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Short, to the point version of this message:
Why do we ride old stuff when new stuff is better?
Today I was working on building up what has on and off been my project for the last several years: my '95 Yo Eddy. I have most of the coolest parts period-correct parts in condition ranging from merely rideable, all the way up to restored or even NIB: MAG21 painted green to match the front of the frame, Bullseye cranks painted cerulean to match the fade at the bottom bracket shell, Tri-Align rear brake, Westpine front brake, etc.
There are certain unspoken rules when building a bike like this: period correct of possible, if not then use parts that were designed in the same spirit; try to go all CNC, or all Shimano, but not mix them too much; if you have a Fat, don't put Bontrager components on it; if you have a Manitou Hardtail, don't put any other brand of fork on it, etc.
Now to my point- I was installing the Westpine Scissors brake, and using the old Avid Speed Dial Ultimate levers. After spending an interesting and challenging 90 minutes setting the front brake up, I understood that it just works badly, no matter how I did it. Then I remembered that every brake that you use a cantilever lever with, works infinitely better with Shimano SLR Plus levers. So off came the hyper-cool Avid CNC levers and Suntour XC Pro thumbies, on went the XT M737 shifter-brake lever combos, which quadrupled rim clearance, and braking power. But the coolness factor was ruined.
I thought, well, it's best to use what works best, i.e., Shimano levers, not Avid ones. Then I decided to test the rigidity of the fork. I could just make that thing flex all over the place, even with a super-stout billet fork brace.
Apart from those two things, brakes and suspension, though, if you're riding a hardtail, I don't see any huge differences between now and, say 1995. But those two things make all the difference in the world.
Which leads me back to my original point: why do we ride bikes that are vastly inferior in those two regards to what is available now? Just for old time's sake?
 

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Schipperkes are cool.
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I really do not ride the old stuff I have; I have so many hours/smiles/miles/tears riding the old stuff that my new stuff is So much more fun!
When I look at my old stuff, run my hands on it, I thoroughly enjoy the past 'we' had but do not want to recreate it knowing what I know now.
I am one of the few bicycle mechanics, still spinnin' wrenches today that have hands on experience in the stuff from 1985 and love to see the old stuff come in to be reworked and put back on the road.
 

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those are Rollercams...
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All valid points, most are the reasons I pared down the vintage fleet to just my Steve Potts. The frame is a work of art, all the WTB parts work as well or better than anything available today, as do the DuraAce barend shifters, brake levers and rear deraileur.

I had most of the hot rod CNC stuff when it was new and shiny. Most were tempremental, didn't play well with mixing and matching and required constant maintenance and adjustment. Many of the most desireable frames were accidents waiting to happen as well, the stuff that can still turn my head today are the Pottses, Ritcheys, Salsas, Fats, Goats and of course, Cunninghams to name a few. These have withstood the test of time and are testimonies to the skill of their designers/builders.
 

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banks said:
I am one of the few bicycle mechanics, still spinnin' wrenches today that have hands on experience in the stuff from 1985 and love to see the old stuff come in to be reworked and put back on the road.
Me too! It makes my day when I get to work on an old bike and it leaves the shop like it was leaving a shop for the first time.

I ride old bikes because it suits the terrain here and my riding style. I guess I also get a secret pleasure out of eschewing modern conveniences. I have great respect for the hard men (and women) who were able to do it all with what was available. Guys like Tomac, Merckx, Murray, Anquetil, De Vlaeminck, Overend, Coppi, Phelan...
 

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WTB-rider said:
All valid points, most are the reasons I pared down the vintage fleet to just my Steve Potts. The frame is a work of art, all the WTB parts work as well or better than anything available today, as do the DuraAce barend shifters, brake levers and rear deraileur.

I had most of the hot rod CNC stuff when it was new and shiny. Most were tempremental, didn't play well with mixing and matching and required constant maintenance and adjustment. Many of the most desireable frames were accidents waiting to happen as well, the stuff that can still turn my head today are the Pottses, Ritcheys, Salsas, Fats, Goats and of course, Cunninghams to name a few. These have withstood the test of time and are testimonies to the skill of their designers/builders.
As a compulsive lurker on this forum, though not a collector, I'm very curious about some of the frames that were "accidents waiting to happen", and why they were. There's a lot to be learned by observing how and why things fail.
 

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Like any hobby their are people who thrive the latest and greatest and others who value the history. For me the bikes I own represent a time I was in a shop, spinning wrenches and cursing the folks at Ringle. I own most of my bikes since they were new and I have bought and sold some along the way. Either finding the suspension too fussy or just didn't improve the ride experience for me. I'm not slamming technology, I just don't need all of it. Overthinking the bicycle can take some of the fun out of it.
 

