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Old 531 - new problems - a cautionary tale

secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,904
edited October 2013 in Road general
Regular readers of my postings (ie no-one) will know that I have an old 531, my first "proper" bike bought with my money. It was a frame that I bought in the late '80s from my Bristol LBS. It sat unloved and unused until a few years ago, then was revived as a station bike.

Having got back into cycling, I decided to modernise it and give it some TLC, which to date has included a new chainset, gears, D/T shifters (indexed), converter for the stem to 'ahead' style, seatpin and wheels (700c in place of original 27").

I also got it painted, powder coat, as it was rusty as hell.

The wheels have been a particular problem as it is old style 126mm spacing. I just took it to Spirit bikes for an assessment, and they advised not to re-set the spacing, as this would eventually crack the frame. So all sorts of fun and games are needed to make the rear wheel fit. c.£100, then the bike will finally be usable.

So I've spent £50 on shifters, £100+ on spraying, £100 (say) on the wheel changes plus £25 on all the other bits 'n' bobs needed to modernise the bike. All to get an old bike that will ride like an old bike, is still old but has more modern bits.

For that money, I could have bought a modern frame and simply put together a bike using a mix of old and new bits.

A fool and his money...

It's just a hill. Get over it.

Posts

  • goonzgoonz Posts: 3,106
    Nice story.

    I have a 531 frame, im only building it up as a fixed gear though.
    Scott Speedster S20 Roadie for Speed
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  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    Yeah, but you still love the retro bike though, don't you? I've got a 1992 Marin Rocky Ridge that I've owned since 1993 which I am restoring. I can't imagine I'll ride it much (I have a carbon XC bike and a FS XC bike already), but I had a lot of good memories on it. If you can't keep your memories you have no soul.
  • The error was to spend money on pointless things like a stem converter... what's wrong with a quill? Then indexed downtube shifters... what was wrong with the previous ones?
    You can get exceptional rear hubs spaced at 126 without the need for respacing the frame.

    I do ride a retro 126 mm frame and with a good set of tyres can even do a decent time on a 10 miles TT. It's certainly not slower than many bikes I see around these days
  • arthur_scrimshawarthur_scrimshaw Posts: 2,596
    edited October 2013
    GiantMike wrote:
    Yeah, but you still love the retro bike though, don't you? I've got a 1992 Marin Rocky Ridge that I've owned since 1993 which I am restoring. I can't imagine I'll ride it much (I have a carbon XC bike and a FS XC bike already), but I had a lot of good memories on it. If you can't keep your memories you have no soul.

    Nice, I've got a 91/92 Marin Pine Mountain which I bought from new (cost me a fortune back then), I've got a stuck seat tube which has resisted all Sheldon's tips for removal and I'm now contemplating using a hacksaw blade to cut it lengthway from the inside :(
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I don't think we're learning much new here. There's no real point in modernising an old bike - its far cheaper to buy new.

    If you kept the bike as it was though - it would make more sense. Quill stems are a thing of beauty.
  • gaspodegaspode Posts: 110
    I had my 1984 King of Mercia resprayed by Mercian - they also re-set the spacing at the same time - I gradually swapped bits out until it's now running full 10-speed Ultegra along with a Brooks saddle and gorgeous Nitto bars and stem - the same bike new would be the best part of £3K, so I look on mine as a bit of a bargain - and at almost 30 years old already, I expect it to last me longer than my knees can manage to turn the pedals. Perhaps I could have bought a new bike, but I've lusted after a Mercian since I rode past the shop as a kid - modern bikes just don't do it for me.....
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    Most of my miles have been done on a 531 that started life as a Claud Buttler Dalesman. I've replaced and generally upgraded parts as they wear out, nearly always from ebay. It now runs a mix of Shimano 600, XT and Suntour XCD. The forks have been replaced with carbon and I built up a front wheel with a dynohub and got some über bright lights last year. I was only thinking last night it is probably due a repaint sometime during the next year. I dread to think how much I've spent on it over the years, but as its been my main mode of transport for 15 years it probably works out pretty good per mile. I've got a number of "nicer" bikes, but this is probably the one I'd least want to part with.
  • However.....not every decison we make is based on financial considerations. True, you could have bought a perfectly acceptable and usable alloy-framed road bike for the money, but would it have had the 'history' of your old 531 frame, or the memories etc? Not to mention the satisfaction of renovating and using a genuine piece of machinery. It's an issue common to classic cars too; I have owned a Triumph Stag for over 7 years, and in that time have spent not inconsiderable amounts of money renovating, improving and maintaining it. If I was only interested in getting from A to B, then I would have bought a VW Polo or something similar, which would be more suitable for travelling. However, its a Triumph Stag; it fills me with a sense of grandeur when I drive it - its an 'event' rather than just a journey. If we all made decisons based only on the 'common sense' and finacial implications, I think the world would be a duller place.
    Raymondo

    "Let's just all be really careful out there folks!"
  • My old 531 framed bike (owned since new in 1986) is being resurrected (again) after I decided to respace it to 130mm as per Sheldon - it worked perfectly.

