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Old 12-12-11, 09:24 AM   #1
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Sneaking in, couple of bike and endurance questions

I won't be 50 for another month, so I'm sneaking in here early. I've been riding the same bike for 23 years. It's an old Alpine, (Bike Shop/Motobecane), steel sport. The frame geometry is what is now called touring. My local bike shop keeps it going for me and it now has 14 gears 2/7, nice wheelset and new BB. It's still stem shift. I'm wondering if anyone here has upgraded to a modern bike after so long? Was it a good or bad decision. I'm just shy of 3000 miles on it this year, so I don't know if changing geometry will be good or bad. I've broken 11 bones on ths bike, done at least 20,000 miles on it and am missing the vastus lateralis, (large outside thigh muscle), from a motorcycle misadventure 31 years ago. I have also noticed this year I seem to be getting shorter winded with high output. I can go all day still, I just get winded quicker standing or holding big gears on hills. I had a pulmonary embolism a year ago, so that might be part of it. My Doc says it take a good year or so to heal from that. I know I've put a lot in here. Just hoping for experienced or expert thoughts on any of these areas.
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Old 12-12-11, 09:35 AM   #2
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I rode this for more than 25 years;

It had 52 & 49 chainrings and an 13-24 free-wheel. While the bike had many good qualities, it was never a good match for my needs.

I have two bikes now. Both are lighter, fit well and have a wide gear range to help with any hill, even when I'm dead tired late in a 200k event;


I would try a modern bike with wide range gearing. Use either a road triple or a compact 50 & 34t crankset with a 12-28 rear cassette or even a 12-32.
When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.

Last edited by Barrettscv; 12-12-11 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 12-12-11, 09:38 AM   #3
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Most of us in The Fifty Plus have some type physical limits that influence our bike riding.

Keep fun with what you are able to do.

If you want a new bike and have the funds, get one.
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Old 12-12-11, 09:48 AM   #4
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If I'd broken 11 bones on a bike I'd get rid of it because it's cursed!

If you have the money for it, 3000 miles a year is enough justification for a good new bike.

When I came back to cycling 10 years ago, after a long lay off, I found that the newfangled integrated brake/shifters and dual pivot brakes were very nice improvements. And bike makers have finally realized that road bikes aren't only used for criterium racing and put sensible gearing on most of them. Maybe not an issue in San Antonio but it is in the mountains.
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Old 12-12-11, 09:51 AM   #5
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Upgrading was a much better investment than I could have imagined prior to doing it. The difference between brifters (shifters build into the brake levers) and what you're using now is tremendous. I also found that the difference between 7 rear cogs and 9 or 10 was very significant in being able to find a gear that allowed a proper cadence. There is now a much smoother transition without having to over spin or quasi-mash because I don't have just the right gear for the particular stretch of road. In terms of frame geometry if you're comfortable with what you currently ride, find another bike with the same geometry. It shouldn't be all that hard to do.

Are the bikes that I have much more than I actually need? Yes, not question about it. Do they bring me a tremendous amount of joy? Yes, no question about it.

I still own and ride some vintage steel bikes in their original configurations, and enjoy them.... with the exception of the fewer gear choices and the lack of brifters. The bikes that I ride most often (95% of the time or better) all have modern components.
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Old 12-12-11, 10:08 AM   #6
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You might ask your LBS to demo a newer model and see what you think of it.
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Old 12-12-11, 12:17 PM   #7
Time for a change.
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Test ride a few of these plastic bikes around- and a few Aluminium and a few steel if you can find them. And try a couple of different geometry's aswell. That should tell you if you need a new bike.

Well it won't really but the word WANT will come to mind.
How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.

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Old 12-12-11, 12:28 PM   #8
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23 years? I get prodded for riding an 8 year old bike.

