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How many of you question the cost of upgrading?

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How many of you question the cost of upgrading?

Old 09-27-23, 05:00 PM
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How many of you question the cost of upgrading?

For lack of a better title - basically when one purchases a vintage bike for a reasonable or bargain price perhaps even free and then proceed to lavish larger sums on parts etc. I bought a 1985 Norco Magnum GT recently because I have always liked the idea of owning one that had canti brakes and 700C wheels,something earlier touring bikes often lacked. Also helps that they are a Canadian company, even if the frame was made in Japan ( a positive actually ). Mid to late '80's touring bikes are harder to find regardless and I see very few for sale here. A Nitto Noodle 48 cm handlebar set me back 160.00 along with a pair of Rene Herse Barlow Pass 38mm ultralight tires at 291.00, including shipping. Fortunately the tires were available from a online source in Eastern Canada as our dollar has lost value, about 30% against U.S. currency which makes a bit of dent.


Initially I also ordered a pair of MKS Sylvan Touring pedals and a Nitto 60cm Technomic stem ( replacing a 90 cm ) for 130.00 combined - all of this with the aim of making the Norco more comfortable. I have used the Rene Herse tires on a 650b Rawland Stag ( 42mm ) and like them a lot so despite the cost feel they are worth it. I still might get a pair of Origin8 Classic brake levers and possibly a front rack from V.O. at some point. I should be able to also fit the V.O. 45mm hammered fenders if I go that route, initially I had hoped to go with 44mm Snoqualmie Pass tires but possible clearance issues at the chain stays had me choosing the 38mm. At lest the Magnum GT has quite decent clearance for a vintage frame.


Anyone know what I should expect compared to the 28mm tires on it presently in regard to general handling? I believe the wider handlebars and tires will make it feel more stable and a bit " slower " in response - as it is the bike is definitely lighter and quick at the front end, especially with narrow 38 cm handlebars. I do like the 48 cm VO randonneur handlebars on the Stag so do prefer a similar width. I think this bike will handle a front rack mounted bag and still be responsive enough. Might just spring for a leather saddle, most likely an Ideale 80 but will give the Vetta it currently has a chance.



I suppose this might be old news here, spending more money on a bike then it is worth ( which is subjective anyway ) but then as I see it having a comfortable ride that fits you at this quality level for around 1,000.00 including the bike is not all that bad, and it will look better than most modern ones as well. I had not installed the stem or pedals yet in this image and just ordered the handlebars and tires. Initially going to put some light grey Velox cotton tape on the bars, should look alright. This particular Norco obviously saw little use over the years so I hope to remedy that. The only downside is how the handling suffered due to such narrow handlebars and some flat pedals would have been a better choice on a supposed touring bike though with 43cm chain stays I would consider this a sport tourer.

One other bonus of many vintage frames is a lack of toe overlap with the front tire. I remember trying out a Masi Randonneur a few years ago and it simply rode and felt terrible with a bad case of toe overlap. New is definitely not a case of better in that example.










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Old 09-27-23, 05:27 PM
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A boat is a hole in the water into which you shovel money.

A C&V bike project is a hole in dry land into which you shovel money. Much less money, but still . . . .
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Old 09-27-23, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by VintageRide
handlebar set me back 160.00 ... along with tires at 291.00... pedals and a stem for 130.00.
Yeah, that's not me. A well used Cinelli stem and bars can be found for $30/ea (plus a can of oven cleaner). Old KKT pedals I can overhaul with clips for about the same. A new pair of tires for $100ish.
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Old 09-27-23, 05:29 PM
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I'll bite.
This summer I bought a Trek 400 for $125.

Bottom bracket replaced with a sealed unit, saddle replaced with a Brooks (I had), bars were too narrow, on goes a Philippe set (I had), off goes the 27 inch wheels. I wanted tubulars so I paid for an NOS set of GP4s and paid to have them laced to a set of 40/36 hubs. I wanted good rubber so trying Continental Competitions.

I don't want to even try to add up what I spent.
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Old 09-27-23, 05:42 PM
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In this market you never get back anything but pride...
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Old 09-27-23, 05:55 PM
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WGB - a sealed bottom bracket is also a consideration, but knowing me it would be something like the SKF which are what, over 100.00?
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Old 09-27-23, 06:13 PM
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I don't usually question it but I sure am guilty of it....over....and over.....and over again.

I mean I'm the guy that rebuilt this bike with Dura Ace/Ultegra components and Dura Ace/Open Pro wheels.


I put way too much money in new/used parts on this one to ever recoup it.

Came to me with heavy 7 speed RX 400 parts.

It's a joy to ride now but still no where near worth what I put into it. And that's all good with me...cause I'm a bike nut!
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Old 09-27-23, 06:24 PM
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This thread just reinforces the need for a good parts bin. If the part is already in your parts bin, it's a sunk cost. Therefore if you pull the part from the bin the upgrade doesn't really cost anything. Yes, I keep telling myself this over and over.
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Old 09-27-23, 06:30 PM
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I think those SKF bearings are closer to $200
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Old 09-27-23, 06:34 PM
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If you're spending money on something you ride and you enjoy the hobby then I say have at it....skies the limit. I am guilty as well....I like to go to swap meets and spend hundreds of dollars on stuff I don't need. As long as it doesn't interfere with the food, clothing and shelter budget it's all good.
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Old 09-27-23, 06:34 PM
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I go into every bike project with reasonable expectations about what I'm going to spend. What I'm going to spend isn't reasonable, but my expectations are.

