Friday Group Ride #349

Friday Group Ride #349

I was embarrassed actually, and then a little bit of pride bloomed up behind it. Someone asked me how old the winter tights I was wearing were, and I said, “About 20 years.” They are of an unfashionable brand, and slightly distended from age, though still windproof and warm and comfortable. I haven’t yet seen a reason to throw them out.

It got me thinking about some of the other ever-presents in the silo of cycling apparel and equipment I’ve collected over the decades, the odd, small parts that skulk at the backs of the bins stacked in the garage, the old caps rumpled in the bottom of the basket with the overspill of gloves and warmers. I wouldn’t call myself a pack rat, but I do hesitate to dispense with useful things. I have half a dozen old wool jerseys that come out every winter.

I have some bar ends somewhere. Maybe those could go.

The things is, I value durability. You don’t always get what you pay for. I have as many budget-oriented pieces that are still functioning well after five years as I do high-end pieces, which, in my experience, are usually more fragile. These are generalizations, and I don’t want to indict high-end kit or parts. It is often sublime and well made. Just not always.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what is your oldest piece of bike kit, clothing or gear, that you’re still using regularly? Are you a pack rat? Or do you buy new stuff season after season?




  1. jim

    I hate seeing things go in the landfill. But I have two AL Giant racing frames of 2000 vintage hanging in the garage whose parts have been harvested, a half dozen wheelsets with pitted races and worn brake tracks, and a 16y.o. FS 26″ mtb with worn out freehub and leaky shocks. It’s time to free up the space but I’m looking for ideas on how to reuse or recycle this stuff.

    Other than that, there is really nothing that I use regularly that is older than about 2010 other than this old yellow jacket of unknown brand that I wear about every day from November to April. I must have picked up in the early 2000s too. The miles add up and clothes and parts wear out when they are used for 12K per year.

  2. AG

    I’m not a pack rat, for sure. I’m totally willing to discard old stuff that isn’t up to snuff anymore, but I will hold on to items that are holding up well and for some reason seem to be built to last forever. Oldest piece of kit still in regular use: my Sidi shoes. Scuffed and worn-in, they are by far the best investment I have made, and they look even more awesome the older they get (unlike their owner).

  3. Michael

    My 1972 Raleigh Competition, which still has its original Weinmann center-pull brakes. I don’t think anything else on it is original, other than the paint! Wool jerseys and shorts – the moths ate them and carried them off decades ago. I wished I still had them for an Eroica ride but, alas, I have the bike but not the kit!

  4. Jake

    I have one of the first stainless steel Independent Fabrication road bikes to come out of Somerset. Its over a decade old and probably has 30,000 miles on it but 3 groupsets in and I really can’t think of a better frame to hang all that fancy new Dura ace off of. Its outlived several plastic bikes.

  5. Quentin

    I have a neoprene headband that fits nicely under a helmet on winder rides. I bought it sometime in the late 1980s at Performance Bike Shop. It got me through a lot of cold commutes in college. It’s finally showing its age a little and it’s such a simple design that I recently bought some similar fabric and made myself 3 spares, but I still haven’t let the original go.


    I love this question. I have some bar ends from 1994 and a pair of REI tights from 2000. I don’t know why I have the bar ends. I have the tights because I still use them when it is really cold. That said, I am not a pack rat. I value things of quality that last and I am by necessity frugal.

    My best practice is passing stuff on while it is still not just usable but desirable. Three years ago I gave away my 1995 Cannondale Delta V with a head shock. I passed it on to a guy that was going back to grad school and needed a commute worthy ride. I sent him off with some old slicks and he has put 1000’s of more miles into that bike than I would have. I’ve been on the other end of the bike exchange and the generosity produced great gratitude. The giving and the receiving make it a bit easier to buy the bibs I have to buy every year. Thats an item i don’t think I wouldn’t pass on or take on so I can rationalize replacing seasonally.

  7. Howard

    We have old bikes, sure, but clothing items hummmm How about an occasionally used Acrylic knit jacket, rear zippered pockets, with a windproof front from Columbia SA, no brand. Early 80’s. Giordana Roubaix tights late 80’s I think, still use ’em with suspenders – ha

  8. Arnie

    I have an old Presto Amsterdam jersey, fits great, that my mother bought me, in Amsterdam – circa 1991. An Early 1990s Nike winter cycling suit…just had the jacket taken in last week. My Old Guys Who Get a Fat In Winter…now looser than ever…from 2000.

    1. Arnie

      Oh, yeah…a couple of pairs of PI White Line gloves, that are still the best gloves I’ve ever had, from 1995.

  9. Fausto

    My 1980 wool winter cycling hat. It works just as good as my crazy expensive Rapha one. Everything else from then is tucked away, not going to rock the hairnet any time soon. Do have a campy shift lever on a key chain from the ’70’s that is with me everyday.

  10. Kayce

    The best old useless item I have is a great story. For a while I was on a quest to build up a bike with Shimano AX. I knew cranks would be one of the harder pieces to find. So at a swap meet I nearly jumped out of my skin to find a lightly used set, with chainrings for only $50. I didn’t haggle, almost an insult at a bike swap, and never even looked at them. I was just beaming with my win all day. Then I got home to inspect my haul. The perfect condition, no heel scuff even, 172.5mm drive side crank. And the near perfect non-drive side 175mm crank. These still float around from parts box to parts box and apartment to apartment.

    Being reminded of this story means I might be spending too much on ebay soon.

  11. Andrew

    Performance goretex rain pants from the mid 1990’s. duct taped. I don’t ride in them anymore, but they make a great extra layer over sweats for walking the dogs in the winter.

