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"Breaking Away" Cyclists

Old 02-17-06, 11:07 AM
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bernmart
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"Breaking Away" Cyclists

I came across the film "Breaking Away," made in 1979, on cable yesterday. I saw the film when it was in theaters all those years ago, but have become a devoted, if inexpert, cyclist since.

To my eye, all the cyclists in the film seem to be riding larger frames than I see now, seem more stretched out, and more comfortable. Nothing else seems to have changed much, considering the passage of time, but I wonder if frame design theory really has changed to smaller-is-better, or is my impression false?
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Old 02-17-06, 11:17 AM
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Back then people rode the largest frame that they could. Now they ride the smallest that they can, to save on weight, for one. So you are right, the frames used to be bigger.
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Old 02-17-06, 12:05 PM
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Here's a "hmmmm-I-wonder" for ya...

Road bike geometry is a bit longer than MTB geometry. Everyone in Breaking Away is on road bikes and the majority of the bikes we see now are mountain bikes.

Now, discuss...
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Old 02-17-06, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by MMACH 5
Here's a "hmmmm-I-wonder" for ya...

Road bike geometry is a bit longer than MTB geometry. Everyone in Breaking Away is on road bikes and the majority of the bikes we see now are mountain bikes.

Now, discuss...
Well, sure. I was talking about comparing road bikes then to road bikes now. But now that you mention it, maybe mtn bike design influenced rd bike design in the area of frame size, as in so many other areas.
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Old 02-17-06, 01:52 PM
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Breaking Away is probably the best movie with bicycling as a central part of the story, but the movie is not very accurate in a lot of the cycling scenes. I wouldn't take it as an accurate historical reference of the state of road racing bikes in 1979.
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Old 02-17-06, 01:52 PM
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I've only recently gone back to only a fistfull of seatpost.... These 'as big as you can get' traditional frames (with proper top tube length, of course) seem to fit me better than 'smaller is better' frames.....

Last edited by roadfix; 02-19-06 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 02-17-06, 01:59 PM
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Fads go in cycles, litterally. Back in the "Breaking Away" days, the bike-boom hasn't started yet and most bikers were serious tourers or racers. They've had years of riding under their belt and their bodies are strong and flexible.

Then we enter the bike-boom of the '80s and saw an explosion of popularity with tonnes of new riders entering the market. New riders tend to need more upright positions with shorter reaches to the bar. They may also tend to have dismount accidents with banging the jewels on the top-tube as well. So shops tend to select smaller frames for new riders to get them comfortable on the bike.

Somewhere in there, a mistaken logic-assumption was made that "Hey, they're fitting people on smaller-than-traditional bikes, smaller is better and even smaller is best". New racers also make the mistaken assumption that smaller frames are lighter and stiffer, therefore must be better, so smallest is best. What they don't realize is that it's the frame-only that may be stiffer, such as from the seat-collar clamp to the BB or the headtube to BB. However, when you attach a long untriangulated cantilever arm of a seatpost and stem, the stiffness from the seat-to-BB and handlebar-to-BB is not as stiff or as light. Seatpost/stem tubing is much thicker and heavier than equivalent-length of triangulated frame-tubing.

So about 3-4 years ago, we saw this "smaller is better" trend reach a peak with the compact-frame designs. If it continued, we'd all be riding mixte frames . However, logic and rational has been regained and we're starting to see a reserval of the trend. Many and numerous threads have been posted with photos by people who are having comfort issues due to being too cramped. They've been advised that their frame that fit fine when they first bought the bike is too small for a more fit rider. Adding a longer stem helped a lot of times as people got stronger and more flexible. However, the too-low of handlebars due to too-small a frame can't be easily rectified unless you get a new fork with longer steerer and big stack of spacers or a high-rise stem.

Besides, measuring a seat-tube length for bike-fit is silly IMHO. It's based upon standover height and how much of your riding time is spend standing and straddling bike anyway? Most of the time, you're riding it, so I think top-tube length and total-reach is a more important measurement anyway. In my shop, we measured people and suggested frames with 1" crotch clearance. Personally for my own bikes I measure for top-tube length first and end up with frames that pushes slightly on the bottom of the sack when I'm standing (with cleats & shoes on). This ends up giving me a nice comfortable fit with a 130-135mm horizontal stem and minimal 2" handlebar-drop from the seat.

Last edited by DannoXYZ; 02-17-06 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 02-17-06, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Fads go in cycles, litterally. Back in the "Breaking Away" days, the bike-boom hasn't started yet and most bikers were serious tourers or racers. They've had years of riding under their belt and their bodies are strong and flexible.

