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For starters: understanding vintage bikes

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For starters: understanding vintage bikes

Old 05-10-20, 01:08 AM
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ditosaur
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For starters: understanding vintage bikes

For a starter who just got into vintage bikes, what criteria can I use to tell if a bike is good quality and has its value? From what I've been seeing I like Japanese and Italian manufacturers.
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Old 05-10-20, 01:23 AM
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You can do an advanced search on thread title, filtered to include only the c&v subforum. When done for the term, "buying," this recent thread pops up that you may find useful:

What to look for when buying vintage?
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Old 05-10-20, 01:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ditosaur View Post
For a starter who just got into vintage bikes, what criteria can I use to tell if a bike is good quality and has its value? From what I've been seeing I like Japanese and Italian manufacturers.
The best criteria is experience. Buy a bike, ride it, take it apart, put it back together and ride it some more. I would look for a bike locally that is less than $150.00. Good Japanese bikes from the 1980's are plentiful and cheap if you are patient.
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Old 05-10-20, 02:15 AM
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Collect what catches your eye......
but take the time to educate yourself about the rudiments of bicycles.

Are you going to ride what you collect or are you more of a display your finds person?
Riders- in road bikes - come in a variety of sizes and geometries. Familiarize yourself with this aspect(fit) for
bicycles you will be riding.

While all bicycles have some things in common, there are huge differences in them.
Realize some parts are easy to find, others not so much.

Get to know the variety of threading(BSC, French and Italian) and dimensions(68mm vs 73mm in bottom brackets
and 1" vs 1 1/8" vs 1 1/4", straight or tapered in forks and headsets) and component families and their position in
the hierarchy of bicycles.

Brands names are a start. Proper names for the various parts and frame elements are important.

Bicycles can have hidden damage and issues(frozen seat posts and stems, cracks painted over and out of alignment frames).
Understand what normal wear vs excessive wear vs damage look like.

Spend some time (when it is possible to do so) in a local used bicycle store. Check you local used bicycle listings to acquaint
yourself with a wide variety of models(not sure if Craigslist is active where you are, but you can scan it for any major metro).

Some good books to begin your education. Glenn's Manual, Haynes Bicycle book for mechanics;
Sharps Treatise on Bicycle and Tricycles for theory on bicycles.
A Sutherland's Manual will provide a great deal of information on dimensions, mechanics and so much more.

One last thing, especially if you plan on doing mechanical stuff yourself- invest in proper, good to pro level tools.
Understand your limits to avoid creating issues. Wheels are an example - true, round and dish - just tightening a
single spoke can affect all three.

Ask a lot of questions.

Hope this helps.
rusty​​​​​​​
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Old 05-10-20, 02:41 AM
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There’s a story in J.D. Salinger’s “Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters”:

Duke Mu of Chin said to Po Lo: "You are now advanced in years. Is there any member of your family whom I could employ to look for horses in your stead?" Po Lo replied: "A good horse can be picked out by its general build and appearance. But the superlative horse — one that raises no dust and leaves no tracks — is something evanescent and fleeting, elusive as thin air. The talents of my sons lie on a lower plane altogether; they can tell a good horse when they see one, but they cannot tell a superlative horse. I have a friend, however, one Chiu-fang Kao, a hawker of fuel and vegetables, who in things appertaining to horses is nowise my inferior. Pray see him." Duke Mu did so, and subsequently dispatched him on the quest for a steed. Three months later, he returned with the news that he had found one. "It is now in Shach'iu" he added. "What kind of a horse is it?" asked the Duke. "Oh, it is a dun-colored mare," was the reply. However, someone being sent to fetch it, the animal turned out to be a coal-black stallion! Much displeased, the Duke sent for Po Lo. "That friend of yours," he said, "whom I commissioned to look for a horse, has made a fine mess of it. Why, he cannot even distinguish a beast's color or sex! What on earth can he know about horses?" Po Lo heaved a sigh of satisfaction. "Has he really got as far as that?" he cried. "Ah, then he is worth ten thousand of me put together. There is no comparison between us. What Kao keeps in view is the spiritual mechanism. In making sure of the essential, he forgets the homely details; intent on the inward qualities, he loses sight of the external. He sees what he wants to see, and not what he does not want to see. He looks at the things he ought to look at, and neglects those that need not be looked at. So clever a judge of horses is Kao, that he has it in him to judge something better than horses." When the horse arrived, it turned out indeed to be a superlative animal.
This absolutely applies to bikes. It’s easy to pick a good bike. People here can tell you what to look for. Picking a superlative bike is something else. I don’t know the trick, but I’ve found a few. I’ve done it by buying good bikes and riding them to see if they are superlative. One thing I can tell you is that it’s subjective. I have a superlative bike that another member here sold to me because he didn’t quite like it. Proper fit is very important. Matching tubing and geometry to your body and riding style is also significant.

