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How much should you spend on an older bike?

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How much should you spend on an older bike?

Old 12-20-16, 06:16 AM
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Flintshooter
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How much should you spend on an older bike?

At what point do you stop spending money on restoration?
I have a 84 Fuji Sundance that has seen little to no maintenance beyond oiling the chain, and tire changes. It doesn't have anywhere near the miles my Trek does, but I suspect a complete overhaul may involve replacing several components. Even if everything else was perfect, I want to add a team pro saddle that will set me back at least $130. The bike was $425 new. There are no direct new bike comparisons, but the closest would be over $600. A new bike would be getting the Brooks saddle.
I can do a lot of things, but I’m not a bike mechanic. Beyond the most simple of things, I will be paying for any work done. At what point do you leave an old bike as it is instead of investing in keeping it as close to new as possible?
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Old 12-20-16, 06:38 AM
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Old 12-20-16, 06:44 AM
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The short answer is every dollar you put into your bike will return give or take fifty cents if you go to sell it. That's if you do your own work and get a decent buy on the parts. If you pay bust out retail for parts and pay someone to do the work, it gets (much) worse from there. In other words, it's worthwhile if it allows you to get the bike just the way you want it, you intend to keep it, and the result is something that's worth the investment to you. It won't be to anyone else.
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Old 12-20-16, 06:56 AM
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It really pays to learn to do the work yourself. Otherwise this hobby could become a real drain.
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Old 12-20-16, 06:56 AM
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It's both less expensive and greener to maintain/upgrade your old steel bike than it is to import a new China cookie cutter.


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Old 12-20-16, 06:56 AM
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My thoughts, unless you are looking at making a profit from flipping the bike, the maximum to spend is going to be up to your ability to pay for what you hope to accomplish with doing a restoration. What will the particular bicycle mean to you, and what does it need done to it, for your riding interests?

You and others might well have a different viewpoint, our varied desires and goals are what makes us each a human being. My line is not paying out money that should be going towards our family expenses and our savings for retirement. Now that the retirement phase is almost here it will be staying within a fixed income and not frittering away our amassed savings. I don't shoot for a museum level restoration with the single C&V bike I have, it should be safe, well maintained and as presentable as possible, but not anywhere near being a wall hanger or art. YMMV,

The reply about doing your own work hits home for me, except for a few things, like facing a bottom bracket shell or head tube, or tensioning and fine truing a wheel set, I try to do my own work. Actually, having the correct tool, and being able to afford to own one of the higher end things like a quality truing stand or a facing tool, is my limiting factor here. The ability to do the work yourself really stretches your spending ability and what you are able to afford.

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Old 12-20-16, 06:59 AM
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https://www.classicfuji.com/1984_21_S...anceL_Page.htm

It depends a bit on the bike, and your goals.

Vintage MTBs are an odd niche in bikes... some people get excited about them, but they are often ignored.

There are often good deals to be found on $1000+ vintage MTBs.

As far as investments... there are some things that make a good rider... Tires, tubes, wheels, etc. Whatever it takes to keep it on the road and functional. Maybe a seat falls into that category too.

Then... do you wish to make it better than original? Different bars & stem? But, then again, whatever makes you happy.
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Old 12-20-16, 07:01 AM
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Take heart. Ten years ago, many of the mechanical skills were new to me, but fortunately, about 80% of the maintenance tasks are relatively easy to learn and can be completed using tools that collectively cost less than $150.00.

Back to the original question - I find that what I'm willing to spend varies quite a bit from bicycle to bicycle. I recognized several years ago that there are people who make this a self-financing hobby (which takes a lot of time and energy), and there are people who do not have that talent/inclination. I am at peace with the realization that I am one of the nots.
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Old 12-20-16, 07:05 AM
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With a Sundance, I wouldn't put more than $50 into it. Its a midrange, rigid frame MTB. IMHO, the first step in refurbishing a vintage MTB is finding an upper end model. Often, those are available for a few dollars more than the lower end ones. $25 more can get you a bike that originally sold for $600 MORE. Better frame, better wheels, better parts, better everything.

A complete overhaul, done by others, will cost more than $200. Then as you note, there probably will be some parts replaced, so add more to that figure.Mechanics that charge $75 an hour cannot spend the time to refurbish parts that can be quickly swapped out. You will not get 50 cents back on this cost, more like 5 cents. As far as the saddle, no problem as that transfers from bike to bike.

Older MTBs are best suited for people that have the time/tools/aptitude/space/pile of parts, that can and will do all the refurbishment work themselves. Otherwise, financially they just don't work out.

