On Sentimentality and Retiring Old Bikes

When we got the Co-Habitant's Surly Cross-Check frame, it was supposed to be an off-road-capable supplement to his vintage roadbike, not a replacement. But after he built up the Surly and took it on several rides, the old Motobecane was soon put away. We had expected that the modern cross bike with wide tires would be more comfortable, but slower and less agile than the vintage roadbike. Instead, it is more comfortable in addition to being just as agile and also faster - not to mention more stable and entirely lacking in shimmy on descents. 

The Co-Habitant is a wee bit disillusioned in vintage bikes at the moment. All the lugs and "patina" in the world are not worth it to him, if a reasonably priced, good quality new TIG-welded frame fitted with decent components offers a better ride. That is not to say that a mass produced mid-tier Motobecane from 1976 represents all vintage bikes. But sometimes experimenting with vintage until you find a good frame can be more expensive than buying new.

Nonetheless, "Myles" the Motobecane was the first roadbike he'd ridden as an adult, and the one and only roadbike he's been riding for the past two years. It was old and crusty and we made it beautiful. It was rickety and we updated it with nicer components. That bike got him through multiple trips to Maine and Cape Cod just fine, before he knew that "just fine" could feel even better. It seems almost a betrayal to get rid of it so unceremoniously.

We've considered turning the Motobecane into a beater city bike, but that idea was eventually dismissed. Ultimately, he likes wide tires and stable handling for city riding, and a twitchy 1970s French roadbike is just not his idea of a good time in our pothole-ridden neighbourhood. Fair enough.

So, what to do with a retired bike? One option is to sell it as a complete bicycle. The other option is to strip all the good components, keep them for future projects or trades, and sell just the frame. In the past, we've always gone with the former, even though financially it makes less sense. This time we are considering the latter, but ultimately still leaning toward the former out of sheer sentimentality - if Myles is kept intact, at least he would still be "alive." But of course that's ridiculous.

Later in the summer I will face a similar dilemma with my vintage Moser fixed gear conversion. It feels too small. But more importantly, despite having been reassured about the low bottom bracket issue I've now actually experienced pedal strike on this bike and that's enough to convince me that I need a fixed-gear specific road frame. In the case of the Moser, I plan to move its wheelset and some of the other components to the new frame when I get it, and just hang on to the Moser frame as a keepsake. I got in in Austria and the memories associated with it are worth more to me than whatever money I could get for the frame. Maybe some time later I will give it away to a friend as a gift, but I just don't feel that it's sellable.

What do you do with bicycles that you replace or retire? Does sentimental attachment get in the way of reason?


  1. "The Co-Habitant is a wee bit disillusioned in vintage bikes at the moment. All the lugs and "patina" in the world are not worth it to him, if a reasonably priced, good quality new TIG-welded frame can be fitted with decent components and offer a better ride."

    I'm with him. Surly doesn't make a bike big enough for me and without threaded stems it's hard to get handlebars even with the saddle... but if not for those issues I'd be riding a LHT or a Soma Saga with 35mm tires right now.

  2. By the way, my 1989 vintage lugged steel bike has zero shimmy during descents. I think part of the problem is the specific bike in question.

  3. Mine just keep being used - no retirement at all. But then I knew what I was buying when I bought them, made sure they fit me and were suited to my purposes.

    Consequently I have some very high-mileage bikes that i have owned for many years and have no need or reason ever to get rid of -one of them being a 1990-vintage Cannondale tourer that took me on a 10,000 mile solo trek around Australia 15 years ago and the other a Thorn eXp expedition tourer (vintage 2000) that has carried me all over East Africa, Asia minor, Europe and Britain and still does about 8,000 to 10,000 miles a year on the lanes of Sussex and Kent.

    Sure, sentiment plays a role - they are very personal to me, but as I say they are also highly functional.

  4. I keep it. 10 bikes take less space than 1 car. Disassembled even less. Or give it to a deserving fellow cyclist who will appreciate it....

  5. I buy and sell bicycles and parts often with my tinkering hobby. When selling a complete bicycle, I normally hold onto a few special components (e.g. a rare crankset or really nice wheels) and substitute some ordinary components from my parts bin, stuff I don't have a plan for. Parting up a bike can preserve a little more value, but it is a lot more work.

