Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

How much better are todays components and frames compared to the 70s/80s?

Notices
Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

How much better are todays components and frames compared to the 70s/80s?

Old 05-04-16, 05:34 PM
  #1  
Inpd
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 1,825
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 398 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
How much better are todays components and frames compared to the 70s/80s?

I'm curious how today's frames, FD, RD, Brakes, Wheelsets, Shifters etc. compare with their equivalent from 30-40 years ago.

Whilst riding my Breezer Venturi today I was amazed how good modern day components were: the 105 groupset shifts reliably and precisely, the Campy Khashims wheels spin beautifully, the BB is smooth and brakes stop me quickly etc.

The Grupo cost all of $350 and the wheelset all of $120.

Were components always this good at this price point or is this a result of modern technology?

Same question for frames.
Inpd is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 06:01 PM
  #2  
12strings
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Madison, IN
Posts: 1,351

Bikes: 2015 Jamis Quest Comp

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 269 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It's all better, overall, if you are talking about real bike brands...big box stores are another story...their quality has, in general, gone down.

I'm going to say that in 1980, the quality difference between a big box huffy and a legitimate schwinn/Raleigh, etc.... Was not as wide as it currently is between a denalli and a cannondale, for example.

So back then, getting a good quality bike was more affordable for average folks. Also, inflation from what I've looked up looks like it is now up3.5-4x 1980 amounts...so I don't know of there were a lot of 2-3k bikes back then to compare to today's 6-10k bikes...perhaps someone older than me will remember.
12strings is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 06:03 PM
  #3  
DOS
Senior Member
 
DOS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Arlington, VA USA
Posts: 1,839
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 147 Post(s)
Liked 17 Times in 15 Posts
Index shifters, brakes and clipless pedals are significant upgrades from a performance standpoint. Frames are lighter and stiffer but you can still have a lovely bike built on an old steel frame.
DOS is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 06:04 PM
  #4  
texaspandj
Senior Member
 
texaspandj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Heart Of Texas
Posts: 3,427

Bikes: '86 , '87 , '88 , '89 Centurion Dave Scott Ironman.

Mentioned: 90 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1164 Post(s)
Liked 75 Times in 59 Posts
Good question. In my opinion the main difference is weight and durability/reliability. The newer components are lighter and the original 105 with SIS and SLR levers are more durable/reliable.
Frames same thing. Newer carbon are lighter and older steel more durable/reliable.
So it depends what you think better is.
If you change bikes out every season or like to keep up with the latest or lightest components newer is 25% better as that is about how much lighter the new bikes are compared to older steel bikes.

Last edited by texaspandj; 05-04-16 at 06:18 PM.
texaspandj is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 06:08 PM
  #5  
ThermionicScott 
hungry
 
ThermionicScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: CID
Posts: 19,001

Bikes: 1991 Bianchi Eros, 1964 Armstrong, 1988 Diamondback Ascent, 1988 Bianchi Premio, 1987 Bianchi Sport SX, 1980s Raleigh mixte (hers)

Mentioned: 75 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2276 Post(s)
Liked 243 Times in 188 Posts
41% better.
__________________
Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
RUSA #7498
ThermionicScott is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 06:12 PM
  #6  
Carbonfiberboy 
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 15,238

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 95 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1930 Post(s)
Liked 83 Times in 68 Posts
Big difference IMO. Tires are #1 . Cars are the same that way. DOHC engines date from the 20's but modern tires are what really make the difference. Sealed bearings! Cassettes! Brifters! Large capacity RDs! Triples! Wider and deeper wheels! Not as big a difference in brakes. Frames, I dunno. Expensive frames have been very good for a long time. Carbon is really nice but I don't think the difference is as large as that of components.
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 06:37 PM
  #7  
mcours2006
Senior Member
 
mcours2006's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 5,767

Bikes: Giant Rapid, Bianchi Advantage, Specialized Roubaix, 1985 Gardin Quatro, Norco Threshold, Raleigh Serengheti MTB

Mentioned: 45 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1781 Post(s)
Liked 88 Times in 50 Posts
I was going to say that you could get much more bike today you could 30 years ago, but turns out it's not that different after plugging in the numbers.

My Gardin cost me $550 back in 1986. Steel frame with Gardin house-brand component and tubulars. I really wanted 105's but the were out of budget. Factor in 2% inflation for the last 30 years and you would have just over $1000, which could get you a decent Al frame with Tiagra; again, to get 105 you might have to shell out another $200-300.

