MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

 

SITE INDEX   FINDING   BICYCLES   WORK SHOP   TRADING   WHAT'S NEW?

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

BICYCLE QUALITY - INTRO

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

CHOOSE THE RIGHT BICYCLE

FRAME & FORK QUALITY

WHEN BEST ISN'T BEST

FRAME & FORK  INTEGRITY

DENTED FRAME OR FORK

BENT FRAME OR FORK

MODIFIED FRAME OR FORKI

REPAIRED FRAME OR FORK

ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE

FRAME & FORK MATERIALS

FRAME SET DROP-OUTS

CLAMPS & BRAZE-ONS

FRAME CRAFTSMANSHIP

CHARACTER & PERSONALITY

 

ENVIRONMENTAL FRAME DAMAGE

I believe that most vintage road bicycles make a predictable journey through life.  Purchased new, they are often cared for with love and attention - for a while.  However, this initial period of infatuation, more often than not, will blossom as either a close or distant relationship.  The owner of the newly purchased bicycle will either ride it or store it.  If the new owner purchased unwisely, the bicycle will be used for a short while and then put into storage.  If the new owner purchased wisely, the new bicycle will be used a lot and then put into storage.  Sooner or later most vintage road bicycles in North America fell out of favour with their owners and were placed into storage of some kind.

More often than not, a bicycle being placed into storage, for the first time, is put away with a reasonable degree of care.  If the bicycle was purchased unwisely, its value is still fresh in the owner’s mind and the bicycle will be stored with care.  The same holds true for the bicycle that was used a great deal.  Both still represent value to the owners and their bicycles will be stored in a fashion that reflects the perceived value.  However…

Sooner or later a stored bicycle will simply get in the way.  Bicycles in storage take up a fair bit of space.  Sure, they can be hung up, out of the way in hidden places but they are still there - taking up space.  Sooner or later, the bicycle's perceived value will fail to out weigh the need for "that space" and the bike will be moved.  The more times a bicycle gets moved, the greater the opportunity for storage damage to occur.  With each bit of damage, the perceived value will diminish.  And with each subsequent move, the amount of care put into finding a new storage spot will diminish also.  Sooner or later, the stored carefully in the basement bicycle, will find itself sitting behind some shed, somewhere for some time.  Getting rusty!  Next stop - The Dump.

Once good old Mother Nature gets involved, one can expect to harvest faded paint and oxidation.  To this bounty, add the flavour of rotting tires, hoods and leather saddles.  Finally, add a dash of seized components.  Now, savour the flavour as you spend hours trying to remove a stuck seat post.  Fortunately, you will not have to look hard to recognize the role that Mother Nature has played when helping to develop a vintage road bicycle’s patina of age.

This story of a bicycle’s journey through its life, must be incredibly common.  I have found a great many really old road bikes still hiding in safety in their secret hiding spots.  I have seen and see almost every day, vintage bikes tucked away between out buildings or leaning against fences.  Hundreds of vintage bicycles in my area find themselves swallowed by the Dump each year.  And my bet is that each went from indoor storage, to outdoor and finally became Dump fodder.

There are a great many other things to consider, when environmental issues are concerned.  If the frame set is rusty on the outside, what about inside the tubes and frame cavities?  Is there rust growing out of sight?  Or, consider soft items, such as hoods, tires and saddles.  How does Mother Nature deal with those fragile components?  Seat posts and steering stems, left unattended and exposed to the ravages of environmental impact, can become impossibly seized into place.

And then, of course, there is good old "I don't know what I am doing damage".  Attempts to remove the seized seat post or steering stem.  Rounded off, or stripped, nuts and bolts that were welded together with rust.  My pool old Viking, that one day found itself clamped in a vice ,as the "I wanna be a bicycle mechanic one day fool" attempted to remove the stuck seat post.  This list can go on and on.  And Mother Nature is not selective.  Components can and will be subjected to her negative impacts also, creating all but useless items in the process.

That pretty much covers most situations of frame damage and deterioration, that you will encounter, when seeking out vintage road bikes.  Do not be disheartened!  More often than not, these old bikes will clean up very well.  A frame set might need only a good cleaning and waxing, before reassembly.  Or, a complete paint job might be in order, after straightening a slightly bent frame or fork.  Wouldn't it be nice to know how much work faces you, before purchasing a bicycle.

Needless to say, a frame's condition is a great indicator of how a bicycle was used.  But the condition of the frame set is only half of the concern.  What is the frame made of?  How was it made?  And, who made it?  These are important questions and, once answered, will better prepare you to make informed bicycle purchase decisions.

What is it made of? and Who made it? are the two absolute best questions to answer when choosing a vintage road bicycle frame and fork set.  What the frame is made of can usually be determined, quite easily.  Tubing decals usually define tubing material and structure.  Simple as that!  Manufacturer's names are often stamped on drops and lugs.  Simple as that!  I call the things that suggest frame set quality, "quality indicators".  The better a frame set is, the more quality indicators there will be.  But figuring out who did the work, now that is a trick and one worth performing.  Who made it will never have a name.  But there are always clues that point to craftsmanship when present and to the lack of it, when not.

Before getting into a focused discussion of frame set quality indicators, one must remember that there will be exceptions to consider.  Not all bicycles will present all of the quality indicators mentioned, yet the bikes will still have great restorable value.  However, sometimes restorable value will have nothing to do with quality, of any kind.  Restorable value will be based on emotional interests.  Consider your dad's old bike that you want to restore for sentimental reasons.  It will not matter what the frame set is made of, or by who.  The bike, good or bad, belonged to your dad.  Enough said.  Emotional issues will, from time to time, play an important role in restoring a vintage road bicycle.  And with all that said, let's take a closer look at "Quality Indicators".

NEXT - FRAME AND FORK SET MATERIALS

 

 

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