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Why do you ride that old steel road bike?

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Why do you ride that old steel road bike?

Old 04-13-13, 03:14 AM
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Burton
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
For what it is worth I personally think some of the mid 80s lugged frame bikes with their down tube shifters were some of the most beautiful and cleanest looking bikes ever built.
Bingo!

And to that I'd like to add that in the mid 1980's, some of the best cyclists around the world were competing and winning medals on steel bikes with DT shifters without the benifit of STI's. Personally I find it funny that so many cyclists today don't consider such a machine a 'real' bicycle.
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Old 04-13-13, 09:32 AM
  #152  
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
Bingo!

And to that I'd like to add that in the mid 1980's, some of the best cyclists around the world were competing and winning medals on steel bikes with DT shifters without the benifit of STI's. Personally I find it funny that so many cyclists today don't consider such a machine a 'real' bicycle.
Hell, in the late 80s and early 90s, some of the best cyclists in the world were winning on steel bikes with DT shifters while competing against riders equipped with STI and "alternative" materials. Try mentioning that over on the road forum and see how emotional the responses get.
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Old 04-13-13, 10:15 AM
  #153  
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
Bingo!

And to that I'd like to add that in the mid 1980's, some of the best cyclists around the world were competing and winning medals on steel bikes with DT shifters without the benifit of STI's. Personally I find it funny that so many cyclists today don't consider such a machine a 'real' bicycle.
Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
Hell, in the late 80s and early 90s, some of the best cyclists in the world were winning on steel bikes with DT shifters while competing against riders equipped with STI and "alternative" materials. Try mentioning that over on the road forum and see how emotional the responses get.
Just more proof that it's not about the machine. I'll bet a lot of these pros have themselves a good laugh when they see these cycling prima donnas- recreational riders on $10K bikes obsessing over millimeters and ounces and how aero their wristwatch is..... Don't get me wrong: I like STI and think that it is one of the few truly useful and worthwhile cycling inventions of the last 75 years....but there's nothing detrimental about DT shifters, and I don't know what it is, but ya just can't beat the beauty of a nice vintage steel bike. Even if I liked modern CF bikes, I still wouldn't ride one, just because that is what EVERYONE else is riding.

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Old 04-13-13, 10:45 AM
  #154  
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Originally Posted by MetalPedaler View Post
.... Don't get me wrong: I like STI and think that it is one of the few truly useful and worthwhile cycling inventions of the last 75 years....but there's nothing detrimental about DT shifters, and I don't know what it is, but ya just can't beat the beauty of a nice vintage steel bike. ..
Levers, pulleys and gears...its the mechanical directness and simplicity that is appealing, to me at least. STIs, while quite technically clever & ergonomically efficient, are far more complex with most of the mechanism is hidden and shrouded in mystery (inside the housing).

When you move a lever back and forth, only one thing happens, the cable moves. One look at the mechanism makes this plainly obvious. When you flap the STI's around, a bunch of smaller hidden levers, linkages, and indexes roll around to actuate the cable. Since few people directly service their STIs, we trust that what is supposed to happen inside there does happen. How many of us actually understand everything that is going on inside those hoods to make a lever action control both shifting and braking.

I imagine at some point in the future, the bicycle scientists will finally find a way to eliminiate those heavy chains and gears in a way that actually increases performance via the soon-to-be-discovered quantum tele-molecular rotational dynamics. When that time arrives, there will be people arguing the virtues of the mechanical simplicity found in old fashioned gears and chains because they like seeing all the parts move around.

The fact of the matter is that most people don't care about the mechanics as long as it works. Others, like me, enjoy seeing all the parts move around.

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Old 04-13-13, 11:11 AM
  #155  
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Originally Posted by jjvw View Post
Levers, pulleys and gears...its the mechanical directness and simplicity that is appealing, to me at least. STIs, while quite technically clever & ergonomically efficient, are far more complex with most of the mechanism is hidden and shrouded in mystery (inside the housing).

When you move a lever back and forth, only one thing happens, the cable moves. One look at the mechanism makes this plainly obvious. When you flap the STI's around, a bunch of smaller hidden levers, linkages, and indexes roll around to actuate the cable. Since few people directly service their STIs, we trust that what is supposed to happen inside there does happen. How many of us actually understand everything that is going on inside those hoods to make a lever action control both shifting and braking.

