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Old 11-15-10, 03:04 PM   #1
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Cheat sheet for C&V bikes?

Just curious to see if anyone has created a list of the more desirable classic and vintage bikes out there for those of us who do not know what they are?

I could see this type of list being helpful not only for individuals wanting to buy one, but for those of that may happen to stumble across a bike we may not be familiar with and could possibly pick up for another member here on the forums.

Am I being naive?
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Old 11-15-10, 03:21 PM   #2
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too subjective.

But maybe your question should be what are SOMETIMES some of the characteristics of quality well made bikes.
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Old 11-15-10, 03:30 PM   #3
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too subjective.

But maybe your question should be what are SOMETIMES some of the characteristics of quality well made bikes.
+1 learn the characteristics of good bikes and it will serve you well even if you don't know anything about the brand.

First thing I look for is forged dropouts. Its not always a 100% indicator of quality...a lot of high quality older frames didn't have forged dropouts, but the majority of 1970 and older bikes that are of good quality have em.
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Old 11-15-10, 03:30 PM   #4
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check out this thread: Rating Bicycle Brands
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Old 11-15-10, 03:44 PM   #5
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Excellent replies, I did not think of the overall build quality of the bike itself.

I figured that classic bikes were similar to cars and I guess that is a bit off. A 1966 GTO does not really have an equivalent in the classic bike world - is that correct?
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Old 11-15-10, 03:52 PM   #6
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Excellent replies, I did not think of the overall build quality of the bike itself.

I figured that classic bikes were similar to cars and I guess that is a bit off. A 1966 GTO does not really have an equivalent in the classic bike world - is that correct?
for pleasure? or for an investment?

if you are investing without lots of awareness you will do better in Vegas.

Sheldon Brown had a vintage lightweight bike pricing guide, the info is dated, prices are quaint, but it does provide a laundry list that while somewhat subjective is useful, and Mike Kone has started a revamp, do not hold your breath on that, I think has revamp got as far as Cinelli. And its almost out of date now.

http://www.renehersebicycles.com/Mik...ghtweights.htm
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Old 11-15-10, 04:02 PM   #7
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I figured that classic bikes were similar to cars and I guess that is a bit off.
In terms of collectors value there's ones that are similar to cars in some respects. For example, a car might be collectible for any number of reasons....its fast, its good lookin, its rare, it represents a watershed moment, or some are just really loved by the public. (like a VW bug)

There's bikes like that too. Ones that might not be great performers but are historically significant, or just loved by the masses...others might be virtual unknowns but are collectible because of some technology it uses that nobody used much...still others are collectible because of the builder. 3Rensho comes to mind
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Old 11-15-10, 04:13 PM   #8
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Why make a "cheat sheet" to distribute for the purpose of more competition for ourselves.

BTW, stay away from anything from Japan, especially Fuji. They suck!
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Old 11-15-10, 04:49 PM   #9
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Forged dropouts are the quickest way to know a bike is quality.

Secondly, as you get into it, check out DisraeliGears. It is a great resource listing nearly every rear derailleur ever made. Knowing derailleurs is also a good way to assess a bike.

Also, look for a tubing sticker, and learn which tubing lines are best. There are some resources out there for those as well, I think Wikipedia is a good place to start (for instance, search "wiki Reynolds 531" and see where that gets you). High Tensile steel (Hi Ten) is about the heaviest you'll see a bike made out of; Chrome Moly is better, and the proprietary (Reynolds 531, Columbus SLX, etc.) are better yet.

Generally, for wheels, aluminum ("alloy") is better than chromed steel (which is noticeably shinier), presta valve wheels are better than schraders, and 700C are better than 27" wheels.

That said, there is give and take, too. You won't find too many of the really fine bikes out there, simply because there were fewer of them sold when new. But if you learn to spot the better mid-range bikes, you can still get some excellent deals. It's really just learning about the different components of bicycles in order to assess them. One more thing: For a lot of bicycle lines, the "Sport" models are at or near the bottom end. So a Schwinn World Sport? Pass. Panasonic Sport 500? Move on. Fuji Sports 10? Eh.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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Old 11-15-10, 05:23 PM   #10
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Excellent replies, I did not think of the overall build quality of the bike itself.

I figured that classic bikes were similar to cars and I guess that is a bit off. A 1966 GTO does not really have an equivalent in the classic bike world - is that correct?
Way different. Imagine your GTO originally had a frame built by Pontiac, a tranny from Chrysler, an engine from Ford, rear end from Toyota, wheels from BMW, and so on down the line. Most bike manufacturers AT MOST built the frame, and that's it. Everything else came from other companies, and these companies made countless grades of parts, and sold the same parts to everyone in the bike business. Can you buy a new Toyota Corolla with a Corvette engine? Then imagine Pontiac had 10 different grades of frames for the GTO, and the grade of frame had a huge impact on value.

