Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking

Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby drubie » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:15 pm

I'm probably the least qualified guy to start this topic, but I have spent a fair while with great, good and awful bikes of the eighties and onward, so I thought perhaps I'd make a little contribution that details what I look for when I'm peering through junk. For random travellers through here, this is a guide to Australian junk by and large.

If you're looking at a frame, or a pile of frames, and something catches your eye, you can generally know without even picking up the bike what it's like and whether it's worth rescuing. My junk peering generally starts by ELIMINATION, I know what I don't want (with some qualifications).

On something that looks eighties, the DO NOT WANT list:
- cottered cranks, or alloy cranks with riveted rings - you need to see allen bolts holding the chainrings on. You can't salvage riveted chainsets usefully.
- Pressed steel chainrings on the above cranks - once they are worn, the entire crank is junk. Not useful.
- stem shifters generally indicate a junker / fixie candidate.
- Axle mount derailleurs - the type that go into the dropout. Minimum quality frames of the eighties had a proper derailleur mount.
- dropouts - must be forged. The stamped/pressed ones are thinner and obvious once you know what you're looking at. Those frames are generally heavy, fixie candidates but willl never make decent road bikes.

Make exceptions for earlier frames - if it's fifties or something, decent mens and womens roadsters still had cottered cranks and some had pressed dropouts but they are a different league to the general tip shop / hard rubbish find. If it has a sturmey-archer hub for example, just grab it and go and worry about it later.

- rusty headsets == steel. Useable frames, but generally better frames have alloy headsets, they get white corrosion but not brown rust. Lots of half decent bikes still have steel headsets, but an alloy headset is a pretty sure sign the bike is a keeper.

What you do want
- know your brands. Read the retro biking section from start to back, sounds like a big job but the names will lodge in your head. Ricardo, Centurion, Repco, Europa, Apollo. They slapped some stickers on some real junk, but also on some surprisingly sublime kit. Road King, Road Master == Big W, K Mart bikes. Just toss 'em aside. I loved my Road King when I was a kid but frankly it was a dunger. Not even worth a fixie conversion and not a good source of parts.
- Memorise the key words:
TRI-A, SUPERLITE, ELITE, OLYMPIC, EUROPA, INDI. In the back of your mind, if its a Raleigh it's worth looking at. Don't get excited by Colnago stickers, ever.
- bike shop stickers generally indicate something good - a lot of bike shops put their sticker on the seat tube to indicate where it came from. "bike shop bikes" can be a bit hit and miss but they are always worth a look.
- steel rims are awful. Steel hubs are worse. Not worth saving and mostly not even worth digging the bearings out of.
- alloy rims made by Ukai and Araya are fine. Araya are my preference but they made rims from the sublime to the ridiculous. You'll find a massive range of hubs laced up to Araya rims (from suntour to suzue == grab it and run, excellent hubs. Joytech, unbranded, whatever, are fine also). Don't be afraid of the 27" wheel - they are great.
- anything italian or french grab it and go (Miche can be found in junk piles occasionally - was used a lot on repaired bikes as an "upgrade" on cheap bikes and a downgrade on expensive bikes being repaired on the cheap). Somebody is always looking for spare axles, bearing cups etc. even on heavily damaged european stuff. The Suzue hubs and better japanese stuff are pretty much interchangeable with these for axles and bearings/cups too.
- if the frame still has a sticker on it indicating the tube type, you're in luck. Know the difference between 1020 and the better stuff though by reading the forums. I dismissed a Tange 5 frame simply because it wasn't double butted and it turned out to be one of my favourites. Tange branded frames are generally somewhere between pretty good and sublime. Giant made a lot of bikes for a lot of brands and they're pretty much all worth keeping (look for the Giant sticker).
- hi ten < CRMO Cro-mo < cro-mo double butted. Anything double butted is probably worth keeping. Anything marked "seamless" is probably worth keeping. Hi-ten, undamaged, good for a fixie conversion.

