's Forum Archives - Retro - Classic Bikes

Archive Home >> Retro - Classic Bikes

What exactly defines a Retro?(19 posts)

What exactly defines a Retro?Marketing Dept
Oct 2, 2003 11:48 AM
I have a 1999 Trek Y-Foil. I no longer feel welcome on the general board 'cause all I hear about are NEW bikes. And I also pick up a feeling that Y-Foil's aren't considered real road bikes over there.

I also have a Shogun Kaze, which I love for some reason and will never part with.

At what point can I participate? In:

A. 10 more years?
2. 50 more years?
III. Never, unless I get something old with Zeus or Simplex on it.

Thanks for the info!! :>)
Each rider has his own definition of retro ...Humma Hah
Oct 2, 2003 1:51 PM
... probably based on the type of bike they had when they were younger (for me, that's when I was in college, or earlier). But it would be a stretch to call any bike less than 10 years old "retro", unless it is a new bike done in an old style.

I can't imagine why you would feel unwelcome because you have a 1999, Trek, or a specific model. I CAN see that you'll mostly hear from proud owners of new bikes, but I'm absolutely sure there's plenty of hardware of that age and older being ridden by participants in the General forum, they're just not generally posting pics of them like proud new parents.

So you're stuck with a bike neither new nor old ... but remember, all of our old bikes have gone thru that phase. My cruiser used to be just an obsolete, old-fashioned tank, and the Paramount was an over-priced, less than state-of-the-art roadbike, that was not competitive in racing at the time. If you really love your Trek, hang on to it, and care for it, it will become a retro, and very likely a rare example of a frame innovation that was tried way back at the end of the last millenium, a true collector's item.
Warning: thread drift....morebicyclerepairman
Oct 2, 2003 3:31 PM
Great reply to the trekkie...well thought out. Now, as to that Paramount, was it the bike or the circa 1960's-70's American racers that weren't competitive...I think its that the really fast riders bought bikes made near where they lived (like, say, Italy), not that the Schwinn was deficient...Also, new bikes done in an old style should be called 'devo', not retro....IMHO.
Paramounts in the 60 were competitive ...Humma Hah
Oct 3, 2003 1:03 PM
... but in the 70's they were barely changed from the bikes of the 60's, and the world was moving on. Schwinn was slow to adapt to weight saving innovations like double or triple-butted tubing, and kept silver-soldering frames and putting heavy chrome on the lugs long after technology had moved on.

And God bless them for it.
re: What exactly defines a Retro?mapei boy
Oct 2, 2003 4:23 PM
How about a couple simple litmus tests?

Friction shifters? Retro.

Click shifters? Non-retro.

Or for those of you with single speeds or fixies --

Toe clips and Straps? Retro.

Clipless? Non-retro.

For those of you with rubber pedals, you probably don't care one way or the other, so it doesn't matter.
I'll give up my Christophe toe-clips when they pry them from mybicyclerepairman
Oct 2, 2003 9:50 PM
cold, dead Bata-biker shod feet.
Oct 3, 2003 3:45 AM
I find it hard to classify even a multi-speed bike with clipless as retro.
How about retro clipless?M_Currie
Oct 6, 2003 8:56 AM
On my friction-shifted 85 Ross mountain bike, I have Cyclebinding clipless pedals. I think that ought to count as retro.
I think I'm retro as they come, just about, andOldEdScott
Oct 6, 2003 10:34 AM
you wouldn't catch me DEAD in clips and straps anymore. Uh uh. No way. I hated 'em when it's all we had, and I despise 'em now that we have clipless, the only 'modern' innovation I think is unqualifiedly better than the old stuff.
I think I'm retro as they come, just about, andlaffeaux
Oct 6, 2003 2:16 PM
I have to agree with that. I'll ride clipless or flats, but don't have a single bike with toe clips. I used them for several years, until I learned better. :)
Great questionDave Hickey
Oct 3, 2003 11:03 AM
As Humma said, I think everyone defines it differently. For me, downtube shifters, lugged steel, 32/36 hole rims are retro. I think a new bike can still be retro if it falls into the above catagory. I have two carbon LOOK's from the late 80's that I consider retro. Both bikes have a retro look. Cinelli quill stems, polished seatposts, etc...
Age and elánchar
Oct 4, 2003 3:21 PM
Where do you draw the line? And why?

I would think somewhere between 20 and 25 years, in other words 1 generation ago. At this point in time the dividing line may be the intoduction of index shifting, especially those mounted on the handlebars.

As an example with this calculation, the older Look step-in pedals could qualify as "retro" and so may be appropriate on that 80s bicycle. And moving along under this assumption, indexing downtube shifters may be next thing to be "retro."

