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Old 05-29-08, 11:48 PM   #1
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"What's It Worth?": Bike Value For Newcomers

To all new members - please read:

Those of you who have asked about vintage bike value here might have been greeted by some rather surprising, and perhaps - at first glance - trite and perhaps rude replies. For this reason, I have written the following guide to explain why value postings are shunned in our community.

Before anything else though
- if you want to get an idea of value of your bicycle or components and do not care to read any more of this discussion, please visit:

eBay.com (search "completed auctions"),
or
Your local Craigslist.org "bikes" section.

Now that that's over with...read along:

Unlike the popular American idea of collectibles as being potential gold mines - as popularized by shows such as the Antiques Roadshow, and yes, eBay as well - value isn't everything, and in the case of our vintage two-wheeled steeds, value is the cost we must pay to acquire something that has a very different meaning to us then the dollar bills it took to purchase it.

We're not looking to be the one fellow with the most expensive vintage bike, and we do not fawn over how much we squandered to build our fancy steed (if anything, we'll be discussing our thriftiness). For us, vintage bikes are their timeless beauty, craftsmanship, the pleasure of riding them - and the former two if the machine has been relegated to wall-art. For this reason, we simply find it out of the spirit for a relatively new member to come here requesting the value of their machine for purposes of unearthing a hidden gold-mine that one can retire off of.

That is not what our bicycles are about, even though pop-culture has conditioned people into believing that this very surface perception of collectibles is the de-facto norm. That is not so, particularly with the collectors here at C&V. Value is not the reason we are part of this community.

This said, please do not be surprised if your direct request for value here on this forum is met with chants of "$3.50 or whatever the market will bear." We are basically stating that the finer points of the bicycle itself - not its value - is our concern, and that the market - i.e., eBay or your local Craigslist - is where you will find value. With rational, thoughtful (as opposed to valuing, say, a low-end Peugeot based on a completely unrelated, desirable Peugeot) eBay searches, you should be able to determine a very good approximation of the value of your machine. Please keep the condition of the bike in mind when doing your comparisons.

A thought about what might be valuable and what isn't:

Although there is always the possibility that one might stumble upon a gem of an older vintage lightweight roadbike, a beautifully kept, all original ballooner; or a genuine early 3-speed (more on that below), a number of "vintage-looking" bicycles out there are not relatively valuable. Amongst the most common of these were made in large numbers and sold to the masses, examples being Columbia, Huffy (with a very few exceptions), Murray, Kent, and virtually all department store names. None of these machines are particularly valuable from a standpoint of collectible desirability.

That said, you might be one of the lucky ones who has found a beautiful Schwinn Paramount, Colnago or other brand of desirable machine. These bikes do have a higher value, and by virtue of that, it is easy to find records of recent sales (and also auctions that failed to sell) on eBay, which should be good guides to value.

One last thought:

Do not rely on your local bike shop to give you an accurate idea of value. Most (not all) bike shops are trained to have knowledge about the new bikes they wish to sell you, and salesmen - or even the owner - are very rarely historians on the subject. Same reason that you don't go to a Ford dealership to find out how much your '56 Crown Victoria is worth.

For that reason, be most wary of any appraisal that indicates that your machine is completely and utterly worthless ("buy a new bike!"), or that it is worth an extremely large sum of money (an happy customer is a good potential new-bike buyer). Either extreme is unlikely for the very fact that it is an extreme. Always make it a point to double-check any such appraisal with a search of similar prices online. Remember, one can throw a random three-digit value in the air with ease - checking value against actual sales takes time.

Now that the lecture is over - start posting and enjoy the beauty of vintage pedal power.

-Kurt
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Old 05-30-08, 12:17 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
All this said, please do not be surprised if your direct request for value here on this forum is met with chants of "$3.50 or whatever the market will bear." We are basically stating that the finer points of the bicycle itself - not its value - is our concern, and that the market - i.e., eBay or your local Craigslist - is where you will find value.

-Kurt
That, and we're hoping to buy whatever you found for $3.50.
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Old 05-30-08, 05:27 AM   #3
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Thanks
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Old 05-30-08, 05:56 AM   #4
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And add: even the most exotic, collectible and rare bikes and components fetch a pittance in the market, compared with comparable examples from other areas of collecting. Plus, the emphasis here is on reuse, rejuvenation, ride-that-thing, for the most part, and not on "wall art" collection.
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Old 05-30-08, 06:30 AM   #5
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Anyone at the Ford dealership should be going ape-***** if they saw a '57 Crown Vic, they stopped making them in '56.

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Old 05-30-08, 06:37 AM   #6
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An' besides, while my memory of whether I zipped my fly the last time it was used might be a "tad" sketchy, I do believe I remember the Crown Victoria model was made in '55 and '56, but not offered in the '57 Ford lineup.

Otherwise not a bad rant; grammatically good and well composed.
al, now I'd better check my fly, f
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Old 05-30-08, 06:38 AM   #7
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Anyone at the Ford dealership should be going ape-***** if they saw a '57 Crown Vic, they stopped making them in '56.

