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I have a questions about steel frames, old and new.

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I have a questions about steel frames, old and new.

Old 08-02-12, 01:22 AM
  #1  
jcsulser
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I have a questions about steel frames, old and new.

I am looking to build/buy a bicycle for myself. I want it to be steel, but light and quick enough (I am not interested in touring, this will be my bike for group rides, triathlons, what-have-you). I have looked through a lot of old frames and new frames/complete bikes and I am wondering what is causing the massive price increase? For instance, a new Raleigh Record Ace costs around $1900 new. I understand that it is well equipped component wise, but it still weighs in at a little over 20lbs. By comparison an '88 Schwinn Peloton (not even top of the line-up for that year) weighs 22lbs, with its original components. I can only imagine that it would weigh less than the Raleigh if it were upgraded equally (and still cost less). I understand that that is only one example.

So, I asked that question as a sort of lead in to my real question - Would it be a good idea to find on older steel frame of good quality and upgrade it with modern components? Have there been drastic improvements, or are there drastic differences (assuming the older frame is in good shape)? Would an older frame like the Schwinn Peloton I used as an example modernize well (would is fit a ten speed drivetrain?). And lastly, what are some reasonably priced older steel frames I should look out for as good candidates to build this dream bike of mine with (some that have caught my eye are late '90's Schwinn towards the top of the line-up, Centurion Ironman, Trek's 531 or columbus tubing).
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Old 08-02-12, 02:55 AM
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Would you consider an italian 90's fillet brazed frame? I consider them the pinnacle of steel racing frames and can be had quite cheap. Frames such as Columbus EL or Dedacciai ultra light in my opinion will become sought after and have more value in the future.
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Old 08-02-12, 05:53 AM
  #3  
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A new well bought <$1000 aluminum bike will ride better and be lighter than any older steel bike. That said I have multiple new aluminum and old steel and love them all.
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Old 08-02-12, 06:08 AM
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Massive price increase? Not really. Adjusted for inflation, if anything, bike prices have gone down. Modern racing bikes have much more costly shifter mechanisms (so called STI).

The Peloton was one of the top Schwinn models in 1986.

There have been pretty significant improvements in drivetrain: wheels, shifters, brakes in particular.

Building up a vintage steel frame with a modern drivetrain, can be very costly. I've done it many times, and I will do it again I am sure. But you need to be very resourceful, or the cost gets really high.

Vintage frames are relatively affordable, even the nice ones. Its the drivetrain that will cost the $$$, particularly if you want something towards the upper end.

As far as building up the 1986 Peloton, I have a very similar bike, a Panasonic built 1987 Schwinn Prologue (Panasonic built the Peloton for Schwinn as well). Mine is currently built up with modern, mainly Dura Ace, drivetrain. I lucked out and picked up a crate of modern Dura Ace components (two complete bikes worth) at a garage sale, which made the upgrade possible for this thrifty guy.



Or my Panasonic built, 1992 Schwinn Paramount Series 5, rebuilt with a mix of Ultegra/600 STI

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Old 08-02-12, 06:28 AM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by sced View Post
A new well bought <$1000 aluminum bike will ride better and be lighter than any older steel bike. That said I have multiple new aluminum and old steel and love them all.
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Old 08-02-12, 06:54 AM
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If you don't demand the latest, greatest components, you can still find very good buys for used bikes on eBay, Craiglist, etc. For example, you can get great deals on bikes with Shimano 9-speed groups (Ultegra, 105) because all the new bikes have 10, 11 speeds. In my view, 9-speed is better anyway because it's more durable, but replacement parts are harder to fine.

The tricks to buying used bikes are to know what size you need, learn how geometry affects fit (such as seat tube angles), and demand good photos/ask lots of questions if buying on line. I have a collection of very nice road bikes, most of which were bought used frames/forks and built up with parts that I removed from other bikes or bought for good prices on-line. I pay my LBS to build up the frames, in most cases for much less money than it would cost to buy a new bike.
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Old 08-02-12, 07:00 AM
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A few great comments on this thread...

