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Potential first vintage buy

Old 07-12-21, 06:54 PM
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spelger
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Potential first vintage buy

Found a mid-80s Trek 310 that looks to be in fairly decent condition. never bought vintage and was wondering if it is possible to replace the components to something more modern. or is that sacrilege?

also, if i do decide to pull the trigger what are some things i should look out for? for example, just yesterday i learned to ride no handed to see how it handles, supposedly a "test" to see if it was in a crash.

thanks,
scott
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Old 07-12-21, 09:23 PM
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No sacrilege. The most important thing is that you enjoy it. Do what you want to make it yours. My only suggestion is to keep the original parts so that you can revert back if you ever want to.
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Old 07-12-21, 11:01 PM
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I've never test ridden a vintage bike before I bought it. Only a couple times have I ridden a bike before I overhauled it. But that was just out of convenience of travel.
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Old 07-13-21, 03:07 AM
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1. Check for crash damage:
a) feel underneath the two frame tubes just next to where they join the steering column. Ripples = crash.
b) look at fork from the side - should have no left/right difference, and no backward curve at all. Backward curve = crash.
c) check for wheels centred in forks and stays, not dents or left/right differences. Not centred could just be bad wheel location in the dropouts, if so check again after replacing wheel properly.
d) check dropouts for bends, you have to remove the wheels to do this. Bent = (possibly small) crash.

2. Check bearings:
a) when you have the wheels out for 1c above, spin the axles with your fingers. If tight or loose you can't really tell, but if they are properly adjusted they will spin easily and if they do but have spots where they won't, the bearings may be shot.
b) bounce the front of bike and feel if the head bearings are loose (it'll feel like it is rattling). Turn the bars fully to each side, if the bearing is not loose and yet they turn easily each way that's good. If it has "notches" - places that feel like detents, that's not good.
c) grab a crank arm - not a pedal, the arm itself, and try to shake it towards and away from the frame. Shake is bad.
d) shake pedals the same way. Cheap ones are often a bit loose, which may not be a big issue.

3. Check for neglect:
a) look for rust. Look in the small spaces where water would stay, where tyres would rub, where the paint is chipped. Small rust is ok. Big rust is not small rust.
b) does the seatpost move? (say it's not the right height, you want to test ride it) if no could be a lot of bother
c) does the stem move? (say it's not the right height...) if no could also be a lot of bother.
d) are the wheels true (spin them and look at the gaps between the brake pads and the rims).
e) do the brakes and gears move as they should?
f) is the chain nasty dirty rusty, are the sprocket teeth worn (look for difference in the curves on the leading and training sides of the teeth).
4. check consumables - tyres, cables, chain, sprockets, brake-track-wear on rims, brake pads, bar wrap...

4. Ask questions, you want to know
a) any history, if parts were replaced what was on before (the replacements may not be right), how much was it ridden, etcetera.
b) what the seller is like, their responses may give you clews as to how much they know/you can trust.

No-hands is a good test, but a notchy headset or loose wheel bearings will affect no-hands steering as well, so check them first.

Last edited by oneclick; 07-13-21 at 03:11 AM.
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Old 07-13-21, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by oneclick View Post
1. Check for crash damage:
a) feel underneath the two frame tubes just next to where they join the steering column. Ripples = crash.
b) look at fork from the side - should have no left/right difference, and no backward curve at all. Backward curve = crash.
c) check for wheels centred in forks and stays, not dents or left/right differences. Not centred could just be bad wheel location in the dropouts, if so check again after replacing wheel properly.
d) check dropouts for bends, you have to remove the wheels to do this. Bent = (possibly small) crash.

2. Check bearings:
a) when you have the wheels out for 1c above, spin the axles with your fingers. If tight or loose you can't really tell, but if they are properly adjusted they will spin easily and if they do but have spots where they won't, the bearings may be shot.
b) bounce the front of bike and feel if the head bearings are loose (it'll feel like it is rattling). Turn the bars fully to each side, if the bearing is not loose and yet they turn easily each way that's good. If it has "notches" - places that feel like detents, that's not good.
c) grab a crank arm - not a pedal, the arm itself, and try to shake it towards and away from the frame. Shake is bad.
d) shake pedals the same way. Cheap ones are often a bit loose, which may not be a big issue.