    It's in the LBS getting a few fettling jobs done which will not include ditching the quill (why?) nor changing the old DT friction shifters - part of the fun is honing manual (in my case 8-speed) gearchanges! I'm using a 25 year old front wheel (handbuilt MA40/600 tricolour) - which is still true - and complementing it with a new Excellight/105 rear handbuilt.

    Can't wait to be reacquainted and resume its year-round duties. Of course it makes no "economic sense" whatsoever - to even discuss that is somehow missing the point of why we like to keep our old bikes alive!
  • thiscocksthiscocks Posts: 549
    Raymondo60 wrote:
    However.....not every decison we make is based on financial considerations. True, you could have bought a perfectly acceptable and usable alloy-framed road bike for the money, but would it have had the 'history' of your old 531 frame, or the memories etc? Not to mention the satisfaction of renovating and using a genuine piece of machinery. It's an issue common to classic cars too; I have owned a Triumph Stag for over 7 years, and in that time have spent not inconsiderable amounts of money renovating, improving and maintaining it. If I was only interested in getting from A to B, then I would have bought a VW Polo or something similar, which would be more suitable for travelling. However, its a Triumph Stag; it fills me with a sense of grandeur when I drive it - its an 'event' rather than just a journey. If we all made decisons based only on the 'common sense' and finacial implications, I think the world would be a duller place.
    This.

    By ops reckoning we should all be driving Dacia Sanderos (maybe a bad example- I wouldnt mind one..) :)
  • Me and my old man converted his old racer (just sitting in the garage as a frame and handlebars) into a singlespeed, frame spacing at the rear was off. Just used a broom handle to stretch the rear stays apart. Works a dream...
    “If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.”

    @mattbeedham
  • First post on here, after years of lurking, but this is something I know about so feel able to comment.

    I have 4 531 bikes in my shed and ride them all from time to time. All of them are non-modernised with the exception of two of them having been upgraded to 700C wheels, and to be honest, those are the ones most often ridden.

    I find you can still get "in-period" parts from jumbles and suchlike. I sometimes feel like I need to buy something whizzier and carbon, if only to keep up with my wife who has a nice little Bianchi (because she liked the colour, of course!). On the other hand, I still like riding my oldies. My newest bike in 1979, by the way, and I have had it from new.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Putting indexed DT shifters on a bike that presumably had friction shift before isn't an upgrade - quite the opposite. And the stem replacement? I just don't understand that one at all. This isn't about the benefits or otherwise of old frames but simply about the dis-benefits of making wrong decisions ;)
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Rolf F wrote:
    the dis-benefits of making wrong decisions ;)

    I think they are called drawbacks... :wink:
  • bucklesbuckles Posts: 694
    Confused about the wheel thing. Could you not have just taken a spacer off the non drive side of the rear axle?
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  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Rolf F wrote:
    the dis-benefits of making wrong decisions ;)

    I think they are called drawbacks... :wink:

    I know - I think I must have been listening to David Cameron :oops:
    Buckles wrote:
    Confused about the wheel thing. Could you not have just taken a spacer off the non drive side of the rear axle?

    You'd need to shorten the spacer rather than remove it and then you end up with a wheel rim that isn't aligned to the frame. You can have it redished or I have wondered if in my case I could have the drive side cone ground down a bit. I only need to find about 3mm.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    The error was to spend money on pointless things like a stem converter... what's wrong with a quill? Then indexed downtube shifters... what was wrong with the previous ones?
    You can get exceptional rear hubs spaced at 126 without the need for respacing the frame.

    I do ride a retro 126 mm frame and with a good set of tyres can even do a decent time on a 10 miles TT. It's certainly not slower than many bikes I see around these days
    Good points. It didn't need to cost you much at all. I too have a nice, very old 126mm frame and it too is not appreciably slower than other bikes - the rider is, of course, but not the bike
  • markp80markp80 Posts: 444
    I have an old Dawes (Debonair) which had been standing unused for years. I recently thought I might dust it off and see if anything could be done with it to bring it back to life. So, the first thing was to stick some new tyres on it and give it a good clean/lubrication. To my surprise, everything actually works to some extent and the more I look at it, the more I think the frame is actually really pretty, so I'd been considering giving it a good overhaul to use it on a regular basis.
    I therefore initially saw the title of this thread and my heart sank - I was expecting a tale of spending some money to find that old frames suddenly collapse unexpectedly in a heap of dust or something. I'm rather relieved to see that is not so. The post about vintage cars was a good analogy. Would I rather spend a few hundred quid on this old bike than buy say a Carrera TdF - personally, yes, I would.
    Would I change the beautiful Milremo quill stem and engraved handlebars? - not a chance. But I could well swap the rotten, chrome plated steel rims which I fitted myself about 30 years ago, for something more modern (still 27-1/4" if possible though).
    Bringing an old beauty back to life is well worthing spending money on, if you have it spare and it's what you want to do.
    Cheers,
    MarkP
    Boardman Road Comp - OK, I went to Halfords
    Tibia plateau fracture - the rehab continues!
  • My advice would be upgrade to 700C wheels. They are stronger, lighter and give you a better range of tyres.
  • MarkP80,

    My resurrected 531 frame was originally on 27". I upgraded to 700c in 1988! Originally it had (awful) Weinmann centre pulls but it now uses Tektro extra-deep drop calipers which easily reach the new size of rim and work very well indeed with good pads inserted.

