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Which Bikes to start with?

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Which Bikes to start with?

Old 03-14-18, 07:51 AM
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Which Bikes to start with?

Hi I grew up in BMX in the early 80s and Im just getting back into biking and had forgot how much I like wrenching on bikes. Im looking to fix up and sell a few bikes to learn exactly what Im looking for, for myself, my wife and my kids. Im wondering whats the quickest way to learn about Vintage bikes? Im comfortable with 70s and 80s bikes but anything from the late 30s and on Im a bit lost. Any info would be helpful.

Thank you,

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Old 03-14-18, 07:55 AM
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Best way to figure it out is just to get your hands on them. Find something cheap from some sort of reputable company. Low end Raleigh road bikes seem to pretty easy to come across in my part of the country. Then just start wrenching
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Old 03-14-18, 08:25 AM
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If you want to sell them, look for what type of bikes people ride in your area, mb,cruiser, road... Hit some garage sales. Read through some flip threads. Learn your components and be ready to buy some donor bikes. Look for bike tools also. Fun hobby and great way to learn about the different qualities of bikes.Good luck.
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Old 03-14-18, 08:36 AM
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Make sure that the steel is of reputable quality, that is: Reynolds, Columbus, Deddacai, etc. The trend is classics now seems to be towards Eroica approvable bikes, so that would be anything pre-1987, downtube shifters and non-aero cable routings.
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Old 03-14-18, 10:11 AM
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There are a lot of people out there looking for deals. Having a BMX background helped me ID quality right away and should you. Poor ads and photos can be great as the seller usually cares little about giving or doesn't know them. Being able to spot something small can tell you a lot. Download potential buys and enlarge to look at things.

Ask the right questions and learn what to look for when inspecting as you could think you have a deal, and one dent or crack puts you upside down.

Original spec and very good condition are at a premium.

If just looking to spend a little to see how it goes, the 80s MTB/ATB market is dirt cheap and you will have some familiarity. They don't re-sell high (unless a rare find) but part out may be a way to go. Crossover bikes BMX to Road, Road to Mtb, etc are rarely a good buy.

Google is your friend, look through several hits to determine if good. eBay sold listing is also a good qualifier.
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Old 03-14-18, 10:22 AM
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One suggestion is to start with what you know and branch out from there. Your BMX background will translate well to the 80s MTB/ATB bikes that @Bikerider007 mentions, and they are often some of the best value.

Take a look at these threads for some idea of what you'd be getting into:
Show Your Vintage MTB Drop Bar Conversions
Show us your vintage mountain bikes!
Vintage MTB To Upright Bar / Urban Bike Conversions
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Old 03-14-18, 10:35 AM
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Learn what makes a bike quality and what to look for. Then look at craigslist, garage sales, word of mouth, etc. and find bikes that need work well below what they would sell for refurbished. I just knew what to look for and bought the ones that cropped up. I was never able to choose colour, size, brand, or type. I just focused on quality and price.
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Old 03-14-18, 10:38 AM
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Thank you

Thanks guys for all the great responses! Im looking forward to getting started. Does anyone know of any bike clubs in Chicago? Thanks again.
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Old 03-14-18, 10:51 AM
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If you are in Chicago, contact some of the Forum folks thru private message (when you get enough posts). Seems like there are lots of people near you who ride regularly. Most of my riding partners were found here.
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Old 03-14-18, 11:48 AM
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id start with vintage mtb as well (no suspension- unless you are used to working on suspension forks): you probably wont make any money unless you get it for around $30, but they are easy to work on and there is always a market for your basic "bike that works well" so you may not make money, but you probably wont lose any and you get to learn along the way.

Road bikes are a harder market to learn on I think- too many variations and pricing is hard unless you really have done your research.
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Old 03-14-18, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Pete70 View Post
Thanks guys for all the great responses! Im looking forward to getting started. Does anyone know of any bike clubs in Chicago? Thanks again.
Suggest showing up to this ride with any era lightweight. Terrific group, many are members here.
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Old 03-14-18, 11:50 PM
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For some easy searches in OfferUp and Craigslist check:


Just to name a few. You'll find a lot of low-mid level bikes by these companies that aren't built with the nicest specs, but are very good rides when cleaned up and overhauled. When you're browsing and you see something you may like, google the vintage catalogs for that bike, find the year and see where the catalog placed it in the lineup. If it's closer to the middle than the bottom you're good to go. This way, you've got a bike you can make mistakes on and not kick yourself over, and if you end up doing a good job you have a bike that may be worth keeping around.
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Old 03-15-18, 05:25 AM
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If you want to self fund your road bike hobby, the vintage BMX parts market is smoking hot.
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Old 03-15-18, 07:36 PM
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Go with what you know


Lots of good input so far. If there's a co-op or bike kitchen in your area, join up. This will give you access to training classes, tools and stands that you may not have as well as "as is bikes", used parts, other stuff that may not fit with their programs, etc.

Good luck,

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Old 03-15-18, 08:43 PM
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@Pete70 You live in the golden age of google and craigslist. This means for virtually anything you see on craig's while searching for possible bikes, you can do a quick image search for whatever it is you see on the decals (e.g., Centurion Ironman Master) and use those images to determine year or other details. From there you can often track down a catalog (esp. with 70s/80s Schwinn, Trek, and some others) to determine the bike's placement in that years lineup, OEM components, etc.

And of course, you've also found bikeforums, which is the most epic resource of all.

Whatever course you choose, I can tell you I bought my first bike since childhood about five years ago... since then I've been through probably 20+ bikes, buying and selling my way to figuring out what I like. I generally broke even on the bikes that moved along, and if I came up short it wasn't by a heck of a lot, so it's not a break-the-bank proposition to cycle through (HA! a pun!) a few machines figuring out what's right for you and the rest of the family.

This way to FUN!
A race bike in any era is a highly personal choice that at its "best" balances the requirements of fit, weight, handling, durability and cost tempered by the willingness to toss it and oneself down the pavement at considerable speed. ~Bandera
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Old 03-17-18, 12:40 AM
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