With regard to quality and reliability, of course both have improved. But in relative term, things haven't changed all that much.
mcours2006 is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 07:08 PM
  #8  
rms13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SoCal
Posts: 6,517
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 273 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by texaspandj View Post
Good question. In my opinion the main difference is weight and durability/reliability. The newer components are lighter and the original 105 with SIS and SLR levers are more durable/reliable.
Frames same thing. Newer carbon are lighter and older steel more durable/reliable.
So it depends what you think better is.
If you change bikes out every season or like to keep up with the latest or lightest components newer is 25% better as that is about how much lighter the new bikes are compared to older steel bikes.


I've seen plenty of bike with original 30-40 year old components that work great. I'd say they were more durable and reliable if only because they were more simple. Not much to go wrong with friction shifters
rms13 is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 07:22 PM
  #9  
StanSeven
Administrator
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Delaware shore
Posts: 13,177

Bikes: Cervelo C5, Guru Photon, Waterford, Specialized CX

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 616 Post(s)
Liked 57 Times in 49 Posts
Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
I've seen plenty of bike with original 30-40 year old components that work great. I'd say they were more durable and reliable if only because they were more simple. Not much to go wrong with friction shifters
Too simple. I occassionally did a hilly route with my 2 x five speed freewheel and friction shifters. There was a sharp turn with a steep uphill that surprised me. I would reach for the shifter and quickly try shifting. A nudge and nothing. Then another quick nudge standing and nothing. By then the hill was quickly steep and another nudge and it shifts two gears at once. Compare that with Di2 and it's a light touch for either the rear or front - quick and 100% shifts.
StanSeven is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 08:31 PM
  #10  
rms13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SoCal
Posts: 6,517
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 273 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
Too simple. I occassionally did a hilly route with my 2 x five speed freewheel and friction shifters. There was a sharp turn with a steep uphill that surprised me. I would reach for the shifter and quickly try shifting. A nudge and nothing. Then another quick nudge standing and nothing. By then the hill was quickly steep and another nudge and it shifts two gears at once. Compare that with Di2 and it's a light touch for either the rear or front - quick and 100% shifts.
Not saying old is better just that it's pretty reliable and durable.
rms13 is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 08:52 PM
  #11  
StanSeven
Administrator
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Delaware shore
Posts: 13,177

Bikes: Cervelo C5, Guru Photon, Waterford, Specialized CX

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 616 Post(s)
Liked 57 Times in 49 Posts
Absolutely. The parts last and last, especially old chains versus the narrow ones on 10/11 cassettes of today.
StanSeven is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 11:06 PM
  #12  
DGlenday
Senior Member
 
DGlenday's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Frederick, MD
Posts: 1,248

Bikes: Cannondale, Trek

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 33 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I had good quality equipment in the mid 70s. Carlton professional with all Campagnolo, Cinelli bars and saddle, etc.

I didn't ride at all for 35 years.

I bought a CAAD with 105 ... and thought I was in heaven. Back in the 70s, we would have KILLED for equipment that good.

Now I have a quality carbon bike with Ultegra, and appreciate it immensely ... and I get POd when people say that the new stuff isn't any better than the old. It's better in every way!
DGlenday is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 11:16 PM
  #13  
HTupolev
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 2,888
Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1284 Post(s)
Liked 91 Times in 60 Posts
Originally Posted by Inpd View Post
I'm curious how today's frames
Typically lighter, and in some cases shaped for better aero. Typically stiffer from cranks to rear dropouts, although the extent to which this actually matters is debatable.

FD
Nowadays uses clever shaping to encourage the chain to ramp between rings. With friction levers it's not a big deal to do a bit of overshifting, so FDs were mostly built with straight cages and it just worked.

RD
As gear counts have increased, there's been good reason to widen the gearing range, which means more chain wrap and longer cages.

Another change is that modern RDs tend to have some lateral play, allowing the jockey wheel to auto-center to a degree. This helps indexing work nicely without extremely precise components and constant adjustment.

Brakes
WAY BETTER.

Single-pivot calipers get jostled around easily and thus can't be set very tight, they require a tool to re-center adjust, and have power issues. Dual-pivot calipers just plain work better in general.

Wheelsets
A lot of wheels have comparable basic design besides the hubs, although sealed cartridge bearings are now a big thing, which is nice if you want to ease maintenance and make riding in adverse conditions less nasty for the bike.

We've also seen a rise in cool specialized wheelsets, such as disc wheels, and wheels with very tough rims that can bear extreme stress with low spoke counts.

Shifters
Indexing can allow you to shift with more confidence, faster and with less likelihood of a mistake. Moving the brakes and shifters together allows for cycling with more confidence and less hand motion.

the BB is smooth
That's nothing unique to modern bikes. Loose ball cup-and-cone BBs are sort of annoying to maintain, but they're quite smooth.

Were components always this good at this price point or is this a result of modern technology?
Tech trickles down; a $1000 bike today is by and large better than a bike of the equivalent inflation-adjusted cost in the 70s.

Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
Absolutely. The parts last and last, especially old chains versus the narrow ones on 10/11 cassettes of today.
The chains themselves are plenty durable these days. Sprockets are sometimes weaker, since the teeth are so narrow (both because of chain width, and to shape things for better shifting performance).
HTupolev is offline  
Old 05-04-16, 11:58 PM
  #14  
Dave Cutter
Senior Member
 
Dave Cutter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: D'uh... I am a Cutter
Posts: 6,163

Bikes: '17 Access Old Turnpike Gravel bike, '14 Trek 1.1, '13 Cannondale CAAD 10, '98 CAD 2, R300

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1569 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by Inpd View Post
Whilst riding my Breezer Venturi today I was amazed how good modern day components were: the 105 groupset shifts reliably and precisely, the Campy Khashims wheels spin beautifully, the BB is smooth and brakes stop me quickly etc.
I once visited (in 1970) the (formerly bombed) ball bearing factory in Schweinfurt Germany. Less than 100 years ago it was the high-tech center of Hitler's war machine.

Ball bearings are much better today on modern bicycles (IMHO) than the old vintage bikes. Bearing are made to a higher standard of precision compared to the bikes of 30+ years ago.
Dave Cutter is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 06:11 AM
  #15  
Garfield Cat
Senior Member
 
Garfield Cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Posts: 6,863

Bikes: Cervelo Prodigy

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 362 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 8 Posts
Yes, its the cumulative effect of technological advances. But not all riders can detect or experience these differences between those 35 + years of changes.
Garfield Cat is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 06:50 AM
  #16  
Phil_gretz
Journeyman Bike Commuter
 
Phil_gretz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 5,186

Bikes: '71 Jeunet 630, '79 Peugeot PXN10LE, '88 Fuji Saratoga, '13 Motobecane Fantom29 HT, '16 Motobecane Turino Pro Disc, '16 Motobecane Gran Premio Elite, '18 Velobuild VB-R-022

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 633 Post(s)
Liked 143 Times in 88 Posts
It's a really good question to discuss while drinking a post-ride beer. I agree wholeheartedly with the discussion above ^ that the individual parts really are advanced in their design, just slightly so much better in most areas.

On the other hand, the experience of riding a fine vintage bike is still enjoyable, if one has a mind for it.

Hyperglide cog teeth were a pretty big shifting innovation. As was the slant parallelogram rear derailleur. I really agree that clincher tire quality is better today. Ergonomic needs, in general, are better met with today's designs.
Phil_gretz is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 07:29 AM
  #17  
Sidney Porter
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 510
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It is a hard question yo answer objectively. Take shifters comparing a 2x5 down tube to a modern bike with brifters they can both shift smoothly. The down tube is more durable because there isn't much to it. But the brifters allow more gears are easier to use but are more expensive and by having more parts less durable.
Sidney Porter is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 12:14 PM
  #18  
Maelochs
Senior Member
 
Maelochs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 11,459

Bikes: 2015 Workswell 066, 2014 Dawes Sheila, 1983 Cannondale 500, 1984 Raleigh Olympian, 2007 Cannondale Rize 4, 2017 Fuji Sportif 1 LE

Mentioned: 137 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5463 Post(s)
Liked 118 Times in 79 Posts
I think we have here the first 20-page thread of the month of May.
Maelochs is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 12:29 PM
  #19  
Hiro11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,072

Bikes: To the right: opinions, not facts.

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 462 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 35 Times in 22 Posts
Much better:
Shifting
Braking
Tires
Rims
Removable faceplate stems
Titanium anything (titanium back in the day was terrible)
Alloy frames (early Al alloy was fairly terrible, modern alloy is excellent)

A bit better:
Cables & Housing
Chain reliability
Saddles (back in the day, the average saddle was uncomfortable, now the average saddle is acceptable)

Not really any better but no worse:
Drop-in headsets vs pressed-in cups
Clamp-on stems vs. quill stems
Clipless pedals vs. old clipless pedals
Steel metallurgy
Brifter (I hate that word) set ups. DT-based shifters were foolproof and very, very reliable but shifting without moving your hands is nice.
Indexing. After thirty+ years of riding indexed drivetrains, I'm still unconvinced that friction is any worse. Unless you're racing.

Slightly worse:
Pressfit hub bearings vs. cup and cone
Some freehub bodies (others are great)
External cam QR levers vs. internal cams

Much worse:
Press fit bottom brackets
Non-standard seatposts with overly complicated and ineffective clamping mechanisms
Sacrificing reliability for a few grams of weight (which has always been an issue but is ridiculous these days)

Last edited by Hiro11; 05-05-16 at 12:35 PM.
Hiro11 is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 01:01 PM
  #20  
vinfix
Steel80's
 
vinfix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: NJ
Posts: 610

Bikes: Bianchi Pista, Nishiki SS, Breezer Venturi, Breezer Lightning Pro

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 41 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It's hard to generalize, because there were good & bad bikes and components in the 70s/80s just like now. I still like gear from that vintage because that's what I grew up riding. I didn't keep up with the technology for a long time, and when I got back to more regular riding, I restarted with vintage stuff. It was what I knew, and I knew how to wrench on old bikes I'd find or piece together.