Damn!
Beat me to it while I was composing.
Back to forgetting again.
alf
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Old 05-30-08, 06:55 AM   #8
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I think a quick note should be added that with extremely rare exceptions... unless someone paid very good money for a bike in the past, and took very good care of it, then it proably isn't worth much today.

I can't think of any bike that someone one could have ridden in a middle class neighborhood without gathering a crowd of all the neighborhood cyclists and being worth anything today... and even some that drew the oohs and aahs are pretty worthless... I remember drooling over a friends Peugeot... and my guess is that if I were to go back in time I would discover it was a U08.
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Old 05-30-08, 06:55 AM   #9
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I see I'm not the only car nut in this group.
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Old 05-30-08, 08:10 AM   #10
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Kurt,

Most of the posters you are trying to reach with this info are going to post their question without searching or reading anything. If they do happen upon your thread they will only skim it because it is too verbose. IMO it seems like a rant instead of a useful guide.
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Old 05-30-08, 08:53 AM   #11
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I happen to disagree with some of what you say, though. For example, your notion "it is advisable to throw out any ideas about emotional and sentimental value as being a basis of higher value" is bad advice in my opinion. I own a number of items I simply will not sell at auction because I know that likely no one else will place as high a value on them as I do. (I might, however, give them away for free to someone who seems to appreciate their value despite not having the wherewithal to buy.) In a free market, prices are not determined solely by what the buyer will pay, but by what the buyer and seller will agree to exchange. Prices and values are therefore not the same thing.

On the other hand, "start posting and enjoy the beauty of vintage pedal power" is pretty good advice, and I'll second that.

Last edited by cuda2k; 05-30-08 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 05-30-08, 09:06 AM   #12
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I hesitate to say this, but here goes...

From my admitted noob point of view, I have noticed a bit of "bullying" (not sure if that's the right word) around this forum at times. Speaking for myself, I don't have a problem with someone who wants to know something, and therefore comes to a place where he assumes he's going to get an informed opinion. Actually, I feel kinda flattered when someone asks my opinion.

I know the feeling of wanting to ask something, but feeling a bit of apprehension because of the sarcasm that may come as a result of a question that seems stupid to someone more well-versed, or experienced than I am.

Which, BTW, is the main reason I no longer frequent the Road Forums......just too much irritability, and haughtiness/snobbishness by some folks over there who just happened to have acquired more knowledge along the way, and just can't resist sniping at us lesser mortals.

((Not intended to offend anyone - YMMV))

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Old 05-30-08, 10:07 AM   #13
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"IMO it seems like a rant instead of a useful guide." QUOTE.


Good morning, Bike Forums C&V.

We have experienced a great many calls of late.

Your opinion matters to us in an oh so important way, so please hold.

We will pickup the 'phone and speak with you - oh, it may take a couple of daze, but

might just call you back at OUR convenience.

Always remember, "Your call is important to us!"


Consider the above, a "rant".

(in my HUMBLE opinion)


Regards,
J T


PS. When a new poster does not read/comprehend a "Sticky", well, as the olde saying goes . . .

"You can lead a horse to water . . .
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Old 05-30-08, 10:37 AM   #14
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People come up with old bikes at yard sales, thrifts, from the back of the garage, etc. and come here or perhaps other forums asking what their finds are worth--before doing any fair amount of research themselves. It is not uncommon. I've seen plenty of posts asking value and listing a brand but not the model name (Granted, Peugeots are mostly nameless.) The majority of those requests have minimal information about what would have influence on value like model, condition and components. Not many of those requests have photos.

So, what kind of repsonse is expected from requests such as those? Depending on the quality of the bike (when new) the amount of comments on the thread increases, but there are usually not many comments about value. In the end the garbage-in/garbage-out rule applies. Many of those requests are by (BF newbie) unknowledgable profiteers looking for a quick flip, or by (BF newbie) people who are trying to validate their acquisition cost with the knowledge found here, so $3.50 is a fair answer considering the circumstances.

Personally, I look at most of those posts to see if it is (or was) a nice bike, but rarely comment. Much more often than not, peering into those threads is a waste of my time. [EDIT: I do make the choice to look at the threads though, so I know what I'm likely to encounter when looking at them.]

Kurt, you may want to add a comment about location and markets. Larger markets, and those with multiple college campuses especially, can influence prices substantially. Buyers in those markets paying some higher prices still think they are getting value for older used bikes in good condtition compared to new rides in LBS's or x-mart junk-o-ramas.

Last edited by BlankCrows; 05-31-08 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 05-30-08, 10:37 AM   #15
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I guess I just don't get the anger at all these looking-for-value posts. It's not as though any of us is being forced to read them or respond. I don't assume that everyone wondering about value is looking to make a killing - pretty often it seems they have a bike that came to them from who knows where; they really have no idea what it's worth but they know they don't want to keep it, and they don't want to give it away if it's worth several hundred dollars. So they do what anyone would do, which is surf the web, and they end up here. I personally don't see any reason to clobber them for that. Now, if a single individual posts here repeatedly that's a different scenario, but I don't have the sense that's what is happening.

