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Would You REALLY Want A "Grail?"

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Would You REALLY Want A "Grail?"

Old 01-03-15, 03:21 PM
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Would You REALLY Want A "Grail?"

Just musing...

A lot of people use the term "grail" to mean a cool bike they've been kinda looking for. To me, using that word in that way really does water it down from what it was meant to be.

IMO, a true "grail-worthy" bike has to be elusive, rare, coveted, competed for, and there really has to be a search with effort and doubt and difficulty.

I don't expect everyone to agree.

To me a "grail" would be a Rene Herse. Or maybe an Alex Singer or Jo Routens... The beauty, the 1930's-y French art deco aesthetic, the hand-made uniqueness, the function, the mythology, the hand lettering and lining, the novelty, the unobtainability- to me that's unsurpassed- that's what makes a "grail."

There's a Herse on the eBay right now- a 53 that's just my size. So, of course, I'm all drooling over it- but then I was thinking- well... I'd have to change the shifters... if I'm going to change the shifters, I should probably change that rear derailleur- and since I'm changing that I'd really like to have a 6 speed rear end, but then that would probably mean cold setting and a new wheel and ... I don't want this bike.

I appreciate that this bike is what it is, and something like this, especially in the shape it's in should not be messed with. I want a bike that has *that* but something I can mess with... something I can kind of manipulate into mine, to hang my favorite stuff off of. IMO, that's not something you do with a 40 year old stock Rene Herse. Yes, it's a bike- but when you get to this "grail" level, even with it's use- it's a museum piece that you and other people can appreciate into the future.

I guess I want a bike I can ride, a bike I can appreciate, something I'm not afraid of damaging other people's appreciation into the future by changing the bar tape...

Just some random rambling...
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Old 01-03-15, 03:35 PM
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The price is going to go up. Why not just have a custom bike built for you with all the features you want?
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Old 01-03-15, 03:46 PM
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Buy it, strip it, install your parts but change nothing that could facilitate a return to original condition.
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Old 01-03-15, 03:46 PM
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I wear my Air Jordans so there's no reason I wouldn't ride a grail.
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Old 01-03-15, 03:58 PM
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grail for me would probably be a '70s orange le champion, but i'll never own one, 'cause i'm probably done paying a lot for bikes.

if i did find it for the right (really low) price, i would rebuild it in the finest detail and ride the hell out of it.


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Old 01-03-15, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
I appreciate that this bike is what it is, and something like this, especially in the shape it's in should not be messed with. I want a bike that has *that* but something I can mess with... something I can kind of manipulate into mine, to hang my favorite stuff off of. IMO, that's not something you do with a 40 year old stock Rene Herse. Yes, it's a bike- but when you get to this "grail" level, even with it's use- it's a museum piece that you and other people can appreciate into the future.
So if I get this straight, you want to take a bike and make it into your personal preference?

You can do that with any bike on the planet, Herse or otherwise.

But if every bike has been transformed into exactly what you want, what is the point of owning more than 1 bike? Color selection?

Save your money, seems you don't want a "grail".
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Old 01-03-15, 04:40 PM
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To me a grail bike is a highly desired bike that's hard to find in your size in the condition you want it to be. Right now, my grail bike is a Lemond Team Z. Not the easiest bike to find. Plan is to find one and have it signed by Greg himself. I dunno. To me there's just something about that bike that screams to me.
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Old 01-03-15, 04:47 PM
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My DeRosa & Merckx are grail-ish to me.
Maybe the AD too, as it's the same frame as a Vent Noire.
I intend to ride them til I die.
Maybe they will be somebody's Grail in 20 years (I'll be 84 then)
The term is probably overused.
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Old 01-03-15, 05:01 PM
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My Champion Team comes close but I do still want my one grail bike! It is an early 70's Paramount P-13 in one of the bright colors. These were the bikes I first coveted when I realized that bikes didn't have to weigh 40-50 pounds with single speeds and balloon tires. When I find one I will clean it up and ride it often during nice weather.
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Old 01-03-15, 05:05 PM
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You're not looking at the $15,000 battered up 40 year old bike on E-Bay are you?

Now you've found your "Grail", it is time to start hunting for your next grail.

Actually, I think my bike is about 5 years older than that one, and has seen a lot more wear. But, it never was a $15K bike either.