The most important thing is to enjoy the search. If you want to be able to go out and just buy the perfect bike, vintage bikes may not be for you.
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Old 05-10-20, 05:50 AM
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Bianchi + Columbus + Campagnolo = the highest quality. All other "no need to apply"



This is a question that can be debated from now until the end of time. To some, like me, (Yes I may be a snob) a full double butt ChroMoly frame with a derailleur hanger is minimum quality I look at. Others here love the ried of slightly heavier 'Gas Pipe' frames like older Raleighs and Peugeots. One man's junk is another mans gold eh?
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Old 05-10-20, 08:34 AM
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If it draws you to ride it frequently, and you feel great doing so, it is a valuable bike. If it sits in a corner, it is a non-valuable bike.

If you are wanting to sell, I have nothing to offer. I keep everything I buy, good, bad or otherwise...
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Old 05-10-20, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Bianchi + Columbus + Campagnolo = the highest quality. All other "no need to apply"



This is a question that can be debated from now until the end of time. To some, like me, (Yes I may be a snob) a full double butt ChroMoly frame with a derailleur hanger is minimum quality I look at. Others here love the ried of slightly heavier 'Gas Pipe' frames like older Raleighs and Peugeots. One man's junk is another mans gold eh?

In the 80's ,Bianchi made tons of Cheap Chinese crap and tried to sell it to the unknowing masses as quality Made in Italy bicycles..When it comes to Bianchi,, Caveat Emptor.
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Old 05-10-20, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Manny66 View Post
In the 80's ,Bianchi made tons of Cheap Chinese crap and tried to sell it to the unknowing masses as quality Made in Italy bicycles..When it comes to Bianchi,, Caveat Emptor.
Just like how older Raleigh and Peugeot’s are gas pipes.
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Old 05-10-20, 12:22 PM
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When it comes to Vintage bikes theres different Genres of collectors,Which You choose to delve into and start collecting is up to you and your wallet. Some people choose to collect bikes one from every Country/Region, some from one specific manufacturer, and some from very obscure builders, etc.

My only suggestion when it comes to starting,is to choose a frame that does not need paint or rechromeing. Those 2 things are the Biggest expense and cause of headaches when it comes to Vintage bikes. Spend the extra money and buy a frame with a paint job and chrome that are ready to build up. Buy a $150 frame that needs paint and chrome and your looking at an additional $250 to $500 for a repaint and another $250 to $350 to reChrome the forks and frame. That inexpensive frame just became a money pit.

Read up on all that you can before you start investing heavily. Good Luck.
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Old 05-10-20, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by natterberry View Post
Just like how older Raleigh and Peugeot’s are gas pipes.

Yes, those 2 Companies also created low budget junk in the hopes of associating it with their Professional line of Racing heritage bicycles.
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Old 05-10-20, 12:45 PM
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We are an opinionated, but helpful bunch here. We all have our favorites.
The link provided by SurferRosa is a great place to start. Between the linked thread and your own ideas of what appeals to you I think you can find a bike that will make you happy. Unlike swimming, you can immediately dive in headfirst in bicycle collecting/riding. Don't be surprised if that first bike leads to another one that you like even better.
Soon enough you'll be just as opinionated as the rest of us!
Have fun.
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Old 05-10-20, 12:59 PM
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The What’s-It-Worth sub forum here in Classic & Vintage is very helpful to learn. You get the benefit of seeing examples of bikes where the quality & value of them and their components is discussed in honest detail by experts, and you get familiarized with terminology, distinctions, and helpful reminders of pluses/pitfalls.
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Old 05-10-20, 02:20 PM
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If you think you will be getting a vintage bike and are interested in taking it apart, I have a few small tools you can have. When MEC moved from their old building on Broadway just before the pandemic they sold a bunch of tools in a bucket. Nothing fancy. Pedal wrench, bb lockring tool, pin spanners, headset wrench. I don't need multiple copies of those. Let me know if you want them. Free.
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Old 05-10-20, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Manny66 View Post
Yes, those 2 Companies also created low budget junk in the hopes of associating it with their Professional line of Racing heritage bicycles.
What makes an old Raleigh junk? Does everyone need a high-end racing bike?

I still ride my early 1970's Raleigh Sprite and Grand Prix. They are solid and dependable bikes.
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Old 05-10-20, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by natterberry View Post
Just like how older Raleigh and Peugeot’s are gas pipes.
A gas pipe Peugeot can be desirable.





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Old 05-10-20, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by natterberry View Post
Just like how older Raleigh and Peugeot’s are gas pipes.
Has anyone ever made a bicycle frame made from actual "gas pipes" ? I know for certain that no one would ever think of using hi-tensile 20-30 tubing to run gas lines to their furnace.
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Old 05-10-20, 04:04 PM
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That's a beautiful bike martl
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Old 05-10-20, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by martl View Post
A gas pipe Peugeot can be desirable.
Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
Has anyone ever made a bicycle frame made from actual "gas pipes" ? I know for certain that no one would ever think of using hi-tensile 20-30 tubing to run gas lines to their furnace.
I was referencing the huge generalization about the brands in an above post.

