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Many restorers and collectors alike won’t settle for vintage bicycles that have been restored with new, modern parts. They want the authenticity of vintage bicycle parts, so we’ll discuss old parts in general, which parts can be used as old, advantages and disadvantages of old parts, and where to get these bicycle parts.

General Information

Vintage bicycle enthusiasts, and those who restore their own vintage bicycles swear by old parts. They will settle for nothing less. They feel using newer parts on an antique or vintage bicycle diminishes the bicycle’s authenticity.

Old and antique bicycle parts can actually be new, unused parts, but they are referred to as “old parts” because they were made a long time ago, so in this sense, old is referring to year built, not amount used.

Using Old Bicycle Parts


There are a lot of advantages to using old bicycle parts, including:

  • Authenticity of a bicycle restoration. The more original, old parts you use to restore a vintage bicycle, the more authentic your bicycle will be to the original when you’re finished.
  • Vintage bicycle parts can sometimes be found for a great deal. If you can find the right vintage bicycle parts for a bargain, a vintage bicycle can be built or restored for much less money than purchasing a completely finished vintage bicycle.
  • Many people swear by the quality of antique bicycle parts. You’ve heard the adage “they don’t build them like they used to.”


Disadvantages to using old bicycle parts are:

  • They can be hard to come by.
  • They can be worn out or overly used.
  • They weren’t made using modern technology used today.
  • They may be hard to fit with other parts.

Which Bicycle Parts You Shouldn’t Use?

Headset, hub, and bottom brackets can all be risky. Each of these parts contain ball bearings or cartridge bearings. If these aren’t properly maintained, they can ruin the part, and it can be very difficult to tell.

Tip: If you insist on using old tires, make sure the tread depth is at least 1.6 millimeters.

While using vintage tires on your bicycles can be dangerous, if you insist on doing so for a more authentic vintage feel, make sure the treat depth of the tires is at least 1.6 millimeters.

Riding with tires with tread depth less than 1.6 mm is not just unsafe, but also illegal as the tires will not offer sufficient traction on riding surfaces.

Wheels are a bicycle component that should not be purchased if they have been overly used. Wheels, when heavily ridden, lose their proper shape. If you purchase heavily used wheels, they may need to be “trued” in a truing stand. This applies to hubs as well.

Chains generally shouldn’t be purchased as an old bicycle part. They are much more likely to break and cause problems shifting than new chains.

Old tired will also fail much more often on a vintage bicycle (used for riding) than new tires. Older tires are also more dangerous because they don’t have the grip that new ones do.

Purchasing Old and Antique Bicycle Parts

Antique bicycle parts can be purchased through many different sites, but one of the best is eBay. EBay has one of the most comprehensive parts buying guide and selection on the market for very reasonable prices.

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
Bill Cosby


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