Vintage carbon – repair or replace


New Member
May 19, 2016
a little about me.
I'm more of a runner then a biker but I bike anywhere that’s too far to run or when my joints are too sore to run.
I'm not all that picky, me bike has had clip-less pedals for years and I never bothered to get shoes of replace the pedals.
I once did a bike race in a construction hard hat with a chin strap cause I don't have a bike helmet, which where mandatory (luckily my mom says I have a hard head) anyway I'm really out of the loop on bikes.

So, I have a RARE (or so I told) 1990's Specialized Allez (the bike looks a lot like this one
I brought it from a man who had rebuild it somewhere around 2006.
I really love the bike, and I kind of and abuse it sometimes, city biking, crappy d.i.y. repair jobs, potholes, gravel lanes, dirt lanes, snow, rain and anything else I throw at it, it only ever let me down once.
(but that’s a story another time) my point is it's been very reliable for me.

That said:
It's shifters however are old and will need to be replaced soon plus the gearing not quite right for me it does have a good climbing gear for hills. It used to, but a bunch of the teeth wore off so the gut at the shop took it of for me. Also the cable are like 10+ years old now.
So basically it needs a whole new transmission if you will, and it being such an old bike it may be hard to find parts.

I'm really looking something light-ish, cheap and reliable. I have about $400 +/- to work with right now but I'll have more if I keep saving. I need a bike that’s not too flashy cause I tend to (OK, I always) leave it unlocked when I bike into town. Anyway

(1) should I repair or replace the old girl.
If repair would it be better to get a donor cycle for parts?

(2) If I replaced what should I look for? I haven't been bike shopping in a loooong time. Who's reliable, who's overpriced etc...

(3) would a cyclocross be better for me, I tend to defer maintenance for as long as possible and I hear they have wider clearances. I don't know if it's worth paying extra for?

(4) what does everyone think of trying to trade it on at a used bike place?

(5) any tips on finding a cheap bike/ parts?

any help would be great
Thanks folks
1. If you can afford it, replace it. The upgrades are worth in IMO even if you are not a die-hard roadie.

2. Where are you located?

3. Possibly. If you enjoy riding on really bad roads, going off road, doing gravel, etc. a cross bike is a good option. They really cost no more money than a road bike, so the paying extra thing is not really an issue.

4. Fuggeddabouddit.

5. Craigslist and eBay.
"There are people that actually believe the gunman was on the grassy knoll, the moon landing was filmed in a studio sound stage in California and Simple Green dissolves a bicycle chain"

thank you, thank you campybob, I was kind of nervous about posting here but now I'm glad I did.

what’s that about simple green??? and why would I ever want to clean my chain with it or anything else other then a wire brush?

I live in Pa,
so I get the occasional hill here and there.The man I brought it from was from Delaware thought, flat as a golf course. I get a little jealous sometime when I going up a big hill.
Chains can be cleaned using diesel fuel, kerosene, simple green, the citrus stuff, the cleaners available in bike stores...almost anything. Safety and EPA issues usually have some bearing on the choice.

Even laundry detergent and water will cut oil and grime...and you do not want to use anything harsh enough to damage paint, etch aluminum or soften carbon. So far, I haven't run into that.

Use a Nylon brush. A steel or bronze brush should not be necessary to get a chain sparkling clean.

I advise everyone to use one of the $25 chain cleaners available online or from bike stores. I use the Park Tool chain cleaner, but Pedros and a dozen other brands work just a well. You can get by with a decent brush and an old sock though. They work well, just more of a mess maybe. Your choice.

Oh...there is a cadre of people that are firmly convinced Simple Green somehow damages a chain's metallurgy...weakening it. Using the bottles sold at stores all over the U.S. of A. that are designed for housewives to clean...well...everything...undiluted in my chain cleaner for years, I have seen zero damage to Campy and Sedis and Regina and shimaNO chains. I've never had a chain break on me and also climb a lot of hills here in Eastern Ohio (Pa. hills are KILLER tough!).

Just let the chain dry off after cleaning a bit and lube it up with your favorite oil. Car oil (dino or synthetic both work), any of the bike shop stuff or your own secret concoction. As long as a chain is fairly clean and decently lubed it will last pretty much its maximum service life and run/shift well.

The new 11-speed bikes are really sweet for climbing. You can still keep all your close ratios for level and downhill riding and get a few really low ratios for getting you up the long, hard climbs. The indexing shift systems have really improved, the frames seem to get stronger (and lighter perhaps) and if you enjoy durability a brand new machine will likely offer the same reliability your old bike did. Warranty and all that...and I like the safety factor of new carbon (if you go that route again) every few years.

At the same time, cruise your local Craigslist. Summer is not the ideal time to find the best deals, but...bikes hold poor resale value and you can score great bargains off Craigslist if you read it daily and are prepared to pull the trigger fast. Beware of scammers, of course.