    It's hard to let go of a special bike, but is it really that special if it's not getting ridden? I cap my bikes at 3 to keep things manageable, and I've sold some bikes that I never imagined selling because of it. In the end, I have not ever regretted selling a bike because there are many exciting bike projects down the road and there is always another interesting bike to ride.

  6. Honestly, bikes are things, and when I'm done using them, they need to move on to someone else. Things which aren't being used are just clutter, especially if there's no chance that you'll use them again.

    That said, I'm still riding bikes which don't fit as well simply because I haven't got the heart to get rid of them yet.

  7. Ryan - I think that things like shimmy and handling in general are bike-specific and not so much a vintage vs modern thing. My own former Motobecane shimmied like mad on fast descents. The Trek, Moser and Bianchi I've owned since then are from the same time period but have no discernable shimmy.

    But the issue is: How do you know in advance? Even if one spends several months hanging out on the classic & vintage bikeforums, it's still hard to know whether any given vintage bike will feel ultimately good.

    For me, experimenting is worth it, because I am interested in the history, geometry and aesthetics of various vintage bikes and not just in finding the ultimate bike. For him... he just wants to ride and does not care for experimenting.

  8. As good a bike as it is, I don't think you'd get enough money for the frame to justify the time you would spend in stripping it or whatever you might spend to list it.

    For that matter, you might be disappointed with how much you get for the complete bike, especially given the money you've put into restoring and upgrading it.

    So I think your best options are to keep it, if you have the space in your apartment or a safe outdoor spot, or, as someone else mentioned, to give it to some deserving soul.

  9. Either sell or donate to a bike coop and take the tax deduction.

  10. V, Since finding your blog I have been constantly amazed at not just how similar your taste runs to mine, but also how creepy it is that your topics seem to coincide with problems or dilemma’s I am currently grappling with on my own. And here you go and nail two bird with one stone!

    I had picked up a Raleigh Cyclocross frame off Ebay to build as a city bike, media blasted it and spent about a week repainting it, through this process I was accumulating parts for the build and the wheels arrived shortly after I painted it. When I went to insert the wheels I discovered to my horror that though not visible to the unaided eye the frame was bent! I tried getting it straightened by a local builder to no avail, so there I was stuck with all the bits to build a bike, but no frame! Seemed a shame really, not to do something with those parts! So, frantic web searching ensued and I was left with two choices, Surly Cross check and the Soma Double Cross. I had pretty much settled on the Cross check in the Robin’s egg blue, but your adventures with that bike have pretty much solidified that choice.

    Second odd thing is that I have been lusting after a Rivendell, but happily I am already the owner of an Original ‘92 Bridgestone XO-1! The Sam H. being very similar to my XO-1, I was having difficulty justifying the purchase, but honestly the XO-1 has always been a little bit too small for me. I changed the stem and that helped immensely, but 19 years on I am not quite as flexible anymore and so I started thinking “ah!, time to sell the B-stone to help finance a new SAM” which in turn brings me round to your current topic! Very Spooky! Generally, I have rarely sold bike’s, I just park them in the Garage, put air in the tires every now and then and go for a ride, If you have enough bikes, riding one you have not ridden for a while is kinda like riding a new bike! Thing is I am getting older an idea’s of austerity are starting to work their way into the back of my mind! Having MUCH more then I need is starting to feel like gluttony or hording!

    Any whose I understand what you mean about many vintage bikes being worth more in pieces then as a whole, but gosh it just seems morally wrong to part them out! Luckily I think leaving the XO-1 as a complete unit is a no-brainer and it most likely would not sell as well if parted out because few of the components are real desirable. Problem I have is about 3 old Scwhinn cruisers that I need to sell. The parts of those bikes if sold separately would be worth 2 to 3 times what I could get for complete bikes!! Soooo . . . . I guess a little parting out will probably happen in that instance.

    I am sure you already have people interested in your co-habitants bike either as a whole or parted out, because most of the bikes you have featured here become almost like celebrities in their own way. Realistically it is easier to sell an old trusted friend to another trusted friend, or someone that you know will love the bike as much as you did!

    The money is the easy decision as you know; the emotional connection is more difficult! Many years ago I sold my first custom cruiser to a friend of mine only to have seller’s remorse and turn around and buy it back a few years later (for more money). Like your Moser, I do not ride it; it hangs in the house for sentimental reasons!!

