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Classic bike & original components?

Old 11-03-19, 05:09 PM
  #1  
Miele Man
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Classic bike & original components?

I've read a lot of posts here and elsewhere about what components or groupset was on a particular Classic bicycle. I'm gradually restoring a nice red Bianchi that was given to me a number of years ago. I like it and it rides really well. Following advice from here, it seems that most of the components were Suntour Cyclone but with Dia Compe 500 brake calipers.

As I've been working on this bicycle and reading other posts from people wondering what components/groupset was original to their bike I got to thinking.

What about those Classic frame that when bought new were fitted wit the components that the original buyer wanted rather than what was offered on a complete bicycle. I know that a lot of our customers put a pretty good mish mash of parts on their frames. Those bikes might now be called Frankenbikes.

Thus, it's possible to see a used bicycle advertised for sale and that bicycle have a number of components on it that would NOT show up in a catalog listing for that frame. I've often wondered if people pass up a great bike with all original components because those components don't match what's show in a catalog showing a complete bicycle as supplied by the manufacturer.

Comments?

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Old 11-03-19, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post

What about those Classic frame that when bought new were fitted wit the components that the original buyer wanted rather than what was offered on a complete bicycle.
The first nice bike that I owned was a Raleigh Gran Sport. Beautiful bike, but even with my limited experience at the time (circa 1975), I knew that most of the parts on a Gran Sport were ... not the best.
I already had a few spare parts from earlier projects, so I arranged to buy the Gran Sport from the local shop with just the parts that I liked. That ended up being just the Weinmann centerpull brakes and the Stronglight 93 cranks.

I equipped the bike with SunTour Cyclone derailleurs, SR bars & stem & seatpost, KKT Pro Ace pedals, Brooks Pro saddle, wheels built with Shimano 600 hubs & Super Champion Model 58 rims, etc. I rode that bike for 14 years and didn't regret any of the choices.
By chance, I did pick up some Campy SL track pedals and Record hubs a bit later, which got incorporated into the bike too.



Given a choice between a stock Gran Sport and my component choices, I still stick with the parts I put on the bike. The original stuff was nothing special at all.

Steve in Peoria
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Old 11-03-19, 07:24 PM
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What about those Classic frame that when bought new were fitted with the components that the original buyer wanted rather than what was offered...


Probably happened a lot with those that were also sold as framesets, like this '82 Miyata 912 with Tange fork, omas headset, Miche hubs, Campy bb and derailleurs, Modolo brakeset, 3ttt stem and bars ...



The production model came with shimano 600.
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Old 11-03-19, 08:20 PM
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I'm in the process of putting together a bike from a classic Italian manufacturer and in trying to find out the original component specifications I found that in 1992 they were only sold as frame & forks. Over the past month I have kept an eagle eye on eBay for really good deals on Campagnolo components that were made in 1992 / 1993 and am getting ready to start the frame refurbishment and preparing for the final build. I could have gone more modern and looked for 10 speed shifters and high boutique wheels, but I wanted to go full period restoration. Honestly - the bike would ride just as well with a mish-mash of parts, but I really like the idea of everything matching.
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Old 11-03-19, 09:12 PM
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I picked up a representative example of what the OP wonders about this past summer.

1981 Specialissima. During this time period, the Bianchi Super Corsa and Super Leggera were the top two complete bikes in their range. Super Corsa was pretty much all Super Record and the Super Leggera was Nuovo Record. The Specialissima, from what I've deduced, was offered as a frame/fork only and didn't actually carry a name on the top tube like the other two did. However, the frame is identical in every way to both the SC and SL, using Columbus SL tubing and featuring the same paint/chrome finish.

When I purchased it, the bike was kitted out in with Super Record crankset, derailleurs and seatpost, a Cinelli bar and stem, Modolo Professional brakes, Phil Wood hubs and BB, and a pair of Vittoria Superlight pedals. Oh, and a Nuovo Record headset. You could call it a Frankenbike, for sure. I tweaked it over the months that followed and today it's almost completely Campy Super Record/SL with the exception of the headset - and I left the Phil BB in as well. I substituted a 3ttt bar/stem combo and swapped the crusty Brooks saddle that came with it for a 3ttt version as they were suppliers to Bianchi in the era from which this bike came.

