Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pricing vintage bikes, a fluctuation of appreciation and depreciation

bike riding gas sign
Pricing vinatage bikes is a funny market. Some people have these old rusted bikes taking up space in their garage or believe that the bike is so old that no one will want to pay for it; they almost give the bike away. Where other people overprice a bike because they think that its vintage and therefor should fetch $150 when it's an off brand beat up bike that lacks any of its original parts and accessories and needs alot of work.

Pricing a vintage bike, a checklist-What makes a vintage bike worth paying for


  1. Origninal parts- Original parts are hard to replace; things like a front headlight and tail light, factory handle grips and brake grips, seat; If the bike has its original parts and they are in good working condition then there is value.

  2. factory paint- The types and colors of paints used on vintage bikes are no longer available; if a bike has more than 75% of its factory paint that is good. If it has close to 100% that is Excellent.

  3. Rust, or lack there of.

  4. condition of parts- It is amazing how many vintage bikes are ready to ride and in good condition; check the rims, derailer, and strength of the neck to be sure the gears are changing, the rims are straight, and there is no play or looseness in the bike.

  5. If it is a rare bike it will be worth more; but the market can be funny sometime as if two or three rare bikes go on the market at the same time they are no longer that rare..

  6. If I am going to pay over 99 dollars for a vintage bike it should be in good working condition with more than 75% of its original paint, or have been nicely repainted, original parts, and have been loved. Usually I find better bikes for much less due to the amount of people who do not know the true value of their "old bikes".


Know the seller of a vintage bike

You can gleam a lot about the bike and how well it will hold up by understanding the personality of the seller. Ask them about the history of the bike, how they got it, how long have they had it, did they use it, did it need a lot of work? Usually if they are bike people you can see it in their eyes and you can expect honest forthright answers to your questions. I love talking to bike owners about their vintage bikes.

Prices I have paid for some of my vintage bikes


Granted, I am a thrifty buyer, I keep my ear to the ground when it comes to good bike deals; that is how I have seen such fluctuation in prices for vintage bikes.

In 2001 I got my first vintage Schwinn Suburban for three dollars if I bought the couch at a yard sale! It was and is still is my favorite bike to date. My second vintage Schwinn Suburban I got for fifty bucks from the original owner who kept it out of the rain all it's life. This was in the Pacific Northwest where it rains 8 months out of the year!! She even threw in the original booklet that came with the bike. Sweet old lady, I told her there is a market for this bike and she said she figured as much when she got thirty calls withing two hours of posting the bike on Craigslist; she dug my charm, kept the price as is and showed me her roses. Mwah, sweet woman.

So, some people are aware of the value of vintage bikes. There are the people like me who love their curves, their artistic stylee (stile-ee) designs, and know that they truly do not make them like they used to. I see vintage bikes fetching anywhere from 20 dollars to 700 dollars.

Low prices for vintage bikes in Cincinati
**Since this article was written the hot market for the vintage bikes was gobbled up. People came into town with U-Haul trucks and posts showed up on Craigslist that read "I buy bikes, CASH". Sorry folks.

Right now I am seeing amazingly low prices for vintage bikes in Cincinnati. The reason for this is that first I am in a non bike riding town. Cincinnati is the least bike friendly town I have ever seen with no bike lanes and 7 hills that make up this river valley town. So many of the one speed bikes you can almost get for free here. The second is the economy has people liquidating things they are not using and rethinking their hobbies. I just bought my Charger (50$) from a guy who just liquidated his life's collection of vintage bikes (only to see the same model Charger down the street for 25$ two days later). Third, Cincinnati has phat thrift stores. The nature of Cincinnati being a town that experienced a lively heyday in the 1800's until the end of the 1900's makes this a town full of garages needing to be cleared out and attics full of treasures from the past.

So, yeah I'm in Cincinnati; you'll find me flying fly around town on my vintage charger in a super mackin tailored three piece suit with wing tips. Owww!

You'll have to come back for some more up to date blogging about pricing, cause I am going for a ride.

2 comments:

MalloryMakesThings said...

I would really love to get a ladies cruiser type bike and I've searched so many thrift stores around cinci and nky.

Do you have any suggestions on where to look for one under $100 preferably around $50?

I don't mind fixing it up. I actually want to do a custom paint job. I'm just having a hard time finding them with fenders.

Mark Stegman said...

Hi MalloryMakesThings.

Keep an eye on Craigslist, about 20 bikes come on there a day including the underground wholesalers who have ten to hundreds of old bikes at their private residences.

You can post an ad on Craigslist that says that you are "looking to buy..."

On Craigslist search for "vintage" or "Cruiser" "fenders".

I hope by now you have found your bike and are riding around town on it daily. I would love to post before and after pictures of your new old bike.

Pedal Power!