Land of the Giants? Bikes from the 70's and early 80's

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by John Rees, Mar 6, 2003.

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  1. John Rees

    John Rees Guest

    Often, when I see older road bikes from the late 70's and early 80's on sale, they are often massive
    frames. I'm talking 60 - 61cm territory. These bikes usually have the seat as far down as it will go
    and sometimes a stem that could be not be shorter.

    So were cyclist from this era taller than us? Is Eddie Mercxx as tall (or taller) than is son, who
    rides some pretty large frames himself (Mercxx, of course - at least last year)

    Or was there some kind of fad for a while to ride oversized bikes. Or maybe, people who own these
    vintage bikes that actually FIT them are simply not SELLING them? :)

    Enquiring minds wish to know

    From: John B. Rees [email protected] http://www.jrees.net/
     
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  2. >From: John Rees [email protected]

    >Or was there some kind of fad for a while to ride oversized bikes.

    Or maybe the current fad is to ride undersized frames?

    George F. Johnson
     
  3. Harris

    Harris Guest

    John Rees <[email protected]> wrote:
    > Often, when I see older road bikes from the late 70's and early 80's on sale, they are often
    > massive frames. I'm talking 60 - 61cm territory.

    You call that massive? I ride a 63 cm (center-to-center).

    > These bikes usually have the seat as far down as it will go and sometimes a stem that could be not
    > be shorter.

    Usually about 4" of seatpost showing and a 110 mm stem.

    > So were cyclist from this era taller than us? Is Eddie Mercxx as tall (or taller) than is son, who
    > rides some pretty large frames himself (Mercxx, of course - at least last year)

    You mean Eddy Merckx?

    > Or was there some kind of fad for a while to ride oversized bikes. Or maybe, people who own these
    > vintage bikes that actually FIT them are simply not SELLING them? :)

    No the fad is happening now. Tiny frames, huge seatposts, huge stems, integrated headsets, low spoke
    count wheels, insanely short chainstays, and tires in every color of the rainbow.

    Art Harris
     
  4. Terry Morse

    Terry Morse Guest

    John Rees wrote:

    > Often, when I see older road bikes from the late 70's and early 80's on sale, they are often
    > massive frames. I'm talking 60 - 61cm territory.

    There's a reason for these frame sizes: comfort. Today's fashion puts people onto frames that are
    too small for their bodies. Here's an illumnating article from a builder who refuses to follow the
    latest fashion:

    http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/html/bikes_framesize.html

    Size is one problem with the current fashion. Clearance is another.
    --
    terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://www.terrymorse.com/bike/
     
  5. John Rees wrote:

    > Often, when I see older road bikes from the late 70's and early 80's on sale, they are often
    > massive frames. I'm talking 60 - 61cm territory.

    They were tall, but not particularly "massive." Frame weight for steel frames has not changed to any
    important degree in the last century.

    > These bikes usually have the seat as far down as it will go and sometimes a stem that could be not
    > be shorter.
    >
    > So were cyclist from this era taller than us? Is Eddie Mercxx as tall (or taller) than is son, who
    > rides some pretty large frames himself (Mercxx, of course - at least last year)
    >
    > Or was there some kind of fad for a while to ride oversized bikes.

    Before the advent of the mountain bike, seatposts and stems were quite short, and long ones were
    difficult to impossible to obtain. If you bought a bike that didn't have a long enough seat tube,
    you might not be able to get the saddle adjusted properly for good leg extension!

    Even if you did, the handlebars might well be too low, especially as the custom back then was to
    build with a level top tube.

    Through this period, mass produced frames were not "proportionally sized." That is to say, you might
    have a choice between a 21", 23" or 25" frame, but the only differences among those frames would be
    the lengths of the seat tubes and head tubes. The top tube would be the same for all three sizes.
    Assuming normal proportions, a tall rider would be a bit cramped in the cockpit area, but might
    compensate a bit by fitting a stem with more forward extension. A short rider migh be too stretched
    out reaching forward to the bars, which could be partially compensated with a short stem.

    It is also true that there was a certain macho attraction to the tall head tube, and many riders
    would choose a taller frame because they liked the way it looked. However, since the frames
    weren't proportional sized, this didn't result in as much discomfort as going with a modern "too
    big" frame would.