As it stands today:



DD
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Old 11-03-19, 10:01 PM
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Occasionally you will come across sales material, advertisments, brochures, old magazines, race photos, etc., that will give you a visual or written rundown of the components associated with a certain frame that the bike building workshop would construct a certain model of bike with but that is not all that common. Usually you would have to make an educated guess as to what a bike builder would have used to construct that model of bike. And, as you suggest, many bikes started out as framesets and the 'owner' would select what he or she preferred or could afford.

I too have a nice old Bianchi and I do know how it was delivered from the factory. I know exactly as to which components were attached to that model of Bianchi. I, in all my wisdom (haha) have chosen to keep about 50% of the components original and the other 50% has been upgraded - and I like it like that.

Another one of my bikes I decided to build up with EXACTLY the correct component mix a well known rider used on his famous bike. Nothing but exact would do on that particular bike of mine.

Many of my other bikes have a combination of what I feel appropriate and I find myself sticking to components and frames from a certain country. I also try to combine a level of component to a level of frame material and maintaining period correctness.

Occasionally you can follow a bike builders frame/bike model over a number of years and see the changes in components and frame material over that time. Nothing seems to stay the same.

I've got a deeply engrained sense of what I like when it comes to components and bike frames. This can be quite restrictive and it has no real logical roots but I suppose I've learnt to please my own needs.

My only advice would be to continue to do what research is available and use your instincts as it seems that you do think about everything that goes into the bike you are putting together. You really can't go far wrong pleasing yourself and the customer. You will never be able to completely please a wider audience than yourself and your customer but I feel you do/will assemble a well considered bike that quite a few others will appreciate too.

Last edited by Gary Fountain; 11-06-19 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 11-03-19, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary Fountain View Post
I've got a deeply ingrained sense of what I like when it comes to components and bike frames. This can be quite restrictive and it has no real logical roots but I suppose I've learnt to please my own needs.
+1

This is basically the bike-builder's version of "ride your own ride". Spot on

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Old 11-05-19, 09:19 PM
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Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy building up bikes from a frame and parts so much is that I can pick what parts to use, and express myself a little. I'm not constrained by needing to keep the bike catalog-correct.

Come to think of it, my Bianchi Sport SX is not wearing a single "correct" part!
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Old 11-05-19, 09:37 PM
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Old 11-06-19, 06:28 AM
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For me, I seek 100% original componentry. However, I build a vintage bike with, as close as I can get to period and model correct components. Of course, that is challenging for different reasons.

First, as others have mentioned, many bikes were sold as frame sets and then fitted with components of the buyer's choice.

Second, during the early seventies, the Bike Boom, created huge shortages in components and bikes, for that matter. With that in mind, manufacturers of bikes fitted what they could get, not necessarily what was originally specified.

An example might be thie old Torpado LUXE that is almost 100% origional, as fitted, patterned steel rims and all...


However, t could have been issued with a Campy transmission...



or a Simplex transmission...



or a Gian Robert transmission. With that in mind, it becomes difficult, at best, to determine what is and what is not original...


