Buying/owning a classy older bike.

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by WilliamK1974, May 4, 2007.

  1. WilliamK1974

    WilliamK1974 New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I took a trip down to a nearby LBS that my brother told me about. The place was like a cluttered cave, with all manner of bike merchandise stacked on tables and counters. Seemingly no rhyme nor reason, but the owner knew where everything was. He's our nearest GT dealer, but usually has to order what a customer wants. Business must be good, as he's still there.

    But that's not the coolest part. He has all kinds of older bikes for sale lined up outside his shop during business hours. In this mix was a Schwinn Varsity that someone bought just as I arrived for the second time that day, and a couple of what appeared to be English Raleighs. One had what appeared to be a 27" frame, and the other was smaller. Both were 10-speeds with sidepull brakes.

    Now, the bikes I have are good. My old Schwinn's served me well. Back in 1990, that was still one of the coveted brands. But I've always been a bit of an Anglophile, and there's something special about those Raleighs. They're not in perfect shape, though neither is a rustbucket by any stretch. The smaller of the two looks better. It's tempting to get it and keep on my car's bike rack, so I could ride around down at the university.

    This is far from the most practical idea I've ever had, but I kind of want one of them. What would be a reasonable price to pay? It's got me wanting to start scouring thrift shops and pawnbrokers to see what they might have.

    Thank you,
    -Bill
     
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  2. Bro Deal

    Bro Deal New Member

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    No idea. You might try checking eBay to see if you can find something similar. That might give you a clue about prices.
     
  3. Scarantino

    Scarantino New Member

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    I LOVE old steel lugged frames. If it's a good bike, expect to pay a lot of money. Old bikes are hot right now, and I've seen Colnago frames go for $700-800 on ebay.

    Probably worth it, though
     
  4. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    I was given an old Ladies Raleigh, spent about $150 on it for my EX, but she won't ride it. I may sell it later to put the $$ into another Tri bike. :D
     
  5. balaclavas

    balaclavas New Member

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    I have just bought and converted a 1960's Carlton lightweight, new chainset shifters etc. Two thingd I found out in the process, look at ebay to find the bike, especially at listings where people don't know what they've got, I took a chance and it paid off. The other thing, was that the old wheels, (noname hubs and weinmann rims) broke a lot of spokes and couldn't be trued because of wear on the spoke tightening nipples, also the freewheel was jamed to the hub, so not even that was salvagable. Hopefully this isn't universally true of all old bikes, as I've just bought another one.Both of mine have come in at less than £40, about $20 atm, but bigger makes pull in more money, (ie holdsworth/hetchins) They are beautiful things and great to ride so go for it! If you can, get a brooks saddle, theyre brilliant!!
     
  6. WilliamK1974

    WilliamK1974 New Member

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    Sadly, there's not a perfect match on ebay, and the ones that are there run the gamut from quite cheap to over $300. I may just have to ask him what he wants for it, and if it's more than I should pay, walk away. It's not the most practical idea anyway. Just fun.

    Not to go off-topic, but did Raleigh use glossy paint on their frames? A new paint job that included careful preservation of the decals would go a long way toward helping the bike's appearance.

    Also, how's a way to tell if the bikes had English or Asian frames? I'm under the impression that some of the English-labled Raleighs might have been built in Asia.

    Thank you,
    -Bill
     
  7. balaclavas

    balaclavas New Member

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    Check out this website, you may recognise it somewhere in the catalog. http://retroraleighs.com/
     
  8. JohnO

    JohnO New Member

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    How good of a bike do you want? Lower end vintage bikes tend to be in poor condition when you find them, but the higher end bikes are better maintained, so when you do find them, they tend to be in excellent condition.

    I have a mint condition 1970 vintage Falcon San Remo, top of the line bike back then. All Campy NR, Reynolds 531 butted frame, and put together with a fit and finish that just isn't seen these days. Chromed frame lugs, chromed fork, and the Campy fork ends are blended so beautifully into the frame. It's a joy to take this bike out - silky smooth ride, yet not at all flexy. And I think one looks so classy on a mint condition vintage racer.

    A 531 framed/high end Campy bike such as that Falcon, or a Raleigh Professional, tends to sell in the mid to high hundreds in good condition. Check ebay - they have a vintage bike section. Another classic to look at, though they tend to be pricey these days, is the Schwinn Paramount. I'd forget the Varsity unless you want a real workout, they were tanks. About 40 pounds as I recall. Heck, my 'Dale tandem only weighs 35 pounds.

    One nice side benefit of the older high end bikes is that the components are usually in excellent condition. Older Campy NR/SR just doesn't seem to wear out.
     
  9. WilliamK1974

    WilliamK1974 New Member

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    Thanks for the link. Not sure why my searches weren't as effective.

    Ok, I went by the shop this afternoon after it had closed, and was able to see the white bike through the window. It's a Raleigh Sprite 27. That suggests that it's not a high-end bike. If memory serves, it has exposed derailleur shifting, which puts it at being a 10-spd from some time in the 1970s. Trouble is, none of the scans showed a bike that's all-white. So I may not be remembering the color with total accuracy. With all that in mind, I can't help but think that less than $50 would be a fair price, and maybe even less than $40. I really don't know.

