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Help a bike newbie out

Old 05-30-20, 03:05 PM
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achui17
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Help a bike newbie out

Hey everyone, I just want to start off and say boy am I glad I found out about this whole forum. There is so much cool information here and it's really helping me learn more. I have always been into bikes but never had enough time/money to put into it. I just graduated university and got a job so for the first time I am able to pursue my first project build for fun! Please bear with me, as I am learning a lot as I go.

I bought this 1970 Raleigh Grand Prix off the internet in Ottawa for $100 with all the original parts. My goal is essentially to build a brand new bike that I can ride for fun out of the vintage frame. That means I don't plan on keeping too many of the original parts (although I will likely keep the handlebars). I do want to change it from downtube shifting to brifters. I know I would need to find a groupset but that's where I get lost. I have a few questions for all of your knowledgeable folk:

- Can I Frankenstein the bike by adding a ton of different parts from different groupsets? I'm having a hard time finding used groupsets that come with everything (brifter, brake sets, front/rear derailleur, crankset, cassette).
- Does the wheel I buy depend on the freewheel/cassette I end up buying? If so which should I get first?
- The dropouts for this frame measure 130mm of space in between them. What speed freewheel/cassette can I fit in there?
- What's the best way I could do this build while not spending way too much (ie buying a brand new groupset)?
- There is a decent dent in the side of one of the dropout bars (I'm realizing that I cannot include images yet, maybe PM me if you are willing to help with this and I can send you the photo?). Is this bad enough to consider the bike un-ride-able?
- How would you rebuild this bike?

Anyways, I just wanted to say I am really excited to start working on this bike. I've already picked what colours I want to paint it! I would really appreciate your guys' help! Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-30-20, 03:17 PM
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What you are proposing can be done, but probably doesn't make much sense economically. Unless you can do all the work yourself (or have a bike mechanic buddy who owes you a big favor) and have all or most of the parts you need, tearing a 1970 bike down to the frame and building it back up with all modern parts is very likely going to cost you as much, or likely more than just finding a modern road bike, either used in ready to ride condition, or new, hopefully on sale. Because an entry level new bike should be available for around $800 or $900 US, or a used one for maybe $400 or $500. Buying new everything for a vintage bike, including drivetrain components, shifters, wheels, tires, etc, plus labor will cost you at least what an entry level new bike, or quality modern used bike will cost.

My suggestion is, either clean the bike up and ride more or less as is, or just buy another bike.
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Old 05-30-20, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
What you are proposing can be done, but probably doesn't make much sense economically. Unless you can do all the work yourself (or have a bike mechanic buddy who owes you a big favor) and have all or most of the parts you need, tearing a 1970 bike down to the frame and building it back up with all modern parts is very likely going to cost you as much, or likely more than just finding a modern road bike, either used in ready to ride condition, or new, hopefully on sale. Because an entry level new bike should be available for around $800 or $900 US, or a used one for maybe $400 or $500. Buying new everything for a vintage bike, including drivetrain components, shifters, wheels, tires, etc, plus labor will cost you at least what an entry level new bike, or quality modern used bike will cost.

My suggestion is, either clean the bike up and ride more or less as is, or just buy another bike.
Sorry I didn't word my post clearly. When I said brand new bike I meant like none of the old parts from the frame, not brand new modern parts. If I can find a used groupset with integrated shifting that is the ideal situation. Thank you for your reply though, I will take that advice into consideration.
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Old 05-30-20, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by achui17 View Post
Sorry I didn't word my post clearly. When I said brand new bike I meant like none of the old parts from the frame, not brand new modern parts. If I can find a used groupset with integrated shifting that is the ideal situation. Thank you for your reply though, I will take that advice into consideration.
That is the challenge, isn't it? I can only tell you about a project I did working with a bike mechanic during the winter, when he had some extra time. The project was to fix up an old Peugeot touring bike my wife bought in 1977 or 1978. The goal was to keep as many of the original parts as possible, given that the derailleurs, freewheel, and wheels were pretty much shot, The chainrings, weren't bad and the brakes still worked OK. Originality wasn't my goal, but rather, to make the bike functional and modern. Long story short, we figured something out, with a mix of new and used parts, modern and vintage, and the mechanic made it all work. And it cost me about $500. Don't get me wrong. I don't regret it at all as this is a bike with a lot of history for me and my wife. But if I were just looking for a $500 bike, I would probably have just bought something else.
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Old 05-30-20, 03:54 PM
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Makes sense. Thank you I appreciate your answer!
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Old 05-30-20, 03:55 PM
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-----

the Gran Prix frame has two specifications which do not lend themselves readily to upgrade/modernization

a) the steerer is 26TPI, also sometimes referred to as "Raleigh thread" - this means you cannot upgrade the headset

b) the bottom bracket shell has a width of 71mm, an old obsolete dimension, and its thread is also 26TPI, yet another old/obsolete dimension for which modern parts are not easily availble