The fact of the matter is that most people don't care about the mechanics as long as it works. Others, like me, enjoy seeing all the parts move around.

I imagine at some point in the future, the bicycle scientists will finally find a way to eliminiate those heavy chains and gears in a way that actually increases performance via the soon-to-be-discovered quantum tele-molecular rotational dynamics. When that time arrives, there will be people arguing the virtues of the mechanical simplicity in old fashioned gears and chains because they like seeing the parts move around.
This is so true! The two aspects of cycling that I cherish most, are the freedom and the simplicity. I mean, you couldn't GIVE me Di2- I wouldn't want it for free- it would ruin the whole experience of riding a bike, for me. I was thinking that maybe STI has spoiled me- and they're still pretty simple....but like you say, there's just something about the direct simplicity of DTs- a functional beauty. I've always been of the opinion that the best way to do something is the simplest way that will accomplish what you need done, and with the fewest moving parts...and DTs sure fit the bill.

I haven't ridden a bike with DT shifters in decades- being new to cycling as an adult- but my next bike will be a vintage steel one, likely with DTs- and I have a feeling I won't be disappointed, even after being used to STI. To tell you the truth, when I got my first real road bike a year ago, it was my first time using STI- and i didn't like it at first! Guess I got used to it- but when you think about it, those long throws of the levers that you need in order to shift with them seems pretty inefficient compared to the hair of a movement that you need to shift DTs.

When I get my next bike with DTs, I'll be sure and get a bottle of champagne to celebrate...and carry it through the streets, yelling "I have the DT.s!"

EDIT: And STI wears out. DTs last forever!

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Old 04-13-13, 11:19 AM
  #156  
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Thinking more about this: A bicycle is a living connection to the past. It is 100 year-old technology, which still works fine today. Mixing space-age materials and computerized gizmos to that technology does not make it better. Kinda like the NYC subways- they were more reliable when they were being run with rolling stock from 1913 and the plain, simple mechanical railroad infrastructure. Today, they use state-of-the-art highly computerized semi-robotic trains and computerized high-tech signals which cost hundreds of millions of dollars....and the system is now a shambles- with maintenance, upgrade and repair work literally never ending, and forcing a constant disruption of normal service...forever.

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Old 04-13-13, 11:44 AM
  #157  
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Originally Posted by MetalPedaler View Post
Thinking more about this: A bicycle is a living connection to the past. It is 100 year-old technology, which still works fine today. Mixing space-age materials and computerized gizmos to that technology does not make it better. Kinda like the NYC subways- they were more reliable when they were being run with rolling stock from 1913 and the plain, simple mechanical railroad infrastructure. Today, they use state-of-the-art highly computerized semi-robotic trains and computerized high-tech signals which cost hundreds of millions of dollars....and the system is now a shambles- with maintenance, upgrade and repair work literally never ending, and forcing a constant disruption of normal service...forever.
Good grief.

Actually, mixing space-age materials with the elegant simplicity of the bicycle does make it better. I can imagine you fifty years ago telling everyone that aluminium rims were new-fangled nonsense and that everyone should have stuck to steel. After all, stopping safely and reliably is just an optional extra, right?

I love old bikes. I used to ride around on a 1984 Raleigh Royal - Reynolds 531, downtube shifters, six-speed block. Perhaps the most comfortable bike I ever owned. I'd still be riding it had some idiot in a Toyota not driven into me last year. RIP Raleigh. But to suggest that it wouldn't have been an even better bike with a modern groupset is just nonsense.
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Old 04-13-13, 11:59 AM
  #158  
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Good grief.

Actually, mixing space-age materials with the elegant simplicity of the bicycle does make it better. I can imagine you fifty years ago telling everyone that aluminium rims were new-fangled nonsense and that everyone should have stuck to steel. After all, stopping safely and reliably is just an optional extra, right?

I love old bikes. I used to ride around on a 1984 Raleigh Royal - Reynolds 531, downtube shifters, six-speed block. Perhaps the most comfortable bike I ever owned. I'd still be riding it had some idiot in a Toyota not driven into me last year. RIP Raleigh. But to suggest that it wouldn't have been an even better bike with a modern groupset is just nonsense.
But...but...I couldn't even talk 50 years ago....

I had enough steel-wheeled bikes as a kid..... Steel wheels I can do without!