Last edited by wrk101; 12-20-16 at 07:08 AM.
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Old 12-20-16, 07:11 AM
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You might want to visit a local bike shop or two and test ride a few new bikes. Maybe you'll still prefer your Fuji, in which case you'll be confident that putting the money into restoration is fully justified; maybe not. Either way, you'll have some useful data.
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Old 12-20-16, 07:56 AM
  #11  
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+1 to wrk101's advice.

A Brooks can be moved from bike to bike within 15 minutes, so not an issue.

Parts
Replacing cables and housing as little as $9.00, but you can spend $30 too.
Bearings, about $15 or so.
Tires, $20 and up per pair.
Bar Tape, $7 and up.

You'll need some tools and a tube of grease.

Do the work yourself if you are mechanically inclined or spend $135-$200 at an LBS for labor.
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Old 12-20-16, 08:23 AM
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If you love it and ride that's different. You get your money back in joy.

Pure dollars and common sense; wrk101 is right on, and oddjob2 gives some of the best valuations I have seen on here.

Do an estimate of everything you want, cut out what you don't need that is above the level of the bike.
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Old 12-20-16, 08:33 AM
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Buy enough of them and you will have a significant parts inventory.

As to what to spend on any particular bike, decide at the onset what is your objective.

I bought one last night, a sistership of my original ten speed, serial number about 11 away even. "Tweeker" handlebars, cheap sprung saddle, original owner sold off the alloy railed Ideale saddle for more than I bought the bike for. That I won't return to original. Might keep the previously exchanged rims, correct brand but now clinchers, "upgraded" brake blocks... Those may stay too, original Mathauser finned units, needs toe clips, straps, fasteners, complete repack, new cables and housing. The parts bin will provide much as I have been at this for a long time. For other projects I have bought strategically at the bike co-op. the $30 annual membership has paid for itself time and again.
I will end up with a near clone of my first road bike post Sting-Rays. Will see if I feel like a 12 year old again when I ride it.
That could be priceless.
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Old 12-20-16, 08:44 AM
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It's really a question without an answer...it depends on you, your finances and what you want to do with the bike. Also, convenience vs. pricing questions.

Wrk is absolutely right that from a perspective of what the bike buys/sells for, it isn't worth putting much into.
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Old 12-20-16, 09:11 AM
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Learn to overhaul or repair an old bike. Sometimes you can find them at yard sales or in the local dump. There are plenty of resources online as well as books and courses offered by cyclists' groups. You can start with Sheldon Brown's postings or the mechanic's forum.

Some bike shops probably won't repair an older bike because the kids aren't familiar with them or they don't have a supply of spare parts, or they'd rather sell you a new bike.

If you don't want to repair it, there are a lot of posters here who would take it off your hands. What size is it?
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Old 12-20-16, 09:17 AM
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I agree with Bill in that the first thing is to find a "worthy" bike.

I understand some people needing to have an anonymous bike they're not tied to for theft reasons. I'm in the situation where I don't often lock my bikes up outside for long periods of time. When I ride to work, I have a storeroom to stash my bike. I'm rarely at the gas station or grocery store or restaurants (out of sight) very long and never in a sketchy area. So I don't have a problem with having a nice bike.

I'll spend whatever it's worth to me if I have a frame that is nice and I like it and want to hang onto for a long period of time.

I've put the approximate value of a nice car into my Trek 720, slightly less into my Trek 400 Elance and slightly less on my Trek 620. Where the 720 and 620 were top end bikes, the 400 was a 2nd from Trek's entry level. But it's a really nice bike with a 531 frame and CrMo fork and stays- and it's beautiful to boot!

Only you can make the determination if it's worth it to you. There's people here that have put a thousand dollars into a Continental. I think that's not so smart, but it could be worth it to someone... just to prove a point.
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Old 12-20-16, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
It really pays to learn to do the work yourself. Otherwise this hobby could become a real drain.
I agree with this competely. Vintage bikes are actually pretty easy to work on if you're mechanically inclined - which it sounds like you are, OP. Much easier to work on than modern bikes with all their prorietary sizes and parts. I bought most of my tools used and spent around a $100 for them That's the cost of just a few minor adjustments at a shop these days.

And similar to your Fuji, I have an '83 Univega Sportour that prolly sold for about what yours did when new, OP. I built it from a bare frame. But even so I kept my spending to a minimum, buying used parts and going with whatever I could find. It's a nice bike, and I prolly put 200 miles a week on it. I'm very fond of it in fact.
But.. I'm not about to sink a ton of money into it, either. Realistically I couldn't sell it for more than $100, so no way I'd want to put 3-$400 into it - the bike simply isnt worth it. As it is I have about $100 into it, and if I hadnt done my own work I could imagine I would have 4-$500 into it, which would've been crazy when for that much money I could've bought a better bike, and w/o all the work too.

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Old 12-20-16, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
I agree with Bill in that the first thing is to find a "worthy" bike.

