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Best Road Bikes of 1981

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Best Road Bikes of 1981

Old 06-29-21, 07:30 PM
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Best Road Bikes of 1981

I'm still trying to get myself familiar with some of the old bikes and am curious what would be some of the best road bike models from the various brands for 1981. I'll start with the Schwinn Paramount and Superior as two very good road bikes. What similar models did some of the other brands have in 1981?
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Old 06-29-21, 08:00 PM
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Fuji Professional
Team Miyata and Pro Miyata
Univega Superlight
Trek 750 and 950
Panasonic Pro 7000
Raleigh Professional
Peugeot Super Competition CFX10
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Old 06-29-21, 10:41 PM
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I call it an '80, but this Bertoni Superlight might be from '81.



My Miyata 912 (with Champion fork) was actually made in '81 for the '82 market. The only frame difference might be the lack of shifter bosses on the '81 market model.


.

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Old 06-30-21, 08:30 AM
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We like to argue all the time over what is "best" but pinning it down to one year (1981) doesn't make a lot of sense. What about what were the best road bikes of the early 80s? In the early 70s, road bikes were more or less do it all road bikes with eyelets and generous tire clearance for bad roads. By the early 80s, you start to get some differentiation between different road bikes (racing, touring, "sport"). Mountain bikes started to appear by the late 70s.

That said, the top end Treks need to be added to this list.
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Old 06-30-21, 08:39 AM
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Specialized Allez - done (good luck finding one though).
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Old 06-30-21, 08:59 AM
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Not exactly road bikes, but should probably include Centurion Pro Tour and Specialized Expedition, both available in 1981, Pics are from 2004 Don

79 Pro Tour 25 Y.O. Rain Bike Commuter

1984 Specialized Expedition Touring
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Old 06-30-21, 09:04 AM
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Bottecchia Team Hoonved - darn, that is 1982

doubt it is better, or even different, from the 81 model. Is it better than a Colnago or Gios or a Peugeot from 1981? you tell me
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Old 06-30-21, 09:49 AM
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This question raises another question for me. How much better in terms of actual cycling were the 'best' bikes from 1981 than a 'good' bike? Probably made of the same steel, with similar geometries, kitted out with the same components. Would you actually notice a difference in performance?
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Old 06-30-21, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
This question raises another question for me. How much better in terms of actual cycling were the 'best' bikes from 1981 than a 'good' bike? Probably made of the same steel, with similar geometries, kitted out with the same components. Would you actually notice a difference in performance?
Weight will be the biggest differentiator - and the next step up, or two, in component groups (which of course contributes to the weight).

Of lesser concern is nice frame highlights - perhaps chrome, better drop outs/fork ends, investment cast lugs etc. - and, with some of the models, a hand built frame rivaling the work of custom builders. Not that you'd necessarily notice this on a ride as you mention, but, who doesn't like quality and craftsmanship?

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Old 06-30-21, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by tendency View Post
Weight will be the biggest differentiator - and the next step up, or two, in component groups (which of course contributes to the weight).

Of lesser concern is nice frame highlights - perhaps chrome, better drop outs/fork ends, investment cast lugs etc. - and, with some of the models, a hand built frame rivaling the work of custom builders. Not that you'd necessarily notice this on a ride as you mention, but, who doesn't like quality and craftsmanship?
I was about to ask whether you'd notice the difference in a blind test between two bikes made with the same tubing, with the same geometry, but one has chromed fancy lugs and the other simple lugs and no chrome, when I realized that in a blind test of bikes you'd just crash.
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Old 06-30-21, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I was about to ask whether you'd notice the difference in a blind test between two bikes made with the same tubing, with the same geometry, but one has chromed fancy lugs and the other simple lugs and no chrome, when I realized that in a blind test of bikes you'd just crash.
haha yeah for sure. but to your point no i cant imagine you'd be able to tell the diff between bikes if the geometry, tubing and components were the same. heck, even if the tubing were different im not sure you could. though plenty people claim they can.
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Old 06-30-21, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I was about to ask whether you'd notice the difference in a blind test between two bikes made with the same tubing, with the same geometry, but one has chromed fancy lugs and the other simple lugs and no chrome, when I realized that in a blind test of bikes you'd just crash.
Easy. Next time someone will claim you can't tell the difference between a red bike and a blue one in a blind test. Sheesh.
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Old 06-30-21, 01:37 PM
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1981 Bianchi Super Leggera:



DD
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Old 06-30-21, 01:49 PM
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I bought a Specialized Allez in 81, was my favorite bike ever. I wish I wouldn't have given it away.
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Old 06-30-21, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Bosco13 View Post
I bought a Specialized Allez in 81, was my favorite bike ever. I wish I wouldn't have given it away.
ive heard that from several people that had the 81s. the first gen 3rensho built allez frames were the best IMO .. stunning lug work.
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Old 06-30-21, 03:10 PM
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Are you thinking of using a brand and model as a basis for choosing a bike? If so, you'll miss instances from the dozens of smaller makers from all over the world, especially Europe.

My bike was stolen on Labor Day, 1981, and I spent the next month looking for a new bike. I rode everything I could get my hands on, new and used, with double-butted tubes (531, Columbus, Tange, Ishiwata, Vitus,, ?) and/or that was recommended to me - Miyata, Raleigh, 3Rensho, Basso, Ciocc, Trek, Peugeot PX-10, Gitane ... I've forgotten much of what I rode. If I had relied on brands and models, I'd have probably ended up with something like a Miyata 912 or equivalent Trek model made with Reynolds 531 - and pretty much hated it, because they were the wrong bikes for me.

I recommend reading The Custom Bicycle by Michael Kolin and Denise De La Rosa, a free download apparently in the public domain. It surveys a dozen or so makers from GB, France, Italy, and the US and outlines each maker's process. When the book was published, very few people in the US knew a lot of the makers they mention; now a number of them are very well-known to cyclists.
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Old 06-30-21, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by martl View Post
Easy. Next time someone will claim you can't tell the difference between a red bike and a blue one in a blind test. Sheesh.
Red bike:



Blue bike:



So far, Blue Bike is faster.
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Old 06-30-21, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post

So far, Blue Bike is faster.
Seems impossible, red is always fastest. Must be the Aerosaddle.
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Old 06-30-21, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by martl View Post
Must be the Aerosaddle.
It's the far more aero brake cable.

Although, the rear cluster looks quite a bit smaller.
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Old 07-01-21, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
It's the far more aero brake cable.

Although, the rear cluster looks quite a bit smaller.
it is. 13-23 vs 13-32. Note also the shorter chainstays. The blue bike is a racer, the red is a sports-touring bike.
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Old 07-01-21, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
This question raises another question for me. How much better in terms of actual cycling were the 'best' bikes from 1981 than a 'good' bike? Probably made of the same steel, with similar geometries, kitted out with the same components. Would you actually notice a difference in performance?
that’s a fun question. Probably not a huge difference depending on definition of good.
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Old 07-01-21, 08:27 AM
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The frame is from 1981...

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Old 07-01-21, 01:27 PM
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Define best...

Fastest?
Most agile?
Most comfortable?
Most collectable?
Most attractive?
Lightest?
Most sold?

The list goes on and on. Put another way, in my opinion, there is not best road bike of 1981 or any other year, for that matter. There is no best bike at all, regardless of vintage. Needless to say, this is all my opinion or my two cents worth and two cents, in Canada these days, is worth nothing always being rounded down to zero cents, if that makes any sense.

Heck, I don't even know which bike in my collection of five is the best one but I do know which one I like the best, even though it is far from the best bike to ride.
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Old 07-01-21, 01:48 PM
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I only have one bike that new! A 1982ish Medici Pro Strada, so that's the best one.
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