This identical Torpado does not sport mostly original components. Most are period correct, though...
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Old 11-06-19, 07:04 AM
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I am always looking for a good deal so often the bike I buy is a franken bike to begin with. How I build it is an exercise in exploration.
  • I know the Trek 760 came with Superbe parts. I am going to go one step up to Superbe Pro.
  • The 1984 Trek 610 may be the most frankenbike of the bunch. I am now thinking Superbe Pro for derailleurs because I have those parts. The exception might be a Stronglight 93 crankset.
  • The Pinarello was sold with DA 740x parts and is slowly being refitted with Franken Campy parts. Eventually I hope to have a consistent group on it.
  • My Colnago is period correct because I believe it may have been a frame set at the shop. Nothing but Super Record or Record as there wasn't a Super Record group back in 1983.
  • The 1972 ish Bottecchia Giro d'Itiala has been fitted with Campy NR with the exception of the brakes, Universal 61, and head set, stock. The frame is identical to the Professional which was all NR Campagnolo. I had the parts from a 1972 Le Champion that was presented with the right front fender of a car early one morning and sacrificed itself.
  • The newly acquired De Rosa has to have Campy. My preference is 9V Record but may have to settle for Chorus.
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Old 11-06-19, 08:20 PM
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Actually, lots of higher quality bikes were sold as bare framesets that owners set up with components of their preference. Consequently, there were buyers that picked and chose every different component not as part of component brands or groups, but a custom "frankenbike" mix that worked great for them.
Unfortunately, most C&Vers tend to be "purists" and would insist in having full period correct, complete component groups on their bikes, so the practice tends to dominate the C&V culture, sometime to the detriment on how their C&V bikes ultimately rides.
I have both pure build bikes and Frankenbikes in my stable, and frankly, I tend to enjoy my non-pure build bikes on the road and for just looking at, more.
My ALAN Record Carbonio is one of those bikes, and I consider it as one of my best bikes, so far!

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Old 11-06-19, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy building up bikes from a frame and parts so much is that I can pick what parts to use, and express myself a little. I'm not constrained by needing to keep the bike catalog-correct.

Come to think of it, my Bianchi Sport SX is not wearing a single "correct" part!
I agree with this idea... I only keep it 100% "correct" if it is truly a collectible bike that is not easily found. Most old bikes including the higher quality ones just arent that rare... Make it your own ...
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Old 11-06-19, 08:50 PM
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Currently have my mitts on an '81 Miyata 912. Interesingly learned by the official retail handout catalog showing it available with 600 Arabesque OR seperately as frameset. I like the frameset idea and build to suit.
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Old 11-07-19, 03:12 AM
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My experience is that the higher end bikes or racing bikes are more prone to have a mix of components. I guess people who bought these type of bikes new were the type that wanted to make theirs special and would add or change things after a race or a few rides. When I restored or refurbished my ItalVega last year , it had some interesting , period correct components that told me someone was either a racer or just wanted to make a good bike even better. The most interesting was the seat post , a Zeus Competition while the cranks and other parts were Campy.
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Old 11-08-19, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
For me, I seek 100% original componentry. However, I build a vintage bike with, as close as I can get to period and model correct components. Of course, that is challenging for different reasons.

First, as others have mentioned, many bikes were sold as frame sets and then fitted with components of the buyer's choice.

Second, during the early seventies, the Bike Boom, created huge shortages in components and bikes, for that matter. With that in mind, manufacturers of bikes fitted what they could get, not necessarily what was originally specified.

Btw Randy, that Torpado is fantastic!

An example might be thie old Torpado LUXE that is almost 100% origional, as fitted, patterned steel rims and all...


However, t could have been issued with a Campy transmission...



or a Simplex transmission...



or a Gian Robert transmission. With that in mind, it becomes difficult, at best, to determine what is and what is not original...


This identical Torpado does not sport mostly original components. Most are period correct, though...
For the reasons Randy is illustrating, I've always thought the best we can do 30 years after the fact is to use parts in the same period and same level.

Second best is to use occasional newer parts about 5 to 10 years after probably frame release, since an owner could be assumed to have replaced broken parts, and LBSs would not always have the original one on hand. A shop who sold you a Masi Gran Criterium could promise to always have a high-quality 32 tubular rim on hand, but probably didn't stock a less-used part like the original Martano.

Third, and actually my favorite, is to follow the "Retro Roadie with modern drivetrains." I first tried this on my 1984-ish Mondonico, and it is a wonderful bike with a Campy 2x10 compact drivetrain and custom 2011-built tubular wheels. Saddle has settled down to be my Ideale 92, a design from probably the mid-1960s, and bought new by me in 1985.