First - what Chuckk said. Buy a used Lemond for $600. There won't be much loss from that Ace (I'd rather have the Lemond), it will be light and the parts won't be too far out of date. The Zurichs were FANTASTIC bikes.

Second - what wrk said...every time I do a frame up build, I am shocked when I pull out the calculator at the end. No matter how cheap I am, no matter how many great buys I find...the final price is always SHOCKING. Two words - donor bike. Parts builds up always become budget busters.

On the plus side, the bikes are also exactly what you want at the end of the build. No compromises.

As to tarwheel's comment about shimano 9sp, it works and it can be found inexpensively at budget pricing. If it breaks, your SOL and the replacement brifters are PRICEY because Shimano can't be repaired and supply is limited while demand is high. I'd go 8 or 9sp Campy...it's repairable, works better and, well, it's campy.

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Old 08-02-12, 07:14 AM
  #8  
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I don't think you could go wrong with a bike built 1995 to 2003. You'd get 130 spacing and the most advanced steel technology. The weight would be right around 20 lbs and you could update the components as needed.

There are tons of 15 to 20 yr old bikes including custom steel that can be had for less than $1000.
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Old 08-02-12, 07:19 AM
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Also, after reading a number of posts elsewhere on the forum, shiny new parts aren't always the lightest ! Ive actually weighed (for curiosity sake) a number of carbon bits against their older alloy counterparts and found that often time the alloy stuff is indeed lighter. Add a bit of drillium to the mix and the weight goes down even more. Of course it begs the question...Do you have the tools, skills, knowledge and time to piece it together ? Many great bargains are out there for the older stuff ! Experience counts. Ride as many different bikes as your friends will let you. Get a feel for steel, aluminum, scandium, carbon and the many derivations in between ! Some are light, but will beat you to death, some weigh in a bit more but provide all day comfort....I know what I'd choose !

Good luck in your quest,

Joe

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Old 08-02-12, 07:40 AM
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A new well bought <$1000 aluminum bike will ride better and be lighter than any older steel bike.
Really? I have owned, built and ridden steel, alloy and carbon (well - just rode one carbon). Steel offers a much nicer ride that alloy and the jury is still out on the one and only carbon bike I have ridden. Put to a poll, my guess is that forum members would opt for lugged steel, long before aluminum. Just my opinion, of course.

As for the price of old road bikes...

The prices have exploded, in the past few years. wrk101 is bang on the money with the consideration of inflation, however; old bikes that were Dump fodder, only a few years ago, are now selling for considerable sums. And the reason for this is easy to figure out...

Supply (diminishing - there will never be more vintage bikes than there are right now) and Demand (increasing - more and more people are becoming interested in buying/building/owning a vintage bicycle) = price increase.

As for upgrading an older road bike, using New School components? Yes, this can become expensive and very quickly, I might add. That said, the result is very rewarding, both in appearance (opinion) and ride quality, if "user friendliness" is the concern.
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Old 08-02-12, 08:42 AM
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I happen to ride with a group of retired gentlemen on Thursdays.

Former professionals, they have the means to buy whatever they'd like.

....and they ride some beauties, that's for sure.

One of them asked for a little help finding a sport bike for his brother.

I went with him to a local shop of his choice.

He was aggressively sold a $2,500 Trek.

Actually, I advised him to take a night to think about it.

I knew of another friend selling a very nice blue Match built Paramount in great condition.

With 9 speed Campy no less and his size preference!

He ended up with the Paramount, a lightly used pair of Sidis, and new pedals for less than $800.

So, the point is, spend whatever you are comfortable with, but you don't have to break the bank to get a great bicycle.

Btw His Paramount may have been built by a local builder Curt Goodrich.

