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Restore or refresh, whats your preference?

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Restore or refresh, whats your preference?

Old 11-10-18, 11:02 AM
  #1  
cody daniels
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Restore or refresh, whats your preference?

I have gotten into vintage bikes lately, mostly late 70's thru mid to late 80's. I have noticed that people don't seem to like or want a restoration but just want to freshen it up. By restoration I mean take a mostly original but well used bike, strip the finish from the frame and give it a full repaint with reproduction decals and rebuild every component to like new condition ending up with a bike that looks brand new, then ride it and enjoy it.
I understand if it has some significant value leave it alone but you would not ride that bike. So why do people seem to shy away from restorations? I understand it is only original once, but by that belief once you change the tires or ANY part, it is no longer original. I used to restore cars and they were far more valuable restored than freshened up and a lot more enjoyable to drive than a beat up rusty original that has problems just getting around the block.
In the end it is all personal preference but I would like to here everyone's opinion for or against restoring a bicycle.
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Old 11-10-18, 11:34 AM
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I hear you on the it's only original once , also if it's a significant bike with a past then maybe don't even touch it put in a museum . I have done a few resto's , I call them builds because I don't use stock components they are close but mostly not correct . They start out as a bear frame not even a fork and then I wind up with 3X's in it than what the bike is worth . But I don't care , none of my bikes are grail . Right now I'm doing a freshen up , the frame came to me as frame / fork / headset . I'm not going to paint it (although it needs it ) and of course I'll have 3X's in it than what It's worth . I'm on a roll (pun intended) .

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Old 11-10-18, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by cody daniels View Post
...I would like to here everyone's opinion for or against restoring a bicycle.
No you don't!

It depends on the bike. Anything truly collectible is more desireable in original condition, so refreshed it is. Cars suffer more wear and tear by nature and they're too big to hang on the wall so they need to be in sound working order to truly be desireable. They get restored.

Man, just yesterday I saw a pristine 70 Challenger convertible at Costco with the top down. This is November in Nova Scotia. Looked like all original olive green paint to boot.

Shades of 'Vanishing Point'.

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Old 11-10-18, 12:04 PM
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For me it's dependent on parts I can source and condition of the frame. If I plan on keeping a vintage frame original than I try and refresh parts. This was the patina look is even throughout.

However, If I were to have a completely painted frame I would go with new or a close to new parts.
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Old 11-10-18, 12:12 PM
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I like to strip rusty bikes down to the bare frame and take them to an industrial powder coating place. Somewhere that chemically strips off paint & sandblasts off rust. Get it powdercoated one layer primary color like yellow or red. Afterwards, spray inside frame with aerosol grease. Build bike back up with all new consumables. Forget about spending big bucks on stupid decals. Bare costs can run between $300 to $400. But, results are usually excellent. And, beautiful restored bikes ride better. Be good. Have fun.
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Old 11-10-18, 12:39 PM
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I have a Trek frame that looks like someone repainted (with non-original pale blue paint) with a nail polish brush. Lots of paint streaks, bubbles, and drips. Then, it has a healthy dose on poorly applied stickers. I might "restore" it. It's the only steed in the stable that I'm even remotely considering "restoring". I probably won't though. I love bikes, and I love to use stuff til it's squeezed of every last bit of usefulness. But, it just doesn't seem worth it, time wise. Maybe as it is, there is someone who dreamed of a poorly finished Trek in their bicycle dreams, and fate will bring that frame and that person together. Who am I to possibly ruin that fairy tale?
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Old 11-10-18, 01:06 PM
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Its always a tough call....I have only one bike I'd consider "significant" so it isn't going to get anything but consumables replaced. I have a quite old English roadster (late 40s) that I have left alone but to be honest looks a mess, and since its not that significant I am bracing myself to take the plunge and get it repainted (bought the correct repro decals already). It will suffer though from some "mixed patina" because the rims need replacing and originals are worth more than the whole bike....so it will be a while. I also recent "restored" a 50s italian utility bike so again not significant but I wanted to return it to its original look....so full strip, repaint, custom decals from Gus Salmon, as many original parts as possible....and I love the result.

