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Bike assembly aesthetics

Old 01-16-20, 09:13 AM
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_ForceD_
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Bike assembly aesthetics

As I prepare to restore/refurbish another one of my old steel frames, I've been wondering about conventional aesthetic practices and standards for bikes...written and unwritten. I agree that some things just come down to personal preferences. Maybe there are some aesthetics that impact safety (strength). At any rate, there are things like 'seat post, stem, and cranks should match,' and on wheels 'hub logo should align with the valve hole,' etc. I searched and read through a few old BF threads (this one from the Classic & Vintage forum for example Aesthetic Guide for Bikes?). I found answers to some of my questions, but there are still others I'm wondering about. Things like: Should components (brake calipers, levers, derailleurs, shifters) all have the same finish? Should they match wheel finish? Should brake cable housing match handlebar wrap, frame decals/highlight? Should brake hood material match seat material? Any insight/discussion would be appreciated.


Dan
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Old 01-16-20, 09:22 AM
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A lot of that is in the eye of the beholder. Only thing I don't like is headset conversions on vintage frames, but that is solely my own aesthetic taste.
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Old 01-16-20, 09:42 AM
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Lots of rule breakers here (my favorite "rule" here is that the chain should match the pedals):



-mr. bill
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Old 01-16-20, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_ View Post
As I prepare to restore/refurbish another one of my old steel frames, I've been wondering about conventional aesthetic practices and standards for bikes...written and unwritten. I agree that some things just come down to personal preferences. Maybe there are some aesthetics that impact safety (strength). At any rate, there are things like 'seat post, stem, and cranks should match,' and on wheels 'hub logo should align with the valve hole,' etc. I searched and read through a few old BF threads (this one from the Classic & Vintage forum for example Aesthetic Guide for Bikes?). I found answers to some of my questions, but there are still others I'm wondering about. Things like: Should components (brake calipers, levers, derailleurs, shifters) all have the same finish? Should they match wheel finish? Should brake cable housing match handlebar wrap, frame decals/highlight? Should brake hood material match seat material? Any insight/discussion would be appreciated.


Dan
It boils down to "you do you". Although I like to make bikes look good, I won't choose aesthetics over function. If the wheels don't match the frame...or even each other...it doesn't matter if the wheels have the function I want. This bike, for example,

Untitled by Stuart Black, on Flickr

Has a silver Paul Components RHub in the rear and a black Paul FHub in the front. The important thing isn't the color of the hub but the hub. The rear wheel uses a Velocity rim while the front is a Mavic. They both work well and I don't really care that much about how it looks.

You might also notice that it has a Moots stem but the stem is upside down. I might change that in the future but right now it serves its function. It does have a Moots post, stem and handlebar but those really aren't necessary. The rear wheel is has rim brake and the front is a disc. I could...at some expense...have a disc tab put on the back but it's not all that necessary. The brakes work well enough to stop me on loaded rocky road bikepacking tours.

This bike

_IMG4971 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

is a riot of color but, again, it's not necessarily a match of components. The Race Face crank is there because it takes a 20 tooth inner. The Phil Wood hubs I used are there because they a excellent hubs. I use a SRAM drivetrain because I like the way it works and, well, it's not Shimano. Nothing wrong with Shimano but there just too much of it out in the world. This one has some matching components...Dean handlebar/stem and seat post...but it has had other stems and handlebars in the past. It doesn't really change it's function to have nonDean on the bike.

All of my bikes are like these two. I mix and match components based on their performance, not because they "look good" together.
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Old 01-16-20, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_ View Post
As I prepare to restore/refurbish another one of my old steel frames, I've been wondering about conventional aesthetic practices and standards for bikes...written and unwritten. I agree that some things just come down to personal preferences. Maybe there are some aesthetics that impact safety (strength). At any rate, there are things like 'seat post, stem, and cranks should match,' and on wheels 'hub logo should align with the valve hole,' etc. I searched and read through a few old BF threads (this one from the Classic & Vintage forum for example Aesthetic Guide for Bikes?). I found answers to some of my questions, but there are still others I'm wondering about. Things like: Should components (brake calipers, levers, derailleurs, shifters) all have the same finish? Should they match wheel finish? Should brake cable housing match handlebar wrap, frame decals/highlight? Should brake hood material match seat material? Any insight/discussion would be appreciated.