    Now, the site was very helpful with identifying the other Raleigh he had. It's a Grand Prix, possibly from 1977. Now, I don't know anything other than the appearance of the bike, and it has several scratches and surface rust spots. Not always a deal killer or anything, but one more thing to think about. This bike seems to go for more money provided it's in good working condition, but all that can be so subjective.

    I don't want to appear too interested, because that can sometimes cause the price to go up. The man seems honest and has been very helpful with getting my current bikes ready for riding. He also knows other people in my family. But it's easy to assume the worst.

    This bike, whichever one I might buy, would be a cool addition to the fleet. It would be good for throwing on the car's bike rack for those times that I might be in good riding areas, like the university or the river walk. It would reduce the risk of theft of my beloved Schwinn, and would save the Huffy for unpaved riding, at least until its tires wear out. I just like things that are different than the norm. I drive an MGB most of the time, and ride a Royal Enfield motorcycle. Not that it really matters, but I prefer to write with fountain pens. Those bikes appealed to me the same way that my MGB and my Conway-Stewart 28 fountain pen do. Make sense?

    Thanks for all the advice so far.
    -Bill
     
  10. JohnO

    JohnO New Member

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    Bill:

    Wow - my first bike was a Raleigh Grand Prix. Bought it when I got to college in the mid 70's. Steel frame, Simplex derailleurs, Weinmann brakes...

    $50 isn't bad for it. But, you'd best budget for some repairs - the equipment put on that bike wasn't the most durable. If you get on the ebay vintage bike section, you could probably reequip it with midrange Campy gear for not a great deal. If you're going to look stylish, may as well do it right.

    An MGB - that's a classic. I went through a slew of British cars when I was younger. TR4, Spitfire, TR7 (ugh), and this was in pre cell phone days. If if crapped out on you, and they had a habit of doing that (Lucas Electrics, the Prince of Darkness), you either fixed it or you walked.

    Then, I discovered the beasts that Mr. Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman turned out. Twincam Europa (still have it, doesn't run), later a '90 Esprit - now there's a rocket ship.

    --John
     
  11. ajessup

    ajessup New Member

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    My first bike (as an adult) was a blue Raleigh Super Grand Prix. I bought it in 1979 for a 2 week cycling trip in Virginia. I paid $325 for it and thought that was a LOT of $$ for a bike!:)

    I do currently have an early 1980's Woodrup Touring, Campy NR. I don't ride it anymore, but just can't part with it!
     
  12. WilliamK1974

    WilliamK1974 New Member

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    Someone brings a Europa to our car show every year. What's keeping yours off the road, if you don't mind me asking? Around here, cars like your Esprit are as rare as hen's teeth. I might have seen one or two in my lifetime.

    My car has not stranded me, though there have been times that I thought it was on the verge. I've found that if I keep the wiring connections clean, it tends to be ok. For awhile, I had a 1983 Jaguar XJ6. That car stranded me twice. Once, the fuel tank switch malfunctioned and caused the fuel to be pumped from one tank into the other, causing a geyser of fuel to shoot out of the spout. The other time was when the water pump gave up just as I was pulling into a parking spot at a store. The MGB is starting to need a recored radiator. I'm hoping that the nearby radiator shop will be able to recore mine better than new, with aluminium rather than the brass/copper core it has now. It would be more efficient and last longer. New radiators for that car are nearly $300, and not worth it IMHO.

    So you think a reasonable price for the Grand Prix is $50 assuming I've given an accurate description? Being an unemployed (for the moment) grad student gives me some time to tune and make repairs. But it also limits what I can spend on a project. You're correct in that it has to be done right.

    Thank you,
    -Bill
     
  13. WilliamK1974

    WilliamK1974 New Member

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    Ok, the man is asking $125 for the Grand Prix, which is a 15-spd and is in decent condition other than scratches and nicks in the paint. He said he'd need to get $60 for the Sprite 27, which appears to be in similar condition to the Grand Prix.

    The Sprite 27 is stamped and stickered "Made In England," and the Grand Prix didn't have any mention of its country of origin. Probably one of the Rampar ones.

    Thanks,
    -Bill
     
  14. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    Being a vintage Raleigh owner/buyer, if these bicycles are in good working condition and are all original, they are worth what the dealer is asking. Unfortunately you have mentioned in an earlier post that they have side pull brakes. The Grand Prix came with center pull Weimans and only 10 speeds. It sounds as if he is trying to sell an altered bicycle which decreases the value of the bike. If these are the only alterations, I would offer him no more than $90.00. Also, it is an earlier vintage than when British Raleigh began building the Rampars. Raleigh had to release the Rampars as "Rampars" as they had already sold the rights to all of thier former models, including the Grand Prix, to Raleigh of America. The Rampar equivalent to the Grand Prix was the R-2. If the headbadge says Nottingham, England, then it is truly a pre-Rampar bike.
     
  15. WilliamK1974

    WilliamK1974 New Member

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    All of this is good to know. The Grand Prix looks like the one in the 1977 catalog scan on retroraleighs.com. The altered front gears look like the lowest one is very low. I could be mistaken about the GP's braking system.

