A Guilty Farewell to Vintage Roadbikes

Good Bye, Bianchi
Earlier this month, I parted with my remaining vintage roadbikes: a 1982 Bianchi and a 1978 Francesco Moser. Both bicycles ended up going to people I know, and their futures look promising. The Moser will be built up as a geared roadbike again and ridden by a long-time local cyclist. The Bianchi will get a make-over and may end up riding in the Eroica. The bikes moved on to greener pastures, leaving me with only my Rivendell to contemplate lessons learned and a direction for the future.

Waja Track Bike, Home for Wayward Cats
I've been experimenting with vintage roadbikes since last summer, which has included riding other people's bikes and also buying a few for the express purpose of playing around with them. The bicycles I've tried in this manner have included examples of American, French, Japanese, English and Italian bikes from the late 1970s and early '80s. Not an enormous sample, but a nice beginner's crash course. Somewhat to my surprise, I found that I liked every Italian bicycle I tried, whereas the mid-tier French bicycles felt the worst. The Japanese bikes were comfortable, and I could see the roots of Rivendell's philosophy in their geometry and handling. It was very interesting - but ultimately unsustainable.

Vintage Trek, Concord, MA
For one thing, even if a vintage bike is in good condition, it takes me a great deal of resources to set it up in a way I find ridable: Usually I have to change the brake levers, the handlebars, and - if I want to comfortably switch gears - the shifters. Not only does this require time and money, but it also ultimately changes the bike's character.

However, the bigger issue is that trying a modern roadbike this summer - and enjoying the benefits of its light, easy-to use components - has made me realise just how far I'd have to go to get the same level of performance out of a vintage bike. Assuming that I can find one in the correct size for me and with a sufficiently light, good quality racing frame, I would have to then put a modern wheelset and component group on it, as well as structurally alter the frame in order to make that possible - all just to determine whether the complete bike will be up to par. It does not seem like a practical endevour to me. 

Francesco Moser
Considering the kind of cycling I have been gravitating toward, I would ultimately like to have three roadbikes: a fully equipped touring bike that is capable of going off road, a fixed gear bike, and a "racy" bike that is suitable for competitive cycling. The first I already have. The second I am finally working on after a year of riding a conversion. And the third will be my next priority. I feel guilty that I don't see vintage in the equation, but practical needs trump aesthetic and historical interest. When I am older and have more time and money, I would love to collect gorgeous, historically significant vintage frames. But for now I would like to ride more, tinker less.


  1. I had a modern roadbike for a while - a Tiagra equipped Cannondale Synapse.

    It was fun, but it kind of cemented a hatred of using indexed shifters with dérailleur gears & multiple chainrings.

    Exactly like my old Mtb, the indexed shifter worked fine for the rear mech' but the chainring shifter was another matter - I much prefer a friction shifter for chainrings.

    Enjoy, but I imagine a few of your readers will miss the vintage bike-porn loads ;>D

  2. I can understand how you feel about those vintage Italian road bikes: I've owned and ridden a few. However, I think it's not quite fair to compare the French bikes (or any of the others, for that matter) to them. Although they were "road" bikes, they were designed in different ways for different types of riders and riding.

    Now you also understand why I had three Mercians custom-built. I knew what I liked from those vintage lugged-steel frames, but I wanted bikes that would fit me well. (I have a short torso for someone my height.) I realized that it ultimately wouldn't cost me much more to get a custom bike than it costs to customize a vintage bike.

  3. ian - My fixed gear bike will provide plenty of p0rn for vintage lovers, I promise.

    Justine - Very true, but that is why I expected to find Italian bikes *less* comfortable, not more; they were racing bikes after all.

    Agreed about custom frames. I tried to find a vintage fixed-specific frame in my size for several months, and anything "good" was in the $500-$1000 range.

  4. Maybe you can just outsource the vintage work and reporting to somervillian. He certainly loves to do that and does it beautifully!

    while i love my vintage bikes, i can completely relate to the desire to have three road bikes.

  5. Like you, I have found it useful to try out vintage bikes as a relatively inexpensive way to experiment. However, as my skills grow and change, I'm not sure the vintage bikes will be able grow with me without needing costly upgrades. And, if I'm going to spend money on an expensive component group, I think I'd like a frame of equal quality. Right now I think the vintage Raleigh touring bike that I have will serve most of my roadbiking needs, and I might do some work on my Trek this winter to make it as enjoyable as I can for the least amount of money. Tinkering is definitely part of the fun for me, so I don't mind. Meanwhile, I'll save my money, and hopefully, when I know what I want, I'll be able to afford it!

