This whole debate has spurred me into taking my normal 30 mile loop on three different bikes: my 2000 De Rosa with Record 10 gruppo, my 1981 Team Miyata with Mavic SSC groupe and my 40's Ciclo Piave with Campagnolo Corsa. As I live in South Jersey, where there are no real hills, the ride is obviously not overly challenging. All three bikes have the saddle height at the same level and the reach on all is within 1 cm of each other. The Piave does however have narrower bars than the other two. The observations are as follows:
On the De Rosa, which is the bike I use most often on this particular ride, I shifted more than 50 times during the ride. The frame was definitely the most rigid of the bunch and gave the greatest impression of speed (probably because it was the fastest). I do however usually come home with a bit of numbness in my hands.
On the Team Miyata, which is much more competent than other Japanese bike that I have ever ridden, I shifted about 10 times during the ride. The ride was much more forgiving and I came home with no pain or numbness whatsoever.
On the Ciclo Piave, I shifted all of 2 times during the whole ride. Here too the ride was very comfortable and I came home without any pain or numbness. The narrow bars did give me a moment of difficulty which was resolved by riding more on the drops.
All told, all gave me the same level of enjoyment, notwithstanding a weight difference of over 7 pound according to my bathroom scales. I was undoubtedly fastest with the new bike, by always keeping the optimum cadence due to the ease of shifting, but the added comfort of the older bikes was very well received. The biggest difference that I noted was however with the brakes. Each generation of brakes has completely outclassed their predecessor.
Steven Maasland Moorestown, NJ