3. Check for neglect:
a) look for rust. Look in the small spaces where water would stay, where tyres would rub, where the paint is chipped. Small rust is ok. Big rust is not small rust.
b) does the seatpost move? (say it's not the right height, you want to test ride it) if no could be a lot of bother
c) does the stem move? (say it's not the right height...) if no could also be a lot of bother.
d) are the wheels true (spin them and look at the gaps between the brake pads and the rims).
e) do the brakes and gears move as they should?
f) is the chain nasty dirty rusty, are the sprocket teeth worn (look for difference in the curves on the leading and training sides of the teeth).
4. check consumables - tyres, cables, chain, sprockets, brake-track-wear on rims, brake pads, bar wrap...

4. Ask questions, you want to know
a) any history, if parts were replaced what was on before (the replacements may not be right), how much was it ridden, etcetera.
b) what the seller is like, their responses may give you clews as to how much they know/you can trust.

No-hands is a good test, but a notchy headset or loose wheel bearings will affect no-hands steering as well, so check them first.
thanks. wow, that is a really good list of things to look out for. i really appreciate it.

my plan is to make pretty and ride it. it would be my second bike so i don't mind spending time doing it right.
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Old 07-13-21, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by oneclick View Post
1. Check for crash damage:
a) feel underneath the two frame tubes just next to where they join the steering column. Ripples = crash.
b) look at fork from the side - should have no left/right difference, and no backward curve at all. Backward curve = crash.
c) check for wheels centred in forks and stays, not dents or left/right differences. Not centred could just be bad wheel location in the dropouts, if so check again after replacing wheel properly.
d) check dropouts

a) look for rust. Look in the small spaces where water would stay, where tyres would rub, where the paint is chipped. Small rust is ok. Big rust is not small rust.
b) does the seatpost move? (say it's not the right height, you want to test ride it) if no could be a lot of bother
c) does the stem move? (say it's not the right height...) if no could also be a lot of bother.
These are biggies for me. Frame integrity issues and any stuck components are my priorities to review since they’re PIA to sort out. You can always negotiate down for the condition of bolted parts and consumables.
I say this as I’m contemplating to wrench or not wrench on stuck seatposts for two very cheap but sweet vintage Specialized mtbs (can’t resist those 80’s colorways).
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Old 07-13-21, 10:04 AM
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Just be careful because this is a dark hole to go down, from which there is no return.
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Old 07-13-21, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilbur76 View Post
These are biggies for me. Frame integrity issues and any stuck components are my priorities to review since they’re PIA to sort out. You can always negotiate down for the condition of bolted parts and consumables.
I say this as I’m contemplating to wrench or not wrench on stuck seatposts for two very cheap but sweet vintage Specialized mtbs (can’t resist those 80’s colorways).
I would say other than frame issues, I would agree, and add...

If pedals seem rusted into crankset...
If cables seem rusted into cable guides and stops...
If BB assembly looks rusted in...
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Old 07-13-21, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
Found a mid-80s Trek 310 that looks to be in fairly decent condition. never bought vintage and was wondering if it is possible to replace the components to something more modern. or is that sacrilege?
I like to keep all the components shiny silver and 'somewhat' period correct. I think black groupsets and black wheels would look out of place on a classic frame.

Depending on what you got on your Trek, you might not have to change too many things to 'modernize' it. If it has a Shimano groupset on there, you just need to swap out the 6 sp freewheel to 7 sp, change to 7 sp brifters, add brifter compatible FD, and swap out the single pivot brakes for dual pivot, and you are done.
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Old 07-13-21, 11:35 AM
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-----

regarding compatibility with modern fittings -

before acquiring any new bits for the bicycle suggest you take it to someone local for an assessment - an excellent resource, should you have one nearby, is a bicycle co-op

the folks there can advise you as to what is doable and any compatibility issues you might encounter in updating the machine's fittings

such facilities are fine helpers for advice and tools should you wish to perform some or all of any work yourself

