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Boom Bikes Post-Boomers

Old 12-22-19, 12:18 PM
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Bad Lag
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Boom Bikes Post-Boomers

What do you think will happen to 20th century steel bikes in the post-Boomer times to come?

I ask because I have no interest in the more modern bikes - from the late 80's through current production steel or aluminum or titanium and no interest in carbon fiber bikes.

I have some historical interest in the Wright brothers and other pre-war bikes but it is an intellectual rather than visceral connection.

I have owned and ridden steel my entire life. As I perceive it, bikes reached their pinnacle in the early to middle 1970's. Prior to that, the componentry wasn't quite up to snuff. After that, they became "too good" - soulless, dead, cookie cutter mass production.
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Old 12-22-19, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
What do you think will happen to 20th century steel bikes in the post-Boomer times to come?

I ask because I have no interest in the more modern bikes - from the late 80's through current production steel or aluminum or titanium and no interest in carbon fiber bikes.

I have some historical interest in the Wright brothers and other pre-war bikes but it is an intellectual rather than visceral connection.

I have owned and ridden steel my entire life. As I perceive it, bikes reached their pinnacle in the early to middle 1970's. Prior to that, the componentry wasn't quite up to snuff. After that, they became "too good" - soulless, dead, cookie cutter mass production.
Agreed

I would also loosely contend that the more the cookie cutter crap continues to contaminate the gene pool, the more vital it is that the framebuilders are doing it as good as or better than ever.
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Old 12-22-19, 01:04 PM
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IMHO, when the Japanese entered the US market, whether bicycles or cars, we saw a massive improvement in quality and value. Prior to that point, most bikes were pretty junky. Super heavy, lots of lousy parts and pieces. I can remember being on a waiting list just to get a Schwinn Varsity! Schwinn certainly knew how to improve their product. By and large, they didn't. They were sold out making the same heavy stuff, so why bother?

When I saw my first Nishiki, it was amazing. For the same $$, I could get a cromoly frame, alloy rims, alloy crankset, and 15 pounds lighter in weight! Schwinns answer then was to say weight didn't matter once the bike was moving.....

The end of the boom forced bike companies to provide better quality for a lower price. Competition wins the day.

By the mid 1980s, high quality bikes became the norm. Lots of great stuff out there.

Now by the late 1990s/early 2000s, most brands lost their uniqueness. I can't tell the difference between a Fuji or a Trek from that era. Back in the 1980s, I could tell the difference with a one second glance.


I saw the same factors during my working career. Profits hid problems. When the market changed, you either had to quickly improve your product and cost, or you were out of business.

I think we are already seeing what is happening to the earlier steel bike market. Buyers want STI shifting, hydraulic disk brakes, room for super wide tires.

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Old 12-22-19, 01:22 PM
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...a related question is what will happen to the garage full of them I have restored and ride. I don't really have a good feeling about it. I see what happens to the pets of older folks around here when they can no longer care for them, and there's a considerable population of them that don't get readopted. I kinda think that the bike thing will go the same way. The attractive pure breds will get adopted out and the rest of them will end up getting put down.
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Old 12-22-19, 01:23 PM
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If you want a custom frame, steel is still the choice because it can be made in small volumes. It's a shrinking industry, but many in it are doing well enough.
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Old 12-22-19, 01:26 PM
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There will be less demand, prices will drop, more will be taken to the scrap yard. Nostalgia dies with its generation.