    Regarding old bike Vs. new, yeah, I think I am with your partner on that one; for reasons I can’t quite put a finger on? The new ones just seem to fly together faster and easier then the old ones!? Dunno why???

  11. For whatever reason, I think that even if we had a garage or barn, bike hoarding would not appeal to me. If I collected rare vintage bikes, then sure - but not with normal bikes that are no longer ridden but could be ridden by someone else. So we usually try to sell a bike as soon as possible, once we determine that we no longer ride it.

    Also, while I would love to give away all the vintage bikes that pass through our hands, we are just not in a financial position to do that - especially if a bike has accumulated several hundred $$ of modern components on top of the original purchase price. The only way I am able to maintain the bike experimenting game is by selling whichever bike did not work out and then using that to fund the next purchase. Or else keeping the components and using them for the next build. I hope that's understandable!

  12. I struggle with this. I recently bought a Raleigh Marathon mixte as a kind of practice bike for learning to ride with drop bars and relatively aggressive handling (compared to my MTB). From the beginning I had always planned to replace her with a modern bike with a wider range of gearing. However, along the way, I kind of fell in love with her. It probably doesn't help that I named her Georgette.

    The sensible thing to do would be to sell Georgette and put the money toward the newer bike, but I'm not sure if I will be able to. Maybe I can find someone to pass her on to. My faithful old MTB just went to live with my nephew who thinks it's the most awesome bike ever, and it makes me so happy to see him enjoying it.

    I wonder if our first bikes have a particular pull on our hearts? Mine have taught me so much. Maybe my future bikes will seem more utilitarian.

  13. I have (only!) two bikes, the one I use for everything and my fixie. The fixie is a conversion of the very first bike I bought, decades ago, a Raleigh Gran Sport. This is what I recommend CH do with his Motobecane -- convert it to a fixie. It's a fun project, not expensive, and you end up with something you can ride in a different way, and maintain a connection to.

  14. I have most of my old bikes...except. I sent my first road bike off to bermuda with a student teaching marine biology. I like to imagine its having a nice retirement.

  15. Jon Webb - I think that's a good idea as well, but he hates fixed gear and is extremely skeptical of my liking it. We try not to argue about it : )

  16. What is shimmy?

  17. Anon - On some bikes, the front end vibrates when descending at high speeds. This is independent of any functional problems, such as a loose headset and such. It's just part of some bicycles' geometry, it seems.

  18. In my case, if I'm really thinking about letting one go, than that means it probably should go. With only a couple of exceptions, the bikes that I miss, I never wanted to get rid of in the first place, I had to for some specific reason.

    I think if I were not happy with that Motobecane, I'd open the gate, slap it on the rump and wave. It's a neat bike but as you say, it's not that special. Your Moser on the other hand, if it was no longer in "the rotation", it would immediately go on my studio wall with the 60cm, lime green, 1970 Schwinn Paramount frameset, the excess leather saddles and the headbadge collection. Like you say, I might give it away to someone special but I don't think I'd ever TRY to make it disappear.

    It's fun to anthropomorphize bikes and stuff but I agree with the people who've remarked about bikes being like tools. They stop doing a job for you, you move on. Sometimes the job they do is just to be nice to look at or whatever, but that has to maintain some degree of practicality too. You can only keep so many bikes in the bathroom.

    If it's job is to be an outside bike, locked to the porch ready to go in any weather, than don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it. The old roadracing bikes that I get all weak-kneed over now were just nicely made tools in their day, and we used to beat the hell out of them till they broke, got crashed or went soft. Then we scrounged up another one and started beating that one up.

    I was pretty sure the co-habitant was going to find that Surly to be better in every way to Myles. Full speed ahead.


  19. Yes, sentimentality affects reason. When I retired my steel road bike in favor of a Ti frame (and moved most of the parts over), it wasn't long before I started tinkering with the steel frame and putting money into parts for it! It went through several iterations or partial iterations: Casual townie, stationary trainer, single-speed (Fail, for me). It's finally found a new and happy home, with my younger daughter, who loves it in its current straight-bar configuration. So, happy ending for that one. Now I have a similar situation with the Ti frame. I did think of removing the remaining parts and hanging it on the wall (the fact that I had it custom painted makes that seem logical; and makes the bike all the harder ot part with). But since I have almost all parts needed to build it back up again, I'll just hang on to it for now, in the somewhat likely event that I will again want a skinny-tired, light, go-fast bike. The market is so poor for used bicycles, I just don't think I could part with it for the small price I'd get. Steve in MD

  20. I love your blog and I love this topic--I'm very sentimental about my bikes too.

    I had a gold Raleigh 3-speed that my dad got me in college. When I upgraded after five years, I gave her to a friend. My next bike was a blue Fuji Monterey; when I upgraded to my current sweetie, a Mercian, I donated the Monterey to a bike co-op and moved his bell onto my new bike as a tribute. Once in a while I see a blue Monterey and wonder where my old friend is rolling...

