Advice on buying a used (possibly vintage) road bike?

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by streetwaves, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Hey guys. I'm a college student looking for a relatively inexpensive ($350 or less probably) bike to use around town rather than my car. I used to ride bikes all the time when I was a kid, but it's been a while and I'm excited to get back into it. I like the looks of the vintage road bikes like the Peugeot Ventoux bikes and even the new Kilo TTs, so I'd like something along those lines look wise but I'm pretty open to the features and everything. Basically I'm looking for something nice that makes sense for city and some fun riding.
    Can anyone give me some advice on what bikes to look for and where? I'm in San Diego. I found a few Peugeot bikes on Craigslist, no idea if they're any good. Also, I'm about 6'1 and I think the suggestion is that I get a 60cm frame bike - will that be tough to find? I'm open to fixed gear. But I don't know much about these things yet so feel free to school me.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    $350 budget for a vintage 80's era bike will get you into a fairly good selection of Japanese bikes...which are as good if not better then Italian bikes even though the Italian jobs will command much more money; you might also find a good Trek and Schwinn's as well.

    Some of the better brand of Japan made bikes is Miyata, my favorite of which I own two, models like the Team then numbered models starting with 912 down to 610 any lower number then 610 gets into a low end bike; Panasonic like the Team series then the DX series of which the higher the number the more value the bike is starting with 5000 to 3000; Fuji; harder to find models like Sekai; Nagasawa; 3Rensho (pricey); others like Bridgestone and Univega. You can actually do an internet search by asking for example: Panasonic bicycle vintage catalog and you will find all the various models for almost any brand and almost any year. And if you look at the specs you can tell which model is the better model by what grade of components they used on a particular model.

    If you find one and get stuck or don't know the components, just ask us here on the forum and someone will tell you if the bike is a good bike and whether or not it's a good buy.

    Where to look are in all the obvious places, Craigslist for starters, garage sales, Goodwill type of stores, swap meets, personal contacts-someone you know might know someone. It can be a pain these days looking for a used bike but perseverance will pay off.
     
  3. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Is there a maximum I should spend on a vintage road bike like this? I'm seeing some on CL for over $200 but a couple people I saw when I did a search acted like they should be dirt cheap. Also would a 58cm possibly be okay for someone around 6ft?
     
  4. BHOFM

    BHOFM Active Member

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    Go to a bike shop and check out several sizes, then you will know
    what to look for.

    Thrift shops and yard sales are a good place to look.

    Can you do any work your self? It requires minimal tools.
    Some allens, a couple screw drivers, one with changeable
    tips?, and an adjustable wrench will get you started.

    I have picked up several, done a bit and made some
    money on them.

    One, not vintage,is a Huffy Savannah, cheap but a
    real durable bike.
     
  5. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Oh yeah, I'd definitely be willing to do my own work. I try to do that for most things I own, it really helps.
     
  6. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Price depends on components and make and model plus condition...and your williness to spend money! Example, I wouldn't pay $20 for Schwinn Varisty but yet they sell on E-Bay for $125 give or take $25 plus $100 shipping all day, but I would spend money for a nice lugged steel frame with decent components...how much depends on condition and what I think it's worth. Personally I think the used bike market place has gone up too much, I've see rough condition Colnago's go for $2,000 I wouldn't pay anything for those like that, mint maybe but not all scratched, pitted and rusty. Depends on the how much the market will bare; some cities bikes go for less then other cites. I got lucky this last winter when I found a mint condition with less then 250 miles on a 85 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe with all original components and bike rack for $100, I didn't even ask the seller to come down in price because I knew he was already low, and he sold it me because I didn't come down in price as two others did who try to say the bike was a low end worthless bike! We talked for quite awhile, apparently he bought it to ride across the USA (which is what I planned to do with it) and two weeks after getting the bike new in 85 he hurt his back really bad at home and could no longer ride it, so it sat for all those years covered with a thick blanket, then the month before he sold it he took it to a LBS had it all relubed and adjusted with new tires and tubes and rode it 5 miles and his back pained him again so he put it for sale and I got it. If you look long enough you can find good deals but you have to have patience.
     
  7. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    I have four vintage pre-1990 steel bikes. They are fun to ride and the are incredibly comfortable. Oh, and they are easier to work on than newer bikes IMHO. The only down side to them is that some replacement parts are getting difficult to find such as freewheels. They can be had, but they are not as readily available as they once were. Downtube shifters is another item that seems to be on the decline. A lot of these parts are only available on eBay in used condition unless you are lucky enough to find New-Old-Stock (NOS). You can upgrade your vintage bike to use newer components but that can get expensive and you can run into fit issues.

    There are a lot of people out there who do not realize that bikes are not good monetary investments. They have low resale value and depreciate worse than a brand new car being driven off the lot. I like to browse eBay and often run into a situation where someone is asking $500+ for an old 1980's bike just because it is more than 25 years old and qualifies as an "antique". Often you will see the same bike a couple of weeks later in a no reserve auction ending up selling for less than half the original buy it now price. So if you encounter a used bike with a very high price, don't worry about trying to haggle and don't hesitate to walk away if the seller is rigid on the price.

    I am 6' even and ride a 58 cm bike. The fit calculators recommend a 56 for me but I am more comfortable on a 58. Like BHOFM said, go to your LBS and try out several different sizes to see what you are comfortable on. Most of the major manufacturers have made 60 cm and larger, and they are out there but are not as easily found as smaller sizes. But then again, most of the worlds population are shorter than 6'. But like Froze said, you will be able to get the right bike if you have a little patience.
     
  8. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Thanks for the responses. I found a local guy with a great reputation who buys and sells vintage road bikes after fixing them up. I'm going to check out his bikes soon and see if he has anything good for me.
     
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