Products become less "special" as they become more accessible to more people. It will be easier to obtain stuff tomorrow than it was yesterday. I never cherished a nail, but I'm sure they were held to a higher regard when they were only hand forged.
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Old 12-22-19, 01:27 PM
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Yeah, I just can't agree with this at all. I've got so many good bikes that I enjoy regularly that are in the 1980-2000 range. The Billato built Lemonds and the Giordana's are all wonderfully built and riding bikes. The silky smooth Basso, speed carrying PDG Series Paramount, the Paletti, the Davidson Impulse, and I could go on and on. No one will ever accuse me of being a retro grouch for sure. Plenty of wonderful steel out there from all the decades. Don't limit yourself....
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Old 12-22-19, 02:01 PM
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After my new Carbon MTBs made my steel Mountain bikes hang on the wall, covered in dust, I am so terrified to buy a carbon road bike that I intentionally avoid them.
I know it is a bit different, because riding on dirt has had so many advancements compared to riding on pavement, but still...
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Old 12-22-19, 02:25 PM
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The early to mid-80s saw some great production road bikes. The early to mid-70s saw alot of slapped together bikes at a time when production lagged demand. About 20 to 25 years ago you had trouble giving away road bikes. Everybody wanted mountain bikes, which popped up in the late '70s. Steel framed road bikes became popular again about 10 to 15 years ago. Now vintage mountain bikes will probably see an increase in popularity. The kids who grew up with them are getting into their "nostalgia" years. The big question is if younger kids are out riding.
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Old 12-22-19, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
There will be less demand, prices will drop, more will be taken to the scrap yard. Nostalgia dies with its generation.
This. Thing are only valuable because we think they are. If nobody thinks our bikes are valuable anymore, to the trash heap they go. Same with any material object. I suggest you do like the Pharos and take them with you to the afterlife.
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Old 12-22-19, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
[steel] bikes reached their pinnacle in the early to middle 1970's.
I think you're off a good ten years. Lightweights from the mid '80s offer better quality, not to mention the more efficient componentry.

But I do prefer '70s paint schemes.
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Old 12-22-19, 03:07 PM
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"Steel is real" is really overrated, and that comes from a person who owns over a dozen steel bikes. I also own a brand new Salsa, which the purchase of made me wonder why I waited so long to embrace modern geometry, materials, and construction.
Frankly, wider tires and tubeless tech came about for a reason. Embrace it or don't, but its here to stay. And I love it. On the other hand, I like my skinnier tire vintage steel, but my body tolerates it a bit less every year.
The recent titanium frame purchase/buildup will be evaluated this spring/summer to see how I like it.
The steel fleet will continue to shrink, and a selection may end up hanging in a local shop. A select few will stay around just for nostalgia and sunny day rides.
When I'm gone, my children can do what they want with it all anyway. Until them, I'm riding in comfort.
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Old 12-22-19, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
There will be less demand, prices will drop, more will be taken to the scrap yard. Nostalgia dies with its generation.

Products become less "special" as they become more accessible to more people. It will be easier to obtain stuff tomorrow than it was yesterday. I never cherished a nail, but I'm sure they were held to a higher regard when they were only hand forged.
Haha, that is so eloquent. Our weekend house was built in 1863. As we renovate it, we pull some old boards out, and some of them have hand-forged nails. I hold them and ponder them with some sentimentality, but no, I'm not going to reuse them. The door mechanisms, on the other hand, are pretty nice and useful.

I think a lot of nostalgia over old bikes is based on the lust we had for the high-end stuff when we were teenagers.
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Old 12-22-19, 04:55 PM
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I'm 28 and into old bikes in the same way I like any other tool or machine designed, drawn, or made by hand. Most modern bikes don't appeal to me, largely because the old ones are easier to work on and cheaper to buy, and they have actual paint colors and the good uns were made with some longevity in mind, and steel will last with care. They usually have some history and connection to the people who built them too. That said, more people riding is the most important part imo. In the end, we all end up in the landfill. Yet, passing on this hobby means fewer new disposable bikes will be bought. Things already made will remain useful. Otherwise see to it that they are recycled. I'm expecting cheaper prices for the bicycles that interest me in the years to come.
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Old 12-22-19, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by nesteel View Post
"Steel is real" is really overrated.
I don't think so. Except for the paint, my 1960 Paramount is a better ride now than when it was new. That was about 60 years ago. Sixty. With its 700c conversion, it will take as much tire width as I want to use. But 25mm is plenty for me.

Not only is steel real, but it's more real than me: I guarantee you this bike (and all my others) will be around a lot longer than I will.

Really.
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Old 12-22-19, 08:07 PM
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I ride steel, aluminum and carbon, (5 old steels, 1 aluminum and 2 carbon) and love them all. My oldest steel is 1961, but I've been riding my 1964 Legnano Roma since we were both new. My newest carbon is 2013, and I have no plans to look for anything newer, unless a super deal comes along 😊. I've tried to sell my 2002 aluminum Allez a few times, but it always fell thru, and I really enjoy riding it as my post office and bank run bike. I have way more $$$ in a '73 Super Course build than I could ever sell it for, but I buy bikes to ride, not to flip, sell on, or as investments. I guess I just don't care where the market goes, I'm just enjoying the ride, after all, that's what bikes are for.

