So, I rode my dad's old Lotus over the weekend, and absolutely fell in love with the feel of steel and the look of an absolutely horizontal top tube.
Here are the specs of my bike:
Upgrades include: new rear wheel (Mavic Open Pro laced with DT Swiss spokes to Ultegra hub) , Prologo Scratch saddle, Bontrager hard-case tires. The picture below shows it with the stock saddle (which I also have) and an uncut steerer tube (which has since been cut.)
If you have something that may be of interest, give me a shout.
24, 25" seems to be the right vintage frame size for me. I have a 22.5" which has an absurdly tall stem and a 25" which fits fine with its short stock stem. Some Nitto stems are pretty tall, and pricey: http://www.rivbike.com/Articles.asp?ID=326
Jim S said:
Sweet Jesus, some of those stems are mega-sized. I don't feel so bad anymore. I know you were riding a 58cm LHT. What sizes did you pick up for your other frames? Are they too small by that much?
I've found that the cheapest/easiest way to get an nice tall stem is to combine a quill/threadless adapter with a threadless stem. This gives you so many more choices and adjustabilty.
Currently I'm using this long quill adapter with this medium-length high-rise threadless stem. It's a little bit heavier than a one-piece version but you don't have to worry about availability or the fact that most 1-piece stems have the stupid one-bolt cinch on the bar clamp that requires that you to strip the bar tape and levers off just to swap it out. The "pop-top" type 2-bolt bar clamp is pretty much ubiquitous on modern threadless stems and much less common on older quill-type. None of those stems on the Riv website have the pop-top bar clamp. PTIA
Plus, most quill stems for drop-bars have the stupid old-style 7 shape which may be "vintage correct" but wasteful IMHO. I'm with Grant when it comes to high stems and with Sheldon on the 7-shape being a throwback.
The "7" shaped handlebar stem gets its shape from a historical accident. The style in the old days was to ride rather tall frames by our standards, and the older handlebar shapes had less drop than modern designs. (When the transition from the "highwheeler" to the "safety" bike occurred, the idea of being able to stand over the frame did not occur immediately. Cyclists were in the habit of having to mount and dismount on the fly.) The stem would usually be inserted so that only an inch or less stuck out of the headset. The "7" shape allowed the lowest possible handlebar placement with as much forward reach as was wanted.
Nowadays, most cyclists set their stems all the way up (at the "minimum insertion" mark). With the smaller frame sizes used now, the "7" shaped stem is an atavism, a stylistic holdover from an obsolete technology. An extended "7" stem is two sides of a triangle. A stem that follows the diagonal, directly from just above the headset to the handlebar clamp makes more sense geometrically. Such a stem would be as strong as a similarly made "7" stem, but substantially lighter. It would also be more crash-worthy. Modern Allen-bolt stems are certainly safer than the old style that had a protruding hex head and a sharp rear corner, but the shape is still a threat to the rider's groin in a collision.
There is a trend to use "mountain-bike type" stems on road bikes, and it really makes a lot of sense. All that the "7" stem has going for it is tradition.
I really don't care what other people think about the way my bike looks. I care about what I think, and how my back feels after the first 60 miles of a long ride.
I'm with you (and Sheldon). I've always thought the traditional stem was a waste of material. There are a lot of folks who think that nothing but a level extension belongs on a (real) bike, and it's hard to get them to think about why they feel that way.
I petition to change this thread title to "Jim and James Talk Vintage", or "Chicago Retro-Grouches Unite."
On the other hand, this may be the most popular FS/FT thread in the sites history!
I still prefer a level (or near-level) top tube for purely aesthetic. reasons. The compact frame geometry is a real boon to shorter riders though -at least until the frame gets so small that the virtual top-tube measurement begins to cause toe-overlap issues with the traditional 700c road bike wheel.
With more and more decent road tire choices becoming available for 26" MTB rims I predict that eventually the 559mm MTB wheel will become the new 650b for smaller or Jr. riders on road bikes. This is actually a decent way to go as there are a ton of nice higher-end old hard-tail MTB frames that would do a decent job being converted to roadies for the smaller rider that has a hard time finding 700c wheels.
Now I'm hijacking the thread once again into a whole new direction.
Is this still available? I have a Peugeot Iseran that I am cleaning up right now.