Then we enter the bike-boom of the '80s and saw an explosion of popularity with tonnes of new riders entering the market.
I believe that most folks would consider the mid 1970s to be the bike boom years.
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Old 02-17-06, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Olebiker
I believe that most folks would consider the mid 1970s to be the bike boom years.
I remember "center pull brakes" were the recommended and featured component of any sport touring bike during that era. Even department store bikes were of decent quality, mainly from Japan, England, France, and even Italy...
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Old 02-17-06, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Olebiker
I believe that most folks would consider the mid 1970s to be the bike boom years.
+1
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Old 02-17-06, 06:04 PM
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anyone notice that all the members of team cutters could use the same bike in the last race scene, even the kid who keeps getting dogged for being small?
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Old 02-17-06, 09:34 PM
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I'll have to rent the movie to be sure but the last time I saw it I think he was using his 42 chainring when he was drafting the truck at 55mph.
When I got my CrossCheck in 2003, I purposely went for a larger frame than what would normally be spec'd. I too have about a fist-full of seatpost showing but the fit is right on.Until now, the majority of my riding was from the 70's and early 80's.
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Old 02-17-06, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by thebankman
anyone notice that all the members of team cutters could use the same bike in the last race scene, even the kid who keeps getting dogged for being small?
The race is the Little 500, a real race. The one bike thing is part of its unique charm:

Originally Posted by Little 500 Web Site
"The Little 500 includes both a 200 lap men's and 100 lap women's race on a quarter mile cinder track. Entrants are given one-speed Roadmaster bicycles which have to meet rigid specifications in order to be used. Teams are made up of as many as four riders. The riders treat the race much like a running relay; when one rider is tired, s/he exchanges the bicycle with a teammate."
Read all about it: http://iusf.bloomington.com/little5frm2.html
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Old 02-18-06, 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Fred Smedley
+1
I'll +2 with the qualifier that it was a roadie boom, carried into the mid-80s and prolly brought a bunch of new riders into the sport.
The 80's boom was clearly an MTB thang and fueled mostly by all the riders who wanted 'in' on the new ride.
In all, its all good - not only do we have more ways and places to ride, but more ways to gear up. Some good stuff and ideas come from both booms.
On the negative side, bike shops will still sell you EXACTLY what you desire, even if it isn't the best thing for you for real riding. So ... in the 70's many noobs insisted on the largest bike they could almost straddle. Now they insist on the tiniest piece of Gas Pipe they can scrunch up on. With the end result being that riding becomes 2ndary to the problems of figuring out what is not quite right.

Breakin Away is so special that the liberties taken, like the semi drafting scene, are inconsequential to the riches it carries. In way less than 2 hours it covers so many 'human' topics in ways that make us realize that growing up, no matter the age, is a difficult place to get to. And it uses our favorite magic carpet.
I don;t even have to be looking at the screen, all I need to hear is the light clicking of Dave's chain and cogs to be carried to the remembrance of that magic place - the ride.
Doesn't get any better.
And all done without even a hint of an appearance of a firearm... hollywood still hasn't learned many lessons from this gem.
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Old 02-18-06, 03:24 AM
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Hey, the pump in the spokes was pretty deadly...
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Old 02-18-06, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Hey, the pump in the spokes was pretty deadly...
I'm still mad about that one. I haven't touched Cinzano in 26 years.
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Old 02-18-06, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Fads go in cycles, litterally. Back in the "Breaking Away" days, the bike-boom hasn't started yet and most bikers were serious tourers or racers. They've had years of riding under their belt and their bodies are strong and flexible.
I think you are making a mistake by defining "bikers" in "most bikers" as those who consider themselves the only REAL CYCLISTS "the serious tourers or racers," a relative handful of cyclists, then as well as now.
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Old 02-18-06, 10:40 AM
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i'd go so far as to say breaking away was one of the factors that helped spurn the bike boom.
ciao papa
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Old 02-18-06, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by DCCommuter
I'm still mad about that one. I haven't touched Cinzano in 26 years.
And today Cinzano would have sued for defamation...more's the pity.

Cheers,

Brian
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Old 02-18-06, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Surferbruce
i'd go so far as to say breaking away was one of the factors that helped spurn the bike boom.
ciao papa
You can go that far if you like, but of course not have a shred of evidence to support such a claim. Its about the same as claiming that anything that happens at the TDF will effect longterm cycling in the US, except perhaps for causing a temporary blip in the sales of be-like-Lance wannabe equipment.
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Old 02-18-06, 03:04 PM
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After watching this movie for first time week go it was impossible to not be angry when the italian dude gets that blue pump out. you kjnow what he's going to do with it too as soon as you see it. that made me so mad, team cutters 4 ever!
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Old 02-18-06, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Surferbruce
i'd go so far as to say breaking away was one of the factors that helped spurn the bike boom.
ciao papa
Interesting theory. A movie that came out what, 8 or 9 years after the bike boom began spurred, or spawned, or whatever it is you meant, the bike boom. Interesting.
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Old 02-18-06, 07:40 PM
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easy there cheesy. maybe it didn't spawn or spur or spurn the bike boom, but i'm sure it spiked road bike sales, not to mention campy cycling hats.
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Old 02-18-06, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
Hey, the pump in the spokes was pretty deadly...
So cheating has migrated from pumps in spokes to drugs...
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Old 02-18-06, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Surferbruce
easy there cheesy. maybe it didn't spawn or spur or spurn the bike boom, but i'm sure it spiked road bike sales, not to mention campy cycling hats.
Easy cheesy, that's me.

I'm not saying it didn't help spur interest in bikes, but as far as I can recall, without actually looking anything up at this moment, the '70s bike boom was over by maybe '75 or '76. I imagine by '79, ze French were feeling a bit spurned.

Bonjour, papa.
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