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Vintage road bikes as first “real” bike? Light Commuting etc.

Old 02-19-19, 01:24 PM
  #26  
Bikesplendor
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
... is that the bike MUST FIT YOU PROPERLY. So, I'd recommend that your first research be into the proper fit for a road bike. Follow that with becoming familiar with how to make measurements of yourself, and how to enter these measurements into a bicycle fit calculator. There are several fit calculators available for free use on-line.

Learn the discipline of having your own measurements and the requisite bicycle frame size in your back pocket at all times.

Now you'd be ready to look at bicycles. Bring a metric measuring tape, and learn to measure the subject bicycle's key dimensions. That way, you'll develop your "eye" as to what will fit, and what can be avoided. This skill saves you time and frustration.

Don't buy a "great deal" bike that doesn't fit you. That won't be a great deal in the end.
Excellent advice. Get a sense of what frame sizes are best for you. Include top tube length. You can adjust saddle position and bar position, but it's best to find the sweet spot or range that works best for you.
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Old 02-19-19, 01:32 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Bladejmh2000 View Post
Im located in the Los Angeles area so there should never be a lack of bikes, I just have no idea where to look..
Welcome, @Bladejmh2000 .

LA has many bike shops that sell used bikes. (Like the Recyclist) I'd google "refurbished bicycles in Los Angeles". You'll find shops and co-ops where you can test ride and ask questions. What's more, many bike shops stand behind their refurbished bikes. And they're almost always "ready to ride". I'm not sure how bike co-ops work, but from what I've seen and read about the bike co-ops of LA they often offer bike maintenance classes in addition to providing maintenance services.

Your post reminded me of when I became interested in cycling again as an adult, for fun and for commuting. But this was back in the 80s, and again in the early 90s, before the internet and of course, bikeforums.

Final word...look into an inexpensive ready-to-ride refurb from a store or co-op that will stand behind it (even if its only 30 days).
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Old 02-19-19, 01:51 PM
  #28  
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You mention not knowing much at all about bikes, so it might be useful to have some simple or basic guidelines that will allow you to weed out the sub-par bikes, and recognize the quality ones.
​​​​​​
Any bikes that have these Shimano (which is a company that makes most of the quality components you are likely to see) parts or components (derailleurs, brakes, hubs, bottom brackets, shifters): 105, 600, Ultegra, Dura Ace (these are all Shimano's designations for their different lines. 105 and 600 are mid-range or a little above. Ultegra is up a notch, and Dura Ace is up two notches).

If a bike has these components, in good or excellent condition, you can be pretty sure you are looking at a quality bike that will last. The frame is very likely also quality.

Shimano's mountain bike equivalents are Deore, LX, XT, and XTR.

Before someone scoffs at Dura Ace and XTR bikes being in your price range, I should add that I've found them myself.

You don't need that level, though. The next two levels down are probably somewhat more reliable.
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As far as bicycle brands go, here is a partial list of quality companies you are most likely to find: Trek, Specialized, higher end Schwinns and Raleighs, Bianchi, Peugeot, Bridgestone, Univega, Miyata, Nishiki, Cannondale. There are others of course, but those are some of the main players.

Virtually any bike with the Shimano components listed above will be quality, assuming it is in good condition with low miles.

There are other quality component manufacturers, but they aren't as likely to be seen. SRAM and Campagnolo are among them.

STAY AWAY from department store bikes. THERE ARE TONS OF THEM OUT THERE. They are seriously inferior to the ones listed above with the quality components. A partial list of brands: Huffy, Murray, Next, Pacific, many by Mongoose, Roadmaster.



​​

Last edited by Bikesplendor; 02-19-19 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 02-19-19, 02:09 PM
  #29  
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I agree that you don't really need ratchets for bike work. However, unless you have at least some experience with mechanics (bike or other context), a torque wrench could save you some problems and headaches. Otherwise you need to have some experienced feel for it. Sounds like you don't have this sort of experience at this point. Bike shops see bikes all the time with problems due to inexperienced owners overtightening things. Undertightening is also not a good idea. You can usually find torque specs or values somewhere online.

