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  1. #1
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    late 80s/early 90s steel road bikes

    I am fairly certain that something along the lines of my title is what I am looking for in a commuter. steel, room for decent sized tires and fenders, braze-ons for a rear rack, not terribly heavy but not racer quality, reliable downtube shifters, etc. the problem is that I don't have the extra cash (although I might if someone would buy my singlespeed monstrosity) for a modern equivalent bike (Surly Pacer, Raleigh Clubman, Novara Verita, Rivendell, Soma, etc) but it's been extremely difficult to find anything decent on Craigslist. most of the "road bikes" I see on CL are 1970s junk from Sears with stem shifters and steel 26" rims.

    why is this? do people just know the utilitarian value of a bike like this and cling to it, or was cycling in a slump at the time and they didn't manufacture a whole lot of them during that era? anyone know of another source (ebay has been crap as well) to find something like this?

  2. #2
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    They exist, but most of those that have them are still riding them (hence your quandary). Checking out the local co-ops will likely produce more for you than craigslist, even if it does cost a bit more. I would not be shy about expanding your search to older bikes. Peugeots are a good bet, and seem to be plentiful, at least around here. Standard metric threading, parts are still available for them, not light/not heavy. Sometimes you'll find bikes from the 70s with very nice steel rims...close to the stopping power and weight of aluminum rims, different finish. They will likely say 'Araya' on them.

    I prefer to do my shopping in person if I can; estate sales (and garage sales, to a lesser extent) are great for this, as they will often produce older, lightly ridden bikes, that the current owners are looking to get rid of, and often don't know/don't care about getting market value for. Even if I'm not looking for something, I'll cruise to an estate sale if I see one.

  3. #3
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    Hmmm ... I don't think steel road bikes were all that popular in the late 80's/earl 90's. Everything was going to aluminum. You'd probably have better luck looking for something older or shopping hybrids from that era. By the way, do you really need drop bars and downtube shifters?

    Do a search with Peugeot, as suggested, along with Miyata, Bottecchia, Raleigh, Fuji, Columbus, Reynolds, Tange, Prestige, cromoly, chromoly, cromo, chromo, crmo ...

    FWIW, Hybrids from that era are CHEAP and fairly versatile. Their geometry is like an MTB (long wheelbase, high BB) which is different from a modern hauler. But if cash is an issue and you want a steel bike, it'd be hard to find a better deal.
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  4. #4
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    drop bars, yes. I want to build something that would spend most of it's miles going to and from work but also lots of miles on the road just exploring the countryside. something that fits and rides like my Pompino but with gears (subject of another thread). downtube shifters attract me because countless experiences with old STI shifters is that they don't work anymore from age. dt shifters means I could put some barcons on the bike or keep the dt pieces because they are reliable. stem shifters are gross because they are always pointed at my balls.

    I have not ruled out a flat bar with some comfy bar ends of cruising and climbing. a "light touring" or "road sport" bike is probably up my alley. I guess now the industry calls them "all road" or "x road" bikes.

    I had in my possession at one time a Trek 400 from 1992 or so and I deeply regret not keeping it. I might also consider modifying a cheap old hybrid bike but I need to find the right starting point frame for this. probably a hybrid that is too small for me so the reach will not be too extreme. (que search for "hybrid drop bar conversion"). need to spend a lot more time at Yellow Bike co-op I suppose!

  5. #5
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    Gotcha'

    If budget is a concern, you may want to look into barcon costs before you pull the trigger on a "sized-down" hybrid. That style of shifters can get a bit pricey.

    Make sure to add Novara Randonee and Trek 520 to your search (in case you hadn't already). Those two seem to have everything you're looking for. And a used one might end up being the best deal when you add it all up.
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  6. #6
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    Bike swaps are another possible source. Around here they are mostly in the spring though. Usually held at bike shops.

  7. #7
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    Hey Mack, I Love, Love, Love my Univega Viva Sport (1984 ish) It is in the 24lb range, comfortable, 98% as fast as my Scott CR1 but a WHOLE lot cheaper to maintain. $8 chains, $10 cassette (6 speed), $??derailleur (I did upgrade it in about 1988 and it has north of 10K, maybe 15K miles on it) Mine is the last generation of viva sports that they made and is a little lighter than the previous ones. I'm still on the original wheels too.
    The Candid Cyclist: Univega Viva Sport

    I find that they come up on craigslist occasionally around here but you're right. You have to wade through a lot of junk to get there. If you are patient you should be able to find one. I'm not just talking about the Viva sport but vintage steel bikes in general. Bridgestone, puch, Miyata are some other good ones to search for.

  8. #8
    CB of the East
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    Here's one: 1984 univega. Maybe MTXB can ship it to you Nice looking bike for $100

  9. #9
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    is there any chance this bike is worth $500?
    bianchi brava 50cm

    if the TT short rather short, maybe it could work.

  10. #10
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    You might want to look at a MTB conversion to 700c. There are a lot of 80s/90s steel MTB frames available.