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Like chefmiguel, I own what I either owned when I worked in a shop or wanted to own at that time. Like most people (be honest) I was lured to the sparkle of CNC bits back then and liked some more than other. I still have Ringle hubs and stems on about half of my bikes, and don't look forward to the day when the pawls finally give out in the hubs. Overall some of the stuff from everybody including Shimano was just OK, some was [email protected] and some was fantastic. I really like how the M730 era XT parts on my Monster work. I love how the M900 era XTR on my Yo works. I love how the M952 era XTR parts on my IF work, and I also like the X.0 driveline that I have on the McMahon right now. Frankly the newer parts really aren't any better than the older parts. The only new bike I own is a steel singlespeed, so I can't really compare it to my old bikes very easily.

The bikes I have are what I like to ride. I think about dabbling in a full suspension XC bike someday, but it really isn't suited to how I ride and most important, where I ride. I like my old bikes. They work for me. It isn't vanity or complacency, they just do the job I need them to due.
 

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I am new to this area. For myself it is mainly two factors. One is I am a fairly new bike mechanic and I want to know how things work. Sure I can bleed brakes, set up a new FS bike well, mess with carbon and titanium and super light twiddly items but what happens when an old bike comes in for a service? It annoys me that I have to get my boss or our main mechanic to finish it off. It also messes with the way the shop works if you see what I mean.
The second reason is I like things that are a bit different from the norm. I am not a hardcore roadie so why not have a road bike that works well and is different to what most people have? Same goes for my XC bike. And to be honest it IS satisfying finishing a ride with the pack ahead of some certain anal techies.
 

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seawind161 said:
As a compulsive lurker on this forum, though not a collector, I'm very curious about some of the frames that were "accidents waiting to happen", and why they were. There's a lot to be learned by observing how and why things fail.
Stuff was woefully underbuilt and much of the CNC stuff was poorly designed. From around '89 until '97 or so the two main factors in designing parts and bikes were light weight and cool looks. Don't get me wrong, I love the era and the inventive mindset of the designers and builders of the time. Everybody was doing that proverbial thinking-outside-the-box thing.

All of this is one of the main reasons you just can't find that much stuff out there is because of the high failure rates. Even the biggies of the time (Shimano and SunTour) had the problem. If you built something for longevity (I'm looking at you Campagnolo) it was deemed overbuilt and heavy. I worked in a high-end MTB shop for a few years in the early-90s and was shocked at the failure rates, and the customers didn't care.

Breakage was the price to be paid for light weight cool looking bikes. It was not unusual to see someone buying a new Grafton crank every other month. I don't think there was a maker or builder out there that was untouched by breakage problems. If you were going to survive in the MTB world it had to be underengineered or underbuilt because that's what people wanted.

Personally I drooled on the trick stuff and loved test riding customers bikes, but my personal bikes were SunTour and Bullseye mostly because I felt they were the best bang for the buck stuff without breaking at the time. I was also a huge fan of the Marinovative stuff and never personally saw any problems with their stuff.
 

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WTB-rider said:
Most were tempremental, didn't play well with mixing and matching and required constant maintenance and adjustment.
I used to call my bike an F-16 because for every hour of flight time those require four hours of maintenance. The early 90's taught me that the high end, she she, one off stuff looked cool in the display cabinet but worked like crap. My bikes have been 90% Shimano since then and I've had no issues.
 

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Some high-end stuff (WTB notably) worked (and works) well. Similarly, some high-end bikes mated performance handling with longevity.

More generally, fans of VRC bikes may dig Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for an argument about the the balance between pure tech and the pleasure of machinery that can be worked on and tweaked.
 

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those are Rollercams...
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chefmiguel said:
Like any hobby their are people who thrive the latest and greatest and others who value the history. For me the bikes I own represent a time I was in a shop, spinning wrenches and cursing the folks at Ringle. I own most of my bikes since they were new and I have bought and sold some along the way. Either finding the suspension too fussy or just didn't improve the ride experience for me. I'm not slamming technology, I just don't need all of it. Overthinking the bicycle can take some of the fun out of it.
I agree wholeheartedly with what you're saying. While I have thinned the herds of vintage stuff drastically down to just the Potts, my two modern bikes are about as simple as it gets. Both are rigid steel, single speed, outfitted with reliable, functional componentry. As someone who also spent long hours at a bike stand during the boutique component era, I personally take no great joy in endless fiddling with bike parts.

Ultimately, if it's bicylces, it's all good. It just comes down to what delivers the most personal satisfaction to the individual.
 

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themanmonkey said:
I worked in a high-end MTB shop for a few years in the early-90s and was shocked at the failure rates, and the customers didn't care.
This may sound crazy, but we had several local racers as customers who eventually got tired of spending money on replacement XT and XTR rear derailleurs and started using LX and STX RC parts in their place. And some of these folks were weekend warriors who had good paying day jobs. They just stopped seeing the point of shelling out for the high end parts when they knew how tough the terrain in the Southeast US can be.

themanmonkey said:
Breakage was the price to be paid for light weight cool looking bikes. It was not unusual to see someone buying a new Grafton crank every other month. I don't think there was a maker or builder out there that was untouched by breakage problems. If you were going to survive in the MTB world it had to be underengineered or underbuilt because that's what people wanted.
My friend Earl was sponsored by Grafton back then. He commented to me not too long ago that he had to replace a crank arm after almost every race. It made me feel kind of bad. He did pretty well in competition, but I think he could have done much better if parts weren't breaking on his bike at every race.
 

