Classic and Vintage Bicycles: Whats it Worth? Appraisals. 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.

What makes a vintage bike valuable?

Old 01-31-09, 11:31 AM
  #1  
MelissaDM
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What makes a vintage bike valuable?

I've noticed that Schwinn holds their value very well. But what makes others valuable? Are there other brands that do? Does it matter if all the parts are original? I also noticed that racing bikes sell for much more than others do--why is that? I saw some vintage Schwinns on Ebay for around $1500! Why can't my pretty little mixte be worth that much?! BTW, what would be the value of my Batavus if I sold it?
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Old 01-31-09, 11:44 AM
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This would require a fairly complicated answer, but here are a few salient points:

-How desireable the bike was originally is probably the most reliably relevant factor. Other factors, such as nostalgia, have to come to bear to make a common bike become valuble in time.

-Good frame materials and construction are good starting points.

-Good components help considerably.

-Condition, condition, condition. At the lower level of the value range, good condition means the bike is immediately useful, and therefore saleable for someone to ride and use. At the upper level of the value range, good condition just makes a rare bike even rarer.

-Originality tends to make a big difference in the upper end, and little or not difference in the lower end. In fact, in the lower end, its probably more valuable if it has been updated.

-Schwinns hold their value? Hmm. At the lower end, this is probably modestly true because some people still attach some brand value to them. For example, everything else being equal, I am more interested in a Schwinn than a Huffy. In some exceptional cases (the Paramount, obviously), the brand means everything. I have to admit however I often do not bother to even open a CL link with Schwinn in the subject line. Might miss a few Tempos and Voyagers and Paramounts that way, but there is just too much chaff there amid the wheat.

-Road bikes hold their value well. Touring bikes are like gold. Mountain bikes have not held their value well so far; I suspect because they are not old enough for their rust to be seen as patina, and also because the MTB world is more gizmo orientated than the road world. I strongly suspect that we will shortly see older MTB's shoot up in value. Right now only the earliest, most special ones seem to have any street value to speak of.

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Old 01-31-09, 11:54 AM
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Old 01-31-09, 12:07 PM
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$1500 for that piece of #$%& !!!!!********************???

A bike is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. In my estimation, someone put two zeros too many at the end of that price.
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Old 01-31-09, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
$1500 for that piece of #$%& !!!!!********************???

A bike is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. In my estimation, someone put two zeros too many at the end of that price.
Maybe you should read the OP a little more slowly, that POS is the OP's and I doubt she thinks it's worth $1500...
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Old 01-31-09, 12:20 PM
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There is a big brand recognition thing with collectors. They'll pass up a lot of good bikes to get a Varsity like their big brother had. It's not just bikes, in the wooden boat world everyone wants a Chris Craft. I've rebuilt enough of them to know that they are crap but they've heard of the name. 57 chevys sell like hotcakes. are they rare? Every car show you go to has a row of 57 chevys. The average american has forgoten all the other interesting stuff out there and the computer at Pep Boys doesn't have a catagory for Studebaker so they won't sell the parts.
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Old 01-31-09, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jtarver View Post
Maybe you should read the OP a little more slowly, that POS is the OP's and I doubt she thinks it's worth $1500...
Yeah, I think a refund for the speed-reading course is in order ...
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Old 01-31-09, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
$1500 for that piece of #$%& !!!!!********************???

A bike is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. In my estimation, someone put two zeros too many at the end of that price.
It's nice to be a bit more polite, too . Then you don't put your foot in your mouth quite as often .

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Old 01-31-09, 12:42 PM
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The mixte isn't worth much but it's cute.
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Old 01-31-09, 12:57 PM
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What makes a vintage bike worth over $1000? A sought after model, year. Something unique about the bike such as a reputation for excellent handling. A model that was sought after when folks who are now in their 40's and 50's could not afford as kids, but now they have the income to feed a youthful dream. Usually these bikes were high end to begin with.
Then there's the exception, sometimes its just someone with enough brass to put an old entry level bike, like a pristine Schwinn Varsity on ebay, for some outrageous initial price and have two folks with more money than brains go to a bidding war. (Sigh) I wouldn't mind having that happen to one of my bikes.
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Old 01-31-09, 12:59 PM
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The 'value' of a bike is directly related to the supply relative to demand (Economics 101).

