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Old Steel Frames

BozabykaBozabyka Posts: 252
edited April 2013 in Workshop
I have seen a few old steel frames on Ebay I like the look of and have a groupset knocking about. Think its time to build a new bike up. I have looked at several custom frame builders and its more expensive as you would expect. Are old Steel frames still worth riding?

Posts

  • chrisvanderkaapchrisvanderkaap Posts: 323
    edited March 2013
    the good thing about steel frames is that they're generally very robust so yes even a 15 or 20 year old frame may still serve you well. There is a lot of different camps in retro steel bike world. One prefers a traditional look with the odd componentry while another is looking for a constant upgrade to his or her 15 year old (albeit in perfect condition) roadster. I'd recommend getting something with some nice (double butted) tubing along the likes of reynolds 531 or Columbus SL(X) from late 80's or early nineties if you have a group set from that era too. These bikes can still be build up reasonably light and if done well can really still offer that magical ride quality some rave about.

    bear in mind it's not like going to the shop and picking a run of the mill specialized bargain. The money you are going to put in to a steel bike to make it fit and enjoyable has to line up with your (maybe newfound?) passion from them.

    Custom steel (or ti) frame builders (like NAHMBS winner Joe English) can pull of magic nowadays but most of it belongs to an exquisite boutique market. I'm personally not ready to go there yet..
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    You'll pay £250-300 for a top quality frame from the 80s or 90s - there's a healthy market due to events like L'eroica and hipsters deciding that retro with shiny Campagnolo is cool. Best place to look is retrobike or LFGSS forums. I have a 1983 Gios, its a lovely bike with great handling.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Depends you want out of a bike, good quality old steel frames ride well and you will get lots of admiring comments and nods. There is a certain satisfaction in building up something quite unique but it can get addictive if you try and source the proper stuff to put on your frame. I have been building up an early 90's Colnago super for a year now, just waiting for parts to come along at the right price.
    In summary, if you want something a bit different that will probably hold its value and make you feel great everytime you ride it build up a good quality old frame. If you are not too bothered and just want something that rides well get something new. Be warned though, cake stops can be lengthy if you have a cool old bike as people will always want to chat.
  • farrinafarrina Posts: 360
    Bozabyka wrote:
    I have seen a few old steel frames on Ebay I like the look of and have a groupset knocking about. Think its time to build a new bike up. I have looked at several custom frame builders and its more expensive as you would expect. Are old Steel frames still worth riding?

    I hope so as I have just paid circa £800 for a Reynolds 853 frame to replace my 1986 Reynolds 531c frame (relegated to hack bike)

    Personally I am not enamoured by carbon or the likes (fear of catastrophic failure). I have had a main tube go on a steel frame and this was easily repaired.

    Only thing to watch out for is if the frame is bent.

    Good luck.

    Alan
    Regards
    Alan
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,561
    Bozabyka wrote:
    Are old Steel frames still worth riding?

    Mine is. Although I guess you might call it a newer - old steel frame(10 year old Gios Compact Pro). No problems. I have another 70's era steely that doesn't get ridden much, simply because I use the Gios, and it's been on a trainer for years now without issues.
    In a way riding a lugged steel frame with chromed lugs and fork will definately set you apart from the carbon cloned masses.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Yes they are worth riding but many older frames use nutted brakes and not everywhere wells them I do SJS, spa cycles but not many outlets. Also 7 speed frames will be 126mm a good wheels can be difficult to source. New ones can be built from NOS hub and they exist but they is limited choice. It is all doable but it becomes a labour of love. Worth it definatley though.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,561
    Yes they are worth riding but many older frames use nutted brakes and not everywhere wells them I do SJS, spa cycles but not many outlets. Also 7 speed frames will be 126mm a good wheels can be difficult to source. New ones can be built from NOS hub and they exist but they is limited choice. It is all doable but it becomes a labour of love. Worth it definatley though.

    I rode my old steely(early 70's) for a couple of years when I gave up on down tube shifters and joined the New World Order of 9 and ten speeds. Simply slapped the new 9 speed DA stuff on the bike(no frame mod's) and rode and rode and rode. No problems and it had a 126mm rear, into which I fitted the NEW freehub and cassette with no trouble other than spreading apart the rear triangle a bit(with my hands). On taking the wheel out, the frame simply went back to 126mm spacing until I put the wheel back in. Easy to do and never had a problem.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Yes you can spread a frame without issues but some will have clearance issues when fitting an 8 or 9 speed cassette with the chain rubbing the stays. I seen that. It is difficult to know until you try. You certainly were lucky with the brakes as many 70's frames will not accept modern allen key fitting brakes. Also being a bit of a retro grouch and the given there are 126mm hubs still out there why not use those. Nothing wrong with 7 speed and nothing wrong with D/T shifters, 3 out my 4 road bikes use them all in friction mode.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • BozabykaBozabyka Posts: 252
    the plan is to run 9speed with compact handle bars and swap the quill stem.
    Anyone done this?
    Where can I find some pictures for inspiration?
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Find a 90's frame (or very late 80's possibibly) the move to 130mm rear spacing had already happened and your brake mounts will have been drilled for recessed allen key fittings. Currently short drop hex nut fitting brakes for older bikes are getting harder to find. Long drop brakes are made new by tektro.

    retro bike readers bikes section will have all the inspritation you need.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    There's vast amounts of stuff available and cheaply. Yes, NOS Campagnolo tends to cost but even then only the higher end stuff. Anything a bit obscure tends to be cheap and, if not abundant, findable after not too long a wait. Eg I wanted to replace the Weinmann calipers on my Raleigh Record Ace with Suntour ones to match the rest of the groupset. It took a month or two to find a nice pair of medium drop Suntour Superbes in used, but nice condition for £20. I did then have to replace the bolt on one as it turned out to be a recessed mount bolt but the nutted bolt assemblies are still available new (so it isn't a big problem to buy recessed nut calipers and just swap the bolt).

    As long as you aren't riding thousands of miles in all weathers (and therefore needing a regular supply of spares) it isn't really any more hassle running an old bike than a new one. You just need to make sure you stock up on spares when you see them rather than when you need them.

    FWIW, my bikes date from 1980, 1987, 1990 (rip), 2008 and 2009 (x2). Carbon and steel is real for me!
    Faster than a tent.......
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