-----
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Old 05-30-20, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
-----

the Gran Prix frame has two specifications which do not lend themselves readily to upgrade/modernization

a) the steerer is 26TPI, also sometimes referred to as "Raleigh thread" - this means you cannot upgrade the headset

b) the bottom bracket shell has a width of 71mm, an old obsolete dimension, and its thread is also 26TPI, yet another old/obsolete dimension for which modern parts are not easily availble

-----
Oh boy this isn't good news haha. Well, that makes things much more difficult. Are there specific brands/eras of frames that are more suitable for customization/modernization?
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Old 05-30-20, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by achui17 View Post
Oh boy this isn't good news haha. Well, that makes things much more difficult. Are there specific brands/eras of frames that are more suitable for customization/modernization?
-----

upgrading/modernisation generally will go easier with a base for the project which is all of BSC/ISO dimension. this is sometimes referred to as "English" thread/dimension/specification.

with Raleigh (and the many badges it bought up) when you get into older things you often find "Raleigh dimension" parts which do not lend themselves easily to upgrade/modernisation.

-----

Last edited by juvela; 05-30-20 at 05:07 PM. Reason: spellin'
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Old 05-30-20, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by achui17 View Post
Hey everyone, I just want to start off and say boy am I glad I found out about this whole forum. There is so much cool information here and it's really helping me learn more. I have always been into bikes but never had enough time/money to put into it. I just graduated university and got a job so for the first time I am able to pursue my first project build for fun! Please bear with me, as I am learning a lot as I go............
.
If you are "into bikes", you can use the Grand Prix, with all of its original parts to educate yourself. Many of us who hang-out in C&V have very nice customized high-end bikes as well as lower-end vintage bikes for tinkering, commuting, etc.. If you repair or better yet, restore the bike, you will learn so much more than simply swapping parts, which by the way, may or may not increase your enjoyment of riding the bike all that much.

There are plenty of 1980's "Made in Japan" bikes that would be easier to build up with new or used components of that same era.
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Old 05-30-20, 04:46 PM
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Per Juvela's comments.

You said you bought off the internet.

Is it a Canadian made GP? If so it might be standard thread. I had a Carlton made Super GP that was Raleigh thread. Not certain but I believe the other 4 I had were Canadian made and that I switched out parts with no issues. Someone more experienced than I will hopefully post to confirm or refute Canadian made threads.

I can check my son's GP if you need.

Update: Digital caliper batteries are dead. May have to reach out to @T-Mar or bertinjim for advice....

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Old 05-30-20, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by achui17 View Post
How would you rebuild this bike?
Full overhaul with period correct components and upgrades where feasible/necessary. Then sell on craigslist for $200. There are far better vintage frame choices for modern groupsets. There's probably a thread for that.
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Old 05-30-20, 06:19 PM
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Hey man! Welcome to the forum! I started in a similar place as you (I'm still a newbie btw): I got a good deal on a vintage frame that I liked, and then I started buying parts here and there, trying to collect parts from one same groupset to make sure everything worked well together (e.g.: Ultegra 6500). It ended up costing me WAY more than simply buying a complete build altogether. It turns out that it's almost ALWAYS cheaper buying a complete build than buying parts separately, but choosing your parts is fun!

If I can summarize everything I learned in this forum so far, this would be it: Campy and Shimano parts don't mix very well (except maybe for front derailleurs), so you should try to keep them together as much as possible, otherwise you'll need extra stuff to make them compatible. Bottom bracket spindle lengths depend on the crankset that will go on there (and in the best of worlds, with the rear derailleur too). Some mechanics are magicians in getting things to work well, but in theory, it's always better to have matching specs between parts. One way of saving yourself the trouble, is either getting parts from the same groupset or choosing one groupset of reference, and then looking for parts that match the specs of the groupset you chose. Rear derailleur can be one speed lower than your shifters and cassette, but not the other way around. So brifters must match the number of speeds in your cassette; derailleurs should have less or equal number of speeds as the brifters.

