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Vintage steel candidates for 'all-road'?

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Vintage steel candidates for 'all-road'?

Old 09-16-21, 06:18 PM
  #1  
ehcoplex
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Vintage steel candidates for 'all-road'?

I’m interested in recommendations for a ‘vintage’ steel-frame bike for ‘all-road’ riding (or rather, suitable to be made into an ‘all-road’ kind of bike). I got back into cycling this year after a couple decades of just utility biking. Found a ’97 Cannondale touring bike (as much a nostalgia choice as anything else, really), that after a bunch of modifying and updating is actually serving me pretty well for the 80% road (often pretty crappy surface)/20% gravel riding I’m doing now. I’m currently doing 20-40mi most days, a longer ride on the weekends, working up to bigger distances, brevets, etc. And some more gravel (plenty of ‘seasonal use’ dirt/gravel roads around where I live)..

‘Vintage’ steel, well, just because I like old stuff, and I think steel might possibly be a little more comfortable than aluminum for this aging body. And who doesn’t need another project at any given time..? A couple that have caught my eye local(ish)ly, though haven’t been the right size, have been a Trek 520 and a Bianchi Volpe. What are some others I ought be keep my eye open for?



*a few features I’m looking for (at least I think I am…)-

-canti brakes
-if 27” wheels, ideally can convert to 700c relatively easily, or maybe even 650B…
-clearance for38c tires and fenders (or even a little fatter, if such a thing exists vintage..)
-generally upgradeable, if/as necessary
-front rack/rando bag & front low-rider panniers compatible..
-probably some other things that I’m forgetting now….

thx!
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Old 09-16-21, 06:29 PM
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Excuse the poor picture, but this is my early 90s volpe that I’ve been working on making more off road ready.
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Old 09-16-21, 06:47 PM
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The early 90s lugged Trek Multitracks, specifically, the 750 and 790, hit all of the points you listed.
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Old 09-16-21, 08:52 PM
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It's 26" so not exactly what you're looking for but I kinda got into these old Peugeot 80s MTBs. Picked this Orient Express up for $10 on Marketplace, stripped it down and rebuilt it. Just took it out for a 70 mile round trip overnight camping trip- did great. They made a slightly higher end Canyon Express too.

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Old 09-16-21, 10:22 PM
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sure wish i could find a good web image as i don't have a photo of mine, but the 1993 (or around there) mongoose crossway is a very good all road candidate, imo. i have the 625 model. it's a hybrid designed around atb bars, but converts very easily to drop bars with a tall stem ..ie. nitto technomic or dirt drop quill. and, the top tube is short, i think, for the typical hybrid length. anyway, supports canti's, front and rear racks, mtb gearing, and easily fits 700x45c tires <<hot!!>>. 48's would fit i'm sure, but it'd be pretty close to rub. also, it's made with tange doubled butted mtb tubing. good tubing, relatively light, and durable

i know there's a dude that has photos of his on facebook. just can't find it at the moment. i'll keep trying

otherwise, miyata made late 80's and early 90's triple cross and alumicross. only up to 700x38c tires, but pretty much the same capabilities as the aforementioned mongoose

the late 80's bianchi volpes were really cool, too
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Old 09-16-21, 10:52 PM
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Old 09-17-21, 05:33 AM
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Hmm, converting an old mountain bike makes some sense, if it isn't too heavy. Though I have to admit I find unicrown forks aesthetically horrible! My leaning though is more toward a road bike, but that does seem to limit what might fit tire-wise.
For the heck of it, here's the C'dale I'm riding now, which is pretty much doing everything I want...

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Old 09-17-21, 06:56 AM
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38's are a pretty tall order but I do have 38's on my 1983 Miyata Six Ten. It came with 27" wheels but 700c fit with only a canti brake adjustment. I didn't set the frame. The rear required me to manually spread the dropouts but I have removed and replaced the wheel several times and though a slight pain ,not at all insurmountable. My Trek 400 with USA True Temper double butted frame will fit 35mm tires but I would be more comfortable running 32's if mud was involved.
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Old 09-17-21, 07:01 AM
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Early mountain bikes offer a lot of possibilities for not much $$. Some are even lugged and lack the unicrown fork. Canti brakes and a chrome moly (sometimes oversized) steel frame, add Moustache, drop or porteur bars and substitute some smoother fat tires (Panaracer GravelKings?) for the knobby tires and you will be surprised by their "all road" ability. Pic is in Oregon, but I keep this one at our Florida place now. It's a late 80's Fisher HK II and you can get used to the unicrown fork. Don
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Old 09-17-21, 07:32 AM
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Weight-wise, a Trek 520 or Bianchi Volpe will weigh in within a pound or two(or possibly the same, depending on how the bikes are fitted out) of a higher-end (production) rigid MTB..mid-to high twenty lbs. Trek 950+ or Spec Stumpjumper...or others at that age/price-point. A Trek 750 Multitrack will weigh in about the same as any of these, or lighter, depending on components (25-ish lbs). All of these bikes(not sure about the SJ) will have fender/rack mounting options. If you want something significantly lighter to accommodate 38mm tires you'll need to look at a road bike with 650b conversion or a older CX bike with higher-end tubing...and you may have to improvise fender/rack mounts.