This basic premis is then further influenced by available $$ and what is perceived as valuable.

The latter seams to have more to do with values on the C&V market. Italian's have historically made very nice bicycles, and lousy ones; as have the French, British, Japanese and US. You can argue over the % of good vs. bad, but that should not matter. I belive that older bikes of value are more subject to perception than anything else. Supply is limited becasue of they are no longer made and the remaining population continues to decline due to crashes, worn-out, etc.

I am going to specifically pick on Bridgestone here. Towards the end, the bike line really started to reflect the design theories of Grant Peterson. Agree with him or not, he was certainly counter-(bike)-cultural at the time, and still retains that same spirit with his current venture. Bridgestone bikes from the late 80's to the early 90's retain a high value because the bikes were very well made and those who prescribe to his beliefs tend to be outspoken. The result is a cult-like over-valuation of these bikes (IMHO). BUT, when those bikes were new, they were no more expensive, or all that much more difficult to obtain, than thier reltaive equivilents from Giant, Schwinn, Raleigh, Bianchi, etc. I believe, as we ride the current wave of bikes crests which are made more for utility, these designs will (and are) being re-evaluated and become more available, the the Bridgestone value will wane, somewhat, to what otherwize would be a 20-year-old used bike of decent quality.

Colnagos are expensive right now, but I would not put most of them above other Italian makers. In fact, certain models during certian years are not all that great. What happens in the future remains to be seen if the Ernesto cult countinues to have the perception of value.

The bike business started to evolve in the early '80's where frames started to be made under contract in the far east for large name maunufacturers. This has propagated to the point to where just about all frames are coming from Tiawan or China, with a handful of high-end ones still comming from Japan. Just like the Europeans 40-years ago, they can make very good bikes, and they also make alot of ho-hum bikes. I think the ones whihc will hold their value will be the ones whihc are continued to be made, by hand, by artisians of decent reputation. Like wine, cars, or anything else, if yoiu want an investment, you must find the good ones without a reputation now, and await for them to be 'discovered' by the main stream. This creates demand for something that will already be of limited supply.

I believe that there are alot of brands out there which have inflated values due to reputation or the cult of personality. I have a 3Rensho, Colnagos, high-end Peugeots, and Bridgestones; all of them very well built, thoughtfully designed, and are considered relatively valuable. My favorite bikes...the ones which work the best for me...are an older top-end Univega and a lower-end Japan-built Trek...and they will be the last ones I own should I start to pare down the fleet.

I now yeild the soapbox...
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Old 01-31-09, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post

-How desireable the bike was originally is probably the most reliably relevant factor. Other factors, such as nostalgia, have to come to bear to make a common bike become valuble in time.

-Good frame materials and construction are good starting points.

-Good components help considerably.

-Schwinns hold their value? Hmm. At the lower end, this is probably modestly true because some people still attach some brand value to them. For example, everything else being equal, I am more interested in a Schwinn than a Huffy. In some exceptional cases (the Paramount, obviously), the brand means everything. I have to admit however I often do not bother to even open a CL link with Schwinn in the subject line.

-Road bikes hold their value well. Touring bikes are like gold. Mountain bikes have not held their value well so far;

jim
+1 What he said.

+1 Not all Schwinns hold their value. At the same time, people recognize the good brands from when they were kids. And Schwinn was that brand for many of us. I always wanted a Super Sport as a kid, but I couldn't afford one. I think they were $135 back then....

+1 Smart buyers recognize the value of the better built Japanese bikes from the 80s, good frame materials and good components.

+1 In the vintage market, touring bikes are Gold, road bikes (racing bikes) are Silver, and most Mountain bikes aren't worth crap (yet).

Also, there just aren't that many good or better steel bikes being manufactured anymore. So if you want one, the vintage market becomes an attractive source.

Heavy old gas pipe bikes with steel wheels, cottered cranks and cheap components have not gotten better with age.

