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New to bikes ó vintage or modern? Which is the better deal?

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New to bikes ó vintage or modern? Which is the better deal?

Old 06-02-19, 11:11 AM
  #1  
gibbaeum
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New to bikes ó vintage or modern? Which is the better deal?

Iím in the need of a bike for commutes for up to 10 miles daily but usually shorter. The roads where Iíll most often use my bike are relatively flat, but there most likely will be times where Iíd want to use it in a more hilly area on paved roads and bike paths. I live in Illinois where the winds and winters are harsh. Iíve been looking at Treks, specifically the 2019 FX 7.1, however I came across a touring bike during my search.

I found a 2019 Trek 7.1 up for sale for $250. It's basically brand new according to the seller, with a kryptonite u-lock included.

The vintage touring bike is a 1985 Trek 500 for $185. The seller states that the bike is in excellent shape and has been well-stored over the years. Minimal paint damage and no damage to the frame. Whatís attracting me to this bike over the newer FX is its steel frame and drop bars.

Iím relatively new to bikes (ridden before but never really paid attention to quality or specs) so Iím not sure if itís a good idea to go for an older bike vs a new one. Which would be the smartest buy?

Last edited by gibbaeum; 06-04-19 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 06-02-19, 11:21 AM
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Vintage / used, You can expect has worn parts to replace, so you need to learn those additional costs ..

New , of course , you will not have that issue..
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Old 06-02-19, 11:34 AM
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I wouldn't buy a non drop bar bike unless I was wanting a mountain bike. I just don't see the point in a hybrid. If you are wanting a nice road bike that is vintage the Trek 1200s are nice. Another good choice is a Cannondale CAAD. You don't have to go vintage or new, you can find a bike that is 4-5 years old and get a nice bike for not much money. Many times your local bike shop will have trade in bikes that they sell. Fit is the most important thing with a bike.
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Old 06-02-19, 11:34 AM
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There's no such bike as a 2019 7.1. Trek stopped making the 7.1 FX in 2015.
Someone is pulling a fast one.
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Old 06-02-19, 11:44 AM
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Is $250 the maximum amount you are looking to spend? In the world of new bikes, that's pretty low-end. If you only plan on riding casually and occasionally, then that's OK but if you are planning on more serious riding you will VERY quickly find that bikes at this price point are lacking in many things.

If you are just "testing the waters" you might engage a knowledgeable friend to help you find, inspect, and purchase a nice used bike. You can find a fairly nice "old-tech" bike in the $250 range. By old-tech I mean it may have a (gasp) 7-speed driveline, downtube shifters, or other things that are considered vintage today but will serve you well since they still work well, just not a slickly as today's components.

If you have more to spend, say $1000 or so, a trip to your LBS, especially one that carries 2-3 brands will likely be helpful. They can help you by understanding what you want in a bike and can recommend a suitable model to fit your budget and can also let you test ride it.
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Old 06-02-19, 11:47 AM
  #6  
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I love vintage steel bikes and own many, in fact my daily commuting bike is close to 50 years old. That said I recommend you buy the newer one if it fits you! It's an excellent price and you will be quite happy with it.

The vintage Trek may be a nice bike, but you really need to be extra cautious about those advertised on CL, etc. It's not uncommon for sellers to misrepresent condition, whether intentionally or not, and almost always ask way to much. If you really like the idea of a vintage bike, have someone knowledgeable help you look it over. It will likely need something, despite being advertised as "excellent". And what in the heck does "well-stored" mean? If it's been sitting around for a long time, it will need a thorough going over. If you are up for this addictive hobby, great. Otherwise, buy the new one and once you get into riding you can then diversify.
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Old 06-02-19, 12:11 PM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by gibbaeum;20958512[b
]Iím in the need of a bike for commutes for up to 10 miles daily but usually shorter.[/b] The roads where Iíll most often use my bike are relatively flat, but there most likely will be times where Iíd want to use it in a more hilly area on paved roads and bike paths. I live in Illinois where the winds and winters are harsh. Iíve been looking at Treks, specifically the 2019 FX 7.1, however I came across a touring bike during my search.

I found a 2019 Trek 7.1 up for sale for $250. It's basically brand new according to the seller, with a kryptonite u-lock included.