While modern groupsets can be nice....is there REALLY that much of a difference? The only truly i indispensable improvement, IMO, are nice ergonomic rubberized hoods.
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Old 04-13-13, 12:15 PM
  #159  
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Didn't need one, but $25 @ a storage sale and the tires still hold air. Paid more for locks and lubes.
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Old 04-13-13, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MetalPedaler View Post
But...but...I couldn't even talk 50 years ago....

I had enough steel-wheeled bikes as a kid..... Steel wheels I can do without!

While modern groupsets can be nice....is there REALLY that much of a difference? The only truly i indispensable improvement, IMO, are nice ergonomic rubberized hoods.
Very little is indispensible. But "not indispensible" does not mean the same as "no better". I am happy enough riding with DT shifters and big steps between the sprockets on a five-speed block. But I am more happy riding with STi shifters and a close-ratio 10-speed cassette. It makes me only marginally faster, and (a bit less marginally) more comfortable, because I am most of the time in the "perfect" gear. Marginal gains, but gains...
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Old 04-13-13, 12:36 PM
  #161  
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Very little is indispensible. But "not indispensible" does not mean the same as "no better". I am happy enough riding with DT shifters and big steps between the sprockets on a five-speed block. But I am more happy riding with STi shifters and a close-ratio 10-speed cassette. It makes me only marginally faster, and (a bit less marginally) more comfortable, because I am most of the time in the "perfect" gear. Marginal gains, but gains...
Good point. 5-speed cassettes are a little lacking...even for me- and I'm not one to worry about cadence; and I do about 50% of my shifting with the FD..... Although I never had any complaints backin the day when that was all we had. Maybe all these niceties just make us weaker- just like air conditioning. I lived my entire life up till 10 years ago without ever having A/C in my house....but now that I have it, i wouldn't live without it. Makes me wish I had never gotten it.
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Old 04-13-13, 03:50 PM
  #162  
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I tend to get caught in the "faster vs. better" trap: I personally think STI is "better" in the sense that it's more convenient for most cyclists. But I also don't personally think it makes most cyclists "faster", except under certain specific circumstances. I'd say the same for 10 speed vs. 9 or 8 speed, clipless vs. clips and straps, and a number of other things. Heck, I use wood rims on a regular basis and they work as well as anything else - and are lighter than most, including just about any of the aero rims that are all the rage these days.

Short version: A good argument can be had about whether something is faster, lighter, stronger, more reliable - but "better" is so subjective that a debate about it can't be much more than the trading of opinions. (And mine are the only opinions which are correct, BTW.)
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Old 04-13-13, 04:01 PM
  #163  
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
Short version: A good argument can be had about whether something is faster, lighter, stronger, more reliable - but "better" is so subjective that a debate about it can't be much more than the trading of opinions. (And mine are the only opinions which are correct, BTW.)
I completely agree. Unfortunately, this indicates that your statement is false.
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Old 04-13-13, 04:30 PM
  #164  
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
I tend to get caught in the "faster vs. better" trap: I personally think STI is "better" in the sense that it's more convenient for most cyclists. But I also don't personally think it makes most cyclists "faster", except under certain specific circumstances. I'd say the same for 10 speed vs. 9 or 8 speed, clipless vs. clips and straps, and a number of other things. Heck, I use wood rims on a regular basis and they work as well as anything else - and are lighter than most, including just about any of the aero rims that are all the rage these days.

Short version: A good argument can be had about whether something is faster, lighter, stronger, more reliable - but "better" is so subjective that a debate about it can't be much more than the trading of opinions. (And mine are the only opinions which are correct, BTW.)
Your opinion is obviously correct, because it agrees with mine!

