Buying an old steel road bike

veronese68
veronese68 Posts: 27,545
edited July 2014 in Road buying advice
I want to buy myself an old steel framed bike. I want to have a go at doing l'Eroica sometime in the next few years, so something eligible for that.
Should I buy an old British bike or an Italian bike? I'm tempted to go with Italian. I could get people I know in Italy to buy over there and then I can bring it back or get it put in with a shipment coming over. But, I would have to give them some fairly strict guidelines to go by. I understand the different types of Reynolds tubing, but have no idea what's what when when it comes to tubing on Italian bikes. Presumably Columbus tubing is no guarantee of quality as there are many different grades.
I could also look at Retrobike, Ebay and other sites of course. I'm not averse to buying a frame and putting it together over time.
What do we think?
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Comments

  • Moonbiker
    Moonbiker Posts: 1,706
    Hillary stone & pedal pedlar have alot of old steel bikes/frames.
  • kingstonian
    kingstonian Posts: 2,847
    retrobike is a good place, always plenty of good bikes up for sale at good prices.

    Does depend on your budget, there are a few companies specialising on top end vintage bikes (Eroica Cicli being the best IMO)
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    The rising popularity of retro-events means the days of picking up a bargain steel-framed bike have long gone - I once scored a freshly resprayed Paul Hewitt 631 frame for £30 :-) and my Gios was £108! It really depends on what your budget is - a decent condition Italian frame is going to be £250-300 and more for a Colnago / DeRosa / Tommassini / Pinarello. It's easy to pay £250-300 for a quality respray with transfers too. I usually sell on Retrobike and prices are fair and most aren't looking to rip you off - unless some of the ambitious BINs on ebay or Hipster-coolness of LFGSS. A lot of 80s steel frames were mass-produced rubbish - pay attention to quality, investment cast lugs and beware of tin-worm.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • tlw1
    tlw1 Posts: 21,980
    Come on, you already know the answer to this

    Italian bike on a shipment of car parts :)

    maybe even two.......... (size 56 frame for me)
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    matthew h wrote:
    Come on, you already know the answer to this

    Italian bike on a shipment of car parts :)

    maybe even two.......... (size 56 frame for me)
    Yes I know that. I have a few customers and more than a few cousins that can look for me, but not my sister she's clueless. I just need to learn more about how to tell good from bad Italian bikes remotely. Hopefully Ugo will be along to advise on that aspect as I think this sort of thing is right up his street.
    Thanks for the other suggestions. As Monty says a lot of frames were mass produced rubbish, unfortunately I don't know enough to pick out the genuinely good frames from the ones that just look good. I don't mind paying a fair price, but I don't want to pay over the odds for a load of old gas pipe.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    The easiest way to tell a cheap frame is if the rear drop-out has been stamped from a sheet of plate - doesn't matter what the tubing says IME. Forged drop-outs and investment cast BB shell and fork crown are easy to spot. If the maker has gone to the effort of putting his name/logo on the frame parts, it usually shows quality.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    Good point, of course it's easy to buy a sticker for a higher spec tubing as well and there are some unscrupulous people out there.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Monty Dog wrote:
    The easiest way to tell a cheap frame is if the rear drop-out has been stamped from a sheet of plate - doesn't matter what the tubing says IME. Forged drop-outs and investment cast BB shell and fork crown are easy to spot. If the maker has gone to the effort of putting his name/logo on the frame parts, it usually shows quality.

    Depends - earlier bikes, even the good ones, don't necessarily have forged drop outs or braze ons for that matter; to assume that non- forged dropouts always means a cheap frame is incorrect. I suspect that forged dropouts didn't really become essential in a quality frame until the 70s. Better to just look properly at the bike - I think you can spot quality irrespective of tick list items - there's always plenty of clues.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    Also true, but a tick list makes it easier if buying remotely.
  • cycleclinic
    cycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Also try an buy a frame only them you won't have to deal with seized seatpost seized quills, seized BB's e.t.c. A naked frame is on wear you know what you are getting.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Also try an buy a frame only them you won't have to deal with seized seatpost seized quills, seized BB's e.t.c. A naked frame is on wear you know what you are getting.

    That's true enough but on Ebay bare frames usually seem to go for barely less than entire bikes. And you can always ask the vendor to confirm that nothing is seized.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • cycleclinic
    cycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    I would not trust the vendor to even know. I have bought mechs before described as working with so much play in them to be useless and a front mech in which the limit screw had to be secured with loctite to actually make it useable more than 2 miles. I agree though the price difference between a complete bike and a frame/fork is not as much as it should be.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    I would not trust the vendor to even know. I have bought mechs before described as working with so much play in them to be useless and a front mech in which the limit screw had to be secured with loctite to actually make it useable more than 2 miles. I agree though the price difference between a complete bike and a frame/fork is not as much as it should be.

    If the vendor says they aren't seized then I'd expect the vendor to have loosened them to confirm it. Otherwise you either walk away or negotiate more discount.