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Old 12-22-19, 08:13 PM
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...on my way home from the gym just now, I went by what used to be the greatest hardware store in town: huge, well stocked, and with staff who knew where everything was. It went belly up about 15 years back, and became a CD/record store. Now it's a used clothing "exchange" for hipsters. Then I went by what used to be the premier bakery in town, Phillips Bakery. It's a paint store now. Things change.
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Old 12-22-19, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I think you're off a good ten years. Lightweights from the mid '80s offer better quality, not to mention the more efficient componentry.

But I do prefer '70s paint schemes.
"... better paint schemes", that made me laugh. Thanks for that.

No, IMO, I am not off. I suspect you are referring to mass-produced bikes whereas I am thinking of semi-custom bikes. By the mid-70's better bikes were all 531, had the basic braze-ons needed to get rid of rust-inducing clamps and the Campagnolo NR and SR components were every bit as good as needed. Heck, Dura-Ace and Suntour were available, so were Zeus, Modolo,... I vaguely remember the first Panasonics and Fujis hitting the market.

By the mid-1980's it was over. No doubt, the average quality went up in the 80's. However, notice, for example, how everyone want the older Raleigh Super Courses, Competitions and Internationals. Heck even Grand Prixs have become desirable (only because young'uns don't know any better).
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Old 12-22-19, 08:26 PM
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There are quite a few youngsters that show up for the local vintage ride. So, there is that. And in these times of vanishing family farms, there are surplus barns in which to stash our bikes for the next generation to find. Maybe there will be an app to pinpoint bikeless barns.
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Old 12-22-19, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
"... better paint schemes"
I didn't write "better." I wrote that I preferred them, because they're simply more classic looking. By '86 or so the paint schemes began getting, well, gross.

No, IMO, I am not off.
By '79 or '80 you had bottle bosses, and 126mm rear spacing. For most of us, that's improvement. You also had cable guides and shifter bosses brazed on thin tubing that you don't often see on '70s bikes. So, there were many improvements in those ten years after '75.
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Old 12-22-19, 08:33 PM
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As long as they keep making wheels & tires for them they will retain some kind of value. But, they'll start to become Antique curiosities. Like old typewriters and kerosene lanterns. (I wish I had kept my old manual typewriter).
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Old 12-22-19, 09:10 PM
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Maybe old houses are a crystal ball into the future of boom era bicycles. Some people like old houses and try to retain their era charm and characteristics of past craftsmanship (or quality, or individuality). Some people like old houses, but like them updated, and enjoy having the best of old and new. Of course, correspondingly, there are people who think the latest and greatest in housing is the only way to go and would never give an old house a second look. But, as long as there are old houses, and those houses don't become completely obsolete or unusable, there will be people piqued by them. I think late 60's to early 70's bicycles, going forward, might be like that, because, really, they are much like that now.
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Old 12-22-19, 09:17 PM
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Speaking of the handmade aspect of steel frames, it occurs to me that even crappy frames were made by hand through the 70s or maybe 80s. That doesn't make them any better, but it's pretty cool to think about.
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Old 12-22-19, 09:17 PM
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That quickly devolved to which is the best buggy whip.
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Old 12-22-19, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I didn't write "better." I wrote that I preferred them, because they're simply more classic looking. By '86 or so the paint schemes began getting, well, gross.

By '79 or '80 you had bottle bosses, and 126mm rear spacing. For most of us, that's improvement. You also had cable guides and shifter bosses brazed on thin tubing that you don't often see on '70s bikes. So, there were many improvements in those ten years after '75.
Damn!, I thought it was funny but you stole all the joy out of it. I have to say, I never liked the "Miami Vice" paint schemes, for example, on the Ironman bikes and others.

Mid-1970's to me does not mean 1975 but rather a range centered on 1975. Ultra-6 comes to mind in lieu of 126 mm spacing. By 1977, my bike had been retrofitted with cable guides, water bottle and shifter and bosses but no front shifter bracket.

There's no doubt modern components can better than what was available in the mid-70's but what I had by then was good enough.

Honestly, though, this line of discussion is probably off-topic, or nearly so, except as it pertains to ride-ability, upgradability and maintainability of the old steel bikes.

Last edited by Bad Lag; 12-22-19 at 09:36 PM.
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