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

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

There are many things to consider when choosing a bicycle.  And not all are bicycle related.  A good deal of successful vintage bicycle ownership depends on the owner and his or her intentions for the bicycle.

My 1958 Carlton Flyer was a wonderful bicycle, from a collector's point of view.  It was certainly collectable.  It was older than any other bike in the collection at the time.  But the ride characteristics offered were not to my liking.  The antiquated technology proved to be less than "user friendly".  The shifting was slow.  The handling less than crisp and acceleration poor, thanks in part to the slow shifting transmission.  But I did not even consider any of these possibilities before I built the bicycle up.  All I could see was a neat old bicycle, that would look great once Street Restored.  I did not even consider the bicycle's size.  A critical error considering that I like to ride the bicycles in my collection.  Not one of my bikes is for show alone.  Though I do not ride them all, all of the time, I do try to ride every one, from time to time.  With that purpose in mind, user friendliness and fit are two major concerns.

A pure collector, who has no intention of riding a given steed, could care less about fit.  However, for the person who does want to ride the bicycle, fit is of paramount importance.  How does the old saying go?  "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Well, when choosing a bicycle that you intend to ride, if it don't fit, it's broke!  Don't buy a bike, that does not fit you!  Unless, of course, you want a less than rewarding ride.  MY "TEN SPEEDS" focuses on bicycles that are to be ridden and on a frequent basis.

Knowing you is a big part of picking your bike.  You should begin by knowing what kind of riding you want to do.  Will you race the bicycle?  If so, you will seek a frame set with tight geometry, light weight and yet sturdy enough to stand the gaff that racing offers.  Such frame design is not "user friendly", in the day to day sense.  Such bicycles are performance oriented.  They are designed to go fast, not necessarily far.  And rider comfort is not always the focus of design.

My Vitus 979 was a great bicycle and it felt great to ride.  Acceleration was a treat and handling an unconscious pleasure.  But the bicycle was not built to carry my weight.  Nor was it designed to stand the stress of the day to day riding that I prefer.  Simply put, the Vitus was too flexible for a guy my size.  It would flex far too much as I powered my way through turns or pushed the pedals hard to maximize acceleration.  Sooner or later, the frame on the Vitus would fail and fail utterly.  As it was, the gorgeous Mavic SSC crank failed.  The beautiful and extremely light component just could not stand up to the demands that my size and riding intentions placed on the bike.

I did not know myself as well as I needed to when  I purchased the Vitus.  But the bicycle taught me about me.  A guy like me needs a strong bicycle, designed to carry a heavy load.  The Vitus was not intended to carry a 200+ pound guy to and from work, day after day.  But I did not know that at the time.

Will you take your new/old bicycle on an around the world tour?  If that is your goal, weight once again becomes an issue - yours and the bicycle's.  A bicycle, that is intended to go around the world, had better be capable of carrying heavy loads for great distances.  It must also offer a more than acceptable degree of rider comfort.  Such a bicycle frame set will be made of materials quite different from those of their race bread cousins.  Strength and flexibility, will be two of the primary target areas.  Frame geometry will be relaxed, offering a predictably stable , yet still responsive ride.  The focus will be to go far, not fast.

And of course, there are specialty areas of interest that have sprung up in the field of vintage road bicycles.  Single Speed builds are becoming increasingly popular.  Single Speed bicycles are "Ten Speeds" (ten gears choices actually) converted to single speed function (only one gear choice).  Both derailleurs and their corresponding shifter sets are removed, cleaning up the bicycle's appearance and decreasing total weight in the process.  Such bicycles are easy to ride in the city, never requiring that the rider remove his or her hands from the handlebars.  The need to reach down to shift an Old School steed is a safety concern of mine and one that applies to most vintage road bicycles.  Of course, not just any vintage frame set will serve the Single Speed purpose well.  Knowing which are best suited for single speed conversion is valuable information to be armed with when choosing a bicycle intended to be converted to single speed design.

Know also that the Single Speed is not comfortable in all terrains.  It is a road bike, to be sure.  But not a hill bike.  A person in good shaped can usually master most hills on a Single Speed.  But a rider would have to be in great shape to ride one of these converted bicycles in Duluth.  The hilly terrain would be horribly prohibitive for Single Speed use.  My opinion, of course.  The point, once again, is know what you will use the bicycle for.

These are very fundamental concerns when choosing a bicycle to restore and ride.  If you buy a bicycle that does not fit properly, you will not ride it much.  It is that simple.  If you buy a full race steed and then start a 25,000 mile journey, you will likely probably not succeed in your around the world trek.  Sooner or later, the bicycle will break, proving itself to be an uncomfortable ride as it approaches that inevitable event.

If you fail to understand such fundamental issues about the frame choice and/or your riding intentions, you will likely fail utterly in your first restoration project.  I know!  Because my first project was a total failure for issues identical to those mentioned.  The unrideable SHC-270, my first restoration project, was too big, bent and lower end.  However, that big old entry level steed looked just great when leaning against a fence.

With fit and purpose issues considered, what a frame set is made of will help with the decision making process.  There are a host of tubing materials to choose from. Frame sets made of simple pipe, to those made of exotically blended metals.  Tube sets can be of simple straight gauge design, or of varying wall thicknesses, a tubing characteristic referred to as "butted".  However, the most sophisticated materials and structures are not always the best choice for each intended purpose.  A super light, chrome moly double butted frame set is great for the racer, but horrible for the guy who wants a bicycle, he can use for transportation purposes.

As often as not in the Old School days, bicycle owners would install center or side stands.  These stands would be clamped to the chain stays, close to the bottom bracket.  This was not an issue with high tensile tube sets since the tubing would be relatively thick.  However, I have seen many high end chrome moly chain stays damaged, thanks to the clamp pressure used to install these horrible after market products.  Once again, knowing how you intend to use a bicycle will determine which bicycle you buy.  And if you do buy a Cinelli, do not install a side or center stand.  Sooner or later, damage will occur - guaranteed!

So give some thought to what you wish to do with a vintage road bicycle before seeking one to restore.  There are still hundreds of thousands of vintage road bikes hiding in their secret places.  I believe this to be true though I cannot prove it.  If you actively seek a bicycle, you will find one, or two, or...  The point is you will have choices.  Take the time to ensure that you make the right choice by first understand you.  Know also what you intend to use the bicycle for.  And last but certainly not least, know the bicycle's limitations.

NEXT - CHOOSING THE RIGHT BIKE

 

 

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

mail@mytenspeeds.com

COPYRIGHT(2008): mytenspeeds.com