Not only do I own and ride a lower steel bike, but I have a full 531 Raleigh also.
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Old 05-10-20, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
What makes an old Raleigh junk? Does everyone need a high-end racing bike?

I still ride my early 1970's Raleigh Sprite and Grand Prix. They are solid and dependable bikes.
Maybe You you read INTO what I posted,, Raleigh made some cheap Low End bicycles as well as High End Racing Bikes.

Not everybody Needs a High End Racing Bike, but if You want to start collecting Vintage its better to know the difference between the Two Lines before you start spending alot of money.
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Old 05-10-20, 04:47 PM
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I think the fastest way to get up to speed would be to read a vintage book on bicycles. I suggest Eugene Sloane's Complete Book of Bicycling, 1st, 2nd or 3rd edition. I realize that reading books is out of fashion. The internet is awesome but disorganized and with plenty of incorrect info. Even so the Sheldon Brown website archive is a great compendium of info.

There's not any need to be too complex. It's pretty easy to describe what a quality vintage bike is.

A top quality bicycle will have a frame made from seamless double butted steel alloy tubing. It will have a forged aluminum alloy crankset, stem, and seatpost. All other components will be from respected manufacturers and made from aluminum alloy. Rims will be aluminum.

This is somewhat era specific, but works pretty well for bikes from the early 60s to the early 90s. Actually I should say enthusiasts' racing and touring bikes.

A Raleigh 3 speed is perfectly suited for what they were made for, general utility at a low cost, and it has none of the features above. The same might be said about a Schwinn Varsity or a vintage nickel Mongoose BMX bike.

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Old 05-10-20, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
Has anyone ever made a bicycle frame made from actual "gas pipes" ? I know for certain that no one would ever think of using hi-tensile 20-30 tubing to run gas lines to their furnace.
I agree with that. High tensile steel tubing is a very high end material if you take a wider view, and should not be dismissed as gas pipe. It's just not true.

WRT whether any bicycles were ever really made from gas pipe: I suspect some Huffy's and All Pros and other discount mart bikes in the 70s and 80s were made from mild steel.
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Old 05-10-20, 05:40 PM
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Has anyone ever made a bicycle frame made from actual "gas pipes" ?
I am going to say no. Gas pipe has very thick walls and is heavy, heavy, heavy. Gas pipe is, actually, pretty good stuff but not for bicycle frame/fork sets.
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Old 05-10-20, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ditosaur View Post
For a starter who just got into vintage bikes, what criteria can I use to tell if a bike is good quality and has its value? From what I've been seeing I like Japanese and Italian manufacturers.
Some fairly easy to spot criteria for a decent bike are the following.

1) Brake levers that do not have top bar extensions.

2) Shift levers on the down tube and not up on the steering stem. Bar end shifters are also a good sign.

3) Screw and spring rear drop out adjusters. The little half moon thing that fits behind the rear axle is usually a sign of a mid-tier bike. (Some mid-tier bikes are awesome)

4) The drive side drop out has a built in derailleur mount. The little silver claw usually means lower level bike (not always, see old Raleighs)

5) The cable routing at the bottom bracket, it should either go under the BB, or through brazed on... things... (what are the called?!?) If the cable routing doodads are clamped on, or if they’re routed with bits of housing, it’s often a lower end bike.

6) Drop outs, the brazing should be tidy (old Raleighs can be an exception). If the ends of the fork and the rear triangle look squashed and then spot welded to the drop outs, walk away. I don’t know of any exceptions to that rule.

These are things I started looking at in pictures on Craig’s list and Ebay and FB marketplace. They’re pretty solid criteria to begin sorting the trash from the treasure. Figure out what size is right for you, and you can start to get an eye for sizing by looking at the head tube length (Cannondales use phat toobes so that takes some more practice).

And pay attention to forks, about a third are bent and the seller doesn’t realize it or doesn’t care. In fact...



This is absolutely bent





This one I’m fairly certain but it could be the camera lens and the lighting but I’m about 85/95% convinced the front fork on this is bent too.



I just went on my local craigslist and sure enough, a couple of suspect forks.
When you look at bikes in person feel the down tube and the top tube on the bottom, behind the head tube. Feel for ripples. Ripples mean the frame was rumpled in a head on crash.

If you don’t know what the things I’m talking about look like, just let me know and I’ll post up some examples. Time is a thing I have a bunch of at the moment... 🤔😁
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Old 05-11-20, 05:18 AM
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ditosaur ChrOmOly has a nice list. I would take exception to 5) as there was a period of time braze-ons were considered, in todays terms, non-essential, and the preference was for clamp-ons.
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