We are going to take it over to Curt's shop and have him take a look see.
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Old 08-02-12, 09:01 AM
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I'm with Bill and Aaron on this;

EVERY time I build an older frame up with newer stuff, no matter how cheap I get the newer stuff,
I always am shocked on what I have spent. Of course I have a bike, just the way I want it. With just the stuff I like on it.
But it never comes out to be a super deal. Nor a deal as good as I can find on a complete bike. lol...I will still change stuff on the complete bike so maybe it's close.

I think there are some great deals out there, but I have become a bike snob. So for me to buy a new to me bike now, it's got to be something very nice.
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Old 08-02-12, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
I'm with Bill and Aaron on this;

EVERY time I build an older frame up with newer stuff, no matter how cheap I get the newer stuff,
I always am shocked on what I have spent. Of course I have a bike, just the way I want it. With just the stuff I like on it.
But it never comes out to be a super deal. Nor a deal as good as I can find on a complete bike. lol...I will still change stuff on the complete bike so maybe it's close.

I think there are some great deals out there, but I have become a bike snob. So for me to buy a new to me bike now, it's got to be something very nice.
Here's a number to chew on folks.

$3,500 or so for my Sachs cyclocross project when all is said and done.

Frameset $1,000
Refinish about $700
A nice 10 speed Chorus gruppo was $550 on our local CL
HED/Record wheelset $450
Challenge tires $150
Used Enve bars/stem $200
Red Regal Saddle $125
Jagwire cable set $40
Kool stops $30
My buddy will build it for me at a local shop. He's one of the better racing mechanics in the area, a heck of a cross rider and a nice guy once you get to know him. Cost? A case of beer and probably $150.

Keep in mind that I got a great price on the frameset from a friend. He threw in a Record headset and a Chorus bottom bracket or I would be paying for those as well.

I am never surprised at the price I pay for these builds. I know going in how to get the best deals and part of the fun for me is putting together the right package.
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Old 08-02-12, 09:28 AM
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I'm afraid to do the math on the Vanilla, but I'm over $4,000

$2,500 frame
$600 10 sp Record gruppo (still have brakes)
$20 clamp for front derailleur
$100 Brooks Pro
$75 Thomson Post
$200 hubs (bought as complete wheels, but only used hubs, have extra 9sp cassette and Velocity rims)
$130 Dyads
$80 wheel build
$120 Conti GP4s
$80 spokes
$70 Paul in line levers
$110 Paul cantis
$120 - stem and bars
$20 SPDs
$40 for tubes, rim tape, bar tape, misc.
$50 cables/housings
$100 King cages
$80 10sp cassette
$20 cable guide
$75 headset
$15 bottles
$30 chain
$20 Chainstay protector

Just around $4500 and have extra rims, record brakes and a cassette left over. YIKES! (I hate math)

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Old 08-02-12, 09:32 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
I'm with Bill and Aaron on this;

EVERY time I build an older frame up with newer stuff, no matter how cheap I get the newer stuff,
I always am shocked on what I have spent. Of course I have a bike, just the way I want it. With just the stuff I like on it.
But it never comes out to be a super deal. Nor a deal as good as I can find on a complete bike. lol...I will still change stuff on the complete bike so maybe it's close.

.
It sure gets pricey to build up a bike with modern components unless you can find a deal on a donor bike. That way you can get a low-cost groupset and other components and maybe even sell the frame to offset the cost of the donor.

But then, if you are like me, will never be happy with what someone else spec'ed out on the donor bike originally from the factory, and will end up dropping cash on upgrades anyhow
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Old 08-02-12, 09:38 AM
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If you have to have steel it is going to be more expensive, especially if you want to reach carbon and aluminum weights, otherwise, with a full steel frame and fork and a mid level component group you are going to be 5lbs heavier than the competition and your bike won't spring or climb as well either. That said, sitting in the saddle cruising down the road you will have a smile on your face from the smooth supple ride of a nice steel frame and fork. Of course you can find deals on groups that are last season and score a nice steel frame from the 1990s for under $500, you can probably build something nicer for the same price as the Raleigh, but be prepared to invest time.
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Old 08-02-12, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I'm afraid to do the math on the Vanilla, but I'm over $4,000

lol....you too!