What starts a build for me is a really nice part that I got incredibly cheap. But of course there's no point in choosing an entire groupset just based on a bottom bracket someone gave you. I would start with the most expensive part. For me, that would be the brifters or the wheelset. If I get a really nice deal on a pair of brifters from a good groupset, then that's the groupset I'll go for. The rest is just a matter of being patient and keeping an eye open for the parts you're looking for. If you're not patient, you're gonna pay a lot of money, simply because older parts don't seem to go down in value and there's always people around that will pay any price for replacements on their bikes.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
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Old 05-30-20, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
-----

upgrading/modernisation generally will go easier with a base for the project which is all of BSC/ISO dimension. this is sometimes referred to as "English" thread/dimension/specification.

with Raleigh (and the many badges it bought up) when you get into older things you often find "Raleigh dimension" parts which do not lend themselves easily to upgrade/modernisation.

-----
Okay, thank you for your advice!
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Old 05-30-20, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by achui17 View Post
Hey everyone,
- How would you rebuild this bike?
.
Given the unusual headset and BB characteristics of your bike mentioned by another poster, you could use it as a good opportunity to source inexpensive used parts to rebuild/upgrade to the extent that you wish (ebay, CL) - maybe clean-up/re-use/re-grease some of the existing pieces. Planning, researching, finding, wrenching, learning, etc. is half the fun.

Once you learn more about what vintage bikes appeal to you and what it takes to make a C&V bike what you want it to be - then it will be time to search out your next ride - set a budget and buy what you need - a chance to be creative.

I gravitate toward mid-80's sport/tour bikes that are upgraded with more modern components and 650b wheels. I spent about $800+ on components for my first rebuild/upgrade of a 1985 bike - 2x10 crank, 10 speed cassette, RD, bars, indexed DT shifters, long reach brakes, chain, 650b rims/spokes/hubs (built my own wheels), tires, tubes, brake levers, cables/housings, pedals, tape, bar cushion, fenders, etc.

This is a sizable infusion of cash, but almost all of it (except the cables and housings, maybe the chain) can be moved over to another frame/fork should I decide to try something different. I am very happy with the components I bought and the completed bike. The only reason I might move on to another frame/fork is that I would like to try a slightly bigger frame built with Reynolds 531 steel - just because.

Or, maybe someday I'll go all-in with a brand new 'all road' frame - re-use some of my existing parts and buy some new stuff - hoping to get my 'forever bike' - isn't that every rider's ultimate goal? Maybe... Something like the one shown below.

If you are interested in 650b conversion here is a good place to start reading: 650B Conversion Guidlines

Have fun with your new hobby!

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Old 05-30-20, 07:19 PM
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I'm with @WGB, if it's a CDN made Raleigh it may not have any funky "Raleigh specific" threading. Same goes if its a later-edition English made one. But you'd want to know, before you buy a donor bike to swap parts from.

But I'm also with the guys who say a Grand Prix isn't necessarily worth the effort. I'd use it to learn the basic assembly, disassembly and rejuvenation skills with the parts it already has, and then move on to a more worthy higher-end frame.
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Old 05-30-20, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
I'm with @WGB, if it's a CDN made Raleigh it may not have any funky "Raleigh specific" threading. Same goes if its a later-edition English made one. But you'd want to know, before you buy a donor bike to swap parts from.
I don't see why the 26tpi threading is a problem. I've restored at least a dozen vintage Raleigh bikes and have never needed to replace the headset or bottom bracket, even on those bikes that have never had their bb or hs repacked. They are pretty durable and will last even with the old dried up grease.

If you want to change from cottered to square tapered spindle, you do just that, no need to change the cups.


Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
But I'also with the guys who say a Grand Prix isn't necessarily worth the effort. I'd use it to learn the basic assembly, disassembly and rejuvenation skills with the parts it already has, and then move on to a more worthy higher-end frame.
The Grand Prix is a solid well-made bike and is definitely worth the effort. Even with all of its stock components, if restored and tuned properly will provide another 50 years of enjoyable riding.
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Old 05-30-20, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
I don't see why the 26tpi threading is a problem. I've restored at least a dozen vintage Raleigh bikes and have never needed to replace the headset or bottom bracket, even on those bikes that have never had their bb or hs repacked. They are pretty durable and will last even with the old dried up grease.

