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Late 80s vs 70s Road Bike ride feel

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Late 80s vs 70s Road Bike ride feel

Old 05-16-24, 08:08 PM
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Late 80s vs 70s Road Bike ride feel

I've ridden some 70s road bikes with the wider 27" tires and find them to be really smooth riding. I'm thinking about getting a late 80s steel Trek road bike and am curious how the ride feel is with the skinnier 700 tires? Are they a harsher ride feel?
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Old 05-16-24, 08:35 PM
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A wider tire can usually be ridden with less pressure. All other things being equal it will ride more smoothly than a narrower tire. Bet you know that already. 27" or 700c wouldn't matter. In reality, there are so many variables that it's impossible to make a generalized judgement, 70's vs 80's bikes. Bet you know that as well....
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Old 05-16-24, 09:53 PM
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Now I'm confused. My 80s road bike has really wide 700C tires (which are widely available) and my 80s touring bike has narrower 27" tires (because they don't make anything wider than about 32 mm) and because the larger wheel diameter and therefore reduced frame clearances restricts you to narrower tires. I think that you have things backwards. That said, in the late 80s to 2000s there was a silly trend to build frames with really tight clearances so that you were restricted to very narrow tires (e.g. <25 mm) based on the incorrect assumption that thinner = lower rolling resistance. The solution...don't get a frame with tight clearances because skinny tires generally = higher rolling resistance, higher fatigue and discomfort, and poorer grip in turns.

Also note that there's more than tire width that goes into road feel. Frame geometry and material has a lot to do with it.
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Old 05-16-24, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by davester
Now I'm confused. My 80s road bike has really wide 700C tires (which are widely available) and my 80s touring bike has narrower 27" tires (because they don't make anything wider than about 32 mm) and because the larger wheel diameter and therefore reduced frame clearances restricts you to narrower tires. I think that you have things backwards. That said, in the late 80s to 2000s there was a silly trend to build frames with really tight clearances so that you were restricted to very narrow tires (e.g. <25 mm) based on the incorrect assumption that thinner = lower rolling resistance. The solution...don't get a frame with tight clearances because skinny tires generally = higher rolling resistance, higher fatigue and discomfort, and poorer grip in turns.

Also note that there's more than tire width that goes into road feel. Frame geometry and material has a lot to do with it.
Well the 70s road bikes I'm familiar with fit wider tires. The late 80s road bikes mostly seem be lacking clearance for wider tires. So I guess my assumption that late 80s bikes generally have a harsher ride than 70s bikes is correct?
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Old 05-16-24, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BikingViking793
Well the 70s road bikes I'm familiar with fit wider tires. The late 80s road bikes mostly seem be lacking clearance for wider tires. So I guess my assumption that late 80s bikes generally have a harsher ride than 70s bikes is correct?
It is true that there was a trend to tighter clearances later on for racing bikes (I'm thinking this really started in the 90s, not the 80s), but actually many late 80s touring and sport touring bikes had pretty wide clearances and could generally take wider tires compared to what was available in the 70s. Like I said, this has nothing to do with 700C vs 27", especially today when wide 27" tires don't exist whereas wide 700C tires are easy to get.
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Old 05-16-24, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by BikingViking793
Do more narrow tires produce a harsher ride feel?
They can to some folks, especially large folks. Required pressure is a direct function of total weight.

23mm tires can feel "harsh" to me, especially in a smaller frame that's very lightweight in the rear triangle. In a dedicated road bike, 28's feel sluggish. 25's are just right.

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Old 05-16-24, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by BikingViking793
Well the 70s road bikes I'm familiar with fit wider tires. The late 80s road bikes mostly seem be lacking clearance for wider tires. So I guess my assumption that late 80s bikes generally have a harsher ride than 70s bikes is correct?
Generally; most of the 70s bikes that occupied the middle of the bell curve were sport-tourers in the “classic ten-speed” mold. Period racing bikes weren’t that hugely different, obviously much more sophisticated and finely constructed, but not radically different.
80s race bikes got much more tight and aggressive, but they also got more accessible, as bigger manufacturers offered bikes that incorporated the designs that were formerly the realm of more specialist builders.
Enthusiast riders who had been pedaling Raleigh Grand Sports and Miyata 712s “moved up” to Ironman Centurions and Criterium Cannondales that were available at their local bike shops.

As 70s Boom Bike riders moved up to nicer bikes, they also moved to more “racy” ones.
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Old 05-17-24, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by BikingViking793
I am curious how the ride feel is with the skinnier 700 tires? Are they a harsher ride feel?
Much of it also depends on the quality of the tires; an inexpensive tire tends to be a thicker, stiffer carcass, also with harder rubber (for durability)
A more expensive tire may provide higher performance, at the sake of durability, or like the Gatorskins, high durability and good performance, but at the expense of comfort.