HF has some very useful tools for bike work. Look for the higher end stuff made with stronger steels. There are additional bike-specific tools you will want. You can find most of them in the kits or sets that have a well-thought-out selection of tools. You can find these online. Just avoid the lowest quality level. You can find decent quality that is still value priced.

Last edited by Bikesplendor; 02-19-19 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 02-19-19, 02:23 PM
  #30  
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Get the book "Anybody's Bike Book" by Tom Cuthbertson. I think I got my copy of it waaaay back in 1971 or '2 when I was in high school. It deals with strictly vintage bikes (that's all we had then--but back then they were new), no Di2 or STI or any of the other modern gobbeldy-gook (it wasn't invented yet). Any way, Tom's book will teach you every thing you'll need to know to keep your vintage machine in tip-top shape. And just for the record, yes, I still have my copy of the book.
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Old 02-19-19, 02:31 PM
  #31  
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I was in the OP’s shoes about a year ago. I had been given a Trek MTB that was too large.

I went to a shop that did sales of used bikes as a charity advocacy project. They got me figured out that a 56cm frame would be pretty good on me, sadly no road bikes in that size that day.

A month later a Trek 1200 showed up on Craigslist. After some back and forth I met the guy and bought the bike for 240.00 (I think)

Replaced the saddle and bar tape from clearance inn Trek’s website. I got a helmet that was a clearance too. Got some dual sized platform/SPD pedals. Only thing I have paid new for a cycling shoes.

I have ridden almost 1400 miles and completed a couple of organized rides including a 100K

I really love the bike and have learned a lot. My next bike though will be new. Having a 7spd with a 11-23 cassette does make the hilly rides umm breathtaking even when the views aren’t.

I would assume any used bike to assume you have to replace the following:
1. Saddle
2. Bar Tape (you can clean it with tooth paste and a tooth brush to save $ if you must)
3. Brake Pads.

I think starting on a older bike has been good since I have felt more comfortable learning and wrenching something that is 240.00 vs 2400.00.

Check out the CV forums on here.
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Old 02-19-19, 02:48 PM
  #32  
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Just wanted to add that co-ops and bike shops (especially non-profit ones) can often hook you up with bikes more efficiently than garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets etc. Eventually you will find good bikes and prices at those venues, but you can spend a lot of time looking. And if you don't know what you are doing, you can have disappointments. So a good, helpful shop can be better in some ways. One with classes or good teachers, helpers, or experienced others can also be helpful. And if they include servicing and standing behind their used bikes, that's also worth considering.

Craigslist is more efficient than some of the other avenues, and has its own pros and cons.
​​​​​​
A lot depends on individual factors, location, preferences, learning styles, independence orientation, etc.

You can certainly make it all work on your own as well, with online resources.
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Old 02-19-19, 08:01 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Bikesplendor View Post
Not very good on HF. They have a lot of options you haven't tried. There's a wide range of screwdrivers, and some are excellent. Applies to many of their other tools as well.
Half my tool box is (or once was) from that place. Trial and error has taught me what to buy from there and what not to. Love their wrenches. Hate their pliers. Assembled a 20 ton shop press from there last time I was home from work for a weekend, albeit with nuts and bolts from Lowes. They're nice for some of the oddball auto tools I use one every five years (pickle fork, wheel puller, etc) even if I can see they are limited use items. I've chucked more than a couple screwdrivers away from that place for poor metallurgy. I absolutely love my floor jacks from there, we've even got a handful at the test track shop.

Just gotta know what to buy there and what to leave on the shelf, and know when stepping up a couple bucks gets you something considerably nicer. Or, like Amazon, when they're not even thr best deal in town.
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Old 02-19-19, 08:32 PM
  #34  
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Don't worry too much about 27" rims if paired with weinman centerpull brakes. 700c work fine as there is enough adjustment. Perhaps the sam fir canti brakes. I owned, sold, traded...half dozen or so older road bikes. Some friction shift sime 6spd index some 7 sod index. Most bikes (any vintage) are easy to work on given the internet. Consider a 90s mtb bike too. You can swap bars, put on road tires. The are generally easy to work on too, and parts are cheaper than modern bikes.
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Old 02-19-19, 09:01 PM
  #35  
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Reviews on the Harbor Freight website, of individual items, can be very useful. And sometimes there are seemingly identical items that actually have different item numbers, come from different factories, and get different reviews and ratings.

