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C&V Buying Tips?

Old 02-08-24, 06:28 AM
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C&V Buying Tips?

Perhaps my midlife crisis is kicking in, I’ve bumped my head too many times or seeing all these beautifully restored classic bikes I grew up with is inspiring. But non the less, I can’t keep from searching, and ultimately have a burning desire to buy & refurbish a classic. Honestly I grew up in the late 70’s & 80’s and kind of remember my now vintage “10 speed”, and I’m not sure whether how much I will enjoy the ride again.

Time seems to be my most coveted asset at this time, so I hate to invest much time refurbishing a bike just to find out I invested time and money into the wrong build and it’s still a POS.

Any tips on what I should look for or what I should stay away from?

Any thoughts on (this may be offensive to some) vintage bike frames with the possibility of upgrading with modern components?
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Old 02-08-24, 06:54 AM
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Find out first what size and fit of frame suits you now which might be different to what fitted you back then and don't do what I did on my return to cycling 25 years ago and buy a newer version of the last bike I had as a teen which was a 10 speed racer, I ended up changing just about every single component on that bike to get it how I wanted it.

There is nothing wrong with a good cycling midlife crisis, I am thoroughly enjoying mine.

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Old 02-08-24, 07:01 AM
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I think the easiest way for you to start would be to look at slightly later C&V bikes (complete) from the late 90's or early 00 period. With something in that range, the components would be slightly more modern, and not need upgrade. Ride that a bit and decide what part of it you really like.
The old frame with modern group mods is doable, but more trouble.
If shopping for frames alone, get some lighter tubing. There may be compatibility issues between the old and new. Your local bike shop might not be very interested in helping, but there are some that might.
Good luck!
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Old 02-08-24, 07:04 AM
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Budget?
Simply look for a complete bike with Campagnolo Super Record, Nuovo Record, Dura Ace, or 600.

Where do you live? We will find a bike for you🙂
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Old 02-08-24, 07:05 AM
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Make sure the frame is your size, fits the tires you want, and has your preferred geometry (some of the classics got very racy in the mid 70s aka PX-10). Then do whatever makes you happy with components!
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Old 02-08-24, 07:47 AM
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It is a great time to buy a classic bike . The prices for used bikes are very reasonable right now . As others have said , find out what size bike fits you and also the type of riding you do . Touring bikes have a more relaxed geometry and tend to have wider gear ranges . A racing bike is tighter clearances , shorter wheel base and lighter weight, usually. I think I’m a bit older than you and I like seventies bikes … still! I grew up in the sixties and seventies and I still have the first light weight racing bike I bought from the seventies. I strongly recommend trying out the bike before buying it just to make sure it will be right for you. Don’t invest a lot of time and money before riding it unless you know exactly what will work for you.
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Old 02-08-24, 08:35 AM
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If you have a knowledgeable friend that can accompany you who is familiar with maintenance and condition issues would be a big plus.
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Old 02-08-24, 09:09 AM
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If there was a bike you dreamed about or rider of a particular bike you were a fan of, search those out…if you want to stay enthused, best to start with something that stirs your emotions. Skip low tiered and even some mid-tiered bikes…takes as much time to refurbish an intro-level bike as it does a professional-level bike and when you are finished the low end bike is still low end…so get something that you are proud to ride and that elicits “nice bike” comments (helps keep you enthused). Basically same rules as car collecting…buy something you actually love.
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Old 02-08-24, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by daverup
I think the easiest way for you to start would be to look at slightly later C&V bikes (complete) from the late 90's or early 00 period. With something in that range, the components would be slightly more modern, and not need upgrade. Ride that a bit and decide what part of it you really like.
The old frame with modern group mods is doable, but more trouble.
If shopping for frames alone, get some lighter tubing. There may be compatibility issues between the old and new. Your local bike shop might not be very interested in helping, but there are some that might.
Good luck!
great tip!

Originally Posted by Classtime
Budget?
Simply look for a complete bike with Campagnolo Super Record, Nuovo Record, Dura Ace, or 600.

Where do you live? We will find a bike for you🙂
no real budget per say, will look for camp components in my size!

Originally Posted by BTinNYC
Make sure the frame is your size, fits the tires you want, and has your preferred geometry (some of the classics got very racy in the mid 70s aka PX-10). Then do whatever makes you happy with components!
👌

Originally Posted by Kabuki12
It is a great time to buy a classic bike . The prices for used bikes are very reasonable right now . As others have said , find out what size bike fits you and also the type of riding you do . Touring bikes have a more relaxed geometry and tend to have wider gear ranges . A racing bike is tighter clearances , shorter wheel base and lighter weight, usually. I think I’m a bit older than you and I like seventies bikes … still! I grew up in the sixties and seventies and I still have the first light weight racing bike I bought from the seventies. I strongly recommend trying out the bike before buying it just to make sure it will be right for you. Don’t invest a lot of time and money before riding it unless you know exactly what will work for you.
Haven’t seen much for clarification on type of geometry on vintage bikes, but this may be do to my lack of knowledge. When I utilize a geometry comparison tool, it seems the difference is negligible. Other than the handlebars being slammed, I’m not sure I’d notice. Currently I purchased my Topstone which falls under the endurance category, and this position seems to suit me the best.