  21. When I worked at a bike shop in the late 70's one brand we sold was Motobecane and I recall everyone at the shop hating them. Compared to other brands the bike was quite inferior and we had trouble giving them away. The fact that Co-Habitant enjoyed the ride for even a couple years before moving on made it worthwhile, but I wouldn't expect to get much for it resale. Best to give it away or donate it.....I understand sentimental value, though. My Surly replaced an old English made Lambert that I took with me when leaving the shop. It's a bike company which went under but produced some aesthetically beautiful bikes. Though it wasn't supposed to last, I rode it for thirty years and find the Surly more stable, but less fun. Now it sits in the basement looking for a new home. With two boys in college I'm thinking that one will get it as a beater bike to get to and from class. One is living next to Cambridge, so if you see a red Lambert, hopefully, chained to a post you'll know which son got it :)

  22. I just want to add, the bikes I really, REALLY get attached to become something just short of fetishes for me. I will NEVER sell or give away my old 1979 TREK 970, the three vintage BMX bikes left over from my "spectacular" racing career, or my DL1s, ever. I can be rational about the others, but not those.


  23. Will keep an eye out for the Lambert! As you know, Motobecane and Peugeot bikes are pretty popular around here, and I think the reason is that they are fairly durable, as well as classically attractive. Also, most people just ride them around town and not on 50+ mile trips!

    FWIT, perception of ride quality is subjective and depends on prior experience. Before I sold my Motobecane Mirage mixte, several ladies had tried it and reported it feeling awesome compared to their current bikes.

  24. I cannot part with bikes. Bikes taken out of my hands have been stolen or burned to a crisp. I have 6 bikes, but only 3 are road worthy, two are potential vintage rebuild projects and I keep a few of them only for my step daughters(one who lives here refuses to ride and the other barely visits so I will be passing those bikes along soon!) I lack the funds to properly rebuild my project bikes as even my surly requires a great deal of work, but keep hoping. I am not normally sentimental but I can't let go of things that might be useful.
    You have quite the stable, is your co habitant not interested in having a few steeds? He could keep it for days when_____ and trust me, there will be days when his other bikes have flat tires, weird problems arise and he's late for work and aaaah! So an extra extra bike can be helpful.
    On the other hand, it taught him a great deal about cycling and gave him a few good years of experience. He could sell it to someone else as is who would really appreciate how pretty it is. However you would not really be able to recoup the money put into the bike because it would be seen as an old twitchy french bike boom bike. So, I would say keep it, there will be days when he will be glad it's there, and he could try a single speed fixie project-or not.
    He shouldn't be too disillusioned with vintage because it really does depend on the bike and what it was made of. My husband recently bought a vintage touring bike that he thought he would be happy with, but it was a low-mid range bike not higher end as he initially thought and it's limitations are becoming apparent. It is an early 80's bike and is compatable with modern parts, it is stable and pretty! So, he knows it has potential. But he also has a vintage bottechia randonneur with campy parts that he bought a few years ago that is an astounding amazing bicycle. It was in rough mechanical shape, but he got it going and was floored. He thought it would be a clunky grocery store runner. He passes anyone on carbon fibre or titanium that dare pass him on the road.
    My old 5 speed raleigh is very stable, not twitchy at all and has a wonderful ride quality while I am not sure I want to do anything with my gitane. As much as I'd love to see all bikes out there recycled and reloved, I know there were plenty of bad bikes made however lugged. But they can be an affordable(or free) option for people needing a ride and want to fall in love with bicycles.