But to make all this diversity work is where the knowledge of the Vintagisti comes in.

One build in the queue is my 1980 Woodrup frame. Frame needs a little repair and rear-end cold-setting, but I think it will become a wider-tire fendered 700c tourer. The original design could use 630x32, and I would like to try 700 x 35 with fenders.

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Old 11-09-19, 09:09 PM
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A couple of months ago I was in the local co-op with a mechanic from one of the local bike shops. I found an early eighties Nishiki frame and proceeded to hand him parts from the boxes in the co-op to finish a complete age restored bike in about two hours. He kept asking me how I knew all of those parts were going to fit together, but at the end of the night he figured out I had hung most of those part on those frames before. It was kinda nice to be able to make a good bike in a few hours that worked well (because all of the parts were designed to work together). Sometimes getting the parts right will make the bike work the way it was designed to. Smiles, MH
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Old 11-10-19, 04:53 PM
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My philosophy is 1) does it fit and 2) does it put a smile on your face when you ride it? everything else, IMHO, is just gravy I find that most vintage bars are narrower than I like and I like to use technomic stems to get the bars up higher. I like a comfortable and enjoyable ride and if a stock part gets in the way of that I have no issues replacing it. For example my 87 520 has 44cm bars, Nitto technomic stem, MKS platform sneaker pedals and a Shimano mega range 6 speed FW

That said I have nearly 100% stock 78 Motobecane Grand Touring and I just sold a nice set of Ultegra hubbed mavic open pro 700c wheels so I could buy a set of stock Wolbler/Suntour GPX wheels for an 89 Allez to return it to mostly stock.

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Old 11-10-19, 06:22 PM
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I really prefer my vintage bikes to be original, unless it was sold as a frame and fork set. So many people these days are taking off the pricey items off original bikes and substituting them with something that may not be desirable.

First example, I passed up either one or two of these vintage 85 mongoose atb through the years as people had stripped the pro class wheels off, they can sell for way more then the complete bike itself. To me this bike just doesn't look right without them.

The second photo is of an 85 GT timberline which came with a pretty unique derailleur and guard that is labeled GT, I haven't seen many of these items on bikes that people claim to be original



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Old 11-10-19, 06:57 PM
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My 86' Centurion Ironman came to me stock . The bars and stem are still stock (they are nice) the levers I changed to Shimano , I forget the number but they are the spring loaded type , the stock Dia-Comp (aero) were not and bugged me , also I changed the brake calipers from the single pivot Shimano 600 to dual pivot Tektros . I'm trying to maintain the original vibe , this is my go to rider and I need it to stop now rather than later . My point is original vibe , OK I might have gone one toke over the line with the chrome forks .



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Old 11-10-19, 07:11 PM
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To Chombi1

That is a great ALAN Record Carbonio, I like your Campy/Mavic mix. I assume that those are Delta brakes?
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Old 11-12-19, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I've read a lot of posts here and elsewhere about what components or groupset was on a particular Classic bicycle. I'm gradually restoring a nice red Bianchi that was given to me a number of years ago. I like it and it rides really well. Following advice from here, it seems that most of the components were Suntour Cyclone but with Dia Compe 500 brake calipers.

As I've been working on this bicycle and reading other posts from people wondering what components/groupset was original to their bike I got to thinking.

What about those Classic frame that when bought new were fitted wit the components that the original buyer wanted rather than what was offered on a complete bicycle. I know that a lot of our customers put a pretty good mish mash of parts on their frames. Those bikes might now be called Frankenbikes.

Thus, it's possible to see a used bicycle advertised for sale and that bicycle have a number of components on it that would NOT show up in a catalog listing for that frame. I've often wondered if people pass up a great bike with all original components because those components don't match what's show in a catalog showing a complete bicycle as supplied by the manufacturer.

Comments?

