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Looking For a Classic City Bike

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Looking For a Classic City Bike

Old 01-30-10, 01:17 AM
  #1  
HalfEmpty43
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Looking For a Classic City Bike

Hi There,

I need your help. I'm looking for a comfortable city bike to add to my "stable" alongside my road bikes. Something with a more upright position, and no drop bars. I'm trying to do some searching on my local craigslist ads, and ebay, but I'm unsure of what search terms to enter. I'm thinking something like Rivendell's "Yves Gomez":

http://www.rivbike.com/products/show/yves-gomez/50-704

... which is a take on a classic city bike, only way out of my price range for right now. Any ideas on what to look for? I know Bridgestone had the xo series, which I've been on the look out for, without any luck. Any other classic, lugged steel city bikes you can point me toward?

Thanks a bunch!

Ryan
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Old 01-30-10, 01:22 AM
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My suggestions... Raleigh Sports or Sports Superbe and perhaps a look at a Raleigh Tourist would be a good start.

A mint Tourist might set you back $400.00 - $500.00 while Sports models will cost less than the fully kitted out Superbe... you might pay 200.00 to 250.00 for a really nice Superbe or a little more depending on where you are.
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Old 01-30-10, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
My suggestions... Raleigh Sports or Sports Superbe and perhaps a look at a Raleigh Tourist would be a good start.

A mint Tourist might set you back $400.00 - $500.00 while Sports models will cost less than the fully kitted out Superbe... you might pay 200.00 to 250.00 for a really nice Superbe or a little more depending on where you are.
Great, thank you! I'm looking into these as I type! I should also add that cantilever brakes to accommodate some fatter tires, and at least 10 speeds would be ideal, if that helps narrow down any other possible suggestions. I realize this might take me out of what some may see as "classic territory" and well into the 80's, but that's fine for me.

Thanks again!

Last edited by HalfEmpty43; 01-30-10 at 01:36 AM.
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Old 01-30-10, 05:02 AM
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You might want to familiarize yourself with the kinds of vintage bicycles that are available if you go out and look for one. Once this learning is underway, spend a bit of time thinking about what you want to do to make the bicycle more suitable for you. This is all pretty vague advice but that is what many people are doing to get their city bikes today. Have a look at this article on building and even customizing a vintage bicycle. It might help give you some ideas.

http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpe...ccessories.htm

Hope this is a help.
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Old 01-30-10, 07:17 AM
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Just saw one of these at my local bike shop.
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...gn/belleville/
Its on the high side price wise, but with generator lighting, racks, fenders, its a pretty good deal.
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Old 01-30-10, 08:05 AM
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Why not keep your eyes open for a lugged mixte or standard sports tourer road bike, swap out to a set of north road bars, add a rear rack and a comfy saddle and away you go?
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Old 01-30-10, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by sonatageek View Post
Why not keep your eyes open for a lugged mixte or standard sports tourer road bike, swap out to a set of north road bars, add a rear rack and a comfy saddle and away you go?
Yup...the guy in this photo is cooler than any one of us will ever be...and it's good enough for him.

edit: Thanks to Citoyen du Monde for photo



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Old 01-30-10, 11:39 AM
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How about a nice "Umberto Dei?"
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Old 01-30-10, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by sonatageek View Post
Why not keep your eyes open for a lugged mixte or standard sports tourer road bike, swap out to a set of north road bars, add a rear rack and a comfy saddle and away you go?
This looks to be the way to go, especially cost wise. I found a Peugeot here locally that looks like a good fit. http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/bik/1576913350.html Not sure if it's a great deal, but I definitely like it. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 01-30-10, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
Just saw one of these at my local bike shop.
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...gn/belleville/
Its on the high side price wise, but with generator lighting, racks, fenders, its a pretty good deal.
Wow, that's pretty... and a great deal especially considering everything that comes with it. My only worry is that it's limited to 3 speeds, and here in hilly San Francisco, that can feel pretty limiting. (Still not sure why single speeds are so popular here!)
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Old 01-30-10, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by HalfEmpty43 View Post
Great, thank you! I'm looking into these as I type! I should also add that cantilever brakes to accommodate some fatter tires, and at least 10 speeds would be ideal, if that helps narrow down any other possible suggestions. I realize this might take me out of what some may see as "classic territory" and well into the 80's, but that's fine for me.