    Can work both ways of course - you can end up with a complete bike that needs nothing but cleaning time or a set of good parts you can sell to fund the purchase of the parts you want. And you can get a few quid for just about any old tat no matter how honestly described! I think frames go for a lot because everyone bidding on them knows that the total project cost will be much more than the frame anyway.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    My cousin in Italy has found an old Chesini with Campg Nuovo Gran Sport. Looks quite pretty, chrome forks, seat and chain stays. Hard to tell too much from the pictures, what do we think. It's incomplete at the moment, but the owner thinks he has the missing brake parts.
    1.jpg
    IMAG0008.jpg
    IMAG0007.jpg
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    I like it. Even if the brake parts aren't found, I doubt that Gran Sport costs much to buy. Quite abrupt geometry at the sharp end!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    I like it too. I might be able to pick it up on my way to Tuscany in August, failing that I can get a customer to ship it over to me. I haven't heard how much he wants for it yet, it belongs to a friend of my cousin. That is of course the $6million question.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Veronese68 wrote:
    That is of course the $6million question.

    I think if it is a $6million question then probably you should walk away!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    That would indeed be a bit much, even if the Italians still used Lire.
  • team47b
    team47b Posts: 6,425
    Two-fitty :D

    Is it the photo or are those wheels incredibly wide?
    my isetta is a 300cc bike
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    Bloke wants 500 Euros for it which I think is a bit rich. I'm not sure how good the frame is or what it's made of or even if he has found the brakes yet.
    I think it's the photo making the wheels look quite wide.
    I reckon Ugo will probably know a lot more than me about this.
  • team47b
    team47b Posts: 6,425
    They have a thread on retro bike forum where they identify models and suggest a price range, join up and post photos, if you don't want to join retrobike let me know and I will post it for you :D
    my isetta is a 300cc bike
  • on-yer-bike
    on-yer-bike Posts: 2,974
    I hope you are tall, its massive.
    Pegoretti
    Colnago
    Cervelo
    Campagnolo
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    I hope you are tall, its massive.
    6'2", supposedly about the same height as the current owner. But then, as far as my cousin is concerned, we're both giants.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    I hope you are tall, its massive.

    Hardly massive - looks like an equivalent to about 24 inch.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    Stuck some pictures of that Chesini on Retrobike, thanks t47, so will see what they reckon.
    Looked into it a little more and found that Chesini is just a bike shop in Verona that also sold own brand bikes. I thought they were a big Italian brand as I used to see kids bikes, shopping bikes and all sorts made by Chesini. It would appear not, they would seem to be very much local to Verona.
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,301
    Realistically, while the desire to own a Colnago Mexico with Super Record groupset is understandable, at the end of the day you want to use it to do the Eroica, which is more about the event than it is about the bike.
    My advice is to get something serviceable, where you don't need to fork out another few hundred quid to replace parts that no longer work.
    Tubing is meaningless, it's just something to brag about, put a new sticker on and there you go, you've got Columbus SLX... nobody will never know it is low end Oria instead, included yourself.

    I don't think you will find anymore cheap frames in Italy... now they want 500 pounds for an old Moser frame with Ofmega and Modolo components and rotting tyres....

    Buy the bike, it is cheaper than buying components... in the same way as it makes more sense to sell single components than it does to sell the all thing. Find a nice old man who kept it well in a dry garage for a few years, a bit of cleaning and lubing, new tyres and you're on the road
    left the forum March 2023
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    Thank you, I knew you'd have something sensible to say on this. I like the idea of that Chesini just because it comes from Verona, but that doesn't really add value to it. That bike belongs to a friend of my cousins so I was hoping for a find as you describe, but he has obviously realised these things are going up in value too.
    Have you heard of Chesini or are they peculiar to Verona? I used to see hundreds of them of all types as a kid when I was there on holiday.
    I'd also quite like a 10 speed Falcon like the one I had stolen when I was about 15, although I'm sure it was quite a low grade bike I had a lot of fun on it.
    I really should try to keep nostalgia out of it as that will make me pay over the odds for a lesser bike. No rush, I'll keep looking.
  • secretsam
    secretsam Posts: 5,117
    Those pedals are not Gran Sport either, in those days it would have been quill pedals all the way

    Did you find some brakes?

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • ugo.santalucia
    ugo.santalucia Posts: 28,301
    Nice bike...
    Possibly the pedals are Campagnolo Victory Triomphe... a mix of components of different eras... those rims are certainly recent... V rims didn't appear until the 90s
    left the forum March 2023
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,545
    Yes, thought the rims were wrong, no idea what the hubs are presumably also more recent. I'm waiting on my cousin beating him up on the price. If he drops the price a fair chunk I may well go for it. Then I'll start looking for brakes. The owner reckons he might be able to find them though. If I went for it I'd pick it up on my way to Tuscany in August, although I don't know how far I could ride in that heat.