  25. Yeah, I have trouble giving up bikes. I'm such a sentimentalist.

    My 1961 Raleigh Sports is the bike I was riding when I fell in love with bicycling, and I couldn't sell it, even after not riding it much for a couple of years. But this last year I started riding it again and fell in love with it all over again. Right now it's on a long-term loan to a friend, because my boyfriend and I are soon leaving on a cross-continent tour. But: I could never sell that bike. I just couldn't.

    (Side note: not long after I started riding it to work, the only other cyclist in that suburban medical office noticed it--a doctor who did the full-on roadie thing a few times a week to get to work from another suburb. I was prepared for him to sneer at my old British roadster, but instead he went *nuts* over it, and said that he used to have a Raleigh that he rode for ages until he crashed it, and that he still had the heron chainring hung up on the wall over his fireplace!)

    The mixte I owned after that wasn't so hard to give up. It's currently the bottom frame of a tall bike! It was an odd brand (Carabela) and super-heavy and rusted in spots, but it had gorgeous lugs. It wasn't worth it to sell it, so I'm glad to see someone getting use out of it.

    I just sold my Miyata 210 a couple weeks ago. That was a hard bike to give up, I think because I rode it for my first year and change of trying bicycle touring. And I just put in a lot of miles on that bike. I am very thankful that the guy who bought it appreciated it for what it was (but then, the guy was quite the bicycle geek, he had another Miyata and "a few" Rivendells), and even sent me a very kind text message the day after he bought it saying that the bike had a "good home and a bright future," which was just the sweetest thing ever.

  26. Ah, didn't know there were images, but found this!


    Lovely bike, but like many I replaced the fork with a chrome-moly and the headset---well, it's gone through many changes over the years.

    Old bikes are cool, especially when used daily.

    Hope you can find someone who can use yours.

  27. "But sometimes experimenting with vintage until you find a good frame can be more expensive than buying new"

    Isn't that the truth! And I'm still experimenting, but find it to be part of the fun. So far I've just kept bikes but now I have 2 in storage that aren't being used at all, and 2 that I really want to build up and ride. I may just have to get over the sentimental and find them homes. It's better than sitting in storage forever, right?

  28. I have an easy solution for what to do with bikes you don't ride but can't bring yourself to part with: ship them off to the summer home! I've done it with a mtn bike, and will probably do it again with a road bike. So whenever I go to my summer home for a weekend, I have a couple of bikes waiting for me. So what if they're not my faves... this way I don't have to worry about transporting my bikes with me.

  29. somervillain - Aaw are you offering to buy me a summer home?

  30. somervillain has a good point - and i have to say I've done that with my trusty old Cannondale; it is still at my place in Australia, there a-waiting whenever I go back, so i never have to go to the expense and hassle of packing and shipping a bike to use down there.

  31. Well, at the moment my summer home is in the livingroom, under the air conditioner. I estimate it will fit at most 1 bike : )

    FYI: If you all do buy me a summer home, my preference is coastal Maine.

    Anon 3:55 - Thanks for the picture. Why was the fork replaced?

  32. ( I'm with somervillian. I talked myself into buying my most recent purchase with the thought that I will leave it on cape cod when I get the second more choice bike. I couldn't stand choosing between the two even though they were apples and oranges. I'm lucky to have the other space.)

  33. Peppy (the fork's bent cat)May 23, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    it was probably bent

  34. Velouria, the fork was replaced b/c there were complaints of the original aluminum forks developing cracks. I used it for for several years with the original but eventually opted to put a nice new one on it. Still, it's a loved bike.

    And I agree about coastal Maine for a summer home! I'm about to pack up for a drive to Maine for my son's graduation in Brunswick. I'm coming from St. Louis and can't wait to visit, with my bike, all those Maine roads!

  35. I have done this to many of my retired bikes: strip the bike and use what you can now and on future bikes. List the frame with the seat post and bottom bracket on e-bay. I might bid on it!

  36. I've refurbed many Motobecanes and Peugeots at our local bike coop.
    We sell the frames for $35-$75 and complete bikes for $100-$300. Generally, these get snapped up. We're not talking about the fancy models. Most are lugged hiten with alloy components - set up as fixies, single speeds or 1x5/6 city bikes. They are wonderful riding bikes that can last a long time.

    My wife (Motobecane Mixte 10-spd), son (Peugeot SS) and I (Astra 1x5) all ride vintage French bikes. We'd buy and ride other bikes, but we know that if we sold these old bikes it would be extremely difficult to replace them.

