“Vintage bicycles” is the term given to bikes manufactured between the 1930s and the end of the 1990s. The biggest difference between a 1980s bicycle and a bicycle that has just been manufactured is not gears and derailleurs. Retro bicycles tend to weigh more because they are made from steel rather than from lighter-weight alloys.
Why should you consider buying a vintage bike?
In most instances, older bicycles are as functional as bicycles that have been manufactured more recently. That makes an older bicycle an option if you are looking for a practical road bike or a sturdy commuter bike. You may feel a significant difference in the way vintage bikes handle when you are pedaling up a hill. Swapping original components like gears, grips, and wheels out for more recently manufactured components can help you on steeper grades.
It is easy to find spare parts for your classic bike when a component gives out. Repairs are generally pretty easy to do yourself as long as you have a good instruction manual.
What brands of vintage bikes are available?
Many classic bicycles are refurbished with new parts before they are resold. Here are some of the older bicycles that may be available to you:
- Mongoose BMX bikes: Mongoose bikes are high-end, freestyle bicycles that were first manufactured between 1974 and 1984. These bikes were engineered to be unisex. In 1985, the brand was sold to an American conglomerate that began focusing on mass production. Early manufacturer models like the Californian and the Motomag One are in hot demand today.
- Schwinn Bicycles: Classic Schwinn cruisers are rugged yet stylish, and they look particularly great with accessories like baskets. There are lots of retro components on the market for these bicycles, which makes repairing them quite simple. The top tube on women's Schwinns is slanted toward the seat. The top tube on men’s bikes from the same manufacturer is parallel to the ground.
- Raleigh Bikes: Raleigh has been manufacturing bicycles since 1885. It is the company responsible for introducing balloon tires, which alleviated much of the bumpiness associated with riding bicycles.
What should you look for when buying a vintage bicycle?
If you are buying because you need a sturdy commuter bike, its operating components must be in good shape. Many vintage bicycles are refurbished with modern components. Shimano is a Japanese manufacturer that has been producing high-quality cycling components since the 1970s. There are other points you need to consider.
- Brake cables: Your brake cables should not be rusty, frayed, or show signs of corrosion.
- Bike frame: Look the frame over carefully to make sure there are no cracks.
- Tires and wheels: Most vintage bikes were originally manufactured with steel-rimmed wheels. You should replace these because braking on a wet surface with steel rims can be dangerous.