Originally Posted by WaveyGravey
If you have a knowledgeable friend that can accompany you who is familiar with maintenance and condition issues would be a big plus.
what is this “friend” thing you speak of? lol
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Old 02-08-24, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Small cog
Find out first what size and fit of frame suits you now which might be different to what fitted you back then and don't do what I did on my return to cycling 25 years ago and buy a newer version of the last bike I had as a teen which was a 10 speed racer, I ended up changing just about every single component on that bike to get it how I wanted it.

There is nothing wrong with a good cycling midlife crisis, I am thoroughly enjoying mine.
will do, I currently seem to fit the best in a 58, and from what I see that compares best to somewhere in the 22.5-23.5” range
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Old 02-08-24, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Markeologist
If there was a bike you dreamed about or rider of a particular bike you were a fan of, search those out…if you want to stay enthused, best to start with something that stirs your emotions. Skip low tiered and even some mid-tiered bikes…takes as much time to refurbish an intro-level bike as it does a professional-level bike and when you are finished the low end bike is still low end…so get something that you are proud to ride and that elicits “nice bike” comments (helps keep you enthused). Basically same rules as car collecting…buy something you actually love.
so look for vintage frames, that had options for premium components? I see people restore Schwinn to Raleigh and everything in between, and identifying POS brands may be helpful. I do recognize the premium gram brands, but honestly surprised the at the Schwin restorations. I truly considered these as a hardware store brand. But I could be wrong about the vintage schwin
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Old 02-08-24, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Bogey Speedwell
honestly surprised the at the Schwin restorations. I truly considered these as a hardware store brand.
Within most brands, a wide range of bike quality and components. You can always post here for an opinion, we have all sorts of experts.
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Old 02-08-24, 09:59 AM
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What type of riding do you foresee doing with it? An all a rounder (gravel, longer sport runs, credit card touring), or something between sport and race?

That would inform your choice.

Anything with Reynolds 531, Columbus (SL, SLX, Cromor, even Aelle) Tange Champion 1/2, Tabge Prestige will not be a POS. Some Vitus and Ishiwata as well.
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Old 02-08-24, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Bogey Speedwell
so look for vintage frames, that had options for premium components? I see people restore Schwinn to Raleigh and everything in between, and identifying POS brands may be helpful. I do recognize the premium gram brands, but honestly surprised the at the Schwin restorations. I truly considered these as a hardware store brand. But I could be wrong about the vintage schwin
Pick a general time frame, go online and read vintage bike mag reviews from that period (many are posted here) and take notes (even screenshots and paste into a word doc with what caught your interest). Get an understanding of quality tubing and components (what brands and names for those brands in both cases)…basically educate yourself which will in turn add to your enthusiasm…if it doesn’t, then maybe vintage bikes aren’t your thing and you have only invested some time to figure that out…AND another reason to start with a higher level bike (if you get to that stage after doing a little research) is that if you do stall and find yourself not all that interested in vintage bikes, its much easier to unload a better bike than a POS as you say.

In your research you will see Schwinn did indeed offer high end and low end bikes as well as everything in between. Schwinn was never a department store brand as those bikes tended to be cheap imports with the stores brand names pasted on. Again, pick an era, read up on Schwinns if that is what floats your boat and after getting a little knowledge, see what is out there in your price range…and also again, you will have more pride of ownership on a high end Paramount over a base level Varsity (if the 70s is the period you pick) and in the long run the Paramount will be the better investment (time and $$$).

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Old 02-08-24, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Bogey Speedwell
great tip!



no real budget per say, will look for camp components in my size!



👌



Haven’t seen much for clarification on type of geometry on vintage bikes, but this may be do to my lack of knowledge. When I utilize a geometry comparison tool, it seems the difference is negligible. Other than the handlebars being slammed, I’m not sure I’d notice. Currently I purchased my Topstone which falls under the endurance category, and this position seems to suit me the best.