  37. I've had two such bikes. The first was an '86 Specialized Allez I had since high school. BEAUTIFUL bike, mostly still original or slightly Riv'ed a bit. Ended up not riding it for a year plus, so sold it on the ibob list. Same story with a '94 Bridgestone MB-2. GREAT bike again, but I wasn't riding it. So needed to move it out as well. I'm sentimental enough, but in the end am not a "collector" of things. It was good to get them to someone who could use them.

    The Motobecane has some nice parts on it, I'd save the saddle, fenders and bar-ends for the future. You or the C-H will want them at some point!

    As for the Moser, consider putting the parts onto a Simple One. It's an updated Quickbeam, which is just a fantastic bike. Only downside is that it has cantis, but they can be lived with.

  38. All excellent comments.
    I agree most with Stevep33, who was very nice to me with some cantilever brakes.
    Get rid of it and make room for your next love project.
    Who's to say your next perfect dream bike isn't coming out next week?
    It'll be lighter, faster, slower, and heavier and carry 50lbs of stuff on dirt roads, but be as fast as a race bike, made of titanium with internal generator wires with no drag.
    We are all people who love bikes and will continue to love them.
    Pass the bike on and let someone else fall in love, even if for a fleeting moment, and remember how you loved it when you love the next one.
    Or just keep it, HA!

  39. Velouria...

    I won't take this personal...

    'Motobecane and Peugeot bikes are pretty popular around here, and I think the reason is that they are fairly durable, as well as classically attractive. Also, most people just ride them around town and not on 50+ mile trips!'

    My Peugeot is a long distance machine of high repute...

    Back to the subject at hand...

    If you are a biking person... it is always a good idea to have a spare bicycle at the ready... especially if you depend on your bike for transport... the unplanned flat... broken shifter cable... etc and etc... it is always good to have another fully equipped and ready to ride bike to fall back on... not just any old beater... but a comfortable and working bike. While the Motobecane may not be the first choice anymore... it will make a fine spare bike to ride when the Surly is in the shop or off the road.

    Also I like keeping a few bikes such as this in various sizes for my cycling guests that visit as well... this is a photo of my herd on the prowl when close friends of mine visited for a few days from New York City... they are like us... non-car-owning... cycling people... they really enjoyed having good, usable bikes to use for their stay in Sydney...


    It is not conspicious consumption to have a spare bike or two... especially if you are saving space in the landfill... a spare bike takes up minimal room and thought process while providing great peace of mind...

    The Grouch

  40. Vintage bikes with shimmy - you cannot tell in advance.

    One shimmy issue is weight distribution. It is possible the previous owner never had a problem, possible the next owner will never have a problem.

    Same would apply to a new bike.The only difference is if you buy it at a store they should let you test ride. Good luck returning it if you find the shimmy on a big hill two weeks later.

    I've owned 25 bikes and never had shimmy. I've test-ridden friends' bikes with ungodly shimmy, cured some, baffled by others.

    Some things in bikes and life remain mysterious.

  41. Still riding around on my first "ten speed" hi-ten frame that I got used when I was in my early teens. Now, I have that bike, along with four much nicer bikes.

    I still cannot part with my first and simply reassign it to new needs. Currently, it has wide tires and fenders, for use on fire trails and the roughest roads, but I'll eventually switch it over to a SA IGH and build it up similar to the old Raleigh Clubmans. Maybe it will start pulling Winter duty.

  42. Christopher FotosMay 23, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    Nothing silly about the sentimental attachment to a beloved bike. I ran across a photo of my first ten-speed from high school and college days, and I still reproach myself for junking it when the fork got bent, and it needed some rehab and I lived in a small apartment and and and...

  43. cyclotourist - I considered the Simpleone, but the smallest size they make it in is 56cm. Also, I think that I would like something more aggressive for this bike. It's nice that the Simpleone has finally been released though.

    "It'll be lighter, faster, slower, and heavier and carry 50lbs of stuff on dirt roads, but be as fast as a race bike, made of titanium with internal generator wires with no drag."

    Ha Thanks for that : )

  44. The Grouch - Thanks for the image link and indeed, don't take it personally! We have both ridden our Motobecanes 50+ miles. My mixte was beautiful, but riding it over 20 miles at a time was painful.

    The Surly is not the bike he uses for transportation, but I agree that it's a good idea to have spare bikes.