Dan
If it were a period-correct grail bike that was somehow really valuable or rare or whatever (Pantani actually rode it, for example), then yeah those things would matter, a lot.

But otherwise... having the brake hoods match the saddle, for example, to me is a bit OTT; however, any "bike illuminati" rules are just suggestions. Some things look better than others to most people, but that's always - ALWAYS - overridden by what YOU like.

I'm currently considering a build for my brother in law (if he decides he wants a vintage bike) and many of these things come into consideration - but ultimately it comes down to what the rider wants from the bike, and likes to look at.
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Old 01-16-20, 11:20 AM
  #6  
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No rules here, just my personal taste

Originally Posted by _ForceD_ View Post
Should components (brake calipers, levers, derailleurs, shifters) all have the same finish? Should they match wheel finish?


Components look good all having the same finish. This is also because they should all be from the same grouppo.

But, brakes and wheels could alternatively match the frame or a highlight color. Also because I don't think brakes were always part of a grouppo depending on the era.


Should brake cable housing match handlebar wrap, frame decals/highlight?
I really don't see brown housing working on many bikes even if they have brown bar wrap. Matching both to black is a default but maybe a bit plain. I have matched housings to the frame color, to a decal color, but also on a fairly solid color frame the cable housing can be used to make a highlight color.


Should brake hood material match seat material?
Brake hood should match seat or bar wrap. Default to black here of course.
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Old 01-16-20, 12:20 PM
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If it hasn't been mentioned, the hubs should be laced to the rims so that the rim decal can be read right side up from the drive side, and the hub logo should be upright and readable while straddling the top tube.

Tire largest logo should be drive side (when feasible, given the tread pattern) and located opposite to the valve stem. Alternatively, the embossed tire pressure range can be located directly at the valve stem.

I've always believed that classic fashion rules apply. Keep the number of colors to a minimum to suit the frame. Use the color wheel to determine and use proper opposites. The degree of color saturation should be consistent with the style/era of the frame. Keep cable housings to basic black or grey, unless original for that frame would have been some alternate (like white or braided gold). Cable crimp ends are silver/grey, never colored. Pedals are not a decorator item, so should blend into the crankset (much as socks and shoes to a suit). That's my thinking, at least.

As the iconic Michael Kors once said, "fashion isn't for sissies."
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Old 01-16-20, 03:02 PM
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I've read the tire logo should be placed at the valve stem to help locate puncture causing culprits when needed. Helped me out several times locate glass, thorns etc. Plus it is pleasing to the eye.

Another thing that is pleasing to the eye in my opinion is that the trailing spokes of the rear wheel drive side are installed so that they follow the wheel rather than lead. IMO, it just seems to make sense looking at it and not going against the grain. Also, I when I started building wheels, I read that the Sheldon Brown site saying it helps support drive side spokes. I have used it and never had a problem with wheels. Though some wheel builders say it does not matter, I think it only makes sense and is pleasing to the eye. In any case, why not do your best to get the best out of a wheel?

I've seen a few pro wheel builders who don't do it and if I mention it, they don't know what I'm talking about. Oh well, never had a problem with my wheels.

Notice the trailing spokes drive side are laced inside the hub flange for extra support as these are the spokes that take the most abuse and most stress.

Plus I think it just looks neater and going with the grain.

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Old 01-16-20, 03:27 PM
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If you care about C&V aesthetics get the stem and handlebars right. Level stem, drops parallel to the ground, tips of the levers even with the bottom of the drops.
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Old 01-16-20, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
If you care about C&V aesthetics get the stem and handlebars right. Level stem, drops parallel to the ground, tips of the levers even with the bottom of the drops.
except that drops level with the ground wasnt a universal practice back in the day.
For example, Schwinn's shop guide said the drop ends should point to the rear hub.
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Old 01-16-20, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post


-mr. bill
One of these things in not like the others...
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Old 01-16-20, 04:24 PM
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There is nothing sacred about the vast majority of bicycles. What is important is making them useful.

