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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    talk me out of buying a new retro-classic steel frame bike

    hi all, need a lil help...

    lifelong mountain biker here, & my "road bike" is a modern manufacture but vintage-look steel fixed gear that i ride like it is a roadie just with one gear. my locale is completely flat so the only times i miss having multi-gears is in headwinds & also lately when i join up with a couple of more serious group rides & they inevitably drop the hammer, & me shortly thereafter.

    so i decided if i want to ride with faster groups it is time to get a real roadbike & been shopping for a while. i was going for alu with a decent level groupset but several times when i thought i had picked out a good buy, i could not bring myself to pull the trigger for fear of missing out on an even better deal, & now am stuck in a perpetual road bike shopping loop.

    i was on a b/c group ride this am & when i tried to stay up with the b riders i run out of gearing & just couldn't keep spinning fast enough do it. but i am faster than the c riders so i ended up between the 2 groups fighting the winds all by my lonesome. maybe it is as much me holding me back as it is my fg bike, but it made me determined to finally buy a roadbike this weekend & find out.

    on the way back from the ride i stopped in at a bike shop i never been to & was immediately drawn to what i thought was a nos vintage steel-frame road bike, it even had downtube friction shifters. turned out that it is a brand new bike & that in fact there are a lot of manufacturers making retro-look road bikes. they let me take it for a long ride & it really felt right. but...

    while i did like the ride & looks very much, & it fit perfectly - it is nowhere near as light & slick as some of the other bikes i've considered, & while it felt fast enough, i was alone & had noone to check it against.

    a big plus, though, is that this bike is 1/2 the cost of other bikes i have come close to buying.

    sorry if tl;dr - in short...am i a fool to give into my retro-grouch impulses by buying a dt shifter, steel-frame bike instead of a sleek, modern road bike for pretty fast group rides?

    if so...someone please stop me before i make a bad buy

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Sorry can't help you, I ride a dinosaur and love it. I have no trouble keeping up with my friends when I ride and the pros that rode them in eighties were much faster than I am now. I am sure it isn't the bike holding me back.
    New aluminum or carbon bikes don't feel as good to me...

  3. #3
    Not a rocket surgeon.
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    I wont stop you.

    Heck, i have a new steel frame with a full Ultegra 6700 group and just bought DA 7900 downtube shifters for it. All I nees is some brake levers.

    Awesomeness.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Can you hear that fine hand crafted steel calling your name right now?

  5. #5
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    Buy what you like and screw what everyone else thinks.

    Retro lugged steel and downtube shifters isn't my cuppa, but if you like it, I won't try to talk you out of it. My steel bike is a TIG-welded crit bike that has STI. It's a hoot to ride. Always leaves me smiling.

    I don't know about the pros, or even amateur racers. I've never been either one. For those of us who consider themselves ordinary folk, "light and slick" makes almost no difference in the performance department. "Legs and lungs" are what hold us back, and they don't sell those at the LBS.

    I have one bike outfitted as a "climbing bike"--it's been to weight watchers, has a set of feathery light climbing wheels. Heavy rain and t-storms were in the forecast last September on the day of the Highlander Cycle Tour, a century with 11,000 feet of climbing. I had to leave the climbing bike home. I took my 32 pound commuter, with full fenders, luggage rack, dynamo hub and lights. All day long we out-climbed carbon wonderbikes.

    It's the legs and lungs.

    So buy the bike that makes you happy. Screw what the scales say. Screw what your buddies say.

    Speak with your legs and lungs, and they'll have nothing to reply with.
    Last edited by brucew; 02-16-2013 at 02:38 PM.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    if you want a bike that has that look and feel of an old bike, just buy an old bike. i would still be riding my centurion if it wasnt for the gearing and the climbs not meshing where i live. i got that centurion for $150 and it came in perfect riding condition. i love the thing so when i get fit enough, the centurion will be my primary bike and the giant defy will take second place.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I have an Alu winter bike, a steel audax bike and a carbon Sunday bike. The Alu(Crux E5 frame) is good, though nothing special; the steel (Tange Prestige with steel forks and mudguards) is wonderfully comfortable, capable and stylish; the carbon (TCR SL) slightly less comfortable, but very dynamic and, in my opinion, beautiful.

    If I HAD to choose, it would be the relatively cheap steel framed bike.It is the one I ride the most.

  8. #8
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    Yes on the frame, but get "brifters"

    I'm all in favor of people who like lugged steel frames. I don't have one now, but will in the future. I ride an aluminum bike and a CF bike and absolutely love both, so I'm not a materials nazi. I wish I had the last decent lugged frame I owned, but I sold it to "upgrade".

    But having ridden road bikes since the early 70s, and having downtube shifters until about 5 or 6 years ago, I would say that, to me, the most important improvement in bicycle technology in the past 40 years is integrated shifters.

