Old-School Bicycles: A Blast From the Past
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Old-School Bicycles: A Blast From the Past

Modern road bicycle set ups can cost upwards of 2000 dollars for a complete set of equipment. If you're a die-hard athlete and determined to shave off those extra ten seconds of time, this could be for you. If not, consider avoiding retail sales and scouring your local Craigslist for an old deal. Many older bicycles still offer a thrill and competitive speed for a much lower price.

Like automobiles, old bicycles have a large fan club of enthusiasts ready and able to show them off. Since bicycles are mechanically much simpler than automobiies and can last a good deal longer with very little maintenance, they also can serve a unique niche in living a second life as a cheap alternative to newer bicycles.

Like anything, bicycle technology constantly adapts. Advancements in aerospace and automobile racing have carried over to bicycle manufacturing, and have made materials like aluminum and carbon fiber mainstay materials for today's road bicycles. This was not the case twenty years ago. Up to the mid-1990s, most road bikes were still made out of a majority of lugged steel components. What today is considered a heavy stone age relic was the frequent flyer of the 80s and 90s: at weights under 25 pounds, lugged steel bicycles were the best the average person could afford.

Today, many road bicycles use carbon fiber and aluminum components to tip the scales at 18 pounds or less. They do all this while sporting the latest technology, including brifters (integrated brakes and shifters), various cassettes (gear sets), trip computers, and so on.

What many aspiring riders do not know is that old bicycles offer an exceptional value compared to the latest and greatest on self-powered machines. Technological dfferences vary greatly, but if you are on a budget, an older machine can prove to be quite a bargain.

After burning up the roads and faring not too badly in a local duathlon with my antiquated 2001 Pacific Vortex (a 39 pound front suspension WalMart mountain bike), I decided that it was time to find a real road machine. A few months of searching the local Craigslist bicycles page yielded gold: a local man sold me a Bianchi Superleggera (a high-end model in its day) for $150. The model lacked many of the new amenities previously spoken of, but it was in marvelous condition and ready to ride.

If you do not believe that you will take the sport of cycling seriously, you may be much better off buying a golden oldie. The local bicycle shop will be happy to "properly outfit" you for the roads for $2000 (or more), but that investment will go to waste if the bicycle ends up collecting dust in your garage. Consider giving new life to an old bike by allowing it to live on the roads again. You and your wallet will be happy you did!

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Comments (1)

Bookmarked for my personal reference, thanks Dustin.