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It is always essential to understand how to buy a bicycle. Still, it’s even more important to understand how to buy a vintage or antique bicycle because it’s much different than purchasing a new bicycle. Read ahead for a little bit of guidance to understanding antique, classic, and vintage bicycles, what you should look for when purchasing, and where to purchase these bicycles.

How to Buy a Bicycle – Antique, Vintage or Classic?

There are many “highly collected” bicycles, including muscle bicycles, English bicycles, unique or “funky” bicycles, etc. These bicycles are usually collected for one of three reasons: for riding, as show bicycles, or for the sense of nostalgia they elicit in the buyer. With these reasons in mind, most collectors classify bicycles differently.

Many people, including collectors, identify “old” bicycles in 3 different categories, so the first step in buying an older bicycle is identifying it correctly.

Tip: Never be afraid to ask questions.

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A lot of novice vintage bike buyers are afraid to ask the seller questions because they’re afraid the seller will get offended and refuse to make the transaction. Most sellers are more than happy to make any clarifications on the condition of the bike.

If you’d like more detailed photos or need more specific information about the extent of repairs and restoration that need to be undertaken, bring your questions to the seller. You should know exactly what you’re paying for before you shell out your hard-earned money.

  • Antique Bicycles – Many collectors identify antique bicycles as any bicycle that is 70-years-old or older. These bicycles usually have wooden rims with steel cladding. They are usually more difficult to find due to their age, and therefore, they are usually more expensive.
  • Vintage Bicycles – Vintage bicycles are often identified as bicycles that are 30 to 69-years-old. They are usually easier to find than antique bicycles, and some of them are very valuable and expensive, and some of them are not.
  • Classic Bicycles – Classic bicycles can be as new as 5 years old or older, but they are defined as classics because they’re models with defining factors. They are usually bicycles with unique features that change how bicycles are looked at, made, or used.

What Should You Look For

When purchasing an antique, vintage, or classic bicycle, there are several things you should look for:

  • Type – Depending upon the make, model, and age, most bicycles have a serial number to identify them. Serial numbers can be located on axle mounts, stamped into brackets, or anywhere really, so you will have to search the bicycle for a serial number to compare to a database. This will help you be certain of the make, model, and year of the bicycle. Most bicycles produced after the 1960s will have a serial number, but bicycles built before then may not.
  • Compare – Compare the make, model, date of production (if known), and condition of the bicycle with pricing tables to determine an appropriate price range. There are a lot of valid pricing tables online to give you a ballpark figure of what you should pay.
  • Image Search – Do an online image search for pictures of the bicycle you’re interested in purchasing. This will help you determine what the bike would look like in mint condition, help you eliminate imitators, and check for better deals.

Last Word on How to Buy a Bicycle

There are many different places where you can purchase vintage bicycles. There are many online options, including eBay and Craigslist. There are also great finds at yard sales, flea markets, or garage sales. Wherever you decide to make your purchase, make sure you apply the rules you have learned regarding how to buy a bicycle.

Finally, there are many reasons to purchase vintage bicycles. Some people love to buy them as collectors/showpieces, and some people love to ride them because they’re fun, and they require no titles and insurance. Some people love the idea of owning a bicycle they owned as a child or giving a bicycle they owned as a child to their child. Whatever the reason, make sure you understand how to purchase a vintage, antique, or classic bicycle, and you’ll enjoy your purchase for years to come.

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


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