  12. Grumbly OldGuy

    1989 Cannondale R5oo road bike, still gets used on a regular basis. I keep replacing wires, tires chains and regreasing bearings. The hoops are replaced when worn thin. Still a fun but harsh ride

  13. Ben

    My most ridden saddle is a Brooks Professional that I bought new in 1994, with more than 100000 km by now. I use it almost daily and it i still going strong.

    It sits on a 1995(?) Centurion 1-4-3 frame, that has been built up as a 26″ “gravel randonneur” for about a decade now (before it was a touring bike). Since two years ago that concept has even become quite popular! Ride your stuff long enough and it will become fashionable again…

  14. Touriste-Routier

    My current winter bike is based on an early 60s Rickert frameset. Last summer’s everyday road bike was an early 80s Merckx, but I was training for L’Eroica. I have plenty of clothing from the 80s that see regular use.

  15. John Kopp

    I have a couple of touring shorts from REI, about 35 years that I like to wear. They have side pockets that are handy. Also wool jerseys from the same era.

  16. Miles Archer

    I didn’t start buying cycling specific clothes until about 10 years ago when I turned into a MAMIL. I have some old bikes just like everyone else. And socks that date back to the first Bush administration.

    I do have this goretex shell from REI that I bought sometime in the 80s. I bought if for skiing but I would occasionally wear it or at least bring it when commuting by bike when rain threatened. For a while, it was the spare jacket I left in my car just in case.

    I was about to toss it at one point because the sleeves got kind of worn but my daughter decided she wanted it. She wore it for a while but now it’s back. I probably should stick it back in my car.

  17. Spider

    I’ve sold off Assos jerseys and jackets after 12 years – they were still going strong but I was so bored or wearing them!

    I still have my first Assos deep winter jacket, called the Air Jacket – bright red, heavy roubaix jacket with deep pockets and a wind proof chest panel. It must be 18 years old, and it gets worn every winter and I’m still amazed at how great it is. The matching black Assos leg warmers are now my back up pair…they got put onto the bench after 16 years but are still great for commuting!

  18. Stephen Barner

    While I still have the wool Raleigh warmup suit I bought in the early 1970s, I haven’t worn it since my mother put it in the drier. I generally don’t get rid of clothing until it’s totally shot. I save worn shorts to wear over unlined tights in sub-freezing weather. I think the oldest clothing I have that is still in regular use is a Belgian wool-blend jacket with a layer of nylon sewn over the front that I bought around 1980. Whenever I wear it, I wonder why so many more modern cycling clothing items have zippers that fail after a couple seasons, while my 30+ year-old jacket’s zipper is still smooth as butter.
    The bike that accumulates the most miles every year is an ’84 Bianchi Nuovo Racing that is my foul-weather commuter. It’s on its third frameset and most of the parts have been changed at least once, after they’ve worn out. As a bike, it has filled an important niche in my stable, but I think the only truly original components are the Shimano 600 crankarms. The piece of hardware that I’ve had longest in regular use is certainly the Brooks Pro saddle that came with my 1972 Paramount.

  19. Paul Thober

    I have a Rocky Mountain Road Club jersey from the mid-1970’s that I still wear every once in a long while. It’s one of those polyester Cool Gear jerseys with gripper kind of sleeve ends that are STILL too tight. I also have a Lowenbrau long sleeve jersey from the 1980’s when I raced for Columbine Cycling Club that I wear quite often in cold weather.

  20. Jeff

    I tend to flip my kit pretty often, so I don’t have anything really ancient. But I do have an Art Crank / Twin Six collab jersey that is maybe 5 years old, I’ve worn the heck out of it, and one of the pockets is ripped, but I like the look so much I can’t trash it. I’ll probably have it another 10 years, unless the elastic rots.

  21. Kimball

    I’m 6′-3″ and about 170 pounds so finding bibs and tights that are slim, but long enough is a problem. I have a pair of winter tights with no chamois that wear over my bibs all winter long. Got them from Performance almost 20 years ago in a medium tall that fits well. Last year I picked up a similar medium tall pair from Nashbar, but although faded and a bit thin in places I still rotate in the old Performance ones.

  22. Prentiss Berry

    If you were to ask my wife when we first started dating she would have had no problem saying that I am a pack rat and that it is an inherited trait from my father. We both have a whole mess of bikes that mean the world to us. I have an 85 aluminum ALAN that ride all the time and if I am not on that I ride an 85 Bianchi. I own a more modern Ti bike and ride that too a great bit . I like to think I ride what speaks the loudest to me when I walk into the garage . I also have two frames that I will not get rid of as well . One being a carbon ALAN from the 80s that is the same model my dad raced. The other being a Colnago Master Olympic Art Decor frame that I wrecked and compounded the the top tube . My wife doesn’t under why have more than one of the same kind of bike but she accepts it . She a smile on my face as soon as I get near one . She also knows my heart races in joy as I throw a leg over one no matter the age. Our engagement pictures had the Bianchi in them , So I would say she understands even though I don’t sometimes. (Maybe I digressed . Sorry I really love those bikes)

  23. TomInAlbany

    If you want to talk kit only, I’ve got the original arm and knee warmers I bought in ’96. I’ve got a jersey of similar vintage from Nashbar that still gets the job done. If it works, I keep it. I’ve got t-shirts from rids I did in the early ’90s that don’t show their age much – though I tend to rotate them so that I can be seen in all of my various and sundry tshirts…

  24. Pat O'Brien

    My Mr. Headshok jersey. Thing has to be 20 years old. Elastic is shot, but it always starts a conversation on the trail.

  25. Tom Cannon

    I have a 1984 Cannondale ST500 that still gets a few miles a year. And, a 1991 Silca pump that has been rebuilt more than a few times. But, my daily rider is either a steel Poprad, or a carbon Lemond Victorie. My kit changes more often.

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