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Classic and Vintage Bicycles: What's it Worth? Appraisals and Inquiries Use this subforum for all requests as to "How much is this vintage bike worth?"Do NOT try to sell it in here, use the Marketplaces.

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Old 04-14-11, 08:36 PM   #1
megarot
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Bike Frame - $50 or less

Ok... here's my situation. I live in Chicago and I want to rip my hair out from trying to find the bike that I want. I hate Craigslist. Just today I was the FIRST person to respond on a great deal and a bike that was FINALLY not overpriced but because I'm car-free in the city it would take me an extra half hour and the guy sold it before I got there (this has happened to me 3 times in a row). The market is so competitive that unless you are neighbors with someone, there's no way to jump on a deal quick enough. So instead I REGULARLY see Schwinn Varsities for sale at $225 - $275. Oh heck no!

I'm sick of it and I'm considering doing my own 'build'. The problem with this is I do not have the tools to do it myself.. but that I'll post in perhaps the mechanic's forum.

My question to all of you is - even in outrageously priced Chicago, if I was to buy a frame what would you guys recommend? I want a steel frame because I want to strip it and go raw with a clear coat. What sort of steel should I look for and besides Craigslist does anyone have any interesting ideas of how to search for a reasonable frame? Because I would end up buying the components separate (most likely) I would like to stay on the lower end of the price scale.

This bike will be for me and won't be sold until I'm throughly done with it so I'm not interested in bike flipping prices. Thoughts and opinions are welcome. I know this isn't entirely the forum to post this all in but I'm just trying to figure out where to start.
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Old 04-14-11, 08:53 PM   #2
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what were the bikes you missed out on?

how tall are you?
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Old 04-14-11, 08:57 PM   #3
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The last one was a Bianchi.. in Naperville.
I'm 5' 9". A 58 cm is a bit high on the stand over so I would think a 56 cm range is about perfect.
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Old 04-14-11, 09:22 PM   #4
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you went all the way to naperville and they guy had sold it? that blows, hard.

buying a frame and building it up is more complicated and expensive. if you get a frame you like it makes sense to buy a donor bike with good components to use for the build. as far as the tools you might want to look into a co-op like ciclo urbano (west town bikes). I think they let you come in and work with their tools certain days of the week.

I dont know a ton about the finer steels. seems like most reynolds, tange, and columbus tubing is considered nice. go to the regular c&v forum and ask that question. you'll be shocked at how much some of the enthusiasts there know about bike tubes.

I'd keep hounding craigslist too. sometimes stuff moves fast but good bikes priced around 200 can sit for days.
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Old 04-14-11, 09:26 PM   #5
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you can buy a fixie online for $200. Post a want add for x money then see what might come your way.
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Old 04-14-11, 09:32 PM   #6
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Yes... Yes I know all too well that I can buy a fixie for $200 but most of the fixies in my opinion are not worth it. I've seen several 'fixies' which are cheap frames or even better the single speeds that they home-make and just leaving the entire back cassett on and then charging $200 plus. I'm too picky to gobble up one of the crappy bikes someone sells simply because it's a single speed or fixie. If it's a fixie or single speed that has quality components then it's considered but if it's a home-made from stock parts where they stripped it, I don't understand the concept of paying for more a bike that's been stripped of it's components.
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Old 04-14-11, 09:36 PM   #7
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"I don't understand the concept of paying for more a bike that's been stripped of it's components."

agree. it's a bit of a headscratcher. I've watched decent bikes sit on cl, then they disappear for a week and come back as fixies priced 3x as much. with better pictures though and maybe a little stylistic change.
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Old 04-14-11, 09:39 PM   #8
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Change the handlebar tape to something bright or neon and add a colored chain and holy cr*p it's worth $100 more!!
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Old 04-15-11, 05:50 AM   #9
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I dont know a ton about the finer steels. seems like most reynolds, tange, and columbus tubing is considered nice.
Ishiwata also made decent tubing.

Unless you are really looking for a specific frame, and want to custom build it with components of your choice, or get a frame for free or near free and have everything else you need, you may just want to buy a complete bike. Hey, check the deals for new bikes online (Nashbar, Performance, Bikes Direct, JensonUSA, Bicycle Gorillas in Reno, etc.). Many run special discount promotions, and some offer free shipping (just pay the price shown for the bike). The price of the bike will probably be less than the sum of the parts. As far as C&V, Nashbar has been offering the 105-equipped Schwinn LeTour Legacy with Chro Mo frame for as little as $620 + about $40 S&H. That's a pretty sweet bike. There are many others (lower-end models, though) starting at around $240. An LBS may even have a deal on a left-over. Going out of town? An LBS may have a deal on a used bike.

Last edited by cycleheimer; 04-15-11 at 05:59 AM.
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Old 04-15-11, 07:00 AM   #10
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Just my opinion, but you will be so much farther ahead if you get a complete bike. The best deals are ones that need a lot of TLC. You know, sitting in someones garage for the last 20+ years. There is a guy in my neighborhood that makes some disposable income by collecting scrap. He regularly brings me bikes he finds on the side of the road. Some have been halfway decent.
If you find the right LBS, sometimes they take in bikes either on trade or for parts. Ask if they have any old road bikes in the back. Sometimes they will part with them reasonable. Thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, etc. The right deal will eventually come along if you can afford to wait. Maybe some cheap transportation is in order till the right thing falls in your lap??
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Old 04-15-11, 07:11 AM   #11
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Building from the ground up can get expensive fast. Unless , like someone mentioned before, you have a donor bike, say something in a size too big for you but it was a good deal with good parts.

