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Need to replace my bike and indecisive
First--apologize for the long post, but I need help and thought I'd give as much info as possible--thanks in advance for any advice.

I've been riding a 35 yo Raleigh grand prix mixte for a 10 mile rt commute for the past 2 years. I've about had it. I feel squashed up in it and no matter how many adjustments I make to the seat/handlebar heights, it just never turns out right. The frame is the right height for me, but it seems too cramped for my 5'10" body, or something. It had goofy upright bars on it when I got it (they would have needed to be a full 1 foot higher to be anywhere near comfortable), and putting drops on it made it a lot more tolerable, but it's time to move on.

I'm not adverse to buying a new bike, and would be willing to spend some $ (1K max max max) if I would be super comfortable and really enjoy the feeling of riding a well-built machine, but I do like the security of riding a beater I don't have to worry about getting stolen or leaving out in the rain all day while I'm in the office. I know there are good old used rides out there that would be worth the time/$ to upgrade to my needs. I'd rather spend 400 (after upgrades) on a cool old bike than 400 on a new piece of crap. Or just put down the $ for a new non-peice-of-crap.

I have a beater in my garage actually (a 30 yo Schwinn varsity) which is infinitely more comfortable than the Raleigh, but spending the money to have someone overhaul the shot bb bearings would cost more than the bike is worth--I'm not terribly mechanically inclined but thought I would learn how to do it myself as it doesn't seem like a rocket science task, but its been waiting in the garage for nearly a year, so...

Any advice on suitable options, new (<<<1100) or used (and worth any upgrades needed) would be greatly appreciated, based on the following:

--I like to ride fast as possible, don't mind weight per se--I carry a pretty heavy load to work every day in two panniers on the back.
--I've been getting enough flats and skidding on gravel enough to make me want wider wheels/tires. There are some serious potholes on my route and a couple short gravel connecters.
--I like having multiple hand positions--no flat bars.
--a light touring bike seems to fit so far, which is fine, just don't recommend an LHT--I already read enough to compare them to other options you throw at me.
--am totally fine with working with an old ten speed, I like lugged steel (just no more mixtes!), but again, don't want to spend more money than makes sense to upgrade/fix things as needed. But again, based on experience, I'm not sure I'm going to find the time to learn how to overhaul an old bike--depends on what's needed I guess. I just want a comfortable commuter.

Thanks 1000x for your thoughts!
It is a shame you said no flatbar, I can get you one of these for $1000 plus shipping
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
(04-14-2012, 05:27 PM)painkiller Wrote:  It is a shame you said no flatbar, I can get you one of these for $1000 plus shipping

Meh. The more I think about what I wrote the more I realize I need to stop being a lazy pants and get myself down to the bike kitchen, learn how to build a decent ride, save some money, support good people, and be proud of myself at the end (cough). I like old bikes--I just need some learning on knowing which old frame can handle wider tires and has a geometry suited to me and my needs. At least if whatever I make turns out to suck, I will have learned enough to do it again. Even if I end up with only 1 nice overhauled bike and 2 funky learning projects, they'll still be cheaper altogether (with the nice new pannier I've been eyeing) than some sweet 2k rivendell that I'd be too nervous to park at work, let alone the grocery store. Time or money right?
You did not say if you are a man or a woman; but I will guess a man.

I would make your GP work....

Mixte frames are closer to women's geometry than men's; women generally (but not always) have longer legs and shorter torsos and arms - and women's geometry bikes are built that way.

It is a pretty easy fix; especially given that you have your Varsity that you feel comfortable with.

Get out your tape measure. On the both bikes measure:
* crank center line to top of the saddle.
* center of the saddle to the center of the handle bars.

Now you have to make your Grand Prix match the Varsity.

Easiest way is using these parts:

a stem of the correct length:

and handle bars of your choice:

I would also invest in brake levers, new cables and Tektro dual pivot brakes.
Hm, sinking money into old bikes. You can do this, but in many cases it ends up as a "piggy bank" as we say here in Germany (you just put money in it...). That said, if you like a bike, go ahead and fix it.
In contrast to Nigel's idea I would work on the Varsity, as he mentioned the geometry of the mixte is wrong for you. It could be amended with a longer stem, however if you make the stem too long, handling will change. A lot. Probably not for better. So I'd rather work on the Varsity.

Beware: my opinion might not be the best way to go and a wall of text now follows...
- find out if the frame is still ok (check for cracks etc)
- find out what parts the frame takes: BB standard, rear dérailleur (hanger: yes or no), stem and headset, brakes (if it has old Mafac Competition brakes with brazed on mounts: forget the idea of ever upgrading to STIs, they are _not_ compatible. At all.)
- decide on possible upgrades. Friction shifters work with all speeds, just the frame needs to be respaced (width of old hubs = 120 mm or so, new road hubs = 130mm) can be done with steel frames (I have three respaced frames, one even for cyclocross use)
- optional: have the frame painted by a professional (or powder coated), then the threads etc need to be cleaned up
- buy upgrades / replacements, install them, ride, be happy

The reason I am touching upgrades is that you'll need to replace a lot of stuff anyway (chain, freewheel, quite probably crank set, brakes). Getting all of this (let's say, for 9 speeds) will be not much more expensive than the 6 speed stuff. You need to get a new rear wheel though. As you want to change to wider tyres you'll need to do this anyway. So get a wheel for cyclocross use: road hub + slightly wider rim and use e.g. the Schwalbe CX pro (30mm) tyre, there are some shops (at least in Germany) that have decent offers on hand built wheels, might be the way to go. You'll also need new dérailleurs, get last years stuff, great way to save money.

This is economically feasible only if you do the work yourself (and even then...). Parts will be, dunno, about 300 USD I guess (wheel + dérailleurs + chain + cassette + crank set + bottom bracket). No, the bike is probably not worth that much money. However, if you like the way it rides you can go for it. Working on the Varsity will also leave you the mixte for your commute till the work is done.
Thanks for all the input guys, a lot of good advice. I'm a girl, but I reckon while my legs are long, so are my arms and torso, or something...

The Varsity is indeed a lot more comfortable compared to the mixte, but it would definitely need some work, and since this includes paint, I'd rather go to trouble (/learning experience) of pulling everything off/putting it back on a frame that's lugged like the grand prix but with similar geometry to the varsity--ending up with something neat to look at on top of a decent ride. Any suggestions on what frame that might be would be appreciated, although I'm sure there are a lot of them out there. I *used* to have an austro-daimler that was seriously comfy, fast, and nice to look at, but alas, its nothing but a memory now and replacing it likely not the easiest task.

I never thought of upgrading the mixte to make it work--definitely gave me something to consider. If I put a rack, some new tubes, and maybe overhauled the bearings, the varsity could get me to work while I did that, but then I might end up liking the varsity...and then go back to wanting to find another frame worth my time...same vicious circle. If the components I put on either the Raleigh or the Schwinn I could move onto my dream frame later, this wouldn't be so bad though I guess. I am still open to suggestions on new bikes I guess too, since I know gardening is going to eat up a lot of my free time coming up!

Btw I lived in Germany for a few years and somehow managed to not have a bike the entire time, all while in the verrrry bike friendly city of Munich--I guess I can blame it on being a starving grad student at the time and the fact that the public transportation there is seriously awesome.

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