So it always depends on the bike and your mood (and your wallet...you will never get your investment back but if that matters the question is wrong)...
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Old 11-10-18, 01:27 PM
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There's as many reasons for being into old bikes as there are people into old bikes.

Bikes are interesting; unless they're really special bikes in really special condition- they're generally not worth the sum of their parts. A good repaint is more often than not more costly than the bike itself (notice I said good repaint).

I would not be interested in a bike if it were repainted- to me, a repaint means it was either beat, abused or something was wrong with it. A bike would have to be really special to me and in really poor aesthetic condition for me to consider a repaint on one of my bikes. I'm not so concerned about parts being swapped out- but the paint and decals are more of what the bike is. There was a guy here that was outrageously proud of the year and model of his bike- started a million and half threads proclaiming the year and model of his bike- and then proceeded to braze **** onto it, and repaint it and turn it into something that it wasn't.

As far as parts go- I used to be very much in the 'leave it stock' camp, but as I've experienced more bike stuff, the technology of bike stuff has improved leaps and bounds even over the past 30 years. I think it's kind of silly to have a rider that you're intentionally keeping an inferior ride. Again, it all depends on what the bike is, and what it is to you.
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Old 11-10-18, 01:32 PM
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I think it really depends on the condition.

My old Colnago Super has a LOT of wear on the paint, as well as cracking of the paint so it just flakes off. And, the logos have all faded.

I haven't "restored" it yet, but will probably choose to do so sometime.

Beautiful pristine paintwork if done nicely looks very nice.

However, the bike also works well for me as-is. So, I'm in no rush to try to turn back time by a half century.
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Old 11-10-18, 01:36 PM
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This discussion proves you need a beater bike and a nice bike. Which one do you think gets ridden the most?
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Old 11-10-18, 02:41 PM
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Full restoration....no, partial resto alright with me., none of my bikes are wall hangers or rare enough to be considered such.
I always prefer original unrestored as long as it is serviceable. My 58 Corvette is still wearing its original and worn out paint.
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Old 11-10-18, 04:47 PM
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I have been collecting antique furniture all of my life. Stripping and refinishing is NOT restoration, its more about destruction. Check the price on a Stickley table sometime. One with a tired, crackled, original finish, and one beautifully refinished. The former will be worth 10X the latter. I've learned to appreciate "patina".

Now at some point, a repaint may be inevitable. But its not restoration.

Now refreshing a bike with a more modern drivetrain? Sure, I've done that a lot. I'll tend to keep the original parts if I have them for a future owner. Often, I obtain such bikes either as a frameset or without original parts.
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Old 11-10-18, 05:06 PM
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I like the word "refurbish" over "refresh," though we're talking about the same thing. Replace what needs replacing, disassemble/clean everything up, and have a mechanically excellent bike when all is said and done. Stripping the whole thing down to bare metal and making it showroom-new again erases the bike's history and character, and I happen to be a fan of both.

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Old 11-10-18, 05:57 PM
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Do what makes you happy. We aren't talking about a Mona Lisa or 17th century mantle clock, even though it sometimes feels like it. There is no moral issue IMO.
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Old 11-10-18, 06:02 PM
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The only reasons to buy a vintage bike are artistry, heritage/history, and value-for-money. A full restoration destroys the majority of each of those things. If the current condition is bad enough that the artistic/historic value are functionally gone I repaint and redecal, accepting that collector value will remain the same as if I had done nothing. Significantly altering the originality on anything which isn't utterly ruined is selfish narcissistic whimsy.
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Old 11-10-18, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cinco View Post
Significantly altering the originality on anything which isn't utterly ruined is selfish narcissistic whimsy.
Here's where I fall into disagreement with the uber-purists.

If someone wants to take an old PX-10 and do a full restoration, as defined by the OP, that's their call and I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. The vast majority of the bikes we're talking about are not, nor will they ever be, museum pieces, and the world will not be diminished one little bit by fresh and oh-so-shiny paint on an uncommon bicycle. In fact, in the hands of a person who's into that sort of thing, the bike may well see vastly more usage after it has been restored (or, if you prefer, destroyed) and the owner will get far more pleasure from it than from the unaltered original. Sounds like win-win. We are not talking about Picasso's Guernica here.

