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What @froze said,
Old bikes are fine. If you are gonna race or train with a competitve group you need what everybody else uses, so that means at least 10s or 11s. IF you ride mostly alone, 6 s or 7s is plenty as long as you have at least one gear low enough for the steepest hill you ride, and they are more reliable and easier to maintain as well.
FWIW I ride an 11s with my club group, but when I ride alone it's usually a frankenstien Trek from 1985 (?) that I converted to a single speed.

em
 

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I hear you on a lot of that, from a slightly different generation!

As you suspected freewheel bikes predate me a bit, don't know how it relates to your personal experience but at the shop level bent and broken axles were all over the place. No connection to the video but it shows it pretty well, roll the old one on the counter and you'll hear the whop-whop-whop.


My thousands of miles breaking in my legs were in Portland and Seattle, and agree with you that rusting frames is overblown, I always used Wegle's in a new frame but never knew if it made a difference.

Koolstop salmon, you're right, they work really well, though the other side of that coin is that they are so abrasive that I wore through a front rim every season or so! Most of my road bikes still use rim brakes today, though every time I change a disc brake wheel, it's a treat because my hands are not instantly blackened with brake dust mixed with water and road grime.


We all have, I suppose, a few memories of the instincts you develop saving my backside! One that sticks out for me is a section of road construction one rainy evening, my rear wheel got caught in a sizeable crack and I clenched up, sure I was going down hard into a gravel-filled hole that was no longer the road,

But, before my conscious brain realized what had happened, the reflexes had already unclipped one foot, shifted my weight a bit, and sort of wobbled it out, I could not have saved that one on purpose if I tried!




I have ridden a lot, and my joints have paid the price! But I still ride with the achy joints. I have no issues riding in rain, even using a steel bikes, the bike I have with 150k plus miles has no rust on it. When you ride for a long time a lot of things do become automatic, the bike becomes an extension of the person riding it, I stayed alive cycling all over Los Angeles and that experience has kept me alive years after moving from that city. I will say this about rim brakes and rain, they won't work real good if you use black pads, but if you use Cool Stop Salmon pads they will work almost instantly and grab extremely well

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I hear you on a lot of that, from a slightly different generation!

As you suspected freewheel bikes predate me a bit, don't know how it relates to your personal experience but at the shop level bent and broken axles were all over the place. No connection to the video but it shows it pretty well, roll the old one on the counter and you'll hear the whop-whop-whop.


My thousands of miles breaking in my legs were in Portland and Seattle, and agree with you that rusting frames is overblown, I always used Wegle's in a new frame but never knew if it made a difference.

Koolstop salmon, you're right, they work really well, though the other side of that coin is that they are so abrasive that I wore through a front rim every season or so! Most of my road bikes still use rim brakes today, though every time I change a disc brake wheel, it's a treat because my hands are not instantly blackened with brake dust mixed with water and road grime.


We all have, I suppose, a few memories of the instincts you develop saving my backside! One that sticks out for me is a section of road construction one rainy evening, my rear wheel got caught in a sizeable crack and I clenched up, sure I was going down hard into a gravel-filled hole that was no longer the road,

But, before my conscious brain realized what had happened, the reflexes had already unclipped one foot, shifted my weight a bit, and sort of wobbled it out, I could not have saved that one on purpose if I tried!







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Freewheel-hub axles, had a few bend, a couple break, but that's been over decades of cycling. Several of those decades were spent weighing over 200 lbs.

Steel frame rust, overblown fear in my experience. I never used any stuff on my frames, but I was reasonably careful about draining them on the infrequent occasions when I got caught in the rain.

I ride a lot of dated bikes, mostly because if one takes even some care of 'em, they're really hard to kill. I have put modern components and such on some, but I like having some "stock" as well, sort of like one might do with a nice old car, so one can experience the ride as it was conceived.

And (of course) I need a new bike.
 

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I hear you on a lot of that, from a slightly different generation!

As you suspected freewheel bikes predate me a bit, don't know how it relates to your personal experience but at the shop level bent and broken axles were all over the place. No connection to the video but it shows it pretty well, roll the old one on the counter and you'll hear the whop-whop-whop.


My thousands of miles breaking in my legs were in Portland and Seattle, and agree with you that rusting frames is overblown, I always used Wegle's in a new frame but never knew if it made a difference.

Koolstop salmon, you're right, they work really well, though the other side of that coin is that they are so abrasive that I wore through a front rim every season or so! Most of my road bikes still use rim brakes today, though every time I change a disc brake wheel, it's a treat because my hands are not instantly blackened with brake dust mixed with water and road grime.