Bars, stems, seatposts:
- Sakae Ringyo made fine bars. You'll find them extremely common in Australia. Italian stuff sometimes. Prefer alloy over steel and make sure they aren't bent when you get home before you use them. They say "Road Champion" on 'em and are usually a little narrow for modern tastes but you get used to them.
- Nitto turn up occasionally. Grab 'em.
- Ricardo and Centurion are sometimes found with "home brand" bars - generally these are SR and the same applies.
- SR stems are as good as anything, but any alloy stem with a recessed allen bolt is worth keeping (but the frame, not necessarily). Grab frame for parts.
- steel stem and exposed hex bolt = junk frame, run away.
- anything with a micro-adjust seatpost == worth investigating and generally grab it for the seatpost. Older style seatposts in alloy are OK, but the micro-adjust ones made by SR are ugly but useful. A damaged frame with a good post is worth buying for the post, you never know what it might fit or you'll come across a good frame missing a seat post later.

Brakes:
- search the web - Dia-Compe licensed Weinmann brakes in return for cross licensing the suicide lever. Branded dia-compe brakes are just as good as Weinmann brakes and far more common. However, anything fitted with suicide levers is generally a piece of junk. Weird that weinmann sold out for that.
- Shimano brakes seem less common in my neck of the woods, even bikes specced with Exage Sport were finished with dia-compe brakes. Shimano branded brakes are good and indicate a better frame.
- pressed steel brakes = junker.
- unbranded brakes usually mean junker. Look for a brand.
- centre pull brakes == run away unless they say MAFAC in which case feign total indifference but buy the bike.

Shifters / gear stuff:
- as I said, stem shifters were fitted to (ahem) "sports bikes". Junk, in other words. Still may be the occasional bit on the frame worth saving (seatpost pin etc).
- downtube shifters on a frame == investigate further.
- Suntour = grab it and run. Even the worst suntour derailleur or shifter is worth something and the freewheels are divine.
- Shimano tourney = junk.
- fancy looking Shimano might be "arabesque". People like it, it works well, grab the whole bike or what's left of it.
- Shimano "bio-pace" is retro cool.
- anything 105 is worth grabbing. Hard to find dura-ace on a junk pile but you never know.
- anything marked "light action" is entry level stuff but still useable and the frame may well be a good'un.
- you do occasionally see Campagnolo, Miche,Gipiemme,Stronglight. Grab it and run. Even if it's buggered somebody will want it for spares. For some reason, the better Shimano stuff of equivalent quality isn't as collectable right now but give it time. Suntour = dead company with huge reputation and it's easy to see why when you hold it. Euro stuff == snob value.

Damage
- Lots of frames will be missing their wheels, but look to see if the top tube is straight (uncrinkled paint, no flaking paint, no dents) and that the headset is free. Notchy might just be worn out or if the forks don't sit out properly might indicate a big prang. If you can, trial fit a wheel in the fork so you can see whether the fork is bent. You can fix them if you have access to a press but it generally isn't worth it.
- Most old abandoned roadies end up with the brake levers turned inwards through impacts. Make sure the bars are straight if you want to use them.
- check the seat stays are still attached.
- Anything somebody else touched with a welder is junk - look for scorch marks and if you buy the frame, it's for parts or making a tandem.
- rust is a mixed blessing. A lot of really, really expensive 531db frames rust like there's not tomorrow, while a hi-tensile dung heap from k-mart will probably outlive this society and the next one yet always be awful to ride. Dig the rust with your fingernail - anything beyond surface rust == walk away.


Miscellaneous:
- Kashimax made a millimetre perfect copy of the classic Selle Turbo saddle, but in vinyl with stainless rails. Worth keeping and recovering. Other saddles assess as you come across them. Brand is found underneath the saddle. However, right now you can buy a brand new leather covered Selle San Marco Rolls for $90 delivered (2010) why would you bother.
- be a regular at your tip shop, make sure you find out the names of people associated with the bikes. People love it when you remember their name.
- make a pile of your junk. If you grab just a frame/fork/bar set, make sure you pillage at least a couple of wheels as they generally throw them in for free. It's impossible to have enough Araya rims even if the spokes are rusted and the hub is junk.
- keep your eye out at Lifeline and other places like that. Our local Lifeline is not good for bikes (they overcharge then end up taking the bikes to the tip shop).
- hard rubbish days in big cities.
- Ebay is not a good place to buy a frame IMHO. Too much junk, too much money, can't hold it in your hands and check for crash damage.
- never pass up a chance to look at somebodies "old bike", they might dismiss it as junk but it could be a stellar find.
- buy new cables before you ride == cheap insurance. If you can't change a brake cable you've got no business trying to rescue an old bike.
Last edited by drubie on Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
So we get the leaders we deserve and we elect, we get the companies and the products that we ask for, right? And we have to ask for different things. – Paul Gilding
but really, that's rubbish. We get none of it because the choices are illusory.
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by BNA » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:51 pm