If you strip the frame and replace all the components, then you'll loose some of the intrinsic classic value (but you can always store the original parts if you wish). Are you going to re-space the frame to 130mm, or cut your hubs down to 126mm? What about the original hubs?

In that price range, I would encourage you to consider an all new bike. Perhaps stainless lugs with stainless (or butted cro-mo) tubing, and painted to your specs, and the "modern" components to your specs too. If you want a generator light, put in a hub generator instead of the tire-eater.

There are some true "pieces of art" out there.



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Unless you are advertising a shop, I would not purchase a bike to be a wall hanging. And, if you ride it, no matter what you do, it will see more scratches and wear.

In the 30+ years I've owned and ridden my Colnago, it has seen more than its fair share of scratches, rust, chips, wear marks, and etc. But I don't regret the decision to ride and enjoy it a bit (beats walking).
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Old 01-03-15, 05:10 PM
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I thought my grail might be an Alvin Drysdale road bike in my size. The attraction being a bike that was
1, hand made,
2, nearly locally made,
3, from an era of cycling where I like the style and the components
4, a road bike; I don't ride on the track, but I would actually ride a road bike.

And, well, I found one! It came with the original 1954 build sheet, but no original components. Most of the stuff on it turns out to be reasonably easy to source, and after researching the graphics etc i was able to restore it to a nice approximation of original condition. And it turned out to fit me perfectly! But somehow I could not make it into my regular rider. I didn't want to treat it like "any old" old bike. I really did ride it a few times, a few hundred miles total, but mostly it sat. I decided there was no point in possessing it. I had no complaints about it; really none at all. I just didn't want to own it. I sold it for a reasonable break even price and my only regret is: sometimes I think maybe I could have, should have, gouged the buyer a bit. But I didn't, and I'm okay with that. I had the bike, I loved it, I moved it on.

Bottom line: no, I don't want any grail bikes. I like neat old beaters.
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Old 01-03-15, 05:13 PM
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No interest in "grail" anything. Too many interesting threads to follow in life. Its the experience/learning that I want.
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Old 01-03-15, 05:14 PM
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Mr Gordon showed how sloppy some Colnagos were actually Made once you looked at the miter fits under the Lugs, with a cut away , examination of some.

it really was more about the name on the Paint.



Only own 1 road Bike , It's a Brigestone RB1 frame and fork , I bought it new , when metal fatigue had me scrap My AlAn, in the 90's.
the component collection was older , that moved across.

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Old 01-03-15, 05:17 PM
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I'm somewhat with you in that I don't covet a specific bike, that is to say I don't have a grail bike. There are definitely bikes that I would love to have, maybe a nice 531 Motobecane Grand Jubilee or a Raleigh Super Tourer. I am not sure that I've ridden enough bikes yet to lust after a single bike. That being said, I have really begun to refine what I'm looking for in a bike and have been considering selling off some bikes and using the money to get a few nicer bikes instead of a lot of mid level bikes.
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Old 01-03-15, 05:30 PM
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I'm being completly serious here, why are the mitre fits under the lugs that important? Do precisely mitred joints actually have the brass flow over the joint? Again, because I am ignorant of these things, it seems to me a really well done fillet brazed bike would take a lot more "workmanship" to build, proper jigs, etc. I'm not trying to start anything here, just asking questions that have come to mind. It seems like commercially available lugsets probably revolutionized bicycle fabrication.
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Old 01-03-15, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Mr Gordon showed how sloppy some Colnagos were actually Made once you looked at the miter fits under the Lugs, with a cut away , examination of some.

it really was more about the name on the Paint.
I'm not sure who Mr. Gordon is, but my 78 Colnago Super rides like nothing else I've ever been on.

Fast, light, agile and smooth and it fits like it was custom built for me. IMHO and in my experience, there is more to a Colnago than just the name on the paint.

Grail-worthy for sure...
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Old 01-03-15, 05:43 PM
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Grail bike, he sez. Hmm. There is no particular bike I would have luuuved to own through the years. What I would have loved in the old days is a light, responsive bike that looks great and feels fast. Whether it really is fast isn't important since I don't race anyone. But several such bikes have found their way into my collection, sort of like the puppy that followed me home. No matter how hard I looked (or didn't), I wouldn't have found them but they found me. Perhaps they don't qualify as Grails. Would I really want one?
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Old 01-03-15, 05:54 PM
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When I got back into riding my Trek 460 (my only bike) and more seriously just 4yrs ago, I had 3 bikes on my bucketlist: a Trek 760, Cannondale Black Lightning and a Colnago.