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Old 01-31-09, 01:45 PM
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The best way to search value on ebay is to go to "advanced options" then check to search completed auctions. I would not worry too much about the value of you mixte, it is in very nice shape, and probably a pretty unique find in our country. The things that detract really high value would be things like the frame tubing (probably just straight guage hi-ten steel), Heavy steel components, cottered cranks and probably steel wheels. I would look at it this way, your bike is probably very rugged, and probably has a nice smooth ride. I have an old Schwinn Collegiate that is very low end, but it is a very very great bike to take for joy rides in the city. If that bike was totally in ride ready shape, I would guess I could sell it for 100.00-150.00 in Ohio. Womens bikes in general have been harder for me to sell. I think Batavus is held as a decent name, and I love the headbadge.

Just for a comparison, here are two similar bikes that I sold:

I sold this Miyata Mixte for 150.00. It was totally rebuilt, has cro-molly frame tubing and some nice alloy suntour components.


I sold this 1958 Norman 3 speed for 100.00. It was also rebuilt, had a heavy steel frame and internal 3 speed. It was also an obscure brand name but made up for it in general cute-ness.
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Old 01-31-09, 02:23 PM
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I'll give the short answer:
$150 via CL, $19.99 via thrift store

(based on what I run across)

That said, it's a very cool bike & I'm one of those who looks at things like that and says if the value is below a certain point, it's worth more to me to have a spare bike for friends, something cool to look at, etc. etc.....but regardless of how cool it is, I wouldn't imagine it selling for much more & wouldn't advise selling it for much less.

(and, to caveat...I know NOTHING)
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Old 01-31-09, 03:57 PM
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You gave away that '58 Norman. That'ld sell for around $180 in NYC in that shape.

Some tenets of valuation that haven't yet had a full outing:

Rarity: Some bikes, take Frejus for example, because of the companies NYC (alright, LI) roots, will always command a heavy premium. The finest examples, both (or either actually) in condition or model hierarchy/craftsmanship, will quickly rise out of the reach of most of us. Paris galibier and other odd frame designs like the Bates Cantiflex will always be of interest, because they're just different and rare if only because of that.

Know the rarity of your parts as well. Some bikes will sel for big bucks because there're significant components on the bike that the seller doesn't understand the rarity of. You'll almost always do better if you know what you're selling (sell valuable parts ala carte unless their context to the frame makes that sacrilegious.)

Location: Good quality C/V bikes are getting rarer by the day, as was said before. Because of this, high demand areas of the country (speaking in a pre-internet centric context here) have been raided and picked over and over again. Given that, a good quality mid range bike can always grab a better price in NYC as compared to Des Moines. More people looking equals an easier match to your buyer.

Presentation: Clean your bike! Photograph it with details covered as someone who knows would and does. Overall shot, should there be only one, must be driveside. Seat lug, fork crown, head tube side, Bottom Bracket and rear dropouts pics always. Sharp, well exposed and with some style as well

Style and current fashion:There's always a current Holy Grail bike of the moment (These last years have been all about CV track frames and touring bikes). Up and coming are the coffee cruisers like that '58 Norman, Mixte's (at least IMO) and CNC laden MTB's. If you can wrap your head around the stylistic gestalt of the moment, you can present final builds that have design elements with current appeal and these are always easier to sell. On cruisers, it's whitewalls and ornate baskets that won't get near your knuckles while riding (or in a crash). On road bikes, it's a Cinelli Grammo stem, a late gen, smooth Campagnolo Record seatpost, Pantographing and or the 'right', correct connection between the parts and the frames style all around. On touring bikes, it's a leather lined handlebar bag (and/or seatbag), shellacked handlebar wrap, Brooks saddle and handbuilt rack. Wider tires are coming around for these as well and all silver componetry.

Historical context: There's a Confente that a man on the boards is selling for $9000 and it isn't really all that different from the Medici he's looking to sell for $500, I'd bet. Both are historically relevant, one a bit more than the other. But make no mistake looking at a Medici - with it's background as the true successor to the Califoria Masi factory and the Medici companies place in the ongoing 'birth of the American custom building cannon', there's little doubt about its upward value in the future.

True handbuilts: I come across these handbuilt American custom-built bicycles a few times a year on Ebay; typcally san decals but with perfect lugwork and beautiful details and even if no-one knows who the mystery maker was, the obvious, beautiful handwork itself has a heavy effect on the hammer price. These are something of an 'insiders puzzle' and you can be pretty sure that the bike has garnered some attention amongst the cognescenti around here. Something unidentified but with the right details will sell for $800 minimum and if it's suspected of being related to say, a Singer, it'll go stratopheric. Handwork takes alot of patience and the attention to detail will always be worth good money in the end.