what is this “friend” thing you speak of? lol
The main differences are , some of what I stated , relaxed versus tighter , gearing , eyelets for racks or fenders , and better clearance for wider tires. There are some differences that would be significant if you are looking at touring and end up with a racing bike that won't allow for wider tires or racks and fenders(if needed) . If you plan on riding on trails , you need a bike that can accept 28c wide tires or wider. A lot of the racing bikes did not have enough clearance for anything over 25c. I like racing bikes for my particular style of riding but I also have a couple of bikes that can do both.
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Old 02-08-24, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Bogey Speedwell
I do recognize the premium gram brands, but honestly surprised the at the Schwin restorations. I truly considered these as a hardware store brand. But I could be wrong about the vintage schwin
BITD, Schwinn was only a bike-store brand. They probably had the largest dealer network in the country. Their high-end bikes in the 1980s were as competitive as anyone's, and their mid-80s Paramount was practically a custom-built frame--an utter work of art.
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Old 02-08-24, 10:41 AM
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Old 02-08-24, 10:46 AM
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Regarding your question about fitting modern components to an older bike, you should find plenty of inspiration in this rather lengthy thread.
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Old 02-08-24, 10:58 AM
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Probably the biggest question apart from bike fit...do you enjoy working on bikes? You said time is your most coveted asset, but just like money time is only valuable when it is spent. If you are interested in spending time restoring a bike, that can be very rewarding. If you just want to have and ride a beautiful classic bike, that's still possible but it changes the options a lot. For example, you asked about a vintage frame with modern parts. It's relatively unlikely that you'd find what you're looking for ready made. You could buy the frame and parts and pay someone to assemble it for you, but that gets really expensive in a hurry. Gathering all the tools you need to do it yourself can be expensive too, but the joy of good tools is a topic in and of itself. If you don't want to spend time and money on the build/restoration process, that leaves obviously you with looking for complete bikes in good working order. It sounds like you're willing to put some time into restoration, but it isn't clear how much or which parts you're comfortable doing yourself.

Regarding selection of the candidate bike, tubing is probably a better indicator than brand. Not that you'll necessarily notice a big difference between different tube sets, but it's an indication of the market the bike was targeting and therefore has a correlation to quality. You can't go wrong sticking with Columbus SL and Reynolds 531, and those are plentiful. Once you're into the 1980's, there were also some good Japanese tube sets under brands like Tange. The brand of the bike will probably give you some satisfaction, and it's also a rough guide to the kind of geometry you're going to get.

The brands with big reputations come with correspondingly big price tags that don't necessarily get you anything extra other than the name. Bianchi, Colnago, and DeRosa, for example, are all great bikes in high demand, but (with the exception of low end Bianchis) it's hard to find them at reasonable prices. A slightly off brand can be a real bargain and often has its own appeal once you learn more about it. For example, I have a Colnago C97 and a Machiagi-built Coppi Reparto Corse, both from the late 90's, both with very good original paint, both with chrome lugs. The Colnago has Columbus Thron tubing while the Coppi has much lighter Columbus Genius tubing. The Colnago cost me three times as much as the Coppi, and by most objective standards the Coppi is a better frame.

Mainstream American brands like Trek, Specialized, and Centurion were producing very good quality bikes in the early 80's, but in my opinion they aren't as sexy. They're really good for figuring out if you're going to enjoy riding a vintage bike though. I see that you're in Wisconsin, so you probably can't walk out your front door without tripping over a vintage Trek. Don't shy away from them. The 600 and 700 series bikes especially were very nice.

Consider tire clearance. As you get into the mid-to-late 80's you start losing the ability to use tires wider than 700x25. You're probably aware that this trend has reversed and many people are recommending 28's or wider these days. This is a personal choice, but it's something to consider.
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Old 02-08-24, 11:11 AM
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The comment about working on your bike is important. Outside of a few savvy shops and co-ops, you're on your own for a lot of this.

Do you have a bike that you currently ride that fits you perfectly? If so, please post the model/year/size and a picture.
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Old 02-08-24, 11:18 AM
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No one has said it yet!

Centurion Ironman

​​​​​​
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Old 02-08-24, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Piff
No one has said it yet!

Centurion Ironman

​​​​​​
before the Ironman was the Turbo

more classic appearing paintwork.

83 Centurion Turbo
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Old 02-08-24, 11:37 AM
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Be ready and willing to walk away from the project at any time during the build.
Back in 2014, I was working for a shop here in Philly and saw a bike that was amazing. Since then, I had stars in my eyes about finding one. 9 years later, I found one for pennies and built it up like a dream club bike.
The problem is my individual health issues and a neck injury I suffered while I was in the Navy. So, after all the research and collecting of parts, I got the bike together, adjusted the stem to its max height but after a few rides, I'm getting the hot fuzzy numbness in my fingers due to my neck position caused by riding a bike too small.
Now I have to either keep the bike around as a collector piece or send it along at a loss to someone who can use it; I'm choosing the latter. The experience of the build itself was fantastic and over a couple months led me down many rabbit holes of research and history.
So, do the restoration for the journey, not necessarily the end point. There will always be other bikes to bring back to life; be willing to let the grail go and the whole experience will be a lot more enjoyable.
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Old 02-08-24, 11:41 AM
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Consider a 1960s geometry racing frame, which is more like a 1970s or early 1980s touring frame, with wider tire clearances and a longer wheelbase.
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Old 02-08-24, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Bogey Speedwell

Any thoughts on (this may be offensive to some) vintage bike frames with the possibility of upgrading with modern components?
It shouldn’t be offensive to anyone. It will be your bike so you can do whatever you want with it. But it isn’t always necessary to modernize an old bike. My warm and fuzzies come from finding bike boom bikes from my teen years in as original condition as possible and keeping them that way. Those bikes I am able to enjoy for shorter rides to the grocery store, coffee shop or brewery. For longer rides, I have a more modern and more efficient bike.
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