Last edited by alcjphil; 01-16-20 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 01-16-20, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
except that drops level with the ground wasnt a universal practice back in the day.
For example, Schwinn's shop guide said the drop ends should point to the rear hub.
Sure. Depends on the bike. I see a lot of old race bikes with the stem, handlebars and brakes adjusted to make them more comfortable to ride on the hoods, which doesn't look as pleasing to my eye as a more traditional race setup.
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Old 01-16-20, 04:36 PM
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All of those kind of rules are definitely made to be broken. I really try not to be concerned with what others think of what I have, or have not, done to my bikes. They are mine. I welcome suggestions and criticisms. Just understand that what I do with them is my decision, and if someone is offended by that, that is their problem.
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Old 01-16-20, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
One of these things in not like the others...
The frankndale is a rule breaker too.

-mr. bill
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Old 01-16-20, 04:57 PM
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If you are trying to do a 100% original restoration, by all means research the details of whatever bike you're working on. Otherwise, do what you like and dare to be different.
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Old 01-16-20, 06:14 PM
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Build it. Post a pic of it. I'll let you know if I like it.

Actually, I'm kinda into a classic frame with modern components and style. Picture a classic late 80's, early 90's Ferrari red Specialized Allez with a blacked out modern groupset and deep section rims. Black stem, bars, etc. It's been on my To Do list for awhile. One of these days...



-Kedosto
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Old 01-17-20, 08:55 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post
If it were a period-correct grail bike that was somehow really valuable or rare or whatever (Pantani actually rode it, for example), then yeah those things would matter, a lot.

But otherwise... having the brake hoods match the saddle, for example, to me is a bit OTT; however, any "bike illuminati" rules are just suggestions. Some things look better than others to most people, but that's always - ALWAYS - overridden by what YOU like.

I'm currently considering a build for my brother in law (if he decides he wants a vintage bike) and many of these things come into consideration - but ultimately it comes down to what the rider wants from the bike, and likes to look at.
It seems to me that a lot of these so-called rules are the imaginings of people to imitate what they see as a style. To each his/her own, but I believe THEY WERE NOT THERE! It's just their imagination.

It's also, what "vintage" are you trying to imitate? There are grail bikes all over the timeline. From the '60s and '70s, chains could mostly not match pedals. Pedals were usually silver because the steel parts were chromed and nearly all aluminum was not anodized, at least in the early days. Chains were steel sometimes with anti-corrosive coatings, but I certainly don't recall any nickel-plated side plates. Quality stems in most of the 1970s were Cinelli, Ambrosio (aka TTT), GB, or one of several French brands - very little colored anodizing. Saddles were what you liked, but you could get Brooks, Brooks, Ideale, Brooks, Unicanitor (and similar), and Brooks. Brooks and Ideale brought out brown and natural finishes, eventually.

In the USA if you had a Masi it usually came (if not bought as a frameset) with Martano rims. If you crunched one while out on a tour, it was not likely the LBS had Martano in stock, if ANY tubular rims. If you found a dark anodized rim you took it, because otherwise you wait for the importer to send out a rim or for Poppa to come with the car. And if you bought the Masi by saving up your money from your local drugstore job, the price of the Martano could have been beat by ... most likely any other rim, so depending on your wallet, you would take the cheaper option. Some part upgrades were based on performance, such as replacing Campy Gran Sport with Record, or buying a Brooks Professional versus a B17 'cuz the TDF riders like the bigger rivet or some such bike salesman patter. Or the new Cinelli Cork Ribbon - it's squishy, versus Velox. As high schoolers our tastes were not yet refined, and the pocketbook was limited.

Some improvements were more valid than others, like the micro-adjusting feature of the Campagnolo Record seat posts versus the Brooks steel clamp.

There was still aesthetics, but function was a key part of it, kind of Bauhaus in spirit. Functional bikes were valid bikes. They could be enhanced with "matchy matchy" but such enhancements could also have been seen as prissy or too finicky.

But a lot of period-correctness was based on the practicalities of use. If you're commuting on sew-ups and you need a tire, you don't necessarily hold out for Seta, when you can get a pair of cheap but heavy Elvezias, and ride on to your job. If you needed a new rim 5 years after the bike was new, the LBS might not have the Martano in stock any more so you buy the new-fangled anodized Wolber or Mafac, because it's available. Same for broken spokes, derailleurs, broken chains, worn freewheels, et cetera. Worn chainwheels and the LBS never heard of Campagnolo? Buy the ones that are available.

