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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I've been looking at getting an older steel frame to use as my general riding road bike. A quick search on the local craigslist and ebay turned up three or so bikes in my size, and I had a few questions about them. How difficult would it be to turn a 1970's Raleigh mk2 frame and fork only (currently $10 + $25 shipping) into more modern-ish machine, as in, put newer components on it?

I did some research, mostly Sheldon Brown, but I've never had much experience with headsets and the bottom bracket/cranks, so compatibility is confusing for me. However, I am mechanically inclined and willing to work to fix up a nicer old bike.

Or is it better to forget all that and grab a more expensive, but complete and ridable Raleigh Gran Prix ($100-$150)?
 

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With certain model Raleighs from the '70's - my '72 SuperCourse being an example - you might have headset/fork threading issues. While the bb was standard BSC, the fork used the proprietary Raleigh threading and the headset was trashed. Sheldon bailed me out. The upper half of the headset (that with the threads) is essentially bulletproof. Even the chrome was in good shape. It's the lower cup and race that takes the beating. I used the lower cup and race from a $10 beach cruiser headset, packed it with loose balls, and that sucker is darn near as smooth as a CK.

Sheldon was.....actually, still is the MAN!
 

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tyo said:
Hello,

I've been looking at getting an older steel frame to use as my general riding road bike. A quick search on the local craigslist and ebay turned up three or so bikes in my size, and I had a few questions about them. How difficult would it be to turn a 1970's Raleigh mk2 frame and fork only (currently $10 + $25 shipping) into more modern-ish machine, as in, put newer components on it?

I did some research, mostly Sheldon Brown, but I've never had much experience with headsets and the bottom bracket/cranks, so compatibility is confusing for me. However, I am mechanically inclined and willing to work to fix up a nicer old bike.

Or is it better to forget all that and grab a more expensive, but complete and ridable Raleigh Gran Prix ($100-$150)?
depends how modern you want to go-70's bikes would require the rear be spread for modern wheels and cassettes, as Richard said you might have to do some digging to find compatible parts. If you buy an original grand prix, it will be quite heavy even by older steel standards. The wheels were steel, the grand prix was a mid to low end raleigh, my neighbor has about a 60cm all original if you ride that big he might be interested in selling it. If you arent determined to get 70's vintage i would recommend going 80's, parts are easier to find IMO. If you are limited to $150, it would certainly be a beater in terms of paint, but sometimes you can find them
b21
 

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Projects like this often turn into a costly adventure. A money pit. You end up with a unique bike that gives you a mark of coolness with everybody. Just don't tell them it cost you $500 to assemble.

Better to find a complete bike and refurb it with new tires, chain, and cables. Or snag one of those brand new eBay bikes for cheap.
 

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Well, I've been maintaining two early 80s steel road bikes until now, and expect to continue for years to come. I could get BB cartridges for the 70mm or 68mm widths, in Italian or English threading, if I wanted. One inch threaded headset are still available. But you might have to look in the "vintage bicycle" market for 126mm rear hubs for 6 or 5 speed freewheels, although the freewheels are still readily available, cheap, for under $20.00. Rims and chains are compatible with current 8 or less speed bikes with 700C wheels. I think Simano still makes downtube click shifters for 7 speeds, or you could just stay with friction, as I have. You can still find rat-trap platform pedals, chrome toe clips and leather toe straps, too, if you're a fanatic.

The better frame you find, of course, the more pleasurable the ride will be. Columbus SL or SLX tubing, or Reynolds 531, was the top of the line tubing of the day. Anything built with those tubes would be definitely worth the trouble. Tange Prestige came close. Atala, Basso, Bianchi, Cinelli, Colnago, DeRosa, Grandis, Holland, Bob Jackson, Masi, Marinoni, Olmo, Pogliaghi, Raleigh, Rossin, Singer, Tommassini, Viner, all made bikes out of those tubings. If you could find one, it would be a great ride. With todays components or light weight components of the period, such as Campy Super Record, Shimano Dura Ace, the bike would weigh maybe 3-5 pounds heavier than todays carbon wonder bikes, 21-23 pounds, but would still be as responsive and fun to ride. To get the equivilant performance today, you would have to spend at least 1500., and then hope the wheels and components hold up as well.

Caution: The Raleigh MKII you found might be cut for 27 inch wheels. The tires available are limited. By the early 80s, everyone went to 700C.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your input, especially about the wheels, didn't know about the size difference. I'll keep on the lookout for a nicer 80's frame to fix up, hopefully something turns up before or around the summer.
 

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It's not so much the social embarassment of admiting that it's more about on how much you could save by starting simple in the beginning.

fast ferd said:
Projects like this often turn into a costly adventure. A money pit. You end up with a unique bike that gives you a mark of coolness with everybody. Just don't tell them it cost you $500 to assemble.

Better to find a complete bike and refurb it with new tires, chain, and cables. Or snag one of those brand new eBay bikes for cheap.
 

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older road bikes

I would have to say go for a complete bike if you do not have a big budget. Late 80s or early 90s Trek, Specialized, Canondale bikes should be fairly easy to come up with. You can get them from 200 to 450. Parts are decent and you will have a general purpose bike without spending too much money.
If you go frame fork only, make sure it is a frame that you want and it fits. Be prepared to buy donor bikes or time for the hunt with a wallet. I think some of the older bikes are better served as fixed gear bikes because of the spacing and sometimes difficulty in getting parts.

Good luck with the hunt.
 
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