I'm well over that in my Ti Spectrum, but there again, it was built for me, just the way I wanted it, down to the paint.
and I'm not complaining 1 bit. I got and love the bike of my dreams. Now to get well enough to ride it again. Hmm...thats another story!
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Old 08-02-12, 09:41 AM
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This is all relative, but I consider that to be a good deal Aaron.

First of all, consider the price of a new Vanilla.

...and the simple fact you can't get on the list.

Yours looks to be in near new condition.

Absolutely nothing wrong in having a nice bicycle or two to ride and enjoy.

I'd much rather have yours than any of the current consumer brands top models.

Although a new C59 would be sweet! IMHO
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Old 08-02-12, 09:50 AM
  #19  
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If you really study the build sheet and the prices, a few things stand out on where the money hole occurs:

1. WHEELS. I wasn't likely to find a wheel set exactly like what I wanted, and building it was spendy. The tires are expensive, the spokes are expensive, I had to pay for my LBS to do it. That alone is really giving a hit over wheels from a donor, of course you likely have to add in tires costs there too as well.

2. Extras - the King cages were extravagant and spendy. Paul vs. Tektro is another example...even at good prices, it adds up. Thomson stem is another - I didn't want to use an SR post in a bike like this.

3. The little things! Rim tape, tubes, cables, housings, spokes, brake pads, chain...they add up in a hurry!

Now that the math is done, and all is laid bare, I have about the same into the Vanilla as I had into the Marnati (with a new built for me frame) with far more new parts and 11sp SR! The Vanilla was an in bed, look forward to it, project that piled up price wise in a HURRY. I had the extra gruppo, Brooks, wheels (not the replacement parts) and Paul cantis...so I thought the new costs would be under control. It went high FAST!

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Old 08-02-12, 09:54 AM
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Again, it does add up.

But the price he paid does not surprise me whatsoever.

Another detail to keep in mind is Aaron is savvy at finding the right part at the right price.

Many of us might not have the same knowledge base and this will end up costing more to build these bicycles.

If anyone is shocked by these prices, walk into a high end shop and look at the top models from consumer brands.

You'll likely see these bicycles compare very well on features and price.
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Old 08-02-12, 10:00 AM
  #21  
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Whether it's a new bike or an old one, the last couple of pounds get pretty expensive. With a steel bike, REAL expensive if you want to get below 20#. A carbon fork can easily help drop 1/2#. Good wheels will really help a bike feel lighter.
If you want to save money by updating an older bike, it's best to have tools & do your own wrenching, and you'll have to do your homework on part compatibility. Then it's a scavenger hunt, between donor bikes, ebay, swap meets, old bike shops, yard sales, etc.
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Old 08-02-12, 10:00 AM
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It does make me feel silly for not being willing to pay for a custom stem. I'm counting pennies and spending 50s. SHEESH!

I did this math on the De Rosa Titanio, where I got EVERYTHING at deep discount, and I still ended up higher than I thought possible. It's the little stuff!

As a comparison:

$125 Litespeed MTB frame
$50 Stumpjumper donor bike, still have frame, shifters, stem, bars and a few other bits
$30 rack
$70 Panaracer tires
$75 Tektro Levers, Commands and front derialleur
$12 bar tape
$50 Brooks B-17
$20 seatpost

Just over $400 and still have a Stumpjumper frame and a bunch of parts. Obviously the parts and frame costs were different, but you can see how much was saved going the donor route. At just north of $400, I ended up with a bike I love with a ti frame and parts that work well (for the most part).

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Old 08-02-12, 10:05 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
If you really study the build sheet and the prices, a few things stand out on where the money hole occurs:

1. WHEELS. I wasn't likely to find a wheel set exactly like what I wanted, and building it was spendy. The tires are expensive, the spokes are expensive, I had to pay for my LBS to do it. That alone is really giving a hit over wheels from a donor, of course you likely have to add in tires costs there too as well.