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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby flashrider » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:51 pm

Absolute gold Drubie, but I just hope no-one in my neck of the woods reads it...Enough competition already!!
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby toolonglegs » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:53 am

Nice work Drubie...looks like I am on the right track.
I nearly payed 300 Euros for a very obscure English frame two nights ago...but I was outbid :lol: ...ebay while being goodish for local stuff,isn't great for the really good stuff because there are a lot of other people watching as well or they are asking way too much.I am going to start checking car boot sales on weekends for that rare beauty :D .
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Postby Quinns Rocks Roadie » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:24 am

Sage words of experience. 8)

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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby smiddo » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:59 am

Can we delete this post now that I've read it so no one else can...................Love your work Drubie though you've probably added $$$$ to the value of old steel now the secrets are outl!!!.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby LG » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:33 am

Drubie, you have this the wrong way round. It should read:

Trust only common brand names you recognize (road king, repco, roadmaster etc)
Don't trust anything made of alloy, it's prone to breaking. Steel wheels, brakes and cranks are the only way to go
European running gear has been superseeded by Japanese and now Chinese gear for a long time. Leave the European gear at the tip
Early quick release axles were used on cheap bikes and are prone to break. Wheels held on by axle nuts are much better quality
Stem shifters are great for those with back problems. Down tube shifters are awkward to use and not worth the hassle
90's mountain bikes are much more versatile than an old road bike
etc etc.......

Bloody hell man, what are you playing at :wink:
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby munga » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:15 am

vote sticky
pitty43 wrote:Thanks all for your help. Better change my Gumtree add now.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/retroclassiccycling/
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby drubie » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:26 am

LG wrote:Wheels held on by axle nuts are much better quality
Stem shifters are great for those with back problems. Down tube shifters are awkward to use and not worth the hassle
90's mountain bikes are much more versatile than an old road bike
etc etc.......


Ha ha. Our tip shop man generally has more luck fixing those 90's mountain bikes for sale than he does anything else, and he says he has steady demand for stem shifters and suicide levers too. Maybe those supermarkets were onto something :-)
So we get the leaders we deserve and we elect, we get the companies and the products that we ask for, right? And we have to ask for different things. – Paul Gilding
but really, that's rubbish. We get none of it because the choices are illusory.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby meatpopsicle » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:24 am

drubie wrote:- hard rubbish days in big cities.


This is going to be ambitious but I'm going to try anyway. Let's start a list of council hard rubbish collection dates. I don't expect people to trawl through their local councils website to gather all the info, but just to list when an upcoming one will be in their area. I'll start. The format will be state headings followed by week starting; suburb; collection boundry;(optional link to map)

[VIC]
1st November 2010; Camberwell; Warrigal Rd/Toorak Rd/Canterbury Rd/Burke Rd/Riversdale Rd/Glyndon Rd; http://bit.ly/cBdezK
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby nick. » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:32 am

meatpopsicle wrote:
drubie wrote:- hard rubbish days in big cities.


This is going to be ambitious but I'm going to try anyway. Let's start a list of council hard rubbish collection dates. I don't expect people to trawl through their local councils website to gather all the info, but just to list when an upcoming one will be in their area. I'll start. The format will be state headings followed by week starting; suburb; collection boundry;(optional link to map)

[VIC]
1st November 2010; Camberwell; Warrigal Rd/Toorak Rd/Canterbury Rd/Burke Rd/Riversdale Rd/Glyndon Rd; http://bit.ly/cBdezK


Already been done for you by this group:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=1 ... ref=search

seems to cover all the major councils in the melbourne region.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby rkelsen » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:45 am

Drubes,

That is a very informative and well written post. I appreciate what it is you're trying to do...