Thanks again!
Well, if you're ok with discarding lugs, then a 10 speed Schwinn Suburban is pretty close to what you're looking for. Of course it runs on 27" wheels (fatter tires??? why?) - you might be able to find a Collegiate if you need fatter tires.

Also, Sears Free Spirits from the late 70s/early 80s - I had one that was a ten speed, with upright bars and fenders, but had 26 x 1 3/8 tires - made in Taiwan perfectly adequate quality.
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Old 01-30-10, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
How about a nice "Umberto Dei?"
Also super pretty and elegant! And unfortunately, way out of my price range. :-( I'll put it on my "to buy when rich list", thank you.
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Old 01-30-10, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Mos6502 View Post
Well, if you're ok with discarding lugs, then a 10 speed Schwinn Suburban is pretty close to what you're looking for. Of course it runs on 27" wheels (fatter tires??? why?) - you might be able to find a Collegiate if you need fatter tires.

Also, Sears Free Spirits from the late 70s/early 80s - I had one that was a ten speed, with upright bars and fenders, but had 26 x 1 3/8 tires - made in Taiwan perfectly adequate quality.
Great, thank you for the suggestions, I'll keep an eye out. In regards to the fatter tires, why not? I don't want anything knobby or mountain bike fat, just some nice beefy city slicks for comfort.
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Old 01-30-10, 12:09 PM
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I have a Schwinn World bike...lugged step through...It's in good shape. Let me know if your interested. I'm north of SF but will give a deal to a bike forums member....
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Old 01-30-10, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by sonatageek View Post
Why not keep your eyes open for a lugged mixte or standard sports tourer road bike, swap out to a set of north road bars, add a rear rack and a comfy saddle and away you go?

Yep... that is pretty much what I did... and I love mine. The bike has a 191/2 inch seat tube, but really laid back geometry, and is very comfortable for me at 6 feet tall. Those are 27X11/4 rim/tires on it now. Sometime in the future I want to convert to 700c or 26's and put on some nice fenders.


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Old 01-30-10, 02:51 PM
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+10 Vintage mixte is your best bet. Here's a pic of one I picked up a couple of days ago. Just be ready to pounce when one shows up, as they do not show up much on Craigs List. Note, that UO18 mixte is way overpriced for my market for a steel rim, high ten steel framed bike, but you are in an insane market.

Another great thing about any vintage mixte, they continue to go up in value, so you can ride it for a few years, and if you decide to move on, you will probably make money on it.

The split top rail mixtes are the most desirable. Step through ladies bikes have little/no interest (at least around here).

+1 I put 700c rims on my wife's Centurion mixte. A really easy conversion.

Another great option is to get a vintage rigid frame mountain bike. Those are cheap around here, and offer a lot of value for the money. They also come with easy gearing, which is great for hills.




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Old 01-30-10, 03:24 PM
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Like many here, I also took a regular pre 90s road bike and went from there. In my case, I got this 22.5" Nishiki Century mixte (1983 model.) It was originally a road bike with drop bars and I converted it to look as an elegant city bike. I originally paid $50 bucks for it. Then I paid for a professional overhaul and customized it to my needs with Brooks saddle, north-road style handlebars, faux leather grips, soma deco rear rack, woody fenders, Japanese bell and shellac'd French cloth tape on the handlebars. The trick for an upright position is to play with the stem (or a stem adapter) and with the handlebar. I was recently reading on Sheldon Brown's website that most pre 90's road bikes are already natural bikes for commuting as they were built to offer a lot of comfort. Newer road bikes have more aggressive geometries made exclusively for racing. At any rate, the final result is what you see below. I never thought I could like a bike that's almost 30 years old so much. It rides/shifts like a dream.
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Old 01-30-10, 03:43 PM
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For SF you will probably want a wider gear range than what a classic 3 speed offers but there are some modifications you can do to a classic Raleigh such as swapping in a wider range internal gear hub or fitting a dual drive to expand the gearing range.