Since you run, you're probably pretty fit. I do recommend clipless pedals to folks like you. I would keep the old Spesh bike and try a cheap pair of shimaNO clipless pedals and use the yellow cleats with rotational to protect those knees. You'll gain stability on the bike, be able to spin faster and use more muscle groups...important when climbing. Again though, personal preferences are paramount.

There are still a lot of parts for it, I have quite a few bikes from the 80's and I have no problems getting parts, so knowing that I vote you rebuild it.

I wouldn't go crazy rebuilding it, but go with Shimano cables, chains, and gears, they're cheap and work great; a bike shop can tell you what gears would work for what you want the bike to do.

As far as cleaning the chain, that's great if the chain isn't worn then use the Park Chain Cleaner that Campybob mentions, I've used the same device for years and it does work really well...word of caution when using that not spin the chain through the machine real fast or it will splatter solvent all over the place, which brings me to the next obvious point, don't clean your chain on your nice living room carpet! or near painted walls! Once you're done wipe the chain with a rag by spinning it backwards several times then let it dry for about 4 to 6 hours, apply whatever lube you like and let it dry for about 12 hours.

One thing I disagree with CampyBob about, and only because I have a few friction systems, few Index systems, and the modern STI and Ergo system that the old index system that you have shifts faster than the modern stuff today, and they're more reliable and easier to work on. In fact, may I dare say, that my fastest friction system is on par with today's modern systems in regards to speed of the shift, but the friction system is superior over the modern or the index system in regards to reliability. So I would not spend a small fortune on upgrading your bike to the modern system. Your bike is indeed a rare vintage bike, it needs to be kept that way.
I dunno, Froze. I was pretty good, back in the day, with my Campy 5, 6 and 7-speed friction and the new mechanical Campy index system is just lightning fast. I can dump 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 gears in one direction and 1, 2, 3 or 4 in the other and have it the chain land thoughtlessly in the blink of an eye right smack where it needs to be. No fiddling or tuning required.

I will agree, after spending two Winters on shimaNO mechanical shifting, that it is a bit sluggish with that built-in delay in derailleur movement. It's freaking light and accurate, but it is noticeably slower than Campy. Still, no thought required and no tuning in the gear like the old friction systems often required. I think you are right if comparing it, speed-wise, to a guy that's on his game with a friction system. I think I could give shimaNO a race for their money for time...I doubt I could match the accuracy though.

As far as reliability go, my Campy stuff has been just as reliable and robust and long wearing as my old 1970's Record and Super Record stuff. I will say that the weak link on both shimaNO and Campy shifting systems is the thin shift wires and the stress the shifter winding drums put on those wires. Change the cables out every 10,000-20,000 miles or risk breakage, for sure.

I'm told shimaNO shifters do wear out faster than Campy's. I've put over 30,000 miles on my Chorus levers and our terrain requires l lot of shifting. This isn't flat terrain or the home of long climbs where a guy might sit in the same gear or two for miles and miles on end. One cable (rear) is all I've had to replace as far as maintenance goes. I will report on the shimaNO rig when the miles start adding up to something significant. So far, only maybe 3,000 miles on that bike.

I did cringe when Nibali threw his rear Campy derailleur (I'm pretty sure Nibali uses mechanical Campy) into the spokes, snapped it off and wound it up half-a-turn in the wheel during the Giro10.8 Km mountain time trial the other day, but I've seen lots of rear D's end up in the spokes over the years. It's never a pleasant sight.
Good discussion here. I wouldn't worry about reliability of index shifters at all either since I've had great reliability from my DA 7700 shifters. 12 years and 40K miles of hills, and the triple FD and 9 speed RD still seem to shift just fine. The front shift cable broke at around 18K miles, and then it failed again at 36K miles (had a broken strand). Other than that, everything was working fine when I parked the bike this spring.

The 6800 11 speed compact on the new bike does seem to shift a bit lighter and quicker, but that means little to me. Keeping the legs turning seems to be my biggest challenge lately, shifting or braking not so much.....
It hasn't been my experience, that's all I can say. I never owned older Campy stuff but knew lots of guys who did but my Suntour Superbe stuff (friction) was far faster and a lot more durable, in fact I still have the bike with the Superbe stuff on it and it has over 160,000 miles on it and still shifts like it did when it was new without ever a failure...the only failure I did have was the front derailleur band in the interest of saving weight was made too thin for the long haul and snapped about 15 years ago but I had a backup derailleur of the same model. Index wise I have two types, the Dura Ace and the 105 and both of them are faster than any modern system I've used or own. With friction and Index you can shift from the tallest gear to the smallest gear in one throw of the lever and be there almost instantly.

Look, all STI and ERGO is is simply an index system, the reason it doesn't work as fast as the older index system is the length of cable and the routing the cable has to take to get to the derailleur. Even in the friction days when someone converted downtube shifters to bar ends the shifting slowed down because of the length of the cable. I'm not saying it slows down by 15 or 30 seconds but it probably takes an additional half to a full second to make a shift the longer the cable has to go and the more turns the cable has to make. With downtube index systems the cable was short with just one turn before it hit the derailleur, now that cable is at least twice as long with a odd turns inside the brake lever, then couple of turns before it even hits the downtube. I've also found that if I don't move shift levers far enough in a modern system I can miss a shift or go between gears just like the old days!