    700c wheels on a 26" frame?
    We don't need more to be thankful for; we just need to be more thankful.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    is there any chance this bike is worth $500?
    bianchi brava 50cm

    if the TT short rather short, maybe it could work.
    Hard to say what it's worth? It depends on who else is shopping and what they're willing to pay.

    If you're wondering if that's a reasonable asking price, then I'd say yes. Your market doesn't seem a whole lot different than others (decent bikes start at $250). So a used, well-maintained Bianchi with pricey Brooks saddle, grips, new tires, nice pedals ... yeah $500 is a reasonable starting price.

    I recently did an MTB drop bar conversion on my rigid. The problem is that the geo stinks: slack head tube and long trail. Hybrids/mtb's with such geo work fine when you're sitting upright or going off road but that combo induces a lot of wheel flop and makes high-speed cornering a little more "interesting" than it should be--especially in the drops.

    The Bianchi has mtb geo and is probably a nice ride as is, however, I don't believe it's the best conversion candidate. If you want a GREAT handling, fun road bike for similar money, you might want to consider something like this:

    2012 Giant Defy $450
    late 80s/early 90s steel road bikes-00p0p_6rwhucozofj_600x450.jpg
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  12. #12
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    I went through this recently, ended up buying a bike off ebay. Shipping wasn't cheap and I guess there's the risk it won't fit at all but I was able to find what should be a lot more bike for the money that way.

    I ride a much more common size though (~57 cm top tube). For smaller / larger sizes the wider base to search might be a necessity.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  13. #13
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    For $400(including 20% off today)+shipping ($42 last time I bought a bike there) you could have this.
    Nashbar AL-1 Road Bike - Drop Bar Road They have 48" & 51" in stock.
    I had an earlier version of it. It was a damn decent bicycle for the price. I rode it 2 years and sold it locally for almost exactly what I paid. The one I had had a carbon fork so this one may be a little cheaper.

  14. #14
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    I have four. The Mercian is in a higher class (handbuilt custom bikes), but the Nishiki (1976) was bought new for my wife. The Taiwanese Schwinn World Sport (4020 alloy) was free from a neighbor and is now my errand bike. The saddle, stem, and bars were missing and the rims were bent so the price is about right. The fourth is a Mixte frame Peugeot which is quite light when the steel wheels were replaced with a set of alloys I had. $75 at the bike coop.

  15. #15
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    This looks promising Panasonic Team 1985 54cm road bike

  16. #16
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    Looks like a decent bike/price.

  17. #17
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    Ah, yeah ... that's nice. You may want to confirm that tire clearance meets your needs. But add some bar tape, maybe some aero levers and new rubber and that's going to be a pretty nice ride.

    late 80s/early 90s steel road bikes-00g0g_284daeknapa_600x450.jpg
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  18. #18
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    Don't forget at least a front set of cool stop brake pads. Those old pads got uselessly hard if unused a season or two.

  19. #19
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    I'd jump on it.

    Personally, pull the turkey wings off the brakes, they'll allow a bit more modulation from the main lever. It's easy peasy to do, don't even need to remove the levers.

  20. #20
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    I'm in the same boat, keep looking at CL don't be afraid to talk them down, I picked this up for $20 after talking them down from $100 it was originally a 12 speed but the FD is missing and the "speed drilling" they did on the RD downtube shifter caused it to snap on the PO while shifting.

  21. #21
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    ^^$20? Yikes! I hope it was theirs to sell and/or that their intervention goes OK.

  22. #22
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    It was his old bike, he just wanted it to go to a home that wouldn't part it out. It had a LOT of surface rust from just sitting in the back yard and the downtube shifter was seized, I took it all apart and wire brushed it clean as well as lubed up everything. I'm still trying to decide if I want to go find the matching campy FD to convert it back to a 12 speed.

  23. #23
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    Sorry corvius, no spare Campy FD. You can likely pick up a Suntour or Shimano stand-in cheap if there is a bicycle coop/recycle place near you.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    The fourth is a Mixte frame Peugeot which is quite light when the steel wheels were replaced with a set of alloys I had. $75 at the bike coop.
    I don`t think I`ve seen that one. Have you posted it here?

    Quote Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
    I'd jump on it.
    Somebody else had the same opinion- it`s gone before I got to oggle it
    Recalculating....

  25. #25
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    If the Panasonic didn't happen, you might want to consider this Raleigh. Not the cheapest bike out there but checks a lot of boxes, i.e. steel, barcons, tire clearance. Perfect commuter and geared to go anywhere.

    2011 Raleigh Sojourn, 55cm $600
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  26. #26
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    Re: late 80s/early 90s steel road bikes

    You sure thats steel? The downtube looks huge.

  27. #27
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    Edit; maybe not I'll pm you the link lol

    also I wasn't sure what you meant BrianMC?

