don't leave out the Swiss! That's a beauty. I still miss my Mondia. Some of these had crazy fade paint jobs.
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Old 09-14-18, 12:20 PM
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A bike with SLX tubing, might fit the bill. Mid-80s Merckx Corsa Extra for taking you to new places.

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Old 09-14-18, 12:26 PM
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https://ventura.craigslist.org/bik/d...645222442.html
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/sf...693608243.html
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/sf...691766093.html
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/ws...689884288.html
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/ws...691777776.html
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/ws...693687859.html
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Old 09-14-18, 12:29 PM
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Zeus did some nice bikes - Spanish flare for Los Angelinos/Angelinas?

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70sFollis 072/71 Bottecchia Giro d Italia/72 Zeus Competition/78 Batavus Competition/80 Mondia Super/81 AustroDaimler Olympian/82 Harding(Holdsworth) Special/84 Pinarello Record/85 EM Corsa Extra/86 DeRosa Pro/88 Falcon Race/99 Pinarello Cadore/99 Calfee TetraPro/03 Macalu Cirrus/04 Tallerico: The less ridden = '97 CoMotion tandem + city bike, mtn bike, beach cruiser

Last edited by Wildwood; 09-14-18 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 09-14-18, 12:30 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by MegMC View Post
T
MY SIZING:
My last modern road bike was size 51 cm and was fitted at LBS. I am 5'6" with a 31" inseam and not particularly long arms or legs.

Anything I should keep in mind looking at sizing for late 80s bikes vs my sizing for modern bike?
was that a sloping top tube kinda of frame? I am guessing you are probably more like a 53/54 cm

just for fun I did some LA searches for few beloved c & v bikes. that may be close in size, but more give you an idea

searching for Ironman gets you:

Centurion Ironman Master 53CM - $325 (Rancho Palos Verdes

https://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/bik/d/centurion-ironman-master-53cm/6696746121.html

ENTURION EXPERT IRONMAN DAVE SCOTT | ROAD BIKE | 50 CM.| 12 SPEED | - $180

https://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/bik/d/centurion-expert-ironman-dave/6691285997.html

bridgestone rb-1

Bridgestone RB-1 Road Bike - $500 (Rowland Heights)

https://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/bik/d/bridgestone-rb-1-road-bike/6695375429.html
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Old 09-14-18, 12:31 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by MegMC View Post
Thanks for the thread recommendation! I do take your point about brands models but Craigslist results in my county of 10 million can be so overwhelming, I thought it might help to narrow things down a bit or think of certain eras or families of bikes that might serve the purposes I have outlined.

Hopefully with some of the leads I've got here and from other threads I can come back to forum with a more specific idea of what I'm looking for and continue from there.

MY SIZING:
My last modern road bike was size 51 cm and was fitted at LBS. I am 5'6" with a 31" inseam and not particularly long arms or legs.

Anything I should keep in mind looking at sizing for late 80s bikes vs my sizing for modern bike?
...there are some good online articles for sizing road bikes with level top tubes. A lot depends on your particular anatomy, and you need to strike a balance between top tube length (which is further adjustable by seat fore and aft, setback seat post or 0 setback post, and stem length by replacement), and seat tube length/top tube height so you can make the standover, and have the proper saddle height for optimal pedal stroke. It's kind of an experimental thing, and you'll know it when you figure it out. someone who has a lot of experience at doing this can be a help.

If you narrow some of your Google searches to "Columbus" , "Reynolds", "Double Butted", or even "classic road" and "vintage road", you can cut down on some of the ambient noise. Once you figure out your level top tube frame size, you can also search by that (eg 54 cm and 54cm. Oddly enough the space will sometimes give you different results.)
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Old 09-14-18, 12:44 PM
  #24  
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Follis is a French brand I like. This one (model 072) is less racy more tour oriented.


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Old 09-14-18, 12:57 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by MegMC View Post
Love it! What tires are you currently running there?

I am thinking I would likely upgrade any frame to 700c and at least 28, maybe 32 tires since our pavement conditions can be sketchy even on bike paths.

Thanks for the feedback!
Well I feel goofy! Since you asked, I realize that this is the second time in conversation that Ive forgotten Im actually running 32s already, and therefore mistakenly referred to them as 28s. Probably because Im accustomed to much skinnier tires, 25 on average. Silly brain glitch!



That said, theyre smooth tread budget Michelins. Theyre what came mounted on the original 27 rims when I bought the bike. Fine for the riding Ive done so far, but Id like a slightly more aggressive tread for the riding I plan to do. And set up 700c for greater options of course.

As far as clearance with the Treks stays, theres plenty to accommodate the 32s. Any wider however, and tightness at the at the calipers/pads could make removal/installation difficult.



All that aside, I wish you well in you quest for the right n+1! Tons of great sounding recommendations, and experienced feedback being offered up by knowledgeable members. Im learning here myself 🙂
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