I don't view it as an investment. I don't expect to be able to sell if for what I put in. There is a way that it comes out sensible though, and you touched on it in the first post. What would it cost you to get the bike you want? Generally what I want is a nice looking steel bike with quality components that typically include dual-pivot brakes and indexed shifting with a wide gear range. I can get new bikes that fit that description, but not for what I spend building one from a vintage frame. I also couldn't sell the new bike for what I spent on it, so the resale value is kind of a bad comparison anyway.
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Old 09-27-23, 07:35 PM
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Ten $100 decisions are easier to make than one $1000 decision.
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Old 09-27-23, 07:40 PM
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Looking at the bikes I’ve restored, and made comfortable and suitable for me, at 1000 bucks, you got off cheap. Enjoy the hobby and your ride. Nice bike by the way!
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Old 09-27-23, 07:42 PM
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If you enjoy it ride it. If you want to enjoy it more feel free to spend money you won't get back but that's hobbies for ya. Prob better to just buy a better bike than expensive individual parts that won't make much difference. Depends what you are looking for in biking I guess.
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Old 09-27-23, 08:03 PM
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Always

I always question what the heck am I thinking.
$200 for the Panasonic complete
$250 for lighter NOS White Industries hubbed wheels
$400ish for my first dyno wheel and lighting system- things got out of hand with the LBS. i love the system anyway
$100? Switched out the steel bars and seat post for aluminum.
$50 ? New fenders
$70 for Panaracers

i got something unique. Rides great. No toe overlap. Made in Japan lugged steel- tapered butting? I think?

Rode for a week on the Katy Trail. Used Amtrak to get there and back. Nothing broke. Not even a flat. And some how the bike held off the rain. Priceless.

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Old 09-27-23, 08:16 PM
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Every bit you put on that Norco Tourer can be put on your next bike or several bikes. I see it as money in the bank.
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Old 09-27-23, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc
In this market you never get back anything but pride...
On some of my builds, even that's a stretch.
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Old 09-27-23, 09:37 PM
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Er... You are missing honjo hammered fenders on your bike, and a set of nitto campee racks. Maybe an Acorn rando bag and tool bag would be nice.
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Old 09-27-23, 11:59 PM
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You must be joking, the only question is "what can I do next and where am I going to get more money to do it".
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Old 09-28-23, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer
A boat is a hole in the water into which you shovel money.

A C&V bike project is a hole in dry land into which you shovel money. Much less money, but still . . . .
I use the size that is darn near the middle of the bell curve, rarely get a deal, often have to overpay.
painting is the fastest way to get upside down.
‘hidden bearing damage runs second.
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Old 09-28-23, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by VintageRide
How many of you question the cost of upgrading?
I do, because I am thrifty. And then I do it anyway. That said, I never intend to sell any of my bikes. If one plans to ever sell, and are concerned about "getting upside down"... that's a much different equation.

And if one thinks painting is expensive -- try a visit to the chrome shop.
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Old 09-28-23, 09:12 AM
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Definitely don't question the expense of upgrading. At least I didn't before I put a son in college.

I bought my Cinelli as a bare frame and initially built it up with mostly Ultegra parts, with a few Dura Ace parts (What I could afford at the time). Over the years, thanks almost exclusively to eBay, I've swapped out for all 7700 Dura Ace with some 7400 where appropriate. It wasn't cheap. About $100 per hub, $150 for the 25th Anniversary rear derailleur, about the same for 25th Anniversary brakes (Both of which have since gone up markedly in value), $100 bucks for a titanium rear axle, $35 bucks for compressionless brake cables; almost $100 bucks for toe straps; Maybe $75 bucks for titanium bolt upgrades. $100 for a Selle San Marco saddle.

All money well-spent. The bike is nowhere near worth what I have into it. But that's OK. Because I did it my way. And I had a helluva lot of fun in the process.
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Old 09-28-23, 09:20 AM
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It depends. As stated elsewhere, upgrades shouldn’t be done with an eye to future sale. They should be done with an eye to what you want out of the bike. You should also choose projects that are worthy of the time and expense of upgrading. Upgrading a Schwinn Varsity in an attempt to make it into a racing machine is a fools errand. Most any upgrade to a Schwinn Varsity for any purpose is a fools errand. Pick a good bike for upgrade projects.
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Old 09-28-23, 09:26 AM
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Related, building a bike from the frame up. Especially if you don't use a donor (none is available or something). The build will almost ALWAYS be more expenditure than return value.

If it was an investment machine in my garage, my stockbroker would be fired. Luckily it isn't.

EDIT: Uh oh...post is number 666...6
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Old 09-28-23, 09:31 AM
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... the concepts of "money" and "art" are diametrically opposed. So with hand made bicycles, I tell myself I'm involved in art. Art is for connoisseurs. Money is about having enough so it lasts until you die, broke. I can still remember when there was a hipster ethos that valued "artisanal objects". I guess it wasn't that long ago, but it seems like forever.
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