Rose tinted or not?

Red17

Über Member
Location
South London
Recently I've found myself more and more trawling ebay looking at old steel frame Raleighs / Peugeots etc with the frame mounted shifters thinking back on the old Carlton I had in my youth in the 70's which was my 1st road bike. Obviously in those days it was always empty roads, blue skies, never rained and I could ride all day as far as I remember.

I'm not looking at collectors bikes, but was wondering whether an old 70's / 80's steel framed 10 speed or similar is still a practical commuter proposition or are they now just a heavy old lump with no spares availability.

Obviously expecting a generally positive response on the vintage forum, but is one worth a punt for old times sake or is it a bit of a pain to go back to the old shifters etc in modern traffic?
 

biggs682

Smile a mile bike provider
Location
Northamptonshire
@Red17 old steel road bikes make great reliable commuters if looked after the same as modern machine plus they have the added bonus of not melting when it rains ....... like carbon frames do

i find myself hardly changing gear on my bikes that are down tube mount equipped but its not an issue it soon comes back to you anyway .

spares are readily available and some modern parts are adaptable easily enough so please do not worry , just try and avoid ones with steel wheels when riding in the damp
 

Grand Primo

Well-Known Member
Red17 I had roughly the same idea. I ended up with a 1960s Pennine frame built up with an odd assortment of later components, and an original Carlton Ten (as I had aged 15 in 1975). Pennine is a joy to ride, and fast, but no provision to carry a pump or water bottles. Carlton is frankly a bit of a clunker, does have pump pegs, but can't carry water bottles. Quality on the Carlton frame is also a bit dodgy on close inspection (blobs of brazing where they shouldn't be etc). The lessons I learned/am learning are: a hand made British lightweight is worth paying extra for over a factory build, make sure it fits (compare frame geometry with what works for you), buy a complete bike if possible as quality period components are now very expensive, and think in advance how you will carry a pump and fluids. Also, SJS Cycles sell good nutted 27 x 1 1/4" alloy wheels which are miles better than rusty steel originals. As for actually riding them - there is a little bit more skill required over modern brifters, but that is part of the fun. Brakes are better than most people imagine.
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
I'm not looking at collectors bikes, but was wondering whether an old 70's / 80's steel framed 10 speed or similar is still a practical commuter proposition or are they now just a heavy old lump with no spares availability.

Obviously expecting a generally positive response on the vintage forum, but is one worth a punt for old times sake or is it a bit of a pain to go back to the old shifters etc in modern traffic?
Now, this is a personal view but I love non-indexed downtube shifters. I think that once you've got the muscle memory set up they are just as good, if not better than, other kinds.

I still ride this old Dawes regularly - I did a 100 miler on it last month. It's a joy to ride, even if it does weigh a ton (Reynolds 500=plain guage bottom of the range)

I must admit that it's not a period restored classic. I've put a modern compact chainset and some MTB gearing on it as a sop to my weedy legs and fragile knees. Spares aren't an issue unless you are insistent on using period parts, and even then there's a NOS/used market.

Edit: corrected link
 
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andyfraser

Über Member
Location
Bristol
Now, this is a personal view but I love non-indexed downtube shifters. I think that once you've got the muscle memory set up they are just as good, if not better than, other kinds.
I've been saying this for a while now. The indexed gears on my hybrid are excellent. I've had a few minor problems with the Sora groupset on my road bike recently (new cassette and chain needed and FD needs adjusting) that simply didn't happen when I had downtube shifters. I also remember that if the chain rubbed the FD cage I'd just tweak it. I find index FDs a pain to get right.
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
I've been saying this for a while now. The indexed gears on my hybrid are excellent. I've had a few minor problems with the Sora groupset on my road bike recently (new cassette and chain needed and FD needs adjusting) that simply didn't happen when I had downtube shifters. I also remember that if the chain rubbed the FD cage I'd just tweak it. I find index FDs a pain to get right.
Indexing a FD for a double seems just daft to me. It only has two positions. Lance Armstrong may not be someone to look up to, but I do remember years ago he rode a bike with modern shifters for the rear and a single old style down tube shifter for the front. Made a lot of sense to me.

What's more, the modern Stronglight chainset that I'm using has all the fancy pins and ramps to ensure smooth shifting so it shifts better than its old-style double predecessor.
 

andyfraser

Über Member
Location
Bristol
Indexing a FD for a double seems just daft to me. It only has two positions. Lance Armstrong may not be someone to look up to, but I do remember years ago he rode a bike with modern shifters for the rear and a single old style down tube shifter for the front. Made a lot of sense to me.

What's more, the modern Stronglight chainset that I'm using has all the fancy pins and ramps to ensure smooth shifting so it shifts better than its old-style double predecessor.
I have 4 positions but I still don't have the flexibility of my old downtube shifters. The 4 positions just don't seem to be enough, and I'm not talking about using the extreme cross chain positions either.
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
Get a nice Carlton. Prices of examples previously owned by Jimmy Savile have gone from selling at a premium to now being worthless, so you can get a bargain .
 

BigAl68

Über Member
Location
Bath
I ride a carbon planet x some days to work and on others a British 531 steel with 12 speed and downtube shifters.

I am faster on the carbon but have more fun on the steel. I see more and more steel bikes on the bath to Bristol commute than ever before.
 

Stephen Piper

Über Member
I recently dragged a rusty 80's Puch out of a skip. 15 hours of scraping and sanding (plus £30 on a few bits) later, I have a perfectly ridable resprayed steel bike, only a relatively heavy 'Silver Phantom' model, but good enough to keep up with the Carvelos and Colnagos on a recent club ride... OK I was dropped at the 50 mile mark and crawled home the last 25 on my own, but am quite happy with my find. I also have a 1953 Higgins 'ultralight' which weighs about the same as the Puch.
 
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