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Actually Riding Your Classic or Antique Bike

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ian

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
I've been riding an 80-year-old Columbia recently. Single-speed, coaster brake, about as basic a bike as you get. A 35 lb. "Lightweight." When you consider the mass of the rider/bicycle as a system, having a modern lightweight bike doesn't make that much difference. I know there are a lot of Spandex-clad folks dressed up like they're running the Tour de France on 5 lb bikes made of rags 'n glue that say otherwise, but physics is physics. They go faster because they're stronger and they weigh less than me, not because their bikes are lighter than mine. I've read this whole 2-year thread. Lots of talk of gear ratios on single-speeds, multi-speed bikes, etc. But nobody has mentioned what people used to do back in the day when confronted with a hill: Dismount and walk your bike uphill. You get to see your bike from another perspective and life slows down for a while. You still get all the exercise.

My mom and dad took the opportunity to bike the newly completed Blue Ridge Parkway/Skyline Drive during WWII because there was gasoline rationing and no automobile traffic . My mom was riding a 3-speed, 60 lb. Raleigh and dad was riding the same 80-year-old Columbia I ride today. He said next time, he'd leave the bikes at home and do the same trip with shopping carts.
Haha. I find myself enjoying a slow ride around my little hilly town. I push my single speed rides uphill every time. I get a lot of positive comments from the people in the 'hood.
 

Allrounderco

Wore out three sets of tires already!
So I do things a bit differently, out of necessity. My everyday bike (really, my main form of transportation) is a longtail cargo bike. Last I weighed it, it was 57lbs. This was before I added the big Wald basket, and mudguards. Of course the weight fluctuates depending on what's hiding in the panniers - there's always a full compliment of tools, and a spare innertube. I've calculated a max gross weight of 360 lbs (including my 140 lbs). I don't ride it far, though. Longest loaded ride was 17 miles on gravel, and that was a calculated 310 lbs. Yes, it's running a 3x7 drivetrain (this generation of Big Dummy only has room for a 7 speed using a 55mm tire). I don't go fast, although I did hit 29mph on a downhill unloaded one time. My average moving speed is 10-15mph. Hills? Yeah, they can be tough carrying two kids, but we make it. I love going off the beaten path, and hit up a lot of singletrack. Anyway, all this to say that when I get on a 50lb singlespeed, it's a relief.


1724245
 

tacochris

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Considering this thread has popped up again I thought this would be fun to mention. I have been eye-balling a ride idea for a few years and I will be moving next year in May so I need to try to pull this off soon. My plan is to use one of my bikes, on vintage tires (like always) and I want to ride it from my house to the town of Tomball. The distance there and back is around 46 miles, which Ive done 20 in one day before so this is just another 20 or so....
I have no reason for doing this other than my pride and confidence in the old equipment I love so much.
The turn towards cooler weather means I may try to pull this off soon.
 

SirMike1983

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
I still ride an old bike, 3-4 days per week after work, March/April through October/November (the season varies a lot here based on weather and daylight). The rides run from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on conditions and daylight. My bikes are almost all internal gear hub old style "lightweights" with larger cogs to improve hill climbing (20 to 24 tooth range, depending on the bike and hub). I ride switchback style up the steeper hills, in low gear. Climbs are slow and steady, descents 25-30 mph or so.

Things I have stopped doing: riding at night on the roads (more dangerous now), riding in the dead of winter (road salt), riding on dirt roads (they use road brine as dust control).

The dirt road thing was a particularly rude realization. I had one bike that I took over a long stretch of unpaved roads. Over the next two weeks, surface rust began to appear all over the bike. I had no idea why - it was in the middle of summer and dry. I learned later the state ordered public works to convert from using oil for dust control, to using winter road brine for dust control. The road dust that had gotten on the bike contained brine and started corroding. If you ride on a dirt road and see rust on your bike, that may be why.
 

kostnerave

Finally riding a big boys bike
I really enjoy riding my vintage bikes, albiet usually around the neighborhood. Aside from dealing with old tires and brake shoes, everything I have has been lubricated, tuned and ready to go. The big problem where I live, is not being able to leave the bike anywhere, locked or not. Bike theft and vandalism are rapant here, with perpetrators recieving little or no consequences for their actions. When I plan a trip on one of the vintage bikes, I know I'm going to be glued to it, which tempers my descision as to wether it's worth dealing with. Usually, I opt for my 2010 Salsa Casseroll. I have it set up with On One Mary bars, a one by nine Shimano 105 drivetrain and Paul canti brakes.
 
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Two Wheeler

Finally riding a big boys bike
I see many aparrently riding their classic bikes for miles on end...
Ok, I get the comfort. Seating position, easy reach to the handlebars, comfy seat (maybe). Styling. Sounds good.
Its the gearing that gets me.
On a 50 pound bike (any Schwinn is a tank and I imagine others are too), one gear is a bastardization (and of course the way it was).
What looks to me is a 46x18 seems to be a popular ratio of gear/inches. Unless you are on the flat (or slightly downhill, tailwind etc), that ratio is useless. Start heading uphill, for me its stand and torque or turn around. You can't turn that gear fast enough.
Too many corroded chains & cracked tires for a dependable ride IMO.
So I'm guessing flat neighborhood rides mostly, and use another bike for actual fitness or pleasure rides. Are classic bike collectors even fit? (no offense meant)
To me... 2, 3 or 5 plus gears make for a much more enjoyable ride.
I am all for a sneaker 2 or 3 speed hub, damn the originality for actually having a better riding bike.

I like birdzgarage bikes. Generally multi gear riders, and my aim for my own rider. Other than that, I ride a multi gear gravel grinder for knocking out miles.
Whats say you all?
It all depends on your hill climbing methods. Here is a picture from one of our Gateway Coasters rides. This method is easily adopted by any skill level.

769A066A-E051-4396-8177-EA453F613D6A.jpeg
 

coasterbrakejunkie1969

Riding a '38 Autocycle Deluxe
Considering this thread has popped up again I thought this would be fun to mention. I have been eye-balling a ride idea for a few years and I will be moving next year in May so I need to try to pull this off soon. My plan is to use one of my bikes, on vintage tires (like always) and I want to ride it from my house to the town of Tomball. The distance there and back is around 46 miles, which Ive done 20 in one day before so this is just another 20 or so....
I have no reason for doing this other than my pride and confidence in the old equipment I love so much.
The turn towards cooler weather means I may try to pull this off soon.
Where are you moving? Still in TX?
 
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