  6. Always happy to feature somervillain's bicycles! This way I get to take all the photos and do none of the work. Win-win : )

  7. Modern vs. vintage. In a racing context, modern frames are way better than anything vintage, as sweet as they are, despite what certain quarterly publishers say.
    What a rider prefers is another matter.

  8. Here is a question for those reading this, as you vintagey people might know: Where can I find the relatively modern, aluminum, non-briftery Campagnolo aero brake levers on which the Tektro/ Cane Creek design was based? If you've got a set to sell in good condition let me know.

  9. Sounds like a vintage Italian bike with modern Campy drivetrain might just bring you back if it fell into your lap!

  10. I recently had completed the restoration of a mid-70's Italian racing bike built by Vittorio Malagnini. It was great fun and turned out beautifull. Actually I find it more exciting to ride than my 1998 Rivendell Longlow. Ed Litton of Richmond, CA did the restoration. I also have two vintage French bikes that ride wonderfully but yes, they can be a pain to build up. I will miss your vintage post.

  11. As Jerome K Jerome wrote in 'three men on the bummel":
    "There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can “overhaul” it, or you can ride it.  On the whole, I am not sure that a man who takes his pleasure overhauling does not have the best of the bargain.  He is independent of the weather and the wind; the state of the roads troubles him not.  Give him a screw-hammer, a bundle of rags, an oil-can, and something to sit down upon, and he is happy for the day.  He has to put up with certain disadvantages, of course; there is no joy without alloy.  He himself always looks like a tinker, and his machine always suggests the idea that, having stolen it, he has tried to disguise it; but as he rarely gets beyond the first milestone with it, this, perhaps, does not much matter.  The mistake some people make is in thinking they can get both forms of sport out of the same machine.  This is impossible; no machine will stand the double strain.  You must make up your mind whether you are going to be an “overhauler” or a rider.  Personally, I prefer to ride, therefore I take care to have near me nothing that can tempt me to overhaul.  When anything happens to my machine I wheel it to the nearest repairing shop."

    It was obviously much the same in 1900!

  12. Modern doesn't have to mean un-lovely.

  13. Hello, I was wondering if you would give me your opinion on a new bike that I’m considering. It would be my first bike with drop bars and also the first time I’ve paid so much for a bike. I’m looking at either Rivendell Sam Hillborne or the San Marcos. My PH is 72-73 so I need a 48cm. Sam which is currently at $1500 for the frame. Were as the San Marco is around $900. I would most likely do a pretty standard build with fenders. Brake shifters are another matter all together; I don’t think I’m going to like bar end shifters and all Rivendell bikes with drop bars seem to use this type. I wouldn’t be doing any heavy touring just light loads. I have seen the Sam but Harris never has a bike small enough for me the test ride. Do you have any information or insight on the San Marcos? (I’m really liking the blue color that is on the Rivendell website) Harris has been very noncommittal stated that both are great bikes. Would the ride quality be different with thinner tubing? If I’ve nothing to compare it to would it really matter? I really want to get started bulding this bike. Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to give. Sorry to post this here but I couldn't find a email address. ~Linda~

  14. I just bought my first vintage - a 1981 Bianchi. I really like mine - it's the perfect size for me (50cm!), the only thing I'm not a fan of is the modolo brakes but can't see myself changing them (mainly because of my lack of knowledge with whats available/what the alternatives are). Still getting used to the friction shifters...

    Sad to see you moving away from vintage so soon!

  15. cyclotourist - Yes, it just might! Are you offering? : )

  16. If I had an extra, it would be yours! :-)
    A friend of mine does have a Ciocc set up just that way, and wouldn't trade it for the world!

  17. 'Considering the kind of cycling I have been gravitating toward, I would ultimately like to have three roadbikes ..'

    Yeah, she's caught the bug.

    What bikes she ends up with anyone's guess, but if it's less than 8 I'll be surprised.

    It's a well trodden path.

  18. @Linda - you might want to email Rivendell with your questions. They'd probably be able to help you out more, concerning the difference in ride & what your needs are.

