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Old 10-16-08, 09:17 AM   #1
I Like Heavy Old Schwinns
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Old frame for new bike

Hey all. My friends and I are slowly switching from cars to bikes, and its a switch I am liking. The '85 World Sport is slowly making its way to be a 5 speed commuter (little chainrings are silly), but I'd like something to do triathalons and some longer distance rides or races too.

I've been looking a lot at new bikes, but it seems like you cant really get a bike worth having for less than a grand, and I just cant justify that kind of cash right now, plus I like the "incognito-ness" of an older frame... that way if I HAD to leave it outside I wouldnt be too terribly worried about it. The rigidity of steel is nice too, as I am a big guy.

The problem I am having is picking a frame. I'd sorta like a chromoly one, but this is a budget minded project too, so if there wouldnt be any real difference between a chromoly and a Varsity frame then I'd for sure take the cheaper. Also, I am a bit partial to Schwinn, but I care more about the frame itself than the name painted on it. So, does anyone have any suggestions for a nicer older frame?

As far as the components go, its probably going to get mid grade Shimano stuff, but I'll cross that bridge once I have something to hang them on. Thanks guys!
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Old 10-16-08, 09:38 AM   #2
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Oh boy. You're gonna get a LOT of opinions on this.

#1: You say you like the rigidity of steel. It's not rigid. It's strong. There is a difference. People like steel because it has a little flex so it gives an awesome ride quality.
#2: Yes, the type of steel makes a difference. Were I going to build up a good bike, I'd make sure I used butted CroMo. Look for stickers that say things like Reynolds, Tange, and Vitus.

Ugh. I have to go, but perhaps I'll write more later.

But i think you are being ery smart looking for a quaity vintage frame for this build.
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Old 10-16-08, 10:02 AM   #3
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Forget about the gas pipe bikes (like the Varsity) for your build. Your time is worth something. Better to start with a good foundation (the frame).

Start checking the thrift stores and so on. Since you are partial to Schwinn, I got a '93 Schwinn Criss Cross (kind of a hybrid) for $10 and a '73 Schwinn Supersport for $13, both in excellent condition. I don't think either would be worthy of racing on. And either would get stolen around here. I would rather tour on the Criss Cross over the SS. I like the Suntour components on it, and it fits me well.

Personally, I would look for one of the nicer Reynolds frame, perhaps a vintage Trek (there are a lot of them out there). For basic touring, I just finished a tour on my 1992 Trek 950 (rigid mountain bike). Lugged true temper frame, decent/good components. Not something to race on, but for local/regional touring, pretty good. I also have a 1983 Trek 520, kind of the standard for steel touring bikes. If you get a 520, I would get something newer than that so you have 700cm wheels. Of course, you can always swap wheels, which is my plan.

Last edited by wrk101; 10-16-08 at 10:03 AM. Reason: edit
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Old 10-16-08, 10:09 AM   #4
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I would suggest that you consider going the opposite route. Buy a complete, mid-range bicycle. It's less time consuming, usually a lot less expensive and often less frustrating. Search based on your basis component component criteria. For example, do you want Shimano 105 or 600, friction or indexed shifting, how many gears, etc? I think you'll find that most bicycles within a specific component range are very similar.
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Old 10-16-08, 10:29 AM   #5
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If you want a good older frame try a few places

pawn shops

Chances are you will be able to ride them and that will tell you what style you prefer, then go from there!
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Old 10-16-08, 10:57 AM   #6
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For a large rider, and the Schwinn name, I love my frame, a 1986 Voyageur. Not really good for racing with the touring geometry, but with double butted Columbus lugged steel and a good comfortable ride that can take a load, it has done me very well.
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Old 10-16-08, 12:06 PM   #7
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what about a good bianchi steel frame from the 90's they are columbus stx or the tsx they give a great ride light weight mine is around 4 pounds for the frame... if you found the whole bike they are selling for under $1000.00 and come with great gruppos as well so you could build your own or buy one already built... check craigs list for lots of selection
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Old 10-17-08, 09:10 AM   #8
I Like Heavy Old Schwinns
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Thanks for all the great replies! I'm thinking I'll take you guys' advice and just scope for a old Reynolds frame. Any idea what I shoud expect to pay for one, preferably one that needed some work?

As far as components go, I was planning on Shimano 105 crankset, BB, derailleurs, and brake/shift combo deals, I'm pretty open about the saddle/seatpost, BBB handlebar, and I'm pretty undecided about wheels. I wanted to go 700c for sure and there is a set at a bike shop up the street that I was eyeing up, but I've put thought into some deep V rims too... I know most dont like them but I think they can be hot if you do the color scheme right. I'm for sure going to be looking for some NOS and really discounted new stuff, and I am not against going used on some things either.

The problem I have with a new bike is that the cheapest bike equipped with 105 stuff I've found so far is $1300, which is definately out of my price range. I haven't entirely priced it out yet, but I'm confident I can get an older bike equipped with 105 components for significantly less than that. Time is no issue, and I really enjoy wrenching on stuff. I also have my own standard tools available and place to use specialty tools for free.

I also should have been more clear about my racing intentions. I am a runner at heart, but a triathalon or two would be a nice, fun change of pace and I wouldnt be doing it with the intent of being real competitive. Also, the races I would do would probably be more called a "tour" by guys that know what they are talking about (not me ). For example, in Minneapolis there was like a 4 day 250 mile AIDS ride or something like that... thats the kind of thing I would do.
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