The vintage touring bike is a 1985 Trek 500 for $185. The seller states that the bike is in excellent shape and has been well-stored over the years. Minimal paint damage and no damage to the frame. Whatís attracting me to this bike over the newer FX is its steel frame and drop bars. Here is whatís stated in the listing: ďVintage 1985 Trek 500. Double-butted Reynolds steel frame. Touring bike with 12 speed Cyclone components, Royal Compe brakes, SR AXC-100 crank, Avocet saddle.Ē

Iím relatively new to bikes (ridden before but never really paid attention to quality or specs) so Iím not sure if itís a good idea to go for an older bike vs a new one. Which would be the smartest buy?
As someone else mentioned, Trek FX 7.1 was last made in 2015. It retailed for $439 4 years ago. It is an entry level bike, so, lower end 7 speed shifters. It would be an OK bike for occasional light use, but probably NOT for daily commuting or longer rides.

As for the 1985 trek, a lot depends on the condition, and your tolerance for older technology. Are all the components original? Have any been upgraded over the years? Or just as importantly, downgraded. (that happens sometimes, where components wear out and the owner puts as cheap a replacement on the bike as he can get by with) If it is in rough shape, you could easily put money into it, which would mean your total cost would be more than $185.
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Old 06-02-19, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
There's no such bike as a 2019 7.1. Trek stopped making the 7.1 FX in 2015.
Someone is pulling a fast one.
Good catch. The seller posted a link to the 2019 FX 1 in the listing. Unsure if they know the 7.1 isn't the same as that.
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Old 06-02-19, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by gibbaeum View Post
Good catch. The seller posted a link to the 2019 FX 1 in the listing. Unsure if they know the 7.1 isn't the same as that.
If it really is the FX 1, I would still counsel against it if you need a commuter. It isn't bad. For the money, you get a decent aluminun frame, but they really cut corners with the fork, which is a high tensile steel fork, rather than, say cro moly or carbon fiber, the shifters and derailleurs, which are 7 speed (by comparison, my mid tier 1997 Bianchi Advantage had 7 speed components, and that was 22 years ago.), and finally, a 7 speed freewheel which is really cheap, entry level garbage. Basically, anything decent has used a freehub going back at least 15 years now.

So if you are looking for a used modern hybrid, go for the FX2 or FX 3, or equivalent from another brand.

Last edited by MRT2; 06-02-19 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 06-02-19, 01:16 PM
  #10  
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My impression is that Trek bikes tend to be rather heavy and stodgy compared to other entry level bikes in the same price range. Trek is the new Schwinn, a solid bike that's widely available and hard to go wrong with, but priced according to brand recognition. With that said, lots of people were happy with Schwinn bikes for decades, and two of my vintage frames are Schwinn. I also ride a 1960's Schwinn cruiser that's on loan from a friend, and I have to admit that it rides quite well.

Higher end Trek bikes? Who knows, not my bailiwick.

A used bike being sold by a shop? You'll pay a premium, but it's probably worth it for knowing that it's probably been checked out before putting on the sales floor.

Vintage bikes? They have some pro's and con's. It helps to know what to look for, or bring a friend along. Bikes with 27 inch wheels will be harder to find good tires for, though the market won't simply evaporate tomorrow. Many older road bikes had limited frame clearance, making it harder to fit wider tires that are preferred for commuting these days. And impossible to fit snow tires if winter riding is in your future.

I ride two vintage frames, but in both cases, I've thrown the bikes together from a hodgepodge of spare parts, and I didn't care that they were mostly trashed when I got them for free or nearly so.

Choice between upright and drop bars is a personal one, and there are no universal rules on which is better for you. I prefer upright, but find straight bars to be painful, so I've equipped all of my bikes with swept bars.

Don't let fear of failure stop you. Make your best guess. It won't be your last bike. In any event, having a spare bike is handy in case your main bike needs repair. My advice to all "new" riders is that your experience as a cyclist will be greatly improved by developing the ability to perform at least basic maintenance yourself. If something breaks on one of my bikes, I order a new part and ride another bike.
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Old 06-02-19, 03:00 PM
  #11  
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Unless you are okay with putting a chunk of money into an old bike for fixes/upgrades, have tools and can do the work yourself, the new bike is going to be a better value. Do some homework, visit local LBS's and get a bike that fits you and the riding you want to do, wherever/whoever you purchase from. You can google just about any known bike and get reviews that include the good points and the bad.
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Old 06-04-19, 08:55 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
My impression is that Trek bikes tend to be rather heavy and stodgy compared to other entry level bikes in the same price range.
I mean, I wouldn't pay money for a Trek unless it was an immaculate USPS 5500, but this is complete nonsense.
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Old 06-04-19, 10:29 PM
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with all bikes its journey , you start with a philosophy of use , and then customize the bike to meet that need , over all a vintage bike is never going to be better than a modern bike , they have their strengths , and can be updated very easily , but you need to match your bike to the need first , if you want a cheap ride that gets around 250 is pennies , but is the bike going to be good for the job , and or be able to be customized to meet the need ????
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Old 06-05-19, 04:07 PM
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The Trek 500 will probably have friction shifting and 12 speeds. A new bike will have indexed shifting and more gears. And probably a warranty, too.