But what you say is the xact point I've often tried to make to other cyclists; a point which they either can't grasp- or refuse to. The differences which make something "better" in cycling, are often so small and subtle; and have so little an impact on actual performance, that it's ridiculous to argue about such thing; better just to admit that it's more about aesthetics and perception.
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Old 04-13-13, 08:11 PM
  #165  
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Originally Posted by MetalPedaler View Post
Thinking more about this: A bicycle is a living connection to the past. It is 100 year-old technology, which still works fine today. Mixing space-age materials and computerized gizmos to that technology does not make it better. Kinda like the NYC subways- they were more reliable when they were being run with rolling stock from 1913 and the plain, simple mechanical railroad infrastructure. Today, they use state-of-the-art highly computerized semi-robotic trains and computerized high-tech signals which cost hundreds of millions of dollars....and the system is now a shambles- with maintenance, upgrade and repair work literally never ending, and forcing a constant disruption of normal service...forever.
Can't speak for NYC, but I did live in Chicago for 5 years. The biggest mechanical issues with their trains was the inability to keep pace with the constant maintenance needed on a crumbling century old rail infrastructure. Fancy high tech train cars aren't going to help or hurt anything until the tracks get fixed. I imagine NYC, Boston, Paris, etc are all in a similar boat. In this case, massive upgrades along with proper maintenance will make the subways better than they ever were.
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Old 04-13-13, 08:29 PM
  #166  
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Originally Posted by jjvw View Post
Can't speak for NYC, but I did live in Chicago for 5 years. The biggest mechanical issues with their trains was the inability to keep pace with the constant maintenance needed on a crumbling century old rail infrastructure. Fancy high tech train cars aren't going to help or hurt anything until the tracks get fixed. I imagine NYC, Boston, Paris, etc are all in a similar boat. In this case, massive upgrades along with proper maintenance will make the subways better than they ever were.
That was indeed the case with NY in the 70's- City on the verge of bankruptcy- zero maintenance for many years. That's all been fixed long ago. Now, the delicate nature of the equipment, and the need for more intense maintenance/repairs/upgrades is causing far bigger delays/reroutes/unreliability than anything ya'd experience in the 70's, when most cars were still from the 1940's.

[I used to be a subway fan, + my best friend back there fixes subway cars for a living]
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Old 04-13-13, 08:30 PM
  #167  
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Originally Posted by MetalPedaler View Post
Your opinion is obviously correct, because it agrees with mine!

But what you say is the xact point I've often tried to make to other cyclists; a point which they either can't grasp- or refuse to. The differences which make something "better" in cycling, are often so small and subtle; and have so little an impact on actual performance, that it's ridiculous to argue about such thing; better just to admit that it's more about aesthetics and perception.
I think the moral of the story is that when you spend ten grand on the latest greatest, you end up with some pretty serious emotional investment as well. The guy on Bicycling magazine's "best bike ever!!!" doesn't want to hear anything about how his bike might not be the fastest thing on two wheels - let alone have it proved to him by some guy with DT shifters.
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Old 04-13-13, 08:48 PM
  #168  
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
I think the moral of the story is that when you spend ten grand on the latest greatest, you end up with some pretty serious emotional investment as well. The guy on Bicycling magazine's "best bike ever!!!" doesn't want to hear anything about how his bike might not be the fastest thing on two wheels - let alone have it proved to him by some guy with DT shifters.
And I guess the big question is - should any of it really matter? Some people buy Porches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis - other people collect classic MGs, Triumphs, Mustangs or RR cars. None of it in itself makes anyone a professional race car driver but it does deliver some level of personal pride and a connection with something mechanical. As long as individuals respect each others choices - it really doesn't bother me. A few people may feel thay have something to prove - but that probably has nothing to do with bicycles.
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Old 04-13-13, 08:58 PM
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It matters (to me, anyway) only when the world's-best-bicycle guy gets obnoxious about it, making ridiculous claims and suggesting that "that old steel bike" is fit only for riding to the market.

Otherwise I agree with you.
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Old 04-13-13, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
And I guess the big question is - should any of it really matter? Some people buy Porches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis - other people collect classic MGs, Triumphs, Mustangs or RR cars. None of it in itself makes anyone a professional race car driver but it does deliver some level of personal pride and a connection with something mechanical. As long as individuals respect each others choices - it really doesn't bother me. A few people may feel thay have something to prove - but that probably has nothing to do with bicycles.
I have no problem with people getting whatever they want- but what saddens me, is when new people come into the sport, and don't have a clue....and think, from the actions of others that they "need" certain things just to achieve a decent level of performance or enjoyment. So you'll see some college student buying $2K wheels...or, like a poster I saw on another forum recently: some poor schlepp getting into cycling, and wondering why he is getting passed by everyone else on his rides- and his local bike shop guy tells him that he needs $1000 in upgrades, then he'll be able to keep up.