    If you want to give the old bike a lot of use, I'd go one more step and cold-set the rear dropouts from 126 to 130mm. This opens up not just a massive choice of wheels but also a much wider choice of cassettes - 8 speed cassettes work fine with downtube shifters and the old chainset is still compatible as the chain size is 6/7/8 speed.
  • crankycrankcrankycrank Posts: 1,830
    Not sure why Spirit felt that cold setting the frame to 130mm may lead to cracking. This is a fairly common procedure with many old steel bikes although there are instances where it might not be a good idea due to frame construction. Sometimes shops are overly cautious due to the fact if something breaks during the cold set it's on them to pay for a new frameset (Can't blame them really) but you should still be able to find someplace that will do it properly.
  • bigjimbigjim Posts: 780
    Quite high prices there. Powdercoating is usually £50 ish. Indexed DT levers? I paid £13 off e-bay for mine.
    I've spread the rear end on my 531 Raleigh Royal. Dumped the censored brakes for cheap sidepulls. Fitted a Tiagra road triple etc, etc. I bought the frame and other fitted bits for £37 off e-bay a few years ago. Upgraded it from e-bay and club site. The whole caboodle stands me at aprox £150. It rides just as well, if not, IMO, better than a new Galaxy or LHT.
    I tour Europe on it every year and use it on club runs etc. Love it.
    9822094883_9c86305da3_z.jpg
  • bobloboblo Posts: 360
    Aye that Royal will be fine once you've gone on the course to learn how to do up quick releases properly :D
  • bigjimbigjim Posts: 780
    Wots up with my quick release?
  • Always with levers pointing backwards. It's the rules, innit? :wink:

    Seriously though, that's a lovely bike and as good to ride as many hyper-priced handbuilt custom steel bikes. Nothing wrong with them, by the way, but you can access the steel experience for a shoestring if you find an old frame that fits you.
  • markp80markp80 Posts: 444
    MarkP80,

    My resurrected 531 frame was originally on 27". I upgraded to 700c in 1988! Originally it had (awful) Weinmann centre pulls but it now uses Tektro extra-deep drop calipers which easily reach the new size of rim and work very well indeed with good pads inserted.

    If you want to give the old bike a lot of use, I'd go one more step and cold-set the rear dropouts from 126 to 130mm. This opens up not just a massive choice of wheels but also a much wider choice of cassettes - 8 speed cassettes work fine with downtube shifters and the old chainset is still compatible as the chain size is 6/7/8 speed.
    Ha ha, this bike has probably been stood since before 1988!
    It still has centre-pull Weinamnn brakes on it, which I thought were rather nice :oops: I'll give it some thought about changing to 700c wheels. I've been scratching my head for some time about what to do with them and the groupset. It was once a double at the front but there's just a generic 52t on there now, which I'd planned/hoped to swap out for a modern compact. I can't remember the make of the old rear derailleur, but again I was hoping to swap that for something modern, but I'd like to keep the downtube shifters

    But I digress, and drift offtopic.....
    Boardman Road Comp - OK, I went to Halfords
    Tibia plateau fracture - the rehab continues!
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    MarkP80 wrote:
    It still has centre-pull Weinamnn brakes on it, which I thought were rather nice :oops: I'll give it some thought about changing to 700c wheels. I've been scratching my head for some time about what to do with them and the groupset. It was once a double at the front but there's just a generic 52t on there now, which I'd planned/hoped to swap out for a modern compact. I can't remember the make of the old rear derailleur, but again I was hoping to swap that for something modern, but I'd like to keep the downtube shifters

    But I digress, and drift offtopic.....

    The centre pull Weinmanns do have a lovely feel to the movement - they are beautifully sprung. Unfortunately, the metal is Edam. They flex - if you pull the brake lever so that the blocks are pressed against the rim, and then increase pressure on the brake lever, you can actually see the brake arms at the cable end moving whilst the arms at the brake block end remain in the same place! They are useable - just - but probably best not at high speed in heavy traffic or down steel hills (as I once tried - just keeping to a fixed speed and not accelerating was the first objective!).

    Why do you want to swap the components? A modern rear mech is not necessarily any better than an old one - infact, the best of the old mechs is probably a good deal better than any modern mech. Engineering quality isn't what it was.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • The best replacement for centre-pull Weinmanns is (in my experience) Tektro R559 extra deep drop brakes. Their brother, the 57mm drop R539 are rubbish even with good pads but for some reason (maybe the longer caliper arms give better leverage) the 559s are brilliant. I coupled mine with koolstop salmons and they are not far off the Ultegra 49mm brakes on my dry bike.

    The improvement over the "oh my god am I going to stop?" Weinmanns is immense.
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