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Vintage Gravel Grinders

Old 08-25-20, 09:13 AM
  #26  
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The ability to accommodate a wider tire, combined with the comfort of a steel frame with at least medium-length chainstays, is the main practical reason I lean toward classic touring and sports-touring road bikes of the 1970s, as well as older racing bikes. My other motivation is aesthetics -- they simply look right to me. I have put tires as large as 27 x 1-3/8" knobbies on one of my ca.1960 Capo frames, and it was almost as competent as my mountain bike on dirt roads, and much more fun on paved roads. Great all-rounder! Tire clearance is another reason I liked my 1980 Peugeot PKN-10 -- my son is currently running 700Cx35 tires on it, whereas my otherwise comparable Bianchi of the same general vintage can take a 700Cx28 only if the tire is smaller than its callout dimension, as is the case with Continentals, but not Specializeds.
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Old 08-25-20, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
How the heck did you get 38c tires mounted on the univega? Just asking because not a lot of road bikes can handle a 38c which is one reason why 650b has become popular.

I started a thread on this a while back:
700 x 38c tires on a vintage bike?
I have frame clearance for 700x38 on my Schwinn Sprint, but I’d need to change wheels or get wider rims and get different caliper brakes to go wider than 32s.

Otto
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Old 08-25-20, 10:49 AM
  #28  
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Most of my bikes go on gravel. All you really need is to stay away from skinny tires. The narrowest I run is 32mm, all the way up to 54. This means the bike has to be able to fit wider tires. Adequate brakes are another thing to plan on. Other than that, most any vintage frame will do, with gearing appropriate for where you ride (same as it ever was).

Late February in Arizona climbing up the gravel road of Montezuma Pass near the Mexican border - '76 Motobecane Le Champion:


2019 Cino - '73 Raleigh Grand Sport with 700c x 33.333



2019 Magical Mystery Tour - 1973 Raleigh Competition with 650b x 42 tires (pic stolen from @Spaghetti Legs)
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Old 08-25-20, 12:05 PM
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This Mercian Vincitore road fixed-gear has probably gotten more of my gravel miles than all my other bikes combined. Here it's wearing 28 mm Paselas, but the bulk of those dirt road miles were on Continental Sport 1000s, which actually measure closer to 26 mm. I would ride to the start of a long stretch of dirt and stop long enough to flip the rear wheel around from my 70-in pavement gear to a 63-in or so gravel gear. It worked pretty well, even with the fenders.

Last year some event organizer type hosted an expensive little shindig ride, complete with entry fees and a barbecue plate at the end, over the fire and forest service roads my ride buddy and I have been exploring for years. I got curious about the route and contacted him. Seems to me he got a little touchy when I told him I'd already ridden all those roads on a fixed-gear with 28 mm tires.




Last edited by rustystrings61; 08-25-20 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 08-25-20, 01:28 PM
  #30  
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A few have mentioned the Varsity as a gravel bike, the steering is actually rather off-roadish but check the chainstay length, as anything much over 45cm starts to really tax the climbing traction, forcing the rider to hang back and possibly causing back muscles to fatigue. So maybe not a good frame for steeper terrain (not to mention the weight of the thing).

That was actually the problem(s) I had with my 1984 Stumpjumper Sport, after moving to SoCal with it's loose, dry slipperiness. I started using a 1991 Specialized Crossroads model, which actually worked better(!), wore that bike out in two years.

Sport touring bikes will usually be at or under 45cm chainstay length, which is why I prefer them to tourers.
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Old 08-25-20, 03:17 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by bikemig
How the heck did you get 38c tires mounted on the univega? Just asking because not a lot of road bikes can handle a 38c which is one reason why 650b has become popular.
Definitely a tight fit. I keep the pressure low and the Challenge Gravel Grinders measure out to 37mm. Lots of room at the brakes (Tektro 559), but probably not even 2mm at the chainstays.
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Old 08-25-20, 07:03 PM
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Old 08-25-20, 08:09 PM
  #33  
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Old 08-25-20, 08:23 PM
  #34  
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Old 08-26-20, 06:13 AM
  #35  
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Pelizzoli 650B, 38's:


Davidson DIsco Signature, 32's:

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Old 08-26-20, 07:06 AM
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My first gravel grinder. 80's Raleigh beach cruiser.
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Old 08-26-20, 07:47 AM
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Recent gravel grind at ABQ
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Old 08-26-20, 08:26 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by rccardr
Pelizzoli 650B, 38's:


snip . . .
I don't think I've seen this bike before. This bike is hot.

A 650b conversion makes for a great vintage gravel grinder. I like plush tires for multi-day events as well or really long distances. They just don't beat you up as much.
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Old 08-26-20, 07:57 PM
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Love this thread.