But after a few years of that, I adopted the new tech one upgrade at a time- SPD pedals, Ergopower shifters, no more tubular tires, a threadless carbon fork, oversized bars, better brakes etc. Why? Because I wanted lighter, more gears (without a triple), fewer flats, stiffer yet more comfortable.

I finally bought a new bike (also a steel Venturi!), and while it doesn't make me much faster, it's a hands-down better bike than any vintage bike. Turns out they're easier to work on, too, you don't need much more than a 5 mm wrench!
vinfix is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 01:09 PM
  #21  
grolby
Senior Member
 
grolby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: BOSTON BABY
Posts: 9,644
Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 239 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
Absolutely. The parts last and last, especially old chains versus the narrow ones on 10/11 cassettes of today.
Maybe you rode fewer miles then. Those old chains were made out of cheese.
grolby is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 01:23 PM
  #22  
rmfnla
Senior Member
 
rmfnla's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: La La Land (We love it!)
Posts: 6,300

Bikes: Gilmour road, Curtlo road; both steel (of course)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 269 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by DOS View Post
Index shifters, brakes and clipless pedals are significant upgrades from a performance standpoint. Frames are lighter and stiffer but you can still have a lovely bike built on an old steel frame.
Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
I bought a CAAD with 105 ... and thought I was in heaven. Back in the 70s, we would have KILLED for equipment that good.

Now I have a quality carbon bike with Ultegra, and appreciate it immensely ... and I get POd when people say that the new stuff isn't any better than the old. It's better in every way!
Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Hyperglide cog teeth were a pretty big shifting innovation. As was the slant parallelogram rear derailleur. I really agree that clincher tire quality is better today.
__________________
Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...
rmfnla is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 01:26 PM
  #23  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,396

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6917 Post(s)
Liked 244 Times in 202 Posts
Still using the Campag (closeout) Mountain Bike derailleurs I got in 80's, on my touring bikes. ..

<C> side pull brakes on my Road Bike .. If you dont need a replica of what they race on Today , Its All Good.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-05-16 at 01:29 PM.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 02:13 PM
  #24  
American Euchre
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 569
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 242 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Shimano componentry, by the late 80's and esp. early '90's, was incredibly slick and precise.

Hyperglide was introduced in the late 80's and it was an innovation which matched the hype and then some.

Dual pivot calipers were introduced a year or two later, if I recall, and they allowed for powerful braking with very little grip pressure. At the same time, down tube indexing with hyper glide was absolutely fantastic.

I was a little less enthused about trigger shifters and the weight of drifters, but both were innovations that added just a touch of additional security for the rider.

As far as tires, michelin and continental tires had absolutely fantastic ride quality by the late 80's, early 90's.


As far as frame tech, carbon fiber frames were still at an early stage of development. Titanium had developed a following but prices then were still very high. All was entering the mainstream, thanks to Trek and Cannondale.

The early 90's brought about suspension, some of which was comically bad initially, but obviously works very well now.

Aside from suspension and disc brakes, and to a lesser extent non steel frame tech, bicycle technology, esp. componentry and tires, had reached a high level of development.
American Euchre is offline  
Old 05-05-16, 03:36 PM
  #25  
texaspandj
Senior Member
 
texaspandj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Heart Of Texas
Posts: 3,427

Bikes: '86 , '87 , '88 , '89 Centurion Dave Scott Ironman.

Mentioned: 90 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1164 Post(s)
Liked 75 Times in 59 Posts
Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
I had good quality equipment in the mid 70s. Carlton professional with all Campagnolo, Cinelli bars and saddle, etc.

I didn't ride at all for 35 years.

I bought a CAAD with 105 ... and thought I was in heaven. Back in the 70s, we would have KILLED for equipment that good.

Now I have a quality carbon bike with Ultegra, and appreciate it immensely ... and I get POd when people say that the new stuff isn't any better than the old. It's better in every way!
Speaking of only shimano 105. The original is much more durable and reliable. Perhaps it's shimano using cheaper/cost effective material e.g. plastic, paint now. Or maybe they build em that way so they only last so long so consumers can continue buying new ones or upgrading. When 105 came out in the 80's they were built to last. Or shimano didn't think about making them so they wouldn't last.
No doubt it's more convenient to use sti and it encourages you to shift more often and for some that's better.
texaspandj is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.