... but geez man... not all of us live in a cycling 'junk' nirvana.

Some of us live in areas where the old phart e_bay traders already make it extremely difficult to find any decent bikes on hard rubbish or at the tip shop.

And this post will only make it worse.

:cry:
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby drubie » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:49 am

toolonglegs wrote:I nearly payed 300 Euros for a very obscure English frame two nights ago...but I was outbid :lol: ...ebay while being goodish for local stuff,isn't great for the really good stuff because there are a lot of other people watching as well or they are asking way too much.I am going to start checking car boot sales on weekends for that rare beauty :D .


I don't mind ebay so much for higher end bike stuff - lets face it, most people who own it know what it's worth. It's the inflated prices for rubbish that annoy me. People bidding $200 for Road Kings and the like. It's crazy. I suppose it'll die down as the fixie craze tapers off.

If I was in europe I'd be perpetually broke I think - so many nice (nicer at least) bikes that you've been showing off. I reckon the car boot sales would be a steady, reliable source of parts to container up and ship back to Oz TLL. Most of the french would look at our humble asian sourced bikes and laugh, although I'd rather have a suzue hub than a miche or a stronglight just quietly.
So we get the leaders we deserve and we elect, we get the companies and the products that we ask for, right? And we have to ask for different things. – Paul Gilding
but really, that's rubbish. We get none of it because the choices are illusory.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby LG » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:25 pm

munga wrote:vote sticky

-1 to sticky vote... purely for selfish reasons.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby Zynster » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:43 pm

We recently had a hard rubbish day in my suburb. On Sunday there were an incredible number of cars prowling around looking for stuff. I put an old pair of rusty steel wheels out and they were gone within an hour.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby rustychisel » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:20 pm

same same. I've put out broken frames (with a note on them saying DO NOT BUILD OR RIDE) and they've gone in under an hour. Our area had an August hard rubbish collection, the council made noise about illegal collectors saying they had a contract with authorised collectors and it wasn't right to scavenge etc. At some points my street had traffic jams with the kerb crawlers FFS, covered vans, cars towing trailers, utes, hired traytops (!!!) piled up with old beds. I don't really care who recycles stuff but I'd prefer they be local people who need it rather than professional scrounging bastards or contracted twerps, but it was noticable that the council did nothing whatsoever to back up their [implied] threats
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby drubie » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:55 pm

rustychisel wrote:same same. I've put out broken frames (with a note on them saying DO NOT BUILD OR RIDE) and they've gone in under an hour.


Damn we're lucky up here then.

Prices and interest are somewhat limited here when K-mart sells a "racing bike" complete with alloy frame, steel fork, 700c wheels, stem shifters, single pivot caliper brakes all for $130 (on sale today). You'd nearly buy it just for the parts, although the rims look kinda wide for a roadie and for an alloy frame it was pretty heavy. The idea of dropping $150 tidying up a 1980s frame (new tyres, tubes, cables, maybe a saddle, assuming you found one complete, paint etc) doesn't make sense unless you're making a hobby out of it like most of us.

Frankly, even if widely distributing information about better bikes makes them harder to come by, I'd rather they got saved rather than sent to be melted down.
So we get the leaders we deserve and we elect, we get the companies and the products that we ask for, right? And we have to ask for different things. – Paul Gilding
but really, that's rubbish. We get none of it because the choices are illusory.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby LG » Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:15 pm

drubie wrote:
rustychisel wrote:same same. I've put out broken frames (with a note on them saying DO NOT BUILD OR RIDE) and they've gone in under an hour.


Damn we're lucky up here then.

Prices and interest are somewhat limited here when K-mart sells a "racing bike" complete with alloy frame, steel fork, 700c wheels, stem shifters, single pivot caliper brakes all for $130 (on sale today). You'd nearly buy it just for the parts, although the rims look kinda wide for a roadie and for an alloy frame it was pretty heavy. The idea of dropping $150 tidying up a 1980s frame (new tyres, tubes, cables, maybe a saddle, assuming you found one complete, paint etc) doesn't make sense unless you're making a hobby out of it like most of us.