Your Cannondale with really fast tires, if they aren't already, is pretty much "it". You can build up another bike (always a good thing), but you'll end up close to what you have.

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Old 09-17-21, 07:41 AM
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They may not be glamorous, but I find old hybrids to be perfect for this. I have an early Specialized Crossroads that checks all of your boxes. Canti brakes, 700x38 from the factory with plenty of clearance, mounts for racks and fenders, etc. I have mine set up with a swept-back handlebar and 3x7 shifters, but you could convert to drop bars and road gearing if that's your thing.
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Old 09-17-21, 08:15 AM
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Mountain bikes of any vintage will get you the tire clearance without even trying, but the weight and typically high trail might be turnoffs. But if you find a high-zoot MTB with butted tubing and have the fork re-raked for less trail*, that could be a really sweet do-anything bike.

* You don't have to go all the way to "low-trail", I'm just envisioning bring it down to a neutral 56mm or so. Toe-overlap isn't usually a problem on these bikes, but doing so would help that even more.
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Old 09-17-21, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
You're Cannondale with really fast tires, if they aren't already, is pretty much "it". You can build up another bike (always a good thing), but you'll end up close to what you have.
Yeah, kind of what I figure. If one believe's Jan Heine's claims/figures, the 38c Barlow Pass tires are about as fast as most anything else. I suppose they maybe don't 'feel' fast partly because they're so supple and comfortable, but I sometimes ride with a younger, more bike-fit friend who's on a more bike with a bit narrower tires and I'm able to keep up- might even be a little faster when we're on gravel. And for me, the comfort-factor definitely has a lot to do with being able to cover more miles. Really I should be- and I am- happy with what I've got, but I mean, who doesn't want another bike?
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Old 09-17-21, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ollo_ollo View Post
....and you can get used to the unicrown fork.
Yup- that's what's on the C'dale.
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Old 09-17-21, 09:34 AM
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This list from c0rbin9 is pretty comprehensive and exactly what you're looking for.

Which Lugged Steel All-Rounder?
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Old 09-17-21, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ollo_ollo View Post
Early mountain bikes offer a lot of possibilities for not much $$. Some are even lugged and lack the unicrown fork. Canti brakes and a chrome moly (sometimes oversized) steel frame, add Moustache, drop or porteur bars and substitute some smoother fat tires (Panaracer GravelKings?) for the knobby tires and you will be surprised by their "all road" ability. Pic is in Oregon, but I keep this one at our Florida place now. It's a late 80's Fisher HK II and you can get used to the unicrown fork. Don
This looks great, I really like it. Did the you keep the original shifters and brakes or did you have to change them when switching to the moustache bar? If so, does it allow you to change gears easily?

I think you've given me the solution for my 1999 Peugeot Mtn bike.
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Old 09-17-21, 10:56 AM
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I have a 73 Raleigh competition that currently is sporting a 700x38 rear tire with centerpull brakes. When I finish my front wheel 35s will surely fit, possibly 38s, and this is with fenders.
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Old 09-17-21, 11:07 AM
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My '92 Crosscut also fits most of the requirements...

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Old 09-17-21, 11:11 AM
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And I have this 1973 Raleigh Competition that has become my all-road bike, featuring a flip/flop hub with 17/19T Surly Dingle fixed cogset on one side and 20/22T White Industries Dos Eno freewheel on the other, and 42/44T chainrings, producing 70-in fixed pavement, 60-in fixed gravel, and 60-in general freewheel and 52-in gentle singletrack freewheel options, all without cross-chaining. 35s and fenders fit and I could probably go slightly larger. There's a lot of room underneath those Weinmann Vainquer centerpulls! I found I had plenty of clearance, and the Continental Cyclocross Speed 35s worked beautifully on what I refer to as South Carolina's Strada Bianca.

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Old 09-17-21, 11:34 AM
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Most vintage sport tourers and touring models will be the ticket for you due to longer wheelbases and larger tire/fender accommodations in mind. A Cannondale ST is pretty much gold and is plenty fast and comfortable, especially (and crucially) if you have a good saddle and cockpit setup. I've owned a few STs, both caliper brake (mid-'80s) and canti brake (1990), and they are phenomenal bikes. With a canti bike, obviously trying to go to 650B is a no go unless you get the posts repositioned. Caliper brake bikes make this easy, and going 650B with a road bike that employed short reach calipers (with 700C wheels) originally is a great way to get road bike handling with much larger/wider tires. Many people have converted early vintage Treks to 650B, with great results (even tall ones).