  19. Pete - I already had 3 and just sold two of them. Pretty sure the total will stay the same, simply because we have no room for more!

  20. Being from the UK, I've never heard of Rivendell until reading your blog. Glad I have - I love their website and their ideas...there's so much common sense in their writings :)

  21. Ian-
    You might try Campy. For all practical purposes the front shifter is friction.
    Those Modolo brakes are major collector fetishes. Even a well-used set of the cheaper Flash or Speedy calipers would be desirable. Find a local bike guy who will trade you for what you want and do the installation for you.
    It did fall in your lap. A couple days back I offered you, free, or any trade that would feel right to you, 9s Record brifters, Campag Record 9 rear derailleur, (DuraAce front-works) Record crank & BB (cranks are 175, 52-39 rings sorta fresh), Vento wheels w/13-26 Veloce 9s cassette(also fresh). Chain if you want. Cables, housings. Derailleur ensemble is '99-2000, but clean, works perfect. Wheels are 2005? The ones where the front hub is like a 4-spoke Sheriff Star. As light as a base Ksyrium, stronger and tougher than any Ksyrium. The wheels would look wrong with older vintage, mid 80s on they'd be perfect.
    I'm done with that kit. Amortized. I like DT shifters and freewheels. The sound and feel of unramped ungated sprockets moved by a 1020/a derailleur has always been what works for me. It's to give away.
    Put it on the side and wait for the frame to appear. The frame will appear.

  22. "...fully equipped touring bike that is capable of going off road." Hmm, that would sound a lot like the elusive Co-Habitant's Surly. Cyclocross racing may not be the ticket for a lot of people but, short of doing long distance touring and mountain riding, they truly are "the Swiss Army Knife" of the cycling world. Mine has over 8000 miles and is now well broken in. Only about 10 of that was on a race course. I also imagine that we'd have heard a hint if the C-H had developed a sudden penchant for riding through mud holes and jumping over logs with the Surly neatly shouldered.

  23. I don't know where to start.

    The mistake some people make is in thinking they can get both forms of sport out of the same machine. This is impossible; no machine will stand the double strain. You must make up your mind whether you are going to be an “overhauler” or a rider.

    This quote may jibe with your own experience, but it's not universal. Personally, I like to tinker, to overhaul my bikes, and then test my handiwork. I like understanding the cause and effect relationship of the parts on a bike. I like dialing them in. I like to rejuvenate and make them mine. But I also ride them. I ride close to 365 days a year. In fact I put my bikes through some pretty tough paces and don't 'baby' them. The bike that Velouria linked to above rode D2R2, and has seen more dirt than pavement. My tandem lives under a tarp. They never see soap and sponge (yet they look clean :)). But I DO take care of them, work on them, and ride them. I couldn't be satisfied otherwise.

    I recently had completed the restoration of a mid-70's Italian racing bike built by Vittorio Malagnini. It was great fun and turned out beautifull. Actually I find it more exciting to ride than my 1998 Rivendell Longlow. Ed Litton of Richmond, CA did the restoration. I also have two vintage French bikes that ride wonderfully but yes, they can be a pain to build up.

    I know guys who have owned modern bikes, and sold them off for superior vintage ones. One friend sold off a Rivendell Bleriot (nice 650B bike), the frame of which he bought new, because it just didn't handle right. He replaced it with a vintage French lightweight, a Bertin, which he himself converted to 650B. He's thrilled with the ride and handling. That bike did D2R2 as well.

    Velouria, as for the cost of tinkering, upgrading, and working out the kinks of vintage bikes: hasn't your Sam Hillborne evolved quite a bit since first purchased and built up? It would seem it has needed just as much modification/upgrading from its original form to get it where you like it as might some vintage bikes. Not only that, but you had the initial cost of a new frame + new components, then upgraded many of them with new components. I don't see how that can work out to be any cheaper than customizing some of the finest, collectible vintage bikes, even ones of particular provenance which will always hold their value if chosen carefully. Also, the SH is sold as just a frameset, and there's nothing really 'modern' about it (except for maybe the sloping top tube). It's steel and also not particularly light. It's also not a custom frame, available in just a few off-the-peg sizes. How is this any different than a vintage frame?

    Somewhat to my surprise, I found that I liked every Italian bicycle I tried, whereas the mid-tier French bicycles felt the worst. The Japanese bikes were comfortable, and I could see the roots of Rivendell's philosophy in their geometry and handling.