This past year I have managed to stumble upon the 760 and obtained a Criterium Series (Black Lightning) frameset for my own build. All that remains is the Colnago. I have faith that somehow I will obtain a Colnago of some model.
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Old 01-03-15, 05:55 PM
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Trust they were not in a big frickin hurry and knew what ever they shipped would sell so rejects went out..

the lugs cover can up bad miters .. but your blind faith works for you . enjoy them , you can be useful..
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Old 01-03-15, 05:59 PM
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The original question: "Would you really want a grail?"

No, thanks.

All my life, I've tried to kick the want-need-spend habit. I think I'm finally there.

Haven't bought a new bike since 2009. Sold the Jaguars in 2010. Haven't bought a new RC Helicopter since 2010. Haven't bought a new race boat in 4 years. Don't miss any of it.
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Old 01-03-15, 06:03 PM
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Old 01-03-15, 06:13 PM
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It seems to be an overused term, 'Grail' should be something desired by many, encountered by few and obtained by even less, it should have an applicability that goes beyond a desire to own it. Rarity in itself goes not qualify a bike as grail status as there are plenty of rare and obscure bikes and brands that are only desired by equally obscure collectors. Desirability alone doesn't make something 'Grail' like either if it's availability is such that you can pick one up right now with reasonable funds or someone local has one, PX-10, Gios Torinos, Colnago Masters, Pinarello Banesto's etc. Grail status should be almost mythical, seen only in photos or whispers of someone who knew someone who saw one once. There are lots of nice desirable bikes out there some expensive some hard to find but there are only a few that if you turned up to the club ride with, this weekend, would meet with the universal awe and appreciation that a true Grail piece should have.
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Old 01-03-15, 06:14 PM
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I think some of you guys miss the idea of what a "grail" is. It comes down to this: the Gospel of St. Someone said Jesus drank out of a cup the night before he was killed, and He performed the first Mass over that cup. Since the Gospel says that cup existed, and we believe the Gospel, the cup existed. It must still exist. That's the Holy Grail. Going out to look for it would be folly, unless you really believe you will be the lucky one to find it, in which case you may consider your life wasted if you don't go out to look for it.

If you've ever seen a bike that you coveted on eBay, even if it's a very nice one, it ain't the grail. To be the grail, its very existence has to be a matter of pure irrational faith. It's not something you can go out and buy with money, even if you have a lot of it; it has to be really vanishingly rare.

@LazyLegs, you got it! and you type faster than I!
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Old 01-03-15, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post

But if every bike has been transformed into exactly what you want, what is the point of owning more than 1 bike? Color selection?

Save your money, seems you don't want a "grail".
Good question.

What's the point?

Yes, I'm asking you.
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Old 01-03-15, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary3 View Post
I'm being completly serious here, why are the mitre fits under the lugs that important? Do precisely mitred joints actually have the brass flow over the joint? Again, because I am ignorant of these things, it seems to me a really well done fillet brazed bike would take a lot more "workmanship" to build, proper jigs, etc. I'm not trying to start anything here, just asking questions that have come to mind. It seems like commercially available lugsets probably revolutionized bicycle fabrication.
Lugs vary. I think the idea of lugs is to give one a big heavy joint, and allow super thin tubing.

By butting the tubes, one gets the benefits of the thicker ends found on the lugs, and thin tubing. Thus, one could fillet braze, or tig weld them, and maintain strength. Newer metals may also have better tolerance for the heat of welding them.

I have some lugs that are drilled with a shoulder expecting straight cut tubing Others lack this shoulder, and would allow mitered joints.

Do lugs ever crack? If not, then straight cuts should be perfectly acceptable. The mitered joints would allow super small lugs, and very ornate lug designs. I suppose on rare occasions they may pull loose, but this is probably a brazing problem.

If tig or fillet brazed joints are more likely to crack than lugged joints, then one would have to conclude that the lug joints are stronger. Of course, cracks beyond the lugs are not unheard of.
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