    I don't think any of the other incremental changes in bike technology in those decades are anything but minor tweaks, except for that.

    To be able to keep your hands on the hoods and shift at will without any compromise of control on the bike is really great.

    I'm not saying downtube shifters are awful. If I find the right vintage complete bike with downtube shifters, I'll ride the hell out of it.

    But if I were buying a brand new lugged steel frame, or a vintage frameset only, I'd outfit it with integrated brake/shifters.

  9. #9
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    talk me out of buying a new retro-classic steel frame bike

    FWIW I have an 80's Fuji steel frame road bike with downtube friction shifters that someone gave me. It's a heavy bike but I like it.
    I checked out two new/retro steel framed bikes with indexed downtube shifters; the Bianchi Campione, which I really enjoyed riding and it looks cool and the Fuji Connoisseur, which felt like a noodle and scared the heck out of me on descents. Oddly, I found the indexed DT shifters to be clunky and really enjoyed being back on the friction shifters.

  10. #10
    Devoid of all flim-flam
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    If you think that with the retro-classic bike you can keep up with the B crowd and that's all that matters to you, by all means get it. I can tell you, though, that when push comes to shove and the rubber meets the road, in other words when I absolutely must be able to go as fast and as long as I can, I always go for the lightest most modern bike in my stable: my Carbon-Fibred, Briftered Time. ...or at least I did until I cracked it up. My other bikes are a retro-style Colnago Master and a genuinely retro 1980's Somec. And as much as I love them, I feel at a disadvantage when I put my old legs to those retro-pedals.
    Mapie is a conventional looking former Hollywood bon viveur, now leading a quiet life in a house made of wood by an isolated beach. He has cultivated a taste for culture, and is a celebrated raconteur amongst his local associates, who are artists, actors, and other leftfield/eccentric types. I imagine he has a telescope, and an unusual sculpture outside his front door. He is also a beach comber. The Rydster.

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I'm with the go with the steel crowd.

    I've ridden the same loop, numerous times, on both my steel frame and my carbon frame and there isn't that big of a difference in my ride times.
    That's all conditions and times of the year.
    The carbon bike is nice but it just doesn't put the smile on my face that the steel does. In fact the carbon frame is in the process of being replaced by
    another steel frame.

    Men of Steel Racing - Home

  12. #12
    AKA: Sheila Muirenn
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    Steel.

    And can you please tell us what bike it was? Sheeze.

  13. #13
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    My suggestion is buy a used vintage steel bike on CL. Ride it awhile. If you don't like it, sell it probably for what you paid for it.

    I have an older steel bike and it's nice but it doesn't compare with the modern bikes I have in terms of performance.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    A friend of mine gave me a lugged steel Raleigh when he moved away for work a few years ago. By the time he moved back I had replaced it with a modern alum/alloy bicycle. And I love my new bicycle. And I still loved the old Raleigh as well.

    When that same friends son showed interest in the classic vintage Raleigh... of course I gave it to him.

    Last week I found a replacement lugged steel vintage bicycle. It needs very little minor work. The paint and even the decals are in really good shape. I really enjoy owning the steel bike... even though I haven't got to ride it any distance yet. First I plan to clean and tune it and I am sure I will ride it but mostly it will hang on a wall in my home office.

    Ask someone from your group to go bicycle shopping with you. It's nice to have the advice of others. And it perfectly fine to buy the bicycle that tugs at your heart or sticks in your thoughts. Emotional attachment might even be the best way to buy a bicycle.

    But... don't let your wallet be the sole decider on which bike to buy. There is a big difference between falling in love with a bicycle.... and saving a few bucks.

  15. #15
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    Alu or Steel.
    Sorry go for the steel.
    As I do have both down tube shifters and ergo shifters, I will recommend going the ergo route if this is your only road bike.

  16. #16
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I went classic steel three years ago and have never went back. It simply rides better then any carbon wonder bike I have ever ridden. IMHO
    And yes on Brifiters, they just work so much better from an ergonomic standpoint .
    It is about the rider and the legs and lungs. Put me at the bottom of a huge hill on the latest carbon wonder bike and lemond on a huffy free spirit and baring his bike breaking, he will kick my butt every time

  17. #17
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Just a word on the down tube shifters. in the mid-90's, I was happy with friction down tube levers on my bike. I then bought a second bike that had index shifting on the brake levers. Shortly thereafter, when riding up a hill on my older bike, next to heavy traffic, as I reached down to shift the friction levers, I noticed for the first time that the bike veered toward the traffic on the same side I was reaching for the lever. After that experience, I put index brake levers on the older bike.