Also, after you do find something you like, be prepared for something you like more to pop up a week later!
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Old 04-15-11, 07:51 AM   #12
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I can't really tell the standover on this but a Volpe for $200 in NW Indiana. Gary maybe? where do you live downtown? Alsip, countryside, palentine?

http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/bik/2323783585.html
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Old 04-15-11, 08:58 AM   #13
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How much do you want to spend? What is your budget for a complete bike and what is you budget for building a frame up to your liking? For daily riding and commuting I like steel frames like miyata or nishiki. Are you interested in getting buying a frame or bike from a BF member and having it shipped? If so I'll see what I have in a 56 cm.
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Old 04-15-11, 11:54 AM   #14
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Bianchigirll: I've seen that bike. Indiana is a long way from me. I have no car and I live in the city. I can afford to take the trains out to the suburbs but usually when it's a bike in the suburbs its one of the 'better' deals that gets snatched up before I even have a chance to buy my train ticket - literally.

Septacycles: Yeah I'm interested in getting a bike from a BF member, no problem there. I would like a quality steel frame bike with lugs that's going to handle the rough city streets but also something that I can take out for a longer ride (30 miles or so). I have another commuter/beater for my other city transportation but for this one I'd like something with nicer components but I don't need top of the line (unless it comes on it and in my price I'll take it!)

My budget right now is relatively on the low side and that's primarily one of the reasons I'm looking at used and not walking into my LBS and getting a new bike. I would like to stay around $300 but I'll just have to see. I figure if I was building a bike I would be able to find used parts from co-ops close by to keep some of the expense down and grab my main components off ebay.

I mean it literally when I say I see Schwinn Varsity's priced at $250 on a REGULAR basis. A used bike shop tried to sell me a used Schwinn World (not even a Sport) for $250. So in Chicago, if I'm going to buy a 'complete' bike in my price range from Craigslist then it's like I can count on getting the lowest quality.
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Old 04-15-11, 12:46 PM   #15
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I found a 1985 Trek 660 online - the guy is trying to part it out but he'll take an offer on it. His components are Suntour Superbe Pro with Mavic Reflex wheels.
Only things missing from the bike would be seat post, saddle, peddles, tubes & tires.

I'm a little hesitant to post up links to the ad but I'm sure everyone who's giving a legitimate price guess knows what this frame and components would go for in good condition.
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Old 04-15-11, 01:29 PM   #16
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Since you are car free, the best place for a deal IMHO is ebay. There, it really doesn't matter whether you have a car or not. Scooping deals on C/L is going to require a car, and to move lightning fast.

The good news as you already know is that you are literally saving many thousands of $$ a year being car free. So if it costs $50 or $100 more to get a bike, you are still way, way, ahead.

+1 Complete bikes are the way to go. Even if you don't like the components, you can sell them off and recoup some of your investment. A complete bike also avoids the whole why doesn't this part fit, what size BB do I need, why can't I find a seat post, brake calipers with inadequate reach, etc. Then you have the whole tool thing. OK, I love tools, and I am over the top on bicycle tools right now, but I have a lot of money wrapped up in tools.

As far as clearcoat on a steel frame, be careful, some report spidering of rust underneath it (I've never tried it, so no personal experience here). There is a reason steel frames are painted. The other problem with clear coat of a frame is IMHO, the bike loses its identity, its soul. Part of what I find attractive about vintage bikes are the original decals, original (sometimes wild) paint schemes, etc. And Treks had awesome, durable paint, perhaps the best in the industry.

Last edited by wrk101; 04-15-11 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 04-15-11, 07:01 PM   #17
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Since you are car free, the best place for a deal IMHO is ebay. There, it really doesn't matter whether you have a car or not. Scooping deals on C/L is going to require a car, and to move lightning fast.

The good news as you already know is that you are literally saving many thousands of $$ a year being car free. So if it costs $50 or $100 more to get a bike, you are still way, way, ahead.

+1 Complete bikes are the way to go. Even if you don't like the components, you can sell them off and recoup some of your investment. A complete bike also avoids the whole why doesn't this part fit, what size BB do I need, why can't I find a seat post, brake calipers with inadequate reach, etc. Then you have the whole tool thing. OK, I love tools, and I am over the top on bicycle tools right now, but I have a lot of money wrapped up in tools.

As far as clearcoat on a steel frame, be careful, some report spidering of rust underneath it (I've never tried it, so no personal experience here). There is a reason steel frames are painted. The other problem with clear coat of a frame is IMHO, the bike loses its identity, its soul. Part of what I find attractive about vintage bikes are the original decals, original (sometimes wild) paint schemes, etc. And Treks had awesome, durable paint, perhaps the best in the industry.

^ What he says ! Every point - Totally!
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Old 04-15-11, 09:42 PM   #18
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you need to hit the thrift stores, garage sales, church rummage sales, etc... You should find several bikes within a couple of weeks...
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Old 04-16-11, 01:00 AM   #19
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You can get good deals on eBay, but the shipping cost usually negates whatever you saved on the item itself. Filter your search results for frames or complete bikes with free shipping.
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