The 1985 500 is a mid-range series with a Reynolds 501 frame, double-butted chrome-moly steel; decent stuff, maybe better than decent.

OTOH, the 500 might be a racing bike which may be uncomfortable for commuting, although perhaps not uncomfortable for 10 miles. One consideration WRT racing bikes is that it might be difficult to install a standard rack - but it IS eminently possible to get a seatpost rack. A rack may be important to you to carry a day's needs.

On yet another hand, you may really like the 500 and find yourself spending long hours riding it on weekends, or whenever you days off are.

If it fits, and if you like biking, the 500 might be a good choice. The Trek FX1 is low-end today, but it's probably a LOT better than the low-end in 1985. Given the winds faced in flat lands, though, I, too, recommend looking at something with dropped bars.

I'm another one who rides an old bike, but I can do almost all of the necessary work myself.

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Old 06-05-19, 04:28 PM
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If the Trek 7.1 is truly like a new bike, I'd go that way in your position and had a limited budget. Won't have to worry about what might be worn out and need replacing, and don't think you'd find anything better that was new for that price unless you go to bikesdirect or some other online outlet.

10 miles a day is very minimal so I wouldn't be so concerned about the benefits of drop bars and if you're commuting in an urban area, there are advantages to being more upright.

Now if you think you may want to do longer rides or do something else, that's a different story.
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Old 06-06-19, 01:09 AM
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Thanks guys for your input!

I think I got pretty ambitious with my estimate of riding 10 miles daily. My original plan was to try to ride to and from the college I'm currently attending over the summer (5 miles there, 5 miles home), but I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet. Realistically, I'll be riding 2 or 3 miles daily once I transfer to a university in the fall, so I don't need an expensive bike with the best specs.

I really do like the look of older bikes. I like the idea of improving on/maintaining a bike with a steel frame. I'm willing to put money into a bike if my funds allow it (however since I'm a college student, my budget is limited at the moment). Something about steel just calls to me.

I'm a short person at a little over 5'2. I feel like it'd be easy to find a modern frame small enough to suit me. However, the 1985 Trek 500 seems to be fit frame-wise at 48cm given my proportions. Though I haven't been able to check the fit in person. It's a beautiful bike. I worry that I won't come across another one of this size at the price it's going for.
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Old 06-06-19, 07:37 AM
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If you like to work on your own stuff, or are willing to learn, then vintage bikes make sense -
If you're a careful shopper, you can get a lot of bang for the buck.
OTOH, if you're the kind of person that runs to the shop for every little mechanical glitch, to get your brake pads changed, etc, etc,
then the the newer the better is what you should look for - The bike shop will be more likely, and able to deal with it.
You need to be honest with yourself.
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Old 06-06-19, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by gibbaeum View Post
Iím in the need of a bike for commutes for up to 10 miles daily but usually shorter.
Are you looking for a college campus bike? If so, my advice is to get something that you consider to be semi-expendable. That way you won't feel so bad after it gets stolen.
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Old 06-06-19, 09:30 PM
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So much terrible info in this thread.


I maintain a fleet of 20-30 Trek FX1 hybrids each year for teens that participate in a mentorship program.
The bikes are ridden for 1300-1700 miles each year, depending on the individual.
The components are entry level and come out of alignment more often than higher quality bikes. The wheels are low quality and the source of a lot of frustration.
The 2 constant issues we see are shifting that isnt consistent and wheels that come out of true/axles that break.
The bike are basically indestructible though. Tough frame and tough components in terms of service life.
The frames are great for commuting as they have rack mounts.


The old trek road bike will be a totally different style of shifting and will need maintenance for sure. It's just the reality of a bike thats 30+ years old.