If you want to change from cottered to square tapered spindle, you do just that, no need to change the cups.

The Grand Prix is a solid well-made bike and is definitely worth the effort. Even with all of its stock components, if restored and tuned properly will provide another 50 years of enjoyable riding.
Sure, that's all true about a Schwinn Varsity, too. And I would rather have something a little ritzier when I'm done with my project. I suppose it all depends on how much effort and money you want top spend on lower-rung bike when there are alternatives that would offer a more sprightly ride.
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Old 05-30-20, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
Sure, that's all true about a Schwinn Varsity, too. And I would rather have something a little ritzier when I'm done with my project. I suppose it all depends on how much effort and money you want top spend on lower-rung bike when there are alternatives that would offer a more sprightly ride.
I understand where you're coming from, but that doesn't negate what Branko said. The threading on the headset would only be an issue if the headset needs to be replaced, and it is neither hard, nor expensive to find a replacement. There are probably a few hundred spares in our collective stashes. I think I have at least two.

The bottom bracket MIGHT be an issue. There's likely a cotterless bracket that would work ok with this, but if not, there are worse things in life than having a bicycle with a cottered crankset. Chainrings would have to be replaced with alloy ones of the appropriate thinness for whatever choice of speeds selected. I am pretty sure that whatever rear derailleur is used would need to get equipped with a hanger, and the rear dropouts either permanently, or cold-set to 130mm. That shouldn't be an issue unless the brazing is particularly egregious.

I would recommend going with 9 speed brifters. There were a lot of them made, and they were the standard for a relatively long time. Once selected, all that would remain is to go with compatible front and rear derailleurs, and rear hub/cassette.

I've converted a couple older Raleighs (1971 Super Course and 1972 Competition) to bicycles with a 9-speed cassette in the drivetrain. Granted, I used Bar-cons, but other than this detail, the concept was the same. True, another bicycle with a lighter frame and without proprietary threading could be found, but the result would be maybe 5 ounces lighter. On the plus side, if the original parts are still usable, and were retained, the parts used for the upgrade could easily be transferred over to a future bicycle that might be a bit lighter and have a bit more going on in the prestige department.
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Old 05-30-20, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by achui17 View Post
- The dropouts for this frame measure 130mm of space in between them. What speed freewheel/cassette can I fit in there?
If this is really the case then you are in luck. All modern road groups with caliper brakes use 130mm rear hubs. Of course, realistically you are limited to drivetrains which are compatible with square taper axles- so probably 7 or 8 speeds.
If you haven't already, you should go read and digest as much of Sheldon Brown's website as you humanly can. Starting with Sheldon Brown's page "Threading/interchangeability Issues for Older Raleigh Bicycles"
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Old 05-31-20, 02:11 AM
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If your main goal is to upgrade a 5 or 6-speed to brifters, then the easiest and cheapest route is to find a pair of pre-2001 Campagnolo 9-speed brifters and a Shimano SIS rear derailleur. They'll work with the existing parts.

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Old 05-31-20, 05:16 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by WGB View Post
Per Juvela's comments.

You said you bought off the internet.

Is it a Canadian made GP? If so it might be standard thread. I had a Carlton made Super GP that was Raleigh thread. Not certain but I believe the other 4 I had were Canadian made and that I switched out parts with no issues. Someone more experienced than I will hopefully post to confirm or refute Canadian made threads.

I can check my son's GP if you need.

Update: Digital caliper batteries are dead. May have to reach out to @T-Mar or bertinjim for advice....
Based on the pictures in his gallery album, the OP's frame is neither UK nor Canadian manufacture, The's a decal indicating that it was manufactured in the Netherlands by Gazelle. Past posts by forum members indicate that Gazelle manufactured the entry level Raleigh models to both English and Raleigh standards, so the answer is still up in the air.

Note to WGB: To-morrow is the big day. The organizer will announce if Henley is cancelled, so I'll know whether or not I"ll be paying you another visit during the first weekend of August.

Last edited by T-Mar; 05-31-20 at 05:20 AM.
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