Reprinted with kind permission from SydneyVintageBikes:
Buying Second Hand, Retro or Vintage Ladies Mens Bike
Buying A Vintage Bike
If you're buying a VINTAGE / RETRO BIKE and the seller has claimed that they have "SERVICED" or "RESTORED" the bike then don't be afraid to ask them to detail exactly what has been done.
We find it very frustrating when sellers claim to have carried out a "SERVICE" when in fact they've just pumped up the tires and given the bike a clean - there is a lot more involved in a proper "service" than you may think. Unfortunately MANY SELLERS are not experienced bike mechanics nor have the right tools to do the work correctly and some are simply misleading buyers in order to achieve maximum sale price.
Most vintage bikes will need:
New Gear and Brake Cables ( it's very easy to tell if this has been carried out - if cables appear rusty, corroded or frayed then the seller HAS NOT replaced them) good cables are paramount to ensure the safety of the bicycle.
An experienced bike mechanic should run through the gears to ensure they're working correctly as this could be a safety issue if they're not adjusted correctly. Vintages bikes should have New Tyres, if not then ask the seller if the rubber on the tyres has perished. If tyres have GOOD TREAD but rubber is CRACKED then they need to be replaced as they won't hold air for long! Remember to buy new tyres and get them put on by a bike shop will be an added cost to your purchase. Brakes and levers should be checked and adjusted to ensure that they work properly and that there is enough rubber on the brake pads. We have seen many bike sellers that have claimed to have serviced the bike but DO NOT know how to adjust brakes correctly - this could be a safety issue!!
Rims should be trued and tensioned and spin freely, if they don't then they'll need the bearings serviced or will need truing by a bike mechanic. Bearings in the bottom bracket, headset, and wheel axles should be serviced on all vintage bikes and should be cleaned, repacked with grease or replaced with new bearings. Many sellers who claim to have serviced their bike do not do this. Often the cones or bottom bracket can be over tightened, the headset can too, if it has a "grinding feel" to it then it needs attention as your bike won't work for long. Drive train ie: chain & cogs should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled, some use degreaser in the wrong areas, degreaser can be harmful to some parts of the bike. Vintage bikes should be inspected for cracks in tubing, as some could have been in a front impact and or accident. Look for cracks or wrinkles in paintwork as this could be an indication that the steel tubing has been compromised. Also look around the lugs/joins in tubing as this is a common place for cracks. Ladies bikes usually have cracks or bends in the seat tube or head tube. Just run your fingers over the suspected area for creases in tubes.
Also we've seen plenty of bikes for up for sale on ebay that have BENT FORKS, ask the seller if they can provide a side shot/pic of bike so that it clearly shows the angle/alignment of the fork. If you're not sure ask someone who is experienced with bikes to have a look. Basically everything on a vintage bike should be checked over thoroughly by someone who knows what they're doing. Remember a bike mechanic will know what to look for and check.
Remember if the seller has performed a "service" on the bike they are selling or is claiming to be an experienced bike mechanic ask them
a) Do they work in a bike shop?
b) How long have they been repairing bikes?
c) Are they just a hobbyist? Unfortunately any "back yard bob" can call themselves a bike mechanic just to make a quick sale! Again if you're not sure just ask lot's of questions.
The experienced ones might even give you the name of the bike shop they are associated with or how long they have been working in the bike industry.
Lastly it's always nice to buy a clean bike that has been washed and polished. Although I have seen many bikes for sale that have been cleaned but haven't been serviced.
Remember, when buying a vintage bike to ride, ask the SELLER lots of questions and if you have doubts as to weather the work has been carried out, simply take your purchase into ANY bike shop and get a bike mechanic to check it over (they can usually tell pretty quickly if work has been carried out).
Vintage bikes that have been properly serviced will be a joy to ride.
Vintage bikes have a lot more style than the newer models and they are becoming harder to find and a lot more collectible. If looked after properly a vintage bike can provide many years of enjoyment and can actually increase in value!
shelly | posted | Thursday, November 13th, 2008 |