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Can One Predict Vintage Bicycle Value..?

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Can One Predict Vintage Bicycle Value..?

Old 02-16-15, 11:38 AM
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randyjawa 
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Can One Predict Vintage Bicycle Value..?

Today, this email showed up in the in-box of my website. I get a lot of emails, answering all of the legitimate ones and this one struck me as particularly interesting...

I have enjoyed reading articles from the web site. As I scanned thru the
index I could not find any articles on specific values. I realize that since
these are bicycles this would be a basically impossible task. Time line is
important as well. Is there any resource that would shed light on current
day values for specific bike manufactures, model, model year, and size?

The condition would have play in as well. There needs to be some type of
parameter that would justify paying $150 vs... $1,500 vs... $15,000 or
more for a specific bike. I already have a garage full of what the bike is
worth to me. My thinking is that something that is truly considered a
collectable a range of monetary value has to be assigned. Another thought is that
bicycles are not there yet or they may never be. As a final thought the
value of any material item is worth what somebody is willing to pay for
it, I just wish there was a way to predict that some how.


In my world, I believe that one can, sort of, ball park value, but only sort of. In fact, I try to help people understand that a given bicycle today, might be worth double tomorrow, depending an a list of uncontrollable factors. Get lucky, get lots. Luck out, loose lots.

At the end of the day, the best value advice I can offer is for people to learn. Spend the time required to watch Craigslist and get a feel for value in a given location. Develop an understanding of the differences between a good quality bicycle and a lesser quality steed. Get a feel for vintage (60s, 70s, 80s...). And then go shopping, armed with knowledge, not just a mouse and pocket full of money.

What do you think? Can values be predicted?
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Old 02-16-15, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
Today, this email showed up in the in-box of my website. I get a lot of emails, answering all of the legitimate ones and this one struck me as particularly interesting...

I have enjoyed reading articles from the web site. As I scanned thru the
index I could not find any articles on specific values. I realize that since
these are bicycles this would be a basically impossible task. Time line is
important as well. Is there any resource that would shed light on current
day values for specific bike manufactures, model, model year, and size?

The condition would have play in as well. There needs to be some type of
parameter that would justify paying $150 vs... $1,500 vs... $15,000 or
more for a specific bike. I already have a garage full of what the bike is
worth to me. My thinking is that something that is truly considered a
collectable a range of monetary value has to be assigned. Another thought is that
bicycles are not there yet or they may never be. As a final thought the
value of any material item is worth what somebody is willing to pay for
it, I just wish there was a way to predict that some how.


In my world, I believe that one can, sort of, ball park value, but only sort of. In fact, I try to help people understand that a given bicycle today, might be worth double tomorrow, depending an a list of uncontrollable factors. Get lucky, get lots. Luck out, loose lots.

At the end of the day, the best value advice I can offer is for people to learn. Spend the time required to watch Craigslist and get a feel for value in a given location. Develop an understanding of the differences between a good quality bicycle and a lesser quality steed. Get a feel for vintage (60s, 70s, 80s...). And then go shopping, armed with knowledge, not just a mouse and pocket full of money.

What do you think? Can values be predicted?
Dont we do that all the time in the C&V Appraisals section?
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Old 02-16-15, 11:47 AM
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I think one has to distinguish between a "collection of old bikes as a hobby" and "collectable bikes". The former is what I believe most forum members are doing - collecting the bikes that they want for whatever reason (but not as an investment), and in that case values cannot be predicted because a bike is worth what the buyer wants to pay. Typically that is a wide range but rarely in the investment category. In the latter case, I believe that bicycles have not yet gotten to the point of say old motorcycles or cars where they have shown the returns necessary to become "collectable" (thank heavens).

BTW - flipping bikes is not in my mind an investment activity - it may be a good way to fund the hobby and in extreme cases may provide enough income to allow one not to work at other jobs, but is not in itself a way of generating a predictable return on your seed money.
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Old 02-16-15, 11:55 AM
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If we can predict into the future, why just bikes? An estimate of future value for a collectible, commodity, or business is based on a combination of knowledge and experience.

Did anybody ever expect the following:
Muscle cars of the 1960's to be worth 10X or more of original value?
Gasoline prices in the USA would plunge to $1.75 or less in January 2015?
Apple Computer worth > $700 billion?
NFL Buffalo Bills would sell for $1.3 billion last year?

On a used bicycle or collectable, location, condition, provenance, buyer's intention/attachment mean everything.
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Old 02-16-15, 11:59 AM
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I think the answer for current bikes is that it depends.

Some bikes are sold frequently, and if you watch several of the sales, you can get a pretty good ball park on its average value on ebay and in your CL area.

Rarer bikes are more volatile on the market because there are fewer data points. When you're dealing with truly top end stuff (I don't mean an 80s Colnago, I mean a Confente), a lot of the time the value is just whatever you come to agreement with.