Personally, I prefer a more original bike. But if I really don't like the decals I have no problem with making some "adjustments." Component swaps? Absolutely. Cut the top 1cm off a steerer tube to eliminate the need for a bunch of spacers? Yep. These are bicycles. Simple, elegant machines meant for transportation, recreation, competition, and/or fun. I own my bikes; they do not own me.
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Old 11-10-18, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cody daniels View Post
I have gotten into vintage bikes lately, mostly late 70's thru mid to late 80's. I have noticed that people don't seem to like or want a restoration but just want to freshen it up....
Okay, well, bikes from the late 70's are really more like used bikes than vintage bikes.... [/snark]

Seriously, by that era bicycle paint jobs had got pretty boring, and the graphics were well on their way to getting pretty garish. I would have no second thoughts about repainting a bike of that era.

Admittedly some late 80's paint gets pretty wild as well, and I'd have a hard time repainting some of those bikes, even if not to my taste.

But if you go back a couple decades farther, you get to some really fabulous paint and graphics, some of which really can't be replicated, and in such cases, I much prefer tatty original paint over boring repaint.
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Old 11-10-18, 08:16 PM
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I prefer refreshing a good bike and enjoying it with few upgrades myself. I'd gladly repaint a trashed frameset of little value if I were building it with parts from my existing stock. I wouldn't want to invest in a professional paint job as I'd rather spend that money on another sweet original bike that needs refreshing. There are some stock beauties out there and I enjoy the hunt.
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Old 11-10-18, 08:25 PM
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It all depends on your goals for the bike. There are a very, very few high-end bikes that, if found with absolutely horrendous paint, would be financially worth the effort and expense to refinish. The vast majority of them aren't. However if you're looking for the satisfaction of taking something tired, abused and neglected, and you want to make it look AND ride like new again, go for it. I personally love doing that. I don't do it because I expect to get my money back if reselling. I do it because I love taking something that's been discarded as worthless and making it beautiful again.
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Old 11-10-18, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Fahrenheit531 View Post
Here's where I fall into disagreement with the uber-purists.

If someone wants to take an old PX-10 and do a full restoration, as defined by the OP, that's their call and I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. The vast majority of the bikes we're talking about are not, nor will they ever be, museum pieces, and the world will not be diminished one little bit by fresh and oh-so-shiny paint on an uncommon bicycle. In fact, in the hands of a person who's into that sort of thing, the bike may well see vastly more usage after it has been restored (or, if you prefer, destroyed) and the owner will get far more pleasure from it than from the unaltered original. Sounds like win-win. We are not talking about Picasso's Guernica here.

Personally, I prefer a more original bike. But if I really don't like the decals I have no problem with making some "adjustments." Component swaps? Absolutely. Cut the top 1cm off a steerer tube to eliminate the need for a bunch of spacers? Yep. These are bicycles. Simple, elegant machines meant for transportation, recreation, competition, and/or fun. I own my bikes; they do not own me.
I am by no means an ultra-purist - if something comes to me as a bare frame I tend to have some fun with componentry, as I'm currently doing with my '74 PX10. And let's not forget that I have little problem refinishing when doing so no longer impacts non-monetary aspects of value. But I do believe that the historical record belongs to every human being who will ever exist and that, collectively, those people are more important than I am. Conscience keeps me from feeling like my desires are more important than all of those people, and a respect for history keeps me from altering or parting-out something that might be more important to someone else than money and/or a transient personal preference is to me.

And unless you're going to be buried with something, you're only taking care of it for the next guy. You don't own it any more than the guy before you does, and I urge some basic consideration for the next guy.
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Old 11-10-18, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cinco View Post
I am by no means an ultra-purist - if something comes to me as a bare frame I tend to have some fun with componentry, as I'm currently doing with my '74 PX10. And let's not forget that I have little problem refinishing when doing so no longer impacts non-monetary aspects of value. But I do believe that the historical record belongs to every human being who will ever exist and that, collectively, those people are more important than I am. Conscience keeps me from feeling like my desires are more important than all of those people, and a respect for history keeps me from altering or parting-out something that might be more important to someone else than money and/or a transient personal preference is to me.