    There was a nice-looking Grand Prix on ebay this weekend that went for $33+shipping. I wanted to know how much the shipping would be and fired off a question to the seller. Trouble was, I didn't hear back until after the auction was done. The ones that are on there now are much higher.

    It appears that neither of the bikes still have their original saddle.

    Looks like it would be a good idea to search elsewhere. Trouble is, I'm not sure where to go at this point. I'm afraid that the golden era might have already passed.

    Thank you,
    -Bill
     
  16. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    Most of my vintage bikes were found abandoned in junk piles. I have purchased a few on eBay and that's where I would suggest you look. Searching "Raleigh Bicycle" always turns up a lot of nice bikes. It also turns up a lot of original equipment parts except for the Grand Prix's decals. These normally have to be reproduced.

    Don't be too upset about losing out on the Grand Prix on eBay. Just figure in about $50.00 for the shipping if it is not listed. That will usually cover it in most of the U.S. You will, however, want to check the seller's feedback to see if he overcharges on shipping. Good Luck!
     
  17. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Bill,

    Do you hear yourself thinking out loud?

    You seem to want the Grand Prix, it's in good condition ... less than the cost of a WalMart bike ... and, a fraction of what it sold for new ... and yet, you balk at spending the money.

    If you want the bike, buy it ... or, buy the Sprite ... or, hope to find a suitable bike through eBay/wherever.

    There were significant differences in the components between an early 70s Raleigh and a late 70s Raleigh -- and, by the mid-70s, the Grand Prix (as with all the Raleighs) went from being $80-to-$130 bikes to $240-to-$400 bikes due to devaluation of the US Dollar and/or improved (i.e., Japanese) components --

    Yes, that means that if you had bought a 1977 Raleigh Grand Prix, for example, it would have probably cost you at least $300+ ... adjusted for inflation, that puts it at above $1500 in today's Dollars.

    I'm not saying you should buy it, but you either want it or you don't AND, surprisingly, the shop owner just doesn't feel like giving it to you just because you're a nice guy who once had a Jaguar. Go figure.
     
  18. WilliamK1974

    WilliamK1974 New Member

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    Ok... yeah, I am thinking aloud a bit. The Grand Prix wouldn't be an impractical classic bike. Like anything a little older, it has its good and bad points. Same might could be said for the Sprite. To me, who likes older things, the Sprite might have a little more of the cool factor. Either way, would I actually ride it?

    By posting this, I was hoping that some people would chime in with opinions and experiences with and about these bikes. So far so good, and it's helped me find out more about them. My searches for information must not have been very effective.

    The reason I haven't walked into the shop and slapped the money down on the counter is that financial realities might make it a bad idea. I'm in school, and have had a hard time finding jobs that will work around a school schedule. That's not uncommon in this area. Since school's a means to an end, I can put up with some of that for a little while, but it makes spending like this something I have to do carefully. I'm not so lucky that $60 or $125 can be pocket change. That's another reason I wanted to hear from people on this board about these bikes.

    I knew better than to think the owner would give it to me with his most sincere complements. It's just odd to see a really good one go for cheap, then look at this one that seems less well off and it be pricier. Realities of the marketplace, I guess. I also thought he'd be lower cause most of his other stuff is. But it doesn't matter.

    I had no idea they were so expensive. I knew they weren't cheap, but that's a big chunk of change. Closest I might ever come to owning a $1k+ bike...

    Thanks,
    -Bill
     
  19. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    Bill,

    Alfeng makes a good point, but I also understand your point. If you do go for the Sprite, there are NOS Sprite decals on eBay right now. I also have to update my earler freight estimate. It has been awhile since I purchased a bike off eBay and today I saw flat rate freight at $60 and $70. You are probably better off getting a bike locally.

    There is an absolutely gorgeous 80's vintage Team Raleigh on eBay right now. It is a Raleigh USA but it sure looks good. If I wasn't into two bike restorations right now, I would jump on it.
     
  20. JohnO

    JohnO New Member

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    No, $50 isn't bad, and it's a classy ride. Look the components over carefully - if they're the old Simplex, they will wear out soon if they haven't already. But, you should be able to reequip it with intermediate Campy for not a great deal.

    What's keeping the Europa off the road? Time. Hasn't been started for 12 years, and has some decay. Have most of the parts it needs - windshield and brake/clutch pedals were the big ones. It's a rare Europa for the US - Euro model with Dell'orto carbs and lowered front end (you can barely get a fist under the swaybar), and a 74 TC Europa parts car with engine/transaxle to go with it. I'm up in KY, if you graduate and get some money any time soon. Won't be cheap - a Lotus TC Dellorto cylinder head alone brings at least $2k these days. (US TC heads only take smog Strombergs) Sell both cars for $6k.

    Way OT, but I have to tell this story... was out in the Europa one night, and pulled up next to some kid in his lowered micro pickup truck. If you know the Europa, it's the lowest car ever manufactured for street use. So this guy was just turning ten shades of envious green. You're not low. You don't even know what low is. Now, this is low!


     
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