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Hi guys,

I mountain bike, and really enjoy it. I'm looking to start racing XC this summer, and heard that road bikes are a great way to get in shape for the big event (off-road riding beats you up after a while). I ride my hardtail on the road sometimes, but found this to be sub-optimal (those fat tires roll slow, you know). Not being able to afford a real road bike (yet), I was happy when I found a 70's 10 speed Viscount road bike (with a steel fork, not the infamous aluminum "death fork") that seemed to be in my size at a garage sale for $5. After attempting to inflate the tires to full pressure, I manage to pull off the entire valve stem when removing the pump, causing a blowout. I went to the bike shop, and got a new tube, which cost me $5.49. After installing the tube the cost more than the bike, I began to ride around. I found that the lightweight and skinny tires ran great, and that even though it was ancient, it was a superior road machine to mountain bike. However, there are some issues I have with it, which I'm not sure are specific to road bikes in general, or just old ones. These issues are:

1. Gearing. Even in the lowest gears, I can't spin anywhere near where I should on steep hills (I live in CO). Is this a result of weakness on my part, or is the gearing messed up somehow?

2. Hand pain. I can't ride for very long with my hands in the "normal" (around the tops of the brake levers) position without my hands aching. Am I doing something wrong, or will I get used to this?

3. Frame Flex. This is a steel bike, with I understand is supposed to feel more pliable than aluminum. However, when I hammer on this thing, I feel like I'm losing a lot of power. My MTB is super responsive and stiff, this thing feels a bit noodly. I'm guessing this is inherent with an older, cheap bike, but I was wondering if it could possibly be a technique thing. It does feel nice going over cracks and such, though.

Anyways, I guess I'm enjoying the bike pretty well so far. I hope to ride it for a while to decide if the roadie thing is for me, and if so, hopefully get a nice new bike(after I pick up that Specialized Epic race bike I want:) . ). Anyways, I think it was $5 well spent.
 

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Couple of quick thoughts.

Don't remember much about the Viscount, but my impression is that it was a pretty low-end bike. Nothing wrong with that--my first real roadie was a used Peugeot A08, about as clunky as they come.
Any bike that old may need new tires and tubes, so that's not a surprise. You're probably not done with that.
The gearing is probably the '70s standard, somewhere in the range of 52-42 front and 13-26 or 28 rear. That's too high for a lot of people (me, for one) to ride in the mountains. Probably not worth changing on that bike, though.
Hand pain could be a number of things, including your position. If the saddle is much higher than the bars, you may be leaning forward putting a lot of weight on your hands. Try raising the bars (quill stem, right?) if you can, changing the angle of the bars and repositioning the levers. Bar tape may help a little, but not very much.
If it's a cheap frame, you'll feel some flex. Personally I think stiffness is overrated in a bike intended for casual use (what's it matter if you're 95 percent efficient or 98.5 percent?). Try working on your spin, sitting down, instead of standing up and hammering. Practice pedaling in a circle instead of stomping. Use it to do the things it will do, and you can still enjoy it and improve your technique.
 
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