It may be better to think along the lines of all the parts, frames, components, tires, etc. that were available during that time frame to make a complete bicycle that may be period correct, therefor "retro" in the critics aye.

At some point in any product's lifespan there is the dividing line between old and its junk, just take it to the dump and later on becoming a collectable, it is just not apparent at the present time unless you are the ultimate pack rat and must save everything.

Potential categories:

Really Old

I'm loading up the truck and gonna pay a visit to the dump,

collectable charlie
get'em while you can
I think there are two types of retro in my mind.LC
Oct 5, 2003 1:45 PM
I don't think putting a few modern components on a old bike to make it ridable every day takes it out of the retro catagory. I call them ridable retros and if done with taste can still be very interesting to look at.

However, if it just a show bike that will not be ridden except maybe for very special occasions then it is a major foul to put modern compontents on it.

As far as number of years, I think a lot of it has to do with how rare the bike is to start with, plus having it come from any country except the one your in right now is always a bonus.
re: What exactly defines a Retro?ss jimbo
Oct 6, 2003 8:00 AM
Retro to me means a bike that has old school tendencies, but may not necessarily be old. Rivendells, Herons, etc, those are retro.

Classic actually is old, though not all old bikes are classic. I ride an early 80's (don't know the year) Olmo competition. Like some others I have put some modern parts on it to make it more pleasant to ride. I have 7 speed Shimano barcons, but they are always in friction because of the pre SIS 600 derailler I have. I use clipless pedals (and always will) because they are much more comfortable than have a toe strap cinched on my foot. Other than that the parts are pretty old. I have box section Dura Ace cranks, 80's Dia Compe brakes, 126mm freewheel hubs (Mavic, beautiful), and some other juicy parts.

So you can make a bike retro, by putting old parts on it, but you can't make a bike a classic. Perhaps a bike is a classic when you can sell it on ebay for more than it cost new.

this is of course all MHO,
That is a dictionary-perfect definition...peter1
Oct 13, 2003 6:37 PM
..."retrograde" being defined as backward-looking.

Or, to be exact "going back or tending to go back to an earlier, esp. worse, condition; retrogressive." I think the negative connotations have largely been lost, but retro seems to me to mean something that is purposely designed to reflect an earlier time, i.e. the New Beetle or Thunderbird, or anything made by Grant Peterson.

Classic, on the other hand, reflect something aged that has enduring appeal, i.e. a 57 Chevy or a Waterford Schwinn Paramount.

A lot of folks on this board just like old things, and that's OK, but most of them are neither "retro" nor "classic." They're just old. Period.

There might be a third category, for things that just never change, for example, a Morgan sports car.

Some aesthetes would say that anything retro is inherently false, or somehow less authentic than something "current," yet Neoclassical architecture is certainly an example of a retro style that has enduring appeal.

Very interesting question, tho.

what I would sayDougSloan
Oct 7, 2003 1:02 PM
for race-type bikes:

*lugged steel frame
*classic double diamond shape (level top tube)
*steel fork
*downtube friction shifters
*plain 32 or 36 spoke wheels; extra points for tubular
*non-aero brakes
*quill stem
*leather saddle
*gumwall tires
*cloth or Cello handlebar tape
*yes, quill pedals with toe clips -- like it or not, that is part of "retro-ness"

Additionally, to complete the ensemble, the rider should wear wool shorts with a real chamois insert, wool jersey with button up pockets, no helmet or a leather hairnet, black leather perforated shoes with slotted cleats, white socks, and stringback leather gloves. One should also carry a frame pump (Silca, preferably painted to match the frame), and have a tubular toe-strapped to the underside of the saddle. You only are allowed one bottle cage, as the pump goes on the seat tube.

The age is irrelevant. If it meets the design criteria, it is retro. Antique or classic could be different.

Durn, don't quite qualify ...Humma Hah
Oct 8, 2003 9:56 AM
... my frame does not have bosses for the water bottle cage, and the downtube shifters are missing (didn't care since its fixte).
only talking about racing-type bikesDougSloan
Oct 9, 2003 7:39 AM
Different rules for different bikes. A track bike or a cruiser would be different, of course.

Actually, I was referring to the Paramount ...Humma Hah
Oct 9, 2003 2:39 PM
... which would probably have to qualify as a touring bike, but I suppose it was not a totally uncompetitive amateur roadrace bike at the time. The frame was equipped for derailleurs, brakes, and forward dropouts, so it was never a track bike.

I think you could get water bottle cages back then ('74), but they clamped on, and bosses were not installed on the bikes. I can't find such cages at any LBS now, and need to get to a swap meet to find a couple. It also lacks brake cable guides on the frame, and I need to find clips of the sort that did this job in the old days. Even the downtube shifters attached via a woozit clamped to the frame.