    See also my Frame Sizing article:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/frame-sizing.html

    Sheldon "24 Inch Seat Tube, 22 Inch Top Tube" Brown +--------------------------------------------+
    | Opinions founded on prejudice are always | sustained with the greatest violence. | --Hebrew
    | Proverb |
    +--------------------------------------------+ Harris Cyclery, West Newton, Massachusetts Phone
    617-244-9772 FAX 617-244-1041 http://harriscyclery.com Hard-to-find parts shipped Worldwide
    http://captainbike.com http://sheldonbrown.com
     
  6. Peter Cole

    Peter Cole Guest

    "John Rees" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:p[email protected]...
    > Often, when I see older road bikes from the late 70's and early 80's on
    sale,
    > they are often massive frames. I'm talking 60 - 61cm territory. These
    bikes
    > usually have the seat as far down as it will go and sometimes a stem that
    could
    > be not be shorter.
    >
    > So were cyclist from this era taller than us? Is Eddie Mercxx as tall (or taller) than is son, who
    > rides some pretty large frames himself (Mercxx, of course - at least last year)
    >
    > Or was there some kind of fad for a while to ride oversized bikes. Or
    maybe,
    > people who own these vintage bikes that actually FIT them are simply not SELLING them? :)

    It was the fashion back then to have very short seatposts and stems. Frame sizing apparently wasn't
    well understood either. A good friend, who was well under 6' tall, had a 27" frame, as did my
    "little" sister (6'2"). I wound up inheriting my sister's frame, which was larger than my 25" (I'm
    6'10"). I eventually broke that frame (Raleigh Grand Prix), but have collected a couple of others
    from that era. I've been riding one for a few years as a fixed gear, the other is in reserve. I also
    have a modern 27" (68 cm) Cannondale frame. When you put new components on those old frames, there
    isn't really a whole lot of difference. I'm afraid it's a dwindling resource though.
     
  7. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    Sheldon Brown wrote:

    > Before the advent of the mountain bike, seatposts and stems were quite short, and long ones were
    > difficult to impossible to obtain. If you bought a bike that didn't have a long enough seat tube,
    > you might not be able to get the saddle adjusted properly for good leg extension!
    >
    > Even if you did, the handlebars might well be too low, especially as the custom back then was to
    > build with a level top tube.
    >
    > Through this period, mass produced frames were not "proportionally sized." That is to say, you
    > might have a choice between a 21", 23" or 25" frame, but the only differences among those frames
    > would be the lengths of the seat tubes and head tubes. The top tube would be the same for all
    > three sizes. Assuming normal proportions, a tall rider would be a bit cramped in the cockpit
    > area, but might compensate a bit by fitting a stem with more forward extension. A short rider
    > migh be too stretched out reaching forward to the bars, which could be partially compensated with
    > a short stem.
    >
    > It is also true that there was a certain macho attraction to the tall head tube, and many riders
    > would choose a taller frame because they liked the way it looked.

    It seems the opposite might be true today -- short head tubes and too-low handlebars are "in."

    > However, since the frames weren't proportional sized, this didn't result in as much discomfort as
    > going with a modern "too big" frame would.

    Compared to a few years ago, it seems that head tubes are not proportional, or as proportional as
    they should be. I once measured three different sizes of the same bike, and they all had the same
    head tube, though the top/seat tubes were proportional. So the handlebars were too low in the larger
    sizes. It seems that tall riders have trouble getting their handlebars high enough these days.

    However, I do agree that bikes are generally sized a lot more proportionally than they were
    in the 70s.

    OTOH, there were some notable exceptions to 70s trends -- I've seen quite a few old Raleigh racing
    bikes with long top tubes, even by today's standards. I've seen some modern oddities, too. A few
    weeks ago, I saw a really tall Waterford freme, like 68cm, with a 58cm top tube. I wondered who
    could possibly want such a thing -- but whoever did, they probably got a good deal!

    Matt O.
     
