It’s no secret the vintage anything is pretty much en vogue these days. Everything from clothing, to cars, to music, to furniture are all considered better in many ways when they are vintage. But what about vintage bikes?
The world of vintage bikes is vast, and very diverse as you can imagine. Cruisers, road bikes, and mountain bikes all have an allure to them that has many bike enthusiasts returning to these older models for both daily riders and projects. For some, this means going back even further, and tracking down some incredibly old bikes that haven’t been used in nearly a century.
So, is vintage bike a good idea for you? Well, it’s hard to answer that question for everyone, but we will point out some pros and cons of buying a vintage bike, along with how to even go about finding one, and what to expect if you do.
There are plenty of benefits that come along with getting a vintage bike that go beyond just how cool it is to even have one in the first place.
If we’re talking about vintage bikes made before the mid-1980s, there’s a good chance that the overall build quality will be far superior to most bikes that aren’t in a high price range. Many of these older bikes were notoriously build and welded by hand, with lots of attention to detail.
Today’s bikes are concerned with being light and flexible in the frames, which can lead to some less than desirable effects in the long run. Vintage bikes are often made from steel, which also means they are a little heavier, but the tradeoff is often worth it.
There’s just something about that vintage bike look, especially if you can find one that’s still in good condition. The old striping and paint patterns of vintage bicycles from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s are truly something to behold, regardless of bike types.
For some, this is what it’s all about with a vintage bike anyway. You aren’t likely to be taking your vintage bike on the racing circuit, or a 50 mile road excursion, so the looks are often the most important part. Even if the bike needs some restoring paint-wise, it’ll still retain some of its looks.
Ease of Repairs
Believe it or not, there was a time when bike components didn’t need manufacturer-specific tools to be worked on, or built to re replaced when failure occurs. Vintage bike components are notorious for their simplicity, meaning repairs are easier, and often accomplished with basic tools.
If you do your due diligence when shopping for a vintage bike, you can often find one for far less than its worth. In many cases, spending a few hundred dollars on a vintage bike will get you much more than spending the same amount on a brand new bike.
If you play your cards right, you can acquire a bike that was in a much higher price bracket back in its day, but is now cheaper than some department store bikes, while retaining most of its original quality, maybe aside from getting new tires and cables.
Despite all the benefits a vintage bike can offer, there are some drawbacks you’ll need to consider, and be prepared for.
As you might have guessed, you aren’t likely to find accessories being manufactured for your vintage bike anymore, and there’s a good chance that it won’t be able to accommodate things like water bottle racks and such.
In that case, you may need to do some modifications on your own, or find a way to equip your bike with accessories that will fit. In most cases, your local bike shop will be able to help, and usually very gladly.
Just as with accessories, you’re going to have a hard time finding replacement parts for your bike’s components. This is a common issue, which leads many to replacing entire drive trains and braking systems with modern parts. There are times where you may be able to find OEM replacement parts on the internet, however.
Buying a vintage bike often means dealing with some deterioration right off the bat. This is almost always a guarantee with tires, which tend to break down over time. If the bike has its original tires, you will need to replace them 99% of the time.
Breakdowns can occur over time with cables and some components as well, and there may be some rust present. Some bikes have the luck of being covered up in garages and storage units for decades, so this may not always be a issue, but it’s common, so be prepared.
Tips on Shopping for a Vintage Bike
Garage sales and estate sales are also great places to find vintage bikes for cheap, for the same reasons listed above.
The process may take a few days or weeks, but it will all be worth it once your vintage bike is fixed up and ready to ride, getting more than a few glances from those passing by.
We think vintage bikes are always a great idea, as long as you know what you’re getting into when you buy one. With just a little research, a little patience, and a little hard work, you can end up with a mint condition vintage bike that is just as functional as it is fun to look at.
Do you have any vintage bike stories or tips? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!