Of course, there is always the vintage market, where lightly used and sometimes new-old-stock parts come up for sale pretty regularly. Ebay can be a great source, and real bargains can be had. But sometimes a person doesn't want to take the time to search for the right vintage piece, and hope that the condition is actually as good up close as it looked in the listing photos. Sometimes a person wants new parts that won't look out of place on their classic-looking bike.
There are some options out there -- though some are just as expensive (possibly even more so) than the cartoonish modern components the flow through today's market. But take a look at some of what's available:
Cranks (shown from "reasonable budget" to "no expense spared")
|Sugino still makes several models of excellent cranks that have svelte proportions and lovely alloy finishes. The Alpina crank shown comes with a "compact" 50/34 ring combination, and uses 110 bolt circle diameter chainrings. The styling of these is very similar to the smoothed "aero" cranks that became popular in the 1980s. Available from Boulder Bicycles for $179.|
|Velo Orange has this low Q-factor crank that looks somewhat reminiscent of the vintage Campagnolo cranks from the 60s through early 80s. But with its 110 BCD, it can take smaller chainrings, and there is a large selection of different ring sizes that will fit. Available in single, double, and triple ring versions, as well as this cool "drillium" version. Prices range from $150 - $200 depending on the options.|
|Velo Orange also offers this 50.4 BCD crank that recalls the look of the classic Specialties TA "cyclotourist" cranks. Vintage TA and Stronglight 50.4 BCD rings will fit, but VO says that their new rings are thicker and stiffer than the vintage ones. That is good, because the larger rings on the old TAs could bend or flex a bit. These are exceptionally versatile because a single pair of cranks can be set up easily as a single, double or triple -- it's just a matter of using the right length bolts, and having the necessary chainrings. Available from VO for $200.|
|Very similar to the Velo Orange 110 BCD crank shown above is this IRD Defiant. (Heck, they might even be forged in the same factory in Taiwan). Available as a double or a triple, and typically selling for $190 - $200. Soma Fabrications is one source.|
|The new Rene Herse cranks from Compass Bicycles are a beautifully updated version of a vintage classic. The small 70 BCD, 3-bolt design allows the crank to be used as a single, double, or triple, with chainrings as small as 24 teeth. Many choices of chainring combinations are available, with prices ranging from $385 - $440. A tandem set is also available.|
|When only the "real deal" will do, the Specialties TA Cyclotourist crank (officially named the Pro 5 VIS) is still available, or perhaps available again. Priced at $439 for the arms only (!) One then has to select the rings they want to go with it. Chainrings from 26 - 52 teeth are available, ranging in price from $34 - $52 each, and the requisite bolts can add up to another $90 or so. Not for the faint of heart. From Boulder Bicycle.|
One thing about derailleurs today is that many of them, even cheaper ones, often shift better than the best derailleurs of the past (even a retrogrouch can't deny that). Then again, that can be said of most derailleurs made since the mid-to-late-80s. Most 90s-era derailleurs work just as well as the current models, as long as one isn't trying to use them with the latest 10 and 11 speed systems, and many of them look nicer, with polished finishes and subtle graphics. Clean, lightly used examples are easy to find. But just as I said above, sometimes a person might want a brand new component that looks appropriate on a classic-styled, slender, steel-tubed bike. I did some looking, and found a couple of examples that might be acceptable. Both are designed for 10-sp. cassettes, but I'm told there shouldn't be much problem using them with some of the older gear systems. Pairing a modern "10-sp." derailleur with an old wide-spaced 5-speed freewheel and matching wide chain might not work well, but I don't know for sure. But if anybody is going with a setup that old, then I'd really just recommend the vintage market anyhow.
By the way, both of the rear derailleurs above can be paired up with "matching" front units that have a complementary style. It would be nice to say there are more current derailleur options available in a classic silver look, but "pickin's is pretty slim." Too bad. As I already pointed out, searching the vintage, used, and old-stock market is always an option, and a good way to save a bit of money.