One great advantage of bikes over collector cars is the market is much less efficient. This provides opportunities to get a "deal" on something really nice. And it is unusual for a nice vintage bike to cost more than an entry level new bike (there are exceptions to this, but you can get a really nice vintage bike for 25% of what a new entry level bike sells for).

So you can find the exact same parts on many, many brands and models of bikes.

So the "cheat sheet" would be more about what things to look for: good frame material, good components, and so on. Even if you bought a "desirable" model of bike, it is just too easy to change parts, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. Can you imagine if someone could swap the entire drivetrain on that GTO in a couple of hours?
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Old 11-15-10, 06:19 PM   #11
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^this.

while many love to keep the bike as original as possible there are a number of us that after acquiring that specific frame/fork that fits/looks the way you like/rides beautifully you find ourselves experiencing something i call 'component lust.' thats when you wish your 105[nothing wrong with 105, just an example] equipped bike had something shiny and italian for no reason other than 'just because'. the desire for certain components may have you buying a nice bike so equipped and performing the parts shuffle and post to craigslist or purchasing the individual bits to build it up as you wish. then you may be forced to buy another frame to put all the other components on and dering that search you also come across a real great deal so you get that too... and so on and on... consider this a warning.
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Old 11-15-10, 06:33 PM   #12
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Way different. Imagine your GTO originally had a frame built by Pontiac, a tranny from Chrysler, an engine from Ford, rear end from Toyota, wheels from BMW, and so on down the line. Most bike manufacturers AT MOST built the frame, and that's it. Everything else came from other companies, and these companies made countless grades of parts, and sold the same parts to everyone in the bike business. Can you buy a new Toyota Corolla with a Corvette engine? Then imagine Pontiac had 10 different grades of frames for the GTO, and the grade of frame had a huge impact on value.

One great advantage of bikes over collector cars is the market is much less efficient. This provides opportunities to get a "deal" on something really nice. And it is unusual for a nice vintage bike to cost more than an entry level new bike (there are exceptions to this, but you can get a really nice vintage bike for 25% of what a new entry level bike sells for).

So you can find the exact same parts on many, many brands and models of bikes.

So the "cheat sheet" would be more about what things to look for: good frame material, good components, and so on. Even if you bought a "desirable" model of bike, it is just too easy to change parts, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. Can you imagine if someone could swap the entire drivetrain on that GTO in a couple of hours?

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Old 11-15-10, 06:34 PM   #13
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And to everyone, truly excellent responses.
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Old 11-15-10, 06:42 PM   #14
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to me - i'm new to the classics - but alot of it comes down to how cool i think the frame looks - do i like the color and style - does it fit me - i'm no flipper - so i think - 'will i enjoy riding this'
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Old 11-15-10, 07:30 PM   #15
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Just curious to see if anyone has created a list of the more desirable classic and vintage bikes out there for those of us who do not know what they are?

I could see this type of list being helpful not only for individuals wanting to buy one, but for those of that may happen to stumble across a bike we may not be familiar with and could possibly pick up for another member here on the forums.

Am I being naive?
Not really, but it's way too broad a subject for anyone to narrow it down. Plus, we'd argue about it, politely.
Each brand/model seems to have its own cult. Some even have secret handshakes.
I think the best thing to do is check to see what's available, and ask questions. We'll help all we can, as you get it narrowed down.
Almost every older C&V brand has it's great bikes and it's abominations. Just ask.
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Old 11-15-10, 07:38 PM   #16
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If it ends in a vowel, buy it, unless it is Magna or Huffy.

Extra points for Campagnolo components, or Dura Ace. Eyelets on the rims are usually an indication of better quality, as well.
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Old 11-15-10, 07:42 PM   #17
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Wait, there were those Firenze POS bikes that were given away with stereo purchases in No. California. Maybe that final vowel needs to be an i or a.

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Old 11-15-10, 07:51 PM   #18
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The person, new to the interest of vintage bicycles, would be well served to learn how to determine a bicycle's quality. Understanding what to look for is a good bicycle is probably a useful tool to have in any potential transaction. This article I published on How To Buy a Bicycle On-Line also details how to determine quality. It is not all that difficult and might prove an interesting read for some people.

Hope this is a help.
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Old 11-15-10, 08:47 PM   #19
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Since a few people I know hit garage sales and wouldn't be annoyed at dragging a bike over to me I decided I'd come up with a list of some brands to watch out for. It ended up with over a hundred names on it. I never bothered to print it out .

Like everyone else has said, forged dropouts are a good place to start. The first thing I actually look at is the crankset. You often see mediocre frames with cheap cranks but you almost never see a really nice frame with something less than a really nice crank. The crank also tends to give a good idea of the general level of componentry on the bike. Very few people put good parts on a junk frame.

