Sometimes when I'm mucking around with all these old bikes, I start wondering about myself. Then when I'm writing for this blog, I start wondering about the readers.
What I wonder about is how much of our involvement in this is due to the bikes being vintage and how much it is to their being classic.
That is, if lugged steel bikes were affordably available new with all the classic features - lugwork, friction, shiny, level top tubes, Nervex lugs, friction shifters, metal headbadges, etc, would I (or you) still be haunting Craigslist, Ebay, and our respective workshops keeping vintage bikes in service?
The possibility of the new option seems to be increasing day by day with the growth of new production "classic" bike frames and parts. For my part, there are a couple of things that will probably prevent me from ever being as happy with new production as vintage. The primary obstacle will be that probably nobody is ever going to bring back loose ball hubs, bottom brackets, and headset.
Me, I like that stuff, the ability to cheaply service a bike with a handful of tools, bearings, and grease is a core element of the simplicity of cycling. But I suspect that those who feel as I do are a tiny minority of the market demand now driving the classic bike renaissance.
There is a heritage issue as well. Somehow, reissues from anonymous, white label manufacturers that would just as willingly crank out carbon crankarms seems to lack a bit of authenticity - sometimes it seems there is a whiff of Disneyland/Dreamworks illusion crafting in some of the new products, with some of the vendors trying too hard to strike a pose. Nonetheless, I use bits and pieces of these emerging products, but I'm not sure my heart would quite go pitty-pat on an entire machine constructed of such.
For me, there is a lot more magic in tracking down and rehabilitating a vintage crank than painlessly ordering a new facsimile from the web. But maybe that thought is also just a pose as well, albeit a purist type one.
I'm just wondering if anyone else ever thinks about these things. One answer is shut up and ride, but sometimes I think about this while riding.