I acquired a set of S-Works Turbo 320tpi cotton racing clinchers in 26mm that I fitted to my Cannondale Criterium. Those tires absolutely transformed the riding character of that bike, compared to the 23mm 60 tpi Kendas it originally came with. Transitions and pavement changes that previously made the bike nervous and jittery are now effortlessly fast and smooth.
The left turn onto my street has a distinct transition, so all of my bikes go across it, like my “control @ bump. The Turbos are definitely smoother than the 32mm Paselas and 28mm Ultra Sports on the other road bikes, and up there with the 2.0s on the “urban MTB” for ride compliance.
Of course those tires are about 4x more expensive, and I wonder about tread life expectancy, but they are so, so satisfying to ride.
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Old 05-17-24, 12:33 AM
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There is no formula for smoothness. One of my smoothest riders is a late 80s SLX race bike with 23mm tires. I dont know why- maybe it's magic. Good luck!
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Old 05-17-24, 12:33 AM
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I haven't ridden a 70's bike really, but I can say I got used to 23's and 25's at 100-110psi over 2 or 3 weeks. I treat it like a different "experience" and enjoy the positives and negatives. Would I do a tour on bad pavement over a long period of time? probably not, but it sure is fun on normal road rides and with some adaptation over time it's fine. Of course as said above tire suppleness can vary. I tend to use cheaper low TPI tires but it doesn't bother me much unless I don't standup for big impacts or I try and ride fast over bad roads. Also..... thee are 80's touring treks with decent tire clearance, so the specific model and intentions of the bike do matter.
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Old 05-17-24, 06:15 AM
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Wheelbase could also be a factor
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Old 05-17-24, 06:55 AM
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There was definitely a trend towards tighter clearances in the 80's, partly due to fashion and partly due to some desire for increased stiffness that would result from shorter stays and fork blades. Not sure that it really did this, but what do I know....

I've got a 1987 Hetchins that must have been near the peak for tight clearances. The brakes are the short reach Campy Record model, and the frame was designed to have the brake pads at the top of the slots. I can barely fit a 25mm Continental in there (this was prior to ETRTO sizing, so maybe you could get a current 28mm in there).



For contrast, this is my '74 Raleigh International with Weinmann 610 brakes. Lots of room for a larger tire there! I think the tire shown was a 23mm. The limiting factor for the bike is the space between the chain stays, though. I think a 32mm will fit fine, but I'm not sure how much larger could fit.


The Hetchins is built with what appears to be lighter tubing, and I do think the ride is nicer for my relatively light weight.

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Old 05-17-24, 07:11 AM
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My 1989 Cinelli can probably take wider tires than the 23 mm I currently use (I think it's rated for 25 max), but I would never do that, because I'm not looking for a "smoother" ride. Late 80s bikes were probably driven a bit by the American "crit" mentality, so may have steeper angles and quicker steering than a 1970s model. Why don't you just get one and see for yourself?
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Old 05-17-24, 07:14 AM
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Late 80’s, that may feel twitchy after riding a 70’s. Depends on the specific bike geometry. Late 80’s had a lot 74', mid 70’s had 72' and more offset to the fork.
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Old 05-17-24, 12:28 PM
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The question has me pondering when, if ever, did 27" rims become available with hook bead configuration? My sole 27" bike did not allow me to pump the tires particularly hard. When I overpumped (or left the bike in a hot trunk) they would blow out {BANG!}. All my 700C clincher rims have been hook-bead style and back when 20 and 23mm tires comprised most of those available, the ride was noticeably harsher, with more precise steering and less rolling resistance the rewards. 25s and 28s now are a lot more comfy and as long as the '80s bike has clearance, it should be tunable to your preference.

ETA restoring my '83 Colnago I had the OG tubular rims swapped out for vintageish Velo Orange clinchers, and the 25mm tires fit with plenty of room to spare--frame and brakes. The ride is lovely.

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Old 05-17-24, 12:50 PM
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This is a bit of a subjective assessment. I (briefly) had two Trek road bikes from the 1980s. Neither of them rode the way I was used to (teenager of the 70s), and I passed them both on. Some of it may have been the tires, but to me, they both felt a bit "dead". I think they were constructed to be a bit less horizontally compliant than I liked. I have no idea how prevalent this was, but it was enough so that I believed that I noticed it.
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Old 05-17-24, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick_D
The question has me pondering when, if ever, did 27" rims become available with hook bead configuration? .....
I still have a few of my old bike catalogs, and the Cyclo-Pedia catalog has been a useful resource. It dates to the mid 70's, and shows both hooked and hookless clincher rims.
Of course, this was also around the time that 90 psi clinchers in the 27 x 1 1/8" became available (replacing the 70 psi 27 x 1 1/4"). These were all(?) steel bead tires. IIRC, there was little chance of blowing a 70 psi tire off a hookless rim.



Steve in Peoria
(those 90 psi 1 1/8" tires were fairly nice, and it's surprising that we are finally finding our way back to them)
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Old 05-17-24, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by slow rollin
I haven't ridden a 70's bike really, but I can say I got used to 23's and 25's at 100-110psi over 2 or 3 weeks. I treat it like a different "experience" and enjoy the positives and negatives. Would I do a tour on bad pavement over a long period of time? probably not, but it sure is fun on normal road rides and with some adaptation over time it's fine. Of course as said above tire suppleness can vary. I tend to use cheaper low TPI tires but it doesn't bother me much unless I don't standup for big impacts or I try and ride fast over bad roads. Also..... thee are 80's touring treks with decent tire clearance, so the specific model and intentions of the bike do matter.
If I got one it would be a racing model like the 660. Love how they look, but worry I won't like riding it that much and it will sit.
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