    Anon 7:39 - Yeah, shimmy is one of these things you will see passionate debates about, so I'll just let it be. For whatever reason, my current bikes do not have it and that works for me.

  45. Velouria...

    As to shimmy... none in any of my Peugeots... luck or good fortune... who knows... but I do know that I am fussy with my headsets... prefer old, hardened steel Stronglights with loose bearings... 50mph with a full touring load... the Peugeot rides like it is on rails.

    As for Myles... well... pretty simple... if you do not need it... then pass it on... it is frustrating... vintage bikes... cameras... audio... clothing... etc... so often it has so little monetary value... while the quality and workmanship is high... but such is life...

    when I spend more time maintaining things than using things... I know it is time for a cull...

    The Grouch... who also is a confirmed hoarder...

  46. Ahhh, size limitations on the current batch. Yes, that's a problem... :-(

    Well I'm all out of ideas for today! Used QBs pop up now and then, and I can't recommend them enough. GREAT bikes. I sold mine as I just need more gears in regular riding, and couldn't take up the space with what was becoming a vanity bike. I do miss mine though! Guess it also falls into the category of letting go of the sentimental bike!

  47. As you know, I just sold The Panasonic, which I still think is one of the prettiest bikes I've ever seen. But once I got The Raleigh just right, I just couldn't get myself onto a bike it hurt to ride. So why let it linger? I'm glad someone is going to ride it who loves the bike and is excited to get it. It's just a bike (this is one of the reasons they don't get names).

    And if I hadn't decided to sell The Panasonic, I would never have purchased The Viva Kilo. So that's a good thing.

  48. This post is timely because I just sold my '70's Centurion Le Mans that I converted into a single speed. It was a great bike and I had fun on it for the year and a half I had it. But ever since I built up the Raleigh 3-speed, it was demoted from "daily bike" to "the bike over there". That and the fact that April and I are putting all of our stuff in storage for the next half year made it a bit easier to sell. Yes, it did have sentimental value. But in the end, it was a common frame (and not in the best of shape), Centurion Le Mans are a dime a dozen on Portland Craigslist. The components I used, while decent, were nothing fancy. I could easily do it again if I wanted to.

  49. "But sometimes experimenting with vintage until you find a good frame can be more expensive than buying new."

    Man, this is exactly where I am. Bought an 80s- or 90s-model Batavus omafiets off of eBay as a cheaper alternative to the new Gazelle I test-rode and loved. But, of course, it is not the Gazelle, and now I'm well into "what if I replaced THIS component" mode to try to better approximate the Gazelle. It won't be long until I have spent so much money tweaking that I should just have bought the Gazelle in the first place. Do I cut bait and sell the Bat and buy the Gazelle? Do I keep the Bat as a winter bike (which I'd feel better about than riding a beautiful Gazelle around in crazy-icy Minneapolis)? Aarggh... keep going round and round. Plus I feel guilty because the Batavus is a very nice bike and I worry I might not be able to sell her around here, as Dutch bikes have not "caught on" in Minneapolis yet. I don't want her to languish in my garage OR end up in the landfill. Sigh...

  50. From your earlier posts, it sounded like he was never entirely happy with the Moto, and that you recognized it was not the most logical bike to be upgrading so extensively. If that is the case, and it is not going to be used, I would think he might be happier stripping and replacing upgraded parts you can use again, and selling it, especially if you are limited on space. He could get something to build up that he'll like better. Life is too short, and garages too small, to compromise. However, it strikes me as a personal question, answerable only by your own sentiment, or lack thereof. So I'll move away from only partially solicited advice, to my own thoughts :)

    I am working on refurbishing a vintage steel road bike right now ('86 Trek 400 Elance), but I'm saving the old parts, and making sure I can reuse upgraded parts on later projects if I want. I figure if I decide to go another route later, I can always restore the Trek to its original condition and resell it for about what I paid for it. Like you, I'm still fairly new to bikes, and still sorting out what I like and what works best. This is really my first road bike, so this is kind of my Moto. Of course, I am getting attached to it now, but in theory it is a good way for me to increase my knowledge and experience without wasting money. I think if it ends up not working well for me, I could bring myself to sell it and move on to a more enjoyable project. Still, I'm really liking the Trek so far!