What you can't do is use irrelevant data points...like draw conclusions because of tubing. You also CAN'T confuse craigslist and ebay values...the venues are very different. Another error I see people make frequently is using what they'd pay, or what they have paid, as relevant in offering advice on average value in a TYPICAL sale (meaning selling it within 2 weeks, not having to scour ads and dumpsters to find one at that price).

If you're talking about predicting value 20 years from now, that gets more questionable. Generally truly top end stuff will go up, but not always. There are trends (see balloon, Schwinns).
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Old 02-16-15, 12:11 PM
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I thought my baseball card collection would be worth something one day. Now I have 15,000 useless pieces of cardboard.
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Old 02-16-15, 12:24 PM
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Dont we do that all the time in the C&V Appraisals section?
I used to do so, but no more. I realized that doing so can, and probably does, prove to be misleading. Ball park? OK but ball park these three bikes for me. Know that the range spans nearly eight hundred dollars, reaching four figures for one and all three are pretty similar in vintage, quality level and condition.
Torpado One...



Torpado Two...



Torpado Three...

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Old 02-16-15, 12:36 PM
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Old 02-16-15, 12:41 PM
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Future value? Always a good question, but never a seemingly satisfying answer. The guys on American Pickers illustrate a very sensible approach to this entire issue. Can I buy this thing today for half of what I think I can sell it for next week or next month? I know some buyers and I know some sellers and I know something about each of them. End of analysis.
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Old 02-16-15, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
. . . a lot of the time the value is just whatever you come to agreement with.
I think this true all of the time, not just a lot of the time, and for everything that is bought and sold, not just bikes. You see something in the store. You think "I'm not paying that much for that." You don't buy it. You have determined that item's value to you, or at least what it's value to you isn't. Any statement of something's value is only an estimate based on recent sales of similar items. The more recent sales in the particular market and the greater the similarity between items (up to being identical with brand-new mass-produced items), the more likely the estimate will be. Something like a Confente is rare enough and the finite number of examples dissimilar enough (size, frame geometry, color, condition, etc.) that any estimate is an educated guess at best.


Originally Posted by markk900 View Post
BTW - flipping bikes is not in my mind an investment activity - it may be a good way to fund the hobby and in extreme cases may provide enough income to allow one not to work at other jobs, but is not in itself a way of generating a predictable return on your seed money.
Flipping is absolutely an investment activity. It is a short-term investment strategy. Nobody flips anything - bikes, homes, or anything else - with the idea of losing money. It is just a variation of "buy low, sell high." Nothing more, nothing less.
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Old 02-16-15, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
I think this true all of the time, not just a lot of the time, and for everything that is bought and sold, not just bikes. You see something in the store. You think "I'm not paying that much for that." You don't buy it. You have determined that item's value to you, or at least what it's value to you isn't. Any statement of something's value is only an estimate based on recent sales of similar items. The more recent sales in the particular market and the greater the similarity between items (up to being identical with brand-new mass-produced items), the more likely the estimate will be. Something like a Confente is rare enough and the finite number of examples dissimilar enough (size, frame geometry, color, condition, etc.) that any estimate is an educated guess at best.




Flipping is absolutely an investment activity. It is a short-term investment strategy. Nobody flips anything - bikes, homes, or anything else - with the idea of losing money. It is just a variation of "buy low, sell high." Nothing more, nothing less.
The difference being the relative size of the supply, demand and relevant data points. If someone decides they don't want my Miyata 1000 at $550, there are likely other buyers at that price. There are a fair number of transactions and those transactions demonstrate the existence of a buyer pool at that price.

A Confente is a different beast...does the guy with deep pockets want it in that size? How many other buyers are there at 12k?
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Old 02-16-15, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Dont we do that all the time in the C&V Appraisals section?
Yes, Basically we are an online antiques road show. To answer the question. No. One cannot predict the value of a vintage bicycle because they change all the time. At least not in the way the email was lamenting about... as in some kind of guide. An enthusiasts watches the market and invests lots of time into watching what things are being bought and sold for and can predict the value on any given day based on that knowledge. However, generally that value is only valid for a short period of time as market forces changes. So one could waste untold amounts of time and put together a price guide which would likely be invalidated by the time they were ready to publish it. The guide would then influence pricing and become another factor for the following year on the prices people tend to pay. It would just be another of the many market forces at play.
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Old 02-16-15, 03:05 PM
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... from the original letter "I could not find any articles on specific values". This pertained to Randy's website, but it could have also applied to the "what its worth" forum. Within the first few months of finding the C&V forum, I asked if anyone could set a range of pricing for a "chromo-tubed, bicycle shop quality, 80's drop bar bicycle"... and I didn't really get much help. I remember most responses were along the lines that there were too many variables, with ready-to-ride issues, condition, and sizing being some of the main ones. I do believe that I can now set a price range for my initial query, though that price range would be something like $50 to $300, and would be based on my region of the USA. Note though, the initial letter asked for "value" and my statements are "price"; essentially two close but differing things. Then the initial letter to Randy goes into stating that "to be collectable a value must be assigned". Well, my opinion on that is "no, a value doesn't have to be assigned". The American Pickers show provides many examples were prices are paid for items that there are established collectors to be found and value is yet to be set later by negotiations or appraisal. The "I paid $50 (price) and I think I can get $125 (perceived value)" statements made in the show. Often, if the show is to believed, the items are so unique that the "value" has a great amount of uncertainty. Note that American Pickers are the definition of PICKERS; someone who makes quick time deals to with an eye to make money in the process. Theirs is not a "buy and hold" mentality that can be prevalent in the collectables market. If there is money to be made in the C&V bicycle circles, it's in having the knowledge of your market and finding something under-priced for it's perceived value, not for any long term collect-ability that a bicycle may have.
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Old 02-16-15, 04:27 PM
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The values forum is useful for some bikes and brands but not others. That is only natural as what is both popular and still around in numbers will pass thru everyone's hands more often.

