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What were some of the common 'trick' modifications to road bikes back in the 70s/80s?

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What were some of the common 'trick' modifications to road bikes back in the 70s/80s?

Old 12-22-23, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by embankmentlb
Cyclists in the 1970s and 80s were a pretty conservative lot. That is why Campagnolo was so popular. It always worked day after day despite being 10 years behind in technology.
Catalogs of the day generally offered 3 levels of groups. Nuovo , Record and Super record. I don’t remember if those were the exact names used to describe the 3 levels but the middle level deleted many of the titanium spindles and such from the Super record group. Most racers in practice used the group without the overly light parts because the top group was perceived not to be as reliable. Reliability was of upmost importance.

Just my 2 cents.

Nuovo gran sport just I did not see at races, if was “ Nuovo Record “ which was really Record and Nuovo record.
some would have a Super Record headset. As I wrote earlier, the SL pedals were a thing. The super record rear mech, pedals and bottom bracket, brake levers were just not seen.
‘If one wanted light, Arnold Industries fasteners. Did not rust either.
‘Suntour Cyclone had a following for the rear mech. light, cheap, good.
everyone had Campagnolo hubs, the cool kids had low flange. For a while, the high flange hubs were cheaper than the low flange. Curious. I figured with inflation still at hand, older, cheaper.
My first set of race wheels, High flange hubs, $35. Low flange were $42. No contest. 36 spokes, as 32’s were just not around.
‘some of the budget racers had ProAce pedals. Weinmann 500’s. My first race bike had Mafac Racers, gone in a year.
Sedis chains as they were cheap and good. No tears if you stretched one out.
one guy at the bike shop saved tail ends of Regina Oro chains and eventually made one up for himself.

a very few had DuraAce, they were from SanDiego, sponsored by Shimano.

Binda Toe Straps. - Extras if you could find them. The trick thing was to trim the tail back, leaving enough to fold under and have the Village Cobbler rivet it like Masi did, easier to tug.

Last edited by repechage; 12-22-23 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 12-22-23, 08:38 PM
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Old 12-22-23, 09:07 PM
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Old 12-22-23, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Nemosengineer
That’s pretty focused and committed.

Nice large flange 24h/28h race day wheelset. Barum tubulars? A good affordable and durable option for club racers throughout the Cold War…
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Old 12-22-23, 09:34 PM
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Old 12-22-23, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes
So many possible captions, so little time...

"We knew things were getting out of hand when the woodpeckers started using carbide beak tips."

"I told you it wasn't a good idea to take that shortcut behind the cartel warehouse."

"But the ad said it improves ride quality by .05% over the stock version!"
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Old 12-22-23, 10:01 PM
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When I raced in the early 1980s, I was too poor to have multiple wheels, so I trained and raced on the wheelset I built up myself with used Normandy hi-flange hubs (probably off an old Continental), Record du Monde rims from Cyclo-Pedia, and CyclePro 270 nylon-cord tubulars from Bike Warehouse Nashbar. Installed on the decade-old Raleigh Pro frame I bought used, and its Super Maxy crank, 5-speed Winner 13-21 freewheel (whether mountains or criterium), and very functional V-Luxe derailleurs, which were commented on derisively by a couple kids whose parents could buy them Super Record. And 40+ years and 50 or so pounds ago, I could hang in the pack and even win a few races with that setup, as it was 98% as efficient as the bikes that cost thousands in Reagan-era dollars.

And I still have that same bike, still with the same cranks, but now with 28/32 spoke clinchers and a Suntour indexed drivetrain.
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Old 12-22-23, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
When I raced in the early 1980s, I was too poor to have multiple wheels, so I trained and raced on the wheelset I built up myself with used Normandy hi-flange hubs (probably off an old Continental), Record du Monde rims from Cyclo-Pedia, and CyclePro 270 nylon-cord tubulars from Bike Warehouse Nashbar. Installed on the decade-old Raleigh Pro frame I bought used, and its Super Maxy crank, 5-speed Winner 13-21 freewheel (whether mountains or criterium), and very functional V-Luxe derailleurs, which were commented on derisively by a couple kids whose parents could buy them Super Record. And 40+ years and 50 or so pounds ago, I could hang in the pack and even win a few races with that setup, as it was 98% as efficient as the bikes that cost thousands in Reagan-era dollars.