    What was your sample size for French bikes to come to that conclusion? I thought you had only one? What is Riv's philosophy, exactly, and how does it relate to Japanese bikes? From the several Japanese bikes I've owned/own, I'd have to say they borrow more from French bike geometry (nominalized) than any other nation's.

  24. Take a look at the P-13 Paramount at the Horton Collection. Looks about your size. You could finance a modernization by parting out all that vintage.
    Good vendors sell at good prices.
    Don't know about the brown.

  25. Off topic a bit but I like these pix of you of late that let the pert demeanor shyly peep through that so wonderfully limns your writing. Very cool.

  26. Somervillain - I've tried a bunch of French roadbikes, albeit most of them Motobecane and Pugeot from the 70s. I've tried one Gitane and one Jeunet as well that I'd considered buying. I've tried an Astra, which I think is French. I've tried a Vitus. I did like the earlier (60s) Mercier mixte that I owned at some point, but that was not a roadbike.

    Rivendell and Japanese: Riv straight out says in one of their articles that their geometry was inspired by late 70s - early 80s Japanese touring bikes. Don't remember where, but I remember reading this. The Miyata, Panasonic and Shogun I've tried are the only vintage bikes that had an even remotely similar "feel" to the ride, similarly slack seat tubes, and long TT for the frame size.

  27. I've heard that you can find ergo 10spd campy from the UK at some very good prices. That stuff can be mated with an 8spd shimano drive train for damn near perfect compatibility. It's also worth noting that it is much cheaper to play around with old bikes if you can do your own service and you have a stash of old parts on hand. You can buy and sell frames pretty cheaply and even turn a profit if you can reach a wider market online. Having a couple tecnomics stems and 650b wheelksets on hand is a pretty easy way to make sure you never have to buy a new bike.

  28. The thing i liked about your blog was that it wasn't like other sites.I wouldn't ride anything but vintage steel personally. Carbon and alum. aren't unique. they all look the same. How boring is that when you can own a functional piece of art instead.You blog about the heart and soul of cycling not "oh , check out the new 13 lb bike i bought" that seems to be the biggest goal of modern cyclists today. Well, time will tell where all this takes you.I've been there and don't care to return.

  29. "I feel guilty that I don't see vintage in the equation, but practical needs trump aesthetic and historical interest."

    I just *luv* it when I read such common sense statements.

  30. kimble - Give me some credit here, non vintage doesn't mean aluminum/carbon!

    After all, this bike is not vintage.

    And neither is this one.

  31. I understand that 7 is the magic number :)

  32. Steve - My Rivendell is a better "...fully equipped touring bike" than his Surly, because it has longer chainstays and handles better with a front load. But the off road part they are both pretty good at.

  33. Anon 7:03pm - Thought you were joking... plus you're anonymous, how can I respond! Drop me a line at filigreevelo(at)yahoo if you would?

  34. "In a racing context, modern frames are way better than anything vintage..." In keeping with the civil tone here, excluding certain areas that demand aerodynamic subtleties, I think the point is at least debatable. The experience of a top-tier racing bike from the sixties or seventies rolling on tubulars...there is no modern equivalent.

    Velouria, I came to your blog within the last year or so; it has always been my understanding that you were writing about your exploring cycling. Carry on with whatever cycle you choose! As long as you ride. And write about it. Although I'm finicky about what I choose to ride, I like all bicycles, as long as they're being used.

    Towards the end of my commute I roll through an area of recent immigrants from China. To save transit fees they pedal on everything from undersized garage sale finds, to old three-speeds with that glorious "tick-tick-tick" from the rear hub as they pedal along. Perfect! Today on my way to work a couple of roadies passed me so fast on their modern steeds, I did a quick look to see if my brakes were dragging on the rims. Each of them had the legs of Titans. Superb!

    A couple of days ago I came across the only cyclist I disdain: an expensive Cervelo bike, rider pasty white at the end of summer, which would indicate lack of riding. Would it speak ill of me that I took a secret delight in riding away from him with my panniers and saddlebag full to bursting?

  35. Oh the poor Cervelo riders : )

    I don't disdain any cyclist unless they are rude to me or put my life at risk. The guy you saw could have been pale as a result of using sunblock religiously. And he could have been slower than you as a result of having just finished a 100 ride, after which he was cooling down and purposely going slow. Just an idea.

