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Revive or Repaint?

Old 11-19-23, 08:14 PM
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Revive or Repaint?

I'm wondering what the general consensus is with C&V collectors on the subject of whether or not to clean and restore or completely repaint to OE quality (or better) specifically with a frame and fork. Obviously if a frame already doesn't have the original paint job, all bets are off, but what are the feelings about repaints on vintage bikes?

With collectible cars, there are a lot fewer "patina" examples than cars that have been restored to OE or close condition. Motorcycles are the same way, in my experience. With collectible toys, you wouldn't think of touching a model and trying to restore it. Coins are the same way.

My personal feelings are that with bikes and repaints, it's one of those things that you will know when you see it, and everyone has different levels of tolerance for chips, scratches, fading and surface rust.

Take money and costs for repaints out of the equation. At what point to you shift from "keep it patina" to "needs to be refinished?"
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Old 11-19-23, 09:01 PM
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If it's a frame I want to keep and ride and the paint is junk, I will happily get it powdercoated or paint it myself.
It won't be original, and I couldn't care less.
I have yet to own a frame that is so prestigious and coveted, while also being trashed so I really haven't had to consider the balance of keeping it original vs it looking good.
If it's a bike you want to keep and you want new paint, then just paint it.

There is an argument to be made that you wont recover the cost. There is also an argument to be made that this is a hobby and decisions don't need to be based on potential profit if you ever sell.
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Old 11-19-23, 09:46 PM
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Keeping original paint is less damaging to the environment, and patina gives a bike character. In most cases, keeping the old paint is the way to go. That said, if the paint is so far gone that it isn't doing an adequate job of protecting the frame, or you have the perfect frame you want to ride a bunch, but hate the color, repainting is an option worth considering.
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Old 11-19-23, 10:05 PM
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If the paint and decals are good enough I'll preserve the bike as is, particularly if its a detailed factory paint job. I have also restored one machine completely from bare metal but this was a special case. It was my old race bike and something I won't be selling and something I likely won't be doing again.
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Old 11-19-23, 10:07 PM
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Hard to tell without a picture. I mean I have seen some frames with a ton of wear that have character, I have seen frames with a lot less wear that look like $h1t.
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Old 11-19-23, 10:20 PM
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Unless there is frame damage or areas of paint fully removed, I would say repainting is unnecessary most times and robs the bike of its character and personal history.
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Old 11-20-23, 03:31 AM
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I paint some bikes.
If I don't, it has to be in very good condition - they're all steel and it's by the sea here, so rust protection is a requirement.

When I do paint, mostly it's not to restore, but instead because I like the colours.
The specials get more looks and comments than the ones that are original or restored.
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Old 11-20-23, 04:22 AM
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Cars and motorcycles are used outdoors. If there is rust, they will rot away very fast. New paint (und new everything, even the underside) will protect the car from outside weather.

Collectibles, like toy cars and coins, stay indoors. They don't have to be protected against anything.

Bicycles are somewhat inbetween I would say. A show bike will stay indoors. A rider will still be stored inside and looked after well. You can go either way.
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Old 11-20-23, 07:30 AM
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First thing I learned in art school was before confronting an artistic dilemma.....smoke a cigarette.
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Old 11-20-23, 07:37 AM
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First off, itís a bike and unless truly of historical value then the entire argument is somewhat a non-issue. Do what you like with your bike.

Having said that, should one choose repaint vs patina, one also has to take into account all the other components, that if also patinaíd may look out of balance with the nice new frame and decals.

I have both situations: a 30ís bike with a ton of history (read worn paint and questionable updates), and a 40ís bike whose paint while intact was horrible. The former was cleaned up and left alone, the latter repainted. Iím happy with both!
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Old 11-20-23, 07:38 AM
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Hmmm, no picture , no bike description ……… I would wax the chain