  8. John Rees <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > Often, when I see older road bikes from the late 70's and early 80's on sale, they are often
    > massive frames. I'm talking 60 - 61cm territory. These bikes usually have the seat as far down as
    > it will go and sometimes a stem that could be not be shorter.
    >
    > So were cyclist from this era taller than us? Is Eddie Mercxx as tall (or taller) than is son, who
    > rides some pretty large frames himself (Mercxx, of course - at least last year)
    >
    Being of average height and having bikes ranging from 19" to 22" frames (the 22" being a Claud
    Butler from c1981 - just to substantiate yor observations) I make the folowing coments:

    1)It is partly fashion - then the standard advice was to get the biggest frame that would fit
    comfortably, I don't think this advice would be common now.

    2)These were usually road bikes, modern mountain bikes not having been invented yet. When mountain
    bikes came in the need to keep top tubes lower to reduce unfortunate impacts in case of sudden
    stop or fall led to a trend to smaller frames that has also crossed over into touring bikes.

    3)All the bikes I use for mainly on road have ended up with very similar riding positions anyway so
    maybe frame size isn't that important from this point of view (though my commuting bike has to fit
    in a train doorway without causing obstruction so smaller frames have the edge here). This is not
    to say that they all handle the same.

    Anything that can be changed in a variety of ways without unduly affecting its utility is bound to
    be affected by fashion. Contrast wheel diameter where there are good reasons why the diameter of
    wheels has changed little over the same period (counting 27" as being roughly the same as 700C).

    >
    > From: John B. Rees [email protected] http://www.jrees.net/
     
  9. Sheldon Brown <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Before the advent of the mountain bike, seatposts and stems were quite short, and long ones were
    > difficult to impossible to obtain. If you bought a bike that didn't have a long enough seat tube,
    > you might not be able to get the saddle adjusted properly for good leg extension!

    For example, I have here a 25 year old Centurion, and the original seatpost is 17 cm long (rail
    clamp to bottom) for a 57 c-c bike. More of a seat stump. At the usual 6.5cm min insertion you get
    the proverbial fistful of seatpost, no more, so there is almost no usable adjustment in the post.
    Anyone who needs the post significantly lower will have trouble standing over the bike. That's
    extreme, but posts <20 cm are common on older bikes.

    All it takes is fixing up a few old 10 speeds to recall that not quite everything about the good old
    days was actually good.
     
  10. Jon Isaacs

    Jon Isaacs Guest

    >1)It is partly fashion - then the standard advice was to get the biggest frame that would fit
    > comfortably, I don't think this advice would be common now.

    Might still be good advice though. <g>

    Jon Isaacs
     
  11. John Everett

    John Everett Guest

    On Thu, 6 Mar 2003 14:55:51 +0000, John Rees <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Enquiring minds wish to know

    Over the years there's been a trend toward smaller frames and correspondingly longer seatposts
    and stems. Compare pictures of TdF riders from the 70's with those of today and the difference
    is obvious.

    Several years ago I was given a PX-10 by the original owner, who raced it in the late 60's. Even
    though he is a couple of inches shorter than I am, by today's standards the frame is too big for me.
    I had to raise the seat a few cm. but the seatpost still looks too short.

    jeverett3<AT>earthlink<DOT>net http://home.earthlink.net/~jeverett3
     
  12. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    Pete Geurds wrote:

    > [email protected] wrote:
    >>OTOH, there were some notable exceptions to 70s trends -- I've seen quite a few old Raleigh racing
    >>bikes with long top tubes, even by today's standards.
    >
    > I have four Raleighs in 231/2 - 251/2" sizes and the top tubes are all 57 "point something" cm.
    > Not identical but look that way unless you measure very carefully. However, if we were talking
    > about small frames then yes maybe they start getting longish in the top tube. If you wanted a
    > "square" frame I think you'd need a 211/2" or 221/2" size. (in an old Raleigh)

    It probably depends on the model -- I've seen both "oversquare" and "undersquare" examples. Most of
    these have been in the medium-large range, because that's the size I'm usually interested in.

    In general, I do think Sheldon (and you) are correct -- that a wide range of frames had basically
    the same top tube length -- but there are some exceptions. The more expensive models may have been
    more likely to be proportionally sized, while the cheaper ones were more haphazard, or "sized" for
    appearance before actual fit.

    Matt O.
     
  13. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > [email protected] wrote:
    > >It probably depends on the model -- I've seen both "oversquare" and "undersquare" examples. Most
    > >of these have been in the medium-large
    range,
    > >because that's the size I'm usually interested in.