    Agree with you about vintage bikes. I think there are frames out there on which I would be just as fast as on a modern roadbike. But it would take me a year of tireless hunting and trial&error to find one - time and energy I could invest into working overtime and earning money for a custom frame instead.

  36. Poor Cervelo riders, indeed! No, he was on the start of his trip; good idea about the sunblock, I'll file that away. I had amicable chats with him at a few stop lights, disdain might be too strong a word. The only thing that really annoyed me: he was a "wheelsucker"! I long ago got over the "geek factor"; how does an everyday cyclist do without a rear view mirror in traffic!? Every time I looked, there he was, blocking my view.

    The bike might help somewhat, but in the end, it's the rider. Those fellows I saw today, I knew as I saw them coming upon me, they were the real deal. They do the training, watch the calories, I stayed out of their way...not that I had choice!

    I agree entirely about the pursuit of vintage frames. My dad happened upon a elderly Cinelli Supercorsa a couple of years ago, though it was too small for me, riding it was a dream! It went to Japan for over four thousand dollars! Yikes! A modern custom frame looks mighty appealing given that, but no way would I trust my 200lb self to a carbon fork!

    I'll continue to dream about a Tournesol Audax frame: every day I do without cigarettes the money I save goes into a jar, I'll get there eventually.

  37. if you ever want a Gazelle Champion Mondial, let me know. I can probably arrange one for you from over here. Keep an eye out on Marktplaats and I can help ship.

  38. This is an interesting evolution to me because I have been through it. I was thinking the other day that there could be so much said about us women who began our journeys looking for beautiful bicycles and then gravitated to just wanting to bike. That is a simplistic statement in itself and I feel it has many layers. I had a lot of visitors to my blog when I was pondering my Dutch-style Bicycle search and then ultimately spending time on the Pash, not as many when I began to fall in love with my new speedy sporty bicycle and talk about her endlessly. But I am OK with that. I am ultimately true to who I am, what you see is the real deal.

    I have waited so long for the day of beautiful bicycles to be available to women in this country, but for me there was something missing still and I had to follow my heart. Where I have ended up is a bicycle that is a compromise and my true love Trek that has brought me three Summers of pure bliss.

    Does this make us hypocrites? I don't think so. Like those of us who have taken craft, gardening, and diy back as OUR OWN, we have done the same with bicycling. We told the bicycle industry what we wanted and they are making huge strides to get there, but for those of us living in a real American city - these beautiful bicycles still have a long way to go to be a practical form of transport and happiness (at least for me). It is also not all about the bicycle, but where we are at in our own personal journey and what we hope to get out of our bicycles. This is why those of us who love to ride have, or want, more than one bicycle.

  39. I have a Rivendell Betty Foy that I built up from new parts, a Salsa Casseroll that I built up from used parts, an Xtracycle that I made out of an old Giant hybrid mixte, and a full-carbon framed Specialized Ruby with Ultegra components. I love riding them all. I love working on them all.

    I love bicycles so much that I am also in the process of building up my own frame from scratch, tube-cutting, brazing, and all.

    In spite of all this, I am a slow, 54 year-old woman, and I get passed by everyone. Everyone. Even when I am fully kitted out in my fancy jersey and bib shorts, and riding my super-fast Ruby, I am buzzed right and left by fellow cyclists, most of whom are simply riding home from school, and not dreaming, as I am, that I am riding like the wind down a sunlit road in Italy. Am I a "poser?" Only in the minds of those who think so. I am on my bicycle, whichever one it happens to be at the moment, and I love riding it.

    Fortunately for me, given that I am so slow, I'm of an age where I no longer care either that I am being passed or what someone might think about it. But whenever that cyclist passes me, I wish for him that he is having fun on his ride, too, whatever he might be riding.

    Are we not all out on the road together? Shouldn't we celebrate this?

    Maybe it is unnecessary and unhelpful to separate fellow cyclists into "tribes"--steel versus carbon, vintage versus new, fast versus slow. Bicycle makers have taken what the old bikes have taught us and made them better using better materials and techniques. How does that make "new" somehow lesser than vintage, or vice versa? They each have value.

    All of life is change, so enjoy the evolution, Velouria. See where it takes you.