A dual drive is where you are running an internal gear hub with multiple cogs and a derailer to give you multiple gearing ranges... SRAM's dual drive mates a wide range cassette to an IGH while there are some do it yourself options that also work quite well and back the day you could buy kits to convert SA 3 speeds but these are quite rare.

I am working on a 1954 Raleigh and am fitting a vintage 3 speed dual drive to the SA hub and when I am done the bike should have a very nice 9 speed range and have fitted other SA hubs with 2 speed dual drives that have really expanded their capabilities.

A Mixte is a beautiful thing but it is harder to find them in larger sizes and there are some beautifully made models with high end parts and very nice tube sets... with this you can set up a gearing range to suit your conditions.
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Old 01-30-10, 03:44 PM
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My wife's Fuji. It started as a $25 frame and fork.



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Old 01-30-10, 07:27 PM
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a Raleigh rod brake mixte or non-mixte...
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Old 01-30-10, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
My wife's Fuji. It started as a $25 frame and fork.



Very classy bike...nicely conceived and executed. Great score on the frame too. I'm assembling a mixte atm.I paid a similar amount for the frame but the paintwork was nowhere near as good as your wife's.


edit to add: I meant the paint on your wife's bike !
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Old 01-30-10, 07:55 PM
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+1 on the mixte frame bike. They are diamonds in the rough in that they are often perceived as simply "girls' bikes". I pulled a nice Fuji mixte out of the trash a block over from my house; it is currently in the able hands of BF's Mr_Christopher who plans to fix it up and either keep it or flip it. I would have kept it except it was simply too small for me.
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Old 01-31-10, 10:41 AM
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An older hybrid with 700C wheels will give you a multi-speed bike with an upright riding position and cantilever brakes. They also can be found with quick release hubs, alloy rims, alloy micro adjust alloy seat posts, and a quick release seat tube binder bolt (take your Brooks with you, so it doesn't get stolen). Look for one that has braze-ons for water bottles, fenders and racks. The wider tires will give you a little bit more endurance on city pavement. You can also swap out the stock handlebars for North Road bars and ergonomic grips if you like. I just picked up a nicely spec'd hybrid for about the price of 2 movie tickets.
http://classicfuji.com/1991_22_DelRey_Page.htm
It doesn't have a single scratch in the paint, but needs a major overhaul, cleaning, tires, tubes and a wave of the "magic wand" (not a project for an inexperienced mechanic). These bikes can be made to look almost like an "English racer" when you add fenders, rear rack, generator light set and an appropriate saddle. That is how I set up my 1991 Schwinn CrossCut. The CrossCut, by the way, moves much quicker than a Raleigh Sports. The older cross bikes/fitness bikes/CX bikes (etc.) can be found with nice lugged chrome molybdenum steel frames. You can set up your "find" inexpensively with the help of deals from online merchants like Nashbar, Performance and Niagara. You just need a nice $60 +/- hybrid to start with. Ingenuity can translate into monetary $aving$.

Take a look at this bike as a reference. This, however, is a current model with a "classic" look:

http://www.avocetsports.co.uk/items/...-gents-21.html
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Old 01-31-10, 12:02 PM
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For that matter, an old 26" mountain bike with street slicks and Northroads handlebars would be almost as good as a 700 hybrid.
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Old 01-31-10, 01:33 PM
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+1 on Hybrids. They're cheap and pretty much theft-proof if there isn't a suspension fork on there and it isn't a Kona. Junkies'll steal a department store full suspension bike before they even notice my 700CX-equipped hybrid.

Depending on the paint job, you could make a hybrid pretty classic looking with some NorthRoad or Porteur style bars, a fancy seat and matchy-matchy accessories. I highly reccomend a front basket for city bikes as well, the right one even provides some classic style. I use a gigantor Wald, and have installed the Wald 139 on a couple of ladies bikes that have turned out quite stylishly.

I have been wanting to do MTB-based cruiser as well. I'd think sizing up a bit, swept back bars, upright seat, slicks and fenders, and a stripped-down drivetrain (1 chainring + cogstack or SS?) would yield a lightweight version of a cruiser bike that has better pedaling geometry.


edit: Check my sig for a basketed early 90's hybrid (the Nishiki Oro) and my wife's basketed citified Raleigh mixtie.

Last edited by tashi; 01-31-10 at 01:47 PM.
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