Like I always say: I like my Klein Quantum Race with Dura Ace well enough- and while it "feels" fast....there' really no actual difference when I ride my $300 Bikesdirect bike with Sora/2300. So just as long as people realize that most of what they are buying is feel; perception; psychology and image, and are thus making an informed decision...that's good- but I think a lot of people- even ones who have been cycling for a while, take a long time to figure this out.
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Old 04-15-13, 02:29 AM
  #171  
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there are some universal and genuine advantages in exact frame fit to the riders body, and the the correct chainstay length and fork rake/head angle, frame compliance>for the intended use. Spending 10k+, in no way assures any of this to the best possible standard. A lot of pro carbon bikes are designed for people who can ride flat out-out of the saddle for 4 or 5 hours, almost all other riders who buy these things couldnt stand at any pace for 60 minutes.
Decent quality steel bikes tend to be a bit less extreme, to value a good balance of compliance and stiffness. More evolutionary trial and error over decades went into getting them to work well than the other materials
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Old 04-15-13, 04:34 AM
  #172  
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
It matters (to me, anyway) only when the world's-best-bicycle guy gets obnoxious about it, making ridiculous claims and suggesting that "that old steel bike" is fit only for riding to the market.
Yes, I share this view. And there is no doubt that the obsession with having the latest and lightest can result in overkill. I've been getting involved in youth racing recently. One of our boys turns up and races on a Parlee with Chris King this and that, a Di2 groupset, and Zipps. I'm thinking close to 7000 (around $10000) for the bike. The kid is thirteen years old.
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Old 04-15-13, 08:33 AM
  #173  
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Originally Posted by trescojones View Post
there are some universal and genuine advantages in exact frame fit to the riders body, and the the correct chainstay length and fork rake/head angle, frame compliance>for the intended use. Spending 10k+, in no way assures any of this to the best possible standard. A lot of pro carbon bikes are designed for people who can ride flat out-out of the saddle for 4 or 5 hours, almost all other riders who buy these things couldnt stand at any pace for 60 minutes.
Decent quality steel bikes tend to be a bit less extreme, to value a good balance of compliance and stiffness. More evolutionary trial and error over decades went into getting them to work well than the other materials
This sounds right! This is probably why old steel bikes are so darn comfortable, too. It's not just the material that they're made of- but the small details of how they were designed and built- and I'd wager that they made specifically with comfort in mind (Even the real racing ones...there's no reason you can't have comfort and performance....) and I'll bet they were designed with the average rider in mind, rather than specifically for a handful of pro racers; rather than having thousands of consumers riding a bike built for elite athletes, instead, the elite athletes were using bikes made for the average cyclist....sort of like stock-car racing using stock cars rather than cars specifically designed to be race cars.
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Old 04-15-13, 08:58 AM
  #174  
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Originally Posted by teufelhunden222 View Post
Hmm why ride a steel bike you say? It makes beating riders on 10k bikes just that much sweeter.
A couple of days ago, I was engaged in one of those inevitable Cat 6 commuter races, near the end of my ride home. I regained the lead right at the end. He dismounted to take it across the railroad crossing.
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Old 04-15-13, 09:30 AM
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chasm54
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Originally Posted by MetalPedaler View Post
This sounds right! This is probably why old steel bikes are so darn comfortable, too. It's not just the material that they're made of- but the small details of how they were designed and built- and I'd wager that they made specifically with comfort in mind (Even the real racing ones...there's no reason you can't have comfort and performance....) and I'll bet they were designed with the average rider in mind, rather than specifically for a handful of pro racers; rather than having thousands of consumers riding a bike built for elite athletes, instead, the elite athletes were using bikes made for the average cyclist....sort of like stock-car racing using stock cars rather than cars specifically designed to be race cars.
Actually, when it comes to road bikes, I don't think this is right. The geometry of my current carbon race bike is very similar indeed to the geometry of the old-school racers as far as headtube and seat tube angles, effective top tube etc. are concerned. It looks different - huge plastic tubes, compact frame design and so on - but in its essentials it isn't any more aggressive.

I'm talking road bikes, of course. The bikes that most people rode to work were more like what we would now call hybrids, with flat bars and a more upright riding position. And of the drop handlebar variety, I suspect (but my memory may be faulty) that more people rode what we would now call touring bikes than is the case today. And of course, those bikes had longer wheelbases and more relaxed geometry.
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