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Old 11-08-07, 01:11 PM   #1
markwebb
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Retro resources and What You Look for When Buying

I'm interested in hearing about the following from you:

1) What retro research resources do you use when researching a particular marque/brand/model? I use:
  • BF
  • Sheldon/Harris
  • Classic Vintage Guide
  • Retro Raleighs
  • Vintage Trek
  • Yellow Jersey
  • Circle whatever - the vintage event in NC
What do you use?


2) When buying a vintage bike, what do you look for? I am interested in vintage lightweights and road bikes circa 1960-1990. I look for:
  • Tubing - Steel & Columbus SL SLX or Reynolds 531 (Reynolds 753 or 853 on newer bikes)
  • lugs - plain/fancy/long/short
  • lug cutouts - none/hearts/other
  • seat stay caps -cutouts/signature
  • fork crowns -decorative or plain
  • wrap around seat stays
  • fast back seat stays
  • unique seat binders (ex: forward rather than in rear)
  • dropouts - fork and rear
  • dents/repairs
  • originality of grouppo to original manufacturer model, or it it was originally sold as frame only - then period correctness
  • Level of grouppo - Vaalentino or Gran Sport vs Nuevo vs Super Record, etc.
  • Condition of decals
  • Condition of paint - I prefer an original paint job with scratches and fading to a new paint job.
  • Chrome pitting
  • Rust
  • frame straight?
  • forks straight?
  • Wheels true/wheels servicable?
  • Is bike ridable as sold?
  • If advertised as, an example, a Masi, is it really a Masi?
  • If advertised with SL/SLX/531 is it really - or did someone just buy the decal from ebay/chew it up a bit/affix on downtube?
What are some of the things you look at when buying a classic/vintage bile?
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Old 11-08-07, 01:55 PM   #2
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1)
Bike Forums
Classic Rendezvous
Wooljersey
SpeedBicycle
Classic Lightweights
Velostuf
CampyOnly
Kauzo's site
Hi.Campy's site
Vintage Trek
Ebay (looking at what's available and purchasing old publications)

2)
I usually get very specific with purchases and will do a lot of research. I have learned if I buy something off the cuff, I will wind up selling it soon after. For me, that is too much work. I am too old and too frugel to get something other than exactly what I want. I will occasionally flip things if it is a sure thing and it is an interesting piece.

Right now I am looking for prewar Italian lightweights. They are few and far between and I am looking for a specific maquee.

Then I will want very specific componentry. Condition is somewhat unimportant other than it must be ride-able, no wall art.

Period correct is important but for safety reasons I will use modern spokes and rims that look period correct (unless period correct spokes and rims are in good condition).

I also much prefer unrestored unless the restoration makes it functional and then it is acceptable. That may be closer to repair than restoration.
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Old 11-08-07, 02:08 PM   #3
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Anything cool: 531, Columbus, Nervex, Campagnolo dropouts, chrome, almost any condition as long as its mostly there and not damaged.
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Old 11-08-07, 02:09 PM   #4
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type & purpose of bike & it's suitability for my needs
fit
theme continuity of overall bike
geometry and/or estimated generalised ride characteristics
aesthetics/overall appearance
condition
completeness
quality of workmanship
correctness
originality
manufacturer/builder reputation
country of origin
component quality
component theme continuity/appropriateness
tubing (prefer columbus, vitus, reynolds & ishiwata)
lugwork,pantographing and detailing
unique or rare features
initial cost
parts availability/difficulty/cost of repair/maintainence/restoration/tools
history/provenance
pity-does it need love and a good home?

Last edited by caterham; 11-08-07 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 11-08-07, 02:37 PM   #5
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What I get depends on the reason I'm getting it. I'm always on the lookout for good quality at a low price. (using many of the above-mentioned resources - or more specifically the knowledge I've shoved into my head from having been exposed to those sources)

If I'm looking for one of my keeper bikes, I've gotten rather selective.
If I'm looking for parts I can use in trade, it's all about price vs value.
If I'm looking for something for a bike that I'm going to sell, I'm a little less picky - am willing to take "good enough".
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Old 11-08-07, 02:44 PM   #6
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does it have wheels and can I ride it Most of my bike purchases are on the low buck end of the scale. Typically old 3 speeds of any manufacture. Most get cleaned up and flipped to people looking for them. I occasionally purchase a bike for personal use and it will be what ever strikes my fancy if the price is right. I am more interested in the utility side of cycling rather than the go fast side, so I tend to look for old Schwinn or Raleigh, Huffy or Columbias catch my eye too.

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Old 11-08-07, 03:58 PM   #7
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Your list is good, but:
do the seatpost and stem come out?
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Old 11-08-07, 04:07 PM   #8
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Don't forget the Bulgier catalogs: bulgier.net
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Old 11-08-07, 04:30 PM   #9
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I didn't see OldRoads.com listed yet. When I started this hobby, they were one of the few sources around.

When going by a garage sale, I look for skinny wheels, multi-piece cranks, and lugs, in that order. If I see that much, I'll look closer to see if it is something I like. Now that I have aquired a variety of bikes, I am more selective about what I bring home. I won't buy something unless it is an upgrade to something I already have. That includes buying a bike for cheap to get parts that would cost more individually. Now I need to put some of those bikes back together and put them up for sale in the spring.
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Old 11-08-07, 05:04 PM   #10
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The basics I look for in thrift store/garage sale bikes is usually lugged and three piece cranks. Downtube shifters and non-suicide brakes is a bonus, but not an excuse not to buy. The main thing is the frame/fork appear to be straight. Are there any parts that need replaced and how nice are the parts that are there. If the frame and fork are in good shape it could always be a fixed gear conversion candidate to resell. Or I just strip parts off of it and sell it as a frame and fork. There are many bikes I have bought just as parts donors. My recent one of those was a 94/94 Bianchi Eros missing the front wheel and the frame was completely rusted out. But, it had a Campagnolo Mirage triple group on it and for $10 was well worth it for parts.