2. Extras - the King cages were extravagant and spendy. Paul vs. Tektro is another example...even at good prices, it adds up. Thomson stem is another - I didn't want to use an SR post in a bike like this.

3. The little things! Rim tape, tubes, cables, housings, spokes, brake pads, chain...they add up in a hurry!

Now that the math is done, and all is laid bare, I have about the same into the Vanilla as I had into the Marnati (with a new built for me frame) with far more new parts and 11sp SR! The Vanilla was an in bed, look forward to it, project that piled up price wise in a HURRY. I had the extra gruppo, Brooks, wheels (not the replacement parts) and Paul cantis...so I thought the new costs would be under control. It went high FAST!
+1

Nobody can buy parts to built a wheelset out of parts anywhere near where a machine-built wheelset can be found at.

Things like rimstraps and other little details are often overlooked as well and add up. If one has to pay labor to have the wheel built it makes it even higher by a significant amount.

Even though I built my own wheels and got a good deal on spokes from Lee I spent more on the wheelset on my Raleigh than many decent mid-ranged bikes cost at bikesdirect.com

Add in rims, hubs, spokes, nipples, rim-straps, tubes, tires, cassettes, skewers and we are talking big money already.
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Old 08-02-12, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Amesja View Post
+1

Nobody can buy parts to built a wheelset out of parts anywhere near where a machine-built wheelset can be found at.

Things like rimstraps and other little details are often overlooked as well and add up. If one has to pay labor to have the wheel built it makes it even higher by a significant amount.

Even though I built my own wheels and got a good deal on spokes from Lee I spent more on the wheelset on my Raleigh than many decent mid-ranged bikes cost at bikesdirect.com

Add in rims, hubs, spokes, nipples, rim-straps, tubes, tires, cassettes, skewers and we are talking big money already.
I just ran the numbers...with tires and cassette, right around $700 for the wheels with used hubs! I could have likely saved $300-$400ish by going with a used wheel set and compromising on the rims. When you add the little stuff (chain, pads, etc.), that's where the donors save major $$$.

Granted - now I have a bike that should do exactly what I want and how I want. Still, it would have been cheaper to have bought the frame and then bought a high end, used, CX bike. Steal the parts, sell the frame - the total would probably be $1000 less.

As another comparison, I paid around $800 for my old Poprad and that had major upgrades through out (DA levers, alpha Q fork, Mavic Askiums, ultegra rear). After the Brooks and other bits, i was under $1,000 for that bike and I liked it a lot...will the Vanilla be $3,500 better? I doubt it - and it's around the same weight, if not heavier. On the plus side, it does have Campy as opposed to 9sp Shimano. That was a great bike, too bad the fit was slightly off. For my money people who want quality steel bikes cheap, but more modern, need look no further than Lemond.


Last edited by KonAaron Snake; 08-02-12 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 08-02-12, 10:24 AM
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jr59
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
It does make me feel silly for not being willing to pay for a custom stem. I'm counting pennies and spending 50s. SHEESH!

I did this math on the De Rosa Titanio, where I got EVERYTHING at deep discount, and I still ended up higher than I thought possible. It's the little stuff!

As a comparison:

$125 Litespeed MTB frame
$50 Stumpjumper donor bike, still have frame, shifters, stem, bars and a few other bits
$30 rack
$70 Panaracer tires
$75 Tektro Levers, Commands and front derialleur
$12 bar tape
$50 Brooks B-17
$20 seatpost

Just over $400 and still have a Stumpjumper frame and a bunch of parts. Obviously the parts and frame costs were different, but you can see how much was saved going the donor route. At just north of $400, I ended up with a bike I love with a ti frame and parts that work well (for the most part).

How about you PM me when you find another Litespeed MTB in XL for that kind of $$$.
The price you paid for that frame and the stump jumper makes the cost go WAY down.

It's still a very good deal for a huffy!
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