Last edited by Kabuki12; 11-20-23 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 11-20-23, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Kabuki12
Hmmm, no picture , no bike description ÖÖÖ I would wax the chain
...but not too much wax--- it makes cleaning the sprockets on the freewheel so messy!
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Old 11-20-23, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by big chainring
First thing I learned in art school was before confronting an artistic dilemma.....smoke a cigarette.
in Design school we got a cup of coffee. Be a Coffee Achiever. The drink that warms you up, the time to think and gives you the energy to do it.
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Old 11-20-23, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage
in Design school we got a cup of coffee. Be a Coffee Achiever. The drink that warms you up, the time to think and gives you the energy to do it.
I can't believe I actually drank the vending machine coffee in the school cafeteria.
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Old 11-20-23, 09:47 AM
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I figure that Iím not curating a museum and I just donít like riding a bike with beat up paint. But if the original paint and graphics are in remarkably good shape, itís fun to ride that around. I have one that posed an interesting dilemma for me: Itís a 60ís (I think) American Eagle/Nishiki that my wife bought used in the 70ís. The paint is pristine but a previous owner used an engraving tool to write their name and contact info into the paint on the down tube. Itís in impressive cursive. I decided in that case itís part of the story of the bike and Iím not going to repaint it. Itís the closest thing I have to a museum piece because itís a tall-geared 3-speed with caliper brakes on chrome rims. Stopping it takes a good deal of advance planning and you feel like youíve cheated death if you make it back home. So my wife doesnít ride it.
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Old 11-20-23, 10:14 AM
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Ahh yes, the tipping point. Quite a few factors I consider but basically if there are several spots with bare metal, it gets a full respray. Is most of the paint shiny with a few abrasions or rock chips? Touch up. The gray area in between? (Original paint that has crazing, isnít very shiny and has scratches, Iíll likely touch up and leave the rest alone.)

The catch with respraying is often the rest of the components look grubby next to the pretty new paint. The mission creep begins and you are experimenting with 12 different abrasive pads trying to get just the right finish on the calipers and you are on the hunt for an unobtanium seat post that is scratch free.
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Old 11-20-23, 10:58 AM
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The folk who thought repainting Merckxís hour record bike was smart?
not smart.
could not even get the Recreated Windsor graphics correct.

redoing a bike takes good referencing and documentation.
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Old 11-20-23, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage
The folk who thought repainting Merckxís hour record bike was smart?
not smart.
could not even get the Recreated Windsor graphics correct.

redoing a bike takes good referencing and documentation.
To me that falls into the category of "historically important" and should have been left alone (provenance and story well known), or if restored done correctly. Average "vintage bike", especially those listed on the online sales sites as "rare!", do what you want depending on your mood.
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Old 11-20-23, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by abdon
Hard to tell without a picture.
Originally Posted by Kabuki12
Hmmm, no picture , no bike description
I wasn't specifically talking about my current project, because I already have decided that it's getting a full repaint and I will do it myself. It is cogent to this discussion, though, because as I was inspecting the bike as it sits, it dawned on me that quite a few people would look at a repaint on this like it was a high crime, and some wouldn't even bat an eye at the thought.

Here's the restore project as it sits now... it's a 1960 Frejus Supercorsa, and as you you can see it's had a hard life. It's not a wash and a quick polish away from being a looker, so it's going to get stripped and refinished to as close to its original state as I can get, other than burying the decals under a clearcoat for protection.







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Old 11-20-23, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by purpurite
I wasn't specifically talking about my current project, because I already have decided that it's getting a full repaint and I will do it myself. It is cogent to this discussion, though, because as I was inspecting the bike as it sits, it dawned on me that quite a few people would look at a repaint on this like it was a high crime, and some wouldn't even bat an eye at the thought.

Here's the restore project as it sits now... it's a 1960 Frejus Supercorsa, and as you you can see it's had a hard life. It's not a wash and a quick polish away from being a looker, so it's going to get stripped and refinished to as close to its original state as I can get, other than burying the decals under a clearcoat for protection.
Meh. Your bike, your money, you can do whatever makes you happy regardless of what somebody else feels about it. To me what that bike first needs is a good scrubbing and polishing.

I had my trek 720 powder coated because that bike is first and foremost my touring mule. For all the too many other vintage bikes I have I would have had 0 interest in any of them if they did not have original paint. So, if you would enjoy your bike more all shiny (like me and my touring bike) by all means. But realize that all that expense can actually devaluate the bike in what is an extremely soft market.

Again; on my trek, I could not care less what value somebody cares to prescribe to it, if not like I'll ever sell it so it is all about how I enjoy it.
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Old 11-20-23, 11:45 AM
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There are so many factors to consider but your subconscious brain does most of the work for you and usually you know what you want to do before you know why it was a reasonable decision.