We all have, I suppose, a few memories of the instincts you develop saving my backside! One that sticks out for me is a section of road construction one rainy evening, my rear wheel got caught in a sizeable crack and I clenched up, sure I was going down hard into a gravel-filled hole that was no longer the road,

But, before my conscious brain realized what had happened, the reflexes had already unclipped one foot, shifted my weight a bit, and sort of wobbled it out, I could not have saved that one on purpose if I tried!







View attachment 480764
Not sure how you wore out your rims so fast, my rims using those Salmon pads lasted 35,000 to 40,000 miles, so I found what you said to be quite odd, and my experiences were echoed by others I knew.

I spoke to a bike mechanic friend of mine what worked on bikes for over 40 years today about the bent or breaking hubs, he said he rarely saw it with quality hubs, though he did see it quite a bit with cheap hubs, he also added that with higher end hubs from the freewheel days he didn't see any more of those broken as he does with modern cassette style hubs.

Biggest issues we had with older gear was the rims themselves, they were not made as well as they are today, and I'm only speaking about aluminum rims so we're comparing apples to apples. Vintage lightweight racing rims were constantly going out of true, I tried a lot of different well known brands of wheels back then, and they were all 36 spoke rims, and I had to true them up quite frequently, the only rim I had to true the least was Torelli Master Series, for some reason those did great, and they were a very lightweight rim too, so not sure why they did so well. And those rims back then were pinned joined, so with every rim I had to sand down the seam so the brakes would be smooth over the entire rim, but the Torelli rim while pinned it didn't need sanding. When they came out with hardenized AL rims those held up better but then that hardenized coating would wear off on the brake track, I have a set of those type of rims brand new that I never used! I'm saving them for a project bike.

I do have to say that a lot of derailleur manufactures back then had so so shifting quality, which people accepted, but Suntour blew those other manufactures out of the water. Even lower end Suntour VG (I think that was the model) was rated by Consumer Reports back then as shifting far better than even the high end derailleurs from others, and Superbe, Cyclone, and Sprint took the performance of VG and took it another level beyond that!! Even Suntour had a few derailleurs that didn't shift up to the standards of other stuff they made, like ARX series that just didn't cut the mustard.
 

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Even lower end Suntour VG (I think that was the model) was rated by Consumer Reports back then as shifting far better than even the high end derailleurs from others, and Superbe, Cyclone, and Sprint took the performance of VG and took it another level beyond that!! Even Suntour had a few derailleurs that didn't shift up to the standards of other stuff they made, like ARX series that just didn't cut the mustard.
Consumer Reports rated bike derailleurs? Really?
 

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Not sure how you wore out your rims so fast, my rims using those Salmon pads lasted 35,000 to 40,000 miles, so I found what you said to be quite odd, and my experiences were echoed by others I knew.
If you ride on dry roads your rims will last a long time. If you ride in wet weather and pick up a lot of grit, YMMV.
I spoke to a bike mechanic friend of mine what worked on bikes for over 40 years today about the bent or breaking hubs, he said he rarely saw it with quality hubs, though he did see it quite a bit with cheap hubs, he also added that with higher end hubs from the freewheel days he didn't see any more of those broken as he does with modern cassette style hubs.
Five speed 120mm freewheels were fine. Six and espescially 7s with 126mm dropout width caused the axles to flex and fatigue. Eight speed freewheels were worse and soon dissapered. Chromoly axles were less breakage prone. Campy titanium axles never broke but they were so flexible that the drops cracked from fatigue. Cassettes moved the weight carrying bearings outboard or used large diameter axles to minimize flex. That solved the problem.
Vintage lightweight racing rims were constantly going out of true... When they came out with hardenized AL rims those held up better...
Sew up rims could be so light and flexible that it was hard to get enough tension to keep the spokes from loosening. We didn't know anything back then so whenever a spoke broke we replaced it woth a heavier guage spoke, which only made the problem worse.
Hard anodizing doesn't add any strength but it is brittle and sometimes causes cracks at the spoke holes. Most of them were clincher rims that had to be stronger to bear the increased load created by clincher tire pressure. That's why they were more reliable.
Even lower end Suntour VG (I think that was the model) was rated by Consumer Reports back then as shifting far better than even the high end derailleurs from others...
Sun Tour derailers shifted better when new but deteriorated pretty quickly. Campy derailers shifted just as badly after 5 years as they did when new.

em
 

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If you ride on dry roads your rims will last a long time. If you ride in wet weather and pick up a lot of grit, YMMV.
Some people who only use their rear brake also wear that rim out very quickly.
 

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Some people who only use their rear brake also wear that rim out very quickly.
Wow, that’s a thing? That’s so weird!


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Wow, that’s a thing? That’s so weird!


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Yes, there are a few riders I've known who are deathly afraid to apply their front brake for fear of going arse over teakettle. Because rear braking force isn't as strong, one needs to apply more pressure to get adequate braking and therefore that rear rim wears out prematurely.
 