they are also an excellent source for used fittings at moderate cost


-----

Last edited by juvela; 07-13-21 at 12:35 PM. Reason: addition
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Old 07-13-21, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
No sacrilege. The most important thing is that you enjoy it...
I have purchased two vintage bikes with the full intent of doing a restorations. Wow... was I humbled. Often it takes big bucks to do a real restoration. So all my bikes, mostly considered vintage due to thier age, are Franken Bikes. Its not really a bad thing. Like new wheels with stainless heavy gauge spokes, or replacing a cottered crank with a tapered, the changes make for a safe and economical transition to a ridable bike. On my oldest bike, a Ted Willians step through, the only thing original is its Austro-Daimler frame. The rest of the bike is out of the spare parts bin...
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Old 07-13-21, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post
Often it takes big bucks to do a real restoration. So all my bikes ... are Franken Bikes.
I don't think that's an either/or. If you refurbish a bike with period correct components, I wouldn't consider it a "frankenbike."
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Old 07-13-21, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
for example, just yesterday i learned to ride no handed to see how it handles, supposedly a "test" to see if it was in a crash.
All that will tell you is if something is out of alignment - could be any number of things; wheels, headset, fork, frame...doesn't necessarily mean it has been in a crash.
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Old 07-13-21, 05:31 PM
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It'll be YOUR bike, and unless it's rare or unique (like an actual bike someone famous won something while riding), you're not destroying history. Bikes were made to be ridden, so whatever you do to make you more likely to ride them is a good thing. A good frame is a good frame, whether it's built with 6 speed DT friction shifters and single pivot caliper brakes or 11 speed STIs and dual pivots.

You've already gotten a detailed check list from oneclick, but one thing I'd say is that the lower the price you can get, the fewer of those things need to be decision makers. If II were spending > $500, I'd minutely check all those details. If I'm spending $150, I'm more willing to take a risk. So far that's worked out for me. One reason is that the bikes I got were mostly lightly used. This is especially true of the most recent bike, a 1982 Lotus Classique. One owner, stored inside all its life. The 40 year old paint is still glossy, the aluminum isn't covered in oxides, and really all it needed was new grease and new cables. And washed.

Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
No sacrilege. The most important thing is that you enjoy it. Do what you want to make it yours. My only suggestion is to keep the original parts so that you can revert back if you ever want to.
I keep a "take offs" box for each C&V bike I've gotten. I find that the seatposts on 80s bikes with the right TT length for me tend to be too short, for example, and sometimes the saddle is a torture device. And my most recent acquisition came with these ginormous reflectors, a dork disk, and a chain guard - all original to the bike, and all in nearly new condition (pretty good for a 40 year old bike!).
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Old 07-13-21, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
...refurbish a bike with period correct components, I wouldn't consider it a "frankenbike."
Thank You... On two of my bikes I have done just that.
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Old 07-13-21, 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by spelger View Post
Found a mid-80s Trek 310 that looks to be in fairly decent condition. never bought vintage and was wondering if it is possible to replace the components to something more modern. or is that sacrilege?

also, if i do decide to pull the trigger what are some things i should look out for? for example, just yesterday i learned to ride no handed to see how it handles, supposedly a "test" to see if it was in a crash.

thanks,
scott
Yes, it is sacrilege. Do it anyway. I have. Repeatedly. I think old lugged steel frames with Campagnolo 10sp triple drivetrains and brifters (and dual-pivot brakes) are the bee's knees. The sun still comes up pretty much every morning.

Make it fun for you to ride. Doesn't matter if it floats my boat or anybody else's, just yours. If swapping out parts for more modern stuff will make you want to ride it more, go for it and don't look back.
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Old 07-14-21, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
I don't think that's an either/or. If you refurbish a bike with period correct components, I wouldn't consider it a "frankenbike."
I concur. I especially like a bike that's been done with period correct component upgrades that would have made sense to the original owner. Like, most people upgrade the rear derailleur before the front. Upgraded seatposts have always been popular... you saw a lot of American Classics back in the 80s. For friction bikes, shifters, especially if you do the rear derailleur.

Like, if you woulda done it back then, you can do it now without losing points in the competition that we're not really having except that we kinda are and it's cool.

--Shannon
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Old 07-14-21, 08:01 AM
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Modding a bike to be what you want it to be is not heresy, blasphemy, whatever. If someone’s idea of a perfect bike diverges with my ideas that’s my problem.

(Soapbox time) - I hate the term “frankenbike”. An old frame with mis-matched components that functions properly is a bike. If the owner likes it, great! One of my old Legnanos has an awkward looking Shimano RD but it works WAAYYY better than the Campy Sport derailleur that was originally on it and I’m fine with that.

OP - get the bike and make it yours.

My 2 cents…
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