I understand some people needing to have an anonymous bike they're not tied to for theft reasons. I'm in the situation where I don't often lock my bikes up outside for long periods of time. When I ride to work, I have a storeroom to stash my bike. I'm rarely at the gas station or grocery store or restaurants (out of sight) very long and never in a sketchy area. So I don't have a problem with having a nice bike.

I'll spend whatever it's worth to me if I have a frame that is nice and I like it and want to hang onto for a long period of time.

I've put the approximate value of a nice car into my Trek 720, slightly less into my Trek 400 Elance and slightly less on my Trek 620. Where the 720 and 620 were top end bikes, the 400 was a 2nd from Trek's entry level. But it's a really nice bike with a 531 frame and CrMo fork and stays- and it's beautiful to boot!

Only you can make the determination if it's worth it to you. There's people here that have put a thousand dollars into a Continental. I think that's not so smart, but it could be worth it to someone... just to prove a point.
Even then...there are solutions.


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Old 12-20-16, 09:55 AM
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With the internet resources, if you're at all mechanically inclined and with smart tool shopping, you can do just about all of it.
Repair Help Articles | Park Tool
What you can't do, take to your LBS, because they have better tools than we can justify.
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Old 12-20-16, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Flintshooter View Post
At what point do you stop spending money on restoration?
I have a 84 Fuji Sundance that has seen little to no maintenance beyond oiling the chain, and tire changes. It doesn't have anywhere near the miles my Trek does, but I suspect a complete overhaul may involve replacing several components. Even if everything else was perfect, I want to add a team pro saddle that will set me back at least $130. The bike was $425 new. There are no direct new bike comparisons, but the closest would be over $600. A new bike would be getting the Brooks saddle.
I can do a lot of things, but I’m not a bike mechanic. Beyond the most simple of things, I will be paying for any work done. At what point do you leave an old bike as it is instead of investing in keeping it as close to new as possible?
If fond of the Sundance, essentially you're already ahead vs. buying new. Why restore when it seems only a full maintenance is needed -something that every bike eventually needs, whether bought new or used. Also, its common that most change out a stock saddle so get that Brooks and be comfy. Save the original saddle.

Assume you spend $150 at a bike shop for the tune-up and perhaps a few consumables and another $130 for the saddle, its still less than half buying whatever new you quoted.
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Old 12-20-16, 09:57 AM
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I asked a similar question on another thread. I think the only easy part of the answer is: you won't get that value back in money. A bit like cars, 50% of the value is lost just rolling it out the driveway. So the question is, in exchange for that 50% "loss", will you have gotten at least as much enjoyment out of it?

If you bought it for $400 and can sell it for $200, did you get $200 of enjoyment out of it? If yes, then the bike has already paid for itself.

If you spend another $300 on it, will you get at least another $150 of enjoyment?

How do you figure out how much enjoyment you got out of the bike? One way is $$/fun times. Suppose you ride 4hours/week, every week of spring, summer, and autumn for one year. That's approx. 3x3x4x4=144 hours. $200/144 = $1.39/hr. That's the price paid for your enjoyment that year.

Cost goes down the more you ride. It goes up as you add in maintenance costs and upgrades. (EDIT: The only real way to lose on an upgrade is to not ride/enjoy it.)

Last edited by athrowawaynic; 12-20-16 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 12-20-16, 11:09 AM
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Before spending anything, do some estimating on how much it will cost. This is not all that hard to do, if you do some research and be realistic when considering price of the bike as found, price of components needed and price or work to be done(we all can't do everything all of the time). If that total projected dollar seems OK, add 50% and that is about what you will end up spending. Next...

Research what you have, once the projected build in estimated, and, again, be realstic(forget about what someone somewhere wants for something - always go with what it actually sold for.

That should give you a benchmark to work with. Or...

Just ask your significant other to suggest how much to spend!-(
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Old 12-20-16, 11:48 AM
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You'll never recover bike repair costs. A robot just made ten more new bikes in the time it took to write this sentence. The only people making money in this game are the manufacturers & retailers. And, I'm not so sure they're really clearing that much. Relax. Buy some tools. Take a whack at trying DIY repair. Break some stuff. It doesn't matter. You'll be better off in the long run if you learn how to take care of your own bike. (And, not feeding the landfill with more stuff). Happy Holidays. Be good. Have fun.
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Old 12-20-16, 12:15 PM
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Well paying someone else to work on a bike for me would change how much I would want to buy a bike for. Screw that. Half the enjoyment of getting a vintage bike is bringing it back to life myself.
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Old 12-20-16, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by lazyass View Post
well paying someone else to work on a bike for me would change how much i would want to buy a bike for. Screw that. Half the enjoyment of getting a vintage bike is bringing it back to life myself.
+1
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