And I still have that same bike, still with the same cranks, but now with 28/32 spoke clinchers and a Suntour indexed drivetrain.
be very lucky to have the same axle cones on those Normandy hubs now. You were the exception who made the losers wonder what did they do wrong.

I was one of those kids who had to train and race on the same wheels. Then got a job in a bike shop. Two years later I was one of the SoCal juniors who had matching road and track bikes. The Dennis Connor approach, no excuse to lose.

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Old 12-22-23, 10:13 PM
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Adding one more comment prompted by the photos above.

Nashbar had MKS Esquartz aero platform pedals at a great price in 1981-82ish. I bought & used them on my racing bike (the Pro in the previous comment) and thought the proprietary aluminum toe clips looked and worked great.

Up until a long climb on a steep mountain grade many many miles from home, where I managed to snap both toe clips (apparently from fatigue from repetitive small-scale bending) and had to finish the climb in my 42/21 without clips and keeping my cleat on the pedal through sheer force of will (toe straps without affixed clips aren't all that useful). Not fun. Traded those out for something with a steel clip not too long afterward.
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Old 12-22-23, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mhespenheide
Mid-80's: American Classic seatposts (and bottle cages?), Bullseye pulleys, Bullseye or Phil Wood hubs, or Hi-e if you could find them. Some guys in my club ran 48-spoke hubs and rims but then only laced up every other hole, making them pre-drilled 24-spoke wheels. 54x14 junior gearing. Or was it 54x15?
back then- 52 x15 - 93.6” inches of development (27”) why they continued to use 27” was just one of those screwy rules, no one used 27” wheels.
just spin man.

most of my racing career 44x14. Hummingbird legs.
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Old 12-23-23, 06:00 AM
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I've never raced anyone other than my buddies to the end of the block when were small boys. But this has been a quite interesting thread reading about components, modifications and improvisations employed by racers back in the day to shave weight. I'm enjoying it.
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Old 12-23-23, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
It started in the mid '70s and was out of favor by '88 or so. Bike Ribbon padded tape became big around then.
I had a couple of rolls of NOS white Benotto tape in a drawer for many years---finally wrapped them over white cork tape for the bars on a Bianchi track bike.

The drops were shallow and narrow, so the Benotto tape almost stretched to cover all of the Bike Ribbon---all but the last several inches. (Benotto might have been the most miserly of all the bar tape manufacturers back then, in a field that included nickel-and-diming adversaries such as Tressostar and Plastilac.)

Looked great. Someone once scribbled a note ("Beautiful tape! Have a good day") and stuck it in the spokes of the bike where I had it locked in the racks outside Union Station in DC.
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Old 12-23-23, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Nemosengineer
The local bike shop had a Simplex-derailleur-equipped display like that (with shiny black doorknob-looking handles threaded into the crank arms for pedaling) in the 1960's, next to the Delta Electronics counter display (Rocket Ray and Super Rocket Ray headlights, Gangway! horns).
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Old 12-23-23, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Nemosengineer
For those that enjoy this sort of metal working, you can view more of Jon Williams' work on his Flickr pages.
Incredible work by a guy who left us too soon.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 12-23-23, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M
I've never raced anyone other than my buddies to the end of the block when were small boys. But this has been a quite interesting thread reading about components, modifications and improvisations employed by racers back in the day to shave weight. I'm enjoying it.
Its the same with me. I like to see a bike restored to the way it was used, with modifications and accessories from the period, instead of a factory perfect restoration. That stuff is part of the history too and could get lost if every restoration is to factory specs.
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Old 12-23-23, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
I had a couple of rolls of NOS white Benotto tape in a drawer for many years---finally wrapped them over white cork tape for the bars on a Bianchi track bike.

The drops were shallow and narrow, so the Benotto tape almost stretched to cover all of the Bike Ribbon---all but the last several inches. (Benotto might have been the most miserly of all the bar tape manufacturers back then, in a field that included nickel-and-diming adversaries such as Tressostar and Plastilac.)