Campy repairability is neat, but as one mechanic said that Campy keeps breaking the spring carrier which cost about $65 plus parts while the Shimano doesn't have that issue; see this for more: I use to have a Mercian with Campy Athena but I didn't but hardly any miles on it when I sold this last winter to a friend of mine so I didn't have a chance to experience the breaking part thing with the spring carrier. The reason my last bike purchase I went with Shimano instead of Campy was the parts issue, while a large city won't have a problem having Campy parts on hand a smaller town may not, even where I live in Fort Wayne which is pretty good size city there are some campy parts they have to order. One can argue all day about which is more reliable but according to my local mechanics they all ride Shimano for a reason.

I'm not going to get into an argument about which is better sti or ergo because I couldn't really tell much of a difference except for how it felt in one's hands and how they look, I think the last generation of skeleton Athena was the best looking of any manufacture.
I have never broken an internal part in any of my Campy 10 and 11-speed shifters. Ever.
I have never broken an internal part in any of my Campy 10 and 11-speed shifters. Ever.

I don't know, like I said I didn't have mine with enough miles to even hint at beginning to wear out, but that spring thing is supposedly a known issue that my LBS knew about as does that website I mentioned. Not sure if that situation applies to all models or all years or what.
Sorry if this has been said already. Carbon glued to aluminum lugs was a bad idea or at least my personal experience owning a glued one (Carbonne 9). Rare frames are not necessarily valuable. Somebody will appreciate the collector value. The 105 and ultegra shifters from that era were not terribly durable unlike the dura ace ones.

Sell it and then, I'd buy a more up to date used bike.
You got me thinking about shift speed causes and effects...

As far as cable movement goes, I doubt adding 2' of cable affects shifting speed. At all. Certainly it is not a noticeable factor on a modern bike. In the era of huge, unsupported loops of that spiral-wound steel outer housing we used years ago...the really compressible, flopping around stuff...maybe.

The modern cable is already under tension and it does not stretch. The housing has really been advanced to almost zero compression. When the inner wire starts moving at one's moving at the other regardless of length. The added length is as or more secured than the rear loop to the derailleur, being secured tightly under the bar tape and crossed twice in front of the head tube. And internal friction in a shift cable? Almost non-existent.

I also doubt there was ever a more 'light' feeling system than shimaNO's latest products. Friction shifters, though, are necessarily sluggish due to the forces of...friction. Friction required to hold the gear.

Alf has discussed the shimaNO time lag in detail so I will not elaborate, but it is the one thing I notice in going back and forth from Campy to shimaNO systems. I'm guessing it's built into the cable movement return motion.

To add to what Weatherby said: I do personally know several riders that wore out 105 and Ultegra levers in a couple seasons. Not repairable. No spare parts for the levers available no matter where you live. Throw away, disposable items and that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is what it is though.

A PAIR of Campy G-Springs are $12:

After watching a YouTube video even a doofus can have them installed in an hour.

A carrier is $6-$15...not that I've ever heard of them breaking prior to your link from RM:{ProductId}&utm_campaign=AEBike+|+2563&creative=9445478160&device=c&matchtype={MatchType}

As far as parts procurement go...'if' they are available and Campy small parts almost always are...there's this cool thing called the intarwebz. Usually with free shipping. It's awesome. So I forget about 'the big city' most my TREK dealer couldn't even get me the correct spokes for the bike he sold me. Go figure.

I'm with you, Froze. No argument here. I ride shimaNO in the blizzard weather. It works OK.

I will say, I see no one showing the slightest inclination to going back to friction shifting or even using it if they have old bikes in the inventory like I do.

And perhaps it should be Weatherby alluded to...there really is no such thing as "classic carbon" or even "vintage carbon" yet. OK...I'll make an exception for the Exxon era stuff!
If it's really old, it would be a lot safer for you to just buy a new one, instead of replacing the individual parts. You will have less of a hard time because you will practically replace everything, all the while having the guarantee that they will work in proper order for a long time. Then again, I'm also very sentimental, and I just can't replace an old friend with something new that easily. So it's your choice, whether you are sentimental or not.
Sounds like you've had some interesting experiences with cycling! If you're looking to improve your performance, I'd recommend starting with a few key upgrades to your gear. Clip-less pedals and shoes can make a big difference in your pedaling efficiency, and a well-fitting helmet is a must for safety.

For time trialing and climbing, focusing on your position and technique can also yield significant improvements. Aerodynamics are crucial in time trialing, so consider investing in a good fitting and position on your bike. For climbing, work on your cadence and pedaling efficiency to maintain a steady effort.

Lastly, if you're interested in racing, I'd recommend joining a local race or two to get a feel for the competition and learn from other racers. It can be intimidating at first, but the cycling community is generally supportive and welcoming. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and keep challenging yourself. Happy cycling! :)

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