Well, to muddy the waters a bit, a "better performing" bike part is a slippery rascal of a concept. There are several types of riding: utility, commuting, recreational and racing, to name a few. While the latest, indexing, superlight, disposable racing tech may give and edge in the peleton, a lot of us don't race and if, by accident, we stumbled into a uphill bunch sprint, we would be looking for the quickest way out. I would argue that "old tech" is better in many ways for recreational riding.
My two encounters with indexed shifting (a Miyata mountain bike and a Cannondale) left me rather cold. I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time fussing with shifter cable set up to try to get the things to index properly. Then, after a few hundred miles, it was time to do it again to compensate for cable stretch. The Cannondale was a triple, and you couldn't trim the front derailer to eliminate chain rub on even moderate crossovers. More than once the shifter system would futz up in a ride, leaving me with marginal shifting performance until I could get home, break out the tools and start tinkering again. (And yes, I know my troubles were probably due to my mechanical IQ being marginal, but even my marginal skills can maintain friction shifters.) Now if I were a racer, I would be more tolerant of the bother so I could nail that shift into the 118 inch gear as I crank it up to 38 MPH and go for the line, because it might gain me the fraction of an inch that would win. But in reality, I just want to be able to yawn my way out to the garage on Sunday morn, puff some air into the tyres, make sure the mice haven't chewed through the brake cables and hit the road. I hadn't adjusted the derailer cables on the Marinnoni for close to 14 years until I finally replaced the SR rear with a wide range unit, and they still worked fine. To me, that's "better", more useful technology. And of course Lance doesn't mind the complexity and maintenance, because the US Postal team mechanics will lovingly cosset and massage his machine before every important race. And even then, the new tech carries risk. Who was the US rider at the Sydney Olympics who lost because her replacement wheel wouldn't index?
Likewise with superlight frames. As others have said, a bike used to be a substantial investment, and it had to last. 30 years ago, how many recreational riders owned fleets of bikes? My experience was that most folks owned a "good" bike, and maybe a rain/commuter bike. If they saved up to buy a fancy frame, they usually traded the componentry over from the "good" bike and sold the frame. I would speculate that the "modern" classic rendezvous member, with half a garage full of vintage bikes, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Indeed, perhaps we live in the "golden age" of lugged steel bike collecting, with desirable fine frames going on eBay often for under $100 dollars. It's their durability that lets them live long enough for us to collect them.
But modern superlight frames appear to have a definite limited life span. How long will a 3.5 pound frame welded out of Pennsylvania 6500 aluminum (or whatever they're using now) last? It seems like bad Karma to buy a finely made frame that I would have to junk if a few years. Tig welded steel bikes of course don't have that problem, but aren't they tougher to repair? I've had a tube replaced on the PX 10 and a seatstay on a International, and they're good as new. Until I meet that auto out there with my name on it, these bikes will be there for me.
Everything else can be analyzed the same way. Ergo shifting with the brake levers? Barcons, with new no-stretch housings, are equally accessible and about as fast except from the hoods and tops. (If you're on the tops, how hard is it to reach down and flick a barcon?) Dual pivot brakes? Center pulls seem about as strong, and leave room for fenders. For the riding I do, I feel the retro tech is "better" by eliminating unneeded complication. If the racers use it, more power to em, but a technology that's better for racing might be a retrograde step for me.
Tom Adams, just finished a 20 miler on a 30 year old bike in Kansas City.
Thanks Chuck for old vs. new comparison of the Duquesne and Trek. It never ceases to amaze me, particularly with bikes, what might seem new and innovative had been thought of long ago. Of course there are usually different materials used for the manufacturing for said piece or item.
Someone here said, > The contrast between old bikes and modern ones is more
than just the
>technological one; it's a fundamental difference in style and
>purpose. Today's bicycles and components are designed around a
>"coolness" standard, intended to appeal to guys in their mid-20s who are
>unperturbed by big credit-card balances. Old bikes get their value from
>true beauty, elegant design, and their lessons about our history and Ø place in society.,
now maybe I look at things a bit differently, or so I have been told on a occasion or two in a bit different language, but many of the innovations that we see are race inspired and once proven in that arena they find their way down the lineup, whether it be parts or frames. True, in some cases there is the coolness factor, but generally under that veil I believe you will find a product that was designed to be a lighter, faster, more responsive and a better performing product. (snip) Mark, it is going into the 40\u2019s today, Poore