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I like the new stuff, but I've always like going fast downhill, jumps, etc. I'm willing to put up with a little maintenance time (even though I gripe about it when it happens) for the fun they provide me.

If I was on a remote island with no bike shops I'd probably be on a full rigid 29er. Maybe even SS. :| ;)

I kinda quit cycling for a few years during the CNC glory days. IF52 knows I rode as a teammate to his buddy Earl Walker in 91 and yes, we used some Grafton that year, but I slipped on some M730 cranks. :) I did like their brakes actually (as finicky as they could be).

And call me boring and practical, but I always really appreciated Shimano's extensive R&D and engineering that went into their products. It pretty much always worked well, felt great, held up and rarely needed work. Not really ever the lightest, though.
 

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I ride old stuff because I have a lot of it. I don't race anymore, so don't feel the need to "keep up with the jones on the line next to me" like I foolishly used to.

I just came in from a ride: winter here in New England. My Fervor converted to SS, rigid fork, Nokian studded tires(at least 10 years old), Kooka crank, Exage flat peadles, Lightspeed Ti stem, etc etc.

Bombing around in the snow was great fun. Would a new bike made my ride toady a better experience? I don't think so. Well, maybe disc brakes would, but I'm happy going old school. Hell, I'm old school.

I like my bikes simple.
 

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KDXdog said:
I ride old stuff because I have a lot of it. I don't race anymore, so don't feel the need to "keep up with the jones on the line next to me" like I foolishly used to.

I just came in from a ride: winter here in New England. My Fervor converted to SS, rigid fork, Nokian studded tires(at least 10 years old), Kooka crank, Exage flat peadles, Lightspeed Ti stem, etc etc.

Bombing around in the snow was great fun. Would a new bike made my ride toady a better experience? I don't think so. Well, maybe disc brakes would, but I'm happy going old school. Hell, I'm old school.

I like my bikes simple.
It all depends on how you ride. For riding in the snow I don't think suspension would do much good.

The faster the speeds the more you need suspension.

I can thoroughly enjoy a ride on the old stuff, but I can do the same on the new stuff. Both are fun and different. Kinda like XC skiing and DH skiing. Different.
 

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Fillet-brazed said:
I kinda quit cycling for a few years during the CNC glory days.
Because you went away to college, or got tired of it or ???

Fillet-brazed said:
IF52 knows I rode as a teammate to his buddy Earl Walker in 91 and yes, we used some Grafton that year, but I slipped on some M730 cranks. :) I did like their brakes actually (as finicky as they could be).
For all the bashing 'CNC' parts get, I have had really good luck with most of the brakes I have set up and used. Joe's, Critical, Avid, Paul, etc. all work really well when set up correctly. And I've not had the problems others have had with Ringle rear hubs, though when the pawls finally go in my super 8 I'm screwed.

Grafton's cranks were just too light for their own good, and they got a big batch of bad billet once that really killed it for them. I still have the letter they sent out to all there dealers about that.
 

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That's gonna leave a mark
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I think just about every response so far reflects a different facet of why I like bikes. Not just vintage or modern, geared or SS, MTB or road. I just love working on, looking at, and riding bikes. Heck, I even enjoy cleaning my bikes in the garage while listening to the TV.

Sure, I have a soft place in my heart for certain builders, and I'm a little compulsive about acquiring every model that he designed. A task that I doubt I'll ever be able to accomplish.

There are even a couple vintage bikes that I have acquired just for the "vanity"; in other words they will never see dirt. There are others that I've acquired because I want to prove to myself, and the young whipper-snappers on the trail, that it isn't the bike that makes the rider.

I've been told I have too many singlespeed bikes, but each one offers a different trail experience; some are rigid, some are suspended, some are vintage, others modern.

I even have the latest uber-carbon-fully-suspended whiz bike so that I can still hit the trails when my wrists and neck are too beat up from riding the ol' rigid bikes.

If I had the room, and a blind/deaf/mute wife, I'd be another da'HOOV. I can't drive down the street or walk down the sidewalk without rubber-necking at every two wheeled contraption in sight. My wife used to think I was oggling at other women. I think now she wishes I was. At least then I wouldn't be begging her to let me bring another one home.
 

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well it's like

driving a 60's bath tub Porsche. Sure there are other cars.....
for me, I used to ride my vintage MTB (pre theft) for the above reason, plus it was my first MTB.
I have little interest in vintage MTBs post Bullmoose, if I'm going to ride a 90s (especially late 90s) MTB I might as well go new. Well my 'new' MTB is still running Shimano 8 and Race Face Cranks so I guess it's a tweener.
as for CX bikes, I'll race my hakkalugis, I'll ride them as well. Twas what they were built for.
I'll repaint and prettify and race them like they were new. That's how I see things

8 is great, Just like Choc'late cake
 
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