At a minimum, I think the last paragraph should be re-worked. As it stands it seems to be suggesting that bike shops can't help you; we're the ones with the knowledge but we aren't willing to share it.
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Old 05-30-08, 11:00 AM   #16
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"It's not as though any of us is being forced to read them or respond." QUOTE.


I agree, but the terms "clutter", and "noise", do raise their heads.


Regards,
J T
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Old 05-30-08, 11:01 AM   #17
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Perhaps what we need is a simple price list. Something like:

For used bicycles, the following prices are what your vintage bicycle is probably worth based on brand:

Peugeot: $3 - $3,000
Schwinn: $3 - $3,000
Raleigh: $3 - $3,000

If you want more precise pricing, please provide as many details as possible, and preferably detailed photos.

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Old 05-30-08, 11:04 AM   #18
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I don't understand why the people in the CV forum aren't more flattered at the request for their opinions on bike values. You can go to ebay and cl for values; but they could be less accurate. A guy like me might spend several hundred dollars for a worthless bike that is identical to the one he learned to ride on.

If you don't want to participate in a "what's it worth" thread; then don't. Could it be any simpler? I can understand annoyance at op's with no pics and vague requests; but they are probably newbies. I don't understand the rude and arrogant comments. If it was a conversation; it could be excused (occasionally) as not thinking before you speak. But a composed and typed comment that is rude and demeaning, points to a character flaw and "lack of raisin' " as we say down here.

What about a "WHAT'S IT WORTH?" forum?? I'm not a "computer" guy and if that's asking for the moon; I apologize..........

my two cents............

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Old 05-30-08, 12:16 PM   #19
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I enjoy reading whats its worth threads. Its cool to see a newbie enthusiam grow as he learns about the bikes history etc, and its future plans. If nobody posts there is nothing to read and learn about the idiosincritese of all these bikes and the stories behind them. I just dont want to see advise on the value of bikes becoming so clinical e.g. go check the chart. This thread is cool too. See ya
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Old 05-30-08, 12:21 PM   #20
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Dear fellows,

Rather then respond to all the replies since, allow me to say the following:

Many of you have made good points that I intend to add to the post, in addition, good suggestions as to existing portions of this text that are best either edited or left out. Further suggestions are welcome.

Mind you, this was written rather late (or early in the morning, rather), and may not be entirely indicative of what I intended to convey. It likely does sound like a rant, for I was stimulated to write it at a time when I was ranting 'inside.'

Allow me to stress that the point of my original post here was specifically intended to prevent new members from finding themselves under the wrath of irritated C&V'ers. Personally, I believe that any new member should not be subject to poor treatment without prior explanation as to why the forum members dislike threads of the nature of value.

Point blank, to jump upon someone who has never been here before, and does not understand the reasoning behind the curmudgeon attitude towards these posts is uncalled for. I am not saying that blatant value-fishing should be allowed to take over this forum, but it should be properly explained beforehand why one should not do so.

-Kurt
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Old 05-30-08, 12:37 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Point blank, to jump upon someone who has never been here before, and does not understand the reasoning behind the curmudgeon attitude towards these posts is uncalled for. I am not saying that blatant value-fishing should be allowed to take over this forum, but it should be properly explained beforehand why one should not do so.

-Kurt

Well said!
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Old 05-30-08, 01:05 PM   #22
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Just edited the original post. Took some out, added some in. Let me know what you think.

-Kurt
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Old 05-30-08, 04:34 PM   #23
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I understand where Kurt is coming from but in some ways I have to disagree. If you are talking about some fairly common bikes like Peugeot UO8's or Schwinn Varsity's then an eBay search of completed auctions will probably pay off. But there were probably a few hundred different brands during the bike boom period and the odds are good that you could search completed auctions for several months and not find even one similar to the one you just found in grandpa's shed or picked up at the garage sale for $5. Not only that, but most newbies won't know enough about the bike to do an adequate search. Seemingly insignificant (to the newbie) differences in model names, assuming the model is even known, could be the difference between gaspipe, Reynolds main tubes or a full on db cromo frame. There are so many variables I don't see how someone new to C&V could make any sense out of it. It took me several years to reach a point where I kind of know what's what and I threw away a really nice bike in the process. That said, I would probably still be reluctant to offer specific prices as there are so many variables but would usually be happy to give the poster a ballpark range to work with if I think I know what it should be.
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Old 05-30-08, 05:03 PM   #24
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I don't like putting my moderator hat on in here, but it appears we have reached a point where it is needed. I have taken a fine toothed comb to this thread. Let's keep the discussion about the topic, that being the request for the value of a bicycle. I think that is all that needs to be said.

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Old 05-30-08, 05:33 PM   #25
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What it's worth?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuda2k View Post
I don't like putting my moderator hat on in here, but it appears we have reached a point where it is needed. I have taken a fine toothed comb to this thread. Let's keep the discussion about the topic, that being the request for the value of a bicycle. I think that is all that needs to be said.
As a moderator, your not worth a $3.50 bicycle. I hope that was " on topic "!
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