  40. Alcyon, clearly you have never raced in a modern context. There is a HUGE difference but as always, the rider makes the bike.

  41. Just read your comment about vintage vs. modern. Fast is a a relative term, but over distance when tempo is constant, a lot of bikes will do. In terms of not getting gapped racing, it's all about the modern stuff. Including training and eating properly.

    Also I wouldn't apply the term vintage to anything built after 1970, as that would be damning to me.

  42. With the invention of STI brakes it redefines the ergonomic standards. The old classics can still be fun to ride occasionally but not as a serious road bike - I'm sorry to say.

    The good news is there are many modern bikes with the vintage feel and look. My serious road bike is a new Raleigh Record Ace. Lugged steel, Brooks seat. Very comfy with Shimano all around. STI of course. Maybe 21 lbs.

  43. I understand your sentiment and decision. Vintage bikes are so beautiful, but it is very hard to find mid to higher quality ones-especially road bikes. We hold onto the idea that things were built better back then, but all I see are lower end bikes-which are perfect for fixie conversions, commuter bikes, city bikes etc.. Some have cottered cranks! Steel wheels that do not stop in rain! clunky parts! While of course there are beautiful vintage components out there, if most of the bikes we find are lower end, they have the clunky bits.
    My husband has had a tough time with his vintage road bikes and will curse 'should have bought a new bike!' when trying to fix a bike again. His italian bike is amazing, fast, brilliant, but it had cottered cranks, old outdated components etc.. He raided my bike project parts, bought some gorgeous campy on ebay and got it going again, but is still struggling with his lower end vintage road bike.
    I think it is worth it if you can find a higher end frame that you know fits, can set up the way you need, and will ride well, and rebuild with modern but classic looking parts, or good quality used, nos old stock parts etc..
    I have an old gitane road bike out back in dire need of help. It's like a sad clown. Not sure it is worth it to fix up or turn into a winter bike but the mixte frame is so cute!

    I think one of the issues, is that the new modern steel bikes that most bike shops are carrying are mid range with rather heavy steel, no lugs etc.. It is quite an investment to get a higher end frame, to go custom etc. I have a chance to get a VO frame, but can't imagine how it will ride!
    I will not give up on my higher end vintage road bike quest, but being a short person it is difficult and taking years of on and off searching.
    Would you be able to do a post about higher quality lugged steel road bike options? I am familiar with most of the companies and builders being a total bike nerd, but many readers might appreciate where to go next after their peugeot project caused a melt down...'french sizing-je ne comprend pas aaaah!

  44. Susan: you say you are slow. What size are you? I ask only because I am small and really have a hard time getting going on my bikes. I was told the tubing would make all the difference and perhaps going custom would help in getting a little frame that works. I assume the specialized would be light, but have found that I expending too much energy just lugging the bike along. I get passed all the time! I am still young enough to care only because I am out every day riding long distances to work etc.. so I think i should be faster.
    Regardless, you have a wonderful relationship with your bikes and with cycling. Just keep riding!

  45. My king! My Jove! I speak to thee, my heart! ;)

  46. Hi Velouria,
    Your adventures on the Seven has been a tempest in a teapot on the internet-Bob mailing list (you will never find a more wretched hive of retrogrouches and contra-carbonistas). Can I ask a few questions on behalf of the peanut gallery?

    Do you think that if you actually invested the resources in updating a retro racer to comparable components, would it be as fun to ride as the Seven Axiom? You can't know of course, but it goes to the question of whether you believe that the Seven Axiom was a special ride more because of the frame, or because of the components and fitting.

    Have you considered getting a light wheelset and a fast set of tires and seeing if any of your current bikes speed up dramatically for you?

    And, in answer to your question about Campy brifters - why not just use the Tektro brakes? I use Campy Chorus on my race bike, and the Tektros on my bar end shifter bikes. Otherwise you could see about picking up a set of post 2000 Campy Athena brifters and simply not using the shifters - if you have some gearhead friends, they could probably gut the shifter parts from the brifters. Campy Ergo shifters are meant to be serviceable so taking them apart is not too nutty.

    You have a Lovely Blog, by the way!

