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How to Buy a Vintage Bike?

By Adam Marsal

With more races like L’Eroica or Tweed Runs and the overall affinity for the old good times, the demand for vintage bikes is growing. Classical steel and track bikes from the 70s and 80s belong to the most sought-after ones, however, some of the collectors are spending a fortune on worthy stuff from even older periods. How to understand the real value of vintage bikes and how to avoid frauds?

Some collectors would accept only handmade bikes that were manufactured in a limited series. Perhaps the most desired bikes come from the Italian cycling pioneers like Ernesto Colnago, Faliero Masi or Ugo De Rosa. Despite mass production of several models, these brands belong to the most popular and valued among people who love the roots of road cycling.

There are more framesets to be found on the auctions rather than complete bikes and bikes fully equipped with original components in a good working condition are close to rare. Although we are surrounded mostly by Japanese-made part sets by Shimano and Suntour, traditional European brands were typically affiliated with the component innovator Campagnolo or even the less known Galli, a company founded in 1930 that claimed to have produced the world’s first alloy calliper brakes.

The most valued bikes bear victorious stories achieved by famous cyclists that won some well-recognised race, like the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia, however, these bikes are most likely to be found in a museum than under the cover of dust, hidden in the corner of your grandfather’s barn.

The owner of a bike in mint condition or even one that was never used would ask a much higher price than if they offered a rusty piece that needs to undergo a complicated restoration process. The parts or the bike that was never put to use are labelled N.O.S., meaning “New, Old Stock”. Sometimes, an exceptional and hard-to-find component coming with the bike might exceed the price of the entire bike.

It’s difficult to set a precise price for a bike built tens of years ago as the price would vary individually with each model and its condition. If you want to sell a vintage bike, you can demand a higher price when you provide accurate data regarding the manufacturer and the year of the production.

Most people seeking a vintage bike are willing to spend between 300 and 1,000 EUR. The prices going beyond this point start to be less affordable with a lower chance to be aligned with its buyer. The price tags of 2,000 or 3,000 EUR can be hanged only on pieces with the potential to address true bicycle history connoisseurs, hunting down rare bikes of a specific colour or year.

Similar to what happens in the realm of valuable vintage goods, neither bicycle industry avoided the existence of frauds, forgers, and swindlers. The most common forge is putting a well-recognised sticker to an average frame looking vintage enough to be truly precious. Buyers seeking after some specific brand should study the history prior the negotiating. A trustworthy seller would provide you with a sufficient number of photos with all the details taken from different angles. Perfect guidelines for acquiring a vintage bike covering most of the collectable brands ranging from Atala to Zeus are to be found on this website. Enjoy the research and eventually the first ride on your new old bike.