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Yes, there are a few riders I've known who are deathly afraid to apply their front brake for fear of going arse over teakettle. Because rear braking force isn't as strong, one needs to apply more pressure to get adequate braking and therefore that rear rim wears out prematurely.
Whoa! That’s got to be dangerous? Doesn’t like 70%+ of your stopping power come from your front brakes? You can always pooch your butt backward to change the weight ratio... I just can’t get my head around this, haha.


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Whoa! That’s got to be dangerous? Doesn’t like 70%+ of your stopping power come from your front brakes?
Not to mention locking your rear brake can put you in an uncontrollable skid.
 

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I say if the bike fits you well then learn as much as you can and ride the hell out of the steel steed. It'll only get better. I promise.

Stay safe and keep the rubber side down.
This.
Rebuild the drivetrain where and when you can. Save for some good wheels.
Ride, and when you finish riding, ride some more.
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All,

Ive been riding for a year now, but I am still very much a beginner. My bike is an early 80s Club Fuji. I have ridden the bike for 100s of miles over the last year and I am in need of doing some repairs on the bike. I am wondering how much an old bike limits someone like me. I try to average 100 miles per week and the longest Ive gone in one day is 56 miles. So, I'm still a beginner, but I wonder how much better I would be with a newer, better bike. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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# 1, that is a beautiful bike, and if it fits you and you enjoy riding it, then keep on riding it. Don't upgrade anything on it, just keep it the way it is. Upgrading parts on it will be tricky, and will ruin the aesthetic appeal of it. If you want a more modern road bike with more tire clearance, lighter weight, quicker shifting, etc, then just buy another bike, but keep this Bianchi in the condition it is in, or better, replace some of the more modern parts with more period correct bits to complete the classic look.
 

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The only limitation you have is what you put on yourself!

I have an 84 Fuji Club, and quite frankly it's a great bike...BUT, I had to make some changes to it because the factory stock Suntour ARX derailleurs that came on my bike did not perform well. I bought this bike in a garage sale in like new condition with only 5 miles on it with the original tires still on and the nubs from the mold process not the least bit worn down. Since I have other bikes I didn't put a lot of effort into the Fuji till this summer, I tried to get the derailleurs to work better but it wasn't happening even after changing the cables to modern more slicker cables; so I had a brand new never used Suntour Superbe Tech derailleur, and a brand new never used Suntour Superbe Pro front derailleur in my drawer, so I put those on, now the thing shifts like a dream. I then started to partially cannibalize part of my old 150,000 mile plus Trek 660 that I had built with Suntour Superbe, and removed the Torelli Master Series wheels that were built using the Superbe hubs and DT Revolution spokes on the front and Competition spokes on the rear, that wheel had a wore out 7 speed cluster so I replace the rear gear cluster with a 7 speed Shimano freewheel which meant I had to get a narrower chain since the old chain on the Trek was also worn, I saved the Ukai wheels off the Fuji for another project later. I also put on a set of new unused Superbe pedals I had stored.

Those changes helped a lot, it now shifts very fast and smooth. So how can this work for you? EBay is going to have to be used if you want to improve the shifting, the ARX is known to be a clunky derailleur system, one the very few mishaps that Suntour ever made. I would try to find a NOS or NIB Suntour Superbe, Cyclone, or Sprint front and rear derailleurs.

Now I have the Superbe Tech, I have two of those, one is still on the Trek and that one has over 150,000 miles on it and I never had one thing go wrong with it, but on the internet there has been issues from others with springs going bad, not sure why that is because I also have Mountech derailleur which is the same as the Tech but made for touring bikes and mountain bikes, and I had that for a long time too and it never gave me any trouble. The Tech and Mountech both can shift while climbing a mountain and you don't have to back off the pressure to make it happen, and they both shift fast, so you could go with a Tech if you get one new or nos, but I did give you warning of potential pitfalls. I keep my stuff very clean, so it could be that due to keeping the derailleurs clean that they didn't break? or is the spring breaking thing myth started from someone? I asked an old bike mechanic if he recalled issues with the Tech or Mountech and he said not anymore then any other derailleur! So something is amiss in the bad reputation that the Tech and Mountech got, it could be that Shimano started the rumor to help speed up Suntour to go out of business.

Eventually I will transfer the Suntour Superbe brakes, headset, and crank over to the Fuji from the Trek, but that might wait to this winter.

One the thing I would not do to a vintage bike is to modernize it with briftors, but that's up to you, and if you do I would go with 105 due to the cost is significantly less than Ultegra and DA, but it lasts longer and works better than Tiagra and Sora with out much price difference between those. If you decide to modernize it keep the original stuff so if you ever sell the bike you can restore it back, it's worth more in it's vintage state than it is in a modernization state. I decided to keep my vintage and quite frankly it shifts as good as my modern 105/Ultegra system on my Lynskey.
 
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