Someone in the Mid Hudson (NY) Bike Club asked about our routes. I showed a route I had recently ridden which included a rough hiking trail, mentioning I had taken my road racing bike with 28mm tires. Someone piped in and said I shouldn't be encouraging people to do that route on road bikes. And he was right. If you're not experienced, the result would be bad.
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Old 08-26-20, 11:28 PM
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I guess my Covid project fits pretty well in this thread. I just finished putting this together a couple of weeks ago. It's a 1982 Trek 710 to which I added cantilever posts, a few other braze-on bits, and dimpled the chainstays to make some room for real tires. The end result works well with 650b x 42 Rene Herse Pumpkin Ridge knobbies. The tires are great on gravel roads, jeep trails and single track, but they're also amazingly fast on the 25 miles of pavement I need to ride before I get to the good stuff.




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Old 08-27-20, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by lonesomesteve
I guess my Covid project fits pretty well in this thread. I just finished putting this together a couple of weeks ago. It's a 1982 Trek 710 to which I added cantilever posts, a few other braze-on bits, and dimpled the chainstays to make some room for real tires. The end result works well with 650b x 42 Rene Herse Pumpkin Ridge knobbies. The tires are great on gravel roads, jeep trails and single track, but they're also amazingly fast on the 25 miles of pavement I need to ride before I get to the good stuff.



I always like looking at your vintage Trek 650b builds.
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Old 08-27-20, 08:24 AM
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Definitely some vintage riders, er, gravel grinders, in this photo:

Untitled
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Old 08-27-20, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
Before gravel bikes became a thing, they reminded me a lot of the the early days of MTBs. Old bikes were repurposed to handle gravel and it was a way of avoiding cars.

Vintage MTBs obviously make good gravel grinders. There are also some bikes that pushed the design envelope: the Bridgestone XO series (many of these had road geometry with 26 inch wheels), the Bianchi project bikes that were early forerunners of the 29ers, and the GT Tachyon bikes.

Here is a good piece on the Bianchi Project and GT tachyon bikes

https://www.bikehugger.com/posts/the...at-wasnt-700d/

I have a 1992 Bridgestone XO 2. The bike is a great gravel and all around bike with plush 26 inch tires and road geometry:

I believe that's actually a '93. I only know because my XO-2 is a 92 and doesn't have the nice lugged frame and real crowned fork that yours does (and I sure wish it it did). Beautiful bike! I imagine that ours ride similarly, but I do prefer the look of yours.
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Old 08-27-20, 08:55 AM
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Two inch tires means never having to say you’re sorry...




‘88 RockHopper back to SS and drop bars after a brief dalliance with upright bars. I am sticking with the new Nitto stem adapter. It looks a bit chunky but is very well made and versatile.

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Old 08-27-20, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by ofajen
Two inch tires means never having to say you’re sorry...

‘88 RockHopper back to SS and drop bars after a brief dalliance with upright bars. I am sticking with the new Nitto stem adapter. It looks a bit chunky but is very well made and versatile.

Otto
This is almost exactly what I want to put together for myself as a second ride. Nicely done, must be comfy as heck.
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Old 08-27-20, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rhender
I believe that's actually a '93. I only know because my XO-2 is a 92 and doesn't have the nice lugged frame and real crowned fork that yours does (and I sure wish it it did). Beautiful bike! I imagine that ours ride similarly, but I do prefer the look of yours.
Yeah it's a '93. I don't know why I wrote it was a '92. In fact I'm confident I've posted pics of this bike before and said it was a '93, . The catalogs are available online. I know I took a long hard look at the 1993 catalog picture when rebuilding the bike and decided to go with white tape.

I feel lucky to have this bike. In the 90s, if you were thinking of making a road bike that could take fat tires, a 26 inch wheel made a lot of sense. 650b and 29ers were not yet a thing but 26 inch wheels had a big market presence with the mountain bike.

So thank you for pointing that out.

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Old 08-27-20, 09:59 AM
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A ‘72 or ‘73 Gitane Interclub with 650b wheels.

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Old 08-27-20, 01:08 PM
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Awesome bikes, everyone!! My '79 Fuji Royale grinder is one of my favorites. Newest update not pictured is a set of Shimano 600 clip-ins to match the rest of the group



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Old 08-27-20, 01:13 PM
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I'm not a gravel rider by any stretch but have some insight that surprised me at the time.




Eroica Calif. 2017 this flew down a long gravel hill as fast as I could pedal, the faster I went the more stable it was, not loose and not hardpack, with 28's.

I was amazed and surprised that I stayed with it as while I am a downhill guy with nothing for uphill, I was grinning from ear to ear, maxed out with nary a twitch.

None of this is new, Merz, Wolf, Brandt, Ritchey and many others were doing it waaaay before it was ever a thing.

Merz had a very good handle on this, Wolf had him build many for this as they shared the same vision.
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Old 08-27-20, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by lonesomesteve
I guess my Covid project fits pretty well in this thread. I just finished putting this together a couple of weeks ago. It's a 1982 Trek 710 to which I added cantilever posts, a few other braze-on bits, and dimpled the chainstays to make some room for real tires. The end result works well with 650b x 42 Rene Herse Pumpkin Ridge knobbies. The tires are great on gravel roads, jeep trails and single track, but they're also amazingly fast on the 25 miles of pavement I need to ride before I get to the good stuff.
Nice lookin bike. Bet those Herse brakes cost you more than the frame!! It sure looks light!

All the components on my Trek cost more than the frame...
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