A few questions on vintage road bikes

JhnBssll

Veteran
Location
Suffolk
I'm considering buying and renovating a vintage road bike as my next project. This is completely new to me and I will likely have lots of questions so thought I would try and keep them in one place - so here goes!

- Sizing and geometry. I am a 57cm on modern road bikes and tend to use a 100mm stem. What would this roughly equate to on a vintage frameset?

- Tubing. I would like a decent frameset and know of Reynolds tubing being sought after. I have also seen Columbus tubing mentioned, how does this compare? Are there any others I should look for?

There will be lots more questions as I research more :smile: Thanks in advance!
 

carpenter

Über Member
Location
suffolk
Others may disagree, but I think that it is too easy to get wrapped up in tubing material - I have a Columbus Aelle (Dancelli) - which I love, I also have several Reynolds 531 - some (like Raleigh Competition) are lovely/as good/better? Others, not as responsive or as much fun but still excellent rides.
I think that once a decent frame material is used, the feel of the bike is much more down to the geometry of the frame, the fit, the skill of the builder and the ancillaries.

Must admit to not knowing anything about comparing fit of modern to old bikes though :blush:
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Sizing. Rule of thumb for a starting point for road bikes used to be inside leg in inches less nine.

Tubing. There are lots of Reynolds tubing, the various 531s being the most famous sought after. There are also lots of Columbus tubing, named IIRC. Some are as good as 531 but not as famous, while some are merely one step up from gas pipe aka straight plain steel IIRC. That's better than Peugeot tubing, which included gas pipe among its range (was that Carbolite?). I'm sure there are lists online but I don't have them bookmarked.
 

biggs682

Smile a mile bike provider
Location
Northamptonshire
Loads of answers
Reynolds , columbus , Tange , ishiwata , deda and good old cro mo i wouldn't say any are better than others so go and test as many as you can find and then decide
Pop along the a14 to my garage and try a few by all means @JhnBssll
If 57 on a modern bike i would guess around the 6ft mark ?
So 22 1/2 " to 24" are worth looking at depending upon how supple you are
What are you going to use it for ?
But best of all have fun
 

raleighnut

Legendary Member
Location
On 3 Wheels
What level of 'Vintage' are you going for 80s, 70s, 60s or earlier.

As for sizing it depends how much seatpost you want sticking up, my old Carlton is a very small (for me) frame but has an ar5e up head down riding position similar to modern bikes, I used to be comfortable on it when I was younger (had it since 76) but nowadays it gives me a sore neck so I seldom ride it (not to mention the silly gearing 42-21 lowest gear)
 
OP
JhnBssll

JhnBssll

Veteran
Location
Suffolk
I'm not really sure as to which era. I presume the more modern you get, the more closely ride would resemble that of my modern bikes, but I need to work out what I actually want from the bike. To be honest a large amount of it will be in the rebuild itself - I would probably want something nice without being rare or expensive so I can repaint it without the worry of defacing a piece of history :laugh:

I'm 6ft, or 183cm, so seems something slightly larger than a 57cm might be in order. I'll keep my eyes peeled :laugh:

I have seen a few frames that dont appear to have derailleur hangers - are these single speeds, or did some vintage derailleur attach differently?
 

Kempstonian

Has the memory of a goldfish
Location
Bedford
I'm not really sure as to which era. I presume the more modern you get, the more closely ride would resemble that of my modern bikes, but I need to work out what I actually want from the bike. To be honest a large amount of it will be in the rebuild itself - I would probably want something nice without being rare or expensive so I can repaint it without the worry of defacing a piece of history :laugh:

I'm 6ft, or 183cm, so seems something slightly larger than a 57cm might be in order. I'll keep my eyes peeled :laugh:

I have seen a few frames that dont appear to have derailleur hangers - are these single speeds, or did some vintage derailleur attach differently?
They are single speeds - maybe fixed wheel even. Fixed wheel bikes often have 'track ends' on them, where the wheel goes in from the back rather than the normal drop outs.

Check out the thread on here for items found on Ebay and elsewhere (like Gumtree). Your local Gumtree area could well turn up a bargain (it has for me). Maybe get a real cheapie to 'practice' on, before spending more on a classic bike? If you have a local scrap merchant, go and see if they have any old bikes, or get them to hold any they might have in the future. People often clear their garages out and throw away bikes that can (with a little effort) be put back on the road.
 

nonowt

Senior Member
Location
London
up until the late(?) '60s it wasn't unusual for quality frames to have a separate mech hanger like this (pic from classic lightweights):
brooks-clarke-rb-5.jpg


vintage bikes shouldn't have too much seat post showing (although, I'm 6'6" so there's no way around it for me) so I'd say closer to 60cm would be a good size.
In terms of the age i'd say late 60s-late 80s is probably the most practical era to restore as the parts are more readily available and more standardised. Buying a frame and building it up is fun but alas, it's also money pit. Better to buy a complete bike and change what you need. I'd also go for a UK builder as they tend to be cheaper and there's no worry about obsolete threading which there can be with pre-80s French and Italian bikes.
 

Poacher

Gravitationally challenged member
Location
Nottingham
I have seen a few frames that dont appear to have derailleur hangers - are these single speeds, or did some vintage derailleur attach differently?
They are single speeds - maybe fixed wheel even. Fixed wheel bikes often have 'track ends' on them, where the wheel goes in from the back rather than the normal drop outs.
As always, Sheldon Brown's site is a mine of information. Many frames from the 70s, 60s and earlier didn't have integrated derailleur hangers. They were versatile in that they could be used for fixie/SS, hub gears, or with an adaptor claw, as seen here. Rear changers were often sold with these adaptors. Another very useful site is Disraeli Gears, dedicated to rear derailleurs; here's one from the 80s, sold with the adaptor.

Edit: cross-posted with @nonowt
 

Cycleops

Legendary Member
Location
Accra, Ghana
Last edited:

raleighnut

Legendary Member
Location
On 3 Wheels
up until the late(?) '60s it wasn't unusual for quality frames to have a separate mech hanger like this (pic from classic lightweights):
View attachment 464790

vintage bikes shouldn't have too much seat post showing (although, I'm 6'6" so there's no way around it for me) so I'd say closer to 60cm would be a good size.
In terms of the age i'd say late 60s-late 80s is probably the most practical era to restore as the parts are more readily available and more standardised. Buying a frame and building it up is fun but alas, it's also money pit. Better to buy a complete bike and change what you need. I'd also go for a UK builder as they tend to be cheaper and there's no worry about obsolete threading which there can be with pre-80s French and Italian bikes.
The 2 extremes of my fleet,

DSCN0110.JPG


67 Carlton Clubman, modernised in the mid 80s(after it got run over by a lorry) it was my only bike from 76 to the end of the century


DSCN0129.JPG


531 Raleigh 'Road Ace from 83, I acquired the frame in about 2004 and built it up with 2 different wheelsets but the front from one and the rear from the other is the best set up and yes I've got standover height on this (just)
 
Top Bottom