Resto or retro - that is the question

badgermat

Dirt Disciple
Having recently rediscovered the delights of old-school road bikes (my gaspipe Falcon of undistinguished heritage, great weight and poor workmanship), I’m now thinking about something a bit plusher.

I have a huge soft spot for Falcons, so by “a bit plusher” I just mean a better frame than my current Falcon, probably 531 of some sort, and some nicer componentry (not hard). Those components would probably be a mix of modern and old; dual pivot brakes and 700c wheels for practicality, not so fussed about gears or cable routing though as long as everything looks the part, more or less. I’m not an originality geek.

However, this approach presents one practical problem: I live in New Zealand and Falcons aren’t exactly common here. So I’ll likely have to buy the frame blind and have to pay to have it shipped here (maybe ~£75).

In the end, this is a heart project, so I’m not all that fussed about having to spend a bit. I know the bike won’t be “worth” the component cost, but that’s not the point.

The alternative is to buy a modern retro. I’m thinking either The Light Blue Kings or The Light Blue St Johns. Both are appealing as fairly old-school bikes; lugged Reynolds frames, moderately retro geometry, with some modern components. They also appeal from a heart perspective as I grew up in Cambridge with Isons and Townsend as my local bike shops at various times. A weak connection with these bikes, I know, but one I’ll happily embrace :)

I really haven’t made up my mind yet, so I’m keen to hear peoples’ opinions of either approach or of The Light Blue bikes in particular if anyone has experience.

Thanks
 

The History Man

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Go retro. It will have soul. Plus the love and attention you give it will make it special to you. You say this is a 'vanity' project so that's a good start. To me that means a personal journey, rather than self-indulgent. That journey will be as important and rewarding, if not more so than the riding of the finished article, imbibed with your personality and fond memories, soon to be tempered with the reality of ageing legs and ancient gear ratios. It's why you're here. Retro rules.
 

Jonny69

Senior Retro Guru
Follow your heart, not your head. It’s all about the bike.

That said; because you have to take into account quite a hit with shipping, I’d say it would be sensible to hold on until a really nice one comes up. Best condition you can find, best of their frames or most sought-after model if you can find one. That way you won’t have to repaint etc and I think it makes more sense.
 

KermitGKona88

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There is a guy round here who rides a Light Blue, I must say it turns my head everytime I see it definately has a retro vibe about it.
 

dirttorpedo

Senior Retro Guru
If you are thinking of using modern dual pivots I would consider looking for a frame that is already set up for recessed nut brakes. I've gone to the effort of modifying modern dual pivots to exposed nut standards and they just don't seem to set up nicely. Another alternative is to build up your retro bike with some modern center pulls like diacompe 610's.

If you really love Falcon's then definitely go to the extra effort to buy a prime example of a good quality one, but I'm sure there are many nice quality steel frame vintage bikes in NZ that you could buy and build up with a lot less hassle that would ride just as well as the Falcon.
 

badgermat

Dirt Disciple
The more I think about it, the more I realise it has to be an old Falcon. And that will mean letting go of my need for immediate gratification :)

Looks like I'll be trawling eBay and TradeMe (local eBay equivalent) for something good, though it's astonishing how little choice there is locally.

Regarding dual-pivots, I'm not overly concerned by either modifying the frame or finding a set with exposed nut fixing (they do exist).

Thanks all.
 

Nob

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Gotta go for something you really want even if it takes a bit of patience & you have the budget for 👍

I wanted the very rare 600c Campagnolo Ghibli front disk wheel & waited for nearly 3 years but then 2 came up in a space of 2 months & hence to say they are happily in my possession 😁
 

allenh

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If you're wedded to Falcon don't discount the later Tange based frames, the Majorca is a nice riding frame and the Professional is superb.
 

cycletothesea

Retro Guru
Just done up this Falcon Black Diamond myself, can't imagine how difficult it must be to source stuff in New Zealand. I know the feeling that the time and money put into some of these old school racers can never be recouped, but true, it's not about the money. Good luck with the project, if you find one. You could spend a lot more playing golf!!
 

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badgermat

Dirt Disciple
Just done up this Falcon Black Diamond myself, can't imagine how difficult it must be to source stuff in New Zealand. I know the feeling that the time and money put into some of these old school racers can never be recouped, but true, it's not about the money. Good luck with the project, if you find one. You could spend a lot more playing golf!!

Yowzer, that is a beautiful bike. Love the paint finish and polished bits (shallow, me?)

Interesting you make the comparison with golf though. My taste there is for minimalist sets and "classic" (ie, just old) clubs. Not so different from my taste in bikes :)
 

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