Vintage or not purchase advice

Hi All!

I was hoping somebody could me with some decision :)

I have own a Specialized hybrid bike for about 5 years - got it second hand and I gradually took good care of it / replaced a few parts. I promised myself not to meddle with it but then eventually I kinda got into it, and probably learned more than I should :)

I have always been fascinated by vintage road bikes, you know slim steel frames, gear shifters on the down tube, probably from around 70s-80s. Got quite close to buying a Peugeot years back but then abandoned the idea, as I thought that as charming as they could be, a modern hybrid would always probably be better for commuting.

I am now at the point where I tried a Brompton, and I unexpectedly loved it. Yes it is a lot of money, but it is a very good piece of engineering and it would suit my commuting needs very well. If I actually do that (very likely) the commuting bit is solved and I can reconsider a vintage road bike, just for the fun of it.

Long post but here is the question: where do I start from in terms of brands, and what should I look out for in my purchase? Also, some websites I should definitely check out?

Worth adding that I am originally Italian, and I understand Italy has/had quite a tradition in road bikes - so an Italian bike would be greatly preferred!

Thanks!

Comments

  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    Some Italian brands command a significant premium, research and buy carefully. Eroica eligible bikes command a slight premium as well. If you want the bike to ride look at something old, but not full vintage.
    You might have guessed but I'm also Italian and bought an old Chesini and fixed it up using Campagnolo parts over a couple of years. Unfortunately two weeks after finishing it a driver cut me up and the frame was trashed. But it ride beautifully and I will get another one to transfer the parts onto.

  • hi!
    Yes, I probably do not want something 100% vintage. A 70-80s frame would probably do, but I don't mind fitting non historically accurate parts to it.
    Speaking of - how far can this modern refitting be pushed? I mean which "modern" parts can be easily put on an old frame?
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    An old frame with a modern groupset can be done and would make a lovely bike to ride. Things to look out for are that the spacing for the rear wheel is different. Old frames were usually 126mm between the dropouts I think, modern frames need 130mm. On my sons bike we just pull the frame apart a bit to get the wheel in, should really cold set it and straighten it. The brakes on old frames had small holes with a nut on the outside, modern brakes have a tube nut so the frame and fork have a larger hole on the back to accomodate this. You can sometimes drill the frame to accomodate this. Alternatively SJS sell a longer centre pivot bolt so you can modify some brakes to old style nut fitting. The silver Campagnolo groupsets from a few years back look great on an old frame. The newer chainsets look wrong in my opinion.
  • elbowloh
    elbowloh Posts: 7,078
    I have an 80s Columbus steel frame bike (Arthur Caygill brand), with modern Campagnolo Chorus 12 groupset and (i believe) 80's Campagnolo Mexico '68 wheelset. It has an english BSA screw-in bottom bracket which makes things easy.

    As V68 said, it has 126mm rear drop outs and you can get 130mm in there at a push , but you want new wheels with 126mm hubs, you can get them handbuilt from Cycleclinic for just under £300

    https://thecycleclinic.co.uk/collections/road-rim-brake-wheelsets/products/borg22-all-weather-tubeless-ready-clincher-700c-wheelset-shiney-silver-126mm-spacing-rear

    It's not my best bike, but the bike i grab the most often.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame
    Tall....
    www.seewildlife.co.uk
  • Depending on budget and whether or not you really wanted to build up a bike yourself, Brick Lane Bikes in London always had a good selection of vintage frames and complete bikes. Not lived in London for a while so I am unsure what stock they still hold these days, but they certainly used to be a good source of (largely) Italian made frames/bikes.
  • I think what I really want is the "vintage" frame, as original as possible, but with a bunch of modern adjustments that actually make it safe and rideable any time.
    How difficult is it to build a bike starting from a frame?
  • elbowloh
    elbowloh Posts: 7,078
    ponch10 said:

    I think what I really want is the "vintage" frame, as original as possible, but with a bunch of modern adjustments that actually make it safe and rideable any time.
    How difficult is it to build a bike starting from a frame?

