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I have been cycling on a Centurion Pro Tour that was constructed sometimes in the 1980's - probably late 1980's, but still.

It works great. It coasts downhill far faster than my hybrid, it doesn't weigh very much and I have definitely gotten perfomance results from riding it.

But, it is still from the 1980s.

It kind of forces you to ride in an areo position. Once, I felt a pull in my back when I was riding up a hill (the topographic lines are very close together on that thing), and it took me days before I could ride again. Sometimes, I feel it a little in my elbows.

It is worth it to look at a new bike? My budget is really only 500USD or so. Or am I just not adjusting it properly?

I know it's a narrow question on the fact of it, but I can't be the only guy with a decent ancient bike who would like some opinions one acquiring a new one.

My bike shop told me to I'd benefit from a new one, but hey - they are trying to sell bikes.

Thanks!

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There are only two reasons to abandon an old bike: 1) You can no longer (at a reasonable price) get replacement parts for it. 2) It no longer suits your needs. It sounds like #2 may be a problem for you. However, $500 is pretty tight for a budget if you're shopping in the US at this time of year (you can usually get some nice deals in the fall). You might want to look at Craig's List, et al, for a good used bike that suits your needs. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 12 at 2:47
    
I suspect at $500 you'd end up disappointed, you'd really be constrained to the low end of the market. –  PeteH Apr 12 at 11:24
    
Yeah, looking around it appears that about $700 ("list") is the starting point for a decent road/touring bike. Of course you can always try to bargain -- I'd bet some shops will come down $50 or maybe even $100 if you have cash in hand. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 12 at 12:14
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You could try getting a bike fit for your current bike or swapping out the stem to get a different height/reach, seatpost for moreforward/backward or a shallow drop bar. Note that you can still get another used bike from the 90s or something if this doesn't work which would probably be better for someone who only has 500. –  Batman Apr 12 at 15:57
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7 Answers 7

I suggest that you go to your local bike shop and see if you can test ride a modern bike.

As Daniel says $500 will not get you far. A test ride of a couple of bikes at different price points will help you decide. You may find that your "retro" bike is OK after all. Or maybe that it never did fit you properly. But a new bike could be 5kg lighter than what you have!

Now is a good time to do it, because it's Spring there and the shops will have a good range. If you decide to buy, then you can save for the next six months :-)

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I should add, I love my '80s steel bike. But it weighs 11kg, vs my 6kg for my new bike. –  andy256 Apr 12 at 8:39
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The selection is better in the spring, but (at least in the US) the prices are MUCH better in the fall -- 30-50% lower in some cases. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 12 at 11:51
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A new road bike won't be any more comfortable and will probably put you in an even more aero position. If you still have all original parts, you might want to get new stem, bars, levers, and hoods which will make it more comfortable to ride on the hoods, and the new bars are wider which is also easier on the hands. A stem that angles up a bit can also help with the posture. All this Will come in much cheaper then buying a whole new bike, you might even want to get a modern wheel set. Probably the best way to get a nice comfortable bike for your money.

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It depends on the type of roadbike. I think the commuter-cross types and certainly tourers probably are less aero. –  Batman Apr 18 at 18:00
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I've been testing a 1984's Centurion Elite road bike, but I'm more a crosscountry and downhill rider, so a the beguinning I had a lot of discomfort, and could not ride for longer than 20 minutes, while in an XC bike I can ride for 7 hours straight.

After a few tries, it became obvious that's it was a fit problem so I moved the saddle a little towards the front and angled the handlebar a little upwards so the hoods where more comfortable to reach.

With those two changes I am now able to use the bike for as long as I want. At least no discomfort appeared on my 2 hour training urban rides. In my first attempts to ride it I suffered pain in the back of the neck and the lower back. None has reappeared with the new configuration.

Regarding performance I have no complaints about the bike, and Im able to keep up with some roders tha use new road bikes. The only thing I miss is being able to change gears without moving my hands from the handlebars.

So, my conclusion is, you either continue saving to increase your budget, or use some of your actual budget to upgrade your current ride, including re fitting it. I wouldn't advise to spend too much on it either, just a few components to make it more comfortable.

For completeness of my anecdote, I add that my position on the road bike while on the flats feels almost the same as riding on my XC bikes (same distance from saddle to straight part of handlebar) I'm 30 years old and been riding XC for 14 years, road for 3 months.

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My two cents:

Most component manufacturers trickle down their product tech to lower groupsets over time. So compare a 1996 Shimano Dura-Ace component, that has 9 speeds, to a modern-day 105 component, which has 11 speeds. That, in addition to all the frame geometry engineering that comes with modern bikes! In my experience newer bikes with lower components ride just as smoothly as (much) older bikes.

Wiki chart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimano#Road_groupsets

You should test ride different bikes to get a feel of what different bikes can do for you! And as the other commenters have noted, $500 will not get you very far. Mid-tier road bikes can MSRP for $1k+. If I were you, I would save up to get a shiny new bike (especially if your current bike is giving you back problems). :)

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A new seat post (carbon with more flex instead of metal) or a new saddle works wonders. You might also raise the handlebar and/or shorten the stem. If you can put on fatter tyres, like 28 or 25mm instead of 23mm will bring a noticeable increase of comfort.

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I have a old Fuji Royale that my dad bought from a junkie they year i was born, (1982), i still ride that bike. the bike was way too big for him so he never rode it much and it sat in the garage until i was 25, it turned out to be the perfect size for me, since i'm more about 6 inches taller than him. i converted it to a single speed as the chain/derailleurs were both beyond repair. so old bikes aren't bad because they are old, their bad because they are the wrong size. so long as they aren't rusted out or compromised they should be fine to ride.

in your case it sounds like you have the wrong size bike, maybe two small. i'm assuming you have a threaded headset, meaning you can easily raise the stem height somewhat, that should help. also, older bikes had weird drop bars that are uncomfortable, replace that with a new bar, with a shallower drop could help or flat bars even.

either way, go to your LBS and ask them if its even the right size for you. if its not, getting a new bike wouldn't be a bad idea. if it is, ask them how to adjust it for more comfort.

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It sounds like the main problem with your bike is that the position is too low. Is your stem already at its highest possible position?

If so, it's still relatively easy to raise the bars. You can buy a stem extender as a cheaper option: http://www.amazon.com/Sunlite-Cromo-Quill-Stem-Extender/dp/B000AO9ZE8 Or a tall stem as a more elegant option: http://store.velo-orange.com/index.php/nitto-technomic-stem-tall-26-0-clamp.html

You may also need to replace your cables and cable housing if your handlebars are significantly higher, but that's not a bad idea on an older bike in any case. Either way, you'll spend $100 or less on the upgrade.

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