Any Pittsburgh or Pittsburgh Pro hand tool has a lifetime warranty.

Most tools can be returned within thirty days. Some have ninety day warranties. Extended warranties are available.

They often have Home Depot and Lowes beat by a mile, and the quality is often just fine. You have to be selective, and not everything is of equal quality. Same with Lowes and Home Depot. And I've bought extensively from all three, especially Harbor Freight, for years.

Couponshy is an excellent way to find 20% off and other HF coupons, including for a variety of free items.

Some of their hex keys, like many of their other items, including pliers and screwdrivers, are better than others. You can find both excellent and not-so-excellent versions of the same tool. Check the reviews on their website, and check the types of steel listed on the label or in the product descriptions on the website. In general, Pittsburgh Pro is on the higher end. Some of the other stuff is fine too. Check reviews and put things through their paces within the return period.

Last edited by Bikesplendor; 02-20-19 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 02-19-19, 09:09 PM
  #36  
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I agree with the mountain bike comment. I just bought a Marin mountain bike, year 2000, hardly ridden, LX componentry off Craigslist for $100. It came with perfectly good 1.95 on-road off-road road tires, and it's been sweet both off road and on.
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Old 02-19-19, 10:51 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Bikesplendor View Post
You mention not knowing much at all about bikes, so it might be useful to have some simple or basic guidelines that will allow you to weed out the sub-par bikes, and recognize the quality ones.
​​​​​​
Any bikes that have these Shimano (which is a company that makes most of the quality components you are likely to see) parts or components (derailleurs, brakes, hubs, bottom brackets, shifters): 105, 600, Ultegra, Dura Ace (these are all Shimano's designations for their different lines. 105 and 600 are mid-range or a little above. Ultegra is up a notch, and Dura Ace is up two notches).

If a bike has these components, in good or excellent condition, you can be pretty sure you are looking at a quality bike that will last. The frame is very likely also quality.

Shimano's mountain bike equivalents are Deore, LX, XT, and XTR.

Before someone scoffs at Dura Ace and XTR bikes being in your price range, I should add that I've found them myself.

You don't need that level, though. The next two levels down are probably somewhat more reliable.
​​​​​​
As far as bicycle brands go, here is a partial list of quality companies you are most likely to find: Trek, Specialized, higher end Schwinns and Raleighs, Bianchi, Peugeot, Bridgestone, Univega, Miyata, Nishiki, Cannondale. There are others of course, but those are some of the main players.

Virtually any bike with the Shimano components listed above will be quality, assuming it is in good condition with low miles.

There are other quality component manufacturers, but they aren't as likely to be seen. SRAM and Campagnolo are among them.

STAY AWAY from department store bikes. THERE ARE TONS OF THEM OUT THERE. They are seriously inferior to the ones listed above with the quality components. A partial list of brands: Huffy, Murray, Next, Pacific, many by Mongoose, Roadmaster.



​​
Thanks, this seems to be really practical advice for someone like me with little to no recognition of quality bike brands. I'm familiar with Shimano because the only bike I currently have access to (a department store bike...) seems to have Shimano parts on it. So I'm wondering whats the quickest way to identify their mid range parts on a bike?
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Old 02-19-19, 11:39 PM
  #38  
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Looking at componentry quality....

Last edited by Bikesplendor; 02-19-19 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 02-19-19, 11:42 PM
  #39  
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If the rear derailleur just says "Shimano" it is very low end (or very lowest end) Shimano, typically a department store bike.

Mid range and up rear derailleurs will say "105" or "600" (no longer made, but on vintage bikes) or "Ultegra" (high end) or "Dura Ace" (very high end). Those are on road bikes.