And unless you're going to be buried with something, you're only taking care of it for the next guy. You don't own it any more than the guy before you does, and I urge some basic consideration for the next guy.
Certainly a respectable position. We'll disagree on some of the finer points (heck, we'll disagree on some of the broad points as well), but I can see where you're coming from.
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Old 11-10-18, 09:42 PM
  #22  
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I enjoy painting bikes. I learn something each time. For that reason I look for frames that have suffered rattlecan repaints or with large amounts of surface rust. It's a good thing that bikes in this sort of condition are dirt cheap since, with the cost of good paint and decals, I always lose money on them!

Once in a while I get fooled though. This fine old Capo had one of the worst repaint job I had ever seen but the prep work was so bad that, with 2 days of labor and a small amount of paint thinner and lacquer thinner, I was able to remove the awful paint, revealing the original finish. It had a lot of patina for sure but was nice enough that I was very happy that I hadn't just stripped and painted.

Before



After


I do love the patina of a well-used 50-year-old bike. Anybody have a large, highly-patinated, 60's or 70's Masi or DeRosa they want to send to a new home?
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Old 11-10-18, 10:35 PM
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3 examples: One is almost totally original, one is a total restore and upgrade, the last is cosmetically pretty good but needed a few mechanical bits. All 3 are fun bikes, and I enjoy riding the wheels off all if them. Every bike is different, and required a different approach. I don't keep these bikes to sell, these are riders. If you buy them to resell, its a totally different deal. Do what feels good for you.

My 1964 Legnano, had since new as a junior racer, 16 years old. It has lots of battle scars, which is now called Patina. I would never touch it except to polish the chrome and clean the mechanical bits as needed. I still enjoy riding it after 54 years.
My '73 Raleigh Super Course was built from a rusty, spray painted frame I found that needed re-brazing and was missing everything but the bottom bracket and crank arms. It is the first bike I have ever built, cost way too much to finish, but I loved every minute of it. I configured the components just the way I wanted, and enjoyed riding it in this year's Eroica.

Just picked up this '78 Peugeot, with paint, chrome and decals in almost perfect condition. It was missing a front derailleur and had funky brake levers, and crank issues. I spent less on this whole bike than just the paint job on the Raleigh above.

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Old 11-10-18, 11:03 PM
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Interesting read on the subject, restore, refresh, or stabilize, from an Italian viewpoint. Not really a how-to, but great photos, and a fun read.

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Old 11-11-18, 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Hudson308 View Post
It all depends on your goals for the bike. There are a very, very few high-end bikes that, if found with absolutely horrendous paint, would be financially worth the effort and expense to refinish. The vast majority of them aren't. However if you're looking for the satisfaction of taking something tired, abused and neglected, and you want to make it look AND ride like new again, go for it. I personally love doing that. I don't do it because I expect to get my money back if reselling. I do it because I love taking something that's been discarded as worthless and making it beautiful again.
I wholeheartedly agree. A proper paint job with decals is quite expensive, and for good reason. Still, the bike would need to be special to its owner or financially feasible if meant for sale. I am glad powder coating exists as it can give a great look along with great durability, at 1/3 the cost of wet paint. Granted these powder coat endeavors are not on bespoke Colnagos or anything, but they have their place. Normally, I will completely disassemble a bike to the frame and fork, clean it, compound the paint, wax the paint, and then apply touch up. All my bikes are 'riders' even if they are really pretty. They were meant to ride!

And while I do enjoy a repaint (which I've done to a few of my bikes over the years) or re-decal'ing after a powder coat job, there is a certain...legitimacy...to having original paint and decals. That was how it was created. I may be putting the same decals on it, but I am not the (original) creator of the bike and of the name (yet I am naming it again!), and often my color and decal of choice aren't original. Therefore the 'authority' of the bike/frameset is somehow lessened in some way in my mind. It's weird, and perhaps hard to understand, but by and large, if I can keep it original then all the better. As for components? Anything. I am almost always going to upgrade/modernize the frameset, so I'm usually in the resto-mod club.

So to answer the OP's question, I prefer to refurbish and upgrade. Restoration takes more time and money, and if I don't need to or want to do it, all the better. Ultimately, the goal is to redeem the bike and get it back on the road, happy, quick, and safe!
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