Frankly, even if widely distributing information about better bikes makes them harder to come by, I'd rather they got saved rather than sent to be melted down.


All good points and very true. The attempt at irony in my posts (well the second one at least) isn't obvious :) . You're original post pretty much sums up my inspection method, but I also look for parts which are sometimes found on the oddest bikes. I've found some dura ace cranks and Cinelli stem/bars on an Apollo Clipper, as well as suntour superbe pedals and dura ace brakes on an 80's ladies frame :wink:.

Like you, I'm also pleased to see these old bikes being given a second life. It really is a small part of the bike community, let alone general community, which is making this recycling happen.

Darn, i've just given the original post another bump :lol: .
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby munga » Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:19 pm

LG wrote:You're original post pretty much sums up my inspection method, but I also look for parts which are sometimes found on the oddest bikes. I've found some dura ace cranks and Cinelli stem/bars on an Apollo Clipper, as well as suntour superbe pedals and dura ace brakes on an 80's ladies frame :wink:.


didn't someone find some superbe pro pedals on an exercise bike recently? if i see a frame or skinny wheels, i always stop and check
pitty43 wrote:Thanks all for your help. Better change my Gumtree add now.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/retroclassiccycling/
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby twowheels » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:14 pm

meatpopsicle wrote:
drubie wrote:- hard rubbish days in big cities.


This is going to be ambitious but I'm going to try anyway. Let's start a list of council hard rubbish collection dates. I don't expect people to trawl through their local councils website to gather all the info, but just to list when an upcoming one will be in their area. I'll start. The format will be state headings followed by week starting; suburb; collection boundry;(optional link to map)

[VIC]
1st November 2010; Camberwell; Warrigal Rd/Toorak Rd/Canterbury Rd/Burke Rd/Riversdale Rd/Glyndon Rd; http://bit.ly/cBdezK


I started this post viewtopic.php?f=18&t=32990 in the Western Australia forum, maybe the same for each state would be good?
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby amrjon » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:03 pm

All these (good) posts re. hard rubbish, I 'd be interested - what % of your bikes actually come into your possession via the curb side? Sounds like this is actually the main source of retro rides for those with an interest?
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby scratchman » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:02 am

amrjon wrote:All these (good) posts re. hard rubbish, I 'd be interested - what % of your bikes actually come into your possession via the curb side? Sounds like this is actually the main source of retro rides for those with an interest?


well I can tell you that of the 15 or so bikes ( some are incomplete ) I have found in the last couple of years only 2 have been paid for ( $10 each ) so % wise that's 13%
and as far as curb side or hard garbage finds go, it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, I recently found 4 bikes in a street nearby and left them all, 2 were nothing special, 2 were interesting, but were ladies bikes, went back soon after and they were gone tho.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby WorkingClassHero » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:14 am

Great post Drubie. Very informative.

Unfortunately the two councils I've lived within in Melbourne just give you one hard rubbish collection per year, that you ring up and arrange. So there's no defined days to go out and hunt. As Phil said, it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby matilda5 » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:26 am

good post.
I use similar hunting techniques. but of most import to me is:
How do you explain/constrain/ to your other half the point that you NEED 5 bikes to ride and a further 5 donor bikes for backup? :D
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby drubie » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:01 pm

matilda5 wrote:How do you explain/constrain/ to your other half the point that you NEED 5 bikes to ride and a further 5 donor bikes for backup? :D


- bring em in after dark :lol:
So we get the leaders we deserve and we elect, we get the companies and the products that we ask for, right? And we have to ask for different things. – Paul Gilding
but really, that's rubbish. We get none of it because the choices are illusory.
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Re: Idiots guide to salvaged 80s roadies

Postby scratchman » Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:32 pm

drubie wrote:
matilda5 wrote:How do you explain/constrain/ to your other half the point that you NEED 5 bikes to ride and a further 5 donor bikes for backup? :D


- bring em in after dark :lol:


sneaky :lol: :lol: :lol:
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