  28. #28
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    I contacted that guy about the Raleigh, looks promising.

    however, I am pretty sure I am just going to buy a Pake C'mute and transfer most of my parts from my Pompino onto it. my main issue was finding the right frame. parts like cassettes, DT shifters, etc are easy to come by. the C'Mute is an inexpensive, very simple frame, not unlike a lot of older road bike frames, but with an oversized (tall!) headtube. a used frame that meets my criteria and is in my size is much harder. Also, I have been trying to sell my Pompino, which is a really odd custom build and no one wants to buy the whole bike for what it's worth. I can use some of the parts and sell the parts that I can't use and make some decent money back. thanks for the help in the meantime.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by corivus View Post
    Edit; maybe not I'll pm you the link lol
    The Sojourn is steel. Raleigh Bicycles Sojourn

    Quote Originally Posted by corivus View Post
    also I wasn't sure what you meant BrianMC?
    While a period Campy FD might be nice if the rest is Campy, any decent FD will work. Or stand-in until you track down the one you really want. Many cities have centers (co-ops, usually volunteer staffed) to put old bikes back on the road. If you have one your LBS will know. Even the LBS may have an inexpensive used FD.

  30. #30
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    Oh I've been to the coop they do have suntour, the LBS will order a newer Campy FD but wasn't comfortable ordering an older style one so for the moment I'm contemplating between the coop or getting a newer one.

  31. #31
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  32. #32
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    Ah, Didn't even think to check there and there are some that fit what I'm looking for

  33. #33
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    may as well show off my newest acquisition here


    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  34. #34
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    late 80s/early 90s steel road bikes

    Sorry if this may be too hipster for you but have you considered building up a single speed from a old steel bike? I have a 70's pugeot that I built up really nice, even has a dura ace crankset and some old lighter racing wheels, all for about 350 just looking for deals on Craigslist.
    It's an option, I learned a lot about bikes back when I did it, but SS may not work for you depending on what your commute looks like.

  35. #35
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    Nice Lemond! Clinchers or tubular?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by shinola View Post
    Sorry if this may be too hipster for you but have you considered building up a single speed from a old steel bike?
    I have a single speed. the whole point of the new bike I am seeking is to put gears on it because carrying all my stuff to work and riding longer distances in the hill on SS has lost its charm.

    now that I have sorted that out, proceed to post your old steel commuter bike pr0n!

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    Nice Lemond! Clinchers or tubular?
    Haven't looked terribly close but they better be clinchers Tires are NOS Ritchey Tom Slicks, I don't *think* those were available as tubies? Never ridden a 19c tire before, but with the steel frame they feel about as smooth as 32s on my cross bike. Probably need to inflate a bit past 100 though. I can't really find much about the bike, outside what the decals tell me, but it looks to have most of the original campy parts (seatpost, brakes, tires, tape and the brooks are the only upgrades). That rear derailleur must weigh like 3 lbs haha.

    Its a great ride but not really gonna see much commute time, mostly because when I throw a leg over it I want to go a lot farther than 11 miles (and I like having a rack so I can stop for groceries if needed). I started looking for a road bike mostly so I wouldn't wear out tubeless cross tires so fast riding on the road, but I have a feeling this is gonna give me so much more. Really happy I went this route instead of a newer bike - can't wait to do some long rides on it.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  38. #38
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    With any bike that may not have had service, it might be wise to service the hub, head, and bb bearings. Old grease tends to go to wax and the coast times can be shortened and you get any old dirt and rust out especially if the bb is not sealed bearing as the seat and down tubes will rain rust on them. The RD doesn't look like the Campy Records of a decade earlier, maybe it was a cheaper replacement at some point?

  39. #39
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    It was allegedly serviced recently but I will probably have the BB regreased just because I seem to kill those really fast, and I'd like to be certain not to kill one that will be hard to find a replacement for.

    I think the stuff on the bike is this group but the brake calipers are a newer "centaur" model. Both are lower end, but for ~26 year old components I'd say they are working pretty damn well
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  40. #40
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    Centaur was the level below Chorus and Record and the difference was usually a bit more weight but often more strength. The choice for non-weight weinies wanting most of the features of the lighter more pricey groups. I agree that looks like the same crankset and RD.

  41. #41
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    Sounds like just what I would buy today then. Beautiful
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  42. #42
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    late 80s/early 90s steel road bikes-miyata.jpg
    What do you guys think of this 80s Miyata Tri bike turned 650b Randonee bike. 650b 38 tires, long reach dual pivot tektros, 10speed 11-34 cassette and ultegra double crankset. Took the 105 down tube shifters and mounted them on a set of new shimano bar end shifter mounts I had lying around. Rides like a dream.

  43. #43
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    Great idea!

    The head tube angle appears a bit more slack than a modern tri bike. And is there a bit more trail, as well? If so, that probably makes for a fairly light, yet, stable ride, especially with the 38's.
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  44. #44
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    Ya its pretty close to old school road geo really. It rids sooo good the bb went from 10.5 with 700x23s to 10 with the 650bs. It rides a lot like a 80s mtb with drops would ride in my opinion.

  45. #45
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    Very nice. Nothing tricky about setting up the brakes for the smaller wheels? Is the stem just one of the extra-long nittos?

  46. #46
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    Thanks. Yes its a rivendell style nitto. Really long. Also long reach tektro 559 brakes.

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