I would hope that an active restorer/flipper of steel road bikes could accurately estimate what a 1981 Schwinn Le Tour, an 85 World Sport, or a 77 UO-8 is worth in their area, given condition. And by accurate estimate, I mean give a range of 15% +/- the sale price.
These, and many others, are common bikes that one both sees for sale and sells.

Raleigh, Schwinn, Peugeot, Miyata, Univega, Nishiki, etc etc etc are all common enough to have an idea and to offer up a guesstimate.
Torpado?- Cant say I have seen one for sale on the local CL in...ever. As such, I wouldn't offer up an opinion if I came across a thread asking for value of a Torpado.
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Old 02-16-15, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
What do you think? Can values be predicted?
Am I the only person confused by what we are supposed to be discussing in this thread? Is the word "predicted" and "assigned" being used interchangeably?

I thought based on the thread title, it was whether values can be predicted into the future. i.e. is there a way to know what bikes now will become the "vintage" collectible bikes of 20 years from now. (he uses the words "predict vintage" in the title)

Yet his opening post and the resulting discussion seems to be about whether bikes can be assigned an appropriate price in the current market (let's call that "predicting" a price, to use his use of the term).

Anyways, if it's about predicting tomorrow's collectibles, I'd say the Bianchi chrome pista might have a few buyers 20 years from now.
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Old 02-16-15, 06:26 PM
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Old 02-16-15, 06:36 PM
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C&V bike value is easily predicted: "Whatever you expect, forget it."

Doesn't mean there aren't pleasant surprises. Just not often.
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Old 02-16-15, 07:20 PM
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The Kelley Blue Book for used bicycles would certainly be a great thing for buyers and sellers.......
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Old 02-16-15, 08:02 PM
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There is no accurate way to predict future values... it is dependent on so many variables. Is it limited production? Is it somewhat common but most were abused so ones in good condition are valuable? Etc. The surest way to lose money on a "collectable" is to buy something advertised as a "collectable"; they are usually manufactured in large numbers and people who buy them keep them pristine.

For current value, one can look at sold listings in ebay to see what they are selling for in a broad market or on CL for a more restricted market.
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Old 02-16-15, 08:23 PM
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Some day, in the future, the future will be predictable.
But in the mean time, I'm just going to go with what is.
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Old 02-16-15, 08:59 PM
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We're all smart after the fact.

I remember back in the first gas crisis (gas went over 50c/gallon, ouch) I saw 600hp muscle cars in nice shape (Camaros, etc) being given away for $600, and a Ferrari (flat 12?) engine advertised (in Hemmings IIRC) for $1500. A Ferrari engine for $1500 !!! Yes, inflation means 3x-4x that in todays $, but still. No, predictions are not likely. You can increase the probability of having the right thing if you're in the right asset class (by having the cream of that crop), but as we used to say when I was trading, it's better to be lucky than good.
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Old 02-16-15, 09:08 PM
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so, having read all the replies, i guess the answer is no. we cannot predict vintage bicycle value... no surprise there... it is very subjective.. i want this bike, you want that bike.. their worth is a lot different to us... even if i find the bike i want, it has to be the right size to be worth anything to me... right bike wrong size = $0.00 to me... so, find your "deals", buy to ride, and let your estate worry about whether you made a good investment... they will probably all end up in a garage sale anyway...
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Old 02-16-15, 09:34 PM
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Old 02-16-15, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by r0ckh0und View Post
The Kelley Blue Book for used bicycles would certainly be a great thing for buyers and sellers.......
Sheldon Brown and Mike Kone put one together long ago, not a Kelly blue book but a marque pricing guide. A reasonable attempt. The prices are below market today, so that might give some guidance in general. Mike began an update but he set it aside.

The late Dr. George Hollenberg kept complaining about the lack of one. That got no traction that I could tell.

Often some exceptional bikes get overlooked as they are not well known. Which leads me to the comment that brand awareness often means as much or more than absolute quality. In general, that awareness ( with positive press) is money in the bank.
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Old 02-16-15, 10:00 PM
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When gasoline prices reach $4 a gallon, all bicycles will have a greater value.
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