I don't like riding crappy looking bikes, so I think it comes down to a calculation of the most reasonable way to get the bike where I want it to be. If there's a lot of bare metal showing, something needs to be done to protect it. Sometimes you can do a good touch up, but more often the touched up spots look as bad as the scrapes and scratches if not worse. A professional repaint is expensive, especially if you can't do it yourself. Powder coating is a good option, depending on the subject bike.

A couple of examples from my garage will illustrate my philosophy -- a silver and red 1975 Motobecane Grand Jubilť and a 1973 Raleigh Professional. Both of these came to me with good but not great original paint, full coverage but a good many scratches. Both looked very good from 10 feet. I had the Grand Jubilť stripped and subjected to full Gugificazione then powder coated in colors that were reminiscent of the original scheme with reproduction decals. I plan to keep the Professional original and probably won't even attempt to touch up the scratches unless it gets some serious damage. Why? Because the mink blue and silver Raleigh Pro is iconic in a way the Grand Jubilť isn't.

Some day, probably many, many years from now, the last all original Grand Jubilť will be scrapped or repainted and no one will care. Some day, also many years from now the last all original Raleigh Professional will be scrapped or repainted, and a small light will have gone out in the world (though still probably no one will notice).

I think the world of vintage bikes was improved in a very small way by what I did to the Grand Jubilť. I think it would be diminished if I did the same to the Professional. It's all a matter of trying to make the world a better place in tiny ways.
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Old 11-20-23, 01:02 PM
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On the Frejus- I would consider carefully clearing off the paint from the headlugs and maybe head tube.
by the fork appearance and other of the same brand, the lugs were originally chromed.

might do a test with one of the latest ďchromeĒ paints. A redone blue head tube might work well.

the balance of the bike has character.
one of those strip the parts and evaluate.

sometimes just have to think it through with testing. I have a Masi that has good original transfers and rapid departure paint elsewhere.
I know the cause, I will be looking at obtaining a near perfect match and masking around the transfers. The chainstay graphics are probably goners. Worst case, redo it all. Will paint the fork first to confirm a good match. Or, a section of 1Ē tube to set against the others to confirm.

Brian Baylis could do it but cannot work out logistics with the afterlife. He Was So capable.
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Old 11-20-23, 01:33 PM
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This is what I do when I run into a bike like yours.

Photograph the original (you've done that well), take the parts off, clean the parts, hunt down missing, aged out or inappropriate parts, clean the frame and fork, check for alignment or hidden damage, paint correct as much as possible (that means, clean, polish, buff, seal with some protective coating of ones choice), reinstall the parts, recheck all bolts and screws for tightness and alignment, ride, adjust, ride adjust, all the while looking it over and seeing if it works for me.

If it doesn't work for you, get it painted when you can? Guess that about covers your answer out of me.

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Old 11-20-23, 01:46 PM
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Generally, I try to buy bikes that have good paint, but I do enjoy a project on occasion. In 2019, I was looking for a winter project when I found a pair of Fujis. One was a Gran Tourer that had decent paint, and a S12-S LTD that was a mess, but had most of its original parts. The S12-S was a better frame, so I bought it. It had been stripped of all its original paint and rattle canned, and had some homemade decals applied, so there was no incentive to keep it original. I picked a color I liked and ordered decals and spent my covid isolation time restoring it.


1981 Fuji S12-S LTD

This past winter, I found an FW Evans that looked like it had been drug out from under a barn. I cleaned up the surface rust and built it up to make sure I liked the ride well enough. After riding it all summer, I am ready to embark on another paint journey. I did have a couple people tell me I should embrace the "rat rod" look and leave it as is.


Late 1960s-early 1970s FW Evans
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Old 11-20-23, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K
I don't like riding crappy looking bikes, so I think it comes down to a calculation of the most reasonable way to get the bike where I want it to be. If there's a lot of bare metal showing, something needs to be done to protect it. Sometimes you can do a good touch up, but more often the touched up spots look as bad as the scrapes and scratches if not worse. A professional repaint is expensive, especially if you can't do it yourself. Powder coating is a good option, depending on the subject bike.
Or at certain point it may be best not to fight it and just get another bike. A rattle can spray job is crappy, no matter how good you make it look good it is too soft and prone to blemishes. A professional job is likely to be more expensive than the rest of the bike. Either don't buy the bike in the first place or if you did already, sell it. Then wait for a better model to pop up. Honestly paying twice as much for a bike with an original paint job is often cheaper than paying for a paint job on a ratty bike.
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