Beyond the broad strokes you're just going to have to learn about the details - knowing about the finer points of lugwork (pun!) comes in handy. Something odd to remember, though, is that just because a frame is very well made doesn't necessarily mean that it's valuable. There are many extremely nice handmade frames out there which just don't have enough name recognition or brand history to bring in the big bucks. Likewise, there are an abundance of relatively poorly built bikes out there (ahem... PX10. *Duck and cover*) which bring in more than the build quality would otherwise dictate. But then, the PX10 has crossed finish lines much more famously than has a Spect JM and Bob Jackson frames are more famous than Solace. I tend to appreciate quality more than I do absolute value so I'd rather have a beautiful but obscure handmade frame for $200 than a just-as-beautiful but famously-named Tommasini frame for $800.

Consider the following: A light blue low-mid-level Raleigh vs. a semi-obscure handmade brand.
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Old 11-15-10, 08:58 PM   #20
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Since a few people I know hit garage sales and wouldn't be annoyed at dragging a bike over to me I decided I'd come up with a list of some brands to watch out for. It ended up with over a hundred names on it. I never bothered to print it out .

Like everyone else has said, forged dropouts are a good place to start. The first thing I actually look at is the crankset. You often see mediocre frames with cheap cranks but you almost never see a really nice frame with something less than a really nice crank. The crank also tends to give a good idea of the general level of componentry on the bike. Very few people put good parts on a junk frame.
Those details make it pretty obvious.
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Old 11-15-10, 09:09 PM   #21
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Cinco said a thousand words with his pictures! However, I think you can make some generalizations for a beginner that can help. There are exceptions to everything I'm about to list, but I think it's pretty fair. Look for:

1. Columbus or Reynolds Tubing. If your looking at bike boom or older bikes, those are really the only tubing names you need to remember, and all NEARLY all top shelf bikes were either Reynolds 531 or Columbus SL.

2. Campagnolo components. Learn to recognize Valentino. If it's not that, it's probably good. If you want to get more in depth, you can also try to remember Shimano Dura Ace and 600. I would get into Huret etc. but won't in an effort to keep it simple.

3. Look for clean, crisp brazing and lug-work (see pictures above)

4. Avoid (generally) cottered cranks, and handlebars that sport "turkey lever" brakes or stem shifters.

5. If it's a Cinelli of any description, buy it. If it's any other big Italian or French name and it meets my other criteria, buy it too!

Good luck hunting, and feel free to disagree with or disregard any or all of my points.
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Old 11-16-10, 06:23 AM   #22
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5. If it's a Cinelli of any description, buy it.
I believe that's supposed to say, "Flip a coin to decide whether to send it to Devinfan or Bibliobob."
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Old 11-16-10, 07:52 AM   #23
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jshelly, I look at the frame tubing sticker and give the bike a heft test.

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Old 11-16-10, 08:38 AM   #24
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+1 to cinco - quality matters, and it's best not to judge a book (bike?) by it's decals or brand. The craftsmanship can tell you lots about the bike that decals and stuff can't (case in point - there are some very carefully crafted Italian bike boom frames that are made of gaspipe, and then there's sloppily constructed frames that just have Reynolds 531 stuck on them for sales pitches. I'd almost rather have the gaspipe frames). Lugwork can often tell you if a bike had a lot of thought put into its build.

The crankset is an interesting observation; I think I've been looking at them and judging the bike without realizing it. Case in point - saw a (sadly rattledcanned) Frenchie frame yesterday with a sweet Stronglight crankset on it - looked closer and saw chromed stays with Campy drops.

A few words or brands of components to look for on any bike
- Dura Ace, 600, Ultegra (unlikely to find on a cheap old bike)
- Stronglight (very distinct crank arms)
- TA (also very distinct crank arms)
- Campagnolo (this varies, and some Campy bits are more worthwhile than others. but they're generally never crap)
- Suntour Superbe

Good but not always in the same category as the above parts
- 105/Golden Arrow, Deore/"Deer head"/XT (these are more for touring/mtb)
- Various Suntour groups (stuff like Cyclone II, but I'm not sure about the hierarchy)
- Sugino crankarms (AT is the best, but the other series are MP, VP, VT, and I forgot their ordering...)

Signs on the bike itself that it's not a good bike
- crude lugs
- turkey levers
- stem shifters
- flimsy looking parts
- stamped dropouts
- weight

...though Carlton had some pretty good stamped dropout frames, and the older P series paramounts had turkey levers and stem shifters. Those 3 aren't always absent on a good bike, but it's *highly* unlikely a good bike has them.

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Old 11-16-10, 08:45 AM   #25
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5. If it's a Cinelli of any description, buy it. If it's any other big Italian or French name and it meets my other criteria, buy it too!

Good luck hunting, and feel free to disagree with or disregard any or all of my points.
I'm always hesitant to pick up French frames. If it's in pretty good condition, cool, but trying to restore a beat up french ride (or worse, just bare frame) was incredibly frustrating at times. Their build quality is great, but man, getting the right compatible parts...
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