  47. Steve - Oh no, am I being crucified on iBob? No, don't tell me, I don't want to know! : )

    About the Seven vs a vintage frame with modern components: As you say, there is no way to know other than to compare them side by side. That would be difficult to accomplish and expensive. I would rather spend my time doing other things, like writing, taking photos, answering my 300+ neglected emails, or... cycling more. But if someone hands me a late 70s Italian racing bike with lightweight wheels, 23mm tires and the 2010 Athena group - I am game for an honest test ride report. Is that fair? I hope it is clear that I am not saying "vintage bikes are crap." I love and want them and will keep documenting beautiful builds. But it is not practical for me to go that route when it comes to getting a "performance" bike.

    Notice also that I've tried other modern roadbikes that were not Seven but were equipped with equivalent modern components, and I did not like them. I am sure they were similarly fast, but I never got to the point of finding out because they felt majorly uncomfortable and twitchy. So what I liked about the Seven was not just the "performance" but the fact that I was able to ride it in the first place.

    Re Campy brakes: I am not interested in the brifters, but in the brakes without the shifter component. They used to exist up until a few years ago, I think, but now they only have an ugly carbon fiber version. I would love to find the older aluminum model and put them on the single speed bicycle I am building up (a lightweight lugged steel bike BTW). Just because.

  48. I'm not sure a Campy non-Ergo alloy brake lever exists that's newer than the C-Record era:


    There's the Athena ones made until 1994, but they are almost the same as the C-Record:


    I'm guessing you can get the new Record carbon brake levers and put alloy lever blades from an a 10-speed Ergo lever, but I'm not sure that would work.

  49. Re: Campy brakes

    There are others like you who think the Campy carbon levers are undesirable, and they seem to be hoarding the levers and bidding them up at auction. There's a set of "New Campagnolo Record Brake Levers" with the alloy levers you want from a Macedonian seller going for over $160 shipped.
    FWIW, the shifter guts can be stripped out, leaving only the brake levers. Its well within the skills of mere mortal bike wrenches and may be your most affordable path to a set of alloy, late model Campy brake levers. Good luck!

  50. velouria, you make good points. i do love your bikes,especially your royal h.!!soory you are takin so much flak on this issue.........!!

  51. I'm one of the wretched iBobers, and have a Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen frame on the way, with a room full of parts waiting for it, but I'd dig a Seven with electronic Dura-Ace, too. I like bikes. All kinds.

  52. Part of the romance of Campagnolo is that no one gets the last word. On many points there is no definitive answer. There's the catalog and then there are parts. Special production runs happen for favored OEM mfrs. Special runs for team directors. Things assembled from leftover parts, both in the factory and across town when the employees go home. No way does Valentino know about every last part that goes out under his name.

    This little bubble for brake levers is silly. One guy with good access to team schwag could rebuild 10 Record brakes with misc. old alloy levers and saturate the market. How many e-boys could pay $160?
    If there were 10 suckers there would quickly be a cottage industry making levers

    Record levers have been carbon body, carbon blade over a decade. It's old parts. If someone who appreciates it locates an old Mirage lever w/o shifter parts(I think it exists, no one proves it except by holding in hand) great. Pay $10. Vendor should be happy to take it for his old miscellany. I'm seeing no-sales on high priced NR as the customers who know and love it get overbought and die off. An Ergo-bodied TT lever from the 90s is just parts.

  53. What everyone is calling vintage I call current. After a break from cycling for close to 20 years I got back to riding a little over two years ago. I had kept my bikes that I acquired in the 80s & was about to replace them until I found out the cost of current chrome moly frames which are more than what I paid for the complete 80s bike with good components. That one was a custom made with Columbus tubing built by a frame builder in Ontario for $400 dollars and the complete bike came in under $1000 with Campag hubs, bottom bracket, headset, seat post, Zeus cranks, dura ace brakes, Cinelli bar and stem and seat. It was built as a touring bike but by today standards falls short. Toe overlap, no clearance for wide tyres and fenders but in spite of being heavy, over 27 lbs., and to big by todays standards for me at 59cm it still rides very nicely. On a fast ride around the small very hilly island that I live on with another I set one of the fastest times of the year on it which equalled the time set on my current light, 16 lb. road bike. I miss the brake leaver shifting but in spite of that a very sweet ride and have no plans for selling it.