As for research on finding more info I will check here, CR site and email list, Ebay (for getting an idea on value), bulgier.net catalogs, vintage-trek for treks or component dating, velobase (for parts id), and a few friends. Right now I am trying to do some research on a early/mid 70's Colnago that is missing all of its decals. From my searches I think it is a Colnago Super, but I am not positive. This bike would be purchased and then cleaned up/restored and then later sold probably on Ebay. For many bikes I won't even do research because of the great knowledge I have learned the past 2 years here and from selling bikes on the local CL. That knowledge has aided me greatly in being able to see what a bike needs and what it is worth currently or what I can get for it down the road after some work/new parts.
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Old 11-08-07, 05:36 PM   #11
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I forgot suicide brakes; a dead give-away ya got a gas piper.
Three piece cranks
Bulgier catalogs is a great source of reference material
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Old 11-08-07, 10:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markwebb View Post
I forgot suicide brakes; a dead give-away ya got a gas piper.
Not so fast! I know of several bikes, and own a couple that have butted chrome-moly tubes and "suicide" levers. For a time, they were sold on a lot of bikes because that is what the customer asked for. I have a Miyata 310 and a Schwinn Traveller that came with suicide levers, and even some Paramounts had them. http://www.geocities.com/sldbconsume.../74ccpg10.html So, go ahead and pass up any bikes with suicide levers and leave them for the rest of us.
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Old 11-08-07, 11:09 PM   #13
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#2: If a bike or its components catch my eye, the first place I check is the rear dropouts to see if there are axle adjustment screws, a sure sign of at least a mid level frameset, after that I look over the components, build quality and overall condition of the bike.
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Old 11-09-07, 09:23 AM   #14
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Thanks....I learned something today !!!

But, also keep in mind that butted chrome-moly tubes do not always = quality steel tubing. The Paramount catalog with the tourer model pictured was Reynolds 531 - the good stuff. But some butted chrome-moly tubes ain't in that league.

Quote:
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Not so fast! I know of several bikes, and own a couple that have butted chrome-moly tubes and "suicide" levers. For a time, they were sold on a lot of bikes because that is what the customer asked for. I have a Miyata 310 and a Schwinn Traveller that came with suicide levers, and even some Paramounts had them. http://www.geocities.com/sldbconsume.../74ccpg10.html So, go ahead and pass up any bikes with suicide levers and leave them for the rest of us.
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Old 11-09-07, 09:47 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markwebb View Post
... But, also keep in mind that butted chrome-moly tubes do not always = quality steel tubing. The Paramount catalog with the tourer model pictured was Reynolds 531 - the good stuff. But some butted chrome-moly tubes ain't in that league.
... such as my 1971 Nishiki Competition, whose frameset was at least as heavy as that of a lowly Peugeot UO-8, and which had a spongy, leaden feel. By the end of that decade Kawamura was turning out some much more resilient world-class frames.
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Old 11-09-07, 09:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ollo_ollo View Post
#2: If a bike or its components catch my eye, the first place I check is the rear dropouts to see if there are axle adjustment screws, a sure sign of at least a mid level frameset, after that I look over the components, build quality and overall condition of the bike.
Various manufacturers cut cost corners in various places. Otto Cap always used his own ornate stamped dropouts rather than forged Campagnolo units. Full Reynolds 531 frames received a brazed-on stiffener, giving the rear dropouts the appearance of forged units at first glance.

Also, even into the early 1960s some high-end bicycles still had cottered cranksets, as aluminum units from TA, Stronglight, and Campagnolo were gradually phased in.

An integral derailleur hanger is generally a sign of quality, but an early 1970s Peugeot PA-10 is still fundamentally a UO-8 with an integral derailleur hanger and tighter geometry.
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Old 11-09-07, 09:58 AM   #17
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For me, the biggest requirement is that the frame fit me properly, because I enjoy riding my classic bicycles as much as collecting, restoring, and maintaining them.
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Old 11-09-07, 09:59 AM   #18
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2)

#1: Locale (Is it local? Local bikes are always preferred in my book)

#2: Is it a good deal? (That is, 1/3 of eBay cost of said item)

#3: What is it? (Is the bike either top end or special in appearance? Do I really want to have this machine in the long run?)

#4: Seller (Regardless of price, is the seller a nice fellow to work with, or an utter twit?)

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Old 11-09-07, 10:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
What I get depends on the reason I'm getting it. I'm always on the lookout for good quality at a low price. (using many of the above-mentioned resources - or more specifically the knowledge I've shoved into my head from having been exposed to those sources)

If I'm looking for one of my keeper bikes, I've gotten rather selective.
If I'm looking for parts I can use in trade, it's all about price vs value.
If I'm looking for something for a bike that I'm going to sell, I'm a little less picky - am willing to take "good enough".

This is exactly my philosophy.

I'm usually looking for 70's and 80's road bikes -- mid level stuff. I'd love to stumble across a Paramount at a thrift store, but realistically I'm finding Fujis, Raleighs, and Schwinns. I love suicide brakes, big dork disks and stem mounted shifters. They were the fashion in that era and lots of good bikes came with them. If I ever do get a Paramount it's going to have suicide levers and the biggest bacon-slicing dork disk you've ever seen.
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Old 11-09-07, 04:08 PM   #20
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... If I ever do get a Paramount it's going to have suicide levers and the biggest bacon-slicing dork disk you've ever seen.
... and presumably TwinStik shifters, since those were actually an option ca. 1970. You can have mine, if you want them.
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