Just a recollection of my opinions from back in the day.

Last edited by Road Fan; 01-17-20 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 01-17-20, 10:11 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_ View Post
As I prepare to restore/refurbish another one of my old steel frames, I've been wondering about conventional aesthetic practices and standards for bikes...written and unwritten. I agree that some things just come down to personal preferences. Maybe there are some aesthetics that impact safety (strength). At any rate, there are things like 'seat post, stem, and cranks should match,' and on wheels 'hub logo should align with the valve hole,' etc. I searched and read through a few old BF threads (this one from the Classic & Vintage forum for example Aesthetic Guide for Bikes?). I found answers to some of my questions, but there are still others I'm wondering about. Things like: Should components (brake calipers, levers, derailleurs, shifters) all have the same finish? Should they match wheel finish? Should brake cable housing match handlebar wrap, frame decals/highlight? Should brake hood material match seat material? Any insight/discussion would be appreciated.Dan
Color coordination is up there with me. My frame is a bare Ti Litespeed, so the dominant color is the large yellow downtime decals. Therefore, I went with an overall yellow theme - bar tape, cable housing, yellow/black saddle (old Max Flite that's wearing out - I haven't been able to find a suitably-colored replacement, so I may rethink the color scheme when the time comes) and yellow/black tires - tires have to coordinate, IMO, or the bike is underdressed. Also not wild about mixing component finish - apart from my treadless stem and bars, everything else is silver/aluminum. I may not be able to maintain this when I eventually replace the crankset (currently have a 50/39 2004 Chorus, but looking at a 50/34 in the next few years - not too many silver compact cranksets out there). Not a fan of cables zip-tied everywhere, apart from shifter/brake cables - if accessories aren't wireless, I don't want them. Apart from that, tire logos aligned with valve stems, front hub logo "right way up" when viewed from the cockpit, QR levers tucked in parallel with the fork blade (front) and the seat stay (rear) - QR levers clamped willy-nilly look terrible, IMO

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Old 01-17-20, 01:30 PM
  #20  
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Thanks for all the input, friends. Although the bike I'm referring to in my OP is from the 1980s (maybe even late 1970s), my intent isn't to restore it to it's exact (or even close necessarily) original look. Just a good, usable bike. And, it's a bike that most aficionados probably would not even consider owning. It's a TUNTURI. I actually rescued the bike from someone's trash heap (probably where you're thinking it should have stayed), cleaned and tune it up, and have ridden it lots and lots of miles for more than 30 years. I love the bike. Over the decades all of the components have been replaced...it's sort of a "Frankenbike"...but never the paint. But now it's time for that, and I plan on having it powder coated to the original white, and have already obtained replica green decals for it. Current (non-matching) components are fine...but I may replace them to all match. As indicated by many of you...much of the aesthetics are a personal choice. I concur. As I said, it's not going to be anywhere close to the original. But I just want to make sure I'm not breaking some of the major guidelines.

Dan
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Old 01-17-20, 02:37 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_ View Post
It's a TUNTURI.


Except for thirty days on either side of the summer solstice, it must have Nokian tyres.

Everything else is your choice.

-mr. bill
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Old 01-17-20, 09:48 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by mr_bill View Post
Except for thirty days on either side of the summer solstice, it must have Nokian tyres.

Everything else is your choice.

-mr. bill

LOL. Finnish "tyres." The only liberties I'm taking with the decals is an idea from my old Motobecane that has a "Made in France" decal on the top tube. I had this decal made, with the flag of Finland, and "Valmistettu Suomessa" (Finnish for Made in Finland). Although I know, through a bit of research, that technically the bike probably wasn't actually constructed there.




Dan
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Old 01-17-20, 11:41 PM
  #23  
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If any two parts look like they were salvaged from the same bike, replace one of them.
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Old 01-18-20, 02:07 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
If it hasn't been mentioned, the hubs should be laced to the rims so that the rim decal can be read right side up from the drive side, and the hub logo should be upright and readable while straddling the top tube.
snip
I peel the rim decals OFF of my bikes. I think they look trashy.
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Old 01-18-20, 05:17 PM
  #25  
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Bikes: I have 3 singlespeed/fixed gear bikes

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I choose function over fashion.
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