  54. Yes, you can spend as much overhauling a vintage bike as buying a new bike, which I just did - again. Not two weeks after my Bridgestone conversion, I rode a Specialized Allez Reynolds 520 steel bike and fell in love. It was discounted, red, and fit pretty well. Took it for a spin and though just an 8 speed, it flew up the hill and raced around to my satisfaction while looking good. Drat - you are right.

  55. Nice to hear from a like-minded rider. I made it my mission to convert every bike frame in my arsenal to meet "touring" criteria; cross bikes, Raleigh vintage road bikes, Miyata mountain bikes, 27 inchers, 650B's, folding bikes, etc. So many hard-to-find or customized components only to find when finished it is "almost" as good as the real thing. Interesting though, my 50's vintage english made pre-raleigh Royal Scot frame made an outstanding low trail randonneur style bicycle. With no money left for the real thing, I am left with the rationalization that anything can work, and nothing works perfectly. So I ride.

  56. You want to ride an Allez that will knock your socks off, try an 85 SE model. It's the one they copied to make the new one. It weighs a good 3-4 pounds less than the new one, rides better, and doesn't have a big ugly threadless stem sticking out the top.

    To the op, sounds like you were trying everything to make a vintage bike into a new one. With that said, I find it odd you own a Rivendell, because in essence, it IS a vintage bike from conception to finish. It has vintage "styled" parts that perform better than old ones that are in bad condition. Many old components that are in good operating condition ARE better than most new components. Everything is so overhyped and cheaply made now, and drivetrains simply do not hold up. Around five to ten years ago there was a definite shift(no pun intended) to very expensive, finicky components and disposable frames.

  57. I love what is known as vintage bicycles, I was around when riding a 10 speed bicycle was considered a subversive act, like long hair, rock music, and smoking grass ;( Well I don't smoke anything now, I hate what they call music, my hair is still long, but getting thinner by the minute. When the young folk knew there was a war being fought and the fear of being drafted was something you saw every night at 6:30 P:M. Ah' those were the days. But what is it about lugged steel frames, 10 or 12 speed bicycles? I can recall when you could buy a nice old bike for a little over $100!!! Now those same bikes are selling for more than I payed for my first car!!! I recall when I was new to computers some guy wrote, "a 10 year old bicycle was worth less than nothing", "you would", according to this person have to pay to get one off your hands. I also recall seeing a very nice Schwinn Paramount selling on ebay for $250 plus shipping. Now you can't get a bike shipped for less than $100. And you can buy a inferior 16 spoked wheel cheaper than you can buy the 36 + 36=72 spokes to build up a proper wheel set ?! Spokes are essential to bicycles...Well they practically threw me out of the shop ?! I was charged $10 just to have the lengths calculated for two sets of hubs and one 27 inch & one 700c rims ?! I had to come back the next day just for that information. They said I had to have all of my spokes custom cut for $2.99 each ?! Do the math on that !!! It took me 1 year to save enough to have one 72 set of spokes cut, but first I had to pay $10 more to have the lengths calculated again. Then I was told that the price had increased too $3.99 each...So I have everything now I have parts to build two bicycles. 2 frames, 2 new sets of, "new old stock" hubs, 2 new rim sets, plus everything else to complete my racing bike and my sports touring bike...I have had this stuff for 8 years now, but I have no spokes :( Say hello to the new world order, kids bringing guns to school, the gang bangers, the lunatic-fringers. A world where you can't "even", buy spokes for a bicycle so you can have a proper set of wheels. I got talked into buying a 32 spoke wheel set, I had to have them trued up every month, at $25 each. I have seen first, a 24 spoke wheel set, now I have seen a 16 spoke wheel set, "hay" I weigh over 200 pounds a 16 spoke wheel would collapse under me. The old standard of 36 spokes, or 40 spoke rear wheel for loaded touring. The old way is better, any weight you lose by going with a 32 spoke wheel set will cost you $25 every month just to true them up. If you ride to control your weight, keep your heart strong you have to ride at least 1 hour or more every other day. The rear 32 spoke wheel will go out true every month, and that's $25 for each wheel. The front 32 spoke wheel will need to be trued at least once every year. A 36 spoke wheel set will need to be trued maybe once every 3 to 5 years. I know because I spent every spare minute on the road from the time I got my first 10 speed bicycle at the age of 13 to about my 45th summer. Now that I'm 57 with high blood pressure, and way more weight than my frame was ever meant to carry, my weight should be about 175 pounds at the most.


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