The suggestions of a Volpe or ~1990 hybrid are really good. They very often will have frame geometry (top tub length, primarily here) that can accept a drop bar setup, but just use flat bars. Perfect for a low-cost or easy all-road/gravel conversion, IMO. Miyata Triple Cross (three Xs) are well regarded and look sharp. I forget if some came with a standard lugged fork or if it was a unibrow, er, unicrown. I share your disinclination for unicrown forks. I never got used to the one on my '90 Cannondale ST, nice as the bike was. Their ST1000s with the lugged fork and the Anthracite paint color are perfection. What does your bike look like???

In Treklandia, the 720s have great clearances, but it seems, even at their peak in 1985, they couldn't match their little brother, the 620 (1985 only) for considerable clearance. I built mine traditionally at first before having the canti posts repositioned for modern mini-V brake use (lower down, wider set) and going fully modern. Built to tackle good and crummy roads, as well as naturally able to go off road and do gravel, which I have yet to do. Original color was a darker metallic blue (that needed a lot of touch-up), and now satin black. Not a cheap way to go (you can do it for a LOT less and be just fine!), but every bit the bike I built it to be. 700x42 tires (measure 39mm wide) with about 6mm to slip in some slender fenders if I want. Love it! Apologies to everyone who's seen this a million times!

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Old 09-17-21, 11:36 AM
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I agree with Rooney and think the early 90's Trek Multi Traks fit your requirements. I'm running 32's with fenders so I think 38's will fit and no unicrown...
and with 132 spacing in the rear you can go with more modern drive train. I upgraded to a 3x9.
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Old 09-17-21, 12:12 PM
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I would think any of the non-MTB vintage Treks from 1978 through at least 1986 should be good candidates. One major limitation is knobby tires bigger than 32 or 35 mm, but you can still keep all teh usual benefits of wide-range gearing. There are probably other limitations related to the adaptation, but I would regard tires as the biggest point.

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Old 09-17-21, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
And I have this 1973 Raleigh Competition that has become my all-road bike, featuring a flip/flop hub with 17/19T Surly Dingle fixed cogset on one side and 20/22T White Industries Dos Eno freewheel on the other, and 42/44T chainrings, producing 70-in fixed pavement, 60-in fixed gravel, and 60-in general freewheel and 52-in gentle singletrack freewheel options, all without cross-chaining. 35s and fenders fit and I could probably go slightly larger. There's a lot of room underneath those Weinmann Vainquer centerpulls! I found I had plenty of clearance, and the Continental Cyclocross Speed 35s worked beautifully on what I refer to as South Carolina's Strada Bianca.

Great platforms for almost any kind of riding.
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Old 09-17-21, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Econops View Post
They may not be glamorous, but I find old hybrids to be perfect for this. I have an early Specialized Crossroads that checks all of your boxes. Canti brakes, 700x38 from the factory with plenty of clearance, mounts for racks and fenders, etc. I have mine set up with a swept-back handlebar and 3x7 shifters, but you could convert to drop bars and road gearing if that's your thing.
Yup! Old hybrids are the best kept secret in all around bikes. I have a Univega Via Carisma that I will be building up as a flat bar in-town errand and commuting bike. It also has lowrider mounts on the fork so it will be pressed into S24O and touring duty as-needed. The problem for me as a "short back" is the longer top tube that is inherent in flat bar geometries makes drop bar conversions a little funky but I've done it before on an '87 26" Fisher Hookooeekoo mountain bike and it actually worked really well for the couple of years I commuted on it.

Vintage mountain bikes are a great option if you are loading the bike up. The frames are so beefy that you can load them down with no whippiness or complaint from the frame at all. There are some light race MTB out there that would be good if you are looking for a more lightweight option but those tend to be rarer and more expensive since collectors are starting to pick those up.
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Old 09-17-21, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Jmpierce View Post

I agree with Rooney and think the early 90's Trek Multi Traks fit your requirements. I'm running 32's with fenders so I think 38's will fit and no unicrown...
and with 132 spacing in the rear you can go with more modern drive train. I upgraded to a 3x9.
I built up a 1991 750 (17 inch frame) for my GF as a tourer-gravel bike. It's currently setup for touring with 38mm Little big Ben tires and SKS commuter (53mm) fenders. Without the fenders I think the 750s will take up to a 42mm tire. Lots of mounts for racks..fenders..mid-fork rack mounts... The Hybrid forum has a looong thread on Multitracks. Lots of god info there. (Nice looking bike!)
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