As Eric said, since you are riding 3K per year, it is pretty easy to justify (rationalize?) buying a new bike. I would suggest that you look at a carbon fiber bike. They are supposed to be more comfortable. Since you are now riding a touring bike, I would suggest a "relaxed geometry" which I think is a bit like the old "sport touring" geometry. You could go with either a "compact gearing" (that means smaller chain rings for smaller high gears and lower low gears) or go with the full triple. You can get a carbon fiber with shimano ultegra for about $3K - don't hold me to this one. But go to the LBS, talk to them and try a few on test rides. What do you have to lose? Well, you could be out a few $$$ but heck, you are now nearing 50, what are you waiting for?
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Old 12-12-11, 12:30 PM   #9
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Wait until after the new year starts then go into your LBS with a box of do-nuts and have a conversation with them. They know both you and your bike and should be able to show you modern eqivalents of it. Take them all for a ride and them if one talks to you buy yourself a brithday present after all you desrve it for making it through 50 years of life so far.
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Old 12-12-11, 12:57 PM   #10
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My 1989 De Rosa Professional was a super bike in its day, revered by all, competitive in the peleton, etc. I have ridden it about 50,000 miles. Two years ago I bought a new mid-range production road bike with 105 components, nothing special, but it is operationally superior in so many ways. It is two pounds lighter. It is stiffer yet more comfortable and has noticeably lighter wheels. It has wider yet closer gear range options. It has convenient shifting at the brake levers. It has better brakes. While technological advancements may not seem revolutionary year-to-year, there have been striking improvements over a 20-30 year period. That's not to say an old steel bike sucks or should not be ridden. But the new stuff is really good, in my opinion.
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Old 12-12-11, 01:40 PM   #11
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The hunt for a new bike should be as much or more fun than the purchase. Explore the world of the modern bicycle. There really has been dramatic changes in the last 20 years.
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Old 12-13-11, 01:44 AM   #12
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I might be the closest thing to you in this crowd. I'm in my early fifties and still ride a steel touring bike from 1982 as my primary bike, although it is a replacement for an identical one that was stolen. Just three years ago I finally made the change from down-tube shifters and freewheels to a nine-speed cassette with brifters. To be honest, I only made the change because I couldn't get quality freewheels anymore and I had finally worn out my favorite Phil Wood rear hub, so I had to buy something. So, I have halfway upgraded; my drivetrain is nearly modern but my frame is still old-school.

I'm happy enough with the brifters. Since I formerly ran a half-step with a granny, I don't have any better gearing, but since I don't have the riding skills and balance I once did it is nice to not have to reach down to shift, especially since the roads are worse, my vision is less acute and the motorists seem to be more aggressive than in years gone by. I'd say the modern drive-train has some real advantages, but if you go with ten or eleven speed cassettes, prepare to spend a lot more money on chain and cassette replacements than you are used to. Since I ride 10,000-20,000 miles per year, this is a real consideration for me.

As others have said, test ride some of the modern bikes and see which one speaks to you. I have to force myself to not ride them so that I don't start yearning for one. I guess that's kind of a strange way to tell you that the new bikes are quite wonderful. Of course, for similar money you can always get a modern, light-weight custom steel bike from someone like R+E (Rodriguez bikes) in Seattle, but you wouldn't get to test ride it.

Have fun with this choice. Whichever way you go, it's the right decision until you change it.
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Old 12-13-11, 04:14 AM   #13
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To put it in a slightly different perspective....several years ago some car magazine ran an old 356 Porsche and a new Minivan through a slalom course. The Minivan won. Doesn't mean you should ever get rid of the steel bike. It just means that when you are the motor life will be easier with a new bike.
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Old 12-13-11, 10:28 AM   #14
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Meah. I've joyfuly taken brifters off a bike and dumped them on ebay, prefer friction over indexed, have a lightweight 30spd wonder that I routinely overlook for my '80s 25lb steel workhorse, and a 7spd freewheel in the back is more than enough for me. I have 8 road bikes to choose from daily, like the older ones better. Commute on an early '70s hi-ten 10spd.

To the NASCAR mind it's all about maximizing speed and performance. I think not, and you have to decide for yourself. To answer the OP, a wide range gearset, like putting a compact on the front, is definitely a benefit...otherwise I've found very little about modern bikes that improve my riding experience.

Last edited by FrenchFit; 12-13-11 at 10:36 AM.
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