    As for steel, I have a steel and a titanium bike. My steel bike was in a crash this past May. I debated what to purchase with the insurance money, which was more than enough to get a good bicycle in any frame material. Ultimately, I decided to send the steel frame for repair. In my view, the frame material choice (as a single, isolated factor) is more subjective than objective.

  18. #18
    Big is relative
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    I have several steel frames that run from classic (heavy) to new (light). They are all 59 or 60cm frames. My Merckx MX Leader built up with alloy parts is around 22 pounds. My Pegoretti Big Leg Emma is around 18 pounds with Campy Chorus 11 and Zonda wheels. My Argonaut is under 18 pounds with a similar built to the BLE. I've got two steel GT's that are relatively heavy but ride so well. I live in an area that is flat with a few rolling hills so the weight of the frame/bike isn't that important. I've never owned a carbon bike, nothing against them, just haven't seen one I wanted.

    The buy who built my Argonaut now exclusively makes custom carbon, if I get the itch to get a carbon, it'll be one of his since he has my fit on file. Since I have five really cool steel bikes, the carbon will be hard to justify.
    Retired sailor

  19. #19
    Windrider (Stubborn)
    Reputation: Len J's Avatar
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    talk me out of buying a new retro-classic steel frame bike

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    I have several steel frames that run from classic (heavy) to new (light). They are all 59 or 60cm frames. My Merckx MX Leader built up with alloy parts is around 22 pounds. My Pegoretti Big Leg Emma is around 18 pounds with Campy Chorus 11 and Zonda wheels. My Argonaut is under 18 pounds with a similar built to the BLE. I've got two steel GT's that are relatively heavy but ride so well. I live in an area that is flat with a few rolling hills so the weight of the frame/bike isn't that important. I've never owned a carbon bike, nothing against them, just haven't seen one I wanted.

    The buy who built my Argonaut now exclusively makes custom carbon, if I get the itch to get a carbon, it'll be one of his since he has my fit on file. Since I have five really cool steel bikes, the carbon will be hard to justify.
    What Bill says.

    It's not going to be the frame that holds you back.

    I'd go for brifters as opposed to down tube, especially for a new roadie.

    Btw, I have 6 bikes, 5 steel and a TI/carbon mix.

    Len



    "Evil....is the complete lack of Empathy!"

    ""We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. " Aristotle

    No one is as bad as the worst thing they have done & no one is as good as the best thing they have done.........think of that when you feel like you understand someone.

  20. #20
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    I'm toying with getting a retro steel bike or a new retro style steel frame and swapping parts.

    Personally I think the key is if the bike fits you, is the right style for your type of riding and you love to ride it. I just snapped the frame on my favorite bike and I'm pretty broken up about it. It's an old frankenbike built up with a bunch of used parts, but of all my bikes it was the one that made me smile the most. If you find a bike that makes you smile when you ride it - buy it.

  21. #21
    Bus wrestling roadie.
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    talk me out of buying a new retro-classic steel frame bike

    Steel is still very real.
    I'd sprint at the chance to buy another quality magnet magnet!
    "I'm on my beater bike."
    Translation:
    I had this baby custom-made in Cambiago using carbon-fibre blessed by the Pope. I took it to a wind tunnel and it disappeared. It weighs less than a fart and costs more than a divorce.

  22. #22
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    I see it like this:
    1. The custom steel fits. Period.
    2. You get a geometry that fits your riding style. If you want racey, you can have it. Want it a little more relaxed, you can have it.
    3. Most carbon bikes ride nice, but the thrum of steel is amazing. Especially modern steel.
    4. Nobody will have a bike like yours. Maybe the same builder, but that bike was built for you.
    5. You support the creative people that live cycling. Look at NAHBS. 'Nuff said.
    6. Modern steel is not that heavy. The stuff you hang on the bike matters more than the frame weight. It's not tough to get a modern steel road bike into the 16-16.5lb range. And if you fret over 1lb, take a piss before you ride.

    I love my custom steel bike. If I could only have 1 bike, it would be the one I would keep. None of the others can do it all as well as this one can.

  23. #23
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    well the weekend has passed & i did not buy that bike, which fwiw was a Bianchi Campione.

    i suspect it is because i just really love riding my Supercorsa Pista everywhere, even tho i get dropped in aggressive group rides.

    thank you all for your suggestions...
    Last edited by markaitch; 02-18-2013 at 03:39 PM.

  24. #24
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    Quote Originally Posted by markaitch View Post
    i suspect it is because i just really love riding my Supercorsa Pista everywhere, even tho i get dropped in aggressive group rides
    Who says you can own only one bike?

  25. #25
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    talk me out of buying a new retro-classic steel frame bike

    ^Agreed. The Campione is a cool bike that would complement your single speed. I would've bought the one i test rode if I didn't already have the cool old Fuji. But if you are having doubts maybe it isn't the bike for you.

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