Why ride old stuff? Was [CR]Winning Today's Races With Yesterday's Technology

(Example: Framebuilders:Rene Herse)

From: "Thomas R. Adams, Jr." <kctommy@msn.com>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: Why ride old stuff? Was [CR]Winning Today's Races With Yesterday's Technology
Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 23:49:23 +0000

>Chuck, (and others not snoozing yet...)

>I still think that lots of 50's to 70's stuff is
>just a lot better looking than 99% of modern stuff. There's
>no better looking bikes than those 70's Gios, Pinarello, Bianchi,
>Masi, De Rosa and all those other pro racing bikes of that era.
>(and I am "in the prime of life") BUT, I think modern technology
>is better in every way, so I'm no retro-grouch. I'm not talking
>about quality, or craftsmanship, I'm talking technology.

Well, certainly the modern stuff doesn't slow Lance and Jan down any. But how important is that last 10th of a MPH, in the real World (meaning my World)? And consider the following scenario as a reason to ride old stuff:

Tom rides down the road, slips on some gravel, lays the bike down and breaks a brake lever and scrapes the frame all the way through the finish. Lance, coming along behind him, laughs at Tom, gets distracted and does the same thing.

Cost of repairs:

Tom: 1972 Gitane with Weinmann centerpulls and bar cons: $5 Weinmann lever at swap meet, $6 bottle of touch up paint. Maybe $25 at LBS to check alignment, if crash is really bad. (Band aids not included).

Lance: 200x Trek Carbon fibre with Dura Ace 10 Speed: Brake levers $269, Frame $2,500+. Plus the fork may be toast too. We'll assume band aids are the same in both cases. Even if only the brake levers are damaged, I'm too cheap to ride something that can cost 2 C notes if you break an exposed part.

Now I would expect to average one tenth of a mile or so faster with the modern stuff for any given distance (a bit more aero, shift more to stay at my ideal cadence and lighter to go up hill), but the functionality and speed of my old bikes is enough to satisfy me, and they are much cheaper to keep on the road. Turning it another way, for what I'd pay Trek for the latest and greatest, I can buy 6 vintage bikes and have that much more fun. Would I ride any more if I had a "modern" bike? I doubt it. If you do race or if speed is a priority, then by all means chase every fractional improvement. If nothing else, it may be important to morale to think your equipment is just as good as the next guy's and it's good for the economy. But do you then suffer a let down when your opponent shows up with a SunRace 11 speed cassette? Meanwhile, I'm saving my $ and waiting for old Sachs frames to drop into my price range.

If the old style stuff was faster, then I expect the racers would use it. Witness Lance using the old Campy aero bottles and AX brakes as someone just pointed out. But I don't see any racers using down tube sifters or Barcons, even though Shimano offers both in 9 speed versions. A skilled user might be as fast with the older style stuff, but he wouldn't be faster with them just because of them.

Of course this is an argument that will never end, and has no right or wrong answer. Everyone suit yourself, but as long as you're riding, you're okay with me.

Tom Adams, Shrewsbury NJ