On mountain bikes, it will say "Deore" or "LX" or "XT" (high end) or "XTR" (very high end).

There are other grades too in Shimano's hierarchies, mostly mid range and lower. Personally, I would stick with the above for vintage bikes, pretty much. There are exceptions, and going down one or two steps in the component hierarchies isn't so bad; but there are many bikes out there with the better parts on them, why settle for less? I wouldn't settle for Shimano Alivio or Acera or Sora or Claris or Tourney (low end), even though some of those aren't so bad. Shimano STX and STX RC are not bad (mid or middish range), and are acceptable, but Deore, LX, XT and XTR are preferable.

Often you will see bikes with slightly lower grade components other than the rear derailleur (XT rear derailleur, for example, with LX brakes, hubs, front derailleur). Other bikes are the same level throughout.

That's one of the simplest guidelines for a beginner, for telling quality bikes from other bikes.

Last edited by Bikesplendor; 02-20-19 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 02-20-19, 07:46 PM
  #40  
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Is anything with SRAM really vintage? They've only been around since 87.
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Old 02-21-19, 02:20 PM
  #41  
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For those of us who rode vintage bikes when they were new, vintage bikes are incredibly easy to own and maintain. They are just plain mechanically simpler, were always built so they could be repaired.

Reading on this forum the imaginings of younger riders I have a very hard time recommending that you should ride what I ride.
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Old 02-21-19, 03:28 PM
  #42  
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Set my son's commuter up with vintage components. He was amazed at how little maintenance there was. Never had to adjust shifting, just rode it. Never had to adjust brakes, they simply worked all the time and the pads didn't wear through like a disc brake. After 2 years the frame failed and he moved the components to a titanium frame that I sent him.
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Old 02-21-19, 03:49 PM
  #43  
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Great advice throughout this thread.
@Bladejmh2000 : my advice would be for your first bike or two (or three) to be "throw-away" bikes, meaning if they are really nice bikes (relatively valuable), you may end up abusing them simply by accident. Save your money for when you know what you want.

When you know what you want, then you can have an informed hunt for that. There are some fantastic undervalued bikes out there for little money, if you're patient and know what you're looking for.
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Old 02-22-19, 04:35 PM
  #44  
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So yesterday I made a mopey comment. Today a positive comment.

I am on the vintage market. There is almost no market left. Nobody wants old bikes. They are getting harder to find. When someone finds one in the back of the basement or the garage attic the first assumption may be that it is old, unsaleable trash. Out it goes. But if you search you can find good bikes, very good bikes, for $50. Or less. For $100 you want a complete bike with sharp looking paint. A garage queen, not something that was underneath a pile. Scarce, but they exist. And no one but you is trying to buy them.

Start with complete bikes only. Not the skeleton of a bike. You will have to buy tires and tubes and fresh brake pads and maybe new cables and casings. But only look at complete bikes where everything is basically working. Yes, you can have all that for 50 and get nice paint for 100.

You don't even know how to evaluate a bike to figure out what is and what is not working. You've no idea what is easy to repair, what parts are easy to find, no idea which parts can no longer be had. And no idea at all what it will cost to complete an old bike. So start with a decent bike no one else wants. If it has downtube shifters, exposed brake cables, toe clips, no one wants that bike. Consider just pitching the toe clips but learn how to cope with the rest. None of it is that hard. Remember millions and millions of normal people used downtube shifters and didn't whine about it. They are simple and they last.

When you learn some basics, pro level bikes start under $300. More and more of them are free to a good home. Most of the good homes (mine) have all the old bikes they can stand. Free is a real possibility. When full pro bikes by legendary builders can be had for 300, do not get cornered into a situation where you spent $150 on junk and it is going to be $200 in parts and service just to roll down the block to see how you like it.

Also with $50 bikes you can buy several and have a parts supply. If you make the right connection, sellers will figure out you are the buyer who will take this old junk off their hands and you will be deluged with offers of very cheap bikes.
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