Looked great. Someone once scribbled a note ("Beautiful tape! Have a good day") and stuck it in the spokes of the bike where I had it locked in the racks outside Union Station in DC.
additional circumference adds up very fast.
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Old 12-23-23, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1
Leave off those crank dust caps: wow, SO much faster now! And the emergency crank swaps in the heat of a Crit are full mili-seconds quicker than before...
FIT)
About crank dust caps, there’s the Eddy factor( if Eddy does it, so will I) that another poster mentioned, but there was an almost tribal thing about not having dust caps. There were little things that told other racers that someone had taken some time to teach you how things were done. Those clues didn’t matter so much in higher categories, but for lower categories and juniors, where the cast of characters could change week to week, a quick scan of the bikes around you let you know if you could maybe trust the guy next to you, or if they were a complete newbie that needed to be watched. Dust caps were an easy tell.
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Old 12-23-23, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Spadoni
About crank dust caps, there’s the Eddy factor( if Eddy does it, so will I) that another poster mentioned, but there was an almost tribal thing about not having dust caps. There were little things that told other racers that someone had taken some time to teach you how things were done. Those clues didn’t matter so much in higher categories, but for lower categories and juniors, where the cast of characters could change week to week, a quick scan of the bikes around you let you know if you could maybe trust the guy next to you, or if they were a complete newbie that needed to be watched. Dust caps were an easy tell.

*quietly removes dust caps from Campy crank on the Huffy*

"How's a goin', fellow racers!"



Originally Posted by Pompiere
Its the same with me. I like to see a bike restored to the way it was used, with modifications and accessories from the period, instead of a factory perfect restoration. That stuff is part of the history too and could get lost if every restoration is to factory specs.

Yes! I thought this would be a fun thread - I wanted to know what would be considered 'period correct, but modified'. Turns out I got a lot more than I bargained for, in a great way! All the tales, memories, stories, prints. Gold.
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Old 12-23-23, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
I had a couple of rolls of NOS white Benotto tape in a drawer for many years---finally wrapped them over white cork tape for the bars on a Bianchi track bike.

The drops were shallow and narrow, so the Benotto tape almost stretched to cover all of the Bike Ribbon---all but the last several inches. (Benotto might have been the most miserly of all the bar tape manufacturers back then, in a field that included nickel-and-diming adversaries such as Tressostar and Plastilac.)

Looked great. Someone once scribbled a note ("Beautiful tape! Have a good day") and stuck it in the spokes of the bike where I had it locked in the racks outside Union Station in DC.
Hey, back in the day Benotto tape was colorful, plentiful, and most of all 99¢ a roll.

A fuzzy 110-camera photo of my Raleigh Pro from 41+ years ago in our messy back yard, with its bile-green Benotto tape proudly matching the Imron repaint where the paint chip looked good on paper but didn't quite look the same after spraying:
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Old 12-23-23, 11:35 AM
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Color can be a curious thing, the area of the color, plus tube instead of a flat sample can not make a pleasant translation.
the kitten does not appear impressed.
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Old 12-23-23, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by repechage
Color can be a curious thing, the area of the color, plus tube instead of a flat sample can not make a pleasant translation.
the kitten does not appear impressed.
The kitten (named after one of my racing teammates) was definitely not impressed.

In 1986 or so, I was living in another city to finish my degree, and I didn't have secure bike parking outside the trailer where I lived. So my dear mother consented to allow me to store my racing bike in the shed. Where she placed it in a convenient spot.

Right next to the pool chemicals. For two semesters.

Well, that did in the Imron. When I retrieved my poor bike, the paint was cracked and bubbled from corrosion. I ended up having to have it blasted and stripped, and chose then to have an all-over chrome finish, which has held up remarkably well in an eye-catching way for the ensuing 35+ years. As for structural damage, there didn't seem to be any after the thorough de-rusting, and it has held up well.
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Old 12-23-23, 01:31 PM
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My one authentic weight-weenie era find:

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Old 12-23-23, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by dddd
My one authentic weight-weenie era find:
Cool bike! Speedwell?
How's it ride?
Remind me, was it a Speedwell badged as Motobecane that Ocaña used (for at least some stages) the year he won TdF?
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Old 12-23-23, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bulgie
Cool bike! Speedwell?
How's it ride?
Remind me, was it a Speedwell badged as Motobecane that Ocaña used (for at least some stages) the year he won TdF?


Photo from cognoscenti-cycles.com

Looks like drillium brake levers and outer chainring but still 36-spoke wheels, although probably some fragile sub-300 gram lightweight rims, of which there were many options at the time.
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Old 12-23-23, 03:09 PM
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Another passing observation is that both dddd ’s and Luis Ocana’s Speedwells appear to have the rear wheel axle set more or less in line with the seatstays, and have similar-sized tubulars, although Ocana’s frame looks like it has several cms less clearance behind the seat tube. Both bicycles have good clearance below the fork crown and brake bridge.

Perhaps Ocana had a custom frame built to his personal specification.
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