  51. Deborah - I doubt that an 80s-90s Batavus is worse as a transportation bike than the currently produced Gazelle. Does your bike still have the crowned fork, or did they already switch to unicrown at that point? What kind of brakes and lighting does it have?

    For upright transportation bicycles, I have not found a currently produced bike (with the possible exception of Bella Ciao) that feels more comfortable and faster than its vintage predecessor. My Gazelle is not a new model; it is 15 years old and was discarded by the previous owner. It feels better than the new bikes do. The vintage Steyr Waffenrad I rode in Austria and my Raleigh DL-1 also feel better (more comfortable and faster) than a slew of modern upright bikes I've tried. So as long as your bike has well-functioning brakes, I'd say you are better off sticking with it than spending $$ on a new Gazelle. Of course, if you simply don't like it and yearn for the new Gazelle, that is a different story.

    For roadbikes however, my experience has been the opposite: I keep playing around with vintage bikes and they do not feel as good as some of what is currently produced. You have to try very hard to find an older touring bike that is as comfortable as, say, a Rivendell or Surly, and allows for the same tire clearance.

  52. Why does the Motobecane need to be retired? The correct course of action is to figure out what you like about the Surly and alter the Motobecane to suit. Then he gets to have two bikes he likes to ride!

    1. Convert to 700c wheels. This will allow you to use slightly wider tires, which I'm guessing are part of the reason he likes the Surly.
    2. Mimic the fit of the Surly. Start with saddle height (from BB) and saddle setback(from BB), then put the bars where they need to be.

  53. Velouria,

    Of course, it's been months since I test-rode the Gazelle (in Portland, which I won't be getting back to any time soon and there simply are no Gazelles in Minneapolis), so I am trying to replicate my MEMORY of what the Gazelle felt like. I think it's two problems: I'm pretty sure the seat tube on the Gazelle was a few degrees more slack than on my Batavus (though I haven't actually measured -- keep meaning to), and the Bat's handlebars don't sweep back far enough, which forces me to lean forward. Replacing the handlebars would be simple enough except that this particular Batavus model has the gear shift actually drilled through the handlebars (hard to describe -- my LBS had never seen anything like it), which means I'd have to replace the shifter too. I also definitely need wider cushier tires as the tires that came on the Bat are, inexplicably, thin hard road bike tires even though this model could not be further from a road bike. Sigh... so you can see how this begins to snowball, and at the end of it there's still no guarantee it will feel as nice as the Gazelle did. To answer your question, the brakes are perfectly decent for my purposes. It has bottle dynamo lights, which I don't love but they're adequate.

  54. I'm very fortunate to have a bike shop that will sell vintage bikes I no longer need to a good home at a good price. I'm happy with all the homes they've gone to so far. Haven't experienced bike shimmy with any of them going down hills but on the toughest steepest hills, I prefer to ride a new bike.

  55. I thought that I would never want to part with my first and only adult road bike, a Trek 560, bought on my first credit card, 25+ years ago. But riding it now hurts my back, the discomfort edging out most feelings of attachment I have for it. Several other bikes occupy our shed, and my co-habitante has asked me to make way for my new Sam. I'm thinking of giving any of those away first, to a Cycles of Change program at a local high school.

  56. There's a big difference between hi-tensile and double-butted steel frames, in my opinion. If I were the Co-Habitant, I'd be looking for a Motobécane Grand Record or Grand Jubilé frame to supplant the Super Mirage (easy component swap, with opportunity for upgrades!). And then outfit the Super Mirage more modestly, and sell it to someone for "transportation," for which it's perfectly suited.There are silver and metallic gray Grand Records and Jubilés too, though the red-and-black ones are stunning, and both models are highly regarded by owners.

  57. I have a gordon frame, that I wont ever sell purely on the basis it was made a few miles from here my gf lives in the 1950's. I recently sold a beautiful 1970's italian road bike, campag record everything. It was however just too small, sometimes its best to let go and move onto the next thing.

    I would swap out some of the more expensive parts your likely to re use or would sell better individually. (hammered mudguards, accessories etc).

  58. I got rid of my 1976 Motobecane Nomad Sprint in 1985 when I acquired a 1984 Trek 520, which I rode until 2005. The Motobecane was just fine and even served for a North to South tour of Vermont. I look back and wonder if there was much to save but realistically I enjoy modern components and the frame was a stretch for what I wanted. No regrets.


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