    Pretty easy, assuming its a BSA screw-in BB. You can find brand new quill stems, forks, bars, wheels and groupsets that will fit. There's also tonnes of vintage stuff on ebay and the like if you can't find new.

    Like i said I have an 80s frame with a brand new 12 speed campag groupset that i bought at the end of last year and it all just fits on with no special parts needed (apart from a band adapter for the front mech, as i could only find a braze-on part.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame
    Tall....
    www.seewildlife.co.uk
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    As above, not difficult at all if you are even vaguely competent. BSA bottom brackets are easier to find, but a lot of Italian frames will have an Italian thread unsurprisingly. If you need to replace the headset bear in mind that there are different thread types on the forks. Make sure you get the right one. The Sheldon Brown website is good for lots of information on different standards for old bikes.
  • thank you very much guys, I suppose I will start reading stuff on Sheldon Brown.
    Any other website / reseller in the UK I should be aware of? Mainly to try a vintage bike in the flesh?
  • London!
  • secretsam
    secretsam Posts: 5,098
    edited September 2021
    Be careful what you buy. Anything 'old' these days is marketed as 'vintage', but a lot of it's utter junk. A good example is those old Peugeots: some were great, but a lot were just gaspipe frames, really nothing special (although the lugless ones are preferable to a cheapy lugged frame of the same era, as you can see the tube joins properly).
    EDIT: for the modern, vintage look, how about a Campagnolo Centaur gruppo in silver on an old frame? Throw on some handbuilts and off you go!

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    ponch10 said:

    London!

    Sorry, missed this. There are certainly some shops selling refurbed old bikes in London, as abaove they can charge a premium for something that is just old but not particularly desirable. There are some sellers on Ebay that have a few, do a search and filter it by nearest location. That should throw up some traders.
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    Steel Vintage Bikes (Berlin, but they ship) currently have a lovely Tommasini in stock - built up with modern Campagnolo.

    Worth a look.

    A few years ago I found a bargain Gios frame (late 80s I think) on eBay - built it up with modern components. It looks “vintage” but rides as good as anything you’ll find on a modern shop floor.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
    Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143173475@N05/
  • davidof
    davidof Posts: 3,035
    ponch10 said:

    I think what I really want is the "vintage" frame, as original as possible, but with a bunch of modern adjustments that actually make it safe and rideable any time.

    I have a steel frame bike from the 70s with Shimano Arabesque gears. Nothing unsafe bar metal fatigue, what did you imagine the problem would be?

    Honestly there isn't a huge deal between a 70s bike and the latest carbon steed.
    BASI Nordic Ski Instructor
    Instagramme
  • Any other website / reseller in the UK I should be aware of? Mainly to try a vintage bike in the flesh?


    As mentioned in my earlier post, try these as you are London based.

    https://bricklanebikes.co.uk/frames-2
  • Ben6899 said:

    Steel Vintage Bikes (Berlin, but they ship) currently have a lovely Tommasini in stock - built up with modern Campagnolo.

    Worth a look.

    A few years ago I found a bargain Gios frame (late 80s I think) on eBay - built it up with modern components. It looks “vintage” but rides as good as anything you’ll find on a modern shop floor.

    thanks!
    that looks really nice, but two grand for my intended use is definitely beyond budget I think.
  • davidof said:

    ponch10 said:

    I think what I really want is the "vintage" frame, as original as possible, but with a bunch of modern adjustments that actually make it safe and rideable any time.

    I have a steel frame bike from the 70s with Shimano Arabesque gears. Nothing unsafe bar metal fatigue, what did you imagine the problem would be?

    Honestly there isn't a huge deal between a 70s bike and the latest carbon steed.
    I don't know!
    In my mind the whole thing should be pretty simple - get a frame, add wheels, brakes, gears, pedals, saddle, and it should work!