Cheers
To begin with, when the bike was made the concept of "Gruppo" may not have even existed. Furthermore, during the heyday of the Bike Boom parts often were in short supply and bikes were built at the factory with what was available, which may not have happened to match what was shown in the Catalog. Also, customs often were delivered as frame+fork+headset, with the choice of components left up to the customer. When I bought a custom Jack Taylor back in the early 1970s it made no sense to buy parts from them, because we could get parts cheaper in the US than they could at the factory in the UK, and in any event with a custom there is no "standard component set".

Furthermore, stock configurations seldom remained that way for long. My 1972 P-15 Paramount was delivered with a Regina Oro freewheel that didn't survive through the first service: the LBS stripped the slots and had to destroy the freewheel to remove it. I replaced it with a SunTour and never looked back. Why would I want to replicate the Regina disaster when the SunTour was a better design and what's more, the LBS had a full cog board permitting custom gearing? Also, the Campagnolo Triple crank with its 36T granny gear didn't remain stock very long once I'd learned of Jim Merz' 31T granny ring. Little additional need be said about the Campagnolo Gran Turismo rear derailleur that came with the bike; its many shortcomings were quickly remedied by the replacement Shimano Titlist (I couldn't afford the Crane) and then the magnificent SunTour VGT Luxe. And once I'd experienced a SunTour Comp V backwards-acting front derailleur on my new tandem, I retrofitted the Paramount with a backwards-acting SunTour SL. And I was hardly unique in all this; it was standard practice.

Really, much depends on what you want. If you are in search of a time-travel experience, wanting to re-live the year your bike was made, building it up with the components of the time would make sense. Historical re-enactors go all the way - just as Robert DeNiro wore silk underwear while portraying Al Capone in The Untouchables because it helped him get in character. You understand Gettysburg much better if you're wearing a wool uniform carrying a 9 lb 4.7' muzzle loading rifle in the July sun as you climb up the hill at Little Roundtop.

But if you want to build up your new-to-you 1963 Jack Taylor Sports as a bike to ride, you may wish to do as I did a couple of years ago. I had no need to re-live 1963; I'll never forget what happened that year.

I had a 700C wheel set left over from upgrading my randonneur (part of the VW Cheating Diesel settlement was a cash payment that I used to buy a new wheelset) and a NOS XTR M900 drivetrain I'd had in my parts store for some years. I had a custom 8 speed 13-32 cassette I'd made for some experiments with my touring bike and a set of SPD pedals. I had a Berthoud bag I wanted to carry up front to take advantage of the Jack Taylor low trail geometry and the best way to get a front rack on the bike and fit the slightly smaller wheel set was with a TA rack and a set of Mafac Racer centerpulls. The front wheel was built on a Schmidt dynamo, and I had a headlight I'd bought from a friend, and the bike had a lamp mount on the fork.

I ended up with this:



An extremely pleasant bike to ride, set up the way I like a bike to be set up. The fact that the gearing is far superior to anything available (or even imagined) back in the cold spell in February of 1963 doesn't bother me at all, nor does it detract from the enjoyment of the bike or of my recollections of dealing with the Taylor brothers back a half-century ago.
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Old 11-13-19, 09:38 AM
  #23  
wrk101
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My thinking is that a nice bike "back in the day", an active rider would have very likely made upgrades and changes. Some for fit, some because parts wear out, some for better performance. I know I did this myself with my college UO8 back in 1975. I changed out the rims to alloy, ditto seat post, then I rounded up a three piece alloy crankset to replace the cottered crank and so on. Rode the heck out of that bike.

As far as bikes I pass on, my #1 priority on a keeper is the frame cosmetics: paint/decals/rust. Even then, my 1988 Cimarron LE violated all those rules. So sometimes I waver. I really could care less about components as far as originality, except for on a collector bike like my 1973 Schwinn Paramount. None of my other bikes have original components, all have been upgraded. My Prologue came to me with blah Shimano 105. No thanks.....

I've got three sets of those Mongoose Pro Class wheels right now.....
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