Age:Anythng in good shape from the thirties through the seventies (well, at least the sixties) is going to sell for a premium because of it. There's a late 30's Schwinn P'mount frame up for auction now and I'll bet that it'll sell for a pretty penny, probably breaking your $1500 ceiling, frame alone. Somethng really good, clean and whole from the 40's will get amazin' money. Just think, you're mixte would've been worth around $50 only a few (or just two) years ago, but IMO, these days it's worth at least $125-$150. Not bad for a little bit of time.

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Old 01-31-09, 06:57 PM
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I totally agree with having been somewhat rude, however, my foot is plainly NOT in my mouth on this one. I think you misread or misunderstand my reply.

She wants her bike to be worth $1500. It was not, is not and never will not be worth that much.
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Old 01-31-09, 07:05 PM
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Man, go to Sylvan learning center and take a reading comprehension course. Your SAT scores will benefit. Or show some humility and come with a sincere apology. The OP clearly asks why one old bike is worth more than another, period. You're reading into it and coming off like a real jerk here, maybe you're not, but you sure are making it hard to give you the benefit of the doubt.
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Old 01-31-09, 07:08 PM
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When all is said and done, something is worth what someone will pay for it.
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Old 01-31-09, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Mills View Post
I totally agree with having been somewhat rude, however, my foot is plainly NOT in my mouth on this one. I think you misread or misunderstand my reply.

She wants her bike to be worth $1500. It was not, is not and never will not be worth that much.
Mike Mills,

MellisaDM did not say she wanted her bike to be worth $1500. She asked why it couldn't it be worth $1500 and then put a "Rolling on the floor" smilie after that. That smilie indicates she knows it isn't worth $1500. Then she asked what it was worth which is why her post was moved from the regular CV section to the Values section.
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Old 01-31-09, 07:39 PM
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I was really liking the idea that this thread could finally get down to paper the real elements of how to glean the true value of any given specimen. There's been some great stuff posted by you all and I'd truly love to read more (!). The other thing is done and dealt with.

How about a great thread for posterity?
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Old 01-31-09, 08:27 PM
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Ok, I was wondering if needed to take a sylvan course! I guess the thread started as two questions melded into a single topic. I took it to ultimately be "what's my bike worth & why"....interesting perspectives nonetheless.
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Old 01-31-09, 08:30 PM
  #22  
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For this post, right now, what makes a vintage bike valuable is the spark it ignites in the buyer. Not the "impulse buy" trigger, but "it" starts when the buyer sees or hears about the bike, and ends when he/she finally rationalizes the purchase enough to go for it. It's anthropological, and something in the bike speaks to the caveman/cavewoman in all of us.

That's the Yuengling answer, anyway.
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Old 01-31-09, 08:47 PM
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Ok, the Joe Sixpack guide to why some vintage bikes are valuable:

1-History. That explains Schwinns. Lot's of kids had 'em or wanted them. You can't often talk in the parking lot for an hour, with a stranger, about the latest, greatest, but C&V? I've done just that with mrmw, Otto Rax, roccobike, Spinz, Amani576, etc. And enjoyed every minute.

2-Quality. Very few crappy old bikes are selling for much.

3-Condition. See above. The nicely kept ones are the market. The rest are disposable.

4-Rarity. This affects market value across the board. People want what someone else can't have.

5-Simplicity. Self-maintenance potential tends to limit the investment at the purchase, with C&V.

6-Aesthetics. Even modern bike riders will tell you vintage bikes are prettier. Most agree on this. Shiny, pretty things appeal to us.

7-Certainty. You know what's under that steel bike's paint job. Try figuring that out on a CF bike.
7a-Certainty. The C&V bike has already lasted 20+ years. We know it's good.

8-Value. Even a high-priced C&V bike is often cheaper than a new "one of the crowd." And it holds.
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Old 01-31-09, 09:56 PM
  #24  
roccobike
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Nice summary Robbie!
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Old 01-31-09, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
Nice summary Robbie!
Maybe I should add:
9-Location - in roccobike's basement.
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