    "Pete Geurds" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I forgot to mention that once upon a time you could order frames from
    Raleigh
    > built to suit. (probably with some limitations) Don't know if these were Professionals or if other
    > models were available
    that
    > way.

    They were Team Professionals, in 531, 531SL or the (then) new 753. Colors were gold, dark blue or
    the then current yellow/red TI-Team colors. Road or track were offered.

    --
    Andrew Muzi http://www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April 1971
     
  14. On Thu, 06 Mar 2003 10:30:37 -0500, Harris wrote:

    > No the fad is happening now. Tiny frames, huge seatposts, huge stems, integrated headsets, low
    > spoke count wheels, insanely short chainstays, and tires in every color of the rainbow.

    There were always fads. Remember the fad of drilling out every possible bit of metal from
    components? I also recall 24-spoke wheels from 1970, curly-cued stays on Hetchins frames (beautiful,
    but non-functional), and many more fads that are no different from now.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | "Business!" cried the Ghost. "Mankind was my business. The _`\(,_ | common welfare was my
    business; charity, mercy, forbearance, (_)/ (_) | and benevolence, were, all, my business. The
    dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"
    --Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"
     
  15. diarmaede

    diarmaede New Member

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    If anyone has one of these gigantic old road bikes (or just the frame) gathering dust in his/her garage and wants to sell it, please let me know. I am 6'6" and I have been looking for one for quite some time. Preferably a cro-moly touring bike with cantilever bosses.

    BTW: I remember when I lived in NYC in 1988/89, there was a big fad in Harlem and other parts of the city for kids to ride enormous frames. It was a short-lived fad, proving that when the consequences are extreme enough, form does sometimes follow function.

    Thanks!

    Forbes

    [email protected]
     
  16. Slidemanic

    Slidemanic New Member

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    Say, John Everett:

    I saw your PX-10 on the PX-10 Database but didn't have any success at your website or email. (?)
    My PX-10 is identical to yours and has a serial number that is very close indeed. I still have the original seatpost but don't use it. Campagnolo Record 26.0 is a perfect fit but kind of hard to find.
    A 22.5" or 57 cm frame like this one is not huge, but appropriate for a 6-footer if the stem is long enough. Lucky for me that readymades fit me so well.
    I don't remember when I got my first taller seatpost, but I believe it was in the late 1970s.
     
  17. Kupa

    Kupa New Member

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    Here are my two "Land of the Giants" dinosaurs that buck the current mass produced teeny frame fad...

    :D

    1986 Look 753, 61 cm ctc....

    [​IMG]

    1985ish DeRosa SL, 62 cm ctc...

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Harris

    Harris Guest

    "Kupa" wrote:

    > Here are my two "Land of the Giants" dinosaurs that buck the current mass produced teeny
    > frame fad...
    >
    > 1986 Look 753, 61 cm ctc....
    >
    > 1985ish DeRosa SL, 62 cm ctc...

    Oh yeah! That's when a DeRosa was a DeRosa!

    Art Harris
     
  19. On Sat, 07 Jun 2003 01:40:06 -0400, Kupa wrote:

    > Here are my two "Land of the Giants" dinosaurs that buck the current mass produced teeny
    > frame fad...
    >
    > :D
    >
    > 1986 Look 753, 61 cm ctc....
    >
    > [​IMG]
    >
    > 1985ish DeRosa SL, 62 cm ctc...
    >
    > [IMH]http://www.thinkcooper.com/bicycle/DeRosa_full_sm.jpg[/IMG]
    >
    >
    >
    > --
    > Every time I go into the bike shop, they tell me my bike should be in a museum, not on the road.
    > It may be old, but I can still kick ass. :)

    you need another bike shop. they're morons.

    >
    > #1- DeRosa SL, "updated" with 1st gen Campy Chorus gruppo, with 7 speed
    > Regina freewheel. 1985 vintage.
    >
    >
    > #2- Look 753 frame, Hinnault TDF team version with Mondrian paint, Mavic
    > gruppo including cranks, brakes, derailleurs, stem, post, headset and bb, & 7 speed freewheel.
    > 1986 vintage...
    >
    >
    >
    >>--------------------------<
    > Posted via cyclingforums.com http://www.cyclingforums.com
     
  20. Kupa

    Kupa New Member

    Joined:
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    :)
     
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