An entry level trek hybrid isnt really any worse than anything else by other brands at the same price point.
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Old 06-08-19, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
If it really is the FX 1, I would still counsel against it if you need a commuter. It isn't bad. For the money, you get a decent aluminun frame, but they really cut corners with the fork, which is a high tensile steel fork, rather than, say cro moly or carbon fiber, the shifters and derailleurs, which are 7 speed (by comparison, my mid tier 1997 Bianchi Advantage had 7 speed components, and that was 22 years ago.), and finally, a 7 speed freewheel which is really cheap, entry level garbage. Basically, anything decent has used a freehub going back at least 15 years now.

So if you are looking for a used modern hybrid, go for the FX2 or FX 3, or equivalent from another brand.
I have had a 2016-ish Trek FX1 and have had a lot of success with it as my goto riding bike. Cant say i have had any issues. Its pretty much stock except for slightly skinnier road tires and bar ends i put on. Oh, i did change the seat as well.

I would buy it again if i was new to bike riding and got a good price.

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Old 06-08-19, 04:12 PM
  #21  
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Craigslist used is your friend. Get some knowledge and experience just doing it. Best of luck. I found 90's MTb's to be the best bikes for me. Who knows where I take them day to day....
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Old 06-08-19, 09:37 PM
  #22  
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Your best bet as a new rider is to go down to your local shop and test ride some bikes and find one that will work for you. Expect to pay money for it and don't just look at price or you will be less likely to get something you want to ride. Also purchase a good lock from ABUS and don't let someone tell you another lock is better in the same price point it is unlikely to be so and cheap locks offer very little in terms of protection.

With a brand new bike that you have purchased from a dealer you will get warranties with it and say from Specialized you get a lifetime warranty on that frame and if you end up like me and eventually over 11 years get a crack in your bottom bracket they will replace the frame for you (in my case frame and fork) assuming you are the original owner and didn't mangle it in a crash and if you do mangle it in a crash you can get a crash replacement discount. You will also likely get some tune ups for free and sometimes discounts on parts or labor.

Used bikes can be fun if you know you aren't buying a stolen bike and you know enough about bikes to be able to tell if the bike needs a lot of work and how much all of that will cost or even worse if you can find any dents, cracks or unsafe bits. Also if you are good with values on bikes that can help. Sometimes you can get lucky and get a great deal on a bike used but you get zero warranties and zero support for it. Plus without the chance to test ride you don't know if the bike will really fit. There are some shops that sell refurbished bikes or some that specialize in higher end vintage like BikeRecyclery.com (Justyne is awesome) but still new is generally the way to go for reliability and maybe for someone new to cycling.
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Old 06-09-19, 02:59 AM
  #23  
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Vintage or used is always a better deal. New bicycles, like new cars, lose a significant amount of their value the moment you take them home, and depreciate steadily for some time. In the case of the more trendy and more perishable nature of new bikes, depreciation is an even worse problem. My old Colnago C40 has lost more than half its value, and I don't expect it ever to increase. The carbon fiber frame is bonded with plastics which degrade over time, the gel coat has already yellowed over time, and the joints where the aluminum dropouts meet the carbon fiber are prone to corrosion.

On the other hand, I have a 1980 Masi Gran Criterium, which cost $1800 brand new. I could sell it today for $1800, though $1800 in today's money is not worth what it was in 1980.

If I were to buy a new bike, I would look for circa 2000 Schwinn Peloton or Lemond 853 steel frame. These are phenomenally well made, are great riders, and are priced today below what they are worth. You get sharp handling, and a supple ride. They aren't as sexy as the current curvy and swoopy carbon fiber frames, but what is hot today is not tomorrow. When I was a kid, people had so much hair they made Chewbacca look like Curly from the Three Stooges, shirt collars which were long enough to tie over the tops of their heads, and bell bottoms which flapped in the wind as they walked. An old steel frame is like Levis 501 jeans, or Ray Ban sunglasses, not trendy, but never uncool.
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Old 06-09-19, 01:45 PM
  #24  
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I started with 5 mile rides to campus, because I could ride to the exact building I needed to get to and lock my bike significantly faster than drive, park, and walk. I drove during winter, though, because the bike was stolen in late Fall.

If you ride a bit, you'll find that 5 miles is a short ride. 47 years after starting my adult riding, I can ride my age (albeit in km, not miles).

Does your uni have a bike co-op? Folks at Michigan's (Ann Arbor) bike co-op taught me how to maintain hubs, headset, and bottom bracket. That gave me the confidence to build and true wheels.

Without a co-op or maintenance class, I think you're probably going to be better off on a new bike. Jamis seems to make steel bikes at lower prices.
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